What the true doctrine of reprobation is not.
1. It is not that the ultimate end of God in the creation of any was their damnation. Neither reason nor revelation confirms, but both contradict the assumption, that God has created or can create any being for the purpose of rendering him miserable as an ultimate end. God is love, or He is benevolent, and cannot therefore will the misery of any being as an ultimate end, or for its own sake. It is little less than blasphemy to represent God as creating any being for the sake of rendering him miserable, as an ultimate end of His creation.
2. The doctrine is not, that any will be lost or miserable to all eternity, do what they can to be saved, or in spite of themselves. It is not only a libel upon the character of God, but a gross misrepresentation of the true doctrine of reprobation, to exhibit God as deciding to send sinners to hell in spite of themselves, or notwithstanding their endeavors to please God and obtain salvation.
3. Nor is this the true doctrine of reprobation, to wit: that the purpose or decree of reprobation is the procuring cause of the destruction of reprobates. God may design to destroy a soul because of his foreseen wickedness; but His design to destroy him for this reason does not cause his wickedness, and consequently does not prove his destruction.
4. The doctrine is not, that any decree or purpose of reprobation throws any obstacles in the way of the salvation of any one. It is not that God has purposed the damnation of any one in such sense as that the decree opposes any obstacle to the salvation of any soul under heaven.
5. Nor is it that any one is sent to hell, except for his own voluntary wickedness and ill-desert.
6. Nor is it that any one will be lost who can be induced, by all the means that can be wisely used, to accept salvation, or to repent and believe the gospel.
7. Nor is it, nor does it imply, that all the reprobates might not be saved, if they would but comply with the indispensable conditions of salvation.
8. Nor does it imply, that the decree of reprobation presents or opposes any obstacle to their compliance with the necessary conditions of salvation.
9. Nor does it imply, that anything hinders or prevents the salvation of the reprobate, but their perverse perseverance in sin and rebellion against God, and their wilful resistance of all the means that can be wisely used for their salvation.
What the true doctrine of reprobation is.
The term reprobation, both in the Old and the New Testament, signifies refuse, cast away. "Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the Lord hath rejected them" (Jeremiah 6:30). The doctrine is, that certain individuals of mankind are, in the fixed purpose of God cast away, rejected and finally lost.
30 Men will call them reprobate and rejected silver [only dross, without good metal], because the Lord has rejected them. AMP
This is a doctrine of reason.
By this is intended, that since the Bible reveals the fact, that some will be finally cast away and lost, reason affirms that if God casts them off, it must be in accordance with a fixed purpose on His part to do so, for their foreseen wickedness. If, as a matter of fact, they will be cast away and lost, it must be that God both knows and designs it. That is, He both knows that they will be cast away, and designs to cast them off for their foreseen wickedness. God can certainly never possess any new knowledge respecting their character and deserts, and since He is unchangeable, He can never have any new purpose respecting them.
Again, it follows from the doctrine of Election. If God designs to save the Elect, and the elect only, as has been shown, not for the reason, but upon condition of their foreseen repentance and faith in Christ, it must be that He designs, or purposes to cast away the wicked, for their foreseen wickedness. He purposes to do something with those whom He foresees will finally be impenitent. He certainly does not purpose to save them. What He will ever do with them, He now knows that He shall do with them. What He will intend to do with them He now intends to do with them, or He were not unchangeable. But we have seen that immutability or unchangeableness is an attribute of God. Therefore the present reprobation of those who will be finally cast away or lost, is a doctrine of reason.
The doctrine of reprobation is not the election of a part of mankind to damnation, in the same sense that the elect unto salvation are elected to be saved. The latter are chosen or elected, not only to salvation, but to holiness. Election, with those who are saved, extends not only to the end, salvation, but also to the conditions or means; to wit, the sanctification of the Spirit, and the belief of the truth. This has been shown. God has not only chosen them to salvation, but to be conformed to the image of His Son. Accordingly, He uses means with them, with the design to sanctify and save them. But He has not elected the reprobate to wickedness, and does not use means to make them wicked, with the ultimate design to destroy them. He knows, indeed, that His creating them, together with His providential dispensations, will be the occasion, not the cause, of their sin and consequent destruction. But their sin and consequent destruction are not the ultimate end God had in view in their creation, and in the train of providences that thus result. His ultimate end must in all cases be benevolent, or must be the promotion of good. Their sin and damnation are only an incidental result, and not a thing intended as an end, or for its own sake. God can have no pleasure, in either their sin or consequent misery for its own sake; but on the contrary, He must regard both as in themselves evils of enormous magnitude. He does not, and cannot therefore elect the reprobate to sin and damnation, in the same sense in which He elects the saints to holiness and salvation. The elect unto salvation He chooses to this end, from regard to, or delight in the end. But the reprobate He chooses to destroy, not for the sake of their destruction as an end, or from delight in it for its own sake; but He has determined to destroy them for the public good, since their foreseen sinfulness demanded it. He does not use means to make them sinful, or with this design; but His providence is directed to another end, which end is good; and the destruction of the reprobate is, as has been said, only an incidental and an unavoidable result. That is, God cannot wisely prevent this result.
This is the doctrine of revelation.
That this view of the subject is sustained by divine revelation, will appear from a consideration of the following passages:
"And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee My power, and that My name may be declared throughout all the earth" (Exodus 9:16).
16 But for this very purpose have I let you live, that I might show you My power, and that My name may be declared throughout all the earth. [Romans 9:17-24.] AMP
"Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished" (Proverbs 16:5).
5 Everyone proud and arrogant in heart is disgusting, hateful, and exceedingly offensive to the Lord; be assured [I pledge it] they will not go unpunished. [Proverbs 8:13; 11:20-21.] AMP
"And he said unto them, unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God, but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand, lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them" (Mark 4:11-12).
11 And He said to them, To you has been entrusted the mystery of the kingdom of God [that is, the secret counsels of God which are hidden from the ungodly]; but for those outside [of our circle] everything becomes a parable,
12 In order that they may [indeed] look and look but not see and perceive, and may hear and hear but not grasp and comprehend, lest haply they should turn again, and it [their willful rejection of the truth] should be forgiven them. [Isaiah 6:9,10; Matthew 13:13-15.] AMP
"For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew My power in thee, and that My name might be declared throughout all the earth. What if God, willing to shew His wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction. And that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had before prepared unto glory. Even us, whom He hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?" (Romans 9:17,22-24).
17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, I have raised you up for this very purpose of displaying My power in [dealing with] you, so that My name may be proclaimed the whole world over.
18 So then He has mercy on whomever He wills (chooses) and He hardens (makes stubborn and unyielding the heart of) whomever He wills.
19 You will say to me, Why then does He still find fault and blame us [for sinning]? For who can resist and withstand His will?
20 But who are you, a mere man, to criticize and contradict and answer back to God? Will what is formed say to him that formed it, Why have you made me thus? [Isaiah 29:16; 45:9.]
21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same mass (lump) one vessel for beauty and distinction and honorable use, and another for menial or ignoble and dishonorable use?
22 What if God, although fully intending to show [the awfulness of] His wrath and to make known His power and authority, has tolerated with much patience the vessels (objects) of [His] anger which are ripe for destruction? [Proverbs 16:4.]
23 And [what if] He thus purposes to make known and show the wealth of His glory in [dealing with] the vessels (objects) of His mercy which He has prepared beforehand for glory,
24 Even including ourselves whom He has called, not only from among the Jews but also from among the Gentiles (heathen)? AMP
"Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves; know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates" (2 Corinthians 13:56).
2 Corinthians 13:5-6
5 Examine and test and evaluate your own selves to see whether you are holding to your faith and showing the proper fruits of it. Test and prove yourselves [not Christ]. Do you not yourselves realize and know [thoroughly by an ever-increasing experience] that Jesus Christ is in you — unless you are [counterfeits] disapproved on trial and rejected?
6 But I hope you will recognize and know that we are not disapproved on trial and rejected. AMP
"But these as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption" (2 Peter 2:12).
2 Peter 2:12
12 But these [people]! Like unreasoning beasts, mere creatures of instinct, born [only] to be captured and destroyed, railing at things of which they are ignorant, they shall utterly perish in their [own] corruption [in their destroying they shall surely be destroyed], AMP
"Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God; and not that he should return from his ways, and live? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God, wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye?" (Ezekiel 18:23,32).
23 Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked? says the Lord, and not rather that he should turn from his evil way and return [to his God] and live? AMP