20 January 2013

The freeness of electing love

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from The New Park Street Pulpit, volume 6, sermon number 303, "Election and holiness."
"It is said by some one that men give free-will to every one but God, and speak as if God must be the slave of men."

Observe the unconstrained freeness of electing love. In our text this is hinted at by the word “ONLY.” Why did God love their fathers? Why, only because he did so. There is no other reason. “Only, the Lord had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day.” There was doubtless some wise reason for the Lord's acts, for he doeth all things after the counsel of his will, but there certainly could not be any reason in the excellence or virtue of the creature whom he chose.

Now, just dwell upon that for a moment. Let us remark that there is no original goodness in those whom God selects. What was there in Abraham that God chose him? He came out of an idolatrous people, and it is said of his posterity—a Syrian ready to perish was thy father. As if God would show that it was not the goodness of Abraham, he says, “Look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged. Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him.” There was nothing more in Abraham than in anyone of us why God should have selected him, for whatever good was in Abraham God put there.

Now, if God put it there, the motive for his putting it there could not be the fact of his putting it there. You cannot find a motive for a fact in itself; there must be some motive lying higher than anything which can be found in the mere act of God. If God chose a man to make that man holy, righteous, and good, he cannot have chosen him because he was to be good and righteous. It were absurd to reason thus. It were drawing a cause for an effect, and making an effect a cause. If I were to plead that the rose bud were the author of the root, well! I might, indeed, be laughed at. But were I to urge that any goodness in man is the ground of God’s choice, when I call to recollection that that goodness is the effect of God’s choice, I should be foolish indeed. That which is the effect cannot be the cause.

But what original good is there in any man? If God chose us for anything good in ourselves, we must all be left unchosen. Have we not all an evil heart of unbelief? Have we not all departed from his ways? Are we not all by nature corrupt, enemies to God by wicked works? If he chooses us it cannot be because of any original goodness in us.

“But,” saith one, “perhaps it may be because of goodness foreseen, God has chosen his people, because he foresees that they will believe and be saved.” A singular idea, indeed! Here are a certain number of poor persons, and a prince comes into the place. To some ninety out of the hundred he distributes gold. Some one asks the question, “Why did the prince give this gold to those ninety?” A madman in a corner, whose face ought never to be seen, replies, “He gave it to them because he foresaw that they would have it.” But how could he foresee that they would have it apart from the fact that he gave it to them? Now, you say that God gives faith, repentance, salvation, because he foresaw that men would have it. He did not foresee it apart from the fact that he intended to give it them. He foresaw that he would give them grace. But what was the reason that he gave it to them? Certainly, not his foresight. That were absurd, indeed! and none but a madman would reason thus.

Oh, Father, if thou hast given me life, and light, and joy, and peace, the reason is known only to thyself; for reasons in myself I ne’er can find, for I am still a wanderer from thee, and often does my faith flicker, and my love grow dim. There is nothing in me to merit esteem or give thee delight. It is all by thy grace, thy grace alone that I am what I am. So will every Christian say; so must every Christian indeed confess.


Robert Warren said...

When I consider why this joy-giving doctrine (viz. "the U") that is so despised by many who name the Name of Christ, I must remind myself that there was also nothing special within me that made me understand and love it.

Ha Metumtam said...

I like the conclusion found in the article : That which is the effect cannot be the cause.

Would a solid (Augustinian) foundation on original sin put this nonsense to bed and stop the fallacy of claiming the effect as the cause. Anyone who accepts that' in me and my flesh dwells no good thing' will be prevented by logical necessity from making this fallacy of confusing the effect with the cause. Prevalent pelagianism is putrefying our puritan p-heritage

DJP said...


Ha Metumtam said...

Yes... that works :-)

Matthew said...

It reminds me how often I hear Christians say of Romans 9:13 (Jacob I have loved, Esau I have hated) things like:
(1). Oh God was just referring to the NATIONS, not people.
(2). It meant that God loved Jacobs heart and not Esaus.
Somehow that just doesn't seem to fit the context. Also, Jacob appeared to be a worse rascal than Esau. All Esau did was foolishly give his birthright for pottage (like people may have foolishly given their money to Bernie Maidoff) but Jacob was the mastermind (the Bernie Maidoff).
It gets better yet.
(3). God says "you chose me; therefore I now CHOOSE you.
Well, if they CHOSE God, then in what way is God
Even in my Arminian days, answers like these, though being what I WANTED, reading the text and more importantly the entire CONtext always gave me nagging doubts because even then, I KNEW that it was illogical.
It was like trying to make a certain simple (but painful) truth less painful by convoluted gymnastics.
I guess it's like a parent telling a kid "What part of the word NO don't you understand?"

Vinod Anand S said...

Bravo! Prince of Preachers, Bravo!