The objection of our opponents is similarly false when they assert that it was because man was created in the likeness and image of God, and though he fell into sin, God therefore has a desire to save all. Against this notion we reply:
1. Martin Luther wrote, "the sole preparation for grace is God's eternal election and predestination." The sole preparation for grace according to the doctrine of the Professors is a desire in God to save all.
2. The notion like that of Athanasius, forgets the justice of God and the suitableness of the penalty, the reward of sin. God said in the beginning the soul that sinneth it shall die, it is the nature of God that He is ever true to this pronouncement.
3. Our opponents must assert, that since the moral image was lost at the fall, one of two falsities: a) that God must love only the natural image, which is an absurdity, for the state of morality cannot be divorced from personality, or b) that God loving men out of Christ in time, must have natural affections toward evil creatures. Such a notion is blasphemous because it accuses God of possessing evil passions and desires.
4. The proposition does nothing but support the false notion that there is something desirable to God in the reprobate, and that men are saved by their own free wills, and ultimately only lose the favour of God for not making a right decision. Like modern evangelicalism it makes the issue, "not the sin question, but the Jesus question."
The destruction of the five points of Calvinism
Just as clearly as the Professors destroy the doctrine of decrees, confuse the human and divine natures in Christ, and as clearly as our opponents attempt to attach their false opinion to a distinction which does not exist in the order of decrees, and to the relation of men to God as He is their Creator and moral Governor, they also destroy the five points of Calvinism.
Since it is said that God has a lovingkindness toward all men, there is ever something desireable to God in the fallen creature. This places the proponents of the article in the dilemma of Arminianism at this point. They must assert that God loves the sinner and not his sins because he is not altogether fallen, or they must assert that if man is altogether fallen, there is unrighteousness with God in loving that which is evil, without a satisfaction of His justice and holiness. Thus is the doctrine of total depravity overthrown.
A free offer which contains a genuine desire to save all, must contain that motive, and by tis very nature requires a universal atonement. An atonement which even its proponents must admit does not achieve its end. The point is not covered by an appeal to a sufficient for all aspect, which is immediately turned into a universal atonement, if there is asserted a desire and motive to save all. The decree to save cannot be divorced from the desire which moved God in instituting the means.
Furthermore, if God has a lovingkindness toward all men, as the article asserts, we are faced with the positions that God must love men out of Christ, in time, or He must love them in Christ. If God loves men in the dispensation of His grace, out of Christ, then He does not love them in virtue of the Person and work of a Redeemer.
That is a blasphemy not to be entertained. We acknowledge the aspect that God in virtue of the death of Christ, has stayed the day of His wrath, yet if we assert that God loves all men in Christ, He must love them in virtue of Christ's death. God by that revelation would be consistently bound to save all men. Inconsistently, their salvation must depend on an act of their own free wills. Thus the article succeeds in the overthrow of the doctrine of limited atonement.
The very assertion that God has a lovingkindness to all in the free offer of the gospel denies the one and only basis of God's love for fallen sinners, i.e. that He chose them and loved them in Christ from before the foundation of the world. It also asserts that there are other creatures whom God loves, but whom He has ordained to hell. This suggests either of two things, a) that there is a dualism to God's nature, a dark and an evil side, the doctrine of the Manichees, or, b) that there is a limit to God's foreknowledge and foreordination in that there may be, since God earnestly desires the salvation of all, certain who out of an ability of their own hearts, would repent and believe under a free offer of the gospel, but who were not chosen in Christ. Thus is the doctrine of election completely overthrown.
If God has an ardent desire and a will toward that which He has not decretively willed, it follows that His grace is not irresistible.
Perseverance of the saints
Where God's grace is not irresistible, it follows that there can be no certain perseverance of the saints. Further if one may perish whom the Scripture supposedly says God loves and ardently desires his salvation, what assurance can any man have who rests his soul on the grace, mercy and love of God. If God's love for one may fail, who can be assured that it will not fail for all.
To build and to plant.
"And it shall come to pass, that like as I have watched over them, to pluck up, and to break down, and to throw down, and to destroy, and to afflict; so will I watch over them, to build and to plant, saith the Lord." (Jeremiah 31:28)
While we must not attempt to sow among thorns, and it is our duty in doctrine to pluck up, to break down and destroy that which is false, it is also our duty to build and to plant with the truth of the Word of God. Let us therefore consider in contrast, the truths of the everlasting gospel.
The motive if false has a means designed to its own end. If the ground is false, so is the gospel which contains it. Hence the false gospel herein exposed presents sentimental ideas about God, in which He is viewed as the lover of the whole fallen race of mankind, which He earnestly desires to save in a free offer, which He knows cannot achieve its end. This is in spite of the fact that in the providence of God the gospel has never been preached to every creature. We have demonstrated that the love of God toward fallen creatures is wholly an act of His will. Hence, His love when extended toward fallen creatures is an execution of His purpose, and therefore cannot be divorced, from, but is comprehended within His decretive will. It is this basic truth which the Professors deny, and which stands against all the modernist unbelief which has infected many of the churches of our day.
Let us therefore cleave to the 'old paths' in which it is not supposed that the unregenerate must be told that God loves them, any more than they must be told that Christ died for them. Such simply means that though many be called and few chosen, many will perish who in life were told that God loved them, and Christ died for them. Rather let us affirm that God is delighted in repentance, and pleased only with them who out of a sight and sense of their sins do unfeignedly believe the gospel.
The word gospel simply means, the good news. The free offer of Christ in the gospel simply means that He is the One in whom those weary and sick of their sins may find rest unto their souls. Christ Himself is not the gospel, but is the substance offered in it. Modern evangelicals have pushed to the position, "let us not have doctrine but let us have Jesus." The doctrine of the gospel is the counsel of God concerning it. It is because the natural man discerneth not the things of the Spirit of God, that this good news consists of two parts.
1. A demonstration to the sinner of the state and wickedness of his heart, and
2. the remedy for that condition.
The need as well as the remedy must be proclaimed at all times; due emphasis being laid as the situation demands. The one can never be absent from the other in the heart and mind of man, if the preaching of the gospel is to be to him, a means of grace in his salvation. No man can be saved by the preaching of the gospel, who does not obtain from it, an apprehension of his guiltiness and desert**** dessert before God on the one hand, and the all sufficiency of Christ to save on the other. In this day when sentimental ideas of God have prevailed in most pulpits, Calvinistic as well as Arminian, there is little conception of the great God with whom we have to do. We need to remember that there is a God who, "is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat." John the Baptist left his hearers in no doubt as to the mission of the Saviour, when he spoke of Him as the One, "Whose fan is in His hand, and he will thoroughly purge His floor, and gather the wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire" (Matthew 3:12). An unfaithful ministry will ever tone down or hide these truths from its people.
Where there is no need, there is no necessity for a remedy. This is that which the Saviour affirmed when He said, "I am come not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Matthew 9:13). If our ground for preaching the gospel is to tell men that God loves them, and desires their salvation, they will fail to learn that the offer of Christ in the gospel is an act of the mercy and grace of God. The sinner in such instance will not be presented with a God whose wrath is against sin and the sinner. The love of God and not His fear is made the beginning of wisdom.
In the Practical Use of Saving Knowledge annexed to the Westminster Confession we are instructed:
"The chief general use of Christian doctrine is to convince a man of sin and of righteousness and of judgement, by two means, 1. partly by the law or covenant of works that he may be humbled and become penitent, and 2. partly by the gospel or covenant of grace, that he may become an unfeigned believer in Jesus Christ."
Note: the function of the gospel as contained in the heading of paragraph 4, "For the convincing a man of sin, righteousness and judgement, by the gospel," for there are those who do not understand or admit this as a function of the gospel.