Wherein The Terms Commonly Made Use Of In Treating Of This Subject Are Defined And Explained.
Having considered the attributes of God as laid down in Scripture, and so far cleared our way to the doctrine of predestination, I shall, before I enter further on the subject, explain the principal terms generally made use of when treating of it, and settle their true meaning. In discoursing on the Divine decrees, mention is frequently made of God’s love and hatred, of election and reprobation, and of the Divine purpose, foreknowledge and predestination, each of which we shall distinctly and briefly consider.
I.—When love is predicated of God, we do not mean that He is possessed of it as a passion or affection.
In us it is such, but if, considered in that sense, it should be ascribed to the Deity, it would be utterly subversive of the simplicity, perfection and independency of His being. Love, therefore, when attributed to Him, signifies—
(1) His eternal benevolence, i.e., His everlasting will, purpose and determination to deliver, bless and save His people. Of this, no good works wrought by them are in any sense the cause. Neither are even the merits of Christ Himself to be considered as any way moving or exciting this good will of God to His elect, since the gift of Christ, to be their Mediator and Redeemer, is itself an effect of this free and eternal favour borne to them by God the Father (John 3:16). His love towards them arises merely from “the good pleasure of His own will,” without the least regard to anything ad extra or out of Himself.
(2) The term implies complacency, delight and approbation. With this love God cannot love even His elect as considered in themselves, because in that view they are guilty, polluted sinners, but they were, from all eternity, objects of it, as they stood united to Christ and partakers of His righteousness.
(3) Love implies actual beneficence, which, properly speaking, is nothing else than the effect or accomplishment of the other two: those are the cause of this. This actual beneficence respects all blessings, whether of a temporal, spiritual or eternal nature. Temporal good things are indeed indiscriminately bestowed in a greater or less degree on all, whether elect or reprobate, but they are given in a covenant way and as blessings to the elect only, to whom also the other benefits respecting grace and glory are peculiar. And this love of beneficence, no less than that of benevolence and complacency, is absolutely free, and irrespective of any worthiness in man.
II.—When hatred is ascribed to God, it implies:
(1) a negation of benevolence, or a resolution not to have mercy on such and such men, nor to endue them with any of those graces which stand connected with eternal life. So, “Esau have I hated ” (Rom. 9.), i.e., “I did, from all eternity, determine within Myself not to have mercy on him.” The sole cause of which awful negation is not merely the unworthiness of the persons hated, but the sovereignty and freedom of the Divine will.
(2) It denotes displeasure and dislike, for sinners who are not interested in Christ cannot but be infinitely displeasing to and loathsome in the sight of eternal purity.
(3) It signifies a positive will to punish and destroy the reprobate for their sins, of which will, the infliction of misery upon them hereafter, is but the necessary effect and actual execution.
III.—The term election, that so very frequently occurs in Scripture, is there taken in a fourfold sense, and most commonly signifies:
(1) “That eternal, sovereign, unconditional, particular and immutable act of God where He selected some from among all mankind and of every nation under heaven to be redeemed and everlastingly saved by Christ.”
(2) It sometimes and more rarely signifies “that gracious and almighty act of the Divine Spirit, whereby God actually and visibly separates His elect from the world by effectual calling.” This is nothing but the manifestation and partial fullfilment of the former election, and by it the objects of predestinating grace are sensibly led into the communion of saints, and visibly added to the number of God’s declared professing people.
Of this our Lord makes mention: “Because I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:19). Where it should seem the choice spoken of does not refer so much to God’s eternal, immanent act of election as His open manifest one, whereby He powerfully and efficaciously called the disciples forth from the world of the unconverted, and quickened them from above in conversion.
(3) By election is sometimes meant, “God’s taking a whole nation, community or body of men into external covenant with Himself by giving them the advantage of revelation, or His written word, as the rule of their belief and practice, when other nations are without it.” In this sense the whole body of the Jewish nation was indiscriminately called elect, because that “unto them were committed the oracles of God” (Deut. 7:6). Now all that are thus elected are not therefore necessarily saved, but many of them may be, and are, reprobates, as those of whom our Lord says (Matt. 13:20), that they “hear the word, and anon with joy receive it,” etc. And the apostle says, “They went out from us” (i.e., being favoured with the same Gospel revelation we were, they professed themselves true believers, no less than we), “but they were not of us” (i.e., they were not, with us, chosen of God unto everlasting life, nor did they ever in reality possess that faith of His operation which He gave to us, for if they had in this sense “been of us, they would, no doubt, have continued with us” (1 John 2:19), they would have manifested the sincerity of their professions and the truth of their conversion by enduring to the end and being saved. And even this external revelation, though it is not necessarily connected with eternal happiness, is nevertheless productive of very many and great advantages to the people and places where it is vouchsafed, and is made known to some nations and kept back from others, “according to the good pleasure of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.”
(4) And, lastly, election sometimes signifies “the temporary designation of some person or persons to the rilling up some particular station in the visible church or office in civil life.” So Judas was chosen to the apostleship (John 6:70), and Saul to be the king of Israel (1 Sam. 10:24). Thus much for the use of the word election.
 See Psalm cxlvii. 19, 20.
Jerome Zanchius (1516-1590) was an Italian pastor, theologian, writer and reformer during the Protestant Reformation. After the death of Calvin, Zanchius’ influence filled the void, which was copiously met by a large written ministry. Among his most popular works are, “Confession Of The Christian Religion”, “Observation On The Divine Attributes” and “The Doctrine Of Absolute Predestination”.