Reprobation is equivalent to rejection; and by it is usually understood the Calvinistic doctrine, that a portion of mankind, by the eternal counsel or decree of God, has been predestined to eternal death. Conditional reprobation, or rejecting men from the divine mercy, because of their impenitence or refusal of salvation, is a scriptural doctrine. Against the unconditional, absolute reprobation taught by rigid Calvinists, the following objections may be urged:
1. It cannot be reconciled to the love of God. "God is love." "He is loving to every man, and his tender mercies are over all his works."
2. Nor to the wisdom of God; for the bringing into being a vast number of intelligent creatures under a necessity of sinning and of being eternally lost, teaches no moral lesson to the world; and contradicts all those notions of wisdom in the ends and processes of government which we are taught to look for, not only from natural reason, but from the Scriptures.
3. Nor to the grace of God, so often magnified in the Scriptures. For it does not, certainly, argue superabounding richness of grace, when ten thousand have equally offended, to pardon one or two of them.
4. Nor to those passages of Scripture which represent God as tenderly compassionate and pitiful to the worst of his creatures. "I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth;" "The Lord is long-suffering to us ward, not willing that any should perish."
5. Nor to his justice. We may affirm that justice and equity in God are what they are taken to be among reasonable men; and if men everywhere would consider it as contrary to justice that a sovereign should condemn to death one. or more of his subjects for not obeying laws which it was utterly impossible for them to obey, it is manifestly unjust to charge God with acting in precisely the same manner. In whatever light the subject be viewed, no fault, in any right construction, can be chargeable upon the person so punished, or, as we may rather say, destroyed, since punishment supposes a judicial proceeding which this act shuts out. Every received notion of justice is thus violated.
6. Nor to the sincerity of God in offering salvation by Christ to all who hear the Gospel, of whom this scheme supposes the majority, or at least great numbers, to be among the reprobate. That God offers salvation to those who he knows will never receive it, is true; but there is here no insincerity, for the atonement has been made for their sins.
7. Nor with the scriptural declaration, that "God is no respecter of persons." To have respect of persons is a phrase in Scripture which sometimes refers to judicial proceedings, and signifies to judge from partiality and affection, and not upon the merits of the question. "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him" (Ac 10:34-35). But if the doctrine of reprobation be true, then it necessarily follows that there is precisely this kind of respect of persons with God.
8. This doctrine brings with it the repulsive and shocking opinion of the eternal punishment of infants. The escape from this is either by annihilation of those dying in infancy, or by assuming that they are among the elect.
9. This doctrine destroys the end of punitive justice. That end can only be to deter men from offence, and to add strength to the law of God. But if the whole body of the reprobate are left to the influence of their fallen nature without remedy, they cannot be deterred from sin by threats of inevitable punishment; nor can they ever submit to the dominion of the law of God: their doom is fixed, and threats and examples can avail nothing. SEE ELECTION.