A BRIEF REPLY
INTENDED TO REFUTE THE CALUMNIES
A CERTAIN WORTHLESS PERSON,
BY WHICH HE ENDEAVOURED TO POLLUTE THE
THE ETERNAL PREDESTINATION OF GOD.
BY JOHN CALVIN.
THERE has been cast in my way the silly script of a certain worthless mortal, who, with all his vileness, boasts of being a defender and avenger of the glory of God by waging war against the Divine principle and doctrine: "That the world is so governed by God, that nothing is done therein but by His secret counsel and decree."
Meanwhile, this miserable being sees not that when he is catching at fallacious pretences of clearing the justice of God from imputation, he is all the while utterly subverting His power, all which is, as it were, attempting to rend in pieces God Himself. But to give a colour to his profanity, he prefaces his undertaking not less wickedly than maliciously with the remark: "That God is not the cause of evil; nor wills sin." As if, when we claim for God the supremacy of all rule, we assert that He is the author of sin!
Now it is evident that JOHN CALVIN is attacked by this sentence. But it is well known that JOHN CALVIN is too far removed from the blasphemy with which this worthless being would charge him to need any lengthened protection of himself from its malignity.
John Calvin constantly declares aloud throughout his writings, wherever sin is the subject of discussion, that the name of God is not to be mingled or mentioned with sin, because nothing is consistent with the character of God but rectitude and equity. How foul, then, is the calumny to involve a man, so long deserving well of the Church of God, in the crime of making God the author of sin!
The OBJECT of this malicious calumny does indeed affirm throughout his publications that nothing is done but by the WILL of God! But he, at the same time, asserts that those things which are done wickedly by men are so overruled by the secret counsel of God, that that counsel hath no connection whatever with the sinfulness of men.
The sum of the doctrine of the thus reviled one is, that God, in wondrous ways and in ways unknown to us, directs all things to the end that He wills, that His eternal WILL might be the FIRST CAUSE of all things. But why God wills that which may seem to us inconsistent with His nature the reviled one confesses to be incomprehensible! And, therefore, he declares aloud that the why? of God's works is not to be audaciously or curiously pried into; but that, on the contrary, as the counsels of God are a mighty deep, and mysteries that surpass the limits of our comprehension, it becomes a man rather to adore them with reverence than to investigate them with presumption.
Meantime, the object of all this foul calumny maintains, as a sacred principle, that, although the reason why of the counsels of God lies hidden and unknown, nevertheless, the high praise of His justice is ever to be given to God, because His will is, and must be, the highest rule of all equity! Wherefore, let him, whosoever he may be, who desires to load the man that constantly teaches these things with so atrocious a charge, as the making God the author of sin, first take upon himself the task of proving that when those wicked men who, by crucifying Christ, did "that which the hand of God and His counsel before determined to be done," they made God a partaker of their wickedness, and involved Him in a share of their guilt! The words, "That which Thy hand and Thy counsel before determined to be done," are not the words of Calvin (let it be remembered), but of the Holy Spirit and of Peter, and of the whole Primitive Church (Acts iv. 28).
Let these unreasonable and extravagant men, then, cease to defile the pure and lucid doctrine of the Holy Spirit, with their pollution and their filth, and thus to blind the eyes of the simple; that the inexperienced, who understand not the real nature of the question, may not, when they hear sin mentioned, dash against the awful and abhorrent rock of making God the author of sin! After David had complained that he was oppressed by the unjust violence of his enemies on every side, he fails not to add, "that God had done all this!" When Job was despoiled of his substance by plunderers and tormented by the devil, he likewise confesses that all these evils came upon him from God! If anyone should reply, "That in this manner God is made the author of sin," let him wage his war with the holy prophets of God and with the Holy Spirit Himself. But while the holy prophets and the witnesses of the Holy Spirit held fast the sacred distinction that, though all things were thus done as ordained of God, and yet that whatsoever God wills or decrees is righteous and just, they, with equal plainness and firmness, set HIM high above all, who rules with His secret and sovereign reign Satan himself and all the wicked.
This short reply, thus far made, had John Calvin said no more, might have been sufficient to refute the iniquitous calumny of this worthless being, who so purposely and perversely corrupts and deforms his sentiments and doctrine. But that this calumniator's ends and aims may be the more completely uncovered, neither the time nor pains will be lost, perhaps, if we look into some other rising volumes of his malicious smoke. Now, as this vain being's purpose is to deprive God of His supreme rule and government; and as, with all the impudence imaginable, he cuts down, at one stroke, the principle that the purpose o/ God is the first cause of all things; I will summarily lay hold of and examine some of the intermediate causes and reasons which he brings forward.
This abandoned mortal asserts that Plato's opinions were far above mine, because he does not suffer God to be called the author of sin. Whereas, this mortal knows not really what Plato either thinks or says. And so abhorrent is the very term evil to this profane scribbler, that he positively denies that those numberless "evils," of which we are all the subjects, proceed from God. This is nothing, more or less, than despoiling God at once of His office as the JUDGE of the world! But when Calvin, and before him Luther and Bucer, and antecedently to them, Augustine, and other godly teachers, testify that the will of God is the supreme cause of all things that are in the world; it was the farthest possible from the mind of each of them, and of them all, to entangle God in any shadow of fault. And as to Calvin, he, in all his writings, repudiates with fervid zeal, and pronounces to be detestable, that idea of the absolute, or tyrannical, power of God, which philosophising theologians set afloat throughout their schools. And for this reason: because the power of God ought not, and cannot be separated from His eternal wisdom. By this testimony the impudent barking of this unclean dog is at once refuted, when he makes honest and faithful teachers in the Church of Christ to utter things that are blasphemous, abhorrent, and before unheard, and which, after all, are, with a futility equal to their malignity, brought out from the wicked workshop of his own brain!
After vomiting forth all this foul calumny, this impure being professes to prove that God is not the cause of evils?first, from the law of nature; and next, from the authority of the divine Plato, as he terms him, by whom (he says) God is called the cause of good. The solution of the whole matter is perfectly simple. The image of that rectitude which we confess to be in God is stamped upon all natural knowledge of good and evil. In proportion, therefore, as each one forms his life according to the law of nature, in so far he represents the nature of God. For righteousness is a delight to God in the same proportion as iniquity is an abomination to Him. But how He rules and overrules by His secret counsel all those things that are done wickedly by man it is not ours to define; but it is ours to be assured, and to declare, that in whatsoever God doeth He never deviates from His own perfect justice!
I make the same reply to this worthless being's second argument. This noble champion for God puts the following question: If God be the author of sin (as he affirms that we say), why does He at all prevent sin from being committed? Why does He not throw the rein upon the necks of men altogether? Now, what means the barking of this dog about God being made the author of sin? The fact is, that this fellow fabricates monsters in his own imagination that he might get the fame of fighting with them. What, then, if I retort, but in quite a different manner, that question which may truly be put in assertion of the omnipotence of God: If God does not will to be done the things that are done, why does He not prevent their being done? why does He throw the rein on the necks of men to do them? But from this mode of figurative repugnance and contradiction we may at once elicit the substance of that which Augustine testifies: "God in a secret and marvellous way justly wills the things which men unjustly do. Although according to His will, as truly expressed in His law, He hates iniquity, and has pleasure only in rectitude. And from this fountain flow all the curses which are appended to the law. For if iniquities did not displease Him, as being utterly contrary to His nature, He would neither denounce nor exact punishments." Wherefore, all that this worthless being has heaped together to vindicate God (as he thinks) from ignominy is utterly superfluous and vain. And, in fact, it is himself all the while who throws over God the idea of ignominy, while he is anxiously labouring, in a doubtful case (as he thinks), to make God appear to be good.
Having blattered forth his revilings till he was tired, our holy champion draws a little nearer, affirming that some men in these perilous times, not daring to teach openly that God is the cause of evils, intimate the same thing in varied forms of speech, asserting that Adam sinned by the will of God, and that wicked men perpetrate all their wickednesses not only by the permission of God, but by His actual impulse. Upon this our noble rhetorician exclaims with great lamentation, "O miserable man! How could it have been that God willed this, who had created Adam in His own image?
As if it were mine to render an exact reason for the secret counsels of God, and to make mortals understand, to a pin's point, that heavenly wisdom, the height and depth of which they are commanded to look upon and adore. No! let Moses rather break short all such foolish loquacity by that word of his: "Secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but these which I testify are revealed unto you" (Deut. xxix. 29). We here see how Moses, commanding the people to be content with the doctrine of the law, admonishes them to leave His hidden counsels to God alone, as mysteries to be adored, not to be inquired into.
Here, finding the point of his pen to have become somewhat bent and blunt, he sharpens it anew for a furious attack upon those who (according to his own account) assert that wickednesses are perpetrated not only by the will of God, but by His very impulse. Finding himself now entered into a boundless field, he exults and raves, leaving no kind of abuse whatever unuttered, that he might distress the minds of godly ministers, whose virtues, I would to God, he could imitate, even in a hundredth degree. He first of all classes them with the libertines, from whom, if he differed in the least degree in principle, he certainly would ruin this best of all causes by his sheer ignorance. Now as there exists a book of Calvin expressly written against these libertines, what kind of a face must that man possess who returns, for a labour so useful and holy, so undeserved a reward? He positively contends that if God does impel men to sin, the devil himself does no more. Suppose we concede, for a moment, this profane comparison, what will our hero say about the servants of Christ, upon whom the devil wages war ever, but God never? But let us see upon what arguments this profane being rests his profanity. "Let Satan (saith he) do what he will, and tempt as he will, he cannot compel the will of man. But God, who holds the heart of man in His hand, can compel the will. If, therefore, God will force, do so He will and must, whether you will or no." Here the ignorance and its audacity are at once manifest.
Now, all men of a sound mind are agreed that there is no sin but that which is voluntary. Wherefore, you will not find one of a sound judgment who will assert that men sin against their will. But Calvin, according to the Word of God, following also Augustine and other godly writers, teaches that when men sin of their own will and accord, God, nevertheless, gives into the hands of Satan "strong delusions," that he may drive the reprobate hither and thither, as Paul testifies (2 Thess. ii. 11). Satan, in this manner, goes forth, at the command of God, to be a lying spirit in the mouth of all the prophets to deceive Ahab (1 Kings xxii. 21). But it is not my purpose here to accumulate testimonies from the Scripture. My present object is merely to show how preposterously this barking dog howls against the innocent. "How (saith he) is a wicked man known to be such but by doing wickedly?" As if we, by attributing to the secret judgments of God, all the license which He puts into the hands of Satan, thereby make the adorable God the author of sin! As if we did not, on the contrary, openly and universally testify that God is, and must be, ever utterly remote from sin, because (as we show) it is in the strictest justice and righteousness that He blinds and hardens the reprobate! "But in this way (argues this hero for God) the will of God and of the devil will be the same." Not so. There is, as I have before shown, a mighty difference, because, although God and the devil will the same thing, they do so in an utterly different manner. For who will deny that Satan eagerly desires the destruction of the wicked, which destruction, nevertheless, proceeds from God? Yet the object of the righteous JUDGE is infinitely different from that of the enemy, breathing out unmitigated cruelty! God willed that Jerusalem should be destroyed utterly; the same destruction Satan also desired. I would rather untie this sacred knot, however, by the words of Augustine than by my own, who, in his "Manual" against Laurentius (chap. ci.), nobly discusses the question: how it is that man wills with an evil will that which God wills with a good will (as where a wicked son, for instance, wills the death of his father, and God wills the same death); and finally, how it is that God performs that which He has decreed by the wicked wills and passions of men, rather than by the good wills of His own servants. I refer my readers to the exposition of the sacred matter as given by Augustine in the portion of his works to which I have alluded.
If, then, a diversity of end prevents not the will from being the same, would it not have been according to his desert if this champion for God had been swallowed up in the deeps of hell before he had thus defiled the Divine Majesty and polluted it by his foul cavils? And yet, he dares to charge us with denying in our hearts that justice of God which we profess with our mouths! Whereas, this vile being himself, while he dares with unbridled insolence to assert that those against whom he wars never study uprightness of life, so indulges himself in all iniquity, as if there sat no JUDGE upon the throne of heaven at all! But I would calmly ask, In which breast is it the more probable that the righteousness of God is made a laughing-stock?in the breast in which all desire after godliness is found, or that in which the rein is given to every species of iniquity? The real fact is, that there is no one thing in Calvin, and in those like him, which this goodly teacher of morality more thoroughly hates than the unswerving rigour of their moral discipline!
Insipid, however, and unlettered as this worthless mortal is, he yet attempts to enlist in his base service the most scurrilous wit, demanding "whether it was God that rather willed the sin of Adam or Satan." Did ever godly or really serious men permit themselves to be facetious or pass jokes upon mysteries so profound; nay, to bark at them as impudent dogs? They do indeed confess that the Fall of Adam was not without the rule and overrule of the secret providence of God, but they never doubt that the end and object of His secret counsel were righteous and just. But as the reason lies hidden in the mind of God, they soberly and reverently await the revelation of it, which shall be made in the day in which we shall see that God "face to face," whom we now "behold through a glass darkly" and unintelligibly. Having thus revelled in the vilest abuse of the best and most godly of men, the next thing that this pious warrior would have done is, that all their tongues should be wrenched out and thrown into the fire!
There is no slight probability, however, that the rage of this being against Calvin is all intended as a holy offering to the memory of his friend, Servetus, and that lamenting the death of his kin companion, and finding no other method of satisfying his revenge, he surpasses all hangmen in cruelty towards the defenders of the truth. Concerning the doctrine of the twofold will of God which Calvin, following Augustine and other godly teachers, ascribes to God Himself, this excellent theological judge declares that he wonders at the childish babble by which it is set forth. Everyone must surely set him down as one of the most learned of men who can talk about "the childish babble" of another! But this offensive affectation fully proves that he thus prates under a panting hunt after vain glory. And he afterwards adds. "That this distinction, the twofold will of God, was invented by us, because without it we should have laid ourselves open to the charge of blaspheming God." Whereas, by this one word of his, his own frenzied madness is expressed and exposed; for he forgets that he himself has perpetually upbraided the most innocent men with uttering open blasphemies. And was it (I pray you) any doubtful blasphemy in himself when he made God the author of sin, and asserted that He not only wills sin, but actually impels men to sin, thus representing Him as renouncing His own nature, and feasting upon, and delighting Himself in, iniquities? And after having impudently vomited forth these revilings, he now, forgetting himself altogether and what he has uttered, says that we cover over our blasphemies with a certain colouring, that they might not be perceived.
It is worth while, however, to observe what arguments he adduces in his attempted refutation of the twofold will of God. He accuses us of attributing, by this doctrine, unfaithfulness to God; as making Him say one thing and think another, contrary to the testimonies of the Scripture, wherein God says, "I am the Lord, I change not" (Mal. iii. 6); "With Him is no variableness" (James i. 17). But this silly mortal considers not that it is not Calvin only, and other like witnesses of the truth, who are attacked by this calumny, but Moses himself, who, when declaring that the law was given unto the Jews and to their children, leaves all "hidden things" with God, saying that they "belong" to Him (Deut. xxix. 20). Not that there is any difficulty whatever in refuting this calumny, for God, commanding that which is right, thereby testifies what truly pleases Him; nor is there any other counsel concealed in His own mind by which He either loves or wills to accomplish anything whatever that He condemns in man. But He exercises His judgments in a marvellous way, so that, by His surpassing wisdom and equity, He ordains and directs to a good end things that are, in themselves, evil. Nor wilt Calvin ever concede that God wills that which is evil?that is, in as far as it is evil?but that His secret and righteous judgments shine forth marvellously in overruling the iniquities of men. For instance, by the incestuous deeds of Absalom God punishes the adultery of David. Wherefore, when God commands Adam not to taste the fruit of the "tree of knowledge of good and evil," He thereby tests his obedience. Meanwhile, He foreknew what would take place; and not only foreknew it, but ordained it. If this truth be too hard and rough for the palate of our delicate theological judge, let him not blame the savour of the doctrine, but his own acerbity and disrelish. And when he attempts to thump into our hearts with all the weight of his iron mallet, wielded by his ponderous words, that the will of God is one only, which He reveals unto us by His prophets and by Christ, Augustine, by the force of his authority, wards off all the blows of his maul. "These (saith the holy father) are the mighty works of the Lord, exquisitely perfect in every point of His will; and so wisely perfect, that when the angelic and the human natures had sinned?that is, had each done not what God willed, but what each nature willed, though each nature did that which was contrary to the will of God in one sense?yet God, by the same will of each nature, accomplished that which He willed righteously, using as the Supreme Good even evil deeds to the eternal condemnation of those whom He had justly predestinated to everlasting punishment, and to the eternal salvation of those whom He had predestinated unto grace. For, as far as the former were themselves concerned, they did that which God willed not; but with reference to the omnipotence of God, which could thus bring good out of evil, they could not by any means have willed to do it independently of that Omnipotence. For by the very fact of their acting contrary to the will of God, by that very acting the will of God was done through them. For in this very omnipotent way of working consists the mightiness of the works of God! So that, by an inexplicable manner of operation, that is not done without the will of God which is, in itself, even contrary to His will, because without His will it could not have been done at all. And yet God willeth not unwillingly, but willingly. For as the God of Goodness, He would not suffer evil to be done at all, unless, as the God of Omnipotence, He could, out of that evil, bring good!"
Wherefore, let this worthless being hurl all those horrible heresies and blasphemies, which he thus directs against the most godly ministers of our day, at the head of the eminent Augustine himself. It is indeed perfectly true that the will of God is to be sought for nowhere but in the Scripture. But while this gross hog is rooting up everything with his snout, he does not consider, that though reverence and sobriety are ever cultivated by the faithful, yet the secret judgments of God cannot be done away with or reduced to nothing! But it is one thing to contemplate and adore that "great deep" (Ps. xxxvi. 6) with all the modesty of faith, and quite another to reject it with contumacy, because it at once engulfs all the powers of the human mind which attempts its comprehension. This vile mortal, however, in order that he might do away with all those testimonies of the Scripture, instructed by which we assert the wonderful and glorious providence of God, contents himself with broadly declaring that all we heretics have ever abused piety, making it a mere cloak, and have, under the name of God, originated every kind of evil. Why, if this round assertion is to be deemed sufficient to settle the whole matter, the same may as well be admitted as competent to disprove all heavenly doctrine, and to obliterate the name of God altogether.
This worthless being afterwards adds, "That he can answer every argument which we may bring against him in two ways. By showing, first, that all those passages which seem to attribute the cause of evil to God, do not intend His effectual will, but His permitting or His leaving a thing to be done." But away with that calumny altogether, which is built upon the terms good and evil, when used in discussing God's eternal will and decrees. For we well know that nothing is more contrary to the nature of God than sin. But men act from their own proper wickedness when they sin, so that the whole fault rests with themselves. But to turn all those passages of the Scripture (wherein the affection of the mind, in the act, is distinctly described) into a mere permission on the part of God is a frivolous subterfuge, and a vain attempt at escape from the mighty truth! The fathers, however, did interpret these passages by the term permission; for finding that the apparent asperity of the more direct terms gave offence to some at first hearing, they became anxious to mitigate them by milder expressions. In their too great anxiety, however, thus to mitigate, and in their study to avoid giving any such offence, they relaxed something of that fixedness of attention which was due to the great truth itself.
This worthless being, however, who professes to be so familiar with the fathers, betrays his utter ignorance of their real minds; for seizing hold of those instances of inexperience in Augustine which I have already alluded to as being found in his writings while he was, as yet, not deeply versed in the Scripture, he passes over all those plain and powerful passages wherein he acknowledges the secret judgments of God in their real and actual operations (if I may so express myself) of blinding and hardening the reprobate. The same ignorance and unletteredness is manifested also by this vain being when he tells us, on the authority of Hieronymus, that when God is spoken of as doing or creating evils, the expressions are figurative." But if "evils" are nothing more or less than adversities (as is perfectly well known and universally acknowledged), why hunt after a figure in things which are, in themselves, perfectly manifest and plain?
But let us look into the doctrine of permission a little more closely, yet briefly. Joseph is wickedly sold by his brethren. Joseph himself declares that he was sent into Egypt by God through the means of this wickedness, not by his brethren, who perpetrated it; and he declares that all this was done by the counsel of God, that the family of his father might be nourished and kept alive. Now, is all this, I pray you, mere permission? Job also testifies that it was God who took away from him all that substance of which the robbers and plunderers had despoiled him! Does God's "taking away," I pray you, declare no act on the part of God? God is said to have turned the hearts of the Gentiles to hate His people. Shall we say that this was a mere permission on the part of God? The Scripture itself expresses the "turning" as a positive and open act of God. So when God is said to deliver men over "to a reprobate mind," and to give them up "to vile affections," there cannot exist a doubt that those acts of His awful judgments are thereby declared by which He takes righteous vengeance on the reprobate! If God were merely an inactive looker-on while these mighty judgments were being effected, and merely permitted them to be executed, would He, by such mere permission of an observer, really execute the office of a JUDGE? God calls Nebuchadnezzar the "axe in His hand" (Isa. x. 5); He terms also the Assyrians the "staff of His indignation"; all wicked men He designates His "rod"; and He positively declares that by means of these He will do what He hath decreed to do. What place will mere permission find here? Jeremiah, addressing the Medes, exclaims, "Cursed be he that doeth the work of the Lord deceitfully; and cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood" (Jer. xlviii. 10). Behold! what cruelty soever these bloody men commit, the prophet, in another sense, calls the work of God, because God, by their hand, executed His vengeance on the Babylonians. David, in like manner, testifies that what evil soever he was suffering, it was God that did it, and that, therefore, he was "dumb" (Ps. xxxix 9). Now, by what figures or tropes, I pray you, will any man convert the term "didst it" into permittedst it, or make the doing a thing merely the permitting it to be done? Paul likewise declares that it is God who sends upon the wicked strong delusions that they should believe a lie" (2 Thess. ii. 11). Where, therefore, the "effectual working" (Eph. iii. 7) of God appears manifest, as it does here, by what alchemy or contrivance will anyone extract from such "effectual working" the Divine will and purpose?
This pre-eminent theological teacher and judge prescribes, as a canon, for the interpretation of such passages as, "Thou art not a God that hast pleasure in wickedness" (Ps. v. 4), that all those should be considered, as intended by that text, who seem to attribute evil to God. But what has this at all to do with the present question? No spot of iniquity is affixed by us on God. All we affirm is quite the reverse. All we maintain, throughout our arguments, is that God rules and overrules all the actions of the world with perfect and Divine rectitude. If anyone of us sundered the power of God from His justice, then indeed we should lay ourselves justly open to the tacit censure of those who continually and reproachfully repeat to us "that there is nothing more contrary to the power of God than tyranny." But now, while we make Him "to have no pleasure in wickedness," is He, under this pretext, to be torn from His throne, as the Judge of the world, and as having no Omnipotence whereby to work good by means of evil men and their evil deeds? For the fact is, that as God frequently works out His judgments by the hands of the wicked, whosoever shall confine Him within the bounds of permission will at once expel Him from His office as Judge of the world! The sons of Eli had evilly and disgracefully abused their priestly office, and they perished by the hand of the Philistines. Now, by the canon of our great theologian, we must interpret this as meaning that all was done by the permission of God. But what saith the Scripture? That all was done because God had purposed to destroy them. Just observe to what extent of madness all madmen are driven by their madness where there is no religion, no modesty, no shame to stop them. They rush on, till they bring not only men, but God also, under subjection to their frenzied fictions.
But as it would be utterly absurd to hold that anything could be done contrary to the will of God, seeing that God is at Divine liberty to prevent that which He does not will to be done, how ingenious a workman this being is in getting rid of this argument which stands against him, let us now in a few words explain. He first of all asserts that it is ridiculous to inquire into this at all. What a pity it was that Augustine had not such a monitor by his side, to save him all the holy labour which he spent upon this great question, and by which labour (according to our theological hero) he made himself "perfectly ridiculous"! Whereas, Augustine proves, by this very argument, that everything that is done on earth is effectually ruled and overruled by this secret providence of God. Nor does he hesitate to conclude that everything that is done, is done by the will of God! According to which conclusion, the Psalmist testifies that God, sitting in heaven, doth what He will: "But our God (saith the Psalmist) is in the heavens: He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased" (Ps. cxv. 3). But why, I pray you, is this question a ridiculous one? Our great theological monitor replies: "Because it is not lawful to ask of God a reason for His actions." Why does not our modest monitor, then, retain this great modesty throughout his treatment of this mighty matter? Whence arise, then, this modest being's furious clamours and tumults? Whence, but from the fact that the proud and ignorant reject, with hatred and disdain, the counsels of God? because, forsooth, their puny minds cannot grasp their profundity and immensity! Leave, then, to God the liberty to order all things according to His own will, and all strife about the matter will end at once. But it is just and right that madmen should be left thus to contend one with the other, that they may put an end to each other by a mutual destruction.
Here we are brought back to the old point of vain defence resorted to by our theological hero: "That many things are done contrary to the will of God." This we most willingly grant, provided that this contrary to the will of God be not carried too far. God, for instance, often willed to call the Jews together, "but they would not"; though He called them to Himself by His prophets, "rising up early," as He Himself forcibly expresses it (Jer. vii. 13). But as conversion is God's peculiar gift, He converts Himself effectually those whom He wills to be converted in reality. In what sense it is that Paul says, "God will have all men to be saved" (1 Tim. ii. 4), let readers, as we have before observed and explained, learn from the context. There are different degrees and kinds of salvation (as we have shown above when opening this passage). But God does not deem all men (as we have before shown from the history of the world and from the few nations to whom God sent even His external word) worthy of the external word; and they are few whom He makes the partakers of His secret illumination.
But to extricate himself the more easily from his perplexity, this unworthy mortal finally catches up for his defence the shield of free will. He says, "That there is no wonder whatever in God's not preventing men from doing evil, who have the free will to do what they please." Whereas, that is the mighty wonder! And it is resolvable only by the sublime truth and its doctrine that whatsoever men do, they do according to the eternal will and secret purpose of God! But why does this vain being thrust upon us a term fabricated out of nothing? What is free will, when the Scripture everywhere declares that man, being the captive, the servant, and the slave of the devil, is carried away into wickedness of every kind with his whole mind and inclination, being utterly incapable of understanding the things of God, much less of doing them?
In this refutation of dog-faced dishonesty, as the omnipotence of God is honestly and clearly maintained against calumnies of every kind, I feel confident that I have humbly performed a work both useful and gratifying to the Church, and also acceptable unto God.
Go to Part II