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Canons of Dordt


Of Divine Predestination

As all men have sinned in Adam, lie under the curse, and are
deserving of eternal death, God would have done no injustice by leaving
them all to perish, and delivering them over to condemnation on account
of sin, according to the words of the apostle, Romans
,"that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may
become guilty before God." And verse
:"for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."
And Romans
:"for the wages of sin is death."

But in this the love of God was manifested, that he sent his
only begotten Son into the world, that whosoever believeth on him should
not perish, but have everlasting life. I
John 4:9

And that men may be brought to believe, God mercifully sends
the messengers of these most joyful tidings, to whom he will and at what
time he pleaseth; by whose ministry men are called to repentance and faith
in Christ crucified. Romans
10:14, 15
:"How then shall they call on him in whom they have
not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not
heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they
preach except they be sent?"

The wrath of God abideth upon those who believe not this gospel.
But such as receive it, and embrace Jesus the Savior by a true and living
faith, are by him delivered from the wrath of God, and from destruction,
and have the gift of eternal life conferred upon them.

The cause or guilt of this unbelief as well as of all other
sins, is no wise in God, but in man himself; whereas faith in Jesus Christ,
and salvation through him is the free gift of God, as it is written: "By
grace ye are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the
gift of God," Ephesians
."And unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only
to believe on him," etc. Philippians

That some receive the gift of faith from God, and others do
not receive it proceeds from God’s eternal decree, "For known unto
God are all his works from the beginning of the world," Acts
."Who worketh all things after the counsel of his will,"
.According to which decree, he graciously softens the hearts of
the elect, however obstinate, and inclines them to believe, while he leaves
the non-elect in his just judgment to their own wickedness and obduracy.
And herein is especially displayed the profound, and merciful, and at
the same time the righteous discrimination between men, equally involved
in ruin; or that decree of election and reprobation, revealed in the Word
of God, which though men of perverse, impure and unstable minds wrest
to their own destruction, yet to holy and pious souls affords unspeakable

Election is the unchangeable purpose of God, whereby, before
the foundation of the world, he hath out of mere grace, according to the
sovereign good pleasure of his own will, chosen, from the whole human
race, which had fallen through their own fault, from their primitive state
of rectitude, into sin and destruction, a certain number of persons to
redemption in Christ, whom he from eternity appointed the Mediator and
Head of the elect, and the foundation of Salvation.

This elect
number, though by nature neither better nor more deserving than the others,
but with them involved in one common misery, God hath decreed to give
to Christ, to be saved by him, and effectually to call and draw them to
his communion by his Word and Spirit, to bestow upon them true faith,
justification and sanctification; and having powerfully preserved them
in the fellowship of his Son, finally, to glorify them for the demonstration
of his mercy, and for the praise of his glorious grace; as it is written:
"According as he hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of
the world, that we should be holy, and without blame before him in love;
having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ
to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise
of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved,"
.And elsewhere: "Whom he did predestinate, them he also
called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified,
them he also glorified," Romans

There are not various decrees of election, but one and the
same decree respecting all those, who shall be saved, both under the Old
and New Testament: since the scripture declares the good pleasure, purpose
and counsel of the divine will to be one, according to which he hath chosen
us from eternity, both to grace and glory, to salvation and the way of
salvation, which he hath ordained that we should walk therein.

This election was not founded upon foreseen faith, and the
obedience of faith, holiness, or any other good quality of disposition
in man, as the pre-requisite, cause or condition on which it depended;
but men are chosen to faith and to the obedience of faith, holiness, etc.,
therefore election is the fountain of every saving good; from which proceed
faith, holiness, and the other gifts of salvation, and finally eternal
life itself, as its fruits and effects, according to that of the apostle:
"He hath chosen us (not because we were) but that we should be holy,
and without blame, before him in love," Ephesians

The good pleasure of God is the sole cause of this gracious
election; which doth not consist herein, that out of all possible qualities
and actions of men God has chosen some as a condition of salvation; but
that he was pleased out of the common mass of sinners to adopt some certain
persons as a peculiar people to himself, as it is written, "For the
children being not yet born neither having done any good or evil,"
etc., it was said (namely to Rebecca): "the elder shall serve the
younger; as it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated,"
."And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed,"

And as God himself is most wise, unchangeable, omniscient
and omnipotent, so the election made by him can neither be interrupted
nor changed, recalled or annulled; neither can the elect be cast away,
nor their number diminished.

The elect in due time, though in various degrees and in different
measures, attain the assurance of this their eternal and unchangeable
election, not by inquisitively prying into the secret and deep things
of God, but by observing in themselves with a spiritual joy and holy pleasure,
the infallible fruits of election pointed out in the Word of God – such
as a true faith in Christ, filial fear, a godly sorrow for sin, a hungering
and thirsting after righteousness, etc.

The sense and certainty of this election afford to the children
of God additional matter for daily humiliation before him, for adoring
the depth of his mercies, for cleansing themselves, and rendering grateful
returns of ardent love to him, who first manifested so great love towards
them. The consideration of this doctrine of election is so far from encouraging
remissness in the observance of the divine commands, or from sinking men
in carnal security, that these, in the just judgment of God, are the usual
effects of rash presumption, or of idle and wanton trifling with the grace
of election, in those who refuse to walk in the ways of the elect.

As the doctrine of divine election by the most wise counsel
of God, was declared by the prophets, by Christ himself, and by the apostles,
and is clearly revealed in the Scriptures, both of the Old and New Testament,
so it is still to be published in due time and place in the Church of
God, for which it was peculiarly designed, provided it be done with reverence,
in the spirit of discretion and piety, for the glory of God’s most holy
name, and for enlivening and comforting his people, without vainly attempting
to investigate the secret ways of the Most High. Acts

What peculiarly tends to illustrate and recommend to us the
eternal and unmerited grace of election, is the express testimony of sacred
Scripture, that not all, but some only are elected, while others are passed
by in the eternal election of God; whom God, out of his sovereign, most
just, irreprehensible and unchangeable good pleasure, hath decreed to
leave in the common misery into which they have willfully plunged themselves,
and not to bestow upon them saving faith and the grace of conversion;
but leaving them in his just judgment to follow their own ways, at last
for the declaration of his justice, to condemn and punish them forever,
not only on account of their unbelief, but also for all their other sins.
And this is the decree of reprobation which by no means makes God the
author of sin (the very thought of which is blasphemy), but declares him
to be an awful, irreprehensible, and righteous judge and avenger thereof.

Those who do not yet experience a lively faith in Christ,
an assured confidence of soul, peace of conscience, an earnest endeavor
after filial obedience, and glorying in God through Christ, efficaciously
wrought in them, and do nevertheless persist in the use of the means which
God hath appointed for working these graces in us, ought not to be alarmed
at the mention of reprobation, nor to rank themselves among the reprobate,
but diligently to persevere in the use of means, and with ardent desires,
devoutly and humbly to wait for a season of richer grace. Much less cause
have they to be terrified by the doctrine of reprobation, who, though
they seriously desire to be turned to God, to please him only, and to
be delivered from the body of death, cannot yet reach that measure of
holiness and faith to which they aspire; since a merciful God has promised
that he will not quench the smoking flax, nor break the bruised reed.
But this doctrine is justly terrible to those, who, regardless of God
and of the Savior Jesus Christ, have wholly given themselves up to the
cares of the world, and the pleasures of the flesh, so long as they are
not seriously converted to God.

Since we are to judge of the will of God from his Word, which
testifies that the children of believers are holy, not by nature, but
in virtue of the covenant of grace, in which they, together with the parents,
are comprehended, godly parents have no reason to doubt of the election
and salvation of their children, whom it pleaseth God to call out of this
life in their infancy.

To those who murmur at the free grace of election, and just
severity of reprobation, we answer with the apostle: "Nay, but, O
man, who art thou that repliest against God?" Romans
,and quote the language of our Savior: "Is it not lawful
for me to do what I will with my own?" Matthew
.And therefore with holy adoration of these mysteries, we exclaim
in the words of the apostle: "O the depths of the riches both of
the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and
his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord, or
who hath been his counselor? or who hath first given to him, and it shall
be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him
are all things: to whom be glory for ever. – Amen."

The true
doctrine concerning Election and Reprobation having been
explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those:

Who teach: That the will of God to save those who would believe and would
persevere in faith and in the obedience of faith, is the whole and entire
decree of election unto salvation, and that nothing else concerning this
decree has been revealed in God’s Word.

For these
deceive the simple and plainly contradict the Scriptures, which declare
that God will not only save those who will believe, but that he has also
from eternity chosen certain particular persons to whom above others he
in time will grant both faith in Christ and perseverance; as it written:
"I manifested thy name unto the men whom thou gavest me out of the
world," John
."And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed,"
.And: "Even as he chose us in him before the foundation
of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in
love," Ephesians

Who teach: That there are various kinds of election of God unto eternal
life: the one general and indefinite, the other particular and definite;
and that the latter in turn is either incomplete, revocable, non-decisive
and conditional, or complete, irrevocable, decisive and absolute. Likewise:
that there is one election unto faith, and another unto salvation, so
that election can be unto justifying faith, without being a decisive election
unto salvation. For this is a fancy of men’s minds, invented regardless
of the Scriptures, whereby the doctrine of election is corrupted, and
this golden chain of our salvation is broken: "And whom he foreordained,
them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom
he justified, them he also glorified," Romans

Who teach: That the good pleasure and purpose of God, of which Scripture
makes mention in the doctrine of election, does not consist in this, that
God chose certain persons rather than others, but in this that he chose
out of all possible conditions (among which are also the works of the
law), or out of the whole order of things, the act of faith which from
its very nature is undeserving, as well as its incomplete obedience, as
a condition of salvation, and that he would graciously consider this in
itself as a complete obedience and count it worthy of the reward of eternal
life. For by this injurious error the pleasure of God and the merits of
Christ are made of none effect, and men are drawn away by useless questions
from the truth of gracious justification and from the simplicity of Scripture,
and this declaration of the Apostle is charged as untrue: "Who saved
us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but
according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus
before times eternal." 2
Timothy 1:9

Who teach: that in the election unto faith this condition is beforehand
demanded, namely, that man should use the light of nature aright, be pious,
humble, meek, and fit for eternal life, as if on these things election
were in any way dependent. For this savors of the teaching of Pelagius,
and is opposed to the doctrine of the apostle, when he writes: "Among
whom we also all once lived in the lust of our flesh, doing the desires
of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even
as the rest; but God being rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith
he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive
together with Christ (by grace have ye been saved), and raised us up with
him, and made us to sit with him in heavenly places, in Christ Jesus,
that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace
in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus; for by grace have ye been saved
through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not
of works, that no man should glory," Ephesians

Who teach: That the incomplete and non-decisive election of particular
persons to salvation occurred because of a foreseen faith, conversion,
holiness, godliness, which either began or continued for some time; but
that the complete and decisive election occurred because of foreseen perseverance
unto the end in faith, conversion, holiness and godliness; and that this
is the gracious and evangelical worthiness, for the sake of which he who
is chosen, is more worthy than he who is not chosen; and that therefore
faith, the obedience of faith, holiness, godliness and perseverance are
not fruits of the unchangeable election unto glory, but are conditions,
which, being required beforehand, were foreseen as being met by those
who will be fully elected, and are causes without which the unchangeable
election to glory does not occur.

This is
repugnant to the entire Scripture, which constantly inculcates this and
similar declarations: Election is not out of works, but of him that calleth.
."As many as were ordained to eternal life believed,"
."He chose us in him before the foundation of the world,
that we should be holy," Ephesians
."Ye did not choose me, but I chose you," John
."But if it be of grace, it is no more of works," Romans
."Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved
us, and sent his Son," I
John 4:10

Who teach: That not every election unto salvation is unchangeable, but
that some of the elect, any decree of God notwithstanding, can yet perish
and do indeed perish. By which gross error they make God to be changeable,
and destroy the comfort which the godly obtain out of the firmness of
their election, and contradict the Holy Scripture, which teaches, that
the elect can not be lead astray, Matthew
;that Christ does not lose those whom the Father gave him, John
;and that God hath also glorified those whom he foreordained,
called and justified. Romans

Who teach: That there is in this life no fruit and no consciousness of
the unchangeable election to glory, nor any certainty, except that which
depends on a changeable and uncertain condition. For not only is it absurd
to speak of an uncertain certainty, but also contrary to the experience
of the saints, who by virtue of the consciousness of their election rejoice
with the Apostle and praise this favor of God, Ephesians
;who according to Christ’s admonition rejoice with his disciples
that their names are written in heaven, Luke
;who also place the consciousness of their election over against
the fiery darts of the devil, asking: "Who shall lay anything to
the charge of God’s elect?" Romans

Who teach: That God, simply by virtue of his righteous will, did not decide
either to leave anyone in the fall of Adam and in the common state of
sin and condemnation, or to pass anyone by in the communication of grace
which is necessary for faith and conversion. For this is firmly decreed:
"He hath mercy on whom he will, and whom he will he hardeneth,"
.And also this: "Unto you it is given to know the mysteries
of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given," Matthew
. Likewise: "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and
earth, that thou didst hide these things from the wise and understanding,
and didst reveal them unto babes; yea, Father, for so it was well-pleasing
in thy sight," Matthew

Who teach: That the reason why God sends the gospel to one people rather
than to another is not merely and solely the good pleasure of God, but
rather the fact that one people is better and worthier than another to
whom the gospel is not communicated. For this Moses denies, addressing
the people of Israel as follows: "Behold unto Jehovah thy God belongeth
heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth, with all that is therein.
Only Jehovah had a delight in thy fathers to love him, and he chose their
seed after them, even you above all peoples, as at this day," Deuteronomy
.And Christ said: "Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto
thee, Bethsaida! for if the might works had been done in Tyre and Sidon
which were done in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth
and ashes," Matthew

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