Pristine Grace

The Hated Doctrine of Divine Sovereignty
Paraphrased in Modern English by David Bishop
by Robert Sandeman
The Hated Doctrine of Divine Sovereignty

     No doctrine in Scripture is more friendly and inviting to the sinner in despair than the doctrine of Divine Sovereignty as described by Paul in his epistle to the Romans, especially chapter nine. This doctrine removes every cause of the sinner's despair, for who can be led to despair of salvation when the fact is none but the most utterly deficient are chosen of God for salvation?

     But as no doctrine is more encouraging to the miserable, so also none is more aggravating to the sons of pride, who want to stand upon their self excellence before God, and have not yet been reduced so low in their own eyes as to be entirely needful of mercy for their salvation.

     Though this doctrine of Divine Sovereignty has not yet been erased from the standards of the national churches, yet it is nevertheless still generally opposed and held in great contempt both by clergy and laity alike. Many people, passionate about their belief in God's kindness, unwittingly reveal their hatred of the Divine goodness preached by Paul every time they open their mouths to argue for God's kindness. Many zealous men, working arduously to defend Christianity from the religion and politics of the Scientist and the Muslim, renounce the true Sovereign of the universe with great arrogance every time they stand to defend their Christianity. And if we take a look at the cunning devices of the popular preachers, we will find them likewise denying the truth “the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.”

     Nevertheless, this hated doctrine of Divine Sovereignty will ever be held most sacred by all who love the ancient Gospel. To them the doctrine is loved, because they know there would never have been occasion for such Sovereignty to reveal itself had it not revealed itself for the purpose of showing grace to the worthless. Otherwise all mankind, without distinction, would have perished in accordance with every rule of justice.

     The popular preachers are greatly disgusted by this doctrine, because in accordance with their ideas about grace, “there is here no visible ground for faith to rest upon.” The doctrine of Divine Sovereignty flatters no man's pride. No one can find any ground to presume God regards him more than other men, and this is what they hate.

     And so these popular preachers take great pains to keep their audience from thinking about Divine Sovereignty while they work hard to stimulate each member of their audience to exercise their faith by performing some work or act. Once they have performed the work or act, then and only then are their listener's freely allowed to solace themselves in Divine election, because they have first prepared some ground in themselves for their faith in Divine election to rest. In other words, they have prepared some reason in themselves for why God in His choice should respect them more than others.