Reformed Baptist Churches – The Greatest Expression and the Biggest Target


And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18, ESV)

I have to admit – I am biased when it comes to ecclesiology (the doctrine of the Church). I think the greatest expression of “Church” is found in those that call themselves baptist and even more so when they identify with historic baptists and hold the same doctrines and confessions from centuries past (Thus – part of the title of this post). I also believe that this same group can be a big target for extremists from several fronts here in the 21 century. I also believe that it is time for some identification and education in some areas of experience and some more that I have concerns about (I want to bring these fronts out into the light, so to speak). First a little history, a disclaimer and a motive before we begin.

I am the pastor of a small Reformed Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, and have been for the past 10 years (in August). I didn’t have the privilege to go to seminary and get a degree but the Lord has provided a education like no other. I have had the opportunity to experience a whole realm of pastoral ministry that one could ever imagine and I am thankful to the Lord for allowing me to go through all of it.

I must put the disclaimer up first and foremost that I have poor grammar, don’t write much, have slow typing skills and no MDiv. I also want to also say that what I will be posting is not pointed at any individual, family or group that has been under my care. The posts will be pointing to the “isms” or worldview’s and movements that I see as causing division and dissension in local congregations all around, and particularly for my brothers and sisters who identify themselves as Reformed Baptists and their respective churches. 

I am burdened by the testimonies of others who are hurt by similar kinds of issues like I have faced over the past ten years. I think that it is best for me to post some of my experiences and to talk about the overall effects of different movements and how they have impacted our local congregation. How division can happen so easy and in most cases I feel that it can be avoided all together.

I wish more people were writing about this so I could just read the article, hit the “like” button and move on and not have to write – but from what I can tell they are not. So I guess I am going to write, and write as a believer who cares too much for the Church not to speak about the things which I see as hurting her.

May the Lord Jesus bless this endeavor…

Love in Christ

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Good Works and Broken Keys – Charles Spurgeon

FAITH is necessary to salvation, because we are told in Scripture that works cannot save. To tell a very familiar story, and even the poorest may not misunderstand what I say: a minister was one day going to preach. He climbed a hill on his road. Beneath him lay the villages, sleeping in their beauty, with the corn-fields motionless in the sunshine; but he did not look at them, for his attention was arrested by a woman standing at her door, and who, upon seeing him, came up with the greatest anxiety, and said, “O sir, have you any keys about you? I have broken the key of my drawers, and there are some things that I must get directly.” Said he, “I have no keys.” She was disappointed, expecting that everyone would have some keys. “But suppose,” he said, “I had some keys, they might not fit your lock, and therefore you could not get the articles you want. But do not distress yourself, wait till some one else comes up. But,” said he wishing to improve the occasion, “have you ever heard of the key of heaven?” “Ah, yes!” she said, “I have lived long enough, and I have gone to church long enough, to know that if we work hard, and get our bread by the sweat of our brow, and act well towards our neighbours, and behave, as the Catechism says, lowly and reverently to all our betters, and if we do our duty in that station of life in which it has pleased God to place us, and say our prayers regularly, we shall be saved.” “Ah!” said he, “my good woman, that is a broken key, for you have broken the commandments, you have not fulfilled all your duties. It is a good key, but you have broken it.” “Pray, sir,” said she, believing that he understood the matter, and looking frightened, “what have I left out?” “Why,” said he, “the all-important thing, the blood of Jesus Christ. Don’t you know it is said, the key of heaven is at his girdle; he openeth, and no man shutteth; he shutteth, and no man openeth?” And explaining it more fully to her, he said, “It is Christ, and Christ alone, that can open heaven to you, and not your good works.” “What, minister!” said she, “are our good works useless, then?” “No,” said he, “not after faith. If you believe first, you may have as many good works as you please; but if you believe, you will never trust in them, for if you trust in them you have spoilt them, and they are not good works any longer. Have as many good works as you please, still put your trust wholly in the Lord Jesus Christ, for if you do not, your key will never unlock heaven’s gate.”

So then we must have true faith, because the old key of works is so broken by us all, that we never shall enter Paradise by it. If you pretend that you have no sins, to be very plain with you, you deceive yourselves, and the truth is not in you. If you conceive that by your good works you shall enter heaven, never was there a more fell delusion, and you shall find, at the last great day, that your hopes were worthless, and that, like sere leaves from the autumn trees, your noblest doings shall be blown away, or kindled into a flame in which you yourselves must suffer for ever. Take heed of your good works; get them after faith, but remember, the way to be saved is simply to believe in Jesus Christ.

Without faith it is impossible to be saved, and to please God, because without faith there is no union to Christ. Now, union to Christ is indispensable to our salvation. If I come before God’s throne with my prayers, I shall never get them answered, unless I bring Christ with me. The Molossians of old, when they could not get a favour from their king, adopted a singular expedient; they took the king’s only son in their arms, and falling on their knees, cried, “O king, for thy son’s sake, grant our request.” He smiled and said, “I deny nothing to those who plead in my son’s name.” It is so with God. He will deny nothing to the man who comes, having Christ at his elbow; but if he comes alone he must be cast away. Union to Christ is, after all, the great point in salvation.

Let me tell you a story to illustrate this: the stupendous falls of Niagara have been spoken of in every part of the world; but while they are marvellous to hear of, and wonderful as a spectacle, they have been very destructive to human life, when by accident any have been carried down the cataract. Some years ago, two men, a bargeman and a collier, were in a boat, and found themselves unable to manage it, it being carried so swiftly down the current that they must both inevitably be borne down and dashed to pieces. Persons on the shore saw them, but were unable to do much for their rescue. At last, however, one man was saved by floating a rope to him, which he grasped. The same instant that the rope came into his hand a log floated by the other man. The thoughtless and confused bargeman, instead of seizing the rope, laid hold on the log. It was a fatal mistake: they were both in imminent peril, but the one was drawn to shore because he had a connection with the people on the land, whilst the other, clinging to the log, was borne irresistibly along, and never heard of afterwards. Do you not see that here is a practical illustration? Faith is a connection with Christ. Christ is on the shore, so to speak, holding the rope of faith, and if we lay hold of it with the hand of our confidence, he pulls us to shore; but our good works having no connection with Christ, are drifted along down the gulf of fell despair. Grapple them as tightly as we may, even with hooks of steel, they cannot avail us in the least degree.

Spurgeon, C. H. Words of Wisdom for Daily Living. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009.

Posted in Charles H, Faith, Good Works, Grace | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Logos Bible Software 5

Today I would like to recommend to you what I think is the best Bible study software on the planet – Logos 5. I was already a huge fan of Logos before version 5, but today it can do everything I need to do and do it faster, smarter and with tremendous power.

Introducing Logos Bible Software 5:


What’s New in Logos Bible Software 5


What is Logos Bible Software?


Here are some of its new (and updated) features in screen shots:

Sermon Starter guide:

Just type in a topic and Logos will go and retrieve relevant content from your electronic library in seconds.


Want to study a passage instead? No problem, just type in the passage and BAM it appears. Also, when you are finished copy it to Proclaim, PowerPoint or Microsoft Word and your notes are ready to go.



Now Logos automatically creates a bibliography from your collections, clippings documents, windows clipboard, selected text, and even your history… J


Home Page:

Home page got a makeover and the ribbon bar is gone in favor of a left side operations panel.


There are seven new base packages to choose from and if you act now you can save 15% off of the base price.


Full Title

Resource Count

Print List Prices



(15% off)











































I am sure this is the first of many posts about the latest version of the best bible study software in the world. Get it today!

Love in Christ

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A Catechism of Bible Teaching – Historic Southern Baptist Doctrine

“Brethren, we must preach the doctrines; we must emphasize the doctrines; we must go back to the doctrines. I fear that the new generation does not know the doctrines as our fathers knew them.” — John A. Broadus


(Professor of New Testament Interpretation and Homiletics and the 2nd President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1859-1895)

“A people without a heritage are easily persuaded (deceived).” This quote is attributed to Karl Marx and it seems to be the defining mark of 21stcentury America and especially those who claim to be Christians. We have more access to information than all the other generations who went before us (combined) and yet we seem to know or care little for how we got here. Maybe, we can learn a thing or two from men who went before us, men like John Broadus.

John Broadus was a notable Southern Baptist who could teach our generation many things. I have picked his copy of “The Baptist Catechism” as an example of what Southern Baptists have historically believed. The quote below was taken from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Archives(

“John Broadus’s life is notable on a variety of fronts. While a pastor in Virginia, Broadus baptized Lottie Moon, who became Southern Baptist’s most famous overseas missionary. In the Civil War, Broadus preached before Confederate general Robert E. Lee and other Confederate generals, earning a standing invitation from Lee to preach for him. J. D. Rockefeller went further than Lee—he offered Broadus a hefty salary to become his pastor in New York City, an offer Broadus turned down. In 1886, on the 250th anniversary of Harvard University, the school conferred an honorary degree on Broadus due to his national academic reputation. In 1889, Yale University invited the professor to New Haven to deliver the Lyman Beecher Lectures on preaching. Broadus was the only Southern Baptist to address the Ivy League school in a series of talks. As a preacher, professor, and leader, Broadus looms large in Southern’s history and in the history of the SBC. He was an active churchman at Louisville’s Walnut Street Baptist Church. Broadus passed away on March 16, 1895.”

A Catechism


Bible Teaching


John A. Broadus, D.D., LL.D.



Sunday School Board of Southern

Baptist Convention.



American Baptist Publication Society,

1420 Chestnut Street.



In 1890, feeling the need of a new and somewhat more extended Baptist Catechism than then existed, the American Baptist Publication Society, and the Sunday School Committee (now Sunday School Board) of the Southern Baptist Convention, each at about the same time, asked Dr. John A. Broadus to prepare such a work. At his suggestion it was arranged that the two bodies should unite in the publication. Accordingly, the catechism is now sent forth, having received the sanction of the official committees of both bodies, and by them is commended to their respective constituencies. No one is so well qualified as its honored author to gain a wide hearing in every part of our land, and it is earnestly hoped that the result may be a more thorough acquaintance with the doctrines of God’s Word, and a still greater unity in the faith which that Word inspires.



To each lesson some advanced questions are added in fine print, after the manner of school-books, in order to make the treatment of the subject a little more complete and to meet the inquiries of many youthful minds. These fine-print portions may be learned at first by some classes or individuals, or may be combined with the lessons in reviewing the work; and some teachers will simply explain them after the lesson is recited. The desire has been to present the chief doctrines of the Bible from a devotional and practical point of view; and two or three lessons are introduced of a distinctly practical character. The lessons are arranged on what was thought a natural order, but some of them might be learned without the others, or the order could be varied. Several lessons would need to be divided for many children or classes; and where the catechism is used in connection with the International Series of Scripture lessons, as small number of the questions could be assigned for each Sunday, with constant review. The answers are generally given in terms supposed to be intelligible to children from ten to fifteen years; the technical terms of scientific theology are employed only when indispensable, and usually in such a connection as to throw some light on their meaning. Teachers might help by explaining beforehand any hard word that will occur in the questions or answers if the next lesson.


That John A. Broadus would be selected by both the American Baptist Publication Society and the Sunday School Board to write a Baptist Catechism should come as no surprise.  Called by A. Ho. Newman, “perhaps the greatest man the Baptists have produced,” he was the most highly respected Baptist of his day, and in scholarship was without peer.  Even as early as 1859, J.P. Boyce recognized the strength of Broadus’ influence and implied that his presence was needed for the successful founding of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Broadus’ Catechism includes 15 lessons and a section of suggested biblical passages for memorization.  Each lesson consists of two types of questions:  the first set is for all students and the second is for advanced students.
This method arose from much earnest contemplation on the part of Broadus.  Originally the publishing houses sponsoring the project desired separate catechisms for three different age levels.  Settling, however, for two different levels within one catechism, this format appeared to pose special problems.   As Broadus struggled with the problem confronting him, he set forth a tri-fold qualification serving as his guideline.  His marvelous implementation of this set of criteria should certainly aid anyone in evaluating the usefulness of catechisms.  In December of 1891, he wrote:

Notwithstanding various interruptions this morning I finished Lesson 1. for the “Catechism.”  It is, of course, an extremely difficult task to make questions and answers about the existence and attributes of the Divine Being, that shall be intelligible to children, adequate as the foundation for future thinking, and correct as far as they go.”

“Baptist Catechisms, To Make Thee Wise Unto Salvation”, Tom J. Nettles



Lesson I. God.

1. Who is God?

God is the only Being that has always existed, and he is the Creator and Preserver of all things.

2. How do we know that God exists?

We know that God exists from the worlds he has made and from our own sense of right and wrong; and the Bible above all tells of God.

3. Have men any reason for denying God’s existence?

It is foolish and wicked to say there is no God. (Ps. 14:1; Rom. 1:20)

4. How may we learn the character of God?

We learn the character of God partly from his works, mainly from his Word.

5. What does God know?

God knows all things, even the secrets of our hearts; God is omniscient. (Heb. 4:13; Eccles. 12:14)

6. What power has God?

God has all power; God is omnipotent.

7. Where is God?

God is everywhere, and all things are present to him; God is omnipresent. (Gen 16:13; Ps. 139:7)

8. What do we know as t the holiness of God?

God is perfectly holy; the angels praise him as holy. (Isa. 6:3; Rev. 4:8)

9. Is God just?

God is always perfectly righteous and just. (Ps. 145:17)

10. Is God loving and good?

God is love, and he is good to all. (1 John 4:8; Ps. 145:9)

11. Is God all love?

God’s justice is truly a part of his nature as his love. (Rev. 15:3)

12. How ought we to feel and act toward God?

We ought to love God with all our heart and serve him with all out powers. (Deut. 6:5; 1 John 5:3)

13. Is it our duty to fear God?

It is our duty to obey God in filial fear, and to fear his wrath if we sin. (Eccles. 12:13; Heb. 10:31)

Advanced Questions

(a) May little children easily recognize that there is a God?

Young children often think and speak about God. (Ps. 8:2; Matt. 21:16)

(b) How do many persons practically deny that there is a God?

People practically deny that there is a God by living as if God did not exist.

(c) Why is it wrong to use images of God in worship?

Men would soon worship the image instead of God, and so God has positively forbidden such use of images. (Ex. 20:4, 5; Rom. 1:23, 25)

(d) Is it possible for God to do wrong?

For God to do wrong would be contrary to his very nature; he cannot deny himself. (2 Tim. 2:13)

Lesson II. Providence of God.

1. What is meant by the providence of God?

God cares for all his creatures and provides for their welfare.

2. Does God’s providence extend to the wicked?

God gives to the wicked, sunshine and rain and all the common blessings of life, thereby calling them to repentance. (Matt. 5:45; Ps. 145:9; Rom. 2:4)

3. Does God exercise any special providence over the righteous?

God makes all things work together for good to them that love him. (Rom. 8:28; Ps. 23:1)

4. Is God’s providence confined to great things?

God notices and provides for even the least things. (Luke 12:7)

5. Is there really any such thing as chance or luck?

There is no such thing as chance or luck; everything is controlled by the providence of God.

6. Does God act according to purposes formed beforehand?

God has always intended to do whatever he does. (Eph. 1:11; 1 Pet. 1:20)

7. Do God’s purposes destroy our freedom of action?

We choose and act freely, and are accountable for all we do. (Josh. 24:15; Rom. 14:13)

8. Does God cause evil?

God permits evil, but does not cause it.

9. Does God ever check and overrule evil?

God often prevents evil, and often brings good out of evil. (Gen. 45:5; Ps. 76:10)

10. What is the greatest example of God’s bringing good out of evil?

The crucifixion of Christ is the greatest example of God’s bringing good out of evil.

11. How ought we to think and feel about the providence of God?

We ought always to remember our dependence on God, and to trust his providential guidance. (James 4:15; Jer. 10:23)

12. When God in his providence sends upon us something painful, how ought we to feel?

When God sends in us something painful we ought to be patient, obedient, and thankful. (1 Sam. 3:18; 1 Thess. 5:18)

Advanced Questions

(a) Would it be possible to control great events while disregarding all little things?

Great things and little things are inseparable and dependent on each other.

(b) If all things take place according to fixed laws, how can it be that God controls them?

God created all the forces of nature, and made them act according to fixed laws, and so he controls them without violating the laws.

(c) Can God then answer prayer by his providential control without violating the laws of nature?

Yes, and the Bible assures us that God does answer prayer.

(d) What instances can you give of special providence in the story of Joseph?

(Gen. 37:28; 30:2, 3, 21-23; and ch.45)

(e) What example of speedy answer to prayer in the story of Hezekiah?

2 Kings 20:1-6.

(f) If we cannot explain the relations between divine predestination and human freedom, does that warrant us in rejecting either?

Both divine predestination and human freedom must be true from the very nature of God and man, and both are plainly taught in the Bible.

Lesson III. The Word of God.

Part I. The Books of the Bible.

1. How many separate books are there in the Bible?

There are thirty-nine books in the Old Testament, and twenty-seven in the New Testament.

2. What are the five books of Moses?

The five books of Moses are Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

3. What are the other historical books in the Old Testament?

The twelve other historical books in the Old Testament are Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther.

4. What are the five poetical books?

The five poetical books are Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon.

5. Which are the four greater prophets?

The four greater prophets are Isaiah, Jeremiah (with Lamentations), Ezekiel, Daniel.

6. Which are the twelve lesser prophets?

The twelve lesser prophets are Hosea, Joel, Amos; Obadiah, Jonah, Micah; Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah; Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.

7. What are the five historical books of the New Testament?

The five historical books of the New Testament are Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts.

8. What are the fourteen epistles of Paul?

The fourteen epistles of Paul are Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians; Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians; 1 and 2 Thessalonians; 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus; Philemon; Hebrews.

9. What are the seven other epistles?

The seven other epistles are James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2, and 3 John, Jude.

10. What is the last book in the Bible?

The last book in the Bible is Revelation.

Part II. Inspiration and Authority of the Bible.

11. Were the books of the Bible written by men?

The books of the Bible were written by men, but these men were moved and guided by the Holy Spirit. (2 Pet. 1:21; 1 Cor.14:37)

12. What special proof have we that the entire Old Testament was inspired?

Christ and his apostles speak of “Scripture,” or “the Scriptures,” as inspired by God, and we know that they meant exactly what we call the Old Testament. (John 10:35; 2 Tim. 3:16)

13. Does the Bible contain any errors?

The Bible records some things said by uninspired men that were not true; but it is true and instructive that these men said them.

14. What authority has the Bible for us?

The Bible is our only and all-sufficient rule of faith and practice.

15. What things does the Bible teach us?

The Bible teaches all that we need to know about our relations to God, about sin and salvation.

16. How ought we to study the Bible history?

We ought to study the Bible as a history of providence and a history of redemption.

17. Who is the central figure of the Bible history?

The central figure of the Bible history is Jesus Christ, the Hope of Israel, the Saviour of mankind.

18. What does the Bible do for those who believe in Jesus Christ?

The Bible makes those who believe in Jesus wise unto salvation. (2 Tim. 3:15)

19. What does the Bible contain besides history?

The Bible contains doctrines, devotional portions, precepts, and promises; it teaches us how to live and how to die.

20. With what disposition ought we to study the Bible?

We ought to study the Bible with a hearty willingness to believe what it says and to do what it requires. (John 7:17)

21. What great help must we all seek in studying the Bible?

We must pray that the Holy Spirit who inspired the Bible will help us to understand it. (Ps. 119:18; Luke 24:45)

Advanced Questions.

(a) How do we know that Christ and his apostles meant by “the Scriptures” what we call the Old Testament?

We know from Jewish writers and early Christian writers, that those who heard Christ and his apostles would understand them to mean the Old Testament; and therefore they must have meant it so.

(b) What promise did our Lord give his apostles as to the Holy Spirit?

Our Lord promised his apostles that the Holy Spirit should bring all his teachings to their remembrance, and guide them into all the truth. (John 14:26; 16:13)

(c) Did the inspired writers receive everything by direct revelation?

The inspired writers learned many things by observation or inquiry, but they were preserved by the Holy Spirit from error, whether in learning or in writing these things.

(d) What if inspired writers sometimes appear to disagree in their statements?

Most cases of apparent disagreement in the inspired writings have been explained, and we may be sure that all could be explained if we had fuller information.

(e) Is this also true when the Bible seems to be in conflict with history or science?

Yes, some cases of apparent conflict with history or science have been explained quite recently that were long hard to understand.

(f) Has it been proven that the inspired writers stated anything as true that was not true?

No, there is not proof that the inspired writers made any mistake of any kind.

Lesson IV. Man.

1. How did men begin to exist?

God created Adam and Eve, and from them are descended all human beings.

2. What sort of character had Adam and Eve when created?

Adam and Eve were made in the image of God, and were sinless.

3. Who tempted Eve to sin against God by eating the forbidden fruit?

Eve was tempted by the Devil, or Satan, who is chief of the fallen angels, or demons.

4. What was the beginning of Eve’s sin?

The beginning of Eve’s sin was that she believed Satan rather than God. (Gen. 3:4-5)

5. What was the first sign that Adam and Eve gave of having fallen into sin?

Adam and Eve showed that they had become sinful by trying to hide form God. (Gen 3:8)

6. What was the next sign?

Adam and Eve tried to throw blame on others. (Gen. 3:12-13)

7. How did God punish their willful disobedience?

God condemned Adam and Eve to death, physical, spiritual, and eternal. (Gen. 2:17; Rom. 6:23; Eph. 2:1)

8. How does this affect Adam and Eve’s descendants?

All human beings are sinful and guilty in God’s sight. (Rom. 5:12)

9. How does this sinfulness show itself?

All human beings actually sin as soon as they are old enough to know right from wrong. (Rom. 3:23)

10. Will those who die without having known right from wrong be punished hereafter for the sin of Adam and Eve?

Those who die without having known right from wrong are saved in the way God has provided.

11. Can any human beings be saved through their own merits from the guilt and punishment of sin?

No; the second Adam, the Son of God, is the only Saviour of sinners. (Acts 4:12; Gen. 3:15)

Advanced Questions

(a) Was man to be idle in the Garden of Eden?

No, man was to keep the garden and to have dominion over the animals. (Gen. 2:15; 1:26)

(b) Is work a curse?

Work is not a curse, but anxious and wearing toil is a curse and a fruit of sin. (Gen. 3:17)

(c) Does the Bible elsewhere speak of Satan as a serpent?

Satan is called a serpent in the book of Revelation. (Rev. 12:9; 20:2)

(d) What does the New Testament reveal that corresponds to the effect of Adam’s son upon his descendants?

The benefits of Christ’s salvation for his people correspond to the effect of Adam’s sin upon his descendants.

(e) How does the apostle Paul state this parallel?

“Through one man sin entered into the world, and through sin, death;” so likewise through on man came justification, and through justification, life. (Rom. 5:12-19)

Lesson V. The Saviour.

1. Who is the Saviour of men?

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the Saviour of men.

2. Was Jesus himself really a man?

Yes, Jesus Christ was really a man; he was the son of Mary.

3. Was Jesus the son of Joseph?

No, people called Jesus the son of Joseph, but he was really the Son of God. (Luke 1:35)

4. Can you give any express statement that Jesus was God?

“The Word was God. . . .And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1, 14)

5. What then is Jesus Christ?

Jesus Christ is both God and man, the God-man.

6. How does this fit Jesus to be Saviour of men?

Jesus the God-man can stand between men and God as Mediator.

7. Can you tell the meaning of the two names, Jesus Christ?

Jesus means Saviour and Christ means Anointed, like the Hebrew word Messiah. (Matt. 1:21; John 4:25)

8. What did Christ do on earth for us?

Christ taught the highest truths, he lived as a perfect example, and he died and rose again to redeem us.

9. What is Christ doing now for us?

Christ dwells in his people, intercedes for them, and controls all things for their good. (John 14:23; Heb. 7:25; Matt. 28:18)

10. What will Christ do hereafter for us?

Christ will come a second time and receive us unto himself, to be with him forever. (John 14:3; Heb. 9:28)

11. What must we do to be saved through Jesus Christ?

We must believe in Christ, must turn from our sins to love and obey him, and must try to be like him.

Advanced Questions

(a) How did Christ take our place?

He who knew no sin was made sin for us, that we might become righteous in God’s sight through him. (2 Cor. 5:21)

(b) Was Christ’s work necessary to make God willing to save men?

No, Christ simply made it right that God should save those who trust in him. (Rom 3:26)

(c) What was the origin of Christ’s mission to save?

The origin of Christ’s mission to men was in God’s pitying love for the world. (John 3:16; 1 John 4:10)

(d) Does God offer to save all men through Christ?

Yes, whosoever will may have salvation without cost. (Rev. 22:17; Isa. 55:1)

(e) Ought we to make this salvation known to all men?

Yes, it is our solemn duty to carry the gospel to all nations. (Luke 24:47)

(f) How can we carry this gospel to distant lands?

We can go ourselves as missionaries, or help to send others.

Lesson VI. The Holy Spirit and the Trinity.

1. Who is the Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, and is called the third person in the Trinity.

2. What did the Holy Spirit do for the prophets and apostles?

The Holy Spirit inspired the prophets and apostles to teach men their duty to God and to each other.

3. What did the Holy Spirit do for the writers of the Bible?

The Holy Spirit inspired them to write just what God wished to be written.

4. Did the Holy Spirit dwell also in Jesus Christ?

Yes, the Holy Spirit was given to Jesus without measure. (Luke 4:1; John 3:34)

5. When Jesus ascended to heaven, what did he send the Holy Spirit to do?

Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to take his place and carry on his work among men. (John 14:16-17)

6. What does the Holy Spirit do as to the World?

The Holy Spirit convicts the world of its sin and its need of Christ’s salvation. (John 16:8)

7. What work does the Holy Spirit perform in making men Christians?

The Holy Spirit gives men a new heart, to turn form sin and trust in Christ. (John 3:5; Ezek. 36:26)

8. How does the Holy Spirit continue this work?

The Holy Spirit helps those who trust in Christ to become holy in heart and life. (Gal. 5:22; 1 Cor. 3:16)

9. Is the Holy Spirit himself divine?

Yes, the Holy Spirit is God. (Acts 5:3-4)

10. If the Father is God, and the Saviour is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, are there three Gods?

No, there are not three Gods; God is one. (Deut. 6:4; Mark 12:29)

11. What then do we mean by the doctrine of the Trinity?

The Bible teaches that the Father is God, and the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet God is one.

12. Are we able to explain the Trinity?

We cannot explain the Trinity, and need not expect to understand fully the nature of God; we cannot fully understand even our own nature.

13. How is the Trinity recognized in connection with baptism?

We are told to baptize “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matt. 28:19)

14. How is the Trinity named in a benediction?

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.” (2 Cor. 13:14)

Advanced Questions

(a) Did the Holy Spirit give men the power of working miracles?

Yes, the Holy Spirit gave to the apostles and others the power of working miracles. (Acts 2:4; 1 Cor. 12:11)

(b) What did the Saviour mean when he spoke of blaspheming the Holy Spirit?

Blaspheming against the Holy Spirit was saying that a work of the Holy Spirit was a work of Satan. (Mark 3:29)

(c) Is there any other unpardonable sin?

The Saviour says that every sin may be forgiven except the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. (Mark 3:23; Matt. 12:31-32)

(d) What is the meaning of the word Trinity?

The word Trinity or Triunity means that God is in one sense three and in another sense one.

Lesson VII. The Atonement of Christ

1. What was Christ’s chief work as Saviour?

Christ died and rose again for his people. (2 Cor. 5:15; Rom. 4:25)

2. Did Christ voluntarily allow himself to be slain?

Yes, Christ laid down his life of himself. (John 10:17-18)

3. Was this Christ’s design in coming into the world?

Our Lord says that he came “to give his life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

4. For what purpose did the loving God give his only Son?

God gave his only Son “that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

5. How could Christ’s dying give us life?

Christ took our place and died like a sinner, that we might take his place and be righteous in him. (2 Cor. 5:21)

6. Was it right that the just should die for the unjust?

The Saviour was not compelled, but chose, to die for the benefit of others.

7. Is it right for God to pardon men because the Saviour died?

God declared it to be right for him to pardon men if they seek salvation only through Christ. (Rom. 3:26)

8. May a man go on and sin, and expect to be saved through Christ’s atoning death?

No, we must live for Him who dies for us. (2 Cor. 5:15)

9. Is salvation offered to all men through the atonement of Christ?

Yes, salvation is offered to all, and all are saved who really take Christ for their Saviour. (Ezek. 18:23; 2 Pet. 3:9)

10. What is Christ now doing for men’s salvation?

Christ is interceding for all those who trust in his atonement. (Heb. 7:25; Rom. 8:34)

Advanced Questions.

(a) Is the atonement of Christ sufficient for all men?

The atonement of Christ is sufficient for all, and would actually save all if they would repent and believe. (John 1:29; 3:17; 1 John 2:2; 4:14)

(b) Does God desire the salvation of all men?

God “wishes all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. 2:4)

(c) If any who hear the gospel are not saved, can they justly complain?

No, they cannot justly complain, for if they wished it, and would believe, they might be saved.

(d) Are the heathen, who never heard the gospel, condemned for not believing it?

No, the heathen are judged by the light they have, and are condemned for violating the law that is written in their hearts.

(e) Will God punish those who have not heard the gospel as severely as those who hear and reject it?

No, those who have not the gospel will be punished for disregarding what they know, or might know, of the true God. (Rom. 2:13; 3:23)

(f) Has God commanded his people to proclaim salvation to all men?

Yes, God commands his people to proclaim salvation to all men. (Matt. 28:19; Rom. 10:13-15)

Lesson VIII. Regeneration.

1. What is meant by the word regeneration?

Regeneration is God’s causing a person to be born again.

2. Are such persons literally born a second time?

No, the regenerated are inwardly changed as if they were born over again.

3. In what respect are men changed in the new birth?

In the new birth men have a new heart, so as to hate sin and desire to be holy servants of God. (Ezek. 11:19, 20)

4. Is this new birth necessary in order to salvation?

Without the new birth no one can be saved. (John 3:3)

5. Who produces this great change?

The Holy Spirit regenerates. (John 3:5-6)

6. Are people regenerated through baptism?

No, only those whose hearts are already changed ought to be baptized.

7. Are people regenerated through Bible teaching?

Yes, people are usually regenerated through the Word of God. (1 Pet. 1:23; James 1:18)

8. Can we understand how men are born again?

No, we can only know regeneration by its effects. (John 3:8)

9. Does faith come before the new birth?

No, it is the new heart that truly repents and believes.

10. What is the proof of having a new heart?

The proof of having a new heart is living a new life. (1 John 2:29; 2 Cor. 5:17)

Advanced Questions

(a) Why is water mentioned in connection with the new birth?

Water is mentioned in connection with the new birth to show that this is a pure birth, leading to a new and pure life. (John 3:5; Tit. 3:5; Rom 6:4)

(b) Does God give his renewing Spirit as he sees proper?

Yes, God gives his renewing Spirit to those whom he always purposed to save. (Eph. 1:3-4)

Lesson IX. Repentance and Faith.

1. What is it to repent of sin?

Repenting of sin means that one changes his thoughts and feelings about sin, resolving to forsake sin and live for God.

2. Does no repenting mean being sorry?

Everyone who truly resolves to quit sinning will be sorry for his past sins, but people are often sorry without quitting.

3. What is the great reason for repenting of sin?

The great reason for repenting of sin is because sin is wrong, and offensive to God. (Ps. 51:4)

4. Is repentance necessary to a sinner’s salvation?

Those who will not turn from sin must perish. (Luke 13:3; Ezek. 33:11)

5. What do the Scriptures mean by faith in Christ?

By faith in Christ the Scriptures mean believing Christ to be the divine Saviour, and personally trusting in him for our salvation.

6. Is faith in Christ necessary to salvation?

No person capable of faith in Christ can be saved without it. (John 3:6; Heb. 11:6)

7. Can those who die in infancy be saved without faith?

Yes, we feel sure that those who die in infancy are saved for Christ’s sake.

8. Are the saved without regeneration?

Infants are not saved without regeneration, for without holiness no one shall see God. (Heb. 12:14; John 3:2)

9. Can we see why persons capable of faith cannot be saved without it?

Persons capable of faith must by faith accept God’s offered mercy; and his truth cannot become the means of making them holy unless it is believed.

10. Is refusing to believe in Christ a sin?

It is fearfully wicked to reject the Saviour and insult God who gave his Son in love. (John 3:16; 1 John 5:10)

11. Do faith in Christ and true repentance ever exist separately?

No, either faith or repentance will always carry the other with it. (Acts 20:21)

Advanced Questions

(a) How is it that some persons say they believe the Bible to be true, and yet are not Christians?

Many persons who say they believe the Bible are not willing to forsake sin, and often they do not really what the Bible says about Christ. (John 5:46)

(b) Is a man responsible for his belief as to the Bible?

Yes, a man is responsible for his belief as to the Bible because it depends partly on whether he is willing to know the truth, willing to forsake sin and serve God. John 7:17.

(c) Were not people in Old Testament times saved without faith in Christ?

The truly pious in Old Testament times believed in God’s promises of a future provision for salvation, and some of them looked clearly forward to Christ himself. (Gen 3:15; John 8:56; Ps. 110:1; Ps. 53:6)

(d) How can we explain the statement that Judas repented and killed himself? (Matt. 27:3-5.)

When it is said that Judas repented, that is another Greek word, which means simply sorrow, and not at all the repentance that leads to salvation. (2 Cor. 7:10)

Lesson X. Justification and Sanctification.

1. What is meant in the Bible by justification?

God justifies a sinner in treating him as just, for Christ’s sake.

2. Can any person be justified by his own works?

By works of the law shall no flesh be justified. (Rom. 3:20)

3. How are we justified by faith?

Believing in Christ our Saviour, we ask and receive justification for his sake alone. (Rom. 3:24; 5:1)

4. Has this faith that justifies any connection with our works?

The faith that justifies will be sure to produce good works. (Gal. 5:6; James 2:17)

5. What is meant by sanctification?

To sanctify is to make holy in heart and life.

6. What connection is there between sanctification and regeneration?

The new birth us the beginning of a new and holy life.

7. Is justification complete at once?

Yes, the moment a sinner really believes in Christ he is completely justified.

8. Is sanctification complete at once?

No, sanctification is gradual, and ought to go on increasing to the end of the earthly life. (Phil. 3:13-14)

9. Is it certain that a true believer in Christ will be finally saved?

Yes, God will preserve a true believer in Christ to the end. (John 10:28; Phil. 1:6)

10. What is the sure proof of being a true believer?

The only sure proof of being a true believer is growing in holiness and in usefulness, even to the end. (2 Pet. 1:10)

11. To what will justification and sanctification lead at last?

Justification and sanctification will lead at last to glorification in heaven. (Rom. 5:2; 8:30; Matt. 25:21)

Advanced Questions.

(a) How can it be right for Go to treat a believing sinner as just, when he has only begun a holy life?

God treats a believing sinner as just for Christ’s sake, and God will be sure to make him completely holy in the end. (Rom. 3:26)

(b) Does faith in Christ procure justification by deserving it?

No, faith does not deserve justification; it only brings us into union with Christ, for whose sake we are justified. (Rom. 8:1)

Lesson XI. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

1. Who ought to be baptized?

Every believer in Christ ought to be baptized.

2. Why ought every believer in Christ to be baptized?

Because Christ has commanded us to declare our faith in him by being baptized. (Matt 28:19; Acts 8:12, 10:48)

3. What is the action performed in Christian baptism?

The action performed in Christina baptism is immersion in water. (Mark 1:9, 10; Acts 8:39)

4. What does this signify?

The water signifies purification from sin, and the immersion signifies that we are dead to sin, and like Christ have been buried and risen again. (Acts 22:16; Rom. 6:4)

5. Does baptism procure forgiveness or the new birth?

No, baptism only represents regeneration and forgiveness like a picture. (John 3:5; Acts 2:38)

6. What is meant by our being baptized “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit?”

It means that we take God the Father, the Son, and the Spirit as our Sovereign and Saviour. (Matt. 28:19)

7. What is the solemn duty of all who have been baptized?

It is the duty of all who have been baptized to live that new life of purity and obedience which their baptism signifies. (Rom. 6:4)

8. What is the Lord’s Supper?

A church observes the Lord’s Supper by eating bread and drinking wine to represent the body and blood of our Saviour. (1 Cor. 11:20, 26)

9. Why ought the bread and wine to be thus taken?

Because Christ has commanded us to eat bread and drink wine in remembrance of him. (Luke 22:19)

10. Who ought to partake of the Lord’s Supper?

Those ought to partake of the Lord’s Supper who have believed in Christ, and have been baptized, and are trying to live in obedience to Christ’s commands.

Advanced Questions.

(a) Can there be Christian baptism without immersion?

No, Christ was immersed, and commanded us to be immersed, and sprinkling or pouring water will not represent burial and rising again. (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12)

(b) If the person were very ill or the water could not be had, were not something else other than immersion suffice?

In cases of extreme illness or scarcity of water it is not a duty to be baptized.

(c) When we insist that nothing ought to be substituted for immersion, what is the principle involved?

The principle we insist upon is that of strict obedience to the Word of God.

(d) Ought the bread and wine to be taken by one person alone?

No, all the instances in the New Testament are of a church together taking the bread and wine.

(e) Does not the joint participation become a nod of fellowship?

Yes, our partaking together promotes Christian fellowship, but the word “communion” means simply the partaking. (1 Cor. 10:16)

(f) Why ought Baptists not to take the Lord’s Supper with believers of other denominations?

Because we think they have not been baptized, or are walking orderly as to church connection.

Lesson XII. The Lord’s Day.

1. What does the word Sabbath mean?

The word Sabbath means rest.

2. Why was the Sabbath at first appointed?

The Sabbath was at first appointed to represent the rest of God after finishing the creation. (Gen. 2:3)

3. What says the fourth commandment given through Moses at Mount Sinai?

Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. (Ex. 20:8, 11)

4. What does this show?

The fourth commandment shows that the children of Israel knew about the Sabbath, but were apt to neglect it.

5. When the Saviour was charged with breaking the Sabbath, what did he teach about it?

The Saviour taught that it was not breaking the Sabbath to heal the sick, to provide food for the hungry, or to do any work of necessity or mercy. (Matt. 12:3; Mark 3:4; Luke 13:15-16)

6. What change was gradually made under the direction of the apostles as to the day to be observed?

The day to be observed was changed from the seventh day to the first day of the week, the day on which the Lord Jesus rose from the dead. (John 20:1, 19, 26)

7. What is this day called?

The first day of the week is called the Lord’s day. (Rev. 1:10)

8. What do we find the first Christians doing on the Lord’s day?

They met for public worship, heard preaching, took the Lord’s Supper, and gave money for religious objects. (1 Cor. 16:2; Acts 20:7)

9. Ought we to keep the Lord’s day as the Sabbath?

Yes, we ought to keep the Lord’s day as a day of rest and holy employments.

10. Ought we to keep the Lord’s day as the first Christians did?

Yes, we ought to keep the Lord’s day as a day for public worship, with Bible study and preaching, for religious gifts and ordinances, and for doing good in every way.

Advanced Question.

(a) Does the New Testament say that the Sabbath was changed to the first day of the week?

No, the New Testaments speaks of religious exercises on the first day of the week as something that everybody understood. (1 Cor. 16:1-2; Acts 20:7; Rev. 1:10)

(b) What explanation have we of these statements?

Several Christian writers just after the apostles speak of worship on the first day of the week in such language as to show plainly what the New Testament references meant.

Lesson XIII. Some Duties of the Christian Life.

1. What is our duty as to speaking the truth?

We must always speak truth and never lie. (Eph. 4:25; Ex. 20:16; Rev. 21:8)

2. Is it possible to act a lie without speaking it?

Yes, to act a lie may be one of the worst forms of falsehood. (Acts 5:3)

3. What is our duty as to speaking evil of others?

We must never speak so as to wrong any person. (James 4:11)

4. What is meant by profane speech?

Profane speech is cursing or swearing, or speaking in an irreverent way of God, or of the Bible, or of anything sacred.

5. What does the Bible say about stealing?

“Thou shalt not steal.” (Ex. 20:15; Eph. 4:28)

6. Can you tell come things which this forbids?

The commandment forbids all unfair buying and selling, and failure to pay promised wages or perform promised work.

7. Is it wrong even to wish to take away another person’s property?

Yes, the Bible says we must not covet what belongs to another. (Ex. 20:17)

8. May we properly strive to do better than others?

Yes, we may strive to excel others, but we must not envy others nor try to pull them back. (1 Pet. 2:1)

9. May we revenge ourselves on those who have wronged us?

No, revenge is very wicked, and we must leave punishment of those who have wronged us with God. (Rom. 12:19)

10. Ought we to love our enemies just as we love our friends?

We ought to love our enemies as God loves his enemies, and so be ready always to do them a kindness. (Matt. 5:44-45)

11. What is our duty as to purity?

We must avoid all impure actions and words, thought and feelings.

12. How may Christians hope to perform these and all duties of the Christian life?

Christians may hope to perform their duties by watchful effort and constant prayer for the help of the Holy Spirit. (Matt. 26:41; Luke 11:13)

Advanced Questions.

(a) Does truthfulness require us to tell everything we know or think?

No, we may keep to ourselves what others have no claim to know, when we are not professing to tell everything. (1 Sam. 16:2)

(b) When may we say things that will damage others?

We may say things that will damage others when the things said are true, and it is needful that they should be known to prevent wrong.

(c) What may we do for the punishment of one who has injured us?

If a person has injured us we may help to secure his punishment according to law, not for private revenge, but for public good.

(d) Is it ever right to take an oath?

It is right to take an oath only in a court of justice or on some other important occasion, and always in a very solemn way. (Matt. 26:63-64; 2 Cor. 1:23)

(e) Ought we to be careful about the example we set to others?

Yes, it is the duty of Christians to be the salt of the earth, and the light of the world. (Matt. 5:13-14)

Lesson XIV. Imitation of Christ.

1. Did the Saviour live a real human life?

Yes, the Saviour lived a real human life, but without sin of any kind.

2. Was he tempted to sin?

He was tempted in all points just as we are, but he always overcame the temptation. (Heb. 4:15)

3. Is it the duty of Christians to imitate Christ?

Yes, Christ has left us a beautiful and perfect example, which we ought to imitate. (1 Pet. 2:21; 1 Cor. 11:1)

4. How may we hope to imitate Christ?

We may hope to imitate Christ by the help of the Holy Spirit. (Luke 4:1)

5. What example did the Saviour set as to obeying parents?

The Saviour did as his parents directed, and “was subject unto them.” (Luke 2:51)

6. What example did he set as to the Scriptures?

The Saviour attended a Bible Class, and had great knowledge of the Scriptures even when a child. (Luke 2:46-47)

7. Did he use the Bible when tempted or suffering?

Yes, the Saviour quoted the Bible three times against the tempter, and twice while on the cross.

8. What is his example as to public worship?

Our Lord’s custom was to go into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and worship. (Luke 4:16.)

9. What example did Christ set as to private praying?

Christ prayed often and much, sometimes through a whole night.

10. What example in doing good to men?

Jesus all the time “went about doing good.” (Acts 10:38)

11. What example as to the love of enemies?

Jesus prayed for the men who were crucifying him, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

12. What example as to loving Christians?

Christ laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (1 John 3:16; John 13:34)

13. What is our highest hope for the future life?

“We shall be like him.” (1 John 3:2)

Advanced Questions

(a) Which books of the Old Testament did the Saviour quote when tempted or suffering?

In the great temptation Christ three times quoted Deuteronomy (8:3; 6:13, 16). and on the cross he twice quoted the Psalms (22:1; 31:5).

(b) Did he use the Old Testament Scriptures on other occasions?

Yes, Christ often quoted Scripture to convince the Jews and to instruct his disciples.

(c) Can you mention some special occasions on which Jesus prayed?

(Luke 3:21; 6:12; 9:29; 11:1; John 17:1; Matt. 26:39, 42, 44.)

Lesson XV. The Future Life.

1. Do men everywhere believe in a future life?

In all nations and races men have generally believed in a future and endless life.

2. Does the Bible confirm this belief?

The Bible leaves no room to doubt that every human being will always continue to exist.

3. What becomes of the soul at death?

The soul is undying, and passes at once into blessedness or suffering. (2 Cor. 5:8; Luke 16:23, 28)

4. What becomes of the body after death?

The body returns to dust, but it will rise again. (Gen. 3:19; Eccles. 12:7; Acts 24:15)

5. Will the same body live again?

Yes, the very same body will live again, but greatly changed as to its condition and mode of life. (1 Cor. 15:42-44)

6. What is meant by the judgment?

The day of judgment means a great and awful day, on which the living and the dead will stand before Christ to be judged. (Acts 17:31; Matt. 25:31-32; 2 Cor. 5:10)

7. To what will Christ condemn the wicked?

Christ will send the wicked away to everlasting punishment in hell. (Matt. 25:41, 46)

8. To what will Christ welcome the righteous?

Christ will welcome the righteous to everlasting blessedness with him in heaven. (Matt. 25:34, 46)

9. Will there be different degrees of punishment?

The future punishment will be greater according to the degrees of sin, and the knowledge men had of God’s will and of the way of salvation through Christ. (Luke 12:47-48; Mark 12:40)

10. How is hell described in the Bible?

Hell is a place of darkness and torment, of endless sin and endless suffering.

11. How is heaven described?

Heaven is a place of light and holiness, of freedom from all sorrow and temptation, of blessed society and thankful praise to God. (Rev. 7:9, 10; 21:4)

Advanced Questions.

(a) What do we know as to the period between death and the resurrection?

We know that between death and the resurrection there will be conscious existence of the soul, either in torment or in blessedness with Christ. (Luke 16:24, 23:43; Phil. 1:23)

(b) Is there any salvation provided in the future life for persons who died in their sins?

The Bible does not reveal any provision for salvation in the future life for persons who died in their sins, nor does it authorize any such hope.

(c) Are we authorized to believe in heavenly recognition?

The Bible warrants the hope that we shall know each other in heaven. (1 Thess. 2:19, Matt. 17:3-4)

Passages for Learning by Heart.

It is an excellent thing for the young to commit to memory many portions of Scripture. The following passages are recommended as suitable, and it is hoped that many will learn some of them, and add other selections as thought best.

The Ten Commandments, Ex. 20:1-17.

Psalms 1, 16, 19, 23, 25, 27, 32, 34, 51, 84, 90, 92, 95, 100, 103, 115, 116, 130, 139, 145.

Proverbs 3:1-20; 6:6-11; chap. 10; chap. 11; chap. 20.

Eccles., chap. 12.

Isaiah, chap. 40; chap. 53; chap. 55.

Matthew 5:3-16; chap. 6; chap. 7; chap. 25; 28:18-20.

Mark 14:22-25; 32-42.

Luke 15:11-32; 16:19-31; 18:1-14; 24:13-35.

John 1:1-18; 14:1-15; 20:1-23.

Acts 17:22-31; 20:17-38.

Romans 5:1-11; 8:28-39; chap. 12.

1Corinthians, chap. 13; chap. 15; 2 Corinthians, chap. 5.

Ephesians 3:14-21; 6:10-20.

Colossians 3:1-4; 4:2-6.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

Titus 2:11-14.

Hebrews 4:14-16; 11:1 to 12:3.

1 John 1:5 to 2:6; 3:13-24; chap. 4.

Revelation 1:9-20; 7:9-17; 20:11-15; chap. 21; chap 22.

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A Brief Catechism of Bible Doctrine – Historic Southern Baptist Doctrine

James Petigru Boyce was the founder of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and its first president (for 30 years). He was also the leading founder of the vision for organized theological education within the Southern Baptist Convention. He was president of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1872-1879 and then again in 1888 and he was an example of what Southern Baptists believed when the convention was founded. I decided to post the entire catechism here since it is short, I would have you look especially to the sections on “ORIGINAL AND PRESENT CONDITION OF MAN” and “ELECTION.” It doesn’t take someone with a PhD to see just what historic Southern Baptist doctrine looked like and just how many are wanting to create “New Traditions” with false doctrine. 


A Brief Catechism of Bible Doctrine



Professor of Systematic and Polemic
in Theology
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary


The author of this brief Doctrinal Catechism knows of no work of the kind in circulation among Baptists. Keach’s Catechism, generally called the “Baptist Catechism”, is scarcely used at all. No reason can be assigned for this, except that it is too difficult for children. In the present work, an attempt has been made to simplify, as far as possible, without sacrificing important truth. The teacher may have to give some further aid, by explaining a few words here and there. The aim has been to bring the truth taught within the comprehension of children of ten to twelve years old and upwards. The desire has been felt to promote catechetical instruction in the family and the Sunday School. It is believed that there are many who appreciate its value as a means of teaching the truth of God. To the attention of such, this little work is commended, with the hope that it may meet their wants. At the same time, Pastors of churches, Superintendents and Teachers of Sunday Schools, and pious parents, are urged to consider how far a partial recourse at least to catechetical instruction may tend to restore the vigorous piety of bygone days.



1. What book have we that teaches about God?

The Bible.

2. By what other name is it known?

The Scriptures.

3. Into what two parts is it divided?

Into the Old and New Testaments.

4. How came it to be written?

God inspired holy men to write it.

5. Did they write it exactly as God wished?

Yes; as much as if he had written every word himself.

6. Ought it, therefore, to be believed and obeyed?

Yes; as much so as though God had spoken directly to us.

7. Does it teach us every thing about God?

It does not; no language could teach us the full glory of God, nor could we ever comprehend it.

8. How much does it teach us?

It teaches us all that is necessary about God, our duty to Him, our condition as sinners, and the way of salvation.


1. Who is God?

He is the Maker and Supreme Ruler of all things, and the greatest and best of beings.

2. Is there but one God?

There is but one God.

3. For what purpose did He create all things?

That He might show forth his glory.

4. Does He not also delight in the happiness and goodness of His creatures?

Yes; and these ends are secured by the display of His glory.

5. How did He make the worlds?

He made them out of nothing.

6. Of what did He make man?

He formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.

7. What may we learn from these acts of creation?

That He is a being of boundless power, wisdom and goodness.

8. Has He all other perfections?

Yes; he has every perfection, and to an equally boundless extent.

9. What is due to this glorious Being?

The supreme love and obedience of all his creatures.


1. Does God take notice of every thing that takes place?

Yes; nothing comes to pass without His knowledge and permission.

2. When did He determine what things He would do, and what He would permit?

In Eternity; before He had created anything.

3. Has He ever permitted His creatures to do wrong?

Yes, when they have wilfully chosen to do so.

4. Has He not, however, warned them of the consequences of sin?

He has always warned them that He would surely punish them if they should sin.

5. Can God be regarded as approving sin under any circumstances?

On the contrary, the Scriptures teach us that He is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity.

6. Does He not influence men to do right?

He does; and it is owing to His grace that we do anything that is good.

7. Does He ever make men do right against their will?

He never does; but He so leads them to see and love what is right, that they choose to do it.


1. In what condition was man originally created?

He was created in the image of God, and free from sin.

2. How did he fall from that condition?

Satan tempted him to disobey God, and he did so.

3. Did Satan himself tempt Adam?

No; he tempted Eve, and used her as his instrument in tempting Adam.

4. In what form did he present himself to Eve?

In the form of a serpent.

5. What evil effect followed the sin of Adam?

He, with all his posterity, became corrupt and sinful, and fell under the condemnation of the law of God.

6. Have not all men been wilful transgressors of the law in their own persons also?

Yes; as soon as they have become old enough to know what is right and what is wrong.

7. Who has been the only exception to this universal prevalence of sin?

The Lord Jesus Christ.

8. Was He a descendant of Adam in the same way as all others?

He was not.


1. We have learned that Jesus was a descendant of Adam; was He, then, a man?

He was a man in every respect; but He was without sin.

2. Mention some respects in which He was a man.

He had a human body and soul and could not only suffer, but was also liable to temptation.

3. Was He ever tempted?

Yes; Satan tried in every way to make Him sin, but could not.

4. Was He made subject to the law of God?

He was, and rendered perfect obedience to it.

5. Had He the same bodily desires and appetites that we have?

Yes; He felt hunger and thirst, and was liable to all sinless infirmities.

6. Was His soul also liable to suffer?

Yes; it was His soul that suffered most severely in fulfilling the work which He came to do.

7. For what did this human nature fit Him?

Not only to die for us, but also to sympathize with us in our trials and temptations.


1. Was Christ merely a man?

No; He was God also.

2. By what name is He called as such?

The only Begotten Son of God.

3. How is He described in Hebrews?

As the brightness of the Father’s glory and the express image of His person.

4. What language does God use to the Son?

Unto the Son He says, “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever.”

5. Is Jesus Christ called God in any other place in the Bible?

Yes; in the first Epistle of John, speaking

of Him, it says, “This is the true God.”

6. Did He ever allow himself to be addressed as God?

Yes; Thomas said to Him, “My Lord and My God.”

7. In what other ways does the Bible teach the Divinity of Christ?

It ascribes to Him the possession of every perfection ascribed to God.

8. Mention some of these.

Omniscience, omnipresence and eternity of existence.

9. Is the work of creation ever ascribed to Him?

Yes; the Bible says all things were made by Him.


1. Does not the title “Son of God” indicate to us that Jesus in not the only person that is God?

Yes; it suggest to us the Father.

2. What other person is also called God?

The Holy Spirit

3. Does this imply that there is more than one God?

No, the Bible teaches that the Father is God, that the Son is God, and that the Spirit is God, and yet that there is but one God.

4. Can we understand the nature of God as thus revealed to us?

We cannot; but we can believe and know that it is such as God teaches us.

5. Why can we not understand the nature of God?

Because our minds are limited in power, and the glorious mystery of the nature of God is boundless.

6. Is it in His nature only that God is beyond our knowledge?

No, He is mysterious also in all His works and ways.

7. What should we learn from this?

To trust Him, both in what He does and what He teaches.


1. What is a Mediator?

One who leads persons who are at enmity to become friends, or to be reconciled to each other.

2. Why is Christ called the Mediator?

Because He comes between man and God, and reconciles them to each other.

3. What offices does Christ discharge as Mediator?

The offices of Prophet, Priest and King.

4. Why is Christ called a Prophet?

A Prophet is one who speaks for God, and Christ is the Great Teacher of Divine Truth.

5. Why is He called a Priest?

It was the duty of the Priest to offer sacrifice for sin, and to pray to God to pardon the sinner. Christ is in both these respects the High Priest of His people.

6. In what sense is He a King?

He has no earthly kingdom; but He reigns in the hearts of saints and angels.

7. Is He not King of the universe?

He is and hence is called the King of kings and Lord of lords.

8. Will this reign ever be acknowledged by all?

It will at the judgment day.


1. What was the sacrifice which Christ offered?

He offered up Himself for sin.

2. In what way did He become the sacrifice?

He took our sin upon Him and suffered the penalty in our place.

3. When did He suffer that penalty?

When He died on the cross.

4. Did He suffer in both natures?

No; in the human nature only. The Divine nature cannot suffer.

5. Was not the union of the Divine and the human nature necessary in the work of salvation?

It was necessary; otherwise the human nature could not have sustained the sufferings it endured.

6. For what else was that union necessary?

To give value and efficacy to sufferings which, but for that union, would have been those of a mere creature.

7. Why would not the sufferings of a mere creature have sufficed?

Because every creature is bound, as his own duty, to do and sufferall that God wills, and therefore can do nothing to secure merit or pardon for others.

8. Of what value is this sacrifice to those for whom He died?

It delivers them from the guilt and punishment of all their sins.


1. To whom does God offer the salvation in Jesus?

He has ordered it to be offered to every creature.

2. Upon what condition?

Upon that of repentance and faith.

3. Are not these terms easy?

They are so easy that all who refuse are without excuse.

4. Do all men accept them?

They do not; they universally reject them where left without Divine influence.

5. Has God thus left all mankind?

He has not; but effectually calls many to the knowledge and belief of His truth.

6. What agent accomplished this work?

The Holy Spirit.

7. Do those who accept the Gospel deserve any reward for so doing?

No, for their acceptance is entirely due to the grace of God.

8. How will God punish those who reject it?

Far more severely than He will those who have never heard it.

9. Upon what grounds will he punish any who have not heard the gospel?

Because they, too, are sinners, and have disobeyed the law of God written in their hearts and in nature.


1. What name is given to those whom God effectually calls to salvation?

They are called the elect or the chosen ones of God.

2. Why are they so called?

Because God, before the foundation of the world, chose them unto salvation through Christ Jesus.

3. Did God make this choice because He foresaw that these persons would be pious and good people?

He did not; for the goodness and piety of any are due to the influences of the Spirit.

4. Was it, then, because He foresaw that they would believe?

On the contrary, it is through His choice that they are led to believe.

5. What, then, was the ground of that choice?

His own sovereign will.

6. How may we know if we be of the Elect of God?

Only by perceiving that the Holy Spirit has led us to repentance and faith and loving obedience to God.

7. Ought we not diligently to watch for such assurance of our calling and election?

Yes; and besides this we ought to pray to God to give His Spirit thus to work in us.


1. What is the first work that the Spirit accomplished in those who are saved?

The work of Regeneration.

2. What is meant by our Regeneration?

Our being born again.

3. What does the Spirit do in the act of Regeneration?

He gives us a new heart, inclined to love and practice holiness.

4. How does Regeneration affect the mind?

It enlightens the mind to understand savingly the Word of God.

5. Is Regeneration necessary to salvation?

Yes, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

6. Are we made perfectly holy in Regeneration?

No, this is only attained in our perfect Sanctification.

7. What is meant by our Sanctification?

It means our being made holy or free from sin.

8. Is such perfection attained in this life?

It is not.

9. What, then, is the Sanctification which we have experienced?

It is a change produced by the influences of the Spirit, by which we gradually increase in the love and practice of holiness.


1. What is Repentance?

It is sorrow for sin, accompanied by a determination, with the help of God, to sin no longer.

2. Do we truly repent every time we are sorry for sin?

No; our sorrow may be from wrong motives.

3. Suppose our sorrow arises merely from the fear of detection or punishment?

In that event, it is not true repentance.

4. What kind of sorrow, then, is involved in true repentance?

A sorrow which makes us hate sin because it is sin, and because it is wrong to commit it.

5. What is Faith?

It is believing what the Bible tells us about Jesus, and trusting our salvation in His hands.

6. Is this belief an act of the mind only?

No; it is with the whole heart, so that we are led to love and obey Christ.

7. Are there many who believe the Bible who do not exercise faith?

Yes; the greater part of those who have the Bible believe it with the mind, but do not trust with the heart also.


1. What is Justification?

It is an act of God, by which He fully acquits us of all sin.

2. Is it based upon any works of our own?

It is not; by our own works we could never secure it.

3. Is it not, however, intimately connected with some act of ours?

Yes, with the exercise of faith.

4. Is it due to our faith in Christ?

It is not; that faith becomes the instrument only, not the cause of our justification.

5. To what, then, is it due?

Simply to the merits and sufferings of Christ, which are accounted by God as ours.

6. What do the Scriptures mean when they say that we are justified by faith?

In part, they are teaching that our justification is not by works.

7. What else do they mean?

They also speak thus, because in the act of faith the believer takes hold of the meritorious work of Christ, which is the true ground of justification.

8. Why does the Apostle James say that we are justified by works and not by faith only?

He refers to the fact that every one that has true faith also performs good works.


1. Has not God offered life and happiness upon the performance of good works?

He has.

2. Have any of mankind ever been justified in that way?

None have been thus justified.

3. Why is this?

Because, having a sinful nature, no man can perform good works in an acceptable manner.

4. Since, then, we are saved by faith alone, does God still require good works?

He does, and gives us grace to help us do them.

5. Are they to be performed with any hope of attaining salvation?

They are not; for we can never perfectly perform them in this life.

6. From what motive then?

From a spirit of love and obedience.

7. What, then., is the position of works in God’s way of justification?

They are the fruits and evidence of a change of heart and of love to God.

8. With what motive should we let men see our good works?

With the hope that thus they may be led to glorify God.


1. What is meant by assurance of Salvation?

It is an undoubting conviction of our acceptance in Christ.

2. Do all the people of God attain it?

It is not attained by all.

3. Is not assurance an essential of saving faith?

It is not; doubts and fears assail believers sometimes to the end of life.

4. Is it not desirable to attain this grace?

It is not only very desirable, but we are expressly commanded to seek for it.

5. Do any in whom the work of grace has begun ever finally fall?

They do not.

6. How do we know this?

We learn it from the Scriptures; moreover, salvation is the work of God, who cannot fail in what He undertakes.

7. Do not such persons sometimes fall into grievous sin?

They do; and years may elapse before they are finally rescued therefrom.

8. Can a child of God be contented in this state?

No; the renewed nature God has given him must be disturbed at the presence of sin.

9. What is his plain duty when he finds himself in this condition?

Still to trust in his Saviour, praying to Him for pardon and for help to avoid sin.


1. What do the Scriptures teach about the immortality of the soul?

They teach that the soul will never die, but will live forever.

2. Do not our bodies die?

They do, and after death return to dust.

3. Will these bodies ever be raised to life again?

They will, at the judgment day.

4. What is the judgment day?

It is the day God has appointed in which to judge the world.

5. By whom will He do this?

By his Son, Jesus Christ.

6. What will be done with the wicked?

He will send them away into everlasting punishment.

7. Into what place will He send them?

Into Hell, the place of torment.

8. What will He do for the righteous?

He will give them life everlasting.

9. Where will they Live?

In Heaven with Jesus — the home of all the good.

10. Who alone of mankind will be the righteous?

Those who have attained to the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.


1. What duty has God intimately associated with Faith?

The profession of that faith in the ordinance of Baptism.

2. What is Baptism?

It is the immersion of the body in water, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

3. Why is it done in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost?

To denote that the person baptized thus professes to believe these three to be God, and to devote himself to His service.

4. What does the use of water in Baptism represent?

The washing away of our sins by the cleansing influences of the Holy Spirit.

5. What does the act of immersion represent?

The union of the believer with Christ in His death.

6. Do the Scriptures assign this union as a reason why we are to profess Christ by immersion?

They do; they tell us that it is on this account that we are buried with Christ by baptism unto death.

7. Who alone are the fit subjects of Baptism?

Those who exercise faith; for they only can properly profess to have experienced the things which Baptism represents.


1. What other ordinance has Christ established?

The Lord’s Supper.

2. In what does this ordinance consist?

In eating bread and drinking wine in remembrance of Christ.

3. Who alone are authorized to receive it?

The members of His churches.

4. In what way is it to be observed?

As a church ordinance, and in token of church fellowship.

5. Is there any established order in which these ordinances are to be observed?

Yes; the believer must be baptized before he partakes of the Lord’s Supper.

6. What does the Lord’s Supper represent?

The death and sufferings of Christ.

7. Does the mere partaking, either of Baptism or the Lord’s Supper confer spiritual blessings?

No; they are worthless, if not injurious, to those who do not exercise faith.

8. But how is it when they are partaken of by those who do exercise faith?

The Spirit of God makes them, to such persons, precious means of grace.

9. Whom has Christ appointed to administer Baptism and the Lord’s Supper?

The authorized ministers of His churches.


1. What is the Sabbath?

It is one day of the week, which God requires to be kept as a day of rest, and holy to Him.

2. What day of the week did the Jews observe?

The seventh, which we commonly call Saturday.

3. What day do Christians keep?

The first day of the week or Sunday.

4. Why do Christians keep Sunday as the Sabbath?

Because it was on that day of the week that Christ rose from the dead.

5. What name is given to it on this account?

The Lord’s Day.

6. Did the Apostles and the Christians of their day observe the first day of the week?

They did, and that is our authority for observing the first instead of the seventh day.

7. What truth was the Sabbath appointed to commemorate?

The completion of God’s work of Creation.

8. What additional truth does the Christian Sabbath teach?

The triumphant completion of the still more glorious work of Redemption.

Posted in Boyce, James P., Calvinism, Catechism, Confession of Faith, Election, Founders, Heritage, Justification, Original Sin, Southern Baptist | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Original Sin and Our Current Condition – Historic Southern Baptist Doctrine

John L. Dagg (the first writing Southern Baptist Theologian) in his Manual of Theology tells us exactly what Southern Baptists have historically believed. The Southern Baptist Publication Society (predecessor to the Sunday School Board) in 1857 published his 379-page Manual of Theology and it was followed the next year by the Society’s publication of his 312-page companion volume Treatise of Church Order, and then the next by the publication of his Elements of Moral Science. The first two of these, were used as theological textbooks throughout the second half of the nineteenth and early part of the twentieth century to teach future Southern Baptist pastors.


The evils consequent on the disobedience of our first parents were not confined to them personally, but have fallen on their descendants also. Adam had been created in the image of God; but when that image had been lost by transgression, he begat a son in his own likeness. [Gen 5:3] So all his descendants since have borne the image of the earthly, fallen progenitor, and have been like him, not only in character, but in condition. The subject will be examined further in the following sections.

Section 1—ACTUAL SIN

Men of all ages and nations have, in their actions, violated the law of God. [Rom 3:9-19; 1 John 5:19; Eph 2:2-3]

The sacred volume, in describing the state of the world before the flood, says that “the earth was filled with violence.” [Gen 6:11] The history of the period before the flood is very brief; yet we find, in the beginning of it, the murder of Abel by this brother; [Gen 4:8] in the progress of it, the bigamy of Lamech, [Gen 4:19-23] and the murder which he confessed to his wives; and, in the close of it, this account of the complete corruption of the earth, and the general prevalence of violence. The flood was sent in wrath for the transgressions of men; but its waters did not cleanse the earth from sin. Iniquities prevailed after the flood, as they had done before; and the condition of mankind, in all nations, was such as Paul has described in Rom 1. The children of Abraham were separated from the rest of mankind, and made a peculiar people to God; but, notwithstanding the religious advantages which they enjoyed, their history is little else than a record of rebellions against God; and judgments inflicted on them for their provocations. So common is wickedness in the earth, that it is called “the course of this world,” [Eph 2:2] and it is said, “the whole world lieth in wickedness.” [1 John 5:19]

From this universal corruption no man is exempt. “There is no man which sinneth not.” [2 Chron 6:36] All whom the Spirit of God brings to a knowledge of themselves confess, “In many things we offend all;” [James 3:2] and they pray, “Forgive us our sins.” [Luke 11:4] If others make no confessions of sin, and no petitions for pardon, it is because of the blindness and hardness of their hearts.

He who looks into the state of society around him, finds proof of man’s wickedness. Crimes abound everywhere; and the earth is filled with violence, as it was of old. Laws restrain the crimes and violence of men; but the very necessity of laws demonstrates the wickedness of mankind. War and oppression make up, in great measure, the history of our race; and innumerable deeds of wickedness, which never find a place in the historic record, are written in God’s book of remembrance, and will be brought to light in that day, when men shall be judged according to the deeds done in the body.

The actual transgressions of men consist in doing what God has forbidden, and in leaving undone what he has commanded. The latter are called sins of omission; the former, sins of commission. With both these kinds of transgression all men are more or less chargeable. They who abstain from grosser crimes have, nevertheless, committed many sins, and omitted many duties. But sin, in the overt act, constitutes only a very small part of man’s sinfulness, as will appear in the next section.


All men are by nature totally depraved. [Gen 6:5; Gen 8:21; Ps 14:2-3; Ps 51:5; Rom 1:21-25; Rom 3:9-23; Rom 6:17, Rom 8:5-8; Eph 2:1; 1 John 5:19]

The depravity which we have to lament in mankind, respects their principles of action as moral beings. As merely sentient beings, external objects produce on them the proper effects; and, as rational beings, they draw conclusions in science with correctness. The disease and debility which are the consequence of moral evil, may impair both sense and reason; but we cannot affirm of these powers that they are totally depraved. Moral depravity shows itself in outward acts of transgression; but, atrocious as these often are, it is chiefly in the heart that God beholds and hates it. “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” [Gen 6:5] In the heart it was that God saw the great wickedness of the earth. The heart is a metaphorical term, denoting those mental affections which are the principles or beginnings of action. Here depravity exists at the very fountain from which all human action flows.

The depravity of man is total. We do not mean by this that his conduct is as bad as it could be, or that no amiable affections have a place in his heart. The young man who addressed our Redeemer with most respectful inquiry how to attain eternal life, appears to have been unconverted, yet he possessed so amiable qualities that it is recorded, “Jesus, beholding him, loved him.” [Mark 10:21] The goodness of God is great, even to the unthankful and evil; and he has been pleased to implant natural affections in hearts which desire not to retain him in their knowledge, and so to balance the propensities, even where there is no holiness, that life and human society have many enjoyments. When our first parents permitted natural desire to prevail over the authority of God, human depravity began to flow, and what it was at the fountainhead, it has been in all the streams that have spread through the earth. Men seek good at their own choice, and walk in their own ways, regardless of the authority of God. The love of God is dethroned from the heart, and therefore the grand principle of morality is wanting, and no true morality exists. A total absence of that by which the actions should be controlled and directed, is total depravity. Hence the strong language of Scripture, already quoted, is properly descriptive of human nature in its fallen state; “Every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

Human depravity is universal. In heathen nations, men did not delight to retain God in their knowledge, and their very religion became filled with abominable rites. In lands blessed with the light of revelation, men love darkness rather than light, and give melancholy proof that they have not the love of God in them. The rich and poor, the learned and the unlearned, the young and the old, all give evidence that, to serve and please God, is not their chief delight, their meat and their drink. A few, converted by divine grace, differ from the rest of mankind, and esteem it their pleasure and honor to obey God; but these very men testify that it is God who has made them to differ, and that, in themselves, they are like other men. “Such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, in the mane of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” [1 Cor 6:11] “I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing.” [Rom 7:18]

Depravity is natural to man; it is born with him, and not acquired in the progress of life. It is not to be ascribed to evil habit, or evil example. Evil habits are formed by evil doing; and evil doing would not be, if there were no evil propensity. Evil example would not everywhere exist, if human nature were not everywhere corrupt; and the tendency to follow evil example would not be so common, and so much to be guarded against, if it were not natural to man. The Scriptures clearly teach this doctrine. “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” [Ps 51:5] The psalmist did not mean to charge his mother with crime in these his humble confessions, but manifestly designs them to be an acknowledgment that his depravity was inwoven in his nature, and bore date from the very origin of his being. The Saviour taught, that which is born of the flesh, is flesh. [John 3:6] The term flesh, which is here opposed to spirit, signifies, as it does in other places, our depraved nature. It traces human depravity up to our very birth.

As every individual of our race is born of depraved parents, and brings depravity with him into the world, we are led to conceive of it as propagated from parent to child. This accords with the representations of Scripture; “Adam begat a son in his own likeness.” [Gen 5:3] It accords also with analogies to which we are familiar.

Plants and animals propagate their like; diseases are often hereditary, and peculiarities of temper and mind by which parents were distinguished, often appear in their children. In our proneness to find fault with God’s arrangements, we ask, why was the fallen nature of Adam propagated, rather than the original nature which he received from the hand of God. But we might as well complain that the ascent from the state of sin to that of innocence, is not as easy as the descent was found to be. Virtue fits the creatures of God for society, and for its most beautiful exhibitions opportunity is presented in the social relations. All these give one creature an influence over another, according to the character of the relation between them. Even angels, who were created independent of each other, had an influence on each other, so that the chief apostate in the great rebellion led followers after him. When man was created, it appeared good, in the view of Infinite Wisdom, to institute closer social relations than subsisted among angels. From these resulted a more extend influence than was known in angelic ranks. Now, if Adam had transmitted his original nature, as created by God, the effect would have been the same as if the son had been immediately created by the divine hand, and the peculiarity designed to distinguish the human race would have been virtually abolished.

Another complaint which sometimes rises in our murmuring minds is, that pious men do not propagate their piety, but their natural depravity. We might as well complain that men of great scientific attainments do not transmit their knowledge to their children as a natural inheritance. This complaint would have even greater appearance of propriety, for their attainments are, in a sense, their own; but whatever of holiness is found in man, is not a natural endowment or attainment, but a special gift of divine grace.

When we have discovered that the propagation of depravity in the human race accords the analogies found in nature, our minds seem to obtain relief; but, in reality, the matter has not been explained. Nature is not some superior rule to which God was compelled to conform, but it is an institution of his own, and cannot be right in the whole, if its parts are not right. If the propagation of human depravity is not in itself right, all the analogies of nature could not make it so. The true benefit of tracing these analogies is, that we may perceive all the arrangements to be from the same divine mind, and may the more reverently bow our judgment to the decision of Infinite Wisdom, and hush our murmurs into the more profound silence.

Our natural inquisitiveness takes occasion from this subject to indulge in unprofitable speculations. As the depravity which is propagated belongs more properly to the soul than to the material frame, we ask whether the soul is propagated. Some have preferred to consider the soul as a production immediately proceeding from the creating power of God. They suppose this to be intended when the Scriptures say, that he formeth the spirit of man within him. [Zech 12:1] They regard the body as all that is propagated, and suppose the Creator to form a spirit within it, as he breathed the spirit of life into the inanimate body of Adam, when he became a living soul. They view propagation as belonging to the material part of our nature, and consider it impossible, in the nature of things, that this should generate an immaterial spirit. The latter argument, which is merely philosophical, has to struggle with the fact that all animals generate something more than mere matter, in the powers with which they are endowed, and which bear a strong resemblance, in many respects, to the mental endowments of man. The preceding argument, from Scripture, fails in this, that God is equally said to form the body of the child in the womb of the mother, [Job 31:15; Isa 44:2] and yet we never regard that body as a production of immediate creation. It is true that the body of Adam was lifeless for a time; but it was not, as lifeless, that be begat a son in his likeness. We would not argue, from this case, that all life, whether in plants or animals, is a production of immediate creation, and not of propagation; and it does not appear that a more valid argument can be deduced from it, to prove the immediate creation of every human soul. After all, what does the question amount to? If the preservation of all things is strictly a perpetual creation, the distinction is wholly annihilated; for the soul is, at the first moment of its being, and at every subsequent moment throughout its whole existence, an immediate creation. But if this view be not admitted, it is still true that preservation is as dependent on the efficacious will of God, as creation. God willed that the soul of Adam should propagate a son, and that this son should, like the father, have both a soul and a body. The progeny came into being according to the will of God. This work differs from the former, in that it is not singular, but conforms to what we call a law of nature; but nature’s laws have no efficacy in themselves; and when we attribute the work to the efficacious will of God, it is a mere question of classification, whether we refer it to creation or Providence.

An objection to the doctrine of natural depravity is founded on the fact, that Jesus referred to little children, as examples for is disciples. This fact, however, will not authorize the inference, that little children are not depraved. The same teacher said to his disciples, “Be ye wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” [Matt 10:16] As something may exist, proper to be imitated in animals which have no moral character, and even in serpents, notwithstanding their venom, so, something for imitation could be pointed out in children, notwithstanding their depravity. Another objection is drawn from the statement of Scripture, concerning children that had not done either good or evil. [Rom 9:11] But the doctrine does not affirm that all have committed overt acts of transgression. It refers to the first spring of action in the heart; and a fountain may be corrupt, before it has sent forth streams, as truly as afterwards. No objection, worthy of consideration, can be drawn from Paul’s statement, that the children of the Corinthian Christians were holy; [1 Cor 7:14] for this manifestly relates to their fitness for familiar intercourse.

Vain it will be, to receive the doctrine of human depravity into our creed, if it is not received into our hearts. A thorough conviction of our total depravity is necessary to humble us before God, and drive us to the fountain opened for sin and uncleanness. No genuine Christian experience can exist, where this is not felt and operative.


All men are born under the just condemnation of God. [Ps 7:11; Mark 16:16; John 3:36; Rom 1:18. Rom 2:5-6; Rom 3:19; Rom 5:12-21]

The depravity of mankind unfits them for the favor and enjoyment of God; and that separation from him, in which the death of the soul consists, would be the necessary result, even if no declaration to that effect were made by the Supreme Judge. But this sentence has been declared. The voice of Providence loudly declares it. The pain with which our first breath is drawn; the sickness and suffering which attend on the cradle; the sorrows and toils of our best years; the infirmities of age; and lastly death, which, if it does not terminate our course earlier, after threatening us at every step, and keeping us all our lifetime in bondage, finally triumphs over us; all these proclaim, in language not to be misunderstood, that we are under the displeasure of God. The curse of God rests on the very ground that we tread; and his wrath is poured out on our race in the wars, famines, and pestilence, with which the nations are often visited. The sentence is pronounced by the voice of conscience within us, which is to us as the voice of God; “for if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.” [1 John 3:20] God speaks in his holy word, proclaiming the sentence; “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” [Gal 3:10] “What things the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God.” [Rom 3:19] The view which is here presented of man’s condition, relates not merely to his transgressions, but to his natural state. Hence it is said, “And were by nature, the children of wrath.” [Eph 2:3]

These manifestations of God’s displeasure are of early date, commencing with the first woes of mankind. They may be traced to the first sentence pronounced on our guilty parents, when they were expelled from Eden. Paul has explained, that we were all included in this sentence, and this is the proper date of our condemnation. “By the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation.” [Rom 5:18] From that hour, the descendants of Adam, their habitation, their employments, and their enjoyments, have all been under the curse. Blessings have, indeed, been poured out in rich profusion on our guilty race; but our very basket and store have been cursed, and the cup of mercies has been mingled with bitterness. The forbearance and longsuffering of God are manifested; but the hand of his wrath is uplifted.

The condemnation under which we are born is just. It is God’s sentence; and all his judgments are righteous. It is not unusual for those who are condemned by human laws, to complain of their sentence; and we show our want of reconciliation to the justice of God, by our hard thoughts of God, when we either suffer or fear his displeasure against us.

Our rebellious hearts deny the justice of our condemnation, on the ground that God made us, and not we ourselves. If he did not create our souls directly with depraved propensities, he brought them into being, in circumstances which made their depravity certain. He gave us existence at his own pleasure; and over the circumstances of our origin we had no manner of control. It is therefore unjust, says the carnal heart, to condemn and punish us, for the sinful propensities which we bring with us into the world, or for the sinful deeds which naturally and necessarily proceed from them. In this manner, we are prone to transfer the blame of our iniquities from ourselves to our Maker. So did Adam; “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat,” [Gen 3:12] and so do all his descendants. Every one is probably conscious that such reasonings have at some time had a place in his mind; and that it is difficult to exclude them wholly. On this account, they need a full and sober examination.

A consideration which ought to silence our accusing thoughts of God, is, that however much we may condemn him, we do not thereby acquit ourselves. If we admit that Adam would not have eaten the forbidden fruit had not God given him a wife; and if we even admit that God was to blame for giving him a wife who might become his tempter: still this does not exculpate Adam. His wife was certainly to blame for tempting him; and yet the guilt of his transgression is not the less on that account. Every agent is responsible for himself. Distributive justice, which gives to every man his due, has no other rule, and can have no other. Human courts do not excuse culprits, because of the corrupting influences which have led them to violate the law. The law takes direct cognizance of the agent and his deed. This accords with the common sense of mankind. So divine justice condemns the wicked man, and cannot do otherwise than condemn him, however he may have become wicked, and whoever else may be to blame for his being so. This principle we should hold fast in all our reasonings on that subject.

A difficulty in holding fast the principle just laid down, and applying it steadily to the case, arises from the circumstance that the Judge by whom we are condemned is also our Creator. To free our thoughts from embarrassment on this account, let us suppose the case were otherwise. Let us imagine that, after “the Sons of God had shouted for joy,” [Job 38:7] at seeing the foundations of the earth laid, and its finished surface covered with verdure and beauty, the Most High was pleased to appoint one of this joyful choir to the honorable service of populating this new world, and to confer on him creative power for this purpose. Let us imagine that, just as this chosen agent was proceeding to execute his commission, he conceived the thought of making himself the god of the world he was about to people; and, for this purpose, filled it with unholy inhabitants, willing to join him in rebellion against the Supreme Ruler. This case, though merely imaginary, will serve to test the principle under consideration; and the question which it presents for adjudication, is, how, according to the rule of eternal and immutable justice, ought this world of rebels to be treated.

Perhaps it will be said, that the agent who abused the creative power conferred on him ought to be punished, and that the creatures that he had brought into being ought to be annihilated. But this is not the plea which is set up for the human race. The plea which the sons of Adam present before the Judge of the earth, is, not that we ought to be annihilated, but that we ought not to be condemned and punished; this new order of creatures might object to annihilation, and think themselves as much entitled to life and impunity as we do. They might say, that annihilation is only a scheme to get the question out of court, and to free the Judge from difficulty; but they might insist on right, and claim, as they were created immortal by the commission granted to him by whom they were made, they have a right to immortality; and that this immortality, since their depravity is natural to them, ought to be free from all punishment. Now, the Judge might, for wise reasons, not choose to evade the responsibility of adjudicating the case; What, then, would the righteous sentence be? Even to annihilate them against their will, would be a punishment; that ought not to be inflicted, if the plea not guilty, because depravity is natural, can be sustained. The plea before on earthly judge would not stand a moment. Who could bear that a criminal should be acquitted and turned loose on the community, because he was born wicked, and grown up wicked, and it was as natural for him to commit theft, murder, and all manner of crimes, as it was to breathe? Such a plea, which the justice of men will not admit, the justice of God will not admit. The new order of creatures must be treated as they deserve; and Infinite Wisdom, instead of annihilating them, must adopt some other expedient, to counteract the diabolical intentions of the agent that created them.

The case which has been supposed is not so wholly imaginary as at first view it may have appeared. Though it is not true that an angel of light was commissioned to create a population for the earth, something else was done which, for all the purposes of the present discussion, amounts to the same. Adam and Eve, while yet in innocence, were commissioned to procreate a race of immortals, that should people the new world. This power, Satan, ambitious of divine honor, availed himself of to make himself the god of the world. By temptation he gained over the first pair to his design; and so completely is the procreating power with which they were invested, turned to his account, that the offspring of it are called the “children of the devil.” [1 John 3:10; John 8:44] So complete is his control of them, that he is called “the spirit that worketh in the children of disobedience,” [Eph 2:2] and they “are taken captive by him at his will;” [2 Tim 2:26] and the death which comes on them for disobedience is attributed to his power: “That through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil.” [Heb 2:14] The imaginary case, therefore, is substantially our own; and, if rebellion against God, subserviency to Satan, and confederacy with him to overthrow the government of the King Eternal, cannot be justified at the tribunal of divine justice, we are verily guilty, and justly condemned.

But our accusing thoughts of God are suppressed with difficulty. We have seen that the whole world is guilty before him; and yet every mouth is not stopped. We still entertain hard thoughts, and vent hard words against him; and the thing formed says to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? [Rom 9:20] Of such impiety it becomes us to beware. We should feel that our depravity is our own, however we came by it; that it renders us wholly unfit for the society and enjoyments of the holy place where God dwells, and for his favor, service, and communion; and that it ought to be loathsome in our own view, and must be so in the view of the holy God. If our own hearts condemn it, we shall be ready to admit, without complaint, that God also condemns it. And what can we say against God in the matter? What wrong has he done? His distributive justice does no wrong in treating the unholy according to their character. If he has done any wrong, it must relate to the department of public justice, which, as formerly explained, seeks the greatest good, and is the same as universal benevolence. Now, who will say that God’s plan will not produce the greatest good? Who is wiser and better than God, to teach him a preferable way? When Satan gained his conquest over our first parents, God could have confined him at once in the pit, and inflicted on him the full torment yet in store for him; and he might have annihilated the whole race of man in the original pair. This would have terminated the difficulty by an act of power; but who will affirm that it would have been wisest or best? God would have appeared disappointed and defeated. Distributive justice would have appeared relieved rather than developed. Satan triumphed by artifice, and God has chosen to defeat him by the counsel of his wisdom. Satan exalted himself to dominion over the world; God chose to overcome him, not by power, but by humiliation. Satan gained his success by means of the first Adam; God, in the second Adam, bruised the serpent’s head. Satan, by his success, gained the power of death; God, by death, the death of Jesus Christ, has destroyed him and his power. [Heb 2:14] Who will dare affirm that God’s way is not best? It becomes us to feel assured, whatever darkness may yet remain on this subject, that God would not have given up his Son to free us from condemnation, if that condemnation had not been just; and that he would not have made so great a gift, so costly a sacrifice, if the scheme had not been worthy of his infinite wisdom; or if some other, by which the sacrifice might have been spared, would have been preferable.

When the question has been settled, and the principle established, that men may be held responsible for their own sins, without inquiring how they became sinners, a difficulty still remains as to the date of the condemnation under which we all lie, and the ground of the original sentence. When the mind becomes perplexed with subtle reasonings, it is well to keep facts steadily in view, and to hold fast the plain testimony of inspired truth. It is expressly said, in the unerring word, “By the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation;” and again, “The judgment was by one [offence] to condemnation.” [Rom 5:16,18] It is here clearly taught that one judgment, one sentence, included all men, and that this judgment was made up and the sentence pronounced on one offence of one man. With this express teaching of Scripture facts agree. The indications of God’s displeasure against the race are not postponed until each individual has been born into the world. Every mother is not carried back to Eden before she brings forth a son, that he may, in his own person, receive the sentence of condemnation, be denied access to the tree of life, driven from the garden of delights, and doomed to sorrow, toil, and death. Whatever our reasonings may say on the subject, it is fully ascertained to be the will of God, before an individual is born into the world, that, when born, he shall be in the condition in which the curse left the father of the race. The Bible, and the voice of Nature, speak alike on this point; and if our reasonings say that the Author of Nature and the Bible has done wrong, we should suspect that we have erred in our inferences, or in the premises from which they are drawn. And if it could be shown that a separate sentence is pronounced on each individual as he comes into the world, his condition would be no better. Being depraved by nature, we are “by nature children of wrath.” [Eph 2:3] Wrath is still our inheritance; and if the antiquity of the sentence which appointed it be admitted, the measure of that wrath is not thereby increased, nor the endurance of it made earlier. As to these results, the question is one of no importance whatever. Its relation, as exhibited in Scripture, to the doctrine of justification by the obedience of Christ, constitutes its chief claim to our careful consideration.

The sentence, “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return,” was pronounced on Adam in the singular number; yet he appears to stand under this sentence as the representative of his descendants, on all of whom the sentence takes effect. So Eve was addressed in the singular number, “In sorrow shalt thou bring forth children;” [Gen 3:16] but she stood, in this sentence, as the representative of all her daughters, on whom this penalty falls. As the natural parents, Adam and Eve stood together as the head of the race; but there was a peculiar sense in which that headship pertained to Adam. Though Eve was first in the transgression, it is not said by one woman, but “by one man sin entered into the world.” [Rom 5:12] The judgment was not by the two offences of the two natural parents of the race, but by one offence of the one man; the previous offence of the woman being left out of the account. In this headship Adam is contrasted with Christ, being called “the figure of him that was to come.” [Rom 5:14] This comparison is further brought to view in 1 Cor 15:45,47, where Christ is called the second Adam; and in 1 Cor 15:22, where it is said, “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” On Adam, who was first formed, the responsibility of peopling the new world with a race of holy immortals specially rested; and, though Satan artfully directed his first assault against the woman, his scheme would have failed had not Adam been gained over to his interest. This divinely appointed headship of Adam made his disobedience the turning point on which the future condition of his posterity depended; and Paul takes occasion from this to illustrate the dependence of believers on the obedience of the second Adam, for justification and life.

To this view it is objected, that, according to the principles of justice, the guilt of one man cannot be transferred to another, and no man can be justly condemned for that of which it is impossible for him to repent. No man living can repent of Adam’s sin, and the guilt of Adam’s sin cannot justly be imputed to any other person.

What are here so confidently assumed as axioms, may well be called in question. We must believe the Scriptures, when they say, “The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” [Isa 53:6] “He bore our sin in his own body on the tree.” [1 Pet 2:24] And we know that men cannot repent of deeds which they have wholly forgotten, and yet they are responsible for them. But there is a much shorter way of getting at this question, than by a tedious examination of these assumed axioms. No man understands that the guilt of Adam was transferred. It still remained his, and was closely and inseparably bound about him. But every one knows that there may be union and confederacy in crime. In commercial affairs, if twenty men owe one hundred dollars, each may pay five dollars, and the obligation of the whole will be cancelled. But in morals, if twenty subjects confederate to assassinate their king, each one is guilty of the whole crime, because each one has the full intention of it. Only one of the band may plunge the dagger to the monarch’s heart; but his crime may be justly imputed to them all, though his guilt may not be transferred to another. Now, we may inquire, whether such union does not exist between Adam and his descendants, as justifies the imputation of his sin to them; or, in other words, shows it to be in accordance with justice. Paul in comparing Adam and Christ as public heads, has, in Rom 5, pointed out disagreements as well as agreements. Death comes from the disobedience of the one; and life from the obedience of the other; and in Rom 6:23, he teaches that there is an important difference as to the mode in which these results follow. Death is wages, a thing deserved; life is a gift. The benefits of righteousness and life, received from Christ, are by faith; and “It is of faith, that it might be by grace.” [Rom 4:16] The condemnation and death which are from Adam, are not gratuitous and arbitrary, but come on us justly. We inquire, then, whether there is such a connection between Adam and his descendants, as renders the imputation of his sin to them, an act of justice.

1. There is a moral union between Adam and his descendants. His disobedience unfurled the banner of rebellion, and we all rally around it. We approved the deed of our father, and take arms in maintaining the war against heaven, which his disobedience proclaimed. He is the chief in this conspiracy of treason, but we are all accessories. As to the outward act, the eating of the forbidden fruit, we did not commit it; but, regarding it as a declaration of independence and revolt, we have made it our own, and it may be as justly set to our account, as if we had personally committed the deed. In this view, if we cannot, strictly speaking, repent of Adam’s sin, we may most cordially disapprove the whole revolt from God, in which our race is engaged; may most bitterly regret that it was ever commenced; and may take guilt and shame to ourselves in deep humiliation before God, that we have been engaged in it. With such feelings pervading our hearts, the doctrine that Adam’s sin is imputed to us, will not be rejected as inconsistent with justice. If we cannot, strictly speaking, repent of it, we may at least take the guilt of it to ourselves, in a sense which perfectly accords with the feelings of true penitence; and when the Holy Spirit has taught us to impute it to ourselves, we shall not complain that God imputes it.

2. There is a natural union between Adam and his descendants. He is their natural parent; and, because of this relation, they inherit a depraved nature. Our moral union with him renders our condemnation just, from the moment we possess separate existence, because of our personal depravity; and our natural union with him rendered it proper, that our condemnation should be included in the general sentence.

3. There is a federal union between Adam and his descendants. We have before seen that a covenant, not in the common, but the Scripture sense of the term, was made with Adam. This covenant, this arrangement or constitution of things, made the future character and condition of his descendants dependent on his obedience. He was, in this respect, their federal head. Some maintain that the covenant with Adam was the covenant of nature, and that there was no federal headship, different from the natural headship which belonged to him as the first parent. Happily for us, a decision of this question is not indispensable to our present discussion. The natural and moral union which we have already considered, is a just ground for the divine sentence against the whole race, in the person of their first parent; but a further examination of this question may be conducive to a better understanding of the subject.

Since nature is not something different from God operating, it cannot be of much importance to determine how much of the transaction with Adam was natural, and how much beyond the proper province of nature. The revelation of God’s will in the garden was as much above nature, as the subsequent revelation from Sinai; and so also was the judgment pronounced after the transgression. But the including of children with their parents, in the penalty inflicted for the sins of their parents, is seen in the providence of God, both in ordinary and extraordinary dispensations. Every one knows that poverty and suffering are brought on children by the intemperance and other crimes of their parents. The evils of war, famine, and pestilence, judgments inflicted for the sins of men, fall on children as well as their parents. In the deluge, and the burning of Sodom, children were destroyed with their parents. On this point, the word of God agrees with his providence. We are sometimes jealous for the Lord’s reputation, and are afraid to speak of his visiting the sins of parents on their children, but we are more cautious than the Lord himself. He proclaimed from Sinai, with his own voice, and recorded in stone with his own finger, “I, the Lord thy God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.” [Exod 20:5] And when he showed his glory to Moses, and proclaimed his name, instead of being jealous to conceal this fact, he was jealous rather to make it known; “Visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children.” [Exod 34:7]

God’s solemn declarations on this point not only explain his providence, but, in the most impressive manner, exhibit the great responsibility of parents. To bring an immortal into being, and to form his character for time and eternity, is a responsibility most momentous. This responsibility devolves on men, and it is proper they should feel it. To awaken them to a sense of it, God addresses them in the solemn language which has been quoted.

While the Scriptures stir up parents to a sense of their responsibility, they leave to children no pretext with which to cover their iniquities. Some have said, “the Lord’s ways are not equal. Our fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” [Ezek 18:2] To these complainers God said, “Behold all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine; the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” [Ezek 18:4] This is not a law repealing the decalogue, but is to be explained in harmony with it. The sins of parents affect both the character and the condition of their children, and for all this they are responsible; but the condition of the children is not worse than their character, and therefore the Lord’s ways are equal, and their complaints against him groundless.

The case of Adam differed from that of all fathers since. These may transmit peculiar tempers and propensities, and may influence their children by instruction and example, but they cannot bring them into the world free from the depravity and condemnation which the transgression of Adam brings upon them. But, though the responsibility on Adam was greater, it is still true, as in the other cases, that his descendants are responsible for themselves, and not one of them will suffer beyond the demerit of his personal character. Such is the union between Adam and his descendants, that depravity and condemnation pass from him to them, not separately, but as one inheritance. His sin, for which they suffer, is their own as well as his, and it is imputed to them because it belongs to them—is justly theirs.

After all the explanations that have been made, it may be that our hearts still accuse God, and secretly say that, had we been in his stead, we would have dealt more kindly with the human race than he has done. These accusations of God, he hears; these most secret whispers of the heart, he fully understands. What impiety does he see therein! That we, who know so little of his ways, should presume to be wiser or better than he, is daring impiety; and if nothing else will convince us that we deserve the wrath of God, let this impiety suffice. Let us accuse no more, but lay our hands on our mouths, and in deep silence before him, confess our guilt.


Men are unable to save themselves. [Jer 13:23; John 3:3; John 6:44; Rom 3:19-20; Rom 8:7-8; Gal 3:10; Heb 10:4; Heb 12:14]

The inability of men to save themselves, respects both their condemnation and their depravity.

1. Men are unable to free themselves from condemnation.

The justice by which we are all condemned is immutable. It is an attribute in the nature of God, who is not only the first cause of all things, but the very standard of all perfection. When we inquire whether God’s ways are right, we have only to ask whether they correspond with his own perfections, for there is no higher standard by which they may be tried. As the perfections of God are immutable, the standard of right is immutable. A change in the law by which we are condemned is therefore impossible. God has sometimes, from regard to the peculiar circumstances of some men, given special commands to them, which have not been obligatory on all; but the obligation to obey him, whatever his commands may be, is universal and perpetual, and no act of disobedience can ever be justified under his righteous government.

The sentence of condemnation has been duly pronounced. It was not a rash decision, needing to be revised. The Omniscient Judge knew well all the facts in the case, all the circumstances which may be pleaded in extenuation, all the effects of his decision on us, and all the bearings of it on his own character and government. His determination to create the world was not made with greater deliberation, or on surer ground; and we may as soon expect him to annihilate all the creatures that he has made, as to reverse the sentence by which we are condemned.

The Scriptures affirm, that by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified. [Rom 3:20] The law requires perfect and perpetual obedience, and can be satisfied with nothing less. Law is converted into mere advice, when its requirements are not obligatory. To claim the privilege of violating the law, or coming short of its requirements, is to claim, so far, exemption from its authority, and therefore from the moral government of God. Such exemption divine justice will not allow. Its language is, “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” [Gal 3:10] “What things the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God.” [Rom 3:19] The view which is here presented of man’s condition, relates not merely to his transgressions, but to his natural state. Hence it is said, “And were by nature the children of wrath.” [Eph 2:3] So much has God the maintenance of his law at heart, that he who was in the bosom of the father, and well understood all his counsels, has with solemnity assured us; “Verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled.” [Matt 5:18]

There is a method of rescue from condemnation; but it is not one of man’s devising or executing. To effect it requires a display of wisdom, power and love, infinitely beyond the highest efforts of man. It is God’s work, challenging the admiration of angels, and demanding gratitude, praise, and joyful acceptance from every human being.

2. Men are unable to free themselves from depravity.

The first element of this inability is seen in the fact that men lack the necessary disposition. By nature we love darkness rather than light, sin rather than holiness. To be free from depravity is to be holy, and no man can desire holiness or perfect conformity to the law of God, who does not delight in that law. But experience and Scripture unite in teaching us that the carnal mind is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. [Rom 8:7] The cause of this exists in the fact, that the carnal mind is enmity against God. Men love the ways of transgression, and desire not the knowledge of God’s ways; and therefore, they lack the disposition necessary to free themselves from depravity, and render themselves strictly conformed to the law of God.

Another element which renders the inability complete, is, that if men had the disposition, they have not the power. Men have the power to perform such external acts as the law of God requires of them. If they were wholly disposed to perform such acts, and failed through mere physical inability, that inability would be a valid excuse. God accepteth according to what a man hath. [2 Cor 8:12] We are commanded not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together; but the man who is fastened to his bed by palsy is not required to meet in the house of God. Depravity does not consist in external acts, but belongs to the heart; and the affections of the heart are not subject to volition, as the motions of the limbs are. Hence the Apostle says, “Ye cannot do the things that ye would.” [Gal 5:17] Every converted man knows the meaning of this language. The current of depraved affections in our hearts, which has been flowing in the wrong direction from the beginning of our being, and gathering strength by the power of habit, does not stop at our bidding. A volition cannot stop it with as much ease as when it moves a finger. If any man thinks he has the power to be holy at will, let him try it, and he will find his mistake.

The inability last described, which is usually called moral, must be distinguished carefully from that physical inability which excuses outward acts. Physical inability would prevent the action, even if the whole heart were bent on performing it. It excuses the failure to act; but it will not excuse a corrupt or a divided heart. The paralytic may be excused for not attending at the house of God; but he is not excused for preferring to be absent, or for possessing no longing for the courts of the Lord. The moral inability of men consists in having either a divided heart, or a heart fully set in them to do evil. The former every converted man laments, and blames himself for; and the latter is descriptive of unconverted or natural men. This includes the lack, both of disposition and power, and renders the inability complete. This inability is not an excuse for the depravity, but is the depravity itself, in its full influence over all the powers of the soul.

The Scripture representations of men’s inability are exceedingly strong. They are said to be without strength, [Rom 5:6] captives, [2 Tim 2:26] in bondage, [2 Pet 2:19; Rom 6:16-17] asleep, [1 Thess 5:6] dead, [Eph 5:14; Col 2:13] etc. The act by which they are delivered from the natural state, is called regeneration, quickening or giving life, renewing, resurrection, translation, creation; and it is directly ascribed to the power of God, the power that called light out of darkness, and raised up Christ from the dead.

Our views concerning our character and condition by nature are wholly incorrect, if we imagine that a little work, which we can effect at pleasure, will set all right. Thousands postpone the concerns of the soul from this vain imagination. A true sense of our inability would drive us to him who is able to save.


A careless admission that men are sinners is often made by persons who give themselves little concern about religion; and even acrimonious complaints may be freely vented by them against the iniquities of others. But such is the stupefying effect of human depravity, that men have very little complaint to make against themselves; and their condition, as sinners against God, awakens very little uneasiness. Occasionally conscience may be aroused, and produce alarm; but, through the deceitfulness of sin, its rebukes and warnings become unheeded, and men are again lulled to sleep in carnal security. Until this fatal slumber is broken, and a thorough, deep-rooted conviction of sin seizes the mind, and allows the man no quiet, his spiritual state exhibits no favorable indications.

Conviction of sin has sometimes produced very disquieting effects in the minds of heathen men, destitute of the true knowledge of God. Costly sacrifices and painful austerities have been resorted to for the purpose of appeasing their offended deities. Nature teaches men their danger, but cannot show them the way of escape. In these circumstances, how welcome is the light which the Bible throws on our path! It gives a far clearer discovery of our danger, and, at the same time, opens before us the door of hope.

Conviction of sin may at first respect merely our overt acts of wickedness; but, if thorough and effectual, it will extend to the depraved heart, from which evil actions proceed. It will open to our view this fountain of corruption, this deep sea casting up mire and dirt. To explore the deep windings of depravity, dark and filthy, we need the torch of revelation. Its use in making us acquainted with ourselves, demonstrates the divinity of its origin. The woman of Samaria said of Jesus, “Come see a man which told me all things that ever I did; is not this the Christ?” [John 4:29] And the Bible, which tells us so exactly all that is in our hearts, must be from God, the Searcher of hearts. The world of iniquity within us was formerly to us a land unknown; but we have now explored it in part, and we can testify that the only correct map of it is in the Holy Scriptures. As we make progress in the knowledge of ourselves, throughout our course of religious experience, what we read in our own hearts and what we read in the Bible agree perfectly, and we ever carry with us a proof that the doctrine of the Bible is the truth of God.

Many who profess to regard the Bible as a revelation from heaven, do not receive its doctrine concerning the present state of man. They cannot conceive the human heart to be so deceitful and desperately wicked as the Bible declares it to be; and especially they do not so conceive of their own hearts. We hence know that such men could not have written the Bible. When the light of truth has produced in us a thorough conviction of sin, we read the Bible with new eyes, and we discover in it the handwriting of him who said, “I the Lord search the heart.” [Jer 17:10]

The exceeding sinfulness of sin appears when it is viewed as committed against God. David said, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned.” [Ps 51:4] While under genuine conviction of sin, a view of God’s perfections renders the conviction overwhelming. To have sinned against so glorious and excellent a being; to have rebelled against the rightful Sovereign of the universe, and aimed at dethroning him; to have violated his law, holy, just, and good; to have trampled his authority under our feet, insulted his majesty, despised the riches of his forbearance and goodness; to have persevered in our course, notwithstanding the calls of his mercy; and, in spite of all his warnings and threatening, to have, feeble worms as we are, defied his omnipotent vengeance: when such views of sin are presented, in the light of God’s word, our souls are filled with anguish, and in the depth of sorrow and self-condemnation we adopt the publican’s prayer, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” [Luke 18:13]

The word of God, which pierces to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart, [Heb 4:12] often gives pain by its probing, but their tendency is salutary. They are unwelcome to hypocrites and false professors; but the man of sincere piety prays, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me into the way everlasting.” [Ps 139:23-24] The Bible tears the mask from the hypocrite, and shows to the Pharisee that all his righteousnesses are but filthy rags; [Isa 64:6] but, humiliating as these wholesome instructions are, the true penitent rejoices to receive them. He fears to be deceived; and he blesses God for the light of truth, by which his true character is revealed.

When men’s eyes are opened to see their spiritual danger, they generally attempt, in their own strength, to work out their salvation. These efforts prove unavailing; and they learn, by experience, that they have no help in themselves. This truth, though clearly taught in the Bible, they never really believed until it was thus learned. Here arises, in the heart of Christian experience, another confirmation of Bible doctrine. A truth which no man sincerely believes until the Spirit of God has taught him, by inward experience, must have proceeded from God. In the whole progress of our spiritual life we become increasingly convinced of our utter helplessness and entire dependence on strength divine; and the Bible doctrine on this subject acquires perpetually increasing confirmation.

Genuine Christian experience commences with conviction of sin; but, blessed be God, it does not end here. The knowledge of our depravity, condemnation, and helplessness, would fill us with despair, were it not that salvation, precisely adapted to our necessities, has been provided by the mercy of God, and revealed in the gospel of his Son. The very truth, which would otherwise fill us with anguish and despair, prepares for the joyful acceptance of salvation by Christ. He who rejects this truth does not feel the need of Christ; and, therefore, does not come to him for life. They that be whole need not a physician. [Matt 9:12] Let the truth of this chapter be received deep in the heart, and we shall be prepared for the profitable study of the next subject.[1]

[1] John L. Dagg. A Manual of Theology.

Posted in Dagg, John L., Depravity, Founders, Heritage, Original Sin, Southern Baptist | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Defense of Calvinism by Charles Spurgeon

Even though Charles Spurgeon was not a Baptist from the south, he was well respected by Baptists and Non-Baptists alike. His defense of Calvinism is one that stands in contrast to the modern day Baptists who would claim it as heresy. Read what CHS has to say about the subject.

A Defense of Calvinism

The old truth that Calvin preached, that Augustine preached, that Paul preached, is the truth that I must preach to-day, or else be false to my conscience and my God. I cannot shape the truth; I know of no such thing as paring off the rough edges of a doctrine. John Knox’s gospel is my gospel. That which thundered through Scotland must thunder through England again.—C. H. S.

IT is a great thing to begin the Christian life by believing good solid doctrine. Some people have received twenty different “gospels” in as many years; how many more they will accept before they get to their journey’s end, it would be difficult to predict. I thank God that He early taught me the gospel; and I have been so perfectly satisfied with it, that I do not want to know any other. Constant change of creed is sure loss. If a tree has to be taken up two or three times a year, you will not need to build a very large loft in which to store the apples. When people are always shifting their doctrinal principles, they are not likely to bring forth much fruit to the glory of God. It is good for young believers to begin with a firm hold upon those great fundamental docrines which the Lord has taught in His Word. Why, if I believed what some preach about the temporary, trumpery salvation which only lasts for a time, I would scarcely be at all grateful for it; but when I know that those whom God saves He saves with an everlasting salvation, when I know that He gives to them an everlasting righteousness, when I know that He settles them on an everlasting foundation of everlasting love, and that He will bring them to His everlasting kingdom, oh, then I do wonder, and I am astonished that such a blessing as this should ever have been given to me!

“Pause, my soul! adore, and wonder!

Ask, ‘Oh, why such love to me?’

Grace hath put me in the number

Of the Saviour’s family:


Thanks, eternal thanks, to Thee!”

I suppose there are some persons whose minds naturally incline towards the doctrine of free-will. I can only say that mine inclines as naturally towards the doctrines of sovereign grace. Sometimes, when I see some of the worst characters in the street, I feel as if my heart must burst forth in tears of gratitude that God has never let me act as they have done! I have thought, if God had left me alone, and had not touched me by His grace, what a great sinner I should have been! I should have run to the utmost lengths of sin, dived into the very depths of evil, nor should I have stopped at any vice or folly, if God had not restrained me. I feel that I should have been a very king of sinners, if God had let me alone. I cannot understand the reason why I am saved, except upon the ground that God would have it so. I cannot, if I look ever so earnestly, discover any kind of reason in myself why I should be a partaker of Divine grace. If I am not at this moment without Christ, it is only because Christ Jesus would have His will with me, and that will was that I should be with Him where He is, and should share His glory. I can put the crown nowhere but upon the head of Him whose mighty grace has saved me from going down into the pit. Looking back on my past life, I can see that the dawning of it all was of God; of God effectively. I took no torch with which to light the sun: but the sun enlightened me. I did not commence my spiritual life,—no, I rather kicked and struggled against the things of the Spirit: when He drew me, for a time I did not run after Him: there was a natural hatred in my soul of everything holy and good. Wooings were lost upon me,—warnings were cast to the wind,—thunders were despised; and as for the whispers of His love, they were rejected as being less than nothing and vanity. But, sure I am, I can say now, speaking on behalf of myself, “He only is my salvation.” It was He who turned my heart, and brought me down on my knees before Him. I can in very deed, say with Doddridge and Toplady,—

“Grace taught my soul to pray,

And made my eyes o’erflow;”

and coming to this moment, I can add,—

“’Tis grace has kept me to this day,

And will not let me go.”

Well can I remember the manner in which I learned the doctrines of grace in a single instant. Born, as all of us are by nature, an Arminian, I still believed the old things I had heard continually from the pulpit, and did not see the grace of God. When I was coming to Christ, I thought I was doing it all myself, and though I sought the Lord earnestly, I had no idea the Lord was seeking me. I do not think the young convert is at first aware of this. I can recall the very day and hour when first I received those truths in my own soul,*—when they were, as John Bunyan says, burnt into my heart as with a hot iron; and I can recollect how I felt that I had grown on a sudden from a babe into a man,—that I had made progress in Scriptural knowledge, through having found, once for all, the clue to the truth of God. One week-night, when I was sitting in the house of God, I was not thinking much about the preacher’s sermon, for I did not believe it. The thought struck me, “How did you come to be a Christian?” I sought the Lord. “But how did you come to seek the Lord?” The truth flashed across my mind in a moment,—I should not have sought Him unless there had been some previous influence in my mind to make me seek Him. I prayed, thought I; but then I asked myself, How came I to pray? I was induced to pray by reading the Scriptures. How came I to read the Scriptures? I did read them; but what led me to do so? Then, in a moment, I saw that God was at the bottom of it all, and that He was the Author of my faith; and so the whole doctrine of grace opened up to me, and from that doctrine I have not departed to this day, and I desire to make this my constant confession, “I ascribe my change wholly to God.”

I once attended a service where the text happened to be, “He shall choose our inheritance for us;” and the good man who occupied the pulpit was more than a little of an Arminian. Therefore, when he commenced, he said, “This passage refers entirely to our temporal inheritance, it has nothing whatever to do with our everlasting destiny; for,” said he, “we do not want Christ to choose for us in the matter of Heaven or hell. It is so plain and easy, that every man who has a grain of common sense will choose Heaven; and any person would know better than to choose hell. We have no need of any superior intelligence, or any greater Being, to choose Heaven or hell for us. It is left to our own free-will; and we have enough wisdom given us, sufficiently correct means to judge for ourselves,” and therefore, as he very logically inferred, there was no necessity for Jesus Christ, or anyone, to make a choice for us. We could choose the inheritance for ourselves without any assistance. “Ah!” I thought, “but, my good brother, it may be very true that we could, but I think we should want something more than common sense before we should choose aright.”

First, let me ask, must we not all of us admit an over-ruling Providence, and the appointment of Jehovah’s hand, as to the means whereby we came into this world? Those men who think that, afterwards, we are left to our own free-will to choose this one or the other to direct our steps, must admit that our entrance into the world was not of our own will, but that God had then to choose for us. What circumstances were those in our power which led us to elect certain persons to be our parents? Had we anything to do with it? Did not God Himself appoint our parents, native place, and friends? Could He not have caused me to be born with the skin of the Hottentot, brought forth by a filthy mother who would nurse me in her “kraal”, and teach me to bow down to Pagan gods, quite as easily as to have given me a pious mother, who would each morning and night bend her knee in prayer on my behalf? Or, might He not, if He had pleased, have given me some profligate to have been my parent, from whose lips I might have early heard fearful, filthy, and obscene language? Might He not have placed me where I should have had a drunken father, who would have immured me in a very dungeon of ignorance, and brought me up in the chains of crime? Was it not God’s Providence that I had so happy a lot, that both my parents were His children, and endeavoured to train me up in the fear of the Lord?

John Newton used to tell a whimsical story, and laugh at it, too, of a good woman who said, in order to prove the doctrine of election, “Ah! sir, the Lord must have loved me before I was born, or else He would not have seen anything in me to love afterwards.” I am sure it is true in my case; I believe the doctrine of election, because I am quite certain that, if God had not chosen me, I should never have chosen Him; and I am sure He chose me before I was born, or else He never would have chosen me afterwards; and He must have elected me for reasons unknown to me, for I never could find any reason in myself why He should have looked upon me with special love. So I am forced to accept that great Biblical doctrine. I recollect an Arminian brother telling me that he had read the Scriptures through a score or more times, and could never find the doctrine of election in them. He added that he was sure he would have done so if it had been there, for he read the Word on his knees. I said to him, “I think you read the Bible in a very uncomfortable posture, and if you had read it in your easy chair, you would have been more likely to understand it. Pray, by all means, and the more, the better; but it is a piece of superstition to think there is anything in the posture in which a man puts himself for reading: and as to reading through the Bible twenty times without having found anything about the doctrine of ejection, the wonder is that you found anything at all: you must have galloped through it at such a rate that you were not likely to have any intelligible idea of the meaning of the Scriptures.”

If it would be marvellous to see one river leap up from the earth full-grown, what would it be to gaze upon a vast spring from which all the rivers of the earth should at once come bubbling up, a million of them born at a birth? What a vision would it be! Who can conceive it? And yet the love of God is that fountain, from which all the rivers of mercy, which have ever gladdened our race,—all the rivers of grace in time, and of glory hereafter,—take their rise. My soul, stand thou at that sacred fountain-head, and adore and magnify for ever and ever God, even our Father, who hath loved us! In the very beginning, when this great universe lay in the mind of God, like unborn forests in the acorn cup; long ere the echoes awoke the solitudes; before the mountains were brought forth; and long ere the light flashed through the sky, God loved His chosen creatures. Before there was any created being,—when the ether was not fanned by an angel’s wing, when space itself had not an existence; when there was nothing save God alone; even then, in that loneliness of Deity, and in that deep quiet and profundity, His bowels moved with love for His chosen. Their names were written on His heart, and then were they dear to His soul. Jesus loved his people before the foundation of the world,—even from eternity! and when He called me by His grace, He said to me, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”

Then, in the fulness of time, He purchased me with His blood; He let His heart run out in one deep gaping wound for me long ere I loved Him. Yea, when He first came to me, did I not spurn Him? When He knocked at the door, and asked for entrance, did I not drive Him away, and do despite to His grace? Ah! I can remember that I full often did so until, at last, by the power of His effectual grace, He said, “I must, I will come in;” and then He turned my heart, and made me love Him. But even till now I should have resisted Him, had it not been for His grace. Well, then, since He purchased me when I was dead in sins, does it not follow, as a consequence necessary and logical, that He must have loved me first? Did my Saviour die for me because I believed on Him? No; I was not then in existence; I had then no being. Could the Saviour, therefore, have died because I had faith, when I myself was not yet born? Could that have been possible? Could that have been the origin of the Saviour’s love towards me? Oh! no; my Saviour died for me long before I believed. “But,” says someone, “He foresaw that you would have faith; and, therefore, He loved you.” What did He foresee about my faith? Did He foresee that I should get that faith myself, and that I should believe on Him of myself? No; Christ could not foresee that, because no Christian man will ever say that faith came of itself without the gift and without the working of the Holy Spirit. I have met with a great many believers, and talked with them about this matter; but I never knew one who could put his hand on his heart, and say, “I believed in Jesus without the assistance of the Holy Spirit.”

I am bound to the doctrine of the depravity of the human heart, because I find myself depraved in heart, and have daily proofs that in my flesh there dwelleth no good thing. If God enters into covenant with unfallen man, man is so insignificant a creature that it must be an act of gracious condescension on the Lord’s part; but if God enters into covenant with sinful man, he is then so offensive a creature that it must be, on God’s part, an act of pure, free, rich, sovereign grace. When the Lord entered into covenant with me, I am sure that it was all of grace, nothing else but grace. When I remember what a den of unclean beasts and birds my heart was, and how strong was my unrenewed will, how obstinate and rebellious against the sovereignty of the Divine rule, I always feel inclined to take the very lowest room in my Father’s house; and when I enter Heaven, it will be to go among the less than the least of all saints, and with the chief of sinners.

The late lamented Mr. Denham has put, at the foot of his portrait, a most admirable text, “Salvation is of the Lord.” That is just an epitome of Calvinism; it is the sum and substance of it. If anyone should ask me what I mean by a Calvinist, I should reply, “He is one who says, Salvation is of the Lord.” I cannot find in Scripture any other doctrine than this. It is the essence of the Bible. “He only is my rock and my salvation.” Tell me anything contrary to this truth, and it will be a heresy; tell me a heresy, and I shall find its essence here, that it has departed from this great, this fundamental, this rock-truth, “God is my rock and my salvation.” What is the heresy of Rome, but the addition of something to the perfect merits of Jesus Christ,—the bringing in of the works of the flesh, to assist in our justification? And what is the heresy of Arminianism but the addition of something to the work of the Redeemer? Every heresy, if brought to the touchstone, will discover itself here. I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having once believed in Jesus. Such a gospel I abhor.

“If ever it should come to pass,

That sheep of Christ might fall away,

My fickle, feeble soul, alas!

Would fall a thousand times a day.”

If one dear saint of God had perished, so might all; if one of the covenant ones be lost, so may all be; and then there is no gospel promise true, but the Bible is a lie, and there is nothing in it worth my acceptance. I will be an infidel at once when I can believe that a saint of God can ever fall finally. If God hath loved me once, then He will love me for ever. God has a master-mind; He arranged everything in His gigantic intellect long before He did it; and once having settled it, He never alters it. “This shall be done,” saith He, and the iron hand of destiny marks it down, and it is brought to pass. “This is My purpose,” and it stands, nor can earth or hell alter it. “This is My decree,” saith He, “promulgate it, ye holy angels; rend it down from the gate of Heaven, ye devils, if ye can; but ye cannot alter the decree, it shall stand for ever.” God altereth not His plans; why should He? He is Almighty, and therefore can perform His pleasure. Why should He? He is the All-wise, and therefore cannot have planned wrongly. Why should He? He is the everlasting God, and therefore cannot die before His plan is accomplished. Why should He change? Ye worthless atoms of earth, ephemera of a day, ye creeping insects upon this bay-leaf of existence, ye may change your plans, but He shall never, never change His. Has He told me that His plan is to save me? If so, I am for ever safe.

“My name from the palms of His hands

Eternity will not erase;

Impress’d on His heart it remains,

In marks of indelible grace.”

I do not know how some people, who believe that a Christian can fall from grace, manage to be happy. It must be a very commendable thing in them to be able to get through a day without despair. If I did not believe the doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints, I think I should be of all men the most miserable, because I should lack any ground of comfort. I could not say, whatever state of heart I came into, that I should be like a well-spring of water, whose stream fails not; I should rather have to take the comparison of an intermittent spring, that might stop on a sudden, or a reservoir, which I had no reason to expect would always be full. I believe that the happiest of Christians and the truest of Christians are those who never dare to doubt God, but who take His Word simply as it stands, and believe it, and ask no questions, just feeling assured that it God has said it, it will be so. I bear my willing testimony that I have no reason, nor even the shadow of a reason, to doubt my Lord; and I challenge Heaven, and earth, and hell to bring any proof that God is untrue. From the depths of hell I call the fiends, and from this earth I call the tried and afflicted believers, and to Heaven I appeal, and challenge the long experience of the blood-washed host, and there is not to be found in the three realms a single person who can bear witness to one fact which can disprove the faithfulness of God, or weaken His claim to be trusted by His servants. There are many things that may or may not happen, but this I know shall happen,—

“He shall present my soul,

Unblemish’d and complete,

Before the glory of His face,

With joys divinely great.”

All the purposes of man have been defeated, but not the purposes of God. The promises of man may be broken,—many of them are made to be broken,—but the promises of God shall all be fulfilled. He is a promise-maker, but He never was a promise-breaker; He is a promise-keeping God, and every one of His people shall prove it to be so. This is my grateful, personal confidence, “The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me,”—unworthy me, lost and ruined me. He will yet save me; and—

“I, among the blood-wash’d throng,

Shall wave the palm, and wear the crown,

And shout loud victory.”

I go to a land which the plough of earth hath never upturned, where it is greener than earth’s best pastures, and richer than her most abundant harvests ever saw. I go to a building of more gorgeous architecture than man hath ever builded; it is not of mortal design; it is “a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the Heavens.” All I shall know and enjoy in Heaven, will be given to me by the Lord; and I shall say, when at last I appear before Him,—

“Grace all the work shall crown

Through everlasting days;

It lays in Heaven the topmost stone,

And well deserves the praise.”

I know there are some who think it necessary to their system of theology to limit the merit of the blood of Jesus: if my theological system needed such a limitation, I would cast it to the winds. I cannot, I dare not, allow the thought to find a lodging in my mind, it seems so near akin to blasphemy. In Christ’s finished work I see an ocean of merit; my plummet finds no bottom, my eye discovers no shore. There must be sufficient efficacy in the blood of Christ, if God had so willed it, to have saved not only all in this world, but all in ten thousand worlds, had they transgressed their Maker’s law. Once admit infinity into the matter, and limit is out of the question. Having a Divine Person for an offering, it is not consistent to conceive of limited value; bound and measure are terms inapplicable to the Divine sacrifice. The intent of the Divine purpose fixes the application of the infinite offering, but does not change it into a finite work. Think of the numbers upon whom God has bestowed His grace already. Think of the countless hosts in Heaven: if thou wert introduced there to-day, thou wouldst find it as easy to tell the stars, or the sands of the sea, as to count the multitudes that are before the throne even now. They have come from the East, and from the West, from the North, and from the South, and they are sitting down with Abraham, and with Isaac, and with Jacob in the Kingdom of God; and beside those in Heaven, think of the saved ones on earth. Blessed be God, His elect on earth are to be counted by millions, I believe; and the days are coming, brighter days than these, when there shall be multitudes upon multitudes brought to know the Saviour, and to rejoice in Him. The Father’s love is not for a few only, but for an exceeding great company. “A great multitude, which no man could number,” will be found in Heaven. A man can reckon up to very high figures; set to work your Newtons, your mightiest calculators, and they can count great numbers; but God and God alone can tell the multitude of His redeemed. I believe there will be more in Heaven than in hell. If anyone asks me why I think so, I answer, because Christ, in everything, is to “have the pre-eminence,” and I cannot conceive how He could have the preeminence if there are to be more in the dominions of Satan than in Paradise. Moreover, I have never read that there is to be in hell a great multitude, which no man could number. I rejoice to know that the souls of all infants, as soon as they die, speed their way to Paradise. Think what a multitude there is of them! Then there are already in Heaven unnumbered myriads of the spirits of just men made perfect,—the redeemed of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues up till now; and there are better times coming, when the religion of Christ shall be universal; when—

“He shall reign from pole to pole,

With illimitable sway;”

when whole kingdoms shall bow down before Him, and nations shall be born in a day; and in the thousand years of the great millennial state there will be enough saved to make up all the deficiencies of the thousands of years that have gone before. Christ shall be Master everywhere, and His praise shall be sounded in every land. Christ shall have the pre-eminence at last; His train shall be far larger than that which shall attend the chariot of the grim monarch of hell.

Some persons love the doctrine of universal atonement because they say, “It is so beautiful. It is a lovely idea that Christ should have died for all men; it commends itself,” they say, “to the instincts of humanity; there is something in it full of joy and beauty.” I admit there is; but beauty may be often associated with falsehood. There is much which I might admire in the theory of universal redemption, but I will just show what the supposition necessarily involves. If Christ on His cross intended to save every man, then He intended to save those who were lost before He died. If the doctrine be true, that He died for all men, then He died for some who were in hell before He came into this world, for doubtless there were even then myriads there who had been cast away because of their sins. Once again, if it was Christ’s intention to save all men, how deplorably has He been disappointed, for we have His own testimony that there is a lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, and into that pit of woe have been cast some of the very persons who, according to the theory of universal redemption, were bought with His blood. That seems to me a conception a thousand times more repulsive than any of those consequences which are said to be associated with the Calvinistic and Christian doctrine of special and particular redemption. To think that my Saviour died for men who were or are in hell, seems a supposition too horrible for me to entertain. To imagine for a moment that He was the Substitute for all the sons of men, and that God, having first punished the Substitute, afterwards punished the sinners themselves, seems to conflict with all my ideas of Divine justice. That Christ should offer an atonement and satisfaction for the sins of all men, and that afterwards some of those very men should be punished for the sins for which Christ had already atoned, appears to me to be the most monstrous iniquity that could ever have been imputed to Saturn, to Janus, to the goddess of the Thugs, or to the most diabolical heathen deities. God forbid that we should ever think thus of Jehovah, the just and wise and good!

There is no soul living who holds more firmly to the doctrines of grace than I do, and if any man asks me whether I am ashamed to be called a Calvinist, I answer,—I wish to be called nothing but a Christian; but if you ask me, do I hold the doctrinal views which were held by John Calvin, I reply, I do in the main hold them, and rejoice to avow it. But far be it from me even to imagine that Zion contains none but Calvinistic Christians within her walls, or that there are none saved who do not hold our views. Most atrocious things have been spoken about the character and spiritual condition of John Wesley, the modern prince of Arminians. I can only say concerning him that, while I detest many of the doctrines which he preached, yet for the man himself I have a reverence second to no Wesleyan; and if there were wanted two apostles to be added to the number of the twelve, I do not believe that there could be found two men more fit to be so added than George Whitefield and John Wesley. The character of John Wesley stands beyond all imputation for self-sacrifice, zeal, holiness, and communion with God; he lived far above the ordinary level of common Christians, and was one “of whom the world was not worth.” I believe there are multitudes of men who cannot see these truths, or, at least, cannot see them in the way in which we put them, who nevertheless have received Christ as their Saviour, and are as dear to the heart of the God of grace as the soundest Calvinist in or out of Heaven.

I do not think I differ from any of my Hyper-Calvinistic brethren in what I do believe; but I differ from them in what they do not believe. I do not hold any less than they do, but I hold a little more, and, I think, a little more of the truth revealed in the Scriptures. Not only are there a few cardinal doctrines, by which we can steer our ship North, South, East, or West; but as we study the Word, we shall begin to learn something about the North-west and North-east, and all else that lies between the four cardinal points. The system of truth revealed in the Scriptures is not simply one straight line, but two; and no man will ever get a right view of the gospel until he knows how to look at the two lines at once. For instance, I read in one Book of the Bible, “The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Yet I am taught, in another part of the same inspired Word, that “it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.” I see, in one place, God in providence presiding over all; and yet I see, and I cannot help seeing, that man acts as he pleases, and that God has left his actions, in a great measure, to his own free-will. Now, if I were to declare that man was so free to act that there was no control of God over his actions, I should be driven very near to atheism; and if, on the other hand, I should declare that God so over-rules all things that man is not free enough to be responsible, I should be driven at once into Antinomianism or fatalism. That God predestines, and yet that man is responsible, are two facts that few can see clearly. They are believed to be inconsistent and contradictory; but they are not. The fault is in our weak judgment. Two truths cannot be contradictory to each other. If, then, I find taught in one part of the Bible that everything is fore-ordained, that is true; and if I find, in another Scripture, that man is responsible for all his actions, that is true; and it is only my folly that leads me to imagine that these two truths can ever contradict each other. I do not believe they can ever be welded into one upon any earthly anvil, but they certainly shall be one in eternity. They are two lines that are so nearly parallel, that the human mind which pursues them farthest will never discover that they converge; but they do converge, and they will meet somewhere in eternity, close to the throne of God, whence all truth doth spring.

It is often said that the doctrines we believe have a tendency to lead us to sin. I have heard it asserted most positively, that those high doctrines which we love, and which we find in the Scriptures, are licentious ones. I do not know who will have the hardihood to make that assertion, when they consider that the holiest of men have been believers in them. I ask the man who dares to say that Calvinism is a licentious religion, what he thinks of the character of Augustine, or Calvin, or Whitefield, who in successive ages were the great exponents of the system of grace; or what will he say of the Puritans, whose works are full of them? Had a man been an Arminian in those days, he would have been accounted the vilest heretic breathing; but now we are looked upon as the heretics, and they as the orthodox. We have gone back to the old school; we can trace our descent from the apostles. It is that vein of free-grace, running through the sermonizing of Baptists, which has saved us as a denomination. Were it not for that, we should not stand where we are to-day. We can run a golden line up to Jesus Christ Himself, through a holy succession of mighty fathers, who all held these glorious truths; and we can ask concerning them, “Where will you find holier and better men in the world?” No doctrine is so calculated to preserve a man from sin as the doctrine of the grace of God. Those who have called it “a licentious doctrine” did not know anything at all about it. Poor ignorant things, they little knew that their own vile stuff was the most licentious doctrine under Heaven. If they knew the grace of God in truth, they would soon see that there was no preservative from lying like a knowledge that we are elect of God from the foundation of the world. There is nothing like a belief in my eternal perseverance, and the immutability of my Father’s affection, which can keep me near to Him from a motive of simple gratitude. Nothing makes a man so virtuous as belief of the truth. A lying doctrine will soon beget a lying practice. A man cannot have an erroneous belief without by-and-by having an erroneous life. I believe the one thing naturally begets the other. Of all men, those have the most disinterested piety, the sublimest reverence, the most ardent devotion, who believe that they are saved by grace, without works, through faith, and that not of themselves, it is the gift of God. Christians should take heed, and see that it always is so, lest by any means Christ should be crucified afresh, and put to an open shame.

In my early Christian days, I remember seeing a man about to enter a place of worldly amusement. Though he was a professing Christian, he was going to spend the evening in a dancing booth at the village fair, drinking and acting as other men did. I called out to him, just as he was at the entrance, “What doest thou there, Elijah?” “Why do you ask me such a question as that?” said he. I asked again, “What doest thou there, Elijah? Art thou going in there?” “Yes,” he replied, with some sort of blush, “I am, but I can do so with impunity; I am a child of God, and I can go where I like, and yet be safe.” “I could not,” said I; “if I went there, I know I should commit sin. It is a place of danger, and I could not go there without great risk of sinning against God.” “Ah!” said he, “I could; I have been before, and I have had some sweet thoughts there. I find it enlarges the intellect. You are narrow-minded; you do not appreciate these good things. It is a rich treat, I assure you; I would go if I were you.” “No,” I said, “it would be dangerous for me; from what I hear, the name of Jesus is profaned there; and there is much said that is altogether contrary to the religion I believe. The persons who attend there are none of the best, and it will surely be said that birds of a feather flock together.” “Ah, well!” he replied, “perhaps you young men had better keep away; I am a strong man, I can go;” and off he went to the place of amusement. My soul revolted from the man ever afterwards, for I felt that no child of God would ever be so wicked as to take poison in the faith that his Father would give him the antidote, or thrust himself into the fire, in the hope that he should not be burned. That man was an apple of Sodom, and I guessed that there was something rotten at the core; and I found by experience that it was so, for he was a downright sensualist even then. He wore a mask, for he was a hypocrite, and had none of the grace of God in his heart.

(This is evidently the man mentioned in the Diary, on page 146, and is quite a different person from “Old Roads”—see pages 23 and 24,—who was rebuked by “the child” for frequenting the Stambourne public-house, and who, through that rebuke, was restored to a consistent Christian life.)
Spurgeon, C. H. (1898). C. H. Spurgeon’s Autobiography, Compiled from his diary, letters, and records, by his wife and his private secretary: Volume 1, 1834–1854. Cincinatti; Chicago; St. Louis: Curts & Jennings.
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