Page images
PDF
EPUB

comes it to pass that the soul of the Reprobate is polluted at the first? * Their first sin comes to them only by imputation, (as divers of your party do contend,) and that draws all the rest after it by an unavoidable and invincible necessity, as they acknowledge likewise. Upon which account, God should have been less severe if he had cast them into hell innocent, and without any sin at all, as (you say,) “ He cast them off, or passed them by, at first, without any respect at all to it.”

But you have one reserve behind, by the strength whereof you are confident, after all these disputes and foils, to win the field at last. Upon the matter you say, “ God's decrees could be no other than they are ; for Decreta et liberæ Dei actiones

* Unde factum est, ut tot gentes, &c. (Calv. Instit. 1.3, c. 23, sect. 7.) -"What other than the good pleasure of God is the cause why the fall of Adam involved in eternal and remodiless death whole nations, with their infant offspring? I confess, that it is indeed a horrible decree : Yet no one will be able to deny, that God foreknew what end man would have before he created him; and that he foreknew it, solely because he had so ordained it by his decree.”-CALVIN's Institutes, Book iii, ch. 23, sec. 7.

Et in RESPONSIONE ad Calumn. Nebul. ad artic. I, Interea hanc meam esse doctrinam agnosco, Non solo Dei permissu, &c. “ In the mean time, I acknowledge the following to be my doctrine :-Adam fell, not only by God's permission, but also by God's secret will, and drew by his fall all his posterity into eternal destruction. If thou hast proposed to subject God to the laws of nature, thou wilt bring him in guilty of injustice, because on account of one man's crime we are all considered to be implicated in the guilt of death e:ernal. One man sinned, and all are drawn on to punishment. Nor is that the only circumstance, but from the crime (or vice] of one man all contract the contagion, that they may be born in a state of corruption, infected with a mortal distemper. What hast thou to do with this, my good censor? Wilt thou accuse and convict God of cruelty, because through the fall of one man he has plunged into destruction all his offspring ? For though Adam has destroyed himself and his posterity, yet we must attribute the corruption and the guilt to the secret judgment of God; because the offence of one man would not have concerned us, unless the Heavenly Judge had condemned us to eternal destruction." -Calvini Responsio ad Calumn. Nebul. ad art 1.

He hath also these words. Liberi arbitrii fuisse dicunt [Adam] ut fortunaw ipse sibi fingeret : &c. Tam frigidum commentum (so he calls it,) si recipiatur, &c.-Vide locum. Instit. ubi supra. “ They say, that 'It was at the option [or free-will] of Adam to shape his own fortune;' and that God destined nothing more than to treat him 'according to his deserts.' If such a dull and frigid contrivance as this be admitted, where will be that omnipotence of God by which he governs all things, according to his secret counsel which is independent of every other thing?". -Calvin's Institutes, Book 3.

sunt ipse Deris - The Decrees of God are God himself:'-and therefore to make a conditional decree, were to make a conditional God, and if Election and Reprobation should have respect to any qualifications in their objects, this would amount to a denial of God's independency." And having resolved justification to be “an immanent act of God, and consequently God himself, it follows," you say, “ from the same topic or principle, that it must be from all eternity, and that men's sins are remitted before they be committed; and that it is as impossible for all the most horrid sins in the world, to cause any interruption of a man's justification, as for Almighty God to become mutable in his nature and being; that faith serves not as a condition to qualify us for our actual justification before God, but only for a mean to procure the sense and feeling thereof in ourselves.” These opinions, with many others of like import, you say, do unavoidably follow from that one position, which you think as certain as if you found it totidem verbis) in the Gospel. But that the very foundation, upon which you build so many gross errors, is itself unsound, you may learn from your own Gomarus, who was once of that opinion with you; but, being afterwards awakened to a more clear sight and mature judgment in this point, he hath left arguments enough upon record in his own writings to confute you: To which purpose I shall subjoin his own words presently :

XXVIII. Ex qua, efficientis decreti, explicatione, gravis illa et ad veri Dei notitiam ac cultum pertinens, controversia ; AN DECRE« Tum Dei sit Deus, NEC NE? commodissimè dirimi potest. Siquidem spectata, cum rei, tum Dei, natura, negationis veritas perspicuè demonstratur. *

XXIX. Nam à natura rei hæc demonstratio est ; Nulla actio, à consilio et voluntate Dei, liberè agente dependens, est Deus: Deus enim, à se, naturâ est : non vero, à consilio ac voluntate libere agente, dependet : Atqui decretum Dei, est actio, à consilio et

* "XXVIII. From this explanation of the efficient decree, may be very exactly determined that weighty controversy relating to the knowledge and worship of the true God, which is thus stated, Is God's decree GOD HIMSELF, or not? For if regard be had to the nature of the thing itself and to the nature of God, the truth of the negative proposition is plainly demonstrated.

“ XXIX. The demonstration from the nature of the thing itself, is the following: No action dependent on the counsel and will of God when freely acting, is God himself. For God is naturally from himself; and he is not dependent on his counsel or will when it is freely acting: But the decree of God is an

voluntate Dei, liberè agente dependens: Ergo decretum Dei, non est Deus.

XXX. A natura verò Dei (ut causæ efficientis decreti,) altera etiam invicta demonstratio promanat ; Deus est ens, absolutè necessarium: Decretum Dei non est ens absolutè necessarium : Ergo decretum Dei, non est Deus.

XXXI. Ex quibus etiam (ut alia omittamus,) clarissimum, æternitatis Dei et decreti discrimen, elucet. Nam ut Dei existene tia sit æternitas ejusdem, absolutè necessaria est. Contra verò, et decreti existentia, à causa, liberrimè agente, dependet, sic ejusdem æternitas merè arbitraria est : ut quæ sic est, ut non esse potuerit :

action dependent on the divine counsel or will when freely acting; therefore the decree of God, is not God.

“XXX. But another invincible demonstration emanates from the nature of God, as the efficient cause of the decree : God is a being that is absolutely neccssary. But God's decree is not an absolutely necessary being : Therefore the decree of God is not God himself.

“XXXI. From these premises, omitting other arguments, is most luminously traced the difference between God's eternity, and the eternity of the decree. For it is absolutely necessary, that God's existence be his eternity. But, on the contrary, as the existence of the decree depends on a cause that acts with the greatest freedom, so the eternity of the decree is merely arbitrary ; it being such as it might have been possible for it not to be, which is evident from what has just been declared. The decree therefore is analogically called “ eternal,” not synonymously, or in the same respect as God is styled “eternal.” Wherefore, from this argument the Deity of the decree is not established, but is completely overturned.

“ XXXII. From the persunal actions [of the Deity), that is, from the generation of the Son by the Father alone, and from the breathing forth [spiration]of the Holy Spirit from both Father and Son, it is proved, that, if every thing which is in God be not God himself, such a simplicity of the Divine Essence as the Sacred Writings attribute to it, is not on that account violated.

“ XXXIII. For it is clearer than the sun, that those personal actions are in God, in such a manner as not to be God himself, and this without any injury to his simplicity. For the Essence of God is, absolutely and simply, common to the three persons ; but, on the contrary, a personal action, such as the generation of the Son, is not absolutely and simply cummon to the three persons, but is peculiar to an individual : Therefore a personal action is not the Essence of God. Wherefore, God is predicated synonymously concerning each of the Divine Persons, but a personal action of God is not synonymously predicated of each of the Divine persons : Therefore, a personal action is not God.

" XXXIV. It is not therefore a, matter of wonder, if the most free act of the will of God, in determining future things at his pleasure, may be in God, and yet not be God himself. That the celebrated URSINUS was not entirely ignorant of this truth, is apparent from his Explanation of the Catechism, on the 58th question concerning life eternal; though he does not seem to have expounded it with any great accuracy."-GOMAR. Disput. quemadmodum ex superioribus constat. Ideoque decretum," non synonymws , seu eadem prorsus ratione, qua Deus; sed analogws, æternum appellatur. Ac propterea ex eo, decreti deitas, non firmatur ; sed evertitur.

XXXII. Neque tamen, essentiæ divinæ simplicitatem (qualem Sacræ literæ ei attribuunt ) ideo violari, si non omne quod in Deo est, sit Deus, ex actionibus personalibus (generatione Filii à solo Patre, et spiratione Spiritus sancti, ab utroque) evincitur.

XXXIII. Eas enim, sic in Deo esse, ut tamen, illæsa illius simplicitate, non sint Deus, sole clarius apparet. Essentia enim Dei, absolute ac simpliciter, communis est tribus personis : contra verò actio personalis, ut generatio filii, non est absolutè et simpliciter communis tribus personis ; sed propria certæ : Ergo actio personalis, non est essentia Dei. Deinde, Deus synonymws prædicatur, de singulis personis divinis: actio personalis Dei, non prædicatur synonymws de singulis personis divinis : Ergo ea non est Deus.

XXXIV. Ideoque mirandum non est, si liberrima voluntatis Dei, in rebus futuris, pro arbitrio, determinandis, actio, in Deo sit, nec tamen sit Deus. Idque sanè non ignorasse, Clar. Ursinum, apparet ex Catechesis explicatione, ad quæst. 58, de vita æterna quoest. 1, etsi minus accuratè exponere videatur.-Gomar. Tom. 3,

In the

Thes. 28, erase exponere videti 58, de vitanum, ap

In the mean time, if there be in any one word of this address, more asperity, than I ought to use, or yourself can well digest, I desire you to pardon it, for God's honour's sake, which I am zealous to vindicate from that foul impeachment, which something more than a mere jealousy prompts me to believe your opinion guilty of. “ Nevertheless, (to conclude with the words of the great Apostle,) whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”*-I have two things which I must yet beg of you upon the score of our old friendship, viz. the continuance of your affection and your prayers; which, I will assure you, how freely soever you lay them out, shall not be cast away upon,

Sir,
Your true and faithful Friend,

N. N. * Philip iii, 16.-Ephes, iv, 3.

[blocks in formation]

DR. ABSOLUTE.-The great prudence and piety of the govern. ors of this Commonwealth, (considering how apt the people are to be influenced by the principles and examples of their constant teachers,) have been pleased, (out of an ardent zeal to God's glory, and a tender care of men's precious souls,) to think upon a course how their dominions may be made happy in the settlement of an able and godly Ministry amongst them; for which purpose they have appointed Commissioners to examine the gifts of all such as shall be employed in the office of public preaching. And seeing you have addressed yourself to us for our approbation in order to your establishment in that office, we hope you understand the nature and weight thereof.

y have shall be empaddressed

amine the giftslose they have appoodly Ministry an

« PreviousContinue »