DEAR BROTHER, JAMES ARMINIUS GREETING:
TERTULLIAN, On whose works, as you know, I have now been long engaged, has been the cause of my long silence, respected brother. In the mean time, I placed your letter on a shelf plainly in my view, that I might be reminded of my obligation to you, and might attend, at the earliest possible opportunity, to your request. You desire from me an explication of a question of a truly grave character, in which the truth is fully known to God: that which is sufficient He had expressed in His written word, which we both consult with the divine help. You may set forth openly what you think and do not think. You desire that I should present my views, that from this mutual interchange and communication of sentiments, we may illustrate the truth of divine grace. I will do what I can according to the measure, which the Lord has admeasured to me; and whatever I may perceive of this most august mystery, I will indicate it, whether I regard it as truth or as a merely speculative opinion, that you with me may hold that which belongs to the Deity. Whatever pertains to my opinion, if you have a more correct sentiment, you may, in a kind and brotherly manner, unfold it, and by a salutary admonition recall me into the way of truth. I will here say nothing by way of introduction, because I prefer to pass at once to the subject itself, which may rather be |good to the use of edifying,| as the apostle teaches. I judge that all desire the truth in righteousness: but all do not therefore see the truth in righteousness. |We know in part, and we prophesy in part,| (1 Cor. xiii.9,) and |when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth.| (John xvi.13.) We perceive a part of the truth: and present a part; the rest will be given in his own time, by the Spirit of truth to those who seek. May he therefore grant to both of us that we may receive and may present the truth.
That we may both realize greater advantage from this brotherly discussion, and that nothing may carelessly fall from me, I will follow the path marked out in your letters, writing word for word, and distinguishing the topics of your discussion into propositions; and will subjoin to them, in the same order, my own opinion concerning each point, that in reference to all things you may be able to see clearly, and according to the Divine will, determine from the mode of my answer, what I think and what I do not think. The following is your first proposition, in which you may recognize yourself as speaking.