Fourteen Queries and Ten Absurdities

Paul Hobson

Originally Printed In 1655

Posted On Nov. 3, 2017

Fourteen Queries and Ten Absurdities About the extent of Christ’s Death, the power of the creatures, the justice of God in condemning some, and saving others, presented by a free-willer to the Church of Christ at Newcastle, and answered by Paul Hobson, a member of the said church. In which answer is discovered, the extent of Christ’s Death, the nature and truth of Election, the condition of the creature both before and after conversion, &c. Published in tenderness of love for the good of all, especially for the churches of Christ.

Paul Hobson, a Particular Baptist who served in the Parliamentary Army, a Captain, and then a Major, under the leadership of Thomas Fairfax; and from a few accounts reckoned as one of the best known of the lay preachers in the Army. It would appear that Hobson embraced Baptist principles around 1640, and soon thereafter, along with Thomas Gower, helped to establish one of the seven Particular Baptist Assemblies in the City of London. Hobson’s signature appears on both the 1644 and the revised 1646 London Confession of Faith. Upon our personal evaluation, there seems to be a bit of a mystical fog that hung over his earlier writings, {Discovery of Truth, 1645; Practical Divinity, 1646; Garden Enclosed, 1647, &c.,} as he seemed prone to not a few mystical tendencies, not at all unusual for that time period, and even somewhat typical of those that Cromwell and company, would embrace in their bosoms, {i.e., Saltmarsh, Dell, Vane, Erbury, Tichborne, Clarkson, &c.,} though we realize that these ‘waters’ can be easily navigated, by a settled persuasion of Gospel Truth. After his conversion to Christ, he made this insightful statement in regards to the legal formalism in which he had been entrapped, “I was once as legal as any of you can be; I durst never a morning but pray; nor never a night before I went to bed but pray, I durst not eat a bit of bread but I gave thanks; I daily prayed and wept over my sins, so that I had almost wept out my eyes with sorrow for sin, but I am persuaded, that when I used all these duties, I had not one jot of God in me.” Whilst this language may seem odd to those unacquainted with the way and manner in which the Lord frequently empties his children of formal self-righteousness and religious formality, it will strike a chord of familiarity in those with parallel experiences. In 1649, when King Charles was beheaded by Parliament for treason, Hobson was promoted to lieutenant-colonel, and placed in a garrison near Newcastle, from whence place a Baptist Assembly was formed soon thereafter, making it one of the oldest Baptist churches in Northern England. His old friend, Thomas Gower became the pastor of the church, whilst Hobson served as an elder. In 1655 Hobson attacked the Arminian heresy of universal atonement, in his book entitled Fourteen Queries and Ten Absurdities about the extent of Christ’s Death, in which work he demolished the false assertions of free will and universal redemption, in declaring most emphatically the efficacious nature of Christ’s death upon the cross. Hobson’s high emphasis upon free grace, as opposed to any form of a conditional works based religion, was sufficient enough to prompt Richard Baxter to label Hobson as an Antinomian. Periods of imprisonment for preaching, sedition and treason, fell out as his allotment throughout his life, especially towards his later days. It would appear the Hobson died some time in 1666.

From the Introduction by Thomas Gower. Beloved, it is fearful to consider how far antichrist has darkened the glorious and pure truths of Jesus Christ, with his veils, wizards and covers, so that it is hard to find out their face or form, as also to restore any one truth to its primitive institution and being; though God is pleased many times by an eminent hand to bring truth to light, notwithstanding these false covers, which do yet lie upon it, as to many, though much discovered by others. Yet when I consider where the cause of all this is, not in the truth itself, but in men’s blindness and darkness in their understanding thereof, and {which is yet worse} it being like so to remain till the glorious Gospel of Christ shall take hold of them, therefore the consideration of this should stay our spirits, when we see such contendings, oppositions and carnal reasonings against the clear and pure truth of God in the Scriptures; and now seeing our dear brother, the author of this treatise hath endeavored to bring forth his talent in the behalf of truth, in answer to those queries, wherein I judge that God hath in a good measure enabled him to give a clear answer, to the satisfying and confirming of them who are or have been apt to scruple or stagger at the truth which is here affirmed by him, and owned by all saints.