The second question, referring to the preparation of grace, and its opposite, preterition, is not, whether God designed to bestow saving grace only on some persons, and those considered in certain relations, and did not design to bestow it on others, for this is very manifest from the Scriptures, in many passages. But the question is, whether God, in the act of predestination and its opposite, preterition, had reference to men, considered in a natural condition. I have not been able to persuade myself, either from the writings of Thomas Aquinas, or from those of the advocates of his views, that this question is to be answered affirmatively. My reasons for answering it negatively, are these: --
ANSWER OF JUNIUS TO THE THIRTEENTH PROPOSITION
I have previously stated that divine election and non-election have reference to men in general, and this is very true. The phrase, |merely natural state,| is ambiguous. The question before us, then, is not, whether election has reference only to men, considered in a natural condition, (as you understand that phrase,) if one attends closely to the subject. This is rather the question, whether it also has reference to men, so considered. We answer this affirmatively. Indeed, though it differs, in phraseology, from the first theory, yet we think that, in fact, it is very much in harmony with it, since this particular relation was added neither by Thomas Aquinas, nor by others, that the relations, previously noticed, might be excluded, but only that, in this argument, a consideration of sin, as a cause, might be excluded. Yet, let us examine your arguments as they are presented.
THE REPLY OF ARMINIUS TO THE ANSWER TO THE THIRTEENTH
That man, considered in general, is the object of the decree of which we treat, has not yet been made clear to me from your answers. Indeed I have proved from many arguments, adduced, as opportunity has been offered, that a general consideration of man has no place in that decree, and I shall prove the same by other arguments, as there may be occasion. Concerning the state of the question, as you propose it, I will not contend with you. Let the question be as you state it, whether God, in the decree of predestination and reprobation, has reference also to men, considered in a merely natural state. I maintain the negative. Not only does the affirmative of this question please you, but, from your Theses and other writings, you seem to me to incline to it so strongly that you seem even to have proposed the affirmative of the former theory. For if He, who predestinates and passes by, did not consider man as a sinner, then He did consider him as created among those things, on which He imposed certain conditions, or as not created, or as to be created. But let these remarks suffice. I have every where denied, and still deny, that God, in the act of predestination and of preterition, had reference also to men, considered in a merely natural state; but I assert that He had reference only to men, as considered in their sins. Concerning the difference between the first and second theory, we have already spoken.