(THAT IS, CALUMNY IV.)
"ALL THE CRIMES THAT ARE COMMITTED
BY ANY MAN WHATSOEVER ARE,
BY THE OPERATION OF GOD, GOOD AND JUST."
OBSERVATIONS AND STATEMENTS ON
Against this FOURTH ARTICLE all your opponents utter aloud that passage of Isaiah V. 20: "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil." Now, if sin is a good and righteous work of God, it follows that righteousness is an evil and unrighteous work of God, for righteousness is altogether contrary to sin. Again, if sin is righteous, it follows that unrighteousness is righteous, for sin is unrighteousness. Farther, if sin is a work of God, it must follow (your opponents argue) that God doeth that which is sinful.
OF JOHN CALVIN TO
AND TO CALUMNIATOR'S OBSERVATIONS, STATEMENTS,
In the case of this FOURTH ARTICLE, also, you go on grossly lying as before, of which fact I would, at the outset, cautiously warn my readers, and for this reason, that they may form their judgments from the reality of the case rather than from your foul calumnies. Nor do I so much condemn your objections in themselves, as indignantly complain that by altering and perverting my words, you malignantly wrest what I did say, for the purpose of fanning the flame of hatred against my doctrine, which doctrine is far different from your false representations of it. You enter into a quarrel with me, as if I had said, "that sin was a just, or righteous, work of God," which doctrine, and the idea of it, I hold throughout my writings in the utmost detestation. Wherefore, the greater the cleverity of argument you imagine yourself to possess, the greater is your real puerility. You arrive in your argument on this mendaciously stated FOURTH ARTICLE, at the conclusion that righteousness is evil, and that unrighteousness is good; and that God, as the author and (as you awfully state) the doer of sin, is unjust in punishing that which is His own work. Whereas, all these monstrous profanities are the fabrications of your own brain! And all such enormities of profaneness I have ever most carefully, and with abhorrence, condemned and refuted in all my writings.
You yourself, however, will one day find, to your sorrow, how abhorrent a crime it is to trifle and lie in this manner concerning the secret mysteries of God! And that you may clearly understand that you are not dealing with me in this your war against the truth, but with the supreme judge of heaven Himself, whose tribunal, you may be assured, you can never escape, listen to that which Job testifies?and certainly under none other influence than the inspiration of the Holy Spirit?that the doings of Satan, and of the robbers who plundered him, were the works of God Himself. And yet Job never, in the extremest idea, charges God with sin. No such most distant intimation is found in the patriarch. On the contrary, he blesses God's holy name for what He had done by Satan and by these robbers (Job i. 21). So also when the brethren of the innocent Joseph sold him to the Ishmaelites, the deed was evidently a most wicked one. But when Joseph ascribes this to God as His work, so far is he from imputing sin to God, that he considers and lauds His infinite goodness, because that, by this very means, He had given nourishment to his father's whole family (Gen. xlv.). Again, when Isaiah declares that the Assyrian is the "staff of God's wrath" in His righteous hand, by which He was about to work that terrible slaughter by means of the same Assyrian (Isa. x. 15), the prophet thereby makes God the author of that awful destruction, yet without the least imputation of sin to God, or the most distant idea of it. In like manner, when Jeremiah curses those who do the work of God negligently (Jer. xlviii. 10), the prophet, by "the work of the Lord," means all that cruel destruction which their enemies wrought upon the Jews. Go then, therefore, and expostulate with the prophet, and declare to him that he has made God to commit sin. In a word, all who are in the least acquainted with the Scripture, know full well that a whole volume might be made of like passages of the Holy Scriptures, where God is made the author, as commander, of the evil and cruel deeds done by men and nations. But it is utterly vain to spend more words upon a subject so well known and self-evident.
Was it not a signal manifestation of the grace of God when He spared not His own Son? Was it not an equally marvellous exhibition of grace in Christ when He delivered up Himself? Now wilt thou really here affirm, with thy foul and profane mouth, that God sinned in thus ordaining the deed of this crucifixion of His Son and in ordaining the men also who should do the deed? (Acts iv. 28.) Was God's work of the offering up of His only begotten Son a sin in Him? O no! All godly persons very easily untie this knot, as Augustine does in the following clear and striking manner: ?
"When the Father gave up the Son, when the Lord gave up His own body, when Judas delivered up the Lord, how was it that, in this one same 'delivering up,' God was righteous and man guilty? The reason was that, in this one same thing which God and man did, the motive was not the same from which God and man acted. Hence it is that Peter without hesitation declares that Pontius Pilate and Judas, and the other wicked people of the Jews, had done 'what God's hand and His counsel had afore determined to be done' (Acts iv. 28), as Peter had just before said, 'Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God' (chap. ii. 23)." Now if you turn your back on the term "foreknowledge," the definitiveness of the terms, "determinate counse1," will floor you at once. Nor indeed does the former passage leave the least degree of ambiguity behind it, namely, that Pontius Pilate and the Jews, and the wicked people, did "whatsoever God's hand and His counsel had before determined to be done." Now if your understanding cannot hold a mystery and a secret so deep as these, why do you not wonder and exclaim with the apostle Paul, "O the depth!" why do you daringly trample upon them as an infuriated madman? Had you been of a teachable mind, you would have found in my writings explications of this deep matter far more copious that I can here repeat. My present object is only to blunt the edge of your impudence, that it might not disturb the minds of the weak.
(THAT IS, CALUMNY V.)
NO ADULTERY, THEFT, OR MURDER, IS COMMITTED
THE INTERVENTION OF THE WILL OF GOD.
(" Institutes," chap. xiv. 44.)
(THAT IS, CALUMNY VI.)
THE SCRIPTURE OPENLY TESTIFIES THAT EVIL
DOINGS ARE DESIGNED,
NOT ONLY BY THE WILL, BUT BY THE AUTHORITY, OF GOD.
STATEMENTS AND OBSERVATIONS.
Against this FIFTH and SIXTH ARTICLE your opponents bring these and many other arguments. If (they say) God wills sin, God is the author of sin. And again, if God wills sin (they argue), it is not the devil that wills sin, for the devil is the mere servant of God. And they affirm that if God wills sin, He must be inferior to many men, for many men are unwilling to sin. Nay, the nearer any man approaches to the very law of nature, the less he will sin. Else, how is it that Paul says, "The good that I would, I do not; but the evil that I would not, that I do." If Paul wills sin by nature (as Calvin saith), how is it that Paul does not will what God wills? And how is it that Paul wills that good which God (according to Calvin) does not will? Finally, your opponents ask of you, what Scripture testifies that evil doings are designed of God, not only by His will, but by His authority?
OF JOHN CALVIN TO
ARTICLES V. AND VI.,
AND TO THE
STATEMENTS AND OBSERVATIONS THEREON.
In the case of this FIFTH ARTICLE, it is not without the peculiar intervention of the providence of God that you have pretended to give the reference to the passage in my "Institutes," from which you falsely assert it is extracted. In this instance, readers will see that I state these things in these articles (that is, calumnies), which my adversaries bring against my doctrines, just as, and as faithfully as, if they themselves stated them.
Now seizing, as you do, upon this mutilated passage, do you not deserve that everyone who passes you should spit in your face? And though you do not attempt to offer any reference in the case of the SIXTH ARTICLE, yet your real audacity takes a wider leap still. Now tell me, did I, who in all my writings so reverently and solemnly declare that whenever and wherever sin is mentioned the Name of God should be kept in all solemnity wide out of the way; did I ever, or anywhere, assert that evil doings were perpetrated, not only by the design, but by the authority of God? Most certainly nothing can be uttered too powerful or too severe in condemnation of such monstrous blasphemy. I am willing to hear all that you or any men can say in its abhorrence. Let not my name, therefore, ever be associated with its horrible profanity.
How successful you are in deceiving fools I know not, but of one thing I am certain: that if anyone will just take the pains to compare your foul inventions with my genuine writings, your dishonesty and wickedness will leave you painted in your true and execrable colours. You profanely contend that if God loves sin, He must hate righteousness; and you utter many things in the same line of profanity. And why do you utter them, but that you might be forced at last to subscribe, under your own convictions, to my written doctrines? For not yesterday only, nor the day before yesterday, but for these many years past, I have written and spoken concerning Job thus: If in the spoliation of that patriarch by robbers, the work of God, and of Satan, and of the plunderers, were one and the same in the act abstractedly considered, how is it that God is clear of all that fault (as He sacredly is), of which fault Satan and the robbers are guilty? Why, it is thus: If, in the actions of men, an entire difference exists when the motives and ends of those actions are duly considered, so that the cruelty of that man is condemned who barbarously pierces the eyes of a crow, or the sacrilege of him who kills a crane (a bird held in so much religious veneration among the ancients), while the sentence of that judge is lauded who sanctifies his hands by putting to death a murderer; why should the position of God be held inferior to that of man? Why should not His infinite righteousness vindicate Him, and hold Him separate from a participation in the guilt of evil-doing men? Only let readers cursorily observe what I am now about to subjoin. Nay, let them carefully read the whole of that part of my "Institutes" where I am discoursing on the Providence of God, and he will, in a moment, see all thy cloudy-minded objections discussed, exposed, answered and refuted.
Let readers consider also, if they please, what I have written in my Commentary on the Second Chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. Men (I have there shown), when they commit theft or murder, sin against God because they are thieves and murderers, and because, in their theft and in their murder, there is wicked design. But God, who makes sovereign use of their wickedness, stands in an infinitely different, and in an all-high position above all men, and acts, and things. And the objects and ends of God are infinitely different from, and higher than, those of men. God's purpose is, by the wicked acts of men, to chastise some and to exercise the patience of others. Hence, in all these His uses of the evil doings of men, God never deviates in the remotest degree from His own nature; that is, from His own infinitely perfect rectitude. If, then, an evil deed is thus to be estimated according to its end and object, it is fully manifest that God is not, nor can be, the author of sin!
The sum of the whole great matter is this: Since an evil will, in men, is the cause of all and every sin, God, in performing His righteous counsels by the hands of men, is so far from being involved in the same sin and fault with men, that in a marvellous manner He causes, by their means, the light of His glory to shine forth out of darkness. And, indeed, in that very book of mine, "On the Providence of God," which lighted up all these very flames of the deepest pits of hell against me, there will be found continually occurring the distinctive declaration that nothing is more impious or more preposterous than to drag God into a participation of sin or guilt with man, while He is performing His secret judgments by means of the hands of men and of the devil, because there is no affinity whatever between the motives and ends of God and those of men and devils. But there was published by me, more than twelve years ago, a book which clearly vindicates both me and my doctrine from all these foul calumnies, and which ought to preserve me free from all this present trouble also, if there were but one spark of honesty or humanity either in yourself or your fellows. But with reference to that mad and impious dream of the Libertines, concerning God being the author of sin, which fascinated so many, how fully I have refuted that horrible idea I will not now boast. Most certainly I undertook to defend the cause of God therein purposely, and I proved with all possible clearness that God was not, in any sense, or degree, or manner whatever, the author of sin.
(THAT IS, CALUMNY VII.)
WHATSOEVER MEN DO WHEN AND WHILE
THEY SIN, THEY DO ACCORDING
TO THE WILL OF GOD, SEEING THAT THE WILL OF GOD OFTEN CONFLICTS
WITH HIS PRECEPT.
OBSERVATIOINS AND STATEMENTS.
On this SEVENTH ARTICLE your opponents ask you this question: If the will of God is often at variance with His precept, in what way can it be known when God wills, and when He does not will, that which He commands? For (say they) if Calvin asserts that what God commands ought always to be done, whether God wills it or does not will it, it wilt follow that God wills in order that His will might sometimes be resisted. For if God commands me not to commit adultery, and yet wills that I should commit adultery, and yet I ought not to commit adultery, it follows that I ought to do that which is contrary to His will. For when God commands the people of Israel generally, "Thou shalt not commit adultery;" does He mean that none of them should commit adultery, or that some should commit adultery, but that others should not? On this point, Calvin, your adversaries ask of you some direct answer. If you reply that God wills that some should commit adultery, but that He at the same time wills that others should not, you will make God inconsistent with Himself in the one same precept.
If you reply to these arguments of your adversaries by asserting that God has a twofold will?the one open and manifest, the other secret?they next inquire: Who was it, then, that made this secret will known to Calvin? For if Calvin and his followers know this secret will, it cannot be secret; and if they know it not, how dare they affirm that which they know not?
Your opponents again inquire whether God commands according to His will when He enjoins His people to pray, "Thy will be done;" and where Christ also saith, "He that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is My brother and sister and mother" (Mark iii. 35)? There is also that passage of Paul, "Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, and knowest His will, and approvest that which is excellent, and art a teacher of the law" (Rom. ii. 17). Surely we have here the will of God, and that which is commanded in the law, which will, if it be good (which it certainly is), it must necessarily follow that that which is contrary thereto is evil; for whatsoever is contrary to good must be evil. There is, moreover, that memorable ejaculation of Christ, "How often would I have gathered thy children together, . . . but thou wouldest not." Christ most certainly speaks here of the open or manifest will of God, namely, that will which He (Christ) Himself had explained in so many ways. Now, if Christ had in His mind another will of God contrary to this will, His whole life must have been a contradiction.
OF JOHN CALVIN TO
AND TO THE
OBSERVATIONS, STATEMENTS, &C., &C.
I am utterly unconcerned to make to this SEVENTH ARTCLE any reply at all. Produce me the place in my writings where I have asserted that "the will of God is frequently at variance with, or conflicts with, His precept." Such an idea never entered my mind; no, not even as a dream. Nay, on the entire contrary, among many other kindred explanations, I have faithfully expounded and set forth how simple and uniform, and one, the will of God is; although, between the secret counsel of God and His general doctrine, there is, to ignorant and inexperienced persons, at first sight, a certain appearance of difference. But whosoever modestly and soberly and reverently submits and commits himself to God and His teaching will, in a moment, see and acknowledge (as far as the human mind's capacity can see and acknowledge it) how it is that God, who forbids adultery and fornication, punishes by the incestuous intercourse of Absalom with the wives of David, David's sin of adultery with the wife of Uriah. God ever wills one and the same thing, but frequently in different forms. Wherefore, that the foulness of your lies may not cast any filth on me or my doctrine, let my readers receive in one word this solemn declaration: that that which you cast in my teeth, as promulgated by me concerning the two wills of God, is an entire fiction of your own. For, as to myself, I have ever proclaimed that there is between the secret or hidden counsel of God and the openly revealed voice of His doctrine, the most perfect, divine and consummate harmony.
Augustine did, indeed, by way of concession and explanation to his adversaries, make mention of a twofold will, or of different wills of God?a secret will, and an open or revealed will?but he so represented that twofold will as to show that they are in such consummate harmony with each other, that the "last day" will make it most gloriously manifest that there never was, nor is, in this multiform way of God's workings and doings, the least variance, conflict or contradiction, but the most divine and infinite harmony and oneness.
Having laid down this solemn principle and taken this immovable stand, I will now, if thou wilt have it so, draw swords with thee in battle for the truth. Thou arguest thus: "If God forbids a man to do that which He really wills him to do all the time, or if He commands men to do that which He really wills not, He must command for the very purpose that His will might be resisted." Now, in none of alt this filth of argumentation are either myself or my doctrines the least concerned. I acknowledge nothing whatever of the profane sentiments to which it refers to be mine. On the contrary, the sum of my doctrine is this: that that will of God, which is set forth in His Law, clearly demonstrates that righteousness is His delight, and that iniquity is His hatred; and also, that it is most certain that He would not denounce punishment against evil doers, if their evil doings pleased Him. This, however, by no means prevents God from willing, by His secret and unexplicable counsel, that those things should be done, in a certain sense and manner, which He yet wills not to be done, and which He forbids to be done.
If you will here raise the objection, that I make God inconsistent with Himself, I, in return, would ask you whether it belongs to you to prescribe a law or a bound for God, forbidding Him to do anything that surpasses your judgment and comprehension? Moses declares aloud that "the secret things of God belong unto Himself alone; but that whatsoever things are useful for man to know are revealed in the Law" (Deut. xxix. 29). Will you, therefore, deny God the right of doing anything but that, the reason of which you can fully comprehend and explain? After the depth of the counsel of God, which engulfs all human capacities of comprehension, has been fully declared in the Book of Job, the sublime description closes with this significant intimation, "Lo! these are parts of His ways; but how little is heard of Him!" (Job xxvi. 14). But as for you, you will not permit God to have any counsel to Himself, but that which you can as plainly see as a thing which you behold with your natural eyes. You are more than blind, however, if you cannot see that when God, by His voice, forbids you to commit adultery, His will is that you should not be an adulterer; and yet, that He, the same great God, exercises His righteous judgments in those same adulteries which He condemns, which righteous judgments He most certainly exercises not but with His full knowledge and will.
Take the matter more briefly and condensedly thus: God wills that adultery should not be committed, in as far as it is a pollution and violation of the holy bond of matrimony, and a great transgression of His righteous law. But, in as far as God uses adulteries, as well as other wicked doings of men, to execute His own acts of vengeance on the sins of men, He certainly executes the office and performs the sacred duty of a Judge, not unwillingly, but willingly! Wherefore, in what instances soever either the Chaldeans or Assyrians acted cruelly in their terrible victories and horrible slaughters, for such awful barbarities we by no means praise them. Nay, farther, God Himself declares that He will be the avenger of the afflicted and inhumanly treated; and yet, the same righteous God elsewhere declares that these slaughters are sacrifices which He has in this way prepared for Himself! (Isa. xxix.; xxxiv. 6; Jer. xlvi. 10; Ezek. xxxix.) And will you deny that God wills that which He thus dignifies with the honoured designation of "a sacrifice"? Awake, then, from thy slumber, open thine eyes from thy blindness, and at length acknowledge that God, by secret and inexplicable ways, rules and overrules His righteous judgments.
You, however, by a subtlety of argument, which you deem marvellously wise, inquire whether God, from the time that He first forbade men to commit adultery, willed that all should be adulterers, or only a part of them. Take this as a sure and certain reply: God demands of all men chastity, because God loveth chastity in all men. Experience itself, however, manifests (without our entering into any proof or mention of the important facts themselves) that there are in God different reasons, motives and manners, of His willing. For if He equally and effectually willed that all men should be chaste, He would, without all doubt, make and render all men chaste. Wherefore, since chastity is a singular gift of God, the prompt and evident conclusion is, that He wills that which He commands in His Word differently from that which He effectually works and fulfils by His regenerating Spirit. Hence your impure and profane tongue has no ground whatever for charging God with inconsistency. God is neither dubious nor ambiguous in anything which He commands or forbids, but He plainly discovers His pure and holy nature in both. Neither will you find anything contrary to this, His purity, holiness and righteousness, in that secret and hidden will of His, by which He rules and overrules all the actions of the sons of men.
Whoredom is highly displeasing to God as the author of all chastity. Yet the same holy God's will was to punish the adultery of David by the incestuous lust of Absalom. God forbids man's blood to be shed. For as He greatly loves His own image, so He defends it by His own protection. And yet He raised up out of the wicked nations slaughterers of the sons of Eli, because it was His will that they should be killed; for so the Sacred History plainly and literally teaches us. If your blindness is as a stone-wall in your way, yet all who really have eyes see a perfectly holy and harmonious consistency in God, when He, the same Divine Being who hates whoredom and slaughter in as far as they are sins, or (which is the same thing) who hates the sins of whoredom and of murder because they are transgressions of His righteous law, yet exercises His secret and righteous judgments in justly punishing the wickednesses of nations and of men by means of the cruelties and sins of other nations and other men. And as to your own conceit of your acute wisdom when you ask the question, "If there be any secret will of God, when and how will that will be revealed to me?" the answer to your impious question will contain no difficulty when you have granted to me the acknowledgment that we are to follow the Holy Spirit alone as our teacher. For if God, according to the testimony of Paul, "dwelleth in the light that no man can approach unto," and if the same apostle reverentially declares that "His ways are past finding out," why am I not freely permitted to wonder at, and adore, that secret will of His which is hidden from my comprehension? The wisdom of God is exalted in the Book of Job with the highest praises, that mortals may know and confess that it cannot be spanned by any human intellect. Are you, then, purposed to laugh at everything which is said concerning a matter so sublimely secret? Will you upbraid David with folly for solemnly proclaiming and adoring those judgments of God which he confessed to be a "great deep"? I hear from all the prophets, and from all the apostles, that the counsels of God are incomprehensible. What they all declare I embrace with a firm and unhesitating faith, and what I believe I freely and undoubtingly profess and teach. Why, then, is this my reverence for God's secret will charged upon me as a fault and a crime?
And that you may not turn round upon me, and say that I adduce from the Scriptures examples and proofs wholly irrelevant, Paul's case and mine are surely one and the same, who, when speaking of the secret election or reprobation of God and adoring the riches and profundity of His wisdom, the incomprehensibility of His judgments and the unsearchableness of His ways, yet ceases not openly to affirm that God hath mercy on whom He will, and consigns whom He will to eternal destruction. In a word, exult, I pray you, no more in the irreconcilable inconsistency which you imagine you have discovered in my doctrines. For the Scriptures furnish an abundance of testimonies concerning the secret and hidden will of God. What I have from them learned, I fearlessly assert and speak of as a thing sure and certain. But as my human intellect cannot soar to a height so stupendous, I adore with reverence, fear and trembling, that mystery which is too high and too deep for the angels themselves to penetrate. And this is my reason for offering so frequently in my writings the admonitory warning, that nothing is better or safer in these solemn matters than wise ignorance! because the folly of those who suffer themselves to be, or who wish to be, wise above what is written or permitted of God, is worse than the frenzy of madmen.
By this time you must see how sure and certain I hold that will of God to be, concerning which the Scriptures so clearly and fully testify, which same will is, nevertheless, so secret and incomprehensible with reference to the reasons why God wills this or that, or how He wills this or that, that the angelic intellects cannot grasp the comprehension. The fact is, that the pride and presumption of yourself, and of all like you, so madden ye all, that whatever ye cannot comprehend, but are compelled to relinquish as beyond your capacity, ye labour with all your might to make out to be nothing at all! As to your continuing to cast in my teeth inconsistencies, contrarieties and contradictions, I have settled all those a hundred times over. And as to your scurrility, by which you attempt to overwhelm me, all that being insipid and pointless penetrates me not. And as to your charge against me, that I am an imitator of God, you, on account of your presumptuous and devil-like imitation of His wisdom, will one day find, to your eternal cost, what it is to exalt your own wisdom and to make yourself therein equal unto the Most High. The only pain and agony I feel are caused by your frenzied blasphemies, by which you profane the sacred Majesty of God, of which profanation He will Himself be, in His appointed time, the sure and certain Avenger.
As the will of God, which He has revealed in His Law, is good, whatsoever is contrary to that Law and that will I acknowledge to be evil. But when you brawl that that secret and hidden will of God, by which He separates the "vessels of mercy" from the "vessels of wrath," according to "His good pleasure," and by which He makes use of both "vessels," as He will, is contrary to His Law; when you utter this, you breathe forth from the foul sink of your ignorance a detestable fiction of your own brain and a horrible lie.
I freely acknowledge that Christ is speaking of the revealed will of God, when He says, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered thy children together, and ye would not." For He is upbraiding the Jews with the same ingratitude and hardness of heart as He had before done in the song of Moses (Exod. xv. 17, etc.). And we know full well that God did in reality bestow on the Jewish nation all the blessings which the words of that song expresses, seeing that, by giving them His law, by the ordinances of His worship, and by the many benefits which He conferred on that people, and by which He bound them to Himself, He protected them, as it were, by the overshadowing of His wings; and He would still have done so, had not their indomitable obstinacy and obduracy carried them away from Him. After, therefore, Christ had testified His will so often and in so many different ways, spoken in order to win a perverse nation to their obedience, but all in vain; it is with the utmost justice that He complains of their ingratitude. For, as to your restricting all these things to the lifetime of Christ, this you do with your usual ignorance of these divine things. Just as if Christ were not the true God, who, from the beginning, had not ceased to spread the wings of grace over His own elect people! But here you, in a moment, conclude that, if there were another and secret will in Christ, while He thus addressed Jerusalem, the whole life of Christ must have been an inconsistency. Just as if, to allure by the voice and by kindnesses, and yet to leave the heart untouched by the inspiration of His secret Spirit, were in Christ diverse and contrary acts!
But, that the absurdity and futility of your calumny may the more plainly appear, answer me, I pray you, this question: Where does Christ complain that He was mistaken or deceived by the event, that the vine, from which He had expected grapes, brought forth wild grapes? What answer have you to give, noble teacher and skilful rhetorician? Will you impute ignorance to Christ, to avoid making Him speak falsely? What! did the Jews entirely prevent and defeat the purposes of God? Why, according to you, the blessed God was sitting in doubt all the time as to what the event would be, and that event quite deceived and surprised Him at last. No! nor will it at all alter the state of the case if you make the saying of Christ, which He speaks to the fact and to the state of Jerusalem, refer to the secret foreknowledge of God. God had elsewhere said, "Surely they will fear My Name" (Zeph. iii. 7), but they hastened to corrupt themselves more and more. God had expected some profit from His great punishments inflicted, but He afterwards complains that He was disappointed. Can you, then, disentangle yourself from this divine set of truth in no other way than by reducing God to order, and making Him depend for the accomplishment of His eternal purposes upon the free will of men? Surely it is plain and evident to the meanest capacity, that God, in order to set forth the greatness of the wickedness of His people, speaks as in the person and after the manner of men, when they complain that all their labour is lost, because they are quite disappointed in their expected success.
It is most certain that those whom God wills to gather unto Himself effectually He "draws" by His Spirit, and that that which it is in His hand and purpose to do, He will, according to His promises, perform. Wherefore, when many who are called follow Him not, it is openly manifest that that manner of gathering together, of which Christ complains as having been unfruitful and inefficacious, was not attended with that efficacious influence of His Spirit, of which He elsewhere makes frequent mention, as, for instance, by the prophet Isaiah: "He shall gather together the dispersed of Judah" (Isa. xi. 12). Again, "The glory of the Lord shall gather thee" (Isa. lviii. 8). Again, "I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west " (Isa. xliii. 5). Again, "Your God will be your rereward" (or will gather you) (Isa. lii. 12). For the prophet had just before said, "The Lord hath made bare His holy arm," that His power might be displayed "before the eyes of all the nations" (Isa. lii. 10). Hence it is that the prophet a little afterwards repeats, "For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee (Isa. liv. 7). But what I have before advanced concerning the precepts of God, is sufficient and abundant, I hope, to stop the mouth of all your blasphemies. Although, therefore, God commands nothing feignedly, or ambiguously, or fictitiously, but plainly and solemnly declares what He wills and approves; yet His mind and will are that a different kind of obedience should be rendered to Him by His elect (whom He effectually bends and turns to His obedience), from that which is offered to Him by the reprobate, whom, indeed, He also calls to Himself by the outward voice of His Word, but whom He condescends not effectually "to draw" by His Spirit.
The natural obstinacy and depravity of all men are alike; so that no man will take upon himself the yoke of obedience to God voluntarily and willingly. To some God promises the Spirit of obedience; others He leaves in their depravity. For notwithstanding all your vain talk about it, the truth is that "a heart of flesh" and "a new heart" are not promised to all men promiscuously, but to the elect peculiarly, that they might walk in the commandments of God. What have you to reply to these things, noble teacher and judge of the truth? And what if God invites the whole mass of mankind to come unto Him; and yet knowingly, and of His own will, denies His Spirit to the greater part, "drawing" a few only into obedience to Himself by His Spirit's secret inspiration and operation? Is the adorable God to be charged, on that account, with inconsistency?