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  • WORKS OF ARMINIUS - ON THE DECREE OF GOD


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    IV. ON THE DECREE OF GOD

    1. The decrees of God are the extrinsic acts of God, though they are internal, and, therefore, made by the free will of God, without any absolute necessity. Yet one decree seems to require the supposition of another, on account of a certain fitness of equity; as the decree concerning the creation of a rational creature, and the decree concerning the salvation or damnation [of that creature] on the condition of obedience or disobedience. The act of the creature also, when considered by God from eternity, may sometimes be the occasion, and sometimes the outwardly moving cause of making some decree; and this may be so fare that without such act [of the creature] the decree neither would nor could be made.

    2. QUERY. -- Can the act of the creature impose a necessity on God of making some decree, and indeed a decree of a particular kind and no other -- and this not only according to some act to be performed respecting the creature and his act, but also according to a certain mode by which that act must be accomplished?

    3. One and the same in number is the volition by which God decrees something and determines to do or to permit it, and by which he does or permits the very thing which he decreed.

    4. About an object which is one and the same, and uniformly considered, there cannot be two decrees of God, or two volitions, either in reality, or according to any semblance of a contrary volition -- as to will to save man under conditions, and yet to will precisely and absolutely to condemn him.

    5. A decree of itself imposes no necessity on any thing or event. But if any necessity exists through the decree of God, it exists through the intervention of the divine power, and indeed when he judges it proper to employ his irresistible power to effect what he has decreed.

    6. Therefore, it is not correctly said, The will of God is the necessity of things."

    7. Nor is this a just expression: "All things happen necessarily with respect to the divine decree."

    8. As many distinct decrees are conceived by us, and must necessarily be conceived; as there are objects about which God is occupied in decreeing, or as there are axioms by which those decrees are enunciated.

    9. Though all the decrees of God have been made from eternity, yet a certain order of priority and posteriority must be laid down, according to their nature, and the mutual relation between them.

    V. ON PREDESTINATION TO SALVATION, AND ON DAMNATION CONSIDERED IN THE HIGHEST DEGREE

    1. The first in order of the divine decrees is not that of predestination, by which God foreordained to supernatural ends, and by which he resolved to save and to condemn, to declare his mercy and his punitive justice, and to illustrate the glory of his saving grace, and of his wisdom and power which correspond with that most free grace.

    2. The object of predestination to supernatural ends, to salvation and death, to the demonstration of the mercy and punitive justice, or of the saving grace, the wisdom, and the most free power of God, is not rational creatures indefinitely foreknown, and capable of salvation, of damnation, of creation, of falling, and of reparation or of being recovered.

    3. Nor is the subject some particular creatures from among those who are considered in this manner.

    4. The difference between the vessels to honour and those to dishonour, that is, of mercy and wrath, does not appertain to the adorning or perfection of the universe or of the house of God.

    5. The entrance of sin into the world does not appertain to the beauty of the universe.

    6. Creation in the upright state of original righteousness is not a means for executing the decree of predestination, or of election, or of reprobation.

    7. It is horrid to affirm, that "the way of reprobation is creation in the upright state of original righteousness;" (Gomarus, in his Theses on Predestination;) and in this very assertion are propounded two contrary volitions of God concerning one and the same thing.

    8. It is a horrible affirmation, that "God has predestinated whatsoever men he pleased not only to damnation, but likewise to the causes of damnation." (Beza, vol. I, fol. 417.)

    9. It is a horrible affirmation, that "men are predestinated to eternal death by the naked will or choice of God, without any demerit on their part." (Calvin, Inst. l. I, c. 2, 3.)

    10. This, also, is a horrible affirmation: "Some among men have been created unto life eternal, and others unto death eternal."

    11. It is not a felicitous expression, that "preparation unto destruction is not to be referred to any other thing, than to the secret counsel of God."

    12. Permission for the fall [of Adam] into sin, is not the means of executing the decree of predestination, or of election, or of reprobation.

    13. It is an absurd assertion, that "the demerits of the reprobate are the subordinate means of bringing them onward to destined destruction."

    14. It is a false assertion, that "the efficient and sufficient cause and matter of predestination are thus found in those who are reprobated."

    15. The elect are not called "vessels of mercy" in the relation of means to the end, but because mercy is the only moving cause, by which is made the decree itself of predestination to salvation.

    16. No small injury is inflicted on Christ as mediator, when he is called "the subordinate cause of destined salvation."

    17. The predestination of angels and of men differ so much from each other, that no property of God can be prefixed to both of them unless it be received in an ambiguous acceptation.

    VI. ON THE CREATION, AND CHIEFLY THAT OF MAN

    1. The creation of things out of nothing is the very first of all the external acts of God; nor is it possible for any act to be prior to this, or conceived to be prior to it; and the decree concerning creation is the first of all the decrees of God; because the properties according to which he performs and operates all things, are, in the first impulse of his nature, and in his first egress, occupied about nihility or nothing, when those properties are borne, ad extra, "outwards."

    2. God has formed two creatures rational and capable of things divine; ONE of them is purely spiritual and invisible, and [that is the class of] angels; but the OTHER is partly corporeal and partly spiritual, visible and invisible, and [that is the class of] men; and the perfection of this universe seeing to have required the formation of these two [classes of] creatures.

    3. QUERY. -- Did it not become the manifold wisdom of God, and was it not suitable to the difference by which these two rational creatures were distinguished at the very creation, that, in the mode and circumstances of imparting eternal life to angels and to men, he might act in a different manner with the former from that which he adopts towards the latter? It appears that he might do so.

    4. But two general methods may be mentally conceived by us, ONE of which is through the strict observance of the law laid down, without hope of pardon if any transgression were committed; but the OTHER is through the remission of sins, though a law agreeable to their nature was likewise to be prescribed by a peremptory decree to men, with whom it was not the will of God to treat in a strict manner and according to the utmost rigor; and obedience was to be required from them without a promise or pardon.

    5. The image and likeness of God, after which man was created, belongs partly to the very nature of man, so that, without it, man cannot be man; but it partly consists in those things which concern supernatural, heavenly and spiritual things. The former class comprises the understanding, the affections, and the will, which is free; but the latter, the knowledge of God and of things divine, righteousness, true holiness, &c.

    6. With respect to essence and adequate objects, the faith by which Adam believed in God is not the same as that by which he believed in God after the promise made concerning the Blessed Seed, and not the same as that by which we believe the gospel of Christ.

    7. Without doing any wrong to God, to Adam, and to the truth itself, it may be said, that in his primeval state Adam neither received or possessed a Proximate capability of understanding, believing, or performing any thing whatsoever which could be necessary to be understood, believed, or performed by him, in any state whatsoever at which it was possible for him to arrive, either by his own endeavours or by the gift of God, though he must have had a remote capability, otherwise something essential would still have been to be created within man himself.

    8. The liberty of the will consists in this -- when all the requisites for willing or not willing are laid down, man is still indifferent to will or not to will, to will this rather than that. This indifference is removed by the previous determination, by which the will is circumscribed and absolutely determined to the one part or to the other of the contradiction or contrariety; and this predetermination, therefore, does not consist with the liberty of the will, which requires not only free capability, but also tree use in the very exercise of it.

    9. Internal necessity is as repugnant to liberty as external necessity is; nay, external necessity does not necessitate to act except by the intervention of that which is internal.

    10. Adam either possessed, or had ready and prepared for him, sufficient grace, whether it were habitual or assisting, to obey the command imposed on him, both that command which was symbolical and ceremonial, and that which was moral.

    VII. ON THE DOMINION OF GOD OVER THE CREATURES, AND CHIEFLY OVER MAN

    1. The dominion of God over the creatures rests on the communication of the good which he has bestowed on them: And since this good is not infinite, neither is the dominion itself infinite. But that dominion is infinite according to which it may be lawful and proper for God to issue his commands to the creature, to impose on him all his works, to use him in all those things which his omnipotence might be able to command and to impose upon him, and to engage his services or attention.

    2. Therefore the dominion of God does not extend itself so far as to be able to inflict eternal death on a rational creature, or to destine him to death eternal, without the demerits of the creature himself.

    3. It is, therefore, falsely asserted, that "though God destined and created for destruction any creatures (indefinitely considered) without any consideration of sin as the meritorious cause, yet he cannot be accused of injustice, because he possesses an absolute right of dominion over them." ( Gomar's Theses on Predestination.)

    4. Another false assertion is this: "By the light of GLORY we shall understand by what right God can condemn an innocent person, or one who has not merited damnation, as by the light of GRACE we now understand by what right God saves unworthy and sinful men; yet this right we do not comprehend by the light of nature." (Luther On the Servitude of the Will.)

    5. But still more false is the following assertion: "Man is bound to acquiesce in this will of God, nay, to give thanks to God, that he has made him an instrument of the divine glory, to be displayed through wrath and power in his eternal destruction."

    6. God can make of his own whatsoever he wills. But he does not will, neither can he will, to make of that which is his own whatever it is possible for him to make according to his infinite and absolute power.

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