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Amyraut on “Conditional Predestination”

August 8, 2008

[The following extract from Amyraut should be read in the light of Twisse’s own discourse on conditional predestination which in turn was based on Bucer’s use of this idea.]

Amyraut:

From what we have deduced above, it is easy to gather that one must carefully distinguish predestination to salvation from predestination to faith, which is the means and the condition by the fulfillment of which we attain it, to the effect that while the one is absolute, as it is said, and does not depend upon any condition, the other can only take place with respect to its effect under the presupposition of this preliminary condition. This is not ordinarily done, however, so that this term ‘predestination’ is taken, as it is commonly held among those who are well instructed in the word of God and who do not wish to defer too much to the will of man, a s simply referring to salvation as being an inevitable outcome, as if it was an absolute decree and did not depend upon any condition. And so indeed the Apostle St. Paul takes this term in this signification when he says that those ‘whom God has foreknown, he has predestined them to be conformed to the image of his Son.’ ( Rom 8: 28) Now salvation and the image of Christ as we have shown above are one and the same thing. And it is clear that the Apostle speaks in this place, not of all men equally and in general but of those whom God ‘has foreknown,’ that is foreseen in the fullness of his mercy and separated from the others fort his inestimable prerogative of faith. But the reason for this is that predestination to salvation being conditional and regarding the whole human race equally and the human race being equally corrupted by sin and incapable of accomplishing the condition upon which salvation depends, it happens necessarily, not by any fault of predestination itself but through the hardness of the heart and the stubbornness of the human spirit, that this first predestination is frustrated for those who have no part in the second. The term ‘predestination’ therefore having I know not what emphasis and seemingly properly reserved for counsels which come to effect rather than for those in which unbelief and the absence of some condition prevent their fulfillment, the Holy Scripture on the one hand does not customarily call ‘predestined’ those who not having been elect & to faith render this other predestination useless with respect to themselves, and on the other speaks of those who are elected to faith as if they have been absolutely predestined to salvation because of the indubitable fulfillment of the preliminary condition. And thus it mixes, as if there was only a single counsel with respect t o them, the conditional predestination to salvation with the absolute election to faith, since in what concerns them, although the one is conditional, it is nevertheless also as certain as if it were absolute because of the infallible and absolute certainty of the fulfillment, of the other on which it depends. And it is forth is very reason that the same Scripture which teaches us so eloquently that Christ died universally for all the world, speaks sometimes in such manner that it seems to approach saying that he died for the small number elected to faith only, as if he had suffered only for those who feel the fruit of his death and not for those whose own unbelief renders this death frustrated. But because it is necessary to diligently distinguish between those ways of speaking which are born in consideration of the outcomes alone and those arising from consideration of the counsels themselves, and because we are here treating the counsels of Cod in all their mystery, it is necessary for us to be on guard against confounding the predestination to salvation, which depends upon the condition which God requires absolutely of all, with the election to faith, according to which God has ordained to himself fulfill this condition in only certain ones.

Moyse Amyraut, Brief Treatise on Predestination and its Dependent Principles, trans., by Richard Lum Richard. Th.D. diss, 1986,  81-82.

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