Pristine Grace

Calvin vs. Hyper-Spurgeonism
The Battle for the Preaching of the One Scriptural and Reformation Gospel
by A.J. Baxter

Editor's note:  There are many valid points made in this article.  But I don't agree with everything obviously.  I have such a high regard for the man, Charles Spurgeon, and I find it hard within myself to bring criticism to him considering how much more he did for the cause of God and Truth than I could ever dream.   He, being a man, of course was sinful and fallible.   The Lord uses the base things of this world to display His glory.  Bro. Spurgeon for certain was owed many criticism as we all are.   Every author and speaker has their strengths and weaknesses.   May the Lord be pleased to use that which is good in Spurgeon's ministry, and use that which is bad as an example of what not to do.  May God alone be glorified.  - Brandan

That C.H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) was a remarkable man, few would have the temerity to deny. That he was a man used of the Lord in his day to gather in many of his elect people by the preaching of the gospel, again, few would deny, but there are many who would deny that he was and is the final authority in respect of the faithful exposition of the Doctrines of Grace and their presentation. There are many who have real problems with Spurgeon's view of universal offers of grace and invitations to all men indiscriminately to accept and believe the gospel.

In 1995, the Rev. Iain Murray of the Banner of Truth Trust, gave a paper to the Grace Baptist Assembly on the subject of Spurgeon's Battle with Hyper-Calvinism. That paper, much extended, was later published in book format by the Banner of Truth Trust, with the title of "Spurgeon V. Hyper-Calvinism: The Battle for Gospel Preaching."

In that book, Spurgeon is allowed to speak for himself by the many quotations taken from his published sermons in both the New Park Street Pulpit and the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit. Use is made in the book of Spurgeon's sermon on the text of Scripture, 1 Tim. 2:4, "Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to a knowledge of the truth."

The question that is raised is: Is this sermon both a faithful and accurate exposition of Holy Scripture, and is this a faithful representation of the Calvinistic Doctrine?

The present editors think not!

It is our view that the correct exegesis of this text of Scripture lies not with C.H. Spurgeon, but with John Calvin himself. The 1579 edition of John Calvin's Sermons on Timothy and Titus were published in facsimile format by The Banner of Truth Trust, but as the generality of the Christian reading public are unlikely to wade their way through a sixteenth century typeface, in such a bulky volume, we have decided to publish this sermon to "stand alone" and to show which reflects the correct exegesis. This sermon has been slightly edited to reflect modern English usage. Nothing has been omitted, and editorial additions are bracketted thus: [].

In addition to this sermon, we have also added an article which was first published in the British Reformed Journal, the magazine of The British Reformed Fellowship in which it is shown why Spurgeon's exegesis is incorrect.

C.H. Spurgeon is being presented today as being the only authority on matters of preaching and evangelism. He is presented as the one from whom we must take our example today if our churches are to be revived again. True, he was an evangelist. True, he was a Calvinist. But it does not necessarily follow that he is the ideal to follow. Such was not the view of some Evangelical Calvinist leaders of his own day. Mr. Murray points to the opposition which Spurgeon faced from such men as James Wells of the Surrey Tabernacle. We reproduce an article written by a contemporary of Spurgeon's, written from the view point of much sympathy for him but which, nevertheless, takes note of the doctrinal failings of the man. Written by the Rev. A.J. Baxter of Cavendish Place Chapel, Eastbourne in 1892, shortly after Spurgeon's death, it is taken from The Gospel Advocate Magazine of which Baxter was the editor. Baxter was by no means alone in his views of Spurgeon. Baxter is very astute in his comments. He says towards the end of his article, "Why were men of nearly all sects ... invited or engaged to conduct those services? Was it because the Metropolitan Tabernacle is henceforth to utterly abjure high doctrine, and be on the common level of a nominal Christianity? We fear so ..." His opinions were proved to be correct as Mr. Murray ably points out in his other study of the ministry of C.H. Spurgeon, "The Forgotten Spurgeon" which we would recommend to our readers.

It is a common fault of human nature that we set up good men as pinnacles of truth who cannot err. Papal infallibility does not run only within the Roman Obedience. Whether it be Spurgeon who is set up, or Calvin, or some other of the Saints of God, we must bring all things to the touchstone of Holy Scripture. "To the law and the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them," (Isa. 8:20). May we be enabled, like the Bereans of old to search the Scriptures as to whether these things be so. (Acts 17:10-11).

H.L. Williams & J.E. North



C.H. Spurgeon

A Contemporary View


A. J. Baxter

It has been very justly remarked that Mr. Spurgeon, strictly speaking, was not a theologian. His method of dealing with doctrinal points often rather obscured than cleared them. He did not seem to view the different assertions in the Scriptures as the disconnected parts of a great but perfect picture-puzzle, which it was incumbent on all the lord's servants, by prayer to the Holy Spirit and diligent study, to find out and put together a harmonious whole. He rather treated them as containing really opposite views, which it was not man's work to attempt to reconcile, but to deal with, as occasion might need, in exalting sovereign grace or asserting human duty. Hence his preaching and writings were largely a mixture of free-grace and free-will. Excepting the form and subjects of water baptism, he was really no Sectarian Calvinists and Wesleyans were at times equally praised, and blamed, and never--or very rarely--for many years past as a strong Calvinist, such as many would call a "Hyper," been found in his pulpit. And it is a serious question, which time will prove, if his congregation, taken as a whole, would bear the test of Romans 8 to 11, or endure the preaching of such men as J.C. Philpot or William Gadsby, even if they had the splendid talents and voice of their late pastor.

But none who believe that Whitefield was a good man and an honoured servant of Jesus Christ, have any solid foundation for denying such to Mr. Spurgeon. For in his usual manner of preaching he was quite as sound in doctrine as that wonder of the 18th century. It is, indeed, highly probably that the unprecedented popularity he enjoyed almost unconsciously wrought upon him, and induced him not to adhere to a fixed standard of Calvinism in his sermons. And by this means many, who did not love the amount of full Gospel truth advanced at various times in them, bore with it for the sake of the intermixture. For this, combined with ready wit, genial humour, and a fascinating style, served to take off the sharp and offensive edge from the discriminating truths of the Gospel, and thus those who might have been displeased and uneasy while listing to occasional bold assertions of the Divine Sovereignty and electing love, received very soon the balm that removed all their antipathy to the preacher. We have personally observed this effect on many while listening to him. In his jocosity, however, he did not stand alone; for not a few of the most uncompromising and discriminating have been men of humour in the pulpit.

That his intellectual powers and voice were grand and extraordinary gifts, must be admitted by all who knew him. But that these would of themselves have kept so vast a congregation together, or commanded that goodwill which he enjoyed from all (or nearly all) sections of nominal Protestants, had he been a man like Huntington, Philpot, or Hawker, in taking "the precious from the vile," by a discriminating ministry, is hardly to be credited. Great talents and a rich voice will always command a larger audience than meagre abilities, even when pure truth is advanced, but they will never slay the natural man's enmity to the undiluted Gospel of Christ. And the marvel with all who prize Sovereign Grace must be, that with so long a ministerial career, and his knowledge of so much truth, Mr. Spurgeon had not, at the close of his life, advanced further tan he did in clearness and decision. Had he been like Whitefield--an open-air evangelist to the end of his days--there might have been less cause to wonder at this. But being a pastor, his work was to build up in their most holy faith those who through grace had believed. Yet even against this the fact might be objected, that there was constantly flowing to the Tabernacle a stream of all sorts of characters, led by mere curiosity, so that his work was always of an evangelistic type. be this as it may, many of his early sermons will favourably compare with those of later years in respect of discrimination. Even his noble protest against the Down-Grade element did not go beyond his early ministerial views. It was the retrograde movement on the part of his ministerial confreres, from where he had always, as a minister, stood, that elicited his bold condemnation and separation. They went away from him, rather than he from them. Had he been more uniform and decisive in his assertions of truth, they might perhaps have been checked before going as far as they did.

But the world usually worships great talents, and with it "nothing succeeds like success." Many of the Lord's own people for this cause have made every allowance for and excused in Mr. Spurgeon what they would not have tolerated in one less favoured in those respects. His natural ability, urbanity, forbearance and unostentatious humility also justly won him the respect of thousand who differed from him. None ever had such amazing popularity, and none could have borne it more greatly than he. As a man he was all that is admirable. As a minister he was a giant in nearly everything but Gospel discrimination, and the setting forth of the work of the Holy Spirit. His chief defect was in the work of the Spirit. Moreover, while Whitefield ultimately separated form Wesley in his zeal for sound doctrine, Mr. Spurgeon continued up to the very last most closely associated with Arminians of the broadest type among all sects, receiving their homage in life and death. We deplored it while he lived; we do so now he is no more. Gladly would we have lived and worked in fellowship with him; but with our views of the importance of not "saying a confederacy" to those he could, we have had to remain separate, to our sincere regret. For "how can two walk together, unless they be agreed?"

(May I be permitted to relate a little of my brief personal acquaintance with this great man? In doing so, I will no longer use the plural we, but speak in the singular number.)

It was in the year 1857, that the terrible accident occurred at the Surrey Gardens Music Hall, that I first personally knew him, and it was on this wise: I had just begun to preach on Sunday afternoons at the temperance Hall, Doctors' Common, in the City, and was still engaged in business with my uncle during the week. Mr. Spurgeon was just two years and two days my junior, and London was ringing with his fame, although he had much to bear from caricatures in print, and exaggerated and invented statements relative to his dramatic action in the pulpit. When the cry of fire was raised, which led to such disastrous results, Mr. Spurgeon raised his voice beyond its extensive limits, in an effort to quiet the alarm of the people, and lost it afterwards and became very ill for some time. In this terrible catastrophe the lives of some were sacrificed; others were physically injured, and some were shattered in nerve power. On the Monday following, the London papers reported it at length, and one of these was being read aloud in the place where I was busily occupied; and while this was proceeding a voice spoke in tones that far exceeded those of the reader, saying to me, "You will have to preach for Mr. Spurgeon on Thursday next."

Now, as I had not been identified with Mr. Spurgeon, and was even strongly prejudiced against his reported views of duty faith, and also knew none of his deacons, these words sounded ridiculous, and I tried hard to scout them as a Satanic annoyance. But again and again they came during a great part of the day, until at last I thought I had got rid of such foolish suggestions. Monday passed, and Tuesday, and all was forgotten. Wednesday came, and its afternoon arrived, when a knock at the door summoned me in my working attire to attend, as I thought, to one of my uncle's customers.

"You are Mr. Baxter," said the visitor, extending his hand, and adding, "I am deputed by the deacons of New Park Street Chapel to request you to preach for Mr. Spurgeon to-morrow (Thursday) night, as he is very unwell, and we cannot get any suitable supply at so short a notice."

This sudden announcement bringing in all their freshness the words that had re-echoed in my ears to remembrance, so utterly overwhelmed me that I could only stammer a request to be permitted to leave the room for a few minutes before replying. On my knees I fell in my bedroom, asking the lord what all this meant, and would he have me god? A powerful persuasion filled me in a minute or so that it was his will, and trembling all over I went downstairs to the visitor His name was Catchpole. I told him I had no gifts to qualify me for occupying so popular a post; but he replied, "You serve the same Master, don't you?" and then he explained that he had heard me preach, and had named me to the deacons as one who might help them in their difficulty.

Only twenty-four hours stood between me and my engagement. I was too busy an engraver to be spared from my work by my uncle (who was then an ungodly, swearing man), and had not more than an hour to get my thoughts together, for not a note did I write. But I had informed several deeply-taught praying friends of the circumstances, and they were earnest in wrestling for me. When I arrived at New Park Street Chapel, about a quarter of an hour before service began, I found it was already filled with persons anxious to see if Mr. Spurgeon was able to be there. So dense was the throng that a way had to be made for me to the pulpit through the crowded aisles and up the pulpit stairs, on which the people were sitting. In the pulpit I trembled like a leaf, and could hardly raise the glass of water to my lips. Look around I could not, only earnestly pray. But the clerk gave out the hymn, commencing:

"He that hath made his refuge, God,
Shall find a most secure abode;
Shall walk all day beneath his shade,
And there at night shall rest his head."

In a moment my nervousness was gone: and with the most perfect calmness and energy, possible to me, I went through the entire service, amid the breathless attention of the vast assembly. At the end the deacons most heartily greeted me, and I was asked to preach there occasionally on Sunday mornings, while Mr. Spurgeon was at Exeter Hall, and though the usual attendance at the chapel had been only about 80 to 120 on those occasions, it rose to 800 and 1100 the first two Sundays I supplied; and I always had large congregations on the twenty-two succeeding times I preached there, on Lord's Day mornings and Thursday evenings, although I invariably preached discriminatingly and that faith was both the gift and the operation of God the Spirit: and by many I was condemned as too searching. Not to enlarge, I may say it formed a link in the chain of my pastorate at Nottingham and Eastbourne.

But not as the principle deacons and friends at New Park Street desired: for Mr. Spurgeon had then about him not a few who loved the ministry of Joseph Irons and other faithful men, and who highly prized my testimony. These hoped I might see my way to become a Baptist, remain in London, and have the chapel as my sphere of labour when the Metropolitan Tabernacle was finished for their pastor. I was duly sounded upon this, and earnestly asked not to go to Nottingham. But my object in relating this incident is to speak well of the noble spirit of Mr. Spurgeon, who having heard how well I had been received told the people at one of the crowded meetings held at the chapel to obtain subscriptions for the new building, and at which I happened to be present, that he was going to call upon his brother Baxter, whom so many of them had heard with pleasure, to engage in prayer. Yes, he was too great a man to be envious of any pleasure his people expressed at hearing another. He had no need to be so in my case, it is true, but as a man he was one of the noblest specimens of unselfish humanity. After this, we met but twice, and shook hands. First at the General Baptist Chapel in George Street, Nottingham, where he preached in the morning a grand discourse on "The Lord is my Shepherd;" but in the evening so altered his doctrine that he grieved the free-grace and delighted the free-will party, as the latter boldly said, to my real sorrow, especially as I had recommended one who loved Mr. Philpot's ministry to go and hear him, and who was very displeased with the Arminianism advanced. But so it also was when he preached in a field-tent in Warwickshire. John Wesley was exalted and John Calvin was abased, to the sorrow of many of my friends who went miles to hear.

The second and last occasion was at the Surrey Tabernacle, at the funeral of Mr. Wells, which he attended out of respect, and in the vestry he kindly spoke to me about having heard that I had been occasionally supplying with acceptance there. But it was his extraordinary adaptation to nearly all sects and parties that perplexed me, and led me to stand aloof from him; for my experience and views seemed so vastly different to his that I doubted whether he really could believe in particular redemption. But I have never spoken against him from the pulpit, nor written against him. I felt I should understand him better in heaven than on earth; indeed my object now is not in the least to reflect upon his memory, but in a day when compromise and the making of things pleasant all round is the custom, many of the Lord's people are confused in their judgment of matters, it behoves all who are editors and ministers of the Word of God to be faithful to Christ, rather than to "give flattering titles unto men." This, then is my desire; nay more, my design is to try and find a solution of the secret of the great mixture in Mr. Spurgeon's theology, whilst "speaking the truth in love."

It appears then to me, 1st. That the way in which he was preserved by the providence of God, in his early days, from the sins of which so many of the Lord's people are guilty before conversion, with his naturally kind and amiable temperament, would tend to diminish the sense of his inward pollution, when religion began to be a matter of concern with him. For although the truly virtuous are often made by heart-felt experience to feel "sin to be exceeding sinful," yet usually those who have sinned outwardly to any considerable extent have the deepest convictions when taught by the Spirit.

2nd. That his conversion taking place at a very early age, and under a Wesleyan minister, as is reported, would probably give him a bias towards Wesleyanism. And his convictions not being perhaps of that intense character, which so many of those who become Christ's eminent servants experience, he would not be emptied of self-sufficiency.

3rd. The way in which as a youth he is said to have obtained pardon and peace under a Baptist minister, may possibly have led him to become a Baptist. And the speedy manner in which he is said to have lost his burden of guilt and chains of bondage would of necessity for a time lessen his sense of sin within his own heart, by filling him with gospel comfort. In this case the law-work of the Spirit could not have been very deep or prolonged.

4th. The atmosphere of Congregationalism, with its breadth of views, by which he was surrounded in his family connections, would tend to modify his ideas of what is called Calvinism; and his devotion to the writings of the old Puritans would confirm him in this. And a comparatively shallow personal experience of the deadly power of unbelief in his own heart, and of his inability by nature's power to take God at His word, so as to seize and appropriate the promises at His will and pleasure, would be almost certain to lead to the idea that it was the duty of all men to believe. And especially as many portions of Scripture would appear to him on the surface to warrant this.

5th. The desire he had from tender years, before he knew the Lord, to be a preacher, and the early age at which he began to preach, and the connection of his father and grandfather with the sacred profession among those of general views, would not be likely to assist his powers of discrimination. He would be full of zeal; well acquainted with the letter of Scripture and the writings of old divines, blest with a fine memory and an eloquent tongue, and a rich and dramatic delivery, but very little advanced in personal experimental knowledge. As to the books he read, he was gifted with an extraordinary power so to adapt and put them in fresh forms that they virtually became his own ideas; as may be seen in his extracts from Manton, beside the three hundred author quoted in his great work, "The Treasury of David."

Now all this may have been (we believe it was) the case with Mr. Spurgeon, as he was only about sixteen when he began to preach; and if so we have the secret of that amazing compound which his ministerial career presents to view. That he was truly regenerated, and taught by God his state and need of Christ, and tasted his love, and was largely owned in the ministry of the Word, it is not wisdom but folly to deny. None are proper judges of the various ways in which Jehovah works. The great amount of solid truth uttered and written by Mr. Spurgeon, we believe unhesitatingly, has been, is, and will continue to be owned far and wide by the Spirit of truth, Who, it has been well said, "never sets his seal to a lie." His philanthropy in his grand work for poor orphans; his generosity to many of the Lord's poor, several being faithful ministers; his freedom from avarice, and his Herculean labours, command just admiration, and are worthy of emulation by all who have the means. But we believe that his work of making ministers as a whole has proved, and will continue to prove, a gigantic failure, so far as the pure truth of God is concerned; for only here and there is there a real Calvinist among the hundreds that he has sent forth.

He has indeed made a vast accession to the community to which he belonged. But as none can make a faithful ambassador for Christ but the Holy Ghost, and as from the school of the prophets the Lord did not raise Elisha to follow Elijah, so Mr. Spurgeon's failure is that which is common to all who attempt to manufacture what is the special work and prerogative of Jehovah the Spirit. And when the much chaff that was mixed with the wheat in his public speaking and writings is finally sifted, and the measure well shaken down by Him who makes no mistakes, it will, no doubt, present a very different appearance to what it does now in the eyes of millions. Nevertheless, few solid and thoughtful Christians can imagine, that the Lord would raise up in his providence one who was "so many men in one," and who said and did so much that was truly Scriptural, sinner-abasing and Christ-glorifying, without having some extraordinary and gracious purpose to accomplish by him.

Therefore, by those who worship his memory and those who stand in doubt of him, let the apostolic injunction be duly attended to in regard to this great man's stewardship: "Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, Who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the heart: and then shall every man have praise of God," (1 Cor. 4:5). On no account could the words penned by Mr. Huntington for his own tomb appropriately appear on Mr. Spurgeon's - "Beloved of his God, but abhorred of men." But then Huntington was as great an exception to the rule of the Lord's dealings in his way as Spurgeon was in his. And on the other hand, neither could the words, "Woe unto you when all men speak well of you!" apply in their fulness to Mr. Spurgeon, for notwithstanding the world-wide adulation heaped upon him, he had too many of the marks of grace to allow the belief justly to be entertained, that he was not one of the Lord's servants.

His funeral obsequies were, as might have been anticipated, as unparalleled as his life-popularity. But how striking the absence of every thorough free-grace minister from the number of those who took an active part in the prolonged services. Why were men of nearly all sects, save that which is "everywhere spoken against" as high and strait, invited or engaged to conduct those services? Was it because the Metropolitan Tabernacle is henceforth to utterly abjure high doctrine, and be on the common level of a nominal and general Christianity? We fear so. Mr. Spurgeon has left no real successor--such a man never does--and expediency will probably become the rule of procedure in order to supply, if possibly, by this means the irreparable loss of his personal influence.

Had circumstances permitted, we would have been present and shown the last mark of respect to the great man at his funeral, although we know it must have been to appear "as a speckled bird," among the variety throng. Yet none of them would have been more sincere in regretting his death. The sad pity is, that too many of those who paid the complimentary tribute to his worthy were they who did so, not because of their love to the amount of Gospel truth that dropped from his lips and pen as a minister of Christ, but because of what he was as a renowned and genial man. On no other ground could a Roman Catholic, as reported, have exhibited the card with the prayer for his soul in Latin that it might rest in peace. No; in all his true excellencies, Mr. Spurgeon is worthy of imitation, but not in that lack of discrimination which makes religious friends of "all sorts and conditions of men." Otherwise, the example of the great Master affords no precedent and his words have no meaning: "The servant is not greater than his Lord: if they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you: if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also." (John 15:20).



"All Men"


John Calvin

"For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour: who will have all men to be saved, and come unto the knowledge of the truth For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." 1 Timothy 2:3,4.

When we despise them, whom God will have to be honoured, it is as much as if we made war against him. So is it, if we make no count of their salvation, whom God calls to himself. For it seems thereby, that we would stay him from showing his mercy to poor sinners, which are in the way to be utterly cast away. This is the reason why Saint Paul uses this argument: That God would have all the world to be saved; to the end that as much as lieth in us, we should also seek their salvation, which seem to be as it were banished men out of the kingdom of God, especially at such time as they are unbelievers.

Now we must always mark in what case the world stood in Saint Paul's time. It was a new thing and a strange matter to have the gospel published throughout all the world. For there was great likelihood that God had chosen the stock of Abraham, as though the rest should be deprived of all hope of salvation. (Ex. 19:5-6). And indeed we see how holy writer greatly sets forth this adoption that God had made of this people of the Jews. But Saint Paul commands us to pray for all the world. And so not without cause adds the reason which is here set down, namely, because God will have all men to be saved. As if he should say: My friends, it is good reason we should mark whereunto God's will bends, and to what end, and to what mark, that everyone of us may employ himself to serve him that way. For why are we in this world, but only to set forward the good will of God as much as we can? So then, seeing it is God's will that all men should be partakers of that salvation which he has sent in the person of his only begotten Son, we must have a care to draw poor, silly, and ignorant creatures to us, that we may come all together to this inheritance of the kingdom of heaven which is promised us. And yet we must mark that Saint Paul speaks not here of every particular man, but of all sorts, and of all people. Therefore, when he says that God will have all men to be saved, we must not think that he speaks here of Peter, or John, but his meaning is this, that whereas in times past he chose out one certain people for himself, he means now to show mercy to all the world, yea to them that were, as it were, shut out from the hope of salvation. For we hear what he says in another place, that the heathen were without God, void of all promise, because they were not as yet brought to the fellowship of the people of the Jews. (Eph. 2:2ff.). And this was a special privilege that God had given to the stock of Abraham, to choose it. Therefore Saint Paul's meaning is not that God will save every particular man, but he says that the promises which were given to one only people, are now stretched out through all the world. For, as he says in this same epistle to which we alleged before, the wall [of partition] was broken down at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. For God had separated the people of the Jews form all nations; but when Jesus Christ appeared for the saving of the world, then took he away this diversity which was between the Jews and the Gentiles. So then, God will now embrace us all, and this is the entrance into our salvation. For if that had continued always, which God ordained, then should we be now all accursed, and the gospel should not have been preached unto us. We should have had no sign or token either of the goodness, or the love of God. How is it then that we are come into the house of God, to be his children? Even because we are not more strangers from the promises, as our fathers were; but when Jesus Christ came to be a common Saviour for all in general, he offered the grace of God his Father, to the end that all might receive it. As Saint Paul speaks now of all nations, so he speaks also of all estates, as if he should say, that God will save kings and magistrates, as well as the least and baser sort. And we must not restrain his Fatherly goodness either to ourselves only, or to some certain number of people. And why so? For he shows that he will be favourable to all. So then, thus we have Saint Paul's meaning. And to confirm this matter he adds that it is God's will, that all should come to the knowledge of truth. We must mark well why Saint Paul uses this argument. For we cannot guess or surmise what God's will is, unless he shows it [to] us, and gives us some sign and token, whereby we have some perseverance of it. It is too high a matter for us, to know what God's counsel is, but so far froth as he shows it [to] us by effect, so far do we comprehend it. True it is that the gospel is called the mighty power of God to salvation, to all them that believe, it is the gate of paradise. It follows, then, if through the will of God the gospel be preached to al the world, there is a token that salvation is common to all. And thus Saint Paul proves, that God's will is that all men should be saved. For he has not appointed his apostles to keep himself only amongst the Jews; but we know that commission was given [to] them to preach to all creatures, to be witnesses of Jesus Christ from Jerusalem to Samaria, and from thence throughout all the world. Are the apostles sent to publish the truth of God to all people and to all estates? It follows, then, that God presents himself to all the world, and that the promise belongs to both great and small, as well to the Gentiles now, as to the Jews before. Before we go any further, it is good to beat down the folly, or rather the beastliness of them that abuse this place of Paul, to make the election of our God a thing of nought and utterly take it away. For see what they say: if God will have all men to be saved, it follows that he has not chosen a certain number of mankind, and cast away the rest, but that his will remains indifferent.

So then, these beasts which are nothing exercised in holy writ, and will, notwithstanding play the Doctors, pretend that it stands in the choice of men to save themselves, and that God leaves us alone, and waits to see whether we will come to him or not, and so receives them that come unto him. But in the mean while, they destroy the ground of our salvation; for we know that we are accursed, that the inheritance of salvation is far from us, and if a man would say that Jesus Christ is come to remedy that, then we must examine the nature of men, what it is.

But we are all of us so contrary and such enemies to God, that we cannot but resist him. We are so given to evil and wickedness, that we cannot so much as conceive a good thought. So then, how can it be that we may be partakers of that salvation which is offered to us in the gospel, unless God draws us to it by his Holy Spirit? Let us see now, whether God draw all the world to it or not. No, no, for then had our Lord Jesus Christ said in vain, No man can come to me, except God my Father teach him, (John 6:44). So then, we must needs conclude that it is a special grace that God bestows upon such as pleases him, to draw them and teach them in such sort, that they believe the gospel, and receive it with a true faith And now, why does God choose one, and leave the other? We know that men cannot come to God by their deserts, neither is it so, that they which are chosen, have deserved any such thing, as to be preferred before their companions, as though there were some worthiness in them. It follows then, that before the world was made, (as Saint Paul says in the first [chapter of his Epistle to] the Ephesians) God chose such as it pleased him, and it pertains not to us to know why this man more than that man, we know not the reason. And yet must we confess that whatsoever God does, he does it justly: although we know not why. So then, let us receive that whereof we are so thoroughly certified in Holy Writ, and let us not suffer ourselves to be led amiss under a shadow of this vain reason which ignorant men use, and such as know not one iota of God's word. True it is, that at the first blush, they think they have fair show, and some good resemblance. God will have all men to be saved, it follows then, that it stands in the free choice of every man to be lightened in the faith, and to come to salvation. You say well, if we knew not Saint Paul's meaning: but the very asses may have a bit there, as we say in common proverbs. If a man will read but three lines, he shall easily perceive, that Saint Paul speaks not here of every particular man; (as we showed already) but he speaks of all people, and of all states, and shows the case stands not as it did before the coming of Christ, when as there was but one chosen people; but now God shows himself a Saviour of all the world, according to that which was said: "Thine inheritance shall be even unto the end of the world."

Moreover, to the end that no man may abuse himself, or be deceived by their vain and foolish talk, which wrest and wrench Holy Writ, or rather pervert it, let us see how the saying of these enemies of God and all godliness may stand. God will have all men to be saved, that is to say, every one, as they imagine. If the will of God be so nowadays, no doubt it was like even from the beginning of the world; for we know that his mind does not change, he does not change as men do. So then, if at this day God will have all men to be saved, his mind was so always, and if his mind was so always, what shall we make of that that Saint Paul adds, that he will have all men come to the knowledge of [the] truth? He chose but one certain people to himself, (as Saint Paul says, Acts 13) and left the poor Gentiles to walk in their ignorance. Could he not have executed his will at that time? Nay, even since the gospel, it was not his will that all should know the gospel at the first blow.

And thereupon, there were some countries where he would not suffer Saint Paul to preach, as in Bythinia, and in Phrygia, (Acts 16:7). And so we see that God would not have his knowledge come to every one at the first blow. And thus we may easily conclude against them which abuse this text, that Saint Paul does not speak int his place of the straight counsel of God, neither the he means to lead us to this everlasting election and choice which was before the beginning of the world, but only shows us what God's will and pleasure is, so far forth as we may know it. It is true that God does not change, neither does he have two wills, neither does he use any counterfeit dealing, as though he meant one thing, but would not have it so. And yet the Scriptures speak to us after two sorts touching the will of God. And how may that be? Seeing God uses no double dealing, seeing that there is nothing but a plain and simple meaning in him. How does it come to pass, that his will is spoken of in two sorts? It is because of our grossness and rudeness, for we know that if God will come down to us, and give us any understanding of things, he must change his own hue. Why does he make himself to have eyes, to have ears, to have a nose? Why does he take upon himself men's affections? Why is it that he says [that] he is angry, [that] he is sorry? Is it not because we cannot comprehend him in his incomprehensible majesty? So then, it is no absurd matter, that Holy Writ should speak unto us of the will of God, after two sorts: not because his will is double, but to apply himself to our weakness, because our understanding is gross and heavy as lead. And yet there is very good reason in all this same. Why so? When the Scripture tells us, that God has chosen such as it pleased him before the world was made, behold a straight counsel, whereinto we cannot enter. And why then does Holy Writ tell us that the election and choice of God is everlasting? It is not without cause. For it is a very profitable doctrine, if it be received as it ought to be. For thereby we are put in mind, that we are not called to the knowledge of the gospel by reason of our own worthiness, for we are no better than others are, we are all taken out of the cursed root of Adam, we are all subject to one self-same condemnation, we are all shut up under the slavery of sin and death. So then, when it pleased God to draw us out of the darkness of unbelief, and give us the light of his gospel, he cast not his eyes upon any service that we might have done, or any virtues that we might have brought him, there was no such thing; but he called us, as he had chosen us before. And this is the order whereunto saint Paul calls us in another place, in the eighth [chapter of his Epistle] to the Romans; in that, that we know God, we must not take the glory to ourselves, but hence it is, because our Lord and God chose us in himself, and would set it forth in effect and deed. And thus the calling of the faithful hangs upon this counsel of God. Thus we see how, and how far our Lord and God declares and sets out unto us that which he had decreed of us, before we were born. Moreover, does he touch us with his Holy Spirit? We are ingrafted, as it were, into the body of our Lord Jesus Christ. And this is the true earnest penny of our adoption: this is the pledge which is given us, to put us out of all doubt that God takes us and holds us for his, when we are made one by faith with Jesus Christ, who is the only begotten Son, unto whom belongs the inheritance of life.

Seeing then that God gives us such a sure certificate of his will, see how he puts us out of doubt of our election, which we know not of, neither can perceive it, and it is as much as if he should draw out a copy of his will, and give it [to] us. He has the first copy, but yet he gives a counterpane good enough in law, to the end that even in our ignorance we may be notwithstanding out of doubt of our salvation, as we are put in hope, which we had been utterly void of, if Jesus Christ did not call us to be members of his body.

Thus we see how profitable this doctrine of election is unto us: first of all, it serves to humble us, in that we now that our salvation hangs not upon our deserts, neither upon our virtues which God might have found in us, but because he chose us before we were born, and before we could do neither good nor evil. And let this be for one note. Moreover, when we know that, according to this unchangeable election, God has called us to himself, we are hereby so much the more put out of doubt of our salvation as Jesus Christ shows it. No man shall take from him that that his Father hath given to him, (John 6:39). And what are they that the Father gives to Jesus Christ? They whom he hath chosen, and whom he knows to be his. Seeing the case stands so that God has given us to his Son to be kept and defended, because he had chosen us before, and Jesus Christ promises and witnesses that none of us shall be lost, but that he will bestow al the might and power of his Godhead to save and defend us. Is not this a comfort surpassing and surmounting all the treasure in the world? And is it not also the true ground whereupon all the assurance and certainty of our salvation is stayed and settled? For we are here all as birds upon boughs, as men say, we are set forth as a prey to Satan. What assurance then could we have for tomorrow, and for all our life; yea, and after death, were it not that God who has called us, will make an end of his work as he has begun. And how so? How has he gathered us together in the faith of his gospel? Is it grounded upon us? Nay, clean contrary, it proceeds from his mere and free election. Therefore we have to be so much more out of doubt. So then, whensoever we are spoken unto touching election, we know that we must not busy ourselves to know more than God's counsel, then he speaks of [it] unto us, that is [to] say, then we have knowledge by [it] in Holy Writ. Behold I say, how simply we are given to understand of the will of God, I mean of that will which he shows us, so far forth as it is profitable for us.

There is moreover and besides, that a will of God, which is, as it were, open unto us. Such a one as he shows us, so oft as his Word is preached unto us. And what will is that? That it is, whereby he calls and exhorts us all to repentance. After that he has once shown us that we are all damned in his sight, and there is nothing but condemnation in us, he shows us that we must renounce ourselves, and get us out of this bottomless pit wherein we are [in] over the ears. In that that God exhorts all men generally, thereby we may judge, that it is the will of God that all men should be saved, as he says also by the prophet Ezekiel; I will not the death of a sinner, but that he turn himself and live, (Ezek. 19:23; 33:11). How will God [will] that sinners turn themselves? And how shall we know it? In so much as he will have repentance preached to all the world, both to great and small. When it is said that God will receive sinners to mercy, such as come to him and ask forgiveness, and that in Christ's name. Is this doctrine for two or three? No! no! It is a general doctrine. So then it is said that God will have all men to be saved, not having respect to that that we devise or imagine, that is to say, so far forth as our wits are able to comprehend it, for this is the measure that we must always come to. And that it is so, when the Scripture speaks of the love and will of God, let us see, if men can have repentance of their own motion and as they are self-taught, or whether it is God that gives it; yea, and that of an especial goodness. Mark how God says by his prophet, I will that all men turn themselves. And can a man of himself turn himself? No! No! For if that were in us, it were more than to make us and experience itself sufficiently condemns us. It is moreover, an undoubted doctrine throughout the whole Scripture. For in every place, Our Lord Jesus gives himself the praise of turning us, saying that he will soften our stony hearts, and make them bow to obey him, and it is his work not only to give us that we may, but that we will and desire to obey his commandments, (Ezek. 36:26-27; Phil. 2:13). To be short, there is nothing that the faithful ought to do so much, as in this behalf to give God the glory, confessing that it is in him only to turn us, that it is he only that has adopted us in such sort, that he must needs draw us by the grace of his Holy Spirit. And this is one point, that we must be well resolved of. As for faith, have men, I beseech you, so sharp wits, that they are able to attain unto this wonderful wisdom which is contained in the gospel, and such as the very angels themselves do reverence as Saint Paul speaks? But if we be so proud, let us mark what God says to us in his Word, that he must open our eyes, and he must bore open our ears, because the natural man does not understand one jot of the secrets of God. It is the Holy Ghost who opens them unto us. To be short, it is not possible to read three lines in Holy Write, but [that] we shall find some sentence or other, that men are utterly blind of their own nature, until God has opened their eyes, and they can in no wise come near him, until he draw them to him. That it is a special gift which he gives us, when he [en]lightens us in the faith of his truth. Seeing the turning of men is in the hand of God, it follows that he does not give it to all men, for experience teaches us, and so the Scriptures speak: Thy God has not yet given thee an heart to understand, (Deut. 29:4). And again, it is showed us very often, that God casts not forth his grace as it were at haphazard, but that it is only for them whom he has chosen, and for them that are of the body of his church, and of his flock. And thus we see how the will of God is to be taken in this place of Saint Paul, when he says, that all men should be saved, that is to say, of all people and all states. And how is that? For he offers his gospel, says he, to all, which is the means to draw us to salvation. And does this profit all men? No! No! As our own eyes can be witnesses. For when we have had our ears beaten with the truth of God, if we rebel against it, it shall be to our great condemnation. Yet so it is, that there are many which do not profit in the gospel, but rather become worse by it, yea, even of them to whom the gospel is preached, which are not all saved. Therefore God must go further to bring us to salvation, he must not only appoint men and send men to teach us faithfully, but he must play the matter within our hearts. He must touch us to the quick, he must draw us unto him, and must make his work not to be unprofitable to us, and cause it to take root in our hearts.

Moreover, we see it most evidently, and as a matter out of all doubt, that we have to consider the will of God after two sorts, in consideration and respect of our own reach; not that it is double of itself (as we said before), but in respect of our weakness, and because God abases himself, as well in this, as in all the rest, to make himself easy and familiar to our capacity. For we see how he frames his tongue and speech to us in his Word, as nurses use to do with young and suckling children. If God should speak unto us according to his majesty, his speech would be too high and hard for us to attain unto it, it would utterly confound us, it would astonish and amaze us. For if our eyes be not able to abide the clearness of the sun, are our minds, I pray you, able to comprehend that infinite majesty which is God? So then these beasts, which would destroy God's election, must not abuse this place, nor say, that we make a double will in God; for therein they do impudently and villainously misreport us. But we say as every man sees, that is, to wit, that as far as we can perceive, God would have all men to be saved, whensoever and how oft so ever he appoints his gospel to be preached unto us.

And why so? For (as we said before), the gate of paradise is opened unto us, when we are so called to be partakers of that redemption, which was purchased for us by our Lord Jesus Christ. And this is the will of God, such and so far forth as we can reach unto it, to wit, if he exhorts us to repentance, that he is ready to receive us when we come unto him. Now though we have answered and put away the doubts which may be moved upon this place, yet it shall be good to bring a similitude to make this doctrine more easy: I call a similitude that agreement and likelihood which God makes between the people of Israel and us. God said that he chose out for himself all the children of Abraham, to be his inheritance (Deut. 7:6-8), and dedicated them to himself, and loved them and took them for his own household.

And this is true: because he made his covenant with all them that were circumcised. Was circumcision a vain figure, and of no importance? Nay, it was a sure and undoubted gauge, that God had chosen [his] people for his own (Rom. 9:6-7), as he accounted all them for his flock which came of that race. And yet, was there not a special grace for some of that people? Yes surely, as Saint Paul well sets it forth. Not all they that came of the race of Abraham after the flesh are true Israelites; for God also deprived some of this benefit, to the end that his grace and goodness might seem so much the more and greater towards them who he had called to himself. Behold therefore, this will of God which was towards the people of Israel shows itself at this day towards us.

Wherefore? The gospel shall be preached where God has appointed it, and there shall be one self same order to hold throughout in all places alike, but we see that rather come to pass which was spoken by the prophet Amos, that God will rain upon one city, and be dry to another, that there shall be a famine of his truth in many places, (Amos 4:7). And so the Lord sends his gospel whither it pleases him, and yet is not his grace poured out upon Judea only, or upon one corner of that land, but upon all the world both here and thee, although there be not the like in every place. Yet can it not be, but God must work otherwise and further in them whom he will draw to himself.

For all of us have our ears stopped up, all of us have our eyes hood-winked; yea, and that more is, we are deaf and blind, unless he has touched us, and we receive his Word. And thus stands the will of God, which we have to understand after two sorts, even as holy Writ makes it plain unto us; not (as I said) that God is double in himself, or that his will is diverse and changeable. Now let us come to practice this doctrine, and let us mark first of all when the gospel is preached unto us, that it is as much as if God reached out his hand (as he speaks by the prophet Isaiah), and said unto us, Come to me, (Isaiah 65:2). It is a matter which ought to touch us to the quick, when we see that God comes to seek us, and does not wait till we come unto him, but shows that he is ready to be made at one with us, although we were his deadly enemies, and seeks nothing but to wipe out all our faults, and make us partakers of that salvation which was purchased for us by our Lord Jesus Christ. And thus we see how worthily we have to esteem of the gospel, and what a treasure it is, accordingly as we have already alleged out of the first chapter [of the Epistle] to the Romans, that it is the mighty power of God to salvation to all them that believe, that it is the kingdom of heaven, and how be it God opens us the door, to the end that being got out of the bottomless pits wherein we are of nature sunk, we may enter into his glory. And let this be for one lesson. Yet let us mark moreover, that it is not enough for us to receive the word that shall be preached unto us by the mouth of man, which is but a sound, which may vanish away into the air without any profit, but after that we have heard the Word of God, he must speak unto us inwardly by his Holy Spirit, for that is the only means to bring us to the knowledge of the truth. And so, when God has dealt so mercifully with us as to give us the light of faith, let us hold it of him, and pray him to continue it, and bring this work to perfection, and let us not proudly lift up ourselves above other men, as though we were more worthy than they. We know that it is our God which has chosen us, and sets us apart from others of his mere goodness and free mercy. And this we are to mark upon this place. Know we moreover, that men are very faulty, when God offers them his Word, and they do not receive it. And surely this is partly spoken unto us, to the end that all the faithful should with all humility glorify the grace of God towards them, and partly to the end that unbelievers and rebels should have their mouths stopped, that they might not blaspheme against God as though he had been wanting to them. For we see how he calls all them to salvation, to whom his Word is preached. If a man reply and say: yea, sir, but they cannot come to God. We cannot stand to plead here, for we shall find ourselves always in fault. If a man would say, it rests only in God's hands, but if he would give me repentance, could not he do it? And if I remain stiff-necked in mine hardness and malice, what should I do in that case, seeing that God will not give me repentance to turn to him? Oh, this is not in any wise to be allowed of, for God calls us sufficiently unto him, and we cannot accuse him of cruelty, or that he was wanting unto us. For if we had not his Word, yet must we needs confess that he is just although we know not the cause that moves him to deprive us of it. But when we are called to come to God, and we know that he is ready to receive us, if we do not come, can we deny but that we are unthankful and slack? But let us further mark that we may not separate the one from the other; salvation from the knowledge of the truth. For God means neither to lie nor to deceive men, when he says that when they come to the knowledge of truth, they shall be saved. If he gives not this knowledge to all, (as it has been said already), he is not bound unto us nor so much indebted to us. And as for the rest we cannot but remain always faulty. But (as I have said), let us learn to join these two words together, God will have all men to be saved. And how? If they come to a knowledge of the truth. For this will hold us short, that we cannot run out of our compass as others do. Every man would be saved, but no man will draw nigh to God. Thus the Scripture holds us in this simplicity, that if we desire salvation, we must hold the means which is appointed for us and which God sets before us, that is to say, we must receive his Word with obedience of faith. This is everlasting life, says Christ, to wit, to know God his Father, and then to know him also, and to receive him as the only Saviour, (John 17:3). And therefore let us learn, as we have it here set forth unto us, not to doubt of the certainty of our salvation, for the kingdom of God is within us. And will we that God receive us? Then must we receive this doctrine which Saint Paul gives us. For the will of God is our way. How are we raised again from the dead? How are we called to the hope of salvation? Even by God's good showing his love and favour to us; then we must remain and stand fast there. And thus we see in few words, what Saint Paul's meaning is, to wit, that for so much as God will have his grace to be known to all the world, and has commanded his gospel to be preached to all creatures, we must as much as lieth in us, procure the salvation of all them which are at this day strangers from the faith, and seem utterly to be deprived of the goodness of God, that we may bring them to it.

And why so? For Jesus Christ is not the Saviour of three or four, but he offers himself to all, and let this be for one lesson. Moreover, so oft as the gospel is preached to us, we have to know and consider that God calls us unto him, and it is not in vain, it shall not be lost labour, so that we come to him. And can we come to him of the motion of our own nature? Alas no! For we are wholly against him, (Rom. 8:7), and there is not one iota of affection in us, but are his utter enemy, as Saint Paul says, and we do daily rebel against him. But when God deals so graciously with us, that he touches us with his Holy Spirit, then he causes his gospel to work profitably to our salvation, then he displays his virtue, which Saint Paul speaks of, for we believe nothing but what he speaks. Again, let us know that when the gospel is preached to us, it is to make us so much the more void of excuse. And why so? For seeing that God had already showed us that he was ready to receive us to mercy, if we had come to him, our condemnation shall no doubt be increased if we be so wicked, as to draw back, when he calls so mildly and lovingly. Yet notwithstanding, (as we are here exhorted), let us not leave off to pray for all men in general, for Saint Paul shows us, that God will have all men to be saved, that is to say of all people and nations. And therefore we must not settle ourselves in such sort upon the diversity which is seen amongst men, that we forget that God has made us all to his image and likeness, that we are his workmanship, that he may stretch forth his goodness over them which are at this day far from him, as we have good proof of it.

For when he drew us unto him, (as it was showed before) were we not his enemies? How then comes it to pass, that we are now of the household of faith, the children of God, and members of the Lord Jesus Christ? Is it not because he had gathered us unto himself? And is he not the Saviour of the whole world as well? Is Jesus Christ come to be the Mediator between two or three men only? No! No! But he is the Mediator between God and men. And therefore, we may be so much the more assured, that God take sand holds us for his flock, if we endeavour to bring them to God which are this day, as it were, far off. And therefore let us comfort ourselves, and take good hearts unto us in our calling, that albeit there be at this day an horrible forlornness, so that it may be well seeing that we are very miserable creatures, utterly cast away and condemned yet must we labour as much as we can to draw them to salvation which seem to be far off, and above all things let us pray to God for them, waiting patiently till it pleases him to show his good will toward them, as he has already showed it upon us.

Now let us fall down before the face of our good God, and confess our faults, praying him that it would please him to make us feel them in such sort, that being beaten down within ourselves, we may be bold, notwithstanding, to come to him, because he calls us so lovingly, and doubt not but he will hear our prayers, which we shall make unto him in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that he would make us always feel the fruit of our prayers, when we call upon him with a true faith and repentance. That he be not only gracious unto us, but also to all people and nations of the earth, &c.





Being a critique of some unfortunate "exegesis"

Reproduced, with slight modifications, by permission from the


April - June 1996 pages 41 - 48

In late 1995 the Banner of Truth Trust published "Spurgeon versus Hyper-Calvinism", written by Iain H. Murray. This small volume is essentially an attack on what is perceived as the Hyper-Calvinist threat (sic) which some fear is lurking in the British Isles today. The author holds up C.H. Spurgeon as the rallying point against this dread heresy (!) and in the process, Dr. John Gill and William Huntington are illustrative examples of the Hyper-Calvinist bogey. Says Murray: "The keystone of Hyper-Calvinist thinking is clearly to be found in Gill and especially in his two volumes, The Cause of God and Truth, published to refute Arminianism." (Murray: Op cit. p. 128) As an example of what Murray considers to be the truth in these matters, an excerpt from one of Spurgeon's sermons is given in some six pages comprising chapter 11 in the book, and evidently is intended to "put the cap on it" as it were, with a "thus saith Spurgeon" ., and who would dare contradict the great man? The sermon excerpt is appropriately entitled "A Crucial Text - C. H. Spurgeon on 1 Timothy 2:3,4, and is underwritten with a footnote by Murray to the effect that it "provides an excellent summary of Spurgeon's thought on one of the principal issues relating to the Hyper-Calvinist controversy". (ibid. p. 149) The sermon was originally published, we are informed, in the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit vol. 26, and pages 49-52, and it evinces that Spurgeon considered that the Gospel contained in it a testimony that God wants all men without exception to be saved. This is presented as being the true Scriptural Gospel over against "hypercalvinists" who insist that such an assertion is Arminian. Ipso facto, then, following this kind of presentation, anyone not acquiescing in Spurgeon's views gets categorized with the Hyper-Calvinist heresy.

What? Criticise Spurgeon? The temerity of it! The utter audacity of it! If CHS said it, it must be right mustn't it? What here follows will doubtless explode like an incendiary in those quarters where, in common with all too many on the modern Evangelical and neo-Calvinist scene, great stalwarts of the faith from past ages get trotted out as "final authorities" on Scripture. Like the Eastern Orthodox, the modern neo-Calvinists have their "icons" which act in some intermediary way between them and God, and Spurgeon, much I am sure, to his disgust were he to know, gets heralded and presented forth with a veneration and hero-worship that rivals anything seen in Catholicism or the East. They might not pray to "Saint CHS" as yet, though I have over the years noticed a few busts of Spurgeon adorning study desks here and there. Not far away, I feel, from the "images of saints" found in Romanist and Eastern Orthodox Churches. A few generations more, and maybe they will be praying to Saint CHS of Newington Butts. But at the moment CHS certainly gets to be intruded between the believer and his Saviour in an authoritative way, contrary to the dictates of our Lord in Matthew 23 verses 8-12. Only Christ is to be our "Rabbi", we sit as His feet, and His alone. Only Christ is to be our Master, and all other men, preachers, elders, deacons, expositors, whatever, may never take this place. Therefore we are not prepared to "take it from Mr. Spurgeon", but like the Bereans, who did not even "take it from St. Paul", (Cf. Acts 17:10-11), we shall search carefully the Scriptures, the very inspired Word of God, to see "whether those things were so" as Mr. Spurgeon claimed.

First, the text, that "Crucial Text" as Mr. Murray calls it: 

1 Timothy 2:3,4. "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and come unto the knowledge of the truth."

In expounding this text, CHS purports right at the beginning of his second paragraph "I do not intend to treat my text controversially ..." (Murray Op.cit. p. 149) but then he proceeds to do precisely that, hitting out at what he evidently regards as the "Hyper" brethren thereafter in several paragraphs, and couching his polemic in pejorative language. Right at the start, however, in this second paragraph CHS evinces his view of Scripture as being, to some extent at least, supra-logical, and beyond human comprehension, for he says that here in this text "two sides of the building of truth meet here" and hence he sets the scene for a gambol with "paradox" theology, (or more accurately, "Contradictionalist" theology, a kind of neo-Calvinist transcendentalism.) "In many a village," he goes on, "there is a corner where the idle and the quarrelsome gather together; and theology has such corners." Really? True, Biblical Theology, exegeted from God's precious wholesome Word, has nasty, disreputable corners like that? Now this is pejorative language Mr. CHS is using here. It is true that the Scriptures contain many difficult matters which, as St. Peter says (2 Peter 3:16) "are some things hard to be understood" and which "they that are unlearned and unstable wrest ... unto their own destruction". But it is the calling of the ministers of the Gospel to seek out the correct interpretations of such matters, and to teach God's people these correct explanations, showing them how their explanations agree with the Word of God. It is pejorative to consider such activity as some dark corner as it were, where the "idle and quarrelsome gather together". Anyway, CHS regards this "crucial text" as one such dingy and unwholesome corner, but strangely he's there to do a bit of idle quarreling himself. For ourselves, we prefer to regard it in more sanctified, Scriptural, and non-pejorative terms. It is indeed one of those kind of texts St. Peter refers to, and proper exegetical consideration of its meaning is slandered when it is regarded in the terms CHS uses here.

CHS follows on now with an atrocious piece of exegesis. He bends the Word of God to fit what is evidently his own presuppositions and predilections. He first throws up the "contradiction" that is superficially apparent between the text and the divine decrees of election and reprobation, whereon he insinuates that the text would have to be bent in order to eradicate its contradiction with the divine decrees. And some do this bending, he says, in the interests of logical consistency. But he won't. Evidently he considers that the truth can be in both sides of a contradiction simultaneously. (At this juncture methinks I hear the ghost of Karl Barth chuckling away, and saying, in sepulchral tones "Ha ha! These evangelicals! These Calvinists!"). This is shocking, that CHS should consider that faithfulness to the Word of God will lead to the inconsistency of logical contradiction, i.e., strictly speaking, lies.

At the outset, CHS quite uncritically asserts that "all men" in the text (v.4) must mean, and can only mean, "all men without exception". He then speaks of certain "older Calvinistic friends" (ibid. p. 150) as insisting that this "all men" have said 'some men'. 'All men,' say they 'that is, some of all sorts of men', as if He (the Holy Ghost) had meant that". Accordingly, in line with his predilections, CHS goes on to assert "The Holy Ghost by the Apostle has written 'all men' and unquestionably (emph. Ed.) he meant all men. I know how to get rid of the force of the 'alls' according to that critical method which some time ago was very current, but I do not see how it can be applied here with due regard to the truth." CHS goes on then to adumbrate what he had been reading in "the exposition of a very able doctor (Dr. Gill?) who explains the text so as to explain it away, he applies grammatical gunpowder to it, and explodes it by way of expounding it." (Notice the pejoratives I have emphasized here, which CHS is unable to back up with objective evidence. Ed.) "I thought", CHS continues, "when I read his exposition that it would have been a very capital comment upon the text, if it (the text) had read 'Who will not have all men to be saved, nor come to the knowledge of the truth.'"

Love of consistency, CHS now avers, must not interfere with our faithfulness to Scripture. (Ibid. p. 151). This begs the question, "Is Scripture inconsistent then?" CHS is concerned about this, because he evidently feels the embarrassment between his interpretation of the text and the rest of Scripture on matters of God's decretive will vis a vis the non-elect. But he shies away from the destination that this implication will take him to by seeking refuge in what is clearly irrationality, though doubtless he would not have called it by that name. "I am a most unreasonable being" he asserts, even "when I am most reasonable, and when my judgment is most accurate I dare not trust it" (!!) (But of course, he trusts his judgment here, in his interpretation of this text, nevertheless! And what is more, de facto he expects his hearers and readers to trust in his judgment because he evidently expects them to swallow what he is saying). "I had rather trust my God" he goes on. (Cf. Ibid. pp. 151-153) But that is not the question up for debate. The question up for debate is the correct meaning of a text of God's Word. In that Word, when we know what it means, we trust. It is our contention Mr. CHS exegeted this text incorrectly, and we trust the Word no less than he.

But the venerable CHS now comes to the nub of it all, in the face of the contradiction which He believes our human reason cannot resolve, the contradiction between his interpretation of the text and the decree of reprobation, he tells us that if the Scriptures appear to us to be contradictory, then we are to "swallow it at once" (!!! Ibid. p. 153 & emph. Ed.). Like some of the Doctor's nasty medicine, CHS tells us "In the same way there are some things in the Word of God which are undoubtedly true which must be swallowed at once by an effort of faith" (Emph. Ed.). (Karl Barth's ghost is having hysterics now, and shouting, "but this is what I spent a lifetime trying to teach everybody ... why wouldn't these Calvinists listen?"). And CHS, like Barth, can then point out to us a plethora of things in Scripture which appear contradictory, (Ibid pp. 152 and 153). At least, they appeared contradictory to CHS. Personally I'm amazed to discover what a superficial exegete he must have been in so many areas. He considers, amongst other things, the question: "If God be infinitely good and powerful, why does not his power carry out to the full His beneficence?" (Ibid. p. 152). He intimates that this question is unanswerable. That a Calvinist should flounder on such matters is staggering, and begs an array of questions, like: "Has he never fully studied his Bible?" "Has he never really studied Reformed Theology?"

A Pity CHS had more regard for his own predilections than for the careful exegesis of Dr. Gill. Not that we regard Dr. Gill as an infallible icon, either, but he was much, much more sure-footed than the much vaunted CHS. but now, what saith the Scripture at this point? CHS has asserted that the text means that "the Holy Ghost by the Apostle has written 'all men', and unquestionably he means 'all men'."

This is wrong. The Holy Ghost did not by the apostle write "all men". He wrote pantas anthropous. Now the question is what does that original Greek phrase mean, not what the English translation of it can be construed to mean. In particular, what does pantas mean?

CHS has assumed that it means "all" in the sense of "all without exception". As such he betrays a lack of linguistic understanding, which, sadly, was the sorry lot of most evangelicals in the Victorian era, when the old principles of Reformation exegesis had become eclipsed by etymological studies that eventually vitiated the reliability of concordances, dictionaries, Word Studies, and lexicons. Much of the lexicographical work of the Victorian era and of the early 20th Century has been shown to be seriously faulty, riddled with the error of an overriding philosophy known amongst linguistic scholars as "etymologism". This very error in fact bolstered the Baptist view of immersionism, and gave it an air of validity the Word of God never gave it. CHS evidently fell for that, and fell for a whole plethora of similar errors. The old Reformed exegesis put heavy emphasis on proper semantic study, and the usage of the analogia fidei, or the analogy of the faith, whereby difficult or obscure scriptures were to be interpreted in the light of their contexts, and in the light of the general scope and tenor of Scripture as a whole. As the Westminster Confession states: Ch. 2 Para. IX: "The infallible rule of interpretation of any Scripture is the Scripture itself; and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture, (which is not manifold, but one,) it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly." Again, more recently the rising science of linguistics has rolled back the darkness in this respect, and we see how the old Reformers had it right, after all. With regard to pantas in this text, linguistic studies bearing on New Testament Greek indicate that this word, like most words in most languages, does not have one fixed meaning. It has a spectrum of meanings, known in linguistic science as a "semantic range". Within the semantic range of pantas the lexicographers supply us with a whole set of different meanings, or "elements." Which element of meaning is active in any given usage of a word is determined by its context. So first, what is the semantic range of pantas?

For the set pas, (Nominative singular masculine of which pantas is the Accusative masculine plural) we find the following meaning elements listed in Louw & Nida (Semantic Domain GREEK-ENGLISH LEXICON: United Bible Societies 1st edit. 1988)

pas a. all
b. any
c. total
d. whole
e. every kind of

Now a) above will unparcel to reveal:  A1: All without exception, and ...
                                                        A2 All without distinction

And e) above will unparcel to reveal: E1 some of all sorts, and
                                                        E2 all manner of

Now which of these meanings did the Holy Ghost intend us to take as being the correct one to fit 1 Tim. 2:4? What do we do? Shall we say, Oh, I like this one, I'll make it this one? Or, I feel led to A1, I'm certain that's what God intended, I feel the witness within me? The Arminians insist on A1. So did CHS, surprise! surprise! On what grounds? CHS gives us none. In this sermon he can only hold, and rather bombastically at that, to bald insistence on it, "the Holy ghost by the apostle has written 'all men'."

But now, what about the context? And what about the whole analogia fidei, by which we are to be guided when interpreting any difficult text such as this? Well first, the whole scope and tenor of Scripture shout that the CHS and Arminian interpretation A1 will put the text in contradiction to the Divine decrees. Knowing this, the Arminians do their utmost to extract as much anti-Calvinist mileage out of this text as they possibly can. (Strange, that CHS and the Arminians are fellow-travelers along the same road, in the same direction here!) But CHS, and it seems, his "backers" at the Banner of Truth, are not as canny as the Arminians, they want A1 as well, and the contradiction it throws up against the Divine Decrees, and the Divine Nature as revealed elsewhere in Scripture! And this massive contradiction must, so it seems, in Spurgeon's words, "be swallowed at once by an effort of faith". (I can still hear Karl Barth's ghost laughing and droning out: "Leap of faith, leap of faith .. indeed, ..they've gone as far as that!").

But manifestly, meaning elements e), and E1, and E2 will fit beautifully, and eliminate any contradiction with the rest of Scripture. That is, that God "will have all manner of men to be saved". In an age like the 1st Cent. AD, long before the rise of egalitarian democracies, when society was heavily stratified socially, and racial prejudices inflamed, it would have been vitally important to draw attention to the fact that God's salvation was not only for one racial group, (the Jews, for instance, and much of the New Testament addresses precisely that question) or for one class of Society. Not only peasants, and slaves, but even middle class professionals and even rulers were to be addressed with the Gospel ("every creature", was emphasized, Mark 16:15). It was important to emphasize that "some of all sorts" of people were to be saved, by the Divine decree. And in historical practice, that is precisely how it has worked out, not all men without exception, but some of all sorts.

Now, it remains to examine the immediate context to the verse concerned. Notice how the phrase "all men" is coupled not only to the phrase "to be saved", but also to the clause: "to come unto the knowledge of the truth". In fact, in the Greek the coupling is closer than in the English. So it is God's will that "all men" come "unto the knowledge of the truth" as well as that they be saved. Manifestly, they cannot be saved, without first coming unto the knowledge of the truth. (Rom. 10:14). And equally manifest is the fact that down through all the Old Testament period, and through the New Testament period, it has not been the will of God that "all men without exception" should come "unto the knowledge of the truth", but it has manifestly and indubitably been His will that "all manner of men", or "all kinds of men" should so come, and be saved. Some indeed, as Saint John says, "out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation" (Rev. 5:9 and cf. Rev. 11:9). Not all without exception.

Let the reader judge, what about all the billions of human beings absolutely excluded from the knowledge of the Gospel, and therefore salvation, for millennia? The millions of pre-Columbian America, the vast billions of China, and the East, and the manifold tribes of Africa ... all precluded from viewing the Gospel dispensation for most of the history of the world. Which interpretation of 1 Tim. 2:3-4 fits with reality, that of Mr. CHS, or the one of the grand phalanx of the old Reformed exegetes, like Calvin in his sermons and commentaries on this text, the very one we have advanced above?

But this is not all. Again looking at the immediate context of our verse we see in verse one preceding it the phrase "all men" used by the apostle again. The same Greek words are used as in verse 4 except for a change in the flexions for case endings. The apostle exhorts us to pray for "all men", an impossible task, if "all without exception is meant", for we are not allowed to pray for the dead, or for those who have committed the unpardonable sin. (I John 5:16). The Apostle makes it clear in verse two that by "all" in verse one he means "all kinds of" men, when he specifies that prayers should be made even for kings and all those in authority, that is, for those even of that exalted type of men who in most instances in those days were enemies that persecuted Christians, but from amongst whom God was pleased to save some.

We conclude therefore that the Holy Ghost wrote by the apostle that God willed "all kinds of men" to be saved. The interpretation is in beautiful harmony with the analogia fidei, the context and all the sound principles of exegesis, and the science of linguistics. A threefold cord is not quickly broken. (Eccl. 4:12).

But Mr. CHS surprisingly, finds his exegetical medicine a little difficult to swallow himself. The contradiction it throws in his face is a bit big "to be swallowed at once". He has an embarrassing problem now with that word "will" in verse 4 of our text: "Who will have all men to be saved ..." A spoonful of hermeneutic sugar (heaped, not level) is called for here by Mr. CHS to help with the swallowing of this nasty medicine, this nasty 'contradiction' (sic) in God's Word. The word "will" here, he roundly asserts, cannot mean that God "wills it with the force of a decree or a divine purpose, for if He did, then all men would be saved." (Ibid. p. 150). Rather, he says "does not the text mean that it is the 'wish' of God that (all) men be saved?" So that the passage should read, he continues, "whose wish it is that all men should be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth?" (Ibid, p. 151). Notice now, that Mr. CHS is not saying now: "The Holy Ghost wrote by his apostle 'Who will have all men ... etc.' and that is what the Holy Ghost meant." No, no, that sort of approach would do for the "all men" part of this text. But not for this part! Mr. CHS will hold us to the good old plain English translation and his construing of it for "all men", but to follow that principle through consistently in his exegesis would get him in a mess with "will" in verse 4! What to do then? Well he does the very thing he criticises the "hypers" for doing with "all men" right next door to "will". Mr. CHS it would seem, is nothing if not inconsistent! As it suits him! And what is staggering is the way he performs this trick! In looking for an alternative meaning for "will" he alights on "wish" without in any way undertaking an exegetic, linguistic or semantic examination of the word concerned. In short he "plumps" for the meaning that suits him!

So now Mr. CHS can swallow his sugared brew by changing "will" to "wish". Unfortunately this nasty 'pharmaceutical' concoction has drastic side effects that are deleterious right across our conception of God and His revelation. Mr. CHS has hereby portrayed for us a God who is able to save all men without exception, and yet ... and yet ... will not put forth His mighty arm and save them, and this, despite the fact that the prophet tells us that the "Lord's hand is not shortened that it cannot save..." (Isaiah 59:1) Now manifestly this is a hideous portrayal of God.

What would we think of a lifeguard on a beach, who, looking out to sea and seeing someone struggling, drowning, yearns to save that person, desires that that person be saved, and having all the strength, skill, and opportunity necessary to effectuate a rescue, yet remains immobile, and knowing that none else, nor the victim himself can effect deliverance, nevertheless leaves the victim to drown? And as the person gasps his way to oblivion, our lifeguard says, "I wish sincerely that that person be saved". What kind of lifeguard is that? A contemptible one. And CHS's portrayal of God here is akin to that lifeguard. CHS immediately sees the incongruence of his theology here, and spends most of pages 152 - 154 trying, vainly, to justify it. He considers the question: "But if he (God) wishes it to be so, why does he not make it so?" This question he deflects, "I cannot tell" he says, (ibid. p. 152) and "I have never set up to be an explainer of all difficulties, and I have no desire to do so". (Emph Ed.). But of course, this is where, with Mr. CHS we now are bidden to take this incongruity to be true, and it must be "swallowed at once by an effort of faith, and must not be chewed by perpetual questioning." (ibid. p. 153). Or, this text means what Mr. CHS says it means, and we are to swallow that and not re-examine his exegesis! However it is revealing to peel back the surface of Mr. Spurgeon's exegesis here, what lurks underneath will not stand the light of day. The Greek word underlying the English here is the verb thelo. Now CHS has done in his interpretation here what he vetoes others for doing with respect to the "all" of verse 4, he has spotted a semantic variant. the Greek thelo, he seems to have discovered, can mean "I wish", as well as "I will". Opportunist-like, he picks this one up like a ripe plum. It's just the semantic variant he needed at this point! Never mind that he has censured others (like Dr. Gill?) for examining semantic ranges before determining which meaning element is active in a given usage. Never mind that he won't allow any possibility for variant semantics in his interpretation of "all", "I do not see", he bombastically and baldly asserts (ibid. p. 150) "how it can be applied here (to 'all') with due regard to truth." But on "will" CHS sings a different tune. It suits him.

But it will not do to enter linguistics in such a cavalier fashion. All the meaning elements of thelo must be set out, and examined, the context consulted, and the analogia fidei. Then we must logically and systematically isolate which element of the verb is active here, not just pull one out like Little Jack Horner pulling out the plum, the one that happens to suit our predilections. It must be the one that fits all the threefold considerations adumbrated above. Louw and Nida, (Semantic Domain GREEK-ENGLISH LEXICON) again, give us the semantic range:

thelo    a) I purpose
            b) I am of the opinion
            c) I desire (I wish)
            d) I enjoy.

Manifestly, b) and d) would take us into realms unfitting to the verse in question. a) and c) remain the only options. Now of these two the context and the analogia fidei will have to be the deciding factors, not personal whim, not personal preference, not personal pietistic "feelings". If it is c) as CHS specifies, in his opportunistic manner, then this leaves us with a portrayal of God as being someone with frustrated desires, indeed with frustrated desires that He must cope with eternally, otherwise He would change. And therefore He would be eternally imperfect. c) also flatly contradicts those manifold Scriptures which assert unequivocally that God is Sovereign, and He accomplishes all His desires. For example:

"My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure" (Isaiah 46:10);

"My Word ... shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please" (Isaiah 55:10-11);

"He is of one mind, and who can turn him? And what His soul desireth, even that He doeth" (Job 23:13);

"But our God is in the heavens, He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased." (Psalm 115:3);

"Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did He in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places" (Psalm 135:6);

"He shall see of the travail of His soul, and be satisfied", (Isaiah 53:11).

Indubitably, therefore, meaning element c) will not fit.

This leaves us with a). Which fits the analogia fidei, fits the context, in that it harmonizes beautifully with "all kinds of men", and is arrived at by a rational and honest process of investigation. A three-fold cord, again, not quickly broken. (Eccl. 4:12).

It is evident that CHS in this sermon carried out cavalier exegesis, and parted company with the Word of God, controlled exegetics, and logic, and, it must be said, consistency of principle. It is also evident, sadly, that his "backer" in this volume has effectively de facto endorsed what CHS is saying by utilising this excerpt in the manner he has.

I have a deep respect for Iain Murray and all his life-long labours in publishing good Reformed Theology, I give heartfelt thanks to God for what positive good has been accomplished by the Banner of Truth over the last forty years. but I cannot "swallow" their view of the Gospel, which Mr. Murray has espoused and presented in this small volume. It is at once, I am personally convinced, unScriptural, illogical, irrational, contradictory, and deleterious to the Scripture Truth. It was deleterious to me in all the years that I followed it. And to many, many, others I know. What is staggering, is how CHS and by association, Mr. Murray and the Banner of Truth herewith ipso facto admit that their interpretation of Scripture on this matter does not make sense, and, to use Spurgeon's words, it must be "swallowed at once by an effort of faith". Even more staggering is their strongly implied censure of those who refuse to "swallow" and would assay to question and examine the crass hermeneutic procedures that produce things that have to be "swallowed".

It is not for nothing, that the "ghost of Karl Barth" has poked his nose into this discussion. The "New Modernism", (as Van Til called it), runs on the logic engine of contradiction, yet is couched in all the language of Reformed Theology, a Theology of the Word. Far wider than just Barth, it is nevertheless all powered by Hegelian dialecticism, and essentially proclaims faith as being belief in mutually simultaneous contradictories that are supra-logical to humans, viz. the Bible is the Word of God, and the Bible is the word of mere man full of errors and contradictions. All men are simultaneously elect and reprobate. Effectively, this makes God and His Word speak with a forked tongue. And in articulating this 'Barthian' system, the eminent Scots theologian T. F. Torrance, in speaking of faith in relation to the Word of God, has virtually re-articulated Spurgeon's viewpoint here, thus:

"To suspend judgment is not to be irrational; rather it is the part of reason which behaves obediently in terms of its object, in this instance, and objective Revelation which even in the event of Revelation remains a mysterion, and will not yield its secret to analytical and logical investigation". (T.F. Torrance: Review of Warfield's "The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible" in: The Scottish Journal of Theology, Vol 7, 1954, page 106, cited in Fere: "Language, Logic, and God", Fontana 1970, page 131).

Note the "mysterion" here. And note "an objective Revelation which even in the event of Revelation remains a mysterion ..." Even "Revelation" is still a mystery, before which human analytical thinking is to be suspended, indeed, is stymied. How chillingly parallel to the words of CHS who, in this sermon tells us, with respect to the "contradictions" his exegesis throws up from God's Word, "Let the difficult doctrines go down whole into your very soul, by a grand exercise of faith", and that such "must not be chewed by perpetual questioning". (Murray, Op. Cit. p. 153).

All this of course begs the question: "Is this Revelation Revelation?"

How can it be Revelation if all it manifests is a contradiction that stonewalls rational understanding, i.e., a "mysterion"? But across this epistemological gap Barthian faith has to "leap", never mind the contradictions, never mind the "mysterion", "believe it" (despite Barth's protestations that he did not teach "a leap of faith"), and the kinship to Spurgeon's dictum to be "swallowed at once" is immediately evident. No wonder hosts of erstwhile Calvinist preachers have gone on a one-way excursion down Hegel Street in the last fifty years. If you can "swallow" Spurgeon's kind of exegesis, well it's easy to go on and "swallow" Barth, after all, his contradictions are, if more numerous, each less of a mouthful than this gargantuan dollop CHS bids us ingest "by an effort of faith."

In conclusion, let the reader judge again, who in these matters has been treating 1 Tim. 2:4 with, in Spurgeon's own words, "grammatical gunpowder" and "exploding it by way of expounding it"? The likes of Dr. Gill? The likes of Calvin and the classical Reformed exegetes? Or is it none other than dear Mr. CHS himself?



"All men"

A few further testimonies from John Calvin, and from

Saint Augustine of Hippo

The following quotations but scratch the surface of the vast body of evidence contained in Reformed and Ancient Theology which indicates that the position we maintain in this booklet is in fact the true historic and Biblical interpretation. It is staggering to realize that Mr. Spurgeon had so departed from this position, and that evidently the Banner of Truth and much of modern so-called "Calvinism" actually endorses this departure from the Word, siding amazingly in this matter with heretics like Pelagius and Arminius, like Pighius and Bolsec, the later two of whom Calvin was at pains to refute over this very "all men" issue.

John Calvin:

1. Commentary on 1 Tim. 2:3-4.

"... the Apostle simply means, that there is no people and no rank in the world that is excluded from salvation; because God wishes that the Gospel should be proclaimed to all without exception ... But the present discourse relates to classes of men, and not to individual persons; for his sole object is, to include int his number princes and foreign nations."

 2. Commentary on 1 Tim. 2:5 "a ransom for all"

"The universal term 'all' must always be referred to classes of men, and not to persons; as if he had said, that not only Jews, but Gentiles also, not only persons of humble rank, but princes also, were redeemed by the death of Christ."

 3. Treatises against the Anabaptists and against the Libertines

Translated B.W. Farley, Publ. Baker Book House USA 1982.

Herein Calvin is seen to interpret 1 Tim 2:3-4 in the sense that God does not will to lead all men to salvation, and to the knowledge of the Gospel. Calvin asserts that the apostle means all kinds of state and condition of men. See Op cit. p. 82.

4. Treatise: The Eternal Predestination of God

Refuting Pighius, who asserted from 1 Tim. 2:4 exactly what CHS and Iain Murray have put forward in the volume "Spurgeon versus Hyper-Calvinism", that is, that God desires all men to be saved. (Strange to find CHS, Iain Murray, et al agreeing with Pighius against Calvin on a vital matter involving predestination!). Calvin demolishes Pighius, (and therewith by implication CHS etc. as well). He writes:

"If God willed, or wished, that His truth should be known to all men, how was it that He did not proclaim and make known His law to the Gentiles also? Why did He confine the Light of Life within the narrow limits of Judaea? ... This passage of the apostle (1 Tim. 2:4) was long ago brought forward by the Pelagians, and handled against us with all their might ... Who does not see that the Apostle is speaking of orders of men rather than of individuals?" (Op. Cit. pages 103-105 in Sovereign Grace Union edition of 1927, and pages 105-109 in James Clarke edition of 1961).

5. Institutes of the Christian Religion: Book III Ch. xxiv para. 16.

"...Paul connects two things (in 1 Tim. 2:4), a will to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth. If by this they will have it to be fixed by the eternal counsel of God that they are to receive the doctrine of salvation what is meant by Moses in these words, 'What nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them?' (Deut. iv. 7). How comes it that other nations are deprived of that light of the Gospel which others enjoy? How comes it that the pure knowledge of the doctrine of godliness has never reached some, and others have scarcely tasted some obscure rudiments of it?" "He had commanded Timothy that prayers should be regularly offered up in the church for kings and princes; ... it clearly appears here that he is speaking not of individuals, but of orders of men ..."

Saint Augustine: Treatise on Rebuke and Grace.

(Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers Vol. V page 489)

"And what is written, that 'He wills all men to be saved' (1 Tim. 2:4), while yet all men are not saved, may be understood in many ways, some of which I have mentioned in other writings of mine; but here I will say one thing: 'He wills all men to be saved,' is so said that all the predestinated may be understood by it, because every kind of men is among them. Just as it was said to the Pharisees, 'Ye tithe every herb;' (Luke 11:42) where the _expression is only to be understood of every herb they had, for they did not tithe every herb which was found throughout the whole earth. According to the same manner of speaking, it was said, 'Even as I also please all men in all things.' (1 Cor. 10:33). For did he who said this please also the multitude of his persecutors? But he pleased every kind of men that assembled in the church of Christ, whether they were already established therein, or to be introduced into it."