Using Obfuscation to Avoid Admission of Simple and Documented Error
It is obvious that a number of truth-loving “Bereans” have been contacting Dave Hunt’s ministry, The Berean Call, and calling him to accountability regarding the documentation of his error concerning the beliefs of Charles Haddon Spurgeon which I presented in my Open Letter responding to the publication of his book, What Love is This? In the August, 2002 issue of The Berean Call Mr. Hunt attempts some damage-control, but in the process only digs a deeper hole for himself. He is surely making it impossible for those who have followed his writings to put much trust in his use of sources, and his willingness to stand corrected when need be.
In this article I will provide the original documentation of Hunt’s error, followed by his attempted response, a brief rebuttal of key issues, and most importantly, the majority of the text of the chapter from which Hunt mistakenly derived his initial citation as found in What Love is This? The text of this chapter is so clear, so compelling, that it simply overwhelms the very weak attempt made to excuse the original error.
A Glowing Example: Charles Haddon Spurgeon on the Atonement
On page 19 of your book, Dave, you make the assertion that Charles Spurgeon “unequivocally” denied particular redemption (limited atonement). Every single Calvinist who has done any meaningful reading in Spurgeon will be forced to immediately dismiss you as a very poor researcher on the basis of this statement. Here I provide the quote as you gave it, placing the materials you did not include in bold (I thank Tom Ascol for first noting this and rushing me the context). Folks who wonder if you are being fair to Augustine or Calvin should note your willingness to be completely and utterly inaccurate in your representation of someone as recent as Spurgeon:
I know there are some who think it necessary to their system of theology to limit the merit of the blood of Jesus: if my theological system needed such a limitation, I would cast it to the winds. I cannot, I dare not allow the thought to find a lodging in my mind, it seems so near akin to blasphemy. In Christ’s finished work I see an ocean of merit; my plummet finds no bottom, my eye discovers no shore. There must be sufficient efficacy in the blood of Christ, if God had so willed it, to have saved not only all in this world, but all in ten thousand worlds, had they transgressed their Maker’s law. Once admit infinity into the matter, and limit is out of the question. Having a Divine Person for an offering, it is not consistent to conceive of limited value; bound and measure are terms inapplicable to the Divine sacrifice. The intent of the Divine purpose fixes the application of the infinite offering, but does not change it into a finite work.
Anyone familiar with Spurgeon knows what he means by “the intent of the Divine purpose” here (he means what all us Calvinists mean: it was God’s intention to save the elect in the atonement). But the rest of the section you quoted from makes it crystal clear:
Blessed be God, His elect on earth are to be counted by millions, I believe, and the days are coming, brighter days than these, when there shall be multitudes upon multitudes brought to know the Saviour, and to rejoice in Him. Some persons love the doctrine of universal atonement because they say, “It is so beautiful. It is a lovely idea that Christ should have died for all men; it commends itself,” they say, “to the instincts of humanity; there is something in it full of joy and beauty.” I admit there is, but beauty may be often associated with falsehood. There is much which I might admire in the theory of universal redemption, but I will just show what the supposition necessarily involves. If Christ on His cross intended to save every man, then He intended to save those who were lost before He died. If the doctrine be true, that He died for all men, then He died for some who were in hell before He came into this world, for doubtless there were even then myriads there who had been cast away because of their sins. Once again, if it was Christ’s intention to save all men, how deplorably has He been disappointed, for we have His own testimony that there is a lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, and into that pit of woe have been cast some of the very persons who, according to the theory of universal redemption, were bought with His blood. That seems to me a conception a thousand times more repulsive than any of those consequences which are said to be associated with the Calvinistic and Christian doctrine of special and particular redemption.
That is on the very next page after the one you quoted! Spurgeon refers to your position, Dave, as “a thousand times more repulsive than any of those consequences which are said to be associated with the Calvinistic and Christian doctrine of special and particular redemption”! Yes, Spurgeon was unequivocal alright: only he said the exact opposite of what you indicated! A quick scan of the relevant materials at www.spurgeon.org reveals just how completely in error your assertion is, and how many sermons affirm Spurgeon’s belief in particular redemption. Here is one of them: http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0181.htm. I quote him directly:
We hold–we are not afraid to say that we believe–that Christ came into this world with the intention of saving “a multitude which no man can number;” and we believe that as the result of this, every person for whom He died must, beyond the shadow of a doubt, be cleansed from sin, and stand, washed in blood, before the Father’s throne. We do not believe that Christ made any effectual atonement for those who are for ever damned; we dare not think that the blood of Christ was ever shed with the intention of saving those whom God foreknew never could be saved, and some of whom were even in Hell when Christ, according to some men’s account, died to save them.
You really should hasten to retract this grossly errant assertion concerning Spurgeon. For those of us who have even a passing familiarity with the great English preacher, your comments about him were outrageous. The misuse of the quote from Spurgeon’s biography is simply indefensible, Dave. Do you not think that we have these sources at hand? Will you instruct your publisher to retract this statement in the next printing of the book, along with a note apologizing for such an error? Or will you ignore this word of corrective advice as you have ignored so many others that have been provided to you?
I had not intended to be “prophetic” in that last line, but as the August, 2002 issue of The Berean Call proves, I was. It should be noted that the question, while mentioning me by name, does not do justice to the actual statement Hunt made. Keep in mind the statement that is found on page 19 of Dave Hunt’s book, What Love is This? I quote:
Spurgeon himself, so often quoted by Calvinsts to support their view, rejected Limited Atonement, though it lies at the very heart of Calvinism and follows inevitably from its other points — and he did so in unequivocal language.
Please note the assertion in the final phrase: that Spurgeon rejected the doctrine of limited atonement “in unequivocal language.” What does unequivocal mean? It means plain, clear, explicit, without ambiguity. This part of Hunt’s assertion is left out in what follows, and, as we read the attempt to befuddle the readers of The Berean Call, we see why. Hunt’s new assertion is that Spurgeon was ambiguous, contradictory, and inconsistent in his teaching and proclamation. This is not what Hunt said in his book. And as we shall see, it’s not even true at that! Here is what appeared in the August, 2002 Q&A section of The Berean Call:
Question: James White has caught you red-handed misrepresenting Spurgeon in your book. You claim that Spurgeon “rejected Limited Atonement.” You support that assertion with a quote of rejection of any “limit to the merit of the blood of Jesus….” Yet you omitted clear statements In the very section from which you quote that “the intent of the Divine purpose fixes the application of the infinite offering…we do not believe that Christ made any effectual atonement for those who are for ever damned.” Anyone who knows anything about Spurgeon knows that he taught Limited Atonement. How much longer do we have to wait to see in print your admission of your inexcusable misrepresentation of Spurgeon?
Answer: Spurgeon was torn between what he called “hyper-Calvinism” and the Word of God. In the quote I give he very clearly says, “In Christ’s finished work I see an ocean of merit; my plummet finds no bottom, my eye discovers no shore….Once admit infinity into the matter, and limit is out of the question.” He then goes on to deny “that the blood of Christ was ever shed with the intention of saving those whom God foreknew never could be saved, and some of whom were even in Hell when Christ. according to some men’s account. died to save them….The intent of the Divine purpose fixes the application of the infinite offering, but does not change it into a finite work.”
Spurgeon seems to be contradicting himself. How could the “merit” of the atonement be unlimited unless Christ died for all? If He paid the penalty only for the sins of the elect, then the merit of His death is finite, being confined to a definite number. What did he really mean? I think I have good reason to believe that this is just another case of what one historian explained as “The…old Calvinistic phrases were often on Spurgeon’s lips but the genuine Calvinistic meaning had gone out of them.”
I think we find the key to Spurgeon’s real beliefs in his opposition to what he called “hyper-Calvinism.” His preaching sparked the “duty-faith” controversy in which he was accused of holding Arminianism. The controversy raged in England for some years and took its name from Spurgeon’s teaching that it was the “duty” of every person to have faith in Christ.
If Spurgeon believed in “particular redemption,” as the quote above seemed to indicate, it was a peculiar kind. He pressed upon all his hearers the duty of believing the gospel: “Read, write, print, shout—‘Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.’ Great Saviour, I thank Thee for this text; help Thou me so to preach from it that many may come to Thee, and find eternal life!”
Spurgeon claimed, “I have all the Puritans with me…without a single exception.” Even the Synod of Dort had declared, “As many as are called by the gospel are unfeignedly called…. [God] seriously promises eternal life and rest to as many as shall come to him and believe on him.” That hardly sounds like the Particular Redemption elsewhere taught by Dort. Such are the contradictions inherent within Calvinism, which tries to maintain that God offers salvation to all, even to those whom He has predestined to eternal doom.
But the contradictions were more apparent in Spurgeon’s preaching, contradictions which were “regarded among many of the Particular Baptists as symptoms of defection from Calvinism.” His chief opponent was James Wells (referred to privately by Spurgeon as “King James”) who for 30 years had been the most popular and powerful Particular Baptist pastor south of the Thames until the arrival of Spurgeon at New Park Street. He pressed his attack to prove that Spurgeon was an Arminian with such damning quotes as this from the sermon “Future Bliss”: “Oh! Dear souls…if you believe in your Christ you are elect; whosoever puts himself on the mercy of Jesus…shall have mercy if he come for it.” Wells argued that “such words quietly set election aside, and rest the whole matter with the creature….” Am I caught red-handed misrepresenting Spurgeon? I don’t think so.
The reader will immediately see the less-than-subtle shift in Hunt’s defense. He nowhere makes reference to his own statement that Spurgeon “unequivocally” denies limited atonement, since, obviously, his entire attempted defense is that Spurgeon was not unequivocal at all about his commitment to Calvinism! He defends himself by asserting that Spurgeon contradicted himself and was “torn” between opposite theologies. Mr. Hunt is in essence abandoning the original assertion and replacing it with its opposite, all the while saying, “I didn’t get caught red-handed!”
Just a few words in response to these assertions. First, Spurgeon was not “torn” between hyper-Calvinism and the Word of God. He rejected hyper-Calvinism and spoke often against it. Next, Mr. Hunt is simply misreading Spurgeon’s statement about merit. He is not doing so because Spurgeon was unclear. He is doing so because he refuses to listen to Reformed writers in their own contexts. Hunt argues that if Christ dies only for the elect, then the merit of His death is finite. This is the very point Spurgeon is denying. And Hunt has no logical basis upon which to base his claim. Why? Simple: does Dave Hunt believe we are saved by grace? Of course. Does he believe those in hell are saved by grace? No, of course not. So, since only a certain number are saved by grace, then grace is therefore limited, right? No, he would never say God’s grace is finite. Hence, his position is internally inconsistent and self-contradictory. Further, since the number of men born over time is a finite number as well, Hunt’s logic would mean that even in his own system Christ’s merit would have to be limited, since the number saved, no matter what, is finite! But these obvious logical fallacies aside, Spurgeon is not contradicting himself. The merit of Christ’s death is indeed limitless because of who He was. The application of that merit is finite in anyone’s system, including Hunt’s, but that does not in any way diminish the limitless nature of the merit.
It is simply farcical to write, as Hunt does, “If Spurgeon believed in ‘particular redemption,’ as the quote above seemed to indicate, it was a peculiar kind.” He said he believed it, he defined it in terms identical to those used by all other Reformed writers, and the only reason Mr. Hunt can offer to us to disbelieve the plain words of Spurgeon is that he himself can’t see how you can preach the way Spurgeon preached, call men to Christ the way he called them to Christ, and believe in particular redemption! Hence, Spurgeon’s theology is to be determined not on the basis of what he actually taught, but on the basis of what Dave Hunt can understand! There is not a word Hunt quotes from Spurgeon that is not perfectly in harmony with particular redemption. The fact is, Dave Hunt cannot produce a single word from Spurgeon in support of his original assertion. He is simply trying to deflect attention from this fact by raising other issues, issues that do not address the topic at hand.
On the Dividing Line for August 10, 2002, I read the entirety of the 16th chapter of Spurgeon’s Autobiography, from which the citation found in What Love is This? was derived. I noted with irony the title of the chapter: “Defense of Calvinism.” I will not reproduce the entirety of the text here, but I will produce enough of it to give the reader more than sufficient basis upon which to judge if, indeed, as Dave Hunt continues to maintain to this day, Charles Haddon Spurgeon denied, “in unequivocal language,” the doctrine of limited atonement.
The old truth that Calvin preached, that Augustine preached, that Paul preached, is the truth that I must preach to-day, or else be false to my conscience and my God. I cannot shape the truth; I know of no such thing as paring off the rough edges of a doctrine. John Knox’s gospel is my gospel. That which thundered through Scotland must thunder through England again. — C. H. S.
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:
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, [emphasis added! JRW] 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.”
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.”
Then, in the fulness of time, He purchased me with His blood; He let His heart run out in one deep gaping wound for me long ere I loved Him. Yea, when He first came to me, did I not spurn Him? When He knocked at the door, and asked for entrance, did I not drive Him away, and do despite to His grace? Ah, I can remember that I full often did so until, at last, by the power of His effectual grace, He said, “I must, I will come in;” and then He turned my heart, and made me love Him. But even till now I should have resisted Him, had it not been for His grace. Well, then since He purchased me when I was dead in sins, does it not follow, as a consequence necessary and logical, that He must have loved me first? Did my Saviour die for me because I believed on Him? No; I was not then in existence; I had then no being. Could the Saviour, therefore, have died because I had faith, when I myself was not yet born? Could that have been possible? Could that have been the origin of the Saviour’s love towards me? Oh! no; my Saviour died for me long before I believed. “But,” says someone, “He foresaw that you would have faith; and, therefore, He loved you.” What did He foresee about my faith? Did He foresee that I should get that faith myself, and that I should believe on Him of myself? No; Christ could not foresee that, because no Christian man will ever say that faith came of itself without the gift and without the working of the Holy Spirit. I have met with a great many believers, and talked with them about this matter; but I never knew one who could put his hand on his heart, and say, “I believed in Jesus without the assistance of the Holy Spirit.”
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, and 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? [emphasis added! JRW] 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.
“If ever it should come to pass,
That sheep of Christ might fall away,
My fickle, feeble soul, alas!
Would fall a thousand times a day”
If one dear saint of God had perished, so might all; if one of the covenant ones be lost, so may all be; and then there is no gospel promise true, but the Bible is a lie, and there is nothing in it worth my acceptance. I will be an infidel at once when I can believe that a saint of God can ever fall finally. If God hath loved me once, then He will love me for ever. God has a mastermind; He arranged everything in His gigantic intellect long before He did it; and once having settled it, He never alters it, ‘This shall be done,” saith He, and the iron hand of destiny marks it down, and it is brought to pass. “This is My purpose,” and it stands, nor can earth or hell alter it. “This is My decree,” saith He, “promulgate it, ye holy angels; rend it down from the gate of Heaven, ye devils, if ye can; but ye cannot alter the decree, it shall stand for ever.” God altereth not His plans; why should He? He is Almighty, and therefore can perform His pleasure. Why should He? He is the All-wise, and therefore cannot have planned wrongly. Why should He? He is the everlasting God, and therefore cannot die before His plan is accomplished. Why should He change? Ye worthless atoms of earth, ephemera of a day, ye creeping insects upon this bay-leaf of existence, ye may change your plans, but He shall never, never change His. Has He told me that His plan is to save me? If so, I am for ever safe.
“My name from the palms of His hands
Eternity will not erase;
Impress’d on His heart it remains,
In marks of indelible grace.”
I do not know how some people, who believe that a Christian can fall from grace, manage to be happy. It must be a very commendable thing in them to be able to get through a day without despair. f I did not believe the doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints, I think I should be of all men the most miserable, because I should lack any ground of comfort. I could not say, whatever state of heart I came into, that I should be like a well- spring of water, whose stream fails not; I should rather have to take the comparison of an intermittent spring, that might stop on a sudden, or a reservoir, which I had no reason to expect would always be full. I believe that the happiest of Christians and the truest of Christians are those who never dare to doubt God, but who take His Word simply as it stands, and believe it, and ask no questions, just feeling assured that if God has said it, it will be so. I bear my willing testimony that I have no reason, nor even the shadow of a reason, to doubt my Lord, and I challenge Heaven, and earth, and hell, to bring any proof that God is untrue. From the depths of hell I call the fiends, and from this earth I call the tried and afflicted believers, and to Heaven I appeal, and challenge the long experience of the blood-washed host, and there is not to be found in the three realms a single person who can bear witness to one fact which can disprove the faithfulness of God, or weaken His claim to be trusted by His servants. There are many things that may or may not happen, but this I know shall happen —
“He shall present my soul,
Unblemish’d and complete,
Before the glory of His face,
With joys divinely great”
All the purposes of man have been defeated, but not the purposes of God. The promises of man may be broken-many of them are made to be broken-but the promises of God shall all be fulfilled. He is a promise-maker, but He never was a promise- breaker; He is a promise-keeping God, and every one of His people shall prove it to be so. This is my grateful, personal confidence, “The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me”-unworthy me, lost and ruined me. He will yet save me; and —
“I, among the blood-wash’d throng,
Shall wave the palm, and wear the crown,
And shout loud victory”
I go to a land which the plough of earth hath never upturned, where it is greener than earth’s best pastures, and richer than her most abundant harvests ever saw. I go to a building of more gorgeous architecture than man hath ever builded; it is not of mortal design; it is “a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the Heavens.” All I shall know and enjoy in Heaven, will be given to me by the Lord, and I shall say, when at last I appear before Him —
“Grace all the work shall crown
Through everlasting days;
It lays in Heaven the topmost stone,
And well deserves the praise”
I know there are some who think it necessary to their system of theology to limit the merit of the blood of Jesus: if my theological system needed such a limitation, I would cast it to the winds. I cannot, I dare not allow the thought to find a lodging in my mind, it seems so near akin to blasphemy. In Christ’s finished work I see an ocean of merit; my plummet finds no bottom, my eye discovers no shore. There must be sufficient efficacy in the blood of Christ, if God had so willed it, [emphasis added, JRW] to have saved not only all in this world, but all in ten thousand worlds, had they transgressed their Maker’s law. Once admit infinity into the matter, and limit is out of the question. Having a Divine Person for an offering, it is not consistent to conceive of limited value; bound and measure are terms inapplicable to the Divine sacrifice. The intent of the Divine purpose fixes the application of the infinite offering, but does not change it into a finite work. Think of the numbers upon whom God has bestowed His grace already. Think of the countless hosts in Heaven: if thou wert introduced there to-day, thou wouldst find it as easy to tell the stars, or the sands of the sea, as to count the multitudes that are before the throne even now. They have come from the East, and from the West, from the North, and from the South, and they are sitting down with Abraham, and with Isaac, and with Jacob in the Kingdom of God; and beside those in Heaven, think of the saved ones on earth. Blessed be God, His elect on earth are to be counted by millions, I believe, and the days are coming, brighter days than these, when there shall be multitudes upon multitudes brought to know the Savior, and to rejoice in Him. The Father’s love is not for a few only, but for an exceeding great company. “A great multitude, which no man could number,” will be found in Heaven. A man can reckon up to very high figures; set to work your Newtons, your mightiest calculators, and they can count great numbers, but God and God alone can tell the multitude of His redeemed. I believe there will be more in Heaven than in hell. If anyone asks me why I think so, I answer, because Christ, in everything, is to “have the pre-eminence,” and I cannot conceive how He could have the pre-eminence if there are to be more in the dominions of Satan than in Paradise. Moreover, I have never read that there is to be in hell a great multitude, which no man could number. I rejoice to know that the souls of all infants, as soon as they die, speed their way to Paradise. Think what a multitude there is of them! Then there are already in Heaven unnumbered myriads of the spirits of just men made perfect-the redeemed of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues up till now; and there are better times coming, when the religion of Christ shall be universal; when —
“He shall reign from pole to pole,
With illimitable sway,”
when whole kingdoms shall bow down before Him, and nations shall be born in a day, and in the thousand years of the great millennial state there will be enough saved to make up all the deficiencies of the thousands of years that have gone before. Christ shall be Master everywhere, and His praise shall be sounded in every land. Christ shall have the pre-eminence at last; His train shall be far larger than that which shall attend the chariot of the grim monarch of hell.
Some persons love the doctrine of universal atonement because they say, “It is so beautiful. It is a lovely idea that Christ should have died for all men; it commends itself,” they say, “to the instincts of humanity; there is something in it full of joy and beauty.” I admit there is, but beauty may be often associated with falsehood. There is much which I might admire in the theory of universal redemption, but I will just show what the supposition necessarily involves. If Christ on His cross intended to save every man, then He intended to save those who were lost before He died. If the doctrine be true, that He died for all men, then He died for some who were in hell before He came into this world, for doubtless there were even then myriads there who had been cast away because of their sins. Once again, if it was Christ’s intention to save all men, how deplorably has He been disappointed, for we have His own testimony that there is a lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, and into that pit of woe have been cast some of the very persons who, according to the theory of universal redemption, were bought with His blood. That seems to me a conception a thousand times more repulsive than any of those consequences which are said to be associated with the Calvinistic and Christian doctrine of special and particular redemption. To think that my Savior died for men who were or are in hell, seems a supposition too horrible for me to entertain. To imagine for a moment that He was the Substitute for all the sons of men, and that God, having first punished the Substitute, afterwards punished the sinners themselves, seems to conflict with all my ideas of Divine justice. That Christ should offer an atonement and satisfaction for the sins of all men, and that afterwards some of those very men should be punished for the sins for which Christ had already atoned, appears to me to be the most monstrous iniquity that could ever have been imputed to Saturn, to Janus, to the goddess of the Thugs, or to the most diabolical heathen deities. God forbid that we should ever think thus of Jehovah, the just and wise and good! [emphasis added throughout, JRW. Yes, this is unequivocal indeed!]
There is no soul living who holds more firmly to the doctrines of grace than I do, [emphasis added, JRW] and if any man asks me whether I am ashamed to be called a Calvinist, I answer- I wish to be called nothing but a Christian; but if you ask me, do I hold the doctrinal views which were held by John Calvin, I reply, I do in the main hold them, and rejoice to avow it. But far be it from me even to imagine that Zion contains none but Calvinistic Christians within her walls, or that there are none saved who do not hold our views. Most atrocious things have been spoken about the character and spiritual condition of John Wesley, the modern prince of Arminians. I can only say concerning him that, while I detest many of the doctrines which he preached, yet for the man himself I have a reverence second to no Wesleyan; and if there were wanted two apostles to be added to the number of the twelve, I do not believe that there could be found two men more fit to be so added than George Whitefield and John Wesley. The character of John Wesley stands beyond all imputation for self-sacrifice, zeal, holiness, and communion with God; he lived far above the ordinary level of common Christians, and was one “of whom the world was not worthy.” I believe there are multitudes of men who cannot see these truths, or, at least, cannot see them in the way in which we put them, who nevertheless have received Christ as their Savior, and are as dear to the heart of the God of grace as the soundest Calvinist in or out of Heaven.
It is often said that the doctrines we believe have a tendency to lead us to sin. I have heard it asserted most positively, that those high doctrines which we love, and which we find in the Scriptures, are licentious ones. I do not know who will have the hardihood to make that assertion, when they consider that the holiest of men have been believers in them. I ask the man who dares to say that Calvinism is a licentious religion, what he thinks of the character of Augustine, or Calvin, or Whitefield, [emphasis added, JRW: Hunt vociferously and unfairly attacks the character of both Augustine and Calvin] who in successive ages were the great exponents of the system of grace; or what will he say of the Puritans, whose works are full of them? Had a man been an Arminian in those days, he would have been accounted the vilest heretic breathing, but now we are looked upon as the heretics, and they as the orthodox. We have gone back to the old school; we can trace our descent from the apostles. It is that vein of free-grace, running through the sermonizing of Baptists, which has saved us as a denomination. Were it not for that, we should not stand where we are today. We can run a golden line up to Jesus Christ Himself, through a holy succession of mighty fathers, who all held these glorious truths; and we can ask concerning them, “Where will you find holier and better men in the world?” No doctrine is so calculated to preserve a man from sin as the doctrine of the grace of God. Those who have called it “a licentious doctrine” did not know anything at all about it. Poor ignorant things, they little knew that their own vile stuff was the most licentious doctrine under Heaven. If they knew the grace of God in truth, they would soon see that there was no preservative from lying like a knowledge that we are elect of God from the foundation of the world. There is nothing like a belief in my eternal perseverance, and the immutability of my Father’s affection, which can keep me near to Him from a motive of simple gratitude. Nothing makes a man so virtuous as belief of the truth. A lying doctrine will soon beget a lying practice. A man cannot have an erroneous belief without by-and-by having an erroneous life. I believe the one thing naturally begets the other. Of all men, those have the most disinterested piety, the sublimest reverence, the most ardent devotion, who believe that they are saved by grace, without works, through faith, and that not of themselves, it is the gift of God. Christians should take heed, and see that it always is so, lest by any means Christ should be crucified afresh, and put to an open shame.
It is simply beyond comprehension how, in the light of this chapter, penned by Spurgeon himself, anyone can possibly maintain that He “unequivocally” denied the particular redemptive work of Jesus Christ. One might as well read the King Follett Funeral Discourse of Joseph Smith Jr., the founder of Mormonism, and as a result, call him a “monotheist” as maintain the completely backwards assertion of Dave Hunt that Spurgeon denied the doctrine. Let the reader recall that it is this very chapter that Hunt cites as “unequivocally” denying the doctrine, yet, on the very next page of the chapter titled “Defense of Calvinism,” these words appear: “That seems to me a conception a thousand times more repulsive than any of those consequences which are said to be associated with the Calvinistic and Christian doctrine of special and particular redemption.” Spurgeon says, “Limited atonement is a Christian doctrine.” Dave Hunt isolates a section from a preceding page, imports his own misunderstandings into it, and says, “Spurgeon unequivocally denied limited atonement.” The facts are plain. The only question is, will Dave Hunt have the honesty and integrity to stop trying to blow smoke across the landscape and simply admit his mistake and withdraw, with apologies, his assertion?
Someone might ask, “So what’s the big deal? Spurgeon isn’t Scripture.” Quite true. However, this example shows everyone exactly how Dave Hunt uses sources, whether they be historical or biblical sources. Mr. Hunt sees only what he wants to see. He ignores anything, even if it is a direct counter-statement, that does not fit with his “thesis” concerning a topic. His books are filled with this kind of “research.” He can come up with new “translations” of biblical passages such as Acts 13:48 that end up being identical with the New World Translation of Jehovah’s Witnesses through the very same willy-nilly use of sources that has produced this glaring error. And the worst part is, he will not admit the errors. Instead, he chooses to blame Spurgeon, or, when shown to have completely misrepresented the Greek text, or engaged in gross eisegesis of the text, he identifies those who seek to correct his errors as “elitists.” Is He who is the truth served by this kind of attitude and activity?