Wendelin's "Christian Theology": Doctrine of Election, Part 2
THESIS XIII: Hitherto the efficient of election. The Matter, that is, those whom God has chosen to eternal life, are men fallen in Adam, and because of sin liable in the sight of God to eternal death: yet not all sinful men: but of all only certain ones, and those but few, and of these mostly those that are abject and contemptible in this world.
EXPLANATION: I. If by the name of matter are understood those things that come into the consideration of this divine decree, not only would men come to be named here, but also the means through which God decided to renew fallen men: Among which Christ is the first and primary. We mention this again, because of the calumniators, who ascribe to us a decree of election wherein no regard is had to Christ. But, since the notion of matter in this place agrees more properly with elect men, we have made mention of them alone.
II. Therefore, We say in the first place: that the objects to the electing God were men, in the eternal consideration of God sinners in fallen Adam, and because of the fall liable to eternal death. For, we think that the decrees of God concerning men are to be arranged in this order, namely, that God decreed, (1.) to create men for the glory of His name: (2.) to permit them fall from the integrity in which they were created, and made liable to eternal death: (3.) from the ruined mass of that humanity to renew some unto eternal life, to glorify God’s mercy: but to leave the rest in a state of perdition, and to damn them because of sin, to glorify God’s righteousness.
Now, why we think that the object to the electing God were men, in the eternal consideration of God sinner, the reasons are these:
(1.) Because God hath chosen us, that we should be holy and without blame, Ephesians 1:4.
Therefore, He contemplated those to be chosen as unholy and blameworthy, that is, as sinners.
(2.) Because Scripture calls election the will to show mercy, Romans 9:16, election is of God that sheweth mercy; and those elect are called vessels of mercy, Romans 9:23. Therefore, God contemplated those to be chosen as miserable, that is, as sinners. For mercy is extended to the misery of another: whence He is called misericors, upon whose cordi/heart the miseria/misery of another rests.
III. Second, we say: that not all men, but out of all only certain ones, are chosen unto eternal life: which we prove:
(1.) Because Scripture expressly says, that few are chosen, Matthew 20:16.
(2.) Because God does not have mercy upon all, but He hardens some, and so passes over them in temporal election, that is, in the execution of the decree, Romans 9:18.
(3.) Because God does not give eternal life to all, but damns the greatest part of men.
Therefore, He did not decree to give life to all.
The rationale of the consequence: that God does nothing in time, that He has not decreed to do from eternity.
(4.) Because the means of salvation, of which sort are, calling through the word, faith in Christ, and justification by faith, are not conferred upon all, but only some.
Therefore, all have not been chosen unto these means. But those that are not chosen unto the means, are not chosen unto the end: because God has not decreed to confer the end, except by means. Whoever denies this, contradicts both Scripture and experience.
(5.) Because the very language of election indicates particularity. For he chooses, who picks certain ones out of a great many others: one that receives all promiscuously and without discrimination is not said to choose: see Exercitation 12.
IV. Although the Lutherans teach with us, that only some have been chose to eternal life, by a consequent will, after God had foreseen who was going to believe: yet, they contend that God decreed from eternity, to save all men, with no exception, in time, by an antecedent will, upon condition of faith, to be furnished by men. Among their other arguments are these also:
(1.) God wills all men to be saved, 1 Timothy 2:4.
Therefore, He decreed from eternity to save all men, with none passed over.
Response: I deny the consequence. The rationale for the denial is: 1. Because in the antecedent by all men the Apostle does not understand individual men, in such a way that absolutely no one is excepted: but whatever men, that is, men of every sort: in German, nicht alle, sondern allerieh Menschen, not all, but all kinds of Men: as much princes as subjects, as much paupers as rich, as much the ignoble as the noble, etc. The particle all, as we speak in the schools, is distributive of individuals into classes, not of classes into individuals, with which words Augustine interprets this passage, de correptione et gratia, chapter 14. Let his Epistle 107 and Enchiridion, chapter 103, also be seen.
2. Because no consequence can be drawn from that which God wills to be done, that is, what He commands to be done, to a decree of effecting the same. That is, God commands this to be done; therefore, from eternity He has decreed to give this effect, is a non sequitur. There is an evident example: God wills, that is, He commands, that all furnish perfect obedience to His law, and yet He did not decree from eternity to effect that obedience in all.
(2.) God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, 2 Peter 3:9.
Therefore, He decreed to save all, with none passed over.
Response: I deny the consequence. The rationale of the denial: 1. Because He is not willing that any should perish, namely, of the elect, concerning whom Peter speaks: He is longsuffering, says he, to us-ward, namely, who have obtained like precious faith through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ,as he speaks in 2 Peter 1:1; He at length leads us all back to repentance. At the same time, He decreed to condemn, and by His just judgment wills to perish, whomever He does not lead back. 2. Because no consequence can be drawn from the command to repent to the decree of effecting repentance: as we have shown a little previously.
(3.) God delivered His Son to death for all, 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Corinthians 5:15.
Therefore, He decreed to save all men and each by the Son.
Response: I deny the consequence: The rationale is: because God gave His Son for all, namely, the elect, not for all men and each, whether elect or reprobate. This will be proven at length in its own place.
(4.) Whomever God concluded under sin, upon all these He wills to show mercy.
But God concluded all together under sin, with no mortal excepted.
Therefore, God wills to show mercy upon all together, with no mortal excepted.
The Exposition is proven, Romans 11:32, God hath concluded all under sin, that He might have mercy upon all.
Response: I deny the Major: the passage alleged from Paul does not prove what they want. For, even if it is certain, that all men and each, with no one excepted, is concluded under sin; nevertheless, Paul does not intend this in the passage adduced: but by all he understands Jews and Gentiles indefinitely, to whom he communicates the hope of salvation, to be obtained through the apprehending of Christ by true faith. And so the sense is: God concluded under sin both Gentiles and Jews, that He might have mercy on both in Christ, apprehended by true faith: so that they might be able to ascribed the salvation of both the Gentiles and the Jews only to divine mercy. Let this passage be compared with Galatians 3:22, Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. Behold, the interpretation of the former passage: from which it is evident, that all are indeed concluded under sin, but do not obtain special mercy, except those only that by the grace of GOD believe, and have been chosen to obtain eternal life through faith. Whence judgment is to be made concerning the will or decree of GOD: see Exercitation 13.
V. Those that say and teach, that from eternity God decreed to save all men and each, under this condition, if they should believe upon Christ; not only do they find no support for their opinion in the Scriptures, but they implicate themselves in two great difficulties: since,
(1.) They attribute an imprudent and vain decree to God. For, if God foreknew from eternity that that condition of faith in Christ was not going to be fulfilled by most, what, I ask, was the purpose in making a serious decree of salvation suspended upon a condition of this sort? A decree of this sort is not even applicable to a prudent man.
(2.) Faith, which is the gift of God, purely gracious and particular, they thus subject to the free choice of man, corrupt and dead in sins, in such a way that it is in man’s power to believe or not to believe: which is obviously Pelagian, and contrary to the whole of Scripture, and even to Luther himself: see Exercitation 14.
VI. Since some of the more prudent rightly understand this difficulty, and are forced to confess that internal assent of the mind is not in the power of man, but only proceeds from the grace and operation of the Holy Spirit: they no longer urge foreseen faith (which some also expressly and simply deny to be the cause of election; as I have shown in the Exercitation): but in the power of man is only the use of the external means, through which faith is wont to be conferred by the Holy Spirit: God foresaw, say they, who would embrace the external means of faith, attend church, hear and seriously consider sermons, by the force of their own free choice, before conversion: they convince themselves that election is made accordin to the foresight of this external obedience: they commend this as the reason for the difference.
Response: (1.) The serious hearing of the divine word and meditation is just that which is conjoined with the desire to progress unto salvation. This is the fruit of the Spirit, not the offspring of corrupt nature.
(2.) If the attending of church, and whatever sort of hearing of sermons, separates the elect from reprobates, and is necessarily conjoined with election: certainly all whom God had foreseen as rendering that obedience would be elect. But the consequent is false.
(3.) The saving hearing of the word, no less than faith, flows from a gracious election: neither is the word the savor of life unto life to anyone except the elect: to the rest that are perishing it is the savor of death unto death, 2 Corinthians 2:15, 16.
(4.) If the differentiation be made according to the use of the external means, situated in the power of man, the elect would differentiate themselves, and the election would be of the one willing and running. But this is false, 1 Corinthians 4:7; Romans 9:16.
(5.) Experience testifies that often the worst, and the most averse to the study of hearing attentively the divine word and of advancing to salvation, are converted to God, with others passed over, who were appearing far more passable, and more apt for the kingdom of God. Thus vocation often passes by those that appear better, and takes hold of those that are more depraved and obstinate. Even the Papists acknowledge this. There is an evident example in the men of Chorazin and Tyre, Matthew 11:21: see Augustine, de Dono perseverantiæ, book 2, chapter 14.
(6.) The natural man, before regeneration and special illumination, does not understand the things that are of the Spirit of God, neither can he know them: but they are foolishness to him, 1 Corinthians 2:14. From which source also it flows, that Christ crucified, preached by Paul, indeed, a stumblingblock to the Jews, was foolishness to the Greeks, 1 Corinthians 1:23. And will we yet say, that natural man is able in his own strength to hear the word of God with devout and sedulous attention, with a desire to proceed unto salvation?
(7.) When, compelled by the very evidence of the matter, our adversaries in the place of foreseen faith, which they are compelled to acknowledge not to be posited in the free choice of man, at length put works, namely, the good use of free choice, in the sedulous and devout hearing of the word, and the sincere desire to proceed to salvation; avoiding Scylla they fall into Chaybdis, and fetch the reason for the differentiation between the elect and reprobates from the foresight of good works: for evil works, I suppose, they will not commend here.
(8.) Formerly, even in the midst of the darkness of the Papacy, such great light of the Scripture shined forth upon man, that they denied any cause of predestination to be in us; but they sought it least of all in works. See Thomas, contra Gentiles, book 3, final chapter, in which he assails the doctrine of his adversaries with two arguments: the one, that all our good works are effects of divine predestination; the other, that nothing is able to be the cause of the divine will, as the first cause.
(9.) This opinion establishes the repudiation of the offer of Evangelical grace as the sole cause of reprobation. But of those that were condemned from the foundation of the world to the birth of Christ, not even a thousandth part ever heard anything of Christ.
(10.) Finally, what is the need for long circuits? From the very pools of Pelagius this drug of the opposite party was drawn, which also induces nausea in the more judicious Papists, as we will show in the chapter concerning sanctification. In the meantime, let Bellarmine be considered, book 2 de gratia et libero arbitrio, chapters 10-12, in which he sets in opposition and urges that saying of the Apostle, 1 Corinthians 4:7, Who maketh thee to differ from another? etc. It could be answered, says he, the good use of free choice has caused me to differ: and I have something that I did not receive.
VII. Third, we say: Comparatively few sinners have been chosen to eternal life, with the greater part of them neglected and passed over. Which is evident from manifest testimonies of Scripture. For many are called, but few chosen, Matthew 20:16. Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: but strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth to life, and few there be that find it, Matthew 7:13, 14. Nothing is more certain, than that the reason for the differentiation is placed in man by the contemporary Lutherans, whom the former Lutherans have sharply contradicted: let the doctrine of Hunnius and Mylius be considered: Exercitation 8, § 12-14.
VIII. Fourth, we say: Those fewer are especially those that in this world are abject and contemptible, to which Scripture expressly testifies, 1 Corinthians 1:26-29, ye see your calling, brethren, that is, that not many of you are wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the strong: and God hath chosen the ignoble things in the world and considered as nothing, and behold, the things that are not, so that He might bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in His presence.
Two especially memorable things are to be observed here:
(1.) That according to worldly wisdom, power, and nobility the singular grace of GOD is not to be estimated, nor is anything to be presumed concerning the special love of God: since of the wise, powerful, and noble, more are reprobate than elect.
(2.) That simplicity, infirmity, ignobility, and contemptibility in the sight of the world are to be born with the greatest equanimity of soul: since they are sign of the grace belonging to sons, rather than of anger.
THESIS XIV: The end of election in the revelation of divine mercy in the gracious salvation of certain sinners.
EXPLANATION: Let the manifest passage in Ephesians 1:5, 6, be considered: the final words of which are: to the praise of His glorious grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the beloved. Hence the elect are called vessels of mercy, Romans 9:23.
THESIS XV: Hitherto the cause of election. Its adjuncts follow, which are either inhering or consequent.
THESIS XVI: The inhering are eternity and immutability: for election is eternal and immutable.
EXPLANATION: I. That we have been chosen to life from eternity, the Scripture expressly testifies, Ephesians 1:4, He hath chosen us in Him before the foundations of the world were laid; 2 Timothy 1:9, grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages of the world.
Reason proves the same: for all the decrees of God are eternal: as we have proven above.
II. When we say that election is immutable, we mean this: that of those that have been chosen unto eternal life not one ever perishes or is condemned: and so the elect always remain elect, and are never made reprobates. And this is what ancient and recent Theologians mean when they say, that the number of the elect, which is not able to be diminished or increased, is certain and definite.
We prove the immutability of election by the following arguments:
(1.) Because God in Himself, in His knowledge, and in His decrees, is immutable: Malachi 3:6, I, Jehovah, change not; 2 Timothy 2:19, the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are His.
(2.) Because the gifts and calling of God are of this sort, that He is not able to repent of them, Romans 11:29.
(3.) Because Christ asked the Father, that the faith of the elect should not fail, John 17:16, 20; Luke 22:31, 32.
(4.) Because, whom God has chosen, these He also glorifies, Romans 8:30.
(5.) Because it is not possible that the elect should be deceived, that is, should be taken entirely away from God, Matthew 24:24.
(6.) Because they are able to be snatched out of the hands of Christ by no enemy, John 10:28, 29.
* A notable saying from Fulgentius: We hold most firmly and doubt not at all, that all that God predestined for the adoption of sons before the foundation of the world are not able to perish.
III. Against the immutability of election some thus take exception:
If the elect are not able to perish, it is not the case that they should beware of their sins out of fear of eternal death.
But the consequent is false, as the Scripture testifies. Therefore, also the antecedent.
The rationale of the hypothetical proposition is, that they fear in vain, who know that they are never going to die, never going to perish.
Response: I introduce a distinction into the Hypothetical Proposition. If the elect do not perish: even if they obstinately persist in sins against conscience: it follows that it is certainly not the case that they should beware of sins out of fear of eternal death. Now, if you assume the antecedent, the assumption will be false. For, if the elect obstinately persist in sins against conscience, they would certainly perish. But God, who does not allow the elect to perish, does not allow them to obstinately persist in sins either, but converts them to Himself by saving repentance, and keeps them in the doing of their duty by threats.
Therefore, this is a calumny of those that complain that from our opinion concerning the immutability of election it follows that no danger of damnation threatens the elect, even if they obstinately persist in sins against conscience. For, obstinate persistence unto the end in sins against conscience is not more consistent with election, than final perseverance in faith is consistent with reprobation: see Exercitation 15.
THESIS XVII: Consequent adjuncts are those things that follow eternal election in time: and they are either the means, whereby God executes the decree of election in time, or its certainty in us.
THESIS XVIII: The Means of execution were ordained, calling to the Church through the preaching of the word, conversion, faith in Christ as Mediator, justification: of all which the foundation is Christ the Mediator.
EXPLANATION: I. These means, fixed for the execution of election, and interjected between election and glorification, Paul enumerates, Romans 8:30, whom He did predestinate, them He also called; whom He called, them He also justified; whom He justified, them He also glorified.
Note: These consequent adjuncts some call the effects of election, with whom we agitate not a quarrel over terminology.
II. Consideration of these means enters into the decree of election, no less than salvation itself or glory: for it is one undivided act of election unto glory, to be conferred through gracious means: glory was not decreed without respect to grace, nor was grace decreed without respect to glory.
THESIS XIX: The Certainty of election in us is that whereby we are certain, and we know, that we have been chosen unto eternal life. But this certainty is had from a sense of the means determined for the execution of election.
EXPLANATION: I. Any elect man, after he has been converted to God, and given by faith to Christ, is able certainly to know that he has been chosen unto eternal life: and that by this syllogism:
Whoever has been called by the word to the Church and eternal life, and has been given by faith to Jesus Christ, that is, he believes that his sins have been remitted because of the merit Christ, the θεανθρώπου/Theanthropos/God-man, and in addition worships God with sincere and not at all feigned zeal according to the prescription of the word, and loves his neighbor; he has been chosen to eternal life.
But I have been called by the word to the Church and eternal life, and have been given by faith to Jesus Christ, that is, I believe that my sins have been remitted because of the merit of Christ, the θεανθρώπου/Theanthropos/God-man, and in addition worship God with sincere and not at all feigned zeal according to the prescription of the word, and love my neighbor.
Therefore, I have been chosen to eternal life.
This is called the practical Syllogism. The minor premise of which contains an examination of conscience. For, conscience is to be honestly examined: whether you are firmly believing, that your sins have been remitted because of the merit of Christ? whether you are worshipping God with sincere and not at all feigned zeal according to the prescription of the word, and are loving your neighbor? Unless sincere zeal for piety be conjoined with faith, faith is dead and hypocritical. The major premise of this syllogism rests upon that unbreakable chain of salvation, which Paul links together in Romans 8:30, whom He did predestinate, them He also called; whom He called, them He also justified; whom He justified, them He also glorified. Whence it is evident that the blessings and gifts proper to the elect are: vocation, more specifically, internal, whereby the darkened mind of man is illuminated by the word, and his contumacious will is bent to obedience; and justification, in which by faith the sinner is freed from the curse of the law because of the imputed satisfaction of Christ. These gifts, I say, are proper to the elect: because they are conjoined by an unbreakable bond with glorification. Hence, finally, we gather that they are not able to be certain of their election and salvation, namely, those that make faith and justification common to reprobates, and most express contradict this sentence of the Apostle: see Exercitation 15.
II. The Papists think, that certainty of an immutable election begets in man a certain carnal security, and profanity. But Peter thinks far otherwise, 2 Peter 1:10, in which he commands us to make our calling and election sure: and he makes use of a persuasive argument, that, if we make our election sure, that is, if we are completely certain of it, we will never fall. And so there is no more powerful incentive to piety than the certainty of election. At the same time, let the eminent passage in Romans 8:14-17 be observed, as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God: For ye have not received the spirit of bondage unto fear (Nota bene: such is the spirit of the Papists); but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father: The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God; but if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ. Let the last verses of the same chapter, Romans 8:35-39, be considered.
In favor of their uncertainty and doubt the Papists object against us the following things:
(1.) A man does not know whether he is worthy of love or hatred, but all things are kept uncertain for the time to come, Ecclesiastes 9:1.
Therefore, no one is able to be certain concerning his election and salvation.
Response: 1. The antecedent is denied, nor is it proven from the passage alleged; which reads quite differently in the Hebrew text, in which there is nothing of the worthiness of love or hatred, nothing of uncertainty for the time to come. The words read in this way: no man knoweth either love and hatred: all things are before them.
2. The consequent is denied: because the movement is from a relative statement to a simple statement. For, even if a man does not know love and hatred relatively, namely from from men’s external state and condition in this life; it does not follow that he knows in no way, or by no other pieces of evidence.
(2.) Perseverance in faith and love is uncertain.
Therefore, election is also uncertain.
The rationale of the consequence: That election is conjoined with perseverance in faith.
The antecedent is proven, Proverbs 27:1, boast not thyself of tomorrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth; Romans 11:20, thou standest by faith: be not high-minded, but fear.
Response: The antecedent is denied. The proof is inconsequent. The passage in Proverbs prohibits over-confident boasting concerning favorable outcomes in this life: not faith acquiescing in the steadfast favor of God.
Paul prohibits carnal security and confidence placed in one’s own strength.
(3.) Many deceive themselves, when they think themselves to be in grace before God.
Therefore, no one is able to be certain concerning his election.
Response: I deny the consequence. For, those that deceive themselves have nothing of true piety beyond their external profession.
III. That a man is able to be certain concerning his election to eternal life, the Papists deny, frankly acknowledging their position. But, on the other hand, the Lutherans affirm it; verily indeed, but whether ingenuously, I very much doubt: because their hypotheses most sharply stand in contradiction. Already formerly, in the treatise concerning prædestinatione, chapter 37, I demonstrated, that the (recent) Lutherans, by their own hypotheses pertaining to salvation, which they tenaciously attempt to defend, are not able to be certain of their own election. I still think the same, and say, that by the more recent Lutheran hypotheses certainly of election and eternal life is ordinarily impossible, before the last breath of life. The rationale is invincible: for the ordinary means of certainty preceding the last breath of life, of which sort are justifying faith, justification, sanctification, according to the more recent Lutherans, are common both to the elect to be saved, and to the reprobates to be damned. How great, O immortal God, is this misery! Some invent a conditional certainty, if they should persevere in faith: but whether they are going to persevere in faith they do not ordinarily know, and, because of the uncertainty of the condition, they have no certainty, whether in temptation, or outside of temptation. Balduin, on Romans 8, question 8, denies that the internal motions of the Holy Spirit bearing witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God, are sufficient for certainty of election and eternal life. He renders a reason: that those motions are able to be extinguished in the heart, as it is evident from the examples of Saul, Judas, and like reprobates, who also had for some time felt motions of this sort, but at last finally fell from the grace of God. Therefore, he adds that certainty of election is not to be sought in those motions alone, but certainty of election also is established in Christ, in whom we are chosen. But Christ sends us, 1. to the word of promise: come unto me, all ye: 2. to Baptism, in which we are regenerated and have made a covenant with God: 3. to the Lord’s Supper, in which by His body and blood He seals the promise of grace to individuals in particular. If we make a right use of these means, says he, we are not able to doubt of our salvation or election.
Response: O miserable and onerous comforter and assurer! For, according to Balduin and other Lutherans, even reprobates, to be damned infallibly, and many of those already actually damned, had the testimony of the Holy Spirit, and came to Christ with a living and true faith, were regenerated through Baptism, and orally ate the body of the Lord in the Holy Supper, and made the right use of all those means. But were they thereby elect, and certain of election? Tell me, whence is thy certainty greater than their certainty? What in the present circumstances hast thou, does thou, that those reprobates and damned did not already have, have not already done?
 See Acts 15:18.  In Greek mythology, Scylla (a rocky shoal monster) and Charybdis (a whirlpool monster) were positioned on either side of the Strait of Messina, making passage through the Strait almost impossible; they avoidance of one meant steering within the reach of the other.  Ægidius Hunnius (1550-1603) was a Lutheran theologian. He was fiercely committed to Lutheran Orthodoxy, and so he spent much of his career in the polemical struggle with the encroaching Calvinism. He commented on much of the New Testament. Georg Mylius (1548-1607) was a German Lutheran churchman and theologian, serving as Professor of Theology at Wittenberg (1585-1589), at Jena (1589-1593), and again at Wittenberg (1603-1607). De fide ad Petrum.  Ecclesiastes 9:1: “For all this I considered in my heart even to declare all this, that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God: no man knoweth either love or hatred by all that is before themגַּֽם־אַהֲבָ֣ה גַם־שִׂנְאָ֗ה אֵ֤ין יוֹדֵ֙עַ֙ הָֽאָדָ֔ם הַכֹּ֖ל) לִפְנֵיהֶֽם׃).”  Romans 8:16.  Matthew 11:28.