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  • WORKS OF ARMINIUS - ON THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD


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    DISPUTATION XXVIII

    ON THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD

    I. Not only does the very nature of God, and of things themselves, but likewise the Scriptures and experience do, evidently, show that providence belongs to God.

    II. But providence denotes some property of God, not a quality, or a capability, or a habit; but it is an act, which is not ad intra nor internal, but which is ad extra and external, and which is about an object different from God, and that is not united to him from all eternity, in his understanding, but as separate and really existing.

    III. And it is an act of the practical understanding, or of the will employing the understanding, not completed in a single moment, but continued through the moments of the duration of things.

    IV. And it may be defined the solicitous, everywhere powerful, and continued inspection and oversight of God, according to which he exercises a general care over the whole world, and over each of the creatures and their actions and passions, in a manner that is befitting himself, and suitable for his creatures, for their benefit, especially for that of pious men, and for a declaration of the divine perfection.

    V. We have represented the object of it to be both the whole world as it is a single thing consisting of many parts which have a certain relation among themselves, and possessing order between each other, and each our the creatures, with its actions and passions. We preserve the distinction of the goodness which is in them,

         (1.) According to their nature, through creation;

         (2.) According to grace, through the communication of supernatural gifts, and elevation to dignities;

         (3.) According to the right use both of nature and grace; yet we ascribe the last two, also, to the act of providence.

    VI. The rule of providence, according to which it produces its acts, is the wisdom of God, demonstrating what is worthy of God, according to his goodness, His severity, or his love for justice or for the creature, but always according to equity.

    VII. The acts of providence which belong to its execution, are -- preservation, which appears to be occupied about essences, qualities and quantities -- and government, which presides over actions and passions, and of which the principal acts are motion, assistance, concurrence and permission. The three former of these acts extend themselves to good, whether natural or moral; and the last of them appertains to evil alone.

    VIII. The power of God serves universally, and at all times, to execute these acts, with the exception of permission; specially, and sometimes, these acts are executed by the creatures themselves. Hence, an act of providence is called either immediate or mediate. When it employs [the agency of] the creatures, then it permits them to conduct their motions agreeably to their own nature, unless it be his pleasure to do any thing out of the ordinary way.

    IX. Then, those acts which are performed according to some certain course of nature or of grace, are called ordinary; those which are employed either beyond, above, or also contrary to this order, are styled extraordinary; yet they are always concluded by the terms due fitness and suitableness, of which we have treated in the definition. (Thesis 4.)

    X. Degrees are laid down in providence, not according to intuition or oversight itself, neither according to presence or continuity, but according to solicitude and care, which yet are free from anxiety, but which are greater concerning a man than concerning bullocks, also greater concerning believers and pious persons, than concerning those who are impious.

    XI. The end of providence and of all its acts, is the declaration of the divine perfections, of wisdom, goodness, justice, severity and power, and the good of the whole, especially of those men who are chosen or elected.

    XII. But since God does nothing, or permits it to be done in time, which he has not decreed from all eternity, either to do or to permit that decree, therefore, is placed before providence and its acts as an internal act is before one that is external.

    XIII. The effect, or, rather, the consequence, which belongs to God himself, is his prescience; and it is partly called natural and necessary, and partly free -- FREE, because it follows the act of the divine free will, without which it would not be the object of it -- Natural and Necessary, so far as, (when this object is laid down by the act of the divine will,) it cannot be unknown by the divine understanding.

    XIV. Prediction sometimes follows this prescience, when it pleases God to give intimations to his creatures of the issues of things, before they come to pass. But neither prediction nor any prescience induces a necessity of any thing that is afterwards to be, since they are [in the divine mind.] posterior in nature and order to the thing that is future. For a thing does not come to pass because it has been foreknown or foretold; but it is foreknown and foretold because it is yet to come to pass.

    XV. Neither does the decree itself, by which the Lord administers providence and its acts, induce any necessity on things future; for, since it, the decree, ( 12) is an internal act of God, it lays down nothing in the thing itself. But things come to pass and happen either necessarily or contingently, according to the mode of power, which it has pleased God. to employ in the administration of affairs.

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