Calvinism: Pure & Mixed, A Defence of the Westminster Standards, by W. G. T. Shedd, 1893, Banner of Truth, 1986, Reprinted 1999, 161 pp.
Calvinism: Pure & Mixed is an ironic title to be carried by Banner of Truth since this publisher itself promotes Calvinism sometimes more purely and sometimes in a rather mixed form. In fact, many of the books which Banner of Truth reprints (or publishes for the first time) seem to be chosen specifically to advance their hypo-Calvinistic position on the well-meant offer of the Gospel. This volume, sadly, falls in that category.
On a historical basis Calvinism: Pure and Mixed was written to contest those (mostly liberals) in the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America in the late 19th century who desired to revise the Westminster Confession of Faith. While Shedd argues adroitly against revising the confession, he probably spends more time trying to elaborate upon his own view, a Calvinism in places weakened by his mixture of it with lesser soteriological views.
Like most moderate Calvinists Shedd argues for infralapsarianism. This position itself isn’t too troubling but, as is typically done, Shedd combines it with other errors. He relies on God’s “permission” of sin (contra John Calvin) to avoid making God the author of sin. (p 31-32) And he translates the “harden” of Romans 9:18 as “do not soften” so that he might try to maintain his view. (p. 52) He also argues “If God does not purpose to make Judas Iscariot ‘a vessel of mercy’, he must of course purpose to leave him ‘a vessel of wrath’” when the text of Romans 9 has God actually making and molding (not simply leaving or passing by) the vessel of wrath. (p. 40)
Repeatedly Shedd argues for the salvation of all infants, a view I’ve only ever seen in context of Arminianism and its kin. (p. 5-6, 15, 62-67, 107-115) He does note however against his own view that “It is sometimes said that the extension of election by the later Calvinism, so as to include all infants as a class instead of a part of them as individuals, is a departure from the Calvinistic system, and a considerable modification of it in the direction of Arminianism.” (p. 109) Shedd’s response to the criticism is unpersuasive, arguing that his view is still Calvinist, but varies only on the quantity of infants saved.
Finally, God’s “common grace,” in Shedd’s view, actually helps man believe but is “nullified solely by the resistance of the non-elect.” (p. 56) The sinner has “defeated” (p. 47) and “frustrated” (p. 73) God’s common grace and “thwarted” (p. 48) God’s benevolent approach to his sinful heart. Shedd’s God simply is not sovereign.