WORKS OF ARMINIUS - ON THE NECESSITY OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION
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ON THE NECESSITY OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION
I. Without religion, man can have no union with God; and without the command and institution of God, no religion can subsist, which, since it appertains to himself, either by the right of creation, or by the additional right of restoration, he can vary it according to his own pleasure; so that, in whatever manner he may appoint religion,. he always obligates man to observe it, and through this obligation, imposes on him the necessity of observing it.
II. But the mode of religion is not changed, except with a change of the relation between God and man, who must be united to him; and when this relation is changed, religion is varied, that is, on the previous supposition that man is yet to be united to God; for, as to its substance, (which consists in the knowledge of God, faith, love, &c.,) religion is always the same, except it seem to be referred to the substance, that Christ enters into the Christian religion as its object.
III. The first relation, and that which was the first foundation of the primitive religion, was the relation between God and man -- between God as the Creator, and man as created after the image and in a state of innocency; wherefore the religion built upon that relation was that of rigid and strict righteousness and legal obedience. But that relation was changed, through the sin of man, who after this was no longer innocent and acceptable to God, but a transgressor and doomed to damnation. Therefore, after [the commission of] sin, either man could have had no hope of access to God and to a union with him, since he had violated and abrogated the divine worship; or a new relation of man to his Creator was to be founded by God, through his gracious restoration of man, and a new religion was to be instituted on that relation. This is that which God has done, to the praise of his own glorious grace.
IV. But, as God is not the restorer of a sinner, except in a mediator, who expiates sins, appeases God, and sanctifies the sinner, I repeat it, except in that "one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus," it was not the will of our most glorious and most gracious God, alone and without this Mediator, either that there should be any foundation between him and the sinner restored by him, or that there should be an object to the religion, which, to the honour of the restorer and to the eternal felicity of the restored, he would construct upon that relation. For it pleased the Father, through Christ, to reconcile all things to himself, and by him to restore both those things which are in heaven, and those on earth. It also pleased the Father "that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father;" so that whosoever does not honour the Son, does not honour the Father.
V. Wherefore, after the entrance of sin, there has been no salvation of men by God, except through Christ, and no saving worship of God, except in the name of Christ, and with regard to him who is the Anointed One for sinners, but the saviour of them who believe on him; so that whosoever is without God is without Christ; and he that is without Christ, is without the faith, the worship and the religion of Christ; and without the faith and hope of this Christ, either promised and shadowed forth in types, or exhibited and clearly announced, neither were the ancient patriarchs saved, nor can we be saved.
VI. On this account, as the transgression of the first covenant contains the necessity of constituting another religion, and as this would not have occurred if that first covenant had not been made, it appears that. those things upon which the Scriptures treat, concerning the first covenant, and its transgression on the part of the first human beings, contain the occasion of the restoration which God was to make through Christ, and that they were, therefore, to be thus treated in the Christian religion. This conclusion is easily drawn from the very form of the narration given by Moses.
VII. God is also the object of the Christian religion, both as Creator, and as Restorer in Christ, the Son of his love; and these titles contain the reason why God can demand religion from man, who has been formed by his CREATOR a creature, and by his Restorer a new creature. In this object, also, must be considered what is the will of the Glorifier of man, who leads him out from the demerit of sin, and from misery, to eternal felicity. These three names, Creator, Restorer, and Glorifier, contain the most powerful arguments by which man is persuaded to religion.
VIII. But because it was the good pleasure of God to make this restoration through his Son, Jesus Christ, the Mediator, therefore, the Son of God, as constituted by the Father Christ and Lord, is likewise an object of the Christian religion subordinate to God; though he on earth, as the Word of his Father, both may be and ought to be considered as existing in the Father from all eternity.