IX. Georgius

IX.1. Georgius: Election has different senses

Now[1] some space must be given to Georgius of Sicily also. Everything about this man is so insipid that I feel ashamed to spend time on his refutation. Nor should I think it worth while coming to grips with this shadow, did not the foolish consternation shown by many force me. Nor do I think there will be wanting those who, seeing me win so easily a victory over such puerile trivialities, will deride such a useless investigation. Indeed, did he not, as I hear with great grief, do mischief, I should think he ought to be met with contempt rather than explicitly refuted with words. But since his books fly about Italy, driving many people to distraction on every side, I would rather myself play the madman with this crazy fellow for a little than by silence allow the Church to be attacked in such furious assaults.[2] Formerly when the prophet Ezekiel saw certain old prophetesses deluding the people, he was not ashamed to declare war on women (Ezek 13.17). Therefore, if we would serve Christ, let us not be grieved to engage and disperse any that try to throw their chaff into the granary of the Lord.

When we say that men are predestined by the eternal counsel of God either to salvation or to destruction, Georgius thinks that we are deluded in the matter for three reasons. The first he assigns is that we have not observed that the word election is used in Scripture in different senses. God elects certain people to temporal office where there is no mention of eternal life and no thought of it. But how will this stupid trifler show that we are so inexperienced in Scripture as not to hold that Saul, who was reprobate, was none the less elected king (I Sam 9.16)? that Judas, one of the twelve whom Christ declares He chose, is called a devil (Jn 6.70)? Why does he not point out passages of Scripture wrongly and impiously adduced by us which will show up our error? In fact he makes up dreams for himself, the children of his own brain, and battles with them as though they belonged to another. Meantime he is remarkably forgetful of his own precept in about the tenth section, when he opposes Paul's testimony to us: Lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway (I Cor 9.27). For he infers from this passage that either Paul is lying in expressing the fear that the immutable election of God might fail; or[3] that he was uncertain about his own election. This miserable man does not see that reprobate or disapproved is opposed to approved, that is to those who had given proof of their piety. How does it not occur to him that there are different meanings for reprobate? For the reprobate silver of Jeremiah (6.30), and the reprobate earth of the Epistle to the Hebrews (6.7), do not mean silver and earth devoted to destruction but debased and worthless silver and unfruitful earth. But that in Paul's words the reference is to men, as also in another epistle (11 Cor 13.6), is evident from the context. Yet so unmistakable is the difference between eternal election, in which God adopts us to life, and election to temporal office, that Scripture some- times joins them together because of their affinity. When Paul glories in being separated from his mother's womb (Gal 1.15), he is speaking of the apostolic office; but rising to a higher level he equally praises the grace of God by which he was called to the hope of salvation. Christ too, though He calls one of the twelve whom He chose a devil, elsewhere joins the grace of adoption with the apostolic office, saying (Jn 15.16): You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you may go and bear fruit, and that your fruit may remain. By this principle He declares that His own were given Him by the Father, that He might allow none to perish, except him who was the son of perdition (Jn 17.12). Thus we everywhere read that people are elected to a certain kind of life or a certain temporal office; but this does not alter the fact that God elected for salvation those whom He willed to be saved.

IX.2. Georgius: Election is on the basis of faith

The second cause of our error which he gives is that we do not hold all the faithful of the New Testament whom He calls to be elected to salvation, though Paul teaches this in the first chapter to the Ephesians. But we have more than sufficiently demonstrated that the faith by which the children of God enter into possession of their salvation is there derived from election as its origin. Faith is certainly to be specially reckoned among those spiritual riches given to us in Christ. But what does Paul teach to be the origin of all the blessings we have but that hidden source of gratuitous adoption? Again: Wherein He abounded to us in all knowledge and prudence-how? According to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself. If the fruit of divine election is faith, it is evident that not all are illumined to faith. Hence, it is established beyond doubt that those on whom God decreed in Himself to bestow faith are chosen by Him. Thus Augustine is right when he writes: Men are elected to be God's children in order that they might believe, not because He foresaw that they would believe.[4] I pass over other passages that might be cited, because they too will have to be considered. But there is one passage where the elect of God seem to be regarded as au infinite number, that is where Christ predicts so many fallacies of Antichrist that, if it were possible, even the elect would be deceived (Mt 24.24). Georgius explains the elect in this passage to mean those who persevere in faith and righteousness. This is indeed correct, provided that their constancy be made to depend on their election. But to exclude any kind of special election in God, Georgius makes each man himself the author of his own election.[5]

IX.3. Georgius: Scriptural blindness is punishment

The third cause of our error, according to Georgius, is that, while Scripture speaks of blindness and hardening, we do not take notice that these are the punishments of even greater sins. But we do not deny what is expressed in countless passages of Scripture: God punishes, with blindness and in other ways, contempt of grace, pride, stubbornness and other crimes. For the notable punishments of which mention is everywhere made ought to be referred to the general principle that those who have not duly feared God and reverenced Him as is fit are given over to a reprobate mind and handed over to shameful lusts (Rom 1.26). This will be dealt with at greater length later. But, though the Lord strike the impious with madness and consternation and so repays them the reward they have deserved, this does not alter the fact that there remains in the reprobate a blindness and obstinate hardness of heart. When it is said that Pharaoh is hardened, he was already worthy to be handed over by God to Satan. But Moses also testifies that he was first raised up by God for this very purpose (Ex 10.20). Nor does Paul adduce any other cause than that he was one of the reprobate (Rom 9.17). Paul shows the same thing when the Jews, deprived of the light of understanding,[6] fell into horrible darkness and thus suffered the just punishments of their wicked contempt of divine grace. Nor does he conceal the fact that this blindness was inflicted on all the reprobate. For he teaches that the remnant were saved according to gratuitous election, and all the rest were blinded (Rom 11.5). If all the rest, whose salvation is not governed by the election of God, are blinded, it is clear that the same people who provoked the wrath of God by their rebellion and procured fresh blindness for them- selves were already from the beginning devoted to blindness. The words of Paul are plain (Rom 9.22): the vessels of wrath are first prepared for destruction, those that is, who, destitute of the Spirit of adoption, precipitate themselves into destruction by their own fault. With Augustine,[7] then, I do not hesitate to confess that something always precedes in the hidden judgments of God, but it is hidden. For how God condemns the impious and also justifies the impious is shut away from human under- standing in inaccessible secret. Hence there remains nothing better than in awe to exclaim with Paul: How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out (Rom 11.33).

IX.4. Georgius' denial of particular election

Georgius then proceeds:[8] No syllable in all Scripture can be found to justify the conclusion that those who were reprobated by the eternal judgment of God were blinded. All we say about predestination is so much philosophical sophistry. For nothing of the future is hidden from God; and whatever He foresaw necessarily comes about. I say nothing to this, except that our works refute so gross a falsehood.[9] The fact is that the favour of the reverend abbot gave this man licence to give vent within his little fraternity to whatever he might imagine, as though it were oracle; and he let himself expect the same thing outside the monastery.[10] But we do not draw the distinction between elect and reprobate, against which Georgius vainly fights, from the bare foreknowledge of God, as he falsely represents. Must I now with further words say that it is proved by the manifest and consistent witness of Scripture? He represents us as fighting from the bare concept of divine foreknowledge. But readers will find more than twenty clear passages of Scripture cited above by me.[11] He objects that particular election is a fiction of our own, for God chose no certain individuals. But Christ declares on the contrary that He knows whom He has chosen (Jn 13.18).

See, then, how strong are the weapons with which he shakes that eternal counsel of God by which some are elected to salvation and others destined for destruction. Paul indeed makes the righteousness of God common to all who believe. He admits no distinction, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Rom 3.22). With all my heart I allow that the righteousness of God is extended to all through faith. But from where does faith come, except by the gratuitous illumination of the Spirit? And whom does Paul consider as believing in Christ, but those whom the heavenly Father has drawn (Jn 6.44) ? Christ certainly 'counts none among His own, unless he be given by the Father; and He declares those to be given who before were the Father's (ibid. 17.6). Georgius here obtrudes his delirium about natural faith, which it is not my present purpose to refute. I will only say that the righteousness of God is to all and upon all who believe in Christ. But with Paul as witness I say that, where some excel others, the difference is from God alone, lest anyone should glory (I Cor 4.7). Further, that we may know the things given us by God, our eternal inheritance is sealed in our hearts by the earnest and pledge of the Spirit (II Cor 1.22). Further, that we may believe is given us by God (Phil 1.29). Further, the eyes of our understanding are enlightened to know what is the hope of our calling (Eph 1.18). Further, the fruit of the Spirit is faith (Gal 5.22). Paul says there is no difference (Rom 3.23), but he means between Jews and Greeks, because God invites both equally to salvation. But these two races, says Georgius, comprehend the whole of mankind. Let it be so. He cannot thus prove that righteousness is promised particularly to every individual man. Suppose we grant this last point, we must return to the fact that no one can become a partaker of the good offered him but by faith. It remains for the monk to make faith common to all. This I have sufficiently proved to be contrary to the mind of Paul. But then, he will persist,[12] only the elect will have come short of the glory of God. How does he gather this? Because, he says, the grace of Christ is poured out on all who have sinned.[13] But I hold the grace of God to be so universal, that I make the distinction to consist in this, that all are not called according to God's purpose.[14]

IX.5. Christ the propitiation for the whole world

Georgius thinks he argues very acutely when he says: Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world; and hence those who wish to exclude the reprobate from participation in Christ must place them outside the world. For this, the common solution does not avail, that Christ suffered sufficiently for all, but efficaciously only for the elect. By this great absurdity, this monk has sought applause in his own fraternity, but it has no weight with me.[15] Wherever the faithful are dispersed throughout the world, John extends to them the expiation wrought by Christ's death. But this does not alter the fact that the reprobate are mixed up with the elect in the world. It is incontestable that Christ came for the expiation of the sins of the whole world. But the solution lies close at hand, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but should have eternal life (Jn 3.15). For the present question is not how great the power of Christ is or what efficacy it has in itself, but to whom He gives Himself to be enjoyed. If possession lies in faith and faith emanates from the Spirit of adoption, it follows that only he is reckoned in the number of God's children who will be a partaker of Christ. The evangelist John sets forth the office of Christ as nothing else than by His death to gather the children of God into one (Jn 11.52)- Hence, we conclude that, though reconciliation is offered to all through Him, yet the benefit is peculiar to the elect, that they may be gathered into the society of life. However, while I say it is offered to all, I do not mean that this embassy, by which on Paul's testimony (II Cor 5.13) God reconciles the world to Himself, reaches to all, but that it is not sealed indiscriminately on the hearts of all to whom it comes so as to be effectual. As for[16] his talk about no respect of persons, let him learn first what the term person means, and then we shall have no more trouble in the matter.

But Paul teaches that God wills all to be saved (I Tim 2.4). Hence, it follows that God is not master of His promises, or that all men without exception must be saved. If he should reply that God, so far as He is concerned, wills all to be saved, in that salvation is offered to the freewill of each individual, then I ask why God did not will the Gospel to be preached to all indiscriminately from the beginning of the world. Why did He allow so many peoples for so many centuries to wander in the darkness of death? For the context goes on to say that God willed all to come to the knowledge of the truth. But to the candid reader of sound judgment, the sense is quite clear, as I have expounded it above. Paul has enjoined solemn and general prayers to be made in the Church for kings and princes, lest anyone should have pretext to deplore the kings and magistrates for being at the time violent enemies of the faith. He deals with this situation, and affirms that the grace of Christ is open to this kind of person also.

It is not to be wondered that the more this worthless fellow distorts Scripture the more passages he gathers; for he possesses no religion or shame to restrain his impudence. But the more diffuse he is, the more brief I shall make my replies. He cites Isaiah (56.3): Let not the son of the stranger say, I am rejected; and he takes for granted that this cannot be applied to the reprobate. He thinks it absurd that the elect should be called the sons of a stranger. I reply that it is not unusual to find that those elected before the foundation of the world are thought of as strangers, until by faith they are gathered among the sons of God. The words of Peter are borrowed from the prophet: Who were formerly not a people, but are now the people of God (Hos 2.23; I Pet 2.10). Who are addressed? Surely those whom, at the beginning of the Epistle, he had testified were the beloved according to the foreknowledge of God the Father (I Pet 1.2). Even clearer is the Epistle to the Ephesians. After discussing their election, he adds that they had been exiles from the kingdom of God, Strangers to the promises, without God or hope of life (Eph 2.12). Is it any wonder that Isaiah, building the temple of God with profane stones, declares that there will be a new consecration? For since the calling of the Gentiles was hidden in the heart of God, what else appeared in them but damnable impurity? In this sense, therefore, they were exiles and strangers. But, as many as were at last incorporated into the body of Christ were God's sheep, as Christ Himself testifies (Jn 10.16), though formerly wandering sheep and outside the fold. Meantime, though they did not know it, the shepherd knew them, according to that eternal pre- destination by which He chose His own before the foundation of the world, as Augustine rightly declares.[17]

Georgius continues: If the word of the prophet be true, the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father (Ezek 18.20), then no part of mankind is left in original sin. - I really wish to have nothing to do with this monster. My purpose is to assist the inexperienced, lest they be enticed by such trivialities. Nothing is more certain than that whoever is not engrafted into the body of Christ is left in the general destruction. This fine monk, generous to the stranger as he is, brings all together, and makes members of the household those to whom God closes and bars the gate. But it is madness not to say that those who are naturally dead in Adam are unable to be restored to life unless a divine remedy be applied. Paul clearly states the difference between the seed of the believing and the seed of the unbelieving man: the former is holy and the latter unclean (I Cor 7.14). On this principle, before the wall was broken down and the Gentiles incorporated with the Jews in the Church, he declares that the branches of Abraham are holy from their holy root (I Cor 7.14).

What need is there of long discussion? Did not the prophet Ezekiel, whose word this monk misuses, frequently assign the peoples, uncircumcised and profane, to destruction (Ezek 28.10; 31.18, 32 et passim)? Neither would circumcision be then the covenant of life on any other grounds.[18] How then can it be true that the son will not bear the penalty of the father's guilt? And on the other hand I ask how any man will boast himself innocent who is born an unclean raven from an unclean egg. For original sin is so contracted from Adam that it becomes a property of each man. No one can therefore rightly complain, as if he innocently bore the guilt of another's sin.[19] But if it is not permissible for God to punish in the sons the sins of the fathers, what does this mean?: Punishing to the third and fourth generation (Ex 20.5; Deut 5.9); and again: Visiting the sins of the father upon the sons (Ex 34.7, etc.). So the first part of this vengeance is that they be destitute of the Spirit of God and remain in their natural pravity.

John says (Rev 3.5, 22.18): Whoever has sinned, I shall delete him from the book of life. If, says Georgius, you apply this to the reprobate, they never were written in the book of life; if to the elect, the counsel of God is unstable.[20] So babbles this monk, as if God did not always accommodate Himself to our understanding. What base ingratitude to reproach God for being so indulgent to us that He prattles for our sake! By this reasoning, he will render us a corporal God because Scripture ascribes eyes, feet and hands to Him! But the meaning is simple: those are deleted from the book of life who, considered for a time to be children of God, afterwards depart to their own place, as Peter truly says about Judas (Acts 1.16). But John testifies that these never were of us (I Jn 2.19), for if they had been, they would not have gone out from us. What John expresses briefly is set forth in more detail by Ezekiel (13.9): They win not be in the secret of My people, nor written in the catalogue of Israel. The same solution applies to Moses and Paul, desiring to be deleted from the book of life (Ex 32.32; Rom 9.3): carried away with the vehemence of their grief, they prefer to perish, if possible, rather than that the Church of God, numerous as it then was, should perish. When Christ bids His disciples rejoice because their names are written in heaven (Lk 10.20), He signifies a perpetual blessing of which they will never be deprived. In a word, Christ clearly and briefly reconciles both meanings, when I-le says: Every tree which My Father has not planted will be rooted up (Mt 15.13). For even the reprobate take root in appearance, and yet they are not planted by the hand of God.

The comparison of Paul (Rom 5.12ff.), says Georgius, is to be noted. As by one man sin came into the world to condemnation, so also by one man is the gift of righteousness to life. If in one man, he says, many died, much more must the grace of God abound that many through Christ may reign unto life. If Paul were there maintaining that the grace of Christ extended to all, I should in silence own myself vanquished. But since his purpose is to show how much more powerful in the faithful is the grace of Christ than the curse contracted in Adam, what is there here to shake the election of those whom Christ restores to life, leaving the others to perish? But this monk[21] calls attention to the words; for Paul comprehends all the race of men, when he says that the sin of one man came upon all, and hence no one may be excluded from participation in life. If it were permitted to reason in this way, I should contend that God must then create new worlds, that there things might be managed better than here. Christ declares that the curse was not equal to the grace, which much exceeds it. If the number of men affected be everywhere reduced to this standard, Christ could not save more than Adam lost. There- fore the faith of Paul is imperilled, unless a new world should immediately arise. But I shall oppose the monk with the very shield he offers me. He adduces another passage from Paul: As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive (I Cor 15.22). If the second part of the text is extended to all the sons of Adam, Paul interposes his hand. For he explicitly testifies that he speaks of members of Christ only. Christ the first- fruits; then also will rise those who are Christ's. He certainly speaks here of the resurrection, which is followed by a blessed immortality such as we confess in the faith.[22]

IX.6. The Gospel rightly preached to all

But that I should not vainly fatigue my readers by repetition, I propose to take up a few matters out of many. I have shown above in what sense God wills not the death of a sinner, when willing that all should be converted and live. For when He exhorts men to repentance and offers pardon to the converted, this is common to all. But He deems His own children worthy of the privilege of having their stony hearts made hearts of flesh. Nor do I concede to the monk[23] that these words are spoken vainly into the air, so long as the Lord leaves the wicked convicted in their sins and inexcusable, but so works in His elect that the hidden doctrine becomes effectual in their hearts by virtue of the Spirit as it sounds in their ears. Nor is there any reason why that common falsehood should distress anyone, which suggests that God mocks at men by exhorting them to walk when their feet are tied. For He does them no injury in demanding nothing but what they owe. Unless of course the bankrupt with nothing with which to pay may boast, in derision of his creditor, that all is discharged.[24] But I will not pursue further a strife which cannot be resolved, except by the conscience of each man. God commands the ears of His people to tremble at the voice of His prophet (Is 6.9). That their hearts may be touched? Rather that they be hardened. That those who hear may repent? Rather that the already lost may perish twice over. If you reply that some- thing greater was at stake,[25] I ask for nothing more in the present instance. It is not absurd that by this command of God doctrine should be spread abroad which He knows will lack effect. Not less frivolous is the objection that the word of Christ is inconsistent with election, when He speaks of the sheep brought back after it was lost. But it is much more appropriate for me to throw back the missile which he tried to hurl at us. The reason for its being a sheep apparently lost for a time is precisely that with respect to election it remained in the custody of God all the time.

Of the same kind of stuff is the dilemma he poses. If there be any special election, the exhortation of the prophet will not square with it: Let the wicked forsake his way (Is 55.7). For if it be addressed to the elect, how can they be wicked in whom all things work together for good? if to the reprobate, how can they be called to repentance? I answer that the appeal of the prophet is addressed to both; to the former, that those among them who have thrown off the yoke and trespassed may return to a sound mind; to the others, that, stupefied in their evil, they may be pricked by such a stimulus. For we do not imagine that the elect always hold to the right course under the continual direction of the Spirit; we say that they often fall, err, suffer shipwreck, and are alienated from the way of salvation. But since the protection of God by which they are defended is stronger than all, they cannot fall into fatal ruin. Men are bidden to take care lest they perish. But it is certain that the elect are beyond peril, while the reprobate will not be warned. I reply that there is no absurdity. The elect, who are engaged in perpetual conflict, must be furnished with necessary arms, and the vigilance of all is stimulated; while the reprobate prove themselves at length to be incurable. For medicine is ad- ministered in diseases until hope is given up.

Georgius objects: Abraham is called father of the faithful, not of the elect; and salvation is promised not to the elect but to those who believe. Whom then does he say those are who are gathered with their father Abraham into the kingdom of God? For Christ certainly teaches that this belongs to the elect alone. Christ declares that an end will be imposed to the awful disasters for the sake of the elect (Mt 24.22; Mk 13.20). Shall we deny that those are children of Abraham who are along with him made members of the household of the Church? How is it, pray, that such honour was bestowed upon Abraham that he should be reckoned the father of the faithful, except because he was elect of God? How is it that those are accounted degenerate children[26] who in this regard do not correspond to him? The audacity of this worthless person is indeed execrable; for he strives with all his might to efface and blot out the mark by which God chiefly distinguishes His children. I certainly allow that eternal life is promised to those who believe, provided that he in his turn does not deny that it is similarly promised to the elect (for so Isaiah (65.9): And my elect shall possess it). Let him only admit that only those believe whom God illumines by His Spirit,; only confess that election is the mother of faith. Paul declares that he is prepared to suffer all things for the elect's sake (II Tim 2.10). Christ proclaims that the Father is the avenger of the elect (Lk 18.7). Paul exhorts the Colossians that as the elect of God they put on gentleness, patience, and all the other virtues (Col 3.12). Paul, too, exempts all the elect of God from guilt (Rom 8.30). Are the faithful to be robbed of these goods? As if between things mutually and indeed inseparably joined together there should be a worse than hostile disagreement. No; that the election of God may stand, those formerly blind are illuminated into faith; and by faith they receive the righteousness of Christ; and by faith they are kept to the end.

IX.7. How the reprobate cause their own destruction

Georgius proceeds: When Scripture pronounces destruction for the lost, it does not at all refer or trace back the cause to the eternal counsel of God, but testifies that it resides in themselves. But we do not represent the reprobate as being so deprived of the Spirit of God that they may find the fault of their crimes in God. Whatever sins men commit, let them impute them to themselves. If anyone should evade this, I say that he is too strongly bound by the chains of conscience to free himself from just condemnation. Let Adam excuse himself as he may, saying that he was deceived by the enticements of the wife God gave him; within himself will be found the fatal poison of infidelity, within himself the worst counsellor of all which is ambition, within himself the diabolical torch of pride. Hence they will be quite inexcusable who try to elicit from the profound recesses of God the cause of their evils, which in fact operates from their own corrupt heart. They deserve to be given over to a reprobate mind (Rom 1.28), who did not as they ought glorify God in the aspect apprehensible in the heaven and the earth. Those who wilfully and with deliberate malice reject the grace of Christ and do not hesitate to reject the shining light of the Gospel, will suffer the heavier punishment. Let each acknowledge his own sins, condemn himself, and, confessing from the heart all his guilt, supplicate in humility his judge. If anyone object, the answer is immediate: The destruction is thine own, O Israel. For, as we have elsewhere said, if, according to the ancient poet, Medea complains foolishly in lamenting that the timber was ever cut in the Pelian grove,[27] while all the time it was the internal fire of her lust that ruined her father and his kingdom along with herself, much less will they be heard who assemble far remote causes from the clouds to cover the knowledge of their guilt, which all the time lies deep in their own hearts and cannot remain hidden. Therefore Scripture rightly assigns the cause of all evils to sin. The dispute between us is not whether men perish by the hidden judgment of God beyond their deserts. This we declare to be false and detest as a foul sacrilege. The dispute is whether the ungodly who voluntarily provoke the wrath of God upon themselves were before divinely re- probated by a cause which was just though unknown. Now Paul severely condemns the sins of men, powerfully stirs up their conscience, and skilfully vindicates the righteousness of God from the sacrilegious falsehoods of men. So also he declares that those who precipitate themselves into ruin were vessels prepared for destruction (Rom 9.22). Christ, too, charges the reprobate with deserved guilt. But at the same time He says they were trees not planted by the hand of the Father (Mt 15.13). In a word, we learn that the Father gives those who are His to the Son, that He might sanctify them (Jn 17.6). On the other side, Paul, after teaching that the election of God was attained, submits that the rest are blinded (Rom 11-7). Hence the error of Georgius is that, fixing his eyes on sins that are manifest, he never considers their hidden source in the corrupt nature of man.

Georgius thinks we are involved in absurdity, because we make man free to sin, while the reprobate sin of necessity. But the freedom of which we speak, because it is too familiar to him, is not really known by him. Paul calls some free who are free from reverence for righteousness and without fear of God revel in intemperance (Rom 6.20). Does it follow that these are not servants of sin? He accuses us of limiting the power of God because if God knows and ordains all the future he is not then able to alter it. Truly a prodigious marvel, that God should not show Himself like a mortal man, variable and flexible and changing His counsels every hour![28] For what does this monk so violently attack but that God should necessarily be consistent with Himself? But his error is that, by separating the fixed decrees of God from His power, he divides Him against Himself To speak in Stoic terms, there is the well-known sentiment of Seneca: God is necessity to Himself.[29] With greater reverence and soberness, we would say: God always wills the same thing, and this is the praise of His constancy. Whatever He decrees He effects, and this agrees with His omnipotence. His will is joined with His power, constituting a symmetry worthy of that providence which governs all things.

I have nothing to say about the different and contradictory testimonies from Scripture which Georgius puts together. We may spare his ignorance but must curb his impudence lest it should distress simple people.[30] From one passage of Paul, he shows that God sends the spirit of error upon rebels who decline to obey the truth, so that they believe falsehood (II Thess 2.11). He then adduces another different passage: the doctrine of the Gospel is hidden to those that are lost, whose minds the god of this age has blinded (II Cor 4.3). I admit, indeed, that these are called unbelieving. But if unbelief is the sole cause of their blindness,[31] what is the meaning of what follows, that God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness has shined in the hearts of the faithful? We know that darkness is everywhere; but God brings light out of darkness.[32] As for the accusation of cruelty because we obstruct the way of salvation for ourselves and many others, while Christ Himself most kindly invites the Canaanite woman and the lost sheep and even the strange dogs, my reply is that we faithfully set forth all the doctrine of faith and penitence committed to us that all may profit by Christ. When our Lord was Himself asked by the wife of Zebedee to place her sons, the one on the right and the other on the left, He curbs her foolish and un- timely desire, saying that this did not agree with His present vocation; but He makes it clear that a place is decreed for each by the heavenly Father who in His time will make it evident (Mt 20.21; Mk 10.35). In the same way, the superstition[33] which Scripture makes evident ought not to be covered up by our silence. Until the day of revelation come, we are to do what our Lord commands and exhort all without exception to faith and penitence. For the doctrine is common to all, and is deposited with us for this end,[34] until the reprobate by their deplorable obstinacy block the way.

IX. 8. Election precedes faith and perseverance

Forced to admit that predestination is attested by so many passages of Scripture, Georgius throws up a new objection, more foolish and rotten than can be imagined. The faithful of the New Testament are said to be elected by God in that it is to them that He makes known the riches of the mystery hidden from all ages. In this sense, he collects all the texts that declare the excellency of the grace shown in Christ. Then he concludes that whatever the first chapter to the Ephesians contains is only to be understood as meaning that God deems the faithful of the New Testament worthy of this peculiar treasure. As to the time to which this grace refers, he teaches that it is made common to all men from the advent of Christ to the end of the world. But the words of Paul reveal a quite different conception. They amount to this, that only those are illumined to faith who were predestined to life according to the eternal good pleasure of God. It cannot be denied that there was then a special calling of particular persons. Nor was the Gospel preached to all. Suppose it granted that it sounded by the external voice in the ears of all; Paul here refers to a higher calling by which the Spirit of God penetrates hearts. But the distinction between internal and effectual calling and external calling Georgius declares to be all a dream. The experience of faith, however, amply testifies how little frivolous is a distinction of this kind. Paul here treats election in no other sense and for no other end than elsewhere, when he gives thanks to God for having from the beginning elected the Thessalonians to salvation (II Thes 2.13), thus distinguishing a small part from an ungodly multitude. Georgius replies that the lawless despisers of grace are opposed to the elect. But this is not to the point. All I at present contend for is that some are specially chosen in preference to others; while Georgius on the other hand that we are predestined only in the sense of being, born at a certain time.[35] What about Judas? He was given to hear Christ and to enjoy His intimate fellowship; yet Christ denied that he was elect. I speak not of all, He says, for I know whom I have elected (Jn 13.18). But if this fanatic be credited, the condition of Herod is better than that of David; the impious scribes will have precedence in honour of election to the holy prophets, for, he will say,[36] the latter are not of the number of the faithful. Everywhere he insists that the grace of election belongs in general to a certain age; and, wishing a guarantor for his credibility, he declares that Paul never spoke otherwise of predestination. What?[37] Does he include all the men of his age when he affirms that those are justified whom God has predestined (Rom 8.29)? Does he not rather separate from the rank and file those that are called according to the purpose? Further, when he elsewhere says that God chose the foolish things to confound the wisdom of the world (I Cor 1.27), does he apply to his whole age so manifest a discrimination?

But feeling himself caught, he tries another refuge.[38] Those are not called elect whom God preferred to others, but rather such as persevere in the common election and grace. By this he means that those who distinguish themselves from the multitude of men by constancy of faith are at length deemed elect. He cites a passage from Paul: I charge you before God and the elect angels (I Tim 5.21). As if what he demands could be allowed him, that, because they did not fall away with the apostate, they would therefore attain the grace of election! But the contrary proposition, that they stood fast because they were elect, is ever so much more probable. Let there be no dispute about a word. When Christ predicts that the deceptions of Satan will be so great as, if it were possible, to lead the elect into error (Mt 24.24), He implies that it is quite impossible for Satan by main force to carry off the elect. By what virtue shall we say that they are secure? Georgius supposes that they stand by their own strength. But Christ judges very differently: No one will pluck from My hand the sheep committed to My charge; for the Father who gave them to Me is greater than all, and no one can pluck them from the Father's hand (Jn 10.29). So Paul is far from enjoining the faithful to trust in their own constancy; he reminds them that God is faithful who called them, and who also will do it (I Thes 5.24). Georgius makes each one the author and arbiter of his own salvation; but Christ testifies that those whom He chose out of the world are His own (Jn 15.19). With this view Paul agrees: All things work together for good according to the purpose (Rom 8.28); and of infants not yet born: That the purpose of God to election might stand, not of works but of Him that calls; as it is written: Jacob I have loved (Rom 9.11). Nothing is left for this worthless fellow, except to babble that Jacob while in his mother's womb obtained the honour of election by his industry and stood possessed of it to the end by his constancy.

Just as much reason is there for[39] the suggestion that the rejection, about which Paul speaks, refers not to individual persons but to the whole body of the Jewish people; since that people in rejecting Christ deprived themselves of the inheritance of eternal life. Now I allow that this is the originating cause of the dispute. But no sane person will conclude that the whole question is restricted within these limits. For Paul teaches that the race of Abraham consisted of both elect and reprobate. Further, he declares in general that there come from the human race vessels of wrath and vessels of mercy for the manifestation of the glory of God. Paul indeed defines the proximate cause of reprobation as unbelief of the Gospel; nor do I deny that this is a cause expressly stated by Paul, but only after having first distinguished this factor from the hidden judgments of God. For he deals with two distinct things: that God was never so bound to one people as to prevent His free election operating in the choice of rejection of individuals; and also that the Jews by their ingratitude abdicated from the family of God, though they were the legitimate heirs of eternal life. But lest the alteration in God's purpose should disturb anyone, as though this later rejection shook the hidden counsel of God, Paul immediately observes that the gifts and calling of God are without repentance, and that hence the remnant according to gratuitous election is saved (Rom 11.29). By these words is meant that election, founded upon the hidden counsel of God, remains fixed and stable. There is impudence even more base in the suggestion of this worthless fellow that Esau was not reprobated before he sold his birthright. Certainly I admit the word of the apostle (Heb 12.17), that when he had deprived himself of his inheritance, he was rejected. Did then his father's rejection of him which he then suffered do away with the higher judgment of God?[40]. Certainly no more than did the faith and obedience of Jacob overturn the gratuitous adoption of God.

I repeat what I said at the beginning. No one can disprove the doctrine I have expounded except he who pretends to be wiser than the Spirit of God. Now,[41] however, the sour resistance of men reaches such a height that they will not quietly and willingly receive what is evidently taken from Scripture, without arrogating to themselves the prerogative of God, namely, the right to impose a law of speech and silence. Yet some wish to conceal this under the guise of modesty, professing that they would not dare to deny what is testified by all the servants of God. For my part, I soberly and reverently confess that I know no other law of modesty than that which I have learned in the school of the heavenly Master. But I am not unaware that prudence should be shown in tempering everything to the building up of faith. But as I have studied in good faith to do just this, even if the niceties of some are not yet satisfied, I fancy I have done my duty. He that has ears, let him hear.


[1] French has: Now it is right that the monk Georgius should come into the picture, and that we should see the fine arguments which he adds to those of Pighius, for mining the election of God with regard to the faithful. I should not deign to amuse myself with such trash, were it not that I see the devil taking advantage of it to trouble greatly the poor ignorant and weak among us, and that by this means he greatly harms the Church, etc.

[2] French adds: We see that St Paul was not ashamed to address himself to a smith who pitted himself against the Gospel.

[3] Beza and Amst. have the bad reading: and.

[4] De Praedest. Sanct., cap. 17, and elsewhere.

[5] This last sentence is wanting in some versions.

[6] French has: light of life.

[7] Contra Faust., lib. 21, capp. 2 and 3.

[8] French has: When the monk has offered so fine a preamble, he says.

[9] This sentence is wanting in the French.

[10] French has: to fill the world with lies from his printed books.

[11] But readers ... by me - wanting in the French.

[12] French has: he objects that there follows the great absurdity.

[13] French adds: that necessarily all are chosen or rather that only the chosen have sinned.

[14] French adds: St Paul speaks of this, implying a certain movement of the Holy Spirit.

[15] This sentence is omitted in the French.

[16] As for, etc. - this, though in the original, is lacking in the French which runs: This mischief-maker assembles many passages to which there is no need to reply in particular. Above all, he so twists and turns as to confuse even himself without convincing others. I have already answered one part of what he says. I will only touch briefly on what could perplex simple people. He cites a passage of Isaiah, etc.

[17] Tract. in Ioann., 45.

[18] French has: as sure sign of the alliance of God.

[19] French adds: since all are tainted with evil and merit condemnation.

[20] French adds: He then concludes that there is no certain election.

[21] But this monk ... in life - French has: It is true that St Paul comprehends the whole human race, from which this monk infers that it is not permissible to exclude anyone and that all enjoy the grace brought by Jesus Christ.

[22] The last words omitted in the French, as is also the first sentence of the following paragraph.

[23] French adds: Now how is it that God does not vivify the heart of each one, if I do not agree with this monk that the general promises are frustrated, etc.

[24] French has: a careless liver, spending all his goods.

[25] French adds: and God punishes the sins committed.

[26] French has: illegitimate children.

[27] French has: the complaint which the daughter of the ancient king made, that the timber had been cut to build the ship on which had come a young man with whom she had fallen in love, etc.

[28] French adds: but remains firm and constant when once determined - the following sentence omitted.

[29] French adds: By this he signifies that there is no compulsion from outside, but that He constrains Himself to will immutably to do what He does.

[30] This sentence is wanting in the French.

[31] French has: the voluntary malice by which they resisted the Gospel after hearing it.

[32] French adds: This appears in those who believe; but the unbelieving have a blindness deeper and more profound than that which proceeds from their rebellion.

[33] French has: predestination.

[34] French adds: with this intention, that it be offered to one and all.

[35] French adds: at which Jesus Christ appeared; from which he concludes that there was no difference between good and bad.

[36] For, he will say ... faithful - for this, the French reads: since election is only for the later time.

[37] French has: But I do not know who will be so foolish as to credit him.

[38] French has: The monk does not mind if he contradicts himself or makes use of another subterfuge to develop his thought.

[39] French has: There is the same impudence in.

[40] French has: But the apostle means what he says, that his rejection was already apparent. This is not to say that God had not already judged him. On the contrary, we see that the faith and obedience of Jacob did not merit his being adopted by God.

[41] So all the Latin editions. But the French reverses: Never-which wholly agrees with the thought of the author and should be restored in the original. in one edition of the text, there is a pen correction - Never.