varies slowly from century to century. At the present time the rate of motion measured on a great circle is about 20″ per year; that is to say both the pole and the plane of the equator move through this angle annually. But when measured around the pole of the ecliptic as a centre the motion is about 2.5 times this or, at present, 50.37″ annually. This is the present amount of the luni-solar precession which, if it remained constant, would carry the pole completely round in a period of 25,730 years. But the exact period varies slightly, owing to the motion of the pole of the ecliptic. The combined effect of the luni-solar and planetary precession or the total motion of the equinox is called the general precession. Its annual amount during our time is 50.2564+0.02220″ T, T being the time reckoned from 1900 in centuries.
PRECINCT (from Lat. praecingere, to encircle, enclose, surround, prae and cingere, to gird), an enclosure, a space within the boundaries, marked by walls or fences or by an imaginary line, of a building or group of buildings, especially used of such a space belonging to a cathedral or other religious building. The word is frequently used, indefinitely, of the neighbourhood or environs of a place or building. In the United States of America it is applied to various minor territorial divisions or districts, for electoral or judicial purposes. In some of the states they correspond to the “township” as the principal subdivision of the “ county.”
PRECIOUS (O. Fr. precios, mod. précieux, Lat. pretiosus, of high value or price, pretium), costly or of high value, particularly used in political economy of those metals which are “ valuable enough to be used as a standard of value and abundant enough for coinage ” (The Century Dictionary). The term is thus practically confined to gold and silver. Platinum in theory may be included as it was used for coinage in Russia in 1828; the fluctuations in the value of the metal caused its discontinuance in 1845 (see GOLD, SILVER and MONEY). “Precious stones ” include those gems which are valued for ornament and jewelry. “Strictly speaking the only precious stones are the diamond, ruby, sapphire and emerald, though the term is often extended to the opal, notwithstanding its lack of hardness, and to the pearl . . strictly an animal product,” G. F. Kunz, Gems and Precious Stones of North America (1890) (see GEM, and LAPIDARY AND GEM-CUTTING). Aparticular use of “ precious ” as meaning fastidious, over-refined, is taken from the French précieux, familiar in the appellation of Les Précienses, given to the social and literary circle of ladies which centred round the Hotel de Rambouillet in the 17th century (see RAMBOUILLET; CATHERINE DE VIVONNE, MARQUISE DE).
PRECONIZATION (Late Lat. praeconizatio, from praeconizare, to proclaim, Lat. praeco, a public crier), a public proclamation or announcement. In this sense it is practically obsolete; but the word is still technically used of the solemn proclamation of new bishops, and of the sees to which they are appointed, made by the pope in the consistory of cardinals (see Bishop). In the English ecclesiastical courts “praeconize” is also still used in the sense of “to summon by name.”
PREDELLA, the Italian word for a footstool or kneeling-stool, hence applied to the step or platform on which an altar rests, and to a shelf raised above the altar at the back, a super altar or gradino. The face both of the step and shelf are frequently decorated with sculpture or painting, and the term “predella” is frequently given to the sculpture or painting so used, and, further, to any painting that is a pendant to a larger work.
PREDESTINATION (from Late Lat. praedestinare, to determine beforehand; from the root sta, as in stare, stand), a theological term used in three senses: (1) God's unchangeable decision from eternity of all that is to be; (2) God's destination of men to everlasting happiness or misery; (3) God's appointment unto life or “election” (the appointment unto death being called “reprobation,” and the term “ fore ordination ” being preferred to “ predestination ” in regard to it). In the first sense the conception is similar to that of fate; this assumes a moral character as nemesis, or the inevitable penalty of transgression.
Sophocles represents man's life as woven with a “shuttle of adamant ” (Antigone, 622-624). Stoicism formulated a doctrine of providence or necessity. Epicurus denies a divine superintendence of human affairs. A powerful influence in Scandinavian religion was exercised by the belief in “ the nornir, or Fates, usually thought of as three sisters.” In Brahminic thought Karma, the consequences of action, necessitates rebirth in a lower or higher mode of existence, according to guilt or merit. With some modifications this conception is taken over by Buddhism. The Chinese lao, the order of heaven, which should be the order for earth as well, may also be compared. According to Josephus (Antiq. xviii. 1, 3, 4; xiii. 5, 9) the Sadducees denied fate altogether, and placed good and evil wholly in man's choice; the Pharisees, while recognizing man's freedom, laid emphasis on fate; the Essenes insisted on an absolute fate. This statement is exposed to the suspicion of attempting to assimilate the Jewish sects to the Greek schools. In Islam the orthodox theology teaches an absolute predestination, and yet some teachers hold men responsible for the moral character of their acts. The freethinking school of the Mo'tazilites insisted that the righteousness of God in rewarding or punishing men for their actions could be vindicated only by the recognition of human freedom.
The question of the relation of divine and human will has been the subject of two controversies in the Christian church, the Augustinian-Pelagian and the Calvinistic-Arminian. Pelagius maintained the free-will of man, and held that man's conduct, character, destiny are in his own hand. Grace, by enlightening, forgiving sin and strengthening his moral powers, helps man to fulfil this purpose. While grace is meant for all, men make themselves worthy of it by striving after virtue. This doctrine as minimizing grace was repugnant to Augustine. He regarded mankind as sinful, guilty, ruined, incapable of any good. God alone can save. His grace is effectual and irresistible. As what God has done He has eternally willed to do, grace involves predestination. God has from eternity chosen those whom He wills to save (“ election ”), and consequently He has also passed over those whom He leaves to perish (“ praeterition ). As all deserve damnation, there is no injustice in leaving them to their deserts. The “ re probation ” of the wicked is not the cause of their sin; God's foreknowledge does not make the sin necessary; how re probation and foreknowledge are related is not made plain. The doctrine of Augustine was revived in the 9th century by Gottschalk, who taught that God's passing over the lost meant their predestination to punishment. Hincmar of Reims persecuted him for not distinguishing the two positions. This dispute would have little interest now, had not Hincmar appealed to John Scotus Erigena, who attempted to solve the theological problem by philosophical conceptions. He denied that foreknowledge or predestination as temporal relations could be properly predicated of God as eternal; he described sin and its consequences as negations, neither caused by nor known to God; he maintained that as evil is only a stage in the development of good, there will ultimately be a universal return to God. Thus the doctrine of re probation was emptied of meaning. This defence of orthodoxy was condemned as heretical. The controversy was kept up during the scholastic period. Thomas Aquinas followed Augustine. Duns Scotus leaned toward Semi-Pelagianism, which rejected the doctrine of predestination, and maintained a co-operation of freedom and grace. While Aquinas affirmed the positions of Augustine, he deduced them from his Aristotelian conception of God as “first mover, itself unmoved." His original contribution to the subject was his theory of divine concurrence. He distinguishes secondary causes as natural and necessary, and as voluntary and contingent; though both are set in motion by God, yet as the natural remain natural, so do the voluntary remain voluntary. But this is clearly only a verbal solution.
At the Reformation the Augustinian position was accepted by both Luther and Calvin. Melanchthon modihed his earlier view in the direction of synergism, the theory of a co-operation of divine grace and human freedom. The later Lutheran doctrine is “ that man, unable as he is to will any good thing, can yet use the means of grace, and that these means of grace, carrying in themselves a divine power, produce a saving effect on all who do not voluntarily oppose their influence. Baptism, ag. confers grace, which if not resisted is saving. And God, foreseeing who will and who will not, resist the grace offered, predestinates to life all who are foreseen as believers.” Calvin's View is the same as Augustine's. He held the snblaprarian view that the fall was decreed, but not the supralapsarian view that it “ was decreed as a means towards carrying out a previous decree to save some and leave others to perish.” The latter view was held by Beza and other Calvinists, and, it is said, repelled Arminius from