(THAT IS, CALUMNY VIII.)
THE HARDENING OF PHARAOH, AND SO HIS OBSTINACY OF MIND AND REBELLION,
WAS THE WORK OF GOD, EVEN ON THE TESTIMONY OF MOSES HIMSELF,
WHO ASCRIBES ALL THE REBELLION OF PHARAOH TO GOD.
(THAT IS, CALUMNY IX.)
THE WILL OF GOD IS THE SUPREME CAUSE OF ALL THE HARDNESS OF HEART IN MEN.
STATEMENTS AND OBSERVATIONS.
Under the EIGHTH and NINTH ARTICLES your adversaries ask this question: What, then, does Moses mean when he writes, "And Pharaoh hardened his heart"? Are we to interpret the words, "And Pharaoh hardened his heart," thus; that is, "And God hardened the heart of Pharaoh"? Now surely this must be a far more violent manner of speaking than to say, "God hardened the heart of Pharaoh;" that is, God knew Pharaoh as to the natural hardness of his heart, because Pharaoh had refused to obey Him. Another like question they ask concerning the words, "To-day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts." Now, if you should interpret this passage by rendering it, "God would not have you harden your hearts," such explanation would involve the greatest absurdity, for it would be making God command men to do that which is the prerogative of Himself alone. For if the hardening of hearts is the work of God, it is absurd to command men to harden their own hearts or not to harden their own hearts; for they could no more do it than they could add one cubit to their stature, or take one cubit from it.
OF JOHN CALVIN TO
ARTICLES VIII. AND IX.,
Here again do I beg of my readers, thou unholy calumniator of the Truth, to give me their confidence, and to compare my writings and my whole "line" of teaching with your perverted and mutilated articles. If they will kindly do this, your slanders will at once be detected, and all the flame of animosity which you thus light up against me will soon go out of itself. Meanwhile, I deny not that I have taught, as Moses and Paul teach, that the heart of Pharaoh "was hardened" of God. Hereupon, however, despising both Moses and Paul, and considering all that is read in them as nought, you take upon yourself to expostulate with me, and to ask me whether, since we read in one place that "Pharaoh hardened his heart," there is any necessity for giving a more violent interpretation of the passage, and to say that "God hardened the heart of Pharaoh"? Now I need no farther reply to this your question than that which you furnish in the words of this lying article yourself, which you pretending to quote from my writings, or corrupting, or not comprehending them, make to say that, as the will of God is the supreme or remote cause of the induration, man himself, who hardens his own heart, is, and must be, the proximate cause of the hardening. Now, I have everywhere most distinctly shown the difference between the supreme or remote cause, and all mediate and proximate causes. For while a sinner can find the root of every evil affection in himself, what ground can there be for charging God with any fault of such sinner's transgressions? Such an accuser of God acts, as I have elsewhere said, just like the nurse of Medea, as represented by the ancient poet, who preposterously exclaims, "O that the planks that formed the ship Argo had never been cut down by the axe on Mount Pelion!" For, all the while the impure princess, her mistress, was burning with her own depraved lust, and felt herself driven headlong by its force to betray and ruin her father's kingdom, this foolish nurse blames neither her mistress's corrupt passion, nor the deep enticements of Jason, nor sees those immediate causes at all; but goes on complaining of the ship that brought Jason to Colchis, and laments that such a ship was ever built in Greece. Exactly in the same manner does the man who, being conscious of his own sin and fault, fetches a remote cause of his iniquity from afar, even from God Himself; utterly and ridiculously forget what he himself is.
Surely, then, you must now see that although God does, in His own secret and sovereign way, harden men's hearts, yet that no fault can possibly be imputed to Him, because every man hardens his own heart by the essential evil and wickedness of his own nature.
But when God turns the hearts of men to the obedience and worship of Himself, that is another form of His working altogether. For as we are all, by nature, bent on obstinacy and resistance no man will desire to do good unless he be acted upon of God and led so to do. And though the Scripture saith that "the preparations of the heart in man are from the Lord," and that the faithful prepare their hearts to seek God, and to render Him a voluntary worship, the Scripture by no means contradicts itself herein, but it distinctly shows that all the true worshippers of God render Him their service willingly and from an affection and holy freedom of soul. And yet, again, this by no means stands in contradiction, or in the way, of the fact that God all the while performs His part by the operations and influences of His secret Spirit.
But with reference to His hardening men's hearts, that is a different way of God's working, as I have just observed. Because God does not govern the reprobate by His regenerating Spirit; but He gives them over to the devil, and leaves them to be his slaves; and He so overrules their depraved wills by His secret judgment and counsel, that they can do nothing but that which He has decreed. Hence, such is the Divine harmony and marvellous consistency of these things, that though God hardens whomsoever He will, yet everyone so hardened is the cause and. author of his own induration. But that I may not extend my observations to too great a length in replying to this article, let me be permitted to impress on the minds and memories of godly and upright readers the following admonition of Augustine: "When the apostle says that God 'gave' certain characters 'over to vile affections,' it is preposterous ignorance to refer this to the longsuffering of God. For the same apostle elsewhere connects the longsuffering of God with His power, as where he says, 'What if God, willing to show His wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath, fitted to destruction?' (Rom. ix. 22)," etc. Indeed, even if this learned and pious father and teacher had never written or spoken on this great matter, the authority of God alone ought to be enough, and more than sufficient, for our understanding and faith. It is not I that said that "God taketh away the hearts of princes, and causeth them to err," or "that God held the heart of Pharaoh, that he might not incline to humanity and mercy." It is not I that said "that God turned the hearts of the nations, and hardened them to hate His people;" or, "that He hissed for the Egyptians, and used them as His servants" It was not I that said "that Sennacherib was God's rod in His hand, to punish His people." I did not say all these things. They are all the declarations of the Spirit of God Himself.
What! when the Scripture itself affirms that Saul was carried away by an evil spirit from God, will you ascribe this to the sole patience or mere permission of God? How much nearer the truth is Augustine in his admonitory instruction, when he observes: "The sins which Satan and the wicked commit are their own; but that which is accomplished by their sins is effected by the power of God, who divides the darkness from the light as He will." Now you charge me with saying that which God Himself asserts all the while in His own words. In this matter, let the same Augustine reply to you in my stead, where he says: "If the Scripture be carefully examined, it shows that God not only directs those good wills of men (which wills He has made good out of evil wills) unto good actions and unto eternal life, but that those wills also which remain in their natural corruption are so under the power of God, that He turns and inclines them whensoever and whithersoever He will, either to confer blessings, or to inflict punishments; and that He does this by judgments the most secret, but at the same time most just."
(THAT IS, CALUMNY X.)
SATAN IS A LIAR, AT THE COMMAND OF GOD.
Against this TENTH ARTICLE, Calvin, which is a part of your doctrine, your adversaries argue thus: If Satan is a liar at the command of God, to be a liar is just, and therefore Satan is just. For if it is just to command a lie (and, if Calvin speak the truth, it is), then to obey a lie is also to be considered just from the justice of the precept. And again, as to obey an unjust precept is unjust, so to obey a just precept is just. If Calvin hereupon reply that Satan is not a liar obediently?that is, out of mere obedience to God?we reply, according to Calvin's own sentiments, that Satan's being a liar, but not out of obedience to God, is also at the command of God.
OF JOHN CALVIN TO
AND TO CALUMNIATOR'S OBSERVATIONS, ETC., THEREON.
Now only reflect at what kind of a man it is that you are hurling your shafts! For that assertion at which you aim your weapon is not mine; it proceeds from the Spirit of God Himself. The very words of the Scripture are these, "Whom shall I send? and who will go for Us?" Immediately upon which God calls Satan; and commands him to go and to be a lying spirit in the mouth of all the prophets, in order that he might deceive Ahab (1 Kings xxii. 2-22). Now, then, bark, dog as you are, as loud as you will. You will no more obscure the glory of God by your revilings, than you can obscure the brightness of the sun by spitting in his blazing face. But here again let me use the words of Augustine rather than my own, "When God testifies that false prophets are sent by Him, and that His hand is upon them, to cause them to deceive men or kings, this is not an act of His mere patience or permission, but an exercise of His effectual power." As to your prating that Satan is not a liar by the command of God, out of obedience to that command, it is no marvel that you entangle yourself in knots and nets without number whilst you refuse to acknowledge that God uses the workings of Satan in an inexplicable manner, according to His sovereign will, that He may thereby manifest the justice and equity of His supreme dominion. Yet He never liberates the wicked instruments which He uses from the sin and the guilt, which are theirs, which instruments His power compels to execute His decrees, and in some sense, even against their own wills. Though, therefore, your bitter malice may howl an hundred times over, what I utter is not the voice of Calvin, but the voice of God, who saith, "I have given commandment unto My saints." Wherefore, if you imagine that God assumes to Himself more than He ought, He will sooner or later find a way to clear and vindicate Himself from all such accusations as thine, and to take vengeance on all such accusers as thee.
(THAT IS, CALUMNY XI.)
GOD GIVES THE WILL TO THOSE WHO DO EVIL. HE ALSO SUGGESTS DEPRAVED AND DISHONEST AFFECTIONS NOT ONLY PERMISSIVELY,
BUT EFFECTIVELY, AND THAT, TOO, FOR HIS OWN GLORY.
Against this ELEVENTH ARTICLE your opponents argue thus: Calvin actually attributes to God that which evidently belongs to the devil, as is manifest from the united testimony of the whole of Scripture. Moreover, if God suggests depraved and dishonest affections, and yet commands us to resist depraved affections, He must positively command us to resist Himself, and is therefore inconsistent with Himself. "Every good gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights " (the Scripture saith). Are, then, even depraved affections to be considered good gifts? Do they also come down from the Father of lights? James plainly asserts "that no one is tempted of God, but that every man is tempted by his own heart's lust." And whereas you add that God doeth this for His own glory, your opponents maintain that such an idea is absurd. Nebuchadnezzar did indeed experience the justice and the power of God when, on account of his own pride, he was changed into the nature and habits of a brute; and he gave glory to God for the same, because he judged and plainly saw that God therein was just as well as mighty.
OF JOHN CALVIN TO
AND TO CALUMNIATOR'S OBSERVATIONS, ETC., THEREON,
Here again you go on, as before, to fabricate monsters out of your own brain, and to slaughter them in your own imagination, glorying to yourself in a mighty triumph, which you vainly think you had gained over a harmless servant of God. But, as to the places in my works wherein I have spoken or taught the doctrines contained in this article, those places you are, and ever will be, wholly unable to find. Wherefore, without my saying one word, your futility and your impudence also fall to the ground together. As to the murders, the adulteries, the rapines, and the frauds, etc., with which the wicked pollute themselves, my teaching is that all these wickednesses proceed from the desperate evil of their own natures; but I teach that God, who bringeth light out of darkness, so rules in these wicked men, and by them, that, by His secret, incomprehensible judgment, He executes by the wickedness of these men His own eternal decrees. Now, if you will fight against these solemn truths, prepare at once to enter into battle with God Himself. He is quite prepared to receive your insane onset.
If there were but in you one drop or spark of modesty or docility, that distinction which I ever make, and which continually occurs in my writings, must at once undoubtedly satisfy your mind. If the wicked who discover the root of all evil in themselves would but ask their own consciences where all the fault lies, those consciences would testify that the whole fault of all their wickedness is found in that root of all iniquity within them. Nor could they fail to see that God, by righteously turning their depraved wills whithersoever He pleases, uses those evil affections for the working of various good. As to quarrelling with this, I tell you again, you are not contending against me, but against God Himself. O that you could from your heart acknowledge God to be indeed the Father of lights! Then you would not, as Paul descriptively expresses it, force yourself, by your audacity, into "that light which no man can approach unto;" you would not thus turn, by your profane insolence, that light into darkness.
Moreover, you disclose your ignorance and folly when you conclude that because every good thing cometh down from the Father of lights, therefore, those terrible acts of righteous vengeance at which the wicked fear and tremble do not proceed from the same glorious Being. Still greater is your folly and stupidity when you ask me whether I consider depraved and perverse affections to be among the good and perfect gifts which come down from the Father of lights. O yes! you are yourself a solemn proof that there is a wonderful difference between the Spirit of wisdom and of judgment and of knowledge, and the spirit of slumber and of delusion, though both are sent of God; the one in mercy, the other in judgment. Yes! There is a marvellous difference between the Spirit of regeneration, who creates the faithful anew in the image of God, and an evil spirit from God, who drives the reprobate into madness, as in the case of Saul.
With equal impudence it is that you attack me when I teach that God executes His decrees by means of Satan and the reprobate, to the manifestation of His own glory. That Satan is an instrument of His wrath God plainly testifies both in His Word and by universal experience. And to what end do we say that God works by the hand of Satan, unless we mean thereby that God, by means of Satan and his malice and doings, works His own glory and the manifestation of it? By this clever cavil of yours respecting Satan, you think you have eluded the net of the Divine matter. Why! you cannot hinder God from working His own glory by all these your iniquitous contendings against the truth. No! No more than Pharaoh could, by his madness of pride, prevent God from showing forth the brightness of His glory, because God "for that very deed raised him up," that by him He might manifest forth the glory of His "power." You would meet me by saying that Nebuchadnezzar gave glory to God when he confessed the justice of God in His terrible judgments. But that you might know in what contempt I hold all your pointless and ineffectual shafts, I will myself willingly aid you in this your argument, and will put that into your mind which otherwise never would have entered there. For what end did Joshua call upon Achan to give glory to God? His object was to show that God would be glorified by the detection of Achan's profane theft and lie.
But the essential question is now, whether there is but one way in which God can show forth His glory. For if the glory of God did not continually shine forth out of the lies, as well as out of other wickednesses, of men, Paul speaks in vain when he says that God alone is true, but all men are liars; and he speaks equally in vain when he immediately adds, "But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say, Is God unrighteous? " (Rom. iii. 5.)
When you argue that God's will is that He should be praised by all nations for the blessings which He confers, what you assert is true, provided you grant also that there is a mighty wood of circumstances out of which God, by His wonderful workings, secures praises and glory to Himself. And by your ignorance of this you bring on yourself the just punishments of your pride. For, professedly laughing at all sound logic and legitimate reasoning, you perpetually argue from the species to the genus negatively.
Nor will I deem your profane and blasphemous jest worthy of any lengthened reply, when you intimate that God might as well punish men for wearing the beards which Himself has created. For whoever asserted that iniquity was created of God, although it be true that God, by His secret and incomprehensible purpose ordains and overrules the working of that iniquity to righteous, good and glorious ends? Away, therefore, with your stupid and insipid insolence, when you ignorantly confound the beard of men, which grows naturally and imperceptibly even while they are asleep, with their acts of wickedness, which are voluntary, perceptible and conscious. Rage against me as rabidly as you will, this I nevertheless hold fast and that although God does indeed decree and overrule the depraved affections of men to the accomplishment of His own eternal purposes, yet He nevertheless righteously punishes the depraved agents and instruments themselves, and makes them to stand condemned in their own consciences.
Only observe how you again entangle yourself in a net of your own creation, when you pretend to confess that the secrets of God are unknown to us, and yet would maintain that His justice, like the justice of man, is clearly comprehensible by us. Now suppose anyone should ask you whether there is any justice contained in the secrets of God, would you deny that there is? Would you, then, pretend or assert that that justice of God, in His secret acts which David and Paul contemplate with wonder and adoration, because it surpasses the utmost stretch of their mental comprehension, is easily intelligible and plainly known? Do not the profundity of the depth and the riches of the height of the wisdom of God in His marvellous judgments contain in them justice? Why, then will you deny that God is just whensoever the reason of His works surpasses your comprehension? There is in the Book of Job a Divine and remarkable distinction made between that wisdom of God which is unsearchable and the brightness of which holds all human nature at an immeasurable distance, and that wisdom which is made manifest to us in His revealed and written law. In the same manner, you, if you did not thus confound all things, ought to have made a distinction between that wonderful and profound justice of God, which no human capacity can comprehend, and that rule of justice which God has prescribed for the regulation of the lives of men in His revealed Law. I at once confess that it is by the openly revealed doctrine of the Gospel that God will assuredly judge the world. But He will as assuredly vindicate, at the same time, the righteousness of His secret providence against all profane brawlers!
Indeed, were you but acquainted, even in the least degree, with that Gospel, concerning which you thus vainly prate, you would easily understand how it is that God richly rewards that righteousness which He sets forth in His glorious law, nor ever deprives of their promised crown those who from the heart obey His commandments, and yet righteously punishes all those who refuse their obedience. These latter, nevertheless, He calls His servants, because He holds their hearts in His hands for the accomplishment of His eternal purposes. Hence Nebuchadnezzar, that furious plunderer of nations and slave of Satan, is called by Jeremiah, and with peculiar significance, "the servant" of God. And if I have taught that God, as is manifest by His judgments on every side, inclines the hearts of men hither and thither for the execution of His purposes and decrees, when the prophets of God declare these same things in the same words, and when I cite their own words, why impute you such citations as awful crimes committed by me? Are not these the very words of the Divine history? "And again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah" (2 Sam. xxiv. 1).
(THAT IS, CALUMNY XII.)
THE WICKED, BY THEIR ACTS OF WICKEDNESS,
DO RATHER GOD'S WORK THAN THEIR OWN.
OBSERVATIONS AND STATEMENTS ON
With reference to this TWELFTH ARTICLE, Calvin, which is your doctrine, your opponents argue thus: If this really be the case, then, God is often angry at that which is good. For if wickedness is the work of God, wickedness itself is good; for all the works of God are good. And again, if wickedness is good, it follows of necessity that godliness is evil, because it is the direct contrary to wickedness. Hence, it will again follow, that when the Holy Scriptures command us to hate evil and love that which is good, they command us to love wickedness and hate godliness. Your opponents, moreover, affirm that this article of your doctrine really savours of libertinism, and they consequently marvel that you should be so determined a foe to the libertines.
OF JOHN CALVIN TO
(THAT IS, CALUMNY XII.)
AND TO CALUMNIATOR'S OBSERVATIONS, ETC., THEREON.
Before God, and the angels, and the whole world, I here again testify that what I did truly teach upon this subject, you have by the basest and most wicked calumny, utterly perverted. If it really seems to you an absurdity to teach that the wicked do the work of God, enter the battle at once with Jeremiah, the prophet of God, whose words are these, "Cursed is he that doeth the work of the Lord negligently, and that keepeth back his sword from blood" (Jer. xlviii. 10). Now, by the work of the Lord, the prophet evidently and undeniably means hostile slaughters and desolations, which you surely must call wickedness, seeing that they proceed from pure avarice, cruelty and pride. The Chaldeans were urged on to make war upon Moab by their own ambition and thirst for plunder, so that, regardless of all justice, they forced on their way by rapine and slaughter to accomplish their inhuman purposes. But since it pleased God to punish, by their hands, the idolatry and defiance of the Moabites, their depravity did not alter the fact of their executing the judgments of God upon the Moabites by their wicked hands. What availeth, then, your barking and growling? What availeth your profane logic and argument "that, therefore, wickedness is good"? As if wickedness could be imputed unto God because, by His wonderful working, He turns the wickednesses of men to an end and a purpose entirely different to those which the wicked themselves designed. Nay, you would even class me with the libertines, the mad delusions of which sect I have laboured to expose and confute beyond all other men; so that I need no new defence of myself on the present occasion.