De Moor VII:13: The Immutability of Predestination

Synod of Dort

[Predestination is so completely Immutable, that no Elect are able to fail, and no Reprobates are able to be saved.] Compare the Canons of Dort, chapter I, articles 11.[1] And indeed, α. If all the Decrees of God are immutable, the same will also be established concerning the Decree of Predestination; since like things agree with like things; and, what is applicable to the whole, that is also applicable to all its parts taken together: but the former is true, according to those things that we saw in Chapter VI, § 10, on Isaiah 46:10, where the Infallibility of the event is signified together with the Immutability of the Decree. β. To the Decree of Predestination Scripture specifically applies the Immutability of the divine Counsel, Hebrews 6:17; Romans 9:11. γ. In many places the Sacred Codex teaches the Immutability of Election, the rationale of which is not able here to be anything other than that of Reprobation: both Explicitly, Matthew 24:24, in which, 1. by τοὺς ἐκλεκτούς, the elect, we ought to understand not merely the excellent, since that term in the New Testament is not wont to indicate excellence without respect to the Decree, which is proven by the very passages alleged by our Adversaries, Luke 23:35;[2] 1 Peter 2:4;[3] Acts 9:15:[4] and Mark explains this title of τῶν ἐκλεκτῶν, the elect, by τοὺς ἐκλεκτούς, οὓς ἐξελέξατο, the elect, whom He hath chosen, Mark 13:20. 2. The expression, εἰ δυνατόν, if it were possible, according to the diversity of context, either denotes great Difficulty, or some absolute Impossibility: the former obtains in Acts 20:16, εἰ δυνατὸν ἦν αὐτῷ, if it were possible for him; the latter, for example, in Galatians 4:15, εἰ δυνατόν, if it had been possible. The latter also holds in the passage here, where it is not only spoken of False Christs and False Prophets, εἰ δυνατόν αὐτοῖς, if it were possible for them; but absolutely, εἰ δυνατόν, if it were possible, which here is just as much as if it were altogether impossible. And it, if from innate liability to fall the Elect could turn aside so that they might perish, they could also be seduced by False Prophets, who according to their character would abandon nothing vulnerable: but, if against the seductions of the False Prophets God willed to preserve the Elect, otherwise prone in themselves to defection, so that His gracious Intention might abide as certain, He also makes application of the same against the Elects’ very Liability to Fall; since otherwise not one of them would be preserved. This sense is required by the scope of Christ, magnifying the power of the seduction of False Prophets, which would be of such force, that, unless it were altogether impossible, not in itself, but with respect to the divine Decree and preserving Grace, the very Elect also would be seduced.

They Take Exception: If the Impossibility of the seduction of the Elect be thus signified, what need was there to warn the disciples, that they should beware of the ψευδοδιδασκαλίαις, false teaching, of those False Christs? I Respond: Warnings of this sort are Means of salvation, through which God has decreed to execute His Counsel: see MARESIUS’ Hydram Socinianismi expugnatam, tome 3, pages 532-538, on Volkelius’ de Vera Religione, book V, chapter XVII, pages 541-544; TRIGLAND’S Antapologiam, chapter XL, pages 522-524, compared with Apologia Remonstrantium, chapter XVIII, pages 202, 203.

John 6:37: Upon the Giving by Election infallibly follows the Coming to Christ by faith in time: but to each one coming to Christ by faith He promises the Grace of Preservation, τὸν ἐρχόμενον πρὸς ἐμὲ οὐ μὴ ἐκβάλω ἔξω, him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

Exception: Although a believer might not be cast out by Christ, yet he is able of his own will to fall out. I Respond in the Negative: for it is μειώσις/meiosis,[5] I will not cast him out, that is, I will certainly preserve him, which what follows teaches; the Lord would not cast out such, because He came to fulfill the Will of His Father: but this was the Will of the Father, that He would not lose any given to Him by the Father, but raise them all to eternal life on the last day, verses 38-40; John 10:28, 29.

2 Timothy 2:19: There are those, 1. that in this passage by the firm Foundation of God understand the Resurrection of the dead, subverted by Hymenæus and Philetus with all their might, in comparison with verses 17, 18, which Paul, on the other hand, will commend as an article of the Faith more fundamental than the rest, with which standing the faith and hope of Christians stands, but with which undermined they fall, in comparison with Hebrews 6:1, 2; 1 Corinthians 15:17-20; just as this passage is interpreted, not only by Slichting[6] and the Remonstrants in their Apologia, chapter IX, page 103b, but also by COCCEIUS[7] of our men, who joins this with the other exegesis. In which way he perpetuates our argument from these words, the Lord knoweth them that are His; and so makes those participants eventually in the blessed Resurrection. 2. Election itself is understood in the Foundation of God by CALVIN, PISCATOR,[8] the DUTCH VERSION, TURRETIN in his Theologiæ Elencticæ, chapter IV, question XII, § 7, 8, and CROCIUS;[9] which, after the likeness of a Foundation, is truly the beginning of the divine work in those to be saved, and is altogether firm, upon which their salvation is built up with them in time. Now, the immutable certainty of this Election is both expressly signified, not only by the name of Foundation; but more when, a. Paul asserts that this Foundation of God is firm, and stands immovably: and when, b. he says that this Book of Life is secured with this Seal: The Lord knoweth them that are Him, and so will take care that His own be not deprived of communion. At the same time, Scripture, more frequently using Foundation metaphorically, was not accustomed to mark with this term the divine Decrees, or that of Predestination in particular: only in Hebrews 11:10 will this, among other Foundations also, be suggested, upon which the City looked for by Abraham was built. 3. Following the Greek Fathers, ESTIUS,[10]À LAPIDE, our WITSIUS in his De Œconomia Fœderum, book III, chapter XIII, § 36, and COCCEIUS, who joins this interpretation with the other, by this Foundation understand the very Church of the elect, whose names are written in heaven, comparing Proverbs 10:25; Revelation 3:12. Which sort of Elect believers are then said to be firm and immovable, not so much in themselves, as through the care of the Lord choosing them, over against others that recede from the faith. But, if all those truly believing stand immovable, neither are they able to fall from the faith; the Election of those in sanctification and faith unto salvation also stands. But those Elect and Believing are wont to go under the similitude of a house, temple, or some entire structure and well founded edifice, more than of a Foundation: neither do they generally bear the unqualified title of Foundation, except either in consideration of firmness alone, or in the synecdochical sense of a founded structure. 4. Hence our AUTHOR, who discourses concerning the sense of this passage in Exercitationibus Textualibus XLIV, Part III, under the name of Foundation here principally understands Christ Himself, the sole and perfect Mediator between God and Elect men. To whom, a. not only is the whole notion of Foundation really applicable; but who, b. is wont quite frequently to god under this emblem in Scripture, which our AUTHOR here thinks to be the Scriptures’ ἀλληλουχίαν, binding tie, which must be preserved, following HYPERIUS[11] and BULLINGER.[12] But the argument from this passage for the Immutability of Election is not thus destroyed. Since, a. Paul provides faith’s consolation for believers against the fear of ἀποστασίας/apostasy, by setting forth the immovable firmness of the Foundation of the Church, even Jesus Christ; whence he wishes to be gathered the similar firmness of the whole edifice of the Church superimposed upon the Foundation, in comparison with Matthew 16:18, apart from which Christ at some point could have been a Foundation without a house built on top. Now, as Christ is this Foundation foreknown πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου, before the foundation of the world, 1 Peter 1:20; so unto the house built on top pertain all the elect in Christ πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου, before the foundation of the world, Ephesians 1:4. b. Since Paul also considers certain fixed persons that pertain to this Foundation of God like His Lord, no less through the eternal grant of the Father, than through the temporal redemption of the Son, acquisition, etc.: but he sets these forth as those that the Lord infallibly discerns, constantly loves, takes care of, preserves, and upholds as an immovable Foundation; whence there is no reason that they should fear Apostasy.

The Remonstrants take Exception, Apologia, chapter IX, page 103b, that Paul speaks only of those holy and believing, who by the determination of their own Free Will persevere unto death in faith and holiness; whom in such a case the Lord does not forsake in death, but holds as accepted, whom for this reason He will also resurrect unto eternal Life. Response: 1. This interpretation stands in opposition to the scope of the Apostle, of consoling believers against the fear of Apostasy in this life, which goal reasoning of this sort would not serve: it is able to happen that at whatever moment ye might fall from Grace, after ye were made a partaker of the same, if indeed this dependeth upon the determination of your own will: but, if ye persevere unto death, the Lord will also hold you as dear, and after death will raise you to eternal Life. Thus the defection of each and every believer unto death was remaining possible, and Christ was able to be a Foundation without an edifice, a Lord without subjects. 2. From this, that the Lord knoweth them that are His, Paul teaches each and every believer to conclude, that he is going to be preserved from Apostasy; so that that Practical Knowledge of the Lord long precedes the death of the believer: just as also this Seal precedes, unto which the other at length follows, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity; which ought also to be fulfilled in this life.

Romans 8:29, 30: where the Immutability of Predestination is evident from this, that according to Paul there is an inseparable tie between Election and Glory, so that as many as are elect, the same are also to be glorified in the future age. Neither does it present any obstacle that Paul makes mention of Glorification in the past tense: for he does this both with respect to Glory begun in Grace and Holiness, in comparison with 2 Corinthians 3:18, and with respect to Certainty, because those whom the Lord predestined and called He most certainly glorifies, each and every one, in His time; whence the Glorification of these is so certain, as if they had already been introduced into Glory. Neither does this passage admit any Exception: compare TURRETIN, Theologiæ Elencticæ, chapter IV, question XII, § 10.

Scripture also teaches the Immutability of Election Implicitly, when it speaks of Predestination unto eternal Life made πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου, before the foundation of the world, under the notion of the Inscription of persons or names in Heaven, unto Life, in Lamb’s Book of Life, which is set forth to men of this sort as an argument of the greatest Joy, Isaiah 4:3; Hebrews 12:23; Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5; 13:8; 21:27; Luke 10:20. Now, to whatever in this formula of speech there be regard, whether to the conscription of troops, or to a census of citizens enjoying the right of the city, in comparison with Psalm 87:6; Philippians 3:20, or to heirs written in a testament, in comparison with Matthew 25:34; Romans 8:17; it is certain enough that indelible Writing is indicated here, not hanging solely from the slender thread of the mutable human will. For this makes, 1. the Author of the Writing, God: “If a man said, What I have written, I have written,[13] concerning the title, where he had written, the King of the Jews: Does God write one in the Book of Life, and then erase him?” asks AUGUSTINE, Enarratione in Psalmos, Sermon II, on Psalm 68, more accurately Psalm 69, chapter XIII, column 529, opera, tome 4. 2. The Writing itself, which makes for the perpetual preservation of the memory of the thing from oblivion, while the spoken word readily vanishes. 3. The place of the Writing, whether performed, or, when the speech is directly concerning eternal Predestination, which preceded the very Creation of the heavens and the earth, kept; not on earth, where all things are changeable and fragile, and written letters are easily erased; whence the impious, whose portion is in the earth,[14] and who will perish with the earth, are said to be written in the earth, Jeremiah 17:13: but in heaven, the seat of eternity, where all things are stable. 4. The Title of the Book, in which this Writing was made, which is the Book of Life; the End of the Writing, for it is a Writing unto Life: these imply that those that are written in this Book are to be conducted unto Life. 5. That also which John expressly declares, Revelation 21:27. 6. Otherwise, the argument for Joy situated in this Writing of the Names in heaven would not be solid, if at any hour this Writing could be altered again, the contrary of which the Lord commands His disciples to believe, Luke 10:20: compare MARESIUS’ Hydram Socinianismi expugnatam, tome 3, pages 517-519, 532, on Volkelius’ de Vera Religione, book V, chapter XVII, pages 535, 536, 541; TRIGLAND’S Antapologiam, chapter XL, pages 525-528, compared with Apologia Remonstrantium, chapter XVIII, pages 204, 205; FRANCIS TURRETIN’S Decadem Disputationum Miscellanearum, Exercitation I, which is de Libro Vitæ, pages 1-30; our AUTHOR’S Exercitationes Textuales XIII, Part VI, § 6, and his Commentario ad Apocalypsis loca citata.

δ. Reason is added, which here argues,

1. Both à Priori; from this, that God ordains the Grace necessary for Salvation to the Elect, but not to those truly Reprobate: but, since God wills to bestow Salvation upon the Elect, and the Means, which He destines for the Elect to this end, are altogether sufficient for the obtaining of the same End; we conclude that the Elect are certainly to be saved: while, on the other hand, the omnimodal Impotence to good of Reprobates and all other men is evident, and Grace has not been destined for them, through which they might furnish that; whence their Salvation also proves to be impossible, and their Damnation certain.

2. Then à Posteriori Reason additionally argues,

a. From the happy Certainty, Tranquility, and Glorying of Believers, Romans 8:31-39, which would be empty and nothing, unless Predestination unto Glory was certain and immutable: see TRIGLAND’S Antapologiam, chapter XL, pages 531-534, compared with Apologia Remonstrantium, chapter XVIII, pages 205b, 206a.

b. From this also, that otherwise the Damnation of no evil man would be Certain, the contrary of which the Scripture expressly teaches, Romans 9:22; John 17:12; 2 Peter 2:3; Jude 4.

[1] Canons of Dort, chapter 1, article 11: “And as God Himself is most wise, unchangeable, omniscient and omnipotent, so the election made by Him can neither be interrupted nor changed, recalled or annulled; neither can the elect be cast away, nor their number diminished.” [2] Luke 23:35: “And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the elect of God (ὁ τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐκλεκτός).” [3] 1 Peter 2:4: “To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but elect of God (παρὰ δὲ Θεῷ ἐκλεκτόν), and precious…” [4] Acts 9:15: “But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is an elect vessel (σκεῦος ἐκλογῆς) unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel…” [5] That is, an idea, expressed negatively, but intended positively. [6] Jonas Schlichting (1592-1661) was a theologian of the Socinian Polish Brethren. He wrote commentaries on most of the books of the New Testament. [7] Johannes Cocceius (1603-1689) was born in Bremen, Germany, and went on to become Professor of Philology at the Gymnasium in Bremen (1630), held the chair of Hebrew (1630) and Theology (1643) at Franker, and was made Professor of Theology at Leiden (1650). He was the founder of the Cocceian school of covenant theology, bitter rival to the Voetian school. [8] John Piscator (1546-1626) was a learned Protestant divine. He held the position of Professor of Divinity at Herborn (1584). His German version was the first, complete and independent, since that of Martin Luther. Through his career, his views changed from those of the Lutherans to those of the Calvinists, and from those of the Calvinists to those of the Arminians. He remains widely regarded for his abilities as a commentator (Commentarii in Omnes Libros Veteris et Novi Testamenti). [9] Johannes Crocius (1590-1659) was a Reformed theologian. He was appointed as Professor of Theology at Marburg (1618), at Kassel (1629), and then again at Marburg (1653). [10] William Estius (1542-1613) labored first as a lecturer on Divinity, then as the Chancellor at Doway. Theologically, he bears the imprint of the modified Augustinianism of Michael Baius. In his commentary writing, as exemplified in his Commentarii in Sacram Scripturam and Commentarii in Epistolas Apostolicas, Estius focuses on the literal meaning of the text; and he is widely regarded for his exegetical skill and judgment. [11] Andreas Hyperius (1511-1564) was a Flemish Protestant theologian. He endeavored to mediate between Reformed and Lutheran theology, and so holds an important position in both traditions. Hyperius served as Professor of Theology at Marburg (1541-1564). [12] Henrich Bullinger (1504-1575) was a Swiss divine, the successor of Zwingli in Zurich. He endeavored to unite the Lutherans and Calvinists. Among Bullinger’s many written productions are the Second Helvetic Confession, the Decades, and, with Calvin, the Consensus Tigurinus. [13] John 19:22. [14] See Psalm 17:14.

41 views2 comments