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As regards future events, the doctrine of Divine Providence not inconsistent with deliberation on the part of man

January 6, 2016 2 comments

calvin.jpg_7MA21605611-0015As regards future events, the doctrine of Divine Providence not inconsistent with deliberation on the part of man.

4. As regards future events, Solomon easily reconciles human deliberation with divine providence. For while he derides the stupidity of those who presume to undertake anything without God, as if they were not ruled by his hand, he elsewhere thus expresses himself: “A man’s heart deviseth his ways but the Lord directeth his steps,” (Proverbs 16:9;) intimating, that the eternal decrees of God by no means prevent us from proceeding, under his will, to provide for ourselves, and arrange all our affairs. And the reason for this is clear. For he who has fixed the boundaries of our life, has at the same time entrusted us with the care of it, provided us with the means of preserving it, forewarned us of the dangers to which we are exposed, and supplied cautions and remedies, that we may not be overwhelmed unawares. Now, our duty is clear, namely, since the Lord has committed to us the defense of our life, — to defend it; since he offers assistance, — to use it; since he forewarns us of danger, — not to rush on heedless; since he supplies remedies, — not to neglect them. But it is said, a danger that is not fatal will not hurt us, and one that is fatal cannot be resisted by any precaution. But what if dangers are not fatal, merely because the Lord has furnished you with the means of warding them off, and surmounting them? See how far your reasoning accords with the order of divine procedure: You infer that danger is not to be guarded against, because, if it is not fatal, you shall escape without precaution; whereas the Lord enjoins you to guard against its just because he wills it not to be fatal. These insane cavilers overlook what is plainly before their eyes, viz., that the Lord has furnished men with the artful of deliberation and caution, that they may employ them in subservience to his providence, in the preservation of their life; while, on the contrary, by neglect and sloth, they bring upon themselves the evils which he has annexed to them. How comes it that a provident man, while he consults for his safety, disentangles himself from impending evils; while a foolish man, through unadvised temerity, perishes, unless it be that prudence and folly are, in either case, instruments of divine dispensation? God has been pleased to conceal from us all future events that we may prepare for them as doubtful, and cease not to apply the provided remedies until they have either been overcome, or have proved too much for all our care. Hence, I formerly observed, that the Providence of God does not interpose simply; but, by employing means, assumes, as it were, a visible form.

John Calvin-Institutes of the Christian Religion-Book I-Chapter 17-Henry Beveridge Translation

Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 2-Chapter 6-Justification, or the Divine Acquittal

September 18, 2015 Leave a comment

CHAPTER 6-JUSTIFICATION, OR THE DIVINE ACQUITTAL

Demosthenes well says that knowledge begins with definition. Every teacher needs to remember this, and be careful to define his terms. The Bible abounds in big words—-words of tremendous importance—-and we should exercise much care in defining these words.

The book of Job is full of questions. “Canst thou by searching find out God?” (#Job 11:7). “If a man die, shall he live again?” (#Job 14:14). “How can he be clean that is born of woman?” (#Job 25:4). “How should man be just with God?” (#Job 9:2). And this last question is repeated in #Job 25:4 “How then can man be justified with God?” This last question is to have our attention in this article. Let us fix the question in our mind: How can rebellious man, who has tried to dethrone the God of all the earth, find acquittal with God?

A man was once asked if he would not like to be saved. He replied: “Yes, but I do not see how God can save me without doing wrong.” This man was a thinker. He went on to say that he had sinned: that God’s word declares the wages of sin to be death, and that as a sinner, he must receive what he had earned. He confessed that he deserved to be punished, and could not see how God could remain just without punishing him for his sins. Job’s question was this man’s question.

There were no questions until sin entered the world. Eve was deceived into thinking that the forbidden fruit would make one wise and thus resolve all future questions. But this attempt to become wise resulted in separation from God with resultant darkness in the face of innumerable questions. Adam and Eve had been walking by faith—by faith in what God had said—but in disobedience they embarked upon a career of walking by sight, which means to believe what one sees. Eve saw that the fruit of the forbidden tree was good for food, and pleasant to the eyes. Now in salvation, the sinner is restored to the principle of walking by faith, which means to believe what God says. “The just shall live by faith” (#Heb 10:38). “So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (#Ro 10:17). If sin reigned by bringing questions into the world, then grace reigns by giving answers to these questions. How can man the sinner be acquitted before the Holy and righteous God? This is a big question, but there is a blessed and infallible answer found in the Bible. We will consider:

THE NATURE OF JUSTIFICATION, OR WHAT JUSTIFICATION IS

Justification is that particular aspect of salvation which consists of deliverance from the guilt and penalty of sin. It is the legal aspect of salvation in which one has right standing before God as Lawgiver. So far as guilt and condemnation are concerned, the believer is as perfect as if he had never sinned. Paul challenges the whole universe to lay anything to the charge of God’s elect “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth” (#Ro 8:33). At Antioch in Pisidia, the apostle preached the crucified and risen Christ, saying, “And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses” (#Ac 13:39).

Justification is a forensic or law term. It does not refer to any inward work of grace as regeneration does. It has nothing to do with moral improvement, but with judicial standing. It means acquittal, vindication, acceptance before a judgment seat. The Council of Trent (1547) gives the Roman Catholic view of justification, in which the term is defined as “not the mere remission of sins but also sanctification and renovation of the inner man.” But such a definition confounds justification with regeneration and sanctification, other aspects of salvation.

Take the word in its every day use, and it will be obvious that it has nothing to do with improvement of character or moral change. To justify one’s views does not mean to change them or to correct them but rather to vindicate them. To justify a course of conduct does not mean a change of conduct, but the vindication of what one has done. To justify a friend does not imply any change in your friend, but the vindication of him before some judgment seat, it may be, the bar of public opinion.

Take a clear illustration from Scripture: “If there be a controversy between men, and they come into judgment, that the judges may judge them, then they shall justify the righteous and condemn the wicked” (#De 25:1). Here it is plain that no moral improvement is implied. The judges were not to make anybody better, but to declare who was right in the eyes of the law. A human court or judge can only maintain justice by justifying the innocent, but God maintains justice and magnifies grace by justifying the ungodly: “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (#Ro 4:5). There are no innocent people for God to justify, for all have sinned. The next question is that concerning the author of salvation.

THE AUTHOR OF JUSTIFICATION, OR WHO IS THE JUSTIFIER?

This question finds explicit answer in #Ro 8:33: “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.” There is no salvation through self-justification. In #Lu 10:29 “But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?,” we are told of a certain lawyer who was willing to justify himself, but he was not saved thereby. Paul said, that even though he might not have anything against himself, he would not thereby be justified, for it is the Lord who judges “For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord” (#1Co 4:4). There were Pharisees who justified themselves before men, but that did not mean salvation. To be justified before God one must be justified by God. One might have a clean bill of moral health from his friends and neighbours, but to be saved he must be pronounced righteous by God. God Himself must pronounce the acquittal, else we stand condemned before His righteous law. One’s conscience may not condemn, but the question of guilt and penalty is not left to the conscience. Nobody’s conscience would consign him to hell. It is not the human conscience but a holy God who must first be satisfied before there can be justification. This leads on to another question:

THE SOURCE OF JUSTIFICATION, OR WHAT CAUSES GOD TO JUSTIFY THE UNGODLY?

The grand answer to this question is found in #Ro 3:24: “Being justified freely by his grace.” The adverb “freely” means “Without any cause or reason in the sinner.” It is the same word used in #Joh 15:25, where Christ says, “They hated me without a cause.” There was nothing in Christ to merit the hatred of men, and there is nothing in any sinner to cause God to justify him; the cause is in God Himself. It is not good in the sinner but grace in God that moves Him to justify. In #Ro 11:6, the apostle says, “And if by grace, then it is no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace.” To mix anything of human merit with divine grace is to destroy grace. It is either all of grace or none of grace. There is no conjunction joining anything with grace as the source or cause of justification. And yet, men dare to mix something of man with the grace of God as the moving cause of justification. This is to divide the honour and praise of salvation between the sinner and the Saviour, between men and God. Men may do that here on earth, but in heaven all honour and praise are ascribed to God. And this calls for still another question:

THE JUST BASIS, OR MERITORIOUS GROUND OF JUSTIFICATION

On what ground can God justify the ungodly and yet remain just? It is on the ground of blood atonement, “Through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (#Ro 3:24). “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (#Eph 1:7). “Much more then, being justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him” (#Ro 5:9). “Christ and Him crucified” is the only righteous ground for the justification of any sinner. And there is no “AND” anywhere in the Bible connecting anything with His blood as the just basis of justification.

The only way God can justify a sinner without doing wrong is to charge the sinners’ sins to Christ and credit Christ’s obedience to the sinner’s account. This is called imputed righteousness, or the righteousness of God. It is the righteousness Christ wrought out on the cross when He was obedient unto death. God justifies the penitent believer on the ground of the obedience of his Surety and Substitute, Jesus Christ. Obedience is always necessary to righteousness. And as the sinner has no record of obedience, he is therefore unrighteous on his own record. If the sinner is to become righteous before God, it must be by the obedience of Christ. Whose obedience is reckoned to the sinners’ account. The sinner is saved by obedience, but it is by the obedience of “Christ, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (#1Co 1:30).

Let us remember that the Lord Jesus came to this world as a public or representative person. He was God before He became man, and as God He had no personal obligations to the law except to enforce it as Lawgiver. He Who gave the law was made under the law for the purpose of redeeming them that were under law, that we might be adopted as sons of God “To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (#Ga 4:5). Having no personal obligations, Christ could assume the obligations of a Surety. A surety is one who assumes all the legal responsibilities of the principal—-of the one who contracted the debt. As the Surety for His people, it was Christ’s duty to die. He himself said that He ought to have died. After His death and resurrection, He joined Himself to the two as they walked to Emmaus, and said to them: “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things?” (#Lu 24:26). It was in grace that He took upon Himself suretyship engagements, but when He did, He was duty bound to die for sinners. Even yet, we are not through with questions relating to justification. Let us consider:

THE WAY OF JUSTIFICATION, OR WHAT THE SINNER MUST DO TO BE JUSTIFIED

The sinner is justified by faith and by faith alone. “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” (#Ro 3:28). “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God,” (#Ro 5:1). “It is of faith that it might be by grace” (#Ro 4:16). To add anything to faith on the sinner’s part is to add something to grace on God’s part. And since faith looks to Christ for salvation, to add anything to faith would be the same as adding something to Christ. Perish the thought! He must have all the glory.

Saving faith is much more than the mere assent of the mind to gospel truth, or to the acknowledgment of gospel facts. Trust in, or dependence upon Christ for salvation is a necessary element in saving faith. I believe in George Washington, that is, my mind acknowledges certain facts about him but it has never occurred to me to trust him for salvation. This might be termed historical faith—-the kind of faith nearly every one has in God and Jesus Christ. But a necessary element in saving faith is reliance or trust.

“Not saved are we by trying
From self can come no aid;
‘Tis on the blood relying,
Once for our ransom paid;
‘Tis looking unto Jesus,
The holy One and Just;
Tis His great work that saves us,
It is not try, but trust.

“No deeds of ours are needed
To make Christ’s merit more,
No frames of mind, or feelings,
Can add to His great store;
‘Tis simply to receive Him,
The holy One and Just,
‘Tis only to believe Him
It is not try, but trust.”

The virtue of faith lies in the worth of its object. Jesus Christ in His death and resurrection, is the only object of saving trust. Faith, however strong, in any other object cannot justify. This makes faith a thing as different as possible from merit. Richard Hooker says: “God doth justify the believing man, yet not for the worthiness of his belief, but for the worthiness of Him which is believed.” It does not make a beggar worthy of food to take it from the hand of his benefactor. Nor does it make a sinner worthy of salvation to receive it as a gift from Jesus Christ. It rather implies his unworthiness. The sinner is justly charged, but freely forgiven. It is not our faith, as a thing of merit, that is accounted for righteousness, but Christ the object of faith. The Lord Himself is our righteousness. We are not saved on account of our faith; we are saved on account of Christ. We are forgiven for Christ’s sake. We must not trust our faith, but Him. And now in closing, there is a final question.

THE EVIDENCES OF JUSTIFICATION, OR WHAT ONE DOES TO PROVE HIS FAITH

We are justified evidentially by works, and by works alone. The only evidences of saving faith are our works. And this includes baptism as a work of righteousness. Any man who claims to be saved and refuses to be baptized, when properly taught the significance of baptism, has a mark against him, in my judgment. We are saved by faith alone, but not by faith that is alone, for faith without works is dead. The man who has saving faith also received a holy disposition in the new birth—-a disposition or nature that seeks to please God. Saul’s first question after his conversion was, “Lord what wilt thou have me to do?” (#Ac 9:6). Saving faith works by love. In the new birth there were a triplet of graces brought into being: faith, hope, and love—-and these are inseparable.

There is no real difference between Paul and James on the subject of justification. They complement, but do not contradict each other. They deal with different classes in their treatment of justification. Paul writes about the justification of a sinner; James writes about the justification of a saint. Both of them illustrate their teaching by the same person: Abraham. Paul takes Abraham as a sinner and writes about justification in the sense of salvation; James takes Abraham, after he had been saved many years, and shows that he was justified by works when he offered up Isaac. Paul writes about God receiving a sinner; James writes about God approving a saint. Paul speaks of justification of persons; James speaks of justification of profession. One’s profession of faith is justified by his works. James challenges the faith of the man who says he has faith, but has no works—-can faith, the faith he talks about, save him? Every saved person is justified, both by faith and also by works. As an alien sinner, he is justified by faith in the blood of Christ; as a professing believer, he is justified again and again by his works. There is no way to show our faith except by our works. The saved man is one who is depending upon Christ alone for salvation and who, out of love, is daily seeking to please Him. The saved man is poor in spirit, mourning over his sins, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and longing to be perfectly whole. The saved man anticipates perfection, but does not claim it. And may both writer and reader be able to join Paul in saying, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (#2Ti 1:12).

C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 2

Without a sense of predestination we will not depend on God, as we should, under every spiritual and temporal affliction

June 27, 2014 1 comment

Chapter V

SHOWING THAT THE SCRIPTURE DOCTRINE OF PREDESTINATION SHOULD BE OPENLY
PREACHED AND INSISTED ON, AND FOR WHAT REASONS.

UPON the whole, it is evident that the doctrine of God’s eternal and unchangeable predestination should neither be wholly suppressed and laid aside, nor yet be confined to the disquisition of the learned and speculative only; but likewise should be publicly taught from the pulpit and the press, that even the meanest of the people may not be ignorant of a truth which reflects such glory on God, and is the very foundation of happiness to man. Let it, however, be preached with judgment and discretion, 1:e., delivered by the preacher as it is delivered in Scripture, and no otherwise. By which means, it can neither be abused to licentiousness nor misapprehended to despair, but will eminently conduce to the knowledge, establishment, improvement and comfort of them that hear. That predestination ought to be preached, I thus prove:-

IX.-Lastly, without a due sense of predestination, we shall want the surest and the most powerful inducement to patience, resignation and dependence on God under every spiritual and temporal affliction.

How sweet must the following considerations be to a distressed believer! (1) There most certainly exists an almighty, all-wise and infinitely gracious God. (2) He has given me in times past, and is giving me at present (if I had but eyes to see it), many and signal intimations of His love to me, both in a way of providence and grace. (3) This love of His is immutable; He never repents of it nor withdraws it. (4) Whatever comes to pass in time is the result of His will from everlasting, consequently (5) my afflictions were a part of His original plan, and are all ordered in number, weight and measure, (6) The very hairs of my head are (every one) counted by Him, nor can a single hair fall to the ground but in consequence of His determination. Hence (7) my distresses are not the result of chance, accident or a fortuitous combination of circumstances, but (8) the providential accomplishment of God’s purpose, and (9) designed to answer some wise and gracious ends, nor (10) shall my affliction continue a moment longer than God sees meet. (11) He who brought me to it has promised to support me under it and to carry me through it. (12) All shall, most assuredly, work together for His glory and my good, therefore (13) “The cup which my heavenly Father hath given me to drink, shall I not drink it?” Yes, I will, in the strength He imparts, even rejoice in tribulation; and using the means of possible redress, which He hath or may hereafter put into my hands, I will commit myself and the event to Him, whose purpose cannot be overthrown, whose plan cannot be disconcerted, and who, whether I am resigned or not, will still go on to work all things after the counsel of His own will.*

* The learned Lipsius thus writes to an unmarried friend, who appears to have referred himself to his judgment and direction:”Sive uxor ducitur, sive omittitur, etc. Whether you marry or live single, you will still have something or other to molest you, nor does the whole course of man’s present sublunary life afford him a single draught of joy without a mixture of wormwood in the cup. This is the universal and immutable law, which to resist were no less vain than sinful and rebellious. As the wrestlers of old had their respective antagonists assigned them, not by their own choice, but by necessary lot, in like manner each of the human race has his peculiar destiny allotted to him by Providence. To conquer this is to endure it. All our strength in this warfare is to undergo the inevitable pressure. It is victory to yield ourselves to fate.” – Lips. Epist. miscell. cent. 1, ep. 43, oper tom., 2, p. 54, Edit. Vesaliens, 1675. About two years after, this celebrated Christian Seneca wrote as follows to the same person (Theodore Leewius), who had married and just lost his wife in child-bed:”Jam fatum quid? AEterna, ab aeterno, in aternum, Dei lex: What is fate? God’s everlasting ordinance – an ordinance settled in eternity and for eternity, an ordinance which He can never repeal, disannul or set aside, either in whole or in part. Now, if this His decree be eternal, a retro, and immovable, quoad futurum, why does foolish man struggle and fight against that which must be? Especially, seeing fate is thus the offspring of God, why does impious man murmur and complain? You cannot justly find fault with anything determined or done by Him, as though it were evil or severe, for He is all goodness and benevolence. Were you to define His nature, you could not do it more suitably than in those terms. Is, therefore, your wife dead? Debuit:it is right she should be so. But was it right that she should die, and at that very time, and by that very kind of death? Most certainly. Lex ita lata: the decree so ordained it. The restless acumen of the human mind may sift and canvass the appointments of fate, but cannot alter them. Were we truly wise, we should be implicitly submissive, and endure with willingness what we must endure, whether we be willing or not. A due sense of our inability to reverse the disposals of Providence, and the consequent vanity of resisting them, would administer solid repose to our minds, and sheathe, if not remove, the anguish of affliction. And why should we even wish to resist? Fate’s supreme ordainer is not only the all-wise God, but an all-gracious Father. Embrace every event as good and prosperous, though it may, for the present, carry an aspect of the reverse. Think you not that He loves and careth for us more and better than we for ourselves? But as the tenderest parent below doth oftentimes cross the inclinations of his children, with a view to do them good, and obliges them both to do and to undergo many things against the bent of their wills, so does the great Parent of all.” – Ibid, epist. 61, p.82.

Above all, when the suffering Christian takes his election into the account, and knows that he was by an eternal and immutable act of God appointed to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ; that, of course, he hath a city prepared for him above, a building of God, a house not made with hands, but eternal in the heavens; and that the heaviest sufferings of the present life are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in the saints, what adversity can possibly befall us which the assured hope of blessings like these will not infinitely overbalance?

“A comfort so divine,

May trials well endnre.”

However keenly afflictions might wound us on their first access, yet, under the impression of such animating views, we should quickly come to ourselves again, and the arrows of tribulation would, in great measure, become pointless. Christians want nothing but absolute resignation to render them perfectly happy in every possible circumstance, and absolute resignation can only flow from an absolute belief of, and an absolute acquiescence in, God’s absolute providence, founded on absolute predestination. The apostle himself draws these conclusions to our hand in Rom 8:, where, after having laid down, as most undoubted axioms, the eternity and immutability of God’s purposes, he thus winds up the whole: “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.”

Such, therefore, among others, being the uses that arise from the faithful preaching and the cordial reception of predestination, may we not venture to affirm, with Luther, hac ignorata doctrina, neque fidem, neque ullum Dei cultum, consistere posse? that “our faith and all right worship of God, depend in no small degree upon our knowledge of that doctrine?”*

* De Serv. Arbitr., cap. 20.

The excellent Melancthon, in his first Common Places (which received the sanction of Luther’s express approbation), does, in the first chapter, which treats professedly of free-will and predestination, set out with clearing and establishing the doctrine of God’s decrees, and then proceeds to point out the necessity and manifold usefulness of asserting and believing it. He even goes so far as to affirm roundly that “a right fear of God and a true confidence in Him can be learned more assuredly from no other source than from the doctrine of predestination.” But Melancthon’s judgment of these matters will best appear from the whole passage, which the reader will find in the book and chapter just referred to.

Divina predestinatio,”

says he, “Libertatem homini adimit”; Divine predestination quite strips man of his boasted liberty, for all things come to pass according to God’s fore-appointment, even the internal thoughts of all creatures, no less than the external works. Therefore the apostle gives us to understand that God “performeth all things according to the counsel of His own will” (Eph 1:), and our Lord Himself asks, “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? yet one of them falleth not to the ground without your Father” (Mat 10:). Pray what can be more full to the point than such a declaration? So Solomon, “The Lord hath made all things for Himself; yea, even the wicked for the day of evil” (Pro 16:), and in chap. 20:, “Man’s goings are of the Lord:how then can a man understand his own way?” To which the prophet Jeremiah does also set his seal, saying (chapter 10:), “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” The historical part of Scripture teaches us the same great truth. So (Gen 15:) we read that the iniquity of the Amorites was not yet full. In 1Sa 2: we are told that Eli’s sons hearkened not to his reproof, because the Lord would slay them. What could bear a stronger resemblance to chance and accident than Saul’s calling upon Samuel, only with a view to seek out his father’s asses? (1Sa 9:). Yet the visit was fore-ordained of God, and designed to answer a purpose little thought of by Saul (1Sa 9:15,16). See also a most remarkable chain of predestinated events in reference to Saul, and foretold by the prophet (1Sa 10:2,8).

In pursuance of the Divine pre-ordination, there went with Saul a band of men, whose hearts God had touched (1Sa 10:26). The harshness of king Rehoboam’s answer to the ten tribes, and the subsequent revolt of those tribes from his dominion, are by the sacred historian expressly ascribed to God’s decree: “Wherefore the king hearkened not unto the people; for the cause was from the Lord, that He might perform His saying, which the Lord spake by Abijah the Shilonite unto Jeroboam the son of Nebat” (1 Kings 12:15). What is the drift of the Apostle Paul (Rom 9:and 11:), quam ut omnia, quae fiunt, in destinationem divinam referat, but to resolve all things that come to pass into God’s destination? The judgment of the flesh, or of mere unregenerate reason, usually starts back from this truth with horror; but, on the contrary, the judgment of a spiritual man will embrace it with affection. Neque enim vel timorem Dei, vel fiduciam in Deum, certius aliunde disces, quam ubi imbueris animum hac de predestinatione sententia:you will not learn either the fear of God or affiance in Him from a surer source than from getting your mind deeply tinctured and seasoned with this doctrine of predestination.

Does not Solomon, in the Book of Proverbs, inculcate it throughout, and justly, for how else could he direct men to fear God and trust in Him? The same he does in the Book of Ecclesiastes, nor had anything so powerful a tendency to repress the pride of man’s encroaching reason, and to lower the swelling conceit of his supposed discretion, as the firm belief, quod a Deo fiunt omnia, that all things are from God. What invincible comfort did Christ impart to His disciples in assuring them that their very hairs were all numbered by the Creator? Is there, then (may an objector say), no such thing as contingency, no such thing as chance or fortune? No. Omnia necessario evenire scripturae docent; the doctrine of Scripture is, that all things come to pass necessarily. Be it so that to you some events seem to happen contingently, you nevertheless must not be run away with by the suggestions of your own narrow-sighted reason. Solomon himself, the wisest of men, was so deeply versed in the doctrine of inscrutable predestination as to leave this humbling maxim on record. “When I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done upon the earth, then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun, because though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it. Yea, farther, though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it” (Ecclesiastes 8:16,17).

Melancthon prosecutes the argument much further, but this may suffice for a specimen; and it is not unworthy of notice that Luther so highly approved of Melancthon’s performance, and especially of the first chapter (from whence the above extract is given), that he (Luther) thus writes of it in his epistle to Erasmus, prefixed to his book “De Serv. Arb., ” “That it was worthy of everlasting duration, and to be received into the ecclesiastical canon.” Let it likewise be observed that Melancthon never, to the very last, retracted a word of what he there delivers, which a person of his piety and integrity would most certainly have done had he afterwards (as some have artfully and falsely insinuated) found reason to change his judgment on these heads.

Jerome Zanchius-The Doctrine of Absolute Predestination Stated and Asserted-Translated by Augustus Montague Toplady

Predestination ought to be preached that by it we may be excited to the practice of universal godliness

Chapter V

SHOWING THAT THE SCRIPTURE DOCTRINE OF PREDESTINATION SHOULD BE OPENLY
PREACHED AND INSISTED ON, AND FOR WHAT REASONS.

UPON the whole, it is evident that the doctrine of God’s eternal and unchangeable predestination should neither be wholly suppressed and laid aside, nor yet be confined to the disquisition of the learned and speculative only; but likewise should be publicly taught from the pulpit and the press, that even the meanest of the people may not be ignorant of a truth which reflects such glory on God, and is the very foundation of happiness to man. Let it, however, be preached with judgment and discretion, 1:e., delivered by the preacher as it is delivered in Scripture, and no otherwise. By which means, it can neither be abused to licentiousness nor misapprehended to despair, but will eminently conduce to the knowledge, establishment, improvement and comfort of them that hear. That predestination ought to be preached, I thus prove:-

VII.-Hence arises a seventh argument for the preaching of predestination, namely, that by it we may be excited to the practice of universal godliness. The knowledge of God’s love to you will make you an ardent lover of God, and the more love you have to God, the more will you excel in all the duties and offices of love. Add to this that the Scripture view of predestination includes the means as well as the end. Christian predestinarians are for keeping together what God hath joined. He who is for attaining the end without going to it through the means is a self-deluding enthusiast. He, on the other hand, who carefully and conscientiously uses the means of salvation as steps to the end is the true Calvinist.

Now, eternal life being that to which the elect are ultimately destined, faith (the effect of saving grace) and sanctification (the effect of faith) are blessings to which the elect are intermediately appointed. “According as He hath chosen us in Him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (Eph 1:4). “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph 2:10). “knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God . . . and ye became followers of us and of the Lord” (1Th 1:4,6). “God hath chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (2Th 2:13). “Elect, according to the foreknowledge [or ancient love] of God the Father through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience ” (1 Peter 1:2). Nor is salvation (the appointed end of election) at all the less secure in itself (but the more so) for standing necessarily connected with the intervening means, seeing both these and that are inseparably joined, in order to the certain accomplishment of that through these. It only demonstrates that without regeneration of the heart and purity of life, the elect themselves are not led to heaven. But, then, it is incontestible from the whole current of Scripture that these intermediate blessings shall most infallibly be vouchsafed to every elect person, in virtue of God’s absolute covenant and through the effectual agency of His Almighty Spirit. Internal sanctification constitutes our meetness for the kingdom to which we were predestinated, and a course of external righteousness is one of the grand evidences by which we make our election sure to our own present comfort and apprehension of it.*

* 2 Peter 1:10, Give diligence to make your calling and election, bebaiav, undoubted; 1:e., to get some solid and incontestible evidence of your predestination to life. Bebaios is de quo fiducia concipitur; is de quo nobis aliquid certo persuademus. – Unde apud Thuc. 3. Bebaios eimi, touto poiasein certa fides habetur mihi, hoc facturum me esse. Bebaios, certo explorato. Bebaioumai, fidem facio; pro comperto habeo.” Scap. – So, elpis bebaia is an undoubting hope (2Co 1:7), and bebaioteros logos is a more assured and unquestionable word of prophecy (2 Peter 1:19).

Jerome Zanchius-The Doctrine of Absolute Predestination Stated and Asserted-Translated by Augustus Montague Toplady

Without preaching predestination we cannot enjoy a lively sight and experience of God’s special love and mercy towards us

Chapter V

SHOWING THAT THE SCRIPTURE DOCTRINE OF PREDESTINATION SHOULD BE OPENLY
PREACHED AND INSISTED ON, AND FOR WHAT REASONS.

UPON the whole, it is evident that the doctrine of God’s eternal and unchangeable predestination should neither be wholly suppressed and laid aside, nor yet be confined to the disquisition of the learned and speculative only; but likewise should be publicly taught from the pulpit and the press, that even the meanest of the people may not be ignorant of a truth which reflects such glory on God, and is the very foundation of happiness to man. Let it, however, be preached with judgment and discretion, 1:e., delivered by the preacher as it is delivered in Scripture, and no otherwise. By which means, it can neither be abused to licentiousness nor misapprehended to despair, but will eminently conduce to the knowledge, establishment, improvement and comfort of them that hear. That predestination ought to be preached, I thus prove:-

V.-Without the doctrine of predestination we cannot enjoy a lively sight and experience of God’s special love and mercy towards us in Christ Jesus. Blessings, not peculiar, but conferred indiscriminately on every man, without distinction or exception, would neither be a proof of peculiar love in the donor nor calculated to excite peculiar wonder and gratitude in the receiver. For instance, rain from heaven, though an invaluable benefit, is not considered as an argument of God’s special favour to some individuals above others: and why? because it falls on all alike, as much on the rude wilderness and the barren rock as on the cultivated garden and the fruitful field. But the blessing of election, somewhat like the Sibylline books, rises in value, proportionably to the fewness of its objects. So that, when we recollect that in the view of God (to whom all things are at once present) the whole mass of mankind was considered as justly liable to condemnation on account of original and actual iniquity, His selecting some individuals from among the rest and graciously setting them apart in Christ for salvation both from sin and punishment, were such acts of sovereign goodness as exhibit the exceeding greatness and the entire freeness of His love in the most awful, amiable and humbling light.

In order, then, that the special grace of God may shine, predestination must be preached, even the eternal and immutable predestination of His people to faith and everlasting life. “From those who are left under the power of guilt,” says Augustine, “the person who is delivered from it may learn what he too must have suffered had not grace stepped in to his relief. And if it was that grace that interposed, it could not be the reward of man’s merit, but the free gift of God’s gratuitous goodness. Some, however, call it unjust for one to be delivered while another, though no more guilty than the former, is condemned; if it be just to punish one, it would be but justice to punish both. I grant that both might have been justly punished. Let us therefore give thanks unto God our Saviour for not inflicting that vengeance on us, which, from the condemnation of our fellow-sinners, we may conclude to have been our desert, no less than theirs. Had they as well as we been ransomed from their captivity, we could have framed but little conception of the penal wrath due, in strictness of justice, to sin; and, on the other hand, had none of the fallen race been ransomed and set at liberty, how could Divine grace have displayed the riches of its liberality?”* The same evangelical father delivers himself elsewhere to the same effect. “Hence,” says he, “appears the greatness of that grace by which so many are freed from condemnation, and they may form some idea of the misery, due to themselves, from the dreadfulness of the punishment that awaits the rest. Whence those who rejoice are taught to rejoice not in their own merits (quae paria esse vident damnatis, for they see that they have no more merit than the damned), but in the Lord.”+

* Epist. 105, ad Sixt. Presb.

+ De Predest. Sanctor, lib. 1, cap. 9.

Jerome Zanchius-The Doctrine of Absolute Predestination Stated and Asserted-Translated by Augustus Montague Toplady

Predestination is to be preached because the grace of God (which stands opposed to all human worthiness) cannot be maintained without it

Chapter V

SHOWING THAT THE SCRIPTURE DOCTRINE OF PREDESTINATION SHOULD BE OPENLY
PREACHED AND INSISTED ON, AND FOR WHAT REASONS.

UPON the whole, it is evident that the doctrine of God’s eternal and unchangeable predestination should neither be wholly suppressed and laid aside, nor yet be confined to the disquisition of the learned and speculative only; but likewise should be publicly taught from the pulpit and the press, that even the meanest of the people may not be ignorant of a truth which reflects such glory on God, and is the very foundation of happiness to man. Let it, however, be preached with judgment and discretion, 1:e., delivered by the preacher as it is delivered in Scripture, and no otherwise. By which means, it can neither be abused to licentiousness nor misapprehended to despair, but will eminently conduce to the knowledge, establishment, improvement and comfort of them that hear. That predestination ought to be preached, I thus prove:-

II.-Predestination is to be preached because the grace of God (which stands opposed to all human worthiness) cannot be maintained without it. The excellent St. Augustine makes use of this very argument. “If,” says he, “these two privileges (namely, faith itself and final perseverance in faith) are the gifts of God, and if God foreknew on whom He would bestow these gifts (and who can doubt of so evident a truth?), it is necessary for predestination to be preached as the sure and invincible bulwark of that true grace of God, which is given to men without any consideration of merit.”* Thus argued St. Augustine against the Pelagians, who taught that grace is offered to all men alike; that God, for His part, equally wills the salvation of all, and that it is in the power of man’s free-will to accept or reject the grace and salvation so offered. Which string of errors do, as Augustine justly observes, centre in this grand point, gratiam secundum nostra merita dari:that God’s grace is not free, but the fruit of man’s desert.

* De Bono Persever. cap. 21.

Now the doctrine of predestination batters down this delusive Babel of free-will and merit. It teaches us that, if we do indeed will and desire to lay hold on Christ and salvation by Him, this will and desire are the effect of God’s secret purpose and effectual operation, for He it is who worketh in us both to will and to do of His own good pleasure, that he that glorieth should glory in the Lord. There neither is nor can be any medium between predestinating grace and salvation by human merit. We must believe and preach one or the other, for they can never stand together. No attempts to mingle and reconcile these two incompatible opposites can ever succeed, the apostle himself being judge. “If (says he) it (namely, election) be by grace, then is it no more of works, otherwise grace is no more grace:but, if it be of works, then be it no more grace; otherwise work is no more work” (Rom 11:6). Exactly agreeable to which is that of St. Augustine:”Either predestination is to be preached as expressly as the Scriptures deliver it, namely, that with regard to those whom He hath chosen, ‘the gifts and calling of God are without repentance,’ or we must roundly declare, as the Pelagians do, that grace is given according to merit.”* Most certain it is that the doctrine of gratuitous justification through Christ can only be supported on that of our gratuitous predestination in Christ, since the latter is the cause and foundation of the former.

* De Bono Persever. cap. 16.

Jerome Zanchius-The Doctrine of Absolute Predestination Stated and Asserted-Translated by Augustus Montague Toplady

God from eternity elected some and rejected the rest

April 18, 2014 2 comments

Chapter IV

OF REPROBATION OR PREDESTINATION AS IT RESPECTS THE UNGODLY.

FROM what has been said in the preceding chapter concerning the election of some, it would unavoidably follow, even supposing the Scriptures had been silent about it, that there must be a rejection of others, as every choice does, most evidently and necessarily, imply a refusal, for where there is no leaving out there can be no choice. But beside the testimony of reason, the Divine Word is full and express to our purpose; it frequently, and in terms too clear to be misunderstood, and too strong to be evaded by any who are not proof against the most cogent evidence, attests this tremendous truth, that some are “of old fore-ordained to condemnation.” I shall, in the discussion of this awful subject, follow the method hitherto observed, and throw what I have to say into several distinct positions supported by Scripture.

POSITION 8. -Notwithstanding God did from all eternity irreversibly choose out and fix upon some to be partakers of salvation by Christ and rejected the rest (who are therefore termed by the apostle, the refuse, or those that remained and were left out), acting in both according to the good pleasure of His own sovereign will, yet He did not herein act an unjust, tyrannical or cruel part, nor yet show Himself a respecter of persons.

(1) He is not unjust in reprobating some, neither can He be so, for “the Lord is holy in all His ways and righteous in all His works” (Psa 145:7). But salvation and damnation are works of His, consequently neither of them is unrighteous or unholy. It is undoubted matter of fact that the Father draws some men to Christ and saves them in Him with an everlasting salvation, and that He neither draws nor saves some others; and if it be not unjust in God actually to forbear saving these persons after they are born, it could not be unjust in Him to determine as much before they were born. What is not unjust for God to do in time, could not, by parity of argument, be unjust in Him to resolve upon and decree from eternity. And, surely, if the apostle’s illustration be allowed to have any propriety, or to carry any authority, it can no more be unjust in God to set apart some for communion with Himself in this life and the next, and to set aside others according to His own free pleasure, than for a potter to make out of the same mass of clay some vessels for honourable and others for inferior uses. The Deity, being absolute Lord of all His creatures, is accountable to none for His doings, and cannot be chargeable with injustice for disposing of His own as He will.

(2) Nor is the decree of reprobation a tyrannical one. It is, indeed, strictly sovereign; but lawful sovereignty and lawless tyranny are as really distinct and different as any two opposites can be. He is a tyrant, in the common acceptation of that word, who (a) either usurps the sovereign authority and arrogates to himself a dominion to which he has no right, or (b) who, being originally a lawful prince, abuses his power and governs contrary to law. But who dares to lay either of these accusations to the Divine charge? God as Creator has a most unquestionable and unlimited right over the souls and bodies of men, unless it can be supposed, contrary to all Scripture and common sense, that in making of man He made a set of beings superior to Himself and exempt from His jurisdiction. Taking it for granted, therefore, that God has an absolute right of sovereignty over His creatures, if He should be pleased (as the Scriptures repeatedly assure us that He is) to manifest and display that right by graciously saving some and justly punishing others for their sins, who are we that we should reply against God?

Neither does the ever-blessed Deity fall under the second notion of a tyrant, namely, as one who abuses his power by acting contrary to law, for by what exterior law is HE bound, who is the supreme Law giver of the universe? The laws promulgated by Him are designed for the rule of our conduct, not of His.

Should it be objected that “His own attributes of goodness and justice, holiness and truth, are a law to Himself,” I answer that, admitting this to be the case, there is nothing in the decree of reprobation as represented in Scripture, and by us from thence, which clashes with any of those perfections. With regard to the Divine goodness, though the non-elect are not objects of it in the sense the elect are, yet even they are not wholly excluded from a participation of it. They enjoy the good things of providence in common with God’s children, and very often in a much higher degree. Besides, goodness, considered as it is in God, would have been just the same infinite and glorious attribute, supposing no rational beings had been created at all or saved when created. To which may be added, that the goodness of the Deity does not cease to be infinite in itself, only because it is more extended to some objects than it is to others. The infinity of this perfection, as residing in God and coinciding with His essence, is sufficiently secured, without supposing it to reach indiscriminately to all the creatures He has made. For, was this way of reasoning to be admitted, it would lead us too far and prove too much, since, if the infinity of His goodness is to be estimated by the number of objects upon which it terminates, there must be an absolute, proper infinity of reasonable beings to terminate that goodness upon; consequently it would follow from such premises either that the creation is as truly infinite as the Creator, or, if otherwise, that the Creator’s goodness could not be infinite, because it has not an infinity of objects to make happy. *

* The late most learned and judicious Mr. Charnock has, in my judgment at least, proved most clearly and satisfactorily that the exclusion of some individual persons from a participation of saving grace is perfectly consistent with God’s unlimited goodness. He observes that “the goodness of the Deity is infinite and circumscribed by no limits. The exercise of His goodness may be limited by Himself, but His goodness, the principle, cannot, for, since His essence is infinite, and His goodness is not distinguished from His essence, it is infinite also. God is necessarily good in His nature, but free in His communications of it. He is necessarily good, affective, in regard of His nature, but freely good, effective, in regard of the effluxes of it to this or that particular subject He pitcheth upon. He is not necessarily communicative of His goodness, as the sun of its light or a tree of its cooling shade, which chooses not its objects, but enlightens all indifferently without variation or distinction: this were to make God of no more understanding than the sun, which shines not where it pleases, but where it must. He is an understanding agent, and hath a sovereign right to choose His own subjects. It would not be a supreme if it were not a voluntary goodness. It is agreeable to the nature of the Highest Good to be absolutely free, and to dispense His goodness in what methods and measures He pleases, according to the free determinations of His own will, guided by the wisdom of His mind and regulated by the holiness of His nature. He will be good to whom He will be good. When He doth act, He cannot but act well; so far it is necessary yet He may act this good or that good, to this or that degree; so it is free. As it is the perfection of His nature, it is necessary; as it is the communication of His bounty, it is voluntary. The eye cannot but see if it be open, yet it may glance on this or that colour, fix upon this or that object, as it is conducted by the will. What necessity could there be on God to resolve to communicate His goodness [at all]? It could not be to make Himself better by it, for he had [before] a goodness incapable of any addition. What obligation could there be from the creature? Whatever sparks of goodness any creature hath are the free effusions of God’s bounty, the offsprings of his own inclination to do well, the simple favour of the donor. God is as unconstrained in His liberty in all His communications as [He is] infinite in His goodness the fountain of them.” Charnock’s Works, Vol.1, p. 583, etc. With whom agrees the excellent Dr. Bates, surnamed, for his eloquence, the silver-tongued, and who, if he had a silver tongue, had likewise a golden pen. “God,” says he, “is a wise and free agent, and as He is infinite in goodness, so the exercise of it is voluntary, and only so far as He pleases.” -Harm. of Divine Attrib., chap. 3.

Lastly, if it was not incompatible with God’s infinite goodness to pass by the whole body of fallen angels and leave them under the guilt of their apostasy, much less can it clash with that attribute to pass by some of fallen mankind and resolve to leave them in their sins and punish them for them. Nor is it inconsistent with Divine justice to withhold saving grace from some, seeing the grace of God is not what He owes to any. It is a free gift to those that have it, and is not due to those that are without it; consequently there can be no injustice in not giving what God is not bound to bestow. There is no end of cavilling at the Divine dispensations if men are disposed to do it. We might, with equality of reason, when our hand is in, presume to charge the Deity with partiality for not making all His creatures angels because it was in His power to do so, as charge Him with injustice for not electing all mankind. Besides, how can it possibly be subversive of His justice to condemn, and resolve to condemn, the non-elect for their sins when those very sins were not atoned for by Christ as the sins of the elect were? His justice in this case is so far from hindering the condemnation of the reprobate that it renders it necessary and indispensable. Again, is the decree of sovereign preterition and of just condemnation for sin repugnant to the Divine holiness? Not in the least, so far from it, that it does not appear how the Deity could be holy if He did not hate sin and punish it. Neither is it contrary to His truth and veracity. Quite the reverse. For would not the Divine veracity fall to the ground if the finally wicked were not condemned?

(3) God, in the reprobation of some, does not act a cruel part. Whoever accused a chief magistrate of cruelty for not sparing a company of atrocious malefactors, and for letting the sentence of the law take place upon them by their execution? If, indeed, the magistrate pleases to pity some of them and remit their penalty, we applaud his clemency, but the punishment of the rest is no impeachment of his mercy. Now, with regard to God, His mercy is free and voluntary. He may extend it to and withhold it from whom He pleases (Rom 9:15,18), and it is sad indeed if we will not allow the Sovereign, the all-wise Governor of heaven and earth, the same privilege and liberty we allow to a supreme magistrate below.

(4) Nor is God, in choosing some and rejecting others, a respecter of persons. He only comes under that title who, on account of parentage, country, dignity, wealth, or for any other external consideration *, shows more favour to one person than to another. But that is not the case with God. He considers all men as sinners by nature, and has compassion not on persons of this or that sect, country, sex, age or station in life, because they are so circumstanced, but on whom, and because, He will have compassion. Pertinent to the present purpose is that passage of St. Augustine:+ “Forasmuch as some people imagine that they must look on God as a respecter of persons if they believe that without any respect had to the previous merits of men, He hath mercy on whom He will, and calls whom it is His pleasure to call, and makes good whom He pleases. The scrupulousness of such people arises from their not duly attending to this one thing, namely, that damnation is rendered to the wicked as a matter of debt, justice and desert, whereas the grace given to those who are delivered is free and unmerited, so that the condemned sinner cannot allege that he is unworthy of his punishment, nor the saint vaunt or boast as if he was worthy of his reward. Thus, in the whole course of this procedure, there is no respect of persons. They who are condemned and they who are set at liberty constituted originally one and the same lump, equally infected with sin and liable to vengeance. Hence the justified may learn from the condemnation of the rest that that would have been their own punishment had not God’s free grace stepped in to their rescue.”

* prosopolapsia, Personae acceptio, quum magis huic favemus, quam illi, ob circumstantiam aliquam, ceu qualitatem, externam, ei adhaerentem; puta genus, dignitatem, opes, patriam, etc. Scapula, in voc. So that elegant, accurate and learned Dutch divine, Laurentius:Haec vero est, quando persona personae praefertur ex causa indebita:puta, si judez absolvat reum, vel quia dives est, vel quia potens, vel quia magistratus est, vel quia amicus et propinquus est, etc. “That is respect of persons, when one man is preferred to another on some sinister and undue account, as when a judge acquits a criminal merely because he is rich, or powerful, or is his friend or relation, etc.” – Comment. in Epist. Jacob, p .92. Now, in the matter of election and preterition, God is influenced by no such motives, nor indeed by any exterior inducement or any motive, extra se, out of Himself. He does not, for instance, condemn any pennons on account of their poverty. But, on the reverse, hath chosen many who are poor in this world (James 2:5). Nor does He condemn any for being rich, for some, even of the mighty and noble, are called by His grace (1Co 1:26). He does not respect any man’s parentage or country, for the elect will be “gathered together from the four winds, from under one end of heaven to the other” (Mat 24:31), and He hath redeemed to Himself a select number “out of every kindred and tongue, and people, and nation” (Rev 5:9; 7:9). So far is God from being in any sense a respecter of persons, that in Christ Jesus, there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female (Gal 3:28). He does not receive one nor reject another merely for coming or not coming under any of these characters. His own sovereign will, and not their external or internal circumstances, was the sole rule by which He proceeded in appointing some to salvation and decreeing to leave others in their sins. So that God is not herein a respecter of their persons, but a respecter of Himself and His own glory. And as God is no respecter of persons because He chooses some as objects of His favour and omits others, all being on a perfect equality, so neither does it follow that He is such from His actually conferring spiritual and eternal blessings on the former and denying them to the latter, seeing these blessings are absolutely His own, and which He may, therefore, without injustice, give or not give at His pleasure. Dr. Whitby himself, though so strenuous an adversary to everything that looks like predestination, yet very justly observes (and such a concession from such a pen merits the reader’s attention):”Locum non habet [scil. prosopolapsia] in bonis mere liberis et gratuitis:neque iis. in quibus, unum alteri praeferre, nostri arbitrii out privilegii est.” -Ethic. Compend., 1.2, c. 5, sect. 9, 1:e., “The bestowing [and consequently the withholding] of such benefits, as are merely gratuitous and undeserved, does not argue respect of persons; neither is it respect of persons to prefer one before another when we have a right and it is our pleasure so to do.” I shall only add the testimony of Thomas Aquinas, a man of some genius and much application, who, though in very many things a laborious trifler, was yet, on some subjects, a clear reasoner and judicious writer. His words are:” Duplex est datio; una quidem pertinens ad justitiam; qua scilicet, aliquis dat alicui quod ei debetur; et circa tales dationes attenditur personarum acceptio. Alia est datio ad liberalitatem pertinens; qua, scilicet, gratis datur alicui quod ei non debetur. Et talis est Collatio munerum gratiae, per quae peccatores assumuntur a Deo. Et, in hac donatione, non habet locum personarum acceptio; quia quilibet, absque injustitia, potest do suo dare quantum vult, at cui vult:secundum illud (Mat 20:). Annon licet mihi quod volo facere? tolle quod tuum est et vade,” 1:e., “There is a twofold rendering or giving, the one a matter of justice, whereby that is paid to a man which was due to him. Here it is possible for us to act partially and with respect of persons.” [Thus, for example’s sake, if I owe money to two men, one of whom is rich, the other poor, and I pay the rich man because he has it in his power to sue me, but defraud the other because of his inability to do himself justice, I should be a respecter of persons. But as Aquinas goes on]:”There is a second kind of rendering or giving, which is a branch of mere bounty and liberality, by which that is freely bestowed on any man which was not due to him: such are the gifts of grace whereby sinners are received of God. In the bestowment of grace respect of persons is absolutely out of the question, because everyone may, and can, without the least shadow of injustice, give as much of his own as he will and to whom he will, according to that passage in Mat 20:, ‘Is it not lawful for me to do what I will [with my own]? take up that which is thine and go thy way.'” -Aquin. Summ. Theol. 2-2dae Qu. 63, A. 1. On the whole it is evident that respect of persons can only have place in matters of justice, and is but another name for perversion of justice, consequently it has nothing to do with matters of mere goodness and bounty, as all the blessings of grace and salvation are.

+ Tom. 2, Epist. 105, ad Sixtum Presb.

Before I conclude this head, I will obviate a fallacious objection very common in the mouths of our opponents. “How,” they say, “is the doctrine of reprobation reconcilable with the doctrine of a future judgment?” To which I answer that there need be no pains to reconcile these two, since they are so far from interfering with each other that one follows from the other, and the former renders the latter absolutely necessary. Before the judgment of the great day, Christ does not so much act as the Judge of His creatures as their absolute Lord and Sovereign. From the first creation to the final consummation of all things He does, in consequence of His own eternal and immutable purpose (as a Divine Person), graciously work in and on His own elect, and permissively harden the reprobate. But when all the transactions of providence and grace are wound up in the last day, He will then properly sit as Judge, and openly publish and solemnly ratify, if I may so say, His everlasting decrees by receiving the elect, body and soul, into glory, and by passing sentence on the non-elect (not for their having done what they could not help, but) for their wilful ignorance of Divine things and their absolute unbelief, for their omissions of moral duty and for their repeated iniquities and transgressions.

Jerome Zanchius-The Doctrine of Absolute Predestination Stated and Asserted-Translated by Augustus Montague Toplady

Chapter 17-Creation

April 2, 2014 1 comment

Creation

IT is natural that the origin of the universe should have been one of the most prominent subjects of inquiry among men. Various theories have been presented, not only by those who have been guided by reason only, but even by others to whom revelation has been known but not accepted as authoritative. All theories, however, may be generally reduced to four.

That which asserts that matter is the one eternal, self-existent substance from which all else proceeds.

That which regards it as an emanation from God.

That which maintains that matter is itself eternal, but has been acted upon by God, who has used its substance in the construction of all things, thus giving to them form and life.

That which accords with the Scripture teaching, that the universe has been made absolutely out of nothing, by the active exercise of the will and power of God.

It is the duty of Theology to examine each of these theories, and to set forth the reasons for believing that matter is neither self-existent and independently eternal, nor an emanation from God, nor mere material used by him, but has been created out of nothing.

1. Matter is not the one eternal, self-existent substance from which all else proceeds.

(1.) If it is, then mind is the product of matter, and not matter that of mind.

The universe presents to us both mind and matter. Each of these must exist independently of the other, or the one must have been the production of the other. Which then has been the producing cause? Have the mental powers, which are exhibited by man, been the development of forces inherent in matter, which through various processes have finally attained to self-consciousness, and thought, and purpose, such as we find in man? or is there some infinite mind which has originated all things, both mind and matter?

The greater reasonableness of the supposition that mind has originated matter is ably set forth by Dr. Hovey, in his Manual of Theology, pp. 28-39. He contends that it is more reasonable to suppose, (1.) that there is one original and self-existent force or being than more than one; (2.) that matter is a product of mind, rather than mind of matter; (3.) that the order of the universe is due to a supreme mind, rather than to forces co-operating together without purpose; (4.) that the vegetable world is a product of mind organizing matter, rather than of matter organizing itself; (5.) that the animal world is a product of mind, imparting a higher organizing principle to vegetable elements, rather than of vegetable forces acting alone; (6.) that man, as a rational being, is a product of mind, giving a higher principle of life to animal being, rather than of mere vital forces acting without reason; (7.) that man, as a moral being, is a product of the supreme mind, itself moral, rather than of vital forces that have no moral insight; (8.) that man, as a religious being, is a product of the supreme mind, rather than of mere vital forces.

The above are simply condensed statements of the mere propositions laid down by Dr. Hovey. His full argument shows conclusively how utterly unreasonable is the idea that mind should have proceeded from matter, and not produced it. But, if so, it is equally unreasonable that matter should be the one originating cause of the universe.

(2.) The same fact appears from the existence of the laws which control matter. Matter has fixed limitations, within which alone it can act. Its movements, its changes of form, its developments, and indeed all things connected with it are governed by fixed, and, so far as we can see, unchangeable laws. These laws can be examined and known, and made the basis of the action of men. Now these laws can be accounted for only in one of three ways. Either they belong to matter as a necessity of its nature, or matter has the power to give to itself laws, or these laws have been imposed upon it by a superior intelligence. But if the first be true, then that necessity of nature would not only make these laws unchangeable, (for whatever exists of necessity, exists without possibility of change,) but would likewise make it impossible for men to conceive of any reasonable change in them in any respect. But the fact that there is such great diversity among the scientific theories which attempt to develop the laws controlling nature in many of its aspects, and that there seems no absurdity nor natural impossibility that the law should accord with any one of these theories, or be different from it,–evinces that there is no absurdity nor unreasonableness in supposing that the material universe might have been placed under very different laws from those which exist.

But the second of these suppositions cannot he true, because matter must then, in some aspect, have had intelligence to understand, and establish law before the existence of mind in any form; for science teaches that created mind, (which, upon the supposition, is the only kind of existent mind,) comes forth in connection with the higher organisms of existence, and long after apparent operation of the laws which regulate matter.

It is certain, therefore, that the laws of matter have been imposed by a superior intelligence, and, consequently, that matter cannot be the eternal, self-existent substance, from which all else proceeds.

(3.) The incapacity of matter to create anything shows that it is not self-existent, and eternal. All that is claimed for matter is the power to develop one form into another. It is even denied that there has been any increase in its original materials since it first began to be. But it is evident that whatever cannot be the cause of existence to others, cannot be the cause of its own existence, or be self-existent. The latter is a far higher power than the former.

(4.) That matter is not eternally self-existent is also manifest from the fact that it exists in time. The laws of time require succession of moments and limits of duration. Matter could not he eternal in any other way than through the existence of an infinite series of finite periods, which is absurd.

2. Matter is not an emanation from God.

That which goes forth from God must either be from his nature, or from his mere will and power. But the latter would be a mere creation out of nothing, since it would not be something produced out of himself. An emanation from God must, therefore, proceed from his nature. But it cannot be of this character.

(a) Because, if from his nature, it must possess the attributes of that nature, and must exist in the same mode of existence with it. But matter has none of the attributes which belong to God. Nor is the mode of its existence like his. It has neither self-existence, nor eternity of existence, nor even infinity of space or time, since it is composed of finite parts, and exists in successive moments which are finite and measurable. It has not intelligence, nor purposing power, nor can it have wisdom or goodness, neither can it exercise justice, nor experience love.

(b) An emanation from the nature of God would be opposed to the doctrine of the unity of God. That which thus proceeds would be as truly God as that from which it comes forth. We should, therefore, have two Gods. Indeed, as matter itself is capable of indefinite division, there would be an indefinite number of Gods. The doctrine of the Trinity gives no support to such an emanation as matter would necessarily be. It does not teach an emanation from the nature of God, for the divine nature remains one only, and is not divided among the three persons, but is the common substance in which they subsist. In order that matter should subsist in God in like manner, it must itself have a conscious personal existence, and have all the attributes of God, and have the same mode of existence.

3. Neither is matter a substance upon which God has simply acted in the production of the Universe.

(a) The evidence that it is not eternal shows that it was not thus present of itself with God furnishing material for his workmanship. If it existed at any time as purely inorganic, it must either have been first created in that condition, or permitted to lapse into it from its original form.

(b) The power and right thus to act upon matter must either have been conferred upon God, as it is on us, or it must have arisen from his having created it. But as there was no one to confer this power upon God, the Universe must have been created by him.

4. The theory of a creation out of nothing, by the mere will and power of God, is then the only reasonable supposition upon which to account for the existence of the Universe. It is not an objection to this reasonableness, that it was first made known by Revelation. Being thus revealed, it appears to reason, not only to be fully accordant with all the facts and phenomena of matter, but to be the only theory which can account for them. That this theory has been suggested by the language of God’s word makes it no less reasonable than if suggested by some mere man. It is at once seen not to be an impossibility. It is not a creation out of nothing, in the sense that it has had no cause, or has been produced without the existence of forces adequate to the end. The cause and the forces are in God; in his will, and wisdom, and power, and goodness. It cannot be said to come from nothing, for it comes from God. The mind readily rests in such a theory. It fully answers all the demands of the problem to be solved. It is accompanied with none of the difficulties which press against the theories based upon the eternity of matter. The manner in which God works is indeed unknown to us; but that he may so work is highly accordant with reason. 

The creation of the world out of nothing is the plain teaching of Scripture. It is true, that the phrase to “create from nothing” is not found, except in one of the apocryphal books of the Old Testament (2 Maccabees 7:28). But the fact itself is taught expressly in Heb. 11:3. “By faith we understand that the worlds have been framed by the word of God, so that what is seen hath not been made out of things which do appear.” The account of the general creation in Genesis conveys the same idea, and a like impression is produced by the Scriptures generally. It has been argued from the verbs, used to declare the creation, both in Genesis and elsewhere; but the argument is doubtful, as these words are also applied to acts of creation out of pre-existent matter.

This creation out of nothing seems essential to the power of God over matter. If he did not create it, it exists independently of him; but if it is his creation, then he has absolute control, not only over the forms into which he has shaped it, and over the laws he has given it, but over matter itself in every respect, even over its longer existence for a moment of time.

A distinction is made between immediate or primary creation, which is that act by which God acts directly without the use of pre-existent materials, and mediate and secondary creations, which are those acts by which out of pre-existent materials he produces his creatures. The universe of matter was an immediate creation. The body of Adam was a mediate one, and so, also, are those of all his posterity.

Several objections have been presented against the full inspiration of the account of the Creation given in the first chapters of Genesis.

(1.) It is claimed that the general account which concludes with the third verse of the second chapter cannot be an inspired writing, because it was evidently taken from some other source, and incorporated in this book.

In reply It may be said:

(a) That this has not been, and cannot be established.

(b) That if it were, it would not affect its inspiration.

It is much more probable that the genealogies of Christ, given by Matthew and Luke, were from the records of the family of David. The inspiration of Matthew, and Luke, and Moses does not depend upon these having been made as direct revelations to him; but upon the fact that they were moved by the Holy Ghost to insert them in the books they were writing, such moving of the Spirit being, however, an evidence of the truthfulness of the records. If; therefore, it could be proved that the account of creation existed long before the days of Moses, this proof would, in no respect, militate against its inspiration.

(2.) Another objection is that Genesis represents the Creation as occurring in six literal days of twenty-four hours each, and that geological science has proved that the world was created in periods of time much longer.

But the account does not necessarily teach that this work was done in six such days.

(a) Because the word “day” is sometimes an indefinite term, the true meaning of which must be ascertained by the context. It is applied to each of these periods in the first chapter, and also to all of them unitedly in Gen. 2:4. The Scriptures frequently use it very indefinitely, as the “day of trouble,” “of wrath,” “of temptation,” “of vengeance,” etc. It even embraces the whole period of a captivity as “the day of Jerusalem,” Ps, 137:7; and “the day of Egypt,” Ezek. 30:9. These, and many other applications, show that frequently it means merely a period, and the length of that period must be accertained otherwise.

(b) Because the Hebrew words translated “evening,” and “morning,” while almost always used for those portions of the day, do not necessarily indicate a day of twenty-four hours’ duration, but may denote only the changes which occur periodically in any cyclical period. The root ideas of these words are “the mingling” (evening) and “the bursting forth” (morning). They are thus beautifully descriptive of a time of intermingling of the elements, leading to a period of darkness, and that again followed by the bursting forth of the appearance of a new creation, the whole forming one cyclical period. The length of the period is not necessarily indicated by them. The use, also, of these words before the appearance of the Sun and Moon on the fourth day, very decidedly confirms the idea that the periods need not be those of an ordinary day.

(c) While it is admitted that the resting of God upon the seventh day, in connection with the language of the commandment respecting the observance of the Sabbath, favours the idea of days of twenty-four hours, even this does not make necessary such days. We know not what is exactly meant by God’s resting on the seventh day. There is certainly something figurative, or anthropomorphic about it. The “rest” of this first chapter may represent the ceasing from creative work in this world, and the seventh day of rest, which man is commanded to observe, may he commemorative and typical of the former; this being brief and inferior, in comparison with that, as man is but an atom in the creation of the great God of this greater Sabbath.

From these facts it is manifest that we are not compelled to maintain that the creation was limited to six ordinary days. This is all that is necessary. If science can show the impossibility of such a six-day creation, we can reply that the Scriptures do not necessarily teach it. And the fact of this possibility of concurrence with possible scientific discoveries, heretofore so generally unlooked for, becomes strong evidence of the inspiration of this account of Creation.

(3.) Another objection is, that, according to any scripture chronology which we have, man has been on the earth only six or eight thousand years, and yet that fossil remains of men have been found who must have existed fifty thousand years ago, or more.

(a) But satisfactory proof of this has not yet been afforded. Scientific men themselves are not agreed about it.

(b) But if true, the Scriptures are not necessarily wrong, nor uninspired. The chronology of the different forms in which the Old Testament has come down to us is known to vary. This is attributable to mistakes in copying, which can more easily occur in the representations of numbers, than of any other ideas. It may be that Adam was created more than eight thousand years ago, and that the original chronology of the Scriptures so taught. It may be that, in connection with that greater antiquity, if all were known about it, would appear explanations of the great age to which many of the patriarchs are said to have arrived. Nor is it impossible that other races of men existed before Adam, either endowed as he was, with both spiritual and animal life, or they with animal life only, and he with the specially added endowment of a spiritual nature. While it is granted that such has not probably been the fact, yet is it not impossible that it may have been.

While these various objections thus seem not to render impossible the absolute verity of this Genesis account of Creation, there are other facts which ought to be remembered which support the narrative.

1. That it is natural that the Scripture should use phenomenal language only as to scientific matters. We do this every time we speak of the sun rising and setting, and no one misunderstands, or is deceived. This is the only method in which a book for all ages could refer to scientific matters. Had the Bible used language exactly suited to the science of to-day, embracing all its best established theories, in less than fifty years it would have to be admitted that it could not be from God, because of its lack of truth. Had it been written in the language of true science originally, age after age would have rejected it as false. It could only treat science phenomenally.

2. But, while thus written, it often gives underlying evidence that God its author knew truths of science, that could not have been known to the science of that day. This is particularly shown in this account of Creation. Light here appears before the Sun and the Moon. The order of the creations accords generally with that taught by Geology from an examination of the stratifications of the rocks. Man is made after all other creations, and his body is made of the dust of the earth. Even the universe was not made as it now appears, for, while the first verse of the first chapter states the creation of both heavens and earth, the second teaches that, before the formative process began, the earth was in a chaotic condition. The truth is, that, so generally, and yet so accurately, are the statements made, that, even if it could be proved that the Universe is the production of original concurrent atoms, or of a universal fire mist, or the development of molecules, there is nothing in this Genesis account to commit it to the contrary. Even the creation of animal life, including that of man, is from the earth, which is directed to bring forth. The soul of man is the only living thing which is declared to have been a direct creation of God.

Several theories have been presented for the full reconciliation of Genesis and Geology. It is not necessary to state them here. It is enough that there are possible means of such reconciliation, and that any one, or more of them, may be true. The veracity of the Scriptures is otherwise abundantly proved. Here it is charged that they speak falsely. Were a man of well-known probity and honour thus assailed, and facts, however strong, or cumulative, presented against him, it would suffice to support his denial by showing that there are possible circumstances which may explain all seeming falsehood. So with the Scriptures. They are charged with error. It is enough to show one possible explanation. But, in this case, we can show several. This would suffice. But we are justified in challenging those who deny inspiration to account for the many coincidences with the scientific teaching found in this narrative.

Rev. James Petigru Boyce, D. D., LL. D.,–Abstract of Systematic Theology–First published in 1887

 

God is the creator of the wicked, but not of their wickedness

March 28, 2014 4 comments

Chapter IV

OF REPROBATION OR PREDESTINATION AS IT RESPECTS THE UNGODLY.

FROM what has been said in the preceding chapter concerning the election of some, it would unavoidably follow, even supposing the Scriptures had been silent about it, that there must be a rejection of others, as every choice does, most evidently and necessarily, imply a refusal, for where there is no leaving out there can be no choice. But beside the testimony of reason, the Divine Word is full and express to our purpose; it frequently, and in terms too clear to be misunderstood, and too strong to be evaded by any who are not proof against the most cogent evidence, attests this tremendous truth, that some are “of old fore-ordained to condemnation.” I shall, in the discussion of this awful subject, follow the method hitherto observed, and throw what I have to say into several distinct positions supported by Scripture.

POSITION 5. -God is the creator of the wicked, but not of their wickedness; He is the author of their being, but not the infuser of their sin.

It is most certainly His will (for adorable and unsearchable reasons) to permit sin, but, with all possible reverence be it spoken, it should seem that He cannot, consistently with the purity of His nature, the glory of His attributes, and the truth of His declarationo, be Himself the author of it. ” Sin,” says the apostle, “entered into the world by one man,” meaning by Adam, consequently it was not introduced by the Deity Himself. Though without the permission of His will and the concurrence of His providence, its introduction had been impossible, yet is He not hereby the Author of sin so introduced.* Luther observes (De Serv. Arb., c. 42):”It is a great degree of faith to believe that God is merciful and gracious, though He saves so few and condemns so many, and that He is strictly just, though, in consequence of His own will, He made us not exempt from liableness to condemnation.” And cap. 148: “Although God doth not make sin, nevertheless He ceases not to create and multiply individuals in the human nature, which, through the withholding of His Spirit, is corrupted by sin, just as a skilful artist may form curious statues out of bad materials. So, such as their nature is, such are men themselves; God forms them out of such a nature.”

* It is a known and very just maxim of the schools, Effectus sequitur causam proximam:”An effect follows from, and is to be inscribed to, the last immediate cause that produced it.” Thus, for instance, if I hold a book or a stone in my hand, my holding it is the immediate cause of its not falling; but if I let it go, my letting it go is not the immediate cause of its falling:it is carried downwards by its own gravity, which is therefore the causa proxima effectus, the proper and immediate cause of its descent. It is true, if I had kept my hold of it, it would not have fallen, yet still the immediate, direct cause of its fall is its own weight, not my quitting my hold. The application of this to the providence of God, as concerned in sinful events, is easy. Without God, there could have been no creation; without creation, no creatures; without creatures, no sin. Yet is not sin chargeable on God for effectus sequitur causam proximam.

Jerome Zanchius-The Doctrine of Absolute Predestination Stated and Asserted-Translated by Augustus Montague Toplady

Christian Philosophy’s boldest apostle

August 13, 2013 4 comments

CraigWilliam Lane Craig has been proclaimed to be one of the greatest debaters of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Hands down he has debated quite a few individuals on the existence of God. Though I disagree with his molinism, I nevertheless respect his knowledge concerning the Kalam Cosmological argument and how to debate an opponent. This argument and various other knowledge concerning physics and science has allowed him to defeat every opponent he has ever debated. So much so, that atheists fear to debate him.

I ran across this link entitled “The New Theist-How William Lane Craig became Christian philosophy’s boldest apostle”

Here is a quote from the article:

 

“Several months later, in April 2011, Craig debated another New Atheist author, Sam Harris, in a large, sold-out auditorium at the University of Notre Dame. In a sequence of carefully timed speeches and rejoinders, the two men clashed over whether we need God for there to be moral laws. Harris delivered most of the better one-liners that night, while Craig, in suit and tie, fired off his volleys of argumentation with the father-knows-best composure of Mitt Romney, plus a dash of Schwarzenegger. Something Harris said during the debate might help explain how Dawkins reacted: He called Craig “the one Christian apologist who seems to have put the fear of God into many of my fellow atheists.””

 

Read the entire article here.