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WORKS OF ARMINIUS - MANNER OF OUR 1ST PARENTS IN THE 1ST COVENANT
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THE MANNER IN WHICH MAN CONDUCTED HIMSELF FOR FULFILLING THE FIRST COVENANT, OR ON THE SIN OF OUR FIRST PARENTS
I. When God had entered into this covenant with men, it was the part of man perpetually to form and direct his life according to the conditions and laws prescribed by this covenant, because he would then have obtained the rewards promised through the performance of both those conditions, and would not have incurred the punishment due and denounced to disobedience. We are ignorant of the length of time in which man fulfilled his part; but the Holy Scriptures testify that he did not persevere in this obedience.
III. The efficient cause of that transgression was man, determining his will to that forbidden object, and applying his power or capability to do it. But the external, moving, per se, and principal cause was the devil, who, having accosted the woman, (whom he considered weaker than the man, and who when persuaded herself, would easily persuade him,) employed false arguments for persuasion. One of his arguments was deduced from the usefulness of the good which would ensue from this act; another was deduced from the setting aside of Him who had prohibited it, that is, by a denial of the punishment which would follow. The instrumental cause was the serpent, whose tongue the devil abused to propose what arguments he chose. The accidental cause was the fruit itself, which seemed good for food, pleasant in its flavor, and desirable to the eyes. The occasional cause was the law of God, that circumscribed by its interdict an act which was indifferent in its nature, and for which man possessed inclination and powers, that it might be impossible for this offense to be perpetrated without sin.
IV. The only moving or antecedent cause was a two-fold inclination in man, a superior one for the likeness of God, and an inferior one for the desirable fruit, "pleasant to the sight, and good for food." Both of them were implanted by God through creation; but they were to be used in a certain method, order and time. The immediate and proximate cause was the will of man, which applied itself to the act, the understanding preceding and showing the way; and these are the causes which concurred to effect this sin, and all of which, as, through the image of God, he was able to resist, so was it his duty, through the imposing of that law, to have resisted. Not one of these, therefore, nor others, if such be granted in the genus of causes, imposed any necessity on man [to commit that sin]. It was not an external cause, whether you consider God, or something from God, the devil, or man.
(1.) It was not God; for since he is the chief good, he does nothing but what is good; and, therefore, he can be called neither the efficient cause of sin, nor the deficient cause, since he has employed whatever things were sufficient and necessary to avoid this sin.
(2.) Neither was it something in God; it was neither His understanding nor his will, which commands those things which are just, performs those which are good, and permits those which are evil; and this permission is only a cessation from such an act as would in reality have hindered the act of man, by effecting nothing beyond itself, but by suspending some efficiency. This, therefore, cannot be the cause.
VI. It was not an internal cause -- whether you consider the common or general nature of man, which was inclined only to one good, or his particular nature, which exactly corresponded with that which is general; nor was it any thing in his particular nature, for this would have been the understanding; but it could act by persuasion and advice, not by necessity. Man, therefore, sinned by his free will, his own proper motion being allowed by God, and himself persuaded by the devil.
VII. The matter of that sin was the eating of the fruit of the tree -- an act indifferent, indeed, in its nature, but forbidden by the imposing of a law, and withdrawn from the power of man. lie could also have easily abstained from it without any loss of pleasure. In this, is apparent the admirable goodness of God, who tries whether man be willing to submit to the divine command in a matter which could so easily be avoided.
VIII. The form was the transgression of the law imposed, or the act of eating as having been forbidden; for as it had been forbidden, it had gone beyond the order of lawful and good acts, and had been taken away from the [allowable] power of man, that it might not be exercised without sin.
IX. There was no end for this sin; for it always assumed the shape or habit of good. An end, however, was proposed by man, (but it was not obtained, that he might satisfy both his superior propensity towards the image of God, and his inferior one towards the fruit of the tree. But the end of the devil was the aversion of man from his God, and, through this, his further seduction into exile, and the society of the evil one. But the permission of God had respect to the antecedent condition of creation, which had made men possessed of free will, and for [the performance of] acts glorious to God, which might arise from it.
X. The serious enormity of that sin is principally manifest from the following particulars: