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WORKS OF ARMINIUS - ON THE LORDSHIP OR DOMINION OF GOD
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ON THE LORDSHIP OR DOMINION OF GOD
I. Through creation, dominion over all things which have been created by himself, belongs to the Creator. It is, therefore, primary, being dependent on no other dominion or on that of no other person; and it is, on this account, chief because there is none greater; and it is absolute, because it is over the entire creature, according to the whole, and according to all and each of its parts, and to all the relations which subsist between the Creator and the creature. It is, consequently, perpetual, that is, so long as the creature itself exists.
II. But the dominion of God is the right of the Creator, and his power over the creatures; according to which he has them as his own property, and can command and use them, and do about them, whatever the relation of creation and the equity which rests upon it, permit.
III. For the right cannot extend further than is allowed by that cause from which the whole of it arises, and on which it is dependent. For this reason, it is not agreeable to this right of God, either that he delivers up his creature to another who may domineer over such creature, at his arbitrary pleasure, so that he be not compelled to render to God an account of the exercise of his sovereignty, and be able, without any demerit on the part of the creature, to inflict every evil on a creature capable of injury, or, at least, not for any good of this creature; or that he [God] command an act to be done by the creature, for the performance of which he neither has, nor can have, sufficient and necessary powers; or that he employ the creature to introduce sin into the world, that he may, by punishing or by forgiving it, promote his own glory; or, lastly, to do concerning the creature whatever he is able, according to his absolute power, to do concerning him, that is eternally to punish or to afflict him, without [his having committed] sin.
IV. As this is a power over rational creatures, (in reference to whom chiefly we treat on the dominion and power of God,) it may be considered in two views, either as despotic, or as kingly, or patriarchal. The former is that which he employs without any intention of good which may be useful or saving to the creature; that latter is that which he employs when he also intends the good of the creature itself. And this last is used by God through the abundance of his own goodness and sufficiency, until he considers the creature to be unworthy, on account of his perverseness, to have God presiding over him in his kingly and paternal authority.
V. Hence, it is, that, when God is about to command some thing to his rational creature, he does not exact every thing which he justly might do, and he employs persuasions through arguments which have regard to the utility and necessity of those persuasions.
VI. In addition to this, God enters into a contract or covenant with his creature; and he does this for the purpose that the creature may serve him, not so much "of debt," as from a spontaneous, free and liberal obedience, according to the nature of confederations which consist of stipulations and promises. On this account, God frequently distinguishes his law by the title of a COVENANT.
VII. Yet this condition is always annexed to the confederation, that if man be unmindful of the covenant and a contemner of its pleasant rule, he may always be impelled or governed by that domination which is really lordly, strict and rigid, and into which, he who refuses to obey the other [species of rule], justly falls.
VIII. Hence, arises a two-fold right of God over his rational creature. The First, which belongs to him through creation; the Second, through contract. The former rests on the good which the creature has received from his Creator; the latter rests on the still greater benefit which the creature will receive from God, his preserver, promoter and glorifier.
IX. If the creature happen to sin against this two-fold right, by that very act, he gives to God, his Lord, King and Father, the right of treating him as a sinning creature, and of inflicting on him due punishment; and this is a THIRD right, which rests on the wicked act of the creature against God.