W.G.T. Shedd on God’s Desire for All to be Saved

“The following declaration is found in Confession xv. I, Larger Catechism, 159. ‘Repentance unto life is an evangelical grace, the doctrine whereof is to be preached in season and out of season by every minister of the gospel, as well as that of faith in Christ.’  This certainly teaches that faith and repentance are the duty of all men, not of some only.  No one contends that the Confession teaches that God has given a limited command to repent. ‘God commandeth all men everywhere to repent.’ But how could he give such a universal command to all sinners if he is not willing to pardon all sinners?  If his benevolent love is confined to some sinners in particular? How could our Lord command his ministers to preach the doctrine of faith and repentance to ‘every creature’, if he does not desire that every one of them would believe and repent?  And how can he desire this if he does not feel infinite love for the souls of all? When the Confession teaches the duty of universal faith and repentance, it teaches by necessary inference the doctrine of God’s universal compassion and readiness to forgive.  And it also teaches in the same inferential way, that the sacrifice of Christ for sin is ample for the forgiveness of every man. To preach the duty of immediate belief on the Lord Jesus Christ as obligatory upon every man, in connection with the doctrine imputed to the Confession by the reviser, that God feels compassion for only the elect, and that Christ’s sacrifice is not sufficient for all, would be self-contradictory.  The two things cannot be put together.”

– W. G. T. Shedd, Calvinism: Pure and Mixed (1893: Trow’s Printing and Bookbinding Company, NY), pp. 25-6

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