Let's be reasonable with one another, shall we?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Spurgeon says 'Arbitrarily' and 'Sovereignly' are the same thing

Do you believe that God created man and arbitrarily, sovereignly—it is the same thing—created that man, with no other intention, than that of damning him? Made him, and yet, for no other reason than that of destroying him for ever? Well, if you can believe it, I pity you, that is all I can say: you deserve pity, that you should think so meanly of God, whose mercy endureth for ever. You are quite right when you say the reason why God loves a man, is because God does do so; there is no reason in the man. But do not give the same answer as to why God hates a man. If God deals with any man severely, it is because that man deserves all he gets. In hell there will not be a solitary soul that will say to God, O Lord, thou hast treated me worse than I deserve! But every lost spirit will be made to feel that he has got his deserts, that his destruction lies at his own door and not at the door of God; that God had nothing to do with his condemnation, except as the Judge condemns the criminal, but that he himself brought damnation upon his own head, as the result of his own evil works. Justice is that which damns a man; it is mercy, it is free grace, that saves; sovereignty holds the scale of love; it is justice holds the other scale. Who can put that into the hand of sovereignty? That were to libel God and to dishonour him.

14 Jacob and Esau, Sermon 241, The Spurgeon Archive


  • Good morning Rose,

    Unsure as to what point you are making here and where it is leading.


    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 4/25/2008 10:57 AM  

  • Was I making a point? :~)

    If you enter your comment and then press "preview", you then have the option of subscribing to the comments. I think you are not officially logged in - on the first comment of the day - and therefore you can't subscribe to comments, but if you preview, you get logged in. Does that help?

    What do you think of the Spurgeon quote? It actually sounds a little like some of the things you say sometimes, but not quite.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 4/25/2008 11:11 AM  

  • Hi Rose,

    Was your article "pointless"? :0)

    I agree with Spurgeon here. I don't think he is using the word "arbitary" in the sense of being reckless. He is teaching here God's unconditional salvic love for the elect. However, he is being very careful to teach that the damnation of the sinner is not unconditional, but conditional and consequent to the foreseen sin of the said sinner.

    As it stands, I think that would agree with CHS in his comments here, unless you want to attribute a reason in man why God should love him unto salvation. You don't want to do that, do you?


    P/s Thanks for the tip on being able to use the email notification facility easier.

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 4/25/2008 11:22 AM  

  • Rose,
    I think you might be misreading his point. I think Spurgeon objects to using the term “sovereignty” in relation to people being damned and he is answering hyper-Calvinists here. Spurgeon had a running battle with the Hyper-Calvinists of his day.

    It is sovereign grace that elects sinners unto life. The hyper-Calvinists believe that God elects men unto damnation the same way that God elects sinners to life. Calvinists like Spurgeon do not believe that. A sinner’s damnation is not to be blamed on God’s decree, but is because man is a rebel since the fall and deserves God’s just wrath and curse.

    As I understand Spurgeon’s quote, he is actually objecting to using the word “sovereignty” in relation to reprobation. If you read the rest of the sermon, it becomes clear what he meant. He is not saying this H-C view of sovereignty that amounts to God being arbitrary is what he holds to.

    Backing up on the same sermon...

    Now, I say if the character of Jacob, be as I have described it, and I am sure it is—we have got it in God's word—there was, there could have been nothing in Jacob, that made God love him; and the only reason why God loved him, must have been because of his own grace, because "he will have mercy on whom he will have mercy." And rest assured, the only reason why any of us can hope to be saved is this, the sovereign grace of God. There is no reason why I should be saved, or why you should be saved, but God's own merciful heart, and God's own omnipotent will. Now that is the doctrine; it is taught not only in this passage, but in multitudes of other passages of God's Word. Dear friends, receive it, hold fast by it, and never let it go.

    Now, the next question is a different one: Why did God hate Esau? I am not going to mix this question up with the other, they are entirely distinct, and I intend to keep them so, one answer will not do for two questions, they must be taken separately, and then can be answered satisfactorily.
    Why does God hate any man? I defy anyone to give any answer but this, because that man deserves it; no reply but that can ever be true. There are some who answer, divine sovereignty; but I challenge them to look that doctrine in the face. Do you believe that God created man and arbitrarily, sovereignly—it is the same thing—created that man, with no other intention, than that of damning him?
    Later on in the sermon he says this:
    …Justice is that which damns a man; it is mercy, it is free grace, that saves; sovereignty holds the scale of love; it is justice holds the other scale. Who can put that into the hand of sovereignty? That were to libel God and to dishonour him; Now, let us look at Esau's character, says one, "did he deserve that God should cast him away?" I answer, he did. What we know of Esau's character, clearly proves it. Esau lost his birthright. Do not sit down and weep about that, and blame God. Esau sold it himself; he sold it for a mess of pottage. Oh, Esau, it is in vain for thee to say, "I lost my birthright by decree." No, no. Jacob got it by decree, but you lost it because you sold it yourself—didn't you? Was it not your own bargain? Did you not take the mess of red pottage of your own voluntary will, in lieu of the birthright? Your destruction lies at your own door, because you sold your own soul at your own bargain, and you did it yourself. Did God influence Esau to do that? God forbid, God is not the author of sin. Esau voluntarily gave up his own birthright. And the doctrine is, that every man who loses heaven gives it up himself. Every man who loses everlasting life rejects it himself. God denies it not to him—he will not come that he may have life…
    … If any of you want to know what I preach every day, and any stranger should say, "Give me a summary of his doctrine," say this, "He preaches salvation all of grace, and damnation all of sin. He gives God all the glory for every soul that is saved, but he won't have it that God is to blame for any man that is damned." That teaching I cannot understand. My soul revolts at the idea of a doctrine that lays the blood of man's soul at God's door. I cannot conceive how any human mind, at least any Christian mind, can hold any such blasphemy as that. I delight to preach this blessed truth—salvation of God, from first to last—the Alpha and the Omega; but when I come to preach damnation, I say, damnation of man, not of God; and if you perish, at your own hands must your blood be required.

    Hope that helps.

    Every Blessing,

    By Blogger VA ~Susan, at 4/27/2008 8:52 PM  

  • I think Va~ hit the nail on the head. I would disagree with CHS though (Romans 9).

    By Blogger Jonathan Moorhead, at 4/29/2008 9:43 AM  

  • Good morning, Rose:

    My daily reading this morning was in Exodus 33. I noticed Matthew Henry's comments which are very similar to Spurgeon's:

    It is never said, “I will be angry at whom I will be angry,” for his wrath is always just and holy; but I will show mercy on whom I will show mercy, for his grace is always free. He never damns by prerogative, but by prerogative he saves. The apostle quotes this (Rom_9:15) in answer to those who charged God with unrighteousness in giving that grace freely to some which he withholds justly from others.

    I agree!


    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/01/2008 2:42 AM  

  • Susan,
    I did think it interesting that he used the word "arbitrarily" and "sovereignly" in that way. I remember a disussion one time in which a non-Calvinist called "U" arbitrary election or something like that... he used the word arbitrary... and the Calvinists took issue with him. That is why this quote jumped out at me.

    Thanks for the visit, Jonathan.

    Sorry it took me so long to get back to this.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 5/03/2008 10:59 AM  

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