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Written by R. Anna Phillips   

The Gospel Messenger--October 1884


Mr. Noah Curlee—Dear Bro.:—Eld. Respess has requested me to reply to your late letter to him, inquiring about “Election,” and other things. The Lord helping, I will do so.

I think you have mistaken the “Two-Seeders” for the Primitive Baptists, but we do not answer for their errors. But, the “doctrine of election” is certainly a Bible doctrine; and as such, is as certainly held by the Primitive Baptists; indeed, it is their distinguishing feature in doctrine. But “this doctrine of election,”  you say, “seems to predestinate one part of the human family to eternal life, and the other part to eternal destruction.” And you “cannot see how one man should have a better right to be saved than another.” Then you quote many passages of scripture (to which in their order I expect to reply), which “seems good evidence (to you) that all men have the same chance to eternal life.” There is no salvation by chance.

All that are saved, are saved by right; not in or of themselves but in Christ; and it is sure for the election makes it so. (Acts xiii. 34; Ps. xlv. 25; Rom. iv. 16.) Your idea and the universal idea opposing the doctrine of election is that it unjustly discriminates between those occupying the same legal position and moral relationship to God; and that that relationship is as that of a family, of children to a natural father. Hence this doctrine, as we teach it takes some—no matter how mean and impenitent—and saves them as “the elect” while it leaves or reprobates the rest—no matter how good and penitent—to eternal condemnation. From this mistaken idea your difficulties arise.

Suppose a young man of education, wealth and honor, and occupying the highest position in society, should become acquainted with a family—a man with four or five daughters—alike honorable and wealthy. Now, as mere friends, they would all occupy the same legal position, and moral relationship to the young man. Suppose each one of this family should become involved in debt to this young man, each one alike, and to their ruin; and he should give two of these daughters freedom and ten thousand dollars, while he ordered the other two to prison till the uttermost cent was paid. This would be partiality. But now, again, suppose in beholding those sisters—all good, and fair, and honorable, and wealthy alike—his heart should centre in love upon one of them, and love strong enough to make any sacrifice, and he chooses her of the four to be his bride—like you, perhaps, and all true men, first love and then choose, or elect one woman of the many to be your wife—this is election. Soon, we will say, the betrothal is completed; and by certain legal arrangements, the betrothal is approved and legalized; and by this established relationship, this man is virtually become her legal head and husband. Now suppose the whole family falls into debt, and utter poverty and disgrace. Does this whole family now alike occupy the same legal position, and bear the same relationship to this man? Has one as good a “chance” to be restored back to wealth, honor and society, as another? have all the same right upon this man? Must he now marry all, or none; or, marrying one, reprobate the rest? Surely not. There is but the one woman who has the “right” to be redeemed from this dishonorable position, and be restored back again, by him; and this right is not in, or of herself, but the “election bath obtained it.” And thus, as a result of election, it behooves this man to marry this one woman, and lift her on a level with himself in all things—his strong love making the sacrifice a glad one. Nor is it to leave a part of the family to starve; there was no want, no need to starve when the e1ection was made, neither did it cause the family to fall ; for it is in this sense, or as illustrating the elect of Christ, the sovereign election of love holding and demonstrating only and entirely the principle of love, that while it benefits and promotes the elect, or chosen, does no ill to its neighbor.

Butler, Ga.,
August, 1884.
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The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.