The Nestorians and their Rituals/Volume 2/Chapter 21

CHAPTER XXI.

OF PREDESTINATION AND ELECTION.

"Predestination to Life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby (before the foundations of the world were laid) He hath constantly decreed by His counsel secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom He hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour. Wherefore, they which be endued with so excellent a benefit of God be called according to God's purpose by His Spirit working in due season: they through Grace obey the calling: they be justified freely: they be made sons of God by adoption: they be made like the image of His only-begotten Son Jesus Christ: they walk religiously, in good works, and at length, by God's mercy, they attain to everlasting felicity. As the godly consideration of Predestination, and our Election in Christ, is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons, and such as feel in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh, and their earthly members, and drawing up their mind to high and heavenly things, as well because it doth greatly establish and confirm their faith of eternal Salvation to be enjoyed through Christ, as because it doth fervently kindle their love towards God: So, for curious and carnal persons, lacking the Spirit of Christ, to have continually before their eyes the sentence of God's Predestination, is a most dangerous downfall, whereby the Devil doth thrust them either into desperation, or into wretchlessness of most unclean living, no less perilous than desperation. Furthermore, we must receive God's promises in such wise, as they be generally set forth to us in Holy Scripture: and, in our doings, that Will of God is to be followed, which we have expressly declared unto us in the Word of God."—Article XVII.

On the difficult theological questions involved in the doctrine of Predestination and Election, the Nestorians appear not to have been troubled in any period of their history, and hence scarcely anything directly to the point is to be met with in their standard writings. As may be gathered from the spirit and teaching of the quotations hitherto adduced, the Nestorian ritualists seem to have been guided by the less theoretical and simpler truth contained in the concluding paragraph of the Article. In all their services they insist, with much earnestness, upon the vast importance of practical holiness; exhibit the motives which appeared to them best calculated to secure it, and represent the blessedness which awaits good men, and the condemnation reserved for the wicked; but they do not attempt to determine whether the sin which they were solicitous to remove could be accounted for consistently with the essential holiness and the unbounded mercy of God. In short they take that view of this subject which every Christian man takes when he is not seeking to enter into philosophical disquisition: never for one moment doubting that whatever is wrong was ultimately to be referred to man, and that the economy of grace proceeding from God, was the most convincing proof of His tenderness towards mankind. Hence, they teach that Christians should be thankful for the unmerited love of God, in having called them to participate in His grace;—that from this grace they may fall away and be lost;—but that if they repent and strive to continue in His favour. He is merciful, and will finally save them. In this spirit the following prayer from the collection of Collects at the end of the Khudhra is dictated: "From Thy treasures, O Thou Self-existent, we pray for mercy and pity; shut not Thy door against us, for we have no other hope but Thee. Who can overcome without Thy help, who can persevere without Thee? Vain are all the efforts of men unless Thy salvation accompanies them, and vain is the triumph which is not through Thee. The bird does not fall into the snare of the fowler without Thy will; how then can we overcome without the help of Thy grace? Turn towards us, O Thou Compassionate One, and hear the voice of our supplications whilst we pray Thee, in Thy mercy, to be favourable unto Thy servants."