With reference to the last point of the “Complaint”, I have demonstrated thus far, first of all, that the claim on the part of the complainants to the right of an irrational position must be denied them their position, that God seeks sincerely the salvation of the reprobate is not irrational, but presupposes an Arminian view of reprobation; and, secondly, that their argument in support of this their contention is very superficial throughout.
The last point I wish to make in this connection is that, in their claim that God seeks the salvation of the reprobate, they directly contradict Holy Writ.
In support of this statement, I might make the general observation, frequently made by Calvin, that it is not God’s good: pleasure that the gospel be preached to all men, or even to the majority of men. This is simply a fact, but this is also plainly expressed in Scripture, and it is pointed out in our Confessions. A fact it is, for in the old dispensation the gospel was revealed, for many a century, only to one nation; and at the beginning of the new dispensation the preaching of the gospel was entrusted to only a few men, so that it must necessarily require many years before the tidings of salvation could reach every nation. And Israel is more than once reminded of this distinction, as, for instance, in: “He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the Lord.” And the Canons of Dordrecht, II, 5, declare that the promise of the gospel “ought to be declared and published to all nations, and to all persons promiscuously and without distinction, to whom God out of his good pleasure sends the gospel.” Now, if the preaching of the gospel is strictly under the direction of God’s pleasure, and if, according to that good pleasure, the gospel was sent to only a comparatively small number of men, what becomes of this earnest desire on the part of God to save the reprobates?
But I will remark this only in passing. The complainants might object that they do not claim that God sincerely seeks the salvation of all the reprobates, but only of those that hear the gospel. I will, therefore, conclusively prove to them from Scripture that by this claim they contradict, not themselves, for this they admit, but Holy Scripture itself. And I will do. so by quoting a few passages from Holy Writ that leave no doubt as to their meaning.
Turn to the sixth chapter from the prophecy of Isaiah. It speaks of Isaiah’s calling to preach. And what is his very special commission? You find it in the following words: “Go, and tell this people. Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and convert, and be healed.” vss. 9, 10. Let the complainants admit that Isaiah is called to preach the gospel to Israel, and that, through this preaching the remnant according to the election of grace will be saved. And let them also admit that, according to the good pleasure of God, this same preaching must serve to the hardening and damnation of the reprobate. They will have to admit this, for the text allows of no other interpretation. And admitting this, they will have to confess that their claim that God through the preaching of the gospel sincerely seeks the salvation of the reprobates stands in flat contradiction with the Word of God.
If there should be any doubt in their minds as to the meaning of the above passage from Isaiah, let them turn toff where we read: “But though he had done many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed ? Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.” What, in the light of these passages,, becomes of the vain theory that God, in the preaching of the gospel, sincerely seeks the salvation of the reprobate, as the complainants claim?
Or again, consider the explanation the Lord Jesus Himself offers to His disciples of the fact that He speaks to the people in parables: “And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not, perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins may be forgiven them.” Note here: 1. That under the preaching of the gospel it is given to the elect to know the mystery of the kingdom of heaven. 2. That they that are without are the reprobate. 3. That before their eyes the things of the kingdom of God are done in parables: every time a sower goes forth to sow, he enacts a thing of the kingdom of God in parable. 4. That the Lord points to these enacted parables by His teaching. 5. That this is done, not to seek the salvation of the reprobates, but that they may emphatically see and hear (seeing see, and hearing hear) with their natural perception, without spiritually understanding these things. 6. And, finally, that the purpose is expressed in the words: “Lest they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.”
Passages like the above (and we will quote more) plainly teach that it is God’s good pleasure, not to save, but to harden the reprobates by the preaching of the gospel.
The complainants contradict Scripture.