Chapter 61 - Hardshells on Gill IV
From the "Cause of God and Truth"
Dr. Gill on "Drawing" men to Christ )
"And I, if I be lifted from the earth, will draw all men unto me"
"The sense of these words pretty much depends on the meaning of the word draw: which...designs...rather of the gathering of the people to him, through the ministry of the apostles; and so of their being enabled, through the power of divine grace, to come unto him, and believe on him for eternal life and salvation; for all those whom God has loved with an everlasting love, and Christ has died for, are, sooner or later, with loving-kindness drawn unto him; in this sense Christ uses the word in this Gospel; no man can come unto me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him (John 6:44)." (Part 1 Section 31—John 12:32)
Here clearly Dr. Gill says that men are drawn by the Father through the ministry of gospel preachers and that "drawing" is equated with believing on Christ, believing the truth respecting Christ. This "believing on him" is also, according to Gill, necessary to "eternal salvation."
Dr. Gill on Titus 2: 11,12
"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us, that denying all ungodliness and worldly lusts we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world."
"This doctrine of the grace of God bringeth salvation: it brings the news of it to the ears of men, in the external ministration of it, and brings that itself to the hearts of men, under the powerful influences and application of the Spirit of God; and so may be rightly called saving grace, as being the power of God unto salvation to all them that believe; though it is not, nor was it designed to be so, to all to whom it is externally preached..." (Part 1 Section 47—Titus 2:11, 12)
Again, this is a flat denial of Hardshellism. It is the "doctrine of the gospel," says Dr. Gill, that "brings salvation into the hearts under the powerful influences of the Spirit of God." This "doctrine of the gospel" is"rightly called saving grace," says the Doctor. He also says that this "doctrine of the gospel" is "the power of God unto salvation." Who can then say that Dr. Gill denied gospel means in his "Cause of God and Truth," and so "changing his mind"?
Dr. Gill on Ephesians 1: 19, 20 and "Efficacious Grace"
"And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead."
"Since the apostle, in these words, plainly intimates, that the work of grace upon the hearts of believers is to be ascribed not only to the power of God, but to the greatness, yea, the exceeding greatness of his power, and which is represented as equal to that which was put forth in raising Christ from the dead; we think we have good reason to conclude, that this work is a work of almighty, irresistible and insuperable power, and in which men, in the first production of it, are purely passive."
"It is said, that "this power is not consistent with the persuasions and exhortations used in Scripture to move men to repent, and turn themselves from their iniquity." I reply that the exhortations to repent and turn from iniquity do not regard the first work of conversion, or the inward work of grace upon the soul, which is here designed, but an outward reformation of life. Besides, supposing the exhortations referred to respect the internal work of faith and conversion, they may be attended with that power from God, who makes use of them, so as to produce such principles of life and grace, in which men are purely passive; by virtue of which they may become active, and be enabled to answer to such exhortations; even as the command of Christ to Lazarus to come forth was attended with such a divine power as produced a principle of life in him, in which he was purely passive; though by virtue of it he became active, came forth, and answered the word of command."
"It is urged that if this was the case, "it could not properly be said that they turned, but only that they were turned, to the Lord." To which may be replied, that when the Scriptures speak of the internal work of conversion upon the heart, it is expressed in passive form, they were turned, see Jeremiah 31:18, 1 Peter 2:25. And when they speak of external reformation, or of such a turning to the Lord as is the fruit of faith, then it is expressed in the active form, they turned to him, see Acts 11:21." (Part 2 - Chapter 4 - Section 1)
I will be dealing with the idea of whether regeneration or the new birth is strictly an experience where the sinner is entirely passive, or whether it includes his activity, in a separate chapter, and with its related topic, whether salvation is strictly unconditional, in an upcoming series of chapters.
The above citations are included here because they show that Dr. Gill did not disallow the Spirit's use of the word, and use of persuasive appeals, and use of exhortations to believe and repent, in the regeneration of his elect.
Dr. Gill on John 6: 44
"No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6: 44 - Section 8)
"This passage of Scripture is no inconsiderate proof of the doctrine of the powerful and efficacious grace of God in the work of faith and conversion. To come to Christ, is to believe in him."
This is Dr. Gill's standard position in all his writings, being the same position of all Baptists in his day and since the days of the formation of the first Particular Baptist Churches in the early 17th century; to "come to Christ" is all the same as to "believe on him" through the gospel. It is the position of the Confessions and the truly Old Baptists.
Dr. Gill continues:
"The Capernaites had heard the doctrine of Christ, which was taught with authority, and had seen his miracles, which were full proofs of his being the Messiah; and yet believed not, but continued murmuring at his person and parentage. This gave occasion to Christ to observe to them, that something more than these was necessary to their coming to him, or savingly believing in him, even the powerful and efficacious grace of the Father in drawing." (Again, he repeats the equivalency of coming = believing)
"God, in drawing of unwilling, makes willing in the day of his power; he enlightens the understanding, bends the will, gives a heart of flesh, sweetly allures by the power of his grace, and engages the soul to come to Christ, and give up itself unto him; he draws with the cords of a wan, with the bands of love (Hosea 11:4)."
"...an internal influence of the grace of God upon the soul, which, though opposed, cannot be resisted so as to be overcome, and rendered in effectual, we affirm, agreeable to these word of Christ, that without this no man can come to him; yet, notwithstanding this, persons may be blame-worthy, as the Jews were, for not believing on him as the Messiah; though without this powerful attraction they could not come to him, and believe in him to the saving of their souls. Besides, though the ability of coming to Christ in a spiritual manner is owing to the powerful grace of God in drawing; yet the disability of coming to Christ does not arise from a defect, or want of that powerful attraction, but from the corruption and vitiosity of nature, which being blame-worthy, what springs from it must be so likewise. Moreover, we readily know, that it is not praise-worthy in men to come to Christ, and believe in him, but that all the praise is due to God, and to his efficacious grace, by which they are what they are in conversion; since faith is the gift of God, and of his sole operation: nor could any come to Christ, unless it were given unto him of the Father; and therefore he ought to have all the praise and glory."
"The bare external revelation of the promise, though confirmed by miracles, will not do it. Instructions by the ministry of the word are not sufficient, unless accompanied with the demonstration of the Spirit, and of power. The following words are not a proof of it, It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God; every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me (John 6:45): which do intend mere external instructions, or objective teachings, for multitudes are in that way instructed who never come to Christ; but special teachings, such as are attended with the energy of divine grace, with the laws and doctrines of Christ put into the inward part, and written on the heart. Add to all this, our Lord himself explains what he means by the Father’s drawing (v. 65), where he says, No man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father; which is more than affording means and motives, it is giving faith itself."
Dr. Gill constantly contended for the general equation of Spirit + Word = New Birth. He denied the "word alone" view of those like the "Campbellites" and would deny the "Spirit alone" view of the Hardshells. He, in the above citation, clearly taught how the Spirit used means in the work of regeneration.
In some of the above citations given, though it is clear that Dr. Gill retained his belief in gospel means, yet he did show Hyper Calvinistic tendencies in his doting old age. But, more on that in upcoming chapters.
Dr. Gill on Acts 11:18 with Ephesians 2:8
"Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life."
"These scriptures prove that faith and repentance are the gifts of God, and owing to the powerful operation of his grace. Now
1. To confront this, it is said, "What God commands we must do; and therefore must be active in it: but God commands all men every where to repent (Acts 17:30), and to believe in the name of Christ (1 John 3:23), therefore we must be active in the works of faith and repentance." To which I reply, that though what God commands is the rule of man’s duty, yet not the measure of his strength. It is no good arguing from God’s commands, to man’s power in his present state. God requires men to keep the whole law; it does not follow from thence, that they are able to do it. So, though it is his commandment, that we should believe in his Son Jesus Christ, and repent; yet it is certain, that faith is not of ourselves, it is a gift of grace, and of the operation of God; and the same may be said of repentance."
"But though the Gentiles repented, and believed in Christ, upon Peter’s preaching peace and pardon to them through him; yet it was not through the strength of their natural faculties, or barely through means and motives, exciting their faculties to the performance of these actions, but through the power of the Holy Ghost; for while Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them that heard the word (Acts 10:44); who produced in them these graces of faith and repentance, and assisted them in the exercise of them on their proper objects." (Section 9)
Dr. Gill on Acts 16:14
"Whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things that were spoken of Paul." (Section 10)
"The heart of man is naturally shut up against God and Christ, and every thing that is spiritually good; and nothing less than divine power can open it, nor any other but he that have the key of the house of David, that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth (Rev. 3:7); which proves that conversion is God’s work, and wrought by the power of his grace."
"...both the opening of the ear and of the heart are God’s acts, and not man’s: and, though God sometimes does these things by afflictions, and by the preaching of the word, as moral instruments, yet neither the one nor the other will ever produce them, without the mighty power of his Spirit and grace accompanying them: and, whereas it is said, that such who have their hearts affected with the word, and inclined by it to that which is good, may be said to have their hearts opened by it. But who, or what is it that gives and produces this affection and inclination? All that hear it are not affected with it, and inclined by it: to what else can this be ascribed, but to the powerful and efficacious grace of God?"
"And, if such an act of God’s grace and power, as the opening of the heart, is necessary, to a proper, profitable, and useful attention to the word, and to a serious consideration of the blessings of it; how much more necessary must it be to the work of conversion, to true saving faith in Christ?"
I will be dealing with the case of Lydia in an upcoming chapter on "Conversions in Acts." I have already mentioned it in earlier chapters, especially on the chaper on "Bible Regeneration," wherein I cited the words of Dr. Boyce, on the case of Lydia, and promised to address it further. The citation above from Dr. Gill I am sure would not be acceptable to neo-Hardshells. He clearly affirms that the word is used in the opening of the heart.
Dr. Gill on Jeremiah 31:18 with Deuteronomy 30:6
"Turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the Lord my God."
"...we conclude, that the circumcision and conversion of the heart are the works of God in us, in which we are passive; that they are wrought by his powerful grace, without which all means are insufficient to produce them."
Dr. Gill affirms that means are sufficient when they are "wrought by powerful grace."
"...nothing is more certain, than that God does both require of us to do, and he himself promises to do, the whole work of conversion..."
"It is observed, that "the same God, who promiseth to circumcise the hearts of his people, requires them to circumcise their own hearts (Deut. 10:16; Jer. 4:5). And it is suggested, that the promise is conditional, namely, if they would call to mind the blessings and curses he had pronounced (v. 1), and turn to the Lord (v. 2), and that it is made to all their seed, to nations, and not particular persons." I reply, that the passages referred to have been considered in the former part of this performance; and as to the conditions mentioned, if they are conditions, they are not conditions of the circumcision of the hearts of God’s people, but of turning their captivity. And though this promise is made to their seed, as well as to themselves, yet not to all their seed, much less to nations. Besides, it particularly regards the time of the Jews’ conversion, when all the elect of God among them shall be saved...Though admitting internal conversion is meant, God’s requiring it does not suppose man’s ability to perform it, but his need of it; and is done with a view to bring him to a sense of his state, and that he may apply to God for it..." (Section 11)
Again, I will be dealing with this extremely important issue of the conditionality of salvation in upcoming chapters.
"Of Efficacious grace"
"Nor is it true, that God calls all those to faith and repentance, and conversion, who have a knowledge of the divine will, a sense of sin, a dread of punishment, and some hopes of pardon: for the devils have all these but the last, whom he never calls to faith and repentance, and the latter, as well as the former, some men may have, and yet be never called by the grace of God; indeed, all those to whom God, by his Spirit and word, gives a spiritual knowledge of his will, a real thorough sense of the evil nature of sin, as well as of the punishment that comes by it, and a good hope through grace, of pardon through the blood of Christ, he not only calls seriously and in earnest to faith and repentance, but he bestows these gifts of his grace upon them. But I proceed to the consideration of the arguments which, it is said, evidently seem to confute the doctrine of irresistible and unfrustrable grace in conversion."
Again, he upholds the formula of "by his Spirit and word."
"If such a divine unfrustrable operation is necessary to the conversion of a sinner, then the word read or preached can be no instrument of their conversion, without this divine and unfrustrable impulse, because that only acts by moral suasion." I answer: it is very true that the word read or preached is not, nor can it be an instrument of conversion, without the powerful and efficacious grace of God; and it is abundantly evident, that it is read and preached to multitudes on whom it has no effect, and to whom it is of no use and service. Some persons are, indeed, begotten with the word of truth, and through the gospel; and are born again of incorruptible seed by the word of God (Jam. 1:18; 1 Cor. 4:15; 1 Pet. 1:28); but then all this is by and through it, not as it comes in word only, or as it acts by moral suasion, or as it is a mere moral instrument, but as it comes in power and in the Holy Ghost, or with the demonstration of the Spirit and of power (1 Thess. 1:5; 1 Cor. 2:4). The Spirit of God is the efficient cause of regeneration and conversion, the word is only a means which he makes use of when he pleases; for though he, generally speaking, works upon men by and under the means, yet not always; the work of grace upon the soul is not such an effect as doth entirely depend upon these two causes, so that, without the concurrence of them both, it will not be produced..."
This is so very clear! He affirms the exact same thing here in his "Cause of God and Truth" as in his Commentaries and in his "Body of Divinity." He says men are "indeed begotten with the word of truth" and "by the gospel"!
"For though the word, unattended with the Spirit and power of God, may be resisted, so as to I be of no effect, yet neither the operations of the Spirit, nor the word, as attended with them, can be resisted, so as either of them should be ineffectual. And though the work of grace is wrought by an irresistible and unfrustrable operation, and the word without it is insufficient to produce it, yet it is not unnecessary; for it pleases God, by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe (1 Cor. 1:21); whereby he confounds the wisdom of the world; and, by making use of weak means, he magnifies his own grace and power; he puts the treasure of the gospel in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power (2 Cor. 4:7) in conversion may appear to be of God, of his operation, and not of man’s moral suasion." (Part 3 - Section 4)
Is he not again most clear here? Why then the assertion by the Hardshells that "Gill changed his mind"? Were they ignorant OR dishonest?
The Disputed Passages in the "Cause of God and Truth" Examined
"...the Scriptures, which speak of men's considering and turning from their evil ways, regard that consideration which is requisite to an outward reformation of life, the fruit of regeneration, and internal conversion, and so not preparatory to it; and, indeed, there is want of spiritual consideration and attention in every man, until God opens his heart, by his powerful grace, as he did Lydia's, to attend to the things which are spoken, or which regard his spiritual and eternal welfare. The parable of the seed sown, instanced in, shows, that the hearts of unregenerate men are unfit and unprepared to receive the word, and therefore it becomes unfruitful to them; and that it is only fruitful where it is received in an honest and good heart, made so by the Spirit and grace of God in regeneration; whence it follows, that regeneration is rather a preparation for the right hearing of the word than the hearing of the word is a preparation for regeneration."
Here again is where Elder Daily and most Hardshells abruptly end their citation. But, let us finish it and see why they perhaps cut off the citation where they did and do.
"Faith, indeed, often comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God, when that is attended with the Spirit and power; and therefore it is no wonder, that the Devil comes and endeavours to take away the words out of men's hearts, their minds and memories, by diverting them to other objects, lest they should believe and be saved; since he knows not who will believe and be saved, nor to whom the word will be made effectual, and to whom it will not; nay, even where it is attended with an unfrustrable assistance, he will endeavour to hinder men's believing to salvation, though he knows his attempts are in vain; which at once discovers both his folly and his malice."
Also, here is a statement that immediately precedes the citation most given (but omitted) by the Hardshells."There are some things which sometimes precede conversion, and which the Spirit of God makes use of for that purpose, such as reading, hearing the word, etc., but then he does not always make use of these for conversion, nor does it always follow upon them." ("OF EFFICACIOUS GRACE" from Part III, Chapter IV)
So, what seems on the surface as a denial of what he had taught in his earlier works, especially when the citation is not given in its completeness, is really no denial at all but an affirmation! Besides, in the remark about the sower and the seed, Dr. Gill is not saying that one can go to heaven or be born again without having seed planted in his honest and good heart, "made so by regeneration"; And here he is obviously not using the word "regeneration" in its broad scriptural signification, but in its narrow theological definitinon, as equivalent to "the first principles of grace implanted in the soul."
Let us see what else Dr. Gill said in this same lengthy section from whence the Hardshell citation is taken.
"That the wisdom of God is most glorified by that opinion which supposeth he acts with man in all his precepts, exhortations, invitations, promises and threats, suitably to those faculties he has given." I reply, according to our opinion God does not act unsuitably, to the rational powers and faculties he has given, when he clothes his word with omnipotence, makes it the power of God unto salvation, and attends it with an unfrustrable operation upon the understanding, will, and affections; since no coactive force or violence is offered to them, the understanding is wonderfully enlightened, the will is sweetly drawn, and the affections delightfully engaged and moved, without any injury, yea with an advantage, to these natural faculties; and therefore can be no imputation upon the divine wisdom; nor does our opinion suppose, that God "uses and appoints means for the recovery of mankind, which he knows cannot in the least degree be serviceable to that end;" but on the contrary, that whatever means he uses and appoints, he makes them powerful and effectual to the ends and purposes, for which he appoints and uses them, and does not leave them to the uncertain, precarious, and impotent will of man, so that our opinion is so far from impeaching and depreciating the wisdom of God that it magnifies and exalts it; nor, according to our hypothesis, as is suggested, might he as well send ministers to preach to stones, and persuade them to be converted into men, because his omnipotency can produce such a change in them. There is no doubt, but that God could convert stones into men, and make them his children; but he has no where signified that he would do this upon men’s preaching to them; whereas he has not only signified as his will, that the gospel should be preached to every creature, but that it shall be the power of God in the conversion of many souls, both among Jews and Gentiles; wherefore there is not the same reason for sending his ministers, and for their preaching to the one as to the other, though equal power is necessary for the conversion of the one as of the other. Not that unregenerate men are altogether like stocks and stones; for though they cannot contribute anything to their regeneration or new birth, yet they are capable subjects of having the grace of God implanted in them, which stocks and stones are not; but nevertheless, if God did not make bare his holy arm, and exert his mighty power in the conversion of sinners, ministers would preach with as much success to stones as to men; and consequently the wisdom of God, according to our scheme, is greatly displayed, in accompanying the word preached with a divine energy, and an unfrustrable operation; so that all his gracious designs towards his people are effectually answered, and not leaving it to the bare force of moral suasion."
"...regeneration describes the persons who have received the power to become the sons of God (John 1:12, 13), and though these are distinct things, yet they are closely connected together; where the one is, the other is also, as to enjoyment and experience; and they bear a similarity to each other. Regeneration may be considered either more largely, and then it includes with it effectual calling, conversion, and sanctification: or more strictly, and then it designs the first principle of grace infused into the soul; which makes it a fit object of the effectual calling, a proper subject of conversion, and is the source and spring of that holiness which is gradually carried on in sanctification, and perfected in heaven."
Did Daily read the rest of these writings and know that Gill did not "change his mind" as he affirmed? Was he trying to just "win an argument" against an opponent whom he knew was not as well informed as he on Dr. Gill? Was Daily not dishonest?
John Daily said - "The voice of the preacher will never he heard by the dead in sins, in a spiritual sense. The voice of Jesus by the Divine Spirit must give life before such can hear the preaching of the gospel. Even the voice of Jesus himself, in preaching his gospel, was not heard by those who were dead." (Daily-Throgmorton Debate)
John Gill said - "God the Son has also a concern in regeneration...he quickens whom he will, as the Father does; and it is through his powerful voice in the gospel, that the dead in sin hear and live..." ("Of Regeneration" - "Body of Divinity")