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Frequently Asked Symbolics Questions: Elect Angels

By admin | April 1, 2009

In 2LCF 3:3, we read ‘By the decree of God for the manifestation of his glory some men and Angels, are predestinated, or fore-ordained to Eternal Life, through Jesus Christ to the praise of his glorious grace; others being left to act in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of his glorious justice.’ The question is, are ‘angels’ predestinated to life ‘through Christ’? The italicized words were added to 2LCF (though the final phrase ‘to the praise of his glorious justice’ is found in both WCF and Savoy 3:7)

The addition of “through Christ.” This addition has raised some questions among some brethren.  Why did they do it?

An important literary work entitled Vindiciae Veritatas, or a Confutation of the Heresies and Gross Errours Asserted by Thomas Collier written by Nehemiah Coxe, was published in 1677 (the same year as 2LCF), and endorsed in a preface by six London Pastors. In that work Coxe (who was probably one of the co-editors of the Confession) wrote the following, In the chapter entitled “Of Election”:

Election as it is attributed to God may be variously considered: . . . Special; and that is Gods choosing unto eternal life, and it is either of Angels or Men: And it is this election, and the concernment of men therein, that we are to consider. Pg. 29

Chap. 3, “Of the extent of Christ’s Death”:

These texts do in no wise prove what Mr. C. doth produce them for, The first mentioned, viz. Col. 1.20. is by divers learned and judicious men, interpreted according to the subject matter; all things, i.e. the whole church or Family of God: in Heaven, viz. the spirits of just men made perfect; and in earth, i.e. the Elect still in the world; even all that are reconciled, are so in Christ.  And if he carry it farther, as some able Interpreters do also; and will have Angels included, and also the fabrick of Heaven and Earth, and the Creatures therein made for the service of man; yet can it not on alike account be applyed to all these; we cannot rightly conceive of a reconciliation of Angels (properly so called) that never sinned, it is at most but an analogical reconciliation; they being confirmed in Grace, and secured in their station by Christ. pg. 50.

It seems to me that the inclusion of this clause MAY be a reflection of this controversy with Collier, and should thus be understood in the analogical sense that Coxe explains in this quote. Perhaps there was a desire to assert the extensive mediatorship of Christ even here.  If in fact all things are mediated through him, Col. 1:20, there is a sense in which even the angels are confirmed through Christ.  Certainly, the language of election is frequently focused on Christ (Eph. 1:4), and this is probably a deduction from that language.  If there are elect angels (1 Tim. 5:21), then their election must have something to do with Christ.  Is election considered any other way?

Topics: Baptist History, Confessions, Doctrine of God, Puritanism, Puritans, Scripture | Comments Off

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