I do not think there is anything scarcely that surprises me more than hearing people talk of reprobation! One says, we have nothing to do with it. Another says, it is wrong to say much about it. A third steps in, yea, a spruce sprig of self-made religion, or man-made religion, and says, “It is Christ we want”. If all the hopping, chirping birds, that send forth their notes out of their bills against reprobation, had been clawed a piece as my poor soul has, by the eagle strength of reprobation, under the power of God’s blessed Spirit, their prim feathers of self-wisdom would be put into disorder a little. Poor butterflies!! If the heavenly devourer, reprobation, had ever been permitted to fly at them by God’s command, to teach them the truth of the doctrine experimentally, they would have been swallowed up quick; their gay wings would not shine so; they could not fly about so in the fields of their nature’s ignorance. Poor insects! Poor chirping creatures! The flocks and swarms of insects and creatures that chirp against reprobation are many. Many there are also who will sing of election, who deny, the right of the Potter to make also of the same lump vessels predestinated by him to be damned for their sins.
Tunes these crawling insects sing against God and against reprobation are what the devil, the father of lies, dances to, and which I believe are like the bellowing of cannibals in the ears of the ever blessed God.
I learn the doctrine of reprobate from my own heart. I see such hid disorders there, and can see in all the non-elect (living and dying) such stupid ignorance, such dolt-like insensibility, such malicious hatred, such phrenzied opposition, and such bitter villainy against God and His truth, His people and His cause, nay, such a death and opposition do I see in all the reprobate towards everything that is good, that it is in this way I am experimentally convinced of the truth of the doctrine of reprobation.
In Huntington’s print of false religions, he has more men employed at endavouring to pull down the mount of reprobation than the mount of election. Nay, many will assist in building up the mount of election, and lend a hand, and lustily too, in pulling down the other mount of reprobation.
“That mount”, says Huntington, (meaning reprobation) “hath always had people kicking against it, endeavouring to level it with pick-axe, spade and what not”, so bitter is man’s fury against it. “Yet, that mountain”, says he, “stands as firm to this day as ever it did.” Yes, and it ever will stand too. For the same hand that built the hill of election, piled up too the other mountain of reprobation. “These are the two mountains of brass”, says Huntington, “seen by Zechariah”. (6:1)
‘Man has a wonderful enmity against God’; (Romans 8:7) and that enmity is manifested against nothing so much as this, namely, the power claimed by the heavenly Potter to make one vessel to honour and another to dishonour and out of the same lump, too; namely, out of human nature. No; this I never will believe, says man. We believe, say men, that God will have mercy on whom he will have mercy. But never, say they, will we believe that God hardeneth whom he will. No, never! We believe that God made the sheep, but we never will believe that God made the goats, also. We believe firmly that God made the right hand multitudes at the judgment day to save them, but never will he believe that God made the left hand multitudes there to damn them for their vile transgressions. Thus, the pots quarrel with the potter; thus the things formed say unto him that formed them, that he did not form them.
I see reprobation in every page of the Bible. But in order to destroy the universal creed of the goats that God did not form them, Esau-like, for hatred and dishonour, I shall just say a few words on that passage of Isaiah (30:33), “For Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared; he hath made it deep and large; the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it.”
Here we have the everlasting ordinations and predestinations of God as regards hell. No, say the generality of professors, there is no predestination of hell. But our text says, it was ordained, and of old, too.
Again. I have seen that what holds good of the elect in heaven, holds good of the goats in hell, viz., ‘if one might be missing, so might all’ in hell, so might all of them!
There is nothing man likes so much as chance-work, loop-holes, cracks, chinks, crevices, and such like, through which he may creep and escape from God; these things delight the very soul of man. But the two-edged sword of divine truth cuts asunder between soul and spirit in the elect. The elect see that none can escape God. They see that ‘every man must walk in his own ranks’; that if we are not at the right hand at the great day, we must be at the left. It is seen also that if there were none in hell, there would be nothing for the ‘breath of the Lord like a stream of brimstone to kindle’.
I do not wish to frighten people with this doctrine of reprobation. No. But as sure as the sheep will be every one in heaven, so sure will the goats be every one in hell. There is no escape. It is all fixed. Every one shall “go to his own place” for ever and ever!
I have often thought what a serious thing it is to have ever been born! But we had no hand in our being brought into the world, neither is there any possibility of our putting off the time when we must die!
“A time to be born, and a time to die.”
These things annoy the ‘free-will’ of man wonderfully. All is fixed by an unalterable decree! “our habitations also.” (Job 7:1; Acts 17:26)
O deeps of everlasting predestination!
O deeps of the ordinations of old!
Man says, we have nothing to do with secret things that are not revealed. And so say I, too. But reprobation, ‘ordinations of old’, predestination decrees, on God’s part, as regards all things and all men, I can see in every page of the Bible. To pray that the will of God may be done, not merely to assent and consent for it to be done, but to pray, wrestle, struggle, and groan, in fervent supplication for it to be done; this, through the Spirit, is the hardest prayer that I ever was enabled to offer up unto the blessed God! O what a difficult prayer is that! To pray that one’s own ransomed soul may have all the trouble that is appointed for one, as well as all the joy appointed for one! O this is something very hard! Thus we find it is the most solemn difficult, painful, wonderful, and to our flesh the most distressing prayer to say, “Thy will be done”! To assent and consent to the prayer is distressing. But to be enabled to pray that the will of God may be done! I can see that the mockery offered up to the blessed God by herds of congregations, who pretend to offer up that prayer to the Divine Majesty, is beyond any thing! If the Lord was not long-suffering, they would all be struck dead on the spot, and sent to hell for their presumption, boldness, wickedness, and error, in thus mocking the supreme and everlasting God. Without him not even a sparrow falls to the ground.
Does then any one drop into hell without his knowledge?
“Then shall the King sit on the throne of his glory, and he shall put the goats on his left hand, and say, Depart ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” when they say to God, “Thy will be done”, take these things into their account?
These things have made me shiver, tremble, and quake many a time. These things have made me feel the importance of what Solomon says, “When thou prayest, let thy words be few; and offer not the sacrifice of fools, for God has no pleasure in fools.” To pray with the understanding is something very hard. Flesh and blood hate it. Flesh and blood love chance-work. But God shuts chance-work out, and will not have it at all; no, not even to the fall of a sparrow; no, not even to the very hairs of our head, which are all numbered (Matthew 10:30) The non-elect make a mock at the predestinating God. And God will make a mock of them, for he has predestinated so to do (I Peter 2:8; Proverbs 1:26). So that there will be no love lost on either side. They hate God the predestinator, and God hates them (Malachi 1:2-3).
I believe the only way on this side of the grave to learn the doctrine of reprobation is in an elect’s experience. I say on this side of the grave because all the non-elect, all the goats, will believe in reprobation when they are got on the other side of the grave in everlasting fire, and find the stroke of an unchangeable God’s anger upon them! I say the goats will believe in reprobation then, every one of them, and not before, in my opinion.
And though I feel myself a believer in everlasting fire, predestinated for, and therefore sure to fall upon the goats; yet I feel that I have a gentler, kindlier, and more sincere, and more solid natural affection to all my non-elect fellow creatures, than any Arminians have. The Arminians say and do not. But I feel that I would have an open purse and heart as far as I could to help and comfort the non-elect in their natural and worldly troubles. Thus Christ, as a man, wept over Jerusalem. Thus, as feeling for his fellow-creatures, he fed at one time five thousand, and at another time four thousand. Christ had the bowels of a man as well as the feelings of God. To be without natural affection is the mark of a reprobate (Romans 1:31). And yet many of our mongrel believers in universal redemption could not have scarce aught of any consequence screwed out of them to relieve their poor fellow-creatures in distress. Universal redemptionists have, I find generally, hearts made of steel, setting aside that universal redemption is one of the devil’s ownings that he flies with to deceive all mankind. (I have not time to say any thing here on that fruitful matter of universal redemption, except that it is the wooden sword with which the devil and the Arminians fight against the Adamantine pillar of the doctrine of reprobation.)
But what surprises me so much is hearing people talk of the fear of the Lord, and ye either denying or speaking slightly of reprobation.
If such people fear God as they say, I want to know what God it is that they fear?
Is it the heavenly Potter that makes the left hand multitudes for hell, and the right hand multitudes for heaven?
Is this the God they fear, the sovereign of heaven, earth, and hell? Or, is it some god of their own that they fear, whom they have coined up out of their own brain?
For I acknowledge I cannot fathom it. For I can see people proud, vain, conceited, yea, as proud as the devil himself; so that I do not thus wonder to meet with many opposers of reprobation!
But, O! my friends, for a person to be weighed in an even balance, and not to be able to see which way the scale turns, as to whether reprobated or elected by the Sovereign King and Lord of All! I say this will give him such a shaking in his experience, will leave such lasting impressions on his soul, and will so reveal the character of God as loving the race of Jacob and hating the race of Esau, as no tongue can tell! The beholding of God as the lover of some and as the hater of others, leaves lasting impressions on those who Spiritually are so led to know, experience, and feel these solemn realities. According as it is written to those believers who were tempted to say, “What has the Lord done so much for us?” “Have I not hated Esau? says the Lord”! (Malachi 1:2).
A sense of the discriminating mercy of God to one’s own poor soul while he has passed by others in hatred; this cuts our pride to pieces; this stops our murmuring; and, instead of quarrelling with the blessed God for not giving us this or that, we are, on the contrary, swallowed up in blissful wonder and rapture, saying, “Why ever should God set his affections on me and pass by others?” “Why me?” says the poor soul humbled for sin and broken down out of self. “Why me?” adds again the poor born again man, lost in amazement at the mercy of God to him; stunned in confusion and awe at the severity of God to the non-elect! “I am”, says the born again man, “not at all in and of myself any better than those who go to hell!”
These things, through God’s grace, madden, flurry, and goad our murmuring souls; teach us to bless God that he should fix on us as objects of his choice; teach us to fix an infinite value on election; strike us with a solemn awe concerning reprobation; and make us to fear God!
These things breed in our souls a solemn feeling, and patient reverence to our unchangeable God.
These things teach us the difference between the idol the Arminians worship, and the Supreme God of heaven, earth, and hell, whom an experimental Christian worships!
May this God be my God, for I acknowledge I have no great liking to the god, ‘Chance’, whom all the deniers of reprobation worship out and out. Shame upon them and on their idol too!
Let men say what they will, the glory of God is wrapped up in His decrees; and woe be unto the man who intermeddles with them. Hallelujah! for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
The opening leaves of God’s decrees; the glory of His sovereignty; the immortal honours of His kingdom; the certainty of hell; the certainty of heaven; the glorious and fixed determination of the Almighty to do what He will among the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; all illuminate the doctrine of reprobation in my soul. How great and wonderful are the works of God; how just His judgments; how sure, firm, and lasting are His decrees, though men and devils strive all they can to overturn them. Vain attempt!
The seals of certainty; the iron leaves of God’s predestination; swift time with its heavy hands is fast unfolding! And, as I believe my name to be written in the Book of Life, so I believe all the names of all the non-elect are unalterably written in the book of death, let men say what they will. The footsteps of the Almighty shall be dipped in the everlasting ruin of His enemies. (Psalm 68:21-23)
The Gospel Standard, 1838