I am grateful for the two-day event, Palarong UPang, at our university for I was able to find extra time to take care of this blog. I had decided to invest it in reviewing the difference between John Wesley and George Whitefield on the issue of predestination that caused an immense gulf between them. I ended up with these three surveys.

Part 1 - Wesley on Predestination
Part 2 - Whitefield on Free Grace
Part 3 - Murray on Catholicity

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Murray on Catholicity

Posted by Bernard Rosario On 4:18 PM 0 comments

This post is a survey of Iain Murray's article on the historical background of Whitefield's letter and is intended to be the third in a 3-part study:
Part 1 - Wesley on Predestination
Part 2 - Whitefield on Free Grace
Part 3 - Murray on Catholicity

Whitefield's life and practice teach us several points on handling opposition within the Body of Christ:

I) Acknowledging the essential doctrines that bind the Church.
"Whitefield [though Anglican] linked the Evangelical movement to Puritanism; Wesley linked it to Laud, for Laud was one of the founders of the Arminian movement." (Dr. H. B. Workman, as a footnote of Murray)

No wonder, therefore, that in a letter you sent me not long since, you should tell me that no Baptist or Presbyterian writer whom you have read knew anything of the liberties of Christ. What? Neither Bunyan, Henry, Flavel, Halyburton, nor any of the New England and Scots divines? See, dear Sir, what narrow-spiritedness and want of charity arise from your principles, and then do not cry out against election any more on account of its being "destructive of meekness and love." (Whitefield to Wesley)

II) Getting rid of entanglement into unnecessary debates over secondary issues.
It is interesting to note that although Wesley's sermon was published in August 1739, Whitefield's reply is dated December 24, 1740, and was not published till early 1741.
One of the reasons, according to Murray, was
Whitefield longed to avoid an open breach and still hoped that his friend might be brought to a clearer understanding of the truth. Such sentences as the following are typical of Whitefield's attitude: "How would the cause of our common Master suffer by our raising disputes about particular points of doctrines!"
III) Confronting controversies especially when the Body is disturbed.
As the year 1740 advanced, the reports that he received from his friends like [John] Cennick and Howell Harris made it increasingly obvious that harm and divisions were being wrought by the Wesleys' insistence on their Arminian views. Wesley's pamphlet "set the nation disputing." As Harris wrote to Wesley: "You grieve God's people by your opposition to electing love; and many poor souls believe your doctrine simply because you hold it." A situation had developed in which it was imperative that Whitefield should declare his mind and do something to arrest the drift from evangelical orthodoxy.
IV) Considering GOD's glory and the Church's edification in addressing opposition.
Doctrinal differences between believers should never lead to personal antagonism. Error must be opposed even when held by fellow members of Christ, but if that opposition cannot co-exist with a true love for all saints and a longing for their spiritual prosperity then it does not glorify God nor promote the edification of the Church.

The attitude that I badly need: "But when his time is come, God will do what man cannot, namely, make us both of one mind." - Wesley to Whitefield

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Whitefield on Free Grace

Posted by Bernard Rosario On 4:11 PM 2 comments

This post is a survey of A Letter from George Whitefield to the Rev. Mr. John Wesley and is intended to be the second in a 3-part study:
Part 1 - Wesley on Predestination
Part 2 - Whitefield on Free Grace
Part 3 - Murray on Catholicity

Whitefield's Definition of Free Grace
[Hopefully] You will caution believers against striving to work a perfection out of their own hearts, and print another sermon the reverse of this, and entitle it "Free Grace Indeed." Free, not because free to all; but free, because God may withhold or give it to whom and when he pleases.
Even before tackling the main sermon points of Wesley, Whitefield had already pointed out three errors of Wesley: (1) tempting God by casting a lot to determine whether he should preach and print against election or not; (2) choosing a text against predestination from Romans 9, "where this doctrine is so plainly asserted;" and, (3) providing poorly definitions for "free" and "grace."

Whitefield's Seven Antitheses
I) Answer to Wesley's First Point
Hath not God, who hath appointed salvation for a certain number, appointed also the preaching of the Word as a means to bring them to it? ... And if so, how is preaching needless to them that are elected, when the gospel is designated by God himself to be the power of God unto their eternal salvation?
II) Answer to Wesley's Second Point
Were you ever sick in your life? If so, did not the bare probability or possibility of your recovering, though you knew it was unalterably fixed that you must live or die, encourage you to take physic? For how did you know but that very physic might be the means God intended to recover you by?

Just thus it is as to the doctrine of election. I know that it is unalterably fixed (one may say) that I must be damned or saved; but since I know not which for a certainty, why should I not strive, though at present in a state of nature, since I know not but this striving may be the means God has intended to bless, in order to bring me into a state of grace?

III) Answer to Wesley's Third Point
I believe they who have experienced it will agree with our 17th article (of the 39 Articles of the Church of England), that "the godly consideration of predestination, and election in Christ, is full of sweet, pleasant, unspeakable comfort to godly persons, and such as feel in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh, and their earthly members, and drawing their minds to high and heavenly things, as well because it does greatly establish and confirm their faith of eternal salvation, to be enjoyed through Christ, as because it doth fervently kindle their love towards God."

It [doctrine of election] has a natural tendency to rouse the soul out of its carnal security. And therefore many carnal men cry out against it. Whereas universal redemption is a notion sadly adapted to keep the soul in its lethargic sleepy condition, and therefore so many natural men admire and applaud it.

IV) Answer to Wesley's Fourth Point
Do not the elect know that the more good works they do, the greater will be their reward? And is not that encouragement enough to set them upon, and cause them to persevere in working for Jesus Christ? "Chosen . . . through sanctification of the Spirit?" (2 Thess. 2:13). Nay, is not holiness made a mark of our election by all that preach it? And how then can the doctrine of election destroy holiness?
V) Answer to Wesley's Fifth Point
It is only by the Christian revelation that we are acquainted with God's design of saving his church by the death of his Son. Yea, it is settled in the everlasting covenant that this salvation shall be applied to the elect through the knowledge and faith of him.

[Who ever thought] that the unchangeable purpose of God, that harvest should not fail, rendered the heat of the sun, or the influence of the heavenly bodies unnecessary to produce it? No more does God's absolute purpose of saving his chosen preclude the necessity of the gospel revelation.
VI) Answer to Wesley's Sixth Point
For God is no respecter of persons, upon the account of any outward condition or circumstance in life whatever; nor does the doctrine of election in the least suppose him to be so. But as the sovereign Lord of all, who is debtor to none, he has a right to do what he will with his own, and to dispense his favours to what objects he sees fit, merely at his pleasure.

For if foreknowledge signifies approbation, as it does in several parts of Scripture, then we confess that predestination and election do depend on God's foreknowledge. But if by God's foreknowledge you understand God's fore-seeing some good works done by his creatures as the foundation or reason of choosing them and therefore electing them, then we say that in this sense predestination does not any way depend on God's foreknowledge.

It may not be amiss to take notice, that if those texts, 2 Pet. 3:9 and Ezek. 33:11 — and such like — be taken in their strictest sense, then no one will be damned.

God taketh no pleasure in the death of sinners, so as to delight simply in their death; but he delights to magnify his justice, by inflicting the punishment which their iniquities have deserved.

VII) Answer to Wesley's Seventh Point
Consider whether it be not rather blasphemy to say as you do, "Christ not only died for those that are saved, but also for those that perish."
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Wesley on Predestination

Posted by Bernard Rosario On 4:02 PM 0 comments

This post is a survey of Free Grace and is intended to be the first in a 3-part study:
Part 1 - Wesley on Predestination
Part 2 - Whitefield on Free Grace
Part 3 - Murray on Catholicity

Wesley's Definition of Predestination

...by virtue of an eternal, unchangeable, irresistible decree of God, one part of mankind are infallibly saved, and the rest infallibly damned; it being impossible that any of the former should be damned or that any of the latter should be saved.
Wesley's Seven Theses

I) It is free in all to whom it is given.
It [preaching] is needless to them that are elected; for they, whether with preaching or without, will infallibly be saved. Therefore, the end of preaching -- to save should -- is void with regard to them; and it is useless to them that are not elected, for they cannot possibly be saved.
II) The doctrine of predestination is not a doctrine of God.
... if a sick man knows that he must unavoidably die, or unavoidably recover, though he knows not which, it is unreasonable for him to take any physic at all. He might justly say, (and so I have heard some speak, both in bodily sickness and in spiritual) "If I am ordained to life, I shall live; if to death, I shall live; so I need not trouble myself about it."
III. Predestination destroys the comfort of religion, the happiness of Christianity.
Full assurance of faith is the true ground of a Christian's happiness. And it does indeed imply a full assurance that all your past sins are forgiven, and that you are now a child of God. But it does not necessarily imply a full assurance of our future perseverance.

How uncomfortable a thought is this, that thousands and millions of men, without any preceding offense or fault of theirs, were unchangeably doomed to everlasting burnings!
IV. This uncomfortable doctrine also destroys our zeal for good works.
It cuts off one of the strongest motives to all acts of bodily mercy... It is needless to them that are elected; for they will infallibly be saved without it. It is useless to them that are not elected; for with or without it they will infallibly be damned; therefore you cannot consistently with your principles take any pains about their salvation. Consequently, those principles directly tend to destroy your zeal for good works; for all good works; but particularly for the greatest of all, the saving of souls from death.
V. Furthermore, the doctrine of predestination has a direct and manifest tendency to overthrow the whole Christian Revelation.
"If it be not necessary, it is not true," Now, this fundamental point you give up. For supposing that eternal, unchangeable decree, one part of mankind must be saved, though the Christian Revelation were not in being, and the other part of mankind must be damned, notwithstanding that Revelation. And what would an infidel desire more? You allow him all he asks. In making the gospel thus unnecessary to all sorts of men, you give up the whole Christian cause.
VI. And at the same time, makes that Revelation contradict itself.
Wesley used 1 Jn. 4:16 against Rom. 9:13; Psa. 114:9 against Rom. 9:15; Acts 10:34 and Rom. 2:11 against Rom. 9:16; 1 Pet. 1:2 and Rom. 8:29 against Rom. 9:11-12 (Personal Note: Wesley used very strong Calvinistic verses [erroneously?]); Rom. 10:12 against Eph. 1:4. He used Rom. 14:15, Jn. 4:42, Jn. 1:29, 1 Jn. 2:2, 1 Tim. 2:6, and Heb. 2:9 to support universal redemption. And he used Ezek. 18:3, 32, 2 Pet. 3:9, Jn. 5:40, and Matt. 23:37 against reprobation.

VII. Predestination is a doctrine full of blasphemy.
This premised, let it be observed, that this doctrine represents our blessed Lord, "Jesus Christ the righteous," "the only begotten Son of the Father, full of grace and truth," as an hypocrite, a deceiver of the people, a man void of common sincerity.

It overturns both his justice, mercy, and truth; yea, it represents the most holy God as worse than the devil, as both more false, more cruel, and more unjust.
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Ten Giants When They Were 28... Like Me

Posted by Bernard Rosario On 11:16 AM 0 comments

Now, I have just turned 28. I have resolved to do a research on the fruitfulness of some of the giants who I admire when they were about 28 years old as I am.

Jonathan Edwards
When Jonathan Edwards was about 28 years old, his first published sermon was printed, the famous "God Glorified in Man's Dependence" where he encourages,
Let us be exhorted to exalt God alone, and ascribe to him all the glory of redemption. Let us endeavour to obtain, and increase in, a sensibleness of our great dependence on God, to have our eye to him alone, to mortify a self-dependent and self-righteous disposition. Man is naturally exceeding prone to exalt himself, and depend on his own power or goodness; as though from himself he must expect happiness. He is prone to have respect to enjoyments alien from God and his Spirit, as those in which happiness is to be found.-- But this doctrine should teach us to exalt God alone; as by trust and reliance, so by praise.
Charles Spurgeon
When Charles Spurgeon was about 28 years old, he was already working on the eight volume of his soon to be 63-volume published sermons. Volume 8 contains sermon numbers 427 to 486. Found in this volume is one of my favorite Spurgeon sermons, sermon 442, "God's Will and Man's Will" based on Romans 9:16 and Revelation 22:17.
If you were dying of thirst, you would just put your lips down and drink. Soul, do that now. Believe that Jesus Christ is able to save thee now. Trust thy soul in his hands now. No preparation is wanted. Whosoever will let him come; let him come at once and take the water of life freely. To take that water is simply to trust Christ; to repose on him; to take him to be your all in all. Oh that thou wouldest do it now! Thou are willing; God has made thee willing.
Adoniram Judson
When Adoniram Judson was about 28 years old, when he was on his third year as a missionary in Burma, he has already completed "Grammatical Notices of the Burman Language." He has also completed a Burman translation of the Gospel of Matthew and began to compile a Burman dictionary.

William Wilberforce
When William Wilberforce was about 28 years old, he met for the very first time Thomas Clarkson to whom he had a collaboration for almost fifty years. Clarkson has secured a commitment from Wilberforce to bring forward the case for abolition of slave trade in the House of Commons. He had written as a journal entry "God Almighty has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the Slave Trade and the Reformation of Manners (moral values)." His involvement in the abolition movement was motivated by a desire to put his Christian principles into action and to serve God in public life.

John Owen
When John Owen was about 28 years old, he published his work "The Duty of Pastors and People Distinguished" where he comments on Romans 15:16,
Ministers preaching the gospel to the conversion of souls are said to kill men’s lusts, and offer them up unto God as the fruit of their calling, as Abel brought unto him an acceptable sacrifice of the fruit of his flock; and so also in respect of divers other acts of their duty, which they perform in the name of their congregations.

John Bunyan
When John Bunyan was about 28 years old, he published his first work "Some Gospel-Truths Opened" where he writes,
There is none but he that is the true God can satisfy the justice of the true God for the breach of his holy law: but if you compare Isaiah 51:6 with Matthew 3:17, you shall find that Jesus the Son of Mary did give God a full and complete satisfaction for the breach of his holy law; therefore Jesus the Son of Mary must needs be the great and the true God.
John Calvin
When John Calvin was about 28 years old, he was already done with the first edition of his most famous work "Institutes of Christian Religion." He was already leading the Protestant city of Geneva as a professor and pastor with William Farel. Then, after a few months, they were banished from Geneva by the city council and invited back.

David Brainerd
When David Brainerd was about 28 years old, he had just one year more to finish his work GOD has entrusted him to do. GOD was already causing a great success on his missionary work to the native American Indians. Then he became very ill and stayed at Jonathan Edwards home until his death. At this age, he was so fruitful in his entries on his journal which has inspired a lot of missionaries and workers including John Wesley and the Methodist movement.

John Wesley
When John Wesley was about 28 years old, he decided to limit his expenses so that he could give more to the poor. It was recorded that when his income was 30 pounds, he only spent 28 and gave 2 to the poor. Then his income doubled so he spent 28 pounds still and gave 32 to the poor. This continued throughout his life until his income climbed over 1400 and still spent 30 pounds and gave the rest to the poor. He said that he never had over 100 pounds in his pocket in one time.

George Whitefield
When George Whitefield was about 28 years old, he was already practicing outdoor preaching for 3 years. He has already taken a preaching tour throughout New England where tens of thousands gather to hear and weep in his preaching. And for five months, he ministered in Scotland and he has helped to form the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Association.

Personal Reflection
I can never be a pinch of any of these guys. I just thank my GOD for raising such men who, though I can't be like them, can continue on inspiring me (and humiliating me at the same time). I may not be an eye or a nose or a hand like them but at least I am still part of the same Body with them in Christ.

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