J.C. Ryle on Refusing the Doctrine of Election
In his great book, Old Paths, J.C. Ryle addresses the doctrine of election and concludes with “a few plain words of personal application.” His first word of application deals with those who would want to refuse the doctrine of election, and here is what he had to say (emphasis mine).
First of all let me entreat every reader of this paper not to refuse this doctrine of Election, merely because it is high, mysterious, and hard to be understood. Is it reverent to do so? Is it treating God’s Word with the respect due to revelation? Is it right to reject anything written for our learning, and to give it hard names, merely because some misguided men have misused it, and turned it to a bad purpose? These are serious questions. They deserve serious consideration. If men begin rejecting it, they are on slippery ground. There is no saying how far they may fall. What after all do men gain by refusing the doctrine of Election? Does the system of those who deny Election save one soul more than of those who hold it? Certainly not.—Do those who hold Election narrow the way to heaven, and make salvation more difficult than those who deny it? Certainly not.—The opponents of Election maintain that none will be saved except those who repent and believe. Well: the advocates of Election say just the same!—The opponents of Election proclaim loudly that none but holy people go to heaven. Well: the advocates of Election proclaim the same doctrine just as loudly!—What, then, I ask once more, is gained by denying the truth of Election? I answer, Nothing whatever. And yet, while nothing is gained, a great deal of comfort seems to be lost. It is cold comfort to be told that God never thought of me before I repented and believed. But to know and feel that God had purposes of mercy toward me before the foundation of the world, and that all the work of grace in my heart is the result of an everlasting covenant and an eternal Election, is a thought full of sweet and unspeakable consolation. A work that was planned before the foundation of the world, by an Architect of almighty power and perfect wisdom, is a work which will never be allowed to fail or be overthrown (472-73).