The fifth objection relates to the uselessness of means.

It is in vain that means are employed for the purpose of hindering or advancing those things which are done by the unchangeable will and providence of God—such are the counsels, commands, doctrines, exhortations, promises and threatenings of God—the labors, endeavors, prayers, &c., of the saints. But these means are not employed in vain, because they are commanded by God. Therefore all things are not done by the unchangeable counsel and providence of God.


We deny the major, because the first and principal cause being considered, it is not necessary that that which is secondary and instrumental should be taken away—nor the contrary. The reason is because God decreed also to employ means and second causes for the purpose of accomplishing the ends and effects determined upon by himself, and he shows us in his word, and in the order of nature that he wills to use them, and commands us to do the same. Therefore, it is not in vain that the sun daily rises and sets—nor is it in vain that fields are sown, or watered with showers, or that our bodies are refreshed with food, although God creates light and darkness, causes the corn to spring up from the earth, and is the life and length of our days. So also, it is not in vain that men are taught, and that they should study to conform their lives to certain habits or doctrines, although the actions and events that promote our well-being proceed from God only. Therefore means are to be employed:

1. That we may render obedience to God, who has ordained both the ends and the means for the attainment of these ends, and has prescribed them unto us—otherwise we tempt God at our peril.

2. That we may obtain the good things promised unto us.

3. That we may retain a good conscience, even though we do not always obtain the things desired and expected in the use of these means.

4. It is also a fallacy to declare that to be true generally, which is true only in a certain respect ; for even where there is nothing accomplished by means, they are nevertheless profitable in this respect, that they render the wicked inexcusable.