September 17, 2006

Iain Murray on John Gill

But Spurgeon would appear to be over-generous to Gill when he writes: 'Gill is the Coryphaeus of Hyper-Calvinism, but if his followers never went beyond their master, they would not go very far astray.' The keystone of Hyper-Calvinistic thinking is clearly to be found in Gill and especially in his two volumes, The Cause of God and Truth, published to refute Arminianism. In these he argues at length that men are not responsible for 'coming to him [Christ], or believing in him to the saving of their souls,' because they cannot do so 'without the special grace of God'. Unregenerate men can only be called to an 'historic faith', that is to say an assent to the facts of the gospel. As far as texts of Scripture were concerned, Gill believed, 'I know of none that exhort and command all men, all the individuals of the human race to repent, and believe in Christ for salvation.' His case is that men are only obligated as far as the 'revelation' they receive. Men in general are only given an 'external' revelation and with this nothing more than an historical, not saving, faith can be required of them. The elect, on the other hand, are given an 'internal' revelation, making them 'sensible' of their lost estate, acquainting them with Christ and thus leading them 'to venture on him, rely upon him, and believe in him.' The gospel makes no promises to 'dead men', only to 'sensible sinners'.

In accordance with this, Gill claimed that all texts appearing to show a favourable desire on God's part towards all the lost do not have any reference to their salvation. Thus when God says, 'Why will ye die?' Gill believed we are to understand: 'the death expostulated about, is not eternal, but a temporal one, or what concerns their temporal affairs, and civil condition, and circumstances of life.' Similarly, when Christ says, 'How often would I have gathered thy children...' it is to be understood not of gathering to salvation but only of a gathering to hear him preach and thus be brought to historical faith 'sufficient to preserve them from temporal ruin'. And the will of Christ to gather them 'is not to be understood of his divine will... but of his human will, or of his will as a man; which, though not contrary to the divine will, but subordinate to it, [is] yet not always the same with it, nor always fulfilled.'
Iain H. Murray, Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism: The Battle for Gospel Preaching (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2000), 127–129.
...it is hard to see how [Tom] Nettles' defense of Gill can be sustained.
Ibid., 131n2.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Tony,

Will there be a response to my comments under your Spurgeon post? As well as the B.B. Warfield quote? I understand you may be busy, so I'm not trying to be hasty. The original post was getting pushed into the archives and I am interested in your response...

Thanks

Anonymous said...

Oh, and just to stay on topic with this post on Gill. I agree, he was a hyper-Calvinist

YnottonY said...

Yes, I am working on a response to all that you posted in that section. I probably won't be making more blog entries until after I reply, so there's no worry about it being quickly pushed into the archives.. I have been busy with other things lately.

I'm glad that you agree on the matter of Gill's being hyper. Even you would then have to admit that Gene Bridges is wrong on that point.

Anonymous said...

Tony,

I never said I always agree with Gene--I don't know how much he has read of Gill, but I can see why there is disagreement on this issue. I think if you dig into Gill's works though it becomes more clear that he was a hyper. Anyway, I look forward to your response...

YnottonY said...

I never said you always agree with Gene. I am just pointing out that you would have to acknowledge that he's incorrect about Gill's hyperism, and it's not due to a lack of study. He has studied the matter. He's just blind (not dishonest), for some reason, to what Gill is actually and explicitly (Gill is not unclear in his denial of free offers and duty-faith, nor in his affirmation of eternal justification) saying. That's no small matter.

Also, I have replied to the first part of your post under the Spurgeon blog entry. I will try to get to your Warfield quote asap.