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Puritan Book Reviews – A Treatise of Effectual Calling and Election
Reviewed by Dr. C. Matthew McMahon
A Treatise of Effectual Calling and Election
by Christopher Love
Soli Deo Gloria Publications, Morgan, PA: 1998.
298 Pages, Hardback.
The assurance of salvation is part of every Christian’s arsenal against doubt and fear of death. But the attainment of any degree of assurance does not come easily. In this treatise, Christopher Love shows the Christian how they may come to have a degree of assurance, to cultivate it, and to cause it to grow through God’s Spirit. Love bases this assurance in the election (or predestination) and effectual calling of God upon the life of the believer. Since God has elected the believer in Christ, there is much assurance to be gained, and the security of the believer expressed in works demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit are seen.
Love designs his treatise by stirring up men and awakening then to their need of making their calling and election sure. 2 Peter 1:10 is his base text for the treatise. Really, the treatise itself is 16 sermons on the verse. However, every time a good puritan preaches in the same manner as this series, his collected sermons easily pass for a treatise. In the classic Puritan style, he exegetes the texts and explains the doctrine which he is about to expound. Then the remaining sermons are expositions on the doctrine stated and the practical application of the doctrines, or “uses”, to the lives of men. He covers such aspects of the doctrine as “God’s method with those He calls” (which is very valuable), “The Cases of Conscience Concerning Men not Effectually Called,” “When Love for God’s People May Prove Effectual Calling,” “Helps to obtaining Assurance,” “A Series of Objections and Answers to the stated doctrine,” and 6 saving effects of being elect.
If you are lacking assurance, doubting or locked in some form of Giant Despair’s Doubting Castle and dungeon, then Love’s treatise will warm your heart and stir your mind to contemplate the truth of your calling in Christ; if you are elect.
“Is a wicked man, a man not yet called, able to resist and keep off his own call? And that you may understand the answer hereto, I must lay down this distinction: There is a twofold calling of Christ – a significative calling, which is such a calling whereby Christ, in the ministry of His Word, signifies and declares what He would have men do. Now this kind of call wicked men may resist…But, second, there is an operative calling, and that is such a call whereby God not only signifies to a man what he must do, but with the signification of His will gives a man power to do what He calls them to do, accompanying the Word with His Spirit, making the heart stoop and yield to Jesus Christ.”
“We hear many lament for their outward losses, but who laments for the loss of inward comforts?”
“Assurance is but a comfortable cordial to bear you up.”
“Calling is sanctification begun.”