Learning from William Perkins on Election

WilliamPerkinsPortraitHow did William Perkins see Jesus Christ as the foundation, means, and ends of election?

William Perkins writes on this topic the following, “Election is God’s decree whereby of his own free will he hath ordained certain men to salvation, to the praise of the glory of his grace. There appertain three things to the execution of this decree, first the foundation, secondly the means, thirdly the degrees. The foundation is Christ Jesus, called of his Father from all eternity to perform the office of the Mediator, that in him all those which should be saved might be chosen.”

How did William Perkins see predestination as being carried out through the covenants?

Perkins taught that God established a covenant of works with Adam in paradise, thus setting a covenantal context for the fall. Similarly, He made the covenant of grace as the context for the salvation of the elect.

How did William Perkins see reprobation as a logical concomitant of election, and what were the differences he emphasizes between the two?

Perkins wrote “If there be an eternal decree of God, whereby he chooseth some men, then there must needs be another whereby he doth pass by others.” Two differences of emphasis exist between reprobation and election, however. First God willed the sin and damnation of men but not with the will of approval or action. God’s will to elect sinners consisted of His delight in showing grace and His intent to work grace in them. But God’s will to reprobate sinners did not include any delight in their sin, nor any intent to work sin in them. Rather He willed not to prevent their sinning because He delighted in the glorification of His justice. Second, in executing reprobation, God primarily passes over the reprobate by withholding from them His special, supernatural grace of election.

How did Williams Perkins see preaching as essential for bringing in the elect?

Munson writes, “Perkins’ golden chain of the causes of salvation is linked through the instrument of preaching. Perkins wrote on the preaching of the Gospel “This gospel must be preached. It is the allure of the soul, whereby men’s forward minds are mitigated and moved from an ungodly and barbarous life unto Christian faith and repentance.” Perkins also said “The gospel preached is that ordinary means to beget faith.” Plain and powerful preaching of Scripture was not merely the work of a man, but a heavenly intrusion where the Spirit of the electing God speaks.


William Perkins provides six marks that may help certify one’s adoption . . .

  1. Ÿ An earnest and heartie desire in all things to further the glorie of God.
  2. A care and readiness to resigne our selues in subjection to God, to bee ruled by his word and spirit, in thought, word, and deede.
  3.  A sincere endeauor to do his will in all things with cheerfulnesse, making conscience of euerything we know to be euill.
  4. Vpright walking in a mans lawfull calling, and yet still by faith to relie vpon Gods prouidence, being well pleased with Gods sending whatsoeuer it is.
  5. Euery day to humble a mans selfe before God for his offences, seeking his fauour in Christ vnfainedly, and so daily renuing his faith & repentance.
  6.  A continual combate between the flesh and the spirit, corruption haling and drawing one way, and grace resisting the same & drawing another way.