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De Moor VII:20: The Term, "Election"

Johannes a Marck

See the Synonyms of Election reviewed by our AUTHOR; among which you will discover πρόθεσιν/purpose out of Romans 8:28;[1] Ephesians 1:11;[2] etc.; προορισμὸν/predestination out of Romans 8:29;[3] Ephesians 1:5,[4] 11; and (perhaps, our AUTHOR adds) πρόγνωσιν/ foreknowledge out of Romans 8:29. At the same time, in this matter Theologians not inelegantly distinguish the threefold vocabulary of πρόθεσις/purpose, πρόγνωσις/foreknowledge, and προορισμὸς/ predestination, in this way: that, just as a Decree is able to be conceived either with respect to its principium from which it arises, or with respect to its object with which it is concerned, or with respect to the means whereby it is fulfilled; so with respect to the first consideration mention is made of προθέσεως/purpose or εὐδοκίας, good pleasure, which denotes the Counsel and Good Pleasure of God, as the first cause of that work; with respect to the object πρόγνωσις/foreknowledge or ἐκλογὴ/ election[5] is used, which concerns the separation of certain persons from others unto salvation; but with respect to the means the language of προορισμοῦ/predestination is used, according to which God prepared the means necessary for the obtaining of the end. Πρόθεσις/purpose, say they, has regard to the end; πρόγνωσις/foreknowledge, to the objects; προορισμὸς/predestination, to the means. Πρόθεσις/purpose indicates the certainty of the event; πρόγνωσις/foreknowledge and ἐκλογὴ/election, the singularity and distinction of the persons; προορισμὸς/predestination, the order of the means: so that Election is certain and immutable through πρόθεσιν/purpose, determinate and definite through πρόγνωσιν/foreknowledge, and well-ordered through προορισμὸν/predestination. But by strictly adhering to a distinction of this sort one is able to go beyond due measure against the συνάφειαν, contextual connection, of particular texts: as with this also squares what our AUTHOR has after reviewing the several Synonyms for Election: some men among themselves scrupulously distinguish some of these terms.

But Election denotes, α. Either metonymically the Persons Elected, Romans 11:7, by metonymy of an adjunct in the place of the subject, with an abstraction posited in the place of a concrete, just like ἀκροβυστία, the uncircumcision, is put in the place of those uncircumcised, Romans 2:26.

β. The inhering Excellence of some thing or Person, 1 Peter 2:9.[6] They add Acts 9:15;[7] 2 John 1:[8] while yet our AUTHOR observes that these passages admit another sense, namely, that in these passages ἐκλογὴ/ election and ἐκλεκτὸς/elect are used with relation to the eternal Decree of Election: compare § 13, 16.

γ. Or an Act of God, either Calling to some Office, etc., or Drawing from the world to Saving Communion with Himself, as they vulgarly maintain at any rate, says our AUTHOR. That is, they maintain that Election is thus to be considered, either in its antecedent Decree, as it was made from eternity; or in its subsequent execution, as it was done in time through Calling, to which they refer John 15:16, 19; 1 Corinthians 1:26, 27; 1 Peter 1:1, 2, in which manner the imitate AUGUSTINE, who in his de Prædestinatione Sanctorum, chapter XVII, opera, tome 10, column 537, wrote: “And so they are elect before the foundation of the world by that predestination, in which God foreknew His future deeds: But they are elect out of the world by that calling, where by God fulfilled that which He predestinated.” And hence MARESIUS also advises, Systemate Theologico, locus IV, § 39, in the notes, that a Theologian is wise, in controversies with the Remonstrants, not pertinaciously to reject the signification of Election concerning the external Call to faith; since it is sufficient to show that it is not able to be applied to those passages of Sacred Scripture, in which personal, certain, and irrevocable gratuitous determination to faith and salvation is most frequently expressed by this term Election. But, from the observation of our AUTHOR, perhaps the eternal Counsel is not incommodiously understood even in all the passages cited, according to which Counsel God calls in time.

Or, finally, the Act of God Predestinating from eternity to salvation and grace, Matthew 20:16; 22:14; compare § 16; Romans 11:5; Ephesians 1:4, etc.

Synod of Dort

Which last notion the Remonstrants erroneously deny properly to apply to this term: when in their Apologia, page 192b, they write: “The term Election according to its etymon denotes a transient external action, which only takes place in time.” On the same page they assert: “It is false, that Election was accomplished from eternity. There is only one passage in Scripture that appear to affirm it, whence that common error arose: namely, the passage in Ephesians 1:4. But who doubts that the language of election there is able to be taken for the decree of election?” Thus the Catechismus Remonstrantium distinguishes between the Decree of Election unto Glory, which, being general and without an immutable determination of certain persons, it makes to be before the founding of the world, concerning which it discourses in questions XXXVIII, XXXIX; and Election unto Glory, which in question XCIV it enumerates among the Benefits that God bestows on believers in this life, and in question XCV describes as the grace and operation, whereby God separates those believing and repenting, as such and as long as they remain such, from the mass of those unbelieving and impenitent, and elects and distinguishes them as now His own proper and peculiar people.

However, it is altogether certain, α. the Term Election in itself is indifferent to temporal and eternal action, and so is able to be used no less properly of an eternal Decree of God, than of some temporal action. β. Hence, when in Ephesians 1:4; Matthew 20:16; 22:14; Romans 11:5; etc., the Eternity of Election is either expressly inculcated, or tacitly insinuated, there is no reason why we would either deny this sense of the passages cited, or think this term to be less properly used in them. γ. Although the Remonstrants attempt to establish this their opinion, both out of Mark 13:20; Romans 8:29; James 2:5 in their Confessione, chapter XVIII, § 2, page 243; and from other passages also: the same they either understand or apply incorrectly: compare TRIGLAND’S Antapologiam, chapter XXXVI, pages 484-488. δ. And so much the less does their ill-favored judgment concerning the term Election come to be admitted, on account of the most deplorable scope that they thus propose to themselves, namely, to overthrow the eternity of personal Election. On the judgment of the Apologist concerning the language of Election denoting an external, transient action that only takes place in time, TRIGLAND well advises in his Antapologia, chapter XXXIV, page 461b, that it ought to have been observed, 1. that Election happens, not only by the apprehension of the hand, but also by the judgment and assignation of the mind; and hence it is false that election denotes only external action. 2. That it is treated here, not of human Election, or that which is done by a man; but of divine Election, or that which is done by God: in which, in addition to the fact that Scripture teaches this, the observance of the eternal decree of Election is required by the altogether absolute wisdom of God, and His immutability endure from eternity to eternity. To the exception of the Apologist, that the language of Choosing in Ephesians 1:4 is taken for the decree of election, TRIGLAND replies no less skillfully, Antapologia, chapter XXXIV, page 461a: “That there is a question at this point concerning the Decree of Election, who even doubts? Wherefore then, when it is controverted here concerning eternal Election, or concerning the Decree of Election, does he respond concerning an Election made in time? But he might say to us…what then is that Election unto glory, accomplished in time? Is it not the will of giving glory, or the very giving of glory? It the will, how is that Will able to be something diverse from the Decree? And how is that Will able to have arisen in time, when when His decree is from eternity? If the very giving of glory, it is evident that he trifles, and confounds Election with glorification:” see also HEIDANUS’ Wederlegginge des Remonstrantschen Catechismi, pages 161-167, 316-320; DINANT’S[9]de Achtbaarheid van Godts Woord, chapter IV, § 58, pages 684-686.

Now, the Remonstrants thus imitate their Socinian teachers, who acknowledge no other Predestination before the foundation of the world, than that general and indefinite one, which was set forth in their own words above in § 16; they describe Election in their Catechesi Racoviana, chapter X de munere Christi Prophetico, question 20, pages 260, 261: “Election, when our salvation is treated, has a twofold signification in the Scriptures: Indeed, sometimes those that give their assent to the preached Gospel are said to have been chosen by God: but sometimes also those that not only give their assent to the Gospel, but also establish a life according to its precept, are called elect. You have an example of the former signification in 1 Corinthians 1:26, 27, where election and vocation are taken for the same thing. You have an example of the other in Matthew 22:14, where Christ says that many are called, but few are chosen. But you have an example of both in the words of the Apostle Peter, 2 Peter 1:10:” to which response compare the judgment of ARNOLDI in his Refutatione Catecheseos Racovianæ, pages 627-629. The Socinian distinction between eternal Predestination and temporal Election, which follows faith, rests upon the works furnished by Faith as the impulsive cause, and is brought to greater perfection by degrees, see also in Crellius’[10] libro de Deo et Attributis ejus, chapter XXXII, opera, tome 4, pages 113, 114; and in Volkelius, de Vera Religione, book V, chapter XVII, pages 536-540, compared with MARESIUS’ Hydram Socinianismi expugnatam, tome 3, pages 519-530. The sense that Reformed Theologians assing to the word ἐκλέγειν, to elect, and to the noun ἐκλεκτὸς/elect, in the explication of the Decree of Election, the illustrious RUCKERSFELD[11] also upholds against the illustrious Ernesti, in the illustrious Hofstede’s[12] third Vervolg der Nalezingen op de Byzonderheden over de Heilige Shrift, pages 253-257.

[1] Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose (κατὰ πρόθεσιν).” [2] Ephesians 1:11: “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated (προορισθέντες) according to the purpose (κατὰ πρόθεσιν) of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will…” [3] Romans 8:29: “For whom he did foreknow (προέγνω), he also did predestinate (προώρισε) to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” [4] Ephesians 1:5: “Having predestinated (προορίσας) us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure (κατὰ τὴν εὐδοκίαν) of his will…” [5] See, for example, Romans 9:11: “(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election [ἡ κατ᾽ ἐκλογὴν πρόθεσις τοῦ θεοῦ] might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth)…” [6] 1 Peter 2:9: “But ye are a chosen (ἐκλεκτόν/elect) generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light…” [7] Acts 9:15: “But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel (σκεῦος ἐκλογῆς, a vessel of election) unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel…” [8] 2 John 1: “The elder unto the elect (ἐκλεκτῇ) lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth…” [9] Petrus Dinant (1663-1724) was a Dutch Reformed pastor and theologian. [10] Johannes Crellius (1590-1633) was a one of the Polish Brethren and an influential Socinian theologian. His son and grandson were also proponents of Socinian views. [11]Abraham Friedrich Rückersfelder (1727-1799) served as Professor of Theology at Deventer. [12] Petrus Hofstede (1716-1803) was a Dutch Reformed Theologian and Pastor, serving in Rotterdam.

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