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WORKS OF ARMINIUS - EIGHTEENTH PROPOSITION OF ARMINIUS
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EIGHTEENTH PROPOSITION OF ARMINIUS
In the first place, from what has been already stated: since punishment can not be justly prepared, of the mere act of the divine pleasure, for those passed by on account of foreseen sin, which must be committed, as the necessary result of that preterition and reelection in a state of nature. Secondly, the punishment ordained for them is spiritual, but spiritual punishment can not be ordained for those falling from their original state, if spiritual reward, on the contrary, is not prepared for those who should remain in their original state. But a reward of this kind was not prepared for such, since they could, by mere natural power, remain in their original state, and spiritual happiness could not be acquired by them.
ANSWER OF JUNIUS TO THE EIGHTEENTH PROPOSITION
In reference to the first argument, I deny:
1. that Adam was, to speak in general terms, passed by and left in a state of nature by God, but, according to the mode of nature, he was left to himself only in reference to a particular and natural act, which was in the power of mere nature, and that he was carefully forewarned by God, and that he received information from God, as by compact.
2. It is denied that sin was committed by him, of necessity, in view of that preterition. For, if it was necessarily committed, it would have been a habit, or passive quality in the nature of man; but it pertained to capability, his will being free, and borne contingently in this or that direction. It was not then perpetrated necessarily; therefore he committed it contingently, (as the Scripture and the agreement of the church have always declared,) according to the free natural power, which is that of the will. The wise man rightly says in Eccl. vii, 27, "Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions."
Concerning the second argument, I remark that the word "also" should be added to your proposition in this manner: "the punishment ordained for them is also spiritual." For punishment of both kinds, of the body and of the spirit, was ordained for them, by the testimony of Scripture. Your assumption is denied, which states that a reward of this kind was not prepared for them, in general, if they had remained in their original state. For it is entirely evident that it was proposed to them in the covenant of nature, and in the ordination to grace, if they should remain in their original state, as was also signified in the symbol of the tree of life, and declared in the denunciation of death. For what is death but the privation of this and of the future life? What privation could there be, if man did not possess life, on the one hand by nature, and on the other by the ordination of grace to be consummated after the natural course of this life. But to prove this statement, you add, "for they could, by mere natural power, remain in their original state." This also is denied. They could do so only in natural things, but by no means in things pertaining to grace, as we have already frequently showed. The whole argumentation, then, is erroneous. "But," you will say, "my reasoning is valid on the hypothesis of Aquinas, who held that man, in the matter of election, was considered in his natural condition." I reply in this manner:
2. Though Aquinas uses that form of expression, yet it must be correctly understood, since there may be ambiguity here, for the relation of election: concerning which we have already presented the sentiment of Aquinas, in my answer to the sixth proposition, is one thing, and that of the condition of Adam, when he fell into sin, is another. It is evident from all his writings, that it did not, even in a dream, enter into his mind, that Adam was then merely in his natural condition. Could he, indeed, entertain such an idea, who every where openly avows that man was made in a state of supernatural grace, and expressly asserts this in his controversy with the Master of Sentences. Therefore the hypothesis is false, and is erroneously ascribed to Aquinas. If that is false, the argument also is without force. Man also could not, by natural power alone, continue in his primitive condition and state, (for I prefer these expressions to "origin," as more clearly conveying the idea,) or by its means acquire spiritual happiness. For that happiness is not the reward of labourers, but the inheritance of children in Christ, bestowed by grace, not obtained by labour.
REPLY OF ARMINIUS TO THE ANSWER TO THE EIGHTEENTH PROPOSITION
My first argument rests on the hypothesis of the definition by which preterition is described in your Theses. That definition is in these words: "Preterition is the act of the divine pleasure, by which God, from eternity, determined to leave certain of His creatures in their natural state, and not to communicate to them the supernatural grace by which their pure nature might be strengthened, or their corrupt nature might be restored, to the declaration of the freedom of His own goodness, but a natural state is that in which there can be nothing supernatural or divine," according to Thesis 10, of the same disputation. For those, who are passed by, are left in the same natural state and condition in the same manner, as that from which they, who are predestinated, are raised up. Being left in such a natural state, "in which there can be nothing supernatural or divine," they can not keep the law, which is not to be kept without supernatural grace. Hence punishment can not be justly prepared for them on account of sin, committed against a law which can not be kept by them. Therefore your first negation seems to me to be irrelevant.
We are not treating of the mode in which Adam was left to his own nature and given up to his own direction. The reelection of Adam to himself belongs, not to the decree of predestination, but to that providence, in which God, without the distinction of predestinate and reprobate, had reference to man, newly created, and this, indeed, of necessity, according to the hypothesis that He purposed to create man free. But we are treating of his reelection in a natural state, which belongs to the decree of preterition. If you should say that they who are passed by are considered by the Deity in Adam, as partakers of the same things, which Adam had in his primitive state, I answer that, thus considered, they were not left in that natural state, which can effect nothing supernatural or divine. Hence the hypothesis will be false, which seems only to rest on the definition of preterition given in your Theses.
To your second negation, I reply -- from the reelection in a natural state "which can effect nothing supernatural or divine," (that is, neither of itself, as I admit, nor by any thing superinfused, so that nothing supernatural may be added to it, according to the hypothesis of your definition,) sin must of necessity be committed by the person left, and it can not be avoided without supernatural grace. The will is, indeed, free, but not in respect to that act which can not be performed or omitted without supernatural grace, just as it is not free in respect to that act by which it wills the good of the universe and of itself. The reason of this is -- there is in man a passive quality, inclining him to that forbidden act, and impelling the will to a consent to and commission of that act; and necessarily impelling it, unless the will is endued with some power to resist that motion, which power is supernatural grace, according to our hypothesis. To explain this subject more fully, I add a few thoughts. The negative act of the Deity, which preceded the sin of man, pertained either to providence, or to reprobation, or to preterition, as distinct from providence. In the first place, it did not pertain to reprobation.
1. Because the act of reprobation has reference to some men, not to all, for not all are reprobates.
2. If sin exists from the act of reprobation, or not without it, then only some men commit sin, and the rest do not commit it, that is, they sin, to whom God had reference in the negative act of preterition, and they do not sin, to whom He had no such reference. But all have sinned. It is not then from that act.
3. If sin exists from the negative act of reprobation, it then follows that Adam and all men in him are reprobates, for Adam, and, in him, all men have sinned. This consequence is false, therefore the antecedent is also false.
4. By converse reasoning, if the sin of man resulted from the negative act of preterition, then, from the affirmative act of predestination, which exists at the same moment with the opposite of the act previously referred to, for neither of these acts exists without the other, and they are oppositely spoken of, results the perseverance of man in goodness, at least in reference to this single act. But no man perseveres in the good in which he was created, according to the affirmative act of predestination. Therefore, also, the sin of man is not from the negative act of reprobation or preterition.
5. To those, to whom God once, by the negative act of reprobation, denies efficacious aid, He finally denies efficacious aid, otherwise the reprobate are not reprobate. He does not deny, finally, to all men, efficacious aid, for then all would be reprobate. Therefore, that act, by which efficacious aid was denied once to all men, is not an act of reprobation. But some negative act of the Deity preceded the sin of man, for otherwise man would not have sinned. Therefore that is an act of providence.
Here, however, two things are to be considered. First, sin did not exist of necessity from that negative act, but, in view of that act, it might or might not be committed. For providence ordained man to eternal life, and conferred means sufficient and necessary for the attainment of that life, leaving, (as was suitable at the beginning), to the choice of man, the free use of those means, and refusing to impede that liberty, lest it might rescind that which it had established, as Tertullian happily remarks in the passage quoted by you, (Advers. Marcion, lib. 2, resp. 14). From which act of God, refusing to prevent sin efficaciously, (the opposite of which, the affirmative act of determining to prevent it efficaciously, would be inconsistent with the first institution of the human race, and the affirmative act of determining to prevent a sin, finally, would have pertained to predestination,) results the fact that man could commit sin, not that he did commit it, but because God, in His infinite wisdom, saw, from eternity, that man would fall at a certain time, that fall occurred infallibly, only in respect to His prescience, not in respect to any act of the divine will, either affirmative or negative. Whatever happens infallibly in respect to an act of the divine will, the same also happens necessarily, not only by the necessity of consequence but by that, also, of the consequent. It may be proper, here, to mark the difference between what is done infallibly and what is done necessarily. The former depends on the infinity of the knowledge of God, the latter on the act of His will. The former has respect only to the knowledge of God, to which it pertains to know, infallibly and with certainty, contingent things; the latter belong to the existence of the thing itself, the necessity for which resulted from the will of God.
In the second place, the providence of God does not discriminate definitely between the classes of men, as elect and reprobate. Therefore, that negative act of God has reference to all men in general, and universally, without any distinction of elect and reprobate. From these thing, I conclude, since that negative act, which preceded sin, was not of reprobation or preterition, but of providence as distinct from the former, it follows that God, in the act of preterition, had not reference to men apart from sin or considered as not yet sinners. For no negative act of preterition preceded, either in order or in time, this negative act of providence. Likewise no other act of preterition intervened between this act of providence and sin. If any act of preterition intervened, an act of predestination also intervened. There was no intervention of the latter, and, therefore, there was not of the former. This act of predestination would be the preservation of some in goodness, and their deliverance from possible sin. No one of mankind has been preserved in goodness and delivered from possible sin, for all have sinned. It was not, however, necessary to prove here that man sinned, not necessarily but freely, for that point is not in controversy, but it was to be shown, that, if preterition is supposed, man, nevertheless, sinned freely, and not of necessity.
My second argument is also based on a hypothesis, which, in my opinion, whether incorrect or correct your wisdom will decide, I have taken from your Theses. The hypothesis consists of two parts; -- first, supernatural happiness cannot be acquired by the powers of nature alone; secondly, the law, given to Adam, could be observed by the powers of nature alone. The first part is true. The second is contained in your Theses. Man is left in a state of nature, which can effect nothing supernatural or divine. But yet he was able to keep the law, otherwise God is unjust, who imposes a law, which cannot be obeyed by the creature. Hence I concluded that spiritual punishment ought not to be inflicted for the transgression of that law, to the observance of which spiritual or supernatural reward is not promised. But supernatural reward is not promised to the observance of a law, which can be obeyed by the powers of nature alone, otherwise nature could acquire that which is supernatural, therefore, spiritual punishment ought not to be the penalty of the violation of the same law. Further, the law, imposed on Adam, could be performed by the powers of nature alone, according to your view, as I have understood it; therefore, spiritual punishment ought not to be its penalty. But its penalty is spiritual; therefore it is unjust.
I will not, at this time, inquire whether such may or may not be the consequence of your Theses, since you now say distinctly that a supernatural reward was prepared for our first parents, if they should remain in their original integrity. Therefore, I claim that my reasoning is valid, though the hypothesis, on which it was based, is removed. From your own statement, indeed, I deduced an inference in favour of my sentiment. That which was prepared for all men on condition of the obedience, which they could render the gift of divine grace, bestowed or to be bestowed on them, could not be denied to some men by the sure and definite decree of God, except on account of their foreseen disobedience. Eternal life was prepared for all men, on condition of that obedience which they could render. Therefore, eternal life could not be denied to some men, by the sure and definite decree of God, that is, by preterition, except on account of their foreseen disobedience. Therefore, also, men are considered by God, in the act of preterition, as sinners; they are not, then, considered in general.
I do not touch the sentiment of Aquinas, except as it is explained in your Theses. I might, however, require him to prove that God passed by man, considered in a state of integrity, in which he had, not only natural, but also supernatural endowments. I grant that supernatural happiness is that inheritance of the children of God, but it would have been given to those, who should remain in their primitive integrity, though in a different mode from that in which it is bestowed on believers in Christ. It would have been given to the former "of the works of the law;" it is given to the latter "of faith;" to the former the reward would have been reckoned not "of grace, but of debt;" (Rom. iv, 4), to the latter, as believers, it is "reckoned of grace;" to the former, it would have been given by "the righteousness which is of the law," which saith "that the man which doeth these things shall live by them," to the latter by "the righteousness of faith, which speaketh in this wise, if thou shalt believe in thine heart," &c. (Rom. x, 6, 9.) We have already spoken in reference to that primitive state, and to perseverance in it.