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Written by J.S. Newman   


Did I not know that a great contrariety of opinions existed at the present time among the Primitive Baptists of the United States relative to the extent of predestination, I would not thus address you. It is not my intention to discuss men, or widen the breach that has been made by extreme positions occupied by "men of our own selves" producing distressing, alienating, and divorcing results.

I shall attempt to write in love and not anger; hoping that God will give repentance to those that have erred from the truth and thereby pierced themselves with many sorrows.

It is observable that the expression, "Absolute predestination of all things" is not found in the Bible. The use the above sentence has been put to, and the claim that it contained the doctrine of the Bible on the point mentioned has been a painful source of controversy and division of our people.

If we had followed the expressions of inspiration on the subject of predestination not a wave of trouble would have entered the family of the saints of God on that subject. But alas! men have arisen that love the expressions of men more than the fellowship of the saints; and by contending that God has decreed all things to come to pass as they have, do, or may, have sowed the seeds of discord in our hither-to peaceful Zion.

If this should be denied by any one I wish to call your attention to the fact, that those called "limited predestinarians" believe sincerely that God has purposed all His works and that He will consummate His works minutely, accurately arid harmoniously. This idea of the predestination of God is also truthfully believed by the "unlimited predestinarians" but they further believe that God has just, as minutely, accurately anal definitely purposed all the wicked acts of men and devils; but at the same time they claim that God does not do, or cause to be done, any of the wicked acts of men or devils. Still they believe that every wicked act, thought or impulse of the wicked hearts of men were embraced in the eternal purpose of God and could not have been otherwise than they have been? or may be.

The origin, and refutation of the doctrine embraced in the trite saying "absolute predestination of all things good and evil" is aimed at in these pages. The purposes of God are eternal; they are fraught with wisdom; they are free; they are unchangeable, and in God's purposes "violence is not offered to the will of the creature" as our English brethren taught.

When the purposes of God are so presented as to reduce man to a mere machine and to exclude the will 0f the creature altogether, then "violence is offered to the will of the creature." We have the creature beautifully referred, to in the expression, "And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Rev. 22: 27. Just as well say that the "whosoever" of the text does not refer to man, as to is say that the "will" does not refer to man's will. If the will of the text is God's will and God's will is a part of His being, then the "whosoever" of the text does not "take of the water of life freely."

The eternal purpose, or predestination of God extends to all of God's works in natural and spiritual creation causatively, efficiently and effectually, and to sin and wickedness permissibly. Not that God purposed sin and wickedness, but that He purposed to allow or to suffer man to sin. There are some things that God does not suffer, "He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved." Psalms 55: 22. David would have us to know, though we forsake His law and walk not in His judgements, "Nevertheless my loving kindness will 1 not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail." Psalms 89: 30-33. The above Scriptures evidently belong to God's immutable and efficient purposes. There are things however that God suffers. The devils that entered into the Gadarene asked to be permitted or allowed to enter a herd of swine. "And there was there an herd of many swine feeding on the mountain: and they besought Him that He would suffer them to enter into them, and He suffered them." Luke 8: 32. In speaking of the Lord's national people Luke said: "And about the time of forty years suffered He their manners in the wilderness." Acts 13: 18. And concerning the same people the same writer says again, "Who in time past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways." Acts 14: 16. The last texts as I understand belong to God's permissive decrees, and if this distinction had been observed by all who have preached or wrote on the subject, my opinion is all would have been peace so far as the controversy on predestination is concerned. The works of God in the creation of the world in six days, and in the salvation of sinners was and is so systematically arranged that we are forced to the belief that God works according to a systematic, accurate, and therefore a predetermined plan. The works of God are the absolute, unavoidable and undeniable results of His predestination. He works all things according to a fixed and immutable determination of His own unchanging and unfrustrable will. God's works and commandments are in perfect harmony with His purpose. The purposes of God are wise and good and therefore cannot produce opposite kinds of works. Nothing can occur in conjunction with the eternal good purpose of God that is not profitable to man, or to God's glory.

God purposed to create the "heaven and earth." The creation of the heaven and earth were among the things embraced in the eternal purpose of God. God purposed to make the heaven, the earth, the day, the night, the sun, the moon, the stars, the living creatures in the waters, or that fly in the open firmament the whales, and every living creature that moves or lives in the water. God told them to be fruitful and to multiply and to fill the waters of the seas. He also commanded the earth to bring forth the living creatures after his kind, the cattle and every creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind, and it was so. Gen. i: 22, 23.

God decreed to create the heaven and the earth before He did the man. The proof of this is He made the heaven and earth before He did the man. The earth was made to be inhabited by man, and was therefore first in the order of God's creation. After God had created the earth it was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. "The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." Gen 1:2. God divided the light from the darkness and He called the light day, and the darkness He called night. God also made the firmament and said, "let it divide the waters from the waters," the waters were gathered unto one place and God called the gathering together of the waters seas, and the dry land He called earth. And He decreed for the earth to bring forth grass and it was so.

Thus far we plainly see that all that God created or made was good, and not only so but we see the Almighty fiat, or decree of God displayed in all that He had made or created. God is an Almighty Sovereign, and in the incipiency of time He only had to speak and it was done and to command and it stood fast. At His word the heaven and earth were instantly created. The day, the night and all created things exist according to His firm decree. "I have spoken it, I will bring it to pass; I have purposed it I will also do it." Isa. 46:11 God tells us of some things that never came into His mind. Mind means: Intention, purpose, design--Webster.

"But He is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what His soul desireth even that he doeth. For He performeth the thing that is appointed for me: and many such thing's are with Him." Job 13. 14.

God’s desire is expressed in His purpose. If otherwise, then there is something in God's purpose that He did not desire. All He purposeth He doeth, what His soul desireth, even that He doeth, in speaking of the awful sins committed by which Jerusalem was estranged by burning incense in it to strange gods whom they nor their fathers have known, nor the kings of Judah, "And have filled this place with the blood of innocents. They bare built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind." Jer. 19: 4, 5.

It will be observed that: unlimited predestinarians claim that God's eternal mind, or purpose embraces all the wicked acts of men. or devils and not His revealed or written will. The above wicked acts of men in polluting the city of Jerusalem in burning their sons by fire, were not commanded by the Lord, neither came it into His mind. How the wickedness mentioned above could be a part of the eternal purpose of God and yet never be commanded by the Lord nor come into His mind is strange indeed, and "Whosoever heareth, his ears shall tingle." Jer. 19: 8. Whatever God has spoken He will bring it to pass, and whatever He has purposed He will also do it. "God is not a man that He should lie; neither the son of man that He should repent: hath He said, and shall He not do it? or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good?" Num. 23:19. Has God said anywhere in His word that the wicked acts of men and devils are embraced in His eternal purpose? if so "I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it." It is plainly taught in the Scriptures-Chat whatever God purposeth that He doeth. The manner or way God consummates His decree may not be understood by His people. Job said: "I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause: which doeth great thing-s and unsearchable; marvelous things without number." Job 5: 8, 9. Solomon, though a wise man, did not understand the works of God. He said, "Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labor to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea farther, though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it." Eccl. 8: 17.

We should be satisfied to deal with the plainly revealed truths of the Bible, as it is just such truths that belong to us and our children. The truths thus revealed to us in the Bible do not confuse and bewilder the dear children of God. In the language of Isaiah, "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord." This exhortation of Isaiah, however, would be futile if the Lord has fixed all things by His firm decree. No reasoning could unfix what God has fixed. If any difference existed between the children of God in Isaiah's day, and the eternal fixedness of all things is true, reason nor no amount of it could unfix the disturbance that may have existed at that time.

In Genesis 1: 26 we have this language: "And God said, let us make man in our image after our likeness." This is one of the things God said; did He not bring it to pass? This is also one of the things God had purposed, and did He not do it? Verse 27 reads thus: "So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him, male and female created He them." The creation of Adam and Eve in the image of God was according to the purpose of God. When He thus created Adam and Eve He had just the kind of man and woman He wanted. If He did not have the kind of man and woman He wanted, then the Lord made the kind of man He did not want. I am confident that Adam and Eve as they came from the plastic hands of their Creator were beautiful, for they were created in the image of God. Solomon said: "He hath made everything beautiful in his time." Eccl. 3: 11. When we say that God decreed to create Adam and Eve in His image, and at the same time say that God purposed that Adam and Eve should not retain that image, then we say that according to the same eternal purpose of God by which Adam and Eve were created also was embraced the decree of God, when consummated, destroyed what had been created by the same decree. If such is true, then God purposed to destroy what He purposed to create and did create. If the sin of Adam was one of the things God purposed, "I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it." Isa. 46: 11. To me it is plainly taught in the Bible that whatever God predestinated would not have come to pass but for His predestination. Then if the Lord purposed the sin of Adam and of all his descendants, Adam and his descendants would not have sinned if it had not been for the predestination of God. If the thing purposed would have come to pass without the purpose of God, then the decree of God respecting that event, or thing, would have been superfluous, seeing that that very thing would have come to pass without the predestination of God. If the thing, or things, predestinated would not have come to pass but for the predestination of God, then the purpose of God caused the thing, or things, to come to pass, as they would not have come to pass if they had not been embraced in the decree of God. If God purposed for Adam to sin He certainly wanted Adam to sin, unless there is something embraced in God's purpose that He does not want. If God did not want Adam to sin and He purposed that he should sin, then the Lord purposed for Adam to do what He did not want him to do. Again, if God purposed for Adam to sin, and he would not have sinned but for the decree of God, did not God cause Adam to sin by fixing it so he had to sin? And did not God do it (cause Adam to sin) since whatever God purposed, that He doeth? If Adam fulfilled the purpose of God when he sinned, then God told Adam not to fulfill His purpose, for the Lord told the man not to do what he did. If God purposed for Adam to sin could he have kept from sinning? If Adam could not have kept from sinning didn't he have to sin? If he had to sin was tie responsible? If Adam could not keep from sinning because it was fixed by the decree of God, is it not true that God causatively, and not permissively decreed for Adam to sin? To me it is clear that if what God said to Adam was an expression of His will and what He wanted Adam to do, that if the Lord had fixed it so Adam had to sin then the Lord got what He did not want when His purpose was fulfilled in the fall of Adam. If God desired Adam and Eve to sin, then He also desired to tell them not to do as He desired to have them do. So we have the desire of God against tits desire, and His predestination against His predestination. God said to Adam: "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." ,Gen. 2: 17. If God purposed for Adam to eat, then He purposed for Adam to die. If God purposed for Adam to die, then He purposed to tell Adam not to die, and at the same time fixed it so the man must die. If God predestinated for Adam to sin, and His predestination is an expression of what He does and wants others to do, then He wanted Adam to sin. If otherwise, then God purposed what He did not want, and if He got what He did not want, then He would have got just; what He wanted but for His own predestination. If the sin of Adam was embraced in, and a part of the eternal purpose of God in Christ, and the will and desire of God is expressed in His eternal purpose in Christ, then God willed, wanted and desired for Adam to sin; and when God told Adam not to sin He did not express to Adam what He willed, wanted and desired him to do. Again, if Adam's sin was according to God's eternal purpose, or will, then sin entered the world in perfect agreement with the will of God. if God is displeased with sin, and God purposed sin, then He is displeased with what He purposed. If it is argued that God decreed for Adam to sin, then it follows that the purpose of God has a two-fold relationship to Adam. First, God said, thou shalt not eat of it. Secondly, thou shalt eat of it. The first part of God's predestination puts a "not eat" in the command, while the second part of the same purpose of God puts a "shall eat" in the same command. God will not hold His people guiltless who thus pervert His blessed Word.

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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.