Election - Forseen Faith
by C. H. Spurgeon
“But,” say others, “God elected them on the foresight of their faith.” Now, God gives
faith, therefore he could not have elected them on account of faith, which he foresaw.
There shall be twenty beggars in the street, and I determine to give one of them a
shilling; but will any one say that I determined to give that one a shilling, that I
elected him to have the shilling, because I foresaw that he would have it? That would
be talking nonsense. In like manner to say that God elected men because he foresaw
they would have faith, which is salvation in the germ, would be too absurd for us to
listen to for a moment.
There was nothing more in Abraham than in any one of us why God should have selected him, for whatever good was in Abraham God put it there. Now, if God put it there, the motive for his putting it there could not be the fact of his putting it there.
If I were to plead that the rose bud were the author of the root, well! I might indeed,
be laughed at. But were I to urge that any goodness in man is the ground of God’s
choice, I should be foolish indeed.
The love of God therefore existed before there was any good thing in man, and if you tell me that God loved men because of the foresight of some good thing in them, I again reply to that, that the same thing cannot be both cause and effect. Now it is quite certain that any virtue which there may be in any man is the result of God’s grace. Now if it be the result of grace it cannot be the cause of grace. It is utterly impossible that an effect should have existed before a cause; but God’s love existed before man’s goodness, therefore that goodness cannot be a cause. 501.172
Some, who know no better, harp upon the foreknowledge of our repentance and faith, and say that, “Election is according to the foreknowledge of God;” a very scriptural statement, but they make a very unscriptural interpretation of it. Advancing by slow degrees, they next assert that God foreknew the faith and the good works of his people. Undoubtedly true, since he foreknew everything; but then comes their groundless inference, namely, that therefore the Lord chose his people because he foreknew them to be believers. It is undoubtedly true that foreknown excellencies are not the causes of election, since I have shown you that the Lord foreknew all our sin: and surely if there were enough virtue in our faith and goodness to constrain him to choose us, there would have been enough demerit in our bad works to have constrained him to reject us; so that if you make foreknowledge to operate in one way, you must also take it in the other, and you will soon perceive that it could not have been from anything good or bad in us that we were chosen, but according to the purpose of his own will, as it is written, “I will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”
Recollect also that God himself did not foresee that there would be any love to him in us arising out of ourselves, for there never has been any, and there never will be; he only foresaw that we should believe because he gave us faith, he foresaw that we should repent because his Spirit would work repentance in us, he foresaw that we should love, because he wrought that love within us; and is there anything in the foresight that he means to give us such things that can account for his giving us such things? The case is self-evident—his foresight of what he means to do cannot be his reason for doing it.
You are obliged to confess that it is of grace then, and cast away the thoughts, that it was of your foreseen faith, or of your foreseen good works, that the Lord chose you.