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"THE PREDESTINATION OF THE STOICS, AND THE FATALISM OF THE STOICS, HAS BEEN INTRODUCED BY US: BECAUSE—THEY SAY WE ASSERT THAT ALL THINGS ARE DONE OF THE NECESSARY AND EFFICIENT DECREE OF GOD; ALSO, THAT THE FALL OF ADAM WAS ACCORDING TO OUR OPINION—AS THEY ALLEGE—DECREED AND WILLED BY GOD."
This is, indeed, a heavy charge, and yet it is set forth in a milder form by you, than by those who make it. You ought to add those things which pertain essentially to this allegation, and are charged by them upon you and your doctrine. Such are these—"It would follow from this, ‘that God is the Author of sin; that God really sins; that God alone sins; and that sin is not sin,"’ which Bellarmine charges against the sentiment of certain of our doctors—the sentiment also, which you seem to defend. But the reason that they present all those things, as opposed to your doctrine, is this: -- You say that all things happen by the efficacious will of God, which can not be resisted, and that events do not occur, because God, by an absolute decree, has determined that they should not occur. From this, it follows, also, that sinful acts are performed by the will of God, which can not be resisted, and that righteous acts are omitted, because God has simply and absolutely decreed that they shall not be performed; and therefore, that God is the Author of sin, and the preventer of righteousness and of good acts. From which it is inferred that God, truly and properly speaking, sins; and, since the necessity, from which men perform such acts, acquits them from sin, it follows that God alone sins, just as He alone is responsible, who strikes a blow by the hand of another person, of which he has laid hold. But since God can not sin, it follows that sin is not sin. Hence, it seems to me that no injustice is done to your doctrine by that allegation.
But let us see how you dispose of it. Neglecting the general charge, you begin your discussion with that part which refers to the fall of Adam. You admit that this occurred "not only according to the prescience of God, but also by His will and decree; yet," as you explain it—"by His will, not approving or effecting it, yet not prohibiting, but permitting it." This distinction, properly used, indeed, solves the difficulty. If it is your opinion and the opinion of others, that God did not approve, and did not effect the fall; did not incite, and did not impel Adam to fall; did not lay upon him any necessity of sinning, either by acting or not acting, but only willed not to prevent, but to permit the fall of Adam; then, I acknowledge that all those things are unjustly alleged against your sentiment. You, indeed, make this statement verbally, while in fact you so explain permission or non-prevention, that it amounts to the "efficient decree of God." This I will prove. You say, "What God does not prevent, occurs, because God does not prevent it, the reason of the non-existence of a fact, or event, is that God does not will that it should exist." I conclude, therefore, that the divine permission or non-prevention, and the event are mutually, and indeed immediately connected, as cause and effect. Thus, also, non-prevention has the relation of energetic performance. Therefore, likewise, the volition of God, and the non-existence or event of a thing are mutually connected as cause and effect, and hence, a volition that a thing shall not be done, has the relation of energetic prevention. This I show, more extendedly, in this manner.
Sin is two-fold, of Commission and Omission—of Commission, when that is performed which has been forbidden—of Omission, when that is not performed which has been commanded. There is, in your opinion, a concurrence in that act which can not be committed by a man without sin, and indeed such a concurrence that God is the first cause of the act, and man is the second, the former moving man, the latter moved by God, and, indeed, moving, in such sense, that man, of necessity, follows that motion, and consequently of necessity performs that act which involves transgression. Not to prevent sin of omission is, in your opinion, not to give that grace without which sin can not be omitted, and the contrary good can not be performed. But he, who, in that manner, concurs, and denies such grace, is absolutely the chief and efficient cause of sin, and indeed, the only cause, as the joint cause of the act—man, since he can not resist the motion of the first cause, can not sin in following that irresistible motion. But, if you can so explain your sentiment and that of others, that it shall not, in reality, differ from it, then I shall not object to it.
You will not escape by the distinction that "it is one thing to will a thing per se, and another to will it as to the event," unless, by the "event" of a thing, you understand that which results from the prolongation and the existence of the thing itself, which is not your sentiment. For you say that "God wills the event of sin," that is, "that sin should happen, but does not will sin itself;" which distinction is absurd. For the essence of sin consists in the event, for sin consists in action. God, also, wills sin itself, in the mode in which He wills that sin should happen, and He wills that sin should happen in the mode in which He wills sin itself. He does not love sin per se. He wills that sin should happen for His own glory; He wills also sin for His own glory. I speak this in the sense used by yourself. Show, if you can, the difference, and I will acquiesce.
Your assertion, that "God wills not to prevent sin," is ambiguous, unless it is explained. What! Has not God hindered sin, as far as was suitable, and according to the mode in which it is right for Him to treat a rational creature, namely, by legislation, threatening, promise, the bestowment of sufficient grace, and even the promise of His assistance, if man would consent to have recourse to it? This he could do, or we go infinitely astray. But He did not hinder sin by any omnipotent or physical action, because that would not have been inappropriate; He would have thus prevented man from using that primeval liberty in which He had placed him; and, by consequence, as we have elsewhere quoted from Tertullian, "He would have rescinded His own arrangement."
It is rightly said, that God properly, and primarily, and, we may add, immediately, willed His own permission. But it does not thence follow, that God also willed the event of sin. For it is a non-sequitur—"God voluntarily permits sin, therefore, He wills that sin should happen." The contrary is true, -- "God voluntarily permits sin; therefore, He neither wills that sin should happen, nor wills that it should not happen." For permission is an act of the will when inoperative which inoperativeness of the will may here be properly ascribed to the Deity, since He endowed man with free-will, that He might test his free and voluntary obedience. He could not have done this, if He had imposed an inseparable hindrance upon man. But the cause of the occurrence of that which God permits is not the permission, although it would not happen without that permission. He who performs the act is the proper and immediate cause, with the concurrence of the Deity, which is always prepared for him. But permission can not be resolved into a cause per se, if we are to treat this subject accurately and truthfully, but only into a cause sine qua non, or one which removes, or, rather, does not present a hindrance, and indeed such a hindrance as I have referred to, which cannot be resisted by the creature.
Your statement, "as no good thing can exist or be done, except by the agency of the Deity, so no evil can be avoided, unless God hinders it," is true, if rightly understood; that is, the agency of the Deity being that, by which He may suitably effect what is good by means of a rational and free creature, and the hindrance of God being that, by which He may suitably hinder a free creature from that which is evil. But the limit both of doing and hindering is such that it does not deprive man of freedom, but permits him, also, freely and of his own will, according to the mode of will, to do good and to abstain from evil. Otherwise good is not performed by man, and evil is not avoided by him, but an act, only, is performed or avoided, by a necessity either natural or supernatural. Those words, also, are susceptible of amendment, if any one should wish to discuss these things with greater accuracy. The statement might have been this:
"As no good is, or is done, except by the agency of God, so no evil is avoided, except by the hindrance of God." For by the agency of God, good not only can be but is done, and by His hindrance, evil not only can be, but is hindered. But if you wish to retain that word "can," you ought to have expressed your ideas in this way: "As nothing good can be, or can be done, unless God wills to do it, or to give to another the power and the will to do it, and to concur with him in doing it, so nothing evil can be avoided unless God wills to give, and actually does give strength sufficient for the avoidance of sin, and wills to call out that strength and to co-operate with it." In this sense, "not even the least thing is done without the will of God, namely, either willing that it should be done, or willing not to prevent, but to permit, that it should be done." It is not true that "providence is inactive" in permission, even explained in such a manner as to coincide neither with that will of God, by which He wills that something shall be done, nor with that by which He wills that something shall not be done. If it coincides with either of these, there is no permission, and the assertion of Augustine—"nothing is done except by the agency or permission of God," is without force.
I now examine some arguments, which you present in favour of your view. The first is deduced from several passages of Scripture. Let us see now what can be proved from these passages. The passage in Acts ii. 23, teaches, not that God willed that the Jews should slay Christ, but, that he was "delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God" into the power of those who wished to slay him. Nothing more can be inferred from Acts iv. 28. For God predetermined to deliver His own Son into the hands of his enemies, that He might suffer from them that which God had laid upon him, and which the Jews, of their own wickedness and hatred against Christ, had determined to inflict upon him. God, indeed, "determined before" that death should be inflicted on Christ by them; but in what character did God consider them when He "determined before" that this should be done by them? In that character, surely, which they had at the time when they inflicted death upon Christ, that is, in the character of sworn enemies of Christ, of obstinate enemies and contemners of God and the truth; who could be led to repentance by no admonitions, prayers, threats or miracles; who wished to inflict every evil on Christ, if they could only obtain the power over him, which they had often sought in vain.
It is evident, then, that there was here no other action of God in this case than that He delivered His own Son into their hands, and permitted them to do their pleasure in reference to him, yet determining the limit to which He pleased that they should go, regulating and governing their wickedness, in such a manner, yet very gently, that they should inflict on him only that which God had willed that His own Son should suffer, and nothing more. This is clearly seen in the very manner of his punishment, in preventing the breaking of his legs, in the piercing of his side, in the inscription of the title, and the like. But there appears here no action of God by which they were impelled or moved to will and to do what they willed and did; but He used those who wished, of their own malice and envy, to put Christ to death, in a mode, which, He knew, would conduce to His own glory and the salvation of men.
But the reason that it cannot be said, with truth, that God and Christ, in the delivery of Christ to the Jews, sinned, does not consist, only or chiefly, in the fact that they were led to this delivery by various motives. What if Judas had done the same thing with the design that Christ, by his own death, should reconcile the world unto God, would his sin have been less heinous? By no means. It was not lawful for him to do evil that good might come. But the chief reason of the difference is that God had the right to deliver His Son, and Christ, also, had the right to deliver his own soul to death, and consequently, in doing this, they could not sin. But Judas had no power in this case, and he, therefore, sinned. There is a distinction in actions not only as to their end, but as to their principle and form. Saul was not acquitted of sin, because he preserved the herds of the Amalekites for sacrifice (1 Sam. xv. 9-22).
Again, what is implied by that inference? -- "therefore, we may also say that, when Adam ate of the forbidden fruit, he did that which the hand and counsel of God foreordained to be done?" This, indeed, never was the language of the apostles and of the church, and never could be, in matters having so much dissimilarity. For the relation of Adam and of those enemies of Christ is not the same. The former, previous to eating the fruit, was holy and righteous; the latter, before the death of Christ, were wicked, unrighteous, unfriendly, and hostile to Christ. The latter, in all their desires, sought for, and frequently and in many ways, attempted to put Christ to death. Adam was disinclined to eat of the forbidden fruit, even when he was enticed to it by his wife, who had already transgressed. The death of Christ was necessary for the expiation of sins, and was, per se, declarative of the glory of God; the fall of Adam was wholly unnecessary, and, per se, violated the majesty and glory of God. He needed not the sin of man for the illustration of His own glory. What, likewise, can be imagined more absurd than that circular reasoning? "The death of Christ was foreordained by God, that it might expiate the sin of Adam; the fall of Adam was foreordained, that it might be expiated by the death of Christ." Where is the beginning and where is the end of that ordination? Nevertheless God ordained the fall of Adam, not that it should occur, but that, occurring, it should serve for an illustration of His justice and mercy. The passage in 1 Peter iii. 17, is to be explained in a similar manner. "God wills that the pious should suffer evils," for their chastening and trial. He wills that they should suffer these evils from other men; but from men of what character? From those, who of their own wickedness and the instigation of Satan, already will to bring those evils upon them, which ill will God already foresaw, at the time when He predetermined that those evils should be inflicted upon the pious.
Therefore, they were moved, by no act of God, to will to inflict evils upon the pious; they were moved, also, by no act to inflict evils, unless by an act such as ought rather to move them from that volition, and to deter them from that infliction; such as would, in fact, have moved and deterred them, unless they had been deplorably wicked. The doctrine, life, and miracles of Christ and the Apostles, drew upon them the odium and hatred of the world. The fact that God is declared, in 2 Samuel xvi. 10, to have said unto Shimei, "Curse David," also, if rightly explained, presents no difficulty. Let Shimei, and David, and the act which may be called "the precept of cursing," be considered. Shimei was already a hater of David, of most slanderous tongue, and bitter mind, impious, and a contemner of God and the divine law, which had commanded "Thou shalt not curse the rule of thy people (Exod. xxii. 28)." David, by his own act against God and his neighbour, had rendered himself worthy of that disgrace, and altogether needed to be chastened and tried by it; he was, moreover, endued with the gift of patience to endure that contumely with equanimity. The act of God was the ejection and expulsion of David from the royal city and from the kingdom. In consequence of this occurred the flight of David, the fact that the rumor of that flight came to the ears of Shimei, and the arrangement that David and Shimei should meet together. Thus, by the act of God, David, fleeing and driven before his son, was presented to Shimei "a man of the family of the house of Saul," and an enemy of David, ready to curse him. Add, if you please, the hardening of the mind of Shimei, lest he should fear to curse David, on account of the attendants of David, that so he might, in some way, satisfy his own mind and his inveterate hatred against David. Therefore, that opportunity, by which David, in his flight, was presented to Shimei, and the hardening of the mind of Shimei, divinely produced, and also the direction of that cursing tongue, were acts pertaining to that precept of God, apart from which acts, nothing in that precept can be presented, which would not impinge on the justice of God, and make God the author of sin.
A comparison of all these things will show that Shimei, not so much as God, was the author of that malediction. Shimei was alone the author of the volition, yet it is rather to be attributed to God, as He effected that which He willed, not by moving Shimei to the malediction, but by procuring for Shimei the opportunity to curse David, and the confidence to use that opportunity. From this, it appears, most plainly, that God is without blame, and Shimei is involved in guilt.
The passages—Jer. xxxiv. 22, and1 Sam. iii. 37 -- will be explained similarly, and will present no difficulty. From an examination of these, it will appear that they have no reference to the fall of Adam, -- which was the beginning of sin; and all other evils have place, sin having now entered into the world, and men having become depraved by sin.
We proceed to your second argument, that "God voluntarily permits sin" is certain, and it is equally certain that "the will to permit is the will not to prevent." But pause here. The will to permit or not to prevent, is not the same with "the will not to bestow grace." For He permits that person to fall, to whom he has given grace sufficient and necessary to enable him to stand. Let us proceed. You say that "He, who does not will to prevent sin, which he foreknows will happen, by confirming grace when he can do it, in fact wills that the same should happen." But I deny that the volition of sin can be deduced from the nolition of preventing or hindering. For there are three things distinct from each other, no one of which includes another—"to will that sin should not be committed," that is, to will its prevention; "to will that it should occur or be committed," that is, to will its commission; and "to will to prevent or not to prevent it," that is, to will its permission or non-prevention. The former two are affirmative acts, the last one a negative act. But an affirmative act can not be deduced from a negative for there is more in an affirmative than in a negative act, and there can not be more in a conclusion than in the premises.
Further, I say that your argument, on this point, is fallacious. For God wills to permit sin in one respect, and to hinder it in another—to hinder it so far as would be appropriate, which hindrance is not followed of certainty, by the omission of sin, and to not to hinder it, in another mode, which hindrance would, indeed, be followed by the omission of sin, yet without any virtue or praiseworthiness in him who omits it, as he can not do otherwise than omit it on account of that hindrance. But I may be allowed to argue, in opposition to such a view, that He, who hates sin and by the enactment of law and the bestowment of sufficient grace wishes to hinder, wills, not that sin should happen, but that sin should not happen, which is an affirmative act of the will. You will say that this is a correct conclusion, the will being understood as that "of approval." I answer that God can not, by any mode of volition, will things which are contradictory. But "to happen" and "not to happen" are contradictory. Therefore, it can not be that God, by one mode of volition should will that an event should happen, and, by another mode of volition, should will that it should not happen. It may indeed be true that God, in His will "of good pleasure" as they style it, purposes to permit that which, in His will "of approval" or "that which is revealed", He wills should not be done. Thus your conclusion is faulty, and the remarks of Calvin and Beza, let it be said with due respect to so eminent men, are hardly consistent with the truth. But examine, I pray you, your subjoined statements, and you will see and acknowledge that you put them on paper, when you did not observe what you said. You say that "Whatever God does not hinder, He does not hinder it, either because He wills it to be done, or because He is altogether unwilling that it should be done, or because He does not will that it should be done." What is the difference between the latter two reasons? "To be unwilling that any thing should be done" is "not to will that any thing should be done;" the modifying word "altogether" is of no effect, since, in things opposed to each other, the negative can not receive any increase, as, for instance, in the phrase "not a man;" a wolf is as much "not a man" as is the earth, the air, the sky; but perhaps by the expression—"He is altogether unwilling that it should be done" you mean "He wills that it should not be done," or "because His will does not act." If the first be true, my view is correct. But the second can not be true, for it is absurd to say "God does not will to prevent any thing because He wills that it should not be done." You ought not, in that enumeration of reasons, to have introduced such a statement; for "not to will to prevent," and "to will that a thing should not be done" are opposites and from this it is certain that one can not be the cause of the other. In the investigation and distribution of causes, it is neither usual nor proper to introduce that which is the opposite of an effect. But let that pass.
You will say then, "that ‘not to hinder’ must be on account of one of those three causes." I grant it. "But it is not ‘because His will does not act,’ which is Epicureanism, nor ‘because He does not will that it should be done,’ therefore, it is, ‘because He wills that it should be done.’" I deny the antecedent. For this is the reason that God does not hinder an event, because He neither wills that it should occur, nor wills that it should not occur, as will be more clearly evident, if you consider the matter in this light. That, which God wills to be done, He efficaciously brings to pass. That, which He wills not to be done, he efficaciously hinders. That, which he neither wills to be done, nor wills not to be done, He leaves to the creature. How is it possible that the human mind should conceive that God does not prevent, that is, permits any thing, because He wills that it should be done. Indeed the expression "He wills that it should be done" has too much comprehensiveness to admit that permission or non-hindrance should be deduced or concluded from it.
Your objection to this argument, namely, that, from it the conclusion is drawn that "such things are done, either through the ignorance or through the negligence of the Deity, is absurd; you can not defend it, even against yourself. For you have already made a distinction between "not to will" and "not to care that a thing should be done." Therefore, you can not deduce one from the other. How, also, can it be asserted that a thing is done without the knowledge of God, which is done by the permission of God, and by His will, the agent of that permission. But, it will hereafter appear, when we shall have explained, more largely, in reference to that permission, that what God permits, He does not permit without knowledge or care. It is, however, to be understood that permission is an affirmative volition, and not one that is merely negative. For God wills His own permission by an affirmative act. But in reference to the thing, which He permits, the act of His will is a negative act.
Far be it from any one to think that any decree of God is contrary to justice or equity. If God has decreed any thing, it is certain that He has justly decreed it. But it is to be considered whether, and how God has decreed it. It is not possible that any of His decrees should be at variance with His justice, as revealed to us in the Scriptures; it is, then, to be understood that it is not sufficient, in order to remove a charge from a decree which we ascribe to God, to add
"He has decreed it but justly;" for the addition of that phrase does not make the decree just, but it must be shown that the decree, which we attribute to God, really belongs to Him, and there will, then, be no question concerning its justice. Your third argument is weak. For, from the event of any thing, it can not be concluded that God willed that it should happen, but that He willed not to prevent it; and this volition, not to prevent, is also an act of the providence of God, which is present to all things and to each, and presides over them, either by effecting them, or by permitting them; yet administering and ordaining all things for just and legitimate ends, and in such a way as to "regard, not only the events of things, but also their commencements, and the principles of things and actions." It is known, indeed, that Satan and the wicked can not only not perfect any thing, but can not even begin it, except by the permission of the Deity. That which you add, "by His will," I do not concede, until you shall prove it by a greater weight of arguments than you have yet adduced. You say truly—"It is impious to affirm that any thing exists or is done, unless the holy and just God has decreed it from eternity, and indeed willed either to do or to permit it." For the decree of God is two-fold, efficacious and permissive. Neither can take the place of, or intrude upon the other. Let us consider also your fourth argument—"The decision of the ancient church." Augustine, manifestly makes a distinction between permission and efficiency. And although he says that "nothing is done unless God wills it to be done" he yet explains himself when he says "either by permitting it to be done, or by doing it Himself:" and thus, that which He permits is not an immediate object of the will, but permission is the immediate object, while that, which God permits, is the object of permission. So, also, the statements of Tertullian, Jerome and others, are to be explained, that they may not impinge on the Scriptures, which declares absolutely "Thou art not a God which hath pleasure in wickedness" (Psalm v. 4.) Hence, if I may be permitted to speak freely, I shall affirm that I should prefer that Augustine, Jerome, Catharinus and all others had abstained from phrases of this kind, which are not contained in the Scriptures, and which need lengthened explanation, that they may not be made the occasion of heresy and blasphemy.
That second distinction, according to which God is said "to will that evil may be, and yet not to will evil," has no force. For God hates evil, and hates the existence of evil; and since evil exists in action, its being done is its being, and its being is its nature. Through there may be a subtle distinction between the essence and the existence of evil, it can not be said that there is so much difference between them that God wills that sin should exist, but does not will sin itself; For since God hates the essence of evil, if I may so speak for the sake of form, He, therefore, forbids that evil should be done, and the reason that He is unwilling that sin should exist, is the fact that He hates sin itself. But He does not hate the existence of evil, or evil itself, so much that He may not permit evil to be done by a free agent, not because it is better that evil should be, than that they should not be, but because it is better first, that He should permit His rational and free creatures to act according to their own will and freedom, in which consists the trial of their obedience, than that, contrary to His own original arrangement, He should take away that freedom from the creature, or even prevent its exercise; secondly, that He should bring good out of evil, rather than not permit evil to be. But the idea that God wills that evil should exist not as such, but as the means of good, needs a more extended explanation, which by the will of God, we will hereafter present.
The first objection to which you refer is of great weight. For the will is said to be evil in view of an evil volition and that volition is said to be evil, which is directed to an object to which it ought not to be directed. But evil is an object to which it ought not to be directed. Therefore that volition is evil, by which any one wills evil, and by which he wills that evil should be done. For there is a verbal distinction, but a real agreement between those ideas. Hence, also, "it belongs to an evil will to will that evils should be done, whether that will delights in the evils, or wills to use them for a good purpose." It is not right that any one should will that evil should be done, that he may have an opportunity of using that evil to a good end. The rule, which you cite is correct, -- "Evil is not to be done," or even willed "that good may come." The first wickedness exists in the will or the volition of evil, the second in its perpetration.
Your answer does not remove the difficulty stated in this objection. Of what importance are those "two principles?" Even if their correctness is conceded, the objection is still valid. For, in reference to the first; -- As there is no evil in the nature of things, the will can not be directed to evil, per se, and it pertains to universal will, and not only to that, but to universal desire and appetite to tend to good, per se. The evil consists in this, not that the will is directed to evil, but that it is directed towards an undue good, or in reference to an undue mode and end. As to the second; -- It is true that "there is no evil which has no good joined with it." There is no supreme evil there is no evil except in that which is good. It does not, however, follow that it is good that sin should happen. For sin is so great an evil that it ought to be avoided, even if it have some good united with it: The act of fornication has this good, it is the sexual intercourse, natural to man and woman, yet it is to be avoided, because it can not be committed without sin. But the good to which you seem to refer, is not united to sin except incidentally, that is, by the intervention of the Divine will, directing that evil to a good end.
The remark of Augustine, if understood strictly, can not be admitted, but, with suitable explanation, it may be tolerated. It is not true that "it is good that evils should exist." For God effects every good. Then it would follow, according to the remark, that He effects the existence of evils. This is at variance with another statement of Augustine, in which he says—"God does some things, but permits other things to be done, as in the case of sin." How can it be said, without a contradiction in terms, of God—
"He causes that evils should exist, and permits evils to exist?" The reason, subjoined, does not prove this. For Almighty God does not, therefore, permit evil, because it is good that evil should exist, but because He knows that, in His own wisdom and omnipotence, He can educe good from the evil, contrary to its nature and proper efficacy, and this of His own pure act, either by way of just punishment or gracious remission. It is not good that evil should exist unless incidentally, namely, on account of the wisdom, omnipotence and will of God. But that, which is incidental, is not under consideration.
But let us, now, look at your answer. You say that "sin, considered universally in its causes and circumstances, assumes a two-fold respect or formality." In the first place, you say that "sin is considered not under the relation of sin, but as far as it has the relation of good in the mind of God, decreeing it." But I deny that sin has the relation of good in the mind of God decreeing it. For the acts of God, in reference to sin, altogether declare that sin is considered by God not in the relation of good, but in that of evil. For He permits sin, but effects good: He punishes sin, but He punishes that which is evil, and as it is evil. He remits sin and pardons it; but that which is pardoned is considered as an evil by him that pardons it. But God decrees the permission of sin because He knows that He can produce good results from sin, not in that sin is good, but in that it is evil. Nor is it rightly said—"sin has the relation of good in the mind of God, who decrees it, because God knows how to make sin an opportunity of good acts;" for He does not produce those acts except with the consideration of sin as sin. It is wonderful, also, that any consideration can be affixed to sin, which is contrary to its definition. The definition of sin is a transgression of the law, and, therefore, it is a violation of the Divine will. Hence it is, also, evident that it is incorrectly said that "sin has the relation of good, because it exists in that which is good, and because it tends to that which is good." For "good" is affirmed of a subject, in which sin exists as a deforming vice and as corrupting, not of sin existing in that subject. But how far God wills the subject, in which sin exists, that is, the act which can not be performed by a man without sin, we will perhaps discuss, more largely, hereafter, when we shall speak of permission in general. Sin likewise tends to good not per se, but incidentally only, because God ordains, not that it should be done, but that, having been done, it should result in good, and makes, from it, an occasion for good. God is not said—to will that sin should occur, so far as in His wonderful wisdom He knows how to elicit good from it, but He so far wills to permit and not to hinder it. For this is the reason that He permits and does not will to hinder, not that He wills that sin should occur.
You affirm, in the second place, that another relation of sin is "that, in which it is considered formally and properly, that is, as sin." Here, also, you adduce a two-fold consideration of sin, either as it is sin in respect to men, or as it is sin to God. But if you will listen to me, those are vain and frivolous distinctions, and invented, not to explain the matter, but to involve it more deeply. "In respect to men," you say, "God does not will, or approve, or effect sin, but wills as to its event, not absolutely, as in the case of those things which are good in themselves, but only by willing to permit that sin should be committed." Be it so, and this, if rightly understood, can be tolerated. I will not examine what you say in reference to a three-fold action of the divine will, since it has no bearing at all on the subject, at least against the sentiment which I defend.
What you say in the margin is true—"God wills that sin should happen, so far as it is possible that it should happen without the efficiency of God." I wish that you had discussed this subject more fully, and it would, indeed, have been evident that you have, thus far, not rightly, set forth the mode in which God wills that sin should happen. You so set it forth as not to acquit God of the efficiency of sin. You say that "sin, as such to God, is neither willed, nor approved, nor affected, nor indeed permitted by Him." I concede the first three, but deny the last, for the proper object of the divine permission is evil, as it is evil, and indeed considered by God as evil; though the reason of His permission of sin, is not the evil itself. A distinction is to be made between the object of permission and its cause. We have already demonstrated that He permits evil as evil. But you have not rightly stated the cause or reason why God permits evil, for He does not permit evil on account of a conjoined good, but because He can elicit good from evil, which good can not, on that account, be said to be conjoined to sin, because it is elicited from sin only by the action of God. But if you understand the phrase "conjoined good" to imply—not in the nature of sin itself, but in the act of God, I do not oppose you. The words of Beza, which you quote, will not bear a rigorous examination. The former is either false, or equivocal; false, if understood of the permission, of which we now treat, which is opposed not to legal prohibition, but to efficacious prevention. It is true that God by law prohibits sin as sin, and yet permits, that is, does not hinder the same sin as sin. But if it refers to the permission, which is the opposite of the prohibition, made by law, the discussion is equivocal, for we are not treating of that permission. For who does not know that God can not, at the same time, strictly require and not strictly require the same thing by law. Permission has likewise been previously defined or described by yourself as "the denial of confirming grace" not indeed as "the non-imposition of a law." The second statement of Beza is simply false. For punishments of sins are not permitted by the Deity, but are inflicted by a just judge, and have God himself for their author. "Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?" (Amos iii. 6). Also, of what sin, I pray, was the first sin the punishment? Yet it was permitted. Therefore, it was not a punishment.
The remarks of Calvin, must be understood according to the interpretation already presented by us, otherwise they can not be defended. But, as it was his aim to overthrow the doctrine of the School-men on this subject, it ought not to be said by one, who has undertaken to defend his views, that "the School-men speak correctly when they do not disjoin the will from permission." This you say; they, however, state that there is this distinction between the two, -- that permission is the immediate object of the will, but sin is the object of permission. All the School-men openly acknowledge that what God permits, He voluntarily permits. Nor is the blasphemy of the Manichees to be charged upon Calvin, because though he sometimes uses unsuitable phraseology, he elsewhere clearly defends himself and his doctrine from that accusation.
The second objection, noticed by you, is this, -- "God wills contraries, if He wills that to happen, which He, in His law, prohibits." This is, indeed, a valid objection, and your answer does not remove it. For "to will anything to happen," and "to will the same thing not to happen," do not differ "in respects" only, but "absolutely and in their whole essence." Nor is there any respect or mode, according to which God can be said to will that anything should happen, and at the same time to will that it should not happen. For the divine will can not be engaged in contrary acts about one and the same object, in whatever respects it may be considered. Nor can one and the same act of the divine will be engaged on two contrary objects, such as "to happen" and "not to happen," in whatever respects those objects may be considered. "God prohibits evil as evil," but He permits the same, not as it puts on the relation of good, for it is false that sin ever puts on the relation of good, but because God knows how, from it, to elicit and produce good. The remark of Thomas Aquinas does not favour your view, and is not opposed to mine.
The third objection you have formed at your own pleasure, that you might be able more easily to overthrow it. For a boy, possessed of very little skill in Dialectics, knows that there is a great difference between the cause consequentiœ and the cause consequentis. The cause, indeed, can be inferred from the effect. And therefore you, properly, affirm that the Major of the syllogism, contained in the objection, "is not general." But your correction, added to that Major, has no effect as to its truth. For it is not true that "if no middle cause intervenes between the antecedent, on the existence of which the consequent follows, and that consequent, then the antecedent is the cause of the consequent." Nor does the antecedent, therefore, cease to be the cause of the consequent, even if a middle cause intervenes. For Satan was the cause of the eating of the forbidden fruit, even if man was its proximate and immediate cause. By this, the force of your reply is weakened. If you can show that these two things are mutually consistent, that God can will that sin should happen, and that man still sins of his own free will, you have gained your case. I indeed admit that man can sin certainly, and yet freely; but to sin certainly is not the same as to sin necessarily. For the word "certainly" is used in respect to the divine prescience; but "necessarily" in respect to the decree of God, and the divine will, by which He wills that sin should happen. Hence, also, you incorrectly attribute certainty to the decree of God, when, you ought to attribute it to His prescience, and necessity to His decree. You also, afterwards, yourself acknowledge that God is the author of the sin of man, that is, by a desertion of him, and by the non-bestowment of the aid necessary for the avoidance of sins, from which it follows that man necessarily sinned. For he, who makes a law, and does not bestow the aid which is necessary for the fulfillment of the law, is the cause of the transgression of his own law.
You say, that "in this desertion, the will of man comes in, since he is not deserted, unless he wills to be deserted." I answer, that, if it is so, then the man deserved to be deserted. I ask, however, whether the man could will not to be deserted. If you say that he could, then he did not sin necessarily, but freely. If, on the other hand, you say that he could not, then the fault falls back upon God not less than before, because God is the cause of that volition, by which the man willed to be deserted, since He did not bestow the necessary grace, by which the man could will not to be deserted, and nothing can be conceived, which may intervene between this desertion on the part of God, and the volition of man, by which he willed to be deserted.
Your second answer to this objection is of no greater advantage to you; indeed you twice admit that God, by His own decree, by which He willed that sin should happen, is the cause of sin. First, you say that "sin is the mere consequent of the decree;" whence it follows that the decree is the cause of sin, unless you present some other relation in which sin may be the consequent of the divine decree, which you are wholly unable to do. You say that "the decree of God is, in such a manner, the antecedent of human sin, that it has no relation of cause, except that of deficiency. But I affirm that, in the use of this second argument, you are convicted of making God the author of sin. If that, which was deficient through the influence of the cause, was necessary to the avoidance of sin, then certainly God, by the deficiency of the operation, which was necessary to the avoidance of sin, is the cause of sin; unless you teach that man had previously deserved this deficiency of the divine operation. The words of Augustine do not sustain your opinion. For he only means that sin, which is committed contrary to the precept of God, is not committed when He is unwilling that it shall be committed, and absolutely wills that it shall not be committed, but when He permits it, and by a voluntary permission. You refer to another objection. "The decree of God is the energetic principle of all things, according to your sentiment; therefore, also, it is the principle of sin."
You acknowledge and teach that the antecedent is true. First, by the authority of the Scripture, and cite the first chapter to the Ephesians, but in a sense different from that of the Holy Spirit. For all those passages, in that chapter, refer to salutary gifts and effects which God, in His Son, and by the Holy Ghost, works in the elect, as is also proved by the word "good-pleasure." Secondly, by a reason, which is a sound one; for God is the cause of all beings and acts; yet it is to be suitably explained how He produces all acts. You deny the consequence, because sin is a "defect of being—not a real being, but only a being of the reason." It is necessary to explain, more fully, in what sense sin is a "defect" rather than "a real being." Sin is a being of the reason, because it not only has its subsistence in the mind, but also has its origin from the mind, and was produced by the mind, that it might serve to obtain for it the knowledge of things of good and evil. But a defect, even if it has no substance or fixed form, yet exists in the subject, from which the habitude of sin proceeds, and so affects the subject that it is perceived by it; and it is not understood by the mind, except in relation to its own habits, by which its limits are also determined. From which it is apparent, that sins are not purely beings of the reasons. You allow, indeed, that sin is not a being of the reason, when you say "it follows and exists, immediately and surely, from the removal of original righteousness." But though sin is, not a positive being, but a defect, yet if God is the energetic cause of that act, which can not be committed by man without sin, then He is also the energetic cause of sin. You admit this, when you say that "God is the energetic cause of all acts." You, then, do and must admit the consequent; unless you show in what way it can be effected that a man should freely perform the act, which, in respect to himself is sin, if the same act is produced by the energetic decree of God, which no one can resist. But more on this subject hereafter.
Finally, it is objected to your sentiment that it teaches that "God inclines to sin and positively hardens." I admit that this objection is made, and not without cause. It has never happened to me to see an answer, which frees the doctrine, which you advocate from that objection and charge.
You answer, that you "do not approve of a permission, separate from the will." Who does approve of such a permission? Who has ever denied that what God permits, He voluntarily permits? You say—"I do not attribute to God positive or physical action, as if He would infuse corruption and wickedness into a man." I wish, however, that you would explain how sin is committed, "necessarily in respect to the Divine decree," apart from any physical action of the Deity -whether that physical action be positive or negative—and, indeed, if you please, apart from positive action. You resolve that act, which is not performed without sin, into a first cause, in such a manner as, also, of necessity, to make God the positive cause of sin. But it is not necessary that He should infuse wickedness or corruption to such a degree that physical, or positive action can be attributed to Him; it is sufficient, if He moves, if He impels to the act, if He limits the liberty of the man, so that He can not but will and do that, which has been prohibited. You admit that "God effectively hardens;" which, indeed, I do not deny, but it is necessary that there should be an explanation, such that God may not, in any way, be made the author of sin. This we shall hereafter see.
I do not disapprove of the threefold action of Divine Providence in reference to human acts, referred to by Suidas. But consider whether that "action, which is according to the good-pleasure, by which God wills, approves, effects, and is delighted in any thing," is referred to in a sense different from that, in which you always use the word good-pleasure. For you have before said, on the authority of Ephesians 1, that "God does all things according to the good-pleasure of His own will;" of which passage, relying on its true interpretation, which you here present from Suidas, I have deprived you.
In reference to "the second action of Divine Providence, which is that of arrangement, or that of sustentation and preservation," I would have you consider whether it is so much the preservation and sustentation of motions, actions, and passions as of existence and faculties. For since the existence of things, and the faculties existing in them are the first acts, and motions, actions, and passions, resulting from them are the second acts, or from second acts, it seems, indeed, that an act of Divine Providence presides over the latter, different from that which presides over the former, It is true, indeed, that God sustains sinful nature. But it should be carefully explained how far and in what way God concurs with the creature in the performance of an action; but whatever explanation of that matter may be made, there must always be caution that a concurrence, with a second cause, may never be attributed to the first cause, such that the cause of evil can be rightly ascribed to the latter. You say—"the will can do nothing alone, yet it can act in an evil manner," and illustrate it by simile. Let us see how far it is appropriate. It is especially to be considered that it is applicable to a man, in an unfallen state, because "his pipe is not disjointed;" therefore that simile is not to be applied to his primitive state. Again, -- in "lameness," two things are to be considered, namely, walking or motion, and lameness, which is irregularity of motion." You compare walking with the act, and lameness with the irregularity of the act, in which the relation of sin properly consists. But those two things are not present in every act which is evil.
For instance, the eating of the forbidden fruit, in which it is not allowable to distinguish between the act and its sinfulness. For the act itself ought not to have been performed, and the relation of sin consists, not in the fact that he performed the act of eating in a mode, in which it ought not to have been performed, but in that he performed it at all. That illustration would have place in acts, good in themselves, but performed in a way, in which they ought not to be performed. Thus he, who gives aims, "that he may be seen of men," performs a good act, but in an improper manner, he walks, but is lame. Hence it follows that no one can be impelled to an act, the commission of which is a transgression of the law, without sin, and blame in the impeller and mover. You, also, see from this how cautiously the mode, in which God is said to be the cause of an act, but not of the sin existing in the act, is to be explained. You say that "the third action of Divine Providence is of concession, that of acquiescence or permission, by which God blamelessly effects certain things, in the evil deeds of men." It is not doubtful that this may be truly said of the Deity.
In this third action, you make also another three-fold division. You say that the first is "permission," but you explained it in such a manner, that it could not be adapted to Adam, in his original state, but to those only who have sinned, and, by their sins, deserved to be left by God to themselves, and given "over to a reprobate mind." For "God did not loose the reins upon Adam. He did not remove the impediments of sinning. He did not free him, previously bound, with cords." I have nothing at all against "the second action" and its explanation, if it be applied to sinners; yet I think that some things, highly necessary, might be added to it.
You do not seem to me to explain, with sufficient distinctness, "ordination," which is the third action. For the word is used in a two-fold sense—that of decreeing and determining that something shall be done, and that of establishing an order in that which is done, and of disposing and determining to a suitable end, things which are done. This equivocal use of the word should have been avoided, and the different significations of the word should not be confounded, as you do, in the same discussion, when you say that "God ordains sin as to its cause and principles," in which case, the word "ordain" is used, in its first signification: again—"He ordains the same thing as to its result and purposes," in which case, it is used in the second signification. The explanation, which you add, from the case of Satan, is only in reference to the ordination, as to the end and the result. If there is not a suitable explanation of the mode in which "God ordains, as to its causes and principles, an act, which can not be done by a man without sin"—I prefer to use this phraseology rather than the word sin—the cause and blame of sin will, by an easy transition, be charged upon God.
The words of Clemens Alexandrinus can only be understood of an ordination to an end, and I wish that you and all our writers would persist in the use of such language. For it is correct, and explains the action of God, who effects His own work by the evil deeds of wicked persons. In the words of Augustine, "there is the most manifest difference between "to make" and "to ordain," and the word ordain is used in its second signification, that of disposing and determining wills, evil by their own fault, to these and those purposes and to certain actions. But those words of Augustine, "God works in the hearts of men, inclining their wills whithersoever He pleases, even to evil things, according to their demerits," are to be suitably explained, so as not to impinge upon what follows; that "God does not make the wills evil." He, therefore, inclines evil wills to evil things, that is, so that they expend their wickedness upon one object, rather than upon another. If he is said to impel any one to will that which is evil, it is to be understood that He does this by the instrumentality of Satan, and, in such a way as can be easily reconciled with His justice. Fulgentius explains the matter most correctly and in a few words. For he sufficiently acquits Him of sin, when he denies that "God is the author of evil thoughts." For thoughts are the first causes in the performance of a work; and he also uses the word "ordain" in the latter signification, as can be clearly seen from his subjoined explanation. For he says that "God works good out of an evil work."
Your third answer denies, and with propriety, that the "Fate of the Stoics" is introduced by your doctrine, that is, Fate explained, as the Stoics taught concerning it. But it does not remove this difficulty, that, on the supposition of that Divine decree, which you suppose, a necessity is introduced with which liberty can not be consistent. While, therefore, the Fate of the Stoics may not be presented in your doctrine, yet a fate is presented, which places a necessity upon all things, and takes away freedom. You attempt to explain the decree of God in a way such as may not, by the divine decree, take away freedom, though it supposes necessity; to do which is, in my opinion, wholly impossible. But let us see how you present the mode of explaining and of disentangling the matter. First, you distribute that, which is necessary, into the simply or absolutely necessary, and the hypothetically necessary. The absolutely necessary—you correctly say—
"is that which cannot be otherwise, and whose contrary is impossible," but you do not, in your statement, make any distinction whether you treat of a thing which is incomplex and simple, or of a complex being. But let that pass. It is certain that there is nothing necessary in that sense, but God, and what pertains to Him. All other things are placed outside of that necessity. You say "that the necessary, of hypothesis, is that which can not be otherwise when one, or a number of things, is supposed." You do not here make a distinction in the supposition of things, between that, by which a thing is supposed to be, and that by which a thing is concluded; which latter necessity is distinguished into that of the consequent [consequentis], and that of the consequence [consequentiœ]. The latter is syllogistic, the former is that of causes, producing effects, or consequents, causes which neither are necessarily supposed, nor act necessarily as causes, but if they are supposed, and act as causes, the effect necessarily exists. For example, God does not, necessarily, create a world, but if He creates one, then it exists, necessarily, from that action. You consider that "the necessary by hypothesis is of nature, of precept, and of decree." That which is necessary of nature removes freedom and contingency. So, also, that which is necessary of precept; for that, which is rendered obligatory by law, is not left to the freedom of the creature, though, from the necessity of nature, an act is necessarily produced unless it be prevented by that which has greater power. But, by the necessity of precept, the act is not necessarily produced; there is laid upon the creature a necessity of performing the act, if it wishes to obey God, and to be accepted by Him. You badly define necessity of decree, as "that which God has foreknown and willed either to effect or at least to permit." For the necessity of prescience, and of the Divine permission is one thing, and that of efficiency is another. Indeed, we may allow that there is no necessity of prescience and of permission, but only of efficiency, or of the divine will. For, not the prescience of God, but "His will is the necessity of things," though, the prescience of God being supposed, it may follow that a thing will be, not from prescience as an antecedent [causa consequentis], but as sustaining to prescience the relation of conclusion [consequentiœ]. We shall hereafter treat of permission, at a greater length. We remark, also, that what is necessary of decree, can not at the same time, be called free or contingent in respect to the will as efficient.
In the second place, you distinguish necessity into that of coaction, and that of certainty. This is not well, for these are not opposed, as one and the same thing can be produced, by the necessity of coaction, and can be certainly foreknown. Again, they are not of the same genus. For the former belongs to the will, effecting something, and is prior, in nature, to the thing effected, while the latter is by prescience, and is subsequent, in nature, to the thing. The former coincides with the necessity of consequent, the latter, with that of the conclusion. Thirdly, there is a necessity which is nearer, as to relation, cause and genus to the necessity of coaction, and is the opposite of coaction, and from which, as its contrary, the necessity of coaction ought to have been distinguished. It is the necessity of inevitability, which term, also, indeed, comprehends the idea of coaction, but an unnamed species may be called by the name of its genus.
That this may be more clearly understood, I explain myself thus: The necessity of inevitability is two-fold, one introducing force, in things purely natural, when it is called violence, and in things voluntary, when it is called coaction; the other, inwardly moving a thing, whether it be nature or will, so smoothly and gently, that it cannot but be inclined in that direction, and will that to which it is moved. Yet I admit that the will is not carried or moved, according to the mode of the will, but according to the mode of nature, as, by the act of moving, freedom is taken away, but not spontaneous assent, while both are taken away by the act of impelling. I pass over your definition of coaction. That of certainty does not please me; for, in that definition, you conjoin things, which do not belong together. For a thing is said to happen certainly in respect to prescience, but immutably in respect to the thing itself; and immutability does not correspond with certainty. For certainty is attributed to prescience, which can not be deceived on account of the infinity of the divine nature and wisdom. You should, then, expunge that word "immutably" from your argument. For that which can either happen or not happen, can not be done immutably, yet it can surely be foreknown by Him who foreknows with certainty, all things even those which are contingent. But you rightly add an axiom to the certainty of necessity; "Every thing which is, so far as it is, is necessary." Thus far, the distinctions of necessity. You will now show how they mutually correspond. "All relations of effects are to their own causes," but either to separate causes, or to concurrent causes, and to joint causes, and to causes which act at the same time. If they are to separate causes, the effects are named from the mode, in which those effects exist from their causes. If necessarily, they are called necessary effects, if contingently, they are called contingent. But if many causes concur to produce one effect, that effect has relation to, and connection with, each of its causes, but does not receive its name, except from the mode, in which it exists and is produced from those united causes; if that mode is necessary, the effect is called necessary; if that mode is contingent, it is called contingent. It can not, however, be that one and the same effect should exist in part contingently, and in part necessarily, in any respect whatever. It is, indeed, true that, if that which is called a second cause, operates alone and of its own will, the thing might be called contingent; but, since the first cause moves the second, so that it can not but be moved, the whole effect is said to be necessary, since it can not be that the effect should not be produced, when those first and second causes are in operation.
The position that "the freedom of second causes is not taken away by that necessity," is, here, of no importance; as also your opinion that "an effect can be called free and contingent in respect to a certain cause, which is said to be necessary in respect to the first cause." For it is absurd to wish to harmonize freedom with necessity, and the latter with the former. All necessity, indeed, is at variance with freedom, and not the necessity of coaction alone. This is so true, that even any degree of vehemence can not be successful in weakening its truth. I grant that it is true, that "the decree of God ordains second causes, and, among them, the freedom of human will," but, in such a manner that freedom is not taken away by that "ordination:" but freedom is taken away, when God, either by coaction (which cannot be, both on account of the divine omnipotence, and on account of the nature of the will), or, by an easy and gentle influence, so moves the will, that it can not but be moved.
You seem to me not to discriminate between a free movement and one which is spontaneous. A spontaneous movement is so different from one that is free, that the former may coincide with a natural and internal necessity, but the latter can by no means do so. For a man spontaneously wishes to be happy, and not freely. Beasts are spontaneously borne towards those things, which are good for them, by natural instinct, but no liberty can be attributed to them. From these considerations, it is apparent that it can, in no manner, be said that "Adam fell necessarily and at the same time freely," unless you introduce the necessity of certainty, which belongs, not to the fall, but to the prescience of God, on account of His infinity. But freedom is taken away, if a decree of God is supposed, since "Adam could not resist the will, that is, the decree of God." Your answer that "as he could not, so he also would not," is refuted by the consideration that he could not will otherwise. This you confess to be true "as to the event," but not true "as to his power." But it is not the subject of disputation, whether the will of Adam was deprived of the power, which is called freedom, which was not necessary to induce the necessity of the fall, but whether the event itself, that is, the fall, occurred necessarily. When you admit this, you must admit also that he did not fall freely. For that power was limited and determined as to the act and event, so that, in the act, he could not will otherwise; else the decree of God was made in vain. Here, also, you unskillfully use spontaneous motion for free motion..
To elucidate the subject, you "distinguish three periods, -- previous, present, and future to the fall." But the present and the future are of no importance to this discussion. For the fall can not have any necessity from present and future time. Previous time only serves our purpose. You say that a at the present moment, the fall was necessary, in a two-fold respect." First, -- "on account of the prescience of God." But prescience is not a cause of necessity, nor can anything be said to be done infallibly, on account of prescience, but prescience is the cause, that a thing "which will occur, contingently, at its own time," is certainly foreknown by God. Secondly; -- "on account of the permissive decree of God." But permission can not be a cause of immutability or of necessity. For it is a negative act, not a prohibition; and from it an affirmative necessity can not exist.
The words of honourius, and Hugo do not aid you, for they treat of something wholly different, and they are not reliable authorities. But the reason, which you present, is partly fallacious, partly of no force. The fallacy, a petitio principii, consists in this sentence, "because an evil, which is permitted, can not but happen." The reason is of no force, when you say "because it can not happen otherwise than God decreed." It does not follow, from this, that it therefore happens necessarily; since, though evil can not happen otherwise than God permits it, yet that permission does not impose a necessity upon the event or sin. For the divine determination is not in reference to sin, that is, shall be committed, but in reference to the same thing, which is about to take place of its own causes, that is, shall not extend further than seems good to God. I do not accede to your definition of "permission" that "it is a negative of that grace, -- which is sufficient for the avoidance of sin." For, as has often been said, this is not to permit a man to sin freely, but to effect that he should sin necessarily. I wish also that you had explained, in what way "the necessity of the divine decree, by which He determined that Adam should sin, was evitable in respect to the freedom of the human will, when it was inevitable in respect to the event." I pass over the inconsistency of calling necessity evitable.
You do not wish that any one should think that "that necessity arose from the decree of God." But you have said so many things, in proof of it, that you now express your unwillingness in vain. Explain how that necessity follows the decree, and yet the decree has not the relation of cause, in respect to that necessity. For the decree is the cause of necessity, in the relation of consequent, not in that of consequence. Those are words and phrases, designed to avoid the force of truth, in which there is no truth, and not even the semblance of truth. For it will always remain true that whatever is necessary "of decree" has the cause of its necessity in and from the decree of God. Is not that labourious investigation and use of many distinctions a sign of falsity, when the statement of truth is simple and open? The assertion that "the predestinate are saved necessarily, and the reprobate are damned necessarily," is to be correctly understood. The fact, that any one is predestinate, is at variance with the fact of damnation, and the fact, that any one is reprobate, is at variance with the fact of salvation. But the ability to be saved or damned, is at variance with neither. For the decree is not in respect to the ability, but in respect to the fact of salvation or damnation. But those two acts, which you mention, namely, that of not showing mercy and that of damning, are subsequent to sin. For mercy is necessary, only, to the miserable and the sinner, and it is truly said that "the purpose of damning does not make any necessity of damnation unless by the intervention of sin," but by its intervention, in such a sense, that it is possible that it should not intervene. If, however, God has decreed to make and govern men, that he can not but sin, indeed, in order that He may declare His own righteousness in his destruction, that purpose introduces a necessity of sin and of damnation.
It is an absurd assertion that "from prescience that necessity follows in the same way." For what God foreknows, He foreknows because it is to take place in the future. But what He decrees, purposes, and determines in Himself to do, takes place thus because He decrees it. Also, from prescience is concluded the certainty of an event, which is a necessity of the consequence, and from the decree immutability of the same thing is concluded, which is a necessity of the consequent.
You make an objection against yourself, -- "They who are predestinated to death can not, if they will, be freed by repentance." That objection is not appropriate to this time and place. But I present you with an objection, that they, who are predestinated to death, are, also, according to your doctrine, predestinated to sin; that what God has decreed to bring upon them, namely, death, He may be able to bring upon them justly, that is, on account of sin. But indeed, if God can predestinate to sin, that He may be able to bring death upon the sinner; He is able also to bring death upon one, who is not a sinner, because he, who is a sinner in consequence of the divine predestination, is in fact not a sinner. It is far worse to predestinate a just man to sin than to predestinate an innocent man to death. Of this we have also, previously, spoken.
Your effort to charge the same necessity on the opinion "which supposes a permission of evil" is futile. I refer, here, to "permission," when rightly explained, and understood according to its own nature. But you describe permission in such a manner, as really to amount to an act of efficiency. For if "to permit is to will not to hinder," which it is in fact, and "the will not to hinder is such, that, without that hindrance, sin can not be avoided," as you assert, then, "to will not to hinder sin" is to effect sin, by a negation of the necessary hindrance.
Thus evil also necessarily exists from that permission, but by no means freely on the part of man. From which, it is clearly evident that the decree of God is not more evitable than a permission of the kind, which you have described. But, unless the distinction of the decree of God into energetic or efficacious and permissive is without foundation, -- as it certainly is not—then it is necessary that permission should be described so as not to coincide with energetic decree.
The charge of holding the Stoic and Manichean doctrine, which is made by some against you, is not made by them with the idea that your opinions entirely agree with that doctrine, but that you agree with it in this, that you say that all things are done necessarily. You ought to remove this charge from yourself, and free your doctrine from this accusation. You unite contrary things together when you say that "a man can not abstain from sinning, and yet he sins not necessarily, but freely." Nor is it sufficient to constitute freedom of the will, that it "be capable of being turned in opposite directions, and to choose spontaneously," if it shall be "determined to one directions only, by the Deity:" For that determination takes away the freedom of the will, or rather the liberty of volition. For though the will, in other things not determined by Gods may remain capable of change in any directions and free, yet the volition is not free, since it is determined precisely to one of two contraries.
The remark of Anselm presents the same idea as we have, often, presented, that a distinction is to be made between the necessity of the consequent, and that of the consequence: the former precedes, the latter follows the action. But your necessity of decree precedes the act and does not follow, while that of Anselm follows it, therefore, they are not the same. In the remark of Gaudentius there is not even a trace of the doctrine which you defend.
In your brief recapitulation, you fail, as greatly, of untying the knot. For it will always remain true that a denial of grace, necessary to the avoidance of sin, is a cause of sin, by the mode of the non-bestowment of the necessary hindrance; and it will, always be false, that he sins freely and voluntarily, who can not but sin, and that the will acts freely in that direction, to which it is determined by the certain and inflexible decree of God. It is false in the sense that freedom and determination are mutually opposed in the limits of their action. For the former has respect to two contraries, the latter to one only.
You present the example of the "angels who obey God both necessarily and freely," on your own authority, and do not at all prove what you assert. I assert that these two things are mutually inconsistent, so that, if you affirm that the angels obey God freely, I shall say, with confidence, that it is possible that the angels should not obey God. If, on the other hand, you affirm that they can not but obey God, I shall thence boldly infer that they do not obey God freely.
For necessity and freedom differ from each other in their entire essence, and in genus. And I would dare say, without blasphemy, that not even God Himself, with all His omnipotence, can not effect that what is necessary may be contingent or free, and that what is done necessarily, may be done freely. It implies a contradiction, that a thing should not be possible not to be done, and yet be possible not to be done, and it is a contradiction, opposed to the first and most general idea, divinely infused into our minds, in reference to whatever subject the truth is affirmed or denied. And a thing can not, at the same time, be and not be, at the same time, be and not be of a given character. For the fact, that God can not do this, is a mark not of impotence but of invariable power. The fact that a thing exists, depends on the actual power of God. If it should happen, at once and at the same time with the previous fact, that the same thing should not be, then the actual power of God would be either overcome, or have an equal power opposed to itself, so that it would happen that a thing, which is by the power of God, at the same time, is not. Which is the greatest of all absurdities.
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