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Map shewing the order and cause of salvation and damnation – John Bunyan

December 18, 2011 Comments off

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Predestination of the Elect of God by Dr. Francis Turretin

June 22, 2010 Comments off

Predestination of the Elect of God by Dr. Francis Turretin

Ought predestination to be publicly taught and preached? We affirm. Some of the brethren of France in the time of Augustine started this question. Since, in his books against the Pelagians, he had inserted and inculcated many things concerning predestination, so as in this way to defend the truth against their impious doctrines, many were disturbed by it (as appears from the two letters of Prosper, a disciple of Augustine, and of Hilary, the presbyter*; cf.”Letters 225 and 226 to Augustine” [FC 32:119-29 and 129-391). The reason was not that they judged it to be at all false, but because they thought the preaching of it was dangerous and invidious, better to be suppressed than brought into prominence. There are some of the same opinion at the present day. Wearied with the contentions arising from this doctrine in almost every age, they think that it is best for the peace of the church and the tranquility of conscience to let these questions alone (since by them scruples are suggested and doubts generated which are calculated to weaken the faith of the weak and to drive men to desperation or into carnal security). But this opinion is more honest than true and cannot be readily received by those who have known the richest fruits of consolation and sanctification to redound to believers from this doctrine properly understood. Hence we think that this doctrine should be neither wholly suppressed from a preposterous modesty nor curiously pried into by a rash presumption. Rather it should be taught soberly and prudently from the word of God so that two dangerous rocks may be avoided: on the one hand, that of “affected ignorance” which wishes to see nothing and blinds itself purposely in things revealed; on the other hand, that of “unwarrantable curiosity” which busies itself to see and understand everything even in mysteries. They strike upon the first who (sinning in defect) think that we should abstain from the proposition of this doctrine; and upon the latter who (sinning in excess) wish to make everything in this mystery scrupulously accurate (exonychizein) and hold that nothing should be left undiscovered (anexereunifton) in it. Against both, we maintain (with the orthodox) that predestination can be taught with profit, provided this is done soberly from the word of God. The reasons are

(1) Christ and the apostles frequently taught it (as appears from the Gospel, Matthew 11:20, 25; 13:11; 25:34; Luke 10:20; 12:32; John 8:47; 15:16 and in other places; and from the epistles of Paul (the whole of Rom. 9 and Rom. 8:29, 30; Eph. 1:4, 5; 2 Tim. 1:9; 1Thess. 5:9; 2 Thess. 2:13). Nor otherwise do Peter, James and John express themselves who speak repeatedly of this mystery whenever occasion offered. Now if it was proper for them to teach it, why is it not proper for us to learn it? Why should God teach what would have been better (arrifton) unspoken (ameinon)? Why did he wish to proclaim those things which it would bebetter not to know? Do we wish to be more prudent than God or to prescribe rules to him?

(2)It is one of the primary gospel doctrines a foundations of our faith. It cannot be ignored without great injury to the church and to believers. For it is the fountain of our gratitude to God, the root of humility, the foundation and most firm anchor of confidence in all temptations, the fulcrum of the sweetest consolation and the most powerful spur (incitamentum) to piety and holiness.

(3) The importunity of the adversaries (who have corrupted this primary head of faith by deadly errors and infamous calumnies which they are accustomed to heap upon our doctrine) imposes upon us the necessity of handling it so that the truth may be fairly exhibited and freed from the most false and iniquitous criminations of evilly disposed men. As if we introduced a fatal and Stoical necessity; as if we would extinguish all religion in the minds of men by it, to soothe them on the bed of security and profanity or hurl them into the abyss of despair; as if we made God cruel, hypocritical and the author of sin-I shudder to relate it. Now as all these things are perfectly false, they ought unquestionably to be refuted by a sober and healthy exhibition doctrine from theword of God. Although wicked men often abuse this doctrine (improperly understood), its lawful use towards the pious ought not therefore to be denied (unless we wish to have more regard for wicked men than believers).

(2) If, on account of the abuse of some persons, we should abstain from the proposition of this mystery, we must equally abstain from most of the mysteries of the Christian religion which the wicked abuse or laugh at and satirize (such as the mystery of the Trinity, the incarnation, the resurrection and the like).

(3) The calumnies launched against the doctrine of Paul by the false apostles could not cause him to suppress it; yea, he thoroughly discussed it in his inspired way so that he might shut the mouths of adversaries. Why then should we refrain from its presentation? Let us only follow in the footsteps of Paul and, with him, speak and be silent.

If some abuse this doctrine either to licentiousness or to desperation, this happens not per se from the doctrine itself, but accidentally, from the vice of men who most wickedly wrest it to their own destruction. Indeed there is no doctrine from which more powerful incitements to piety can be drawn and richer streams of confidence and consolation flow (as will be seen in the proper place).

The mystery of predestination is too sublime to be comprehended by us as to the why (to diod) (as he is rash who would attempt to find out or to assign the reasons and the causes of it). But this does not hinder it from being taught in Scripture as to the fact (to hoti) and from being firmly held by us. To things therefore must be distinguished here: the one, what God has revealed in his word; the other, what he has concealed. The former we cannot despise (unless rashly). “The secret things,’ says Scripture, ‘belong unto God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children’ (Dr. 29:29). To neglect things revealed argues ingratitude, but to search into I things concealed argues pride. “We must not therefore deny what is plain because we cannot comprehend what is hidden,” as Augustine expresses it (On the Gift of Perseverance 37 [NPNF1, 5:540; PL 45.10161).

The fathers before Augustine spoke more sparingly concerning this mystery not because they judged it best to ignore it, but because there was no occasion presented for discussing it more largely (the Pelagian heresy not having as yet sprung up). Indeed it is true that they sometimes expressed themselves without sufficient caution. Nevertheless Augustine (On the Gift of Perseverance) proves that they did not pass over this truth in utter silence (for who could be ignorant of that which is so clearly set forth in sacred Scriptures?) –the testimony of Abrose,Cyprian and Gregory Nazianzus being adduced for this purpose.

While we think that predestination should be taught, we do not further suppose that human curiosity should be enlarged, but believe there is need here of be taught, but believe there is a need here for great sobriety and prudence; both that we may remain within the bounds prescribed by Scripture, not endeavoring to be wise beyond what is written (par’ho geg-raptai), and that we may prudently have a regard for the persons, places and times to regulate the proposition of it.

For it ought not to be delivered immediately and in the first instance, but gradually and slowly. Nor ought it to be delivered equally as to all its parts, for some ought to be more frequently inculcated as more useful and better suited to the consolation of the pious (as the doctrine of election), but others ought to be handled more sparingly (as reprobation). Nor ought it to be set forth so much to the people in the church as to the initiated (tois mystais) in the school. Again, predestination must be considered not so much a priori as a posteriori. Not that we may descend from causes to effects, but ascend from effects to causes. Not that we should curiously unroll “the book of life” in order to see if our names are written therein (which is forbidden to us), but that we should diligently consult “the book of conscience” which we are not only permitted, but also commanded to do, that we may know whether the seal of God is stamped upon our hearts and whether the fruits of election (viz., faith and repentance) may be found in us (which is the safest way of proceeding to the saving knowledge of that doctrine). In one word, all curious and fruitless questions must be avoided here, and what Paul calls ‘foolish and unlearned questions’ (apaideutous zetesis kai aperantous, 2 Tim. 2:23)-which usually engender strifes and contentions. Our only object should be to increase our faith, not to feed curiosity; to labor for edification, not to strive for our glory.

Question: In what sense are the words ‘predestination,’ prognseos, ekloges and protheseos used in this mystery?

Since the Scriptures (whose genuine signification throws great light upon the knowledge of the thing itself) use various words in explaining this mystery, we must premise certain things concerning them.

First the word “predestination’ occurs here, and it must not be passed over lightly. For although the word proorismou does not exist in the Scriptures, yet the verb from which it comes is often read (Acts 4:28; Rom. 8:29, 30 Ephesians 1:5) Moreover to predestinate (or proorizein from the force of the verb) signifies to determine something concerning things before they take place and to direct them to a certain end.

However, it is understood by authors in three ways.

(1) More widely for every decree of God about creatures and most especially about intelligent creatures in order to their ultimate end. Thus it is frequently employed by the fathers for providence itself.

(2) More specially for the counsel of God concerning men as fallen either to be saved by grace or to be damned by justice (which is commonly called “election’ and “reprobation’).

(3) Most specially for the decree of election, which is called “the predestination of the saints.’ Again according to the latter, it can be taken in two senses (schesin): not only for the destination to the end, but particularly for the “destination to the means” (in which sense it is used by Paul when he says that God predestinated those whom he foreknew to be “conformed to the image of his Son,’ Rom. 8:29,30). Here it is plain that predestination is distinguished from foreknowledge and refers most especially to the end. Thus after saying that God hath chosen us in Christ, the having predestinated us unto the adoption of children’ (proorisas ian, Eph. 1:5) to mark the destination of means ordained for obtaining the salvation destined by election.

About this word, moreover, it is asked whether it is to be referred only to election or whether it embraces reprobation also. This controversy was formerly vehemently urged in the matter of Gottschalk in the ninth century, John Erigena Scotus maintaining that it suited election alone (De Divina Praedestinatione liber* [PL 122.355,4401). On the other hand, Gottschalk, the Lyonians and Remigius, the bishop (in their name), extended it to reprobation. The same question now lies between us and the papists. For the papists (to whom the term reprobation is hateful) contend that it must be used in the first sense. Hence they are accustomed to call reprobates not predestinated, but “foreknown”; and do not subordinate but oppose reprobation to predestination (as Bellarmine, Gregory de Valentia and Pighius, De libero hominis arbitrio 8.2 [1642], p. 137).

With them even some of the orthodox appear to agree, though not with the same object in view.

But we (although willing to confess that the term predestination is according to Scripture usage often restricted to election; yet not only from the proper signification of the word but also from Scripture usage and received custom) that think it is rightly extended to reprobation so as to embrace both parts of the divine counsel (election and reprobation), in which sense it is taken by us here.

The reasons are:

(1) the Scripture extends the word proorizein to the wicked acts of those reprobates who procured the crucifixion of Christ-“the son of man goeth kata to horismenon” (Luke 22:22; Acts 4:28) Herod and Pontius Pilate did nothing but what the hand of God prooriseto be done.” Nor ought the objection to be made that it does not treat of their reprobation, but of the ordination of the crucifixion to a good end. These things are not to be opposed, but composed. The crucifixion of Christ (which is to us the means of salvation) was to the crucifiers the means of damnation (which depended on the most just decree of God).

Second, the Scripture uses equivalent phrases when it says that certain persons are appointed to wrath (1 Thess. 5:9; 1 Peter 2:8), fitted to destruction (Rom. 9:22), ordained to condemnation (Jude 4), made unto dishonor (Romans 9:21) and for the day of evil (Proverbs 16:4). If reprobation is described in these phrases, why can it not be expressed by the word “predestination”?

Third, because the definition of predestination (viz., the ordination of a thing to its end by means before it comes to pass) is no less suitable to reprobation than to election.

Fourth, the fathers frequently thus speak: “We confess the elect to life and the predestination of the wicked to death” (Council of Valence, Mansi, 15:4). “He fulfills what he wills, properly using even evil things as if the very best to the damnation of those whom he has justly predestinated to punishment’ (Augustine, Enchiridion 26 [100] [FC 3:454; PL 40.2791; cf. also his “Treatise on theMerits and the Forgiveness of Sins,’ 2.26 [171 [NPNFI, 5:551; CG 21.24 [FC 24:387-941;Fulgentius, Ad Monimum I [PL 65.153-781). “Predestination is twofold: either of the elect to rest or of the reprobate to death’ (Isidore of Seville, Sententiarum Libri tres 2.6 [PL 83.6061).

Although in truth predestination is sometimes taken strictly in the Scriptures for the predestination of saints or the election to life, it does not follow that it cannot be used more broadly. Nor if the objects of reprobation and election are opposite are the acts themselves, therefore (on the part of God), mutually opposed to one another. Indeed, they can proceed from the same course acting most freely.

The second word which occurs more frequently is prognosis. Paul speaks of it more than once: “whom he did foreknow” (hous proegno), Rom. 8:29); “he hath not cast away his people which proegna” (Rom. 11:2); and they are called elect “according to foreknowledge” (kata prognosin, 1Peter 1:2). Because the ancient and more modern Pelagians falsely abuse this word to establish the foresight of faith and works, we must observe that prognosin can be taken in two ways: either theoretically or practically. In the former way, it is taken for God’s simple knowledge of future things, which is called prescience and belongs to the intellect. In the latter, it is taken for the practical love and decree which God formed concerning the salvation of particular persons and pertains to the will. In this sense, knowledge is often put for delight and approbation (Psalm 1:6); John 10:14; 2 Timothy 2:19). Thus ginoskein signifies not only to know but also to know and to judge concerning a thing (as the Plebiscitum is not the knowledge of the people, but the sentence-from the verb scisco, which means “to decree and determine”). Therefore when the Scripture uses the word prognoseos in the doctrine of predestination, it is not in the former sense for the bare foreknowledge of God by which he foresaw the faith or works of men.

(1) Because by that, He foreknew those also whom he reprobated, while here it treats of the foreknowledge proper to the effect.

(2) Bare foreknowledge is not the cause of things, nor does it impose method or order upon them, but finds it out (as happens here in the chain of salvation).

(3) Because nothing could be foreseen by God but what he himself had granted and which would so follow predestination as the effect, not indeed precede it as a cause, as will be proved hereafter. But it is taken in the latter sense for “practical foreknowledge” (i.e., the love and election of God) that we may not suppose it to be without reason (alogon), although the reasons of his wisdom may escape us (in which manner Christ is said to have been foreknown [proegnsmenos], i.e.,foreordained by God “before the foundation of the world,’ 1 Pet. 1:20).

Again, in that benevolence and practical foreknowledge of God we distinguish:

(1) the love and benevolence with which he pursues us;

(2) the decree itself by which he determined to unfold his love to us by the communication of salvation. Hence it happens that prognosis is at one timetaken broader for both (viz., love and election, as in Rom. 8:29 and Rom. 11:2); at another, more strictly for love and favor which is the fountain and foundation of election. Thus Peter speaks of it when he says that believers are “elect according to the foreknowledge” (kata prognosin), i.e. the love of God (1 Peter 1:2).

Third, we must explain the word ekloges (“election”) which now and then occurs, but not always with the same signification. Sometimes it denotes a call to some political or sacred office (as Saul is “elected” [1 Samuel 10:24]; Judas “elected”, viz., to the Apostleship, John 6:70). Sometimes it designates an external election and separation of a certain people to the covenant of God (in which sense the people of Israel are said to be elected of God, Deut. 4:37). But here it is taken objectively for the elect themselves (as ekloge epetychen- “the election” [i.e., the elect] “hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded,” Romans 11:7); or formally for the act of God electing (which is called ekloge charitos, Romans 9:11). Again the latter may be considered either in the antecedent decree (as it were from eternity) or in the subsequent execution (as it takes place onlyin time by calling). Christ refers to this in John 15:16: “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you”; and “Ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world’ (v. 19). Augustine joins both forms (schesin): “We are elected before the foundation of the world by that predestination in which God foresaw his future things would take place; we are chosen out of the world however by that calling by which God fulfills what he has predestinated” (On the Predestination of the Saints).

Election then by the force of the word is stricter than predestination. For all can be predestined, but all cannot be elected because he who elects does not take all, but chooses some out of many.

The election of some necessarily implies the passing and rejecting of others: “Many are called,” said Christ, “but few chosen” (Matthew 20:16); and Paul, “The election hath obtained, and therest were blinded” (Romans 11:7). Hence Paul uses the verb heilto to designate election, which implies the separation of some from others: “God from the beginning heilto, i.e., hath taken out and separated you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief in the truth: (2 Thess.2:13).

Fourth, prothesis is often used by Paul in the matter of election to denote that this counsel of God is not an empty and inefficacious act of willing, but the constant, determined and immutable purpose of God (Romans 8:28; 9:11; Ephesians 1:11). For the word is of the highest efficacy (as the old grammarians tell us) and is called distinctly by Paul prothesis tou ta energountos—”the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Ephesians 1:11).

Sometimes it is applied to election as prothesis kat’ eklogen—”the purpose of God according toelection” (Romans 9:11); and we are said “to be predestinated” (kata prothesin, Ephesians 1:11).

Sometimes it is joined with calling—”who are the called according to his purpose” (tois kata prosthesin kletois, Romans 8:28). For both election and calling depend and are built upon this purpose of God.

Now although these words are often employed promiscuously, yet they are frequently distinguished; not without reason are they used by the Holy Spirit to denote the various conditions (scheseis) of that decree which could not so fitly be explained by a single word. For the decree can be conceived in relation to the principle from which it arises, or to the object about which it is concerned, or to the means by which it is fulfilled. With regard to the former, protheseos oreudokias (which denotes the counsel and good pleasure of God) is mentioned as the first cause of that work. With regard to the next, it is called prognosis or ekloge (which is occupied with the separation of certain persons from others unto salvation). With regard to the last, the word proorismou is used according to which God prepared the means necessary to the obtainment of salvation. Prothesis refers to the end; prognesis refers to the objects; proorismos to the means; prodiesis to the certainty of the event; prognosis and ekloge to the singleness and distinction of persons; proorismos to the order of means. Thus election is certain and immutable by prothesin; determinate and definite by prognosin; and ordinate by proorismon.

These three degrees (if we may so speak to answer to three acts in the temporal execution: for as we will be glorified with the Father, redeemed by the Son and called through the Holy Spirit, so the Father determined from eternity to glorify us with himself. This is prothesis. He elected us in his Son. This is prognosis. He predestinated us to grace and the gifts of the Holy Spirit (who seals the image of the Son in us through his holiness and the suffering on the cross). This is proorismos. For as the Father sends the Son, the Son with the Father sends the Holy Spirit. And vice versa, the Holy Spirit leads us to the Son, and the Son at length conducts us to the Father.

The words by which the predestination of the members is described are employed also to express the predestination of the head. For concerning him equally prothesis is predicated when Paul says hon proetheto hilastion (Rom. 3:25); prognosis where we have proegnesmenos (1 Pet.1:20); and proorismos, not only when he is said to be horistheis to be the Son of God (Rom. 1:4), but also when his death is said to have happened by the determinate counsel of God and by his predestination, who proorise to be done whatever was done by Herod and Pontius Pilate (Acts 2:23).

Genesis 3: God places enmity between elect and reprobate

March 10, 2010 Comments off

Chapter XI.

The last general argument.

Arg. XVI. Our next argument is taken from some particular places of Scripture, clearly and distinctly in themselves holding out the truth of what we do affirm. Out of the great number of them I shall take a few to insist upon, and therewith to close our arguments.

1. The first that I shall begin withal is the first mentioning of Jesus Christ, and the first revelation of the mind of God concerning a discrimination between the people of Christ and his enemies: Gen. iii. 15, “I will put enmity between thee” (the serpent) “and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed.” By the seed of the woman is meant the whole body of the elect, Christ in the first place as the head, and all the rest as his members; by the seed of the serpent, the devil, with all the whole multitude of reprobates, making up the malignant state, in opposition to the kingdom and body of Jesus Christ.

That by the first part, or the seed of the woman, is meant Christ with all the elect, is most apparent; for they in whom all the things that are here foretold of the seed of the woman do concur, are the seed of the woman (for the properties of any thing do prove the thing itself.) But now in the elect, believers in and through Christ, are to be found all the properties of the seed of the woman; for, for them, in them, and by them, is the head of the serpent broken, and Satan trodden down under their feet, and the devil disappointed in his temptations, and the devil’s agents frustrated in their undertakings. Principally and especially, this is spoken of Christ himself, collectively of his whole body, which beareth a continual hatred to the serpent and his seed.

Secondly, By the seed of the serpent is meant all the reprobate, men of the world, impenitent, unbelievers. For,

First, The enmity of the serpent lives and exerciseth itself in them. They hate and oppose the seed of the woman; they have a perpetual enmity with it; and every thing that is said of the seed of the serpent belongs properly to them.

Secondly, They are often so called in the Scripture: Matt. iii. 7, “O generation of vipers,” or seed of the serpent; so also chap. xxiii. 33. So Christ telleth the reprobate Pharisees, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do,” John viii. 44. So again, “Child of the devil,” Acts xiii. 10, — that is, the seed of the serpent; for “he that committeth sin is of the devil,” 1 John iii. 8.

These things being undeniable, we thus proceed:— Christ died for no more than God promised unto him that be should die for. But God did not promise him to all, as that he should die for them; for he did not promise the seed of the woman to the seed of the serpent, Christ to reprobates, but in the first word of him he promiseth an enmity against them. In sum, the seed of the woman died not for the seed of the serpent.

2. Matt. vii. 23, “I will profess unto them, I never knew you.” Christ at the last day professeth to some he never knew them. Christ saith directly that he knoweth his own, whom he layeth down his life for, John x. 14–17. And surely he knows whom and what he hath bought. Were it not strange that Christ should die for them, and buy them that he will not own, but profess he never knew them? If they are “bought with a price,” surely they are his own? 1 Cor. vi. 20. If Christ did so buy them, and lay out the price of his precious blood for them, and then at last deny that he ever knew them, might they not well reply, “Ah, Lord! was not thy soul heavy unto death for our sakes? Didst thou not for us undergo that wrath that made thee sweat drops of blood? Didst thou not bathe thyself in thine own blood, that our blood might be spared? Didst thou not sanctify thyself to be an offering for us as well as for any of thy apostles? Was not thy precious blood, by stripes, by sweat, by nails, by thorns, by spear, poured out for us? Didst thou not remember us when thou hungest upon the cross? And now dost thou say, thou never knewest us? Good Lord, though we be unworthy sinners, yet thine own blood hath not deserved to be despised. Why is it that none can lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? Is it not because thou diedst for them? And didst thou not do the same for us? Why, then, are we thus charged, thus rejected? Could not thy blood satisfy thy Father, but we ourselves must be punished? Could not justice content itself with that sacrifice, but we must now hear, ‘Depart, I never knew you?’ ” What can be answered to this plea, upon the granting of the general ransom, I know not.

3. Matt. xi. 25, 26, “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.” Those men from whom God in his sovereignty, as Lord of heaven and earth, of his own good pleasure, hideth the gospel, either in respect of the outward preaching of it, or the inward revelation of the power of it in their hearts, those certainly Christ died not for; for to what end should the Father send his only Son to die for the redemption of those whom he, for his own good pleasure, had determined should be everlasting strangers from it, and never so much as hear of it in the power thereof revealed to them? Now, that such there are our Saviour here affirms; and he thanks his Father for that dispensation at which so many do at this day repine.

4. John x. 11, 15, 16, 27, 28. This clear place, which of itself is sufficient to evert the general ransom, hath been a little considered before, and, therefore, I shall pass it over the more briefly. First, That all men are not the sheep of Christ is most apparent; for, — First, He himself saith so, verse 26, “Ye are not of my sheep.” Secondly, The distinction at the last day will make it evident, when the sheep and the goats shall be separated. Thirdly, The properties of the sheep are, that they hear the voice of Christ, that they know him; and the like are not in all. Secondly, That the sheep here mentioned are all his elect, as well those that were to be called as those that were then already called. Verse 16, Some were not as yet of his fold of called ones; so that they are sheep by election, and not believing. Thirdly, That Christ so says that he laid down his life for his sheep, that plainly he excludes all others; for, — First, He lays down his life for them as sheep. Now, that which belongs to them as such belongs only to such. If he lays down his life for sheep, as sheep, certainly be doth it not for goats, and wolves, and dogs. Secondly, He lays down his life as a shepherd, verse 11; therefore, for them as the sheep. What hath the shepherd to do with the wolves, unless it be to destroy them? Thirdly, Dividing all into sheep and others, verse 26, he saith he lays down his life for his sheep; which is all one as if he had said he did it for them only. Fourthly, He describes them for whom he died by this, “My Father gave them me,” verse 29; as also chap. xvii. 6, “Thine they were, and thou gavest them me:” which are not all; for “all that the Father giveth him shall come to him,” chap. vi. 37, and he “giveth unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish,” chap. x. 28. Let but the sheep of Christ keep close to this evidence, and all the world shall never deprive them of their inheritance. Farther to confirm this place, add Matt. xx. 28; John xi. 52.

Rom. viii. 32–34. The intention of the apostle in this place is, to hold out consolation to believers in affliction or under any distress; which he doth, verse 31, in general, from the assurance of the presence of God with them, and his assistance at all times, enough to conquer all oppositions, and to make all difficulty indeed contemptible, by the assurance of his loving-kindness, which is better than life itself. “If God be for us, who can be against us?” To manifest this his presence and kindness, the apostle minds them of that most excellent, transcendent, and singular act of love towards them, in sending his Son to die for them, not sparing him, but requiring their debt at his hand; whereupon he argues from the greater to the less, — that if he have done that for us, surely he will do every thing else that shall be requisite. If he did the greater, will he not do the less? If he give his Son to death, will he not also freely give us all things? Whence we may observe, — First, That the greatest and most eximious expression of the love of God towards believers is in sending his Son to die for them, not sparing him for their sake; this is made the chief of all. Now, if God sent his Son to die for all, he had [done] as great an act of love, and hath made as great a manifestation of it, to them that perish as to those that are saved. Secondly, That for whomsoever he hath given and not spared his Son, unto them he will assuredly freely give all things; but now he doth not give all things that are good for them unto all, as faith, grace, and glory: from whence we conclude that Christ died not for all. Again, verse 33, he gives us a description of those that have a share in the consolation here intended, for whom God gave his Son, to whom he freely gives all things; and that is, that they are his “elect,” — not all, but only those whom he hath chosen before the foundation of the world, that they should be holy; which gives another confirmation of the restraint of the death of Christ to them alone: which he yet farther confirms, verse 34, by declaring that those of whom he speaks shall be freely justified and freed from condemnation; whereof he gives two reasons, — first, Because Christ died for them; secondly, Because he is risen, and makes intercession for them for whom he died: affording us two invincible arguments to the business in hand. The first, taken from the infallible effects of the death of Christ: Who shall lay any thing to their charge? who shall condemn them? Why, what reason is given? “It is Christ that died.” So that his death doth infallibly free all them from condemnation for whom he died. The second, from the connection that the apostle here makes between the death and intercession of Jesus Christ: For whom he died, for them he makes intercession; but he saveth to the utmost them for whom he intercedeth, Heb. vii. 25. From all which it is undeniably apparent that the death of Christ, with the fruits and benefits thereof, belongeth only to the elect of God.

6. Eph. i. 7, “In whom we have redemption.” If his blood was 294shed for all, then all must have a share in those things that are to be had in his blood. Now, amongst these is that redemption that consists in the forgiveness of sins; which certainly all have not, for they that have are “blessed,” Rom. iv. 7, and shall be blessed for evermore: which blessing comes not upon all, but upon the seed of righteous Abraham, verse 16.

7. 2 Cor. v. 21, “He hath made him to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” It was in his death that Christ was made sin, or an offering for it. Now, for whomsoever he was made sin, they are made the righteousness of God in him: “By his stripes we are healed,” Isa. liii. 5; John xv. 13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Then, to intercede is not of greater love than to die, nor any thing else that he doth for his elect. If, then, he laid down his life for all, which is the greatest, why doth he not also the rest for them, and save them to the uttermost?

8. John xvii. 9, “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.” And verse 19, “For their sakes I sanctify myself.”

9. Eph. v. 25, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;” as [also] Acts xx. 28. The object of Christ’s love and his death is here asserted to be his bride, his church; and that as properly as a man’s own wife is the only allowed object of his conjugal affections. And if Christ had a love to others so as to die for them, then is there in the exhortation a latitude left unto men, in conjugal affections, for other women besides their wives.

I thought to have added other arguments, as intending a clear discussing of the whole controversy; but, upon a review of what hath been said, I do with confidence take up and conclude that those which have been already urged will be enough to satisfy them who will be satisfied with any thing, and those that are obstinate will not be satisfied with more. So of our arguments here shall be an end.

“Every plant” – Matt 15:13 Calvin commentary

December 12, 2009 Comments off

Mat 15:13  But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.

13.Every plant. As the indifferent success of the doctrine had wounded their weak minds, Christ intended to remedy this evil. Now the remedy which he proposes is, that good men ought not to be distressed, or entertain less reverence for the doctrine, though to many it be an occasion of death. It is a mistaken view of this passage which some have adopted, that all the inventions of men, and every thing that has not proceeded from the mouth of God, must be rooted up and perish; for it was rather to men that Christ referred, and the meaning is, that there is no reason to wonder if the doctrine of salvation shall prove deadly to the reprobate, because they are always carried headlong to the destruction to which they are doomed.
By the persons that have been planted by the hand of God we are to understand those who, by his free adoption, have been ingrafted into the tree of life, as Isaiah also, when speaking of the Church renewed by the grace of God, calls it a branch planted by the Lord, (Isa_60:21.) Now as salvation depends solely on the election of God, the reprobate must perish, in whatever way this may be effected; not that they are innocent, and free from all blame, when God destroys them, but because, by their own malice, they turn to their destruction all that is offered to them, however salutary it may be. To those who willingly perish the Gospel thus becomes, as Paul assures us, the savor of death unto death, (2Co_2:16;) for, though it is offered to all for salvation, it does not yield this fruit in any but the elect. It belongs to a faithful and honest teacher to regulate every thing which he brings forward by a regard to the advantage of all; but whenever the result is different, let us take comfort from Christ’s reply. It is beautifully expressed by the parable, that the cause of perdition does not lie in the doctrine, but that the reprobate who have no root in God, when the doctrine is presented to them, throw out their hidden venom, and thus accelerate that death to which they were already doomed.
Which my heavenly Father hath not planted. Hypocrites, who appear for a time to have been planted like good trees, are particularly described by Christ; for Epicureans, who are noted for open and shameful contempt of God, cannot properly be said to resemble trees, but the description must be intended to apply to those who have acquired celebrity by some vain appearance of godliness. Such were the scribes, who towered in the Church of God like the cedars in Lebanon, and whose revolt might on that account appear the more strange. Christ might have said that it is right that those should perish who disdainfully reject salvation; but he rises higher, and asserts that no man will remain steadfast, unless his salvation be secured by the election of God. By these words he expressly declares, that the first origin of our salvation flows from that grace by which God elected us to be his children before we were created.

Predestination – John Foxe

November 29, 2009 Comments off

AS touching the doctrine of Election, three things must be considered.

First, what God’s Election is, and what is the cause thereof.

Secondly, how God’s election proceedeth in working of our salvation.

Thirdly, to whom God’s election pertaineth, and how a man may be certain thereof.

Between Predestination and election, this difference there is. Predestination is as well to the reprobate, as to the elect: Election only pertaineth to them that are saved.

Predestination, in that it respecteth the reprobates, is called reprobation, in that it respecteth the saved, is called election, and is thus defined.

Predestination is the eternal decreement [decree] of God, purposed before in himself, what shall befall on all men, either to salvation or damnation.

Election is the free mercy and grace of God in his own will, through faith in Christ his son, choosing and preferring to life, such as pleaseth him. In this definition of election, first goeth before the mercy and grace of God, as the causes thereof, whereby are excluded all works of the law, and merits of deserving, whether they go before faith, or come after. So was Jacob chosen, and Esau refused, before either of them began to work, &c.

Secondly, in that this mercy and grace of God in this definition, is said to be free, thereby is to be noted the proceeding and working of God, not to be bound to any ordinary place or to any succession of chair, not to state, and dignity of person, nor to worthiness of blood, &c. But all goeth by the mere will of his own purpose, As it is written: Spiritus ubi vult spirat, &c. And thus was the outward race, and stock of Abraham after the flesh refused, which seemed to have the preeminence. And their seed after the spirit raised up to Abraham of the stones, that is, of the Gentiles. So was the outward Temple of Jerusalem, & chair of Moses, which seemed to be of price, forsaken, and Gods chair advanced in other nations. So was tall Saul refused, and little David accepted: The rich, the proud, the wise of this world rejected, and the word of salvation daily opened to the poor, and miserable abjects: The high mountains cast under, and the law valleys exalted, &c.

Thirdly, where it is added in his own will, by this falleth down the freewill and purpose of man with all his actions, counsels, and strength of nature: According as it is written: Non est volentis neque currentis sed miserentis dei, &c. [Rom. 9.] It is not in him that willeth, nor in him that runneth, but in GOD that sheweth mercy. So we see how Israel ran long, and yet got nothing: the Gentiles unneth [only] began to set out, and yet got the game: So they which came at the first hour, did labour more, and yet they which came last, were rewarded with the first, Math. 20. The will of the Pharisee seemed better, but yet the Lord’s will was rather to justify the Publican, Luke 18. The elder son had a better will to tarry by his Father, and so did indeed: and yet the fat Calf was given to the younger son that ran away, Luke 15.

Whereby we have to understand how the matter goeth not by the will of man, but by the will of God, as it pleaseth him to accept, according as it is written: Non ex voluntate carnis, neque ex voluntate viri sed ex Deo nati sunt, &c. Which are born not of the will of the flesh, nor yet of the will of man, but of God. [John 1.13] Furthermore, as all then goeth by the will of God only, and not by the will of man, So again here is to be noted, that this will of God, never goeth without faith in Christ Jesus his son.

And therefore, fourthly, is this clause added in the definition through faith in Christ his son: which faith in Christ, to usward maketh altogether: For first it certifieth us of God’s election: for whosoever will be certain of his election in God: let him first begin with this faith in Christ, which if he find in him to stand firm: He may be sure, and nothing doubt, but that he is one of the number of God’s Elect. Secondly, the said faith and nothing else, is the only condition and means whereupon God’s mercy, election, vocation, and all God’s promises to salvation, do stay according to the words of Paul: Si permanseritis in fide, &c. If ye abide in the faith. Col. 1. Thirdly, this faith also is the immediate and next cause of our justification simply without any other condition annexed. For as the mercy of God, his grace, election, vocation, and other precedent causes, do save and justify us upon condition: if we believe in Christ, so this faith in Christ without condition, is the next and immediate cause, which by God’s promise worketh our justification. According as it is written: Crede in dominum Iesum & saluus eris tu & domus tua. Believe in the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy whole house, Acts. 16. And thus much touching the definition of election, with the causes thereof declared, which you see now to be no merits nor works of man: whether they go before or come after faith, but only the mere mercy of God through faith: for like as all they that be born of Adam, do taste of his malediction, though they tasted not his Apple: So all they that be born of Christ which is by faith, take part of the obedience of Christ: Although they never did that obedience themselves, which was in him. Rom. 5.

Now to the second consideration: Let us see likewise how and in what order this election of GOD proceedeth in choosing and electing them which be ordained to salvation, which order is this: In them that be chosen to life first, God’s mercy and free grace bringeth forth election: Election worketh vocation, or God’s holy calling: Which vocation through hearing bringeth knowledge, and faith of Christ. Faith through promise obtaineth justification: Justification through hope waiteth for glorification. Election is before vocation, and faith cometh in time: Justification and glorification is without end.

Election depending upon God’s free grace and will, excludeth all man’s will, blind fortune, chance, and all peradventures, vocation standing upon God’s election, excludeth all man’s wisdom, cunning, learning, intention, power and presumption: Faith in Christ proceedeth by the gift of the holy Ghost, and freely justifying man by God’s promise: excludeth all other merits of men, all condition of deserving, all works of the law: both God’s law and man’s law, with all other outward means, whatsoever.

Justification coming freely by faith, standeth sure by promise without doubt, fear, or wavering in this life.

Glorification pertaining only to the life to come, by hope is looked for.

Grace and mercy preventeth.

Election ordaineth.

Vocation prepareth and receiveth the word whereby cometh faith.

Faith justifieth.

Justification bringeth glory.

Election is the immediate and next cause of vocation, vocation which is the working of God’s Spirit by the word, is the immediate and next cause of faith.

Faith is the immediate and next cause of justification, and this order, and connexion of causes is diligently to be observed, because of the Papists which have miserably confounded and converted this doctrine thus, that almighty God so far forth as he foreseeth man’s merits before to come: so doth he dispense his election, Ut Dominus pro cuiusque meritis fore previdet, ita dispensat electionis gratiain. And again: Nullis precendentibus meritis dominum rependere electionis gratiam, futuris tamen concedere: That is, that the Lord recompenseth the grace of election not to any merits going before: But yet granted the same to the merits which follow after, as though we had our election by our holiness that followeth after, and not rather have our holiness by God’s election going before.

But we following the Scripture, say otherwise, that the cause only of God’s election is his own mercy, and the cause only of our justification is our faith in Christ, and nothing else. As for example, first concerning election, if the question be asked: Why was Abraham chosen, and not Nachor: Why was Jacob chosen, and not Esau: Why was Moses elected, & Pharaoh hardened: Why David accepted, and Saul refused: Why few be chosen, and the most forsaken? It cannot be answered otherwise, but thus, because it was so the good will of God.

In like manner touching vocation and also faith if the question be asked: Why this vocation and gift of faith was given to Cornelius the Gentile, & not to Tertullus the Jew: Why to the poor, to the babes and little ones of this world, of whom Christ speaketh: I thank thee Father, which hast hid this from the wise, &c. Matt. 11. Why to the unwise the simple abjects, and outcasts in this world, of whom speaketh Paul, 1 Cor. 1, Ye see your calling my brethren, how not many of you, &c. Why, to the sinners and not to the just: Why the beggars by the highways were called, and the bidden guests excluded: We can go to no other cause but to God’s purpose and election, and say with Christ our Saviour: Quia Pater sic complacitum est ante te. Yea Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight. Luke 10.

And so for justification likewise, if the question be asked: why the Publican was justified, and not the Pharisee. Luke 18. Why Mary the sinner, and not Simon the Leper: Luke 11. Why harlots and Publicans, go before the Scribes & Pharisees in the kingdom. Matt. 21. Why the son of the free woman was received, and the bondwoman’s son being his elder rejected. Gen. 21. Why Israel which so long sought for righteousness, found it not: and the Gentiles which sought not for it, found it. Rom 9. We have no other cause hereof to render, but to say with Paul: because they sought for it by works of the law, and not by faith: Which faith as it cometh not by man’s will, as the Papists falsely pretendeth, but only by the election and free gift of God: so it is only the immediate cause, whereunto the promise of our salvation is annexed, according as we read: And therefore of faith is the inheritance given. As after grace, that the promise might stand sure to every seed. Rom. 4. Item in the same Chapter: Faith believing in him which justifieth the wicked, is imputed to righteousness.

And thus concerning the cause of our salvation, ye see how faith in Christ: only and immediately without any condition doth justify us, being so linked with God’s mercy and election: that wheresoever election goeth before, there faith in Christ must needs follow after. And again, whosoever believeth in Christ Jesus through the vocation of God, he must needs be partaker of God’s election.

Whereunto resulteth now the third note or consideration, which is to consider, whether a man in this life may be certain of his election. To answer this question, we have first to understand: that although our election and vocation simply indeed be known to God only himself a Priore: yet notwithstanding it may be known [by] every particular faithful man a Posteriore: that is, by means: which means is faith in Christ Jesus crucified, forsomuch as by his faith in Christ, a man is justified, and thereby made the child of salvation, reason must needs lead the same to be then the child of election chosen of God unto everlasting life: for how can a man be saved but by consequence, it followeth that he must be elected.

And therefore of election is truly said, De electione judicandum est Aposteriore: that is to say, We must judge of election by that which cometh after, that is, by our faith and belief in Christ: which faith although in time it followeth after election: yet is it the proper and immediate cause assigned by the Scripture: which not only justifieth us, but also certifieth us of the election of God.

Whereunto, likewise well agreeth this saying: Election albeit in God, it be the first, yet to us it is the last opened. And therefore beginning first with creation: I come from thence to redemption, and justification by faith, and so to election. Not that faith is the cause efficient of election: being rather the effect thereof, but is to us the cause certificatory, or the cause of our certification: whereby we are brought to the feeling and knowledge of our election in Christ. For albeit that election first be certain in the knowledge of God, yet in our knowledge faith only that we have in Christ, is the thing that giveth to us our certificate and comfort of this election.

Wherefore whosoever desireth to be assured that he is one of the elect number of God: let him not climb up to heaven to know, but let him descend into himself, and there search his faith in Christ the son of God: Which if he find in him not feigned, by the working of God’s Holy Spirit accordingly: thereupon let him stay, and so wrap himself wholly, both body and soul, under God’s general promise, and cumber his head with no farther speculations: knowing this, that whosoever believeth in Him, shall not perish, John 3. Shall not be confounded, Rom. 9. Shall not see death, John 8. Shall not enter into judgment, John 5. Shall have everlasting life, John 3.16. Shall be saved, Matt. 28, Acts 16. Shall have remission of all his sins, Acts 10. Shall be justified, Rom. 3, Gal. 2. Shall have floods flowing out of him of water of life, John 7. Shall never die, John 11. Shall be raised in the last day, John 6. Shall find rest to his soul, and shall be refreshed. Matt. 11.

Now then forsomuch as we see faith to be the ground whereupon dependeth the whole condition of our justifying: let us discuss in like manner, what is this faith, whereof the scripture so much speaketh of, for the more plain understanding of the simple. For many kinds there be of faith: As a man may believe every thing that is true: yet not every truth doth save, neither doth the believing of every truth justify a man: He that believeth that God created all things of naught, believeth truth: He that believeth that God is a just God, that he is omnipotent, that he is merciful: that he is true of promise, believeth well, and holdeth the truth. So he that believeth that God hath his election from the beginning, and that he also is one of the same elect and Predestinate, hath a good belief, and thinketh well. But yet this belief alone, except it be seasoned with another thing, will not serve to salvation: As it availed not the old Jews, which so thought of themselves, and yet think to this day: to be only God’s elect people.

Only the faith which availeth to salvation is that, whose object is the body and passion of Christ Jesus crucified: so that in the act of justifying these two: faith and Christ have a mutual relation, and must always concur together, faith, as the action which apprehendeth: Christ as the object which is apprehended.

For neither doth the passion of Christ save without faith: neither doth faith help, except it be in Christ. As we see the body of man sustained by bread and drink: not except the same be received, and conveyed into the stomach, and yet neither doth the receiving of any thing sustain man’s body, except it be meat and drink, which have power to give nourishment. In like sort it is with faith: for neither doth the believing of every thing save. But only faith in the blood of Christ: neither doth again the same blood of Christ profit us, except by faith it be received. And as the sun being the cause of all light, shineth not but to them only which have eyes to see: nor yet to them neither, unless they will open their eyes, to receive the light: So the passion of Christ is the efficient cause of salvation: But faith is the condition whereby the said Passion is to us effectual.

And that is the cause, why we say with the Scripture, that faith only justifieth us, not excluding thereby all other external causes, that go before faith: As grace, mercy, election, vocation, the death of Christ, &c. All which be external causes working our salvation through faith. But when we say that faith only justifieth us: the meaning thereof is this, that of all internal actions, motions, or operations in man, given to him of God, there is no other that contenteth, and pleaseth God, or standeth before his judgment, or can help any thing to the justifying of man before him: but only this one action of faith in Christ Jesus the son of God.

For although the action of praying, fasting, alms, patience, charity, repentance, the fear and love of God be his gifts in man, and not of man, given of God to man: yet be none of all these actions in man, imputed of God to salvation, but only this one action of faith in man, upon Christ Jesus the son of God. Not that the action itself of believing: As it is a quality in man doth so deserve: but because it taketh that dignity of the object. For as I said in the act of justifying: Faith, as it is an action in man, is not to be considered alone: but must ever go with this object, and taketh his virtue thereof. Like as the looking up of the old Israelites, did not of itself procure any health unto them: but the promise made in the object, which was the brazen Serpent, whereupon they looked: gave them health by their looking up. Even so after like sort, are we saved by our faith, and spiritual looking up to the body of Christ crucified, which faith to define is this. To believe Jesus Christ to be the son of the living God, sent into this world: by his death to satisfy for our sins, and so to receive the same.

And thus much touching election and faith,  with  the  order and  explication of the causes necessary to bee considered in our  salvation:   whereby  maye  appeare howe far  the pretended Catholiques doo swarve  from   the  ryght  minde  of  the Scriptures:    For  where  the  Scriptures in declaring the causes of salvation,  doe sende us  onely  to  fayth,  as  the  onely condition,  whereby  these  causes  haue their  working:    these  Catholiques  doe quyte  leaue  out  fayth,   and  in  steede thereof, place in other conditions of me-

rites, willworkes, pardons, mas-
ses, and especiall auricular
confession, with penance,
and satisfaction for
our sinnes,
&c.

F I N I S.

Source