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The progress of the dispute to the theologians of our own country — The supreme authority of divine truth — Who they are, and what kind of men, who have gone into factions about this matter — The Coryphæus of the adversaries, the very illustrious Twisse — The occasion of his publishing his opinion — The opinion of the Arminians — The effects of the death of Christ, what — Twisse acknowledges punitory justice to be natural to God — The division of the dispute with Twisse — Maccovius’ answers to the arguments of Twisse — The plan of our disputation.
We come now to those, and the consideration of their opinion, who, agreeing with us concerning the satisfaction of Jesus Christ, 584as revealed in the Scriptures, yet, it being supposed that God willed the salvation of sinners, contend that the whole necessity of it flowed from the most free will of God, though they by no means deny sin-avenging justice to be natural to God.163163 They agree that the satisfaction by Christ is the way of salvation revealed in the Scriptures, but that it is so because God willed it should be so, and deny that there was any necessity for such a satisfaction arising from the nature of divine justice. — Tr.
But those who maintain this opinion are so numerous and respectable, and men who have merited so highly of the church of God, that although the freeman of Christ, and taught to call no man on earth master in matters of religion, unless I had on my side not fewer and equally famous men, I should have a religious scruple publicly to differ from them. I acknowledge that every, even the least particle of divine truth is furnished from heaven with authority towards every disciple of Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life, of holding it fast in the love and admiration of it, and of enforcing its claim, defence, and declaration, even though the whole world should rise up against him; but, perhaps, it would be unbecoming in one who would cheerfully enter as a disciple to oppose such great, learned men, and those, too, so well trained to the field of dispute, unless supported by the dignity and suffrages of others not inferior even to those in merit.
But if modesty must be violated, all will agree that it ought to be violated in the cause of truth, and especially as I perceive that the authority of some theologians is of so great weight with many of our countrymen, that, not having duly weighed and pondered the matter, but relying on this, they go into the opinion contrary to that which we have undertaken to defend. Considering it of importance to weigh the arguments which these very illustrious men have used, although I know myself not only unequal to the task, but that, in marshalling the line for such a controversy, I am not deserving of even a third or fourth place from the van, having been only accustomed to the popular mode of declaiming; however, I do not fear to engage in this undertaking, whatever it be, nothing doubting but that from my attempt, though weak, the readers will easily perceive that the truth might triumph gloriously, were any one furnished with better abilities to come forward in its defence.
But here, first of all the antagonists, and who, indeed, is almost equal to them all, the very learned Twisse164164 Twiss. Vind. Grat. lib. i. p. 2, sect. 25, digress. 8. opposes himself to us; concerning whose opinion in general a few things are to be premised before we come to the answers of objections.
The consideration of Arminius’ opinion concerning the efficacy of the death of Christ and its immediate bearing, gave occasion to this learned man of publishing his own sentiments. Arminius contends, 585“That Christ by his satisfaction only accomplished this much, that God now, consistently with the honour of his justice (as it had been satisfied), might pardon sinners if he willed so to do.”
This most absurd opinion, so highly derogatory to divine grace and the merit of the death of Christ, this illustrious man was inclined to differ from, so far that he maintained that that consideration, namely, “That God could forgive sins, his justice notwithstanding, as having been satisfied,” had no place among the effects of Christ’s death.
But Arminius is the only one, so far as I know, among our opponents of this opinion; and he himself, in asserting it, is scarcely uniform and self-consistent. I may venture to affirm that of his followers there are none, unless it be some mean skulker, who swears by the words of his master. The opinion of Corvinus, which Twisse afterward discusses, is plainly different. Episcopius, likewise, after Arminius, the Coryphæus of that cause, and by far its most noble champion, defends this very sentiment of this learned man. The Pelagian tribe have become reconciled with the Socinians, rather than brandish any more that very sharp-pointed weapon which cut the throat of their own desperate cause.
Nor can I at all see how this divine truth of ours should contribute to the support of Arminianism, as this illustrious writer seems to signify; for is he who says that Christ by his death and satisfaction effected this, that God might forgive sins, his justice not opposing, bound also to affirm that he accomplished nothing farther? God forbid. Yea, he who, without the consideration of the oblation of Christ, could not but punish sins, that oblation being made, cannot punish those sins for which Christ offered himself;165165 Rom. iii. 23–26. yea, that he is more bound, in strict right and in justice, in respect of Jesus Christ, to confer grace and glory on all those for whom he died, I have in its proper season elsewhere demonstrated.
The learned Twisse grants that punitory or sin-avenging justice is natural to God, or that it is an essential attribute of the divine nature. This he very eloquently maintains; and several times, when it is introduced by the adversaries166166 Namely, Piscator and Lubbertus. whom he selected to refute, he gives his suffrage in its favour. But what else is that justice but a constant will of punishing every sin, according to the rule of his right? The learned gentleman, then, grants that an immutably constant will of punishing every sin is natural to God: how, then, is it possible that he should not punish it? for who hath opposed his will?
There are two parts of the Twissian disputation. The first is contained in four principal arguments, supported by various reasons, in which he attacks this sentiment, — namely, “That God cannot without a satisfaction forgive sin.” In the second, he endeavours to 586answer the arguments of Piscator and Lubbertus in confirmation of this point; and he intersperses everywhere, according to his custom, a variety of new arguments on the subject. We shall briefly consider what this learned man hath done in both parts.
As to what relates to the first or introductory part, perhaps our labour may appear superfluous. The judicious Maccovius hath, with great success, performed this task, giving by no means trifling, but rather, for the most part, very solid answers to those four arguments, which Twisse calls his principal, and in a very plain and perspicuous manner; as was his general custom in all his writings.
But neither the plan of our work permits us to withdraw from this undertaking, though unequal to it, nor, perhaps, hath Maccovius satisfied his readers in every particular. Indeed, some things seem necessary to be added, that this controversy with Twisse may occasion no trouble to any one for the future. This veteran leader, then, so well trained to the scholastic field, going before and pointing us out the way, we shall, with your good leave, reader, briefly try these arguments by the rule of Scripture and right reason; and I doubt not but we shall clearly demonstrate, to all impartial judges of things, that this learned man hath by no means proved what he intended.
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