Hugh Latimer (c. 1487-1555) on the assurance of election



We have in previous posts considered the question “How can I know whether I am one of the elect?”, and have seen answers to this question in selections from John Calvin, Heinrich Bullinger, Joseph Alleine, Bénédict Pictet, and Wilhelmus van Irhoven. To add to these, consider the following two excerpts from the sermons of the English Reformer Hugh Latimer (c. 1487-1555), of which the first is from his Sermon on the third Sunday of Epiphany, preached on 24 January 1552:

When we hear that some be chosen and some be damned, let us have good hope that we shall be among the chosen, and live after this hope; that is, uprightly and godly, then thou shalt not be deceived. Think that God hath chosen those that believe in Christ, and that Christ is the Book of life. If thou believest in him, then thou art written in the book of life, and shalt be saved. So we need not go about to trouble ourselves with curious questions of the predestination of God; but let us rather endeavour ourselves that we may be in Christ, for when we be in him, then are we well, and then we may be sure that we are ordained to everlasting life.

Merely a few weeks later, in his Sermon on the Sunday called Septuagesima, preached on 14 February 1552, he warns against seeking the assurance of your election from God’s hidden counsels, which would prove futile, but rather:

…if thou begin with Christ, and consider his coming into the world, and doest believe that God hath sent him for thy sake, to suffer for thee, and deliver thee from sin, death, the devil, and hell, then when thou art so armed with the knowledge of Christ, then I say, this simple question [of whether I am elect] cannot hurt thee, for thou art in the book of life which is Christ himself. […]

[O]ur election is sure if we follow the Word of God. Here is now taught you how to try our your election, namely, in Christ, for Christ is the accounting book and register of God, even in the same book, that is, Christ, are written all the names of the elect. Therefore we cannot find our election in ourselves, neither yet in the high counsel of God: for Inscrutabilia sunt judicia altissimi [The judgments of the Most High are past finding out] (Job 34). Where shall I find then my election? In the counting book of God which is Christ: for thus it is written: Sic Deus dilexit mundum, that is, God hath so entirely loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, to that end, that all that believe in him should not perish, but have life everlasting. Whereby appeareth most plainly that Christ is the book of life, and that all that believe in him are in the same book, and so are chosen to everlasting life, for only those are ordained [to eternal life] which believe.