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WORKS OF ARMINIUS - ON THE PREDESTINATION OF BELIEVERS
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ON THE PREDESTINATION OF BELIEVERS
I. As we have hitherto treated on the object of the Christian religion, that is, on Christ and God, and on the formal reasons why religion may be usefully performed to them, and ought to be, among which reasons, the last is the will of God and his command that prescribes religion by the conditions of a covenant; and as it will be necessary now to subjoin to this a discourse on the vocation of men to a participation in that covenant, it will not be improper for us, in this place, to insert one on the Predestination, by which God determined to treat with men according to that prescript, and by which he decreed to administer that vocation, and the means to it. First, concerning the former of these.
II. That predestination is the decree of the good pleasure of God, in Christ, by which he determined, within himself, from all eternity, to justify believers, to adopt them, and to endow them with eternal life, "to the praise of the glory of his grace," and even for the declaration of his justice.
III. This predestination is evangelical, and, therefore, per- emptory and irrevocable; and, as the gospel is purely gracious, this predestination is also gracious, according to the benevolent inclination of God in Christ. But that grace excludes every cause which can possibly be imagined to be capable of having proceeded from man, and by which God may be moved to make this decree.
IV. But we place Christ as the foundation of this predestination, and as the meritorious cause of those blessings which have been destined to believers by that decree. For the love with which God loves men absolutely to salvation, and according to which he absolutely intends to bestow on them eternal life, this love has no existence except in Jesus Christ, the Son of his love, who, both by his efficacious communication, and by his most worthy merits, is the cause of salvation, and not only the dispenser of recovered salvation, but likewise the solicitor, obtainer, and restorer of that salvation which was lost. Therefore, sufficient is not attributed to Christ, when he is called executor of the decree which had been previously made, and without the consideration of him as [the person] on whom that decree is founded.
(2.) The persons are the faithful, or believers; that is, they believe in God who justifies the ungodly, and in Christ raised from the dead. But faith, that is, the faith which is on Christ, the mediator between God and men, presupposes sin, and likewise the knowledge or acknowledgment of it.
VI. We place the form of this predestination in the internal act itself of God, who foreordains to believers this union with Christ their Head, and a participation in his benefits. But we place the end in "the praise of the glory of the grace of God;" and as this grace is the cause of that decree, it is equitable that it should be celebrated by glory, though God, by using it, has rendered it illustrious and glorious. In this place, too, occurs the mention of justice itself, as that by the intervention of which Christ was given as mediator, and faith in him was required; because, without this mediator, God has neither willed to shew mercy, nor to save men without faith in him.
VII. But, as this decree of predestination is according to election, which necessarily includes reprobation, we must likewise advert to it. As opposed to election, therefore, we define reprobation to be the decree of God's anger or of his severe will, by which, from all eternity, he determined to condemn to eternal death all unbelievers and impenitent persons, for the declaration of his power and anger; yet so, that unbelievers are visited with this punishment, not only on account of unbelief, but likewise on account of other sins from which they might have been delivered through faith in Christ.
VIII. To both these is severally subjoined the execution of each; the acts of which are performed in that order in which they have been ordained by God in the decree itself; and the objects, both of the decree and of its execution, are completely the same and uniform, or they are invested with the same formal reason, though they are considered in the decree, as in the mind of God, through the understanding, but, in the execution of it, as such, actually in existence.
IX. This predestination is the foundation of Christianity, of salvation, and of the certainty of salvation; and St. Paul treats upon it in his epistle to the Romans, (viii, 28-30) in the ninth and following chapters of the same epistle, and in the first chapter of that to the Ephesians.