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  • WORKS OF ARMINIUS - ON THE PRECEPTS OF DIVINE WORSHIP IN GENERAL


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    DISPUTATION LXVIII

    ON THE PRECEPTS OF DIVINE WORSHIP IN GENERAL

    I. To those who are about to treat on the worship of God, the most commodious way and method seems to be this -- to follow the order of the commands of God in which this worship is prescribed, and to consider all and each of them. For they instruct and inform the worshiper, and they prescribe the matter, form and end of the worship.

    II. In the precepts which prescribe the worship of God, three things come generally under consideration:

         (1.) Their foundation, on which rest the right and authority of him who commands, and the equity of his command.

         (2.) The command itself.

         (3.) The sanction, through promises and threatenings. The first of these may be called "the preface to the command;" the third, "the appendix to it;" and the second is the very essence of the precept.

    III. The foundation or preface, containing the authority of Him who commands, and, through this, the equity of the precept, is the common foundation of all religion, and, on this account, also, it is the foundation of faith; for instance, "I am the Lord thy God," &c. "I, the God omnipotent or all sufficient, will be thy very great reward."I am thy God, and the God of thy seed." From these expressions, not only may this conclusion be drawn -- "Therefore shalt thou love the Lord thy God,"Therefore walk before me, and be thou perfect" -- but likewise the following: "Therefore believe thou in me." But we must not treat on this subject on this occasion, as it has been discussed in the preceding pages.

    IV. I say that the other two are, the precept, and the sanction or appendix of the precept. For we must suppose that there are two parts of a precept, the first of which requires the performance or the omission of an act, and the second demands punishment. But we must consider that the latter part, which is called "the appendix," serves for this purpose, that, in the former, God enjoys the thing which he desired, dispensing blessings if he obtain his desire, and inflicting punishments if he does not obtain it.

    V. With regard to the precepts, before we come to each of them, we must first look generally at that which comes under consideration in every precept.

    VI. In the first place, the object of every precept is two- fold, the one formal, the other material; or the first formally required, the second materially,. Of these, the former is uniform in all circumstances and in every precept, but the latter is different or distinguishable.

    VII. The formal object, or that which is formally required, is pure obedience itself without respect of the particular thing or act in which, or about which, obedience must be performed. And we may be allowed to call such obedience "blind," with this exception, that it is preceded solely by the knowledge by which a man knows that this very thing had been prescribed by God.

    VIII. The material object, or that which is materially required, is the special or particular act itself, in the performance or omission of which obedience lies.

    IX. From the formal object, it is deduced that the act in which it is the will of God that obedience be yielded to him by its performance, is of such a nature that there is something in man which is abhorrent from its performance; and that the act, the omission of which is commanded by God, is of such a nature that there is something in man which is inclined to perform it. If it were otherwise, neither the performance of the former, nor the omission of the latter, could be called "obedience."

    X. From these premises, it further follows that the performance and the omission of this act proceed from a cause which overcomes and restrains the nature of man, that is inclined towards the forbidden act, and is abhorrent from that which is prescribed.

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