Part 4
Chapter 1—Of Predestination

Section 18—Joannes Chrysostomus. A.D. 390.

John of Antioch, usually called Chrysostom, or Golden Mouth, from his uncommon eloquence, was bishop of Constantinople: he led in exile at Comma, A.D. 407. Several[1] volumes of his writings still remain. That he held the doctrine of eternal predestination, will a pear from the sense he gives of several places of Scripture relating to this point. That famous passage in Acts 13:48, As many as were ordained unto eternal life believed;which some, of late, would have understood of the disposition of men's minds unto eternal life, Chrysostom[2] interprets of God's appointment,or determination of men unto it; "As many as were ordained to eternal life, toutestin, aphorismenoi tou Theou,that is, says he, ‘who were separated or appointed by God'"unto it. And where the apostle Paul says, that he was SEPARATED unto the gospel of God,he has this note upon it;[3] "To me here he seems not only to intimate ten apoklerosin,‘a choice by lot'" (such, I suppose, he means, as was Matthias's,) all' oti palai kai anothen pros touto en tetagmenos,"but that he was of old, and from above, ordained to this; as Jeremy says, that God said concerning him, Before thou camest out of the womb, I sanctified thee, and ordained thee a prophet unto the nations;"and upon that well-known text in Ephesians 1:4, according as he hath chosen us in him,he has these words;[4] "What is the meaning of this, he hath chosen us in him? Through faith in him, Christ, he says, has rightly ordered this, prine genesthai emas, mallon de prin e ton kosmou katablethenai;‘before we were born, or rather before the world was founded.'" And on these words,[5] Come, ye blessed of my Father, etc.he makes this observation; "What honor! what blessedness do these words contain! for he does not say, receive, but inherit, as your property, as your Father's, as yours, as due to you from above; prin e gar umas genesthai, tauta umin etoimason kai pro eutrepiso,‘for before you were born, these things were prepared and made ready for you,' says he; ‘for I knew you would be such.'" On the account of the last clause, this passage, with some others, is cited by Vossius,[6] and, after him, by Dr. Whitby,[7] to show that Chrysostom, with other fathers, held predestination according to prescience; which is not denied; the other passages are these: "This did not happen simply," says he,[8] "but that the prediction of God might be fulfilled by facts, which says, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated;for as God foreknew things future, proanephonese kai toutou ten areten kakeinou tes gnomes mochtherian, ‘he also before declared the virtue of the one, and the evil mind of the other.'" And in another place[9] he observes, that "the apostle casts the whole matter upon the knowledge of God, which none dare militate against, was he never so mad, for, says he, the children not being yet born, etc.which shows that the nobility of the flesh profiteth nothing; but inquiry must be made into the virtue of the soul, en kai pro ten ergon o Theos oide,‘which God knows, even before any works are done;' for, says he, the children not being yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God, according to election, might stand; it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.This is of foreknowledge to be chosen from the same birth; that it might appear, says he, ‘the election of God is made according to purpose and foreknowledge; for from the first day he knew and proclaimed him that was good, and him that was not." And a little after,[10] "Thou knowest, says he, from the end; but he knows clearly before the end." And upon those words, the people, whom he foreknew,he thus paraphrases,[11] toutestin on edei saphos epitedeion onta kai ten pistin dexomenon;that is, "whom he clearly knew would be fit, and receive the faith." All which may be very well understood in consistence with the doctrine of absolute decrees; for, as Vossius[12] himself observes, "the fathers who lived before Austin, held, indeed, a decree according to foreknowledge; but then the foreknowledge is of acts performed by the strength of grace;" that is to say, that God knew that Jacob and others would be good, and do that which is good, through the grace he determined to give them, and so appointed them to everlasting happiness; and he also knew that Esau, and others, would be evil and do that which is evil, being left, as he determined to leave them, to their own wickedness, and so for it appointed them to everlasting punishment.


[1] Dallaei Apolog. p. 808.

[2] Chrysost. in Act. serm. 30, tom. 4. p. 780.

[3] Chrysost. in Romans serm. 1, tom. in. p. 6.

[4] Ibid. in Ephesians serm. 1, tom. in. p. 766.

[5] Ibid. in Matthew homil. 80, tom. 2:p. 494.

[6] Pelag. Hist. 50:6, thes. 8, p. 541, 542.

[7] Discourse, etc. p. 99, 101, ed. 2. 97, 100.

[8] Chrysost. in Genesis serm. 51, tom. 1:p. 401.

[9] Ibid. in Romans serm. 16, tom. in. p. 140.

[10] Ibid. p. 141.

[11] Ibid. 18, tom. in. p. 157.

[12] Hist. Pelag. 50:6, thes. 8, p. 546.