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WORKS OF ARMINIUS - SIXTEENTH PROPOSITION OF ARMINIUS
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SIXTEENTH PROPOSITION OF ARMINIUS
Thirdly, because the reelection of a creature, in his natural state, of a creature, on whom is imposed a law only to be performed by grace, is a cause of sin by the removal or the non-bestowment of that which alone can restrain from sin. This is grace. According to which view this sentiment is equivalent to the former, which ascribes the ordination of sin to a decree, from which sin necessarily exists.
ANSWER OF JUNIUS TO THE SIXTEENTH PROPOSITION
The proposition can not be predicated of man in his primitive integrity, for the law, to Adam in his integrity, was not only his glory, but it was to be performed both by nature and grace, since his nature was rightly adjusted to grace, but he fell in a matter pertaining to nature, and capable of performance by nature, which did not belong to general law, which is here the subject of discussion, but to that particular law, which had reference only to nature, and absolutely pertained to it, and was to be observed by its power alone, as was declared to Adam by God, as shown in the answer to the fourteenth proposition. In reference to ourselves, however, as we now are, it can be stated, with the utmost propriety, that the law can be observed only by grace. Indeed, it can not be observed at all by us, but its observance is imputed of grace and is apprehended by faith in Christ. The statement, also, is erroneous that "the reelection of a creature, in his natural state, is a cause of sin by the removal or non-bestowment of restraining grace," if it is understood in a universal sense. It is a partial cause of sin, when removed or not bestowed, if there was obligation to bestow it, but if there was no such obligation, it can not, with propriety, be called a partial cause of sin. If there was obligation to bestow it, there is responsibility, it there was no such obligation, there is no responsibility for the sin, even if that grace should be wanting. This is taught by nature itself, and it is very fitly illustrated by Clemens Alexandrinus, in two places. But, in the law, there was something natural, which Adam could perform by nature, and something adjusted to grace, for which he could not, by nature alone, be sufficient. Therefore, though Adam sinned against natural law, if he did sin in a matter pertaining to nature, (in which grace was not due), his own will alone was in fault, not destitution of grace, as evidently happened to him in the particular law, given to him in Adam. The conclusion, then, is unsound.
Of the ordination of sin, and the decree of God, and what is signified by ordination, properly understood, we have spoken, in answer to the sixth proposition. Your argument, that sin, therefore, necessarily exists, is inconclusive; since the Divine ordination would perform nothing unobligatory upon it, but that is done by him who commits sin; and it omits nothing obligatory upon it, but must perform and most wisely perfect all thing. But there has been, in the answer to the sixth proposition, a sufficient discussion of this whole subject.
THE REPLY OF ARMINIUS TO THE ANSWER TO THE SIXTEENTH PROPOSITION
When I speak of grace, I do not exclude nature, for the former presupposes the latter. The phrase "only to be performed by grace" is equivalent to this, "not to be performed without grace," the word "only" referring, not to the exclusion of nature, but to the necessary inclusion of grace. But these antecedents being supposed -- a law was given to man, which he could not perform without grace -- and -- grace was not bestowed -- the conclusion follows that the cause of sin was not man, but he, who imposed such a law and did not give the means of its observance, or, to speak more correctly, a transgression of a law cannot be called sin, when the law is unjust, as that of God, reaping where He has not sown, which is far from a good and a just God, and its transgression is necessary, not voluntary, on account of an inability not to transgress. It is, then, in all respects, true, that he, who does not bestow that without which sin can not be avoided, or removes that without which the law can not be observed, is truly the author of sin, or rather the cause that the law is not observed, which non-observance, can not have the relation of sin. The condition, "if there was obligation to bestow restraining grace," is added, in this case, in vain. For God is, necessarily, under obligation to bestow on man the power to keep that law, which He imposes on him, unless, indeed, man has deprived himself of that power, by his own fault, in which case, God is not under obligation to restore it. That, however, was not the case in the primitive state of man, before his sin. In this sense, I grant that he, who is not under obligation to bestow the power, to observe the law and to avoid sin, is not the author of sin, if he does not bestow it; but this statement should be added, that God is under obligation to give that power, if He gave the law, the observance of which necessarily implies the power. God does not, indeed, owe any thing to any person, in an absolute sense, for no one has given that to Him which should be repaid, but God can, by His own act, place Himself under obligation to man, either by promise, or by requiring an act of him. By promise, if He has made it absolutely or on a condition, then He is a debtor, absolutely or conditionally; "God is not unrighteous to forget your work." (Heb. vii, 10.) By requiring an act, He is placed under obligation to bestow the power necessary for the performance of the act. If He does not bestow it, and yet, by an enactment of a law, requires the performance of the act, then He, not man, is the cause of the transgression of that law.
In reference to those antecedents, whether a law was imposed on man, to be observed without grace, or not, and whether man received, in his primitive state, supernatural grace, there has been sufficient discussion under propositions tenth and fourteenth. Nor is it to the purpose to say that "if he sinned in a matter pertaining to nature, (in which grace was not due,) his own will alone was in fault, not destitution of grace"; who denies that statement, if that law could be observed by the powers of nature? But I deny that such was the case in that particular law given to Adam, and the reasons for this denial have been already given in my review of your answer to the fourteenth proposition. We have also remarked, at sufficient length, in the sixth proposition, concerning the ordination of sin, and how it is made, according to the view of Calvin and Beza, the basis of the divine decree. I grant that the ordination of God does nothing unduly, but as an ordination of sin, such as they attribute to the Deity, is not in harmony with the character of God, it is not wonderful that, from it, something undue should he attributed to God.