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  • JOHN CALVIN - SECRET PROVIDENCE -
    ARTICLE TENTH


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    Satan is a liar by the command of God.

    AGAINST THE TENTH

    Against the tenth they argue thus. If Satan is a liar by the command of God, a liar is righteous, and Satan is righteous. For if to command a lie is righteous, (as it certainly is, if Calvin speak truth,) then to obey by lying is also righteous; for the righteousness of obedience is estimated by the righteousness of the precept. And as it is unrighteous to obey an unrighteous precept so to obey a righteous precept is righteous. Now if Calvin say that Satan is not obedient in lying, that is, that he has no intention of obeying God, we will reply according to Calvin’s own opinion, that this disobedient lying likewise, is done by the command of God; and that in this disobedient lying also, Satan is obedient; inasmuch as God has commanded him not to be obedient in lying.

    J. CALVIN’S REPLY

    In the tenth article, behold against whom you hurl your virulent darts. For it is no peculiarity of mine that you oppose, but the dictate of the Spirit of God. Thus the Scripture speaks expressly, whom shall I send, and who will go for us; and immediately after, God, addressing Satan, bids him go, to be a lying spirit in the mouth of all the prophets, to deceive Ahab. Now bark as much as you please; you will no more bury the glory of God by your railing, than you will by spitting darken the glory of the sun. Here too it is better to speak in the words of Augustine, than in my own. “When God testifies that he sends false prophets, and that his hand is upon them that they may deceive, he does not mean that his patience alone is concerned, but his power also.” As to your prating about Satan not being obedient in lying by the command of God, it is not wonderful if you entangle yourself in many knots, by not acknowledging that God in an inexplicable way, so employs at his pleasure the working of Satan, as to illustrate the justice and equity of his own government; without, however, freeing his instrument from blame, whom he compels against his own will to execute the divine judgment. Though your bitterness should rail a hundred times, this certainly is not the voice of Calvin, but of God; “I have commanded my sanctified ones.” ( Isaiah 13:8.)

    Now if you imagine that God takes more to himself than is proper, he will himself find out a way to be freed from your accusations.

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