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De Moor VII:35: The Proximate End of Reprobation

Synod of Dort

These are at the same time predestined to Final Unbelief and Impenitence. The Remonstrants, who maintain that Election and Reprobation were not properly made from eternity, but are temporary Acts, at this point invert the order of things, so that they might make an offering to the idol of Free Choice; and they do not set Reprobation before Unbelief and Impenitence, but after them. Supposing Election unto Grace, and Universal Sufficient Grace, they think to be reprobated only those that not quite rightly made use of that Election unto Grace through the strength of Free Choice; and, although long and many time called, warned, reproved, chastened, etc., they notwithstanding continue to be disobedient to the Gospel. Contrariwise, our AUTHOR with the Scripture considers Reprobation as antecedent from eternity; but final Unbelief and Impenitence as Consequences of Reprobation, through which that Decree is delivered over for execution; see, α. Passages expressly testifying to this, Matthew 11:25, 26; John 10:26; Romans 9:17, 18; 1 Peter 2:8. β. The Remonstrants labor here under false hypotheses, as if Faith and Repentance were depending upon human strength; and hence the Unbelief and Impenitence of many, while others believe and repent by their own power, is the cause of the Consequent Reprobation, as a temporal act, of the former in comparison with the latter. While they ought to observe that the Faith and Repentance in all believers is the gracious gift of God, the fruit of particular Election, the effect of efficacious and irresistible Grace: without which particular Grace Unbelief and Impenitence would be in all; and so they are not able to be the Cause differentiating men, and why one is Reprobated with another Chosen, why Salvation was determined for one rather than another.

At the same time, the Remonstrants here note in their Apologia, chapter VI, page 68, an expression of PISCATOR, wherein “he said that Unbelief depends upon the Predestination of God as an effect upon a cause:” the defense of which expression TRIGLAND refuses to take upon himself, Antapologia, chapter XI, page 134. Our Theologians prefer rather to speak of Sins, Unbelief, and Impenitence as Consequences of Reprobation, by the wise and efficacious permission of which God gives the Decree of Reprobation to execution: so that the Decree of Reprobation does certainly indeed imply the futurition of the event of Unbelief, Impenitence, etc.; yet God does not at all infuse wickedness in man, nor compel man to sin. Nevertheless, they also distinguish between a σχέσιν/relation peccaminous and penal; and to the Question, Whether Reprobates were predestined to Sin? they answer in the negative, if you consider sin as it is ἀνομία/lawlessness; neither do they say that it is necessary, that Predestination cause in those predestined that which it finds in those to be predestined; but Predestination finds Sin in those to be predestined. On the other hand, if you consider Sin, as it is a Judgment of God, they rightly say that man is able to be said to be predestined to it: 1. because God is the author of His Judgments, whether He executes them through those evil instruments, or through good ones; 2. because men are rightly able to be said to have been predestined by God to punishment, Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 25:41; and so also to sin, as it has regard to punishment, in comparison with Romans 1:27: to which many Passages are directed, Matthew 26:24; Acts 2:23; 4:27, 28; Romans 11:7-9; and others already cited above: see HEINRICH ALTING, Theologia problematica nova, locus IV, question XXVI, pages 305, 306; and likewise Scriptorum Heidelbergensium, tome I, part I, locus IV, page 71.

When it is objected, he that wills the end wills the means: God predestined reprobates to an End, namely, damnation; Therefore, also to the Means, namely, sins: they respond, God wills the Means with the End, but in diverse ways according to the subordinate nature of Means, in such a way that He decrees to bring some things to pass, and to permit and order other things, like sins.

When it is asked in particular, whether Unbelief is an Effect of Reprobation? they distinguish between natural and acquired Unbelief. To them natural is the blindness, doubt, and distrust of Fallen man, to which because of native corruption he is disposed, in such a way that he prevails neither to understand nor to admit the Word of God. But to them acquired Unbelief is voluntary obstinacy against the Gospel, whereby Reprobates either do not receive it, or, having received it, reject it.

That natural Unbelief is again considered,

1. Either insofar as it is by nature common to all corrupt men, and thus precedes Election and Reprobation, as a quality inhering the subject to be predestined:

2. Or insofar as it is peculiar to Reprobates not called, who are left and deserted in that corruption, Acts 14:16, and thus is a Consequence of Reprobation.

Acquired Unbelief is proper to Called Reprobates, Matthew 20:16; John 10:26; as Faith is to the Elect, Titus 1:1. The Proximate cause of this, by which the effect is usually denominated, they correctly identify as the very mind and will of Reprobates, hardened in blindness and wickedness, so that not only are they not able to believe, John 12:39, 40, but also are unwilling to believe, John 5:40; Luke 19:14. But the Remote cause of Unbelief they assert to be divine Reprobation, but to be considered, a. after the manner of a Negative Cause, insofar as God decreed to leave Reprobates in their blindness and wickedness, and to deny the grace of Faith to the same, Matthew 11:25, 26; 13:11, as Unbelief is a consequence of Reprobation. b. After the manner of an Efficient Cause, insofar as God by His just judgment aggravates the blindness and hardness in them, Romans 11:7-9. And thus Unbelief and its greater degree they also assert to be an Effect of Reprobation and of sin preceding punishment, 2 Thessalonians 2:11, 12: see HEINRICH ALTING, Theologia problematica nova, locus IV, question XXVII, pages 306, 307.

Whatever the case may be, concerning the use of the enumerated ends, to be understood soberly in so sublime an argument, speech must be prudent; and Final Unbelief and Impenitence are to be considered as Consequences of Reprobation, in such a way that God, whether determining, or permitting, directing and ordaining by His Providence, in no way is to be contemplated as the Author of sin; and, although God in Reprobation denies that Grace to man, without which Sin is not able to be avoided, nevertheless no causality of sin is to be attributed to that: 1. Because God by right refuses that Grace to man, neither is He obliged to give that to anyone. 2. From that denial does not follow the potency of sinning, which man has of himself; but only the non-removal of that impotency, the non-cure of that disease. 3. God denies Grace, which Reprobates themselves are unwilling to receive or retain, and which they voluntarily spurn, since they desire nothing less than to be ruled by the Holy Spirit. 4. God does not deny that Grace to Reprobates, so that they might sin, but so that on account of sin they might pay. SPANHEIM, in his Disputatione inaugurali de Quinquarticulanis Controversiis, § 25, opera, tome 3, columns 1174, 1175: “What then shall we say? do we settle the cause of Sin on God Himself, and is this filthy blot rightly cast upon our doctrine? Μὴ γένοιτο, God forbid. For hitherto with the pure flame of the Scriptures going before we have taught those things that nevertheless remove all efficiency of Sin far from that most pure sun of righteousness. Both the act of Sin, considered formally and with respect to manner, and its principium, is a vice of nature from the sinning cause alone and in it. And there is no one, whom conscience does not accuse as guilty especially of their own sins and scandals. And not otherwise does the darkness follow the setting of the sun, yet the physical and positive cause of darkness by no means comes to be ascribed to the sun; just as continuance in blindness necessarily follows the negation of the remedy, yet this denial of the remedy is in nowise thought to be the cause of blindness in the blind: thus with this eternal preterition of God and the denial of grace with respect to Sin in reprobates it is compared. Certainly, if a glutton enters upon intemperance by his own drunkenness and vice, impudently will he transfer the cause of his intemperance and subsequent death to the Physician refusing help. And, in whatever manner God is affirmed to harden and to blind man, whether συγχωρητικῶς, by permitting the man nefariously to despise and reject the means, or ἀποφατικῶς, by not softening, or στερητικῶς, by taking away His grace, however small it may be, or καταφατικῶς, by striking with blindness, and by delivering the man to be tormented by Satan and his lusts as torturers; certainly impudence itself would not dare to pronounce Him to be the author of Sin. Therefore, if any causality of Sin from this decree of Reprobation is to be placed in God, it is of the consequence, not of the consequent thing, negative, not positive; if there be any necessity of sinning and not believing, it is again of the consequence, and of futurition, in the composite sense, not absolute, of the consequent thing, and in the divide sense, so that to man his liberty is established as whole and intact, and so is rendered ἀναπολόγητος/inexcusable.”[1] The same SPANHEIM, Decadum Theologicarum VIII, § 4, opera, tome 3, columns 1245, 1246, grants it as proven, that the Decree of Reprobation implies no causality of Sin in the reprobating God, implies no necessity, opposed to liberty and destructive of τοῦ ἑκουσίου, the voluntary, of sinning in Reprobates.

But, with all fault attributed to man, God Himself is again considered in the execution of this Decree:

Negatively, as not giving saving Grace, abandoning, not taking pity, not illuminating, etc.; which extends itself in some to the want of internal Illumination, in others to the want of external Preaching also, as much under the New Testament as under the Old, in all to the destitution of true saving Grace, which is conjoined with Glory.

And Positively, as blinding the intellect and hardening the will, Isaiah 6:10; Romans 9:18. Now, in doing this, God does not infuse evil, nor idly look on, or merely tolerate by Providence; but He blinds and hardens a man, α. by judicial deliverance to innate hardness, Psalm 81:12, 13: β. by a just removal of common Grace used in an unbecoming manner, Revelation 2:5; Acts 13:46: γ. by casting of occasions of evil, which are in themselves good; just as it was inciting David to lust, that he saw Bathsheba washing herself;[2] and it was hardening Pharaoh in obstinacy, to which he had been raised up, that God so many times removed the plagues sent against him: δ. finally, by the just loosing of Satan, to whom as a torturer God, after the manner of a just Judge, delivers wicked men, 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12: compare the Canons of Dort, chapter 1, articles 5,[3] 6,[4] 15.[5]

[1] See Romans 1:20. [2] 2 Samuel 11:2. [3] Canons of Dort, chapter 1, article 5: “The cause or guilt of this unbelief, as well as of all other sins, is no wise in God, but in man himself; whereas faith in Jesus Christ and salvation through Him is the free gift of God, as it is written: ‘For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God’ (Ephesians 2:8). ‘For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him,’ etc. (Philippians 1:29).” [4] Canons of Dort, chapter 1, article 6: “That some receive the gift of faith from God and others do not receive it proceeds from God’s eternal decree, for ‘known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world’ (Acts 15:18). ‘Who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will’ (Ephesians 1:11). According to which decree, He graciously softens the hearts of the elect, however obstinate, and inclines them to believe, while He leaves the non-elect in His just judgment to their own wickedness and obduracy. And herein is especially displayed the profound, the merciful, and at the same time the righteous discrimination between men, equally involved in ruin; or that decree of election and reprobation revealed in the Word of God, which though men of perverse, impure and unstable minds wrest to their own destruction, yet to holy and pious souls affords unspeakable consolation.” [5] Canons of Dort, chapter 1, article 15: “What peculiarly tends to illustrate and recommend to us the eternal and unmerited grace of election, is the express testimony of sacred Scripture that not all, but some only are elected, while others are passed by in the eternal decree; whom God, out of His sovereign, most just, irreprehensible and unchangeable good pleasure, hath decreed to leave in the common misery into which they have wilfully plunged themselves, and not to bestow upon them saving faith and the grace of conversion; but permitting them in His just judgment to follow their own ways, at last for the declaration of His justice, to condemn and perish them forever, not only on account of their unbelief, but also for all their other sins. And this is the decree of reprobation which by no means makes God the author of sin (the very thought of which is blasphemy), but declares Him to be an awful, irreprehensible, and righteous Judge and avenger thereof.”


Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
May 08, 2023

Westminster Larger Catechism 13: What hath God especially decreed concerning angels and men?

Answer: God, by an eternal and immutable decree, out of his mere love, for the praise of his glorious grace, to be manifested in due time, hath elected some angels to glory;1 and in Christ hath chosen some men to eternal life, and the means thereof:2 and also, according to his sovereign power, and the unsearchable counsel of his own will, [whereby he extendeth or withholdeth favour as he pleaseth,] hath passed by and foreordained the rest to dishonour and wrath, to be for their sin inflicted, to the praise of the glory of his justice.3

1 1 Tim. 5:21

2 Eph. 1:4-6; 2 Thess. 2:13,14.



Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
May 08, 2023

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