Cork Free Presbyterian Church, 10 Briarscourt (Annex) Shanakiel, Cork, Ireland Pastor: Colin Maxwell. Email: cfpc@esatclear.ie

12 PROOFS THAT CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON WAS A FIRM BELIEVER IN UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION:

The following is just really a bringing together of a few other proofs that the great Victorian preacher really did believe the Calvinistic doctrine of unconditional election. Emphasise mine.

1) SPURGEON AFFIRMED HIS BELIEF IN THE FIVE POINTS OF CALVINISM IN GENERAL:

And I have my own private opinion that there is no such a thing as preaching Christ and him crucified, unless you preach what now-a-days is called Calvinism. I have my own ideas, and those I always state boldly. 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 peculiar redemption which Christ made for his elect and chosen people; 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 believed. Such a gospel I abhor. The gospel of the Bible is not such a gospel as that. We preach Christ and him crucified in a different fashion, and to all gainsayers we reply, "We have not so learned Christ." (Sermon number 98 New Park Street Pulpit 1:100)

As for our faith as a church you have heard that already. We believe in what are called the five great points commonly known as Calvinistic; but we do not regard those five points as being barbed shafts which we are to push into the bowels of Christendom. We look upon them as being five great lamps which help to irradiate the cross, or rather five bright emanations springing from the glorious covenant of our Triune God, and illustrating the great doctrine of Jesus crucified. Against all comers, especially against all lovers of Arminianism, we defend and maintain pure gospel truth. (Ceremony at laying of the stone of the New Tabernacle: Sermon numbers: 268-270) Found in New Park St Pulpit 5:603

I cannot stop to tell you of all the sheaves in the doctrine field. Some say there are only five; I believe the five great doctrines of Calvinism are, in some degree, a summary of the rest; they are distinctive points wherein we differ from those who "have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." But there are many more doctrines beside these five; and all are alike precious, and all are alike valuable to the true believer’s soul, for he can feed upon them to his heart’s content. (Sermon number 2585 Metropolitan Tabernacle 44:529)

Since then, you have learned other doctrines, possibly the five points of Calvinism, or the fifty points of any other system; but you never learned them from merely reading them in the Scriptures, you never really knew them till the pen of God began to move up and down upon your inward nature, and your heart received the impression the Lord intended to convey to it. (Sermon number 2280 Metropolitan Tabernacle 38:679)

We have certainly not thrown away the Five Points, but we may have gained other five… (Sword & Trowel Feb 1874 p.36)

2) SPURGEON URGED OTHERS TO HOLD TO THE FIVE POINTS OF CALVINISM:

Brethren, hold the five points of the Calvinistic doctrine, but mind you do not hold them as babbling questions. What you have received of God do not learn in order to fight with it, and to make contention and strife, and to divide the church of God, and rail against the people of the Most high, as some do. (Sermon number 3394 - Metropolitan Pulpit 60:121)

3) SPURGEON AFFIRMED HIS BELIEF IN THE DOCTRINE OF UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION PARTICULARLY:

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… (Defence of Calvinism)

But is it not all idle talk, even to controvert for a single moment, with the absurd idea that man can fetter his Maker. Shall the purpose of the Eternal be left contingent on the will of man? (6:244)

This election of God is sovereign. He chooseth as he will. Who shall call him to account? "Can I not do as I will with my own?" is his answer to every caviller. "Nay, but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?" is the solemn utterance that silences every one who would impugn the justice of the Most High. He has a right, seeing we are all criminals, to punish whom he will. As king of the universe he doubtless acts with discretion, but still according to his sovereignty. Wisely not wantonly he rules, but ever according to the counsel of his own will. Election, then, is sovereign. (51:63)

It is no novelty, then, that I am-preaching; no new doctrine. I love to proclaim these strong old doctrines, which are called by nickname Calvinism, but which are surely and verily the revealed truth of God as it is in Christ Jesus. By this truth I make a pilgrimage into the past, and as I go, I see father after father, confessor after confessor, martyr after martyr, standing up to shake hands with me. Were I a Pelagian, or a believer in the doctrine of free-will, I should have to walk for centuries all alone. Here and there a heretic of no very honorable character might rise up and call me brother. But taking these things to be the standard of my faith, I see the land of the ancients peopled with my brethren-I behold multitudes who confess the same as I do, and acknowledge that this is the religion of God’s own church. (Sermon on Election 1:551)

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4) SPURGEON REJECTED THE DOCTRINE OF CONDITIONAL ELECTION:

I come to the hardest part of my task this morning — Election in its justice. Now, I shall defend this great fact, that God has chosen men to himself, and I shall regard it from rather a different point of view from that which is usually taken. My defence is just this. You tell me, if God has chosen some men to eternal life, that he has been unjust. I ask you to prove it. The burden of the proof lies with you. For I would have you remember that none merited this at all. Is there one man in the whole world who would have the impertinence to say that he merits anything of his Maker? If so, be it known unto you that he shall have all he merits; and his reward will be the flames of hell for ever, for that is the utmost that any man ever merited of God. God is in debt to no man, and at the last great day every man shall have as much love as much pity, and as much goodness, as he deserves.(Sermon on Election 6:244)

"But," say others, "God elected them on the foresight of their faith." Now, God gives faith, therefore he could not have elected them on account of faith, which he foresaw. There shall be twenty beggars in the street, and I determine to give one of them a shilling; but will any one say that I determined to give that one a shilling, that I elected him to have the shilling, because I foresaw that he would have it? That would be talking nonsense. In like manner to say that God elected men because he foresaw they would have faith, which is salvation in the germ, would be too absurd for us to listen to for a moment. Faith is the gift of God. Every virtue comes from him. Therefore it cannot have caused him to elect men, because it is his gift. (1:557)

5) SPURGEON IDENTIFIED HIMSELF WHOLEHEARTEDLY WITH CALVIN AND THE CALVINIST'S WHO BELIEVED IN UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION:

Again, I must say, I am not defending certain brethren who have exaggerated Calvinism. I speak of Calvinism proper, not that which has run to seed, and outgrown its beauty and verdure. I speak of it as I find it in Calvin’s Institutes, and especially in his Expositions. I have read them carefully. I take not my views of Calvinism from common repute but from his books. Nor do I, in thus speaking, even vindicate Calvinism as if I cared for the name, but I mean that glorious system which teaches that salvation is of grace from first to last.(Sermon number 385 Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit 7:554)

Did you say that such-and- such a thing is believed by you because you found it in Calvin’s Institutes? I am a Calvinist, and a lover of that grand man’s memory and doctrine; but I believe nothing merely because Calvin taught it, but because I have found his teaching in the Word of God. (Sermon number 2584 Metropolitan Tabernacle 44:517)

Do you know that John Calvin wrote his famous "Institutes" — a most wonderful production for thought if not for accuracy — before he was twenty-seven years of age? (Unusual Occasions p95)

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. (Defence of Calvinism)

I stood last Wednesday in a sort of dream as I gazed upon my much-beloved grandfather’s place of sepulcher. I was encouraged by seeing the record of his fifty-four years of service in the midst of one church and people, and I rejoiced that, could he rise from the dead, he would find his grandson preaching that selfsame old-fashioned and much-despised Calvinistic doctrine of the grace of God which was his joy in life and his comfort in death. (Sermon number 1972 Metropolitan Pulpit 33:500)

Though we have not been called to maintain those truths as you have been, by trials peculiar to your church polity, we have had to maintain the same distinctly Calvinistic truth by struggles which have rooted and grounded us in it. We are glad when we see our brethren more numerous than ourselves across the Border giving forth a louder sound — not, I hope, a clearer sound — than we do on the grand doctrines of salvation by sovereign grace. May you prosper in your upholding of the old banner for many, many years to come; and may God be with you and bless you. (Speeches at Home and Abroad p95)

6) SPURGEON WAS THE PASTOR OF A CALVINISTIC CHURCH FOR 38 YEARS:

This was the church of Benjamin Keach and John Gill…both Calvinists. Spurgeon could claim concerning his church:

Now I am astonished to find those persons that thus come before me so well instructed in the doctrines of grace and so sound in all the truths of the covenant, insomuch that I may think it my boast and glory, in the name of Jesus, that I know not that we have any members, whom we have received into the church, who do not give their full assent and consent unto all the doctrines of the Christian religion, commonly called Calvinistic doctrines. Those which men are wont to laugh at as being high doctrinal points, are those which they most readily receive, believe, and rejoice in. (Sermon number 178 New Park Street Pulpit 4:182)

God forbid that we should have our Sunday-schools the hot-beds of Arminianism, while our churches are gardens of Calvinism. (Sermon number 1115 Metropolitan Tabernacle 19:398)

Spurgeon rightly denounced those who being Arminian would pastor a Calvinistic church (and vice versa)

By what tortuous processes of reasoning could it be made to appear consistent with uprightness for an Arminian to accept emoluments upon the condition of teaching Calvinistic doctrines, or how could a Calvinist be justified should he enter into covenant to teach the opposite tenets? Would it be any decrease of the inconsistency of either official if he should, after gaining his position and securing its salary, become a stickler for ministerial liberty and insist upon delivering himself of his own real opinions which he dared not have avowed at his instalment, and which, ex officio, he ought to denounce? A church, having a written creed, virtually asks the candidate for her pulpit, "Do you hold fast our form of sound words, and, will you endeavour to maintain it?" On the response to that enquiry, other things being settled, the appointment depends. The candidate's "yea," is accepted in confidence as being sincere, and he is inducted; but if it be a lie, or if at any time it cease to be altogether true, it is only by a sophistry unworthy of an ingenuous mind, that a man can justify' himself in retaining his place; he is bound in honour to relinquish it forthwith.(Sword and Trowel February 1870 2:397)

7) AT THE OPENING OF A NEW CHURCH BUILDING, SPURGEON INVITED MEN TO PREACH ON THE FIVE POINTS OF CALVINISM…INCLUDING UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION:

EXPOSITION OF THE DOCTRINES OF GRACE

NO. 385

THURSDAY, APRIL 11TH, 1861,

THE REV. C. H. SPURGEON TOOK THE CHAIR

AT 3 O’CLOCK.

The proceedings were commenced by singing the 21st Hymn —

The Rev. C. H. SPURGEON in opening the proceedings said, we have met together beneath this roof already to set forth most of those truths in which consists the peculiarity of this Church…The controversy which has been carried on between the Calvinist and the Arminian is exceedingly important, but it does not so involve the vital point of personal godliness as to make eternal life depend upon our holding either system at theology….

ELECTION

NO. 386

BY THE REV. JOHN BLOOMFIELD,

OF MEARD’S COURT, SOHO.

In the presence of C.H. Spurgeon, John Bloomfield spoke on the subject of election. Compared with other sermons, his comments were rather mild; the fact that election was unconditional and not dependent upon man's free will being taken for granted rather than explicitly stated. Bearing in mind the Calvinist overtones of the meeting, the comments below about God exercising his sovereignty in his choice of a people must be regarded as unconditional election. When a choice is sovereign, there must be the right reserved to decline as one is pleased. This then is unconditional election.

God hath in the exercise of his sovereignty chosen a people in Christ to salvation before time began — it was before the foundation of the world, here is its antiquity — it is in Christ according to the riches of God’s grace, and it is to holiness and salvation.

8) SPURGEON PROFESSED FAITH IN THE 1689 BAPTIST CONFESSION OF FAITH WHICH TEACHES UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION:

Both the Westminster Confession of Faith and the 1689 Baptist Confession teach the doctrine of Unconditional Election. Spurgeon himself reprinted the 1689 Baptist Confession in 1855. A copy of the Baptist Confession was placed under the stone during the stone laying of the Metropolitan Tabernacle. The Baptist Confession teaches in the chapter entitled, God's Decree:

  1. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated or foreordained to eternal life through Jesus Christ, to the praise of His glorious grace. Others are left to act in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of His glorious justice.
  2. Those angels and men thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and the number of them is so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished.
  3. Those of mankind who are predestinated to life, God chose before the foundation of the world was laid, in accordance with His eternal and immutable purpose and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will. God chose them in Christ for everlasting glory, solely out of His free grace and love, without anything in the creature as a condition or cause moving Him to choose.

In his preface, Spurgeon refers to the doctrines of the Baptist Confession as "excellent" and whilst he did not want the Confession to become a fetter, yet he did express the hope that it would be of assistance of them in controversy, a confirmation in their faith and a means of edification. He writes further:

"Be not ashamed of your faith: remember it is the ancient gospel of the martyrs, confessors, reformers and saints. Above all it is the truth of God, against which the gates of hell cannot prevail."

9) OTHER PREACHERS CAME TO HIS CHURCH AND SPOKE OF HIS UNQUALIFIED CALVINISM:

At the opening of the Metropolitan Tabernacle, the following comments by Calvinistic ministers were made in the presence of Spurgeon:

The REV. F. TUCKER, of Camden Road Chapel, "He looked upon his brother Spurgeon as one who upheld the sovereignty of God, and who, on the other hand, declared the responsibility of man. He preached, that never could the sinner repent without the aid of the Holy Ghost, and yet he called upon every sinner to repent and believe the gospel. Especially did his brother make prominent the grand doctrine of the atoning sacrifice of Christ, and the kindred doctrine of justification by faith in the righteousness of the Lord and Saviour."

The REV. GEORGE ROGERS: "Their friend Mr. Spurgeon preached all the doctrines of grace. Election, particular redemption came from his lips in trumpet tones. He saw the love of Christ to His Church, and of the Church to Christ, overflowing in sweet nectar in the song of Solomon. Some said those doctrines were destructive of all good works — that people who listened to such doctrines did nothing. His answer to these objectors was, let them look at that building. Election would never have built it, except by seeking to make their calling and election sure. Particular redemption would never have built it without the particular love which it was calculated to inspire. The doctrine of perseverance would never have built it without the act of perseverance."

10) CALVINISM'S ENEMIES SPOKE OF SPURGEON'S WHOLE HEARTED CALVINISM:

Mr. Dale, in his admirable article published on Christmas-day in the Daily Telegraph, gives it as his opinion that Calvinism would be almost obsolete among Baptists were it not still maintained by the powerful influence of Mr. Spurgeon. The statement is most flattering to our vanity…Calvinism such as was taught by Owen, Charnock, Bunyan, Newton, Whitfield, Romaine, and men of that class, is no more obsolete than is the law of gravitation, neither are its friends at all inclined to bewail its influence as dying out…If such Calvinism as this, and it is the Calvinism of Calvin, and the only one which we maintain, is really growing obsolete, we must henceforth doubt our ears and disbelieve the statements of the best of our brethren. If the sermons now preached in Baptist pulpits could all be printed, they would be found to contain vastly more of what we call Calvinism than they did twenty years ago. The party names and terms are less used, for which we are devoutly thankful, but the essence and spirit of that side of truth, which has for brevity's sake been called Calvinistic, are more powerful among us now than they ever were at any previous part of the century. We have in this matter a right to judge, because the question relates to that Calvinism which is "maintained by the powerful influence of Mr. Spurgeon," and therefore no man is more likely to know than Mr. Spurgeon himself... We have certainly not thrown away the Five Points, but we may have gained other five, and far be it from us to deny it; but this does not in the slightest degree affect the statement of our Birmingham friend, for it still remains a fact that the "Calvinism," or whatever it is, which is maintained by us, does not make us enemies among the General Baptists, but is read by thousands of them regularly, and ensures for us a warm place in their hearts, as many letters, donations, and kindly actions abundantly prove. Whatever it may be which we maintain, and we do not demur to Mr. Dale's description of it as Calvinism, for it contains a great deal of Calvinism, we are sure that far more of it is read and endorsed among General Baptists than at any other period in history. (Sword & Trowel Feb 1874 p33ff)

The Evangelical Revival and other Sermons: with an Address on the Work of the Christian ministry in a period of theological decay and transition. By R. W. DALE. Hodder and Stoughton.

We cannot bring our mind to review this volume of discourses. It manifests the author’s great ability and honesty, but to our mind it is unsatisfactory, and to our heart it is saddening. Mr. Dale says," Mr. Spurgeon stands alone among the modern leaders of Evangelical Nonconformists in his fidelity to the older Calvinistic creed." If it be so, we are sorry to hear it, and we pray God that it may not long be true. There is an indefiniteness and uncertainty about these sermons which distresses us. They are not after our heart, and we are the more disappointed because Mr. Dale is a typical person among Independents, and a fine man in all respects. (Sword & Trowel 6:245)

11) SPURGEON WAS ATTACKED BY THE HYPER CALVINISTS ONLY ON THE BASIS OF HIS APPLICATION OF THE DOCTRINE OF UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION:

I have not kept back the glorious doctrines of grace, although by preaching them the enemies of the cross have called me an Antinomian; nor have I been afraid to preach man’s solemn responsibility, although another tribe have slandered me as an Arminian. (4:408)

To put this last remark into context, the Articles of the Gospel Standard section of the Strict Baptists (Hyper Calvinists) read as follows:

"Therefore for ministers in the present day to address unconverted persons, or indiscriminately all in a mixed congregation, calling upon them to savingly repent, believe and receive Christ, or perform any other acts dependent upon the new creative power of the Holy Ghost, is one hand, to imply creature power…" (Article 23) "…We believe that any such expressions as convey to the hearers the belief that they possess a certain power to flee to the Saviour, to close in with Christ, to receive Christ, while in an unregenerate state, so that they do thus close with Christ etc., they shall perish are untrue, and must, therefore, be rejected…" (Article 24)

This is exactly what CHS did and denied that by doing so, he was a mongrel Calvinist, but a true Calvinist.

And just let me say here, that it is the custom of a certain body of Ultra-Calvinists, to call those of us who teach that it is the duty of man to repent and believe, "Mongrel Calvinists." If you hear any of them say so, give them my most respectful compliments, and ask them whether they ever read Calvin’s works in their lives. Not that I care what Calvin said or did not say, but ask them whether they ever read his works; and if they say "No," as they must say, for there are forty-eight large volumes you can tell them, that the man whom they call "a Mongrel Calvinist," though he has not read them all, has read a very good share of them and knows their spirit; and he knows that he preaches substantially what Calvin preached — that every doctrine he preaches may be found in Calvin’s Commentaries on some part of Scripture or other. We are TRUE Calvinists, however. (Sermon number 591 New Park Street Pulpit: 4:598)

12) SPURGEON PRESIDED OVER A BIBLE COLLEGE THAT WAS AVOWEDLY CALVINIST:

We have become daily more and more impressed with the conviction that theology should be the principal subject for instruction in a Theological College, and that a diversified course, of all. other studies, prepares the young minister to enter upon his office in the full vigour of his mental powers, and with a capacity for continuing his research into all subjects that may at any time contribute to his own principal design 6. Calvinistic theology is dogmatically taught. We mean not dogmatic in the offensive sense of that term; but as the undoubted teaching of the Word of God. "Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness." We hold to the Calvinism of the Bible. Extreme views on either side are repudiated by us. The cross is the centre of our system. "To this I hold, and by this I am upheld." is our motto. This is our stand-point from which we judge all things. We have no sympathy with any modern concealment or perversion of great gospel truths. We prefer the Puritan to modern divinity. (Sword & Trowel March 1886 1:240)

3. By whom are the young men taught, and what is the scope and character of the teaching? The young men are taught by tutors, under the direction and with the stated teaching of Mr. Spurgeon himself, and of Mr. James Spurgeon, who holds the position of Vice-President of the College. The studies embrace… Systematic Theology, which is always Calvinistic, and Homiletics. (Sword & Trowel July 1869 2:305)

The question may be asked whether our College, based as it is on avowedly definite and peculiar principles, has in any measure ceased to be a necessity? We think not. We most gladly admit that in many quarters the same gospel is being preached, and the same Bible is reverenced. We hail gladly any evidence of approaching unity of feeling and effort in the one harvest, field; but we are more than ever persuaded that we need to bear our witness to the old Calvinistic doctrines of grace, and to uphold our distinctive view of the ordinance of believer’s baptism. (Sword & Trowel 7:156)

As it would be quite unwarrantable for us to interfere with the arrangements of other bodies of Christians, who have their own methods of training their ministers, and as it is obvious that we could not find spheres for men in denominations with which we have no ecclesiastical connection, we confine our College to Baptists; and, in order not to be harassed with endless controversies, we invite those only who hold those views of divine truth which are popularly known as Calvinistic, — not that we care for names and phrases; but, as we wish to be understood, we use a term which conveys our meaning as nearly as any descriptive word can do. Believing the grand doctrines of grace to be the natural accompaniments of the fundamental evangelical truth of redemption by the blood of Jesus, we hold and teach them, not only in our ministry to the masses, but in the more select instruction of the class room. (Lectures 2:6 also 4:7)

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