Saturday, 18 May 2013


These pages on Spurgeon and the invidual Five Points of Calvinism follow on from my previous post on Spurgeon and Calvinism which was somewhat exhaustive and therefore general. Here, we get down to the brass tacks.


  And I have my own private opinion that there is no such a thing as preaching Christ and him crucified, unless you preach what now-a-days is called Calvinism. I have my own ideas, and those I always state boldly. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in his dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering, love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the peculiar redemption which Christ made for his elect and chosen people; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having believed. Such a gospel I abhor. The gospel of the Bible is not such a gospel as that. We preach Christ and him crucified in a different fashion, and to all gainsayers we reply, "We have not so learned Christ." (Sermon number 98 New Park Street Pulpit 1:100)
As for our faith as a church you have heard that already. We believe in what are called the five great points commonly known as Calvinistic; but we do not regard those five points as being barbed shafts which we are to push into the bowels of Christendom. We look upon them as being five great lamps which help to irradiate the cross, or rather five bright emanations springing from the glorious covenant of our Triune God, and illustrating the great doctrine of Jesus crucified. Against all comers, especially against all lovers of Arminianism, we defend and maintain pure gospel truth. (Ceremony at laying of the stone of the New Tabernacle: Sermon numbers: 268-270) Found in New Park St Pulpit 5:603
  I cannot stop to tell you of all the sheaves in the doctrine field. Some say there are only five; I believe the five great doctrines of Calvinism are, in some degree, a summary of the rest; they are distinctive points wherein we differ from those who "have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." But there are many more doctrines beside these five; and all are alike precious, and all are alike valuable to the true believer’s soul, for he can feed upon them to his heart’s content. (Sermon number 2585 Metropolitan Tabernacle 44:529) 
  Since then, you have learned other doctrines, possibly the five points of Calvinism, or the fifty points of any other system; but you never learned them from merely reading them in the Scriptures, you never really knew them till the pen of God began to move up and down upon your inward nature, and your heart received the impression the Lord intended to convey to it. (Sermon number 2280 Metropolitan Tabernacle 38:679)
  We have certainly not thrown away the Five Points, but we may have gained other five… (Sword & Trowel Feb 1874 p.36)


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


  I am bound to the doctrine of the depravity of the human heart, because I find myself depraved in heart, and have daily proofs that in my flesh there dwelleth no good thing. If God enters into covenant with unfallen man, man is so insignificant a creature that it must be an act of gracious condescension on the Lord’s part; but if God enters into covenant with sinful man, he is then so offensive a creature that it must be, on God’s part, an act of pure, free, rich, sovereign grace. When the Lord entered into covenant with me, I am sure that it was all of grace, nothing else but grace. When I remember what a den of unclean beasts and birds my heart was, and how strong was my unrenewed will, how obstinate and rebellious against the sovereignty of the Divine rule, I always feel inclined to take the very lowest room in my Father’s house, and when I enter Heaven, it will be to go among the less than the least of all saints, and with the chief of sinners. (Defence of Calvinism)
Permit me to show you wherein this inability of man really does lie. It lies deep in his nature. Through the fall, and through our own sin, the nature of man has become so debased, and depraved, and corrupt, that it is impossible for him to come to Christ without the assistance of God the Holy Spirit…Now, the reason why man cannot come to Christ, is not because he cannot come, so far as his body or his mere power of mind is concerned; but because his nature is so corrupt that he has neither the will nor the power to come to Christ unless drawn by the Spirit…First it lies in the obstinacy of the human will. "Oh!" saith the Arminian, "men may be saved if they will" We reply, "My dear sir, we all believe that; but it is just the if they will that is the difficulty. We assert that no man will come to Christ unless he be drawn; nay, we do not assert it, but Christ himself declares it — ‘Ye will not come unto one that-ye might have life;’ and as long as that ‘ye will not come‘ stands on record in Holy Scripture, He shall not be brought to believe in any doctrine of the freedom of the human will." It is strange how people, when talking about free will, talk of things which they do not at all understand "Now" says one, "I believe men can be saved if they will." My dear sir, that is not the question at all. The question is, are men ever found naturally willing to submit to the humbling terms of the gospel of Christ? We declare, upon Scriptural authority, that the human will is so desperately set on mischief,- so depraved, and so inclined to everything that is evil, and so disinclined to everything that is good, that without the powerful, supernatural, irresistible influence of the Holy Spirit, no human will will ever be constrained towards Christ. "Now" says one, "I believe men can be saved if they will." My dear sir, that is not the question at all. The question is, are men ever found naturally willing to submit to the humbling terms of the gospel of Christ? We declare, upon Scriptural authority, that the human will is so desperately set on mischief,- so depraved, and so inclined to everything that is evil, and so disinclined to everything that is good, that without the powerful, supernatural, irresistible influence of the Holy Spirit, no human will will ever be constrained towards Christ. (Sermon 182 New Park Street Pulpit 4:234ff)
SPURGEON'S WHOLE SERMON ENTITLED: HUMAN INABILITY [note: .pdf file] (Sermon 182 on John 6:44 (4:232)




Well can I remember the manner in which I learned the doctrines of grace in a single instant. Born, as all of us are by nature, an Arminian, I still believed the old things I had heard continually from the pulpit, and did not see the grace of God. When I was coming to Christ, I thought I was doing it all myself, and though I sought the Lord earnestly, I had no idea the Lord was seeking me. I do not think the young convert is at first aware of this. I can recall the very day and hour when first I received those truths in my own soul-when they were, as John Bunyan says, burnt into my heart as with a hot iron, and I can recollect how I felt that I had grown on a sudden from a babe into a man-that I had made progress in Scriptural knowledge, through having found, once for all, the clue to the truth of God. One week-night, when I was sitting in the house of God, I was not thinking much about the preacher’s sermon, for I did not believe it. The thought struck me, How did you come to be a Christian? I sought the Lord. But how did you come to seek the Lord? The truth flashed across my mind in a moment- I should not have sought Him unless there had been some previous influence in my mind to make me seek Him. I prayed, thought I, but then I asked myself, How came I to pray? I was induced to pray by reading the Scriptures. How came I to read the Scriptures? I did read them, but what led me to do so? Then, in a moment, I saw that God was at the bottom of it all, and that He was the Author of my faith, and so the whole doctrine of grace opened up to me, and from that doctrine I have not departed to this day, and I desire to make this my constant confession, "I ascribe my change wholly to God." (Defence of Calvinism)


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

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

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

The old truth that Calvin preached, that Augustine preached, that Paul preached, is the truth that I must preach to-day, or else be false to my conscience and my God. I cannot shape the truth; I know of no such thing as paring off the rough edges of a doctrine. John Knox’s gospel is my gospel. That which thundered through Scotland must thunder through England again. — C. H. S. (Defence of Calvinism) 

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

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


This was the church of Benjamin Keach and John Gill…both Calvinists. Spurgeon could claim concerning his church:
Now I am astonished to find those persons that thus come before me so well instructed in the doctrines of grace and so sound in all the truths of the covenant, insomuch that I may think it my boast and glory, in the name of Jesus, that I know not that we have any members, whom we have received into the church, who do not give their full assent and consent unto all the doctrines of the Christian religion, commonly called Calvinistic doctrines. Those which men are wont to laugh at as being high doctrinal points, are those which they most readily receive, believe, and rejoice in. (Sermon number 178 New Park Street Pulpit 4:182)
God forbid that we should have our Sunday-schools the hot-beds of Arminianism, while our churches are gardens of Calvinism. (Sermon number 1115 Metropolitan Tabernacle 19:398)

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

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


NO. 385
The proceedings were commenced by singing the 21st Hymn —
The Rev. C. H. SPURGEON in opening the proceedings said, we have met together beneath this roof already to set forth most of those truths in which consists the peculiarity of this Church…The controversy which has been carried on between the Calvinist and the Arminian is exceedingly important, but it does not so involve the vital point of personal godliness as to make eternal life depend upon our holding either system at theology….
NO. 387
In the presence of C.H. Spurgeon, Evan Probert taught:

My Christian friends, you are quite aware that the subject which in to engage our further attention this afternoon, is HUMAN DEPRAVITY — a subject about which there are different opinions, which I shall not attempt to examine at the present time, but I shall confine myself to the teachings of God’s word, which is the only infallible rule of faith and practice, and from which we learn what man was when he came from the hands of his Maker, and what he is now as a fallen creature.

We are also, in consequence of Adam’s transgression become the subjects of spiritual death, which consists not merely in the deprivation of the principle of life, but in having become depraved creatures, all the faculties of our souls and members of our bodies are depraved so that it may be said of us, as the prophet says of the Jewish nation, ‘The head is sick, the whole heart is faint, from the sole of the foot unto the head there is no soundness." What! no soundness in any part? nothing good in any part? nothing spiritually good? nothing if cherished and fostered that will not lead to God, to Heaven, and to happiness? Nothing whatever. Let no one mistake me. I do not mean to say for a single moment, that sin has destroyed any of the faculties of man’s soul, for they are all there. They all exist as they did when they were produced; but I mean to say, that sin has deprived man of the principle of spiritual life, and made him a depraved and debased creature; and we believe that we can prove this from the word of God, as well as from observation.

Secondly, — We have further proof of human depravity from the aversion of sinners to come to Christ. They are invited to come, persuaded to come, and are assured that they shall find pardon, acceptance, and salvation. But they cannot be induced to come to him, and why will they not come? Is it because he is not willing to receive them, or because there is anything in him to prevent them? No but it is because of the deep-rooted depravity in their hearts. The heart is averse to all that is good, and therefore rejects the Savior and turns away from him. Hence he complained when in our world, "How often would I have gathered you, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not." "We will not come to me, that ye might have life!" What more need be added? Man turns away in proud disdain from all the blessings of the gospel, and the glories of heaven brought before him, and rushes on with steady purpose to damnation. "Light is come into the world, and men love darkness rather then light, because their deeds are evil." Oh, to how many in this land may it be said, "They hate knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord; they would none of his counsel, they despised all his reproof"


Both the Westminster Confession of Faith and the 1689 Baptist Confession teach the doctrine of Total Depravity. Spurgeon himself reprinted the 1689 Baptist Confession in 1855. A copy of the Baptist Confession was placed under the stone during the stone laying of the Metropolitan Tabernacle. These Confessions both teach in the chapter entitled: Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and the Punishment thereof. Part of this Confession statement runs like this:

Our first parents, by this sin, fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and we in them whereby death came upon all: all becoming dead in sin, and wholly undefiled in all the faculties and parts of the soul and body. (6:2)

From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions." (6:4) 

In his preface, Spurgeon refers to the doctrines of the Baptist Confession as "excellent" and whilst he did not want the Confession to become a fetter, yet he did express the hope that it would be of assistance of them in controversy, a confirmation in their faith and a means of edification. He writes further: "Be not ashamed of your faith: remember it is the ancient gospel of the martyrs, confessors, reformers and saints. Above all it is the truth of God, against which the gates of hell cannot prevail."


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

"Therefore for ministers in the present day to address unconverted persons, or indiscriminately all in a mixed congregation, calling upon them to savingly repent, believe and receive Christ, or perform any other acts dependent upon the new creative power of the Holy Ghost, is one hand, to imply creature power…" (Article 23) 

"…We believe that any such expressions as convey to the hearers the belief that they possess a certain power to flee to the Saviour, to close in with Christ, to receive Christ, while in an unregenerate state, so that they do thus close with Christ etc., they shall perish are untrue, and must, therefore, be rejected…" (Article 24)

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

And just let me say here, that it is the custom of a certain body of Ultra-Calvinists, to call those of us who teach that it is the duty of man to repent and believe, "Mongrel Calvinists." If you hear any of them say so, give them my most respectful compliments, and ask them whether they ever read Calvin’s works in their lives. Not that I care what Calvin said or did not say, but ask them whether they ever read his works; and if they say "No," as they must say, for there are forty-eight large volumes you can tell them, that the man whom they call "a Mongrel Calvinist," though he has not read them all, has read a very good share of them and knows their spirit; and he knows that he preaches substantially what Calvin preached — that every doctrine he preaches may be found in Calvin’s Commentaries on some part of Scripture or other. We are TRUE Calvinists, however. (Sermon number 591 New Park Street Pulpit: 4:598)
Spurgeon, as a true Calvinist, believed in both man's inability and his responsibility and preached both. This served to bring sinful men into a recognition of their great dilemma - that they were lost and without strength and that only by crying out to God Almighty could they be saved.


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

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

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

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


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