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De Moor VII:28: The Certainty of Election, Part 2



This Certainty is condemned, by reason of the Pelagian hypotheses concerning Free Choice, Universal Grace, the Apostasy of Saints, and hence their incomplete, non-peremptory, and revocable Election unto Glory; to which among the Papists is added the care of the purse of the Roman Clergy:


α. By the Papists. Thus the Tridentine Fathers, session VI, Decreto de Justificatione, chapter IX, page 51, assert: “No one is able to know with the certainty of faith, to which no falsehood is able to be subjoined, that he has obtained the grace of God.” The same Council, chapter XII, page 52 near the end, affirms, that no one, apart from special revelation, ought to think with certainty that he is of the number of the predestined: “No one, as long as he lives in this mortality, ought so far to presume concerning the hidden mystery of divine Predestination, that he thinks with certainty that he is in the number of the predestined: …for except by special revelation he is not able to know whom God has chosen for Himself:” see Bellarmine, in his Controversiis, tome 4, book III, de Justificatione, chapter III, columns 1097, 1098, chapter XII, columns 1143, 1144. Estius on 2 Peter 1:10 has this: “It is evident enough…that the words of Peter do not at all support those that exact from each one a particular belief of his own Election, that is, whereby one establishes most certainly that he is elect, which is not faith, but arrogant presumption; and the doctrine, whereby men are taught that they are bound to that particular faith, is so far from the doctrine of faith, that it is contrariwise depraved and destructive heresy, condemned by the Fathers of the Council of Trent.” Hence Estius on the passage cited speaks of good works as a sign of Vocation and election, certain in its own way, that is, in the class of more probable signs. Bellarmine, book III de Justificatione, chapter IX, column 1124, writes that the Certainty that arise from works is not able to be of faith, but only conjectural. Similarly Pererius,[1]disputation VIII on chapter VIII of the Epistle to the Romans, note 37, denies that the Certainty of divine faith, to which no falsehood is in any way able to be conjoined, arises from assiduous exercise in good works; but a certain human and moral certainty of divine Grace. PETRUS SUAVIS POLANUS relates the debates of the Tridentine Fathers over this controversy, Historia Concilii Tridentini, book II, pages 232-235, 239, 243, 245, 262, 263.


β. The Remonstrantes similarly deny that any sense of Election is granted in this life except a conditional one; and they think that it is commendable and useful to doubt, whether we will ever be such as we are now, as it is in Collatione Hagiensi, pages 298, 340, 342, 346; more specifically, under this pretext, lest such a Certainty be a cushion for sinners, wherewith they could gently ease themselves and pleasantly stroke themselves: compare the Canons of Dort, chapter 1, Rejection of Errors, § 7,[2] and chapter 5, Rejection of Errors, § 5,[3] 6.[4] While the true springs of the Error have already been indicated above, of which sort the most immediate here is able to be said to be the false conception of an Election incomplete until Death.



To whom, our AUTHOR adds in his Compendio, by Perseverance and Certainty being bound to certain Conditions, either certain or uncertain, they Lutherans quite nearly approach. If the Conditions are certain, to which this Certainty of Election is bound, they admit that the Certainty of Election is Absolute: but if those Conditions are uncertain, they take away all Certainty of Election. MARESIUS, Systemate Theologico, locus IV, § 47, has this: “But how the Lutherans could defend this Certainty of Election in this life, suspending it upon final Perseverance, which is doubtful and uncertain to them, teaching in addition that the number of the Elect is able to be increased and diminished, which sufficiently refutes itself by its absurdity, let them see for themselves.”


Hence, as our AUTHOR also relates, the Lutherans are said more timidly to teach the same thing with us by Bellarmine, book III de Justificatione, chapter I, column 1092. These are his words: “From the form of Justification that the Lutherans institute, many and various Errors are deduced…. The principal Errors appear to be four…. Second, they gather that men ought to believe with certainty that, not only are they just, but also elect and predestined. Which error the Calvinists teach with audacity, but the Lutherans more timidly.” Buddeus, Institutionibus Theologiæ dogmaticæ, tome 2, book V, chapter II, § 10, page 1614, has this: “And men are able to be certain of their Election, if only they believe, and make right use, or wish to make right use, of the means of grace, wherewith faith is able to be preserved.” To which he adds in the notis on page 1616: “As far as perseverance in the faith is concerned, a believing men is likewise able to be certain concerning this, on account of the divine promises, if only he make right use of the means of grace, wherewith faith is preserved to the end of life. But, if he does not do this, he will be deprived of the end hoped for by his own fault, not God’s:” compare § 7, page 1610.


Objection 1: Many, believing concerning the Grace of God towards themselves, Doubt: see Bellarmine, book III de Justificatione, chapter VIII, tome 4, Controversiis, column 1116.


Responses: α. For a time, or temporarily; while we do not urge that the Certainty of Election is perpetual in believers, and always equal firm: but we admit that the same Certainty is often shaken by intervening Doubts and is beaten and battered for a time; with Satan urging that by the threats of the Law, judgments sent by God, and evils commissioned; but with God wisely permitting the same for various reasons.


β. But Doubts of this sort are set forth as Imperfections, arising from the weakness of faith, not for imitation, but for consolation and caution.

Johannes a Marck

γ. Yet to the same Doubt, according to our AUTHOR, are twisted in the worst way by Bellarmine, book III de Justificatione, chapter V, columns 1105-1107, the passages in Job 9:20, 21; Psalm 19:12; 1 Corinthians 4:4: while, 1. Job, supported by his sincerity and good cause in the quarrel in which he was engaged with his friend, at the same time acknowledges in the passage cited that he, by the many Sins committed, is liable to condemnation before God, and so he is not able to be justified in the divine judgment by his works, in comparison with verses 1-3; Psalm 143:2. But this was not prejudicial to the Certain of Salvation, which he was believing that he was going to obtain, not by his own merits, but by those of His Surety, Job 19:25-27. 2. David, in Psalm 19:12, publishes a sincere confession of Sins, from which he asks to be purged; but, that the hearing of this petition was not going to be denied to him by God, he knew at the same time, Psalm 32:5, and hence exults in his blessedness, in comparison with Psalm 32:1, 2; 103:1-3. 3. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 4:3, 4, a. testifies of his sincere faithfulness in the Apostolic office; b. but denies that he in this manner deserved justification in the sight of God based on his works; since even to his best works, furnished sincerely and from faith, and hence pleasing to God, much sinful imperfect always adheres. c. But concerning the greater or lesser praise of his office administered diligently and faithfully, which was belonging to him in comparison with other ministers of the Gospel, Paul himself was unwilling to judge, neither did he care much about the judgment of other men; but he was committing this judgment to the Lord. But what is this to the present matter?


Objection 2: The Example of others deceiving themselves; see Bellarmine in the same place, chapter VIII, column 1116.


Responses: α. Therefore, due attention to the Scripture and one’s own state are required: for Deception arise from Want of and lesser attention to the Examination of true Grace and Oneself. β. Hence it does not remove the Certainty of others after just scrutiny, just as a dream does not take away the truth of a matter seen by one awake: because many dream that they are rich, when they are not actually such; it does not follow that none are truly rich.


Objection 3: Bellarmine’s Passages, wherein, α. the Counsel of God is said to be Unsearchable, Romans 11:33, 34: see book III, de Justificatione, chapter XII, column 1144. But the force of this Objection is skillfully broken by our AUTHOR in his Compendio, which see. β. And Men do not know, whether they are worthy of Love or Hatred, while all things are kept uncertain for the time to come, Ecclesiastes 9:1, 2, where the Vulgate Version in verse 1, the latter part, has: Et tamen nescit homo, utrum amore, an odio dignus sit, sed omnia in futurum servantur incerta, and yet man knoweth not whether he be worthy of love or hatred, but all things are kept uncertain for the time to come: see Bellarmine, in the place cited, chapter IV, columns 1101-1104.


Responses: a. The Vulgate Version recedes far from the Hebrew text, גַּֽם־אַהֲבָ֣ה גַם־שִׂנְאָ֗ה אֵ֤ין יוֹדֵ֙עַ֙ הָֽאָדָ֔ם הַכֹּ֖ל לִפְנֵיהֶֽם׃, whether we translate it with the supplement of the preposition ב/by, or מ or מִן/from: “Both Love and Hatred a man is not able to know By all things, From all things, which are before them.” This sort of Ellipsis of these prepositions is not at all uncommon; thus the ב/by/through is wanting on מַרְאֶה, Numbers 12:8, and by vision or through vision, as it is evident from the following וְלֹ֣א בְחִידֹ֔ת, and not by dark speeches:[5] thus in Psalm 119:98, on מִצְוֹתֶךָ, through thy commandments.[6] Similarly the מ/from is wanting in Psalm 36:8 on וְנַחַל, and from the river, as מִדֶּשֶׁן, from the fatness, preceded:[7] in Isaiah 30:1, on וְלֹ֣א רוּחִ֑י, and not of my Spirit, as וְלֹ֣א מִנִּ֔י, and not of me. Or we translate the text without the supplement, in which case this Pronouncement is to be considered as having two members, and after this proposition, both Love and Hatred man knows not, will follow, all things are before them.


b. Either way, all things that are before men will be External Goods and Evils, which come indiscriminately to the good and to the evil, to the just and unjust; hence Solomon was teaching that from those God’s Love or Hatred towards a man, unto His Salvation or everlasting Ruin, are not able to be discerned; which from the exegesis of what follows in verse 2 is made more manifest.


c. But if a man from these Events, considered only externally, is not able to discern God’s Love or Hatred with respect to himself; much less from criteria of this sort will he be able to make a determination with respect to others: concerning whose spiritual state we are never able infallibly to made a determination, 1 Corinthians 2:11.


d. But we have supplied other means above, whereby the Elect are able to be made more certain concerning God’s saving Love towards them; even from the saving Gifts bestowed upon them, flowing from Election, and tending toward Glorification, by the help of divine Revelation in the Word, and of the Testimony of the Holy Spirit internally in the heart of believers; so that in this respect not All Things are kept uncertain for the time to come.


e. That they are deserving of Hatred, they impious are also able most certainly to know from their transgressions, when brought into comparison with the threats added to the divine Law: but no sinner in himself is deserving of the Love of God: see our AUTHOR’S Exercitationes Textuales XVI, Part I, § 4-7.


Objection 4: Absurdities follows from this, namely, that all Fear and Concern for Salvation, which the Scripture nevertheless commends, Proverbs 28:14; Romans 11:20, is thus driven away.


Responses: α. The Servile Fear of unbelief is thus driven away, which is the opposite of Trust: but not the Filial Fear of reverence, humility, and piety, which is thoroughly consistent with Trust, Psalm 2:11; Philippians 2:12, 13.


β. The Certainty of Election aimed at by the believer produces and increases, rather than diminishes, Filial Reverence and Concern to please God, it is granted to arrive at this Certainty only by the fruits of Faith and the practice of Holiness.


γ. The Fear and Care commended in the Scriptures indicate solicitude over the means, whereby the end is reached; not hesitancy over the end and outcome, which depends upon the Decree of God. Compare the Canons of Dort, chapter 5, articles 12,[8] 13,[9] and Rejection of Errors, § 6;[10] add what things were already taught in § 14 of this Chapter.


Finally, that the Hypotheses concerning Universal Grace and Apostasy come in here, says our AUTHOR; from which our Adversaries also in other respects seek arguments against the Certainty of Particular Election: but these Hypotheses elsewhere called in for examination, see in Chapter VII, § 23; Chapter XX, § 23, 24; Chapter XXVII, §6, 7.

[1] Benedictus Pererius (1535-1610) was a Spanish Jesuit theologian and commentator. He wrote extensively on Genesis, Exodus, Daniel, John, Romans, and Revelation. [2] Canons of Dort, chapter 1, Rejection 7: “That there is in this life no fruit and no consciousness of the unchangeable election to glory, nor any certainty, except that which depends on a changeable and uncertain condition. For not only is it absurd to speak of an uncertain certainty, but also contrary to the experience of the saints, who by virtue of the consciousness of their election rejoice with the apostle and praise this favor of God (Ephesians 1); who according to Christ’s admonition rejoice with His disciples that their names are written in heaven, ‘but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven’ (Luke 10:20); who also place the consciousness of their election over against the fiery darts of the devil, asking: ‘Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect?’ (Romans 8:33).” [3] Canons of Dort, chapter 5, Rejection 5: “That without a special revelation we can have no certainty of future perseverance in this life. For by this doctrine the sure comfort of the true believers is taken away in this life and the doubts of the Papist are again introduced into the Church, while the Holy Scriptures constantly deduce this assurance, not from a special and extraordinary revelation, but from the marks proper to the children of God and from the constant promises of God. So especially the apostle Paul: ‘Nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 8:39). And John declares: ‘And he that keepeth His commandments dwelleth in Him, and He in him. And hereby we know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us’ (1 John 3:24).” [4] Canons of Dort, chapter 5, Rejection 6: “That the doctrine of the certainty of perseverance and of salvation from its own character and nature is a cause of indolence and is injurious to godliness, good morals, prayers and other holy exercises, but that on the contrary it is praiseworthy to doubt. For these show that they do not know the power of divine grace and the working of the indwelling Holy Spirit. And they contradict the apostle John, who teaches the opposite with express words in his first epistle: ‘Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure’ (1 John 3:2-3). Furthermore, these are contradicted by the example of the saints, both of the Old and the New Testament, who though they were assured of their perseverance and salvation, were nevertheless constant in prayers and other exercises of godliness.” [5] Numbers 12:8: “With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently (וּמַרְאֶה), and not in dark speeches (וְלֹ֣א בְחִידֹ֔ת); and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” [6] Psalm 119:98: “Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies (מֵ֭אֹ֣יְבַי תְּחַכְּמֵ֣נִי מִצְוֹתֶ֑ךָ): for they are ever with me.” [7] Psalm 36:8: “They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness (מִדֶּשֶׁן) of thy house; and of the river (וְנַחַל) of thy pleasures thou shalt make them drink.” [8] Canons of Dort, chapter 5, article 12: “This certainty of perseverance, however, is so far from exciting in believers a spirit of pride or of rendering them carnally secure, that on the contrary, it is the real source of humility, filial reverence, true piety, patience in every tribulation, fervent prayers, constancy in suffering, and in confessing the truth, and of solid rejoicing in God; so that the consideration of this benefit should serve as an incentive to the serious and constant practice of gratitude and good works, as appears from the testimonies of Scripture and the examples of the saints.” [9] Canons of Dort, chapter 5, article 13: “Neither does renewed confidence of persevering produce licentiousness or a disregard to piety in those who are recovering from backsliding; but it renders them much more careful and solicitous to continue in the ways of the Lord, which He hath ordained, that they who walk therein may maintain an assurance of persevering, lest by abusing His fatherly kindness, God should turn away His gracious countenance from them, to behold which is to the godly dearer than life, the withdrawing whereof is more bitter than death, and they in consequence hereof should fall into more grievous torments of conscience.” [10] Canons of Dort, chapter 5, Rejection 6: “That the doctrine of the certainty of perseverance and of salvation from its own character and nature is a cause of indolence and is injurious to godliness, good morals, prayers, and other holy exercises, but that on the contrary it is praiseworthy to doubt. For these show that they do not know the power of divine grace and the working of the indwelling Holy Spirit. And they contradict the apostle John, who teaches the opposite with express words in his first epistle: ‘Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure’ (1 John 3:2, 3). Furthermore, these are contradicted by the example of the saints, both of the Old and the New Testament, who though they were assured of their perseverance and salvation, were nevertheless constant in prayers and other exercises of godliness.”

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Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
24 mar 2023

Westminster Confession of Faith 3:8: The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care,1 that men, attending the will of God revealed in His Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election.2 So shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God,3 and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation, to all that sincerely obey the Gospel.4


1 Rom. 9:20; Rom. 11:33; Deut. 29:29.

2 2 Pet. 1:10.

3 Eph. 1:6; Rom. 11:33.

4 Rom. 11:5,6,20; 2 Pet. 1:10; Rom. 8:33; Luke 10:20.

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Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
24 mar 2023

Study the Doctrine of Predestination in detail with the incomparable De Moor!


https://www.fromreformationtoreformation.com/blog/categories/de-moor-on-predestination

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