Article 25

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"Election, Predestination & Divine Purpose"

Elder Charles Felder

This article was reproduced from Griffin's History of Mississippi Primitive Baptists. The article was originally a circular letter to the Mississippi Association in 1837. Elder Charles Felder is assumed to be the author as he was the moderator of the association in that year.

The purposes of God are perfect and unalterable. His infinite wisdom and perfect knowledge forbid the occurrence of any event or change of circumstances which would dictate the slightest alteration in his plans; and his absolute power precludes the possibility of frustration by any obstacle. It is with great propriety, therefore, that God himself assures us that "His council shall stand; that he will do all his pleasure." These purposes can be made known to us, or concealed from us, as God pleases. But, in relation to the plan of salvation, in which we are chiefly concerned, it has pleased God to reveal, by the spirit of prophecy, the outlines of his eternal purpose and grace, which embrace the salvation of his people. The work of salvation is represented in Scripture as being properly and strictly the work of God. Christ, the ransom price of our redemption, is the gift of God. "He has made him to be sin for us." The renovation of the human heart, and the translation of a sinner out of darkness into marvelous light, is universally ascribed to God. "Of his own will begat he us." "We are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works." "According to his mercy, he saved us by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost." Now, if the salvation of sinners is properly, as these Scriptures teach, the work of God, then, according to the position established, their salvation is effected in accordance with God's previous purpose.

Hence the purpose of God, which is eternal and unchangeable, embraces the salvation of every soul that God ever saved, or will ever save. This view is confirmed by the language of the Apostle to the Ephesians: "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love, having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved." It is also confirmed by his language to Timothy: "Who hath saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." And here is the very essence of the doctrine of election or predestination, which is so much contested. The very pith of this doctrine is simply God's previous purpose or intention to do, in the salvation of sinners, what he does do. If God, at a certain time, and in a certain way, calls, renews and saves an individual, predestination in reference to that individual denotes God's previous design to call, renew, and save him, at that certain time, and in that particular way. Hence, if the doctrine of predestination embraces any one sinner that God saves, it embraces, of necessity, every sinner that God has saved or will save. Election, therefore, is necessarily personal and eternal.

Now, surely, no person who is capable of discovering the connection between three ideas, can admit that salvation is really and truly the work of God, and yet deny the doctrine of election as here explained. If sinners save themselves, this doctrine may be false; but, if God saves them, it is true, and will stand when the heavens and the earth shall be no more. God has a definite purpose, therefore, fixed and unalterable, which embraces everything that he does, or has any control over, in the great plan of the redemption.

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