Chapter 15 - Of Election, and of Jesus Christ the Foundation ThereofThe Order of Salvation and Damnation by William Perkins (1558-1602)
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Election is God’s decree “whereby on his own free will, he hath ordained certain men to salvation, to the praise of the glory of his grace.” Reprobation is “that part of predestination, whereby God, according to the most free and just purpose of his will, hath determined to reject certain men unto eternal destruction, and misery, and that to the praise of his justice.”
Chapter 15 – Of Election, and of Jesus Christ the Foundation Thereof
Predestination hath two parts: Election and Reprobation. 1 Thess. 5:9, “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Election is God’s decree whereby on His own free will, He hath ordained certain men to salvation, to the praise of His glory of His grace, Eph. 1:4-6, “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.”
This decree is that book of life wherein are written the names of the elect, Rev. 20:12, “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” 2 Tim. 2:19, “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”
The execution of this decree, is an action, by which God, even as He purposed with Himself, worketh all those things effectually, which He decreed for the salvation of the Elect. For they whom God elected to this end, that they should inherit eternal life, were also elected to those subordinate means, whereby, as by steps, they might attain this end: and without which, it were impossible to attain it. Rom 8:29-30, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”
There appertain three things to the execution of this decree. First, the foundation. Secondly, the means. Thirdly, the degrees.
The foundation is Christ Jesus, called of His Father from all eternity, to perform the office of Mediator, that in Him all those which should be saved, might be chosen. Heb. 5:5, “So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.” Isa. 42:1, “Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.” Eph. 1:4, “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.”
Question: How can Christ be subordinate unto God’s election, seeing he together with the Father decreed all things?
Answer: Christ as He is a mediator, is not subordinate to the very decree itself of election, but to the execution thereof only. 1 Peter 1:20, “Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.” Augustine in his book The Predestination of the Saints, says in Chapter 15, “Christ was predestinate that he might be our head.”
In Christ, we must especially observe two things, his Incarnation, and his Office.
To the working of his Incarnation, concur three things: first, both his Natures: secondly, their Union: thirdly, their distinction.
Christ6’s first Nature, is the Godhead, in as much as it belongeth to the Son, whereby he is God. Phil. 2:6, “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
It was requisite for the Mediator to be God; that he might the better sustain that great misery, wherewith mankind was overwhelmed; the greatness whereof, these four things declare: I. The grievousness of sin, wherewith God’s majesty was infinitely offended. II. God’s infinite anger against this sin. III. The fearful power of death. IV. The devil’s tyranny, who is the prince of this world. 2. That he might make his human nature both of plentiful merit, and also of sufficient efficacy, for the work of man’s redemption. 3. That he might instill into the elect eternal life, and holiness. Isa. 43:12, “I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, that I am God.”
I say Godhead as it is in the Godhead of the Son, is Christ6’s divine Nature: not as it is the Godhead of the Father, or of the Holy Ghost: for it is the office of the Son, to have the administration of every outward action of the Trinity, from the Father, by the Holy Ghost, 1 Cor. 8:6. And he being by nature the Son of the Father, bestoweth this privilege on those that believe, that they are the sons of God by adoption. John 1:12, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”
If either the Father, or the Holy Ghost, should have been incarnate, the title of Son should have been given to one of them, who was not the Son by eternal generation: and so there should be more sons then one.
Christ’s other nature, is his humanity, whereby he, the Mediator, is very man. 1 Tim. 2:5, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
It was necessarily that Christ should be man. First, that God might be pacified in that nature, wherein he was offended. Secondly, that he might undergo punishment due to sin, the which the Godhead could not, being void and free from all passion.
Furthermore, Christ, as he is man, is like unto us in all things, sin only excepted. Heb. 2:17, “Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.” 2 Cor. 13:4, “For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.”
Christ therefore is a perfect man, consisting of an essential and true soul and body, whereunto are joined such faculties and properties , as are essential unto both. In his soul, is understanding, memory, will and such like: in his body, length, breadth, and thickness; yes, it is comprehended in one only place, visible, subject to feeling, neither is there any thing wanting in him, which may either adorn or make for the being of man’s nature.
Again, Christ in his humanity, was subject to the infirmities of man’s nature, which are these: I. To be tempered, Matt. 4:1, “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.” II. To fear, Heb. 5:7, “Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared.” III. To be angry, Mark 3:5, “And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.” IV. Forgetfulness of his office imposed upon him, by reason of the agony astonishing his senses, Matt. 26:39, “And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”
We must hold these things concerning Christ’s infirmities: I. They were such qualities, as did only affect his human nature, and not at all constitute the same: and therefore m9ight be left of Christ. II. They were such as were common to all men: as to thirst, to be weary, and subject and subject to die: and not personal, as are Agues, Consumptions, the Leprosy, Blindness, &c. III. He was subject to these infirmities, not by necessity of hi human nature, but by his freewill and pleasure, pitying mankind. Therefore in him such infirmities were not the punishment of his own sin, as they are in us; but rather part of that his humiliation which he did willingly undergo for our sakes.