Jerome Zanchius on Absolute Predestination (Complete)

Chapter 19: Its Relation to Saints – Part 1

Concerning Election Unto Life, Or Predestination As It Respects The Saints In Particular.

Having considered predestination as it regards all men in general, and briefly shown that by it some are appointed to wrath and others to obtain salvation by Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 5:9), I now come to consider, more distinctly, that branch of it which relates to the saints only, and is commonly styled election. Its definition I have given already in the close of the first chapter. What I have farther to advance, from the Scriptures, on this important subject, I shall reduce to several positions, and subjoin a short explanation and confirmation of each.

Position 1.—Those who are ordained unto eternal life were not so ordained on account of any worthiness foreseen in them, or of any good works to be wrought by them, nor yet for their future faith, but purely and solely of free, sovereign grace, and according to the mere pleasure of God. This is evident, among other considerations, from this: that faith, repentance and holiness are no less the free-gifts of God than eternal life itself. “Faith—is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). “Unto you it is given to believe” (Phil. 1:29). ”Him hath God exalted with His right hand for to give repentance” (Acts 5:31). “Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18). In like manner holiness is called the sanctification of the Spirit (2 Thess. 2:13), because the Divine Spirit is the efficient of it in the soul, and, of unholy, makes us holy. Now, if repentance and faith are the gifts, and sanctification is the work of God, then these are not the fruits of man’s free-will, nor what he acquires of himself, and so can neither be motives to, nor conditions of his election, which is an act of the Divine mind, antecedent to, and irrespective of all qualities whatever in the persons elected. Besides, the apostle asserts expressly that election is not of works, but of Him that calleth, and that it passed before the persons concerned had done either good or evil (Rom. 9:11).

Again, if faith or works were the cause of election, God could not be said to choose us, but we to choose Him, contrary to the whole tenor of Scripture: “Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you” (John 15:16). “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us. We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:10,19). Election is everywhere asserted to be God’s act, and not man’s (Mark 13:20; Rom. 9:17; Eph. 1:4; 1 Thess. 5:9; 2 Thess. 2:13). Once more, we are chosen that we might be holy, not because it was foreseen we would be so (Eph. 1:4), therefore to represent holiness as the reason why we were elected is to make the effect antecedent to the cause. The apostle adds (ver. 5), “having predestinated us according to the good pleasure of His will,” most evidently implying that God saw nothing extra se, had no motive from without, why He should either choose any at all or this man before another. In a word, the elect were freely loved (Hosea 14:4), freely chosen (Rom. 11:5,6), and freely redeemed (Isa. 52:3), they are freely called (2 Tim. 1:9), freely justified (Rom. 3:24), and shall be freely glorified (Rom. 6:23). The great Augustine, in his book of Retractations, ingenuously acknowledges his error in having once thought that faith foreseen was a condition of election; he owns that that opinion is equally impious and absurd, and proves that faith is one of the fruits of election, and consequently could not be, in any sense, a cause of it. “I could never have asserted,” says he, “that God in choosing men to life had any respect to their faith, had I duly considered that faith itself is His own gift.” And, in another treatise[1] of his, he has these words: “Since Christ says, ‘Ye have not chosen Me,’ etc., I would fain ask whether it be Scriptural to say we must have faith before we are elected, and not, rather, that we are elected in order to our having faith?”

Position 2.—As many as are ordained to eternal life are ordained to enjoy that life in and through Christ, and on account of His merits alone (1 Thess. 5:9). Here let it be carefully observed that not the merits of Christ, but the sovereign love of God only is the cause of election itself, but then the merits of Christ are the alone procuring cause of that salvation to which men are elected. This decree of God admits of no cause out of Himself, but the thing decreed, which is the glorification of His chosen ones, may and does admit, nay, necessarily requires, a meritorious cause, which is no other than the obedience and death of Christ.

[1] Predest. cap. 17.

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”.

Jerome Zanchius on Absolute Predestination (Complete)