Was Gill a Hyper?

From 2010: We should keep in mind that it’s not a clear cut issue, “Gill’s relationship with hyper-Calvinism is a matter of academic debate.”

Quote: First, this view applied to Gill is an anachronism as the idea of saving faith being the known duty and within the natural ability of all men reached its fullest expression amongst the Baptists in 1785 with the publication of Andrew Fuller`s controversial book The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation. Gill, however, died in 1771 thus obviously having nothing to do with the debate that tore the Baptist churches apart after the book was published.

The second reason is that during the earlier part of the 18th century the view of what came to be called ´duty-faith`, formerly propagated by Anglican Latitudinarians such as Tillotson , was gaining ground amongst the Independents but Gill, a staunch Baptist, maintained he did not take part in this debate . Even Andrew Fuller believed that Gill did not enter into the controversy and John Ryland Jnr, quoting Gill`s The Cause of God and Truth, argued that Gill never wrote on the subject of ´the Modern Question ` and exonerates him from taking the usual Hyper-Calvinist stand. John Rippon assumes that Gill did enter the debate in later life because of certain ´corrections` he made to his book The Cause of God and Truth. Rippon, however, does not state what these ´corrections`, are and how they might have applied to the debate in question .

When Gill denies man’s ability to repent he’s not saying that it’s not their duty to do so but that, “the power and liberty of the will of man to come to Christ , that they rather declare the perverseness and stubbornness of it; that man has no desire, inclination, or will, to go to Christ for life, but rather go anywhere else, than to him. Man is stout-hearted, and far from the righteousness of Christ, and submission to it; is not subject to the law of God, nor the Gospel of Christ; nor can he be, till God works in him both to will and to do of his good pleasure; or until he is made willing in the day of his power. No one can come to Christ, except the Father draw him; nor has he a will to it, unless it is wrought in him .” [quoted from the Ella article linked below]

The hyper Calvinist will conclude that since they can’t/won’t come to Christ they can’t be expected to do so.

The Confessions:

“This saving repentance is an evangelical grace, whereby a person, being by the Holy Spirit made sensible of the manifold evils of his sin, doth, by faith in Christ, humble himself for it with godly sorrow, detestation of it, and self-abhorrency, praying for pardon and strength of grace, with a purpose and endeavor, by supplies of the Spirit, to walk before God unto all wellpleasing in all things. Zech. 12:10; Acts 11:18; Ezek. 36:31; 2 Cor. 7:11; Ps. 119:6, 128.” Tabular Comparison of 1646 WCF and 1689 LBCF

I think Gill’s views are high but within the Confessional realm of Reformed theology, the Confession does not deny duty faith but makes it clear that “saving repentance is an evangelical grace” using Gill’s term “sensible” to describe the work of the Spirit.

A few places to look:

Tom Nettles says of Gill, “He has doubtless been judged more harshly and even maliciously than any man of comparable repute in Baptist history.” Many have called John Gill a hyper-Calvinist who denied the need to preach the gospel to the lost. I will not seek to answer that question in this forum. Read Tom Nettles By His Grace and For His Glory, pages 73-107, for a thorough and balanced discussion of this issue

John Gill – The Baptist Page – Portraits

It’s not a settled issue:

“Gill’s relationship with hyper-Calvinism is a matter of academic debate.”

(John Gill (theologian – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

A little more:

Nettles finds one place where Gill “appears to hold the hyper-Calvinist view,” in that “Theoretically Gill held that the non-elect were not obligated to evangelical obedience, because the necessity of such obedience did not exist in unfallen humanity as deposited in Adam” (226). Nettles demonstrates, however, that this view did not work its way into Gill’s own practice (227). Gill disputed with Wesley, but he “did not differ in any essential theological category from the Grand Itinerant, George Whitefield” (241).

Some took hold of Gill’s “theoretical” answer, and as a result they did not call sinners to repentance. They reasoned like Grantham: sinners are not obligated to do what they are unable to do (247–48). Helped by Jonathan Edwards’ distinction between Natural Inability—what one is physically unable to do, and Moral Inability—what one is unable to do because one is unwilling to do it (the Gospel does not call people to do what they are physically incapable of doing but to what they volitionally refuse to do)—Andrew Fuller wrote The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation, which argued for “the congruity between divine sovereignty and human responsibility” (250). Like their Baptist forefathers, Fuller joined with John Ryland Jr. and William Carey in the opinion that “the affirmative side of the Modern Question [the Gospel should be indiscriminately proclaimed and all called to believe it] was fully consistent with the strictest Calvinism” (290). These three men who held to “the strictest Calvinism” initiated the modern missions movement. Clearly “strict Calvinism” is not to be equated with “hyper-Calvinism,” which Fuller rejects as “false Calvinism” (245). There is an important point here. Hyper-Calvinism is a specific theological position. It seems today that some non-Calvinists are ready to label anyone who appears to be less evangelistic than they think themselves to be as hyper-Calvinistic. The rejection of manipulative methods and coercive techniques in favor of boldly proclaiming the pure Gospel and trusting the Spirit to quicken hearts is not less evangelistic but more so (compare Paul’s practice in 1 Cor 2:1–5).

The Baptists, vol. 1 of 3, by Tom Nettles « For His Renown

Another one:

A Hyper-Calvinist, Gill`s major critics say, does not believe that God calls indiscriminately all who hear about Christ to believe in Him. They say this, holding that man is obliged as a matter of duty to trust in Christ as a condition of salvation. It is odd that this opinion is often closely associated with Gill for several reasons. First, this view applied to Gill is an anachronism as the idea of saving faith being the known duty and within the natural ability of all men reached its fullest expression amongst the Baptists in 1785 with the publication of Andrew Fuller`s controversial book The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation. Gill, however, died in 1771 thus obviously having nothing to do with the debate that tore the Baptist churches apart after the book was published. The second reason is that during the earlier part of the 18th century the view of what came to be called ´duty-faith`, formerly propagated by Anglican Latitudinarians such as Tillotson , was gaining ground amongst the Independents but Gill, a staunch Baptist, maintained he did not take part in this debate . Even Andrew Fuller believed that Gill did not enter into the controversy and John Ryland Jnr, quoting Gill`s The Cause of God and Truth, argued that Gill never wrote on the subject of ´the Modern Question ` and exonerates him from taking the usual Hyper-Calvinist stand . John Rippon assumes that Gill did enter the debate in later life because of certain ´corrections` he made to his book The Cause of God and Truth. Rippon, however, does not state what these ´corrections`, are and how they might have applied to the debate in question .

In The Cause of God Gill clearly stresses the Christian duty, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to call and command sinners to repent . All men are naturally bound to repent, argues Gill, because they have naturally broken the law. Commanding them to repent is putting them under the curse of the law which they have broken in their natural state. To Gill, this is a law-ordained need for repentance in the legal sense. What man has broken, he has a duty to mend. This does not mean, however, that man can mend what he has broken and obtain legal righteousness, but he is still a debtor to the law for having broken it. The law forces its demands on every one because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. What Gill calls evangelical repentance, is for him another matter. He sees this as a turning form sin to receive pardon in Christ. This kind of turning from sin to Christ can only come about by a sovereign act of God`s goodness which leads to true repentance and Gospel righteousness.

Calvin taught likewise that there was an ´antithesis between Legal and Gospel (i.e. evangelical) righteousness`. Quoting Romans 10:5-9, he argues that there is a righteousness which is according to the Law described by Moses, “that the man who doeth those things shall live by them”. This is quite different to the righteousness of faith which says, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

John_Gill_and_Hyper-Calvinism

Some have attributed to Gill to be the first systematizer of a Baptist Hyper-Calvinist theology. Others have argued that Gill was in fact not a Hyper-Calvinist. Regardless, it was during Gill’s time period when the Particular Baptist Churches began their decline into Hyper-Calvinism. Gill did believe in eternal justification (that the elect were justified in eternity past) and did not seem to appeal to all in the same way that further generations of Evangelical Calvinists did, but it seems difficult to say that Gill was undeniably in fact a Hyper-Calvinist. Instead, most likely, Hyper-Calvinists used Gill’s theology and went past him to solidify their own theology.

Brief Biography of John Gill (1697-1771) « Working out Salvation with Fear and Trembling

Nettles says that Daniel started with the assumption that Gill was a hyper-Calvinist, and then defined hyper-Calvinism from Gill. For ages, people have said that Gill was a hyper-Calvinist without offering any proof from the writings or sermons of Gill (or at least not in context), and people simply accept what they are told.

Another reason people mistakenly believe that Gill was a hyper-Calvinist is they do not read his supposed anti-free offer comments in the context in which they were written. Usually, in these cases, he was writing against universal salvation. He did not deny that ministers should urge sinners to believe. He simply said that this external call in and of itself can do nothing. There must also be the irresistable internal call of the Holy Spirit as well.

The Sane Asylum: Another John Gill Post

New Focus | That the purpose of God according to election might stand

New Focus Interview on Hyper-Calvinism

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The Difference Between John Gill’s Free Declaration of the Gospel to Sinners and the B of T’s ‘Free Offer’

Posted in 2011:

“What is the difference betwewarhol_gillen Gill’s ‘free declaration of peace and pardon, righteousness, life and salvation to poor sinners’ and the ‘free offer’ and ‘duty faith’ of those who deny outright that Gill appealed to all men everywhere to repent and believe the gospel?” [Read more here.]

What’s a Hypo-Calvinist? [here]

A History of Hypo-Cavlinism [here]

Salvation is a gift!

Rolfe Barnard, “Salvation is not an offer to be considered, salvation is God’s gift to men. Thanks be unto God (with the Apostle Paul say) for the unspeakable gift. A Bible scholar told me that that Greek word was nearer if we translated it thanks be unto God for his untraceable gift You just can’t figure it out, it just goes back to the heart of God. Thanks be unto God! Not that He fixed it so that we could consider the matter and use our little old brains and our will but it is all conquering grace, He gives eternal life to men and women. Salvation’s a gift, it’s not an offer.” (FROM A SERMON TITLED, “6 THINGS WE FACE IN PREACHING”)

The Free Offer of the Gospel

pinkPrimitive, Gospel Standard and other Baptists have argued against “the free offer of the Gospel” and “duty faith.” Some High and Ultra High Calvinists will say God has no love for the reprobate and I agree but wouldn’t spend much time going further than that. A. W. Pink is one who has written that God has no love for the reprobate and his work is free online here. Pink also believed everyone was duty bound to believe savingly and his view could be read here.
The Gospel Standard Articles of Faith explain:

We believe that it would be unsafe, from the brief records we have, of the way in which the Apostles, under the immediate direction of our Lord, addressed their hearers in certain special cases and circumstances, to derive absolute and universal rules for ministerial addresses in the present day under widely different circumstances. And we further believe that an assumption that others have been inspired as the Apostles were, has led to the grossest errors among both Romanists and Protestants. Therefore, that for ministers in this present day to address unconverted persons, or indiscriminately all in a mixed congregation, calling upon them to savingly repent, believe, and receive Christ, or perform any other acts dependent upon the new creative power of the Holy Ghost, is, on the one hand, to imply creature power, and on the other to deny the doctrine of special redemption.

Below you will find a video that explains some of the arguments for the “free offer” and/or “duty faith” examined. The audio blogger brings up some good points that need further consideration.

Yours in the Lord,

jm

General Call or Free Offer?

General Call of the Gospel, free

“Moreover, it is the promise of the gospel that whoever believes in Christ crucified shall not perish but have eternal life. This promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be announced and declared without differentiation or discrimination to all nations and people, to whom God in his good pleasure sends the gospel” (II.5) Canons of Dort

Free Offer or Well Meant Offer of the Gospel,

“God not only delights in the penitent but is also moved by the riches of his goodness and mercy to desire the repentance and salvation of the impenitent and reprobate.” Orthodox Presbyterian Church statement

Duty Faith Denounced

I’m not trying to start a big fight or cause a lot of fuss but I found a sermon on the subject of Duty Faith. Never heard one preached before. Sure, I’ve read works contra Duty Faith but never heard a sermon on it.

What is Duty Faith? “…the duty of all men where the gospel comes, to repent and believe unto salvation…” John Foreman

It is argued that faith cannot be a duty of the reprobate or unregenerate sinner as a condition of salvation, rather, our faith is the gift of God after regeneration. (please correct me when I error) Foreman uses a covenantal argument against the idea of Duty Faith. I’ll leave you with a quote from Foreman’s work and the sermon by Pastor Smith.

The error of mixing the covenants: Now I cannot see what the obligations of the Eden covenant of nature can have to do with faith in this covenant of mercy, by a surety’s blood, as a duty; because the most perfect obedience maintained in Eden could in no way, from its very nature, be any title, or even any sort of introduction, to any of the mercy favours: of this covenant. And as the Eden covenant, which was but a fair legal contract between sinless man and his holy Maker, could not, from its very nature, embrace one single salvation blessing of this covenant of mercy, so neither could it devolve one single obligation on man, in regard to the parental and household requirements of this covenant of forgiving mercy to those whom the law of that covenant at once condemns.

The law of works is the standard of the natural man’s legal, and of the sinful man’s penal, obligations to God, according to the Eden covenant; and by that law it was, and is, every natural man’s duty to be naturally pure and sinless, as Adam was at the first, and all in him, and had power so to be; but it is no man’s duty to be a saint in Christ Jesus; it is a great favour to be so, and it is divine favour only that makes any man to be so, and it is the power of divine favour only, that makes any poor sinner to know, believe, rejoice, and live to God under the truth of it. And this being on so different a foundation altogether to that of the natural covenant with pure human nature in Eden, duty faith in this covenant of mercy to the guilty could never come as an obligation on any man from that covenant with sinless nature; which will not even now know any thing but innocency or death; repentance and faith being no part of the obedience or state of man required by the law of works.

And we might very property ask, are the favours of the covenant of life and peace universal, while the covenant itself is undeniably declared to be particular? Are election, predestination, redemption, justification, peace, pardon, sanctification, and final glory in heaven with Christ, universal favours? Because if they are not, to believe them so, Is to believe a lie; and to teach so, is to teach a lie; and to teach any one thing that justly leads to the conclusion that all the rest, to be consistent, must be universal, is but little better than at once teaching of lies altogether. And it must be very fallacious to talk about universal faith without universal interest, since faith and interest are inseparable, according to the word of God. And since faith is the sign of interest, by the promise of God, can it be the duty of all to believe and wear the sign universally, of what is not universally warranted by promise? And are the promises universal? Because, no promise, no ground for faith; for even grace does not give faith where it has not given promise. Or is it the duty of all men to believe unto salvation in such a way, as that by believing they may make that eternally general, which God himself has made eternally particular and discriminate?

Below you’ll find a sermon preached by Pastor Jared Smith of The Baptist Church, Kensington Place London.

Untempered Mortar of Arminianism

Job Hupton on the preaching of the Gospel.

“…the gospel salvation is to be proclaimed to our fellow sinners at large, it will not follow that the gospel salvation is to be offered to all our fellow sinners at large until it be proved that proclaiming salvation, and offering it, are precisely the same thing.

The gospel should always be preached with a view to its being accepted ; but by whom ? By the non-elect ? What hopes soever may be entertained by others of its being received by them, I know not ; for myself, I must confess, that I never had ‘ the least hope, that it would ever be received by a single individual more than God’s elect ; and therefore, could never preach it with a view to its being received by the non-elect. That all the elect will receive it, we have the most positive proof. °1 For whom he did predestinate them he also called.” “All that the Father giveth me shall come unto me.” ” God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” ” As many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” Let us preach the gospel in all its fullness and glory, with a view to its being received by all the chosen, and then we shall preach according to the oracles of God ; according to the will of God ; and in perfect accordance with sound Calvinistic principles. But if we preach it with a view to its being received by the non-elect, as well as the elect, our view will be hostile to the word of God, to his design, to every sound Calvinistic principle, and instead of doing the work of evangelists, we shall, whatever may be said to the contrary, be found daubing with the un- tempered mortar of Arminianism.

I did not say, that God does not so much as offer his favours to the non-elect ; but that he does not so much as offer his special favours to them. The word special is important in this case, as it marks the distinction, between the common blessings of providence, and the special blessings of grace. To the former such passages as Gen. iv. 6, 7., and Ezek. xxxiii. 2. ; which shall be considered in their proper places, may be applied, which have no relation whatever to special favours.”

Whosoever Believes

“It is reported of the dove, that it will allure wild doves by its familiar converses into the dove-house with it: those who are called by grace, will use all proper ways and methods to allure and gain others to Christ, and to compliance with his ways and ordinances, as the church does the daughters of Jerusalem in this Song.” John Gill on Song of Solomon II:14

“…yet they may preach the gospel of salvation to all men, and declare, that whosoever believes shall be saved: for this they are commissioned to do.” from Cause of God and Truth

Natural Conviction is not Conversion

John Hazelton’s A Declaration of Faith,

We preach to sinners; we have no one else to preach to. We are to describe the condition of all men by nature, responsible under God’s holy law; we are to show its claims, and that “by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in His sight;” (Rom. 3:20) we are solemnly to warn of the certain consequences of living and dying in sins. We are to preach the gospel with such ability as God gives us, telling of the riches of grace and mercy in Christ, and then we are to leave all with Him who has said of His Word, “It shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isa. 55:11)

A true ministry must be searching and discriminating. Natural conviction is not conversion; natural faith is not that faith which is “the gift of God.” Nowhere in Scripture does God speak of His work as an offer He makes, nor have we any warrant for any man offering to his fellow that which God alone has the right and the power to bestow. How many virtually tell sinners they can do the work of the Holy Ghost. This is the plain English of much modern divinity. All the feelings and gracious influences which, in the Word of God, are attributed to or emanate from the Holy Ghost, man is addressed as capable of producing; and after all the infinitely costly expenditure of the doing and dying of Christ, it rests with the dead sinner to accept, receive, believe, and so be saved. The invitations of the gospel are to character; its blessings are purely spiritual, and therefore need spiritual eyes to see them, spiritual ears to hear them, spiritual hands to embrace them, and spiritual hearts to feel and enjoy them. To throw down a number of spiritual invitations for anybody and everybody to pick up is quite foreign to the spirit of the gospel, which is for the poor in spirit, the needy, and those described in Isaiah. 61:1-3)

Is there one of God’s sent servants who preaches without feeling an earnest yearning for the salvation of poor sinners? Having experienced personally that the whole work is of the Lord, their wrestling is with Him that He would produce that wondrous life that is alone His gift. In conclusion on this point, let us ask, is there one living child of God that would affirm, “Yes, I heard the minister say, ‘Come to Christ–come now, and you will be saved;’ and so I came and was saved. It was my accepting the invitation that was the cause of my salvation?” Would not a child of God turn away from this, and sing with gratitude of heart:

“Grace first inscribed my name
In God’s eternal book;
‘Twas grace that gave me to the Lamb,
Who all my sorrows took.

“Grace all the work shall crown
Through everlasting days;
It lays in heaven the topmost stone,
And well deserves the praise.”