T B Hoover on Adams and unconditional election

Another point marking the thought of Adams as Calvinistic is his adherence to the doctrine of election as a decree of God, and commonly referred to as predestination. The doctrine of election as found in Adams' thought is the eternal decree whereby God purposes to save some to eternal life. Adams conceived of election as consisting of God's decree to save out of the world a definite number of people from eternal damnation as a consequence of sin. Said he, in his commentary on Second Peter: "God hath a purpose to redeem us; there is election. As this purpose was fore-ordained of God before the creation, and as God's decrees are unchangeable in accord with his own nature election to salvation is unconditioned by man's will or works according to Adams' interpretation of it. He believes it to be an act of God resulting from God's own wisdom and mercy, and for the purpose of His glory.
A study of Adams doctrine of the church shows that he identifies the elect of God with the true members of the church, "The church itself is a number of men, which God hath set apart by an eternal decree, and in time sanctified to become real members of it. They are 'written in heaven' there is their eternal election." (II, 532) His use of the word "eternal" with his references to election implies
that he thought of it as a condition absolutely independent of man's choice. This view is substantiated in those places where he speaks of election and salvation decreed before either the world began or objects of God's election were born. In one place, lie points to Paul's words to Timothy "He hath saved us according to his own purpose and grace, which was given in Christ Jesus before the world began." II Tim. 1:9. In another place where the church as the body of Christ is being treated, he says: "How some predestinated members of this body are yet unborn. ..." (II, 402) A further look at Adams' treatment of the Scripture phrase, "the first-born which are written In heaven," gives in 
summary form his belief in the Calvinistic concept of unconditional election. He differed with Calvin on the meaning of "the first-born" - believing that it was an inclusive term for all the elect whereas Calvin limited the term to the ancient saints, the noble and primitive parts of the church." (II, 533) As Adams contended that "the firstborn" consist of all the elect, just as certain is he that "those whose names were written in heaven" consist of none but the elect. In describing the elect, he frequently
speaks of their names being written on a book, and states that "this writing in heaven is the book of election, wherein all that shall be saved are registered." (II, 539) From this limited inscription on God's book of the names of only those who are called to salvation, he shows by logic the reasonableness of accepting the doctrine of election. "For if there were universal inscription, there should follow universal election; if universal election, then universal salvation. If the former were true, then were not election any such name. If the latter, to what purpose did God make hell? 'God so loved the world, that lie gave his only begotten Son.' What, that all should be saved? Ho, but that 'whosoever believes might have everlasting life. Not all; for he that takes all cannot be said to choose." (II, Further in speaking of the saved, he says: "Before all time they were his by election." (II, 215).
To assume that Adams1 doctrine of election would leave no place for man to exorcise himself as a free agent would be an error In judgment. This is made clear in a statement of Adams In "The Creed:" "Though he [God] be almighty, he forseeth no man to heaven against his will. If they will deny his power, he that is mighty to save them that believe, Is as mighty to condemn those that will not obey." (III, 144). This matter of man's faith as related to salvation as well as reprobation as the opposite of election will be included In the discussion of the next chapter# However, it should be stated in concluding this section that Adams' thought on predestination is in no way to be confused with fatalism, lie objects to man's complacency based on the grounds that all comes to pass by God's unchangeable decree, by pointing out that means as well as the ends are decreed, and man must use the former to achieve the latter? (III, 115) Adams' belief in unconditional election is summed-up in his statement; "Gods elections be as free as himself," (III, 242).


T B Hoover on Adams and Total Depravity

The foregoing reference to evil leads to a consideration of Adams' thought relating to the condition of man before the operation of God's spirit upon his being. Along with Calvin, he holds that this condition is one of total depravity and total inability due to the pollution of  original sin. That is, the effects of sin extend to every part of man's personality rendering him totally unable in spiritual matters though capable of natural, civil and external religious good. This view of the effect of sin is
quite different from the view that fallen man possesses a plenary ability, and that be is not in a sinful state having the capability of doing all that he ought to do. Also Adams' view differs from that which claims that because original sin is involuntary it is not actual or true sin; and that the influence of the first man's sin extends enly to the sensuous nature, and not to the rational and moral nature of man. Adams' theology would not admit the claim that man is capable of keeping the law perfectly as law is
adjusted according to man's ability; and the possibility of man's being free from conscious sin - a view that allows fallen man a gracious ability enabling him to turn to God and believe.
Adams' Calvinism with respect to the nature of man's depraved condition is expressed in clear and certain terms. When discussing original sin he says; "There is a depravation and corruption of the whole nature of man, whereby he stands guilty and polluted before God, indisposed to all good, and prone to all evil." (III.19). In. the same discussion, he further indicates the extent of this corruption by calling it "a pravity and deformity of all the powers of man." Here he traces its efficient cause to the
perverseness of the first man's will, and accounts for its imputation to the human race by means of carnal propagation. This view of natural propagation as an instrument is opposed to what Adams calls the Pelagian error holding "that the guilt of the first sin was derived to other men, not by propagation, but by imitation." (I, 233) This extension of corruption to the whole of man is treated by Adams in a sermon entitled "The Bad Leaven" in which he says; "a little sin makes the whole man, in body and soul, unsavoury to the Lord." (II, 33) His position regarding man's spiritual condition by nature is one which allows no goodness in man at all, and sees him as corrupted in mind, will, and affections making him spiritually incapable without divine grace. In other words, it is a position that holds that men all have a natural corruption depriving them of all habitual goodness. His thought on this subject will be given more attention in a later discussion of God's grace as he understood it. There it will especially be treated as opposed to the Arminian viewpoint.


T B Hoover on Adams and Limited Atonement

In his thesis T B Hoover writes 
Calvin's principle of limited atonement is found in the religious thought of Adams as might be expected in view of his doctrine of election. As he holds that not all are saved by eternal decree, so does he hold that Christ's atonement was limited in effect to the elect rather than extending to all men. This is not to say that Adams denies the fact that salvation is universally offered in the gospel. He readily admits this to be true and states that "the offer of salvation is general ..." (II, 43) But this admission in no way alters his belief that universal salvation is impossible. He speaks of the blood of the crucified Jesus as being effectual for the pardon of "none but those that bleed in soul for ... sins" (I, 164) and all "that will apprehend it faithfully." (II, 430). In "A Cruelfix" or a "Sermon upon the Passion," Adams' use of personal pronouns to signify the objects of Christ's atoning sacrifice might leave the impression that Christ's atonement was made for all people. Such an erroneous impression is corrected when the context of this usage is understood. Like the writer of the Scripture text of this sermon, it is Adams' intention to teach that those for whom Christ died consist only of those who either have or will appropriate Christ's death by faith. He thought of Paul's words to the Ephesians: "He hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour" as being relevant only to God's elect. It is with this limitation that he makes redemption apply to the pronoun "us." He further shows that atonement is limited by Christ's words "I give my life" being qualified by the other words "for my sheep" and draws the conclusion that for some there is no more mercy than if there were no Saviour. (II, 366.)  This Calvinist doctrine is most explicitly seen to be Adams' in his discussion of the Covenant of Grace in his discourse upon "The Creed." Here he states that God's promise of reconciliation to raise up forlorn man from his misery is found in a covenant not with all men "but only with those to whom the free mercy of God hath given faith." (III, 205.) Here he says further: "That doctrine is repugnant to the Scripture, and unsound, which teacheth the redemption by the Second Adam to be as universal as the sin of the first; it is so, indeed, for value and sufficiency, it is not so for communication of the benefit." (III, 206.) This same thought is expressed in his treatment of a preceding portion of "The Creed" - "As the first Adam did not sin only for himself, but for all that should come after him; so the second Adam did not die at all for himself, but for all [not everybody] that should come unto him?" (III, 88) Adams finds in Christ' s words "I pray not for the world" (John 17:9) conclusive evidence for limited atonement on the grounds that redemption and intercession are related parts of Christ's mediatorship, and deduces that Christ's exclusion from his redemption follows his exclusion from his intercession. "... for whom he does not pray, he did not die: he did not open his side, if he will not open his mouth for them." (III, 208)
In summing up Adams' thought with reference to a doctrine of limited atonement, it can be said that he accepted atonement as extending in its effects generally to all men as an act of providence, and at the same time being limited in effects whereby it could be enjoyed by some and not by others as an instrument of salvation.