Confessio Catholica:

Concerning the Predestination of the Elect to Eternal Life, of the Reprobate to Eternal Damnation

Out of the same mass of mankind, bound with the chains of sin by the Fall, according to His eternal foreknowledge, to which all are present (future and past), from sinners whom He has willed according to His good pleasure, He has elected in Himself, and predestined them to eternal life from eternal death (Eph. 1; 1 Peter 1; Ps. 84). But the Lord has so arranged in this foreordination that in God both righteousness and mercy will be satisfied; there will be a proper balance of righteousness and mercy that will kiss each other (Ps. 84). Those whom He has foreknown, elected, and foreordained to life, He would also in time call, justify, glorify forever (Rom. 8); just as He called, justified, glorified them in Himself before the creation of the world, before time eternal (2 Tim. 2; the fathers–Augustine, Jerome, Origen, Ambrose, Gratian, decrees).

A priori, the Causes of Election and Justification
Are Determined in God, Outside of Men

The primary cause is the grace of God, His love, and goodwill; the merit of Christ is the meritorious cause. The formal inner cause is the sanctification of the Holy Spirit by faith in the truth. The formal cause a priori according to revelation and sign is the order of election, namely, after election and predetermination, calling and justification itself (Rom. 8, 9; 2 Tim. 1; 2 Thess. 2). The final cause is that we become holy, to the praise of His glory, glorification, life. God’s gracious election, according to the order and dispensation of divine grace and mercy, is the source, cause and origin of calling, faith and justification ( John 6, 12, 17). For they are called according to His purpose by a holy calling, effectually, inwardly and outwardly through the Word and the Holy Spirit. Those who are given to Christ are obedient to Him, are drawn to Him; they are foreordained to life (Acts 13). The Word, the sacraments, and sacrifices are unto their life, to their salvation, who have been elected; and only those are justified who have been elected (John 8; 1 John 3). Only those finally possess the Holy Spirit; only they do good works, hear and keep the Word of God who have been elected to life; only they do not sin, are renewed, and possess a new heart and a new spirit. All these things flow from the grace of election. They are purified that are the vessels of mercy. They alone do not perish, lose grace, sin unto death, never choose against the Spirit ( John 10).

There are, therefore, the following signs and effects of election: faith, hearing the Word of God, profitable use of the sacraments, the practice of good works. And furthermore good results immediately follow the cause: election appointed and begun in God is of necessity followed by calling, faith, hearing God’s Word and good works.

Predestination to eternal life is, therefore, necessary on account of the immutable causes situated in God alone; and just as predestination is perfected through every part in the foreknowledge of God, so it is necessary that in this world the elect be called, converted, believe, be renewed, justified, reconciled and hear the Word of God inwardly through the proclamation of the Holy Spirit, like little children; and that others hear it, as adults, inwardly and outwardly (so say the fathers, such as Augustine in his book on predestination written to Simplicianus; Ambrose, Cyril, Fulgentius, Origen, on John, chaps. 6, 12, 17; Rom. 8, 9; Eph. 1; Jerome; Ambrose, on the calling of the heathen, and on the epistles of Paul). This predestination is binding and necessary, because it is already perfected, decreed in God, and immutable because the cause is situated in God. Thus the Lord demonstrates His grace, mercy, and goodness in the vessels of mercy.

Others God has chosen, in accordance with His justice, from the sinful mass, and ordained or decreed in advance to eternal damnation and death because of their sin, that He may reveal in them His power and wrath. And this predestination to death is necessitated according to His immutable reasons (Rom. 9). For sin is not changed in the vessels of wrath, because men are incapable in themselves of being converted and fulfilling the Law, but remain in their sins without the grace of the Son. So the righteousness of God that punishes sin has ordained these vessels of wrath for death and decreed that they perish; and that decree cannot be changed ( John 7, 8; Rom. 8, 9; Heb. 9; Rom. 5). For it is necessary for men to die and to be punished for sin. Just as it has been determined that men should die for sin , by the same righteousness God has determined to prepare and foreordain these vessels of wrath to the second death.

Predestination to death is also necessitated (Acts 1; John 17; 1 Peter 1). Judas was damned because the Scripture had to be fulfilled. So say Isaiah 4, 6, 8; Psalm 69.

God did not elect with regard to life, holiness, righteousness, to sin, and death. But those whom He wished, He elected in Himself from death to life, out of sin and unrighteousness to righteousness, holiness, faith, and obedience; and from bad works to good, out of His mercy, without regard to any of their merits past, present, or future.

They are wrong that say that we have been elected because God foresaw our future faith and good works. For neither we, nor faith, nor the good works in us could have existed in the kingdom of Satan. We judge concerning the cause a priori about justification and predestination; about the marks, however, a posteriori. Just as few are justified, so few and not all are chosen and called according to purpose. Thus this teaching is false: you have been chosen because you believe, do good works, are obedient, and hear the Word of God. Indeed, you believe, hear, and live a holy life because you have been chosen from eternity (Acts 13; John 6, 17).

The marks of the vessels of wrath are final impenitence, unbelief, hypocrisy, to persist finally against conscience in their filth, reigning sins, blindness, not to hear and not to believe the Word of God.

“The Hungarian Confessio Catholica (1562),” in Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation, ed., James T. Dennison, (Grand Rapids Michigan: Reformation Heritage Books, 2010), 2:478-480. [Underlining mine.]

[Brief Biographical information from Dennison:

This confession with three names–Debrecen, Catholica, Agrovalliensis –is a lengthy Reformed confession written at the request of the church in Debrecen in 1561 by Peter Mélius Juhász (1536-1572) and Gregory Szegedi (1511-1569). György Ceglédi/Czeglédi, Protestant pastor at Varad/Nagyvarad, is also regarded as a joint author. The Confessio catholica de praecipuis fidei articulis exhibita was then printed with the title Confessio Agrovalliensis (“Confession of the Eger Valley”) in 1562 because the Reformed church in the Eger Valley (Egervölgyi) had asked the Debrecen church to send them a copy of the Mélius-Szegedi document. Agrivalliensis or the Eger Valley is a region in northeastern Hungary where a small fort manned by about 2,000 citizens had courageously turned back a long siege by the Ottoman Turks a decade earlier (1552). The Protestant faith took hold of these folk with so much power that the Habsburg emperor, Ferdinand I (1503-1564), accused the city of treason, i.e., rejection of the Roman Catholic faith as promulgated by the Counter-Reformation Jesuit Council of Nagyszombat (Trnava, Tyrnau) on April 23, 1560. Having learned of Mélius and Szegedi’s confession, the believers in Eger asked that they be permitted to send a copy of the Debrecen Confession to the king. However, they asked that the cover or title page be altered from its original wording, Confessio catholica or Confessio Debreceniensis, to that listed above. The valiant soldiers, nobles, and common citizens gathered to swear their allegiance via this statement of “true and Catholic faith and doctrine:’ King Ferdinand had threatened to remove their pastor, but based on this confession, the citizens of Eger refused and declared that they would abandon the fort as a defense against the Turks if they were not permitted to retain their pastor and their confession. This action is the first substantive example of a congregation in Hungary swearing the Reformed faith in concert.

A consequence of the adoption of the confession was a formal separation between the Saxon Hungarians who favored the Lutheran Augustan Confession, and the Reformed Hungarians who favored the Reformed theology of Geneva, Zurich, and Strasbourg. Matthias Hebler (11571) was the leader of the Lutheran faction which officially separated in 1564 following the Council of Enyed (modern Aiud in Romania).]

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