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28. But it is possible that this particular passage may have escaped his observation, although he thought that he had revised these books so as to make them perfectly clear, and put them forward as giving a profession of his faith, to the prejudice of all the rest. Let us see then what are his opinions in other parts. In the same book when he comes to the passage where it is written “According to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glory,” he makes these remarks among others:

“Here certain men seize upon the opportunity to introduce their peculiar views: they believe that before the foundation of the world, the souls of men dwelt in the heavenly Jerusalem with the angels, and with all the other celestial powers. They think that it would be impossible, in accordance with the good pleasure of God, and the praise of his glory and of his grace, to explain the fact that some men are born poor and barbarous, in slavery and weakness, while others are born as wealthy Roman citizens, free and with strong health; that some are born in a low, some in a high station, that they are born in different countries, in different parts of the world: unless there are some antecedent causes for which each individual soul had its lot assigned according to its merits. Moreover, the passage which some think that they understand, (though they do not) the passage of the Epistle to the Romans which says,28732873    Rom. ix. 21 “Hath not the potter a right over the clay from the same lump to make one part a vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?” these men take as supporting this same view; for they argue that, just as the distinction between leading a good life or a bad, one of labour or self-indulgence, would be of little account if we did not believe in the judgment of God which is to come, so also the difference of conditions under which men are born would impugn the justice of God unless they were the results of the soul’s previous deserts. For, if we do not accept this view, they say, it cannot be ‘the good pleasure of God’ nor ‘to the praise of his glory and grace’ that he should have chosen some before the foundation of the world to be holy and undefiled, and to partake of the adoption through Jesus Christ, and should have appointed others to the lowest position and to everlasting punishment; he could not have loved Jacob before he came forth from the womb and hated Esau before he had done anything worthy of hatred, unless there were some antecedent causes which would, if we knew them, prove God to be just.”


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