“And ye will not come to me, that ye 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 endeavour to take a more calm look at the text; and not, because there happen to be the words “will,” or “will not” in it, run away with the conclusion 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 doth ascribe aught of salvation, even the very least, to the free-will of man, he knoweth nothing of grace, and he hath 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: “Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” Secondly—that there is life in Jesus Christ: “Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” Thirdly—that there is life in Christ Jesus for every one that comes for it: “Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life;” implying that all who go will have life. And fourthly—the gist of the text lies here, that no man by nature ever will come to Christ, for the text says, “Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” So far from asserting that men of their own wills ever do such a thing, it boldly and flatly denies it, and says, “Ye WILL NOT come to me, that ye might have life.” Why, beloved, I am almost ready to exclaim, Have all free-willers no knowledge that they dare to run in the teeth of inspiration? Have all those that deny the doctrine of grace no sense? Have they so departed from God that they wrest this to prove free-will; whereas the text says, “Ye WILL NOT come to me that ye might have life.”