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De Moor VII:8: The Liberty of Predestination

As in Chapter VI, § 7, I gave a proof for the Liberty of the Decrees in General, so the same comes to be applied in particular to the Decree of Predestination; in which:

α. Scripture sets forth God specifically as Lord Most Absolute, disposing of His Creatures according to His Good Pleasure, Altogether Free, but Most Holy, not implying injury to any divine Virtue, Romans 9:15, 18, 20-23, in which every Cause outside of God, impelling Him in any manner, in Election and Reprobation equally, Paul excludes, teaching, 1. that the most free determination of God alone, which does not admit another superior cause, is the fount of all Grace bestowed upon man in time; 2. that the Hardness of man is similarly to be traced back, as a consequence of the divine Will determining most freely. 3. That God according to the fullness of His Right and Power here freely disposes unto the one or the other, no less than a potter his Clay: who, if he is able according to his own will to form of one and the same mass one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor; far more does that same Right belong to God over the mass of humanity, which is going to Fall: since every man is a Creature of God, but the potter does not produce, but rather comes upon, the mass of Clay. 4. He indicates that God in Predestination has especially proposed to Himself a demonstration of His Power and Justice on the one part, but of His Mercy on the other: which He set before Himself in this Decree as an End; thus by these His Attributes, as an internal impulsive and προηγουμένῃ/guiding Cause, God is able to be said to be moved to decree Predestination, just as one acting is wont to be moved and impelled by the end that he intends: but every external impulsive Cause is hence far removed. Nevertheless, God, electing or reprobating a man for the Glory of these Attributes, does not cease to decide most freely, since, a. the Apostle expressly says in Romans 9:22, εἰ δὲ θέλων ὁ Θεὸς, etc., if God, willing, etc.; and in Ephesians 1:5, 6, God is said to have predestinated us εἰς ἔπαινον δόξης τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ, to the praise of the glory of His grace, κατὰ τὴν εὐδοκίαν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ, according to the good pleasure of His will. b. By this demonstration of His Attributes no new perfection would be added to God, and so He determined most freely to reveal the same in this manner.

β. The matter itself also speaks, that in Predestination, just as in the other Decrees, God acts according to His Liberty ἀνυπευθύνῳ, not accountable to any other: for, while all things are by the Will of God and depend upon it, nothing is able to be postulated in turn upon which the divine Will depends, which thus would have to be prior to the divine Will, and so to God Himself; and, since this Good Pleasure of God is eternal, it is not able to have a non-eternal Cause outside of God.

And so it ought not to be admitted here: α. either that Sin is the cause of Predestination unto Death, etc. Sin is the Cause of Death, not of the Destination unto Death; neither in the Positive Act, of destination unto damnation; nor in the Negative Act, of preterition, of disregard in misery, etc.: neither in the Absolute Act, of reprobating rather than electing; nor in the Comparative Act, of reprobating this one rather than that one. For, since all men were contemplated by God in an altogether equal state, according to Roman 9:11, 21, Sin is not able to be said to be the Cause of the rejection of this one rather than that one: for what things are common to both are not able to make a distinction between them. But neither is Sin able to be considered the Cause of Predestination unto Death in the Absolute Act; since thus all men, inasmuch as they appear before the Predestinating God as sinners, would have been reprobated. But if therefore you should say that men’s Sins (actual, and differentiating between one man and another) are the Cause of Reprobation in the Positive and Absolute Act, insofar as God determined this His Decree to follow only with those intervening, you confound the Execution with the Counsel: by distinguishing these two, SPANHEIM, Disputatione inaugurali de Quinquarticulanis Controversiis, § 19, 20, opera, tome 3, columns 1172, 1173, distinctly indicates the causes, not of the Decree of Reprobation and Damnation, but of actual Reprobation and Damnation. He says that the remote cause of actual Reprobation absolutely considered is sin: but the sole cause of comparative Reprobation, or of the preterition or leaving of this one rather than that one in misery, he observes to be God’s εὐδοκίαν, good pleasure. But he asserts that the Cause of Damnation is to be sought entirely in the condemned and in his sins, both original and actual. But, if you have regard to the eternal Decree of Reprobation, Sin is only a prerequisite quality in the object, or a Cause sine qua non, so that God might be able Justly to constitute man as an object of His Wrath; and so God did not reprobate man without any regard to Sin: but Sin, as I have taught, is not able to be said to be the impulsive Cause of eternal Reprobation and non-election, because thus all would have to have been reprobated: read carefully SPANHEIM’S DecadumTheologicarum VIII, § 5, opera, tome 3, columns 1246-1248; add Eckhardus’ Fasciculum Controversiarum cum Calvino, chapter XV, question XIII, pages 362 and following; Acta Colloquii Montibelligartensis, pages 424, 447, 448; and Buddeus’ Institutiones Theologiæ dogmaticæ, tome 2, book V, chapter II, § 11, pages 1616-1619, where you may see that, according to the opinion of the Lutherans, the Sins of men, not retracted through true penitence, and conjoined with final unbelief, and that final unbelief especially, are to be said to be the external impulsive Cause of Reprobation, because they are of damnation.

β. Or that the Satisfaction of Christ is the Cause of Predestination unto Life, just as of Life itself. More specifically, it is not asked here, whether Christ as the Λόγος/Logos/Word and Son of God is also the efficient Cause of Election, which we have already asserted in § VI out of John 13:18; 15:16; but, whether Christ as Θεάνθρωπος/Theanthropos/ God-man and Mediator is the objective and meritorious Cause of Election? It is not asked, whether Christ is the meritorious Cause and foundation of the decreed Salvation, with respect to the matter; but, whether He is such with respect to the decree of Salvation, with respect to God? Not, whether it is the Cause with respect to the effect willed terminatively; but, whether it is the Cause with respect to the act of willing formally? Not, whether it is the Foundation of the Election to be carried out à posteriori; but, whether it is the Foundation of Election to be determined à priori?

The Arminians everywhere consider the Merits of Christ as the Cause of Election: but also the Lutherans assert that Christ is the Meritorious Cause of Election: see TURRETIN’S Theologiæ Elencticæ,[1]chapter IV, question X, § 4, page 387; Declarationem Sententiæ Arminii, in Arminii Orationibus et Tractatibus variis, page 47, 53; Eckhardus’ Fasciculum Controversiarum cum Calvino, chapter XV, question X, An Electio sit facta intuitu Meriti Christi? pages 355-357; Buddeus’ Institutiones Theologiæ dogmaticæ, tome 2, book V, chapter II, § 6, pages 1606-1609; WENDELIN’S Exercitationes theologicas VIII; Jasper de Hartogh’s[2] Wegwyzer der Eenvuldigen, chapter I, page 30. TURRETIN, in the place cited, advises that the Scope of both parties is, under the pretext of extolling the glory of Christ, to establish universal Grace, and to destroy absolute Electionκατ᾽ εὐδοκίαν, according to the good pleasure, of God. The Lutherans order the divine acts in the decree of Predestination in such a way that first God willed all men, whom He foresaw would fall, to arrive again at eternal life: then, so that this might be able to be done, He willed to send His Son, who would expiate their sins; in this manner, that all that would believe upon Him would be saved: in addition, unto this end He willed also to call all men, etc.: see Buddeus, Institutionibus Theologiæ dogmaticæ, tome 2, book V, chapter II, § 5, page 1599. Hence, moreover, they consider the Triune God as the efficient cause of Predestination, in such a way that they say that the same was induced to it by His singular mercy and gratuitous favor; with the merit and satisfaction of Christ being added, lest His righteousness hinder, see Buddeus in the place cited, § 7, page 1605, who on pages 1606 and 1607 in the notes adds: “Since we are actually saved in consideration of the merit of Christ, it is rightly concluded that the decree of Election or Predestination was also made with consideration of the merit of Christ as the external impulsive cause. Surely no solid reason is able to be brought, why there is to be a judgment concerning the causes of the Decree, differing from the causes through which eternal Salvation actually falls to the elect.”

Johannes Marckius

But, α. apart from the fact that the Altogether Free Good Pleasure of God alone, tending to the illumination of the glory of divine Mercy, as we have already heard and will hear further in § 10, is the sole Cause of Election: β. our AUTHOR well observes that the Satisfaction of Christ rather follows as a fruit of Predestination, according to John 3:16; 1 John 4:9, 10; Romans 5:8, where the Sending of Christ into the world with subsequent His vicarious Suffering is contemplated as the fruit of divine Love towards us; which Love is nothing other than that most special Love towards the Elect, for whom alone Christ was designed as Redeemer and Savior. But, what is an Effect of election, the same is not able to be said to be its Cause. γ. The object is prior to the act, which is concerned with the object: and so Election ought to precede the Decree of Redemption, because the Elect are the objects with which the Mediation and Redemption of Christ is concerned. δ. The intention of the end also precedes the determination of means: but Salvation is the end, and Christ’s Satisfaction is a mean; therefore, etc. But if Christ had been constituted the Redeemer before God had determined concerning those to be redeemed, the Redeemer would have been constituted with the end uncertain.

Objection 1: Christ is the Sole Foundation of Salvation, 1 Corinthians 3:11. I Respond: Christ is said to be the Foundation of the determined Salvation, not of the determination to Salvation: see our AUTHOR’S Exercitationes Textuales XLI, Part III; my Sermon on 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 in the volume called Gedachtenis, etc., pages 265 and following.

Objection 2: We are elected in Christ, Ephesians 1:4: compare Eckhardus’ Fasciculum Controversiarum cum Calvino, chapter XV, question 1X, page 350; Buddeus’ Institutiones Theologiæ dogmaticæ, tome 2, book V, chapter II, § 7, pages 1607-1609. I Respond: Not because of Christ, but ἐν αὐτῷ, in Him, that is, διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, by/through Jesus Christ, as it is in verse 5: so that Christ the Mediator is not found here as the impulsive Cause of Election; but as the primary means of carrying out the Election, through whom and in whose communion God decreed to confer υἱοθεσίαν/adoption and all spiritual blessings, in comparison with 1 Thessalonians 5:9.[3] Thus in 2 Thessalonians 2:13, in the words, ὅτι εἵλετο ὑμᾶς ὁ Θεὸς ἀπ᾽ ἀρχῆς εἰς σωτηρίαν ἐν ἁγιασμῷ Πνεύματος καὶ πίστει ἀληθείας, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: sanctification and faith do not occur as causes of Election unto salvation, but after the likeness of means for executing Election and pursuing Salvation, in comparison with Ephesians 1:4, ἐξελέξατο ἡμᾶς—εἶναι ἡμᾶς ἁγίους καὶ ἀμώμους κατενώπιον αὐτοῦ ἐν ἀγάπῃ, He hath chosen us…to be holy and without blame before Him in love. And so, when the Apostle says that we have been chosen ἐν αὐτῷ, in Him, that is, in Christ, he signifies that we have been destined to the acquisition of all the fruits of divine Love in and through Christ, and that we have been given to Christ for this end.

They Retort, a. that Christ is the meritorious Cause of all spiritual Blessings; therefore, also of Election: for we are blessed in Him, καθὼς ἐξελέξατο ἡμᾶς ἐν αὐτῷ, according as God hath chosen us in Him, if you compare verses 3 and 4 of Ephesians 1. I Respond: That καθὼς, according as, indicates that eternal Election is the sole fountain and most accurate pattern of all the Blessings that are conferred upon us in time; but not that Election and divine Blessing are equal in this, that the Cause of each is the same. Spiritual and saving Blessings are not able to be conferred upon man in time, except because of the merits of Christ: but Election, which is God’s eternal and immanent act, admits of no Cuase except God’s εὐδοκίαν, good pleasure. And thus Buddeus, together with other Lutherans, is quite mistaken, when he supposes that no solid reason is able to be brought, why there is to be a judgment concerning the Causes of the Decree, differing from the Causes of Salvation: since the reason for the distinction is situated in this, that Salvation is a benefit to be conferred upon man by God in time: but the Decree of Salvation is an eternal and immanent act of the Will in God, which admits no Cause outside of God prior to itself, upon which it might depend in any way; since God is τὸ Α καὶ τὸ Ω, ἀρχὴ καὶ τέλος, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending,[4] and by His Will all things are and are made in time.

They Retort, b. that Election is also a Blessing of God. I Respond: Not unless broadly taken, while properly it is the destination of Blessing, and is here considered as such: Election remains in God, and we contemplate ourselves objectively with respect to it; while Blessing passes to us, and we contemplate ourselves subjectively with respect to it.

The words of FRANCIS JUNIUS and JOHANNES MACCOVIUS,[5] which HOORNBEECK surveyed in his Institutionibus Theologicis, chapter IV, § 16, pages 162, 163, are quite fitting for the further illustration and confirmation of the thesis just now proposed: “JUNIUS: The Apostle added ἐν Χριστῷ, in Christ, so that he might teach two things, namely, that a bond was necessary as an intermediary, whereby God joined the elect to Himself, who were in and of themselves not fit for υἱοθεσίας/adoption; and that Christ, the Θεάνθρωπον/ Theanthropos/God-man was that bond, whereby our union with God was accomplished. MACCOVIUS: Election was not made because of Christ, as the meritorious cause: the reason, because Christ the Mediator is the means whereby God confers salvation upon us. On which account the Apostle does indeed call Christ the λύτρον/ransom, ἱλαστήριον/propitiation, Colossians 1; Romans 3;[6] but He is never said to be the reason why these rather than those are chosen. 2. Christ’s Mediation and redemption is an act, whereby satisfaction is made to the Justice of God, which is certainly not signified by the term election. For it is one thing to be Mediator, but another to be the cause of election, or the preferring of one to another in the secret counsel of God. Whence it happens that Christ is indeed the meritorious cause of salvation, but not of election. Which is as if you should say that Christ is the foundation and cause of the execution of the decree of election, but not the cause of election. 3. But even the very order convinces: for, as the healing of the sick always precedes in intention the employment of a Physician; so it is necessary that in the mind of God the intention of saving men was prior (not indeed in time, but in order) to the sending of the Savior:” add HEIDANUS’ Wederlegginge des Remonstrantschen Catechismi, on question 40, pages 167, 168, 170-175; SPANHEIM’S Disputationem inauguralem de Quinquarticulanis Controversiis, § 5, opera, tome 3, column 1168, and his Decadum Theologicarum VIII, § 4, opera, tome 3, column 1236. And also MOULIN’S[7]Anatomen Arminianismi, chapter XXV, in the whole of which is asked, Whether Christ is the cause and foundation of Election? pages 157-164, in which among other things is: “§ XII: Arminius is made to smart by that passage in John, God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, etc., in which the love of God is put as the cause, through which it was brought to pass, that He gave His Son, etc. § XIII: Moreover, observe that Election, of which Arminius maintains Christ to be the foundation, is that general Election, whereby all men are conditionally elected. Since we abundantly confute this in chapter XVIII, whatever the Arminians allege to prove that Christ is the foundation of Election vanishes. There was certainly no reason why they should so exert themselves to prove Christ to be the foundation of Election, whereby Pharaoh and Judas were elected. The true character and delineation of this imaginary Election he will have, who would introduce God speaking in this way: I have decreed to send my Son to save all men that shall believe, but who and how many they are going to be, I have not yet decided; only I will give to all sufficient ability to believe, but he shall believe who wills. § XIV: Arminius defends himself against so evident a truth with the one saying of the Apostle, Ephesians 1:4, He hath chosen us in Christ. But it is one thing, to be chosen in Christ, another to be chosen because of Christ, in such a way that Christ is the reason why this one rather than that one is chosen. The mind of the Apostle is clear. To choose is nothing other than to destine for salvation. Therefore, to choose in Christ is to destine for salvation in Christ, or through obtaining Christ. For, whomever God decreed to save, those He gave to Christ, and considers them as joined to Christ. He makes unnecessary trouble for himself, who, with interpretations sought far and wide, pours darkness on a plain matter:” see also ARNOLDI’S[8]Scopas dissolutas Eckhardi, chapter XV, question 10, pages 329-332.

[At the same time, God here, by Liberty, etc.] α. God does not injure, 1. His Goodness, since He proposes to Himself to inflict punishment on the deserving only: but free and unowed is God’s Goodness and saving Mercy towards the sinful creature, which God is thus able to exercise or not to exercise according to His own εὐδοκίᾳ, good pleasure. But, as He willed to glorify His Mercy in the Election of some, so He decreed to manifest His Justice in the deserved punishment of others. 2. God does not thus injure His Justice, since He, destining deserved punishment for the sinner, thus determines no injury to him; neither is He in any way bound to confer the same Grace upon all, that He intends to lavish upon the Elect: nor does He decree to give the remission of sins and salvation to the Elect, without Christ the Mediator’s Satisfaction of His Justice intervening: see the Canons of Dort, chapter I, article I.[9]

β. Neither ought any damnable προσωποληψία, respect of persons, to be attributed to God;[10] which properly pertains to a Judge, who, with the case neglected, has regard to such external circumstances of the person, which should not at all move him to conclude this or that. But, a. God finds nothing here in the one or the other that might move Him to grant Grace to this one rather than that one. b. In Predestination God plays the part, not so much of a Judge, as of a Most Free Lord, who is able to give undeserved Grace to this one and to deny it to that one without injury to any, Matthew 20:15: hence He is not able to be blamed, decreeing altogether unmerited Grace for the Elect, but for Reprobates nothing but their demerit: see SPANHEIM, de Personarum Acceptione in Divinis, Disputation I, § 1-3, 7-16, Disputation II, § 1-4, opera, tome 3, columns 1273, 1275-1281.

[1] Francis Turretin (1623-1687) was a Genevan Reformed theologian of Italian descent. After studying at Geneva, Leiden, Utrecht, Paris, Saumur, and Montauban, he was appointed as the pastor of the Italian refugee congregation in Geneva (1648), and later Professor of Theology at the academy (1653). His Institutio Theologiæ Elencticæ has been heavily influential in the Reformed tradition, shaping Charles Hodge’s Systematic Theology and Herman Bavinck’s Gereformeerde dogmatiek. [2] Jasper de Hartogh (1666-1727) was a Dutch Lutheran pastor. [3] 1 Thessalonians 5:9: “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ (διὰ τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστου)…” [4] Revelation 1:8; 21:6. [5] Johannes Maccovius (1588-1644) was a Polish Reformed theologian. He served as Professor of Theology at Franeker (1615-1644). Maccovius’ supralapsarianism, use of scholastic terminology in metaphysics, and loose living, brought him into conflict with his colleague, Sibrandus Lubbertus. Lubbertus drew up fifty charges against Maccovius, and those charges were taken up at the Synod of Dordt, at which Maccovius was acquitted of heresy, by admonished to be more cautious and peaceable. [6] Romans 3:25: “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation (ἱλαστήριον) through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God…” [7] Pierre du Moulin (1568-1658) was a Huguenot pastor and theologian. He served as Professor of Theology at Sedan (1621-1658). [8] Nicolaus Arnoldi (1618-1680) was Professor of Theology at Franeker (1651-1680). [9] Canons of Dort, chapter 1, article 1: “As all men have sinned in Adam, lie under the curse, and are deserving of eternal death, God would have done no injustice by leaving them all to perish, and delivering them over to condemnation on account of sin, according to the words of the apostle, ‘that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God’ (Romans 3:19). And verse 23: ‘For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.’ And Romans 6:23: ‘For the wages of sin is death.’” [10] See Romans 2:11; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 3:25; 1 Peter 1:17.

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