Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Episcopius on the Knowledge of the Will of God

The Arminian Confession of 1621
Chapter 9
On the Knowledge of God's Will, revealed in the new covenant

  1. Further, the will of God, comprehended in the gracious covenant which our greatest prophet, the only begotten Son of God, clearly and fully revealed to us in his Gospel, is embraced in two principle heads. First, those things which God for his part decreed to do in us or about us through his Son Jesus Christ, that we may be made partakers of that eternal salvation offered by him. Second, those things which he wholly wills to be done by us through his own grace, if we really want to obtain eternal salvation.
  2. Those things which God decreed to do for his part in order to provide our salvation, are principally two. 1. He decreed for the honor of his beloved Son to choose for himself sons through him to salvation and life eternal, to adopt, justify, seal with his Holy Spirit and finally to glorify all those and only those truly believing in his name, or obeying his gospel, and persevering in faith and obedience until death, and to the contrary, to reprobate unbelievers and the impenitent from life and salvation and to damn them perpetually. 2. He has decreed through his same Son, to confer to all that are called, although miserable sinners, such efficacious grace through which they may really believe in their Christ the Savior, obey his gospel and be freed from the dominion and guilt of sin, indeed also through which they may really believe, obey and be freed, unless by a new defiance and rebellion they reject the grace offered by God.
  3. The first decree is the decree to predestination to salvation or election to glory, by which is established the true necessity and at the same time the usefulness of our faith and obedience for obtaining salvation and glory. But to dogmatically establish some other anterior, prior decree by which certain individual people were peremptorily elected by name to glory and all others were reprobated to eternal torture, is indeed to deny the true nature of this decree, to invert right order, to take away the merit of Jesus Christ, to obscure the glory of divine goodness, righteousness and wisdom, and indeed utterly to subvert the true power and efficacy of the whole sacred ministry, and thus of all religion.
  4. The second decree is the decree of calling to faith or election to grace, by which is established the necessity and at the same time the usefulness of divine grace, or the means necessary for us to yield faith and obedience to Jesus Christ according to the will of God, revealed in his Gospel. Because truly we ought first to be sure about that will of God which he wants us to yield to him, than of the grace necessary for fulfilling that will, of the glory promised to be conferred to those performing the divine will. It is for this that we shall treat them all henceforth in the same order in which they have been proposed.

The Arminian Confession of 1621, trans & ed. Mark A. Ellis, Pickwick, Wipf & Stock, Eugene, Oregon, 2005, pp74-75