I am not pleased with the first theory because God could not, in his purpose of illustrating his glory by mercy and punitive justice, have reference to man as not yet made, nor indeed to man as made, and considered in his natural condition. In which sentiment I think that I have yourself as my precedent, for, in discussing predestination, you no where make mention of mercy, but every where of grace, which transcends mercy, as exercised towards creatures, continuing in their original, natural state, while it coincides with mercy in being occupied with the sinner, but when you treat of the passed by and the reprobate, you mention justice, and only in the case of such. Besides, according to that opinion, God is, by necessary consequence, made the author of the fall of Adam and of sin, from which imputation he is not freed by the distinctions of the act and the evil in the act, of necessity and coaction, of the decree and its execution, of efficacious and permissive decree, as the latter is explained by the authors of this view, in harmony with it, nor a different relation of the divine decree and of human nature, nor by the addition of the proposed end, namely that the whole might redound to the divine glory, &c.
ANSWER OF JUNIUS TO THE SIXTH PROPOSITION
There are three things to be laid down in order, before I come to the argumentation itself. First, in reference to the meaning of the first view; secondly, in reference to its agreement with the second and third; thirdly, in reference to a few fundamental principles necessary to the clearness of this question. In the first place, then, if that view be fully examined, we shall perceive with certainty that its authors did not regard man absolutely and only before his creation, &c., but in a general view and with a universal reference to that and to all times. For though they make the act of election and predestination, (as one which exists in the Deity,) as from eternity, in reference to the creation of man, yet they teach that its object, namely mankind, was predestinated without discrimination, and in common, and that God, in the act of predestination, considered the whole human race as various parts inwrought by the eternal decree into its execution. Thus Beza, very clearly on Ephes. i.4, says, |Christ is presented to us as mediator. Therefore, the fall must, in the order of causes, necessarily precede in the purpose of God, but previous to the fall there must be a creation in righteousness and holiness.| So afterwards, on ch. iv, 24, |As God has made for Himself a way both for saving, by his mercy, those whom He had elected in Christ, and for justly punishing those who, having been conceived in sin, should remain in their depravity,| &c.
This view he also learnedly presents in a note on verses 4 and 5. Thus those authors embrace the first, and, at the same time, the second and third theories.
But this first theory has an agreement with the second and also with the third, indeed it is altogether the stone, though in appearance it seems otherwise, if you attend to the various objects of these theories. For while the authors of the first regard man universally, in the argument of predestination, election and reprobation, the authors of the second have made a restriction to the case of man before transgression only, and this with the design to show that, in predestination, the cause of election and of reprobation was only in the being predestinating, which is very true. When they assert, therefore, that the election of man was made before his fall, they do not exclude the idea of the eternity of that decree, but consider this to be sufficient if they may establish the fact that eternal predestination, that is, election and reprobation, was made by God, without reference to sin, which the apostle has demonstrated in the example, by no means obscure, of Jacob and Esau. (Rom.9) The first, therefore, differs from the second less in substance than in the manner of speaking. But those, who adhere to the third theory, have looked, properly speaking, not so much to the cause of election and reprobation, as to the order of causes, of which damnation is the consequence; which damnation, many in former times, confounding with reprobation, that is, non-election or predestination, exclaimed that the doctrine of predestination was impious, and accused the servants of God, as is most clearly evident from the writings of Augustine and Fulgentius. The little book of Augustine, which he wrote in answer to the twelve articles falsely charged against him, most opportunely explains the matter. Neither those who favour the second theory, therefore, nor those who favour the third, have attacked the first, but have rather presented in a different mode, parts of the same argument, distinct in certain respects. It seems then that, as to the sum of the whole matter, they do not differ so much as some suppose, but have attributed to parts of its execution, (to all of which the decree has reference,) certain circumstances, not indeed ineptly in respect to the decree.
Let us now come to certain fundamental principles necessary to this doctrine, by the application of which its truth may be confirmed, and those things which seem to operate against it, may be removed. These seem to me capable of being included under four heads, the essence of God, His knowledge, His actions, and their causes, to each of which we will here briefly refer. We quote first from Mal. iii.6, |I am the Lord, I change not;| also from James i.17, |with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning,| and many similar passages. The truth of this fundamental principle is very certain; from it is deduced the inevitable necessity of this conclusion, that in the Deity nothing is added, nothing is taken away, nothing is changed in fact or relation; for such have philosophers themselves decided to be the nature of eternity; but God is eternal. Also that God is destitute of all movement in His essence, because He is immortal; in His power because He is pure and simple action; and in intellect, because |all things are naked and opened unto His eyes,| and He sees all and each of them eternally, by a single glance; in His will and purpose, for He |is not a man that he should lie, neither the son of a man that He should repent,| (Num. xxiii.19,) but He is always the same; and lastly in operation, for the things which vary are created, while the Lord remains without Variation, and has in Himself the form of immutable conception of all those things which exist and are done mutably in time. The second fundamental principle is that the knowledge of the eternal, immutable and infinite mind is eternal, immutable and infinite and knows things to be known as such, and those to be done as such, (gwstwv) eternally, immutably and infinitely. God has a knowledge practically (praktikwv) of all evil as a matter of mere knowledge and finally of all things of all classes, (which consist of things the highest, the intermediate, and the lowest of things good and evil,) energetically (ejnerghtikwv) according to his own divine mode. There is a three-fold relation in all science, if comparison is made with the thing known according to the measure of the being who knows or takes cognizance of it; inferior, equal, and superior, or supereminent, which may be made clear by an illustration from sight. I see the sun, but the light of my vision is inferior to its light; I take cognizance of natural objects, but as owls do of the light of the sun, as Aristotle says. Here is the inferior mode of knowledge, which never exists in God. In him alone exists equal knowledge, and that knowledge which is supereminent after the divine mode, for He has equal knowledge of Himself; He is that which He knows Himself to be, and he knows adequately what He is. All other things He knows in the supereminent mode, and has them present to himself from eternity; if not, there would be two very grievous absurdities, not to mention others; one, that something might be added to the Deity, but that nothing can be added to eternity; the other, that knowledge could not belong to God univocally as the source of all knowledge. But nature herself teaches that in every class of objects there is some one thing which they call univocal, from which are other things in an equivocal sense; as, for example, things which are hot, are made so by fire. Here the fire is hot univocally, other things equivocally. God has knowledge univocally, other beings equivocally; unless perhaps some may be so foolish as to place a possessor of knowledge above the Deity, which would be blasphemy. The third point is that the actions of God in Himself are eternal, whether they pertain to His knowledge or His essence, to His intellect, will or power, and whatever else there may be of this nature; but from Himself they flow, as it were, out of himself according to His own mode, or according to that of the creature according to his eternal decree, yet in an order which is his own, but adapted to time. According to the mode of the Deity, action is three-fold; that of creation, that of providence, so far as it is immediate, and that of saving grace.
For many things proceed from the Deity without the work of the creature, but they are things which He condescends to accomplish mediately in nature and in grace. He does, as a universal principle according to the mode of the creature, and, as Augustine says, (lib.7, de. civit. Dei. cap.30) |He so administers all things which He has created, as to permit them also to exercise and to perform their own motions.| But |their own motions| pertain, some of them to nature and to natural instinct and are directed invariably to one certain and destined end, and others to the will in the rational nature, which are directed to various objects either good or evil, to those which are good, by the influence of the Deity, to those which are evil by His influence only so far as they are natural, and by his permission so far as they are voluntary. From which it can be established in the best and most sacred manner that all effects and defects in nature and in the will of all kinds, depend on the providence of God; yet in such a manner that, as Plato says, the creature is in fault as the proximate cause, and |God is wholly without blame.|
The fourth point is that the first and supreme cause is so far universal, that nothing else can be supposed or devised to be its cause, since if it should depend on any other cause, it could be neither the first nor the supreme cause, but there must be another, either prior or superior, or equal to it, so that neither would be absolutely first or supreme. In the next place, all causes exist, either as principles or derived from a principle; |as principles| nature and the will exist; |from a principle| are mediate causes, from nature, natural causes, and from the will voluntary causes. The mode of the latter has been made two-fold by the Deity, necessary and contingent. The necessary mode is that which cannot be otherwise, and this is always good, in that it is necessary; but the contingent is that which is as it happens to be, whether good or bad. But here a three-fold caution is to be carefully observed; first, that we hold these modes of the causes to be from the things themselves and in themselves, according to the relation of the principles from which they proceed, for we speak now not of the immediate actions of God, which are above these principles, as we have before noticed, the natural causes, naturally, and the voluntary causes, voluntarily; secondly, that we make both these modes to be from God, but not in God; for mode in God is only divine, that is, it surpasses the necessary and contingent in all their modes; since there can occur to the Deity neither necessity from any source, nor any contingency, but all things in the Deity are essential, and in a divine mode; thirdly, that we should consider those modes as flowing from God to created things, in such a manner that none of them should be reciprocated, and, as it were, flow back to God. For God is the universal principle; and if any of these should flow back to Him, He would from that fact cease to be the principle. The reason, indeed, of this is manifest from a comparison of natural examples, since this whole thing proceeds not from natural power simply, in so far as it is natural, but from the rational power of God. For it is a condition of natural power, that it always produces one and the same thing in its own kind, and that if it should produce any thing, out of itself, it must produce something like itself from the necessity of nature, or something unlike from contingency. A pear tree produces a pear tree, a bull begets one of its own species, and a human being begets a human being; that is, in accordance with the distinct form which exists in the nature of each thing.
But the operation of rational power, which is capable of all forms, is of all kinds; to which three things must concur in the agent, knowledge, power, and will. But the mode of those things, which rational power effects, is not constituted according to the mode of knowledge or power, but to the mode of the will which actually forms the works, which virtually are formed in the knowledge and power, as in a root; and this from the freedom of the will and not from the necessity of nature. If we would illustrate this by an example in divine things, let it be this: the person of the Father begat the person of the Son by nature, not by the will; God begat his creatures by the will, not by nature. Therefore, the Son is one with the Father, but created things are diverse from the Deity, and are of all classes, degrees, and conditions, made by His rational power voluntarily to demonstrate His manifold wisdom. It is indeed nothing new that those things which are of nature should be reciprocated and refluent, since many of them are adequate, while many indeed are essential. But it is a new idea that those things which are of the will should be either reciprocated or made adequate. But if this is true in nature, as it surely is, how much more must it be believed in reference to God, if He be compared with created things. It was necessary that these should be laid down by me, my brother, rather copiously, that the sequence might be more easily determined by certain limits.
You say that the first opinion does not please you, because you think that God cannot, in his purpose to illustrate his glory by mercy and punitive justice, have had reference to the human race, considered as not yet made. You add, in amplifying the idea, that God did not have reference even to the human race, considered as created, and in his natural condition. That we may each understand the other, I remark that I understand by your phrase, |have reference to the human race,| to have man as the object or instead of the object of action. But let us consider, if you please, or rather, because it does please you and you request it, how far your view is correct. Indeed, from the first fundamental principle, which I have before laid down, (from which I trust that you do not dissent,) I consider man as not yet created, as created, as fallen, and, in fine, man in general, in whatever light he may be viewed, to be the object of the power, knowledge, will, mercy and justice of God; for if this is granted, it will then be a complete sequence that there is something, aside from common providence and the special predestination of the sons of God, not an object of the action of the Deity. Then there can be some addition to God, if something can be added to His power, knowledge, will, &c., since the power, knowledge, will, &c., of God, is either God, or a divine, that is, an infinite act. Whatever eternity looks upon, if it does not look upon it eternally, it ceases to be eternity; it loses the nature of eternity. If infinity does not look on infinite things, in an infinite manner, if it is limited by parts, it ceases to be infinity. To God and His eternity, it is not is, was or shall be, but permanent and enduring being, all at once, and without bounds. The creature exists indeed in time, but is present to God, in a peculiar, that is, a divine mode, which is above all consideration of time, and from eternity to eternity; and this is true not only of the creature itself, but of all its feelings, whatever may be their origin. You will perhaps say that this principle is acknowledged in the abstract, but that here, as it is considered in the concrete, it has a different relation, in that it has reference to mercy and punishment, which can really be supposed only in view of antecedent misery and sin. But these also, my brother, are present with God as really as those; I do not say in the mode of nature, which is fleeting, but in that of the Deity, which is eternal, and in all respects surpasses nature. They, who think differently, are in danger of denying the most absolute and eternal essence of the Deity itself. We said also, under proposition three, that in created things misery and sin may be considered in relation to the act, the habit, or the capability also in an absolute and in a relative sense. But in God, (whom also Aristotle acknowledges to be |energy in its most simple form,| mercy and judgment exist by an eternal act, and not by a temporal one; and contemplates the misery and sin of man in all their modes, previous to all time, and does not merely take cognizance of them as they occur in time.
Lastly, that we may disclose the fountain of the matter, this whole idea originates in the fact that the third fundamental principle which, we before laid down, has not been sufficiently regarded by those who so think. For since all action is either internal or external, or both united together. The internal is in God, as the maker: the external is in the creature in its own time and place, and in the thing made just as the house is formed in the mind of the builder, before it is built materially (as it is said). But when both acts are united and from them is produced a work, numerically a unit, which they style a result, then the internal act is the formal cause; the external act is the material cause. Nothing in God is temporary; action in God is alone eternal, for it is internal, it is therefore not temporary; so, on the contrary, all things out of God are temporary, therefore the external act is temporary, for it is out of God. |What, then, do you prove?| you will ask. |That God in his mercy and punitive justice acts with reference to man as not yet created, or indeed as created, but considered in his natural condition?| I indeed admit that whatever it may be, which can be predicated of man, it can sacredly and in truth be predicated of him. Yet I see that two statements may be made of a milder character, and in harmony with the words of Christ and the apostles, which are clearly intimated, if not fully expressed by them; the former, that, in this question, we must consider, not only the mode and the consequent event (which some call, catechrestically, the end), namely, mercy and punitive justice, also life and eternal death, but the fountain and the genus from which these result, and to which they hold the relation of species, namely, grace and non-grace, adoption or filiation, and non-adoption, which is reprobation, as we have said above (Prop.2), the latter, that, in the argument of election, we must propose not any particular relation of the human race, but the common or universal relation so that we may consider him as not yet created, as created, as fallen &c., yet present in all respects in the conception of God, so that in this election, grace towards mankind in the abstract, and mercy towards man as fallen and sinful, which is of grace, concur, but in reprobation, the absence of the grace of adoption and the absence of mercy concur. If these statements are correct, I do not see in what respect a pious mind can be offended. For Christ says that they are blessed of God, the Father who |inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world.| (Matt. xxv.34.)
And Paul says that God |hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, according as he hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love, having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure, to the praise, &c.| (Ephes. i.3-6.) |What then? is there no special reference?| I answer that properly in the argument of election and reprobation (for the matter of damnation is a different one) there is no particular reference to men as a cause, but our separation from the reprobate is wholly of the mere will of God: in that God has separated and made a distinction among men, whether not yet created, created or fallen, and indeed among all things, present alike to Him, yet equal in all respects by nature and condition, by electing and predestinating some to the adoption of the sons of God, and by leaving others to themselves and to their own nature, not calling them to the adoption of the sons of God, which is gratuitous and can be ascribed only to grace. This grace, also, unique in itself only, may be two-fold in the elect, for either it is grace simply, if you look even from eternity on man without reference to the fall, which grace is communicated to the elect, both angels and men, or it is grace joined to mercy, or gracious mercy, when you come down to the special matter of the fall and of sin. God dealt with the angels according to His grace, with us according to His grace and mercy, if you do not also have reference to possible misery (of which we spoke, Prop.3, and misery.) For in this sense mercy is, and can, with propriety, be called a divine work of grace. But what is there here which can be reprehended in God? What is there, which can be denied by us? God has bestowed human nature on all; it is a good gift; on certain individuals he has bestowed mercy and the grace of adoption; this is a better gift. He was not under obligation to bestow either; He bestowed both, the former on all, the latter on some men. But it may perhaps be said that reprobation is one thing, and punitive justice and damnation, which is under discussion, is another. Let that be conceded; then there is agreement between us in reference to reprobation, let us then consider punitive justice and damnation. It is certain that, as the vessels of mercy which God has prepared for His glory that He might demonstrate the riches of His glory, are from eternity fully present to Him in a divine and incomprehensible manner, without any motion or change in Himself, so also |the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction| that he might |show His wrath and make His power known,| (Rom. ix.22,) are eternally presented to his eyes, according to the mode of Deity. As vessels, therefore, they are of God, for He is the maker of all things: as vessels of wrath, they are of themselves and of their own sin, into which they rush of their own will, for we all are by this nature the children of wrath, (Ephes. ii.3,) but not in our original constitution. Moses affirms in Gen. i.31, that |God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good.|
God, who is good, does not hate that which is good. All things, at their creation, were good, therefore at their creation, God did not hate any one of all created things: He hates that which is alien from Himself, but not that which is His own: He is angry with our fall and sin, not with His own creation. By creation they are vessels; by the fall, they are vessels of wrath, and fitted to destruction, as the most just consequence of the fall and of depravity: for |neither shall evil dwell with God.| (Psalm v.4.) As in the knowledge of God is the good of the elect, with whom he deals in mercy, so in the knowledge of God, as Isaiah says, chapter xlviii, 4 and 8, is the evil of others: the latter He hated and damned from the period of His knowledge of it. But He knew and foreknew from eternity; therefore, He hates and damns, and even pre-damns from eternity.
As this is the relation of the former proposition, the relation of the other also, added by way of amplification, |nor indeed to man as made and considered in his original condition,| is also the same. For the consequence is plainly deduced in the same mode, in reference to the latter as in reference to the former; and you are not ignorant that universal affirmations follow by fair deduction from that which is general to that which is particular. God has reference from eternity in election and reprobation to mankind in general; therefore He had reference to man as not created, created and fallen, and if there is any other term, by which we can express our ideas. In the case of election, and of reprobation, I say, He regarded man abstractly, with whatever relation you may invest him. In the case of damnation, He regarded the sinner, whom He had not given to Christ in the election of grace, and whom He from eternity saw as a sinner. Those holy men, therefore rightly stated that the election and reprobation of man was made from eternity: some considered them as having reference to man, not yet created, others to man as not yet fallen, and yet others to man as fallen: since in whatever condition you regard him, a man is elected or reprobated without consideration of his good or evil deeds. Nor indeed can it be proved that they are at variance in this matter, unless a denial of other conditions is shown in plain terms. For such is the common statement by universal consent. In which, if any one affirms that the supposition of one involves the disavowal of the other he opposes the truth of natural logic and common usage. But if such is the relation of election and reprobation in a general sense, it is a complete sequence that they who say that men, as not created, were elected, speak very truly, since God elected them by the internal act, before He did by the external act; and that they who affirm that the election was of man, as created, have reference to the principle of the external act; and so with the rest. But all these things are not in reference to His act per se, but in reference to the condition of the act, which does not affect its substance. You say that in this opinion you have me as a precedent since, in the discussion of predestination, I |no where make mention of mercy, but every where of grace, which transcends mercy.| Indeed, my brother, I have never thought that I should seem to exclude the other parts when I might use the term grace, nor do I see how that inference can be made from the phrase itself. Grace is the genus; it does not exclude mercy, the species. Grace includes, so to speak, the path for all times; therefore it includes that of mercy. Nor do they, who mention mercy, in presenting the species, exclude the genus, nor, in presenting a part, do they exclude all which remains. And we, in presenting the genus, do not deny the species, nor in presenting the whole, do we disavow a part. Both are found in the Scriptures, which speak of grace in respect to the whole and its single parts, and in a certain respect, of mercy: but they take away neither by the affirmation of the other. I would demonstrate this by quotations, did I not think that you with me, according to your skill and intelligence would acknowledge this. Predestination is of grace: the same grace, which has effected the predestination of the saints, also includes mercy: this I sufficiently declared a little while since. I mentioned grace simply, in the case of simple predestination, that is, predestination expressed in simple and universal terms. I speak of mercy, also, in relation to a man who is miserable, spoken of absolutely, or relatively. You add that when I treat of the passed by and the reprobate, I mention justice, and only in the case of such. Let us, if you please, remove the homonymy; then we shall expedite the matter in a few words. We exposed the homonymy in the second proposition; we speak of the reprobate either generally or particularly. If you understand it generally, the mention of justice is correctly made, as we shall soon show. If particularly, either reprobates and those passed by refer to the same, which is the appropriate signification, or the term reprobate is applied to the damned, which is catachrestic. I do not think that you understand it in the former sense, if you understand it in the latter (as you do), what you say is certainly very true, that I spoke of justice only when treating of the damned. However, I do not approve that you write copulatively of the passed by and the reprobate, that is, the damned. For although they are the same in subject, and all the passed by are damned, and all the damned are passed by, yet their relation as passed by or reprobate is one thing, and their relation as damned is another.
Preterition or reprobation is not without justice, but it is not of justice, as its cause: damnation is with justice and of justice. Election and reprobation or preterition are the work of free will according to the wisdom of God; but damnation is the work of necessary will according to the justice of God; for God |cannot deny Himself| (2 Tim. ii.13.) As a just judge, it is necessary that He should punish unrighteousness, and execute judgment. This, I say, is the work of the manifold wisdom of God, which in those creatures, in whom he has implanted the principle of their own ways, namely, a free will, He might exhibit its two-fold use, good and bad, and the consequent result of its use in both directions. Hence he has, in His own wisdom, ordained, both in angels and in men, the way of both modes of its use, without any fault or sin on His own part. But it is a work of justice to damn the unrighteous. Therefore also it is said truly that the passed by are damned by the Deity, but because they were to be damned, not because they were passed by or reprobated.
Now I come to your argumentation, in which you affirm that, |according to that theory, God is, by necessary consequence, made the author of the fall of Adam, and of sin &c.| I do not, indeed, perceive the argument from which this conclusion is necessarily deduced, if you correctly understand that theory. Though I do not doubt that you had reference to your own words, used in stating the first theory, |that he ordained also that man should fall and become depraved, that he might thus prepare the way for the fulfillment of his own eternal counsels, that he might be able mercifully to save some, &c.| This, then, if I am not mistaken, is your reasoning. He, who has ordained that man should fall and become depraved, is the author of the fall and of sin; God ordained that man should fall and become depraved; therefore, God is the author of sin. But the Major of this syllogism is denied, because it is ambiguous; for the word ordain is commonly, though in a catachrestical sense, used to mean simply and absolutely to decree, the will determining and approving an act; which catachresis is very frequent in forensic use. But to us, who are bound to observe religiously, in this argument, the propriety of terms, to ordain is nothing else than to arrange the order in acts, and in each thing according to its mode. It is one thing to decree acts absolutely, and another to decree the order of acts, in each thing, according to its mode. The former is immediate, the latter, from the beginning to the end, regards the means, which in all things, pertain to the order of events. In the former signification, the Minor is denied; for it is entirely at variance with the truth, since God is never the author of evil (that is, of evil involving guilt). In the latter signification the Major is denied, for it is not according to the truth, nor is it necessary in any respect that the same person who disposes the order of actions and, in each thing, according to its mode: should be the author of those actions. The actor is one thing, the action is another,-and the arranger of the action is yet another. He who performs an evil deed is the author of evil. He, who disposes the order in the doer and in the evil deed, is not the author of evil, but the disposer of an evil act to a good end. But that this may be understood, let us use the fourth fundamental principle, which we have previously stated, according to this, we shall circumscribe this whole case within this limit; every fault must always be ascribed to the proximate, not to the remote or to the highest cause. In a chain, the link, which breaks, is in fault; in a machine, the wheel, which deviates from its proper course, is in fault, not any superior or inferior one. But as all causes are either principles, or from principles, (in this case, however, principles are like wheels, by which the causes, originating from the principles, are moved), God is the universal principle of all good, nature is the principle of natural things, and the rational will, turning freely to good or evil, is the principle of moral actions. These three principles, in their own appropriate movement, perform their own actions, and produce mediate causes, act in their own relations, and dispose them; God in a divine mode, nature in a natural mode, and the will in an elective mode. God, in a divine mode, originates nature; nature, in its own mode, produces man; the will, in its own appropriate mode, produces its own moral and voluntary actions. If, now, the will produces a moral action, whether good or evil, it produces it, of its own energy, and this cannot be attributed to nature itself as a cause, though nature may implant the will in man, since the will, (though from nature) is the peculiar and special principle of moral actions, instituted by the Deity in nature. But if the blame of this cannot be attributed to nature as a cause, by what right, I pray, can it be attributed to God, who, by the mode and medium of nature, has placed the will in man? I answer then, with Augustine, in his book against articles falsely imputed to him, artic.10.
|The predestination of God neither excited, nor persuaded, nor impelled, the fall of those who fell, or the iniquity of the wicked, or the evil passions of sinners, but it clearly predestinated His own judgment, by which He should recompense each one according to his deeds, whether good or bad, which judgment would not be inflicted, if men should sin by the will of God.| He proceeds to the same purpose in art.11, remarking, |If it should be charged against the devil, that he was the author of certain sins, and the inciter to them, I think he would be able to exonerate himself from that odium in some way, and that he would convict the perpetrators of such sins from their own will, since, although he might have been delighted in the madness of those sinners, yet he could prove that he did not force them to crime. With what folly, what madness, then, is that referred to the counsel of God, which cannot at all be ascribed to the devil, since he, in the sins of wicked men, aids by enticements, but is not to be considered the director of their wills. Therefore God predestinated none of these things that they should take place, nor did He prepare that soul, which was about to live basely and in sin, that it should live in such a manner; but He was not ignorant that such would be its character, and He foreknew that He should judge justly concerning a soul of such character.|
But if this could be imputed neither to nature, nor to the devil, how much less to God, the most holy and wise Creator? God, (as St. Augustine says again, book 6) |does not predestinate all which he foreknows. For He only foreknows evil. He does not predestinate it, but He both foreknows and predestinates good.| But it is a good, derived from God, that, in His own ordination, He disposes the order in things good and evil; if not, the providence of God would be, for the most part, indifferent (may that be far from our thoughts). God does not will evil, but He wills, and preserves a certain order even in evil. Evil comes from the will of man; from God is the general and special arrangement of His own providence, disposing and most wisely keeping in order even those things which are, in the highest degree, evil.
Here a two-fold question will perhaps be urged upon me:
first, how can these be said, in reference to the will, to be its own motions, when we acknowledge that the will itself, that is, the fountain of voluntary motions, is from nature, and nature is from God? Secondly, why did God place in human beings this will, constituted in the image of liberty? I will reply to both in a few words. To the first; the will is certainly from nature, and nature is from God, but the will is not, on that account, the less to be called the principle of those motions, than nature is called the principle of natural motions. Each is the principle of its own action, though both are from the supreme principle, God. It is one thing to describe the essence of a thing, another to refer to its source. What is essential to nature and the will? That the former should be the principle of natural motions, the latter, of spontaneous motions. What is their source? God is the only and universal source of all things. Nor is it absurd that a principle should be derived from another principle: for although a principle, which originates in another, should not be called a principle in the relation of origin or source, yet, in the relation of the act it does not on that account, cease to be an essential principle. God is, per se, a principle. Nature and our wills are principles derived from a principle. Yet each of them has its own appropriate motions. Nor is there any reason, indeed, why any should think that these are philosophical niceties: they are natural distinctions, and that, which is of nature, is from God. But if we are unwilling to hear nature, let us listen to the truth of God, to Christ speaking of the devil (John viii.44), |when he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar and the father of it.| Here he is called |the father of a lie,| and is said |to speak of his own.|
According to Christ's words, then, we have the origin and the act of sin in the devil. For the act has a resemblance to himself, for he speaks of his own. What, I pray, can be more conclusive than these words? Hence Augustine, in the answer already quoted, very properly deduces this conclusion. |As God did not, in the angels who fell, induce that will, which they did not continue in the truth; so he did not produce in men that inclination by which they imitate the devil. For he speaketh a lie of his own; and he will not be free from that charge, unless the truth shall free him.| He indeed gave free will, namely, that essential power to Adam: but its motion is, in reference to Adam, his own, and, in reference to all of us, our own. In what sense is it our own, when it is given to us by God? Whatever is bestowed on us by God, is either by the law of common right, or of personal and private property. He gave the will to angels and men by the law of personal possession. It is therefore, one's own and its motion belong to the individual. |This,| says Augustine, (lib. de Genes. ad litt. in perf. cap.5,) |He both makes and disposes species and natures themselves, but the privations of species and the defects of natures he does not make, He only ordains.| Therefore God is always righteous, but we are unrighteous.
To the second question, namely, why did God create in us this will, and with such a character? I reply; -- it was the work of the highest goodness and wisdom in the universe. Why should we, with our ungrateful minds, who have already made an ill use of those minds, obstruct the fountain of goodness and wisdom? It was the work of goodness to impress his own image on both natures, in the superior, on that of angels, and in the inferior, on that of men: since, while other things in nature are moved by instinct, or feeling, as with a dim trace of the Deity, these alone, in the freedom of their own will, have the principle of their own ways in their own power by the mere goodness of God. It was the work of wisdom to make these very species, endued with His own image, together with so many other objects, and above the others, as the most perfect mirror of His own glory, so far as is possible in created things. But why did he make them of such a character, with mutable freedom? He made His own image, not himself.
The only essential image of God, the Father, is the Lord Jesus Christ, one God, eternal and immutable, with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Whoever thou mayest be, who makest objections to this, thou hearest the serpent whispering to thee, as he whispered once to Eve, to the ruin of our race. Let it suffice thee that thou wast made in the image of God, not possessing the divine perfection. Immutability is peculiar to the divine perfection. This pertains by nature to God. The creature had in himself His image, communicated by God, and placed in his will: but he, whether angel or man, who fell, rejected it of his own will. Not to say more, this whole question was presented by Marcion, and Tertullian, with the utmost fluency and vigour, discussed it in its whole extent, in a considerable part of his second book against Marcion, the perusal of which will, I trust, be satisfactory to you.
You remark, finally, that they are not freed from the necessity of that conclusion |by the distinctions of the act, and the evil in the act, of necessity and creation, of the decree and its execution, &c.| Indeed, my brother, I think that, from those things, which have just been said, you will sufficiently perceive in what respects your reasoning is fallacious. For God does not make, but ordains the sinner, as I say, with Augustine, that is, He ordains the iniquity of the sinner not by commanding or decreeing particularly and absolutely that he should commit sin, but by most wisely vindicating His own order, and the right of His infinite providence, even in evil which is peculiar to the creature.
For it was necessary that the wisdom of God should triumph in this manner, when He exhibited His own order in the peculiar and voluntary disorder of His own creature. This disorder and alienation from good the creature prepared for himself by the appropriate motion of free-will, not by the impulse of the Deity. But that freedom of the will, says Tertullian against Marcion (lib.2, cap.9) |does not fix the blame on Him by whom it was bestowed, but on him by whom it was not directed, as it ought to have been.| Since this is so, it is not at all necessary that I should speak of those particular distinctions, which, in their proper place, may perhaps be valid; they do not seem to me to pertain properly to this argument, unless other arguments are introduced, which I cannot find in your writings. Besides all those distinctions pertain generally to the subject of providence, not particularly to this topic. I am not pleased that the discussion should extend beyond its appropriate range. But here some may perhaps say; |Therefore, the judgments of God depend on contingencies, and are based on contingencies, if they have respect to man as a sinner, and to his sin.| That consequence is denied: for, on the contrary, those very things which are contingencies to us, depend on the ordination of God, according to their origin and action. To their origin, for God has established the contingency equally with the necessity: To their action, for He acts in the case of that which is good, fails to act in that which is evil, in that it is evil, not in that it is ordained by His special providence. They are not, therefore, contingencies to the Deity, whatever they may be to us; just as those things, which are contingent to an inferior cause, can by no means be justly ascribed to a superior cause. But I have already stated this matter with sufficient clearness, in the discussion of the fourth fundamental principle. Let us, therefore, pass to other matters.
THE REPLY OF ARMINIUS TO THE ANSWER TO THE SIXTH PROPOSITION
The meaning of the first theory is that which I have set forth in the third proposition. But it is of little importance to me, whether the object, generally and without distinction, or with a certain distinction, and invested with certain circumstances, is presented to God, when predestinating and reprobating, for that is not, now, the point before me. If, however, it may be proper to discuss this also in a few words, I should say that it cannot seem to one who weighs this matter with accuracy, that the object is considered in general and without any distinction by God, in the act of decreeing, according to the sentiment of the authors of the first theory. For the object was considered by God, in the act of decreeing, in the relation which it had at the time. when it had, as yet, been affected by no external act of God, executing that decree; for this, in a pure and abstract sense, is an object, free from every other consideration, which can pertain to an object, through the action of a cause operating in reference to it. But since, according to the authors of the first theory, the act of creation pertains to the execution of the decree, of which we now treat, it is, therefore, most certainly evident, that man, in that he was to be made, was the object of predestination and reprobation. If any one considers the various and manifold sets of that decree, it is not doubtful that some of these must be accommodated and applied to this and others to that condition of man, and in this sense, I would admit the common and general consideration of the object. But all those acts, according to the authors of that first theory, depend on one primary act, namely, that in which God determined to declare, in one part of that unformed |lump,| from which the human race was to be made, the glory of his mercy, and, in another part, the glory of his justice, and it is this very thing which I stated to be displeasing to me in that first theory; nor can I yet persuade myself that there exists, in the whole Scripture, any decree, by which God has determined to illustrate his own glory, in the salvation of these and in the condemnation of those, apart from foresight of the fall.
The passage which you quote from Beza, on Ephes. i.4, plainly proves that I have done no injustice to those authors in explaining their doctrine. He says, in that passage, that God, by the creation and corruption of man, opened a way for himself to the execution of that which he had before decreed.|
In reference to the harmony of those theories, I grant that all agree in this, that this decree of God was made from eternity, before any actual existence of the object, whatever might be its character, and however it might be considered. For |known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.| (Acts xv.18.)
It is necessary also that all the internal acts of God should universally be eternal, unless we wish to make God mutable; yet in such a sense that some are antecedent to others in order and nature. I admit also that they agree in this, that there exists, in the predestinate or the reprobate, no cause why the former should be predestinated, the latter reprobated; and that the cause exists only in the mere will of God. But I affirm that some ascend to a greater height than others, and extend the act of decree farther. For the advocates of the third theory deny that God, in any act of predestination and reprobation, has reference to man, considered as not yet fallen, and those of the second theory say that God, in the act of that decree, did not have reference to man as not yet created. The advocates of the
first, however, openly assert and contend that God, in the first act of the decree, had reference to man, not as created, but as to be created. I, therefore, distinguished those theories according to their objects, as each one presented man to God, at the first moment of the act of predestination and reprobation, as free from any divine act predestinating and reprobating, either internal, by which he might decree something concerning man, or external, by which He might effect something in man; this may be called pure object, having as yet received no relation from the act of God, decreeing from eternity, and no form from the external act. But when it has received any relation or form from any act of God, it is no longer pure object, but an object having some action of God concerning it, or in it, by which it is prepared for receiving some further action, as was also a short time since affirmed. We will hereafter examine your idea that they substantiate their theory by the example of Jacob and Esau in Romans 9.
I may be permitted to make some observations or inquiries concerning what you lay down as fundamental principles of this doctrine, and of your reply to my arguments. In reference to the first, concerning the essence of the Deity,
God is in such a sense immutable in essence, power, intellect, will, counsel and work, that, nevertheless, if the creature is changed, he becomes to that creature in will, the application of power, and in work, another than that which he was to the same creature continuing in his primitive state; bestowing upon a cause that which is due to it, but without any change in Himself. Again if God is immutable, He has, for that very reason, not circumscribed or determined to one direction, by any decree, the motion of free-will, the enjoyment and use of which He has once freely bestowed on man, so that it should incline, of necessity, to one direction, and should not be able, in fact, to incline to another direction, while that decree remains. Thirdly, God has the form and an eternal and immutable conception of all those things which are done mutably by men, but following, in the order of nature, many other conceptions, which God has concerning those things which He wills both to do Himself, and to permit to men.
In reference to the second, concerning the knowledge of God;
I am most fully persuaded that the knowledge of God is eternal, immutable and infinite, and that it extends to all things, both necessary and contingent, to all things which He does of Himself, either mediately or immediately, and which He permits to be done by others. But I do not understand the mode in which He knows future contingencies, and especially those which belong to the free-will of creature, and which He has decreed to permit, but not to do of Himself, not, indeed, in that measure, in which I think that it is understood by others more learned than myself. I know that there are those who say that all things are, from eternity, presented to God, and that the mode, in which God certainly and infallibly knows future contingencies, is this, that those contingent events coexist with God in the Now of eternity, and therefore they are in Him indivisibly, and in the infinite Now of eternity, which embraces all time. If this is so, it is not difficult to understand how God may certainly and infallibly know future contingent events. For contingencies are not opposed to certainty of knowledge, except as they are future, but not as they are present. That reasoning, however, does not exhaust all the difficulties which may arise in the consideration of these matters. For God knows, also, those things which may happen, but never do happen, and consequently do not co-exist with God in the Now of eternity, which would be events unless they should be hindered, as is evident from 1 Samuel xxiii.12, in reference to the citizens of Keilah, who would have delivered David into the hands of Saul, which event, nevertheless, did not happen. The knowledge, also, of future events, which depend on contingent causes, seems to be certain, if those causes may be complete and not hindered in their operation. But how shall the causes of those events, which depend on the freedom of the will, be complete, among which, even at that very moment in which it chose one, it was free not to choose it, or to choose another in preference to it? If indeed at any time your leisure may permit, I could wish that you would accurately discuss, in your own manner, these things and whatever else may pertain to that question. I know that this would be agreeable and acceptable to many, and that the labour would not be useless.
The knowledge of God is called eternal, but not equally so in reference to all objects of knowledge. For that knowledge of God is absolutely eternal, by which God knows Himself, and in Himself all possible things. That, by which He knows beings which will exist, is eternal indeed as to duration, but, in nature, subsequent to some act of the divine will concerning them, and, in some cases, even subsequent to some foreseen act of the human will. In general, the following seems to me to be the order of the divine knowledge, in reference to its various objects. God knows
1. Himself what He, of Himself is able to do.
2. All things possible what can be done by those beings which He can make.
3. All things which shall exist by the act of creation.
4. All things which shall exist by the act of creatures and especially of rational creatures. Whether moved by those actions of His creatures and
5. What He Himself especially of His rational shall do. creatures; Or at least receiving occasion from them.
From this, it is apparent that the eternity of the knowledge of God is not denied by those, who propose, as a foundation for that knowledge, something dependent on the human will, as foreseen.
But I do not understand in what way it can be true that, in every genus, there must be one thing univocal, and from this, other things in an equivocal sense. I have hitherto supposed that those things which are under the same genus are univocal or at least analogous; but, that things equivocal are not comprehended with those which are univocal, under the same genus, either in logic, or metaphysics, and still less in physics. Then I have not thought that the univocal could be the cause of the equivocal. For there is no similarity between them. But if there exists a similarity as between cause and effect, they are no longer equivocal. Thus those things, which are heated by the fire as I should say, are heated neither univocally, nor equivocally, but analogically. God exists univocally, we, analogically. This they admit, who state that certain attributes of the divine nature are communicable to us according to analogy, among which they also mention knowledge.
In reference to the third, concerning the actions of the Deity; the actions of God are, in Himself, indeed eternal, but they preserve a certain order; some are prior to others by nature, and indeed necessarily precede them, whether in the same order, in which they proceed from Him, I could not easily say; but I know that there are those who have thus stated, among whom some mention George Sohnius. Some also of the internal actions in God, are subsequent in nature to the foresight of some act dependent on the will of the creature. Thus the decree concerning the mission of His Son for the redemption of the human race is subsequent to the foresight of the fall of man. For although God might have arranged to prevent the fall, if he had not known that He could use an easy remedy to effect a restoration, (as some think,) yet the sure decree for the introduction of a remedy for the fall by the mission of His Son, was not effected by God except on the foresight of the disease, namely, the fall.
The mode in which God, as the universal principle, is said to flow into His creatures, and especially his rational creatures, and concurs with their nature and will, in reference to an action, has my approbation, whatever it may be, if it does not bring in a determination of the will of the creature to one or two things which are contrary, or contradictory. If any mode introduces such a determination, I do not see how it can be consistent with the declaration of Augustine, quoted by yourself, that God so governs all things which He has created as also |to permit them to exercise and put forth their own motions,| or with the saying of Plato, in which God is declared to be free from all blame.
I could wish that it might be plainly and decisively explained how all effects and defects in nature, and the will, of all kinds universally, are of the providence of God, and yet God is free from fault, the whole fault, (if any exists,) residing in the proximate cause. If any one thinks that God is exempted from fault because He is the remote cause, but that the creature, as the proximate cause, is culpable, (if there is any sin,) he does not seem to me to present a correct reason why any cause may be in fault, or free from fault, but, concerning this also, I will hereafter speak at greater length. In reference to the fourth, concerning the causes of the actions of God; the universal cause has no cause above itself, and the first and supreme cause does not depend on any other cause, for the very terms include that idea; but it is possible that there may be afforded to the universal, first and supreme cause, by another cause, an occasion for the production of some certain effect, which, without that occasion, the first cause would neither propose to be produced in itself, nor in fact produce out of itself, and indeed could neither produce nor propose or decree to be produced. Such is the decree to damn certain persons, and their damnation according to that decree.
I readily assent to what you have said in reference to the modes of necessary and contingent causes, as also those things which you have remarked in reference to the distinction between natural and rational power. I am, however, certain that nothing can be deduced from them against my opinion, or against those things, which have been presented by me for the refutation of the first theory.
Having made these remarks, I come to the consideration of your answer to my arguments. In my former argument, I denied that man, considered as not yet created, is the object of mercy rescuing from sin and misery, and of punitive justice, and I persist in that sentiment; for I do not see that any thing has been presented, which overthrows it, or drives me from that position. For man is not, by that consideration, removed from under the common providence or the special predestination of God, but providence must, in this case, be considered as according to mercy and justice thus administered, and predestination, as decreed according to them. But the reasoning from the relative to the absolute is not valid; and the removal, in this case, is from under the providence of God, considered relatively, not absolutely; so also with predestination. You foresaw that I would make this reply, and consequently you have presented a three-fold answer; but, in no respect, injurious to my reasoning. For as to the first, I admit that sin and misery were, in the most complete sense, present with God from eternity, and, as they were present, so also there was, in reference to them, a place for mercy and justice. But the theory, which I oppose, does not make them, (as foreseen,) present to mercy and justice, but, according to the decree for illustrating mercy and justice, it presents a necessity for the existence of sin and misery, as, in their actual existence, there could be in fact, a place, for the decree, made according to mercy and justice. As to the second, I grant also that there could be, in one who was in fact neither a sinner, nor miserable, a place for mercy saving from sin and possible misery, but we are not here treating of mercy so considered: and it is certain that mercy and judgment exist in the Deity, by an eternal act, but it is in the first action of those attributes. In a second act, God cannot exercise those attributes, understood according to the mind of the authors of that theory, except in reference to a sinful and actually miserable being. Lastly, what you say concerning the internal, and external action of the Deity, and these conjoined, does not disturb, in any greater degree, my argument. For neither the internal action, which is the decree of God in reference to the illustration of his glory, by mercy and punitive justice, nor the external action, which is the actual declaration of that same glory through mercy and justice, nor both conjoined can have any place in reference to a man who is neither sinful, nor miserable. I know, indeed, that, to those who advocate this theory, there is so much difference between internal and external action, that is, as they say, between the decree and its execution, that God may decree salvation according to mercy and death according to justice to a person who is not a sinner, but may not really save, according to mercy, any one, unless, He is a sinner, or damn, according to justice, any except sinners. But I deny that distinction; indeed I say that God, can neither will nor decree, by internal act, that which He cannot do, by external act, and thus the object of internal and external action is the same, and invested with the same circumstances: whether it be present to God, in respect to his eternal intelligence and be the object of His decree, or be, in fact, in its actual existence, present to Him and the object of the execution of the decree. Hence, I cannot yet decide otherwise concerning that theory, than that it cannot be approved by those, who think and desire to speak according to the Scriptures.
The |two statements| which you think |may be made, of a milder character, and in harmony with the words of Christ and the apostles,| do not serve to explain that first theory, but are additions, by which it is very much changed, and which its advocates would by no means acknowledge, as, in my opinion, was made sufficiently manifest in my statement of the same theory in reply to your third answer, and may be, at this time, again demonstrated in a single word. For those very things, which you make the mode and the consequent event of predestination and reprobation, are styled, by the authors of that first theory, the cause, and the principle of that same decree, and also the end, though not the final one, which, they affirm, is his glory, to be declared by mercy and justice. Again they acknowledge no grace in predestination which is not mercy, and correctly so, for the grace, which is towards man considered absolutely, is not of election: also they do not acknowledge any non-grace, or non-mercy, which is not comprehended in punitive justice. Here I do not argue against that theory thus explained, not because I approve it in all respects, but because I have, this time, undertaken to examine what I affirm to be the view of Calvin and Beza; other matters will be hereafter considered. I will notice separately what things are here brought forward, agreeing with that view, thus explained. The passages of Scripture quoted from Matthew 25, and Ephesians 1, in which it is taught that |God, from all eternity, of the good pleasure of his will, elected some to adoption, sanctification, and a participation of his kingdom,| so far fail to prove the common view that on the contrary there may be inferred from them a reference to sin, as a condition requisite in the object of benediction and election. In the former passage, the blessed are called to a participation of the kingdom, which God has prepared for them from eternity; but in whom and by whom? Is it not in Christ and by Christ? Certainly; then it was prepared for sinners, not for men considered in general, and apart from any respect to sin. For |thou shall call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins.| (Matt. i.2.)
The passage from Ephesians 1, much more plainly affirms the same thing, as will be hereafter proved in a more extended manner, when I shall use that passage, avowedly to sustain the theory which makes sin a condition requisite in the object. I did not present a particular reference to men, as a cause, which I wished to have kept in mind, but according to a condition, requisite in the object, namely, misery and sin. This I still require. The distinction, which you make between grace and mercy, is according to fact and the signification of terms, but in this place is unnecessary. For no grace, bestowed upon man, originates in predestination, as there is no grace, previous to predestination, not joined with mercy. God deals with angels according to grace, not according to mercy saving from sin and misery. He deals with us according to mercy, not according to grace in contradistinction to mercy. I speak here of predestination. According to that mercy, also, is our adoption; it is not, then, of men, considered in their original state, but of sinners. This is also apparent from the phraseology of the apostle, who calls the elect and the reprobate |vessels,| not of grace and non-grace but of |mercy| and |wrath.| The relation of |vessels| they have equally and in common from their divine creation, sustainment, and government. That they are vessels worthy of wrath, deserving it, and the |children of wrath,| (Ephes. ii.3), in this also there is no distinction among them. But that some are |vessels of wrath,| that is, destined to wrath, of their own merit, indeed, but also of the righteous judgment of God, which determines to bring wrath upon them; while others are |vessels| not |of wrath| but |of mercy| according to the grace of God, which determines to pardon their sin, and to spare them, though worthy of wrath, this is of the will of God, making a distinction between the two classes; which discrimination has its beginning after the act of sin, whether we consider the internal or the external act of God. From this it is apparent that they are not on this account vessels of wrath because they have become depraved, the just consequence of which is wrath, if the will of God did not intervene, which determines that this, which would be a just consequence in respect to all the depraved, should be a necessary consequence in respect to those, whom alone He refuses to pardon, as He can justly punish all and had decreed to pardon some. That which is |added by way of amplification| is confirmed by the same arguments. For there is no place for punitive justice except in reference to the sinner; there can be no act of that mercy, of which we treat, except towards the miserable. But man, considered in his natural condition is neither sinful nor miserable, therefore that justice and mercy have no place in reference to him. Hence, you, my brother, will see that the object of predestination, made according to those attributes and so understood, cannot be man, considered in general, since it requires, in its object, the circumstance of sin and misery, by which circumstance man is restricted to a determinate condition, and is separated from a general consideration. I know, indeed, that, if the general consideration is admitted, no one of those particular considerations is excluded, but you also know that if any particular relation is precisely laid down, that universal relation is excluded. I do not think that it is to be altogether conceded that, in the case of election and reprobation, there is no consideration of well-doing or of sin. There is no consideration of well-doing, it is true, for there is none to be considered; there is no consideration of sin as a cause why one, and not another, should be reprobated, but there is a consideration of sin as a meritorious cause of the possibility of the reprobation of any individual, and as a condition requisite in the object, as I have often remarked, and shall, hereafter, often remark, as occasion may require. In what respects, those theories differ was briefly noticed in reply to your first answer. When God is said to have elected persons, as not created, as created but not fallen, or as fallen, all know that it is understood, not that they are in fact such, but that they are considered as such, for all admit that God elected human beings from eternity, before they were created, that is, by the internal act; but no one says, that man was elected by the external act before he was created; therefore a reconciliation of those theories was unnecessary, since the object of both acts is one and the same, and considered in the same manner. Besides the questions, when the election was made, and in what sense it was considered, are different. I wished to confirm my words by the authority of your consent; whether ignorantly, will be proved from these statements. You make man, considered as a sinner, the subject of the preparation of punishment according to justice, which I, agreeably to your Theses, have called reprobation, and you, according to your opinion, presuppose sin in him; but, in the first theory, they make sin subordinate to that same decree. The preterition, which the same theory attributes to punitive justice, you attribute to the freedom of the divine goodness, and you exclude punitive justice from it, when you make man, not yet a sinner, the subject of preterition. Predestination, which the first theory ascribes to mercy, in contra-distinction to grace, your Theses, already cited (answers 2 and 4) assign to grace, spoken of absolutely, since they consider man in the state of nature in which he was created; but you make man, as a sinner, the subject of grace, as conjoined with mercy, and you presuppose sin. That first theory, on the other hand, makes sin subordinate to that predestination, both of which cannot, at the same time, be true, therefore, in this you seem to agree with me, as you ascribe election to mercy, only so far as man is considered miserable, and preparation of punishment to justice, only so far as man is considered sinful. You reply, that, when grace is presented, as the genus, mercy, as the species, is not excluded, and mercy being presented, as the species, grace, as the genus, is not excluded. I grant it, but affirm, first, that grace cannot be supposed here as the genus, for grace, spoken of generally, cannot be supposed to be the cause of any act, that is, any special act, such as predestination. Again, the relation of grace and mercy in this case, is different from that of genus and species: for they are spoken of, in an opposite manner, as two different species of grace, the term grace, having the same appellation with that of the genus, referring to that grace which regards man as created, the term mercy, receiving its appellation from its object, referring to that grace which regards man as sinful and miserable. If man is said to be predestinated according to the former, the latter can have no place; if according to the latter, then it is certain that the former can have no place, otherwise the latter would be unnecessary. Predestination cannot be said to have been made conjointly according to both. My conclusion was, therefore, correct, when I excluded one species by the supposition of the other. If man is to be exalted to supernatural glory from a natural state, this work belongs to grace, simply considered, and in contra-distinction to mercy; if from a corrupt state, it belongs to grace conjoined with mercy, that is, it is the appropriate work of mercy. Grace, simply considered and opposed to mercy, cannot effect the latter, mercy is not necessary for the former. But predestination is of such grace as is both able and necessary to effect that which is proposed in predestination.
What I wrote copulatively, in reference to the passed by and the reprobate, was written thus, because they are one subject. But that they are not the same in relation, is admitted: and I expressed this when I remarked that you referred to justice only in the case of the latter, namely, the reprobate, that is, the damned. In my second proposition, however, I signified that, according to the view of those to whom I ascribed the second theory, the relation of preterition was different from that of predamnation, which I there called reprobation. The homonymy of the term reprobation is explained in my second answer, and all fault is removed from me, who have used that word every where according to your own idea. But it is very apparent, from what follows, that you dissent from the authors of the first theory. For you assert that |predestination is of justice,| but that preterition or reprobation is according to justice, but not |of justice;| while the authors of the first theory ascribe to justice the cause of reprobation, however understood, whether synecdochically, or properly, or catachrestically, that is, they affirm that both preterition and predamnation are of justice.
But how are election and preterition |the work of flee-will according to the wisdom of God and damnation, the work of necessary will according to the justice of God? I have hitherto thought, with our theologians, that this whole decree was instituted by God, in the exercise of most complete freedom of will, and I yet think that the same idea is true, according to the declaration, |I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy,| and |He hath mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth.| (Rom. ix.15, 18.)
In each of these acts God exercises equal freedom. For, if God necessarily wills in any case to punish sin, how is it that He does not punish it in all sinners? If he punishes it in some, but not in others, how is that the act of necessary will? Who, indeed, does not ascribe the distinction which is made among persons, equally meriting the punishment, to the freewill of God? Justice may demand punishment on account of sin, but it demands it equally in reference to all sinners without distinction; and, if there is any discrimination, it is of free-will, demanding punishment as to these, but remitting sin to those. But it was necessary that punishment should be at least inflicted on some. If I should deny that this was so after the satisfaction made by Christ, how will it be proved? I know that Aquinas, and other of the School-men, affirm that the relation of the divine goodness and providence demands that some should be elected to life, and that others should be permitted to fall into sin and then to suffer the punishment of eternal death, and that God was free to decree to whom life, and to whom death should appertain, according to his will, but their arguments seem to me susceptible of refutation from their own statements, elsewhere made concerning the price of our redemption paid by Christ. For they say the price was sufficient for the sins of all, but if the necessity of divine justice demands that some sinners should be damned, then the price was not sufficient for all. For if justice, in him who receives that price, necessarily demands that some should be destitute of redemption, then it must have been offered by the redeemer with the condition that there must always remain to the necessity of justice, some satisfaction, to be sought elsewhere and to be rendered by others. Let no one think that the last affirmation of the school-men (that concerning the sufficiency of the price), which, however, they borrowed from the fathers, is to be rejected, for it could be proved, if necessary, by plain and express testimonies from the Scripture.
Let us now come to my second argument, which was this. A theory, by which God is necessarily made the author of sin, is to be repudiated by all Christians, and indeed by all men; for no man thinks that the being, whom he considers divine, is evil; -- But according to the theory of Calvin and Beza God is necessarily made the author of sin; -- Therefore it is to be repudiated. The proof of the Minor, is evident from these words, in which they say that |God ordained that man should fall and become corrupt, that in this way he might open a way for His eternal counsels.| For he, who ordains that man should fall and sin, is the author of sin This, my argument, is firm, nor is it weakened by your answer. The word ordain is indeed ambiguous, for it properly signifies to arrange the order of events or deeds, and in each thing according to its own mode, in which sense it is almost always used by the school-men. But it is also applied to a simple and absolute decree of the will determining an action. What then? Does it follow, because I have used a word, which is ambiguous and susceptible of various meanings that I am chargeable with ambiguity? I think not; unless it is proved that, in my argument, I have used that word in different senses. Otherwise sound reasoning would be exceedingly rare, since, on account of the multitude of things and the paucity of words, we are very frequently compelled to use words, which have a variety of meanings. Ambiguity may be charged when a word is used in different senses in the same argument. But I used that word, in the same sense in the Major and in the Minor, and so my argument is free from ambiguity. I affirm that this is evident from the argument itself. For the added phrase |that man should fall| signifies that the word ordain, in both propositions, is to be applied to the simple decree in reference to an action, or rather to a simple decree that something should be done. It cannot, on account of that phrase, be referred to a decree disposing the order of actions.
Let us now state the syllogism in a few words, that we may be able to compare your answer with the argument.
He who ordained that man should fall and become depraved, is the author of the fall and of sin; God ordained that man should fall and become depraved; Therefore, God is the author of sin.
You deny the Major, if the word ordain is understood to mean the disposal of the order of actions. You deny the Minor if the same word is used to mean a simple decree as to actions, or things to be done. This is true, and, in it, I agree with you. But what if the same word in the Minor signifies a simple decree, &c.? Then, indeed, even by your own admission, the Major will be true. Else your distinction in the word is uselessly made, if the Major is false, however the word may be understood. But that the word is used in the Major in this sense, is proved by the phraseology, |He who ordained that man should fall.| Then you say that the Minor is false if the word is used in the same sense in which we have shown that it is used in the Major, and so the conclusion does not follow. I reply, that the question between us is not whether that Minor is true or false, the word ordain being used for the decreeing of things to be done, but whether they affirm it, to whom the first theory is attributed. If, then, they affirm this, and the Major is true, then it follows (and in this you agree with me,) that God is the author of sin. For you admit that he is the author of sin, who, by the simple decree and determination of the will, ordains that sin shall be committed. Calvin and Beza assert this in plain and most manifest declarations, needing no explanation, and by no means admitting that explanation of the word ordain, which, as you say and I acknowledge, is proper. I wish also that it might be shown in what way the necessity of the commission of sin, can depend on the ordination and decree of God otherwise than by the mode of cause, either efficient or deficient, which deficiency is reduced to efficiency, when the efficiency of that which is deficient is necessary to the avoidance of sin. Beza himself concedes that it is incomprehensible how God can be free from and man be obnoxious to guilt, if man fell by the ordination of God, and of necessity.
This, then, was to be done: their theory was to be freed from the consequence of that absurdity, which, in my argument, I ascribe to it. It was not, however, necessary to show how God ordained sin, and that He is not indeed the author of sin. I agree with you, both in the explanation of that ordination, and in the assertion that God is not the author of sin. Calvin himself, and Beza also, openly deny that God is the author of sin, although they define ordination as we have seen, but they do not show how these two things can be reconciled. I wish, then, that it might be shown plainly, and with perspicuity, that God is not made the author of sin by that decree, or that the theory might be changed, since it is a stumbling block to many, indeed to some a cause of separating from us, and to very many a cause of not uniting with us. But I am altogether persuaded that you also perceive that consequence, but prefer to free the theory of those men from an absurd and blasphemous consequence, by a fit explanation, than to charge that consequence to it. This is certainly the part of candour and good will, but used to no good purpose, since the gloss, as they say, is contrary to the text, which is manifest to any one who examines and compares the text with the gloss. Those two questions, which you present to yourself, do not affect my argument, when the matter is thus explained.
Yet I am delighted with your beautiful and elegant discussion of those questions. But I would ask, in opposition to the theory of Calvin and Beza, |How can these movements of the will be called its own and free, when the act of the will is determined to one direction by the decree of God?| Then, |Why did God place the will in man, if He was unwilling that he should enjoy the liberty of its use?| For these questions are necessarily to be answered by those authors, if they do not wish to leave their theory without defense. It is therefore, apparent from these things that my argument does not fail, but remains firm and unmoved, since all things which you have adduced, are aside from that argument, which did not seek to conclude, as my own views, that God is the author of sin (far from me be even the thought of that abominable blasphemy), but to prove that this is a necessary consequence of the theory of Calvin and Beza: which (I confidently say) has not been confuted by you: nor can it be at all confuted, since you use the word ordain in a sense different from that in which they use it, and from that sense, according to which if God should be said to have ordained sin, nothing less could be inferred than that He is the author of sin.
I said, moreover, that the theory of Calvin and Beza, in which they state that God ordained that man should fall and become depraved, could not be explained so that God should not be made by it the author of sin, by the distinctions of the act, and the evil in the act, of necessity and coaction, of the decree and its execution, of efficacious and permissive decree, as the latter is explained by the authors of that theory agreeably to it, nor by the different relation of the divine decree and of human nature or of man, nor by the addition of the end, namely, that the whole ordination was designed for the illustration of the glory of God. You seem to me, reverend sir, not to have perceived for what purpose I presented these things, for I did not wish to present any new course of reasoning against that first theory, but to confirm my previous objection by a refutation of those answers, which are usually presented by the defenders of that theory, to the objection which I made, that, by it, God is made the author of sin. For they, in order to repel the charge from their theory, never make the reply which has been presented by you, for, should they do this, they would necessarily depart from their own theory, which is wholly changed, if the word ordain, which they use, signifies not to decree that sin should be committed, but to arrange the order of its commission, as you explain that word. But to show that it does not follow from their theory, that God is the author of sin, they adduce the distinctions to which I have referred, and have diligently gathered from their various writings; which ought to be done before that accusation should be made against their theory. For, if I could find any explanation of that theory, any distinction, by which it could be relieved of that charge, it would have pertained to my conscience, not to place upon it the load of such a consequence. Your distinction in the word ordain indeed removes the difficulty, but, in such a way, that, by one and the same effort, it removes the theory from which I proved that the difficulty followed. Prove that the authors of that theory assert that God ordained sin in no other sense than that, in which you have shown that the word is properly used, and I shall obtain that which I wish, and I will concede that those distinctions were unnecessary for the defense of that theory. For the word ordain used in your sense, presupposes the perpetration of sin; in their sense, it precedes and proposes its perpetration, for |God ordained that man should fall and become depraved,| not that from a being, fallen and depraved, He should make whatever the order of the divine wisdom, goodness, and justice might demand.
There is here, then, no wandering beyond the appropriate range of the discussion. You say that all those distinctions pertain in common to the question of providence, and therefore the ordination of sin pertains in common to the question of providence. If, however, the authors of the first theory have ascribed the ordination of sin to the divine predestination, why should it cause surprise, that those distinctions should also be referred to the same predestination? There is, in this case, then, no blame to be attached to me, that I have mentioned these distinctions. On the contrary, I should have been in fault, if, omitting reference to those distinctions, I should have made an accusation against their theory, which they are accustomed to defend against this accusation by means of those distinctions. But since you do not, by your explanation, relieve their theory from that objection, and I have said that those distinctions do not avail for its relief and defense, it will not be useless that I should prove my assertion, not for your sake, but for the sake of those, who hold that opinion, since they think that it can be suitably defended by these distinctions.
They use the first distinction thus: |In sin there are two things, the act and its sinfulness.| God, by his own ordination, is the author of the act, not of the sinfulness in the act. I will first consider the distinction, then the answer which they deduce from it. This distinction is very commonly made, and seems to have some truth, but to one examining, with diligence, its falsity, in most respects, will be apparent. For it is not, in general or universally, applicable to all sin. All sins, especially, which are committed against prohibitory laws, styled sins of commission, reject this distinction. For the acts themselves are forbidden by the law, and therefore, if perpetrated, they are sins. This is the formal relation of sin, that it is something done contrary to law. It is true that the act in that it is such, would not be sin, if the law had not been enacted, but then it is not an act, having evil or sinfulness. Let the law be absent, the act is naturally good: introduce the law, and the act itself is evil, as forbidden, not that there is any thing in the act which can be called unlawfulness or sin. I will make the matter clear by an example. The eating of the forbidden fruit, if it had been permitted to the human will as right, would, in no way, be sin, nor any part of sin, it would not contain any element of sin; but the same act, forbidden by law, could not be otherwise than sinful, if perpetrated; I refer to the act itself, and not to any thing in the act to which the term evil can be applied. For that act was simply made illicit by the enactment of the law. I shall have attained my object here in a single word, by simply asking that the sinfulness in that act may be shown separately from the act itself. That distinction, however, had a place in acts which are performed according to a perceptive law, but not according to a due mode, order, or motive. Thus he, who gives alms, that he may be praised does a good act badly, and there is, in that deed both the act and the evil of the act according to which it is called sin. But the sin which man perpetrated at the beginning, of the ordination of God, was a sin of commission; it therefore affords no place for that distinction. This fundamental principle having been established, the answer, deduced from that distinction, is at once refuted. Yet let us look at it. |God,| they say, |is, by ordination, the author of the act, not of the evil in the act.| I affirm, on the contrary, that God ordained that act, not as an act, but as it is an evil act. He ordained that the glory of His mercy and justice should be illustrated, of his pardoning mercy, and His punitive justice; but that glory is illustrated not by the act as such, but as it is sinful, and as an evil act. For the act needs remission, not as such, but as evil; it deserves punishment, not as such, but as evil. The declaration, then, of His glory by mercy and justice, is by the act as it is evil, not as it is an act; therefore that ordination which had its end, the illustration of that glory, was not of the act as such, but as evil, and of sin, as sin and transgression. That distinction, therefore, is useless in repelling the objection, which I have urged against that theory. I add, for the elucidation of the subject, that if God efficaciously determines the will to the material of sin, or to depraved objects, though it may be affirmed that He does not determine the will to an evil decision, in respect to the evil, He is still made the author of sin, since man himself does not will the evil in respect to the evil and the devil does not solicit to evil in respect to the evil, but in respect to that which is delectable, and yet he is said to induce persons to sin.
The second distinction is that of necessity and coaction. They use it in this way. If the decree of God, in which he ordained that man should fall, compelled him to sin, then would God, by that decree, become the author of sin, and man would be free from guilt: but that decree did not compel man. It only imposed a necessity upon him so that he could not but sin; which necessity does not take away his liberty. Therefore, man, since he sins freely, the decree being in force, is the cause of his own fall, and God is free from the responsibility. Let us now consider this distinction, and the use made of it.
Necessity and coaction differ as genus and species. For necessity comprehends coaction in itself. Necessity also is twofold, one from an internal, the other from an external cause; the one, natural, the other, violent. Necessity, from an external cause and violent, is also called coaction, whether it be used contrary to nature, or against the will, as when a stone is projected upwards, and a strong man makes use of the hand of a weaker person to strike a third person. The former has the name of the genus, necessity, but is referred to a specific idea, by a contraction of the mental conception. There is, then, between these two species, some agreement, as they belong to the same genus, and some discrepancy, since each has its own form. But it is now to be considered whether they so differ that coaction alone, and not that other species of necessity, is contrary to freedom; and whether he who compels to sin is the cause of sin, and not he who necessitates without compulsion. They indeed affirm this, who use this distinction. First, in reference to freedom; it is opposed directly to necessity, considered in general, whether natural or compulsive, for each of these species causes the inevitability of the act. For a cause acts freely when it has the power to suspend its action. Some say that freedom is fully consistent with natural necessity, and refer to the example of the Deity, who is, by nature and freely, good. But is God freely good? Such an affirmation is not very far from blasphemy. His own goodness exists in God, naturally and most intimately; it does not then exist in Him freely. I know that a kind of freedom of complacency is spoken of by the School-men, but contrary to the very nature and definition of freedom. We say, in reference to sin, that he is the cause of sin, who necessitates to the commission of sin, by any act whatever of necessitation, whether internal or external, whether by internal suasion, motion, or leading, which the will necessarily obeys, or by an application of external violence, which the will is not able, though it may desire, to resist; though, in that case, the act would not be voluntary. He, indeed sins more grievously, who uses the former act, than he, who uses the latter. For the former has this effect, that the will may consent to the sin, but the latter has no such effect, though that consent is not according to the mode of free-will, but according to that of nature, in which mode only, God can so move the will, that it may be moved necessarily, that is, that it cannot but be moved. And in this relation, the will, as it consents by nature to sin, is free from guilt; for sin, as such, is of free-will, and tend towards its object, according to the mode of its own freedom. The law is enacted not for nature but for the will, for the will as it acts not according to the mode of nature, but according to the mode of freedom. That distinction is, therefore, vain, and does not relieve the first theory from the objection made against it. If any one wishes, with greater pertinacity, still to defend the idea, that one and the same act can be performed freely and necessarily, in different respects, necessarily in respect to the first cause, which ordains it, but freely and contingently in respect to the second cause, let him consider that contingency and necessity differ not in certain respects, but in their entire essence, and that they divide the whole extent of being, and cannot, therefore, be coincident. That is necessary which cannot fail to be done; that is contingent which can fail to be done. These are contradictions which can in no way be attributed to the same act. The will tends freely to its own object, when it is not determined, to a single direction, by a superior power; but, when that determination is made by any decree of God, it can no longer be said to tend freely to its own object; for it is no longer a principle, having dominion and power over its own acts. Did it not pertain to the nature of the bones of Christ, (which they present as an example,) to be broken? Yet they could not be broken on account of the decree of God. I reply, that the divine determination being removed, they could be broken; but, that determination, being presented by the decree of God, they could not at all be broken, that is, it was necessary, not contingent, that they should remain unbroken. Did God, therefore, change the nature of the bones? That was not necessary. He only prevented the act of breaking the bones, which were liable by their nature to be broken, which act could have been performed, and would have been, if God had not anticipated it by His decree, and by an act according to that decree. For our Lord gave up the ghost when the soldiers were approaching the cross to break his bones, and were about to use the breaking of his legs to accelerate his death. That I may not be tedious, I will not refute all the objections; but I am persuaded, from what has been presented, that they are all susceptible of refutation. The third distinction is that of the decree and its execution. They use it thus; though God may have decreed from eternity to devote certain persons to death, and, that this may be possible, may have ordained that they should fall into sin, yet he does not execute that decree, by their actual condemnation, until after the persons themselves have become sinful by their own act, and, therefore, He is free from responsibility. I answer that the fact that the execution of the decree is subsequent to the act of sin, does not free from responsibility him, who, by his own decree, has ordained that sin should occur, that he might afterwards punish it; indeed he, who has ordained and decreed that sin should be committed, cannot justly punish sin after its commission; he cannot justly punish a deed, the doing of which he has ordained; he cannot be the ordainer of the punishment, who was the ordainer of the crime. Augustine rightly says, |God can ordain the punishment of crimes, not the crimes themselves,| that is, He can ordain that they should take place. I have already demonstrated that man does not become depraved of his own fault, if God has ordained that he should fall and become depraved.
The fourth distinction is that of efficacious and permissive decree: which distinction, rightly explained, removes the whole difficulty, but it removes also the theory, by which God is affirmed to have ordained that sin should take place. The authors, however, of the first theory endeavour to sustain that theory by reference to permissive decree. They affirm that God does not effect, but decrees and ordains sin, and that this is done not by an efficacious, but by a permissive decree; and they so explain a permissive decree, that it coincides with one, which is efficacious. For they explain permission to be an act of the divine will, by which God does not bestow, on a rational creature, that grace, which is necessary for the avoidance of sin. This action, joined with the enactment of a law, embraces in itself the whole cause of sin. For he, who imposes a law which cannot be observed without grace, and denies grace to him, on whom the law is imposed, is the cause of sin by the removal of the necessary hindrance. But more on this point hereafter.
On the contrary, if permissive decree be rightly explained, it is certain that he, who has decreed to permit sin, is by no means the cause of sin; for the action of his will has reference to its own permission, not to sin. Nor are these two things, God, in the exercise of His will, permits sin, and, God wills sin, equivalent. For, the object of the will is, in the former case, permission, in the latter, sin. On the contrary rather, the conclusion, God permits, therefore, He does not will, a sinful act, is valid, for he who wills any thing does not permit the same thing. Permission is a sign of want of action in the will. That distinction, then, does not relieve the first theory. The fifth distinction is that of the divine decree and human nature, which they use thus: -- sin, if you consider the divine decree, is necessary; but if you have reference to human nature, which is equally free and flexible in every direction, it is freely and contingently committed; and, therefore, the whole responsibility is to be placed on human nature, as the proximate cause. We have discussed this, previously, in reference to the second distinction, and have sufficiently refuted it. They make another use of the same distinction, by a diverse respect of the ends, which God has proposed to Himself in His decree, and which are proposed to man in the commission of sin. |For,| they say, |God intends, in His decree, to illustrate His own glory, but man intends to gratify his own desire; and though man does the very thing, which is divinely decreed, he does not do it because it is decreed, but because his will so inclines him. I reply, first; a good end does not approve, or make good, an action which is unlawful in itself; for |we are not to do evil that good may come;| but it is evil to ordain that sin shall be committed. Secondly, that man, to satisfy his own desire, should do that which God has forbidden, also results from the decree of God, and, therefore, man is relieved from responsibility. Thirdly, though the fulfillment of the divine decree is not the end which moves man to the commission of sin, yet that same thing is the cause which, by a gentle, silent, and imperceptible, yet efficacious, movement effects that man should sin, or, rather, commit that act which God had decreed should be committed, which, then, in respect to man, cannot be called sin. Finally, the last defense consists in a reference to the end, of which they make this use: |We are accustomed to state the decree of God, not in these terms, that God has determined to adjudge some men to eternal death and condemnation,' but we add, that His justice may be illustrated to the glory of his name.'|
I answer, that the addition does not deny the previous statement, (for this is confirmed by the rendering of the cause,) and the addition, even of the best end, does not justify an action which is not in itself formally good, as has before been stated. From these things, then, it is apparent, that these grounds of defense are insufficient, and avail nothing for the defense of that theory which states that God ordained that men should fall and become depraved, in order to open to Himself, in that manner, a way for the execution of the decree which He had, from eternity, determined and proposed to Himself, for the illustration of His own glory by mercy and justice. If any one may think that any other distinction or explanation can be presented, by which that theory may be defended and vindicated, I shall be, in the highest degree, pleased, if this is done. But let him be cautious not to change the theory or add to it any thing inconsistent with it. You mention, at the end of your sixth answer, an objection to your view; -- |Then the judgments of God depend on contingency, and are based on things contingent, if they have reference to man as a sinner, and to his sin.| I must examine this with diligence, since it also lies against my view, in that I think that sin must be presupposed in the object of the divine decree. It is most manifest, from the Scriptures, that many of the judgments of God are based on sin, which, yet, cannot be said, to depend on sin. It is one thing to make sin the object and occasion of the divine judgments, and another to make it the cause of the same. The judgment, which God pronounces in reference to sin, He pronounces freely, nor does this depend on sin, for He can suspend it, or substitute another in its place; yet it is based on sin, because, apart from sin, He could not thus judge. But sin is contingent, or contingently committed.
Therefore, the judgments of God are based on things contingent. I deny the consequence. The judgments of God are based on sin, not as it is committed contingently, but as it is certainly and infallibly foreseen by God. Therefore, the sight of God intervenes between sin and judgment, and thus, judgment is based on the certain and infallible vision of God. Then that which exists, so far as it exists, is necessary. But the judgments of God are based on sin, already committed and in existence. In your answer, however, I could wish that it might be explained to me how those things, which are contingent, depend on the ordination of God, whether according to the source or the act, the word ordination having reference to a decree that certain things shall be done, not to the disposal of the order in which they shall be done, for so the word is to be understood in this place. For, though God has appointed the mode of contingency in nature, yet it does not follow from this that contingencies have their source in the ordination of God. For a cause, which is free and governs its own action, can suspend or carry forward a contingent act, according to its own will; so also in reference to the act. I do not, therefore, understand in what way contingencies, which are such in themselves, are not contingencies to God, from the fact that He has established the mode of contingency in nature. Sin is not, in any mode and in respect to anything, necessary. Therefore, sin is also contingent to God, that is, it is considered by God as done contingently, though in His certain and infallible sight, on account of the infinity of the divine knowledge. Nor is it the same idea, that a thing should be really contingent to the supreme cause, and that a thing, truly contingent in itself, should be considered as contingent by that supreme cause. For it is understood that nothing can be accidental or contingent to God, for He is immutable, He is entirely uncompounded, and, as Being and Essence, belongs to Himself alone. But the knowledge of God considers things as they are, though with vision far exceeding the nature of all things.