Feb 17, 2009

Mercer & The Hardshells

In his book "A Piety Above the Common Standard," author Anthony L. Chute gives the following information about Jesse Mercer in his battle with Hyper Calvinism.

"Jesse Mercer was aware of the charge that missionary societies had led many to "depart from the faith." He acknowledged that Judson and other missionaries had made statements that might be construed in an Arminian fashion, but denied that this was their intent. Such statements were to be understood "in the light of means, and no further." Indeed, Jesus himself declared that if he had performed miracles in Tyre and Sidon, the inhabitants therein would have repented (Matthew 11: 24); and the Apostle Paul determined to become "all things to all men, that (he) might by all means save some." If Primitive Baptists wished to determine one's doctrine by simple statement or two, then perhaps, Jesse Mercer reasoned, they would declare both Jesus and Paul Arminians.

So, instead of apologizing for the comments of Judson and others, Jesse Mercer sought to back their statements with Scripture. He noted that the bible abounds in exhortations, invitations, and commands to repentance and faith. Those who presented the gospel to others were therefore obliged to do the same. Such appeals, he claimed, "must not be considered consistent either with their condition in sin, or the eternal and unchangeable purposes of God." Only those ministers who believed they were able to persuade sinners to repent and believe were "worse than Arminians."

"The accusation, then, that Missionary Baptists were no longer Calvinistic in their theology was disingeneous. What was the real issue underlying their complaints about a departure from the faith? Jesse Mercer concluded that Primitive Baptists were incorrect in their understanding of Calvinism and its relation to the use of means:

The doctrine of donothing is that, which is most congenial with their feelings. They are afraid to engage, heart and hand, in labors of love, lest God should be robbed of his glory in the conversion of men. The one party argues that God, in the exercise of his grace and mercy, will convert and sanctify men, through the means which he has appointed to that end; the other contends, that he will convert them as an act of his sovereign pleasure, means or no means--hence they do not concern themselves very much upon the subject. This is really the difference between the parties concerned, and it seems to resolve itself into following question: do the doctrines of grace lead to vigorous and persevering action?"

"O let the halting, the lukewarm, and them that oppose, think--think of their fellow creatures, burning, nay, roasting themselves alive as an act of religious worship; and all this takes place, because the cupidity of profesed Christians has denied the poor heathen the Bible--denied them the living preacher! Ah, how will these cold, hollow professors stand in the Judgment, face to face, with those whom they have thus miserably neglected? What will then become of those miserable shifts, those petty quibbles, by which they have evaded the conviction that they ought to engage, with all their energies, for the conversion of the world? In this day much is said about faith--faith! Ply one with argument to prove to him that he ought to be active, and he will immediately retort and say, "Ah, you doing Christians have denied the faith! These are all new things!" Faith, new things, brother! where is that faith that works by love?--love to God, love to man! Where is that religion which disposes its subjects to feel for human woe?"

See here

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