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Notes Appertaining to the Matter of Election, Gathered

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Notes Appertaining to the Matter of Election, Gathered

James Dodson

by the godly and learned Father. 
John Foxe.

 

AS touching the doctrine of Election, three things must be considered.

First, what God's Election is, and what is the cause thereof.

Secondly, how God's election proceedeth in working of our salvation.

Thirdly, to whom God's election pertaineth, and how a man may be certain thereof.

Between Predestination and election, this difference there is. Predestination is as well to the reprobate, as to the elect: Election only pertaineth to them that are saved.

Predestination, in that it respecteth the reprobates, is called reprobation, in that it respecteth the saved, is called election, and is thus defined.

Predestination is the eternal decreement [decree] of God, purposed before in himself, what shall befall on all men, either to salvation or damnation. Election is the free mercy and grace of God in his own will, through faith in Christ his son, choosing and preferring to life, such as pleaseth him.

In this definition of election, first goeth before the mercy and grace of God, as the causes thereof, whereby are excluded all works of the law, and merits of deserving, whether they go before faith, or come after. So was Jacob chosen, and Esau refused, before either of them began to work, &c.

Secondly, in that this mercy and grace of God in this definition, is said to be free, thereby is to be noted the proceeding and working of God, not to be bound to any ordinary place or to any succession of chair, not to state, and dignity of person, nor to worthiness of blood,& c. But all goeth by the mere will of his own purpose, As it is written: Spiritus ubi vult spirat, &c. And thus was the outward race, and stock of Abraham after the flesh refused, Which seemed to have the preeminence. And their seed after the spirit raised up to Abraham of the stones, that is, of the Gentiles. So was the outward Temple of Jerusalem,& chair of Moses, which seemed to be of price, forsaken, and Gods chair advanced in other nations. So was tall Saul refused, and little David accepted: The rich, the proud, the wise of this world rejected, and the word of salvation daily opened to the poor, and miserable abjects: The high mountains cast under, and the law valleys exalted,& c.

Thirdly, where it is added in his own will, by this falleth down the freewill and purpose of man with all his actions, counsels, and strength of nature: According as it is written: Non est volentis neque currentis sed miserentis dei, &c. [Rom. 9.] It is not in him that willeth, nor in him that runneth, but in GOD that sheweth mercy. So we see how Israel ran long, and yet got nothing: the Gentiles unneth [only] began to set out, and yet got the game: So they which came at the first hour, did labour more, and yet they which came last, were rewarded with the first, Math. 20. The will of the Pharisee seemed better, but yet the Lord's will was rather to justify the Publican, Luke 18. The elder son had a better will to tarry by his Father, and so did indeed: and yet the fat Calf was given to the younger son that ran away, Luke 15.

Whereby we have to understand how the matter goeth not by the will of man, but by the will of God, as it pleaseth him to accept, according as it is written: Non ex voluntate carnis, neque ex voluntate viri sed ex Deo nati sunt, &c. Which are born not of the will of the flesh, nor yet of the will of man, but of God. [John 1.13] Furthermore, as all then goeth by the will of God only, and not by the will of man, So again here is to be noted, that this will of God, never goeth without faith in Christ Jesus his son.

And therefore, fourthly, is this clause added in the definition through faith in Christ his son: which faith in Christ, to usward maketh altogether: For first it certifieth us of God's election: for whosoever will be certain of his election in God: let him first begin with this faith in Christ, which if he find in him to stand firm: He may be sure, and nothing doubt, but that he is one of the number of God's Elect. Secondly, the said faith and nothing else, is the only condition and means whereupon God's mercy, election, vocation, and all God's promises to salvation, do stay according to the words of Paul: Si permanseritis in fide, &c. If ye abide in the faith. Col. 1. Thirdly, this faith also is the immediate and next cause of our justification simply without any other condition annexed. For as the mercy of God, his grace, election, vocation, and other precedent causes, do save and justify us upon condition: if we believe in Christ, so this faith in Christ without condition, is the next and immediate cause, which by God's promise worketh our justification. According as it is written: Crede in dominum Iesum& saluus eris tu & domus tua. Believe in the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy whole house, Acts. 16. And thus much touching the definition of election, with the causes thereof declared, which you see now to be no merits nor works of man: whether they go before or come after faith, but only the mere mercy of God through faith: for like as all they that be born of Adam, do taste of his malediction, though they tasted not his Apple: So all they that be born of Christ which is by faith, take part of the obedience of Christ: Although they never did that obedience themselves, which was in him. Rom. 5.

Now to the second consideration: Let us see likewise how and in what order this election of GOD proceedeth in choosing and electing them which be ordained to salvation, which order is this: In them that be chosen to life first, God's mercy and free grace bringeth forth election: Election worketh vocation, or God's holy calling: Which vocation through hearing bringeth knowledge, and faith of Christ. Faith through promise obtaineth justification: Justification through hope waiteth for glorification. Election is before vocation, and faith cometh in time: Justification and glorification is without end.

Election depending upon God's free grace and will, excludeth all man's will, blind fortune, chance, and all peradventures, vocation standing upon God's election, excludeth all man's wisdom, cunning, learning, intention, power and presumption: Faith in Christ proceedeth by the gift of the holy Ghost, and freely justifying man by God's promise: excludeth all other merits of men, all condition of deserving, all works of the law: both God's law and man's law, with all other outward means, whatsoever.

Justification coming freely by faith, standeth sure by promise without doubt, fear, or wavering in this life.

 

Glorification pertaining only to the life to come, by hope is looked for.

Grace and mercy preventeth.

Election ordaineth.

Vocation prepareth and receiveth the word whereby cometh faith.

Faith justifieth.

Justification bringeth glory.

Election is the immediate and next cause of vocation, vocation which is the working of God's spirit by the word, is the immediate and next cause of faith.

Faith is the immediate and next cause of justification, and this order, and connexion of causes is diligently to be observed, because of the Papists which have miserably confounded and converted this doctrine thus, that almighty God so far forth as he foreseeth man's merits before to come: so doth he dispense his election, Ut Dominus pro cuiusque meritis fore previdet, ita dispensat electionis gratiain. And again: Nullis precendentibus meritis dominum rependere electionis gratiam, futuris tamen concedere: That is, that the Lord recompenseth the grace of election not to any merits going before: But yet granted the same to the merits which follow after, as though we had our election by our holiness that followeth after, and not rather have our holiness by God's election going before.

But we following the Scripture, say otherwise, that the cause only of God's election is his own mercy, and the cause only of our justification is our faith in Christ, and nothing else. As for example, first concerning election, if the question be asked: Why was Abraham chosen, and not Nachor: Why was Jacob chosen, and not Esau: Why was Moses elected, & Pharaoh hardened: Why David accepted, and Saul refused: Why few be chosen, and the most forsaken? It cannot be answered otherwise, but thus, because it was so the good will of God.

In like manner touching vocation and also faith if the question be asked: Why this vocation and gift of faith was given to Cornelius the Gentile, & not to Tertullus the Jew: Why to the poor, to the babes and little ones of this world, of whom Christ speaketh: I thank thee Father, which hast hid this from the wise, &c. Matt. 11. Why to the unwise the simple abjects, and outcasts in this world, of whom speaketh Paul, 1 Cor. 1, Ye see your calling my brethren, how not many of you, &c. Why, to the sinners and not to the just: Why the beggars by the highways were called, and the bidden guests excluded: We can go to no other cause but to God's purpose and election, and say with Christ our Saviour: Quia Pater sic complacitum est ante te. Yea Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight. Luke 10.

And so for justification likewise, if the question be asked: why the Publican was justified, and not the Pharisee. Luke 18. Why Mary the sinner, and not Simon the Leper: Luke 11. Why harlots and Publicans, go before the Scribes & Pharisees in the kingdom. Matt. 21. Why the son of the free woman was received, and the bondwoman's son being his elder rejected. Gen. 21. Why Israel which so long sought for righteousness, found it not: and the Gentiles which sought not for it, found it. Rom 9. We have no other cause hereof to render, but to say with Paul: because they sought for it by works of the law, and not by faith: Which faith as it cometh not by man's will, as the Papists falsely pretendeth, but only by the election and free gift of God: so it is only the immediate cause, whereunto the promise of our salvation is annexed, according as we read: And therefore of faith is the inheritance given. As after grace, that the promise might stand sure to every seed. Rom. 4. Item in the same Chapter: Faith believing in him which justifieth the wicked, is imputed to righteousness.

And thus concerning the cause of our salvation, ye see how faith in Christ: only and immediately without any condition doth justify us, being so linked with God's mercy and election: that wheresoever election goeth before, there faith in Christ must needs follow after. And again, whosoever believeth in Christ Jesus through the vocation of God, he must needs be partaker of God's election.

Whereunto resulteth now the third note or consideration, which is to consider, whether a man in this life may be certain of his election. To answer this question, we have first to understand: that although our election and vocation simply indeed be known to God only himself a Priore: yet notwithstanding it may be known [by] every particular faithful man a Posteriore: that is, by means: which means is faith in Christ Jesus crucified, forsomuch as by his faith in Christ, a man is justified, and thereby made the child of salvation, reason must needs lead the same to be then the child of election chosen of God unto everlasting life: for how can a man be saved but by consequence, it followeth that he must be elected.

And therefore of election is truly said, De electione judicandum est Aposteriore: that is to say, We must judge of election by that which cometh after, that is, by our faith and belief in Christ: which faith although in time it followeth after election: yet is it the proper and immediate cause assigned by the Scripture: which not only justifieth us, but also certifieth us of the election of God.

Whereunto, likewise well agreeth this saying: Election albeit in God, it be the first, yet to us it is the last opened. And therefore beginning first with creation: I come from thence to redemption, and justification by faith, and so to election. Not that faith is the cause efficient of election: being rather the effect thereof, but is to us the cause certificatory, or the cause of our certification: whereby we are brought to the feeling and knowledge of our election in Christ. For albeit that election first be certain in the knowledge of God, yet in our knowledge faith only that we have in Christ, is the thing that giveth to us our certificate and comfort of this election.

Wherefore whosoever desireth to be assured that he is one of the elect number of God: let him not climb up to heaven to know, but let him descend into himself, and there search his faith in Christ the son of God: Which if he find in him not feigned, by the working of God's holy spirit accordingly: thereupon let him stay, and so wrap himself wholly, both body and soul, under God's general promise, and cumber his head with no farther speculations: knowing this, that whosoever believeth in him, shall not perish, John 3. Shall not be confounded, Rom. 9. Shall not see death, John 8. Shall not enter into judgment, John 5. Shall have everlasting life, John 3.16. Shall be saved, Matt. 28, Acts 16. Shall have remission of all his sins, Acts 10. Shall be justified, Rom. 3, Gal. 2. Shall have floods flowing out of him of water of life, John 7. Shall never die, John 11. Shall be raised in the last day, John 6. Shall find rest to his soul, and shall be refreshed. Matt. 11.

Now then forsomuch as we see faith to be the ground whereupon dependeth the whole condition of our justifying: let us discuss in like manner, what is this faith, whereof the scripture so much speaketh of, for the more plain understanding of the simple. For many kinds there be of faith: As a man may believe every thing that is true: yet not every truth doth save, neither doth the believing of every truth justify a man: He that believeth that God created all things of naught, believeth truth: He that believeth that God is a just God, that he is omnipotent, that he is merciful: that he is true of promise, believeth well, and holdeth the truth. So he that believeth that God hath his election from the beginning, and that he also is one of the same elect and Predestinate, hath a good belief, and thinketh well. But yet this belief alone, except it be seasoned with another thing, will not serve to salvation: As it availed not the old Jews, which so thought of themselves, and yet think to this day: to be only God's elect people.

Only the faith which availeth to salvation is that, whose object is the body and passion of Christ Jesus crucified: so that in the act of justifying these two: faith and Christ have a mutual relation, and must always concur together, faith, as the action which apprehendeth: Christ as the object which is apprehended.

For neither doth the passion of Christ save without faith: neither doth faith help, except it be in Christ. As we see the body of man sustained by bread and drink: not except the same be received, and conveyed into the stomach, and yet neither doth the receiving of any thing sustain man's body, except it be meat and drink, which have power to give nourishment. In like sort it is with faith: for neither doth the believing of every thing save. But only faith in the blood of Christ: neither doth again the same blood of Christ profit us, except by faith it be received. And as the sun being the cause of all light, shineth not but to them only which have eyes to see: nor yet to them neither, unless they will open their eyes, to receive the light: So the passion of Christ is the efficient cause of salvation: But faith is the condition whereby the said Passion is to us effectual.

And that is the cause, why we say with the Scripture, that faith only justifieth us, not excluding thereby all other external causes, that go before faith: As grace, mercy, election, vocation, the death of Christ, &c. All which be external causes working our salvation through faith. But when we say that faith only justifieth us: the meaning thereof is this, that of all internal actions, motions, or operations in man, given to him of God, there is no other that contenteth, and pleaseth God, or standeth before his judgment, or can help any thing to the justifying of man before him: but only this one action of faith in Christ Jesus the son of God.

For although the action of praying, fasting, alms, patience, charity, repentance, the fear and love of God be his gifts in man, and not of man, given of God to man: yet be none of all these actions in man, imputed of God to salvation, but only this one action of faith in man, upon Christ Jesus the son of God. Not that the action itself of believing: As it is a quality in man doth so deserve: but because it taketh that dignity of the object. For as I said in the act of justifying: Faith, as it is an action in man, is not to be considered alone: but must ever go with this object, and taketh his virtue thereof. Like as the looking up of the old Israelites, did not of itself procure any health unto them: but the promise made in the object, which was the brazen Serpent, whereupon they looked: gave them health by their looking up. Even so after like sort, are we saved by our faith, and spiritual looking up to the body of Christ crucified, which faith to define is this.

To believe Jesus Christ to be the son of the living God, sent into this world: by his death to satisfy for our sins, and so to receive the same.

     And thus much touching election and faith,  withtheorder andexplication of the causes necessary to bee considered in oursalvation:   wherebymayeappeare howe farthe pretended Catholiques doo swarvefrom   theryghtmindeofthe Scriptures:    ForwheretheScriptures in declaring the causes of salvation,  doe sende usonelytofayth,  astheonely condition,  wherebythesecauseshaue theirworking:    theseCatholiquesdoe quyteleaueoutfayth,   andinsteede thereof, place in other conditions of me-
rites, willworkes, pardons, mas-
ses, and especiall auricular
confession, with penance,
and satisfaction for
our sinnes,
&c.

 

F I N I S.