ETERNAL PREDESTINATION OF GOD
Then follows another objection of Pighius: "It is not without purpose (says he) that Paul warns all the faithful to take heed that they 'receive not the grace of God in vain,' Nor is it without a purpose, that Christ exhorts all His disciples to 'watch and pray.'" But if we understand and hold fast the important difference between the unconcerned security of the flesh and that tranquil staidness of mind which faith produces, the knot of this objection is untied at once. Believers ought to rest in the certainty of their salvation. But for what end? That they might lie still in sleepy quiet? That they might throw themselves down in cowardly indolence? Oh, no! But rather that, as they thus enjoy a quiet rest in God, they might give themselves the more unto prayer. Paul exhorts such to "work out their salvation with fear (timore) and trembling'' (tremore) (Phil. ii. 12). Why is this exhortation? Is it that they might live in fear and uncertainty as to the issue? By no means. But that, nestling under the shadow of the wings of God, they might continually commit themselves unto His care, depending on Him alone, and so resting in His almighty power, as not to doubt of their being victorious unto the end. For Paul immediately subjoins the reason why the faithful should be thus anxious to shelter under the wings and omnipotent power of God: "For it is God (saith he) that worketh in you, both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Phil. ii. 13). Moreover, that the faithful might not remain in hesitation and suspense, he had already relieved them from all possible doubt. "Being confident (saith he) of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you, will perform it unto the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. i. 6). The Holy Spirit, therefore, nowhere exhorts us to the care and exercise of prayer under any idea that our salvation fluctuates in a state of uncertainty or doubt, for it rests safely in the hand of God. He nowhere imposes upon us a fear which might tend in any way to shake our confidence in the free love of God. No! The blessed Spirit, by such exhortations as these, designs only to quicken our natural slothfulness and unconcern.
It is to carry out, and enforce, this last objection of his also that Pighius calumniously twists and perverts the words of the apostle in the eleventh chapter of his Epistle to the Romans: "And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest He also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but towards thee, goodness, if thou continue in His goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off" (Rom. xi. 17-22). But the real meaning of this passage is as follows: After the apostle had, in this chapter, spoken of the twofold election of his nation (the national and the eternal), and had shown that by the falling away of many of them, it had come to pass that those who before had been the legitimate and proper heirs of life, by means of the covenant which God had established with their fathers, were "broken off" and cast out, as banished from His kingdom; after speaking thus of his own nation, Paul directs his word to the Gentiles, warning them not to triumph over the Jews, nor to offer them any insult, because God had taken them into their place. Now we are here carefully to observe that, as the universal rejection of the Jews did nor at all alter or shake the fixed election of God, so as to prevent Him from saving some "remnant " of them, so the universal election of the Gentiles did not embrace every individual of the Gentiles, so as to make them all sharers of eternal life. Paul, I repeat, is here speaking of God's twofold election of the Jewish nation. For the whole family of Abraham had been, in a certain sense, elected of God. But as many of them were not ordained unto eternal life by God's secret judgment and counsel, the greater number perished, though the election of God still rested on the "remnant." Now, however, that the covenant of life is transferred to the Gentiles, that general adoption of the family of Abraham belongs to us. But this does not prevent those few of the family of Abraham from still enjoying their adoption, who were ordained thereunto by the secret good pleasure and decree of God.
Paul, therefore, when thus contrasting the Gentiles with the Jews, calls the former "wild olive trees" engrafted on the original sacred root after its natural branches had been broken off. Nor is the apostle here speaking of individuals in a private sense, nor is he treating of the secret election of God abstractedly. He is showing what a mighty change of things was made when the legitimate children were rejected and strangers substituted in their place. The whole of this exhortation Paul is not so much addressed to those believers who had truly and in heart received the grace of God, as to the whole body of the Gentiles, which was promiscuously composed of various members, believers and unbelievers. And yet, there is nothing singular in God's restraining the pride and insolence of the flesh in His own Gentile children, seeing that they all labour under this corrupt infirmity. But Pighius most ridiculously concludes from the above exhortation of the apostle that the certainty of God's election and its final accomplishment depend upon the perseverance of men. This conclusion of Pighius is, we repeat, most absurd, because, in the falling away of all men generally from God, His eternal election must nevertheless stand and prevail.
As to the profane who stigmatize the judgment of God, representing it under an utterly false colour, and saying, "It is in vain for the reprobate to strive after righteousness and holiness, because, according to the doctrine of election, they must ultimately and inevitably perish." Such a calumny, as it is the offspring of the grossest ignorance, may be shaken off from us by a very brief reply, thus: There can be no real desire of doing good in men which does not proceed from God's election of them. The reprobate, however, made, as they are, vessels unto dishonour, never cease to provoke the vengeance of God upon themselves; thereby manifestly proving, as in written characters, that they are ordained to destruction. To Pighius, however, such a doctrine is the very climax of absurdity. So much so, that he declares there is no monstrosity equal to it to be found in all the discussions of this subject put together. But by this one declaration it is manifest that he is so carried away by a rabid lust of reviling all that is good, that abuses boil over, out of his breast, without any real occasion whatever. The Scripture plainly teaches that none but the elect of God are ever ruled or "led" by His Spirit. What rectitude or right-doing then can there be in man without the "leading" of the Holy Spirit? Hence it is that Paul saith, "The works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like" (Gal. v. 19-21). And he elsewhere declares that all the thoughts of the carnal mind are "enmity against God" (Rom. viii. 7).
What inconsistency, then, is there in my affirming that all those who are not regenerated by the Spirit of God are the slaves of sin, and carried headlong at the will of the flesh? Those whom God chooses, He justifies by His own righteousness. What marvel, then, if the reprobate, who are destitute of the righteousness of God, should no nothing, nor know how to do anything, but sin? But God has chosen His own for the very end that they might be "holy and without blame." If, then, holiness be the fruit of free-election, who can but confess that all the rest of men remain sunk in the filth and profanity of nature? Christ declares that none can hear His voice but His own sheep. And He asserts, on the other hand, that all those who will not hear the voice of the Father sounding in His mouth, "are of their father the devil" (John viii. 43, 44). When Pighius wants to show that reprobates study to do good works, he must, to be consistent, also show that their obstinacy is pleasing to God. But Pighius, in support of his doctrine, that the reprobate really do devote themselves to good works, argues that Saul excelled in many virtues. Nay, that he pleased God. That the virtues which shine in the reprobate are laudable in themselves I by no means deny. And this is what the Scripture means when it says that Saul, and others of the same character, "did what was right." But as God looks at the heart, the fountain from which all works flow, a work which is, in a general sense, good in itself, may nevertheless be an "abomination in the sight of God." In fact, this first principle of all godliness is wholly unknown to Pighius: "that there is nothing so pure that the uncleanness of man will not defile." It is no wonder, therefore, that our opponent, looking at the works of Saul, while wearing his external mask, lauds his innocence and virtues. When Pighius contends that Saul did in one instance please God, I grant it, and I make this case an exception to my general remark. God did, indeed, so honour him in his office as king, that the house of Israel, as we find in the Scripture, never once censured him, as Ezekiel also testifies. So Judas was chosen to the apostolic office. Will Pighius conclude that Judas was therefore numbered among the children of God? But my opponent calumniates all this my testimony, making me to be speaking all the time of the single actions of life abstractedly considered; whereas I am speaking of the continuous course and tenor of life. In a word, if we make not all the goodness and righteousness that can be found in man to proceed from the Spirit of sanctification, the whole testimony of the Scriptures must be shaken.
It is useless to spend farther time and trouble in replying to the other cavils of our adversary. His next objection is in every enemy's mouth: "All teaching is vain, and all exhortation worthless, if strength and power to obey wholly depend on the election of God." And this farther cavil is akin to it: "Men will, as an inevitable consequence, give themselves up to indolence and unconcern when they are thus taught to rest in the eternal counsel of God." The replies to these objections, already given by me in my "Answers," are so attacked by Pighius with his usual abuse, that I will allow them to remain quiet, and will not repeat them here to be defiled again by his hands
But if there be any ultramorose ones who are not yet satisfied, and who consider that there is more weight in the testimony of Augustine (which acknowledgment I have often and willingly made myself), I will produce his sentiments on this subject in his own words, thereby testifying my own assent to their truth. His words, as found in his book entitled, "On the Blessing of Perseverance," are these: "Men say that the doctrine of predestination stands adverse to all preaching, rendering it altogether useless. According to this, the preaching of Paul himself was altogether useless, which was full of this doctrine. Did not this great teacher of the Gentiles preach the doctrine of predestination continually? But did we ever hear of his ceasing to preach the Word of God because he found his preaching useless? Paul preached, 'It is God that worketh in you, both to will and to do of His good pleasure.' But do we ever find that, on that account, he ceased to exhort us 'to will' and wish those things which please God, and 'to work' ourselves with all our power? Paul preached, 'He that hath begun the good work in you will perform it unto the day of Jesus Christ.' But did he ever cease to persuade men to begin themselves, and to persevere unto the end? Nay, the Lord Himself called upon men to believe in Him. And yet His declaration is eternally true, and His description not without its solemn purpose, when He testifies, 'No man can come unto (that is, no one can believe in) Me, unless it were given him of My Father' (John vi. 65). Nor, on the other hand, is the exhortation of the Lord to believe vain because His description of those who alone do believe is true. How can it be said that the doctrine of predestination stands against preaching, and exhortation, and correction, and renders them useless (which are all so frequently used in Scripture), when the same Scripture speaks so much of predestination also?"
Shortly afterwards the holy father remarks, "Those hear these things, and do them, to whom it is given; but those to whom it is not given, do them not, whether they hear them not, or hear them. Neither, therefore, is the preaching of fruitful and persevering faith to be withheld because of the necessity of preaching predestination, in order that men, by the preaching of the former, might hear those things which they ought to do, and that they to whom it is given might do them. 'But how shall they hear (as the apostle argues) without a preacher?' Nor, on the other hand, is the preaching of predestination to be withheld because of the necessity of preaching that faith which is fruitful, and which persevereth unto the end, in order that he who lives in faith and obedience may not glory in his obedience as being his own, but the gift of God, as it is written, 'He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.'" "And again (continues Augustine), as he that hath received the gift so to do rightly exhorteth and preacheth, so he that hath received the gift so to do heareth and obeyeth. Hence it is that the Lord so frequently saith, 'He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.' And from whom those who have the gift receive it the Lord Himself shows us: 'I will give them (saith He) a heart to know Me, and ears to hear Me.' Ears to hear, therefore, are the gift itself of all obedience, with which all those who are endowed come to Christ. Wherefore, we both PREACH and EXHORT. Those who have ears to hear, hear us and obey; but in those who have not, that solemn scripture is fulfilled: 'That hearing they might hear and not understand;' hearing, indeed, with the outward ear of the body, but not with the inward ear of the heart. But why it is given to one to hear, and not to another; why it is given of the Father to some to come unto the Son, and not to others?so we ask this question? The reply is, 'Who hath known the mind of the Lord?' Are we, then, therefore, to deny what is manifest because we cannot comprehend what is hidden?
"From this is plainly seen (continues the holy man) how preposterous the extreme caution of those is who, through fear of some supposed absurdity or contradiction in it, would hide or altogether suppress a doctrine most necessary to be known. But suppose that some, upon hearing the doctrine of predestination, give themselves up to indolence and unconcern, and rush headlong from diligence and labour into concupiscence, following their own lusts, is all that is said in the Scripture concerning the foreknowledge of God therefore to be considered untrue? Would not those have been if God had foreknown that they would be good, although they are now revelling in wickedness? And if God foreknew that they would be evil, evil they will be, in whatever goodness they may now appear to shine. Are, then, all those things which the Scripture saith in truth concerning the prescience of God to be denied or held in silence because such cases as these are found among men? And that, too, when it is certain, that if these truths were not declared, men would nevertheless rush into other errors of some kind?
"A reason for not declaring the truth (continues Augustine) is one thing; the necessity of declaring the truth is another. To enumerate the various reasons assigned for the propriety of not declaring the truth would exceed both our limits and our purpose. One reason assigned is: Lest those who do not understand should be made worse, while we are wishing that those who do understand may be made wiser and better. But those who are not made wiser and better by any certain doctrine of truth which we teach are assuredly not made worse. But where the reality of the case is, that when we are declaring a doctrine of truth, he who cannot understand it is rendered worse by our declaration of it, while he who can understand it is rendered worse by our keeping silence, ?What is to be done (it is asked) in such a case as this? Why, is it not much better that the truth should be declared, in order that he who can receive it may receive it, than that it should be kept back in silence, that neither may receive it? For by this silence both are rendered worse?he that does, and he that does not, understand. Whereas, he that does understand might, by hearing the truth and receiving it, teach others also. Hence, some of us are unwilling to declare and teach that which, according to the testimony of Scripture, we ought to declare and teach. And the cause of this our fear is, lest, by our speaking out, he should be offended who cannot understand us. Whereas we ought also to fear, lest, by our silence, he who would have understood us, had we spoken, should be left to be carried away perhaps by the false teaching of others."
This sentiment, thus briefly expressed, Augustine afterwards expands and confirms in the following manner: "Wherefore, if the apostles and those teachers of the Church who followed them, performed the twofold service, solemnly holding forth the doctrine of God's eternal election, and also retaining the faithful under the discipline of a godly life, why should these men of our day think they act rightly in the matter of their teaching by keeping themselves shut up in silence within the strong tower of invincible truth, holding, as they do, that though what is said concerning election be eternally true, yet that it ought not to be preached openly to the people? On the contrary, however, the doctrine of election ought to be preached constantly and thoroughly, that he that hath 'ears to hear' might hear. And who hath these 'ears' but he who hath received them from Him who hath promised to give them? Wherefore, let him that receiveth not the truth reject it; but let him that heareth and understandeth the truth, receive it and drink it, and drink and live! As therefore godliness is to be preached, that God may be rightly obeyed and worshipped; so is predestination to be preached also, that he who 'hath ears to hear' the free grace of God might glory in God, and not in himself."
Hence, though there was in this holy man Augustine a singular devotedness to the edifying of the Church, yet he so wisely tempers the system of preaching the truth, that he would have offence guarded against (where it can be done lawfully) with all prudence. His admonition is, that whatsoever truths are preached should be preached at the same time consistently. He remarks: "If any one should address the people and say, If ye believe not, it is because ye are predestinated of God to eternal destruction such an one would not only foster his own indolence, but would indulge malice towards his hearers. If a preacher should extend his sentiments into the future, and should say that those who heard him never would believe because they were reprobates, such preaching would be IMPRECATION, not DOCTRINE!" Teachers of this description Augustine would have expelled from the Church at once (and most deservedly) as foolish or designing prophets, from whom no good can be expected. And the holy father elsewhere truly contends that a preacher then profits others when he pities them and helps them forward, and who invites those whom he wishes to benefit to proceed in the right way, without any appeal to them in the form of taunting rebuke. But why some profit by the preaching of the Word and some profit not, far be it from us to say that this is according to the judgment or wisdom of the 'clay,' when it is all according to the will and wisdom of the "potter"!
When men do come into the way of righteousness, or return into it, by means of holy correction or rebuke, who is it that works salvation in their hearts but He who 'giveth the increase,' whoever soweth, or whoever watereth? No free will of man can resist Him that willeth to save. Wherefore, we are to rest assured that no human wills can resist the will of God, who doeth according to His will all things in heaven and in earth, and who has already done by His will the things that shall be done. No will of men, we repeat, can resist the will of God, so as to prevent Him from doing what He willeth, seeing that He doeth what He will with the wills themselves of all mankind. And when it is His will to bring men by any certain way that He may please, does He bind their bodies, I pray you, with chains? O, no! He works within; He takes hold of their hearts within; He moves their hearts within; and draws them by those, now, new wills of their own which He has Himself wrought in them. But that which Augustine adds in continuation must by no means be omitted. "Since we know not (says he) who belongeth to the number of the predestinated, and who doth not, we ought so to feel as to wish all to be saved. From this it will come to pass that whosoever shall come in our way, we shall desire to make him a partaker of the peace which we ourselves enjoy. 'Our peace,' however, will nevertheless 'rest upon the sons of peace.' Wherefore, as far as we ourselves are concerned, wholesome and even severe correction will ever be made use of by us as a medicine towards all men, both to save them from perishing themselves, and to prevent them from causing others to perish. But it will be of Cod alone to make that medicine beneficial to those whom He foreknew and predestinated." If, then, these things be true, and if they be thus testified by a witness so eminent as the chief of the holy fathers, let them not be vomited forth from the mouths of hatred upon the head of Calvin by his ignorant and evilly-disposed persecutors. I would, however, that these insipid cautious ones, who so much desire to please by their teary moderation, would just consider that Augustine, to whom they so willingly yield the palm of knowledge in Divine things, surpasses them just as far in modesty also. This conviction would tend to prevent them from puffing off their soured timidity for real modesty.
But now let me deal a little farther with Pighius. My readers must bear in mind three special and summary particulars. First, that whatever mountain of absurdities he heaps up to launch at my doctrine, with a design to its suppression, is hurled not so much at me as at God Himself! Secondly, in order that he may wrest out of my hands those passages of the Scripture which make for me, he shews himself so ignorant a trifler as to make it manifest that he cannot support his own cause in any other way than by corrupting and subverting the Bible altogether. And lastly, that he rushes headlong into such an extreme of impudence, as to appeal, without hesitation, to Augustine himself as an authority for his absurdities. "If God (argues this worthless and daring mortal) created any men for destruction, He is not worthy of being loved. Those poor creatures, who were deprived of eternal life be/ore they were born, are more deserving of pity than of punishment." Now, if the testimonies which this aweless being attempts to shake were mine, he would be fighting against a mortal man. But since it is God Himself whom he thus insults and reproaches, I shall feel no shame in applying to him a hundred times over the solemn appeal of the apostle, "Nay, but who art thou, O man, that contendest against thy Maker?" This miserable mortal feels now, and all his fellows will hereafter feel, the effects of those reproaches which they hurl at God from their foul and profane mouths. Such reproaches fail and fall by the weight of their own wickedness long before they reach heaven. Their only certain course is to fall back, with all their weight, upon the heads of those who utter them. Let me be permitted just to produce one specimen of this rebel's foul madness in adulterating the Scripture. The ninth chapter of Paul's Epistle to the Romans is both confounded and dismembered in the following manner: ?
At his commencement, to save all labour and trouble in untying the Gordian knot, he cuts it right in halves (as he thinks) by this one word. He says that Israel was chosen of God, but not all Israelites, because (he says) the descendants of Israel did not all truly represent their father Israel, who received that name from "seeing." And from this he concludes that God's election becomes not real and ratified in any but in those who "open their eyes." But this pre-eminent teacher of clear-sightedness, in interpreting the name Israel, is most ridiculously stone-blind himself, while thus vainly attempting to make a sharp point out of a blunt log. Meantime, this blind instructor never thinks of the fact that Israel (the "open-eyed" one, according to his lucid interpretation) was made "open-eyed" by the peculiar grace of God, for he had been chosen of God even in the womb of his mother. Nor do any others ever possess "eyes" to see God, or His truth, but those whose minds God Himself enlightens by His Spirit. And those only are deemed worthy the light of His Spirit whom He adopted for Himself even while still in their blindness, and whom He makes His children. After this, Pighius, like a wild beast escaped from his cage, rushes forth, bounding over all fences in his way, uttering such sentiments as these: "The mercy of God is extended to every one, for God wishes all men to be saved; and for that end He stands and knocks at the door of our heart, desiring to enter Therefore, those were elected before the foundation of the world, by whom He foreknew He should be received. But God hardens no one, excepting by His forbearance, in the same manner as too fond parents ruin their children by excessive indulgence." Just as if anyone, by such puerile dreams as these, could escape the force of all those things which the apostle plainly declares in direct contradiction to such sentiments! And just as if it were nothing at all to his readers, when Paul positively asserts that, out of the twins, while they were yet in the womb of their mother, the one was chosen and the other rejected! and that, too, without any respect to the works of either, present or future (of the former of which there could be none), but solely by the good pleasure of God that calleth! As if it were nothing, when the apostle testifies that "it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy," who hardeneth whom He will, and hath mercy on whom He will! As if it were nothing when the same apostle avers, "that God sheweth forth His power in the vessels of wrath," in order that He might make known the riches of His grace on the vessels of mercy"! Paul undeniably here testifies that all those of Israel who were saved were saved according to God's free election; and that, therefore, "the election obtained it, and the rest were blinded" (Rom. xi. 7). All these solemn particulars, however, we have more fully discussed in their order in our preceding pages.
If our opponent were a hundredfold more acute, and clever than he is, all the cavils he could muster would never prevent even the deaf from hearing the loud. thunder of the above declarations of the apostle. And yet, after having heaped up words, mountain on mountain, he leaves this feeble mountain of his own standing at last: "God did not create those reprobates whom He foresaw would be such, but He knew that some whom He should create would be reprobates." But what is all this folly, more or less, than bedaubing the eyes of the Potter, and His hands also, in order that we might not be able to discern His real form and features, nor to see His work? And it is just the same when he attempts to disentangle himself from the Divine net of the apostle which lies hidden in the first chapter of his Epistle to the Ephesians. He so sports and flourishes his bombast, as if, by his loud, empty noise, he could strike even the apostle himself dumb, and force him to be silent. "God (says this vain mortal) chose us in Christ, because He foreknew that His grace, which otherwise was free to all, would find a place in us only, and that we alone should receive it. He chose us out of all men, because He foresaw that that which was set before all men for their reception would become peculiar to us, who alone would receive it. It was thus that He chose us 'to the glory of His grace,' which sanctifies us; just in the same manner as the praise of all belongs to the preceptor, while doctrine and its benefit belong to the scholar." As if that eternal purpose, which Paul elsewhere sets forth in opposition to all human works, were not the purpose of God alone! As if the glory of free grace were not, in this passage, more strikingly exhibited under the expression, the "good pleasure of God," than by any other terms! Why! God is said to have saved us "according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself" for this very reason, because, finding no cause in us, He made Himself the cause of our salvation. Is it for nothing, think ye, that the apostle repeats five times over that the whole of our salvation is the effect of, and dependent upon, that eternal decree, purpose and good pleasure of God? Is it with no intent whatever that the apostle declares that we were "blessed" in Christ because we were "chosen" in Christ? Does not the apostle refer all sanctification and every good work to the election of God, as waters are traced to their originating source? Does not Paul attribute it to the same grace that we are the "workmanship of God, created unto good works, which He hath before ordained that we should walk in them"? Why did God choose us out, and separate us from the rest, but that we might know that we are what we are, and that we are blessed above all others by the free favour of God alone? Behold, then, readers, how sweetly (!) God's foreknowledge of good works in us, according to the doctrine of Pighius, harmonises (!) with the apostle's context in the first chapter of his Epistle to the Ephesians! How much better would it have been, in our opponent, to have retained the character of an admirer of the apostle, which, for a moment, he was compelled to assume, than to have turned thus aside on a sudden to haughty speculations, and to have thrown off the mask of the admirer altogether to his own exposure. These great subjects, however, which I had more fully digested in the former part of this work, I have now only cursorily touched with the lip.
This worthless being, Pighius, indeed, flogs Augustine severely for being a man (as he says) who, in the discussion of this great subject, betrays more violent impetuosity than calm reason; one who dashes up against this thing and that person in his way, and who brings forth those things which seem to be utterly at variance with the goodness of God. And yet, this same vain mortal, devoid of every feeling of modesty, appeals to this same holy father's authority, in confirmation of his own absurdities. And with what impudence he does this, I will demonstrate in a few short words He lauds the industry of the holy man for his having so carefully winnowed this important question in his book written to Simplicianus, Bishop of Mediola. But did this fellow really ever open that book? I doubt it; because he makes it to be one book instead of two! And it is something rather marvellous that this very eminent interpreter should have singled out this production of Augustine from all his other works, which work the holy father himself acknowledges that he wrote at the commencement of his episcopate. For although Augustine wrote that book against Pelagius, he does not hesitate candidly to confess that he afterwards wrote much more fully and solidly on that subject. His own words are these: "The predestination of the saints is, indeed, set forth by me in that book. But necessity afterwards compelled me to defend that doctrine with greater industry and labour when I was contending for the truth against the Pelagians. For I always found that each heresy, as it arose, brought its own questions into the Church, against which the Divine Scripture required defence with greater diligence than if no such necessity had arisen."
But let us now see what that authority is which this impudent person adduces from the works of Augustine. "My author (says he) stands in the opinion that the rejection or contempt of vocation is the cause of reprobation, and this opinion he fully affirms." Now the fact is that the mind of Augustine is directly the contrary. For in his book, entitled, "Recollections." he says, "I once laboured hard for the free will of man, until the grace of God at length overcame me." But I will omit to notice here what he farther says in the book now in question, and in other places before cited by me, wherein he is explaining his mind, which is of more value to the faithful, at least, than a thousand opinions of Pighius, or of any others like him. How then does Pighius dare, with something more than impudence, to refer to Augustine as an authority for those sentiments which, throughout his whole work, he rejects with a determination quite as great as the candour with which he condemns them? But that I may not pursue these observations too far, I only observe that those authorities which Pighius adduces are indeed extant in the work of Augustine in question; but the fact is, that they are refuted in the same page on which they are found. "If (argues Augustine) the Scripture saith, 'It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy;' because the will of man alone is not sufficient to enable him to live justly and righteously, unless it be aided by the mercy of God; if this be the case, we might just as well argue, and the Scripture might just as well say, ' It is not of God that showeth mercy, but of man that willeth.' For, according to this, the mercy of God is not sufficient, unless it be aided by the consent of our will. But the truth and the fact are, that our willing is vain unless God have mercy. But how shall it be said (I know not) that God's having mercy is vain unless we also will? For where God hath mercy we are sure to have will, because the very nature of that mercy, when shown, is to make us willing, according to that word of the apostle, 'For it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do.' For if it be inquired whether or not a good will be the gift of God, who will be found so daring as to deny it?"
Shortly afterwards Augustine draws this conclusion: "Wherefore, the truth is that 'it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy,' because, although God calleth many, yet He hath mercy on those only whom He so calleth, as to make that call effectual in them that they may follow it. Hence. it would be utterly false if anyone were to say, 'It is not of God that showeth mercy, but of man that willeth;' because God hath mercy on no one ineffectually or in vain. On whomsoever God hath mercy, him He so calleth as to make the manner of his calling effectual, so that he shall not re/use Him that calleth." Wherefore, Pighius spoke with the greatest truth when he said, in his prefatory remarks, that this great question of predestination had been industriously winnowed by Augustine in his book addressed to Simplicianus. But he himself most grievously transgresses in the matter. For while he is catching at the chaff blown about in the air, he disregards altogether the wheat that is evidently left upon the floor.
But some small space must now be found for dealing with Georgius of Sicily. All things connected with this miserable creature are so insipid, vain and disgusting, that I really feel ashamed to spend any time or labour in his refutation. Nor would I condescend to enter the field with this shadow, if the silly consternation of many at his pretensions did not compel me to do so. And I doubt not that there will be many who, from their considering the easy victory which I must of necessity gain over his trifling puerilities will quite deride my needless attempt. Indeed, if he were not a mischievous person, I should consider him much more worthy of being trampled under foot in contempt, than of being refuted by the use of words. But as his books, flying throughout Italy, drive many mad on every side, I had rather, in such a kind of necessity, act a little of the madman myself with such a mad fellow, than suffer by silence so much mischief to be done in the Church by his madness. When of old the prophet Ezekiel saw that certain old prophetesses were blinding the eyes of the people, he felt no shame in entering into the battle with women (Ezek. xiii. 17). Let us, therefore, if we would be the true servants of Christ, not feel aggrieved at being compelled to take up arms for the purpose of driving away those, whosoever they may be, who are labouring with all their might to throw their chaff into the granary of the Lord.
When we testify that men are predestinated either to salvation or to destruction by the eternal counsel of God, Georgius considers that we hallucinate and are deceived in that matter on three accounts in particular. The first of which, he says, is that we are ignorant that the word election is received in different senses in the Scripture. "For God, he observes, is sometimes said to elect or choose certain persons to a certain temporal office, where no mention whatever is made of eternal life, nor any consideration of it entertained. But by what kind of arguments will this stupid trifler attempt to persuade us that we are so inexperienced in the Scriptures as not yet to know that Saul, who was really a reprobate, was yet chosen or elected to be king? and that Judas, who was one of the twelve, whom Christ declares that He Himself had chosen, was called by Christ a devil? Why does not this vain fellow point out some passages of the Scripture as having been evilly and impiously brought forward by us in support of our testimony which will make our errors manifest? The fact is, that this dreamer fabricates dreams of his own which are the children of his own brain, and against these he wages war as if they really were our dreams. And yet it is marvellous, meanwhile, how utterly he forgets himself and his own precept concerning the different meanings of the word election, when he attacks us and applies to us the words of the apostle: "Lest, after I have preached the Gospel to others, I myself should become a reprobate" (or a castaway). For he concludes from this passage that Paul (according to the doctrine of election) positively uttered a falsehood when he expressed his fear lest the immutable election of God should fail in his case; and that he really knew not, or was not certain of, his own election. Now this miserable being does not see that "reprobate" (or "disapproved") is in this passage, opposed to "approved"; and "approved" would signify that such an "approved" one had given sure evidences and proofs of his godliness. How was it that the different meanings of the term "reprobate" did not come into the mind of our silly opponent? For when "reprobate silver" is spoken of by the prophet Jeremiah (Jer. vi. 30), and "reprobate earth" in Paul's Epistle to the Hebrews (Heb. vi. 8), it does not mean that such "reprobate silver" or "reprobate earth" was ordained of God to eternal destruction; but that it was silver and earth that had become alloyed, adulterated, unfruitful and worthless. And that the term "reprobate" applies to men in this passage of the apostle, as it doth also in another epistle, is at once manifest in each place from the context. And yet, the election to any temporal office is so plainly distinct from that eternal election by which God chooses and adopts us unto everlasting life, that the Scripture sometimes joins them together in the same person, on account of their immediate affinity.
Thus, when Paul glories that God "separated" him from his "mother's womb," he is speaking of his apostolic office. But the same apostle, ascending yet higher, glories at the same time in the grace of God also, by which he had been called unto the hope of salvation. In like manner, Christ, although He declares that one of those whom He had chosen to the apostolic office was a devil, yet elsewhere joins the grace of adoption with the apostolic honour, saying, "Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you; that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain." For He declares that His own were given to Him of the Father, for the very end that He should not suffer anyone of them to perish, save him who was already "the son of perdition." Although, therefore, we everywhere read in the Scriptures that God chose these or those to this or that kind of life, or to this or that temporal office, such facts do not at all alter the greater fact that God chose unto salvation those whom He was pleased to save. Nor did the one election militate against, contradict, contravene, or impede the other.
The second account on which Georgius declares we are in error and delusion is, because we do not hold that all the believers (as he calls them) of the New Testament were chosen unto salvation, as those were of whom the apostle speaks in the first chapter of his Epistle to the Ephesians. But we have already more than fully shown that Paul in that chapter traces the faith by which the children of God enter upon the possession of their salvation unto eternal election as its true and only source; and most certainly faith is especially to be reckoned among those spiritual riches which are freely given to us in Christ. And from whence does Paul testify that all and every one of our spiritual blessings flow but from that eternal and hidden fountain? the free adoption of God? Again, the apostle uses these words, "Wherein He hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence." How did God thus abound? And from what source did this abundance flow? The apostle tells us immediately afterwards, "According to His good pleasure, which He hath purposed in Himself " (vers. 8, 9).
Wherefore, if faith be the fruit of Divine election, it is at once evident that all are not enlightened unto faith. Hence, it is also an indubitable fact that those on whom God determined in Himself to bestow faith were chosen of Him from everlasting for that end. Consequently the sentiments of Augustine are truth, where he thus writes: "The elect of God are chosen by Him to be His children, in order that they might be made to believe, not because He foresaw that they would believe." I forbear to cite here other passages of the apostle similar to the above, because they will have to be considered very shortly in their proper place. But as there is one passage in the evangelist Matthew, where the elect of God seem to be spoken of as an infinite number, where Christ Himself says that "there shall be such great signs and wonders shown by false christs and false prophets that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect;" Georgius explains "the elect" in this place as signifying all those who persevere in faith and righteousness. And this interpretation is perfectly right, provided that he at the same time confess that this perseverance depends on election alone. But Georgius, to shut out all idea of special or particular election, makes each individual among men the author of his own election.