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  • WORKS OF ARMINIUS - THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD


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    II. THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD

    My sentiments respecting the providence of God are these: It is present with, and presides over, all things; and all things, according to their essences, quantities, qualities, relations, actions, passions, places, times, stations and habits, are subject to its governance, conservation, and direction. I except neither particular, sublunary, vile, nor contingent things, not even the free wills of men or of angels, either good or evil: And, what is still more, I do not take away from the government of the divine providence even sins themselves, whether we take into our consideration their commencement, their progress, or their termination.

    1. With respect to the Beginning of Sin, I attribute the following acts to the providence of God:

    First. Permission, and that not idle, but which has united in it four positive acts:

         (1.) The preservation of the creature according to essence, life and capability.

         (2.) Care lest a greater or an equal power be placed in opposition.

         (3.) The offering of an object against which sin will be committed.

         (4.) The destined concession of its concurrence, which, on account of the dependence of a second on the first cause, is a necessary concurrence.

    Secondly. The administration of arguments and occasions, soliciting to the perpetration of sin.

    Thirdly. The determination of place, time, manner, and of similar circumstances.

    Fourthly. The immediate concurrence itself of God with the act of sin.

    2. With respect to the Progress of sin, I attribute also the following four acts to the divine government:

    The First is the direction of sin that is already begun, to a certain object, at which the offending creature either has not aimed, or has not absolutely aimed.

    The Second act is the direction of sin to the end which God himself wills, whether the creature intend or do not intend that end, nay, though he intend another and quite opposite end.

    The Third act is the prescribing and determination of the time during which he wills or permits sin to endure.

    The Fourth act is the defining of its magnitude, by which limits are placed on sin, that it may not increase and assume greater strength.

    The whole of these acts, both concerning the commencement and the progress of sin, I consider distinctly in reference to the act itself, and to the anomy or transgression of the law, a course which, according to my judgment, is necessary and useful.

    3. Lastly, with respect to the END and COMPLETION of sin, I attribute to divine providence either punishment through severity, or remission through grace; which are occupied about sin, in reference to its being sin and to its being a transgression, of the law.

    But I most solicitously avoid two causes of offense -- that God be not proposed as the author of sin, and that its liberty be not taken away from the human will. These are two points which, if any one knows how to avoid, he will think upon no act which I will not in that case most gladly allow to be ascribed to the providence of God, provided a just regard be had to the divine pre-eminence.

    But I have given a most ample explanation of these my sentiments, in the theses which were twice publicly disputed on the same subject in the university. On this account, therefore, I declare that I am much surprised, and not without good reason, at my being aspersed with this calumny - - that l hold corrupt opinions respecting the providence of God. If it be allowable to indulge in conjecture, I think this slander had its origin in the fact of my denying that, with respect to the decree of God, Adam necessarily sinned -- an assertion which I yet constantly deny, and think it one that ought not to be tolerated, unless the word "necessarily" be received in the acceptation of "infallibly," as it is by some persons; though this change does not agree with the etymology of the two words; for, necessity is an affection of being, but infallibility is an affection of the mind. Yet I easily endure the use of the first of these words, provided those two inconveniences to which I have recently alluded be faithfully avoided.

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