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TWENTY-FIRST PROPOSITION OF ARMINIUS
In a comparison of these two theories, the latter seems not more probable than the former, since it involves the same absurd consequence. This I will briefly prove. In the former theory, the following order may be observed. God decreed to illustrate His own glory by mercy and punitive justice. He could not effect this without the introduction of sin. Hence, sin must, of necessity, and with certainty, have been committed. It could only be committed by him who, being accountable to the law, was able to fulfill its requirements, but it could not be committed, of necessity and with certainty, by a free and contingent cause, (which could commit sin or refrain from it,) if it was not circumscribed and determined by a more powerful agent, surely and with certainty moving or impelling the cause, in its own nature, free and contingent, to the act of sin, or else withholding or withdrawing that which was necessary to the avoidance of sin, on which conditions the necessity and certain existence of sin, committed by the creature, depend. The chief advocates of the first theory disapprove of the former mode of action in the more powerful agent (that which moves and impels), and incline to the latter mode (that which withholds or withdraws). This mode is also stated in the second theory. For the creature, left to his own nature, necessarily sins, if a law is imposed upon him, which can not be observed by the natural powers alone. God determined to leave the creature in his natural state. He, therefore, determined also that the creature should sin, since that was the necessary sequence. But the reason of that determination can not be given, if it is not that which is proposed in the former theory. Indeed the former theory seems even more probable than the latter.
ANSWER OF JULIUS TO THE TWENTY-FIRST PROPOSITION
We have previously shown that those, which are called two theories, are not, in fact or substance, two, but differ only in their relations and mode of explanations; that there is, therefore, one, I say not probable, but true theory, founded on the truth of God, and the authority of the Scriptures. We have, also, in the appropriate place, shown that the charge of absurdity which is made against this theory is futile. Since, however, this objection is repeated, we may also briefly repeat in what respects and on what grounds we demur to it. The first position—"God decreed to illustrate His own glory by mercy and punitive justice," we have, in answer to the third proposition, shown to be expressed in too narrow terms.
The second, "He could not effect this without the introduction of sin," we thus proved to be an erroneous statement; for if the creature had remained righteous, there would have been an opportunity for mercy and justice, though the latter would not have been punitive in its character. Punitive justice, even, might have been displayed in respect to those things, which were unsuitable, on account, not of guilt, but of imprudence, for any just person is liable to this without sin or guilt.
In the third place, we deny that "sin must of necessity have been committed," as dependent on the energy of a cause, universally or in some measure, efficient. That it must certainly have been committed, we acknowledge, since it existed certainly in the knowledge of God, as knowledge, not as a cause of sin. If, then, the word certainly is explanatory of the word necessarily, and the latter word means no more than the former, we assent to its use; but if otherwise, we deny the latter (necessity), and assent to the former (certainty). The first man was not under the necessity of committing sin, either from an internal, or an external cause. He did it of his own free-will, not of any necessity. Again, this conclusion is not valid, since it is deduced from incomplete and erroneous antecedents, as we have just shown. Therefore, it is true, that sin could have been committed with certainty, by a free and contingent cause, which sinned (as was the case in the will of devils and of men), and could have been avoided with certainty by a free and contingent cause, which did not sin, (as in the case of the good and elect angels), and, on the contrary, it is false, that it could have been committed of necessity, if you refer to the necessity of any sufficient cause, that is, an external and internal cause, for the will was the cause or rather the principle—the attribute of which is freedom at that time free from all necessity, now bound by its own necessity, but nevertheless free, and thus producing contingent, not absolutely necessary effects as is the case in nature. When it is said that it could have been committed necessarily, there is an opposition in terms. For the word "could," which in this sentence is used in its legal sense, supposes contingency, to which the adverb necessarily is directly opposed.
In the fourth place, two conditions, are presented for the existence of sin, neither of which is probable. The former is that "sin could not be committed by a contingent cause, if it was not circumscribed and determined by a more powerful agent, surely and with certainty, moving or impelling the cause, in its own nature, free and contingent to the act of sin." This condition is denied; for, in the first place, it is contrary to nature, which per se can do or not do; otherwise it indeed has no power. Reference may, perhaps be made to partial power. This, certainly, is inapplicable to the human will, for it is a principle of action, and no wise man would ever place principles of action among partial powers. Again, if it is limited and determined by a more powerful agent, that agent must hold the relation of principle or cause. If the latter, the will must cease to be a principle, for principle pertains to the cause, it does not originate in the cause, of which it is the principle; the same thing can not at the same time, be the cause and the effect of itself. If the former is true, and the will is determined by a superior principle, there is this difficulty, that no superior principle so acts on an inferior one as to take away its peculiar mode of action, as we have before quoted from Augustine. But freedom is the peculiar mode of the will, and its appropriate adjunct is contingency, since it is freely per se inclinable in this or that direction. Besides, if it is "circumscribed and determined by a more powerful agent," that agent, either acts efficiently in each particular case, or ordains generally according to an established order in the universe. We have before, in answer to the sixth proposition, admitted that such an ordination occurred. You say that it is affirmed that the will is determined by an agent, absolutely efficient in particular cases. I deny that this can, with propriety, be attributed to our writers, whom it is unjust to charge so abruptly with that sentiment, if some of their expressions seem to savour of this, since it is contrary to their view, as they explain themselves in other passages. I will not argue this point further, but repeat the simple denial that it can be absolutely effected by a more powerful agent, operating efficiently, that a principle and contingent cause should sin. Here, my brother, you present two modes, one efficient, the other deficient, yet each, in its own way, efficient. For that which acts efficiently, is present with the work, and effects it; that, which is deficient, abstains from the work, and in itself effects that abstinence. You refer to the former mode in these words, "by a more powerful agent, surely and with certainty moving or impelling the cause in its own nature, free and contingent, to the act of sin." This we deny, and you, indeed, acknowledge that it is denied by our writers.
Let us, then, consider the other mode which you express, in these words, "or else withholding or withdrawing that which was necessary to the avoidance of sin, on which conditions the necessity and certain existence of sin, committed by the creature, depend." Here, also, the mode is two-fold, namely, that the "more powerful agent" withholds that which is necessary to the cause, if it is absent, and removes it if it is present; either of which would be a cause for the production of sin. Here three things are to be considered, the necessity of the avoidance of sin; -- the withholding or even the removal of what is necessary; -- and the consequence.
Concerning the first, it may be observed that every sin, that is, every inordinate act contrary to law, whether it is regarded in a universal or particular relation, is a habit or act of the individual, for genera or species do not act per se. It is, therefore, primarily and per se inordinate in the individual agent, and pertains, in a secondary sense, to that which is common and universal. Indeed, it does not at all concern the constitution of the universe that sin should be prevented, not only because sin could not disturb the relations of the universe, and the Ruler of the universe maintains its order, but also, because sin might, incidentally, be of advantage even to the constitution of the universe, and illustrate the wisdom, goodness, grace, mercy, justice, patience, power, and all the beneficent attributes of the Ruler of the universe. It was, then, plainly not necessary, in the abstract, to the constitution of the universe that sin should be avoided, and, therefore, nothing was necessary for the avoidance of sin. If it had been necessary to the constitution of the universe, God would have provided for it, in the most complete manner, as Augustine (Enchiridio ad Laurentium ) proves.
It may be said that it was necessary to the constitution of the individual agent. It is true that if we regard the good of the individual only, the avoidance of sin seems to be necessary. But since the common good of the universe must be preferred to the good of the individual, and even sin itself, though incidentally, may be to the advantage of the constitution of the universe, and sin is committed only by the individual, it should be stated that the constitution of the universe does not allow the assertion that it is necessary that sin should not occur. If, however, the creature knows that it is necessary, not for the universe, but for himself, that he should not commit sin, the prevention of sin must be sought, neither from the universe, nor from its ruler, but from the individual agent, especially when the ruler of the universe bestowed on that same agent the unrestrained power to sin or not to sin, publicly and in the very condition of his nature, and when He made him the master of his own course, informed him of his power in that respect, and most carefully admonished him of the necessary result of his conduct in view of his individual end, with the addition, even, of threatening. What then? Should God resume that which He had bestowed. That would have been the act of an imprudent, inconstant or impotent being, neither of which qualities can be attributed to the Deity. Should He not have made the original bestowment. In that case He would not have displayed all the modes of His own wisdom, and man would have desired that, which had not been bestowed upon him, for he desired that which was far higher, and indeed impossible—to be like God. If we have suitably considered these points, which Tertullian discussed at length in his second book against Marcion, we see, at once, that it was necessary, neither to the constitution of the universe nor to the relations of the individual agent, that sin should be prevented by an external influence, since man himself possessed, within his own power, the means of preventing it, and had in the strongest possible mode, received from the Deity, the knowledge of the necessity existing in his case in view of his end. God infused into him the principle of freedom. We, forsooth, wise in view of the result, judge that that this was badly done by the Lord, that it would have been better that He had not infused that principle, or, at least, that it would have been better to have restrained that freedom.
Concerning the second, we have shown that it was not necessary that sin should be prevented. It belonged to man to avoid it, not to another being to prevent man. This being proved, we need not refer to the withholding and the removal of that which was necessary for the avoidance of sin. But that the truth may be presented, we remark, further, that it did not pertain to the Deity to bestow that, which was necessary to the avoidance of sin, in that particular act of Adam; first, because He had already bestowed it; secondly, because He could not bestow it, unless He should resume what He had already bestowed. That He had already bestowed it is evident from the gift of the free-will to man, which was a principle, in the highest sense, free, and sufficient for either course, either for the commission or the avoidance of that sin. Nor, indeed, could He bestow any other hindrance, unless He should resume that which He had already bestowed; for that was a natural principle, namely, the free-will, constituted, by the Deity, without any exception or modification, the pure and absolute mistress in natural things. If He had prevented it, either the will must have wholly ceased to be a principle of action, or, in that particular act, the condition of that principle, which God had given to man by nature, and which He had, in that very act, pledged to keep unviolated by Himself, would have been violated. Why should God use such precaution with the man to whom He had given full power over himself, and whom He had already cautioned by an admonitory precept. Then, you will say, He should, at least, not have withdrawn that which He had bestowed; for He bestowed grace, and then withdrew it. I deny that He withdrew any thing, previously bestowed, except on account of sin, when man rejected it. Grace, that is, the gift of grace, had been bestowed on man for the work of grace, that is, according to which nature was ordained to supernatural glory. For the work of nature, He bestowed, not grace, but nature and the will. It was the office of nature that the man should eat or not eat; it was the office of the will, according to the command of God, that he should not eat of the forbidden fruit. This was purely and merely the office of the will, to which it was not necessary that grace should be added, since it was bestowed in reference to things of a gracious, not of a natural character.
Concerning the third, it may be observed that the remark "on which conditions the necessity and certain existence of sin, committed by the creature, depend," is wholly erroneous in reference to the act of Adam. For Adam was under no necessity, from any source, of committing sin; he was endowed with pure freedom, as we have now, and frequently at other times, affirmed. Indeed that assertion is not absolutely and properly true in the present condition of the human race. For, on the will of the creature, that is, on our will, depends the necessity of the commission of sin, which necessity the infinitely wise will of God permits and ordains; but, on the contrary, the necessity of the non-commission of sin, by the communication of grace, depends on that infinitely wise will of God. It is hardly correct to say that the necessity of the commission of sin depends on the will of God, withholding or withdrawing His grace. Yet that statement, in a certain sense, may be allowed.
In the fifth place, we admit your proposition "the creature, left to his own nature, necessarily sins, if a law is imposed on him, which cannot be observed by the natural powers alone." But that particular law, imposed on Adam, was observable by the natural powers alone, as we have proved in answer to the fourteenth and sixteenth propositions. This whole argument, therefore, and whatever depends on it, is destroyed. Adam was prepared, by nature and grace, for the observance of natural law. He was prepared for the observance of this particular command, because the requisition was only of a natural character, and of the utmost facility. Your assumption is ambiguous and improper. The proper form would be "God placed the creature in his natural state." It is improperly affirmed that He "determined to leave the creature, &c." Man left God, before God left man, as we have before shown. The conclusion is, therefore, false. Your assumption is ambiguous on account of the various use of the verb, statuit, which is used in this place. We referred to that ambiguity in our answer to the sixth proposition.
Finally, it is unsuitably affirmed that "the former theory seems more probable than the latter." Since in fact or substance and in their relation they are but one theory, differing only in the mode of discussion and language. Let us, however, see wherein one is more probable than the other.
REPLY OF ARMINIUS TO THE ANSWER TO THE TWENTY-FIRST
The respects, in which those theories differ, have been already stated in the reply to your answer to the first proposition. We now inquire whether the first or the second theory is founded on the truth of God and the authority of the Scripture. I have already showed that the absurdity, which I alleged against the first theory, is its necessary consequence. You have not vindicated it, as it is explained by those authors, from that charge, but have explained it differently from the view of its authors, and have proved that, so explained, it can be, in various ways, defended from the allegation of absurdity, but this is irrelevant to our present discussion. There has never been any question between us concerning that theory, explained, as you think that it ought to be explained. In this proposition, however, I do not repeat this allegation, but show that the second theory is liable to the same objection, and prove it by a comparison of the first and second theories. This is the plan and scope of the twenty first proposition. It will, therefore, be necessary that we consider, first, the grounds of the correct and deserved allegation of absurdity against the first theory; secondly, the same allegation against the second theory, and, at the same time, what you have said in defense of both.
As to the first theory, I will show by certain syllogisms, that it is a legitimate inference from it that God is the author of sin. Then I will examine what you say in its behalf.
The declaration of mercy, saving from actual misery, and of justice, punishing sin is necessary, according to the decree of God; -- But such mercy and justice cannot be declared without the existence of sin and misery; -- Therefore, the existence of sin and misery is necessary from the decree of God, or—therefore, sin must necessarily be committed from the decree of God. All the points of this syllogism are taken from the first theory, rightly understood according to the sentiments of the authors themselves, as I proved in my reply to your answers to propositions third and sixth.
Again; -- Sin cannot be committed necessarily by a free and contingent cause, unless it be circumscribed and determined by a more powerful cause, which it can not resist; -- But the will of man is a free and contingent cause; -- Therefore, sin cannot be necessarily committed by the will of man (which must be the proximate cause of sin,) unless it be circumscribed and determined by a more powerful cause which it cannot resist. I add, that the mode of that determination is two-fold.
Lastly; -- the cause, which determines the will, in its own nature free and contingent, to the commission of sin, is, by that determination, the cause of sin; -- But, according to the first theory, God is the cause, which determines the will to the necessary commission of sin; -- Therefore, God is, by that determination, the cause of sin.
Now let us proceed to those things which you adduce in apology and defense of that first theory. First, you affirm that "the first position, ‘God decreed to illustrate His own glory by mercy and punitive justice,’ we have, in answer to the third proposition, shown to be expressed in too narrow terms." I reply that the question is not whether the position is true or false, or whether it is expressed in too wide or too narrow terms, but whether it is assumed by those against whose theory I have alleged absurdity, as its consequence. And I showed in my reply to that answer that they, in so many words, assume this position.
In the second place, you say that "the second, -- ‘He could not effect this without the introduction of sin’ we thus proved to be an erroneous statement." I reply, that it is not the question whether the statement is erroneous or not, but whether it is made by those, whose theory I charge with absurdity. That they do assert this, and in plain language, I proved in the reply just mentioned. The error is, then, to be charged on them, not on me. Their assertion, however, is true, that "mercy and justice—as understood by them—could only be declared by the entrance of sin into the world." For sin is the formal cause in the object of that justice, and of that mercy, as having consequent misery, as its adjunct.
In the third place you "deny that ‘sin must, of necessity and with certainty, have been committed.’" This is not the point in controversy. For I, also, admit that it is not true that sin must necessarily be committed, and affirm that they, who take the opposite ground, blaspheme the goodness and justice of God, though I grant that the advocates of this theory do not perceive this consequence, and the concession is due to them, that in other places they teach that which is precisely the contrary. But if those two premises are granted, I affirm that it is a legitimate consequence that sin must of necessity have been committed. You concede that it "must certainly have been committed," but "certainly" in the knowledge of God, not "certainly" in the relation of the divine decree, which is dependent on the will of God, with foreknowledge, as its antecedent. Those authors of the first theory, of whom I have spoken, say that sin "must have been committed certainly and necessarily in the relation of the decree, and that it could only have been a subject of certain foreknowledge, because it was decreed and ordained by God to be committed." But I denied and still deny that sin could necessarily have been committed by a free and contingent cause. The cause of a necessary effect is necessary, that of a contingent effect is contingent. But the will of man is a free and contingent cause. Sin, therefore, could not have been committed necessarily by it.
The "opposition in terms" is in your words, not in mine. I did not say that sin "could have been committed necessarily" but that it "could not have been committed necessarily." There is here no contradiction in terms, as will be evident by an examination of the statement in the following form; --
It could not occur that sin should be committed necessarily by a free and contingent cause. Is it an absurd statement that it can occur that a necessary cause should produce a necessary effect, or its effect necessarily? Indeed it must occur. I admit that the distinction which you make between the words certainly and necessarily, is founded in truth; certainty pertains to the knowledge of God; the necessity of an event, to the will and decree of God. If this distinction had been correctly observed by many, it might serve greatly to the solution of many grave questions connected with this matter; this you have illustrated, in a very learned manner, in your book Concerning the fall of Adam.
In the fourth place you say that "two conditions, neither of which is probable, are presented for the existence of sin." Let us examine both. The former is not fully stated by you, for the word which is the whole subject of controversy, is omitted. Its insertion strengthens what I have affirmed; if it is taken away, my statement is weakened. That word is necessarily, and the condition should have been stated thus, "The former is ‘that sin could not have been committed necessarily by a contingent cause, &c.’" Those things, which you adduce, do not affect this condition. You indeed proved that the will of man, as principle and complete power, could have, freely and contingently, committed sin, but who denies that statement? I add that if it did not freely sin, it did not, at all, sin; and there is a contradiction in terms, if it is asserted that the will sins necessarily, and this, not in a single, but in a two-fold mode. For it pertains to the will to do freely that which it does, and sin, if it is necessary, is no longer sin. We are here speaking on the hypothesis of the first theory, which we have undertaken to refute.
You deny that the will is determined by a more powerful agent; since it is not determined by a cause for then "the will must cease to be a principle;" not by a principle, for, as opposed to partial power, a superior principle so acts on an inferior one as not to take away its peculiar mode of action." I readily concede that this is truly and learnedly affirmed. But did I say that the will was determined by a more powerful agent? By no means. I affirmed that it could not occur that the will should sin necessarily, unless it was determined by a more powerful agent. That conclusion was to be refuted by you, if, indeed, you wished to speak against me in these things, not the antecedent or the consequent, concerning which there is no controversy between us. I grant that if the will is determined by a cause, it ceases to be a principle; if by a principle, there is, in fact, no determination, for, if its peculiar mode, which is freedom, is not taken away, then it is not determined. If, then, it is determined, it is by a cause; -- But it is determined, for thence results the necessity of sin; -- Therefore, it is determined by a cause. But if it is determined by a cause, then, you say, the will must cease to be a principle, which is absurd. I assent to this, and, therefore, affirm that the first theory which involves this absurdity, is deservedly disapproved. In your addition that in that determination, the superior agent "either acts efficiently in each particular case, or ordains generally," you do not, in my opinion, correctly separate and distinguish between these two things, if you do not previously show how that, which acts efficiently, can be separated from that which ordains, (the latter word being used, in the sense of Calvin and Beza in the first theory, for the ordination, not of a thing already done for a certain end, but of a thing to be done to secure a fixed and prescribed result). If the same word is used according to your idea, and as it should be used, I admit that the distinction is a valid one, but this is not the point in controversy, for it is in reference to the theory of Calvin and Beza, who do not, at any time, so speak, but whose meaning and sentiment is, invariably, that which I have presented.
I concur, then, in your denial that it can be absolutely effected, by a superior, efficient cause, that a principle and a contingent cause should sin. Your denial, however, should have been that the necessity of sin is a legitimate sequence of that theory, and this denial should have been sustained. Indeed, you should not have said that it can not "be absolutely effected by a more powerful agent, operating efficiently, that a principle and a contingent cause should sin," but that it can not be so effected that a man should necessarily sin, for, in the case supposed, a man ceases to be a principle and contingent cause. I stated that "the chief advocates of the first theory disapprove of the former mode of action in the more powerful agent (that which moves or impels) &c.," but they do this only in word, and do not show how that mode has not an appropriate place in their theory.
Let us now examine the second mode, which I did not lay down as absolutely necessary; but because I saw that the necessity of the commission of sin could only be made out in one of these two modes, therefore, I separately presented both. It seems, however, to have belonged to your duty in this case, in the first place, to show that it was possible that sin should be committed, apart from either of these modes; in the second place, set forth that other mode in which this could be, and, in fact, was done; and in the third place, to prove that this mode was such as not to make God the author of sin. You do neither of these things: and I could, therefore, have passed over all these things, as not within the scope of our discussion, and as having no weight against my arguments. We will, however, consider your answer.
In the first place, you show, by prolix argument, "that it was necessary, neither to the constitution of the universe, nor to the relations of the individual agent, that sin should be prevented." No one denies this; no one affirms the contrary. In that case, sin would not have been committed; but it was committed. How could you have supposed that I had any affinity for that sentiment, when I have at all times contended that God made man of free-will, and of self control that he might be able, of his own accord, and freely, to avoid sin, or to commit it of his own choice, to which divine constitution is directly opposed this idea of the necessary prevention of sin. I, therefore, concede that it was not absolutely necessary that sin should be prevented, that is, that sin should not occur. If, however, I may be permitted briefly to consider this point, though it may be a digression, I will note some things which do not seem to me to be said, with sufficient correctness. You say that it was not necessary to the universe that sin should be prevented, that is, as I interpret your meaning, it did not pertain to the good of the universe that sin should be prevented. I may, with your permission, deny this. For it pertained to the good of the universe that the creature should remain in the perfection of that state, in which the universe was created, and established in the economy of the creation, by the Deity. But by sin, it fell from that perfection of the universe, and "was made subject to vanity" (Rom. viii. 20), whence results the desire of deliverance from that vanity (v, 21 and 22). If this does not pertain to the good of the universe, it would not desire it. If it were not necessary, the whole universe would not desire it. For its desire is for every good thing, and its natural desire is for necessary good.
You prove your affirmation by a two-fold argument, first, "because sin could not disturb the relations of the universe," and secondly, "because sin might, incidentally, be of advantage even to the constitution of the universe, and illustrate the wisdom, goodness, grace, mercy, justice, patience, power, and all the beneficent attributes of the Ruler of the universe." To the first, I reply that it does not seem to me to be very probable. The constitution of the universe was such, by the creation and ordination of God, that man was made in the image and likeness of God, and other creatures were made subject to man, and subservient to his use and advantage, because he was made in the image of God. Sin has very greatly disturbed this relation and order. By it, man became a rebel against God, and the whole creation was not only removed from under his authority, but armed for his destruction, except so far as there has been a restoration in Christ. (See Heb. ii, 6-9.) There are those who explain the word ajnakefalaiwsasqai used in Ephes. i. 10, as referring to the restoration of all things to that original condition from which they had fallen, on account of human sin. The relation of divine providence in which it sustains and governs all things, is far different from that which would have existed, if sin had not entered into the world, as may be very clearly proved from many passages of the Bible. "But," you will say, "sin could not so disturb the constitution of this universe, that God could not reduce it to order." This, I acknowledge; but that order is not one, which prevented that disturbance, but followed and corrected it.
In the second argument, I think that there are two things to be observed and corrected. First, that you say that "sin might incidentally be of advantage, even to the constitution of the universe," for neither per se nor incidentally, could sin be of advantage to the constitution of the universe. Not per se, for it resulted not from the intention of the Creator of the universe, but from the disobedience of the rational creature. Not incidentally, for, since this whole universe is finite, its constitution is also finite; and, therefore, the good, which pertains to its natural perfection, is finite; the opposite of which finite good, that is, evil or defect, erring from it, could be incidentally to the advantage of the universe, that is, could be reduced to the good of the universe. But sin is an evil, opposed not to finite but to infinite good, to the justice and will of God. Hence, it could not, incidentally, be to the advantage of the constitution of the universe, determined and circumscribed by its own limits. It could contribute, incidentally, to the glory of the infinite good, because that infinite good, more powerful than it, could, according to its own choice, turn it out of its natural course, and, in this way, reduce to order that, which is most disorderly; to the order, not of this universe, but to one far transcending this whole universe, and only circumscribed by the limits of infinite good. It can not occur that any creature should so pass out of its own appropriate order, or that of the whole universe, as not to be under the control of the Infinite Author. I know, indeed, that sin is, in a certain respect, opposed to finite good, namely, to man, with whose happiness it interferes, but it does not primarily prevent it, unless it is previously regarded as opposed to the justice and will of God.
Secondly, I think that your statement, -- "Sin might, incidentally, illustrate the wisdom, goodness, etc, of the Ruler of the universe," is worthy of notice. This illustration of the divine attributes is not the effect of sin, but of the action of God, which makes use of sin to the illustration of those divine attributes. Sin, in itself, or abstractly, disgraces and dishonours God. Sin is said to do this incidentally, for this is the common phraseology, but, in my opinion, it will be more correctly affirmed of sin that it is, incidentally, an occasion of illustrating the divine glory by the exercise of those attributes. Indeed, if God had not been able to triumph over sin, and to reduce it to order, He would, by no means, have permitted it to be committed.
To return from this digression, I affirm that the subject of discussion is not the necessity of avoiding sin, but what is necessary for such avoidance, namely, that without which sin can not be avoided by a man on whom the law is imposed. Concerning this, indeed, you acknowledge that God gave to man those things, which were necessary to the avoidance of sin, which He neither resumed nor withdrew until man had, by his own sin, rejected them. In this, I agree with you. This, however, was not the point in controversy. It was to be explained how, if a man could, avoid sin, the same man must necessarily sin, which is the inference from the hypothesis of the theory, which I impugn. It has been, previously, discussed, at sufficient length, to what extent and in what respects, grace was necessary for the observance of this or that law. I readily admit that, with the explanation, which you make, the inference is that Adam was under no necessity to commit sin; but this is irrelevant to the controversy, and indeed, is contrary to the view of Calvin and Beza. As we have just affirmed, it was to be explained how it could be true that Adam was under no necessity to commit sin, and yet that he did necessarily commit sin, and how, if there was imposed on him any necessity, either in this or that mode, or in any mode whatever, God is not made the author of sin. Far be it from me to make such a charge against the Deity, but I affirm that it is a legitimate inference from that first theory, and that the theory is, therefore, to be disapproved.
I come, now, to the second theory, of which I affirm that the same absurdity can be inferred from it, in the following way. My argument may be stated in the following syllogism, -- That creature sins necessarily, on whom, left to his own nature, a law is imposed, to the observance of which, the powers of that nature are not adequate; -- But on man, left to his own nature, a law was imposed, to the observance of which, the powers of that nature were not adequate; -- Therefore, man, left to his own nature, necessarily sinned. By consequence, God, who imposed that law, and determined to leave man in a state of nature, is the cause of the sin of man.
You admit the truth of the Major, but deny that of the Minor, and then refer to your answer to the fourteenth and sixteenth propositions. To these answers, we replied, -- We remark further that if man has the ability to observe that law, and God neither takes it away, nor prevents its free use, then it must be conceded that it does not follow that man necessarily commits sin. The phrase, which I use in the Minor, if improper and ambiguous, is not to be imputed to me, who, in explaining and impugning the theory of others, have used their phraseology. For, in your disputation, already frequently cited, Thesis fifteen, I find the following statement. "Preterition is an act of the divine pleasure, by which God, from eternity, determined to leave some of His creatures in their natural condition." But, though I may not be able to prove by that syllogism, the Minor of which I have thought to be laid down by yourself in your Thesis—in view of the denial of that Minor—that the necessity of sin may be deduced from that theory, and that God is, therefore, as a consequence of the same theory, made the author of sin, yet I do not see how that denial of the Minor is consistent with the sentiment set forth in your thesis, and how the necessity of sin is not deducible from the same sentiment, and I will give the reasons of my difficulty in both cases.
In the former case, you affirm that man could, by those powers, which he has received from God, whether of nature or of grace, observe the law which was enacted for them. Also, in your Theses, you affirm that God passed by men, of such character and capability, without the condition of sin, or any foresight of the same. I deny that these two things are mutually consistent, and prove it thus; -- "To him who is made, from the condition of his nature, capable of any grace, that is, of grace without which he can not obtain the end for which he was made, that grace can be considered to be denied only in view of the foresight of some act by which he may have made himself incapable and unworthy of receiving it. But such an act could only be sinful." In proof of this Major, I remark that, otherwise God in vain bestowed on man the capacity for that grace, which is absurd. I add that, if nature does not fail to bestow that which is necessary, much less is this true of God, the author and finisher of nature. But God does not fail in things which are necessary, if He denies to man that grace, without which he is unable to attain the end for which he was made, which is also absurd. I proceed with the syllogism: "But all men, not only the first pair, but, in them, their posterity, considered in respect to the primitive state, were capable of that grace, and were created for an end, which was attainable only through that grace; -- Therefore, that grace could be denied, or could be considered as denied to man apart from the fact that he was considered as a sinner." I sustain this consequent, namely, that all men were capable of that grace, first, because all men were created in the image of God. Secondly, if they were not thus capable, they, who are to receive that grace, must be made capable by some act on His part, which act could not be that of predestination. For it is reasoning in a circle, to argue that any act of predestination should make a person capable of receiving the grace of predestination. Again, it does not pertain to predestination to render any one capable of receiving grace, but simply to bestow grace. The act must, then, be one common to all men. If it is such, then by it all men were made capable of that grace, which coincides with my assertion that all were capable. I wish, on this account, that it might be shown, in this place, how God could justly deny, by a mere act of His pleasure, to any man that grace, the capability of which He bestowed on him, and without which he could not attain the end for which he was made, unless the man had made himself, by his own demerit, unworthy of that grace, and unable to receive it.
In the latter case, namely, that the necessity of sin is not excluded from the theory, which is set forth in your Theses, but may be fairly deduced from them, I show in the following manner; -- The denial of grace, necessary to confirm the pure nature of man, is a cause of the fall of man, that is, of his sin, by the withdrawal or the non-bestowment of the necessary preventive; -- But preterition, as defined in your Theses, is a denial of grace, necessary to confirm the pure nature of man; -- Therefore, preterition, thus defined, is a cause of the fall of man, that is, of his sin, by the non-bestowment of the necessary preventive. The truth of the Major is self-evident; nor is it affected by the exception, "if that grace was due to man, for it was due to him, if it was necessary to the confirmation of his nature, without which he could not attain the end for which he was made. The Minor is sustained by your Thesis. "Preterition is an act of the divine pleasure, by which God determined not to communicate to some of His creatures that supernatural grace, by which their pure nature might be confirmed, &c." But that grace is either necessary or not necessary for the confirmation of the pure nature of man. If it was not necessary, that pure nature could have remained unfallen, without that grace. If it could have remained unfallen without that grace, then those who maintained their integrity, would have been partakers of eternal life, and then, those, to whom, He had determined to deny His grace, could have been among those not passed-by. This is at variance with the definition, considered both in itself and in relation to the other Theses. The necessity of that grace, therefore, follows from that definition, and consequently the denial of the same is the cause of the fall by the non-bestowment of the necessary preventive.
Again, the final denial of supernatural happiness, of necessity, either supposes or induces sin, for supernatural happiness is denied, and can be denied only to sinners. Preterition is the denial of final supernatural happiness.
Therefore, it necessarily either presupposes or induces sin. But preterition, as defined in your Theses, does not presuppose sin; it must then induce it. I do not see how it can do this in any way, other than that of which I have spoken. Let another way be presented, and one which may not charge the Deity with the responsibility of sin, and this theory may be freed from the allegation of absurdity.
You say that the Minor is improper and ambiguous. If this is true, the responsibility is not on me, but on yourself, who have thus spoken in the Theses so frequently cited, for in them are the words "God determined to leave, &c." This phraseology, however, is neither improper nor ambiguous. It is not improper; for if He forsakes either the men who have not already forsaken Him, or those who have forsaken Him, the words "determined to leave" are properly used. It is not ambiguous, since the word "determined" is used in the same sense, in all parts of the syllogism, as we demonstrated concerning the word "ordain" in the sixth proposition. We spoke of the difference between this theory and the first, in reply to your answer to the first proposition.
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