“And you will not come unto Me, that you might have life.” – John 5:40
THIS is one of the great guns of the Arminians, mounted upon the top of their walls and often discharged with terrible noise against the poor Christians called Calvinists. I intend to spike the gun this morning, or, rather, to turn it on the enemy–for it was never theirs. It was never cast at their foundry at all but was intended to teach the very opposite doctrine to that which they assert. Usually, when the text is taken, the divisions are–first, that man has a will. Secondly, that he is entirely free. Thirdly, that men must make themselves willing to come to Christ, otherwise they will not be saved.
Now, we shall have no such divisions. But we will endeavor to take a more calm look at the text and not because there happens to be the words “will,” or “will not” in it, conclude that it teaches the doctrine of free will. It has already been proved beyond all controversy that free will is nonsense. Freedom cannot belong to will any more than ponderability can belong to electricity. They are altogether different things. Free agency we may believe in, but free will is simply ridiculous. The will is well known by all to be directed by the understanding, to be moved by motives, to be guided by other parts of the soul and to be a secondary thing.
Philosophy and religion both discard at once the very thought of free will. And I will go as far as Martin Luther, in that strong assertion of his, where he says, “If any man does ascribe anything of salvation, even the very least, to the free will of man, he knows nothing of grace and he has not learnt Jesus Christ aright.” It may seem a harsh sentiment but he who in his soul believes that man does of his own free will turn to God, cannot have been taught of God–for that is one of the first principles taught us when God begins with us–that we have neither will nor power–but that He gives both–that He is “Alpha and Omega” in the salvation of men.
Our four points, this morning, shall be, first, that every man is dead, because it says, “you will not come unto Me that you might have life.” Secondly, . . .