Elder T. S. Dalton

The article below is from the book “A Treatise On Salvation” By Elder T.S. Dalton. The book has preserved many of the points of his debate with Elder T.R. Burnett, Disciple or Church of Christ: which took place in 1886 and was published in 1897, by The Gospel Advocate Publishing Company. The book here, “A Treatise On Salvation” was published after Elder Dalton’s death (Elder Dalton went to be with his Lord in 1931).

The thoughts set forth in this writing were published by “The Baptist Bible Hour Publications” of Cincinnati, Ohio, sometime in the 1950's or 60's (Estimated, as the publication is not dated), and are rarely available in book form today.

These articles were written in a time, when there were sundry discussions and debates between the Primitive Baptists and those who advocated for “Universal Atonement and a Conditional Salvation.”


“Eternal Salvation is Unconditional Because:”

Fifth Premise:

Our next premise is, "Salvation is unconditional because it is the work of God that we are in Christ Jesus," in proof of which read I Cor. 1:30,31: "But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, He that glorieth let him glory in the Lord."

From the above we learn that it is the work of God (not in part but in whole) that poor sinners are in Christ, and all Bible readers must know that out of Christ there is no salvation. Now the question is, What can poor sinners do to influence the Lord to do this work for them? Should it prove true that God did not eternally purpose to do all that He does do for poor sinners, then God must purpose to do it after the sinner does something to influence Him to do it. If God begins to purpose after the sinner acts, then God must change. If God changes, then the Bible is untrue. If the Bible proves to be untrue, then we are left without a guide. The Bible is true; therefore Malachi was right when he said, "For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed." And James was correct when he said, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." God being unchangeable, He never began to purpose to do His work. His purpose must, therefore, be eternal; His purpose being eternal, it could not be founded on conditions performed by sinners, for there were no sinners in eternity to perform conditions, which must, of necessity, make the work of God unconditional; and if the work of God be unconditional, the eternal salvation of the sinner must be unconditional, for the eternal salvation of the sinner is the work of God. "For it is of God that ye are in Christ Jesus."  A man in Christ Jesus must certainly dwell in a different element to those who are not in Christ.

Now, my Arminian brother, suppose you wanted to change the element of the little fish, which God has elemented to live in the water, what would you do first? Or what would you tell the fish to do? Even thought the fish would be changing from one natural element to another, it would still be departing from the nature God created for the fish, and only the Creator God can effect such a change in nature. In the case of the unregenerate sinner, he is changing from a natural element to a spiritual one; a work which can only be done by God Himself, because the natural man and the spiritual man are both of His creation, and with God, all things are possible.

We all admit that it takes supernatural power to perform such work as this, because God created nature, and He alone can alter it. Yet when it comes to changing the sinner from a natural to a spiritual element, men attempt to get around this, and change the truth of the gospel, to words of wild “entlu” (an expression used to describe garbled shouts, of which no sense can be made), and ask them to hear, believe and accept their gospel, and such work will be done in a moment. Many a poor, deluded soul gets fully under the influence of such preaching, and he arises and walks with the rest.

He goes along doing what he is told and so finds out that the gospel he was learning just didn't feed him the way he wanted to be fed. He then starts to mingle with the world and soon finds he loves the world and its amusements and desires to be back where he was, to start with. He soon found out such would not do either; he thought: "I have joined the church, and I must hold out faithful;" hence the poor soul is lying on Isaiah's bed, —"For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it, they could not stretch themselves on it; and the cover too narrow, so they could not wrap themselves in it: and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it." (Isa. 28:20) So he remains on this uneasy bed of profession until winter, and they freeze out and go forth in the world hardened infidels, because they have been deluded by this wild enthusiasm which surrounded them, and they conclude that if this is Christianity they don't want any of it. Some preachers will go off and write a long sketch of their work and have it published in a journal and report so many souls came to Christ, so many souls elemented to live in a spiritual world, and the poor soul gets the journal, and reads his own report, and feels like he allowed himself to be deceived.

The next fall the preacher returns and finds much of his work to do over again, and yet will believe a great work was done for the Lord again, and much of the people with him might believe likewise. This is the fruit which grows out of the doctrine of conditional offers of salvation. Paul says, "But of him (God) are ye in Christ Jesus." If people would believe the statements of Paul on this subject and pay less attention to what men say, we would be nearer together than we are; but as long as men go forth in the world preaching conditional offers of salvation, just that long will there be division in the ranks of the professed religious world, for God said He "will never leave himself without a witness;" and just as soon as all turn out to witness that God offers salvation to men on condition of their doing certain things, then God is without a witness in the world.

But, perhaps, someone will ask, Does not Paul say that we are baptized into Christ? Therefore baptism is the condition upon which we get into Christ. Now, that is true; and if there were no other baptism than water baptism, then this theory would do, and it could be proved that baptism possessed creative power, for Paul says; "We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." If we are created in Christ Jesus, and water baptism does not possess creative power, then the baptism that brings the sinner into Christ is not water baptism. But people, anciently, were baptized with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit possesses creative power; therefore the baptism that creates the sinner in Christ Jesus must be the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and to this agree the words of Paul in Romans 6, for he fully sets forth the idea of two baptisms in Rom. 6; first, baptism of the Spirit; and second baptism in water. He says, "Know ye not, that so many of us as were (past tense) baptized into Jesus Christ were (past tense) baptized into his death? Therefore we are (present tense) buried with him (not into) by baptism into death," etc., which shows to every unprejudiced mind that the baptism of the Holy Spirit comes first, and is preparatory to water baptism. It, therefore, being the baptism of the Holy Spirit that brings the sinner into Christ, it must, of necessity, be the work of God that we are in Christ Jesus; and if the work of God, it cannot be the work of God and the sinner jointly; for James says, "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth." Therefore Paul was correct when he said, "It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy." And again he said: "It is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." Therefore we conclude that the eternal salvation of sinners is not dependent upon conditions for them to perform, but alone upon the mercy and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; hence we sing:

Of merit now let others speak,
But merit I have none;
I'm justified for Jesus' sake,
And saved by grace alone.

But this strait and narrow way doesn't suit the carnal mind of men; therefore, they, as the poet says,"complain it is too straight."

If Self must be denied,
And sin forsaken quite,
They'd rather choose the way that's wide,
And strive to think it right.

Oh, that God in His goodness and mercy might open the eyes of sinners and show them the beauty there is in His plan of grace and mercy in the salvation of the lost. May God open the eyes of His poor, deluded children who have been gulled away from the truth and made to deny their own experience, and confess a conditional theory instead; and bring them back to the ancient land marks, that they may rest in the truth: “God's salvation is by grace alone.”

Next: Sixth Premise