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WORKS OF ARMINIUS - ON RELIGION IN A STRICTER SENSE
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ON RELIGION IN A STRICTER SENSE
I. As religion contains the duty of man towards God, it must necessarily be founded in the mutual relation which subsists between God and man. If it happen that this relation is varied, the mode of religion must also be varied, the acts pertaining to the substance of every religion always remaining, which are knowledge, faith, love, fear, trust, dread and obedience.
II. The first relation between God and man is that which flows from the creation of man in the divine image, according to which religion was prescribed to him by the comprehensive law that has been impressed on the minds of men, and that was afterwards repeated by Moses in the ten commandments. For the sake of proving man's obedience, God added to this a symbolical law, about not eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
III. Through the sin of man, another relation was introduced between him and God, according to which, man, being liable to the condemnation of God, needs the grace of restoration. If God bestow this grace on man, the religion which is to be prescribed to man must now be also founded on that act, in addition to creation. Since this act [on the part of God] requires from man an acknowledgment of sin and thanksgiving for deliverance, it is apparent that, in this new relation, the mode of religion ought likewise to be varied, as, through the appointment of God, it has in reality been varied.
IV. It was the pleasure of God so to administer this variation, that it should not immediately exhibit this grace in a complete manner, but that it should retain man for a season under the sealed dominion of guilt, yet with the addition of a promise of grace to be exhibited in his own time. Hence, arises the difference of the religion which was prescribed by Moses to the children of Israel, and that which was delivered by Christ to his followers -- of which the former is called "the religion of the Old Testament and of the promise," and the latter," that of the New Testament and of the gospel;" the former is also called the Jewish religion; the latter, the Christian.
V. The use of the ceremonial law under Moses, and its abrogation under Christ, teach most clearly that this religion or mode of religion differs in many acts. But as the Christian religion prevails at this time, and as [its obligations are] to be performed by us, we will treat further about it, yet so as to intersperse, in their proper places, some mention, both of the primitive religion and of that of the Jews, so Jar as they are capable, and ought to serve to explain the Christian religion.
VI. But it is not our wish for this difference to be extended so far as to have the attainment of salvation, without the intervention of Christ, ascribed to those who served God under the pedagogy of the Old Testament and by faith in the promise; for the subjoined affirmation has always obtained from the time when the first promise was promulgated: "There is none other name under heaven, given among men, than that of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which men must be saved."
VII. It appears, from this, that the following assertion, which was used by one of the ancients, is false and untheological: "Men were saved at first by the law of nature, afterwards, by that of Moses, and at length, by that of grace." This, also, is further apparent, that such a confusion of the Jewish and Christian religions as was introduced by it, is completely opposed to the dispensation or economy of God.