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De Moor VII:7: The Eternity of Predestination

Johann a Marck

It was seen in § 4-6 that Predestination has regard to the Decrees of God; it follows that the same is also Eternal, α. on account of the Eternity of the Decrees assert in a general way in Chapter VI, § 6; β. on account of specific passage, which assert the same concerning the Decree of Predestination: Romans 8:29, προέγνω—προώρισε, foreknowing, He did predestinate, not only a long time ago, before their actual Calling, or before their birth, but before God had produced any works outside of Himself. Ephesians 1:4, ἐξελέξατο ἡμᾶς—πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου, He hath chosen us…before the foundation of the world; the expression has respect, either to the laying of foundations in the building of edifices, by comparison with Hebrews 6:1;[1] or to the bringing of a fetus from the womb, which appears more agreeable, by comparison with Hebrews 11:11;[2] Genesis 2:4, etc.: see MARCKIUS’ Observationibus textualibus XII, after his Analysim Exegeticam of Isaiah 53, page 461. 2 Timothy 1:9, πρὸ χρόνων αἰωνίων, before the world began, before eternal times; not only not, from a great time back, but they also elevate excessively the force of the expression, who translate it, before any age or many ages had elapsed, and thus have regard to the Prot-evangelium revealed soon after the Creation of the Word;[3] but he says, before any ages had begun to run, before there was time, which is wont to be measured by ages, so that it agrees in substance with the expression πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου, before the foundation of the world. Neither does it hinder that Grace is said δοθεῖσαν, to have been given, before those times, as if that were to be understood of giving by promise, which was not able to obtain before the creation of the World: since Grace is equally able to be said to have been given to us by Destination, and δοθεῖσα ἡμῖν ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, to have been given to us in Christ Jesus, that is, to be obtained in communion with Him, and with His merit intervening; or given to us in Christ, as our Head and Surety, entering into an eternal covenant with the Father, through the promise made to Him concerning the giving of specific nations and individuals to Him as His possession for a reward of His obedience: compare JAN VAN DEN HONERT, Verhandeling van de Rechtvaerdiging uyt het Geloof, chapter II, § 27, 28; WITSIUS’ De Œconomia Fœderum, book III, chapter IV, § 17-20; MARCKIUS’ Exercitationibus Textualibus XLIII, Part I, in which you will see that the matter stands in the same manner with the text in Titus 1:2: add KENNEDY,[4]van de Rechtvaerdiginge der Uytverkoornen door het Geloof, page 20; and especially also the Notas Marginales Belgarum on this entire verse. Revelation 13:8, ὧν οὐ γέγραπται τὰ ὀνόματα ἐν τῇ βίβλῳ τῆς ζωῆς τοῦ ἀρνίου ἐσφαγμένου ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου, whose name are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world: There are those that conjoin ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου, from the foundation of the world, with ἀρνίου ἐσφαγμένου, the lamb slain, thinking it better that the words be retained in that order of construction in which they occur, and thereupon translating ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου, thence from the founding of the world, from the first Creation of the World: they observe that from this time the Lamb was slain in promises, in types, in His suffering members; and thus they place this passage in the first battle-line against the Socinians, to prove the retroactive force of the merits of Christ. But it is better to join that ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου, from the foundation of the world, with γέγραπται—ἐν τῇ βίβλῳ τῆς ζωῆς, are written in the book of life, 1. because Christ is nowhere else said to have been slaid from the foundation of the World; but the expression of Paul is directly opposed, Hebrews 7:27; 9:26; 10:12, 14. 2. Now, the Scripture is wont to speak in this way of Predestination, so that this is said to have been done πρὸ/before or ἀπὸ/from καταβολῆς κόσμου, the foundation of the world, comparing Ephesians 1:4; Matthew 25:34.[5] 3. This passage is explained by the parallel in Revelation 17:8, ὧν οὐ γέγραπται τὰ ὀνόματα ἐπὶ τὸ βιβλίον τῆς ζωῆς ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world: where there is no mention of the Lamb or His slaying, and so those words, ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου, from the foundation of the world, ought necessarily to be reffered to the Inscription of the names in the Book of Life. Whether that Inscription is said already in the past to have been made from the foundation of the World; but, what at the time of the first founding of the World in the past already existed, that is eternal, comparing Psalm 90:2: or ἀπὸ/from is even said to occur here in the signification of πρὸ/ before, as the Hebraic מִן/from is believed sometimes also to have the signification of בְּטֶרֶם/before, in which case yet more directly the Eternity of this Inscription will be noted. Likewise, that βίβλος τῆς ζωῆς, book of life, is rightly said to be τοῦ ἀρνίου ἐσφαγμένου, of the lamb slain, for the Elect were not chosen to obtain Salvation, except by consideration of the merit of Christ, that slain Lamb; compare WITSIUS, De Œconomia Fœderum, book III, chapter IV, § 16; and our AUTHOR’S Commentarium on Revelation 13:8. 2 Thessalonians 2:13, in which ἀπ᾽ ἀρχῆς, whether it be translated from the beginning, or before the beginning, is to be referred to that רֵאשִׁית/beginning and ἀρχῆν/beginning of which mention is made in Genesis 1:1;[6] John 1:1:[7] it is not able to be explained of the Beginning of the preaching of the Gospel on account of the opposing history, seeing that only in Acts 17 is the Word of the Gospel read to have come to the Thessalonians; neither of temporal Vocation/Calling, or temporal Election following Vocation; since mention is made at length in verse 14 of Vocation through the Gospel as following upon this Election: compare WITSIUS, De Œconomia Fœderum, book III, chapter IV, § 21-23.

But the Socinians batter that Eternity of Predestination in a twofold manner, noted by our AUTHOR: thus Socinus,[8]Prælectionibus, chapter III, opera, page 558, “To this, our opinion are not repugnant those words of Paul in Ephesians 1:4, according as He hath chosen un in Him before the foundation of the world, etc. For in that passage the language of Choosing/Election was not used properly, neither does it indicate election itself or the act of electing, but the Decree of election, which manner of speaking is quite familiar in the Sacred Books, but especially in the writings of Paul, who does not hesitate to affirm that God has already glorified us, Romans 8:30; etc.” See what things occur in addition in the same chapter and chapter VI, Prælectionum theologicæ, upon this matter. The Socinians, from the Foreknowledge of future contingencies denied to God, maintain that God by eternal Predestination only decreed in a general way to save those that will have accepted the Word of the Gospel, and will have complied with the precepts of the Savior: but they contend that the Election of individual men is made in time, as God sees certain men embracing the discipline of Christ, and constantly persevering in this manner of life.

James Arminius

And certain Remonstrants, as our AUTHOR adds in his Compendio. Namely, Arminius considers Election as an eternal Decree, which rests upon a definite Foresight of Faith and Perseverence: see HOORNBEECK’S Summam Controversiarum, book VIII, page m. 468. But, after Episcopius[9] began to waver from the Theology of Socinus concerning the Foreknowledge of God, he, with many subsequent Remonstrants, allowed only that general Predestination, as eternal and definite, concerning the Salvation of those that would believe; while he thinks the Certain and Peremptory Election of individual persons is a temporal act, which depends upon their actual Faith and Perseverence, and so is ratified finally only at death, since all antecedent Election of believers in this life is always able to be changed. Thus the Apologia Remonstrantium, chapter XVIII, page 192b: “It is evident that it is false, that Election is accomplished from eternity: there is only one passage in Scripture, which appears to affirm it, whence that common error arose, namely, Ephesians 1:4, etc.” In the same place, page 193b: “Those that are thus called Elect, as long as they conduct themselves worthily of their divine Calling for that time, are no otherwise peremptorily to be called Elect, than as long as they persevere in that state to the End; and in perseverence, as Peter says, they make their Election sure all the way to death.[10] For, if they do this not, they are deprived of their faith, righteousness, election, and salvation.” And similarly elsewhere the Remonstrants, in their Confessione, chapter XX, § 2, and in their Apologia, in the same place, page 222, also explain Reprobation as a temporal act of God. So also in the Antisynodalibus, in the writings of AMES,[11]de Prædestinatione, chapter I, § 16: “We say that those only, who die in the faith, are peremptorily Elected; but all others, who believe for a period of life, are justly said to be elected for that time.” This is also the doctrine of the Catechismi Remonstrantium, if you compare question XXXIX with questions XCIII-XCV, on which places inspect HEIDANUS’ Wederlegginge des Remonstrantschen Catechismi, pages 161-167, 316-320; add question CIII, compared with the Refutatione of HEIDANUS, pages 339-346. Limborch[12] states this quite directly, Theologia Christiana, book VI, chapter III, § 4: “Election is an act of God, which is performed in time, whereby He separates believers from the impious rabble of the perishing, and He reserves them, taken from the order of those to be condemned, for Himself, and assigns them to the order of those to be saved. We say that it is an Act of God, 1. which is performed in time; so that we might show that it was not done from eternity, as it is commonly thought: 2. whereby He separates believers; so that we might show that faith does not follow Election, but precedes it, and is not an Effect of Election, but a prerequisite condition for Election; the object of Election is nothing other than a believing man:” add what things follow, in the same place, § 7: and also see FRANS BURMAN’S[13]Burmannorum Pietatem, § LXXI, number 9, compared with number 8, pages 384-392.

Now, we acknowledge that the signification of the term Election of itself is Indifferent, and is able to be used of different sorts of Election: but, as far as the usage of the Scriptures is concerned, we hold that the terms ἐκλογὴ/election, ἐκλέγειν, to choose, ἐκλεκτοὶ, the elect, are everywhere used relatively to the eternal act of the Electing God; although some concede that it is sometimes taken for a temporal blessing, as in 1 Corinthians 1:26, 27, in which ἐκλέξασθαι, to choose, is joined with τῇ κλήσει, calling, and appears to be interchangeable with it. But hardly in any passage of Scripture is it necessary that it be brought to this, since both in the same passage of 1 Corinthians 1, and in similar places, Election is able to be posited for eternal Election: more specifically, from their Vocation it was appearing that they were Elect, and, because they were Elect, therefore they were called. The Remonstrants, with a deviation from the simplicity of the text of Ephesians 1:4 and a manifest wresting of the same unto an alien sense, would not deny the Eternity of the Election and Reprobation of certain men, unless they were laboring under diverse false hypotheses, which they also sufficiently indicate in the places cited, and which were refuted in their own places, or are going to be refuted in what follows. More specifically, thus is removed the divine predetermination of all things from eternity, the infallible Foreknowledge in God of all things from eternity; thus is denied the independence and immutability of Predestination; it is denied that individual men, even expressly designated by name in Sacred Scripture, are the object of eternal Predestination; it is denied that Faith is the gift of God and fruit of Election; the certain Perseverance of believers, etc., is denied: should they acknowledge these things, they would also given their assent to the Eternity of Election. In § 20, I shall further vindicate that passage in Ephesians 1:4 from the criticisms of the Remonstrants.

[1] Hebrews 6:1: “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works (μὴ πάλιν θεμέλιον καταβαλλόμενοι μετανοίας ἀπὸ νεκρῶν ἔργων), and of faith toward God…” [2] Hebrews 11:11: “Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed (αὐτὴ Σάρρα δύναμιν εἰς καταβολὴν σπέρματος ἔλαβε), and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.” [3] Genesis 3:15. [4] Hugh Kennedy (1698-1764) was a Scottish pastor and theologian, serving the Scots church in Rotterdam. He is remembered for his defense of the transatlantic revival movements. [5] Matthew 25:34: “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world (ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου)…” [6] Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning (בְּרֵאשִׁית; ἐν ἀρχῇ, in the Septuagint) God created the heaven and the earth.” [7] John 1:1: “In the beginning (ἐν ἀρχῇ) was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” [8] Fausto Paolo Sozzini, or Faustus Socinus (1539-1604), was the father of Socinianism, a rationalistic heresy (denying the Deity of Christ, the satisfaction theory of the atonement, etc.), an aberration of the Reformation. [9] Simon Episcopius (1583-1643) was a Dutch theologian. He studied at the University of Leiden under Jacobus Arminius, and embraced his teacher’s distinctive doctrines. He became a leader among the Remonstrants, playing a significant role at the Synod of Dort (1618). [10] 2 Peter 1:10. [11] William Ames (1576-1633) was taught by William Perkins and Paul Bayne. Because of his strict Puritan views, he departed from England for Holland. At the Synod of Dort, Ames served as adviser to Johannes Bogerman, the synod’s president. Later, he was appointed as a professor at Franeker (1622). His Medulla Theologiæ was heavily influential throughout the Reformed world. [12] Philip van Limborch (1633-1712) was a Dutch Remonstrant pastor and theologian, and Professor of Theology at Amsterdam (1667-1712). [13] Frans Burman (1628-1679) was a Dutch Reformed theologian and a Cartesian. He served as Professor of Theology (1662-1671) and Professor of Church History (1671-1679) at Utrecht.

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