It  is  a  great  thing  to  begin  the  Christian  life  by believing  good  solid  doctrine.  Some  people  have received twenty different “gospels” in as many years; how many more they will accept  before they get to their journey’s end, it would be difficult to predict. I thank God that he early taught me the gospel, and I have been so perfectly satisfied with it, that I do not

want to know any other. Constant change of creed is sure loss. If a tree has to be taken up two or three times a year, you will not need to build a very large loft in which to store the apples. When people are always shifting their doctrinal principles, they are not likely to bring forth much fruit to the glory of God. It is good for young believers to begin with a firm hold upon those great fundamental doctrines which the Lord has taught in his Word. Why, if I believed what some preach about the temporary, trumpery salvation which only lasts for a time, I would scarcely be at all grateful for it; but when I know that those whom God saves he saves with an everlasting salvation, when I know that he gives to them an everlasting righteousness, when I know that he settles them on an everlasting foundation of everlasting love, and that he will bring them to his everlasting kingdom, oh, then I do wonder, and I am astonished that such a blessing as this should ever have been given to me!

“Pause, my soul! adore, and wonder! Ask, ‘Oh, why such love to me?’ Grace hath put me in the number

Of the Saviour’s family: Hallelujah!

Thanks, eternal thanks, to Thee!”

I suppose there are some persons whose minds naturally incline towards the doctrine of free-will. I can only say that mine inclines as naturally towards the  doctrines  of  sovereign  grace.  Sometimes,  when  I  see  some  of  the  worst characters in the street, I feel as if my heart must burst forth in tears of gratitude that God has never let me act as they have done! I have thought, if God had left me alone, and had not touched me by his grace, what a great sinner I should have been! I should have run to the utmost lengths of sin, dived into the very depths of evil, nor should I have stopped at any vice or folly, if God had not restrained me. I feel that I should have been a very king of sinners, if God had

let me alone. I cannot understand the reason why I am saved, except upon the ground that God would have it so. I cannot, if I look ever so earnestly, discover any kind of reason in myself why I should be a partaker of divine grace. If I am not at this moment without Christ, it is only because Christ Jesus would have his will with me, and that will was that I should be with him where he is, and should share his glory. I can put the crown nowhere but upon the head of him whose mighty grace has saved me from going down into the pit. Looking back on  my  past  life,  I  can  see  that  the  dawning  of  it  all  was  of  God;  of  God effectively. I took no torch with which to light the sun, but the sun enlightened me. I did not commence my spiritual life—no, I rather kicked, and struggled against the things of the Spirit: when he drew me, for a time I did not run after him:  there  was  a  natural  hatred  in  my  soul  of  everything  holy  and  good. Wooings were lost upon me—warnings were cast to the wind—thunders were despised; and as for the whispers of his love, they were rejected as being less than nothing and vanity. But, sure I am, I can say now, speaking on behalf of myself, “He only is my salvation.” It was he who turned my heart and brought me down on my knees before him. I can in very deed, say with Doddridge and Toplady—

“Grace taught my soul to pray, And made my eyes o’erflow;”

and coming to this moment, I can add—

“‘Tis grace has kept me to this day, And will not let me go.”

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.”

I  once  attended  a  service  where  the  text  happened  to  be,  “He  shall

choose our inheritance for us;” and the good man who occupied the pulpit was more  than  a  little of  an Arminian.  Therefore,  when he  commenced,  he  said, “This  passage  refers  entirely  to  our  temporal  inheritance,  it  has  nothing whatever  to  do  with  our  everlasting  destiny,  for,”  said  he,  “we  do  not  want Christ to choose for us in the matter of heaven or hell. It is so plain and easy, that every man who has a grain of common sense will choose heaven, and any person would know better than to choose hell. We have no need of any superior intelligence, or any greater Being, to choose heaven or hell for us. It is left to our own free-will, and we have enough wisdom given us, sufficiently correct means to judge for ourselves,” and therefore, as he very logically inferred, there was no necessity for Jesus Christ, or anyone, to make a choice for us. We could choose the inheritance for ourselves without any assistance. “Ah!” I thought, “but, my good brother, it may be very true that we could, but I think we should want something more than common sense before we should choose aright.”

John Newton used to tell a whimsical story, and laugh at it, too, of a good woman who said, in order to prove the doctrine of election, “Ah! sir, the Lord must have loved me before I was born, or else he would not have seen anything in me to love afterwards.” I am sure it is true in my case; I believe the doctrine of election, because I am quite certain that, if God had not chosen me, I should never have chosen him; and I am sure he chose me before I was born, or else he never would have chosen me afterwards; and he must have elected me for reasons unknown to me, for I never could find any reason in myself why he should have looked upon me with special love. So, I am forced to accept that great biblical doctrine.

I recollect an Arminian brother telling me that he had read the Scriptures through a score or more times and could never find the doctrine of election in them. He added that he was sure he would have done so if it had been there, for he read the Word on his knees. I said to him, “I think you read the Bible in a very uncomfortable posture, and if you had read it in your easy chair, you would have been more likely to understand it. Pray by all means,  and the more the better, but it is a piece of superstition to think there is anything in the posture in which  a  man  puts  himself  for  reading:  and  as  to  reading  through  the  Bible twenty times without having found anything about the doctrine of election, the

wonder is that you found anything at all: you must have galloped through it at such a rate that you were not likely to have any intelligible idea of the meaning of the Scriptures.”

If it would be marvellous to see one river leap up from the earth full- grown, what would it be to gaze upon a vast spring from which all the rivers of the earth should at once come bubbling up, a million of them born at a birth? What a vision would it be! Who can conceive it. And yet the love of God is that fountain, from which all the rivers of mercy, which have ever gladdened our race— all the rivers of grace in time and of glory hereafter—take their rise. My soul, stand thou at that sacred fountain-head, and adore and magnify, for ever and ever, God, even our Father, who hath loved us! In the very beginning, when this great universe lay in the mind of God, like unborn forests in the acorn cup; long before the echoes awoke the solitudes; before the mountains were brought forth; and long before the light flashed through the sky, God loved his chosen creatures. Before there was any created being—when the ether was not fanned by an angel’s wing,  when space itself  had not  an existence,  when there was nothing except God alone—even then, in that loneliness of Deity, and in that deep quiet and profundity, his bowels moved with love for his chosen. Their names were written on his heart, and then were they dear to his soul. Jesus loved his people before the foundation of the world—even from eternity! and when he called me by his grace, he said to me, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore, with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”

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. When I enter heaven, it will be to go among the less than the least of all saints and with the chief of sinners.

The late lamented Mr. Denham has put at the foot of his portrait a most admirable text, “Salvation is of the Lord.” That is just an epitome of Calvinism; it is the sum and substance of it. If anyone should ask me what I mean by a Calvinist, I should reply, “He is one who says, Salvation is of the Lord.” I cannot find in Scripture any other doctrine than this. It is the essence of the Bible. “He

only is my rock and my salvation.” Tell me anything contrary to this truth, and it will be a heresy; tell me a heresy, and I shall find its essence here, that it has departed from this great, this fundamental, this rock- truth, “God is my rock and my salvation.” What is the heresy of Rome, but the addition of something to the perfect merits of Jesus Christ—the bringing in of the works of the flesh, to assist in our justification? And what is the heresy of Arminianism but the addition of something  to  the  work  of  the  Redeemer?  Every  heresy,  if  brought  to  the touchstone, will discover itself here.

I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. 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 special and particular redemption of his elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; 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 once believed in Jesus. Such a gospel I abhor.