Electa or Eclecta
Electa Or Eclecta (Ε᾿κλεκτή, Auth. Vers. "elect" lady). According to Grotius, Wetstein, and some other critics, this word is used as a proper name in the address of John's second epistle, ῾Ο Πρεσβύτερος Ε᾿κλεκτῇ κυριᾷ — "The
Presbyter to the Lady Eclecta." This meaning is advocated by bishop Middleton, in his treatise on the Doctrine of the Greek Article (2d edit. Cambridge, 1828, pages 626-629). He adduces in support of it several epistolary inscriptions from Basil, in which the name precedes, and the rank or condition in life is subjoined, such as Εὐσταθίῳ ἰατρῷ-Λεοντίῳ σοφιστ῝Ê-Βοσπορίῳ ἐπισκόπῳ-Μαγνημιανῷ κόμητι: none of these, however, are purely honorary titles. To meet the objection that the sister of the person addressed is also called Eclecta in verse 13, he suggests that the words τ῝ῆς Ε᾿κλεκτῆς are a gloss, explanatory of σοῦ. But this is mere conjecture, unsupported by a single manuscript; and such a gloss, if occasioned (as bishop Middleton supposes) by the return to the singular number, would more naturally have been inserted after se, in which position, however unnecessary, it would at least produce no ambiguity. Some writers, both ancient and modern, have adopted a mystical interpretation, though contrary to the usus loquendi, and ,to all apostolic usage, and suppose with Jerome that the term ἐκλεκτή referred to the Church in general, or with Cassiodorus, to some particular congregation. The last-named writer (born A.D. 470, died 562), in his Complexiones in Epistolas, etc. (London, 1722, page 136), says, "Johannes — electae dominae scribit ecclesiae, filiisque ejus, quas sacro fonte genuerat." Clemens Alexandrinus, in a fragment of his Adumbrationes, attempts to combine the literal and the mystical meanings — "Scripta vero est ad quandam Babyloniam Electam nomine, significat autem electionem ecclesiae sancta" (Opera, ed. Klotz, 4, page 66). The Auth. Version translates the words in question "the elect lady," an interpretation approved by Castalio, Beza, Mill, Wolf, Le Clerc, and Macknight. Most modern critics, however — Schleusner and Breitschneider, in their lexicons; Bourger (1763),Vater (1824), Goschen, and Tischendorf (1841), in their editions of the New Testament; Neander (Planting of the Church, 2:71), De Wette (Lehrbuch, page 339), and Lucke (Commentary on the Epistles of St. John, pages 314-320, Eng. transl.) — agree with the Syriac and Arabic versions in making Κᾷοτα a proper name, and render the words "to the elect Cyria.' (See Gruteri Inscript. page 1127.) Lardner has given a curious account of critical opinions in his History of The Apostles and Evangelists, c. 20 (Works, 6:284-288). See also Heumann, De Cyria (Gotting. 1726); Rittmeier, De ἐκλεκτῇ Κυρίᾷ (Helmst. 1706); Knauer, Ueber ἐκλεκτῇ Κυρίᾷ (in the Theol. Stud. u. Krit. 6:452 sq.); Amer. Presb. Rev., January 1867. SEE JOHN (THIRD EPISTLE OF).
Election of Clergy. How far the people had a right in the election of ministers in the early Church is a question that has been much disputed.
1. The account in Ac 1:15 of the choice of an apostle in place of Judas is cited as proof that even the apostles would not elect without the voice of the Church at Jerusalem. So in the choice of the deacons (Acts 6), the people "chose Stephen and set him before the apostles." On the other hand, the apostles themselves appointed elders, and St. Paul empowered Titus and Timothy to do the same (Ac 14:23; 2Ti 2:1; Tit 1:5); though some interpret the word χειροτονεῖν, in these passages, as implying ordination only and not excluding a previous election by the people. Compare also Ac 15:1; 1Co 5:2; 2Co 8:19.
2. Clemens Romanus (t 100) (Epist. ad Corinth. 1, § 44) asserts that the apostles appointed bishops and deacons with the concurrence of the whole Church. It is clear, from Clement's statement, that in his time the Church had a share in the appointment of its ministers. Cyprian (t 258) testifies to the share of the people in the election of bishops and elders, calling it matter of divine authority that "sacerdos plebe presente sub omnium oculis deligatur, et dignus atque idoneus publico judicio ac testimonio comprobetur" (Epist. 68). Bingham cites Lampridius (Vit. Alex. Severi, c. 45) as stating that the emperor (A.D. 222-235) gave the people a negative vote in the appointment of procurator, on the express ground that "what the Christians did in the election of their priests and ministers, should certainly be allowed the people in the appointment of governors of provinces."
3. Even after the establishment of the hierarchy, it seems to have been usual for the clergy or presbytery, or the sitting bishop or presbyter, to nominate a person to fill the vacant office, and then for the suffrages of the people — not merely testimonial, but really elective suffrages — to be taken. Bingham sums up the facts (Orig. Ecclesiastes book 4, chapter 2) in substance as follows:
1. No bishop could be obtruded upon an orthodox people against their consent (in case a majority were heretics or schismatics, the case was otherwise provided for): when they agreed upon a deserving bishop, they were usually gratified in their choice. The emperor Valentinian III held it to be a crime in Hilary of Aries that the ordained bishops against the consent and will of the people."
2. In many cases the voices of the people prevailed against the nominations of the bishops.
3. The modes of voting illustrate the power of the people in the elections; if they were unanimous for or against a man, they cried out "worthy" or "unworthy" (ἄξιος, ἀνάξιος; dignus, indignus).
If they were divided, they expressed their dissent in accusations, or even in tumults. There are instances in which persons were brought by force to the bishop to be ordained, or were elected to the office by acclamation. It was decided by the fourth Council of Carthage, that as the bishop might not elect clerks without the advice of his clergy, so likewise he should secure the consent, cooperation, and testimony of the people. The popular elections, however, became scenes of great disorder and abuse. A remarkable passage from Chrysostom (De Sacerd.) has been frequently quoted, and applies more or less to such elections, not only in Constantinople, but also in Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, and other large cities. He says: "Go and witness the proceedings at our public festivals, in which, more especially, according to established rule, the election of ecclesiastical officers take place. You will find there complaints raised against the minister as numerous and as various in their character as the multitude of those who are the subject of Church government. For all those in whom the right of election is vested split into factions. It is evident that there is no good understanding, either among themselves, or with the appointed president, or with the presbytery; One supports one man, and one another and the reason of this is, that they all neglect to look at that point which they ought to consider, namely, the intellectual and moral qualifications of the person to be elected. There are other points by which their choice is determined. One, for instance, says, 'It is necessary to elect a person who is of a good family.' Another would choose a wealthy person, because he would not require to be supported out of the revenues of the Church. A third votes for a person who has come over from some opposite party. A fourth uses his influence in favor of a relative or friend; while another lends his influence to one who has won upon him by fair speeches and plausible pretensions." In order to set aside these abuses, some bishops claimed an exclusive right of appointing to spiritual offices. In this way they gave offense to the people. In the Latin and African churches an attempt was made to secure greater simplicity in elections by introducing interventors or "visitors." This did not, however, long continue. Another plan was to vest the election in members of the lay aristocracy. But the determining who these should be was left to caprice or accident; and the result was, that the right of election was taken out of the hands of the people, and vested partly in the hands of the ruling powers, and partly with the clergy, who exercised their right, either by the bishops, their suffragans and vicars, or by collegiate meetings, and this very often without paying any regard to the Church or diocese immediately concerned. Sometimes the extraordinary mode of a bishop's designating his successor was adopted; or some one unconnected with the diocese, to whom a doubtful case had been referred for decision, was allowed to nominate. But in these cases the consent of the people was presupposed. Patronage has prevailed since the fifth century; but the complete development of this system was a work of the 8th and 9th centuries. —Bingham, Origines Ecclesiasticae, book 4, chapter 2; Farrar, Ecclesiastical Dict. s.v.; Riddle, Christian Antiquities, book 3, chapter 15; Coleman, Christian Antiquities, chapter 5. SEE PATRONAGE.
I. A statement of the doctrine from the Augustinian or Calvinistic point of view, by the Reverend C. Hodge, D.D., of Princeton;
II. A statement of the doctrine from the Methodist point of view;
III. Some other conceptions of the doctrine.
I. Election from the Calvinistic Point of View. — The Scriptures speak, first, of the election of individuals to office, or to positions of honor and privilege. Thus Abraham was chosen to be the father of the faithful, and the depositary of the promise of redemption. Thus Jacob was chosen, in preference to Esau, to be the progenitor of the chosen people. In like manner, Saul was chosen by God to be king over Israel, and subsequently David, and after him Solomon, were selected for the same high dignity. Thus also the prophets, and, under the new dispensation, the apostles, were chosen by God for the work assigned them. 2d. The Bible speaks of the election of nations to special privileges. The Hebrews were chosen from all the nations of the earth to be God's peculiar people. To them were committed the oracles of God. They were his inheritance. They received from him their laws and their religion, and were under his special guidance and protection, In De 7:6, it is said, "Thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth;" De 32:9, "The Lord's portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance;" Ro 9:4, "Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving to the law, and the service of God, and the promises." 3d. Besides this election of individuals and of nations to external advantages, the Scriptures speak of an election to salvation: 2Th 2:13, "We are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren, beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." Of this election to eternal life all Augustinians teach, first, that its objects are not nations, nor communities, nor classes of persons, but individuals.
1. Because neither the nations nor communities, as such, are saved. God did not choose all the nation of the Jews to salvation. Neither does he choose the nations of Christendom to eternal life; nor any organized Church, whether Papal or Protestant. The heirs of salvation are individual men.
2. Because those chosen to salvation are chosen to "sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." They are chosen "to be holy and without blame before him in love" (Eph 1:4). They are elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ" (1Pe 1:2). But nations and communities are not sanctified, or obedient, or unblameable before God in love.
3. We accordingly find that the elect are always addressed as individuals. Paul, when writing to a number of persons residing in Thessalonica, says, "God hath chosen you to salvation." Writing to the Ephesians, he says, "God hath chosen us," "having predestinated us." Our Lord (Joh 13:18) says, "I speak not of you all; I know whom I have chosen;" and again (Joh 6:37), "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." Joh 17:2, " Thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him." Verse 9, "I pray not for the world, but for those which thou hast given me." The Scriptures, therefore, clearly teach that the elect are certain individuals chosen out of the world to be the heirs of salvation.
Secondly. Augustinians hold that the ground of this election is the good pleasure of God. That is, that the reason why one person and not another is chosen to eternal life is to be found, not in what he is or does, distinguishing him favorably from his fellow-men, but simply because so it seems good in the sight of God. All being equally guilty and unworthy, God, for the manifestation of his glory, and for the attainment of the highest ends, chooses some, and not others, to be vessels of mercy prepared beforehand unto glory.
That such is the doctrine of the Scriptures on this subject is argued,
1. Because the Bible expressly says that election is of grace and not of works. It is not of works means that it is not what a man does that determines whether he is to be one of the elect or not. The apostle, in Ro 9:11, teaches that the choice of Jacob instead of Esau was made and announced before their birth, "that the purpose of God, according to election, might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth." It matters not whether the election here spoken of be to eternal life or to temporal advantages. The apostle refers to this incident in proof of God's sovereignty, and therefore he infers from it, " It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy" (verse 16). In like manner, in chapter 11 of the same epistle, he refers to the declaration made in the Old Testament to Elias! "I have reserved unto myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal;" and adds, "Even so, then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then it is no more of works, otherwise grace is no more grace" (verses 4-6). The mass of the Jews were cast off. A remnant was saved. That remnant consisted of those whom God chose. His choice was a sovereign one. It was of grace, and not of works. It was determined by the good pleasure of God, and not by what the objects of that choice had done. Paul himself belonged to that remnant. He was an illustrious example of the sovereignty of God in election. He had done nothing to secure the favor of God. He Was chosen to eternal life not because he repented and believed. He was converted not because he had faithfully used the means of securing a knowledge of Christ. On the contrary, he was converted in the midst of his wicked career of persecution. He was brought to faith and repentance because, as our Lord says, "He was a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel" (Ac 9:15). Paul's experience, as well as the teaching of the Holy Spirit, impressed upon his mind a deep conviction of the sovereignty of God in the salvation of men. He knew he had been chosen not for, but notwithstanding, his previous character and conduct. And he knew that, had he not been thus chosen, he would have perished forever. It is not surprising, therefore, that he valued this doctrine, or that he so often refers to himself as a monument of the grace of God in the election and salvation of sinners. In his epistle to the Galatians, after referring to the fact that he had beyond measure persecuted the Church of God," he adds, "It pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me" (Ga 1:15). See also Ac 22:14; 1Co 15:9; 1Ti 1:15-16: "Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe in him to life everlasting." Nothing could have pained the apostle more than that any one should attribute his conversion in any form or in any measure to himself. His constant and grateful acknowledgment was; "By the grace of God I am what I am." The negative statement that election is "not of works," is often, as in the passages above cited, connected with the positive assertion that it is of grace, or due to the sovereign pleasure of God.
2. It is not, however, merely in isolated passages that this doctrine is taught; it is elaborately proved and vindicated. Thus, in 1Co 1:17-31, the opponents of Paul in Corinth had urged against him that he was neither a philosopher nor a rhetorician; he came neither with "the wisdom of men" nor with enticing words." Paul's answer to this objection is twofold. First, he shows that philosophy, or the wisdom of men, had never led to the saving knowledge of God (1Co 1:18-21); secondly, that when the true method of salvation was revealed, it was rejected by the wise. "Look at your calling, brethren," he says; see whom it is that God hath chosen. It is not the wise, the noble, or the great; but God hath chosen the foolish, the weak, and the base. This was done with the design that no flesh should glory in his presence; no man was to be allowed to refer his conversion to himself. It is of God ye are in Christ Jesus, that he that glorieth may glory in the Lord (1Co 1:26-31).
Thus, also, in Eph 1:3-6, the apostle reminds his readers that God had blessed them with every spiritual blessing (verse 3). This he had done because he had chosen them in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blame before him in love (verse 4). He had thus chosen them to holiness, because he had, according to the good pleasure of his will, predestined them to the high dignity of sonship (verse 5). He had thus predestined them to be his sons, in order to glorify his grace or unmerited love (verse 6). In these few verses the whole Augustinian doctrine on this subject is stated with the utmost clearness and precision.
In the 8th chapter of the epistle to the Romans, the design of the apostle is to show the security of believers. Those who are in Christ shall never be condemned; because they are justified; because they have the principle of spiritual life through the indwelling of the Holy Ghost; because they are the children of God; because the Spirit makes intercession for them; because those whom God foreknows, he predestinates: whom he predestinates, he calls: whom he calls, he justifies: whom he justifies, he glorifies. This is a chain which cannot be broken. Those in whom he fixes his choice, he predestines, as said in the Ephesians, to be his sons and daughters; and those whom he thus predestinates, he effectually calls or regenerates; and those whom he regenerates, he will certainly save. All this the apostle confirms by a reference to the infinite and immutable love of God. "If God se loved us," he argues, "that he spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for "is, how shall he not with him freely give us all things? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justified. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for US." It was a natural objection to the apostle's doctrine that God had rejected the Jews and called the Gentiles; that it involved a violation of his promise to the patriarch Abraham. To this objection he gives, in the ninth chapter of his epistle to the Romans, a twofold answer. The one is, that the promise of salvation pertained not to the natural, but to the spiritual children of Abraham; not to the Ι᾿σραὴλ κατὰ σάρκα, but to the Ι᾿σραὴλ κατὰ πνεῦμα. The other is, that God acts as a sovereign in the dispensation both of temporal and of spiritual blessings. This he illustrates in the choice of Isaac instead of Ishmael, and of Jacob instead of Esau. Besides, he expressly claims this prerogative, saying to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." To the objection that it is unjust thus to dispense or withhold mercy at his own good pleasure, Paul's answer is, that any attribute which the Scriptures ascribe to God, and any prerogative which he actually exercises, we must admit rightfully to belong to him. If God, in his Word, claims this prerogative of having mercy on whom he will have mercy, and if he actually exercises it in his providence, and in the dispensation of his grace, it is vain for us to deny or to protest. The judge of all the earth must do right.
Besides, as the inspired writer continues his argument, if the potter has the right of the same mass of clay to make one vessel to honor and another to dishonor, has not the infinite God the same right over his fallen creatures? Can any one complain if, to manifest his mercy, he saves some of the guilty children of men, and to manifest his justice he allows others to bear the just recompense of their sins? This is only doing what every good and wise human sovereign is expected and required to do.
It cannot fail to be noticed that the character of the apostle's doctrine is determined by the objections to it. Had he taught that God chooses as vessels of mercy those who he foresees will believe, and leaves to perish those who he foresees will reject the Gospel, there had been no pretext for the charge of injustice. It was because he taught that God gave repentance and faith to some and not to others that his opponents charged him with teaching what was inconsistent with impartial justice on the part of God.
3. That God is sovereign in the election of the heirs of salvation is plain, because men are chosen to holiness; faith and repentance are gifts of God, and fruits of his Spirit. If it is election to salvation which secures repentance and faith, repentance and faith cannot be the ground of election. The passages of Scripture already quoted distinctly assert that election precedes and secures the exercise of faith. In Eph 1:4, it is said, We were chosen, before the foundation of the world, to be holy. In Eph 2:8, of the same epistle, it is said, "Faith is the gift of God;" and in verse 10, that we were foreordained unto good works. In Colossians, faith is said to be " of the operation of God" (Col 2:12). In Eph 1:19, it is referred to "the mighty power of God," which wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead. In 1Pe 1:2, it is said, we are elected "unto obedience and the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ." Vocation, that is, regeneration, the fruits of which are faith and holy living, follows election, as taught in Ro 8:30, "whom he did predestinate, them he also called." In a preceding verse of that chapter, it is said, we are predestinated '' to be conformed to the image of his Son." But conformity to the image of Christ includes all that is good in us. Christ was exalted "to give repentance and forgiveness of sin" (Ac 5:31). "If God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth" (2Ti 2:25). "Hearken, my beloved brethren, hath not God chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith" (Jas 2:5). "It is of him ye are in Christ Jesus" (1Co 1:30). It is, however, unnecessary to multiply quotations. The Bible is full of the doctrine that regeneration is the gift of God; that all holy exercises are due to the working of his Spirit. All Christians recognize this truth in their prayers. They pray earnestly for the conversion of those dear to them. This takes for granted that God can and does change the heart; that all that pertains to salvation, the means as well as the end, are his gifts. If he gives us repentance — if the fact be due to him that we, and not others, turn from our sins to the living God, then surely he does not choose us and not others because of such repentance.
4. Salvation is by grace. Grace is not mere benevolence, nor is it love in the form in which God loves the holy angels. It is love to the unholy, the guilty, to enemies. It is mysterious love. It is compared to the instinctive love of a mother for her child, which is independent of its attractions. This is the most wonderful, and, perhaps, the most glorious of all the known attributes of God. We are distinctly told that the special object of the redemption of man was the revelation of this divine perfection; it was for the manifestation "of the glory of the riches of his grace" (Eph 1:6). He hath quickened us, raised us up, made us sit in heavenly places, "that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness to us through Christ Jesus" (Eph 2:5-7). Such being the design of redemption, it must, in all its stages, be a work of grace. It was a matter of grace that redemption was provided for man and not for angels; it was a matter of grace that God gave his Son for our salvation. To make the mission of Christ a matter of justice, something to which our fallen race had a righteous claim, would alter the whole character of the Bible. The incarnation, sufferings, and death of the Son of God are everywhere set forth as manifestations of the unmerited and infinite love of God. But if a matter of grace that salvation was provided for the children of men, it was a matter of grace that the knowledge of the plan of salvation was communicated to some and not to others — to the Jews and not to the Gentiles. It is of grace that any sinner is justified, that he is sanctified and saved. From first to last salvation is of grace. To introduce the element of works or merit into any part of the plan vitiates its character. It is expressly taught that regeneration or conversion, the fact that one man is converted and not another, is a matter of grace. This is what the apostle specially insists upon in the first chapter to the Corinthians, already referred to. He calls upon his readers to look at their calling, to see who among them were called. It was not the wise or the great, but the foolish and the insignificant, whom God chose, for the very purpose that no flesh should glory in his presence. — It was necessary that the subjects of salvation should feel and acknowledge that they were saved by grace; that it was not for any merit of their own, not for anything favorably distinguishing them from others, but simply that God, and the riches and sovereignty of his grace, should be magnified in them. Such is the form of apostolic Christianity, and such is the form in which it reveals itself in the heart of the believer. His theory may be one thing, but his inward and, it may be added, his delightful consciousness is that he owes his salvation to the grace of God alone.
5. The doctrines of the Bible are so related that one of necessity implies others. If the Scriptures teach that men, since the Fall, are born in a state of sin and condemnation, and are spiritually dead until renewed by the Holy Ghost; if this death in sin involves entire helplessness, or inability to any spiritually good; if regeneration, or effectual calling, is effected, not by the moral influence of the truth, or by those divine influences common to all who hear the Gospel, but "by the mighty power of God," then of necessity the calling and consequently the election of those who are sated is a matter of sovereignty. If Christ, when on earth, raised some from the dead and not others, it was not anything in the state of one dead body as distinguished from others which determined which should rise and which should remain in their graves. As this connection between doctrines exists, all the evidence which the Bible contains of one of the truths just mentioned is so much evidence in favor of the others.
6. The system of doctrine with which these views are connected is frequently designated as Pauline. But this is a misnomer. Although clearly taught by the apostle Paul, these views are far from being peculiar to his writings. They not only pervade the Scriptures, but were inculcated with greater solemnity, clearness, and frequency by our blessed Lord himself than by any other of the messengers of God. He constantly addressed men as in a hopeless and helpless state of sin and misery, from which nothing but the almighty power of God could deliver them. Of the mass of mankind thus lying under the just displeasure of God, he speaks of those whom the Father had given him, who should certainly come to him, and whom he would without fail bring into his heavenly kingdom. He constantly refers to the good pleasure of God as the only assignable reason why one is saved and not another. "Many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias... . but unto none of them was Elias sent save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman, and she was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet, and none of them was cleansed saving Naaman the Syrian" (Lu 4:25-27). "At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight" (Mt 11:25-26). "To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand" (Lu 8:10). "All that the Father hath given me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out... . And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that if all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but raise it up again at the last day" (Joh 6:37,39). "No man can come to me except the Father draw him; and I will raise him up at the last day" (verse 44). "No man can come to me except it were given unto him of my Father" (verse 65). "Ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world" (Joh 15:19). "Ye believe not because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one" (Joh 10:26-28). "Thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he might give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him" (Joh 17:2). "Thine they were, and thou gavest them me" (verse 6). " I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine" (verse 9). ' Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me" (verse 11). "Father, I will that they also, whom thon hast given me, be with me where I am." Our Lord thus teaches that those who are saved are certain persons chosen out of the world and given to him by the Father; that those thus given to him certainly come to him; that this certainty is secured by the drawing of the Father; and that those thus given to him are certainly saved.
7. There is an intimate relation between truth and Christian experience. The one accords with the other. What the Bible teaches of the sinfulness of man, the believer feels to be true concerning himself. What it teaches of the helplessness and dependence of the sinner, his own experience teaches him to be true; what is said of the nature and effects of faith answers to what he finds in his own heart. If, therefore, the Bible teaches that it is of God, and not of himself, that the believer is in Christ Jesus; that he, and not others, repent and believe; that he has been made to hear the divine voice, while others remain deaf — this will find a response in the bosom of the experienced Christian. We consequently find all these truths impressed upon the common consciousness of the Church, as it finds expression in its liturgies, its prayers, praises, and confessions. "Not unto us, not unto us, O Lord, but unto thy name be the glory," is the spontaneous language of the believer's heart. It is not in experimental religion, in the theology of the heart, that the children of God differ, but in the form in which the understanding undertakes to reduce these facts of Scripture experience to logical consistency.
8. As there is this correspondence between the truths of the Bible and religious experience, there is a like analogy between the providence of God and the dispensations of his grace. He is not more sovereign in the one than in the other. It is of him that we were born in a Christian land and not heathendom; among Protestants instead of in Spain or Italy; of Christian parents and in the bosom of the Church instead of being the children of the irreligious and immoral. It is the "Lord that maketh poor and maketh rich; he bringeth low and lifteth up" (1Sa 2:7). "God putteth down one and setteth up another" (Ps 75:7). " It is he giveth power to get wealth" (De 8:18). "He giveth wisdom to the wise, and knowledge to them who know understanding" (Da 2:12). "The Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he wills" (Da 4:17). The Bible is full of this doctrine. God governs all his creatures and all their actions. "He worketh all things after the counsel of his own will" (Eph 1:11). This is a truth of even natural religion; at least it is recognised by all Christians. They pray for favorable seasons, for protection from disease and accident, and from the malice of their enemies. When the pestilence sweeps over the land, and one is taken and another left, we all say, " It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth right in his sight." All that Augustinians teach concerning election is, that God acts in the dispensation of grace as he does in his providential government of the world. If sovereignty be consistent with justice and goodness in the one case, it must be in the other.
The difficulty which is usually felt on this subject arises from looking at only one aspect of the case. It is true that God gives health, wisdom, riches, power, the knowledge of the truth, saving grace, and life everlasting, according to his good pleasure. He exercises the prerogative of having mercy upon whom he will have mercy. It is true that what in fact occurs God intended to permit. Although he can, as all Christians admit, control the acts of free agents, he permitted the fall of man. He permits the present amount of sin and misery in the world. If so be that multitudes perish in their sins, it is undeniable that God intended, for wise reasons, to permit them to perish. While all this is true, it is no less true that he never interferes with the free agency of his rational creatures. If a man of the world determines to make the acquisition of wealth the end of his life, he is perfectly free in forming that determination. If he determines by diligence and honesty to accomplish his object, or if he chooses to resort to deceit and fraud, he is in both cases free and responsible. On the other hand, if a man determines to make the salvation of his soul and the service of Christ the great end of his being, he also is perfectly free in the choice he makes. If God makes him willing, he does not act unwillingly. Paul was never more free in his life than when he made a complete surrender of himself to Christ, saying, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" No man, we may well believe, ever sought Christ with the diligence and constancy, under the guidance of the Gospel, which the men of the world exhibit who failed of being saved. All who perish under the knowledge of the truth perish because they deliberately prefer the world to God.
The importance of the doctrine in question arises from the fact that, in the present state of human nature, if God by his almighty power did not convert some from the error of their way, no man would be saved. If he left all to themselves, and to those influences of the Spirit common to all who hear the Gospel, all would continue in their sins. Had not Christ by his omnipotence healed some lepers, none would have been healed; had he not opened some sightless eyes, all the blind would have continued in darkness.
The practical effect of the doctrine that we are entirely helpless in our sin and guilt, lying at the mercy of God, is to lead us to cast ourselves at his feet, saying, God be merciful to us sinners! As the deaf, and blind, and leprous, under a sense of helplessness and misery, crowded to Christ for healing, so souls burdened with the leprosy of sin are constrained to look to him for help, and those who come to him he will in no wise cast out. (C.H.)
II. The Doctrine of Election from the Arminian Point of View. —
1. John Wesley sums up his view of election as follows: "I believe it commonly means one of these two things:
(1.) A divine appointment of some particular men to do some particular work in the world. And this election I believe to be not only personal, but absolute and uncondition: 2. Thus Cyrus was elected to rebuild the Temple, and St. Paul, with the twelve, to preach the Gospel. But I do not find this to have any necessary connection with eternal happiness. Nay, it is plain it has not; for one who is elected in this sense may yet be lost eternally. 'Have I not chosen (elected) you twelve,' saith our Lord, 'yet one of you hath a devil?' Judas, you see, was elected as well as the rest; yet is his lot with the devil and his angels.
(2.) I believe election means, secondly, a divine appointment of some men to eternal happiness. But I believe this election to be conditional, as well as the reprobation opposite thereto. I believe the eternal decree concerning both is expressed in these words: 'He that believeth shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned.' And this decree, without doubt, God will not change, and man cannot resist. According to this, all true believers are in Scripture termed elect; as all who continue in unbelief are so long properly reprobates, that is, unapproved of God, and without discernment touching the things of the Spirit. Now God, to whom all things are present at once, who sees all eternity at one view, 'calleth the things that are not as though they were,' the things that are not as yet as though they were now subsisting. Thus he calls Abraham 'the father of many nations' before even Isaac was born. And thus Christ is called 'the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,' though he was not slain, in fact, till some thousands of years after. In like manner God calleth true believers 'elect from the foundation of the world,' although they were not actually elect or believers till many ages after, in their several generations. Then only it was that they were actually elected when they were made 'the sons of God by faith.' Then were they in fact chosen and taken out of the world; 'elect,' saith St. Paul, 'through belief of the truth;' or, as St. Peter expresses it, 'elect according to the foreknowledge of God, through sanctification of the Spirit.' This election I as firmly believe as I believe the Scripture to be of God. But unconditional election I cannot believe; not only because I cannot find it in Scripture, but also (to waive all other considerations)
because it necessarily implies unconditional reprobation. Find out any election which does not imply reprobation, and I will gladly agree to it. But reprobation I can never agree to while I believe the Scriptures to be of God, as being utterly irreconcilable to the whole scope of the Old and New Testaments" (Works, N.Y. edition, 6:28, 29).
2. The following summary statement is from the Reverend Dr. Whedon: "All God's choices are elections. Some of these elections are unconditional, viz. those which relate to material objects, the absolute disposing of which violates no flee agency. But there is also a class of conditional elections or predeterminations by God, which are so far contingent as that they are conditioned upon the actual performance of certain free acts by the finite agent as foreseen. Those free acts, required by God as conditions to this election, are by divine grace placed in the power of every responsible agent, so that the primary reason why any are not elected is that they do not exercise their power of meeting those conditions. And since every responsible agent has the power to make his own calling and election sure, and every elect person has full power to reject the conditions, so it is not true that the number of the elect can be neither increased nor diminished. Every man has gracious powers to be elected according to the eternal purpose of God. All men may be saved. Every individual, by grace divine, may place himself in the number of those who are chosen from before the foundation of the world. The reprobates are those who, abusing the conferred grace of God, resisting the Holy Spirit, reject the conditions of salvation, and so fail to present the necessary tests to their election. The elect are chosen unto good works, to holy faith, to persevering love, to a full manifestation of the power of the Gospel during their probationary life, and upon their full performance of this their work and mission, they attain, through grace divine, to a rich, unmerited salvation" (Bibliotheca Sacra, April, 1862, page 268).
3. The following statement and argument is chiefly abridged from Watson, Theological Institutes, part 2, chapter 26: Three kinds of election are mentioned in Scripture, viz.:
i. The election of individuals to perform some particular service, which has no necessary connection with their salvation. Cyrus was God's chosen servant to promote the rebuilding of his Temple. The apostles of our Lord were elected to their office: "Have I not chosen you twelve?" This was an act of sovereign choice for which Christ gave no reason. He made no apologies to those disciples who were not chosen, and he never allowed any one who had the call to refer to anything meritorious in himself as the cause. He is the Lord of his Church. Great mischief has been done by confounding this election to office, which in its nature must be unconditional, with personal election to salvation, dependent upon faith and perseverance. St. Paul had an unconditional election to the same office from which Judas fell. He was a "chosen" vessel to be the apostle of the Gentiles.
ii. The second kind of election is that of communities or bodies of people to eminent religious privileges to accomplish, through their means, the merciful purposes of God in benefiting other nations. This was once applicable to the Jews, as it is now to the Christians. "You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth." "The Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth." This fact may in part account for the frequent and familiar use of the terms elect, chosen, and peculiar in the New Testament, when the apostles are writing to the churches. This, however, does not explain fully the reason for the use of these terms. The abrogation of the church-state of the Jews, and the admission of Gentiles to an equality with Jews as the people of God, will account for the adoption of this phraseology. The reason of their peculiar existence as a nation ceased with the coming of Christ, for he was a light to lighten the Gentiles, as well as the glory of his people Israel. There was a new election of a new people of God, to be composed of Jews, not by virtue of their natural descent, but by faith in Christ; and of Gentiles of all nations, also believers, and placed on an equal ground with the believing Jews (see Romans 11). It is easy therefore, to see what is the import of the 'calling' and 'election' of the Christian Church, as spoken of in the New Testament. It was not the calling and the electing of one nation in particular to succeed the Jews, but it was the calling and the electing of believers in all nations, wherever the Gospel should be preached, to be in reality what the Jews typically, and therefore in an inferior degree, had been the visible Church of God, 'his people,' under Christ 'the head;' with an authenticated revelation; with an appointed ministry, never to be lost; with authorized worship; with holy days and festivals; with instituted forms of initiation; and with special protection and favor.
Now what were the effects of this election?
(1.) Plainly the ancient election of the Jews to be God's peculiar people did not secure the salvation of every Jew individually, nor did it exclude the non-elect Gentiles from adequate means of salvation; nay, the election of the Jews was intended for the benefit of the Gentiles — to restrain idolatry and diffuse spiritual truth.
(2.) As to the election of the Christian Church, it does not infallibly secure the salvation of every member of the Church, nor does it conclude anything against the saving mercy of God being still exercised as to those who are out of the Church; nay, the very election of Christians (who are the "salt" of the earth) is intended to bring those who are still in "the world" to Christ.
This collective election is often confounded by Calvinists with personal election. This is especially done in the interpretation of Paul's argument in Romans 9-11. But a just exegesis of these chapters shows that they can be interpreted only of collective election, not of personal election (see the full examination of this in Watson, Institutes, 2:312-325). The apostle does, indeed, treat of unconditional election in this discourse, but it is of unconditional collective election.
iii. The third kind is personal election of individuals to be the children of God. Our Lord says, "I have chosen you out of the world." St. Peter says, "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ." Then election must take place in time, and must be subsequent to the administration of the means of salvation. The " calling" goes before the "election," and the "sprinkling of the blood of Christ" before that "sanctification" through which they become "the elect" of God. In a word, "the elect" are the body of true believers; and personal election into the family of God is through personal faith. All who truly believe are elected; and all to whom the Gospel is sent have, through the grace that accompanies it, the power to believe placed within their reach; and all such might, therefore, attain to the grace of personal election. The doctrine of personal election is therefore brought down to its true meaning. Actual election cannot be eternal; for from eternity the elect were not actually chosen out of the world, and from eternity they could not be "sanctified unto obedience." The phrases "eternal election' and "eternal decree of election" can therefore mean only "an eternal purpose" to elect, a purpose formed in eternity to choose and sanctify in time "by the Spirit and the blood of Jesus." But when Calvinists graft on this the doctrine that God hath from eternity chosen in Christ unto salvation a set number of men (certam quorundam hominum multitudinem) unto holiness and eternal life, without cause or condition except his arbitrary will, they assert a doctrine not to be found in the Word of God. It has two parts:
(1) the choosing of a determinate number of men, which cannot be increased or diminished;
(2) this choice is unconditional. Let us consider these two points.
a. As to the choosing of a determinate number of men, it is allowed by Calvinists that they have no express scriptural evidence for this tenet. And,
(1.) As to God's eternal purpose to elect, we know nothing except from revelation, and that declares
(a) that he willeth all men to be saved;
(b) that Christ died for all men, in order to the salvation of all; and
(c) the decree of God is, "He that believeth shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned:" and if God be unchangeable, this must have been his decree from all eternity:
(d) if the fault of men's destruction lies in themselves, then the number of the elect is capable of increase and diminution.
(2.) This doctrine necessarily carries with it that of the unconditional reprobation of all mankind, except the elect, which cannot be reconciled with the moral attributes of God, i.e., with his love, wisdom, grace, compassion, justice, or sincerity; nor with the scriptural doctrine that God is no respecter of persons; nor with the scriptural doctrine of the eternal salvation of infants; nor, finally, with the proper end of punitive justice, which is, to deter men from sin, and to add strength to the law of God.
b. As to the second branch of this doctrine, viz. that personal election is unconditional.
(1.) According to this doctrine, the Church of God is constituted on the sole principle of the divine purpose, not upon the basis of faith and obedience, which manifestly contradicts the Word of God, according to which Christ's Church is composed not merely of men, as Peter, James, and John, but of Peter, James, and John believing and obeying; while all who "believe not," and obey not, are of "the world," not of "the chosen."
(2.) This doctrine of election without respect to faith contradicts the history of the commencement and first constitution of the Church of Christ. The first disciples became such by believing; and before baptism men were required to believe, so that their actual election had respect to faith.
(3.) There is no such doctrine in Scripture as the election of individuals unto faith, and it is Inconsistent with several passages which speak expressly of personal election, e.g. Joh 15:19; 1Pe 1:2; 2Th 2:13-14.
(4.) There is another class of texts in which the term election occurs, referring to believers, not personally, but as a body forming the Church of Christ, which texts, containing the word election, are ingeniously applied to the support of the doctrine of unconditional personal election, when in fact they do not contain it. Such is Eph 1:4-6. Now in regard to this text, it might be shown
(a) that if personal election were contained in it, the choice spoken of is not of men merely, but of believing men; but
(b) it does not contain the doctrine of personal election, but that of the eternal purpose of God to constitute his visible Church no longer upon the ground of descent from Abraham, but on that of faith in Christ,
(5.) Finally, the Calvinistic doctrine has no stronger passage to lean upon. We conclude by asking if this doctrine be true,
(a) Why are we commanded "to make our election sure?"
(b) Where does Scripture tell us of elect unbelievers?
(c) and how can the Spirit of truth convince such of sin and danger, when they are, in fact, in no danger?
The fundamental objection made by Calvinists to the Arminian doctrine is that it "subverts grace!" How? Because "it is not an act of grace for the Most High to do justice!" Does this mean that God cannot be at once gracious and just? Grace, in this discussion, is not opposed to God's justice, but to man's desert. If, indeed, human merit alone had entered into the question, the race would have ended with Adam; and it was only in virtue of the covenant of grace that descendants were born to him. Under that covenant God is bound, not, indeed, by any desert of man (for that would preclude grace), but by his own faithfulness, to offer salvation in Christ to all who fell in Adam. This is the doctrine of Arminians; this, too, is the doctrine of Scripture. The Gospel system is called by St. Paul the " grace of God, given to us in Christ Jesus." And he tells us that "the grace of God, which bringeth salvation to all men (ἡ σωτήριος πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις) hath appeared" (Tit 2:11); that "the living God is the Savior of all men, especially those that believe" (1Ti 4:10); that he "will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth" (1Ti 2:4). According to the Gospel scheme, "As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive." This θέλημα Θεοῦ is his determinate counsel — a decree "of his good pleasure." "Not, however, that it would have been consistent for God to desert the human race, and leave it to perish; the divine goodness forbids such a supposition. The simple meaning is that no external necessity compelled him to it, and that it was his free grace, without desert or worthiness on the part of man" (Knapp, Theol. § 88). Were God bound, by any merit in man, to restore freedom of will and moral power to man, there would be no grace in the act. But God may be bound by the perfections of his own character, and, in accordance with the scheme of human salvation which he in his infinite goodness has devised and announced, to do many things for man, which, so far as the recipient is concerned, are pure acts of grace. The Augustinian doctrine holds, in effect, that God displays his mercy in saving a portion of mankind by irresistible grace, and in "destroying the rest by the simple rule of his own sovereignty." The Methodist doctrine is that God, of his boundless philanthropy (φιλανθρωπία, Tit 3:4), provides means for the salvation of the whole human race, gives grace to enable each man to appropriate that salvation to himself, and destroys none but those who willfully refuse that grace. The former, in its fatalistic elements, is as much the doctrine of Mohammed as of Christ; the latter is the very grace of the Gospel." SEE GRACE.
III. Other Views on Election. — It is undeniable that the Augustinian doctrine has been held by many of the greatest and subtlest intellects from Augustine's time until now. It has a sort of fascination, especially for masculine and vigorous natures. Is not the explanation probably to be found in the fact that such natures find "a deep peace in the belief that their own greatest efforts are not really efforts at all, but the natural fruits of a divine necessity; that they can neither fail nor succeed so long as they obey implicitly, but only transmit the energies and register the decrees of a diviner might and wisdom? No doubt there is A great fascination in a mode of thought which almost obliterates the human instrument in the grandeur of the inevitable purpose. Calvinism is a personal and Christian way of merging the individual in the grandeur of a universal destiny" (Spectator, July 2, 1864), Perhaps the greatest danger in the tendencies of modern thought is that of the subversion of the mora) freedom of man by the general acceptance of the doctrine that physical law is just as valid in the moral world as in the material. That the Calvinistic doctrine tends in this direction cannot be denied. And this tendency is doubtless one of the grounds, if not the chief ground, of the modern reaction against Augustinianism among spiritual thinkers (as distinguished from materialists) on the one hand, and of the various schemes of modified Augustinianism which have been proposed within the theological sphere as substitutes for extreme Calvinism, as Baxterianism, the so-called moderate Calvinism (q.v.) and the New-England Theology (q.v.).
1. Dr. Nevin (Mercersburgh Review, April, 1857, not writing from the Arminian point of view) compares the New Testament idea of election with the Calvinistic as follows: "Are the references to the idea of election in the New Testament such, as a general thing, that they may be fairly construed in the known and established sense of the Calvinistic dogma; or are they so circumstanced and conditioned as to require plainly a different interpretation? On this point there is no room for any serious doubt. The New Testament doctrine of election, as it meets us, for instance, in the epistles of St. Peter, and rules continually the thinking and writing of St. Paul, is something essentially different from the doctrine of election which is presented to our view in Calvin's Institutes. The proof of this is found sufficiently in one single consideration. The Calvinistic election involves, beyond the possibility of failure, the full salvation at last of all those who are its subjects; there is no room to conceive of their coming short of this result in any single instance, made certain as it is in the form of a specific purpose and predetermination in the divine mind from all eternity. Election and glorification, the beginning and the end of redemption, are so indissolubly bound together that they may be considered different sides only of one and the same fact. The 'elect' in Calvin's sense have no power really to fall from grace, or come short of everlasting life: But, plainly, the 'elect' of whom the New Testament speaks, the 'chosen and called of God' in the sense of St. Peter and St. Paul, are not supposed to possess any such advantage; on the contrary, it is assumed in all sorts of ways that their condition carries with it, in the present world, no prerogative of certain ultimate salvation whatever. They may forget that they were purged from their old sins, lose the benefit of their illumination, make shipwreck of their faith, and draw back to everlasting perdition. They have it in their power to throw away the opportunities of grace, just as much as it lies in the power of men continually to waste in like manner the opportunities of mere nature. Their salvation is, after all, hypothetical, and suspended upon conditions in themselves which are really liable to fail in every case, and which with many do eventually fail in fact. Hence occasion is supposed to exist, in the sphere of this election itself, for all sorts of exhortation and warning to those who are the subjects of it, having the object of engaging them to 'make their calling and election sure.' The tenor of all is, Walk worthy of your vocation. Only such as endure unto the end shall be saved. So run that ye may obtain.' Plainly, we repeat, the two conceptions are not the same. The difference here brought into view is such as to show unanswerably that the Calvinistic dogma is one thing, and the common New Testament idea of election altogether another. The Calvinistic election terminates on the absolute salvation of its subjects; that forms the precise end and scope of it, in such so that there is no room to conceive of its failing to reach this issue in any single case. The New Testament election, as it enters into the thinking of St. Peter and St. Paul, terminates manifestly on a state or condition short of absolute salvation. Whatever the distinction may involve, for those who are its subjects, in the way of saving grace, it does not reach out at once to the full issue of eternal life. The fact it serves to establish and make certain for them is of quite another character and kind; it sets them in the way of salvation, but it does not make their salvation sure."
2. Martensen (Christian Dogmatics, Edinb. 1866), a modern Lutheran divine, remarks — that Calvin "confounds predestination with the election of grace. The separation which is only temporal he made eternal, be. cause he laid its foundations in the eternal counsel of God. God, according to him, made from eternity a twofold election, because he hath foreappointed certain persons to faith and to blessedness, and certain others to unbelief and everlasting damnation. This awful election he further maintained to be purely unconditional, and thus he mistook the true relations between the divine and the human... . From Calvin's point of view man has no history — at least so far as history includes the idea of a temporal and free life in which what is as yet undecided will be decided; all is decided beforehand — existence, life, destiny... . The true basis of the doctrine of election is given in the Lutheran doctrine of universal grace and conditional decrees" (§ 206-210).
3. Browne, bishop of Ely, in his Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles (N.Y. 1865, 8vo), gives a pretty full history of the doctrine of election, and maintains, in substance, the theory of "ecclesiastical election," viz. that, as the "Jews of old were God's chosen people, so now is the Christian Church; that any baptized member of the Church is one of God's elect, and that this election is from God's irrespective and unsearchable decree. Here, therefore, election is to baptismal privileges, not to final glory; and the elect are identical with the baptized; and the 'election' constitutes the Church" (page 402). His conclusion, from an examination of the passages of Scripture bearing on the question, is, "that the revelation which God has given us concerns his will and purpose to gather together in Christ a Church chosen out of the world, and that to this Church, and to every individual member of it, he gives the means of salvation. That salvation, if attained, will be wholly due to the favor of God, which first chooses the elect soul to the blessings of the baptismal covenant, and afterwards endues it with power to live the life of faith. If, on the other hand, the proffered salvation be forfeited, it will be in consequence of the faults and wickedness of him that rejects it. Much is said in Scripture of God's will that all shall be saved. and of Christ's death as sufficient for all men; and we hear of none shut out from salvation but for their own faults and demerits. More than this cannot with certainty be inferred from Scripture, for it appears most probable that what we learn there concerns only predestination to grace, there being no revelation concerning predestination to glory" (page 442). See also, for views somewhat similar, Faber, Primitive Doctrine of Election (New York, 1840, 8vo); Fry, Essay on Election (London 1864). For the further literature, SEE ARMINIANISM; SEE PREDESTINATION.