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:”

Sixth Premise

Our next premise is: “Salvation is Unconditional because Jesus finished the work His Father gave Him to do, which was to save sinners,” in proof of which please read John 17:1-4: "These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou has given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do."

In the above quotation the Saviour first tells us what the work was that His Father had assigned Him to do, and then tells us that He has finished the work. He first tells us that His Father had given Him power over all flesh, and surely if He has power over all flesh He will not allow any flesh to prevent Him from doing what His Father has assigned Him to do. We feel sure, and cannot think for a moment that Jesus would be careless in carrying out the will of His Father concerning His people, the objects of His love. Therefore, we must conclude that Jesus possessed power over all flesh to the intent that nothing should prevent Him from doing the work that His Father had assigned Him.

To say that Jesus did not do the work that His Father gave Him to do, is to say that He did not possess power to do it, or else He was careless and did not exercise the power He possessed; is to deny His own statement; when He said, His Father had given Him power over all flesh; could He then be careless, or refuse to exercise it, in obedience to His Father? Such is a foolish and derogatory claim against divine character, and charges God with failing to be able to perform that which He had decreed to be done. See Eph 1:11

The object for which Jesus was put in possession of power over all flesh was that “He should give eternal life to as many as the Father had given Him” If the Lord failed to do what His Father gave Him power to do, then He failed to do the work—And He has made a false statement, for He said "I have finished the work which I thou gavest me to do." If Jesus has done this work for the poor sinner, then why should we tell that sinner that God requires him to perform certain conditions in order that, this work might be done for him again, which has already done by Christ, according to the will of the Father?

The angel that was sent from heaven to Joseph when he was mindful to put Mary, his espoused wife away, said to Joseph, "Fear not to take unto thee Mary, thy wife; for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins." (Matt 1:20,21) If Jesus has done this work for poor sinners, and He says He has finished the work which His Father gave Him to do, then why tell poor sinners that they must do certain things in order that they may be saved? Now, if the Bible had said anywhere that Jesus came to try to save, or that he came to offer salvation to men, or that He came to make a way by which men could be saved, we all would be as ready to teach a conditional theory as any other man; but as long as Jesus continues to tell us that He Himself has done this work for sinners, just that long we shall fight against this idea of a conditional eternal salvation. Paul says, again, in Heb. 10:14; "For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified." This Jesus did when He offered Himself upon the cross without spot to God—perfected His people forever. Then we would ask what conditions must the sinner perform in order that he may be perfected forever? If a sinner be perfected forever, will he be lost if he does not perform conditions? Can a man be perfected forever and lost at the same time?

Paul said again, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief." We are not disposed to dispute with Paul, that it is "worthy of all acceptation; that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." But if Paul had said: “If all accept,” we should have been compelled to dispute with him for there are very few that accept it. If Jesus came to save sinners (and Paul says He did), and He has finished the work He came to do (and He says He has), then why tell poor sinners that they cannot be saved unless they perform certain conditions? One of the strangest things to us in the world is, that men professing to believe in Christ Jesus and religion will boldly and fearlessly deny what He has said in His word, simply to sustain their creed; while Jesus says He came to save sinners, and says He has finished the work. The people go over the world telling the people that Jesus is anxious to save them and will do it, if the sinner will let Him—a plain, positive, palpable contradiction of the Lord's word; and yet they will say, "we believe in Jesus and His teachings; we believe His word is true." When Jesus hung upon the cross, and had suffered the tortures of hell itself for the space of three hours, to pay the debt due to the crimes of His people, and had drunk of the bitter dregs of the cup, He bowed His head and said, "It is finished." Surely we are to understand from this that the work that His Father had assigned Him was done; the sinner was saved; He had perfected him forever, and nothing now remains only for the poor sinner to be put in possession of the fact that Jesus has done this work for him, The only reason that every poor sinner represented upon the cross by Jesus Christ is not rejoicing now in hope of heaven and immortal glory is that they have not been put in possession of the fact that Jesus has died for them, and by the offering of Himself has perfected them forever. This is the work of the Holy Spirit, as Paul said, "Whereof the Holy Spirit is a witness unto us." And here is where many of our conditionalist friends make their grand mistake; they think, and teach, that the Spirit's work is to save sinners, but the Spirit never has saved a sinner, nor never can, for that was not His mission in the world; but He can and does witness to those whom Christ has saved, and gives them the blessed assurance that Christ has met all the demands of the law for them, and has died upon the cross for them, and has thereby perfected them forever. The poor soul is enabled thereby to rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, and begins at once to inquire as did Peter, "Why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which we nor our fathers were able to bear."

It is strange to us that saints, people of God, will sit down around their firesides with their children, those they ought to love, and doubtless do love, and relate to them their experience, in which they will tell that they saw themselves lost and undone, and tried to perform good works so as to gain the favor of the Lord, and all of their efforts only carried them farther away. They tried to pray but could not pray; they tried the prayers of others but all to no avail, and they at last gave up all, and conscientiously believed that eternal destruction was theirs, and they felt, and were made to confess, the justice of God in their eternal condemnation, because they could do nothing to appease His wrath. Just at this terrible moment in their history there was an unseen hand that relieved them, and their souls ran out to Cod in everlasting praise, because "He took them out of the mire and the clay, and placed their feet on a rock, and put a new song in their mouths, even praises to his name," and they were made to cry out, as did old Nebuchadnezzar, "How mighty are his wonders." Like one of old said, "Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou king of saints." At this moment they can see a sufficiency in the finished redemption of Christ, and can see how good and merciful He has been to them in giving them an evidence of their salvation through the merits and blood of Jesus Christ, when they were unable to perform conditions and then they will tell their children that "God has but one way to save sinners, but if you do not perform conditions you will be lost forever. I could not perform them but you must, or else be lost to all eternity." "Oh! consistency, thou art a jewel." Such teaching as we have never portrayed, as is taught by parents to their children in this fast age of wisdom (?), is flooding the world with infidels and hypocrites and causing children to lose confidence in parents and in Christianity. Even now we can hear young men say, "I once thought that Father and Mother were all right, but now I see that their doctrine and their experience are not in harmony. Their experience teaches that salvation is unconditional, and their doctrine teaches that salvation is based upon conditions; hence, there is no consistency in it, and therefore it is all a farce; and they are trying to bind a yoke upon the neck of their children that they themselves could not bear." Oh, that God may open the eyes of Christian parents to these grand truths, and enable them to "lean upon the Lord, as a stronghold in the day of trouble," and as a covert from the impending tempest.

Next: Seventh and Final Premise