“…being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will…”
“Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?”
Order of Contents
Predestination & Reprobation Contrasted
Reformed Theological Writings of R.A. Finlayson, p. 265. Finlayson was a Free Church of Scotland professor during the mid-1900’s.
“Predestination & Reprobation Contrasted
1. The [Westminster] Confession does not teach or imply a double predestination. In an attempt to distinguish between election and reprobation we should use predestination for the elect and foreordination for the reprobate [as the Confession does].
2. Election and reprobation rest on different grounds: election on the redeeming love of God that undertakes the salvation of the lost; reprobation on the moral necessity to manifest to the universe the nature and consequences of sin in moral personality.
3. Means are used of God to fulfil the purpose of election, but God uses no means to fulfil His purpose of reprobation. It is left to sin to run its course and receive its wages.
4. The fruits of election are attributable to divine grace, the fruits of reprobation to personal sin. This means that while there is grace to some, there is injustice to none.
5. While God finds pleasure in the salvation of the elect, He has sworn by Himself that He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. God does not need sin or its retribution for His self-manifestation, but its reality in the universe can serve that end.
6. That the elect will constitute a recreation of the race under a new Head is evident, while the reprobate are but the branches cut off from the tree of humanity. Christ will be revealed as the Savior of the world, though many are lost in the process.”
Anthology of the Post-Reformation
ch. 7, ‘The Decrees of God’, pp. 133-50
Heppe (1820–1879) was a German reformed theologian.
ch. 8, ‘Predestination’, pp. 150-90
Calvin, John & Theodore Beza – ‘Calvin & Beza on Providence: Translations by Knox’ trans. John Knox (1545, 1558, 1560; 2021)
These two valuable pieces on Providence by Calvin and Beza, though previously available in English, have lain in obscurity, so much so that most people likely do not know that they exist. They originally appeared, translated by John Knox from the French and Latin respectively, in the midst of Knox’s massive treatise on predestination. That treatise remains in old English, which is old enough and difficult enough that to many it is unreadable.
The Libertines, having such a high view of God’s eternal decree, held to what is known in philosophy as a form of Occasionalism, that all events that occur are directly and immediately worked by God. True secondary causation is eliminated. One main problem with this is that it makes God the Author of Sin, something that the Libertines expressly affirmed. Calvin here not only repudiates this blasphemy, but he also lays out three ways (and only three ways) in which God brings all things to pass through his providence, herein establishing true secondary causation.
Beza provides 29 propositions on providence from his work against Sebastian Castellio, touching upon similar themes as Calvin. Both Calvin and Beza’s pieces, while making some basic distinctions, expound the Lord’s providence in a way that is easy to grasp with illustrations from Scripture and human life.
Calvin, John – Institutes of the Christian Religion tr. Henry Beveridge (1559; Edinburgh: Calvin Translation Society, 1845), vol. 2, bk. 3
Beza, Theodore – ‘An Excellent Treatise of Comforting Such as are Troubled about their Predestination, Taken out of the Second Answer of Mr. Beza to Dr. Andreas, in the Act of their Colloquy at Mompelgart, etc.’ 4 pp. appended to William Perkins, A Golden Chaine: or the Description of Theologie containing the order of the causes of saluation and damnation, according to Gods word. A view whereof is to be seene in the table annexed. Hereunto is adioyned the order which M. Theodore Beza vsed in comforting afflicted consciences. (Cambridge, 1600)
’20 Theses of Dr. Francis Junius Concerning Divine Predestination’ a public disputation at Leiden in 1593 as found in The Works of James Arminius… Translated from the Latin, in 3 Volumes (Auburn & Buffalo: Derby, 1853), vol. 3, pp. 263-278 The words in italics are that of Junius; the words under those in plain font are Arminius’ commentary.
‘A Discussion on the Subject of Predestination Between James Arminius, D.D., Minister of Amsterdam, & Francis Junius, Professor of Divinity at Leiden, Conducted by Means of Letters’ in The Works of James Arminius… Translated from the Latin, in 3 Volumes (Auburn & Buffalo: Derby, 1853), pp. 7-262
Rollock, Robert – A Brief Instruction on the Eternal Approval & Disapproval of the Divine Mind 1593/4 6 pp. trans. Charles Johnson & Travis Fentiman
Rollock, a fountain of reformed theology in Scotland, here treats of the important distinctions to be recognized within God’s decree of predestination, especially as it comes to be variously executed through time in providence. Of special interest is his formulations relating to what would be later known as the sincere free offer of the Gospel:
“Approval without the decree belongs to all good things with respect to themselves, though they are not at any time realized, of which sort are the conversion, faith, and salvation of reprobates; which God surely approves of simply, but does not decree to come about… 1 Tim. 2:4, ‘Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.’”
Rollock’s early paradigm appears to have been influential through later reformed thought as reflections of it occur in later reformed scholastics, including in the Metaphysical Disquisitions of Samuel Rutherford at the end of his Latin treatise on Providence. More about that may be explored on our page On God’s Revealed Will.
Perkins, William – A Golden Chain: or The Description of Theology, Containing the Order of the Causes of Salvation & Damnation, According to God’s Word (Cambridge, 1600)
ch. 3, ‘Of the Life of God’
ch. 6, ‘Of God’s Works & his Decree’
ch. 7, ‘Of Predestination & Creation’
ch. 15, ‘Of Election, & of Jesus Christ the Foundation Thereof’
ch. 35, ‘Of the Degrees of Executing God’s Decree of Election’
ch. 36, ‘Concerning the First Degree of the Declaration of God’s Love’
ch. 37, ‘Concerning the second degree of the declaration of God’s love’
ch. 38, ‘Concerning the third degree of the declaration of God’s love’
ch. 48, ‘Of the fourth degree, of the declaration of God’s love: and of the estate of the Elect, after this life’
ch. 50, ‘Concerning the order of the causes of salvation according to the doctrine of the Church of Rome’
ch. 52, ‘Concerning the decree of Reprobation’
ch. 53, ‘Concerning the execution of the decree of Reprobation’
ch. 54, ‘Concerning a New Devised Doctrine of Predestination, taught by some New and Late [Arminian] Divines’
ch. 58, ‘Of the Application of Predestination’
Bucanus, William – 36. ‘Of Predestination’ in Institutions of Christian Religion... (London: Snowdon, 1606), pp. 421-51
For an entrance into this treatise what words must we consider?
Explain therefore these words
What is the order and process of these words?
Whether is there predestination or no?
What is predestination?
Is predestination but of mankind only?
How many degrees or parts of predestination are there?
What is the decree of predestination?
What is the primordial efficient cause of this great decree?
When began this decree?
What kind of decree is this?
How many kinds are there of this decree of predestination?
Whether reprobation be also subject to God his decree as election is?
What is election?
What is the principal cause of election?
What is the efficient enforcive or precedent cause thereof?
Does our election consist of our own faith, holiness, worthiness, lineage or works foreseen of God, or no?
Is the election of all men common or general, that is, does God ordain all men to salvation?
Of what sort of men is election?
Wherefore has not God elected all?
Is not Christ the Redeemer of all men?
Died not Christ for all men?
Is not the calling and promise general, Mt. 11:28, ‘Come unto Me all ye that are weary and laden’?
How does it then accord that God calls them to Him whom He knows will not come?
But so the kingdom of grace shall not be very large
By this means then shall not God be an accepter of persons?
But God would have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, 1 Tim. 2:4
What is the execution of predestination?
Of how many sorts are those means?
How many are the proper and peculiar means ordained by God for the elect?
What is the proper end of election?
What are the marks of election?
What is reprobation?
What is the efficient cause of reprobation?
Are not some sins, as incredulity, etc. the causes of the decree why someone is rejected?
Is not God tainted with the note of injustice, if his will only be determined the cause of reprobation?
What are the common means of reprobation?
What are the particular means of the execution of God’s decree for the rejecting of some men?
Is the execution of reprobation, or the appointing of wicked means subject to the decree of God, as faith and other means of salvation is to the decree of election?
What is the end of reprobation?
After what manner is the administration and application of the doctrine of predestination to be taken in hand, either of pastors or of all men in private?
What ought to be the order of application?
But what if any shall not as yet feel these effects of faith of the Holy Ghost and of regeneration, or shall feel them weak, shall he therefore make account that he is of the number of the reprobate, or shall he despair of his salvation?
Is there a certain number as well of the elect as of the reprobate?
But are there few that shall be saved, Lk. 13:23, or is there a greater number of the elect than of the reprobate?
May the regenerate assuredly by faith make mention of their election, and may they glory thereof in the Lord?
May the elect perish?
But many seem possible to be blotted out of the book of life by the place in Ex. 32:32, ‘Blot me out of the book of life,’ and Ps. 69:29, ‘Let them be blotted out of the book of life’.
But does it follow of the doctrine of predestination that it skills not how any man live, seeing the elect can no more fall away whatsoever they do, neither can the rest be saved?
What is the use and fruit of this doctrine?
What is contrary to this doctrine?
Ames, William – The Marrow of Theology tr. John D. Eusden (1623; Baker, 1997), bk. 1
Ames (1576-1633) was an English, puritan, congregationalist, minister, philosopher and controversialist. He spent much time in the Netherlands, and is noted for his involvement in the controversy between the reformed and the Arminians. Voet highly commended Ames’s Marrow for learning theology.
Walaeus, Anthony – 24. ‘On Divine Predestination’ in Synopsis of a Purer Theology: Latin Text & English Translation Buy (1625; Brill, 2016), vol. 2, pp. 22-66
Ames, William – ‘Of Predestination’ from The Marrow of Theology
Ames’ discussion is superb, especially his treatment of Reprobation.
Wolleb, Johannes – Abridgment of Christian Divinity (1626) in ed. John Beardslee, Reformed Dogmatics: J. Wollebius, G. Voetius & F. Turretin (Oxford Univ. Press, 1965), bk. 1
3. ‘The Works of God, & the Divine Decrees in General’, pp. 45-50
4. ‘Predestination’, pp. 50-54
Wolleb (1589–1629) was a Swiss reformed theologian. He was a student of Amandus Polanus.
Rutherford, Samuel – Rutherford’s Examination of Arminianism: The Tables of Contents with Excerpts from Every Chapter tr. Johnson & Fentiman (1638-1642; RBO, 2019)
ch. 2, section 18, ‘On God’s Revealed Will & Will of Good-Pleasure’, pp. 54-56
12. ‘Whether God willed absolutely that men would do no more good than what they do? We affirm with a distinction against the Remonstrants.’, pp. 77-78
19. ‘Whether it would have been better for the reprobate to never have heard the gospel? We deny with a distinction against the Remonstrants.’, pp. 79-80
8. ‘Whether the Adversaries rightly infer this, that according to us, it is noxious for the unconverted to hear the Word and to use external means? We deny.’, pp. 85-86
Gomar, Francis – ‘A Disputation on God’s Predestination’ (d. 1641) in the Works of Arminius, vol. 3 (1875), pp. 521-658 The 1875 edition of Arminius’ Works does not appear to be on the net, and this piece has not been found in the other editions of his works.
ch. 7, ‘On Predestination’ in Scholastic Discourse: Johannes Maccovius (1588-1644) on Theological & Philosophical Distinctions & Rules (1644; Apeldoorn: Instituut voor Reformatieonderzoek, 2009), pp. 155-67
Maccovius (1588–1644) was a reformed, supralapsarian Polish theologian.
‘The Theological Disputation De Divina Hominum Praedestinatione [On the Divine Predestination of Humans] (1643), with Johannes Maccovius Presiding & Johannes Fridericus Herbst Responding’ trans. Ryan Hurd MAJT 30 (2019): 85-99
Leigh, Edward – A System or Body of Divinity… (London, A.M., 1654), bk. 3
1. Of God’s Decree, & Especially of Predestination & the Parts thereof: Election & Reprobation 216
2. The Execution of God’s Decree 225-33
Rijssen, Leonard – A Complete Summary of Elenctic Theology & of as Much Didactic Theology as is Necessary tr. J. Wesley White MTh thesis (Bern, 1676; GPTS, 2009)
ch. 5, ‘God’s Decree’, pp. 52-58
ch. 6, ‘Predestination’, pp. 58-66
Rijssen (1636?-1700?) was a prominent Dutch reformed minister and theologian, active in theological controversies.
Turretin, Francis – Institutes of Elenctic Theology, tr. George M. Giger, ed. James Dennison Jr. (1679–1685; P&R, 1992), vol. 1, 4th Topic
1. ‘Are decrees in God, and how?’ 311
2. ‘Are the decrees of God eternal? We affirm against Socinus.’ 314
3. ‘Are there conditional decrees? We deny against the Socinians, Remonstrants and Jesuits.’ 316
4. ‘Does the decree necessitate future things? We affirm.’ 319
5. ‘Is the fixed and immoveable end of the life of each man with all its circumstances so determined by the decree of God, that he cannot die in another moment of time or by another kind of death than that in which he does die? We affirm against the Socinians and Remonstrants.’ 322
6. ‘Ought predestination to be publicly taught and preached? We affirm.’ 329
7. ‘In what sense are the words ‘predestination,’ prognoseos, ekloges and prosthesos used in this mystery?’ 331
8. ‘Was there a predestination of angels, and was it of the same kind and order with the predestination of men? The former we affirm; the latter we deny.’ 335
9. ‘Whether the Object of Predestination was Man Creatable, or Capable of Falling; or whether as Created and Fallen. The Former we Deny; the latter we Affirm.’ 341
10. ‘Is Christ the cause and foundation of election? We deny against the Arminians and Lutherans.’ 350
11. ‘Is election made from the foresight of faith, or works; or from the grace of God alone? The former we deny; the latter we affirm.’ 355
12. ‘Is the election of certain men to salvation constant and immutable? We affirm against the Remonstrants.’ 365
13. ‘Can the believer be certain of his own election with a certainty not only conjectural and moral, but infallible and of faith? We affirm against the papists and Remonstrants.’ 373
14. ‘Is the decree of reprobation absolute, depending upon the good pleasure (eudokia) of God alone; or is sin its proper cause? We distinguish.’ 380
15. ‘Is infidelity, or unbelief of the gospel, presupposed as a cause of reprobation? We deny against the Remonstrants.’ 390
16. ‘Is the will of God to save persevering believers and condemn the unbelieving, the whole decree of reprobation? We deny against the Remonstrants.’ 392
17, ‘Can there be attributed to God any conditional will, or universal purpose of pitying the whole human race fallen in sin, of destinating Christ as Mediator to each and all, and of calling them all to a saving participation of his benefits? We deny.’ 395
18. ‘Is any order to be admitted in the divine decrees, and what is it?’ 417-31
Le Blanc, Louis – Theses Theologicae... (London, 1683), pp. 127-32 tr. Michael Lynch
Le Blanc (1614-1675) was a French reformed professor of theology at Sedan, France.
Heidegger, Johann H. – 5. ‘On the Decrees of God’ in The Concise Marrow of Theology tr. Casey Carmichael in Classic Reformed Theology, vol. 4 (1697; RHB, 2019), pp. 35-41
ch. 5, ‘The Decrees of God: General Observations’
ch. 6, ‘Eternal Predestination: Election & Reprobation’
a Brakel (1635-1711) was a contemporary of Voet and Witsius and a major representative of the Dutch Further Reformation.
De Moor, Bernard – Continuous Commentary (d. 1780)
ch. 6, ‘On the Decree’
1. Divine Decrees as Internal Acts ad Extra
2. The Term, “Decrees”
3. Existence of the Decrees
4. Definition for “Divine Decrees”
5. General Nature of the Divine Decrees
6. Eternity of
7. Liberty of
8. Wisdom of
9. Independence of
10. Immutability of
11-13. Object of, pt. 1, 2, 3
14. Order of
15. Connection of All Things
16. Things Possible, but not Future
17. Chief End of the Decree
ch. 7, ‘On Predestination’
2. Term “Predestination”
2. Homonymy of “Predestination”
3. Double Meaning of “Predestination”
4. Reality of Predestination
5-6. Definition of “Predestination”, pt. 1, 2
7. Eternity of Predestination
8. Liberty of
9. Wisdom of
10. God’s Independence in Predestination
11-12. God’s Independence in Predestination Defended, pt. 1, 2, 3, 4
13-14. Immutability of Predestination, pt. 1, 2
15-18. Object of, pt. 1, 2, 3, 4
19. End of
20. Term, “Election”
21. Definition of “Election”
22. Predisposing Cause of Election
23-25. Object of Election, pt. 1, 2, 3
26. End of Election
27-28. Certainty of Election, pt. 1, 2
29. Term, “Reprobation”
30. Definition of “Reprobation”
31. Predisposing Cause of Reprobation
32-33. Object of, pt. 1, 2
34. Ultimate End of
35. Proximate End of
36. Subjective Uncertainty of
37. Sublimity, Necessity & Usefulness of the Doctrine of Predestination
Buchanan, James – Modern Atheism, vol. 2
The Doctrine of Natural Laws & Second Causes, p. 252 ff. 11 pp.
The Constitution of Man in its Relation to the Government of God, p. 264 ff. 18 pp.
Theories of Chance & Fate, p. 303 ff. 19 pp.
Cunningham, William – Historical Theology (1863)
God’s Providence & Man’s Sin in vol. 1, p. 625 ff. 13 pp.
The Decrees of God & Predestination in vol. 2, p. 416 ff. 73 pp.
Girardeau, John – Calvinism & Evangelical Arminianism (1890)
Waddell, James – ‘Re-Examination of Dr. Girardeau’s Views of the Freedom of the Will’ (1880) 26 pp. in The Southern Presbyterian Review, 31.4 (Oct., 1880), pp. 690-716. Girardeau initially wrote two articles regarding the Fall of Adam in 1879 for The Southern Presbyterian Review. Waddell then responded with criticisms in the same journal. In two issues of the journal in 1880 Girardeau responded to Waddell. Here is Waddell’s response to Girardeau’s defense.
This article takes up the very interesting and somewhat complex issues regarding the nature of the decree of sin, whether it was permissive or not, and in what sense, the nature of its certainty, the relation of the decree to God’s foreknowledge, and Calvin’s interpretation of all of these things.
Berkhof, Louis – ‘The Divine Decrees & Predestination’ in Systematic Theology (1949) 55 paragraphs
Knox, John – An Answer to the Cavillations of [an Anabaptist] Adversary Respecting the Doctrine of Predestination (1560) in The Works of John Knox, 5:7-468
“While living in Geneva about 1558, Knox was asked by persons back in England to answer a book circulating there titled Careless by Necessity. This work, written by an Anabaptist, denied the doctrine of Predestination. Knox complied…
This work is the longest of Knox’s writings… On Predestination is in the form of an ‘answer’, and is disputational in structure. Knox alternately [block] quotes an assertion from his ‘Adversarie’ [in the order of the adversary’s book] immediately following it with his ‘Answer’.” – Brian L. Dole, ‘John Knox on Predestination’
See extended excerpts from this work, the font of which is otherwise difficult to read, at, Excerpts from John Knox’s Work on Predestination.
p. 15 in Exercitation 26 in An Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews… vol. 2 ed. W.H. Goold in Works (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1862), vol. 19, Preliminary Exercitations
“Our work is, to inquire wherein, how, and whereby, God has revealed his eternal counsels, to the end that we may know his mind, and fear Him for our good.”
Distinctions through Universal Theology, taken out of the Canon of the Sacred Letters & Classical Theologians (Frankfurt: 1626)
ch. 17, ‘On Predestination’ in Theological Common Places Illustrated by Perpetual Similitudes (Frankfurt, 1630), pp. 94-105
Wendelin, Marcus Friedrich – Christian Theology (Hanau, 1634; 2nd ed., Amsterdam, 1657), bk. 1, ‘Knowledge of God’
ch. 3, ‘Of the Certain Election of Men unto Eternal Life’, pp. 121-44
ch. 4, ‘Of Reprobation’, pp. 144-53
Voet, Gisbert – Syllabus of Theological Problems (Utrecht, 1643), pt. 1 Abbr.
Wettstein, Gernler & Buxtorf – 4. Decrees of God & Predestination in A Syllabus of Controversies in Religion which come between the Orthodox Churches & whatever other Adversaries, for material for the regular disputations… customarily held in the theological school of the academy at Basil (Basil, 1662), pp. 13-16
History of the Doctrine
Easterday, Kevin – ‘Thomas Aquinas and His Contribution to the Doctrine of Predestination’ a seminary paper for GPTS
“This paper examines the link of the Reformed doctrine of predestination to Thomas Aquinas, as articulated in his Summa Theologica.” – Blurb
Stucco, Guido – The Doctrine of Predestination in Catholic Scholasticism: Views & Perspectives from the Twelfth Century to the Renaissance (2017) 154 pp.
On the 1500’s
Sytsma, David – ‘Vermigli Replicating Aquinas: An Overlooked Continuity in the Doctrine of Predestination’ in Reformation & Renaissance Review 20, no. 2 (2018): 155-167
On the 1500’s-1600’s
Selderhuis, Herman J. – ‘Calvinismus Heidelbergensis: The Heidelberg Theological Faculty & the Discussions about Predestination, 1583–1622′ in Calvin Studies XII: Papers Presented at a Colloquium on Calvin Studies at Erskine Theological Seminary, Due West, South Carolina, January 27–28, 2006, pp. 55–71
Johnson, Charles – ‘Thomas & TULIP’ (2020) 20 paragraphs at Reformed Theology Delatinized
“This article will address the claim that Thomas Aquinas held to an Augustinian doctrine of predestination essentially compatible with that of the Reformed Churches, showing in what ways Thomas’s doctrine is compatible with the doctrine of the Reformed Churches and important ways in which it differs.”
Stucco, Guido – The Catholic Doctrine of Predestination from Luther to Jansenius (2014) 310 pp.
On the 1600’s
Walker, James – ch. 2, ‘Predestination & Providence’ in The Theology & Theologians of Scotland: Chiefly of the Seventeenth & Eighteenth Centuries (1888), pp. 36-65
Denlinger, Aaron C. – ‘Swimming with the Reformed Tide: John Forbes of Corse (1593-1648) on Double Predestination & Particular Redemption’ Journal of Ecclesiastical History 66/1 (2015), pp. 67-89
Stucco, Guido – When Great Theologians Feuded (2017) 360 pp.
“This is a detailed account of the XVII century clash of views between the Jesuit Leonardus Lessius and the [Romanist] Dominican Thomas Lemos concerning grace and predestination.” – Blurb
What does the word ‘Sovereignty’ Mean?
Calvinism: Pure & Mixed (1893; Banner of Truth, 1993), pp. 70-71
“Sovereignty is a comprehensive term. It contains several elements.
First it denotes supremacy. A sovereign ruler is supreme in his dominions. All other rulers are under him.
Secondly, sovereignty denotes independence. Says Woolsey,
‘In the intercourse of nations certain states have a position of entire independence of others. They have the power of self-government, that is, of independence of all other states as far as their own territory and citizens are concerned. This power of independent action in external and internal relations constitutes complete sovereignty.’ (Political Science, i., 204)
Thirdly, sovereignty denotes optional power; that is, the power to act or not in a given instance. It is more particularly with reference to this latter characteristic of free alternative decision, that ‘the sovereignty of God in election’ is spoken of. In his election of a sinner to salvation, God as supreme, independent, and sovereign, acts with entire liberty of decision, and not as obliged and shut up to one course of action.
This is the common understanding and definition of sovereignty as applied to decisions and acts. Says Blackstone [one of the most influential writers on English law]:
‘By the sovereign power is meant the power of making laws; for wherever that power resides all other powers must conform to, and be directed by it, whatever appearance the outward form and administration of the government may put on. For it is at any time in the option of the legislature to alter that form and administration by a new edict or rule, and put the execution of the law into whatever hands it pleases, by constituting one, or a few, or many executive magistrates.’ (Introduction, 2)
Blackstone gives the same definition of sovereignty, when it is vested in a king (Book II., ch. vii.). The king has no superior to oblige or compel him to one course of action. He has independent and optional power.”
On the Threefold Distinction within the Decree of God
van Mastricht, Petrus – ch. 1, sections 15-16 & 28 in Theoretical-Practical Theology (RHB), vol. 3
Muller, Richard –
Why We Speak of One Decree & Decrees Plural
van Mastricht, Petrus – ch. 1, sections 26 & 28 of Theoretical-Practical Theology (RHB), vol. 3
De Moor, Bernard – Continuous Commentary, ch. 6, ‘On the Decree’
“God decrees [evil] for the sake of the good that he causes to arise from the sinfulness thereof; man decrees it for the sake of the evil that is in it.”