21 November, 2017

Canons of Dordt, III/IV: 7—“… they, to whom so great and so gracious a blessing is communicated …”

This mystery of his will God discovered to but a small number under the Old Testament; under the New, (the distinction between various peoples having been removed), he reveals himself to many, without any distinction of people. The cause of this dispensation is not to be ascribed to the superior worth of one nation above another, nor to their making a better use of the light of nature, but results wholly from the sovereign good pleasure and unmerited love of God. Hence they, to whom so great and so gracious a blessing is communicated, above their desert, or rather notwithstanding their demerits, are bound to acknowledge it with humble and grateful hearts, and with the apostle to adore, not curiously to pry into the severity and justice of God's judgments displayed to others, to whom this grace is not given (Canons III/IV:7).

In this particular article of the Canons, it talks about God’s choice to send the gospel to some, not to others; and the Canons ascribes this to the ‘unmerited love’ of God and calls it ‘grace.’ Nothing suggests, so it is claimed, that it is only grace for “the elect” among the recipients of the gospel. Therefore it must be grace for all without exception (the reprobate included).


Prof. David J. Engelsma

The explanation of Canons III/IV.7 is the same as that of Romans 9. There is a sphere of grace, namely, the descendants of believing parents and the nation to which the gospel comes in missions, and there are the specific objects of grace, the elect in the line of believing parents and within the nation. That the Canons do not teach election and saving love of all the members of a nation to which the gospel comes is evident from the rest of the Canons, which teaches particular election and saving love. The Canons must be allowed to explain itself.
Besides, Canons III/IV.7 does not teach that God’s grace and unmerited love are for all in the nation where God sends His revelation. “They to whom so great and so gracious a blessing is communicated” are not all the members of a nation, but the elect among that nation. The blessing is “communicated,” not merely displayed.



More to come! (DV)

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