Salvation: All of God; Damnation: All of Man — Charles Hodge
Charles Hodge answers common objections to the biblical teaching of sovereign monergistic regeneration:
[Objection ¹]: If all men are dead in sin, destitute of the power to restore themselves to life, then not only is it unjust that they should be condemned, but it is also incompatible with the divine rectitude that God should exert his almighty power in the regeneration of some, while He leaves others to perish. Justice, it is said, demands that all should have an equal opportunity; that all should have, by nature or from grace, power to secure their own salvation. [Answer 2]: It is obvious that such objections do not bear peculiarly against the Augustinian system. They are urged by atheists against Theism. If there be a personal God of infinite power, why does He permit sin and misery to hold joint supremacy on earth; why are good and evil so unequally distributed, and why is the distribution so arbitrary?
Deists make the same objections against the divine authority of the Bible. They cannot receive it as the Word of God because it represents the Creator and Governor of the world as placing men under circumstances which secure in some way the universality of sin, and then punishing them with inexorable severity even for their idle words.
It is also plain that the different anti-Augustinian systems afford no real relief from these difficulties. Admitting that regeneration is the sinner’s own act; admitting that every man has all the knowledge and all the ability necessary to secure his salvation, it remains true that few are saved, and that God does not interpose to prevent the great majority of adult men in the present state of the world perishing in their sins.
Augustinians do not deny these difficulties. They only maintain that they are not peculiar to their system; and they rest content with the solution of them given in the Scriptures. That solution agrees with all the facts of consciousness and experience, so far as consciousness and experience extend. The Bible teaches that man was created holy; that by his voluntary transgression of the divine law he apostatized from God; that in consequence of this apostasy all men come into the world in a state of spiritual death, both guilty and polluted; that God exercises no influence to lead them into sin, but on the contrary, by his truth, his providence, and by his Spirit exerts all that influence over them which should induce rational beings to repent and seek his pardoning mercy and sanctifying grace; that all those who sincerely and faithfully seek reconciliation with God in the way of his appointment He actually saves; that of his sovereign grace He, in the exercise of his mighty power, renews and sanctifies a multitude which no man can number, who would otherwise have continued in their sins. With these representations of the Scriptures everything within the sphere of our knowledge agrees. Consciousness and experience testify that we are an apostate race; that all men are sinners, and, being sinners, have forfeited all claims on the favour of God; that in continuing in sin and in rejecting the overtures of mercy men act voluntarily, following the desires of their own hearts. Every man’s conscience, moreover, teaches him that he has never sought the salvation of his soul with the sincerity and perseverance with which men seek the things of the world, and yet failed in his efforts. Every man who comes short of eternal life knows that the responsibility rests upon himself. On the other hand, the experience of every believer is a witness to him that it is of God and not of himself that he is in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30); every believer knows that if God had left him to himself he would have continued in unbelief and sin. Why God intervenes to save one and not another, when all are equally undeserving; why the things of God are revealed unto babes while hidden from the wise and prudent, can only be answered in the language of our Lord, “Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight.” (Matthew 11:26.)
— Charles Hodge (1797-1878)
taken from: Systematic Theology 3.4.3
Charles Hodge (1797-1878) was a Presbyterian minister, theologian, and a seminary professor at Princeton Theological Seminary where he taught for most of his life. A man of God and staunchly orthodox, Hodge taught in the areas of Oriental and Biblical literature, exegetical, didactic and polemic theology. He was also Princeton’s principal from 1851–1878.
• Disclaimer: The title for this blog post was shamelessly stolen from the late S. Lewis Johnson. However, I don’t think he would care.
¹ Bracketed words added.