1) Obj. VI. God cannot sincerely make the offer of life to all, when He knows that there are some who will not accept. The marks of sincerity in any offer are the following: (a.) That the blessing offered is in existence and at the disposal of the one who offers it. (b.) That he is willing that it should be accepted, (c.) That it is offered on terms that can be complied with by the individual to whom it is offered, so that all that is needed on his part is willingness. Such is the case with respect to the offer of salvation to all men in the gospel. It is a blessing which really exists, because a general atonement has been made; it is a blessing which God is willing to bestow; He is not willing that any should perish. It is within the compass of man s natural capacities to comply. No addition needs to be made to his powers and faculties, to en able him to comply. Acceptance or rejection is the action of his own voluntary nature. There is an ambiguity in the discussions of this subject in the different uses of the word will. It is used sometimes in the sense of a general desire, sometimes of a specific purpose, (a.) It is undeniable on the ground of Scripture that God desires the salvation of every man as, in itself considered, the best thing for him. He offers salvation to all, and pleads with them to accept it. He offers that which is provided, and which they may accept, and urges it importunately, (b.) God’s decree of preterition is not that some shall not believe, but is simply not to use certain means of moving them to belief. All things considered, He has chosen to pursue his purpose of having a people to his praise, to the extent of insuring belief in some instances, but not in all. (c.) All of God s reasons for this course we do not know. Some reasons are intimated. Blindness of mind, hardness of heart, resistance of light, of grace offered, of the influences of the Spirit, are given as characteristics of many of those who are not included in God s purpose of election. It may be that many of the finally impenitent resist more light than many who are saved.   Henry B. Smith, System of Christian Theology, 2nd ed., (New York: A.C. Armstrong and Son, 1884), 513-14. [Italics original; Underlining mine.]



Election is carried out through the proclamation of grace, through the call to repentance and faith, issuing in the effectual calling of those who are finally saved. This call is both external and internal. The external is in the preaching of the gospel, and the internal is the call to the spirit or soul. This internal call, considered in its results on the elect, is called efficacious or effectual grace. The election results in the call, both external and internal, and in the formation of the elect into the church. Some of those who are opposed to the doctrine of election, e. g., the Lutherans, make the call to be universal, and make it to consist in the whole of divine providence towards all nations. The Lutheran formula asserts very strongly that a special call addressed by the Divine Spirit to the soul must be maintained to be universal, even though experience seems to run counter to it.

1. Of the External Call.

This is an invitation on the part of divine grace to sinners to accept through grace the blessings offered to them in Christ, addressed generally through the preaching of the word, although it may also be by the printed page or personal conversation. It is as wide as the proclamation of the gospel in any form. It includes the announcement of the fact of salvation in Christ, an invitation to accept that salvation, an invitation which rises to a command, including a promise and a threat–John iii. 16, 18. This external call is to be addressed to all. It is part of the function of the church to see that it is addressed to all men–Rom. x. 14, 15. Still further, this call, as thus addressed, is binding upon all men. Men are bound to accept this gracious invitation. Not to comply is the great sin. In a state of ruin, invited to accept of everlasting life, their guilt is heightened if they reject. It is not addressed to the elect alone, but is addressed to and binding upon all men.1 This external call has for its characteristics that it is sincere on the part of God–that it may be resisted–and that it is adapted to lead to conversion.   Henry B. Smith, System of Christian Theology, 2nd ed., (New York: A.C. Armstrong and Son, 1884), 515-516. [Footnote values original; italics original; and underlining mine.]


1This is one of the great points in the controversy against the Antinomian position. See Fuller’s Gospel Worthy of all Acceptation; and Bellamy’s True Religion Delineated. It was such preaching as this against a dead orthodoxy which led to many precious results in revivals.

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