W.G.T. Shedd: Calvinism: Pure and Mixed

William Greenough Thayer Shedd (1820-1894).  Some Calvinists consider Shedd’s Dogmatic Theology only second to that of Charles Hodge’s Systematic Theology. Shedd has gained popularity in Calvinist circles from such works as The Doctrine of Endless Punishment, Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, and Calvinism: Pure and Mixed.

Shedd wrote Calvinism: Pure and Mixed "to defend the Westminster Confession as the doctoral standard of the Presbyterian Church. Certain Northern Presbyterians were arguing that Westminster was outdated and needed serious revision. Shedd cogently argued that this was a ruse. They really were attacking Calvinism and Evangelicalism" (Curt Daniel, The History and Theology of Calvinism, p. 118).

The following quotes are from Shedd's Calvinism: Pure and Mixed (1999 reprint from The Banner of Truth Trust):

"Revision is inexpedient, because the Westminster Standards already make full provision for those exceptional cases, on account of which revision is claimed by its advocates to be needed. It is said that there are some true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, who cannot adopt all the Westminster statements, who yet should not be, and actually are not, excluded from the Presbyterian Church; that there are tender consciences of good men, whose scruples are to be respected. But these cases are referred by the Form of Government to the church session, and power is given to it to receive into membership any person who trusts in the blood of Christ for the remission of sin, although his doctrinal knowledge and belief may be unsatisfactory on some points. He may stumble at predestination, but if with the publican he cries, 'God be merciful to me a sinner', he has the root of the matter in him, and is a regenerate child of God. But why should the whole Presbyterian Church revise its entire creed, so as to make it fit these exceptional cases?...These 'babes in Christ' need the education of the full and complete system of truth, and should gradually be led up to it, instead of bringing the system down to their level.” (p. 8)

The "tender consciences of good men" have scruples which cause them to stumble at predestination? Does a regenerate child of God say in one “blessedly inconsistent” breath, "Why does He yet find fault, for who resists His will?"? and "God be merciful to me a sinner"? Those professing Christians echoing the sentiment of the Apostolic critic certainly have "the root of the matter in them" -- the root of enmity against God, and the matter of rebellion against the Godhood of God that Paul rebukes with the following:

"You will then say to me, Why does He yet find fault? For who has resisted His will? Yes, rather, O man, who are you answering against God? Shall the thing formed say to the One forming it, Why did You make me like this? (Romans 9:19-20)

Is Paul rebuking a Christian with a tender conscience whose scruples he is certainly NOT respecting, since he just rebuked them sharply, contrary to the advice of Shedd? Or, rather, is Paul rebuking a guile-filled unbeliever whose "tender" conscience "will not have this Man to reign over him" and who exhibits “wonderful confusion” concerning the creature-Creator distinction?

In view of certain objections, it must be asked whether or not Paul was contradicting his own advice he gave in 2 Timothy 2:24-25. Of course he was not. All Scripture is God-breathed and non-contradictory. What Paul is contradicting is the unbelieving worlds’ definition of words like “gentle,” “forbearing,” and “meekness.” Paul is refusing to conform to this God-hating worlds’ definitions and ideas of what constitutes meekness and proper conversational etiquette.

“There is sometimes a misconception at this point. We have seen it stated that the membership of the Presbyterian Church is not required or expected to hold the same doctrine with the officers; that the pastor, elders, and deacons must accept the Confession of Faith 'as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures', but that the congregation need not. But this error arises from confounding the toleration of a deficiency with the endorsement of it. Because a church session tolerates in a particular person, who gives evidence of faith in Christ, an error respecting foreordination, or even some abstruse point in the Trinity, or the incarnation, it does not thereby endorse the error. It does not sanction his opinion on these subjects, but only endures it, in view of his religious experience on the vital points of faith and repentance, and with the hope that his subsequent growth in knowledge will bring him to a final rejection of it. The Presbyterian Church tolerates theatre-going in some of its members: that is to say, it does not discipline them for it. But it does not formally approve of and sanction theatre-going. A proposition to revise the Confession by inserting a clause to this effect, in order to meet the wishes and practice of theatre-going church-members, would be voted down by the presbyteries.” (p. 9)
Shedd said that the Presbyterian Church tolerates theatre-going in some of its members. Presumably most (if not all) going to the theatre would be watching sin -- that is, setting a wicked thing before their eyes (Psalm 101:3). If this was the case (and if the theatre-going in the late 1800s was similar to the movie-going today) then the Presbyterian “church” was tolerating sin in its members. 

But the if/then scenario aside, since the Presbyterian Church holds to the WCF, it tolerates adultery in its members by allowing remarriage while the former spouse is still living. Shedd had said that toleration of something does not imply endorsement of that something. If the sin of adultery is tolerated and not disciplined, then it is being endorsed. If one says he does not approve but nevertheless tolerates, then the professed “disapproval” is mighty shallow. Of course, due to their blindness, many who endorse adultery do so in the culpable ignorance that tells them that a legitimate application of Romans 7:1-3 is: “as if the offending party were dead.”

“The position that the officers of a church may have one creed, and the membership another, is untenable. No church could live and thrive upon it. A Trinitarian clergy preaching to an Arian or Socinian membership, would preach to unwilling hearers. And although the difference is not so great and so vital, yet a Calvinistic clergy preaching to an Arminian membership, or an Arminian clergy to a Calvinistic membership, would on some points find unsympathetic auditors. Pastor and people, officers and members, must be homogenous in doctrine, in order to a vigorous church-life.” (p. 9)

All of the typical and popular religionists mentioned above are essentially homogenous in doctrine: They all hold to varying degrees of salvation conditioned on the sinner's efforts. And since they all believe in salvation conditioned on the sinner's efforts, they also, in varying degrees of explicitness, deny the Biblical doctrine of the Trinity. For salvation is accomplished and applied by a triune God. The Father gives to the Son a people to save, and the Spirit applies the Son’s efficacious work to them in time.

Here is an especially interesting comment by Shedd: 

“A Trinitarian clergy preaching to an Arian or Socinian membership, would preach to unwilling hearers. And although the difference is not so great and so vital, yet a Calvinistic clergy preaching to an Arminian membership, or an Arminian clergy to a Calvinistic membership, would on some points find unsympathetic auditors.” (p. 9)

The difference is not so great and so vital, he says. Right. And thus the lost Calvinists and Arminians are guilty of causing schism in their respective Synagogues (cf. Revelation 2:9).

“The revision of a denominational creed is a rare occurrence in ecclesiastical history. Commonly a denomination remains from first to last upon the base that was laid for it in the beginning by its fathers and founders. And when revision does occur, it is seldom in the direction of fullness and precision. Usually the alteration is in favor of vague and looser statements." (pp. 10-11)

The WCF is in need of much revision, since a full-subscriptionist position necessarily entails subscription to heresy.

Here is W.G.T. Shedd commenting on the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 10, section 3:

"In the third place, the Scriptures and the Confession teach that the Divine Spirit exerts his regenerating grace, to some extent, within adult heathendom, making use of conscience, or 'the law written on the heart', as the means of convicting of sin preparatory to imparting the new divine life; and that in the last day a part of God's elect 'shall come from the east and from the west, and from the north and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God' (Luke 13:29). These are all regenerated in this life. And since regeneration in the instance of the adult immediately produces faith and repentance, a regenerate heathen is both a believer and a penitent. He feels sorrow for sin, and the need of mercy. This felt need of mercy and desire for it is potentially and virtually faith in the Redeemer. For although the Redeemer has not been presented to him historically and personally as the object of faith, yet the Divine Spirit by the new birth has wrought in him the sincere and longing disposition to believe in him. With the penitent and believing man in the Gospel, he says, 'Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?' (John 9:36). Such a man is 'regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit', and belongs to that class of 'elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the word' (Conf. x. 3)." (pp. 128-129)

Shedd says that the elect heathen who have never even heard the gospel of Christ, are nevertheless regenerate believers in Christ. Well, actually, since he uses words such as "potentially" and "virtually" to qualify this so-called "faith,” one would think that Shedd would call them potential believers in Christ, or virtual believers in Christ. He does not do this. For he had said this:

“And since regeneration in the instance of the adult immediately produces faith and repentance, a regenerate heathen is both a believer and a penitent.”

Shedd also says that the supposedly regenerate heathen elect have the "disposition" to believe in Christ. You would think that a "disposition to believe in Christ" is NOT actually believing in Christ at all. But I suppose that Shedd thinks that a mystical felt need of some undefined concept of mercy and a deadly ignorance of the sole grounds of mercy is close enough (cf. Romans 10:1-4). What exactly is a disposition to believe in Christ anyway? The main point of Shedd’s damnable heresy is that he believes that a person who has been regenerated by the Spirit remains ignorant of the righteousness of Jesus Christ revealed in the gospel. The last part of Romans 10:3 says, “they did not submit to the righteousness of God.” Shedd’s regenerate heathen does not know of this righteousness, and one cannot be submitted to something they don’t know about. Another verse that contradicts Shedd’s gospel-denying blasphemy is Romans 1:16-17:

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation to everyone believing, both to Jew first, and to Greek; for in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; even as it has been written, "But the just shall live by faith" (Romans 1:16-17). 

Shedd and the WCF Satanically deny that the gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation to EVERYONE BELIEVING. For they make exceptions to this Biblical rule. Shedd and the WCF say that those regenerate heathen elect who are 'incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word' are nevertheless 'regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit.'

"For everyone, whoever may call on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then may they call on One into whom they have not believed? And how may they believeOne of whom they have not heard? And how may they hear without preaching? And how may they preach if they are not sent? Even as it has been written, How beautiful the feet of those preaching the gospel of peace, of those preaching the gospel of good things. But not all obeyed the gospel, for Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed our report? Then faith is of hearing, and hearing through the Word of God" (Romans 10:13-17).

And how may they believe One of whom they have not heard? Good question. Shedd and the WCF answer it by saying, "Well, there are at least some who can sorta believe in One whom they have not heard. You see, those sun-worshipping, animal-sacrificing heathens feel a need of mercy, and this is virtually faith in the Redeemer."

The WCF Chapter 10, section 4 says the following regarding what has been referred to as "inclusivism":

"...much less can men, not professing the Christian religion, be saved in any other way whatsoever, be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature, and the laws of that religion they do profess. And to assert and maintain that they may, is very pernicious, and to be detested."

Well, what does Shedd's elect regenerate heathen profess to believe? What is the religion that the elect regenerate heathen professes to believe? Christianity? No. For this heathen cannot believe in the One of whom he has not heard. Does this heathen believe the report of the good news that God promises to save His people conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ alone? No. How can he? For faith is of hearing, and hearing through the Word of God (Romans 10:14-17). This heathen that Shedd calls saved has heard nothing--though he has experienced some sort of mystical felt need.

So, what's the difference between the type of 'inclusivism' that Shedd endorses in section 3 of the WCF, and the kind of 'inclusivism' that is rebuked in section 4? 

III. "Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated, and saved by Christ, through the Spirit, who works when, and where, and how He pleases: so also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word."

IV. "...much less can men, not professing the Christian religion, be saved in any other way whatsoever, be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature, and the laws of that religion they do profess. And to assert and maintain that they may, is very pernicious, and to be detested."

Shedd would deny that he teaches that a man can "be saved in any other way whatsoever." But the exception put forth in section 3 regarding the elect regenerate heathen who is 'saved by Christ' despite his not knowing who Christ is, shows that Shedd and the authors of the WCF are in fact the ones who ought to labeled as detestable and pernicious.

"Larger Catechism, 95, declares that 'the moral law is of use to all men, to inform them of the holy nature and will of God; to convince them of their disability to keep it, and of the sinful pollution of their nature; to humble them in the sense of sin and misery, and thereby help them to a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ, and of the perfection of his obedience.'   But what is the use of showing every man his need of Christ, if Christ's sacrifice is not sufficient for every man? What reason is there for convincing every man of the pollution of his nature, and humbling him for it, unless God is for every man 'most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin?'  The doctrine taught in this section, that all men are to be convinced of sin, like the doctrine that all men are to repent and to pray, supposes that God sustains a common benevolent and merciful relation to them all." (p. 26)

The atonement of Jesus Christ is only sufficient for the elect. What’s the use preaching to all men without exception, to show “every man his need of Christ,” if Christ’s sacrifice is not sufficient for every man without exception? The use is to preach the truth that Christ’s sacrifice IS sufficient to save all whom He represented at the cross. How do we know that it is sufficient? We know that the atonement is sufficient by observing its effects in the Scriptures, and the Scriptures teach that the work of Christ is absolutely efficacious to save every last person for whom Christ died. And since the sacrifice of Jesus IS efficacious--and therefore truly sufficient--not one person for whom Christ died will perish. Everyone for whom Jesus died will go to heaven, and everyone for whom Jesus did NOT die will go to hell. This is the good news--Jesus Christ can actually save! Shedd wants a sacrifice that is “sufficient” for those who ultimately perish so that those who are said by Shedd to not perish can save the supposedly sufficient sacrifice of Christ from failing to accomplish its supposed “special intent.” A sacrifice that doesn’t save is not sufficient for salvation. But that’s the kind of “sacrifice” men like Shedd crave. Why is that? Romans 10:1-4 gives a concise answer.

Shedd engages in illogical reasoning when he says that since all men without exception are commanded to repent, then that supposes that God “sustains a common benevolent and merciful relation to them all.” Get thee to Romans 9, Shedd, so that you may see the striking contrast between Jacob and Esau and between Moses and Pharaoh.

“The first characteristic of the Confessional statement that we mention is, that it brings sin within the scope, and under the control of the Divine decree. Sin is one of the 'whatsoevers' that have 'come to pass', all of which are 'ordained.' Some would have the doctrine that sin is decreed stricken from the Confession, because in their view it makes God the author of sin. The Confession denies this in its assertion that by the Divine decree 'violence is not offered to the will of the creature, nor is the liberty of second causes taken away, but rather established.' In so saying, the authors had in mind the common distinction recognized in Calvinistic creeds and systems, between the efficient and the permissive decree, though they do not use the terms here.” (p. 31)

So, to Shedd and the WCF men, the true God of Scripture is doing “violence to the will of the creature” and therefore cannot find fault with the creature's rebellion if God is actively hardening them unconditionally.

Who makes the “permissive decree” certain in the blinded eyes of Shedd and the WCF? The creature, of course. To them, God "allowed" the creature to make the “decree” certain by “allowing” the creature to sin and do as he pleased. But wait a minute. I thought the Bible taught that it was God--and not the creature--who did as He pleased.

“When God executes his decree that Saul of Tarsus shall be a 'vessel of mercy', he works efficiently within him by his Holy Spirit 'to will and to do'. When God executes his decree that Judas Iscariot shall be 'a vessel of wrath fitted for destruction', he does not work efficiently within him 'to will and to do', but permissively in the way of allowing him to have his own wicked will. He decides not to restrain him or to regenerate him, but to leave him to his own obstinate and rebellious inclination and purpose; and accordingly 'the Son of man goeth, as it was determined, but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed' (Luke 22:22; Acts 2:23).” (p. 31)

Simply put, in the view of Shedd, Judas was not efficiently fitted by God as a vessel of wrath. No, no. For that would be doing violence the creature's rights, right? For Shedd and the WCF, Judas was not fitted by God; Judas fitted himself. The pot was not fitted by the Potter; the pot fits itself. Libraries write themselves and houses build themselves evidently as well.

“The two Divine methods in the two cases are plainly different, but the perdition of Judas was as much foreordained and free from chance, as the conversion of Saul. Man's inability to explain how God can make sin certain, but not compulsory, by a permissive decree, is no reason for denying that he can do it or that he has done it.” (pp. 31-32)

“Compulsory,” huh? "He turned their heart to hate His people, to deal craftily with His servants" (Psalm 105:25). So, if God actively causes someone's heart to hate His people, then it follows that God is “compelling” or “forcing” them to do so? Well, for Shedd and the WCF men, the sin of the Egyptians was made certain, but not compulsory, by God supposedly “allowing” their hearts to so turn all by themselves. Also, Shedd and the WCF men have no inability or problem explaining their God-hating, idolatrous notion of how God apparently fulfills His purposes in this world.  

"It is sometimes argued that the Confession excludes the tenet of the permissive decree, by its declaration that the 'providence of God extendeth itself even to the first fall, and all other sins of angels and men, and that not by a bare permission' (Conf. v. 4). The 'bare permission' which the Assembly rejects here is that of the Tridentine theologians, who asserted that sin arises from the 'mere permission' of God. The Reformed theologians understood this to mean, that in respect to the fall of angels and men God is an idle and helpless spectator (deo otioso spectante), and that sin came into the universe without any positive decision and purpose on his part. This kind of 'permission' implies that God could not have prevented sin had he so decided, and is really no permission at all; because no one can properly be said to permit what he cannot prevent.” (p. 32)

You would think, by a cursory glance over this part of the WCF, that they were denying the heterodox view of the “permissive decree” and affirming the orthodox view of “active causation” in explaining how God brings about His eternal decree.

“In order to exclude this view of 'permission', the Assembly assert 'such [a permission] as hath joined with it a most holy, wise, and powerful bounding and otherwise ordering and governing of [the sins of angels and men], in a manifold dispensation, to his own holy ends; yet so as the sinfulness thereof proceedeth only from the creature, not from God, who neither is nor can be the author of sin'. This last clause declares that God's relation to the sin which he decrees, is not that of efficiency, but permission.” (p. 32)

“Permission” is the Calvinistic gloss to cover their free will submission in things pertaining to sin. They say they deny the Arminian version of free will. And they certainly like the idea that God would enable--even “actively and efficiently enable”--them to meet conditions for salvation. But when they hear of God “actively and efficiently hardening” men in their sin, they do not like that one bit. For as they say, if God does this, then He is doing violence to their wills and is the “author of sin.” In other words their gripe is “Why doth He yet find fault?”

“For if God worked directly and efficiently in angel or man 'to will', when he wills wickedly, the 'sinfulness of sin' would 'proceed from God', and God would be 'the author of sin'.” (p. 32)

That is a blasphemous non sequitur, Shedd. For just because God actively caused the Egyptians to hate His people, it by no means follows that the “sinfulness of sin proceeds from God” and/or that God is “the author of sin.” Shedd asininely assumes that if God actively causes the Egyptians to hate His people, then He is thereby the “author” (actual performer) or “approver” of this sin.

“The permissive decree is taught also in Larger Catechism, 19. 'God by his providence permitted some of the angels, willfully and irrevocably, to fall into sin and damnation, limiting and ordering that, and all their sins, to his own glory'”(p. 32)

I just wanted to add to this that Shedd, in order to "prove” permission, cites (KJV) Acts 14:16, Acts 17:30, Psalm 78:29, and Psalm 106:15. He then says regarding these passages:

"This phraseology is never employed when holiness is spoken of. The Bible never says that God permits man to be holy, or to act righteously. He efficiently influences and actuates him to this." (p. 33)

Okay. Acts 14:16. Now how does God “allow” a nation to go its own way? Look at Isaiah 10 to see how God “allowed” the Assyrian Axe to swing itself.

"The doctrine of the permissive decree has great value in two respects: (a) In taking sin out of the sphere of chance. (b) In explaining the tenet of preterition, or 'foreordination to everlasting death.'" (p. 36). 

So, in this view, God does not foreordain men to everlasting death. Rather, He “permits” them to foreordain themselves. Again, this reminds me of something the old serpent said in the garden. Now how did that go again? Oh, yeah. “You shall be as God.”

"If God could permissively decree the fall of Adam and his posterity without being the cause and author of it, he can also permissively decree the eternal death of an individual sinner without being the cause and author of it. In preterition, God repeats, in respect to an individual, the act which he performed in respect to the race. He permitted the whole human species to fall in Adam in such a manner that they were responsible and guilty for the fall, and he permits an individual of the species to remain a sinner and to be lost by sin, in such a manner that the sinner is responsible and guilty for this." (p. 37).

To Shedd, the whole human species is not responsible and guilty for the fall if God ordained and caused the fall. Likewise to Shedd, an individual of the species is apparently not responsible and guilty if God has prepared him as a vessel of wrath--and thus obviously WANTS this individual to remain a sinner and to be lost by sin--so that He can show His wrath and power in him and make known to the vessels of mercy the riches of His glory. God did not ordain the fall in the manner Shedd would have liked Him to. So I guess that means that man is not responsible --THIS is Shedd’s reasoning.

"In that wonderful description of his being and attributes which he gave to Moses, among other declarations he says, 'I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy to whom I will shew mercy' (Ex. 33:19). In this solemn pronunciamento with which he prefaced the whole work of human salvation, he distinctly declares that he is under no obligation to redeem sinful men, but that whatever he does in the premises is of his own unobliged, free, and sovereign mercy and decision. Still more explicitly, in what is perhaps the most terrible passage in all Scripture, God asserts that he will pass by and leave in their sin some who have refused his common call, and frustrated his common grace" (pp. 72-73).  [Shedd then proceeds to give proof of this by quoting Proverbs 1:24-27. --CD]

Shedd once again asserts the heresy that God surrenders some of His sovereignty by “passing men by.” He also asserts the heresy of common grace.

"...it [the Divine glory --CD] is also manifested when God in the exercise of his holiness and justice leaves some sinners to their own free will, and permits them to go down voluntarily to eternal death...That God intends from all eternity to display his mercy in pardoning a sinner, is unobjectionable; but that he also intends from all eternity to display his justice in punishing a sinner, is vehemently opposed." (pp. 77-78).

Shedd’s view of the atonement of Jesus Christ is that it is in “some sense” offered in the stead of the reprobate. And thus for Shedd, it is an exercise of "holiness" and "justice" to permit those for whom Christ died to voluntarily go down to eternal death. To Shedd, it is a display of "justice" to punish a sinner for whom Christ died. Shedd's concept of "justice" is clearly NOT justice at all. It is a perversion. Also, Shedd's "mercy" is displayed in pardoning sinners on GROUNDS OTHER THAN the work of Christ ALONE since this SAME WORK was done on behalf of the reprobate.
"Without the sin there could be no redemption from sin, and if there had been no redemption from sin that marvelous union and combination and harmonizing of mercy with justice in the vicarious sacrifice of God incarnate and crucified, could have had no manifestation whatever." (p. 80).

To Shedd, the above is the "best reason that can be suggested for the permission of sin." Apart from Shedd’s heretical view of permission, the above quote is true. God actively caused the fall so that He could redeem the elect from sin. The harmonizing His mercy with justice is seen in the efficacious cross-work of Jesus Christ which demands and ensures their salvation. God’s justice is seen in His punishing eternally those for whom Christ did NOT die. God’s mercy is seen in saving everyone for whom Christ died. Justice in the case of justifying the elect is seen at the cross--God justifies His people on the sole basis of the work of Christ.

In Shedd’s wicked idea of an atonement for all without exception (albeit in different senses), he has “mercy” being shown to the “elect” on grounds other than that of Christ’s work alone; he has “justice” being poured out on those who supposedly had a “sufficient satisfaction” made in their place; he has God “justifying” sinners on the ground of their own “spirit-enabled” efforts.

"The election and non-election, and also the numbers of the elect and non-elect, are all alike a matter of sovereignty and optional decision. At the same time it relieves the solemnity and awfulness which overhang the decree of reprobation, to remember that the Scriptures teach that the number of the elect is much greater than that of the non-elect. The kingdom of the Redeemer in this fallen world is always described as far greater and grander than that of Satan. The operation of grace on earth is uniformly represented as mightier than that of sin. 'Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.' And the final number of the redeemed is said to be 'a multitude which no man can number', but that of the lost is not so magnified and emphasized." (p. 81).

Shedd's idea of "reprobation" is certainly awful. For the sinner supposedly reprobates himself by not making the optimal decision of yielding to God's supposed “well-meant-by-virtue-of-common-grace-offer.”

Regarding Shedd's quote of Romans 5:20 and grace as mightier than that of sin: Shedd likes to appeal to numbers, but he is ignorant of the fact that it is not about the numbers per se, but about Christ's death demanding the salvation of ALL the numbers of those whom He represented at the cross. Indeed, the Scriptures teach that the GRACE of God in Christ is mightier than that of sin brought in through Adam. But in Shedd’s view, sin IS mightier than grace, for the imputed sin of Adam demands death for all whom he represented, and yet somehow the righteousness of Christ does not demand life for all whom He represented--and this is because Shedd universalizes the atonement and makes the imputation of Christ’s righteousness conditional rather than free.

"For if by the deviation of the one death reigned through the one, much more those who are receiving the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness shall rule in life by the One, Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:17).

For Shedd, death reigns through Adam, BUT life does NOT reign or rule through Christ, since, according to dead-in-his-sins Shedd, some for whom Christ was an “in some sense” Substitute do not rule in life by Him--but in spite of this remain yet in death. Those who will undergo the second death are obviously not ruling and reigning in "life by the One, Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:17). Shedd believes that there are some for whom Christ died who will undergo the second death. So much for “grace much more abounding,” Shedd.

Shedd denies the absolute Sovereignty of God by denying that God actively causes sinful acts:

"In these two ways of efficiency and permission, God ‘foreordains’ and makes certain two things that unquestionably ‘come to pass,’ namely, the everlasting holiness and life of some men, and the everlasting sin and death of some men; ‘yet so as thereby God is not the author of sin; nor is violence done to the will of the creature; nor is the liberty of second causes taken away, but rather established’. When God predetermined from eternity not to restrain and prevent ‘Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and all the people of Israel’, from crucifying his beloved Son, but to leave them to their own wicked inclination and voluntary action in the case, he made this crucifixion a certainty, but not a necessity, as is evinced by the ‘woe’ pronounced upon them by the Son of God. Luke 22:22. Men with hearts and dispositions full of hatred toward the Saviour of the world, if left to themselves are infallibly certain to cry, ‘Crucify him; crucify him’. John 19: 6-15.”(pp. 89-90)

Shedd says that God from eternity decided not to "restrain" Herod et al. from crucifying His beloved Son. So, if He is not "restraining" Herod and company, then He is "permitting" them to do what they did. And if He is restraining and permitting, He obviously is not actively controlling and causing. And if He is not actively controlling and causing them to crucify His Son, then ultimately God is just "allowing" them to crush His Son. "But Jehovah pleased to crush Him" (Isaiah 53:10). Will Shedd have the passage read, "Jehovah permitted Herod and Company to crush His Son, and also restrained the Roman soldiers from breaking just one of His bones, so that prophecy would be fulfilled"? What Shedd says is so Satanic and diabolical. I mean, who's running things here? The creature or the Creator? Shedd is bereft of the true knowledge of God. Shedd prays to an idol who cannot save (Isaiah 45:20).

Since the crucifying of the Son of God on the part of man is an evil act, Shedd and others like him will say that God did not cause this aforementioned act of the crucifixion of Christ. They assume that since God causes a certain evil event, that He must also approve of it. This does not follow, of course (Isaiah 53:10); yet regarding any who were among the reprobate that crucified Christ, God is NOT pleased with their actions and will punish them for the very sins which He caused them to do (the specific sin here being the crucifying of His beloved Son). Many think this makes God the author of sin. On the contrary, it makes God the author of holiness who desires to show His wrath and make His power known. And He shows His wrath and makes His power known by fitting out vessels of wrath for destruction. What people don't get is that it is the holy wrath of God that is causing the reprobate to do the things and to think the thinks that they do.

"Why have the nations raged and the peoples are meditating on vanity? The kings of the earth set themselves; yea, the rulers have plotted together against Jehovah and His Anointed, saying, We will break their bands in two, and throw off their cords from us. He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall mock at them" (Psalm 2:1-4).

Shedd says regarding Herod, Pontius Pilate, and the Gentiles, that God left them to their own wicked inclinations and voluntary actions. “He turned their heart to hate His people, to deal craftily with His servants” (Psalm 105:25). And since "hating His people" is a wicked inclination, Shedd must say that God just left them to their own voluntary actions. But is that what it says? No indeed. Is TURNING their hearts leaving them alone to their own inclinations? I’d say not.

Those who hold to "permissive will" and "restraint of sin" say that God permits and restrains the evil or sinful actions of men. But whatever they would deem "good actions of men" they would not say that God permits or restrains. To them, if God actively causes them to do "good actions," all is well. But if God ALSO causes them to do what they call "bad actions," then all is not well to them, for then why does God yet find fault with their "bad action," for they could not resist His will in doing said "bad action." Is this not like a half or semi-deistic view regarding God's sovereignty? Indeed.

You may have heard the "watchmaker" analogy regarding deism, where God supposedly winds up the watch of the whole universe and then just lets it run on its own. The popular Calvinist watchmaker controls some parts of the watch, while other parts of the same watch, he lets, permits, and allows to run on their own. And at other times, he restrains the watch from running too fast. Hence the term, “semi-deistic.”

"The distinction between common and special grace is closely connected with the Calvinistic doctrine of election and preterition. If it is denied or explained away, it is impossible to hold the Calvinistic view on these latter points. This will appear by considering the distinction as taught in Scripture, and formulated in the Westminster Standards.” (p. 92)

It is true that in the Calvinistic scheme -- NOT in the Biblical scheme -- “common” and “special grace” are closely connected to the Calvinistic doctrines of election and preterition. In Calvinism, “special grace” enables the elect sinner to engage in self-salvation by meeting conditions for justification.  This is NOT grace at all (see Romans 11:6). Calvinists like Shedd profess to believe in unconditional election, but their doctrine of “unconditional election” includes the elect sinner meeting foreordained -- in distinction to the Arminian foreseen -- conditions for salvation. The Biblical doctrine of unconditional election is that the elect sinner does NOT meet any conditions for his salvation, whether foreknown or foreordained. Why is that? Because Jesus Christ met all the conditions for their salvation by His atoning blood and imputed righteousness. 

Preterition is the demonic doctrine that teaches that God “lets go” of some of His sovereignty and “passes by” the non-elect. Preterition is connected with common grace, since Shedd would abominate the Biblical idea that God does not show the non-elect grace at the expense of His justice and so unconditionally and actively hardens them for destruction. Since Shedd would deny this, he must concoct a theory which has God “withdrawing common grace” and “permitting” sinners to go their own way instead of actively hardening non-elect sinners in His wrath and actively causing them to go their own way. The insidious irony in the view of Calvinists like Shedd is that the more God “withdraws his gracious restraints,” the less sovereign God is, and the more sovereign the creature becomes. Does the phrase, “you shall be as God” ring a bell? Yes, I know. I’ve rung this bell before. How long do I have to ring it before someone actually hears it?

“Common grace is a lower degree of grace than special. The latter succeeds in overcoming the enmity of the carnal mind and the opposition of the sinful will; the former does not succeed. Says John Howe, 'When divine grace is working at the common rate; then it suffers itself oftentimes to be overcome, and yields the victory to the contending sinner'.  This was the case with the people of Israel as described by Stephen, ‘Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye’ Acts 7:51. The same complaint was made against resisting Israel by Isaiah, They rebelled and vexed his Holy Spirit; therefore he was turned to be their enemy’ Isa. 63:10. The same failure of common grace to subdue the sinner is noted in Gen. 6:3, “My Spirit shall not always strive with man’. Whenever man quenches conviction of sin and plunges into temptation in order to get rid of serious and anxious thoughts, and the Holy Spirit leaves him to his own self-will, this is common grace." (p. 92)

Calvinists like Shedd chide their brothers in Satan, the Arminians, for holding to a view of resistible common sufficient grace--a “grace” which admits of no degrees but flows “at the common rate” for all men without exception. They chide because the Calvinist sees the Arminian god being baffled, bewildered, and thwarted in his impotent desire to save all sinners without exception. Now the Calvinist has his own version of resistible grace in common grace. But his “god” is stronger than the Arminian “god” and follows up the common grace with the special grace. The Calvinist is more subtle and less honest than the Arminian, though. The Calvinist wants to say God is not being thwarted ultimately, and the Calvinist also wants to say that he is not letting God save him by ceasing from resisting like the Arminian. So he just says that God, in effect, “tries harder” by increasing the grace up to the “special rate” which is up from the “common rate.” At the end of the day, though, the Calvinist “god” is “powerfully” and “ultimately irresistibly” enabling sinners to save themselves by meeting conditions for salvation.