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WORKS OF ARMINIUS - TWELFTH PROPOSITION OF ARMINIUS
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TWELFTH PROPOSITION OF ARMINIUS
Thirdly, of Non-Election or Preterition. Non-election or preterition is an act of the divine pleasure, by which God from eternity determined not to communicate to some men supernatural happiness, but to bestow on them only natural or animal happiness, if they should live agreeably to nature; -- But, in an act of this kind, God has not to do with men considered in a merely natural state; -- Therefore, God does not pass by certain men, considered in a merely natural state. The truth of the Minor is proved; --
1. Because there is no natural happiness of this kind, which is the end of man, and his ultimate neither in fact, for there has not been, and there is not a man happy in this sense, nor in possibility, derived from the decree of God considered, either absolutely, for no man will ever be thus happy naturally, or conditionally, for God did not design happiness of this kind for any man on a condition, as the condition must be that of obedience, which God remunerates by supernatural happiness.
2. Because sin is the meritorious cause of that act of the divine pleasure, by which He determined to deny, to some, spiritual or supernatural happiness, resulting from union with Himself and from His dwelling in man. "Your iniquities have separated between you and your God." (Isa. lix, 2.) Nor can that denial of happiness to man be considered otherwise than as punishment, which is necessarily preceded by the act of sin, and its appointment by the foresight of future sin. These arguments may be useful also in the discussion of other questions.
ANSWER OF JUNIUS TO THE TWELFTH PROPOSITION
Your definition of non-election or preterition, (which Augustine calls also reelection,) is by no means just, -- and this in three respects.
1. Since that, which is made a difference, is not merely an accident. For if the difference of the things defined is only an accident, the definition is not a good one. The essential difference between election and reprobation consists in adoption by Jesus Christ unto God the Father, the accidental consectary of which is supernatural happiness. Ephesians 1, and Romans 8.
2. Because the thing defined is referred, not to its primary end, but to one which is secondary, which is erroneous. The primary end of election is union with God by adoption, but a secondary, and, as we have said, accidental end, is happiness.
3. Because the definition is redundant; for an addition is made of something positive, when you insert, in parentheses, "but to be bestowed," &c., while the definition itself is purely negative. There is also a fault, and even an error in that which is added. For non-election or preterition does not bestow natural happiness, but rather supposes it; God does not, in that act, bestow a gift on those on whom it already has been bestowed. This we remark concerning the Major.
The Minor is denied. God, in this act, has reference to man in general, therefore also, in this mode, He has respect to the same general reference. Thus you perceive that your whole reasoning is false. To sustain your Minor you use two arguments. The first is designed to confirm that part of the definition, which does not, as we have asserted, belong to definition; therefore, I need not notice it. Yet since you afford the occasion, I shall be permitted to make certain suggestions. The argument denies that there is any "natural happiness of this kind, which is the end of man, and his ultimate." If you speak here of the depraved nature of man, I admit it; for "an evil tree does not bring forth good fruit," much less does it acquire any goodness of itself. If you speak of nature, in its purity, as it was, originally, in Adam, I deny it. For, to undepraved nature, pertained its own future natural happiness, though it was afterwards, so to speak, to be absorbed, by the grace of God, in supernatural happiness. This happiness was the natural design of man and his natural end. Do not all things in nature seek their own good? But since nature seeks not any thing which may not exist, (it is foolish to seek that, which does not exist, even in possibility, and nature, the work of an infinitely wise Architect, is not foolish,) it follows that the good of each thing exists by nature, in possibility, if the thing does not attain to it, and in fact, if the thing does attain to it. But if the condition of natural things is such, consider, I pray you, my brother, how it can be truly said of man that he is deprived of natural felicity, and his natural end, when all things, in nature, are in a different situation. Surely, nature could not be blind, in her most excellent work, and see so clearly in all her other works. But you say that this fact never existed. I admit it, for Adam fell out by the way; but it was to exist in the future. You say that it did not exist "in possibility." This is an error, for God designed it for Adam, on the condition of his remaining in the right way. I prove this from the words of God himself; "in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." (Gen. ii, 17.) What is death? Is it not privation? What is privation? Is it not of some natural attribute or habit? Adam, then, was deprived of natural life, and of that happy constitution of life, which he obtained in Eden, otherwise he would have remained happy in it, if he had continued in the discharge of duty, until God had fulfilled in him the promise of supernatural life, which was adumbrated to him by the tree of life in the garden of Eden. For, on the contrary, it follows that, if he had not eaten the forbidden fruit, he would not have become mortal, but, with life and sight, he would have been prepared for translation to a higher life.
You affirm that God "remunerates obedience by supernatural happiness." He indeed remunerates obedience in that way, but not in that way alone. Conjunctively, it is true; exclusively, it is false. He remunerates obedience in both ways. For even at the present time, when we are very far removed from the natural condition of Adam, godliness has the "promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come." (1 Tim. iv, 8.) I judge that a two-fold idea, namely, of the end and of the mode, has led you into error. You have thought that the only end of man is that which is supernatural. It is very true, that things subordinate are not at variance. There is a natural end. As nature is subordinate to God, so natural ends are subordinate to those which are supernatural and divine. The end of our nature, so far as it is natural, is this, that it should approach very near to the Divine; so far as it is supernatural, it is that man may be united to God. To the former, Adam could attain by nature; to the latter, he could be exalted from the former, by grace. You indeed judged that there could be no mode, in which both kinds of happiness should concur. But two things must be observed in this case, one, that natural happiness is a previous preparation, the other that it is a foundation to the supernatural. It is prepared for and previous to it. Unless he had been already happy in nature, even it he had remained without falling, he would not have attained the other happiness, there must have been in him that natural happiness by which he could approach the supernatural. But when he should have in fact, entered into that supernatural felicity, then natural happiness would be the foundation and upon it the consummation would be in supernatural happiness. If perfection is added to perfection, the less is not destroyed, but the increase is made upon the less, as fire is increased by fire, the vegetative faculty by the sentient, and both by the rational. The less rests in the greater as in its own principle, and is more fully perfected by it, as it more fully ceases to be its own, and partakes of the perfection of another. Thus it will be, in the resurrection of the dead and in eternal life. The nature of man will be both perfected and glorified above the mode of nature. It will so obtain the perfection of nature, as to rest in that divine and supernatural perfection; and nature will not be abolished, but be clothed in a supernatural mode, as the apostle says of the body, in 1 Corinthians 15. These things, however, are merely incidental.
Your second argument may be stated thus: -- Sin is the meritorious cause of that negative act; -- Man, in a merely natural state, has no sin; -- There is not then, in him any meritorious cause. By consequence God has not any cause of that negative act. The whole prosyllogism is admitted, but the inference is denied, because it is made from a particular case. It would indeed be true if the negative act of the Deity resulted only from a meritorious cause, but this position is very far removed from the truth. The cause of every negative act is either in God or in the creature. The same is true of this act. But the cause of this act is not in the creature. Therefore, it is in God. This prosyllogism will be denied by none. In the will of God alone, exists the cause that you are not an apostle, and that you may not live to the age of Adam or Methuselah. Iniquity in man is the cause that he is far from God, and that God is far from him; namely, in that respect, of which Isaiah spoke. (Isa. lix, 2.) For, in other respects, not only is iniquity a cause, but also the will of God; who, if he would, might remove their iniquity as a cloud, and bring man near to Himself: I prove that the cause of this act is not in the creature, as was said before in the 10th proposition; first, by the authority of Christ in Matthew 25, and of Paul in Romans 8 & 9, and Ephesians 1; secondly, by reason, since even that first sin did not take place, except from the negative act of God, of which negative act sin cannot be the cause, for the same thing cannot be both cause and consequence of another thing. But election and non-election were prior even to the first sin, as we have before demonstrated. A positive and a negative act of God also precede every act of the creature, whether good or bad. For there is no evil act which has not been preceded also by a negative act of the Deity, permitting the evil. Adam and Eve sinned, certainly not without a negative act of God, though there had been committed by them no previous sin, deserving that negation. What, then, was the cause of that negative act if it was not the free will of God? In subsequent sins, however, it may be admitted that sin is, indeed, the meritorious cause, and the free will of God is also a cause; for He destroys even sins, when He wills. He has that power, and if He does not destroy them, it is because He does not will to do it. But those sins which He destroys, can not, though a meritorious cause, produce the negative act of God. You see then, my brother, that sin may be indeed a meritorious cause of that negative act, but not singly or alone or always; therefore, it is not the necessary cause.
Thirdly, by the example of the Angels? What has restrained the holy Angels from evil and confirmed them in good? The positive act of God, that is, the manifestation of Himself in election; for they are elect. What did not restrain the fallen Angels from evil, into which they rushed of their own will? The negative act of God, in non-election or preterition which Augustine also calls reelection. It also belongs to this act of election, that the former were confirmed in good against evil, and to reprobation, that the latter were left, who (as Christ says in John 8.) speak a lie of their own, and commit sin. However, I wish that you would always remember, in this case and in subsequent arguments, that it is not suitable to substitute, for the proper and proximate end, a remote consequence, or event (which is also called in its own mode, an end), namely, supernatural happiness. That it is appropriate and proximate to assert that sin is the meritorious cause of that divine negative act, by which He does not adopt certain men as children unto Himself by Christ, the consectary of which adoption is happiness, is denied, my brother, by nature herself. God begets sons unto Himself according to His own will, not according to their character, whether good as in the case of the elect angels, or bad as in our own case. He looks upon all, in Christ, not in themselves, that Christ "might be the first-born among many brethren." (Rom. viii, 29.) In nature, children are begotten by parents, without reference to their future character, and may not God beget his adopted children, without reference to their character? Nature claims the whole for itself in those about to be begotten; may grace claim but a very small part? God forbid.
Of the same nature is the position that "denial of happiness to man cannot be considered otherwise than as punishment." For in the first place, "denial of happiness" is not suitably introduced into the discussion, the subject of which is the denial of adoption, which, as we have said, is the appropriate and proximate end of election. This, then, is not, primarily and per se, the proposition. Again, if the subject of discussion is adoption, the statement is not true; for a denial of adoption is not properly punishment; it is, indeed, previous to punishment, since it is even previous to sin, but it is not, therefore, punishment. Who, indeed, can affirm that the antecedent is the same with its consequent, and that a most remote one? But if, as you think, the statement is made in reference to happiness, it is not, even in that case universally true; for a denial of happiness, on account of sin, is considered as punishment of sin, but a denial of happiness on account of a voluntary arrangement, or of the will only, is not punishment. To Adam, in his primitive state of holiness, God denied supernatural happiness, until he should fulfill his appointed course. That was not punishment to Adam. To a private individual it is not a punishment that he is not an emperor. The denial of happiness, is not punishment, then, of itself alone, but of some accident, as a final consequence, (as they say), of the sin of the creature.
The same consideration is fatal to your statement, that "denial of happiness is necessarily preceded by the act of sin." That is true, indeed, of the denial of final happiness, as they style it; but we are now discussing the denial of the principle of happiness, that is, of grace and gratuitous adoption in Christ Jesus. Therefore, though it may be conceded to you, that sin precedes, in fact, that denial, yet this also should be added, that antecedent to sin is particular reelection by God in the beginning and progress of sin, but that the foundation of that particular reelection is non-election, or preterition and reprobation, which we acknowledge to be, not the cause, but the antecedent of sin. So, likewise, your statement is not universally true, that "the appointment of that act is preceded by the foresight of future sin." For that foresight of future sin is both the consequent, and the antecedent of that divine denial; since the divine negative act, (as they call it), precedes the commission of sin, but, as has been before shown, follows that commission by imposing final unhappiness on the sins of men. These answers may also be adapted, in the most complete manner possible, to the arguments which follow.
REPLY OF ARMINIUS TO THE ANSWER TO THE TWELFTH PROPOSITION
Definition and demonstration are distinguished by their objects. The former, is used for explanation, the latter, for proof: the former, for the discussion of a single question, the latter, for that of a compound question. But in this case, I did not undertake to explain, but to prove. I therefore, thought I must make use, in my argument, of definition so far as would tend to prove that which I had undertaken to prove, which was the reason that I did not use special effort to adapt my definition of election or preterition to the rules of art. For if what I lay down is on the whole kata< pantov true, even if it do not reach the truth in all respects, kaq o[lou it will be sufficient for me, for the proof which I have proposed to myself. Hence, even with those substitutions, which you have considered important, my proof remains valid, and therefore, that correction does not seem to be necessary for our purpose. Yet, I must say something concerning that matter. In general, I remark, that you could see that I was treating distinctly of that predestination which is unto glory, not of that which is unto grace, and of that preterition, by which glory was not prepared for some, not of that by which God determined not to communicate grace. This is evident from my eighth proposition. I must then abstain from matters which belong in general to grace and glory. Among those general matters is adoption as children, for the beginning and progress of which, grace is prepared, and glory for its consummation. Thus you also remark elsewhere in this answer.
I remark particularly, in reference to your corrections to the first; -- in adoption and non-adoption consists the essential difference of election at once to grace and to glory, and of reprobation from both. Therefore, that the former difference pertains not to election to glory alone, and the latter, is not of reprobation from glory alone. For a difference of genus can not be a difference of species. Therefore, I ought not in this case to have mentioned adoption unless I wished, in discussing a species, to set forth the genus contrary to the law, referred to above kaq o[lou.
To the second; -- I mentioned no end in my definition of election, or rather in the part of the definition which I presented. I did not, indeed, desire to present it in full. For supernatural happiness or glory is not the end, but the material or subject of election, which material, embraced in your Theses in the term blessing, you divide into grace and glory. I know, indeed, that supernatural happiness is not communicated to us, except by an antecedent union of ourselves with God, which is implied in these words from the same proposition, "to deny supernatural happiness, and resulting from the union with Himself, and from His indwelling in man." But let us notice the definition of preterition contained in your Theses. "Preterition is an act of the divine pleasure by which God determined, from eternity, to leave certain of His creatures in their own natural state, and not to communicate to them supernatural grace, by which their nature, if unfallen, might be confirmed, and, if fallen, might be restored; for the declaration of the freedom of His goodness." In the phrase "to leave in their own natural state," is comprehended, also, exclusion from supernatural happiness, or it is not. If not, the definition is incomplete. I think, however, that you designed to include, also, that idea, otherwise your Theses are imperfect, as they treat of the predestination by which grace and glory are prepared for the elect, but nowhere of the negative act by which God does not appoint glory for the non-elect, if not in those words. Yet, even in those words, according to your idea, that preterition, by which God does not determine to bestow glory on any one, can not be included. For you define preterition (Thesis 14) to be "contrary to the preparation of grace." But the preparation of punishment is an affirmative act, by which He appoints punishment for the sinner, opposed, not negatively, but affirmatively to the preparation of glory. When, therefore, I wished to describe preterition or non-election, so far as it is an act by which God does not determine to bestow glory on some persons, it seemed proper that I should, in some measure, keep in your track, in that, you nowhere, in your definition of preterition, mention exclusion from adoption and union with God.
To the third; -- It is manifest that what is inserted, in parenthesis, was added for the sake of explanation, and does not come within the order or relation of the definition, like the other statements. I do not, however see, that even those statements are false or faulty, though they may be related, in the mode which you consider them, to that definition. For they mark, not an affirmation, but a negative act, and there is emphasis in the word (tantum) which marks the negative. To will the bestowment of natural happiness is an affirmative act, but to will only that bestowment is a negative act, for it excludes all other happiness, which He does not determine to bestow. Also, what is that act by which God determines to bestow only natural happiness, if not preterition or neglect. If to leave in a natural state is a negative act, and otherwise your definition of non-election, which considers it as opposed negatively to predestination, is erroneous, I do not see how those words "to bestow only supernatural happiness," do not designate a negative act. If you explain it so as to distinguish, in this case, the two acts, one, that by which God determined to bestow natural happiness, the other, that by which He determined to bestow only that, and not some other kind of happiness, then I acknowledge that the former, as an affirmative act, does not pertain to this decree of preterition. But we have never discussed that kind of happiness. It might, then, have been easily understood that I used those words so as to note a negative act, that of the non-bestowment of any happiness other than natural. When I was writing those words, I thought of using the phrase "to leave" in imitation of you, but judged that it would be unsuitable as presupposing that the bestowment was already made, and I considered that supernatural happiness was not yet bestowed, but to be bestowed, if man should live in obedience. In which I have also your assent, as is manifest from your answer to my third proposition, at the end. The definition, therefore, remains, and there is nothing in it to be blamed, for which there can not be found apology in the example of your Theses, which I have constantly had before my eyes in this discussion. That this may be made more plain, I will compare your definition with mine. You thus define the preterition by which grace is denied: "Preterition is an act of the divine pleasure, by which God, from eternity, determined to leave some of His creatures in their natural state, and not to communicate to them supernatural grace, by which their nature, if unfallen, may be confirmed, and, if fallen, may be restored, to the declaration of the freedom of His own goodness." If I define the preterition by which glory is denied, analogically according to the form of your definition, it will be like this. "Preterition is an act of the divine pleasure, by which God, from eternity, determined to leave some of His creatures in their natural state and not to communicate to them supernatural happiness, or glory, by which their natural happiness may be absorbed, or into which their ignominy may be changed, to the declaration of the freedom of His own goodness." In this definition, I have proposed that which was sufficient for my purpose; with no evasion, since, the other adjuncts are neither to the advantage, nor to the disadvantage of my argument. Therefore, the Major of my syllogism is true, even if it would not be true, as a complete definition and reciprocally. For a conclusion can be proved from a Major, which is on the whole kata< pantov true.
I come now to the Minor, which I proved by two arguments. The first is not refuted by you, as it is proposed in a mutilated condition, and so it is changed into something else. For I did not deny that natural happiness was prepared for man, but I added "which is, the design and end of man," in which words, I meant not that it alone, but that it also was prepared, but on this condition that it would be absorbed by the supernatural happiness, which should follow. I wish that the explanation, which I add, may be thus understood; namely, that natural happiness, could, neither in fact nor in possibility, occur to man, as the design of man and his end. For God promised to man, on condition of obedience, not only natural but also supernatural happiness. In which, since, I have also your assent, I conclude my proposition thus. God does not will to bestow upon any man, considered in his original natural state, natural happiness alone, as the end and design of man, to the exclusion of supernatural happiness. Therefore, God passed by no one, considered in his original natural state. For whether preterition is the act by which God does not determine to bestow supernatural happiness on any one, or that by which He determines to bestow natural happiness, which I think that you concede, it is equally to my purpose.
I prove the antecedent in this way. All men are considered in Adam, on equal terms, whether in their original natural sate, or in a state of sin, unless some difference is introduced by the will of God. But I deny that any difference was made in respect to man's original state, and you confirm the first reason for that denial, when you say that both kinds of happiness were prepared for man. Again, that, which God, by His providence, has prepared for man, is not denied to him by preterition, the opposite of election, unless from the foresight that he would not attain to it, under the guidance of providence, but would turn aside freely, and of his own accord. But God prepared for the first man, and in him, for all men, supernatural felicity, for He bestowed on him means sufficient for its attainment; with the additional aid of divine grace, (if this was also necessary in that state,) which is not denied to any man unless he first forsakes God.
Your opinion that I have been led into an error, by a two fold idea, namely, that of the end and the mode, and that I thought that a single end only was before mankind, is incorrect, for my words do not, of themselves, imply this. I made a plain distinction between the subordinate ends, when I mentioned natural felicity, which I denied was the end of man and his ultimate. I, therefore, conceded that natural happiness belongs to man, otherwise there would have been no necessity of the addition of the statement that this does not belong to him as the end of man, and his ultimate, that is, as that, beyond which nothing further can happen to man. Does not he, who admits that natural happiness pertains to man, but not as the end of man and his ultimate, acknowledge a two fold end of man, one subordinate, namely, natural happiness, and the other final, which is the end and ultimate of man, namely, supernatural happiness? I do not, however, think that it can be said truly that happiness is the end and ultimate of man. Your additional remarks, concerning the order of natural and supernatural happiness, I approve, as truthful and learned; but they are, as you admit, "merely incidental," and do not affect the substance of my argument.
My second argument is also valid, but it should be arranged correctly, thus; -- An act of the divine pleasure by which God determined to deny to any man spiritual or supernatural blessedness, depends on a meritorious cause, which is sin; Preterition is such an act; -- Therefore preterition depends on sin as its meritorious cause. The reason for the Major is contained in these words, "that denial of happiness can not be considered otherwise than as punishment," but it is necessarily preceded by sin, as its proper cause, according to the mode of merit. From this it follows that God can not have reference in that act to men, considered in a merely natural state, without reference to sin.
I will briefly sustain the Major, and the reason assigned for it, and then examine your answer. I prove the Major thus: That which the Providence of God has prepared for man, under a condition, is not denied to him, except on the non- performance or the violation of the condition. But God, by His Providence, prepared supernatural happiness for man, &c. Again, the passage from Isaiah plainly shows that God would not have deserted the Jews, if they had not merited it by their "iniquities." The reason, assigned for the Major, I sustain in this manner: Whatever is contrary to the blessing of happiness, prepared, promised, and therefore conditionally due to man, as made in the image of God, cannot be considered otherwise than as punishment. A denial of supernatural happiness is contrary to the blessing of happiness, prepared for man, as such, for even supernatural happiness was prepared for him as such. Therefore its denial is punishment. Again, there is no passage of Scripture, I assert it confidently, from which it can be shown that such denial is or can be considered otherwise than in the relation of punishment, than as it is prepared only for sinners. For we have stated, with truth, that punitive justice has place only in reference to sinners.
I proceed to examine your answer. In my syllogism the inference is not "made from a particular case." For that negative act of God, now under discussion, only exists in view of a meritorious cause, that is, it does not exist except in view of that cause, and that act of God would not exist, if that cause did not exist. The particle "only" does not amount to an exclusion of the will of God. For it is certain that sin is not, in fact the cause of punishment, except as the will of God, who wills to punish sin according to its merit, otherwise he can remove sin, and remit its punishment. How indeed could you suppose that he, who made sin the meritorious cause of punishment, wished to exclude the will of God, when the very nature of meritorious cause requires another cause also, which may estimate merit, and inflict punishment in proportion as it is merited. I acknowledge that the cause of every negative act does not exist in man, nor have I made that statement, for why should I needlessly enter into the general discussion of this matter. My subject is the act of preterition or non-election, by which God denies supernatural happiness to man, and I affirm that the cause of this is in and of man, so far, that without the existence of this cause, that act would never be performed. But you argue that the cause of this act does not exist in man. First, by authority, then by reason, finally by example. I deny that proof is contained in the passages, cited as authority. Let it be shown in what sense, these are the antecedents, from which this consequence may be deduced. We have previously examined those passages, so far as the necessity of the subject required.
Your argument from reason is not more conclusive. You say that the "first sin did not take place, except from the negative act of God," also "a positive and a negative act of God also precede every act of the creature," and "there is no evil act, which has not been preceded also by a negative act of the Deity, permitting the evil. I concede all those points, if rightly understood. But an affirmative statement, reasoning from the general to the specific, is not valid, unless a mark of universality is added. Many negative acts of the Deity precede the act of sin; therefore, also the negative act of preterition precedes sin. I deny the sequence. The controversy concerns that very act. The first sin results from a negative act of God, but not from the act of preterition. A positive and a negative act precede every act of the creature, but not the act of election and that of preterition. You affirm that election and non-election are prior to sin. To sin, as existing in fact, I admit, but not to sin, as foreseen. That point, however, has been previously discussed. But you affirm that the free will of God is the cause also of this negative act. Who denies it? It is indeed within the scope of God's free will, either to punish or to remit sin, but neither is necessary, even though sin has been committed, (that is, since God is "in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself,") but neither is possible unless sin has been committed. The will of God is, in the most complete sense, free, as the cause of creation, the cause of glorification, the cause of condemnation. But He creates those non-existing; He glorifies those created and existing, and, indeed, called and justified; He condemns only sinners, and those, who die in their sins. There is, then, no limitation placed on the freedom of God, even if we consider sin as antecedent, and necessarily so, to that negative act of God. You see, then, that sin is the meritorious, cause, which necessarily precedes that negative act of God; and that I have reasoned correctly from that cause, necessarily antecedent, that God, in that negative act of preterition, has reference only to sinners.
That the example of the angels, in this case, is not analogous, I show in a word. You say that "the negative act of God, in non-election or preterition, which Augustine also calls reelection, did not restrain the fallen angels from evil." But I affirm that the negative act of God, by which man is not restrained from evil, but permitted to fall into sin, is not the act of preterition, but a negative act of providence, and I prove, by two arguments, that this is distinguished from predestination. If it is by the negative act of preterition, then all are passed by, for all have sinned. Also, if it is the negative act of preterition, then all men have sinned irretrievably, and without hope of pardon and remission, as in the case of the angels who sinned. I add a third consideration, that an act of election, opposed at the same time to preterition, must have place here, in respect to certain individuals; but there is not and can not be such an act, in this case, since all men are comprehended under that preterition. There is a great difference between the negative act, by which God left man to his own counsel, and the negative act of preterition, which is to be here considered. Nor do I think that it is of much importance to this subject that, for non-adoption, as the proper and proximate end, I have substituted, the remote consequence, the absence of supernatural happiness. For, in addition to the fact that adoption, in your Theses already often cited, occupies the place of form not of end, I affirm that, in the negative act, by which He did not will adoption for any man, God could not, or, at least, did not have reference to any except sinners.
But you say that "God begets sons unto Himself according to His own will." He does this, however, from among sinful men. "He looks," you say, "upon all in Christ, not in themselves." Therefore, I affirm, He considers them as sinners, not in themselves, as having, in themselves, any reason that He should regard them, but in themselves, as in need of being considered in Christ as Mediator of such character. "May not God," you ask, "beget His adopted children without reference to their character?" I admit that He may, without such reference to them as may influence God to beget them, not without such reference to them, that, not generation, but regeneration may be necessary to them. Grace claims for itself the whole in generation, but more strongly claims the whole in regeneration. But that God begets sons to Himself from among men, the word generation being used in any other sense than that of regeneration, I consider contrary both to theology and to Scripture. The subject, however, of discussion is adoption according to the decree of God.
Let us now consider the position, by which I strengthened my argument. I said that the "denial of happiness to man can not be considered otherwise than as punishment. I said "denial of happiness" not "of adoption." For I am, here, discussing the denial of glory, not of grace; but non-adoption, either alone or also, pertains to the latter. I wish, however, that it might be shown in what mode a denial of adoption to a man, made in the image of God, has not the nature of punishment, and is not caused by sin. You indeed affirm that it is previous to punishment, since it is previous even to sin. I deny both parts of the assertion. It belongs to him, who makes an assertion, to prove it, but I, though denying the assertion, will give the reason of my denial, to show the strength of my cause. He, who is made in the image of God, as Luke says of Adam, "which was the Son of God," (chap. iii, 38,) is, by the grace of creation, the son of God. But Adam was, not begotten, but created, "the son of God," as said in the marginal note of Beza's Testament. That, which any one has by the gift of creation, is not taken from him, unless the demerit of sin precedes, according to the justice of God. Supernatural happiness, whether it is bestowed on condition of obedience to law, or according to the condition of the covenant of grace, is always to be considered in the relation of an inheritance; but it was promised to Adam, on the condition of obedience; therefore, Adam was then considered as the Son of God. Filiation, then, could not be denied to him except on account of sin and disobedience. But the subject, of which I was treating, was denial of happiness.
You assert, that denial of happiness, considered in general, is not punishment, since that, which exists on account of a voluntary arrangement of God, is not punishment. I wish that you would show that any denial of supernatural happiness is according to voluntary arrangement of God, apart from the consideration of sin. You remark, in proof of your assertion, that "to Adam God denied supernatural happiness, until he should fulfill his appointed course. That was not punishment to Adam." I reply, the term, denial of supernatural happiness is ambiguous; it may be either final or temporary. The former is peremptory, the latter is conditional. That, of which we treat, is final and peremptory. The decree of predestination and preterition is peremptory, and that, which is prepared for or denied to any one, according to that decree, he will finally enjoy, or want. But you treat of temporary denial, "until he should fulfill his appointed course," according to the rule of divine justice, and of denial, on the consideration that he should not live according to the requirement of God, -- which denial belongs to the just providence of God, in contra-distinction to predestination and preterition. Indeed what you call a denial, can not be so called except in catachrestic sense. For how shall he be said to deny happiness to any one, who has promised it on a certain condition? You concede, however, that sin is antecedent to the denial of final happiness. But preterition or non-election is a denial of final happiness. Therefore, sin is antecedent to preterition. You say that it should be stated in addition "that antecedent to sin is particular abandonment by God, in the beginning and progress of sin, the foundation of which abandonment is non-election, or preterition and reprobation." I concede that abandonment by God was antecedent to sin, so far that God left man in the power of his own purposes; but it is not particular, but universal, in respect to the beginning of sin, for in that abandonment he left Adam, and, in him, all men; hence preterition can not be the foundation of that abandonment. For all mankind were left, in the beginning of sin. In respect to its progress, it may be called particular, for He freed some from sin and left others in sin; and non-election or preterition may be called the foundation of this abandonment, since some were left in the progress of sin, others being freed from sin by the gratuitous election of God, which is the direct opposite of preterition. Hence it follows that it can not be rightly said that preterition or non-election is the antecedent of sin, since it is only the antecedent of the progress of that which has already been perpetrated, and, indeed, its cause, by a denial of that which prevents the progress of sin, namely, grace. I affirm that it is universally true that the foresight of sin precedes the appointment of that negative act by which he does not determine to bestow felicity on an individual. For the act of preterition does not precede commission of sin, as has been already frequently shown. Sin, which is common to all men, does not result from that negative act which discriminates among men, but from a negative act common to all men. Preterition is a negative act, not common to all men, but discriminating among them. Therefore, preterition is not an act antecedent to sin. So my arguments are confirmed against your answers; they may, therefore, also be available for the decision of the other questions.