The Sovereignty of God
By Arthur Pink
Foreword to the FIRST Edition
In the following pages an attempt has been made to examine anew in the light of Godís Word, some of the profoundest questions which can engage the human mind. Others have grappled with these mighty problems in days gone by, and from their labors we are the gainers. While making no claim for originality, the writer, nevertheless, has endeavored to examine and deal with his subject from an entirely independent viewpoint. We have studied diligently the writings of such men as Augustine and Aquinas, Calvin and Melancthon, Jonathan Edwards and Ralph Erskine, Andrew Fuller and Robert Haldane. And sad it is to think that these eminent and honored names are almost entirely unknown to the present generation. Though, of course, we do not endorse all their conclusions, yet we gladly acknowledge our deep indebtedness to their works. We have purposely refrained from quoting freely from these deeply taught theologians, because we desired that the faith of our readers should stand not in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. For this reason we have quoted freely from the Scriptures and have sought to furnish proof-texts for every statement we have advanced.
It would be foolish for us to expect that this work will meet with general approval. The trend of modern theology--if theology it can be called--is ever toward the deification of the creature rather than the glorification of the Creator, and the leaven of present-day Rationalism is rapidly permeating the whole of Christendom. The malevolent effects of Darwinianism are more far reaching than most are aware. Many of those among our religious leaders who are still regarded as orthodox would, we fear, be found to be very heterodox if they were weighed in the balances of the Sanctuary. Even those who are clear, intellectually, upon other truth, are rarely sound in doctrine. Few, very few, today, really believe in the complete ruin and total depravity of man. Those who speak of manís "free will," and insist upon his inherent power to either accept or reject the Savior, do but voice their ignorance of the real condition of Adamís fallen children. And if there are few who believe that, so far as he is concerned, the condition of the sinner is entirely hopeless, there are fewer still who really believe in the absolute Sovereignty of God.
In addition to the widespread effects of unscriptural teaching, we also have to reckon with the deplorable superficiality of the present generation. To announce that a certain book is a treatise on doctrine, is quite sufficient to prejudice against it the great bulk of church-members and most of our preachers as well. The craving today is for something light and spicy, and few have patience, still less desire, to examine carefully that which would make a demand both upon their hearts and their mental powers. We remember, also, how that it is becoming increasingly difficult in these strenuous days for those who are desirous of studying the deeper things of God--to find the time which such study requires. Yet, it is still true that "Where there's a will, there's a way," and in spite of the discouraging features referred to, we believe there is even now a godly remnant who will take pleasure in giving this little work a careful consideration, and such will, we trust, find in it "Meat in due season."
We do not forget the words of one long since passed away, namely, that "Denunciation is the last resort of a defeated opponent." To dismiss this book with the contemptuous epithet, "Hyper-Calvinism"! will not be worthy of notice. For controversy we have no taste, and we shall not accept any challenge to enter the lists against those who might desire to debate the truths discussed in these pages. So far as our personal reputation is concerned, that we leave our Lord to take care of, and unto Him we would now commit this volume and whatever fruit it may bear, asking Him to use it for the enlightening of His own dear people (insofar as it is in accord with His Holy Word) and to pardon the writer for and preserve the reader from the injurious effects of any false teaching that may have crept into it. If the joy and comfort which have come to the author while penning these pages are shared by those who may scan them--then we shall be devoutly thankful to the One whose grace alone enables us to discern spiritual things.
Arthur Pink, June 1918
Foreword to the SECOND Edition
It is now two years since the first edition of this work was presented to the Christian public. Its reception has been far more favorable than the author had expected. Many have notified him of the help and blessing received from a perusal of his attempts to expound what is admittedly a difficult subject. For every word of appreciation, we return hearty thanks to Him in Whose light, we alone "see light." A few have condemned the book in unqualified terms, and these we commend to God and to the Word of His grace, remembering that it is written, "a man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven" (John 3:27). Others have sent us friendly criticisms and these have been weighed carefully, and we trust that, in consequence, this revised edition will be unto those who are members of the household of faith more profitable than the former one.
One word of explanation seems to be called for. A number of respected brethren in Christ feel that our treatment of the Sovereignty of God was too extreme and one-sided. It has been pointed out that a fundamental requirement in expounding the Word of God is the need of preserving the balance of Truth. With this we are in hearty accord. Two things are beyond dispute:
1. God is sovereign, and
2. man is a responsible creature.
But in this book, we are treating of the Sovereignty of God, and while the responsibility of man is readily owned, yet, we do not pause on every page to insist on it; instead, we have sought to stress that side of the Truth which in these days is almost universally neglected. Probably 95 percent of the religious literature of the day is devoted to a setting forth of the duties and obligations of men. The fact is that those who undertake to expound the responsibility of man are the very ones who have lost 'the balance of Truth' by ignoring, very largely, the Sovereignty of God. It is perfectly right to insist on the responsibility of man, but what of God? Has He no claims, no rights! A hundred such works as this are needed, ten thousand sermons would have to be preached throughout the land on this subject, if the 'balance of Truth' is to be regained. The 'balance of Truth' has been lost, lost through a disproportionate emphasis being thrown on the human side, to the minimizing, if not the exclusion, of the Divine side. We grant that this book is one-sided, for it only pretends to deal with one side of the Truth, and that is, the neglected side, the Divine side.
Furthermore, the question might be raised: Which is the more to be deplored--an over emphasizing of the human side--and an insufficient emphasis on the Divine side? Or, an over emphasizing of the Divine side--and an insufficient emphasis on the human side? Surely, if we err at all, it is on the right side. Surely, there is far more danger of making too much of man--and too little of God; than there is of making too much of God--and too little of man. Yes, the question might well be asked, Can we press God's claims too far? Can we be too extreme in insisting upon the absoluteness and universality of the Sovereignty of God?
It is with profound thankfulness to God that, after a further two years diligent study of Holy Writ, with the earnest desire to discover what almighty God has been pleased to reveal to His children on this subject, we are able to testify that we see no reason for making any retractions from what we wrote before, and while we have re-arranged the material of this work, the substance and doctrine of it remains unchanged. May the One Who condescended to bless the first edition of this work be pleased to own even more widely this revision.
Arthur Pink, 1921
Foreword to the THIRD Edition
That a third edition of this work is now called for, is a cause of fervent praise to God. As the darkness deepens and the pretensions of men are taking on an ever-increasing blatancy, the need becomes greater for the claims of God to be emphasized. As the twentieth century Babel of religious tongues is bewildering so many, the duty of God's servants to point to the one sure anchorage for the heart, is the more apparent. Nothing is so tranquilizing and so stabilizing, as the assurance that the Lord Himself is on the Throne of the universe, "working all things after the counsel of His own will!"
The Holy Spirit has told us that there are in the Scriptures "some things hard to be understood", but mark it is "hard" not "impossible"! A patient waiting on the Lord, a diligent comparison of scripture with scripture, often issues in a fuller apprehension of that which before was obscure to us. During the last ten years it has pleased God to grant us further light on certain parts of His Word, and this we have sought to use in improving our expositions of different passages. But it is with sincere thanksgiving that we find it unnecessary to either change or modify any doctrine contained in the former editions. Yes, as time goes by, we realize (by Divine grace) with ever-increasing force, the truth, the importance, and the value of the Sovereignty of God as it pertains to every branch of our lives.
Our hearts have been made to rejoice again and again by unsolicited letters which have come to hand from every quarter of the earth, telling of help and blessing received from the former editions of this work. One Christian friend was so stirred by reading it and so impressed by its testimony, that a check was sent to be used in sending free copies to missionaries in fifty foreign countries, "that its glorious message may encircle the globe"; numbers of whom have written us to say how much they have been strengthened in their fight with the powers of darkness. To God alone belongs all the glory. May He deign to use this third edition to the honor of His own great Name, and to the feeding of His scattered and starved sheep.
Arthur Pink, 1929
Foreword to the FOURTH Edition
It is with profound praise to God "most high" that another edition of this valuable and helpful book is now called for. Though its teaching runs directly counter to much that is being promulgated on every hand today, yet we are happy to be able to say that its circulation is increasing to the strengthening of the faith, comfort and hope of an increasing number of God's elect. We commit this new edition to Him whom we "delight to honor," praying that He may be pleased to bless its circulation to the enlightening of many more of His own, to the "praise of the glory of His grace," and a clearer apprehension of the majesty of God and His Sovereign mercy.
I. C. Herendeen, 1949