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  • JOHN CALVIN - SECRET PROVIDENCE -
    ARTICLE SECOND


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    God not only predestinated to damnation; but he also predestinated Adam to the causes of damnation; whose fall he not only foresaw, but determined from eternity, by a secret decree, and ordained that he should fall. And that this might come to pass in his time, he set forth the apple the cause of the fall.

    AGAINST THE SECOND

    They say that the second too is a doctrine of the devil, and they demand of us, Calvin, to show where it is written in the word of God.

    J. CALVIN’S REPLY

    In the second article you are the same man still. Produce the passage from my writings, where I teach that the apple was set before Adam to cause his fall. This to be sure is one of your popular arts, to darken the minds of the simple with lies, lest they should rise to the truth, which is remote from common carnal sense. But lest I should seem to dispute about words, I acknowledge that I wrote thus; that the fall of Adam was not a matter of chance, but ordained in the secret counsel of God. In simply denouncing this a doctrine of the devil, you must no doubt fancy yourself a judge of no mean authority, otherwise, you could not expect to overturn with one abusive assertion, a point which I have established by powerful arguments. You demand a testimony from Scripture, to demonstrate, that Adam did not fall, without the secret decree of God. Whereas, if you had only read a few pages with attention, you could not help seeing, what is every where obvious, that God manages all things according to his secret counsel. You fancy a foreknowledge in God, which sluggishly beholds from heaven the life of man: God himself laying his hand on the helm of the universe, does not allow his power to be separated from his foreknowledge. Certainly this reasoning belongs to Augustine, not to me.

    If God foresaw what he was unwilling should happen, then he is not supreme. Therefore he determined whatever should be, because independently of his will, nothing could be. If you reckon this absurd, yet you cannot escape it even with your fancy; because he ought to have at least applied to the mischief, the remedy within his own power, though it is clear he did not do so. God foresaw the fall of Adam, he had the power of preventing it. He was not willing to prevent it. Why he was unwilling no reason can be given, except that his will took the opposite direction. If you allow yourself to contend with God, accuse him too, of fitting man for ruin, by the weakness in which he created him. You say that Adam fall by free will. I reply that to keep him from falling, he needed that constancy and fortitude, with which God endows his elect, when he determines that they shall hold fast their integrity. Sure it is, unless new strength is supplied from heaven every moment, we are frail enough to perish a thousand times. God supports those whom he has chosen, and they persevere with invincible fortitude. Why should he not have supplied Adam with this, if he willed him to stand unhurt. Surely we must here be silent, or confess with Solomon that God made all things for himself; even the wicked for the day of evil. If the absurdity offend you, think that is no vain repetition, which declares the judgments of God to be a great deep. If the incomprehensible counsel of God, could be contained in the little measure of our capacity, it was in vain that Moses proclaimed, that the revelations of the Law were for us, and our children, while his secret things belonged to himself. You demand a quotation proving that God did not prevent the fall of Adam, because he was unwilling; as if indeed the memorable answer did not sufficiently prove it, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.” Whence Paul infers that he hath not mercy on all because he doth not choose. And doubtless without any commentator at all, the words plainly tell us, that God is bound by no law, to show indiscriminate mercy to all: but that he is his own Arbiter in pardoning whom he pleases, and passing by others. Surely it was the same God, of whom the prophet asserts “he doeth, according to his will.” Now do you say that he unwillingly yielded, when Adam fell, you must suppose that Satan was victorious in the contest, and like the Manicheans, you will have two principles, Paul too handling this subject, does not rashly compare God to the potter, who was at liberty out of the same mass, to make whatever variety of vessels he thought proper. The Apostle certainly might have begun at sin; though he does not, but defends the unconstrained right and sovereignty of God, in the work itself. And when he adds that all had been shut up in unbelief, does he teach that this happened in spite of God, or rather that God was the author of it? If you object that all were condemned for unbelief; merely because they deserved it, the context is against you, because Paul is discoursing of the secret judgments of God; and the exclamation, “oh the depth,” etc., is inconsistent with such a supposition.

    Therefore as Christ was predestinated from the beginning to succor the lost, so God determined in his own incomprehensible counsel, how he was to illustrate his own glory, by the fall of Adam. I acknowledge, indeed, when he vindicates the free course of his mercy, he speaks of the human race, as it had already perished in Adam; but the same reason was always valid before the fall of Adam, that his own will, is to him a sufficient ground of mercy, when such is his pleasure. This will, moreover, though it depends on nothing else, and has no prior cause, is yet founded in the best reason, and the highest equity. For though the license of man requires the bridle of the Law, it is otherwise with God, who is a law to himself, and whose will is the rule of the most perfect righteousness.

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