The Works Of James Arminius Vol 2 by James Arminius
DISPUTATION XIV ON THE OBJECT OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION: AND, FIRST, ABOUT GOD, ITS PRIMARY OBJECT, AND WHAT GOD IS I.
The object of the Christian religion is that towards which the faith and worship of a religious man ought to tend. This object is God and his Christ -- God principally, Christ subordinately under God -- God per se, Christ as God has constituted him the object of this religion. II. In God, who is the primary object of the Christian religion, three things come in order under our consideration: (1.) The nature of God, of which the excellence and goodness is such that religion can honourably and usefully be performed to it. (2.) The acts of God, on account of which religion ought to be performed to him. (3.) The will of God, by which he wills religion to be performed to himself, and that he who performs it be rewarded; and, on the contrary, that the neglecter of it be punished. III. To every treatise on the nature of God, must be prefixed this primary and chief axiom of all religion: |There is a God.| Without this, vain is every inquiry into the nature of God; for, if the divine nature had no existence, religion would be a mere phantasm of man's conception. IV. Though the existence of God has been intimated to every rational creature that perceives his voice, and though this truth is known to every one who reflects on such an intimation; yet, |that there is a God,| may be demonstrated by various arguments. First, by certain theoretical axioms; and because when the terms in which these are expressed have been once understood, they are known to be true, they deserve to receive the name of |implanted ideas.| V. The first axiom is, |Nothing is or can be from itself? For thus it would at one and the same time, be and not be, it would be both prior and posterior to itself, and would be both the cause and effect of itself. Therefore, some one being must necessarily be pre-existent, from whom, as from the primary and supreme cause, all other things derive their origin. But this being is God. VI. The second axiom is, |Every efficient primary cause is better or more excellent than its effect.| From this, it follows that, as all created minds are in the order of effects, some one mind is supreme and most wise, from which the rest have their origin. But this mind is God. VII. The third axiom is, |No finite force can make something out of nothing; and the first nature has been made out of nothing.| For, if it were otherwise, it neither could nor ought to be changed by an efficient or a former; and thus, nothing could be made from it. From this, it follows, either that all things which exist have been from eternity and are primary being, or that there is one primary being. But this being is God. VIII. The same truth is proved by the practical axiom, or the conscience, which has its seat in all rational creatures. It excuses and exhilarates a man in good actions; and, in these which are evil, it accuses and torments -- even in those things [of both kinds] which have not come, and which never will come, to the knowledge of any creature. This stands as a manifest indication that there is some supreme judge, who will institute a strict inquiry, and will pass judgment. But this judge is God. IX. The magnitude, the perfection, the multitude, the variety, and the agreement, of all things that exist, supply us with the fifth argument, which loudly proclaims that all these things proceed from one and the same being and not from many beings. But this being is God. X. The sixth argument is from the order perceptible in things, and from the orderly disposition and direction of all of them to an end, even of those things which, devoid of reason, themselves, cannot act on account of an end, or at least, cannot intend an end. But all order is from one being, and direction to an end is from a wise and good being. But this being is God. XI. The preservation of political, ecclesiastical and economical society among mankind, furnishes our seventh argument. Amidst such great perversity and madness of Satan and of evil men, human society could never attain to any stability or firmness, except it were preserved safe and unimpaired by One who is supremely powerful. But this is God. XII. We take our eighth argument from the miracles which we believe to have been done, and which we perceive to be done, the magnitude of which is so great as to cause them far to exceed the entire force and power of the created universe. Therefore, a cause must exist which transcends the universe and its power or capability. But this cause is God. XIII. The predictions of future and contingent things, and their accurate and strict completion, supply the ninth argument as being things which could proceed from no one except from God. XIV. In the last place, is added, the perpetual and universal agreement of all nations, which general consent must be accounted as equivalent to a law, nay to a divine oracle. COROLLARY On account of the dissensions of very learned men, we allow this question to be discussed, |from the motion which is apparent in the world, and from the fact, that whatever is moved is moved by another, can it be concluded that there is a God?