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THAT the doctrine of absolute election and reprobation bears a contradiction to the sentiments of the ancient fathers, Dr. Whitby says, f817 is so evident, that Calvin, Beza, and many other patrons of it do partly confess it; and therefore he shall content himself with three or four demonstrations of this truth. As to the confessions of Calvin and Beza, the former only observes, that the doctrine of election and reprobation, according to God’s foreknowledge, has had magnos authores , “great authors,” or abettors, in all ages; and the latter, (In Romans 11:35) that Origen led most of the Greek and Latin writers into that gross error, that the foresight of works is the cause of election. But these confessions, as they are called, are so far from granting that the doctrine of absolute election and reprobation contradicts the sentiments of all the ancient fathers, that they plainly suppose that some were for it. As for his three or four demonstrations, they are taken from several passages of the ancients, respecting the power of man’s free will; from their exposition of the 8th and 9th chapters of the Epistle to the Romans, which will be considered hereafter, and from the testimonies of Vossius and Prosper. The words of Vossius, but not as the Doctor for has rendered them, are these: “The Greek fathers always, and those of the Latin fathers who lived before Austin, are wont to say, that they were predestinated unto life, whom God foresaw would live piously and rightly; or as others say, whom he foresaw would believe and persevere.” The Doctor ought to have transcribed what Vossius adds, which serves to explain their sense: “which,” says he, “they so interpret, that predestination to glory may be said to be made according to prescience of faith and perseverance;” but they did not mean the prescience of those things which man would do from the strength of nature, but what he would do from the strength of grace, both preventing and subsequent. So that the consent of antiquity nothing helps the Pelagians, or Semipelagians, for they both believed that the cause of predestination is given on the part of man, according to all effects. But the Catholics owned that the first grace is bestowed freely, and not of merit.
Wherefore neither did they think, that on the part of man is given “any cause of predestination unto preventing grace: yea, it is very probable that all, or most of them, when they make faith prior to election, yet do not consider faith as the cause of election properly so called; as if God, moved with the worthiness of faith, chose some to holiness and life.” From whence it appears, that though they held predestination to glory, according to God’s prescience of faith and perseverance, which prescience of faith and perseverance proceeds from God’s absolute decree to give them both, in which sense none deny it; yet they make predestination to grace to be absolute, without any cause or condition on man’s part; for otherwise grace must be given according to man’s merits, which was the doctrine of Pelagius, condemned by the ancients, and something in man must be the cause of the divine will; whereas, as Aquinas observes, “no man was ever of so unsound a judgment, as to say that merits are the cause of divine predestination with respect to the act of God predestinating.” What is alleged from Prosper, is out of an epistle of his to Austin, in which he observes to him, “that many of the servants of Christ, at Marseilles, thought that what Austin had wrote against the Pelagians, concerning the calling of the elect according to God’s purpose, was contrary to the opinion of the fathers, and sense of the church; and that they defend their obstinacy by antiquity, affirming that what are brought out of the epistle of the apostle Paul to the Romans, to prove divine grace preventing the merits of the elect, were never so understood as they are now, by any ecclesiastical men. “This objection, how it may be removed,” says he, “we pray that you would show, patiently bearing with our folly; namely, that they (the Massilians, and not Prosper, as the Doctor translates it, which spoils the ingenuous confession of Prosper the Doctor boasts of) having again perused the opinions of almost all those that went before, concerting this matter, their judgment is found to be one and the same, by which they embraced the purpose and predestination of God according to prescience.”
The sum of which is, that some Frenchmen of Marseilles cavilled at Austin’s doctrine, and pleaded antiquity on their side; having, as they said, perused almost all, not all, that went before them, and which they own did not please them. Austin’s answer to this is cited already. And certain it is, that as his doctrines were then generally esteemed, except by these few Frenchmen, so he verily thought that the writers before him were of the same mind with him; for which purpose he cites particularly Cyprian, Nazianzen, and Ambrose. But what was the sense of these, and other writers before him concern-this point, will be seen in the following Sections.
CLEMENS ROMANUS. A.D. 69.
CLEMENT of Rome, lived in the times of the apostles, and is, by Clement of Alexandria, called an apostle. He is thought by some to be the same Clement the apostle Paul speaks of, in Philippians 4:3, as one of his fellow-laborers. He wrote an epistle in the name of the church at Rome to the church at Corinth, about the year 69, which is the earliest piece of antiquity next to the writings of the apostles extant, being written when some of them were living, even before the apostle John wrote his Epistles, and the book of the Revelation, and while the temple at Jerusalem was yet standing. In this epistle are several things relating to the doctrine of election, and which greatly serve to confirm it. For, 1. Agreeable to the apostolic doctrine, that God worketh all things after the council of his own will, ( Ephesians 1:11.) that his purposes shall stand, and that whatsoever he has determined shall come to pass, Clement affirms, that “when he wills, and as he wills, he does all things;” kai ouden mh tarelqh twn dedogmatwmenwn up autou, and that “none of those things which are decreed by him, shall pass away,” or be unaccomplished: which shows his sense of the dependency of all things upon the will of God, and of the immutability of his decrees in general. 2. He not only frequently makes mention of persons under the character of the elect of God, but also intimates, that there is a certain, special, and peculiar number of them fixed by him. Speaking of the schism and sedition in the church at Corinth, he represents it as what was “very unbecoming, and should be far from toiv eklektoiv tou Qeou, the elect of God.” And elsewhere having cited Psalm 18:26, he says, “Let us therefore join ourselves to the innocent and righteous, for eisin outoi eklektoi tou Qeou , they are the elect of God;” that is, they appear to be so, these are characters descriptive of them. And in another place, f829 enlarging in commendation of the grace of love, he says, “Love knows no schism, is not seditious; love does all things in harmony; pantev oi eklektoi tou Qeou, all the elect of God are made perfect in love:” which agrees with what the apostle says of them, that they are chosen to be holy and without blame before him in love. ( Ephesians 1:4.)
Moreover, Clement observes, to the praise of the members of the church of Corinth, to whom he writes, that formerly their “contention was night and day for the whole brotherhood, that ton ariqmon twn eklektwn autou , the number of his elect might be saved, with mercy and a good conscience.” And elsewhere he says, that “God chose the Lord Jesus Christ, and us by him, eiv laon periousion , for a peculiar people.” 3. Whereas the apostle Paul, writing to the Ephesians, says; Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings, in heavenly places, in Christ; according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation oaf the world, ( Ephesians 1:3,4.) we conclude from hence, that from all eternity there was a preparation of spiritual blessings made; and agreeably, Clement, our apostolical writer, has these words; “Let us therefore consider, brethren, out of what matter we are made; who and what we were when we came into the world, as out of the grave and darkness itself; who, having made and formed us, brought us into his world proetoimasav tav euergesiav autou prin hmav gennhqhnai , having first prepared his good things for us, before we were born.” 4. This very ancient writer plainly intimates, that the special and spiritual blessings of grace are peculiar to the elect of God; and that it is the stable and unalterable will of God, that his chosen ones should partake of them: particularly repentance, and remission of sins: for having mentioned those words in Psalm 32:1,2, Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered; Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile; he observes, that this blessedness comes upon, or belongs unto, touv eklelegmenouv upo tou Qeou , those that are chosen of God by Jesus Christ our Lord.” And in another place, having taken notice of some general instances, declarations, and exhortations, encouraging men to repentance, suggests, that God’s design herein, was to bring to repentance such as were interested in his love; his words are these; “Therefore He (that is, God), being desirous that pantav touv agaphtav , all his beloved ones should partake of repentance, confirmed it by his almighty will.” That is, God, not willing, as the apostle Peter says, that any of his beloved ones should perish, but that all of them should come to repentance, (2 Peter 3. 9.) fixed it by an unchangeable decree, that they should come to repentance; and therefore makes use of the above declarations and exhortations as means to bring them to it. 5. As the Scriptures always ascribe the act of election to God, and not men, and represent it as made in Christ, and by or through Him; ( Ephesians 1:4,5) that he was first chosen as a head, and the elect as members in him; so Clement speaks of God as he oeklexamenov ton Kurion Iesoun Criston kai hmav di auton, who hath chosen the Lord Jesus Christ, and us by him;” and of the elect as chosen upw tou Qeou dia Iesou Cristou tou Kuriou hmwn, of God through Jesus Christ our Lord; and exhorts men to come to God in holiness of soul, lifting up pure and undefiled hands unto him, loving our mild and merciful Father, ov hmav ekloghv merov epoihsen eautw , “who hath made us a part of the election for himself.”
IGNATIUS. A.D. 110.
IGNATIUS was made bishop of Antioch, A.D. 71, according to Alsted, f837 and suffered martyrdom according to some, in the eleventh year of Trajan, and according to others, in the nineteenth year of that Emperor, A.D. 116. There are several epistles written by him still extant; among which is an Epistle to the Ephesians, and is thus inscribed: “Ignatius, who is also Theophorus, To the blessed in the greatness of God the Father and fullness; th prowrismenh pro aiwnwn to the predestinated before ages, that is, before the world began; always to be a glory, abiding, immoveable, united and chosen in the true passion by the will of God the Father, and Jesus Christ our God; to the church, worthily blessed, which is in Ephesus of Asia, much joy in Christ Jesus, and in the unblemished grace.” In which, besides the doctrines of Christ’s Deity, and the saints perseverance, may be observed that of eternal predestination to grace and glory. In his epistle to the Magnesians, he speaks of two sorts of persons, signified by “two pieces of money; the one belongs to God, and the other to the world; which have each their own characters upon them, and every one shall go eiv ton idion topon, to his own place;” which Barnabas, the companion of the apostle Paul, calls, in his epistle, f842 wrismenon topon , “the annointed place;” for as wicked men, such as Judas, go to their own place, which is no other than hell-fire, prepared for the devil and his angels; so good men go to their own place, appointed by God for them, which is the kingdom, prepared for them from the foundation of the world, an which Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, and disciple of the apostle John, calls ton ofeilomenon autoiv topon , “the place that is due unto them, not by works, but of grace.” And here it may be proper to insert a passage out of an epistle which the church of Smyrna, of which Polycarp was bishop, and to whom Ignatius wrote, one of his epistles, declaring, that when “the executioner sheathed his sword in Polycarp, such a quantity of blood came out as quenched the fire; and the whole multitude wondered that there was such a difference metaxu twn te apistwn kai twn eklektwn , between the infidels and the elect.”
JUSTIN. A.D. 150.
JUSTIN, called the Martyr, to distinguish him from others of the same name, was a native of Samaria; he was born A.D. 89, was brought up a philosopher, afterwards became a Christian, and suffered martyrdom in the third year of M. Aurelius Antonius, and L. Verus, A.D. 163. Several of his writings continue to this day, in which may be observed: 1. That he ascribes to God an eternal and universal prescience of future events; upon which proceed depredictions in the sacred writings. He asserts that God foreknew who would be good or bad, who would repent and believe, and who not, and who will be saved or damned; all which, as it perfectly agrees with the word of God, so with our sentiments. Justin no where says, that God foreknew that any would be good, repent, and believe of themselves, without his grace, by the mere strength of nature; and that he chose any to glory and happiness upon such a foresight of their good works, repentance, and faith: much less that he chose them to grace upon a prescience of these things; and, indeed, no man in his senses would say, that God chose man to faith upon a foresight of faith; but lest what this author has said should be thought to militate against us, we will produce the several passages. Addressing himself to Trypho the Jew, he thus speaks: “None of you, as I think, will dare to say, oti me kai prognostes ton ginesthai mellonton en kai estino Theos, kai ta axia ekasto proetoimazon, that God was not, and is not, foreknowing of what shall be done, or afore prepares not things fitting for every one.” And elsewhere, alethesteroi oi apo ton ethnon kai pistoteroi proeginoskonto, “ the more true and faithful among the Gentiles, were foreknown;” that is, it was foreknown by God, that many of them would be so. Hence the prophets, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, foretold, that they would believe in Christ, when “the Jews and Samaritans, who had the word delivered them from God by the prophets, and were always expecting the Messiah, knew him not when he came; plhn oligwn tinwn , excepting some few, whom the holy prophetic Spirit, by Isaiah, proeipe swqhsesqai , foretold should be saved; who, personating them, said, Except the Lord had left us a seed, we had been as Sodom and Gomorrah.” He has, indeed, this observation, and it is a very good one, “that when we assert that what is foretold by the prophets shall be done, we do not say, that it shall be done by the necessity of fate, alla prognostou tou Theou outos ton mellonton upo panton anthropon prachthesesthai, but that God foreknows things future, that shall be done by all men.” So having cited Isaiah 33:18, he says, “that the people who were foreknown to believe in him (Christ) oti laos o eis auton pisteuein proegnosmenos, should meditate the fear of the Lord, was also foreknown, the very words of the prophecy declare.” And in another place, says he; “I am able to show, that all the things appointed by Moses were types, symbols, and declarations of what should be done to Christ; kai ton eis auton pisteuein proegnosmenon, and of them that were foreknown to believe in him: and likewise of those things that were to be done by Christ.” And elsewhere, speaking of the punishment of devils and wicked men, which is at present deferred by God for the sake of men, gives this as the reason of it: proginoskei gar tinas en me tanoias sothesesthai mellontas, kai tinas medepo isos gennethentas; “for he foreknew that some would be saved through repentance; and, perhaps, some not yet born:” for at first he made mankind intelligent, and able to choose the truth, and to do well; so that all “men are left without excuse by God.” 2. Justin asserts, that God not only foreknows that some will be saved, and others damned, but that he has afore prepared salvation for some persons, and punishment for others. Speaking of the sufferings of Christians for the sake of Christ, he has these words; which, says he, we bear, that we may not “with our voice deny Christ, by whom we are called eiv swthrian thn prohtoimasmenhn para tou Patrov hmwn, unto the salvation which is before prepared by our Father.” And in another place, treating of Christ as the Angel of the great counsel, according to the Septuagint version of Isaiah 9:6, he thus speaks: “The great things, ebebouleuto o Pathr , which the Father hath in his counsel appointed for all men,” that are or shall be well-pleasing to him, and likewise those that depart from his will, whether angels or men, he only (Christ) hath most clearly taught, Matthew 8:11,12, and 7:22, 23; and in other words, when he will condemn the unworthy that shall not be saved, he will say to them, “Go ye into outer darkness, which the Father hath prepared for Satan and his angels.” He elsewhere, indeed well observes, “that it is not the fault of God, oi proginwskomenoi kai genhsomenoi adikoi , that those who are foreknown, and shall be unrighteous, whether angels or men, that they are wicked; but it is through their own fault that every one is such as he appears to be.” And a little further, he adds, “Wherefore if the word of God intimates beforehand that some angels and men shall be punished, because that proeginosken autous ometabletous genesomenous ponerous, he foreknew that they would be immutably wicked;” it has foretold these things, but not that God has made them such; seeing, if they repent, all, boulomenoi, that are willing to obtain the mercy of God may.
To which we heartily agree. We say that God makes no man wicked, but he makes himself so; that neither the foreknowledge of God, nor his decrees, necessitate men to sin; and that God damns no man, nor has he decreed to damn any but for sin; and that whoever is truly desirous of the grace and mercy of God, may obtain it through Christ. 3. This ancient and valuable Christian writer not only speaks of the people of God under the title and appelation of the elect, as he does at the close of an epistle of his to some persons for whom he prays, that “the Lord of glory, who exists for ever, would give to them all to enjoy honor and rest meta twn eklektwn , with the elect;” but he also speaks of them as a special people, selected out of every nation, and as a fixed number to be completed. In one place, disputing with Trypho the Jew, he has these words: “God, out of all nations, took your nation to himself, a nation unprofitable, disobedient, and unfaithful; thereby pointing out touv apo pantov genouv airoumenouv , those that are chosen out of every nation to obey his will, by Christ, whom also he calls Jacob, and names Israel.”
And addressing himself to the same Jew, he says, “In all these discourses I have brought all my proofs out of your holy and prophetic writings, hoping that some of you may be found ek tou kata charin ten apo tou Kuriou sabaoth perileieiphthentos eis ten aionion soterian, of the number which through the grace that comes from the Lord of Sabaoth, is left or reserved to everlasting salvation.” And in another treatise of his he observes, that “God introduced Christ into heaven after his resurrection from the dead, and detains him there until he has smitten his enemies the devils, kai suntelesthe o arithmos ton proegnosthenon auto aga non ginomenon kai enareton, and the number of them that are foreknown by him to be good and virtuous is completed; di otv , for whose sake he has not yet made the determined consummation.” Which perfectly agrees with the doctrine of the apostle Peter, and gives light into the sense of his words in 2 Peter 3:9, where the same reason is given for the deferring of Christ’s coming to judgment.
There is but one passage out of Justin produced by Dr. Whitby in opposition to the doctrine of absolute election, and that properly belongs to the article of free will under which it will be considered.
MINUTIUS FELIX. A.D. 170.
MINUTIUS FELIX was a famous counselor at Rome; according to Monster Daille, he was contemporary with Fronto the orator who lived in the times of Antoninus Pius, which emperor died A.D. 161, and, following him, I have placed him in the year as above; though by others he is commonly put at the beginning of the third century. He wrote a dialogue between Caecilius a heathen, and Octavius a Christian, which is entitled Octavius, and is still in being. In this dialogue Caecilius the heathen objects to the Christians, thus, Nam quicquid agimus, ut alii fato, ita vos Deo addicitis; sic sectae vestrae non spontaneos cupere sed electos. Igitur iniquam judicem fingitis, qui sortem in hominibus puniat, non voluntatem; that is, “Whatsoever we do, as others ascribe it to fate, so you to God; and so men desire your sect not of their own accord, but as elect; wherefore you suppose an unjust judge, who punishes in men lot or fortune, and not the will.” To this Octavius replies, Nec de fato quisquam aut solatium captet aut excuset eventum. Sit fortis (sortis, Ed. Oxon. 1662) fortunae, mens tamen libera est et ideo actus hominis, non dignitas judicatur. Quid enim aliud est fatum, quam quod de unoquogue Deus fatus est? Qui cum possit praescire materiam, pro meritis el qualitatibus singulorum etiam fata determinat, ita in nobis non genitura plectitur, sed ingenii natura punitur; that is, “No man may either take any comfort from fate, or excuse an event; for let it be of lot or fortune, yet the mind is free, and therefore the act and not the worth of the man is judged of. For what else is fate, but what God says of every one of us? Who, since he can foreknow matter, even determines the fates according to the merits and qualities of every one; so that not our nativity (that is, as depending on the position of the stars) but our natural disposition is punished.” From whence I observe, 1. That there was a doctrine held by the Christians in those times, which seemed to have some affinity with, and to bear some likeness to, the stoical fate, or Caecilius could not have thus objected with any face; nor does this objection appear to be altogether groundless, as many of his certainly were, since Octavius, in his reply, does not deny the doctrine of fate rightly understood, though he would not have men shelter themselves under it, and excuse their actions on the account of it; nay, he does not reject the use of that word, but explains it in a Christian sense, saying, “What is fate, but what God says, or determines, concerning every one of us?” Now no doctrine, but that of predestination, as held by such who are called Calvinists, can be thought to bear any likeness to the doctrine of fate, or be liable to the like objections; wherefore it is, reasonable to conclude, that the same doctrine was generally taught and received by the Christians then as it is by them that hold it now, since the same charge is brought against it. 2. That the saints in those times went under the name of the elect; and that it was a current opinion among them, that men were converted to the Christian religion, and were brought into fellowship and society with the Christians, not by the power of their own free will, but in consequence of electing grace; and therefore Caecilius upbraids them as coveting the Christian sect, and joining themselves to it, non spontaneos, “not of their own accord,” sed electos, “but being the elect.” 3. What farther confirms this, that the doctrine of predestination was then received among the Christians, is, that Caecilius goes on to charge the Christian hypothesis with making God unjust; since he must punish men not for what they voluntarily do, but for what they cannot help, for that which is allotted and determined for them to do; which contains the whole strength of what is now objected to the doctrine of absolute reprobation, and what it was of old charged with, even in the apostles’ times, What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? ( Romans 9:14.) 4. The latter part of Octavius’s reply is indeed produced by the Arminians, as militating against the absolute decrees of God; but without any just reason, since there is nothing in it that is inconsistent with them. We readily own that God can and does foreknow whatever is or shall be; and that according to the qualities of men, he determines their fates, the issues of things, their salvation or damnation, for we say, that “God decreed to damn no man but for sin; and that he appointed none to salvation but through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth;” or in other words, that God foreknowing the faith and repentance of his elect, because he had determined to give them to them, he appoints them to salvation, through them as means; and foreknowing the sin, final impenitence, and unbelief of the rest, he appoints them to damnation; though these things are to be considered not as causes of predestination, quoad actum volentis, with respect to the will of God; but quoad res volitas, with respect to the things willed. Dr. Twisse, who well understood this controversy, and was an able defender of the absolute decrees of God, agrees with every thing that Octavius here says: “As to that of Minutius Felix,” says he, “we deny that God doth sortem in hominibus punire, non voluntatem. We do not say, genitura plectitur; we say, that in every one who is punished by God, igenii natura punitur; we confess, that fatum illud est, quod de unoquoque Deus fatus est; and that promeritis el singulorum qualitatibus etiam fata determinat.” SECTION 5.
IRENAEUS. A.D. 180.
IRENAEUS was a disciple of Polycarp, and an auditor of Papais, who were both disciples of the apostle John; he was first a presbyter under Pothinus, bishop of Lyons, in France, and when he died, who suffered martyrdom f864 about A.D. 178, he succeeded him as bishop of that place, and became a martyr about A.D. 198. He wrote five books against the heresies of the Valentinians and Gnostics, which remain to this day; from whence may be gathered his sense concerning the decrees of God. And, 1. It is evident, that he believed that all things are predetermined by God, and are overruled by him for the good of his church and people; yea, that even the fall of man is used to their advantage; for he says, that God has shown the greatness of his mind in the apostacy of man, for man is taught by it;” as the prophet says “Thy backslidings shall reform thee.” Prefiniente Deo omnia ad hominis perfectionem. “God predetermining all things for the perfection of man, and for the bringing about and manifestation of his dispositions, that goodness may be shown, and righteousness perfected, and the church be conformed to the image of his Son, and at length become a perfect man, and by such things be made ripe to see God, and enjoy him.” 2. He asserts a preparation of happiness for some, and of punishment for others, upon the prescience or foreknowledge of God; his words are these: Deus autem omnia praesciens utrisque aptas praeparavit habitationes, etc. “God foreknowing all things, has prepared for both suitable habitations;” for them who seek after the light of incorruptibility, and run unto it, he bountifully gives that light which they desire; but for others that despise it, and turn themselves from it, and avoid it, and as it were blinding their own selves, he hath prepared darkness fitting for such who are against the light, and for those who shun being subject to it, he has “provided proper punishment.” It is true, he puts this upon the prescience of God, foreknowing the different characters and actions of men; and therefore Vossius, and Dr. Whitby, from him, have produced this passage, with others, to prove, that the fathers before Austin held, that God predestinated men to live from a prescience that they would live piously; but I think it may very well be understood, in a sense entirely consistent with the doctrine of predestination, as maintained by us; for we readily own, that God foreknew who would live piously, and seek after the light of life, because he determined to give them that grace which should enable them so to do, and therefore prepared mansions of light and glory for them; and, to use Irenaeus’s own phrase, benigne donans, of his own grace and goodness liberally and bountifully gives that light unto them which they desire, and he has prepared for them. On the other hand, he foreknew who would despise, and shun the light, and blind themselves yet more and more; because he determined to leave them to themselves, to their native blindness, darkness, and ignorance, which they love; and accordingly prepared regions of darkness, as a proper punishment for them. For, 3. He speaks of a certain number of persons chosen to eternal life, and of God’s giving up others to, and leaving them in their unbelief, in much such language as we usually do. Treating of the doctrine of the resurrection, he has these words, “God is not so poor and indigent as not to give to every body its own soul as its proper form. Hence plerothentos ton arithmou ou autos par auto proorise, pantes oi engrapheetes eis zoen anastesontai, having completed the number which he before determined with himself, all those who are written, or ordained unto life, shall rise again, having their own bodies, souls, and spirits, in which they pleased God; but those who are deserving of punishment shall go into it, having also their own souls and bodies in which they departed from the grace of God.” And in another place, having cited several passages of Scripture which respect the blinding and hardening of the heart of Pharaoh, and others, such as Isaiah 6:9,10, 2 Corinthians 4:4, Romans 1:28, 2 Thessalonians 2:11,12, which are commonly made use of in handling the doctrine of reprobation, he thus descants upon them, “If therefore now, as many as God knows, will not believe, since he foreknows all things, tradidit eos infidelitati eorum, he hath given them up to their infidelity, “and turns his face from them,” relinquens eos in tenebris, “leaving them in the darkness which they have chosen for themselves;” is it to be wondered at, that he then “gave up Pharaoh, who would never believe, with them that were with him, to their own infidelity?” And elsewhere, having mentioned the words in Romans 9:10-12, so frequently urged in this controversy, he has this observation upon them, “from hence it is manifest, that not only the prophecies of the patriarchs, but the birth of Rebecca, was a prophecy of two people, one greater, the other less; one in bondage, the other free; of one and the same father; one and the same God is ours and theirs, who understands things hidden; qui scit omnia antequam fiant, ‘who knows all things before they come to pass,’ and therefore hath said, Jacob have I loved, and Esau have I hated.” 4. Eternal predestination, or predestination before time, before men have a being, was not unknown to this ancient writer; for in one place he says, f873 “being predestinated indeed according to the knowledge of the Father; ut essemus qui nondum eramus, that we might be, who as yet were not, made, or were the beginning of his creation.” And not to take any further notice than barely to mention his reading the text in Romans 1:1, Predestinated to the Gospel of God; and which after him is so rendered by Origen, Chrysostom, and Theophylact, who understand it not of the vocation of Paul to the apostleship, but of his eternal election, and the preordination of him of old, before he was born. 5. He plainly hints at the stability and immoveableness of the decree of election, when he calls it, turris electionis, “the tower of election;” for why should he call it a tower, but because it is impregnable and immoveable, because “the purpose of God, according to election, is that foundation which stands sure, not of works, but of him that calleth? ” For having taken notice of some passages of the prophets, he thus says, “These things the prophets declaring required the fruit of righteousness, but the people not believing, at last he sent his own Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: whom, when the wicked husbandmen had killed, they cast out of the vineyard; wherefore the Lord God hath delivered it to other husbandmen, who render him the fruits in their seasons; not now walled about, but spread throughout the whole world; turre electionis exaltata ubique et speciosa, “the tower of election being every where exalted and glorious.” That is, if I understand him right, the election obtained every where, or electing grace took place, not in Judea only, as heretofore, but in all the nations of the world; for it follows, “every where the church is famous, every where a winepress is dug, and every where there are some that receive the Spirit.”
There are two passages cited from Irenaeus by Dr. Whitby, as militating against the doctrines of absolute election and reprobation, but both of them respect the doctrine of free will; and it must be owned, that there are some things dropped by this writer, which, upon first reading them, seem to favor that doctrine, and will be considered in their proper place.
CLEMENS ALEXANDRINUS. A.D. 190.
CLEMENT of Alexandria, of an heathen philosopher became a Christian, was a presbyter of the church at Alexandria, and, after Pantaenus, was master of the school in that place. Several of his works are still extant, some of which were written a little after the death of Commodus the emperor, which, according to Clement himself, was A.D. 194, but according to the vulgar aera, A.D. 192, in which, 1. He clearly asserts the doctrine of election in many places, for he not only speaks of the people of God, under the character of elect; as when from a book called Pastor, the author of which was Hermas, and thought to be the same the apostle Paul makes mention of Romans 16:14, he says, f880 “that virtue which holds the church together is faith, by which oi eklektoi tou Qeou , “the elect of God are saved.” And in another place, “the generation of them that seek him is, to genov to eklekton , “the elect nation.” And elsewhere, “not the place, but to aqroisma twn eklektwn , “the congregation of the elect, I call the church.” I say, he not only speaks often after this manner, but of them as a special, distinct number, predestinated and chosen of God, whom it is his will to save; accordingly he says, “as his will is his work, and this is called the world, so his will is the salvation of men, kai touto ekklhsia kekletai , “and this is called the church.” And again, “If they also had known the truth, they would have all leaped into the way, ekloge de ouk an en, “and there would have been no election.” And in another place, “It is not convenient that all should understand, that is, the meaning of the scriptures, lest taking the things which are wholesomely said by the Holy Spirit, otherwise, they should prove hurtful; wherefore tois eklektois ton anthropon, “to those that are chosen from among men,” and to them that are through faith admitted to knowledge, the holy mysteries of the prophecies which are preserved are hid in parables.” And elsewhere, f886 “according to the fitness which every one has, He, that is, God, distributes his benefits both to the Greeks and to the Barbarians; kai tois ek touton proorismenois, “and to them who are predestinated from among them, and are in his own time called, faithful, and elect.” 2. It is evident that Clement held, that the predestination of men to everlasting life was from eternity, or before the world began, as appears from the following passages; having cited Jeremiah 1:5,7, Do not say, I am a child; before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee, etc., his note upon it is, “this prophecy intimates unto us, tous pro kataboles kosmou eis pistin egnosmenous Theo, “that those who before the foundation of the world are known by God unto faith; that is, are appointed by him to faith, are now babes, because of the will of God lately fulfilled, as we are newborn unto vocation and salvation.” Yea, he says, that the Christians were before the world was; for speaking of several nations who boasted of antiquity, he observes, that “none of them was before this world; but pro de tes tou kosmou kataboles emeis, “verily we were before the foundation of the world, who, that we ought to be, were first born in God;” we are the rational formations of God the Word, di on archaizomen, “by whom we have antiquity; for the Word was in the beginning;” which must be meant of their being chosen in Christ from everlasting. And in another place, “It is not becoming, that a friend of God, on proorisen o Theos pro kataboles kosmou eis ten akran egkatalegenai uiothesian, “whom God has predestinated before the foundation of the world, to be put into the high adoption of children, should fall into pleasures or fears, and be unemployed in repressing the passions.” And elsewhere, “what voice should he expect, who according to his purpose knows, ton eklekton kai pro tes geneseos, the elect even before his birth, and that which shall be, as though it was?” To which I shall add one passage more, where he says, that “such are gathered together by one Lord tous ede katatetagmenous, ous proorisen o Theos dikaious esomenou pro kateboles kosmou egnokos, who are already ordained, whom God hath predestinated, knowing before the foundation of the world that they would be righteous.”
This passage is indeed referred to by Dr. Whitby, in favor of a conditional, and against absolute predestination; but Clement might very well say, agreeable to the absolute scheme, that God predestinated men to glory, knowing they would be righteous; because he ordained them to be righteous, and determined to make them so. He does not say, that he foreknew that they would be righteous of themselves, and therefore predestinated them to happiness, which only would serve the conditional scheme. Besides, neither he, nor any of the ancients, ever said, that God foreknowing men would be righteous, predestinated them to be so; but foreknowing they would be righteous, because he determined they should be, he predestinated them to happiness.
There are two or three more passages of this writer referred to by Dr.
Whitby, as opposing the doctrine of absolute election and reprobation, which, as has been before observed concerning some others, from Justin and Irenaeus, more properly belong to the doctrine of free will; and if Clement has said some things which look that way, it need not be much wondered at, since both he and his master Pantaenus had been addicted to the stoic philosophy; which they might find some difficulty to get clear of, and so might be mixed by them with the Christian scheme, as it is plain it too much was in the school of Alexandria.
TERTULLIAN. A.D. 200.
TERTULLIAN Was by birth an African, of the city of Carthage, his father was a Proconsular Centurion; he flourished in the times of Severus, and Antoninus Caracalla, about the beginning of the third century. He was a presbyter of the church, and one of the first of the Latin writers among the Christians. He wrote much, and many of his works remain to this day, f894 in which we have at least some hints of his being acquainted with the doctrines of election and reprobation. In one of his books, speaking of the different crowns which men of different orders were honored with, he addresses the Christian after this manner, “But thine order and thy magistracy, and the name of thy court is the church of Christ: thou art his, conscriptus in libris vitae, written in the books of life.” And in another place, treating of heretics, he says, their were wits of spiritual wickedness, with whom we and the brethren wrestle; the necessary articles of faith merit our contemplation, ut electi manifestentur, ut reprobi detegantur; that the elect may be manifested, that the reprobate may be detected.” And elsewhere, having cited Isaiah 40:5,6, he makes this remark, “he distinguishes the issues of things, not substances; for who does not place the judgment of God in a twofold sentence of salvation and punishment? Wherefore all flesh is grass, quae igni destinatur, which is appointed to the fire, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God; quae saluti ordinatur, which is ordained to salvation.” And as he says upon another account, “there can be no election without reprobation.” He has indeed a passage, which seems to make election dependent upon the works of men; his words are these, “What man is there without sin that God should always choose him whom he never could refuse? Or who likewise without any good work, that God should always refuse him, whom he never could choose? Show a man that is always good, and he will not be refused; show one that is always evil, and he will never be chosen.”
Hence the learned Scultetus charges him with being erroneous in the doctrine of predestination. But this is but a single passage, and seems only to regard the different dispensations of divine providence towards good and bad men, on account of which God was censured by the Marcionites, and charged with levity and inconstancy, and not an election to grace and glory.
ORIGENUS ALEXANDRINUS. A.D. 230.
ORIGEN of Alexandria, sometimes surnamed Adamantius, was born about A.D. 185; his father’s name was Leonidas, who suffered martyrdom, A.D. 202. He succeeded Clement in the school of Alexandria, was ordained a presbyter at Caesarea about A.D. 228, and died at Tyre, A.D. 253. He wrote much, and many things are still extant under his name, great part of which are only translations by Rufinus, who took great liberty in altering and interpolating his works; so that it is not easy to know when we read Origen, or when Rufinus. Perhaps many of the errors and mistakes he is charged with may be owing to the ill usage he has met with this way. It is said to be a tenet of his, that souls pre-existed in another state; and that according as they behaved themselves in the other world, they either obtained the order of angels, or were thrust down to the earth, and united to bodies predestinated either to life or death, according to their past merits, which he sometimes calls, preceding causes and more ancient ones. This notion of his is mentioned by Jerome, and rejected by him; who rightly observes, that men are chosen in Christ, not because they were or had been holy, but that they might be so. Origen’s sentiments on this head were very peculiar, and are not allowed of on either side of the question before us; and therefore passages of this kind are very injudiciously cited by Dr. Whitby, in this controversy. Indeed it cannot be denied, but that there are other passages in the writings of this father which countenance the doctrine of predestination, upon the foresight of man’s future purposes, desires, and actions in this life, which do not accord with his above notion, and shows either that he contradicts himself, or has not had justice done him. And though one might not expect to meet with any thing in favor of the absolute and unconditional scheme in such a writer, yet there are several things said by him which agree with it. And, 1. He agrees with us in his sentiments of prescience and predetermination in general; he held, that nothing comes by chance, but that all things are appointed by God; yea, that the case of lots is not fortuitous, but according to divine predestination. Thus, speaking of the division of the land of Canaan to the Israelites, he has these words, “Upon casting lots the inheritance is distributed to the people of God, and the lot moved, non fortuitu, sed secundum hoc quod praedestinatum est a Deo, “not by chance, but according to what is predestinated by God.” His sense of the prescience of God is, that “foreknowledge is not the cause of things future, but the truth he says is, that to esomenon aition tou toian di einai ten peri antou prognosin, that a thing being future, is the cause of God’s foreknowledge of it; for not because it is known it is future, but because it will be, therefore it is known.” To the same propose he says in another place, “Not therefore any thing will be because God knows it to be future, but because it is future it is known by God before it comes to pass.”
Which entirely accords with what we assert, that God did not decree any thing because he foresaw it, but he foresaw it because he decreed it. 2. He gives plain intimations, as if he thought that there was a certain number of men chosen by God, and given to Christ. By the elect in Matthew 24:30, who will be gathered together from the four winds, he understands “all that are loved by God the Father, and preserved in Christ Jesus.” God, he says, is indeed the God of all, tes ekloges esti Theos, He is the God of the election, and much more of the Savior of the election.” And elsewhere mentioning these words in John 17:5. And now, Father, glorify me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was; he makes this observation, “the world here is to be understood of our world above the earth, apo gar toutou tou kosmou edoke to uio o pater anthropous, for out of this world the Father hath given men to the Son, for whom alone the Savior prays the Father, and not for the whole world of men.” “And again may it be enquired, he says, whether all men may be called the servants of this king, or some truly whom he foreknew and predestinated?” 3. He asserts a predestination to grace, and particularly to faith, which is not consistent with predestination, upon a foresight of it. In one of his books he has these words; “It seems that the knowledge of God is greater than to be comprehended by human nature, hence are so many mistakes in men concerning God, but by the goodness and love of God to man, and through wondrous and divine grace, the knowledge of God comes epi tous prognosei Theou pronatalephsthentas, to them who were before comprehended in the foreknowledge of God; or, according to the version of Gelenius, who to this were predestinated.” And in another part of his works, speaking of the conjunction of angels to men, and their care of them, he says, that “an angel begins from the time of a man’s conversion and faith to be joined to prognosthenti kata ton de ton chronon pisteuein kai proristhenti, to him that is foreknown and preordained to believe at that, even at that very time;” which shows that he held, that some are predestinated to believe, and that at a certain time; and so it has been, and is, that as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. 4. It is also manifest, from a certain passage of his, that he held that election does not spring from men’s works, but from the mere will and pleasure of God; his words are these; “All these things look this way, that the apostle may prove this;” That if either Isaac or Jacob, for their merits, had been chosen to those things which they, being in the flesh sought after, and, by the works of the flesh, had deserved to be justified; then the grace of their merit might belong to the posterity of flesh and blood also, but now, since, electio eorum non ex operibus facta sit, sed ex proposito Dei, ex vocantis arbitro, “their election does not arise from works, but from the purpose of God, from the will of him that calleth;” the grace of the promise is not fulfilled in the children of the flesh, “but in the children of God; that is, such, who likewise, as they, may be ex proposito elegantur, chosen by the purpose of God, and adopted for sons.”
CAECILIUS THASCIUS CYPRIANUS. A.D. 250.
CYPRIAN was an African by birth; he was first a Presbyter, and afterwards Bishop of Carthage: he was made Bishop of that place A.D. 248, and suffered martyrdom A.D. 258, under Valerianus and Gallienus. He f917 wrote many excellent things, some of which are preserved to this day. The great Augustin thought him to be of the same mind with himself in the doctrine of predestination, which he gathered from those words of his; f918 In nullo gloriandum quando nostrum nihil sit; “we must glory, in nothing, since nothing is ours;” according to John 3:27. A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. And 1 Corinthians 4:7, What hast thou, that thou didst not receive? Now, if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it? Upon which Austin makes this remark; “this Cyprian most truly saw, and most confidently asserted; per quod utique praedestinationem certissimam pronunciavit, whereby also he hath pronounced predestination to be most certain:” for if we must glory in nothing, since nothing is ours, neither must we glory truly of our most persevering obedience; nor is that to be said to be so ours, as if it was not given us from above; and that itself therefore is the gift of God; which God foreknew that he would give to his own, who are called with the calling of which it is said, the gifts and calling of God are without repentance, and must be owned by every Christian; haec est igitur praedestinatio, quam fideliter et humiliter praedicamus; “this is therefore the predestination which we faithfully and humbly preach.” And a little after, having repeated the same words of Cyprian, his observation is this; “where, says he, without any ambiguity, he declares the true grace of God, that is, which is not given according to our merits, and which God foreknew that he would give; his Cypriani verbis procul dubio praedestinatio praedicata est: in these words of Cyprian, without all doubt, predestination is asserted.”
There are some books ascribed to Cyprian, which are called in question by learned men, whether they are his or no, such as those which are entitled, De Disciplina et bono Pudicitiae, and De Cardinalibus Operibus Christi: their style is thought, by Erasmus, not to agree with Cyprian’s; but Pamelus affirms them to be his: however, the former of these is allowed to be written by a learned man, and suspected to be done by Cornelius, bishop of Rome, cotemporary with Cyprian; and the latter to be the work, antiqui et docti autoris, “of an ancient and learned author,” and thought to be written in the age of Cornelius and Cyprian; though in a very ancient copy in the library of All-Souls college in Oxford, it goes under the name of Arnoldus Bonavillacensis; and, therefore, must be the work of far later writer, even of one that lived in the times of Bernard; wherefore, as the genuineness and antiquity of these treatises are questioned, I shall lay no stress upon the testimonies I now produce out of them. In the first of these the author exhorts the saints to chastity, from such considerations as these: “Knowing,” says he, “that you are the temple of the Lord, the members of Christ, the habitation of the Holy Ghost; electos ad spem, consecratos ad fidem, destinatos ad salutem; elected to hope, devoted to faith, appointed to salvation.” And in the latter of these, the compiler of it ascribes the several distinct acts of grace to the persons in the blessed Trinity, and among the rest, particularly election to the Father; his words are these: “In this school of divine learning, the Father is he that teaches and instructs, the Son who reveals and opens the secrets of God unto us, and the Holy Spirit who fills and furnishes us. From the Father we receive power, from the Son wisdom, and from the Holy Spirit innocence. Pater eligit, ‘the Father chooses,’ the Son loves, the Holy Spirit joins and unites.
By the Father is given us eternity, by the Son conformity to his image, and by the Holy Spirit integrity and liberty.” In another place he speaks of the elect, as of a certain number that shall be saved, when Christ shall return to judge the world: “When, says he, all mankind collected together, shall see the hands they have pierced, the side they have bored, the face they have spit upon, and the irreversible sentence being openly declared, occurrentibus salvatori electis, ‘the elect meeting the Savior,’ the ungodly shall remain deputed to infinite torments” And, in another part of the same work, speaking of the manna in the wilderness, he thus expresses himself: “There was,” says he, a full measure “through the whole week, the sabbath-day vacant; for which the preceding sixth day, doubling the quantity of the usual food, prefigured the rest of the eighth day, in which, without labor and care, in deliciis equlabuntur electi, the elect shall feast with delight, and shall be satisfied in their own land; possessing double, being enriched with an happy perpetuity, and a perpetual happiness of body and soul.” There is a passage referred to in the true Cyprian, by Dr.
NOVATIANUS. A.D. 250.
NOVATIAN, a presbyter of Rome, was contemporary with Cyprian. He is not so well spoken of by some, partly because of his disagreement with Cornelius, bishop of Rome, about the succession in that see; and partly because he held that such who apostatized, though they repented, were not to be received again into the communion of the church; but, in other points, he was judged to be orthodox, and his book, De Trinitate, is highly esteemed of; in which stands a full and memorable testimony to the doctrine of predestination of a certain number of men to glory, before the foundation of the world; for, proving the deity and eternity of Christ from John 17:5, Glorify thou me with the glory which I had with thee before the world was, he shows, that this is not to be understood of predestination, or of Christ’s having this glory only in the purpose and decree of God: “For, says he, if he is said to be glorious in predestination, and predestination was before the foundation of the world, the order must be kept, and before him there will be, multus numerus hominum in g1oriam destinatus, a large number of men appointed to glory;” for by this appointment Christ will be thought to be lesser than the rest to whom he was pointed out last. For if this glory was in predestination, Christ received this predestination to glory last of all; for Adam will be perceived to be predestinated before, and so Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and the rest; for since, with God, personarum et rerum omnium ordo digestus sit, “the order of all persons and things is digested,” many will be said to be predestinated before this predestination of Christ to glory, and by this means he will appear to be lesser than other men, who is better and greater, and more ancient, than the angels themselves. His meaning is, that if the passage of Scripture cited, is only to be understood of the predestination of Christ to glory, and not of his having a real glory; then since there is a large number of men who also are predestinated to glory before the foundation of the world, whose predestination, as Adam’s, and others after him, cernetur, to use his own word, “will be perceived” before the predestination of Christ; not that the act of their predestination itself was before his, but the manifestation of it in time; it would cast some reflection upon him, and make him look as though he was inferior to other men, as a man.
ATHANASIUS. A.D. 350.
ATHANASIUS was made bishop of Alexandria A.D. 336, and died A.D. 371, who, as he bore an excellent testimony to the deity of Christ against the Arians, so he has left ample proof of his attachment to the doctrines of eternal predestination and election, and of a preparation of grace and glory in Christ before the foundation of the world; as will clearly appear from the following passages: “The grace of the Savior to us-ward hath appeared of late, as saith the apostle, when he came to us; proetoimasto de aute kai priu genesthai emas, mallon de kai pro tes katabotes tou kosmou, but was ‘prepared before, even before we were, yea, before the foundation of the world;’ the cause of this is, in some respect, kind and astonishing; for it was not proper that God should, usteron peri emon bouleuesthai, afterwards consult concerning us, that it might not appear as if he knew not the things that belong to us; wherefore, the God of the universe creating us by his own word, and knowing our affairs better than we ourselves, and foreknowing, indeed, that we should be made good, but afterwards, become transgressors of the commandment, and for that transgression be cast out of Paradise: he being a lover of mankind, and good, proetoimazei en to idio logo, di ou kai ektisentemas peri tes soteriodous emon oikonomias, before prepared in his own word, by whom he also created us for the economy of our salvation; that though we fall, being deceived by the serpent, we might not utterly remain dead, all’ echontes en to logo ten proetoimasmenen emin lutrosin kai soterian, ‘but, having redemption and salvation before prepared for us in the word, rising again, we might continue immortal.” And then, citing those famous and well-known places in scripture, 2 Timothy 1:9,10, Ephesians 1:3-5, he proceeds thus: pos oun exelexato prin genesthai emas, ei me, os autos eireken, en outo emen protetupomenoi, pos de olos prin anthropous ktisthenai emas proarisen, etc., “how therefore should he choose us before we were, unless, as he has said, we were before delineated in him? how verily, before men were created, should he predestinate us,” unless the Son of himself had been founded before the world was, having undertook the economy of salvation for us? or how, as the apostle says, should we obtain an inheritance, being predestinated, unless the Lord himself was founded before the world was; that he might have a purpose, to receive through the flesh for us, the whole lot of condemnation that was against us, and so we at length might be made alive in him; pos de kai pro chronon aionion elambanomen, mepo gegonotes all’ en chrono gegonotes, eime en to Christo en apokeimene e eis emas phthanousa charis, “or how should we, not yet made, but made in time, receive before the world began, except the grace that is to come unto us had been laid up in Christ?” Wherefore, in the judgment, when every one shall receive according to his deeds, he says, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; pos oun, e en tini prin genesthai emas etoimasthe, ei me to Kurio, “how therefore, or in whom should it be prepared before we were, but in the Lord,” who was founded for this before the world was; that we, as stones well fitted together, might partake of life and grace from him? So it is, as any pious man may in some measure understand, that, as I have before said, rising from a death, which is but for a little while, we shall be able to live for ever; which men who are of the earth would never be able to do, ei me pro aionos en troetoimastheisa emin en Christo, e tes zoes kai soterias elpis,” if the hope of life and salvation had not been prepared for us in Christ before the world was.”
And a little after adds: “Having life and spiritual blessings prepared, before the world, for us in the word, according to election;” so we can have not a temporary life, but for the future continue alive in Christ.
Moreover, seeing, pro touton, e zoe emon tethemelioto kai etoimaso en Christo, “before these our life was founded and prepared in Christ” (for it was not proper that our life should be founded on any other than in the Lord, who existed before the world was, and by whom the worlds are made, ) hence that being in him we shall also inherit eternal life. For God is good, and being always good wills this, knowing that our weak nature needs his help and salvation; and as a wise master-builder, purposing to build a house, is likewise desirous that, should it be destroyed, it might afterwards be repaired again; and willing this, he before provides and gives proper materials for a reparation to the workmen, which is a preparation beforehand. Now, as a fore-preparation of the repair is before the house, ton auton tropon, pro emon e tes emeteras soterian ananeosis themelioutai en Christo, “in like manner, before us the reparation of our salvation is founded in Christ,” that in him also we may be created again. Kaie men boule kai e protheois pro tou dionos etoimasthe, “and the will and purpose was indeed prepared before the world was, but the work was done when necessity required and the Savior came.” A most noble testimony of antiquity this to the doctrine of eternal predestination in Christ. In another place, he shows that our vocation in time is according to an antecedent will of God; his words are these: “For even Paul was not at first, though afterwards he was made an apostle by the will of God; so our calling, which sometimes was not, and now is, proegoumenen eche boulesin, hath a preceding will; for as Paul himself again says, he was made, that is an apostle, according to the good pleasure of his will.” And elsewhere, he affirms that the foundation of true religion is more ancient than the prophets, and even from eternity; for speaking of the times in which they prophesied he says, “Not that they laid the foundation of godliness, en gar kai pro auton kai aei en, kai pro kateboles kosmou, tauten emin o Theos en Christo proetoimasen, for it was before them, and always was, yea, even before the foundation of the world, this God before prepared for us in Christ.” And in another part of his writings, where he is giving an account of the epistle to the Ephesians, he observes that “the apostle, in the beginning of it, shows that the mystery respecting us is not new; but that exarches kai kataboles kosmou einia tauten eudoman tou Theou, oste ton Christon uper emon pathein kai emas sothenai, from the beginning, even from the foundation of the world, this was the good will and pleasure of God, that Christ should suffer for us, and that we should be saved.” ‘And in his abridgement of the epistle to Titus he has these words: “the apostle, says he, in the first place, gives thanks to God for his piety, and signifies that faith in Christ was not a new thing, all’ ex aionos etoimasthe kai epengelthai para tou Theou touten, but that this was from eternity prepared and promised by God.” Thus did this brave champion for truth at once both honor the Father and the Son, by asserting the special and early provision of grace, life, and salvation, made in Christ by the Father before the world began; and by proving and maintaining the eternity and proper deity of the Son, his undertaking, from eternity, to suffer for us, and the satisfaction he has made in time for sin, to the justice of God. Dr. Whitby refers to one passage in this writer, in favor of free-will, which will be attended to under that article.
HILARIUS PICTAVIENSIS. A.D. 360.
HILARY, bishop of Poictiers, in France, was banished for his orthodoxy, A.D. 354, and died A.D. 371. It appears from his writings which remain, that he held that there is an election of particular persons to the heavenly glory, and that the number of God’s elect is determinate and certain; having cited those words in Isaiah 65:15, which he reads thus, Ye shall have your name with joy to my chosen, he observes, that “the speech is to carnal Israel, with respect to time to come, who are upbraided that they should leave their name to the elect of God. I inquire what is that name, to wit, Israel, to whom the word was then? Moreover, I ask, who is Israel now? The apostle truly testifies, that they who are in the Spirit, and not in the letter, who walk in the rule of Christ, are the Israel of God.” And having mentioned the text in Deuteronomy 32:9; Jacob is the portion of the Lord, and Israel the lot of his inheritance, he adds; “This was chosen to an eternal inheritance; and because he was the Lord’s portion, therefore the rest were reckoned as unknown; for these were chosen by the privilege of the portion;” which must be understood as before, not of literal, but mystical Israel; since they are said to be chosen to an eternal inheritance. And that there is a certain number of persons thus chosen he dearly asserts, when he says, “we are all, in one, Abraham: and by us, who are all in one, caelestis ecclesiae numerus explendus, the number of the heavenly church is to be filled up; wherefore every creature waits for the revelation of the children of God; therefore it groans together and grieves, that the number which, by Alpha, is added to Abraham, and which, in Rho, is finished in Sarah, might be filled up by an increase of believers, for the heavenly constitution.” And in another place, he says, “that this must needs be understood as referring to the people of the church; he adds, I will number them, and above the sand shall they be multiplied. Is their number uncertain, who are written in the book of God? wherefore there is no difficulty in the number of them whose truth remains in writing.”
Moreover, nothing is more evident, than that this Christian writer though that election is an eternal act of God, or that it was from eternity: for which purpose he frequently cites, or refers to the famous passage in Ephesians 1:4. “The Father, says he, absolutely calls the Son of God, meaning in Hosea 1:7, just cited by him, in whom he hath chosen us before the world began; and because God is innascible by none, we an given to the Son by God the Father for an inheritance.” Again, speaking of the will of the Father and the Son, he has these words, “that he wills the same, he shows without ambiguity, saying, Father, whom thou has given me, I will that where I am, they may be with me; seeing therefore, the Father wills that we should be with Christ, in whom, ac cording to the apostle, he hath chosen us before the foundation of the world; and the Son wills the same, namely, that we be with him; the will, with respect to nature, is the same, which with respect to nativity, is distinguished in the person willing.” Once more, “God, says he, is wonderful in the saints, whom, when he shall have made conformable to the glory of his body, by him who is the Mediator, will also assume unto the unity of the Father’s majesty; and whilst the Father is in him by nature, and he again is in us by the society of the flesh, whom he will place to obtain the kingdom prepared for them before the foundation of the world; to whom death being swallowed up, he will give an immortal and eternal life.”
Vossius, and, after him, Dr. Whitby, cites a passage from this father, in favor of God’s predestinating of men to life, from a prescience that they would live piously, believe, and persevere to the end, which is this, “Because many are called and few chosen, therefore, says he, there is not a fewness in the invited, but a scarcity in the elect; for in the inviter, without exception, there is the humanity of public goodness: but in the invited, by a right judgment, the election is of probity.” To which they might as well have added another passage, occasioned by a citation of the same words, where he says, “the elect are conspicuous in the wedding garment, and splendid in the pure and perfect body of the new nativity, meaning the resurrection; wherefore election is not a thing of undistinguished judgment, but the distinction is made from the consideration of merit.” By which, as in the other passage, he means not that election he so often speaks of, as before the foundation of the world, but an election in time, after vocation, and indeed, no other than that distinction and separation which will be made at the day of judgment, in the resurrection morn; when the saints will appear distinct from all others, having on the wedding garment, and in their glorious risen bodies; and so will be singled out from the rest, and placed at Christ’s right hand.
BASILIUS CAESARIENSIS. A.D. 370.
BASIL, commonly called the Great to distinguish him from others of the same name, was bishop of Caesarea; he died A.D. 378. He held the doctrine of predestination, and asserts, that whatever comes to pass, was foreordained by God. Take care, says he, how thou sayest this thing was done by chance, and this comes of its own accord; for ouden atakton, ouden aoriston, nothing is unordained, nothing undetermined, nothing is done in vain, nothing is done rashly.” He affirms, that not a hand nor an eye are moved, but according, to the will of God; the time, state, and condition of this present life, he says, are fixed and determined by God; his words are these, “Consider, that that God, who has formed us, put the soul into us, idian edoken ekaste psuche tou biou diagogen, has given to every soul its manner of living; and indeed to others he has fixed other terms of removing hence; for he hath appointed this man to abide longer in the flesh, and on the contrary hath decreed, that that man should be sooner loosed from the bonds of the body, according to the unspeakable methods of his wisdom and justice.” And he not only maintained a predestination of all things in general, but of particular persons, to eternal salvation; citing those words in John 10:16, Other sheep I have which are not of this fold. He observes, that “the Lord is speaking of them, tou apo ton ethnon prooprismenous eis soterian, who from among the Gentiles, are predestinated unto salvation.” And upon mentioning the same words a little after, he has this following note; “the Lord shows that there is some other fold truly holy, into which the sheep of Christ are to be gathered; namely, they, tous apo ton ethnon proorismenous eis solerian, who, from among the Gentiles are predestinated to salvation; that is, the church in which the true worshippers worship in spirit and in truth.” He represents the elect as a particular and distinct people, and as peculiarly blessed. “No man, says he, calls the people of the Jews blessed, but the people, ton apo panton ton gaon arisinden exeigmenon, which is chosen best out of all people; we are the nation, of whom the Lord is our God; we are the people whom he has chosen for an inheritance for himself; a nation truly, because we are gathered out of many nations: a people verily, because we are called in the room of a people cast away, and because many are called, and few are chosen; he calls not him that is called, but him that is chosen, blessed; blessed therefore is he whom he hath chosen. What is the cause of this blessedness? the expected inheritance of everlasting good things; or, perhaps, because according to the apostle, after the fullness of the Gentiles shall be come in, then all Israel shall be saved; first, he calls the fullness of the Gentiles blessed, afterwards Israel, who shall be saved last; but not every one shall be saved, only “the remnant which shall be according to the election of grace.” And in another place, he says, “The blessing of the elect, in the time of retribution, he (Christ) foretold by the parable of the shepherd; Come, says he, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world.” SECTION 14.
CYRILLUS HIEROSOLYMITANUS. A.D. 370.
CYRIL, bishop of Jerusalem, died A.D. 386. There is but little to be collected out of his writings concerning predestination and election. He signifies, that there are some who are elect, distinct from others, when he says, that “the elect may not be mixed together, with enemies, he (Christ) will send his angels with a great trumpet, and they shall gather his elect from the four winds: he did not despise one Lot, should he despise many righteous? Come ye blessed of my Father, will he say to them who shall then be carried in the chariots of clouds, and shall be gathered by the angels.” And in another place, he says, “the Holy Spirit is the greatest power, it is something divine and unsearchable; for it lives and is rational, sanctifying through Christ, ton upo Theou gegrammenon a patnon, all those who are written by God;” that is, in the book of life, or are chosen by God; which agrees with our doctrine, that all those who are chosen by the Father, and are redeemed by the Son, are sanctified by the Spirit.
GREGORIUS NAZIANZENUS. A.D. 370.
GREGORY, bishop of Nazianzum, in Cappadocia, commonly called the Divine, was son of a bishop, of the same name and place, a cotemporary with Bazil, an intimate acquaintance of his, and preceptor to Jerome. f959 He died A.D. 389. Several of his writings still remain. Austin cites a passage from him in favor of the doctrine of predestination, as held and maintained by him; his words are these: “To these two (meaning Cyprian and Ambrose) who ought to be esteemed sufficient, we may add a third, the holy Gregory; who testifies, that to believe in God, and to confess that we believe, is the gift of God; saying, we pray you confess the Trinity of one Deity; but if ye mean otherwise, say, that he is of one nature, and God will be deprecated, that a voice may be given you by the Holy Ghost; that is, God will be intreated to permit that a voice may be given you, by which ye may be able to confess what ye believe; for I am sure he will give it. He that hath given the first will also give the second; he that gives to believe will also give to confess.” Upon which, and some other testimonies of the above-mentioned writers, Austin makes this remark: “Would any one say, that they so acknowledged the grace of God, as that they dared to deny his prescience; which not only the learned, but even the unlearned own? Besides, if they knew that God so gives these things, that they could not be ignorant, that he foreknew that he would give them, and could not but know to whom he would give them; procul dubio noverant praedestinationem; without doubt they were acquainted with predestination; which being preached by the apostles, we laboriously and diligently defend against the new heretics.” Gregory writes, indeed, very sparingly of this doctrine, and gives very few hints of it. The most considerable passage I have met with in him is the following; “Three persons gathered together in the name of the Lord, are more esteemed of by God than multitudes that deny his Deity; would you prefer all the Canaanites to one Abraham? or the Sodomites to one Lot? or the Midianites to Moses, even to these sojourners and strangers? what, shall the three hundred men that lapped with Gideon, be inferior to the thousands that turned away? or Abraham’s servants, though less in number, than the many kings and myriads of soldiers, whom they, though few, pursued and put to flight?” How dost thou understand that passage, If the number of the children of Israel was as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved? as also that, I have reserved for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal? It is not so, it is not, ouk en tois pleiosin eudokesen o Theos, “God does not take pleasure in the multitude; thou numberest myriads, but God, tous sozomenous, those that are to be saved; thou the unmeasurable dust; but I ta skeue tes ekloges, the vessels of election.” From whence may be collected, as Gregory’s judgment, that there were some persons who were chosen of God, and whom he resolved to save; that the number of them was with him, though that number was very small. In another place, he speaks of a twofold book of life and of death ; “Perhaps you have heard,” says he, “tina biblon zonton kai biblon on sozomenon, of a certain book of the living, and of a book of them that are not to be saved, where we shall all be written, or rather are already written.” Though it must be owned, he adds kat’ axian ton ede bebaiomenon ekastos, “according to the desert of every one that have already lived.” And in the same way he interprets Matthew 20:23, which he reads thus: “To sit on my right hand and on my left, this is not mine to give, all oiv dedotai , but to whomIT IS GIVEN;” and goes on to ask, “Is the governing mind therefore nothing? is labor nothing? reason nothing? philosophy nothing? fasting nothing? watching nothing? lying on the ground, shedding fountains of tears, are these things nothing? alla kata tina apoklerosin kai Ieremias agiaxetai kai alloi ek metras allotriountai, ‘but by a kind of sortition was Jeremiah sanctified, and others rejected from the womb?’ I am afraid lest any absurd reasoning should enter, as if the soul lived elsewhere, and was afterwards bound to this body, and, according as it there behaved, some receive prophecy, and others who lived wickedly, are condemned; but to suppose this, is very absurd, and not agreeable to the faith of the church. Others may play with such doctrines; it is not safe for us. And concludes; “To those words, to whom it is given, add to this, who are worthy; who, that they may be such, have not only received of the Father, but have also given to themselves.”
The notion he here militates against, is manifestly that of Origen’s, of the pre-existence of souls, and their being adjudged according to their former conduct, either to happiness or misery; which Gregory was afraid some might be tempted to give into, and which, in order to guard against, led him into this gloss upon the text, and to make this addition to it.
HILARIUS DIACONUS. A.D. 380.
THE Commentaries upon the epistles of the apostle Paul, which go under the name of St. Ambrose, are not his. Austin cites a passage out of them, under the name of Hillary, whom he calls Sanctus Hilarius, Saint Hilary; but this could not be Hilary, bishop of Poictiers, before mentioned, who was earlier, nor Hilary bishop of Arles, who was later, than the author of these commentaries: for whoever he was, he lived in the times of Damascus, bishop of Rome, according to his own words; wherefore some learned men have thought him to be Hilary, the deacon of the city of Rome, who adhered to the schism of Lucifer Calaritanus. This author continually refers such passages of Scripture which speak of predestination and election, to the prescience of God; nothing is more common with him, than to say, that God chooses and calls whom he foreknew would believe, would be holy, and devoted to him: which passages are therefore produced by Vossius, and Dr. Whitby, with others, to prove that the fathers held a predestination of men to life, from a prescience that they would live piously, believe and persevere. If by predestination to glory, and not to grace, which is the meaning of the fathers, and of Hilary, we agree with them; we say also, that such whom God foreknew would believe, and be holy, he predestinated to eternal happiness; but then we say, the reason why God foreknew that any would believe, and be holy, is because he determined within himself to give them faith, and make them holy, and so prepare them for glory. Neither Hilary, nor any of the fathers, say, that God foresaw that men would believe of themselves and make themselves holy by their own care, diligence, and improvements of nature, nor that God foresaw that men would believe, and be holy, and therefore predestinated them to faith and holiness; but having determined to bestow faith and holiness upon them, he foresaw they would believe ann be holy, and so through these as means he chose them to salvation. That this is the sense of Hilary, appears partly from his suggesting that some are predestinated to believe. In one place he says, “They believe, who are appointed to eternal life;” and in another, “God of his own grace, of old decreed to save sinners (for God foreknew what would be in man before he made him, and he had sinned,) and predestinated how he should be recovered; in what time, and by whom, and in what way they might be saved: so that they who are saved, are not saved either by their own merit, or by theirs by whom they are called, but by the grace of God; the gift appears to be bestowed through the faith of Christ.” And partly this is evident from his account of prescience: “The prescience of God,” says he, “is that in which definitum habet, ‘he has it determined’ what shall be the will of every one, in which he is to remain, and through which he may be either damned or crowned.” Agreeably to which he says, “By prescience he chooses one and rejects another; and in him whom he chooses, the purpose of God remains; because another thing cannot happen than what God has known; et proposuit in illo, ‘and hath purposed in him,’ that he may be worthy of salvation; and in him whom he rejects, in like manner, ‘the purpose which he hath purposed concerning him, remains;’ for he will be unworthy: as foreknowing this, he is no accepter of persons; for ‘he damns no man before he sins, and crowns none before he overcomes.’” To which we heartily subscribe. We say God damns no man but for sin, and crowns none until he has made them more than conquerors, through Christ. It is certain, that Hilary or the author of these commentaries, was of opinion, that there were some predestinated to life who should certainly be saved; and that others were not, who should certainly be damned; for he says, “The apostle Paul, that he might, by his preaching, save, homines predestinatos ad vitam, ‘men predestinated to life,’ was subject to dangers, knowing that he should have the profit of their sought for salvation.” In another place he says, “For unbelievers we must not very much grieve, qui non sunt predestinati ad vitam, ‘because they are not predestinated unto life;’ for the prescience of God has, of old, decreed, that they are not to be saved.” And in another place, “The law being abbreviated, the remnant of the Jews are saved; but the rest cannot be saved; qui per defintionem, Dei spernuntur, ‘because, by the appointment of God they are rejected, ’ by which he hath decreed to save mankind.” Again, he says, the apostle Paul, “by his own example, teacheth, that part of Israel is saved, whom God foreknew was to be saved, or yet can be saved; and that part of Israel, propter jugem diffidentiam perditioni deputatem, ‘for their continual unbelief, is deputed to destruction.’” SECTION 17.
AMBROSIUS MEDIOLANENSIS. A.D. 380.
AMBROSE, bishop of Milain, flourished under the emperors Gratian and Theodosius, and died A.D. 397. Austin, who was converted under him, and was acquainted with him personally, as well as with his writings, thought him to be of the same judgment with himself about predestination, and cites several passages from him for that purpose, such as these; f980 “Whom God esteems worthy of honor he calls, et quem vult religiosum facit, ‘and whom he pleases he makes religious.’” And again; “If he would, si voluisset ex indevotis devotos fecisset, of persons not devoted to him, he could make them devoted.” From whence he concludes, that he could be no stranger to the doctrine of predestination, preached by the apostles, and which he defended. Moreover, there are many expressions in his writings which show his sense of this doctrine: on those words of Sarah, The Lord hath restrained me from bearing, he has this note; “By which,” says he, “you may know, in predestinatione fuisse semper ecclesiam Dei, ‘that in predestination the church of God always has been;’ and that the fruitfulness of faith is prepared, whenever the Lord shall command it to break forth, but by the will of the Lord it is reserved for a certain time.” He owns indeed, that “rewards are proposed not to the elect only, but to all, because Christ is all and in all.” But he affirms, that though “all men can hear, yet all cannot perceive with their ears, nisi electi Dei, ‘only the elect of God;’ therefore the Savior says, He that hath ears to hear — all men have not those ears.” To electing grace, and not to men’s works, he refers salvation; “the remnant, he observes, are saved, not by their own works, but by the election of grace. ” He sometimes, indeed, represents election as a secret with God, and unknown to men: “As no one,” he says, “of whatsoever age, ought to despair, if he is desirous of being converted to the Lord, so none should be secure on the account of faith alone; but should rather fear, through what is added, many are called but few are chosen. That we are called by faith, we know; but whether we are elected to eternal life, we know not; so much, therefore, ought every one to be the more humble, as much as he is ignorant, whether he is elected.”
However, this proves that he held the doctrine of an election of particular persons; and at other times he argues from it, to the great comfort of the saints, with respect to their safety and security. “We must not despair,” says he, “that the members can cleave to their own head, especially since ab initio simus praedestinati, we are predestinated from the beginning, unto the adoption of the children of God, by Jesus Christ, in himself; which predestination he hath proved, asserting that which from the beginning is before declared, Therefore shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they both shall be one flesh, to be the mystery of Christ and the church.”
There is a passage cited from this father by Vossius, and from him by Dr. Whitby, as asserting predestination upon the prescience of men’s merits; where, explaining the text in Matthew 20:23, To sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, he has this note; “He does not say, it is not mine to give, but it is not mine to give to you ; not asserting that he wanted power, but the creature’s merit. Take it otherwise: It is not mine to give you; that is, it is not mine, who came to teach humility; it is not mine, who came not to be ministered unto, but to minister; it is not mine, who keep righteousness, not grace. Moreover, referring to the Father, he adds, to whom it is prepared; that he might show, that the Father also does not use to pay regard to petitions, but to merits, for God is no accepter of persons. Hence the apostle said, whom he hath foreknown and predestinated; for he did not predestinate before he foreknew; sed quorum merita praescivit, eorum premia praedestinavit, ‘but whose merits he hath foreknown, their rewards he hath predestinated.’” But nothing is more evident than that Ambrose is speaking of predestination to glory, which glory he calls by the name of rewards; and we grant, that this follows upon prescience of merits; that is, good works done from a principle of grace; but then the prescience of these arises from God’s predestination to grace to enable men to perform them, and not predestination to grace from a prescience of merits; for then grace must be given according to merits; a doctrine never known by the ancients before the times of Pelagius. In short, Ambrose’s sense is this, and to which we agree, that those whose merits or good works God foreknew, because he had preordained, that they should walk in them, and as arising from that grace he determined to give them; these he predestinated unto glory, or prepared, rewards, of grace for them, which he will certainly bestow on them.
JOANNES CHRYSOSTOMUS. A.D. 390.
JOHN of Antioch, usually called Chrysostom, or Golden Mouth, from his uncommon eloquence, was bishop of Constantinople: he led in exile at Comma, A.D. 407. Several volumes of his writings still remain. That he held the doctrine of eternal predestination, will a pear from the sense he gives of several places of Scripture relating to this point. That famous passage in Acts 13:48, As many as were ordained unto eternal life believed; which some, of late, would have understood of the disposition of men’s minds unto eternal life, Chrysostom interprets of God’s appointment, or determination of men unto it; “As many as were ordained to eternal life, toutestin, aphorismenoi tou Theou, that is, says he, ‘who were separated or appointed by God’” unto it. And where the apostle Paul says, that he wasSEPARATED unto the gospel of God, he has this note upon it; “To me here he seems not only to intimate ten apoklerosin, ‘a choice by lot’” (such, I suppose, he means, as was Matthias’s,) all’ oti palai kai anothen pros touto en tetagmenos, “but that he was of old, and from above, ordained to this; as Jeremy says, that God said concerning him, Before thou camest out of the womb, I sanctified thee, and ordained thee a prophet unto the nations;” and upon that well-known text in Ephes. 1:4, according as he hath chosen us in him, he has these words; “What is the meaning of this, he hath chosen us in him? Through faith in him, Christ, he says, has rightly ordered this, prin e genesthai emas, mallon de prin e ton kosmou katablethenai; ‘before we were born, or rather before the world was founded.’” And on these words, Come, ye blessed of my Father, etc. he makes this observation; “What honor! what blessedness do these words contain! for he does not say, receive, but inherit, as your property, as your Father’s, as yours, as due to you from above; prin e gar umas genesthai, tauta umin etoimason kai pro eutrepiso, ‘for before you were born, these things were prepared and made ready for you,’ says he; ‘for I knew you would be such.’” On the account of the last clause, this passage, with some others, is cited by Vossius, and, after him, by Dr.
Whitby, to show that Chrysostom, with other fathers, held predestination according to prescience; which is not denied; the other passages are these: “This did not happen simply,” says he, “but that the prediction of God might be fulfilled by facts, which says, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated; for as God foreknew things future, proanephonese kai toutou ten areten kakeinou tes gnomes mochtherian, ‘he also before declared the virtue of the one, and the evil mind of the other.’” And in another place he observes, that “the apostle casts the whole matter upon the knowledge of God, which none dare militate against, was he never so mad, for, says he, the children not being yet born, etc. which shows that the nobility of the flesh profiteth nothing; but inquiry must be made into the virtue of the soul, en kai pro ten ergon o Theos oide, ‘which God knows, even before any works are done;’ for, says he, the children not being yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God, according to election, might stand; it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. This is of foreknowledge to be chosen from the same birth; that it might appear, says he, ‘the election of God is made according to purpose and foreknowledge; for from the first day he knew and proclaimed him that was good, and him that was not.”
And a little after, “Thou knowest, says he, from the end; but he knows clearly before the end.” And upon those words, the people, whom he foreknew, he thus paraphrases, toutestin on edei saphos epitedeion onta kai ten pistin dexomenon; that is, “whom he clearly knew would be fit, and receive the faith.” All which may be very well understood in consistence with the doctrine of absolute decrees; for, as Vossius f1001 himself observes, “the fathers who lived before Austin, held, indeed, a decree according to foreknowledge; but then the foreknowledge is of acts performed by the strength of grace;” that is to say, that God knew that Jacob and others would be good, and do that which is good, through the grace he determined to give them, and so appointed them to everlasting happiness; and he also knew that Esau, and others, would be evil and do that which is evil, being left, as he determined to leave them, to their own wickedness, and so for it appointed them to everlasting punishment.
HIERONYMUS. A. D. 390.
HIERONYMUS, or Jerom, of Stridon, in Dalmatia, was a presbyter of the church; he was born, according to Monsieur Daille, A. D. 340, and died A. D. 420. He lived much of his time in Palestine, at Jerusalem, and especially at Bethlehem: he was a man of great learning, and wrote much, though there are many things ascribed to him which are none of his; and in his commentaries it is sometimes difficult to know when he speaks his own or the sense of others. He is allowed, on all hands, to be an eager opposer of the Pelagian principles. And with respect to the doctrines of election and predestination he held, 1. That election was not of whole nations but of particular persons; “for,” says he, “the vessels of mercy are not only the people of the Gentiles, but likewise those among the Jews who would believe, and are made one people of believers; hence it appears, that non gentes eligi sed hominum voluntates, ‘not nations are chosen, but the wills of men.’” And in another place he observes, f1004 “that for this cause all nations are moved, that from their motion might come electa gentium multitudo, ‘ the elect multitude of nations,’ which are every where famous;” for instance, electa de Corintho, “the elect out of Corinth,” because there was much people of God there.
Electa de Macedonia, “the elect out of Macedonia,” because there was a large church of God in Thessalonica, who had no need to be taught concerning love. Electa de. Epheso, “the elect out of Ephesus;” that they might know the secrets of God, and those mysteries which were before revealed to none. What shall I say more? All nations are moved to whom the Savior sent the apostles, saying, Go, teach all nations; and of the many called, few being chosen, they built the church of the primitive saints; hence, says the apostle Peter, The church that is at Babylon, elected, and Marcus, my son, salute you. And, says John, The elder to the elect lady; and who also makes mention of the children of the elect lady. 2. He asserted, that those who are chosen of God in Christ, were chosen before the world began; or that election is from eternity; for in one place he says, f1005 “It must be affirmed, that according to the prescience and predestination of God, those things are already done which are future. Qui enim electi sunt in Christo ante constitutionem mundi, ‘for they that are chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world,’ have been already in former ages.” And in interpreting those words in Isaiah 25:1, Thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth; after he has mentioned the sense of the Jewish writers, observes, that “others better and more rightly understand them as spoken in the person of the prophet, giving thanks to the Father for the sufferings of the Lord the Savior; because he had done wonderful things; et cogtiationes antiquas veritate compleverit , ‘and had faithfully fulfilled ancient thoughts;’ when they that stand at his right hand shall hear these words, Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Which also Paul understanding, spoke of, saying, As he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame.” Which last words of the apostle being elsewhere mentioned by him, he says, “This we so interpret that we say, that election is not, according to Origen, of them who had been before, but we refer it to the prescience of God: moreover, we say, that we are chosen that we may be holy and without blame before him, that is, God; ante fabricam mundi , ‘before the world was made;’ which testifies, that it belongs to the prescience of God, to whom all things future are already done, and all things are known before they be; as Paul himself was predestinated in his mother’s womb, and Jeremy in the belly, was sanctified, chosen, and, in the type of Christ, sent a prophet to the nations.”; 3. He also held that election was irrespective of holiness, as a motive or cause of it, but that it arises from the love, grace, and mercy of God; for in one part of his works, he has these words, “The apostle does not say, he chose us, before the foundation of the world; cum essemus sancti et immaculati, ‘when we were holy and without blame;’ but, he chose us, that we might be holy and without blame; that is, qui sancti et immaculati ante non fuimus, ut postea essemus; that we, who before were not holy and without blame, might afterwards be so.” And a little after he adds, “Paul, and they that are like him, are not chosen, ‘quia erant sancti & immaculati, because they were holy and without blame;’ but they are chosen and predestinated, that in their lives following they might become holy and without blame by their works and virtues.” And in another place he plainly intimates, that predestination springs from the mercy and love of God; for speaking of Jacob he says, “Whiles he was yet in Rebecca’s womb, he supplanted his brother Esau, not truly by his own strength, but by the mercy of God, qui cognoscit & diligit quos praedestinavit, who knows and loves those whom he hath predestinated.”
It is true indeed, in the first citation I have made from this author, he says, that not nations are chosen, sed voluntates hominum, “but the wills of men;” though what he means by it is not very easy to understand: his meaning cannot be, that God chose such persons whom he knew would of their own free will, by the mere strength of nature, do that which was good; for this is pure Pelagianism, to which Jerom was an enemy; and is contrary to those principles of grace he was a strenuous defender of. But, if his meaning was, that God chose such to happiness, who he knew would be made willing to obey him in the day of his. power, because he had determined to make them so; this entirely agrees with our sentiments.
There is another passage cited by Grotius from this writer, where he says, that God eligat eum quem interim bonum cernit, “chooses him whom for the present he knows to be good;” but it is easy to observe, that Jerom is there speaking, not of God’s choice of men to eternal happiness, but of Christ’s choosing Judas to the apostleship, who appeared for a while to be good, though he knew he would be wicked. To which may be added another passage produced by Dr. Whitby, after Grotius, and Vossius, to prove that election is from a foresight of good works, in which this writer says, that, dilectio et odium Dei vel ex praescientia nascitur futurorum vel ex operibus, “the love and hatred of God arises either from the foreknowledge of things future, or from works.” But what he means by this disjunctive proposition, is not very evident; it is very probable, that by the love and hatred of God, he means the effects of them, salvation and damnation, which according to him proceed either according to the prescience of God, or the works of men. As for the citation out of the Commentary on the epistle to the Romans made by Vossius and Dr.
Whitby, I take no notice of, because it is judged by learned men f1017 not to be his, but either the work of Pelagius himself, or of some Pelagian writer. I deny not, but that Jerom held election to be according to the prescience of God, to which he refers it in the passages cited by the above writers, out of his commentaries on the epistles to the Galatians and Ephesians; and so do we, in a sense agreeable to the Scriptures; and it is evident that Jerom had the same sentiments of the foreknowledge of God as we have; for, says he, Non enim ex eo quod Dens seit futurum aliquid, idcireo futurum est, sed quia futurum est, Deus novit ; “not because God knows something to be future, therefore it is future, but because it is future, God knows it, as having a foreknowledge of things to come.” And though in the same place, and else where, he observes, that the prescience of God does not necessitate or force men to do this, or not to do that, but notwithstanding it, the will of man is preserved free in all his actions; the same we also say, and to this we readily assent.