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Spurgeon on The Errors of Hyper-Calvinism

If you missed the Primer on Hypercalvinism I would beg you to have a look at a good definition of the term. (Hypercalvinism and Calvinism are poles apart). It is not surprising therefore to see that Charles Spurgeon strived to point out these errors of Hypercalvinism:

1.The hyper-Calvinist denies that gospel invitations are to be delivered to all people without exception. He limits the purpose of gospel preaching to bringing in the elect, and so only the elect are to be addressed with the commands, invitations and offers of the Word. There is to be no pleading with, exhorting and beseeching of an entire congregation of sinners. That attitude was totally rejected by Spurgeon, who on many occasions addressed every single hearer thus: “‘These are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” Look to him, blind eyes; look to him, dead souls; look to him. Say not that you cannot; he in whose power I speak will work a miracle while yet you hear the command, and blind eyes shall see, and dead hearts shall spring into eternal life by his Spirit’s effectual working’ (MTP, 40, 1894, p.502).

2. The hyper-Calvinist declares that the warrant a sinner has to come to Jesus Christ is found in his own experience of conviction and assurance. That warrant, the hyper says, cannot be obtained until we are inwardly spiritually exercised. But Spurgeon preached that all mankind has a warrant to believe extended to them, giving them the right to place their trust in the Lord Jesus. That warrant is the universal command found in the Word of God that all men should repent of their sins and should believe on the Lord Jesus. ‘Do not wait for your feelings to convince you that you can venture on Christ,’ urged Spurgeon, ‘you have the right to come just as you are today because God is sincerely beseeching you to come to his Son for pardon.’ In his 1863 sermon on the ‘Warrant of Faith’ Spurgeon tells people that if the warrant were not in the Word of God but in the sinner’s own condition the result has to be that people would be driven to look within themselves and ask, ‘Have I sufficiently broken my heart?’ rather than looking to a welcoming Saviour (MTP, Vol.9, p.529ff). And that exactly is the case today. Spurgeon pointed out pertinently that those whose hearts are most broken feel most the obdurate hardness of their hearts.

3. The hyper-Calvinist declares that human inability means man cannot be urged to come at that moment to Christ. A universal command must presuppose a modicum of ability, he says. Spurgeon replied that he would not tone down man’s depravity and helplessness one whit. The gospel is one of grace and therefore rests upon despair of human resources and potency. It is only on the presupposition of total depravity and complete human impotence that the full glory and power of the gospel can be declared. Spurgeon then would exalt God’s power to save. There are two lines found in Scripture, one that declares man’s helplessness through being dead in sin and yet that he is responsible to turn to God, and the other, that the Lord is sovereign to save. As John Duncan said, the idea that God did half and man did half is utterly false. God doing all and man also doing all is the teaching of the Bible.

4. The hyper-Calvinist denies the universal love of God He has a fearful caricature of the real nature of God which would present him as fierce, and not easily induced to love. If we fellowshipped more with Christ, said Iain Murray, we would know and love him more. Then there would be no uncertainty that God desired the salvation of sinners. ‘How oft would I have gathered you,’ says the Saviour to recalcitrant Jerusalem.

Excerpt from Spurgeon’s Battles With Hypercalvinism.

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3 responses to “Spurgeon on The Errors of Hyper-Calvinism

  1. Abraham Juliot April 27, 2011 at 01:27

    If I may comment briefly on this:

    Gospel invitations are for sensible sinners and not for the self-righteous. For example see: “Ho, everyone that thirsts…” -Isa 55, “…all that labor and are heavy laden…” -Mat 11, “If any man thirst…” -Jn 7. The self righteous are called to forsake their hatred of the truth, but they are never directed as thirsty sinners to receive Christ as their redemption and eternal salvation. The Self-righteous are to be sent to the law till they are made sensible to their sin. Only sensible sinners are to be sent to the comfort of the gospel.

    In Isaiah 61, we learn that the preaching of good tidings is “unto the meek”; the binding up is to “the brokenhearted”; the proclamation of liberty is to the “captives”; the opening of the prison doors is to them that are “bound”; the comfort is to “all that mourn”; the beauty for ashes and the oil of joy for mourning is unto “them that mourn in Zion”; and the garment of praise is for the “spirit of heaviness”. Here we may understand that we are first made meek, brokenhearted, captives, bound, mourners, and heavy in spirit before we are called through the good tidings of the gospel “trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord.” First, we are conceived by the Spirit. Later, we are begotten through the gospel. First, we are made sensible to our sin and our need of God’s mercy. Later, we are comforted by the glad tidings of the gospel.

    Gospel invitations are particular and not general. “When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” [Mark 2:17]

    The gospel call is for weary sinners that are blind to the assurance of their salvation. But, it is not for the self righteous who are blind to the knowledge of their sin and the plague of their own heart.

    Blessings,
    -Abraham

    • Michael Acidri April 27, 2011 at 09:43

      Abraham it is true the self righteous will not see their need for the saviour until they have been broken by the law. And so are the sinners too. The law is the needle that brings silken thread. Through knowledge of the law is every man found guilty before God. With hyper-calvinism there is no evangelistic effort at all. This in it self is a disobedience of the great commission. And Jesus said if you are my friends you will listen and obey my commands. And how will people hear the gospel with out some one being sent and how will they hear without somebody preaching the indictment of the law and the good news of gospel.

      • Abraham Juliot April 27, 2011 at 15:26

        Michael, we are all self righteous in ourselves until we are made sensible to our sin by the quickening influence of the Holy Spirit. The sensible sinner needs the comfort and hope of the gospel. The law is continually useful in our walk to expose our wretchedness that we might thirst for His merciful justifying and cleansing blood.

        “Hyper-Calvinism” historically is a term that was used against particular baptists who preached limited atonement and denied that eternal redemption was an offered opportunity that the natural man is duty bound to embrace. I agree with the Particular Baptists.

        George Croft (1825) – “Should it be asked, whether all Calvinists differ from Arminians, only in reference to effectual grace and perseverance, it is frankly acknowledged, that there are some who differ from them in other points. These persons are generally styled High-Calvinists, or Hyper-Calvinists. Hyper signifies above, and Hyper-Calvinists are so called, because their system is above genuine Calvinism. The Hyper-Calvinist holds the particular design of Christ’s death, but denies its general design; whereas moderate or modern Calvinists, as they are called,. hold both.” (George Croft, The Christian instructor, 1825)

        A Protestant dictionary (1904) – “Some who teach particular redemption, as Calvin taught it, hold with Calvin the theory of universal atonement, and others, who are hyper-Calvinists, maintain that of a limited atonement. The Calvinists would make the offer of salvation to all, but the hyper-Calvinists would limit the scope of the Gospel invitations to the elect; some go so far as to refuse to press upon the sinner the acceptance of salvation.” (A Protestant dictionary by Charles Henry Hamilton Wright, Charles Neil, 1904)

        It has been said by some that the “Hyper Calvinist” does not preach the gospel. But, a careful reading of the works of these men will prove otherwise. For example, In commenting on the gospel standard articles of faith, J.H. Gosden writes, “As the convincing power of the Holy Spirit attends the ministry, the elect are sought out and brought in guilty before God. To them Christ will be attractive as held forth in the gospel. It is the sick soul who wants the Physician, and it is the minister’s duty and privilege to minister the consolations of the gospel to such.” (J.H. Gosden, Commentary on the Gospel Standard Baptist Articles of Faith, ARTICLE 26 – On Duty Faith)

        John Brine taught that all who see their need of Christ ought to embrace Him. “With respect to offers and tenders of mercy and salvation to sinners I observe: That Christ and his salvation are to be proposed for acceptance, to all who see their need of him, that this includes an offer in it, but is more than an offer, and that he is graciously given to them, and ‘tis their duty to embrace and receive him.” (John Brine, A Refutation of Arminian Principles)

        Biographer and Historian George Ella documents a brief history of the influence of the “High Calvinists”. He writes, “1795-1835 was a time of widespread revival with Anglican Robert Hawker preaching to thousands, Independent William Huntington equalled his efforts and Baptist William Gadsby founding 45-50 churches filled with new converts… Gill had one of the largest Particular Baptist congregations in Britain, outnumbering Fullers by far.” (George Ella, Exaggerated Claims concerning Andrew Fuller and False Information Regarding ‘High-Calvinists’) Some have reported that these men were against evangelism. George Ella documents John Gill as having a great zeal in spreading the gospel. He writes, “Time and time again he refers to his duty to gather together Christ’s sheep who were scattered abroad. Preaching at the induction of John Davis, Gill told him, “Souls sensible to sin and danger, and who are crying out, What shall we do to be saved? you are to observe, and point out Christ the tree of life to them; and say,… Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, Acts XVI: 31.” He goes on to stress, “Your work is to lead men, under a sense of sin and guilt, to the blood of Christ, shed for many for the remission of sin, and in his name you are to preach the forgiveness of them.” (George Ella, John Gill and the Charge of Hyper-Calvinism)

        Robert Hawker has had much influence among Calvinists through his 9 volume devotional commentary on the whole bible. Charles Spurgeon had good things to say about Hawker. He writes, “He sees Jesus, and that is a sacred gift which is most precious whether the owner be a critic or no. There is always such a savor of the Lord Jesus Christ in Dr. Hawker that you cannot read him without profit.”(Charles H. Spurgeon, Commenting on Commentaries) Robert Hawker has much to say in the controversy through his treatise titled, “The True Gospel; No Yea and Nay Gospel”. He openly denied the the Arminian doctrine of the free offer. George Ella writes concerning Robert Hawker’s influence, “He founded several charitable works for the poor and provided for the relief of the families of soldiers who had died in service or from a fever which had spread through the Plymouth area. By 1798, he was busy building an orphanage and a school. He now preached three times on Sundays besides holding numerous weekly teaching, prayer and testimony, meetings. He also preached two or three times a week for the soldiers and visited the military hospitals, never accepting a penny for his services. As the military buildings were miles apart, this witness consumed much of Hawker’s time and energy in all weathers. Hawker also started a work amongst destitute women who had chosen a life of sin as a means of income… Notwithstanding, this Five-Point man whom many were calling an Antinomian and a Hyper-Calvinist received invitation after invitation to evangelise so that he had to plan a similar tour each year for the rest of his life. Yet modern critics of Hawker’s doctrines invariably argue that such doctrines destroy evangelism!” (George Ella, Robert Hawker (1753–1827): Zion’s Warrior)

        I recommend listening to “william Styles audiobook on duty faith”. He represents the views of the primitive and strict baptists (written around 1900) and it is clear that these men were very evangelistic.

        Blessings,
        -Abraham

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