The Bible, and the Fullness of it with the Doctrine of Election

Taken and adapted from, “The Doctrine of Election”
Written by, A.W. Pink

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There is not a single book in the Word of God where election is not either expressly stated…

…strikingly illustrated, or clearly implied. Genesis is full of it: the difference which the Lord made between Nahor and Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac, and His loving Jacob and hating Esau are cases to the point. In Exodus we behold the distinction made by God between the Egyptians and the Hebrews. In Leviticus the atonement and all the sacrifices were for the people of God, nor were they bidden to go and “offer” them to the surrounding heathen. In Numbers Jehovah used a Balaam to herald the fact that Israel were “the people” who “shall dwell alone, and shall not be numbered among the nations” (23:9); and therefore was he constrained to cry “How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, 0 Israel” (24:5). In Deuteronomy it is recorded “The Lord’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance” (32:9).

In Joshua we behold the discriminating mercy of the Lord bestowed upon Rahab the harlot, while the whole of her city was doomed to destruction. In Judges the sovereignty of God appears in the unlikely instruments selected, by which He wrought victory for Israel: Deborah, Gideon, Samson. In Ruth we have Orpah kissing her mother-in-law and returning to her gods, whereas Ruth cleaves to her and obtained inheritance in Israel—who made them to differ? In 1 Samuel David is chosen for the throne, preferred to his older brethren. In 2 Samuel we learn of the everlasting covenant “ordered in all things, and sure” (23:5). In 1 Kings Elijah becomes a blessing to a single widow selected from many; while in 2 Kings Naaman alone, of all the lepers, was cleansed. In 1 Chronicles it is written “Ye children of Jacob, His chosen ones” (16:13); while in 2 Chronicles we are made to marvel at the grace of God bestowing repentance upon Manasseh. 

And so we might go on. The Psalms, Prophets, Gospels and Epistles are so full of this doctrine that he may run that readeth it. [Hab 2:2]”

The Scriptural Doctrine of Double Predestination

Taken and adapted from, “The Doctrine Of Absolute Predestination”
Written by, Jerome Zanchius, in Latin
Translated by Augustus Montague Toplady

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I.   We, with the Scriptures, assert that there is a predestination of some particular persons to life for the praise of the glory of Divine grace, and a predestination of other particular persons to death, which death of punishment they shall inevitably undergo, and that justly, on account of their sins –

There is a predestination of some particular persons to life, so “Many are called, but few chosen” (Matthew 20:15), i.e., the Gospel revelation comes, indiscriminately, to great multitudes, but few, comparatively speaking, are spiritually and eternally the better for it, and these few, to whom it is the savour of life unto life, are therefore savingly benefited by it, because they are the chosen or elect of God. To the same effect are the following passages, among many others “For the elect’s sake, those days shall be shortened ” (Matthew 24:22). “As many as were ordained to eternal life, believed” (Acts 13:48). “Whom He did predestinate, them He also called” (Romans 8:30, 33), “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?” “According as He hath chosen us in Him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy … Having predestinated us to the adoption of children, by Jesus Christ, unto Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will” (Ephesians 1:4-5). “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given us, in Christ, before the world began” (2 Timothy 1:9).

This election of certain individuals unto eternal life was for the praise of the glory of Divine grace. This is expressly asserted, in so many words, by the apostle (Ephesians 1:5-6). Grace, or mere favor, was the impulsive cause of all: it was the main spring, which set all the inferior wheels in motion. It was an act of grace in God to choose any, when He might have passed by all. It was an act of sovereign grace to choose this man rather than that, when both were equally undone in themselves, and alike obnoxious to His displeasure. In a word, since election is not of works, and does not proceed on the least regard had to any worthiness in its objects, it must be of free, unbiased grace, but election is not of works (Romans 11:5-6), therefore it is solely of grace.

There is, on the other hand, a predestination of some particular persons to death. “If our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost” (2 Corinthians 4:3). “Who stumble at the word being disobedient; whereunto also they were appointed” (1 Peter 2:8). “These as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed” (2 Peter 2:12). “There are certain men, crept in unawares, who were before, of old, ordained to this condemnation” (Jude 1:4). “Whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world (Revelation 17:8). But of this we shall treat professedly, and more at large, in the fifth chapter.

This future death they shall inevitably undergo, for, as God will certainly save all whom He wills should be saved, so He will as surely condemn all whom He wills shall be condemned; for He is the Judge of the whole earth, whose decree shall stand, and from whose sentence there is no appeal. “Hath He said, and shall He not make it good? Hath He spoken, and shall it not come to pass?” And His decree is this: that these (i.e., the non-elect, who are left under the guilt of final impenitence, unbelief and sin)” shall go away into everlasting punishment, and the righteous (i.e., those who, in consequence of their election in Christ and union to Him, are justly reputed and really constituted such) shall enter into life eternal” (Matthew 25:46).

The reprobate shall undergo this punishment justly and on account of their sins. Sin is the meritorious and immediate cause of any man’s damnation. God condemns and punishes the non-elect, not merely as men, but as sinners, and had it pleased the great Governor of the universe to have entirely prevented sin from having any entrance into the world, it would seem as if He could not, consistently with His known attributes, have condemned any man at all. But, as all sin is properly meritorious of eternal death, and all men are sinners, they who are condemned are condemned most justly, and those who are saved are saved in a way of sovereign mercy through the vicarious obedience and death of Christ for them.

Now this twofold predestination, of some to life and of others to death (if it may be called twofold, both being constituent parts of the same decree), cannot be denied without likewise denying most express and frequent declarations of Scripture, and the very existence of God, for, since God is a Being perfectly simple, free from all accident and composition, and yet a will to save some and punish others is very often predicated of Him in Scripture, and an immovable decree to do this, in consequence of His will, is likewise ascribed to Him, and a perfect foreknowledge of the sure and certain accomplishment of what He has thus willed and decreed is also attributed to Him, it follows that whoever denies this will, decree and foreknowledge of God, does implicitly and virtually deny God Himself, since His will, decree and foreknowledge are no other than God Himself willing and decreeing and foreknowing.

II.  We assert that God did from eternity decree to make man in His own image, and also decreed to suffer him to fall from that image in which he should be created, and thereby to forfeit the happiness with which he was invested, which decree and the consequences of it were not limited to Adam only, but included and extended to all his natural posterity.

That God did make man in His own image is evident from Scripture (Genesis 1:27).

That He decreed from eternity so to make man is as evident, since for God to do anything without having decreed it, or fixed a previous plan in His own mind, would be a manifest imputation on His wisdom, and if He decreed that now, or at any time, which He did not always decree, He could not be unchangeable.

That man actually did fall from the Divine image and his original happiness is the undoubted voice of Scripture (Genesis 3.), and that he fell in consequence of the Divine decree, we prove thus: God was either willing that Adam should fall, or unwilling, or indifferent about it. If God was unwilling that Adam should transgress, how came it to pass that he did? Is man stronger and is Satan wiser than He that made them? Surely no. Again, could not God, had it so pleased Him, have hindered the tempter’s access to paradise? Or, have created man, as He did the elect angels, with a will invariably determined to good only and incapable of being biased to evil? Or, at least, have made the grace and strength, with which He endued Adam, actually effectual to the resisting of all solicitations to sin? None but atheists would answer these questions in the negative. Surely, if God had not willed the fall, He could, and no doubt would, have prevented it; but He did not prevent it: ergo He willed it. And if He willed it, He certainly decreed it, for the decree of God is nothing else but the seal and ratification of His Will. He does nothing but what He decreed, and He decreed nothing which He did not will, and both will and decree are absolutely eternal, though the execution of both be in time. The only way to evade the force of this reasoning is to say that “God was indifferent and unconcerned whether man stood or fell.” But in what a shameful, unworthy light does this represent the Deity! Is it possible for us to imagine that God could be an idle, careless spectator of one of the most important events that ever came to pass? Are not “the very hairs of our head all numbered”? or does “a sparrow fall to the ground without our heavenly Father”? If, then, things the most trivial and worthless are subject to the appointment of His decree and the control of His providence, how much more is man, the masterpiece of this lower creation? and above all that man Adam, who when recent from his Maker’s hands was the living image of God Himself, and very little inferior to angels! and on whose perseverance was suspended the welfare not of himself only, but likewise that of the whole world. But, so far was God from being indifferent in this matter, that there is nothing whatever about which He is so, for He worketh all things, without exception,” after the counsel of His own will” (Ephesians 1:11), consequently, if He positively wills whatever is done, He cannot be indifferent with regard to anything. On the whole, if God was not unwilling that Adam should fall, He must have been willing that he should, since between God’s willing and nilling there is no medium. And is it not highly rational as well as Scriptural, nay, is it not absolutely necessary to suppose that the fall was not contrary to the will and determination of God? since, if it was, His will (which the apostle represents as being irresistible, Romans 9:19) was apparently frustrated and His determination rendered of worse than none effect. And how dishonourable to, how inconsistent with, and how notoriously subversive of the dignity of God such a blasphemous supposition would be, and how irreconcilable with every one of His allowed attributes is very easy to observe.

That man by his fall forfeited the happiness with which he was invested is evident as well from Scripture as from experience (Genesis 3:7-24; Romans 5:12; Galatians 3:10).He first sinned (and the essence of sin lies in disobedience to the command of God) and then immediately became miserable, misery being through the Divine appointment, the natural and inseparable concomitant of sin.

That the fall and its sad consequences did not terminate solely in Adam, but affected his whole posterity, is the doctrine of the sacred oracles (Psalm 51:5; Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:22; Ephesians 2:3). Besides, not only spiritual and eternal, but likewise temporal death is the wages of sin (Romans 6:23; James 1:15), and yet we see that millions of infants, who never in their own persons either did or could commit sin, die continually. It follows that either God must be unjust in punishing the innocent, or that these infants are some way or the other guilty creatures; if they are not so in themselves (I mean actually so by their own commission of sin), they must be so in some other person, and who that person is let Scripture say (Romans 5:12, 18; 1 Corinthians 15:22). And, I ask, how can these be with equity sharers in Adam’s punishment unless they are chargeable with his sin? and how can they be fairly chargeable with his sin unless he was their federal head and representative, and acted in their name, and sustained their persons, when he fell?

III.   We assert that as all men universally are not elected to salvation, so neither are all men universally ordained to condemnation.

This follows from what has been proved already; however, I shall subjoin some further demonstration of these two positions.

All men universally are not elected to salvation, and, first, this may be evinced a posteriori; it is undeniable from Scripture that God will not in the last day save every individual of mankind! (Daniel 12:2; Matthew 25:46; John 5:29. Therefore, say we, God never designed to save every individual, since, if He had, every individual would and must be saved, for “His counsel shall stand, and He will do all His pleasure.” (See what we have already advanced on this head in the first chapter under the second article, Position 8). Secondly, this may be evinced also from God’s foreknowledge. The Deity from all eternity, and consequently at the very time He gives life and being to a reprobate, certainly foreknew, and knows, in consequence of His own decree, that such a one would fall short of salvation. Now, if God foreknew this, He must have predetermined it, because His own will is the foundation of His decrees, and His decrees are the foundation of His prescience; He therefore foreknowing futurities, because by His predestination He hath rendered their futurition certain and inevitable. Neither is it possible, in the very nature of the thing, that they should be elected to salvation, or ever obtain it, whom God foreknew should perish, for then the Divine act of preterition would be changeable, wavering and precarious, the Divine foreknowledge would be deceived, and the Divine will impeded. All which are utterly impossible. Lastly, that all men are not chosen to life, nor created to that end is evident in that there are some who were hated of God before they were born (Romans 9:11-13), are “fitted for destruction” (Romans 9:22), and “made for the day of evil” (Proverbs 16:1). But,

All men universally are not ordained to condemnation.

There are some who are chosen (Matthew 20:16). An election, or elect number, who obtain grace and salvation, while “the rest are blinded” (Romans 11:7), a little flock, to whom it is the Father’s good pleasure to give the kingdom (Luke 12:32). A people whom the Lord hath reserved (Jeremiah 1:20) and formed for Himself (Isaiah 43:21). A peculiarly favoured race, to whom “it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven,” while to others “it is not given” (Matthew 13:11), a “remnant according to the election of grace” (Romans 11:5), whom “God hath not appointed to wrath, but to obtain salvation by Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9). In a word, who are “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that they should show forth the praises of Him who hath called them out of darkness into His marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9), and whose names for that very end “are in the book of life” (Philippians 4:3) and written in heaven (Luke 10:20; Hebrews 12:23). Luther observes that in Romans 9; Romans 10; Romans 11; the apostle particularly insists on the doctrine of predestination, “Because,” says he, “all things whatever arise from and depend upon the Divine appointment, whereby it was preordained who should receive the word of life and who should disbelieve it, who should he delivered from their sins and who should be hardened in them, who should be justified and who condemned.”

IV.  We assert that the number of the elect, and also of the reprobate, is so fixed and determinate that neither can be augmented or diminished.

It is written of God that “He telleth the number of the stars, and calleth them all by their names” (Psalm 147:4). Now, it is as incompatible with the infinite wisdom and knowledge of the all – comprehending God to be ignorant of the names and number of the rational creatures He has made as that He should be ignorant of the stars and the other inanimate products of His almighty power, and if He knows all men in general, taken in the lump, He may well be said, in a more near and special sense, to know them that are His by election (2 Timothy 2:19). And if He knows who are His, He must, consequently, know who are not His, i.e., whom and how many He hath left in the corrupt mass to be justly punished for their sins. Grant this (and who can help granting a truth so self-evident?), and it follows that the number, as well of the elect as of the reprobate, is fixed and certain, otherwise God would be said to know that which is not true, and His knowledge must be false and delusive, and so no knowledge at all, since that which is, in itself, at best, but precarious, can never be the foundation of sure and infallible knowledge. But that God does indeed precisely know, to a man, who are, and are not the objects of His electing favour is evident from such Scriptures as these “Thou hast found grace in My sight, and I know thee by name” (Exodus 33:17). “Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee” (Jeremiah 1:5). “Your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). “The very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Luke 12:7). “I know whom I have chosen” (John 13:18). “I know My sheep, and am known of Mine” (John 10:14). “The Lord knoweth them that are His” (2 Timothy 2:19). And if the number of these is thus assuredly settled and exactly known, it follows that we are right in asserting –

V.   That the decrees of election and reprobation are immutable and irreversible. We’re not this the case — God’s decree would be precarious, frustratable and uncertain, and, by consequence, no decree at all.

His foreknowledge would be wavering, indeterminate, and liable to disappointment, whereas it always has its accomplishment, and necessarily infers the certain futurity of the thing or things foreknown: “I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and, from ancient times, the things that are not yet done; saying, My counsel shall stand and I will do all My pleasure” (Isaiah 46:9-10).

Neither would His Word be true, which declares that, with regard to the elect, “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Romans 11:29); that “whom He predestinated, them He also glorified” (Romans 8:30); that whom He loveth, He loveth to the end (John 13:1), with numberless passages to the same purpose. Nor would His word be true with regard to the non-elect if it was possible for them to be saved, for it is there declared that they are fitted for destruction, etc. (Romans 9:22); foreordained unto condemnation (Jude 4), and delivered over to a reprobate mind in order to their damnation (Romans 1:28; 2 Thessalonians 2:12).

If, between the elect and reprobate, there was not a great gulf fixed, so that neither can be otherwise than they are, then the will of God (which is the alone cause why some are chosen and others are not) would be rendered inefficacious and of no effect. Nor could the justice of God stand if He was to condemn the elect, for whose sins He hath received ample satisfaction at the hand of Christ, or if He was to save the reprobate, who are not interested in Christ as the elect are. The power of God (whereby the elect are preserved from falling into a state of condemnation, and the wicked held down and shut up in a state of death) would be eluded, not to say utterly abolished.

Nor would God be unchangeable if they, who were once the people of His love, could commence the objects of His hatred, or if the vessels of His wrath could he saved with the vessels of grace. Hence that of St. Augustine. “Brethren,” says he, “let us not imagine that God puts down any man in His book and then erases him, for if Pilate could say, ‘What I have written, I have written,’ how can it be thought that the great God would write a person’s name in the book of life and then blot it out again?” And may we not, with equal reason, ask, on the other hand, “How can it be thought that any of the reprobate should be written in that book of life, which contains the names of the elect only, or that any should be inscribed there who were not written among the living from eternity?” I shall conclude this chapter with that observation of Luther.  “This,” says he, “is the very thing that raises the doctrine of free-will from its foundations, to wit, that God’s eternal love of some men and hatred of others is immutable and cannot be reversed.” Both one and the other will have its full accomplishment.

Let us then cease not to speak of “the glorious honor of his majesty,” the unsearchable riches of his love, and the wondrous working of the Spirit in the heart.

The Doctrine of Darkness: REPROBATION

Taken and adapted from, “The Doctrine of Absolute Predestination”
Written by, Jerome Zanchius  (1516-1590)
Translated from the Latin by, Augustus Toplady

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FROM what has been said in the Bible concerning the election of some, it would unavoidably follow, even supposing the Scriptures had been silent about it, that there must be a rejection of others…

…as every choice does, most evidently and necessarily, imply a refusal, for where there is no leaving out there can be no choice. But beside the testimony of reason, the Divine Word is full and express to our purpose; it frequently, and in terms too clear to be misunderstood, and too strong to be evaded by any who are not proof against the most cogent evidence, attests this tremendous truth, that some are “of old fore-ordained to condemnation.”

God did, from all eternity, decree to leave some of Adam’s fallen posterity in their sins, and to exclude them from the participation of Christ and His benefits.

For the clearing of this, let it be observed that in all ages the much greater part of mankind have been destitute even of the external means of grace, and have not been favoured with the preaching of God’s Word or any revelation of His will. Thus, anciently, the Jews, who were in number the fewest of all people, were, nevertheless, for a long series of ages, the only nation to whom the Deity was pleased to make any special discovery of Himself, and it is observable that our Lord Himself principally confined the advantages of His public ministry to that people; nay, He forbade His disciples to go among any others (Matthew 10:5-6), and did not commission them to preach the Gospel indiscriminately to Jews and Gentiles until after His resurrection (Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47). Hence many nations and communities never had the advantage of hearing the Word preached, and consequently were strangers to the faith that cometh thereby.

It is not indeed improbable, but some individuals in these unenlightened countries might belong to the secret election of grace, and the habit of faith might be wrought in these.

However, be that as it will, our argument is not affected by it. It is evident that the nations of the world were generally ignorant, not only of God Himself, but likewise of the way to please Him, the true manner of acceptance with Him, and the means of arriving at the everlasting enjoyment of Him. Now, if God had been pleased to have saved those people, would He not have vouchsafed them the ordinary means of salvation? Would He not have given them all things necessary in order to that end? But it is undeniable matter of fact that He did not, and to very many nations of the earth does not at this day. If, then, the Deity can consistently with His attributes deny to some the means of grace, and shut them up in gross darkness and unbelief, why should it be thought incompatible with His immensely glorious perfections to exclude some persons from grace itself, and from that eternal life which is connected with it, especially seeing He is equally the Lord and sovereign Disposer of the end to which the means lead, as of the means which lead to that end? Both one and the other are His, and He most justly may, as He most assuredly will, do what He pleases with His own.

Besides, it being also evident that many, even of them who live in places where the Gospel is preached, as well as of those among whom it never was preached, die strangers to God and holiness, and without experiencing anything of the gracious influences of His Spirit, we may reasonably and safely conclude that one cause of their so dying is because it was not the Divine will to communicate His grace unto them, since, had it been His will, He would actually have made them partakers thereof, and had they been partakers of it they could not have died without it. Now, if it was the will of God in time to refuse them this grace, it must have been His will from eternity, since His will is, as Himself, the same yesterday, today, and forever.

The actions of God being thus fruits of His eternal purpose, we may safely, and without any danger of mistake, argue from them to that and infer that God therefore does such and such things, because He decreed to do them, His own will being the sole cause of all His works. So that, from His actually leaving some men in final impenitency and unbelief, we assuredly gather that it was His everlasting determination so to do, and consequently that He reprobated some from before the foundation of the world. And as this inference is strictly rational, so is it perfectly Scriptural. Thus the Judge will in the last day declare to those on the left hand, “I never knew you” (Matthew 7:23), i.e., “I never, no, not from eternity, loved, approved or acknowledged you for Mine,” or, in other words, “I always hated you.”

Our Lord (in John 17.) divides the whole human race into two great classes – one He calls the world; the other, “the men who were given Him out of the world.” The latter, it is said, the Father loved, even as He loved Christ Himself (John 17:23), but He loved Christ “before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24), i.e., from everlasting; therefore He loved the elect so too, and if He loved these from eternity, it follows, by all the rules of antithesis, that He hated the others as early. So, “The children being not yet born, neither having done good or evil, that the purpose of God,” etc. (Romans 9.). From the example of the two twins, Jacob and Esau, the apostle infers the eternal election of some men and the eternal rejection of all the rest.

Some men were, from all eternity, not only negatively excepted from a participation of Christ and His salvation, but positively ordained to continue in their natural blindness, hardness of heart, etc., and that the just judgment of God. (See Exodus 9.; 1 Samuel 2:25; 2 Samuel 17:14; Isaiah 6:9-11; 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12.)

Nor can these places of Scripture, with many others of like import, be understood of an involuntary permission on the part of God, as if God barely suffered it to be so, quasi invitus, as it were by constraint, and against His will, for He permits nothing which He did not resolve and determine to permit. His permission is a positive, determinate act of His will, as Augustine, Luther and Bucer justly observe. Therefore, if it be the will of God in time to permit such and such men to continue in their natural state of ignorance and corruption, the natural consequence of which is their falling into such and such sins (observe God does not force them into sin, their actual disobedience being only the consequence of their not having that grace which God is not obliged to grant them) – I say, if it be the will of God thus to leave them in time (and we must deny demonstration itself, even known absolute matter of fact, if we deny that some are so left), then it must have been the Divine intention from all eternity so to leave them, since, as we have already had occasion to observe, no new will can possibly arise in the mind of God. We see that evil men actually are suffered to go on adding sin to sin, and if it be not inconsistent with the sacred attributes actually to permit this, it could not possibly be inconsistent with them to decree that permission before the foundations of the world were laid.

Thus God efficaciously permitted (having so decreed) the Jews to be, in effect, the crucifiers of Christ, and Judas to betray Him (Acts 4:27-28; Matthew 26:23-24).

Hence we find St. Augustine speaking thus: “Judas was chosen, but it was to do a most execrable deed, that thereby the death of Christ, and the adorable work of redemption by Him, might be accomplished. When therefore we hear our Lord say, ‘Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?’ we must understand it thus, that the eleven were chosen in mercy, but Judas in judgement; they were chosen to partake of Christ’s kingdom; he was chosen and pitched upon to betray Him and be the means of shedding His blood.”

The non-elect were predestinated, not only to continue in final impenitency, sin and unbelief, but were likewise, for such their sins, righteously appointed to infernal death hereafter.

This position is also self-evident for it is certain that in the day of universal judgement all the human race will not be admitted into glory, but some of them transmitted to the place of torment. Now, God does and will do nothing but in consequence of His own decree (Psalm 135:6; Isaiah 46:11; Ephesians 1:9, 11); therefore the condemnation of the unrighteous was decreed of God, and if decreed by Him, decreed from everlasting, for all His decrees are eternal. Besides, if God purposed to leave those persons under the guilt and the power of sin, their condemnation must of itself necessarily follow, since without justification and sanctification (neither of which blessings are in the power of man) none can enter heaven (John 13:8; Hebrews 12:14). Therefore, if God determined within Himself thus to leave some in their sins (and it is but too evident that this is really the case), He must also have determined within Himself to punish them for those sins (final guilt and final punishment being correlatives which necessarily infer each other), but God did determine both to leave and to punish the non-elect, therefore there was a reprobation of some from eternity. Thus, “Go, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25.); for Satan and all his messengers, emissaries and imitators, whether apostate spirits or apostate men.

Now, if penal fire was, in decree from everlasting, prepared for them, they, by all the laws of argument in the world, must have been in the counsel of God prepared, i.e., designed for that fire, which is the point I undertook to prove. Hence we read “of vessels of wrath fitted to destruction, put together, made up, formed or fashioned, for perdition” (Romans 9.), who are and can be no other than the reprobate. To multiply Scriptures on this head would be almost endless; for a sample, consult Proverbs 16:4; 1 Peter 2:8; 2 Peter 2:12; Jude 4; Revelation 13:8.

As the future faith and good works of the elect were not the cause of their being chosen, so neither were the future sins of the reprobate the cause of their being passed by, but both the choice of the former and the decretive omission of the latter were owing, merely and entirely, to the sovereign will and determinating pleasure of God.

We distinguish between preterition, or bare non-election, which is a purely negative thing, and condemnation, or appointment to punishment: the will of God was the cause of the former, the sins of the non-elect are the reason of the latter. Though God determined to leave, and actually does leave, whom He pleases in the spiritual darkness and death of nature, out of which He is under no obligation to deliver them, yet He does not positively condemn any of these merely because He hath not chosen them, but because they have sinned against Him. (See Romans 1:21-24; Romans 2:8-9; 2 Thessalonians 2:12.) Their preterition or non-inscription in the book of life is not unjust on the part of God, because out of a world of rebels, equally involved in guilt, God (who might, without any impeachment of His justice, have passed by all, as He did the reprobate angels) was, most unquestionably, at liberty, if it so pleased Him, to extend the sceptre of His clemency to some and to pitch upon whom He would as the objects of it. Nor was this exemption of some any injury to the non-elect, whose case would have been just as bad as it is, even supposing the others had not been chosen at all. Again, the condemnation of the ungodly (for it is under that character alone that they are the subjects of punishment and were ordained to it) is not unjust, seeing it is for sin and only for sin. None are or will be punished but for their iniquities, and all iniquity is properly meritorious of punishment: where, then, is the supposed unmercifulness, tyranny or injustice of the Divine procedure?

God is the creator of the wicked, but not of their wickedness; He is the author of their being, but not the infuser of their sin.

It is most certainly His will (for adorable and unsearchable reasons) to permit sin, but, with all possible reverence be it spoken, it should seem that He cannot, consistently with the purity of His nature, the glory of His attributes, and the truth of His declaration, be Himself the author of it. “Sin,” says the apostle, “entered into the world by one man,” meaning by Adam, consequently it was not introduced by the Deity Himself. Though without the permission of His will and the concurrence of His providence, its introduction had been impossible, yet is He not hereby the Author of sin so introduced. Luther observes (De Serv. Arb., c. 42): “It is a great degree of faith to believe that God is merciful and gracious, though He saves so few and condemns so many, and that He is strictly just, though, in consequence of His own will, He made us not exempt from liableness to condemnation.” And cap. 148: “Although God doth not make sin, nevertheless He ceases not to create and multiply individuals in the human nature, which, through the withholding of His Spirit, is corrupted by sin, just as a skilful artist may form curious statues out of bad materials. So, such as their nature is, such are men themselves; God forms them out of such a nature.”

The condemnation of the reprobate is necessary and inevitable.

Which we prove thus. It is evident from Scripture that the reprobate shall be condemned. But nothing comes to pass (much less can the condemnation of a rational creature) but in consequence of the will and decree of God. Therefore the non-elect could not be condemned was it not the Divine pleasure and determination that they should, and if God wills and determines their condemnation, that condemnation is necessary and inevitable. By their sins they have made themselves guilty of death, and as it is not the will of God to pardon those sins and grant them repentance unto life, the punishment of such impenitent sinners is as unavoidable as it is just. It is our Lord’s own declaration that “a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit” (Matthew 7.), or, in other words, that a depraved sinner cannot produce in himself those gracious habits, nor exert those gracious acts, without which no adult person can be saved. Consequently the reprobate must, as corrupt, fruitless trees (or fruitful in evil only), be “hewn down and cast into the fire” (Matthew 3.). This, therefore, serves as another argument in proof of the inevitability of their future punishment, which argument, in brief, amounts to this: they who are not saved from sin must unavoidably perish, but the reprobate are not saved from sin (for they have neither will nor power to save themselves, and God, though He certainly can, yet He certainly will not save them), therefore their perdition is unavoidable. Nor does it follow, from hence, that God forces the reprobate into sin, and thereby into misery, against their wills, but that, in consequence of their natural depravity (which it is not the Divine pleasure to deliver them out of, neither is He bound to do it, nor are they themselves so much as desirous that He would), they are voluntarily biased and inclined to evil; nay, which is worse still, they hug and value their spiritual chains, and even greedily pursue the paths of sin, which lead to the chambers of death. Thus God does not (as we are slanderously reported to affirm) compel the wicked to sin, as the rider spurs forward an unwilling horse; God only says in effect that tremendous word, “Let them alone” (Matthew 15:14). He need but slacken the reins of providential restraint and withhold the influence of saving grace, and apostate man will too soon, and too surely, of his own accord, “fall by his iniquity” ; he will presently be, spiritually speaking, a felo de se, and, without any other efficiency, lay violent hands on his own soul. So that though the condemnation of the reprobate is unavoidable, yet the necessity of it is so far from making them mere machines or involuntary agents, that it does not in the least interfere with the rational freedom of their wills, nor serve to render them less inexcusable.

The punishment of the non-elect was not the ultimate end of their creation, but the glory of God.

It is frequently objected to us that, according to our view of predestination, “God makes some persons on purpose to damn them,” but this we never advanced; nay, we utterly reject it as equally unworthy of God to do and of a rational being to suppose. The grand, principal end, proposed by the Deity to Himself in His formation of all things, and of mankind in particular, was the manifestation and display of His own glorious attributes. His ultimate scope in the creation of the elect is to evidence and make known by their salvation the unsearchable riches of His power and wisdom, mercy and love, and the creation of the non-elect is for the display of His justice, power, sovereignty, holiness and truth. So that nothing can be more certain than the declaration of the text we have frequently had occasion to cite, “The Lord bath made all things for Himself, even the wicked for the day of evil” (Proverbs 16.). On one hand, the vessels of wrath are fitted for destruction,” in order that God may “show His wrath and make His power known,” and manifest the greatness of His patience and long-suffering (Romans 9:32). On the other hand, He afore prepared the elect to salvation, that on them He might demonstrate “the riches of His glory and mercy” (Romans 9:23). As, therefore, God Himself is the sole Author and efficient of all His own actions, so is He likewise the supreme end to which they lead and in which they terminate.

Besides, the creation and perdition of the ungodly answer another purpose (though a subordinate one) with regard to the elect themselves, who from the rejection of those learn to admire the riches of the Divine love toward themselves, which planned and has accomplished the work of their salvation, while others, by nature on equal level with them, are excluded from a participation of the same benefits. And such a view of the Lord’s distinguishing mercy is A most powerful motive to thankfulness that when they too might justly have been condemned with the world of the non-elect, they were marked out as heirs of the grace of life.

Hereby they are taught ardently to love their heavenly Father; to trust in Him assuredly for a continued supply of grace while they are on earth and for the accomplishment of His eternal decree and promise by their glorification in heaven; and to live as becomes those who have received such unspeakable mercies from the hand of their God and Saviour. So Bucer somewhere observes that the punishment of the reprobate “is useful to the elect, inasmuch as it influences them to a greater fear and abhorrence of sin, and to a firmer reliance on the goodness of God.”

Notwithstanding God did from all eternity irreversibly choose out and fix upon some to be partakers of salvation by Christ and rejected the rest (who are therefore termed by the apostle, the refuse, or those that remained and were left out), acting in both according to the good pleasure of His own sovereign will, yet He did not herein act an unjust, tyrannical or cruel part, nor yet show Himself a respecter of persons.

He is not unjust in reprobating some, neither can He be so, for “the Lord is holy in all His ways and righteous in all His works” (Psalm 145.). But salvation and damnation are works of His, consequently neither of them is unrighteous or unholy. It is undoubted matter of fact that the Father draws some men to Christ and saves them in Him with an everlasting salvation, and that He neither draws nor saves some others; and if it be not unjust in God actually to forbear saving these persons after they are born, it could not be unjust in Him to determine as much before they were born. What is not unjust for God to do in time, could not, by parity of argument, be unjust in Him to resolve upon and decree from eternity. And, surely, if the apostle’s illustration be allowed to have any propriety, or to carry any authority, it can no more be unjust in God to set apart some for communion with Himself in this life and the next, and to set aside others according to His own free pleasure, than for a potter to make out of the same mass of clay some vessels for honourable and others for inferior uses. The Deity, being absolute Lord of all His creatures, is accountable to none for His doings, and cannot be chargeable with injustice for disposing of His own as He will.

Nor is the decree of reprobation a tyrannical one. It is, indeed, strictly sovereign; but lawful sovereignty and lawless tyranny are as really distinct and different as any two opposites can be. He is a tyrant, in the common acceptation of that word, who (a) either usurps the sovereign authority and arrogates to himself a dominion to which he has no right, or (b) who, being originally a lawful prince, abuses his power and governs contrary to law. But who dares to lay either of these accusations to the Divine charge? God as Creator has a most unquestionable and unlimited right over the souls and bodies of men, unless it can be supposed, contrary to all Scripture and common sense, that in making of man He made a set of beings superior to Himself and exempt from His jurisdiction. Taking it for granted, therefore, that God has an absolute right of sovereignty over His creatures, if He should be pleased (as the Scriptures repeatedly assure us that He is) to manifest and display that right by graciously saving some and justly punishing others for their sins, who are we that we should reply against God?

Neither does the ever-blessed Deity fall under the second notion of a tyrant, namely, as one who abuses his power by acting contrary to law, for by what exterior law is HE bound, who is the supreme Law-giver of the universe? The laws promulgated by Him are designed for the rule of our conduct, not of His. Should it be objected that “His own attributes of goodness and justice, holiness and truth, are a law to Himself,” I answer that, admitting this to be the case, there is nothing in the decree of reprobation as represented in Scripture, and by us from thence, which clashes with any of those perfections. With regard to the Divine goodness, though the non-elect are not objects of it in the sense the elect are, yet even they are not wholly excluded from a participation of it. They enjoy the good things of providence in common with God’s children, and very often in a much higher degree. Besides, goodness, considered as it is in God, would have been just the same infinite and glorious attribute, supposing no rational beings had been created at all or saved when created. To which may be added, that the goodness of the Deity does not cease to be infinite in itself, only because it is more extended to some objects than it is to others. The infinity of this perfection, as residing in God and coinciding with His essence, is sufficiently secured, without supposing it to reach indiscriminately to all the creatures He has made. For, was this way of reasoning to be admitted, it would lead us too far and prove too much, since, if the infinity of His goodness is to be estimated by the number of objects upon which it terminates, there must be an absolute, proper infinity of reasonable beings to terminate that goodness upon; consequently it would follow from such premises either that the creation is as truly infinite as the Creator, or, if otherwise, that the Creator’s goodness could not be infinite, because it has not an infinity of objects to make happy.

Lastly, if it was not incompatible with God’s infinite goodness to pass by the whole body of fallen angels and leave them under the guilt of their apostasy, much less can it clash with that attribute to pass by some of fallen mankind and resolve to leave them in their sins and punish them for them.

Nor is it inconsistent with Divine justice to withhold saving grace from some, seeing the grace of God is not what He owes to any. It is a free gift to those that have it, and is not due to those that are without it; consequently there can be no injustice in not giving what God is not bound to bestow. There is no end of cavilling at the Divine dispensations if men are disposed to do it. We might, with equality of reason, when our hand is in, presume to charge the Deity with partiality for not making all His creatures angels because it was in His power to do so, as charge Him with injustice for not electing all mankind. Besides, how can it possibly be subversive of His justice to condemn, and resolve to condemn, the non-elect for their sins when those very sins were not atoned for by Christ as the sins of the elect were? His justice in this case is so far from hindering the condemnation of the reprobate that it renders it necessary and indispensable. Again, is the decree of sovereign preterition and of just condemnation for sin repugnant to the Divine holiness? Not in the least, so far from it, that it does not appear how the Deity could be holy if He did not hate sin and punish it. Neither is it contrary to His truth and veracity. Quite the reverse. For would not the Divine veracity fall to the ground if the finally wicked were not condemned?

God, in the reprobation of some, does not act a cruel part. Whoever accused a chief magistrate of cruelty for not sparing a company of atrocious malefactors, and for letting the sentence of the law take place upon them by their execution? If, indeed, the magistrate pleases to pity some of them and remit their penalty, we applaud his clemency, but the punishment of the rest is no impeachment of his mercy. Now, with regard to God, His mercy is free and voluntary. He may extend it to and withhold it from whom He pleases (Romans 9:15, 18), and it is sad indeed if we will not allow the Sovereign, the all-wise Governor of heaven and earth, the same privilege and liberty we allow to a supreme magistrate below.

Nor is God, in choosing some and rejecting others, a respecter of persons. He only comes under that title who, on account of parentage, country, dignity, wealth, or for any other external consideration, shows more favor to one person than to another. But that is not the case with God.

He considers all men as sinners by nature, and has compassion not on persons of this or that sect, country, sex, age or station in life, because they are so circumstanced, but on whom, and because, He will have compassion. Pertinent to the present purpose is that passage of St. Augustine: “Forasmuch as some people imagine that they must look on God as a respecter of persons if they believe that without any respect had to the previous merits of men, He hath mercy on whom He will, and calls whom it is His pleasure to call, and makes good whom He pleases. The scrupulousness of such people arises from their not duly attending to this one thing, namely, that damnation is rendered to the wicked as a matter of debt, justice and desert, whereas the grace given to those who are delivered is free and unmerited, so that the condemned sinner cannot allege that he is unworthy of his punishment, nor the saint vaunt or boast as if he was worthy of his reward. Thus, in the whole course of this procedure, there is no respect of persons. They who are condemned and they who are set at liberty constituted originally one and the same lump, equally infected with sin and liable to vengeance. Hence the justified may learn from the condemnation of the rest that this would have been their own punishment had not God’s free grace stepped in to their rescue.”

Before I conclude this head, I will obviate a fallacious objection very common in the mouths of our opponents. “How,” they say, “is the doctrine of reprobation reconcilable with the doctrine of a future judgment?”

To which I answer that there need be no pains to reconcile these two, since they are so far from interfering with each other that one follows from the other, and the former renders the latter absolutely necessary. Before the judgment of the great day, Christ does not so much act as the Judge of His creatures as their absolute Lord and Sovereign. From the first creation to the final consummation of all things He does, in consequence of His own eternal and immutable purpose (as a Divine Person), graciously work in and on His own elect, and permissively harden the reprobate. But when all the transactions of providence and grace are wound up in the last day, He will then properly sit as Judge, and openly publish and solemnly ratify, if I may so say, His everlasting decrees by receiving the elect, body and soul, into glory, and by passing sentence on the non-elect (not for their having done what they could not help, but) for their wilful ignorance of Divine things and their absolute unbelief, for their omissions of moral duty and for their repeated iniquities and transgressions.

Notwithstanding God’s predestination is most certain and unalterable, so that no elect person can perish nor any reprobate be saved, yet it does not follow from thence that all precepts, reproofs and exhortations on the part of God, or prayers on the part of man, are useless, vain and insignificant.

These are not useless with regard to the elect, for they are necessary means of bringing them to the knowledge of the truth at first, afterwards of stirring up their pure minds by way of remembrance, and of edifying and establishing them in faith, love and holiness. Hence that of St. Augustine: “The commandment will tell thee, O man, what thou oughtest to have, reproof will show thee wherein thou art wanting, and praying will teach thee from whom thou must receive the supplies which thou wantest.”

Nor are these vain with regard to the reprobate, for precept, reproof and exhortation may, if duly attended to, be a means of making them careful to adjust their moral, external conduct according to the rules of decency, justice and regularity, and thereby prevent much inconvenience to themselves and injury to society. And as for prayer, it is the duty of all without exception. Every created being (whether elect or reprobate matters not as to this point) is, as such, dependent on the Creator for all things, and, if dependent, ought to have recourse to Him, both in a way of supplication and thanksgiving.

But to come closer still. That absolute predestination does not set aside, nor render superfluous the use of preaching, exhortation, etc., we prove from the examples of Christ Himself and His apostles, who all taught and insisted upon the article of predestination, and yet took every opportunity of preaching to sinners and enforced their ministry with proper rebukes, invitations and exhortations as occasion required.

Though they showed unanswerably that salvation is the free gift of God and lies entirely at His sovereign disposal, that men can of themselves do nothing spiritually good, and that it is God who of His own pleasure works in them both to Will and to do, yet they did not neglect to address their auditors as beings possessed of reason and conscience, nor omitted to remind them of their duties as such; but showed them their sin and danger by nature, and laid before them the appointed way and method of salvation as exhibited in the Gospel.

Our Saviour Himself expressly, and in terminis, assures us that no man can come to Him except the Father draw him, and yet He says, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor,” etc. St. Peter told the Jews that they had fulfilled “the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” in putting the Messiah to death (Acts 2.), and yet sharply rebukes them for it. St. Paul declares, “It is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth,” and yet exhorts the Corinthians so to run as to obtain the prize. He assures us that “we know not what to pray for as we ought” (Romans 8.), and yet directs us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5.). He avers that the foundation or decree of the Lord standeth sure, and yet cautions him who “thinks he stands, to take heed lest he fall” (1 Timothy 2.). St. James, in like manner, says that “every good and perfect gift cometh down from above,” and yet exhorts those who want wisdom to ask it of God. So, then, all these being means whereby the elect are frequently enlightened into the knowledge of Christ, and by which they are, after they have believed through grace, built up in Him, and are means of their perseverance in grace to the end; these are so far from being vain and insignificant that they are highly useful and necessary, and answer many valuable and important ends, without in the least shaking the doctrine of predestination in particular or the analogy of faith in general. Thus St. Augustine: “We must preach, we must reprove, we must pray, because they to whom grace is given will bear and act accordingly, though they to whom grace is not given will do neither.”

A Display of Arminianism: How the Doctrine of Predestination is Corrupted by the Arminians

Taken from: A Display of Arminianism, Chapter 6
Written John Owen

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…wherewith the Arminians and their abettors have troubled the church of Christ, comes next unto our consideration. The eternal predestination of Almighty God, that fountain of all spiritual blessings, of all the effects of God’s love derived unto us through Christ, the demolishing of this rock of our salvation hath been the chief endeavor of all the patrons of human self-sufficiency; so to vindicate unto themselves a power and independent ability of doing good, of making themselves to differ from others, of attaining everlasting happiness, without going one step from without themselves. And this is their first attempt, to attain their second proposed end, of building a tower from the top whereof they may mount into heaven, whose foundation is nothing but the sand of their own free-will and endeavors. Quite on a sudden (what they have done in effect) to have taken away this divine predestination, name and thing, had been an attempt as noted as notorious, and not likely to attain the least success amongst men professing to believe the gospel of Christ; wherefore, suffering the name to remain, they have abolished the thing itself, and substituted another so unlike it in the room thereof, that any one may see they have gotten a blear-eyed Leah instead of Rachel, and hug a cloud instead of a Deity. The true doctrine itself hath been so excellently delivered by divers learned divines, so freed from all objections, that I shall only briefly and plainly lay it down, and that with special reference to the seventeenth article of our church, where it is clearly avowed; showing withal, — which is my chief intention, — how it is thwarted, opposed, and overthrown by the Arminians. Predestination, in the usual sense [in which] it is taken, is a part of God’s providence concerning his creatures, distinguished from it by a double restriction: 

First, In respect of their objects; for whereas the decree of providence comprehendeth his intentions towards all the works of his hands, predestination respecteth only rational creatures.

Secondly, In regard of their ends; for whereas his providence directeth all creatures in general to those several ends to which at length they are brought, whether they are proportioned unto their nature or exceeding the sphere of their natural activity, predestination is exercised only in directing rational creatures to supernatural ends: so that, in general, it is the counsel, decree, or purpose of Almighty God concerning the last and supernatural end of his rational creatures, to be accomplished for the praise of his glory. But this also must receive a double restriction before we come precisely to what we in this place aim at: and these again in regard of the objects or the ends thereof.

The object of predestination is all rational creatures, Now, these are either angels or men. Of angels I shall not treat. Secondly, The end by it provided for them is either eternal happiness or eternal misery. I speak only of the former, — the act of God’s predestination transmitting men to everlasting happiness: and in this restrained sense it differs not at all from election, and we may use them as synonyma, terms of the same importance; though, by some affirming that God predestinateth them to faith whom he hath chosen, they seem to be distinguished as the decrees of the end, and the means conducing thereunto, whereof the first is election, intending the end, and then takes place predestination, providing the means. But this exact distinction appeareth not directly in the Scripture.

This election the word of God proposeth unto us as the gracious, immutable decree of Almighty God, whereby, before the foundation of the world, out of his own good pleasure, he chose certain men, determining to free them from sin and misery, to bestow upon them grace and faith, to give them unto Christ, to bring them to everlasting blessedness, for the praise of his glorious grace; or, as it is expressed in our church articles, “Predestination to life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby, before the foundations of the world were laid, he hath constantly decreed by his counsel, secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ unto everlasting salvation, as vessels made unto honor; wherefore, they who are endued with so excellent a benefit of God be called according to God’s purpose,” etc.

Now, to avoid prolixity, I will annex only such annotations as may clear the sense and confirm the truth of the article by the Scriptures, and show briefly how it is overthrown by the Arminians in every particular thereof: 

First, The article, consonantly to the Scripture, affirmeth that it is an eternal decree, made before the foundations of the world were laid; so that by it we must needs be chosen before we were born, before we have done either good or evil. The words of the article are clear, and so also is the Scripture: “He hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world,” Ephesians 1:4;  “The children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, it was said,” etc., Romans 9:11,12;  “We are called with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,” 2 Timothy 1:9.

Now, from hence it would undoubtedly follow that no good thing in us can be the cause of our election, for every cause must in order precede its effect; but all things whereof we by any means are partakers, inasmuch as they are ours, are temporary, and so cannot be the cause of that which is eternal. Things with that qualification must have reference to the sole will and good pleasure of God; which reference would break the neck of the Arminian election. Wherefore, to prevent such a fatal ruin, they deny the principle, — to wit, that election is eternal. 1 So the Remonstrants, in their Apology: 2 “Complete election regardeth none but him that is dying; for this peremptory election decreeth the whole accomplishment and consummation of salvation, and therefore requireth in the object the finished course of faith and obedience,” saith Grevinchovius; which is to make God’s election nothing but an act of his justice, approving our obedience, and such an act as is incident to any weak man, who knows not what will happen in the next hour that is yet for to come. And is this post-destination that which is proposed to us in the Scripture as the unsearchable fountain of all God’s love towards us in Christ? “Yea,” 3 say they, “we acknowledge no other predestination to be revealed in the gospel besides that whereby God decreeth to save them who should persevere in faith;” that is, God’s determination concerning their salvation is pendulous, until he find by experience that they will persevere in obedience. But I wonder why, seeing election is confessedly one of the greatest expressions of God’s infinite goodness, love, and mercy towards us, if it follow our obedience, we have it not, like all other blessings and mercies, promised unto us. Is it not because such propositions as these, “Believe, Peter, and continue in the faith unto the end, and I will choose thee before the foundation of the world,” are fitter for the writings of the Arminians than the word of God? Neither will we be their rivals in such an election, as from whence no fruit, 4 no effect, no consolation can be derived to any mortal man, whilst he lives in this world.

Secondly, The article affirmeth that it is constant, — that is, one immutable decree; agreeably also to the Scriptures, teaching but one purpose, but one foreknowledge, one good pleasure, one decree of God, concerning the infallible ordination of his elect unto glory; although of this decree there may be said to be two acts, — one concerning the means, the other concerning the end, but both knit up in the “immutability of God’s counsel,” Hebrews 6:17. “The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his,” 2 Timothy 2:19; “His gifts and calling are without recalling,” not to be repented of, Romans 11:29. Now, what say our Arminians to this?

Why, a whole multitude of notions and terms have they invented to obscure the doctrine. “Election,” say they, 5 “is either legal or evangelical, general or particular, complete or incomplete, revocable or irrevocable, peremptory or not peremptory,” with I know not how many more distinctions of one single eternal act of Almighty God, whereof there is neither “vola nec vestigium,” sign or token, in the whole Bible, or any approved author. And to these quavering divisions they accommodate their doctrine, or rather they purposely invented them to make their errors unintelligible.

Yet something agreeably thus they dictate: 6 “There is a complete election, belonging to none but those that are dying; and there is another, incomplete, common to all that believe: as the good things of salvation are incomplete which are continued whilst faith is continued, and revoked when that is denied, so election is incomplete in this life, and revocable.” Again: “There are,” they say in their Confession,7 “three orders of believers and repenters in the Scripture, whereof some are beginners, others having continued for a time, and some perseverants. The first two orders are chosen vere, truly, but not absolute prorsus, absolutely, but only for a time, — so long as they will remain as they are; the third are chosen finally and peremptorily: for this act of God is either continued or interrupted, according as we fulfill the condition.” But whence learned the Arminians this doctrine? Not one word of it from the word of truth; no mention there of any such desultory election, no speech of faith, but such as is consequent to one eternal irrevocable decree of predestination: They “believed” who were “ordained to eternal life,” Acts 13:48. No distinction of men half and wholly elected, where it is affirmed that it is impossible the elect should be seduced, Matthew 24:24, — that none should snatch Christ’s sheep out of his Father’s hand, John 10:28,29. What would they have more? God’s purpose of election is sealed up, 2 Timothy 2:19, and therefore cannot be revoked; it must stand firm, Romans 9:11, in spite of all opposition. Neither will reason allow us to think any immanent act of God to be incomplete or revocable, because of the mere alliance it hath with his very nature. But reason, Scripture, God himself, all must give place to any absurdities, if they stand in the Arminian way, bringing in their idol with shouts, and preparing his throne, by claiming the cause of their predestination to be in themselves. 

Thirdly, The article is clear that the object of this predestination is some particular men chosen out of mankind; that is, it is such an act of God as concerneth some men in particular, taking them, as it were, aside from the midst of their brethren, and designing them for some special end and purpose. The Scripture also aboundeth in asserting this verity, calling them that are so chosen a “few,” Matthew 20:16, which must needs denote some certain persons; and the “remnant according to election,” Romans 11:5; those whom “the Lord knoweth to be his,” 2 Timothy 2:19; men “ordained to eternal life,” Acts 13:48; “us,” Romans 8:39; those that are “written in the Lamb’s book of life,” Revelation 21:27; — all which, and divers others, clearly prove that the number of the elect is certain, not only materially, as they say,8 that there are so many, but formally also, that these particular persons, and no other, are they, which cannot be altered. Nay, the very nature of the thing itself doth so demonstratively evince it, that I wonder it can possibly be conceived under any other notion. To apprehend an election of men not circumscribed with the circumstance of particular persons is such a conceited, Platonical abstraction, as it seems strange that any one dares profess to understand that there should be a predestination, and none predestinated; an election, and none elected; a choice amongst many, yet none left or taken; a decree to save men, and yet thereby salvation destinated to no one man, either “re aut spe,” in deed or in expectation.

In a word, that there should be a purpose of God to bring men unto glory, standing inviolable, though never any one attained the purposed end, is such a riddle as no AEdipus can unfold. Now, such an election, such a predestination, have the Arminians substituted in the place of God’s everlasting decree. “We deny,”9 say they, “that God’s election extendeth itself to any singular persons as singular persons;” that is, that any particular persons, as Peter, Paul, John, are by it elected. No; how, then? Why,10 “God hath appointed, without difference, to dispense the means of faith; and as he seeth these persons to believe or not to believe by the use of those means, so at length he determineth of them,” as saith Corvinus. Well, then, God chooseth no particular man to salvation, but whom he seeth believing by his own power, with the help only of such means as are afforded unto others who never believe; and as he maketh himself thus differ from them by a good use of his own abilities, so also he may be reduced again unto the same predicament, and then his election, which respecteth not him in his person, but only his qualification, quite vanisheth. But is this God’s decree of election? “Yes,” say they; and make a doleful complaint that any other doctrine should be taught in the church.11 “It is obtruded,” say the true-born sons of Arminius, “on the church as a most holy doctrine, that God, by an absolute, immutable decree, from all eternity, out of his own good pleasure, hath chosen certain persons, and those but few in comparison, without any respect had to their faith and obedience, and predestinated them to everlasting life.” But what so great exception is this doctrine liable unto, what wickedness doth it include, that it should not be accounted most holy? Nay, is not only the matter but the very terms of it contained in the Scripture? Doth it not say the elect are few, and they chosen before the foundation of the world, without any respect to their obedience or any thing that they had done, out of God’s mere gracious good pleasure, that his free purpose according to election might stand, even because so it pleased him; and this that they might be holy, believe, and be sanctified, that they might come unto Christ, and by him be preserved unto everlasting life? Yea, this is that which galls them:12 “No such will can be ascribed unto God, whereby he so willeth any one to be saved as that thence their salvation should be sure and infallible,” saith the father of those children.

Well, then, let St Austin’s definition be quite rejected,13 “That predestination is a preparation of such benefits whereby some are most certainly freed and delivered from sin and brought to glory;” and that also of St Paul, “That (by reason of this) nothing can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ.” What is this election in your judgment?14 “Nothing but a decree whereby God hath appointed to save them that believe in Christ,” saith Corvinus, be they who they will; or a general purpose of God, whereby he hath ordained faith in Christ to be the means of salvation. Yea, but this belongs to Judas as well as to Peter. This decree carrieth as equal an aspect to those that are damned as to those that are saved. Salvation, under the condition of faith in Christ, was also proposed to them; but was Judas and all his company elected? How came they, then, to be seduced and perish? That any of God’s elect go to hell is as yet a strange assertion in Christianity. Notwithstanding this decree, none may believe, or all that do may fall away, and so none at all be saved; which is a strange kind of predestination: or all may believe, continue in faith, and be saved; which were a more strange kind of election.

We, poor souls, thought hitherto that we might have believed, according unto Scripture, that some by this purpose were in a peculiar manner made the Father’s (“Thine they were”), and by him given unto Christ, that he might bring them unto glory; and that these men were so certain and unchangeable a number, that not only God “knoweth them” as being “his,” but also that Christ “calleth them by name,” John 10:3, and looketh that none taketh them out of his hand. We never imagined before that Christ hath been the mediator of an uncertain covenant, because there are no certain persons covenanted withal but such as may or may not fulfill the condition. We always thought that some had been separated before by God’s purpose from the rest of the perishing world, that Christ might lay down his life for his “friends,” for his “sheep,” for them that were “given him” of his Father. But now it should seem he was ordained to be a king when it was altogether uncertain whether he should ever have any subjects, to be a head without a body, or to such a church whose collection and continuance depend wholly and solely on the will of men.

These are doctrines that I believe searchers of the Scripture had scarce ever been acquainted withal, had they not lighted on such expositors as teach,15 “That the only cause why God loveth” (or chooseth) “any person is, because the honesty, faith, and piety wherewith, according to God’s command and his own duty, he is endued, are acceptable to God;” which, though we grant it true of God’s consequent or approving love, yet surely there is a divine love wherewith he looks upon us otherwise, when he gives us unto Christ, else either our giving unto Christ is not out of love, or we are pious, just, and faithful before we come unto him, — that is, we have no need of him at all. Against either way, though we may blot these testimonies out of our hearts, yet they will stand still recorded in holy Scripture, — namely, that God so loved us when we were his “enemies,” Romans 5:10, “sinners,” verse 8, of no “strength,” verse 6; that “he gave his only-begotten Son” to die, “that we should not perish, but have everlasting life,” John 3:16. But of this enough.

Fourthly, Another thing that the article asserteth according to the Scripture is, that there is no other cause of our election but God’s own counsel. It recounteth no motives in us, nothing impelling the will of God to choose some out of mankind, rejecting others, but his own decree, — that is, his absolute will and good pleasure; so that as there is no cause, in any thing without himself, why he would create the world or elect any at all, — for he doth all these things for himself, for the praise of his own glory, — so there is no cause in singular elected persons why God should choose them rather than others. He looked upon all mankind in the same condition, vested with the same qualifications, or rather without any at all; for it is the children not yet born, before they do either good or evil, that are chosen or rejected, his free grace embracing the one and passing over the other. Yet here we must observe, that although God freely, without any desert of theirs, chooseth some men to be partakers both of the end and the means, yet he bestoweth faith, or the means, on none but for the merit of Christ; neither do any attain the end or salvation but by their own faith, through that righteousness of his. The free grace of God notwithstanding, choosing Jacob when Esau is rejected, the only antecedent cause of any difference between the elect and reprobates, remaineth firm and unshaken; and surely, unless men were resolved to trust wholly to their own bottoms, to take nothing gratis at the hands of God, they would not endeavor to rob him of his glory, of having mercy on whom he will have mercy, of loving us without our desert before the world began. If we must claim an interest in obtaining the temporal acts of his favor by our own endeavors, yet, oh, let us grant him the glory of being good unto us, only for his own sake, when we were in his hand as the clay in the hand of the potter. What made this piece of clay fit for comely service, and not a vessel wherein there is no pleasure, but the power and will of the Framer? It is enough, yea, too much, for them to repine and say, “Why hast thou made us thus?” who are vessels fitted for wrath. Let not them who are prepared for honor exalt themselves against him, and sacrifice to their own nets, as the sole providers of their glory. But so it is: human vileness will still be declaring itself, by claiming a worth no way due unto it; of a furtherance of which claim if the Arminians be not guilty, let the following declaration of their opinions in this particular determine: —
“We confess,” say they,16 “roundly, that faith, in the consideration of God choosing us unto salvation, doth precede, and not follow as a fruit of election.” So that whereas Christians have hitherto believed that God bestoweth faith on them that are chosen, it seems now it is no such matter, but that those whom God findeth to believe, upon the stock of their own abilities, he afterward chooseth. Neither is faith, in their judgment, only required as a necessary condition in him that is to be chosen, but as a cause moving the will of God to elect him that hath it,17 as the will of the judge is moved to bestow a reward on him who according to the law hath deserved it,” as Grevinchovius speaks: which words of his, indeed, Corvinus strives to temper, but all in vain, though he wrest them contrary to the intention of the author; for with him agree all his fellows.18 “The one only absolute cause of election is, not the will of God, but the respect of our obedience,” saith Episcopius. At first they required nothing but faith, and that as a condition, not as a cause;19 then perseverance in faith, which at length they began to call obedience, comprehending all our duty to the precepts of Christ: for the cause, say they, of this love to any person, is the righteousness, faith, and piety wherewith he is endued; which being all the good works of a Christian, they, in effect, affirm a man to be chosen for them, — that our good works are the cause of election; which whether it were ever so grossly taught, either by Pelagians or Papists, I something doubt.

And here observe, that this doth not thwart my former assertion, where I showed that they deny the election of any particular persons, which here they seem to grant upon a foresight of their faith and good works; for there is not any one person, as such a person, notwithstanding all this, that in their judgment is in this life elected, but only as he is considered with those qualifications of which he may at any time divest himself, and so become again to be no more elected than Judas.

The sum of their doctrine in this particular is laid down by one of ours in a tract entitled “God’s Love to Mankind,” etc.; a book full of palpable ignorance, gross sophistry, and abominable blasphemy, whose author seems to have proposed nothing unto himself but to rake all the dunghills of a few of the most invective Arminians, and to collect the most filthy scum and pollution of their railings to cast upon the truth of God; and, under I know not what self-coined pretences, belch out odious blasphemies against his holy name.

The sum, saith he, of all these speeches (he cited to his purpose) is,20 “That there is no decree of saving men but what is built on God’s foreknowledge of the good actions of men.” No decree? No, not that whereby God determineth to give some unto Christ, to ingraft them in him by faith, and bring them by him unto glory; which giveth light to that place of Arminius, where he affirmeth,21 “That God loveth none precisely to eternal life but considered as just, either with legal or evangelical righteousness.”

Now, to love one to eternal life is to destinate one to obtain eternal life by Christ, and so it is coincident with the former assertion, that our election, or choosing unto grace and glory, is upon the foresight of our good works; which contains a doctrine so contradictory to the words and meaning of the apostle, Romans 9:11, condemned in so many councils, suppressed by so many edicts and decrees of emperors and governors, opposed as a pestilent heresy, ever since it was first hatched, by so many orthodox fathers and learned schoolmen, so directly contrary to the doctrine of this church, so injurious to the grace and supreme power of Almighty God, that I much wonder any one, in this light of the gospel and flourishing time of learning, should be so boldly ignorant or impudent as to broach it amongst Christians. To prove this to be a heresy exploded by all orthodox and catholic antiquity were to light a candle in the sun; for it cannot but be known to all and every one who ever heard or read any thing of the state of Christ’s church after the rising of the Pelagian tumults.22 

To accumulate testimonies of the ancients is quite beside my purpose. I will only add the confession of Bellarmine,23 a man otherwise not overwell affected to truth. “Predestination,” saith he, “from the foresight of works, cannot be maintained unless we should suppose something in the righteous man, which should make him differ from the wicked, that he doth not receive from God; which truly all the fathers with unanimous consent do reject.” But we have a more sure testimony, to which we will take heed, even the holy Scripture, pleading strongly for God’s free and undeserved grace.

First, our Savior Christ, Matthew 11:26, declaring how God revealeth the gospel unto some, which is hidden from others (a special fruit of election), resteth in his will and good pleasure as the only cause thereof: “Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.” So, comforting his “little flock,” Luke 12:32, he bids them fear not, “for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom;” — “His good pleasure is the only cause why his kingdom is prepared for you rather than others.” But is there no other reason of this discrimination? No; he doth it all “that his purpose according to election might stand” firm, Romans 9:11; for we are “predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will,” Ephesians 1:11. 

But did not this counsel of God direct him to choose us rather than others because we had something to commend us more than they? No; “The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; but because the LORD loved you,” Deuteronomy 7:7,8. “He hath mercy on whom he will have mercy;” yea, “the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth, it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger: as it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated,” Romans 9:11-13.

In brief, wherever there is any mention of election or predestination, it is still accompanied with the purpose, love, or will of God; his foreknowledge, whereby he knoweth them that are his; his free power and supreme dominion over all things. Of our faith, obedience, or any thing importing so much, not one syllable, no mention, unless it be as the fruit and effect thereof. It is the sole act of his free grace and good pleasure, that “he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy,” Romans 9:23. For this only end hath he  “saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,” 2 Timothy 1:9.  Even our calling is free and undeserved, because flowing from that most free grace of election, whereof we are partakers before we are [i.e., exist]. It were needless to heap up more testimonies in a thing so clear and evident. When God and man stand in competition who shall be accounted the cause of an eternal good, we may be sure the Scripture will pass the verdict on the part of the Most High. And the sentence, in this case, may be derived from thence by these following reasons: —

First, If final perseverance in faith and obedience be the cause of, or a condition required unto, election, then none can be said in this life to be elected; for no man is a final perseverer until he be dead, until he hath finished his course and consummated the faith. But certain it is that it is spoken of some in the Scripture that they are even in this life elected: “Few are chosen,” Matthew 20:16; “For the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened,” chapter 24:22; “And shall, if it were possible, deceive the very elect,” verse 24, — where it is evident that election is required to make one persevere in the faith, but nowhere is perseverance in the faith required to election; yea, and Peter gives us all a command that we should give all diligence to get an assurance of our “election,” even in this life, 2 Peter 1:10: and, therefore, surely it cannot be a decree presupposing consummated faith and obedience.

Secondly, Consider two things of our estate, before the first temporal act of God’s free grace (for grace is no grace if it be not free), which is the first effect of our predestination, comprehendeth us: — First, “Were we better than others.” No, in no wise: both Jews and Gentiles were all under sin,” Romans 3:9. “There is no difference; for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” verse 23; — being all “dead in trespasses and sins,” Ephesians 2:1; being “by nature the children of wrath, even as others,” verse 3; “far off,” until we are “made nigh by the blood of Christ,” verse 13. We were “enemies” against God, Romans 5:10; Titus 3:3. And look what desert there is in us with these qualifications, when our vocation, the first effect of our predestination, as St Paul showeth, Romans 8:30, and as I shall prove hereafter, separateth us from the world of unbelievers. So much there is in respect of predestination itself; so that if we have any way deserved it, it is by being sinners, enemies, children of wrath, and dead in trespasses. These are our deserts; this is the glory, whereof we ought to be ashamed. But, secondly, When they are in the same state of actual alienation from God, yet then, in respect of his purpose to save them by Christ, some are said to be his: “Thine they were, and thou gavest them me,” John 17:6; — they were his before they came unto Christ by faith; the sheep of Christ before they are called, for he “calleth his sheep by name,” chapter 10:3; before they come into the flock or congregation, for “other sheep,” saith he, “I have, which are not of this fold, them also must I bring,” chapter 10:16; — to be beloved of God before they love him: “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us,” 1 John 4:10. Now, all this must be with reference to God’s purpose of bringing them unto Christ, and by him unto glory; which we see goeth before all their faith and obedience.

Thirdly, Election is an eternal act of God’s will: “He hath chosen us before the foundation of the world,” Ephesians 1:4; consummated antecedently to all duty of ours, Romans 9:11. Now, every cause must, in order of nature, precede its effect; nothing hath an activity in causing before it hath a being. Operation in every kind is a second act, flowing from the essence of a thing which is the first. But all our graces and works, our faith, obedience, piety, and charity, are all temporal, of yesterday, the same standing with ourselves, and no longer; and therefore cannot be the cause of, no, nor so much as a condition necessarily required for, the accomplishment of an eternal act of God, irrevocably established before we are.

Fourthly, If predestination be for faith foreseen, these three things, with divers such absurdities, will necessarily follow:

First, That election is not of “him that calleth,” as the apostle speaks, Romans 9:11, — that is, of the good pleasure of God, who calleth us with a holy calling, — but of him that is called; for, depending on faith, it must be his whose faith is, that doth believe. 

Secondly, God cannot have mercy on whom he win have mercy, for the very purpose of it is thus tied to the qualities of faith and obedience, so that he must have mercy only on believers antecedently to his decree. Which, 

Thirdly, hinders him from being an absolute free agent, and doing of what he will with his own, — of having such a power over us as the potter hath over his clay; for he finds us of different matter, one clay, another gold, when he comes to appoint us to different uses and ends.

Fifthly, God sees no faith, no obedience, perseverance, nothing but sin and wickedness, in any man, but what himself intendeth graciously and freely to bestow upon him; for “faith is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God;” it is “the work of God, that we believe,” John 6:29; he “blesseth us with all spiritual blessings in Christ,” Ephesians 1:3. Now, all these gifts and graces God bestoweth only upon those whom he hath antecedently ordained to everlasting life: for “the election obtained it, and the rest were blinded,” Romans 11:7; “The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved”’ Acts 2:47. Therefore, surely, God chooseth us not because he foreseeth those things in us, seeing he bestoweth those graces because he hath chosen us. “Wherefore,”24 saith Austin, “doth Christ say, ‘Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,’ but because they did not choose him that he should choose them; but he chose them that they might choose him.” We choose Christ by faith; God chooseth us by his decree of election. The question is, Whether we choose him because he hath chosen us, or he chooseth us because we have chosen him, and so indeed choose ourselves? We affirm the former, and that because our choice of him is a gift he himself bestoweth only on them whom he hath chosen.

Sixthly, and principally, The effects of election, infallibly following it, cannot be the causes of election, certainly preceding it. This is evident, for nothing can be the cause and the effect of the same thing, before and after itself. But all our faith, our obedience, repentance, good works, are the effects of election, flowing from it as their proper fountain, erected on it as the foundation of this spiritual building; and for this the article of our church is evident and clear. “Those,” saith it, “that are endued with this excellent benefit of God are called according to God’s purpose, are justified freely, are made the sons of God by adoption; they be made like the image of Christ; they walk religiously in good works,” etc.

Where, first, they are said to be partakers of this benefit of election, and then by virtue thereof to be entitled to the fruition of all those graces. 

Secondly, it saith, “Those who are endued with this benefit enjoy those blessings;” intimating that election is the rule whereby God proceedeth in bestowing those graces, restraining the objects of the temporal acts of God’s special favor to them only whom his eternal decree doth embrace. Both these, indeed, are denied by the Arminians; which maketh a farther discovery of their heterodoxies in this particular.25 “You say,” saith Arminius to Perkins, “that election is the rule of giving or not giving of faith; and, therefore, election is not of the faithful, but faith of the elect: but by your leave this I must deny.” But yet, whatever it is the sophistical heretic here denies, either antecedent or conclusion, he falls foul on the word of God. “They ‘believed,”’ saith the Holy Ghost, “who were ‘ordained to eternal life,’” Acts 13:48; and, “The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved,” chapter 2:47. From both which places it is evident that God bestoweth faith only on them whom he hath pre-ordained to eternal life; but most clearly, Romans 8:29,30, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” St Austin interpreted this place by adding in every link of the chain, “Only those.” However, the words directly import a precedency of predestination before the bestowing of other graces, and also a restraint of those graces to them only that are so predestinated. Now, the inference from this is not only for the form logical, but for the matter also; it containeth the very words of Scripture, “Faith is of God’s elect,” Titus 1:1.

For the other part of the proposition, that faith and obedience are the fruits of our election, they cannot be more peremptory in its denial than the Scripture is plentiful in its confirmation: “He hath chosen us in Christ, that we should be holy,” Ephesians 1:4; not because we were holy, but that we should be so. Holiness, whereof faith is the root and obedience the body, is that whereunto, and not for which, we are elected. The end and the meritorious cause of any one act cannot be the same; they have divers respects, and require repugnant conditions. Again; we are “predestinated unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ,” verse 5. Adoption is that whereby we are assumed into the family of God, when before we are “foreigners, aliens, strangers, afar off;” which we see is a fruit of our predestination, though it be the very entrance into that estate wherein we begin first to please God in the least measure. Of the same nature are all those places of holy writ which speak of God’s giving some unto Christ, of Christ’s sheep hearing his voice, and others not hearing, because they are not of his sheep; all which, and divers other invincible reasons, I willingly omit, with sundry other false assertions and heretical positions of the Arminians about this fundamental article of our religion

Endnotes:
1. “Electio non est ab aeterno.” — Rem. Apol.
2. “Electio alia completa est, quae neminem spectat nisi immorientem. Electio peremptoria totum salutis complementum et consummationem decernit, ideoque in objecto requirit totam consummatam fidei obedientiam.” — Grevinch, ad Ames. p. 136, passim. dis.
3. “Non agnoscimus aliam praedestinationem in evangelio patefactam, quam qua Deus decrevit credentes et qui in eadem fide perseverarent, salvos facere.” — Rem. Coll. Hag., p. 34.
4. “Electionis fructum aut sensum in hac vita nullum agnosco.” — Grevinch.
5. Episcop. Thes., p. 35; Epist. ad Walach., p. 38; Grevinch. ad Ames., p. 133.
6. “Electio alia completa est, quae neminem spectat nisi morientem, alia incompleta, quae omnibus fidelibus communis est; ut salutis bona sunt incompleta quae continu-antur, fide contlnuata, et abnegate, revocantur, sic electio est incompleta in hac vita, non peremptoria, revocabilis.” — Grevinch, ad Ames.
7. “Tres sunt ordines credentium et resipiscentium in Scripturis, novitli, credentes aliquandiu, perseverantes. Duo priores ordines credentium eliguntur vere quidem, at non prorsus absolute, nec nisi ad tempus, puta quamdiu et quatenus tales sunt,” etc. —Rem. Confess., cap. 18, sect. 6,7.
8. Aquinas.
9. “Nos negamus Dei electionem ad salutem extendere sese ad slngulares personas, qua singulares personas.” — Rem. Coll. Hag., fol. 76.
10. “Deus statuit indiscrimlnatim media ad fidem administrare, et prout has, vel illas personas, istis mediis credituras vel non credituras videt, ita tandem de illis statuit.” — Corv. ad Tilen., 76.
11. “Ecclesiae tanquam sacrosancta doctrina obtruditur, Deum absolutissimo et immutabili decreto ab omni retro aeternitate, pro puro suo beneplacito, singulares quosdam homines, eosque, quoad caeteros, paucissimos, citra ullius obedientiae aut fidei in Chris-tum intuitum praedestinasse ad vitam.” — Praefat. Lib. Armin. ad Perk.
12. “Nulla Deo tribui potest voluntas, qua ita velit hominem ullum salvari, ut salus inde illis constet certo et infallibiliter.”–Armin. Antip., p. 583.
13. “Praedestinatio est praeparatio beneficiorum quibus certissime liberantur quicunque liberantur.” — Aug, de Bono Per. Sen., cap. 14.
14. “Decretum electionis nihil aliud est quam decretum quo Deus constituit credentes in Christo justificare et salvare.” — Corv, ad Tilen., p. 13.
15. “Ratio dilectionis personae est, quod probitas, tides, vel pietas, qua ex officio suo et prrescripto Dei ista persona praedita est, Deo grata sit.” — Rem. Apol., p. 18.
16. “Rotunde fatemur, fidem in consideratione Dei in eligendo ad salutem antecedere, et non tauquam fracture electionis sequi.” —Rem. Hag. Coll., p. 85.
17. Grevinch. ad Amea, p. 24; Corv. ad Molin., p. 260.
18. “Electionis et reprobationis causa unica vera et absoluta non est Dei voluntas, seal respectus obedientise et inobedientise.” — Epis. Disput. 8.
19. “Cum peccatum pono causam merltoriam reprobationls, ne existlmato e contra me ponere justitiam causam meritoriam electionis.” — Attain. Antip.; Rein. Apol., p. 73.
20. God’s Love, p. 6.
21. “Deum nullam creaturam preecise ad vitam ,eternam amare, nisi consideratam ut justam sire justitia legali sire evangelica” — Armin. Artic. Perpend., fol. 21.
22. Vid. Prosp. ad Excep. Gen. ad Dub., 8,9. Vid. Car. de Ingratis., c. 2,3.
23. “Non potest defendi praedestinatlo ex operibus praevisis, nisi aliquid boni ponatur in homine justo, quo discernatur ab impio, quod non sit illi a Deo, quod sane patres omnes summa consensione rejiciunt.” — Bellar, de Grat., et Lib. Arbit., cap. 14.
24. “Non ob aliud dicit, ‘Non vos me eligistis, seal ego vos elegi,’ nisi quia non elegerunt eumut eligeret eos; sed ut eligerent eum elegit eos.” — Aug, de Bono Perse, cap. 16.
25. “Dicis electionem divinarn esse regulam fidei dandae vel non dandae; ergo, electio non est fidelium, sed tides electorum: seal liceat mihi tua bona venia hoc negare.” — Armin. Antip., p. 221.

Chosen, before the foundation of the world…

Excerpt taken and adapted from “The Doctrine of Particular Unconditional Election (Before Time) Asserted and Proved by God’s Word, Against the Quakers, Papists, and Arminians”
Written by James Barry (1599-1680)
Edited for thought and sense.

947003_563411140369990_1772894959_n“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love..”
–Ephesians 1:3-4 (RSV)

What is God’s election of some to life eternal (including the means leading, thereto) and the birth or product being of God’s own counsel (Romans 9)?

And Oh! What an unspeakable cause of rejoicing is this very consideration to that man, or woman; who find in themselves the fruits (or effects) of the new birth.  To think and believe, that they (in particular) are chosen to life eternal by him who cannot change that purpose of his, wherewith he hath purposed to save so poor and miserable a sinner as the effectually called sinner looks on himself to be.

Neither is the poor weak believer to doubt, but that those sins and backslidings, both of his heart and life, for which he will be but too apt to fear and conclude, God will at length cast him off, were all perfectly known to God even then when he elected him to Salvation; notwithstanding which God fixed his love and embraced the poor sinner in the bosom of his irreversible decree, when nothing of loveliness, (but rather the contrary) appeared to the eye of God’s precognition (or foreknowledge) in the soul, so cast by his decree.

Whom God once loves with that electing love he loves them to the end (Jeremiah 31:8; Malachi 3:6. John 13:1; Romans 11:29). And as God’s act in electing is without change, so it was from eternity; though the work of effectual calling and saving conversion be in time, yet God’s decree and purpose of bestowing that grace and mercy on the elect sinner was before time (Acts 1 5: 17-18; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Revelation 17:8 ).

The electing love of God it is from one eternity to another, as it did commence before time so when time shall be swallowed up of endless eternity, this love of God (to his elect, and chosen in Christ) will be (and continue) the same forever.

The Biblical Doctrine of Reprobation

Written by Timothy A. Williams
From The Protestant Pulpit

imagesOne of the darkest doctrines of Scripture is the doctrine of reprobation.

Calvin includes it under Predestination, which is an act of God “by which  God adopts some to the hope of life and adjudges other to eternal death, no one desirous of credit of piety, dares absolutely to deny” (Institutes III.xxi.5).  We may define the doctrine in the following way: reprobation is God’s eternal purpose, in which He passes some people by with the operations of His special grace and punishes them for their sins to the manifestation of His justice (Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 116).

Therefore, we may say that reprobation, like election, is included within God’s eternal decree and is summarized in the Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 3:3, which states that, ‘By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life, and others foreordained to everlasting death.’

Jacob Arminius (1560-1609) and his followers rejected this idea of both election and reprobation. They asserted that men are elected to salvation or reprobated to perdition on the basis of their believing or unbelieving.  In Article 1 of the five articles (1610 prepared, these Dutch advocates of universal asserted,

God by an immutable decree, before he laid the foundations of the world, ordained in Jesus Christ his Son, to save out of the fallen human race, exposed to punishment on account of sin, those in Christ, on account of Christ, and through Christ, who by the grace of the Holy Spirit believe his Son, and who through the same grace persevere in the obedience of faith to the end. And on the other hand (he decreed) to leave in sin and exposed to wrath those who are not converted, and are unbelieving, and to condemn them as aliens from Christ, according to John 3:36.” (Quoted in Wm. Cunningham, “Hist. Theo.,” Vol. 2., p. 463.

Upholding the teachings of the Belgic Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism and rejecting the Remonstrance put forward by the disciples of Jacob Arminius (1560-1609), the Synod of Dort maintained the doctrine of election and reprobation, affirming that God in His eternal decree softens the hearts of the elect, however obstinate, and inclines them to believe, while He leaves the non-elect in His just judgment to their own wickedness and obduracy:

§ 7: “But election is the immutable purpose of God, by which, before the foundations of the world were laid, he chose, out of the whole human race, fallen by their own fault from their primeval integrity into sin and destruction, according to the most free good pleasure of his own will, and of mere grace, a certain number of men, neither better nor worthier than others, but lying in the same misery with the rest, to salvation in Christ, whom he had ever from eternity constituted Mediator and Head of all the elect, and the foundation of salvation.

§ 9. This same election is not made from any foreseen faith, obedience of faith, holiness, or any other good quality or disposition, as a prerequisite cause or condition in the man who should be elected, but unto faith, and unto obedience of faith, and holiness. And truly election is the fountain of every saving benefit; whence faith, holiness, and other salutary gifts, and, finally, eternal life itself flow as its fruit and effect.

§ 15. Moreover, holy Scripture doth illustrate and commend to us this eternal and free grace of our election, in this more especially, that it doth also testify all men not to be elected, but that some are non–elect, or passed by in the eternal election of God, whom truly God, from most free, just, irreprehensible and immutable good pleasure, decreed to live in the common misery, into which they had, by their own fault, cast themselves, and not to bestow upon them living faith and the grace of conversion.”

Those who are passed over are those who God has not chosen to soften so that they can be inclined to believe the free offer of the Gospel. This group is instead ordained to dishonor and wrath for their sin, for the praise of the glorious justice of God. Repeatedly, we are told that this was is based upon justice.  Sin is the reason why some are judicially punished by God. The non–elect are “ordained to dishonor and wrath for their sins, to the praise of his glorious justice.” (Westminster Confession Faith,” Ch. 3, sec. 3–7; cf.  Larger Catechism, Question 13;Shorter Catechism, Question 20.

Calvin himself makes this same assertion. For example, in his comments on Isaiah 6:2, he states, “Such blinding and hardening influence does not arise out of the nature of the word, but is accidental, and must be ascribed exclusively to the depravity of man.”  Again, in his comments on Genesis 50:20, he makes the following point:

This truly must be generally agreed, that nothing is done without [God’s sovereign] will; because he both governs the counsels of men, and sways their wills and turns their efforts at his pleasure, and regulates all events: but if men undertake anything right and just, he so actuates and moves them inwardly by his Spirit, that whatever is good in them, may justly be said to be received from him: but if Satan and ungodly men rage, he acts by their hands in such an inexpressible manner, that the wickedness of the deed belongs to them, and the blame of it is imputed to them. For they are not induced to sin, as the faithful are to act aright, by the impulse of the Spirit, but they are the authors of their own evil, and follow Satan as their leader. Thus we see that the justice of God shines brightly in the midst of the darkness of our iniquity. For as God is never without a just cause for his actions, so men are held in the chains of guilt by their own perverse will.

Sin, however, is not the reason why God has not chosen them to receive the grace of regeneration. God’s will was not to show them mercy, and He did this by withholding from them saving faith and the grace of conversion. “God elects as sons those whom he pleases, according to the good pleasure of his will, without any regard to merit, while rejecting and reprobating others” (Calvin, Institutes. III.xxiii.10; cf. III.xxii.11; III.23.1).  When we look to the salvation of men, it is must attributed to God alone, but if we are to see the cause of their damnation, it must rest upon their own sin. William Perkins said that it is God’s will “to permit someone to fall into sin, and to afflict the punishment of damnation for sin” (De Praedestinationis Modo et Ordine. Cambridge 1598, p. 22).   In reprobration, there is a negative act in passing over and leaving one in sin, and a positive act of judging the person for their sin. Reprobation comprises preterition and condemnation or damnation. W. T. G. Shedd comments on the importance of this:

Much of the attack upon the general tenet of reprobation arises from overlooking this distinction. The following characteristics mark the difference between the two. (a) Preterition is a sovereign act; condemnation is a judicial act. God passes by or omits an individual in the bestowment of regenerating grace because of his sovereign good pleasure (eudokia).   But he condemns this individual to punishment, not because of his sovereign good pleasure, but because this individual is a sinner. To say that God condemns a man to punishment because he pleases is erroneous; but to say that God omits to regenerate a man because he pleases is true. (b) The reason of condemnation is known; sin is the reason. The reason of preterition is unknown. It is not sin, because the elect are as sinful as the nonelect. (c) In preterition, God’s action is permissive, inaction rather than action. In condemnation, God’s action is efficient and positive.

The notion that God shows mercy to some people and not to others can be seen in Romans 9:13.  Here Paul notes that it was God’s will and purpose to show mercy to Jacob, but that it was not His will and purpose to show mercy to Esau. Paul does not see God as being unjust by loving Jacob and hating Esau, who are the representatives of Israel and Edom respectively (9:13). Instead, he sees it as the sovereign choice and good pleasure of God to love Jacob and hate Esau.

There are some scholars, while seeking to avoid the obvious force of this passage, seek to interpret it as a reference to the fate of nations, rather than the predestination and reprobation of individuals. However, such efforts have not yet fully successfully explained how the corporate election of two peoples, Israel and Edom in Romans 9:12, 13, fits together in Paul’s argument with the statement that not all who are descended from Israel are Israel (9:6b).

Douglas Moo gives expands on this reason to interpret Paul as referring to Jacob and Esau as individuals. First, Paul mentions their conception, birth and works (Rom. 9:10b-11a). This language, he argues, is not easily applied to nations. Second, several of the key words and phrases that Paul uses in this passage are words he generally uses elsewhere with reference to the attaining of salvation; and significantly, they occur with this sense in texts closely related to this one: “election” (Rom. 11:5, 7); “call” (Rom. 8:28), and “[not] of works” (Rom. 4:2-8, 11:6). Similarly, these words are difficult to apply to nations, or peoples, because Paul did not believe that people or nations – not even Israel – are chosen and called by God for salvation apart from their works (Moo, Romans, 585).

What is vitally important here is that Paul does not regard God as being unjust in choosing one above the other (Rom. 9:14).  This is because none deserves his mercy, for all are sinful. So when God decides to bestow mercy and compassion on some and not on others, it is His sovereign prerogative to do so. This same Godly prerogative also applies if He chooses to harden some sinners (Rom. 9:18). God reserves absolute liberty in the exercise of His mercy and compassion, yet this should not imply that God has an arbitrary and capricious attitude to humanity, because Romans 9:15 shows us that God delights to show mercy.  This is the very point that divines at the Synod of Dort make in their opening remarks on election and reprobation:

Since all people have sinned in Adam and have come under the sentence of the curse and eternal death, God would have done no one an injustice if it had been his will to leave the entire ­human race in sin and under the curse, and to condemn them on account of their sin. As the apostle says: “The whole world is liable to the condemnation of God” (Rom. 3:19), “All have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23), and “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). Canons of Dort, I/II.1

It also shows that judgment is His strange work (Isa. 28:21). If not all are chosen to become the elect people of God, then this means that those whom God has passed over are those whom He has rejected. Both election and reprobation stand and fall together – one cannot exist without the other (cf. Rom 9:13). Calvin made this point in the Institutes: Many . . . as if they wished to avert odium from God, admit election in such a way as to deny that anyone is reprobated. But this puerile and absurd, because election itself could not exist without being opposed to reprobation (Institutes, III.xxiii.1).

Paul does not see as problematic the fact that God chooses to show His wrath and make His power known by bearing with great patience the objects of his wrath prepared for destruction (9:22). Paul seems to be saying in Romans 9:22-24 that God ordains both the objects of mercy and the objects of wrath. This double emphasis on predestination, however, is not one of equal ultimacy, because God chooses the eternal destiny of men from those who are already fallen. God as the Potter has the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use (Rom. 9:21).

Because God is sovereign, He can pass over some and leave them in their sin, or He can choose to save some from their sin and make them His beloved people. God’s saving intentions can thus be restricted to a proportion of humanity, because if He had loved the non-elect in the same manner as the elect He would have made them the recipients of His regenerating grace, thus enabling them to repent (Acts 11:18) and have faith in Christ (2 Pet. 1:1). Because He did not, they remain in their current state as objects of wrath (Eph. 2:3) and so continue to be dead in their transgressions and sins (2:1).

It is often wrongly concluded from the fact that God reprobates some that He has no common grace or general love for mankind. John Davenant, one of the leading British delegates to the Synod of Dort stated, “Reprobation is not a denial of sufficient grace, but a denial of such special grace, as God knoweth would infallibly bring them to glory.” Shedd likewise notes,

The reprobate resist and nullify common grace; and so do the elect. The obstinate selfishness and enmity of the human heart defeats divine mercy as shown in the ordinary influences of the Holy Spirit, in both the elect and nonelect: “You stiff-necked, you do always resist the Holy Spirit” (Acts 7:51). The difference between the two cases is that in the instance of the elect God follows up the common grace which has been resisted with the regenerating grace which overcomes the resistance, while in the instance of the reprobate he does not. It is in respect to the bestowment of this higher degree of grace that St. Paul affirms that God “has mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardens [i.e., does not soften].”

Sadly, while the reprobate is the recipient of common grace, this common grace only augments his damnation. From the Word of God, the reprobate are “accustomed to form stones to dash themselves upon” (Calvin, Comment on John 6:60). They “suck venom from the most wholesome food, and gall from honey” (Ibid., Comment on John 6:66).  “God offers his word indiscriminately to the good and bad, but it works by his Spirit in the elect, as I have already said; and as to the reprobate, the doctrine is useful, as it renders them without excuse” (Ibid., Comment on Ezekiel 2:3).

Seeing that we do not know who the elect and the reprobate are, we are to give the gospel to all. “And as we cannot distinguish between the elect and the reprobate, it is our duty to pray for all who trouble us; to desire the salvation of all men; and even to be careful for the welfare of every individual” (Calvin, Comment on Psalm 109:16).  And no man should rashly conclude that he been reprobated by God, and we should not conclude them to be (See Calvin’s Comment on 1 John 5:16). Each person should take the offer of the Gospel immediately and without delay.

Now, then, the blame lies solely with ourselves, if we do not become partakers of this salvation; for he calls all men to himself, without a single exception, and gives Christ to all, that we may be illuminated by him. Let us only open our eyes, he alone will dispel  the darkness, and illuminate our minds by the “light” of truth (Calvin, Comment on Isaiah 42:6).

When the Ravens Steal the Seed: A False Theology about God.

Written by Arthur W. Pink,
Taken from, “The Foreknowledge of God “

Common Raven in flightFalse theology makes God’s foreknowledge of our believing the cause of His election to salvation; whereas, God’s election is the cause, and our believing in Christ is the effect.

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“When the solemn and blessed subject of divine foreordination is expounded, when God’s eternal choice of certain ones to be conformed to the image of His Son is set forth, the enemy sends along some man to argue that election is based upon the foreknowledge of God, and this ‘foreknowledge’ is interpreted to mean that God foresaw certain ones would be more pliable than others, that they would respond more readily to the strivings of the Spirit, and that because God knew they would believe, He accordingly, predestinated them unto salvation.

But such a statement is radically wrong.

It repudiates the truth of total depravity, for it argues that there is something good in some men. It takes away the independency of God, for it makes His decrees rest upon what He discovers in the creature. It completely turns things upside down, for in saying God foresaw certain sinners would believe in Christ, and that because of this, He predestinated them unto salvation, is the very reverse of the truth. Scripture affirms that God, in His high sovereignty, singled out certain ones to be recipients of His distinguishing favours (Acts 13:48), and therefore He determined to bestow upon them the gift of faith. False theology makes God’s foreknowledge of our believing the cause of His election to salvation; whereas, God’s election is the cause, and our believing in Christ is the effect. There are those today who are misusing this very truth in order to discredit and deny the absolute sovereignty of God in the salvation of sinners, just as higher critics are repudiating the divine inspiration of the Scriptures; evolutionists, the work of God in creation; so some pseudo Bible teachers are perverting His foreknowledge in order to set aside His unconditional election unto eternal life.