Proofread for CRTA by Michael H. Woolsey - 3/15/2001
ARTICLES Extracted from the Latin, as well as the French, Books of John Calvin on PREDESTINATION.
This is the First ARTICLE I shall produce. And now hear what arguments are brought by your adversaries against it.
(THAT IS, CALUMNY I.)
GOD OF HIS PURE AND MERE WILL CREATED THE GREATEST PART OF THE WORLD TO PERDITION.
Your opponents maintain that this article is contrary to nature, and contrary to the Scripture. With respect to nature, they affirm that every animal loves its own offspring. Now this nature is given of God, whence it follows that God also loves His own offspring; for God would not cause all animals to love their own offspring, unless He Himself loved His own offspring. And this position they prove in the following manner from Isaiah lxvi. 9: " Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? " As if He had said, " That which I cause others to do, I also do myself. Now I cause others to bring forth; therefore I also bring forth." By a parity of reasoning, therefore, they derive this argument and its conclusion: God causes all animals to love their own offspring. Therefore He Himself also loves His own offspring. Now all men are the offspring of God. For God is the Father of Adam, from whom all men sprung. But to create men to perdition is not an act of love, but of hatred. Therefore, God did not create anyone to perdition. And, again, they argue: " Creation is a work of love, not of hatred.
CALUMNIATOR'S STATEMENTS AND OBSERVATIONS.
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Therefore, God created all men in love, not in hatred." And again, " No beast is so cruel (to say nothing of man) that it would desire to create its young to misery. How much less, then, shall such a desire be found in God! Would not God in such a case of creation be less kind and merciful than the wolf which He has created? " Christ argues in this way: " If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall God? " (Matt. vii. 11.) It is just thus that your adversaries argue. They say, If Calvin, though an evil man, yet would not wish to beget a child unto misery, how much less shall God desire to do so? These and like arguments your opponents bring forward with respect to nature.
But with reference to the Scripture they reason thus: God saw that " all things " which He had made were " very good." Such therefore was man, whom also He had made " very good." But what if God created him to destruction? If such be the case, God created that which " was very good " to destruction and perdition, and therefore He must love to destroy! But that is a thing impious, even in thought. And again, they argue: God created one man and placed him in Paradise, which is a life of happiness. Therefore God created all men for a happy life, for all men were created in the one man. And if all men fell in Adam, it follows that all men stood in Adam, and also in the very condition in which Adam stood. And further, God says, " I would not the death of a sinner;" and again, it is written that God " willeth not that any should perish, but that all men should come to the knowledge of the truth " ( 1 Tim. ii. 4). Farther, if God created the greatest part of the world to perdition, it follows that His anger is greater than His mercy, and it consequently follows also that His anger is strewn " unto the third and fourth generation." Whereas, " it is evident, on the contrary, that His mercy extends " even unto the thousandth generation ! "
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That on which you seize as your FIRST ARTICLE is, "that God, by His pure and mere will, created the greatest part of the world to perdition." Now, all this -- " the greatest part of the world unto perdition," and " by His own pure and mere will " -- is a perfect fiction, and a production from the workshop of your own brain. For although God did certainly decree from the beginning everything which should befall the race of men, yet such a manner of speech as the saying that the end or object of God's work of creation was destruction or perdition, is nowhere to be found in my writings. Just like an unclean hog, therefore, you root up with your foul snout all doctrine that is of sweet odour, hoping to find in it something filthy and offensive.
REPLY OF JOHN CALVIN TO ARTICLE I. (THAT IS, CALUMNY I.) AND TO THE CALUMNIATOR'S OBSERVATIONS THEREON.
In the next place, although my doctrine is that the will of God is the first and supreme cause of all things, yet I everywhere teach that wheresoever in His counsels and works the cause does not plainly appear, yet that there is a cause which lies hidden in Himself, and that according to it He has decreed nothing but that which is wise and holy and just. Therefore, with reference to the sentiments of the schoolmen concerning the absolute, or tyrannical, will of God, I not only repudiate, but abhor them all, because they separate the justice of God from His ruling power. Now see, then, thou unclean dog, how much thou hast gained, and how far thou hast advanced thy cause by this thy impudent barking. For myself, while I subject the whole human race to the will of God, I at the same
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time ever affirm that God never decrees anything but with the most righteous reason, which reason (though it may at the present time be unknown to us) will assuredly be revealed to us at the last day in all its infinite righteousness and Divine perfection.
You thrust in my face, and impudently upbraid me with, the " pure and mere will of God," which idea I, in a hundred or more passages of my books, utterly repudiate. Meantime, I freely acknowledge my doctrine to be this: that Adam fell, not only by the permission of God, but by His very secret counsel and decree; and that Adam drew all his posterity with himself, by his Fall, into eternal destruction. Both these positions, it seems, give you great offence, as being (according to your account) " contrary to nature, and to the Scripture." You attempt to prove it to be contrary to nature, because every animal naturally loves its own offspring; whence you argue that, therefore, God, who gave such a natural affection to brute beasts, ought not, certainly, less to love all men, seeing that they are His offspring. Your argument and thought are infinitely too coarse and low, and infinitely beneath the mightiness of the matter, when you demand of God, the eternal Author of nature, just what He rightfully demands of the ox and the ass, which He has created. As if God Himself ought to be bound by the same laws as those which He has appointed for the creatures which He has made ! That every animal might propagate its own kind, He has implanted in each animal the desire of that propagation. Go thou, then, and expostulate with God, and ask Him how it is that from all eternity He has remained content with Himself, and has retained His own native excellency and glory barren, as it were, and unpropagated ! God ought certainly ever to be consistent with Himself. If thou, therefore, art to be our judge in the mighty and stupendous matter, God has violated the order by choosing rather to be without all offspring, than to exercise His fruitfulness!
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Moreover, as all brute beasts fight for their offspring, even unto death, how is it (according to your doctrine) that God permits His helpless offspring to be torn in pieces and devoured by tigers, and bears, and lions, and wolves? Is it because His hand is too short, so that He cannot stretch it down out of heaven for their defence ! See you not how wide a field lies open to me, if I were inclined to expose and condemn all your idle and absurd reasonings! ! But I will content myself with dwelling on one point only, and let that suffice. Proofs of the love of God towards the whole human race exist innumerable, all which demonstrate the ingratitude of those who perish or come " to perdition." This fact, however, forms no reason whatever why God should not confine His especial or peculiar love to a few, whom He has, in infinite condescension, been pleased to choose out of the rest!
When God was pleased to adopt unto Himself the family of Abraham, He thereby most plainly testified that He did not embrace the whole of mankind with an equal love. When, again, God rejected Esau, the elder, and chose Jacob, the younger brother, He gave a manifest and signal proof of His free love, of that love with which He loves none others than those whom He will ! Moses declares aloud that one certain nation was beloved of God, while all nations beside were passed by and disregarded as to any peculiar love of God for them. The prophets everywhere testify that the Jews exceeded and surpassed all other nations in excellency and importance, for no other reason than because God freely loved them.
Again, Christ is not addressing the whole human race, nor indeed the whole Jewish nation, but God's little chosen flock alone, when He says, and not in vain, " Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." (Luke xii. 32) By which Christ intimates that none experience the favour of God unto the hope of eternal life but those whom He has rendered acceptable and well-pleasing
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unto Himself by His only-begotten Son ! But if you are determined to make God subject to the laws of nature, you must necessarily accuse and condemn Him of injustice, because, on account of the fault of one man, we are all involved in the guilt and desert of eternal death. One man sinned, and we are all dragged to punishment. And not that only, but by the pollution of one we are all drawn into the contagion, and are born corrupt and infected with a deadly disease. What have you to say to this noble Teacher and Judge? Will you accuse the blessed God of cruelty, because He has thus precipitated all His offspring into ruin by the Fall of one man? For although Adam destroyed both himself and all his offspring, yet the corruption and the guilt of that Fall of one man must necessarily be ascribed to the secret counsel and decree of God ! For the fault of one man could have had nothing to do with us, had not our heavenly Judge been pleased to consign us to eternal destruction on the account!
Now only reflect, for a moment, how craftily you apply those passages of the prophet Isaiah as a covering for your error (Isa. liv. 1; xlix. 19-21, etc.). As it seemed beyond all belief that the Church of God, in her Babylonish captivity, being not only bereft of her children, but also barren in her power to produce more, should, by the recovery of her strength, become even more fruitful than she was before, God in these passages speaks, as it were, thus to her: " Am not I, by whose power women conceive and bring forth, able to raise up an offspring to thee also? " Because God speaks thus to His Church, you, under this pretext, would force Him to assume the affections of any kind of animal. And you daringly reason that, because God causes all animals to love their own offspring, He also loves all His own offspring, namely, the whole race of mankind. And suppose, for a moment, that l grant you this; it will not, therefore, at once follow that God loves His own in the same manner as beasts love their own. And, in the next place, if God does
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love His own, it does not the less follow that He has a right to reject, as a just Judge, those to whom He had in vain shown His love and indulgence throughout their whole lives as the kindest Father.
But you are ready to reply, next, that " to create is a work of love, not of hatred; and that God therefore created in love, not in hatred." But you perceive not, that though all men are hateful to God in fallen Adam, yet that in their original creation the love of God shines in all its brightness. That argument, therefore, which you think is so very plausible, any other person, endowed with the most moderate judgment, and with common equity, acknowledges in a moment to be frivolous and vain. That which you next add, I do not consider it my duty so much to refute, as to cut down at once with the stroke of the sword. It is indeed evident that men are born to misery. But is the cause of this to be imputed to my writings? Whence arises this miserable condition of us all, that we are subject not only to temporal evils, but to eternal death? Does it not arise from the solemn fact that, by the Fall and fault of one man, God was pleased to cast us all under the common guilt? In this miserable ruin of the whole human race, therefore, it is not my opinion only that is plainly seen, but it is the work of God Himself that is so openly undeniably manifest.
Meantime, you hesitate not to vomit forth your profane and abhorrent opinion that God is worse than any wolf, who thus wills to create men to misery. Some men, be it remembered, are born blind, some deaf, some dumb, some of monstrous deformity. Now, if we are to go by your opinion as the judge in these sacred and deep matters, God is also cruel, because He afflicts His offspring with such evils as these, and that, too, before they have seen the light. But the day, be thou assured, will come when thou wilt heartily wish that thou hadst been blind, rather than thou hadst ever been so wonderfully sharp-sighted in thus penetrating into these secrets of the eternal God !
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You accuse God of injustice; nay, you declare Him to be nothing above a monster, if He dares to decree anything concerning men otherwise than we ourselves should determine concerning our own children. If so, how shall we account for God's creating some dull of comprehension, others of greater incapacity, others quite idiots? Do you really think that the work of God's creation, with reference to such imperfect mortals, was really according to the fables of some Jews about the Fauns and Satyrs? For they say that God was prevented from completing the form of these latter monsters by the intervention of the Sabbath, and therefore that they fell, half made, from His hands. No ! It rather becomes us to receive a deep and humbling lesson from such sad spectacles as these defective human beings, and not to commence a quarrel with the Maker of heaven and earth, from the conceptions of our own brain, concerning His works, or what, in our opinion, they ought to have been. When any idiot happens to meet me, I am admonished to reflect upon what God might have made me, had He been so pleased! As many dull of comprehension and idiots as there are in the world, so many spectacles does God set before me in which to behold His power; not less a subject of awe than a subject of wonder.
But as for you, you brawl against God Himself with all impiety and profanity, as " being less merciful than a wolf," because (according to your opinion) He has so little considered the good and happiness of His offspring! Now, before the saying of Christ -- " that God, because He is good, acts more kindly towards His children than men do, who are evil " ( Matt. vii. 11) -- can be called in to favour your opinions and arguments, you must prove that all men are equally the children of God. But it is evident that all men lost in Adam eternal life, and that, therefore, the adoption of God is an act of special grace; whence it will follow that all those are the rather hated of God who are thus estranged and alienated from Him. All the
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testimonies of the Scripture which you cite are mere javelins, hurled at random by the hand of a madman, as where you quote that word. " And God saw everything that He had made, and behold it was very good" (Gen. i. 31). For from this text you conclude that man was also " very good." And from this you next infer that God was unjust in creating that which was " good " to perdition.
In what sense, however, man was created upright by nature I have explained in many parts of my writings. Man certainly was not better than the devil was, before the latter lost his angelic uprightness. And now, suppose I were to cede to you for a moment that both men and apostate angels were created unto salvation, and yet that God, having respect to their future Fall, condemned both to eternal destruction, what would you gain from this concession to help you in supporting your arguments? God most certainly knew what would take place, both in men and in apostate angels, and He also decreed at the same time what He Himself would do.
With reference to the doctrine of permission, we will speak of that hereafter in its place. But for the present, if you should be disposed to reply that the foreknowledge of God is not the cause of evils, I would only ask you this one question: If God foresaw the destruction both of man and of the devil before He created them, and did not, at the same time, decree their destruction, why did He not apply, betimes, an adequate remedy, which should prevent their Fall and their liability thereto? The devil, from the very beginning of the world, alienated himself from the hope of salvation. And man, as soon as he was created, destroyed both himself and his posterity with a deadly destruction. If, therefore, the preservation of both was in the hand of God, how was it that (if He had not decreed their destruction) He permitted their ruin? Nay, why did He not furnish each with at least some small degree of ability to stand? To what circuitous
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reasonings soever, therefore, you have recourse I shall be able to hold you fast to this principle, that although man was created weak and liable to fall, yet- that this weakness contained in it a great blessing, because man's Fall immediately afterwards taught him that nothing out of God is either safe, or secure, or enduring. Hence, therefore, it is made evident that all which you prate about men having been created unto salvation, is an argument mutilated and halt, and laid down without adequate consideration. For the truth is, that when I am confessing that there was nothing in man, when created, contrary to salvation, I am thereby and therein proving that salvation was predestinated for all men.
Let me repeat this same argument very briefly in other words. What I mean is, that if we argue on that perfection of nature with which Adam was gifted at his first creation, we may say that he was created unto salvation, because in that perfectness of his first created state there was found no cause of death. But if we carry the question up to God's secret predestination, we are met by that deep abyss which ought at once to transport us into wonder and admiration. The fact is, that had you but been gifted with the least feeling of godly reverence, you would, in a moment, acknowledge that this is not a question concerning the completeness of man's original perfection, but concerning the will of God and the decree of God. The state of the sacred case is as if the Holy Spirit had said to you, " Nothing of excellency was wanting in any of the creatures at their creation; but rather, all occasion was taken away from you, and from all like you, of contending against God." For how loudly soever you and yours may deny that there was any " good " in man being so created and conditioned, as that he should, by his immediate Fall, destroy himself and the whole world, yet God Himself declares that such a condition of things pleased Him! Therefore, it was most just and righteous.
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And that you may the more correctly understand Moses, he does not (remember ! ) declare how upright and perfect man was, but that he might stop the barkings of all dogs, like yourself, he teaches that the whole order of the Creation was so tempered of God, that nothing more just or more perfect can be imagined. Wherefore, when Moses comes to speak of all the several works of God collectively, he says that " God saw everything that He had made, and behold it was very good" (Gen. i. 31). But Moses affirms no such thing concerning man, individually, specially and absolutely, in every sense. Having narrated man's creation also, the sacred historian concludes by saying, in words which apply generally to the whole creation, that all the things which God had made were " very good," in which words are doubtlessly to be comprehended, as in harmony with them, the words of Solomon also, where he affirms that the wicked were created " for the day of evil." " The Lord hath made all things for Himself; yea, even the wicked for the day of evil" (Prov. xvi. 4).
Take, then, the sum of the whole matter to be this: though man, at his first creation, was in his newly created nature " good," yet this rectitude, which was weak, frail and liable to fall, militates not against, nor stands in contrariety with, the predestination of God, by which predestination it was that man perished by his sin and fault, though his nature was by creation pure. Nay, looking at, and arguing from, his primitive natural excellency, man was created in this view and sense to salvation. And yet, from this very line of argument, you vainly, absurdly and preposterously infer that man was created " good " that he might perish, though " good " or as a good man. Whereas, it is openly and undeniably manifest that he perished by his infirmity and sin; and, therefore, that he perished as one liable to righteous condemnation and destruction. And how these two propositions and positions agree
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and harmonise with each other we will show hereafter, as we have indeed shown again and again before.
Here you throw in the common objection " that God has no pleasure in the death of a sinner," as declared by the prophet Ezekiel (Ezek. xxxiii. 11). But listen, I pray you, to that which, in the prophet, immediately follows, " Because God inviteth all men to repentance" (Ezek. xviii. 30-32). To all such, therefore, as return into the way of life pardon is freely offered. But the next and principal thing to be considered herein is, whether or not that conversion or " returning " which God requires (ver. 30) is in the power of man's free-will, or whether it be a peculiar and sovereign gift of God! Inasmuch, therefore, as all men are invited and exhorted by God to repentance, the prophet, on that ground, justly declareth that God " hath no pleasure in the death of a sinner." But why it is that God doth not turn or convert all men to Himself, equally and alike, is a question the reply to which lies hidden in Himself. And as to your usual way of citing that passage of the apostle Paul, " That God would have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. ii. 4), how vain a prop that is to put under your error to support it, I think I have shown with sufficient plainness already, and that repeatedly. For it is (so to speak) more certain than certainty itself that the apostle is not, in that passage, speaking of individuals at all, but of orders of men in their various civil and national vocations. He had just before commanded that the public prayers of the Church should be offered up for kings and others in authority, and for all who held magisterial offices, of what kind and degree soever they may be. But as nearly all those who were then armed with the sword of public justice were open and professed enemies to the Church, and as it might therefore seem to the Church singular or absurd that public prayers should be offered up for them, the apostle meets all objections, so very natural, by admonishing the
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Church to pray even for them also, and to supplicate God to extend His grace and favour even to them, for the Church's quiet, peace and safety.
There is, perhaps, a stronger colour in some of the words of Peter, which might have better suited your purposes, where he says that God is " not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance " ( 2 Pet. iii. 9). And if there be anything in the first member of the passage that seems difficult of comprehension at first sight, it is made perfectly plain by the explanation which follows. For, in as far as God " willeth that all should come unto repentance," in so far He willeth that no one should perish; but, in order that they may thus be received of God, they must " come." But the Scripture everywhere affirms, that in order that they may " come," they must be prevented of God; that is, God must come first to them to draw them; for until they are drawn of God, they will remain where they are, given up to the obstinacy of the flesh. Now if there were one single particle of right judgment in you, you would, in a moment, acknowledge that there is a wide and wonderful difference between these two things -- that the hearts of men are made of God "fleshly" out of "stony" hearts, and that it is thus that they are made to be displeased and dissatisfied with themselves, and are brought, as suppliants, to beg of God mercy and pardon; and that after they are thus changed, they are received into all grace.
Now God declares that both these things are of His pure goodness and mercy; that He gives us hearts that we may repent, and then pardons us graciously upon our repentance and supplication. For if God were not ready to receive us when we do truly implore His mercy, He would not say, " Turn ye unto Me, and I will turn unto you" (Zech. i. 3). But if repentance were in the power of the free-will of man, Paul would not say, " If peradventure God will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth " (2 Tim. ii.
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26). Nay, if God Himself, who exhorts all men to repentance by His voice -- if God Himself, I repeat, who thus exhorts, did not draw His elect by the secret operation of His Spirit, Jeremiah would not thus de. scribe those who do return: " Turn Thou me, and I shall be turned; for Thou a the Lord my God. Surely after that I was turned, I repented" (Jer. xxxi. 19). This solution of the matter ( I repeat,) if there were any shame or modesty in so impudent a dog as thyself, ought to have been known to thee as existing in my writings in a hundred different places. And although thou mayest take it upon thyself to reject such a solution, it nevertheless stands supported and confirmed both by the apostle Paul and by the prophet Ezekiel.
But how, and in what sense it is, that God willeth all men to be saved is a matter not here to be inquisitively discussed. One thing is certain, that these two things -- salvation and the knowledge of the truth -- are always inseparably joined together. Now, then, answer me, If God had willed that His truth should be known unto all men, how is it that, from the first preaching of the Gospel until now, so many nations exist unto whom His pure truth has never been sent by Him at all, and unto whom, therefore, it has never come? And, again, if such had been the will of God concerning all men, how is it that He never opened the eyes of all? For the internal illumination of the Spirit, with which God has condescended to bless so few, is indispensably necessary unto faith. And there is also another knot for thee to untie. Since no one but he who is drawn by the secret influence of the Spirit can approach unto God, how is it that God does not draw all men indiscriminately to Himself, if He really " willeth all men to be saved" (in the common meaning of the expression)?
It is, therefore, an evident conclusion, flowing from this discrimination which God makes, that there is, with Him, a secret reason why He shuts so many out from
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salvation. How it is, therefore, that the mercy of God is shown unto the thousandth thou wilt never (as long as the pride by which thou art inflated shall blind and blunt thy faculties) acknowledge. For no such mercy is promised as that which shall utterly abolish the curse under which the whole race of Adam lieth; but such a mercy is promised as shall (where all naturally existing obstacles are removed) break forth and endure for ever, upon the most unworthy.
In this manner it was that God passed by many of the children of Abraham! when He chose the one of them, Isaac. So also, when the twin sons of Isaac were born, the same God willed that His mercy should rest on one of them only, namely, on Jacob. And again, although God shows forth proofs of His wrath in many, it nevertheless remaineth eternally true that He is " abundant in goodness " and " slow to anger "; and hence, in that very longsuffering with which He endures the reprobate, there shineth forth no dim refulgence of His great goodness. Only observe, therefore in what an effectual manner thy frivolous and captious objections, from which I can disengage myself in a moment, entangle, ensnare and imprison thyself !
In order to make the mercy of God greater than His anger, you will have more to be chosen to salvation than to destruction. And suppose I should for a moment cede this to you, what greater glory will thereby be secured to God? None whatever. God will nevertheless be as unjust as ever to those few who are lost (if your calumnies are to be received and believed). Unless God love all His created offspring alike, you will still profanely and awfully pronounce Him to be less kind and merciful than a wolf ! Nay, let there be but one only against whom God shall righteously exercise His wrath, how shall He escape or avoid the accusation of cruelty in your blind and unholy judgment ! Farther still, you will not even allow, as exceptions from the impious and profane
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charges of cruelty in God, that there are gross provocations of His Divine wrath in the men themselves ! But, comparing alone wrath with mercy, you merely contend for the magnitude of the one or the other. Just as if God, by choosing more to salvation than to destruction, would thereby, and thereby alone, prove Himself to be a merciful God ! God, however, commends the greatness of His grace to us in a manner far different from this. He not only pardons so many, and such various sins, in His elect, but even contends with, and bears with, the obstinate malice of the reprobate, until it has filled up the measure of its iniquity (Matt. xxiii, 32).
(THAT IS, CALUMNY II.)
GOD NOT ONLY PREDESTINATED EVEN ADAM TO DAMNATION, BUT TO THE CAUSES OF THAT DAMNATION ALSO, WHOSE FALL HE NOT ONLY FORESAW, BUT HE ALSO WILLED BY HIS SECRET AND ETERNAL DECREE AND ORDAINED THAT HE SHOULD FALL, WHICH FALL, THAT IT MIGHT, IN ITS TIME, TAKE PLACE, GOD PLACED BEFORE HIM THE APPLE, WHICH SHOULD CAUSE THAT FALL.
Your opponents say that this SECOND ARTICLE is the doctrine of the devil, and they demand of me, Calvin, that I would tell them where, in the Divine Scriptures, the substance contained in this Article is written?
CALUMNIATOR'S OBSERVATIONS AND STATEMENTS ON ARTICLE II.
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Under this SECOND ARTICLE YOU appear again exactly the same man as before. Now just produce the passage from my writings wherein I teach " that the apple was placed by God before Adam, that it might be the cause of his fall." This, in fact, is the very source of all your popularity -- the drawing of a cloud of obscuration across the minds of the inexperienced, to prevent them from rising to the height of that truth which is removed out of the reach of the common understanding of the flesh and of the carnal mind.
REPLY OF JOHN CALVIN TO ARTICLE II., &c., &c.
But not to wrangle about words, I willingly, and in a moment, confess that what I have written is this: " That the Fall of Adam was not by accident, nor by chance; but was ordained by the secret counsel of God." And this is the doctrine which you positively pronounce to be " the doctrine of the devil." You are, in your own eyes, I know, a judge of the highest authority, and therefore it is that, in your self-conceit, you imagine that you can, by five words of the foulest abuse, knock down that firm fabric of truth which I have erected, and which I have supported by the most impregnable arguments. You call upon me to produce a testimony from the Scriptures, from which it is manifest that Adam fell not, but by the secret decree of God. But had you read even a few pages of my writings with any attention, that sentiment of mine could not have escaped you which everywhere occurs in my books -- that God governs all things by His secret counsel and decree. You ascribe a prescience to God after your own fashion, representing Him as sitting in heaven an idle, inactive, unconcerned spectator of all things in the life of men. Whereas, God Himself, ever vindicating to Himself the right and the act of holding the
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helm of all things which are done in the whole world, never permits a separation of His prescience from His power ! Nor is this manner of reasoning mine only, but most certainly Augustine's also. " If (says that holy father) God foresaw that which He did not will to be done, God holds not the supreme rule over all things. God, therefore, ordained that which should come to pass, because nothing could have been done bad He not willed it to be done."
If you judge this to be absurd, you will be just as far off as before, and will fall back into the same confusion into which you fell by making my doctrine to be " the doctrine of the devil." For you ought to have applied that remedy for your evil case, which might have been ready at your hand. But that you did not this, nor could do it, is perfectly plain. You might have thought thus, " God foresaw the Fall of Adam. It was in His power to have prevented it if He would. But He did not will to do so. Why did He not will to do so? No other reason can be assigned for His not willing to do so than that His will had quite another bent, or inclination." But, if you will permit yourself to enter into a contention with God, you had better profanely accuse Him at once and condemn Him, for having so made man of constitutional frailty as to leave him liable to fall, and that into eternal ruin on the account ! But you will reply that Adam fell by his own free-will. My reply to you in return is, that Adam had need of being gifted with that fortitude and constancy with which the elect of God are gifted whom God wills to " keep " sound and safe " from falling " ( Jude 24) .
Most certain it is that if fresh strength were not supplied to us from heaven every moment, such is our liability to fall, that we should perish a thousand times over. But God supplies all those whom He hath chosen with an invincible fortitude, by which they are so holden up as to " persevere unto the end." How was it, then, I again ask, that God did not bestow this
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same fortitude and perseverance on Adam, if He had willed that he should stand fast and in safety? Here, most assuredly, every mouth must be silent and dumb, or, all must confess with Solomon, that " God hath made all things for Himself; yea, even the wicked for the day of evil " (Prov. xvi. 4). If this offend you as being an absurdity, think within yourself whether the Scriptures declare so often in vain that the judgments of God are " a great deep." If it were possible for us to measure the incomprehensible counsel of God by the standard of our own human capacity, Moses would have said in vain: " Secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever" (Deut. xxix. 29).
You demand of me to cite the place in the Holy Scriptures by which I prove that God did not prevent the Fall of Adam, because His will was not to prevent it. Just as if that memorable reply of God to all such inquiries and inquirers did not contain in itself an all-sufficient proof: " I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy." From which the apostle Paul at once concludes, and justly so, that God hath not mercy upon all, because He wills not to have mercy upon all. And most certainly these words, without the aid of any interpreter, plainly and loudly declare that God is not bound by any law that should compel Him to show mercy unto all men indiscriminately and alike; but that He is the Lord of His own will, to impart pardon to whom He will and to pass by others as He will. It is, moreover, certain that God was the same then as now, when the prophet said of Him, " He doeth according to His will " (Dan. iv. 35). If, therefore, God permitted the Fall of Adam against His will (as you would have it), you will next say that He was overcome by Satan in the conflict; and thus you will make, like the Manichees, two ruling principles. But Paul, pleading also this great cause of God, compares Him (and that soberly and solemnly) to a potter,
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who could of his own will form of the same mass vessels of different kinds as he pleased. Now the apostle might have begun his argument, had he been so led, from sin. But he does not so. He commences the mighty subject by defending the free right of God from the very beginning of His glorious workmanship, even from His secret, eternal and sovereign will. And where he afterwards adds, " That all were concluded under unbelief," does he teach that this took place contrary to, or without, the will of God? Does he not, on the contrary, teach that God was the author of that state of unbelief? If you reply that all were condemned to unbelief as they deserved, the context will not admit even that interpretation, because Paul is there speaking of the secret judgments of God. And that solemn exclamation of his directly militates against such an interpretation, " O the depth !" etc. Wherefore, as God, from the beginning, predestinated Christ to succour those who were lost, so by His inconceivable and inestimable counsel He decreed a way by which He might manifest forth His glory by the Fall of Adam.
I willingly confess that where God is vindicating the free course of His mercy, He speaks of the whole human race generally, which had already perished in Adam; but this same view and consideration held good before Adam fell, that His will was then all-sufficient to show mercy when and as He pleased. Moreover, this His eternal will, though it depends on none and on nothing but Himself, nor has any prior cause to influence it, is nevertheless founded in the highest reason and in the highest equity. For though in the case of men they require a law to rein and restrain their intemperateness, it is far otherwise with God. He is His own law -- a law unto Himself ! And His will is the highest rule of the highest equity.
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(THAT IS, CALUMNY III.)
THE SINS WHICH ARE COMMITTED, ARE COMMITTED NOT ONLY BY THE PERMISSION, BUT EVEN BY THE WILL OF GOD. FOR IT IS FRIVOLOUS TO MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE PERMISSION OF GOD AND THE WILL OF GOD, AS FAR AS SIN IS CONCERNED. THEY WHO ATTEMPT TO MAKE THIS DIFFERENCE MERELY ATTEMPT TO GAIN GOD OVER BY FLATTERY.
Concerning the difference between the will and the permission of God the arguments of your opponents are these: Calvin (they say) professes that he is a prophet of God; but we say that Calvin is a prophet of the devil. Now one of these assertions must be false; both parties cannot speak the truth. If Calvin is a prophet of God, we lie; but if Calvin is a prophet of the devil, then he lies, for he asserts that he is a prophet of God. But suppose (by the will of God ! ) that both positions are true; that is, if God wills that Calvin should say that he is a prophet of God, while we say that Calvin is a prophet of the devil; it follows that contradiction is a will, which is impossible. For if God wills that which is false, He does not will that which is true. And again, if God wills that which is true, He does not will that which is false. From which it will follow that if God wills that the one party should speak the truth, it must be contrary to His will that the other party should lie. But the one party certainly does lie. Therefore, the one party lies by the permission, but not by the will, of God. Hence, the next consequence is that there is a difference even in God Himself, for there is a discrepancy between His permission and His will.
CALUMNIATOR'S OBSERVATIONS AND STATEMENTS ON ARTICLE III.
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Your adversaries adduce, moreover, many conspicuous examples of this discrepancy between the will of God and His permission, especially from Ezekiel xx., where God, after He had reproved His people very fully and severely for not obeying His commandments, at last concludes with these words: " Go ye; serve ye every one his idols, and hereafter also, if ye will not hearken unto Me" (Ezek. xx. 39). As if God had said, " I permit you to serve your own lusts, since ye will not obey My precepts." And this, indeed, seems to be exactly the same as that which He had said in the former part of the same chapter: " Because they despise My statutes, therefore I gave them also statutes that were not good" (vers. 24, 25). Now God did not in reality, we are assured, give unto the Israelites statutes that were not, in themselves, good, for all the statutes of God are good. But because they despised the good precepts of God, He forsook them; and they being thus forsaken of God, fell away into evil statutes, just as that prodigal son, being forsaken by his father, or rather having forsaken his father, fell into luxury and every evil. Thus also Paul teaches that because men did not love the truth, God sent upon them strong delusions, that they might believe a lie. Of the same description also seems to be that passage of Amos iv.: " Go ye to Bethel, and transgress, for this liketh you" (vers. 4, 5). So it is also in the present day (as in the case of thyself and thy disciples). As men would not obey God, who saith that He hateth sin, therefore God hath permitted spirits of delusion such as yours to exist, who teach that God willeth sin, that they who would not obey the truth might be left to obey a lie.
Your opponents adduce that passage from Zechariah, where God says He was angry with the nations that were at ease, because, when He was lightly angry with the Israelites, they helped forward the calamity; that is, they afflicted the Israelites more grievously than the anger of the Lord against them required or could
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endure. This was, therefore, done by the permission, not by the will, of God. They produce also a similar example from the prophet Obed, who reproves the people of Israel because they oppressed the people of Judah more heavily than the anger of the Lord required. They bring forward also the example of the prodigal son, concerning whom, if thou sayest that he ran into riotous living by the will of his father, it will be the greatest possible absurdity. The son, therefore, thus acted by the permission of the father. In the same way also thy opponents affirm that the wicked are prodigal sons of God, and that they sin, not by the will, but by the permission of God. They refer, moreover, to that saying of Christ, " And ye, will ye also go away? "
Christ most certainly did not will that they should go away, but He permitted them so to do. They argue, finally, from the nature of common sense, which dictates that there must be a difference between willing and permitting. And they affirm that it was according to common sense that Christ taught Divine things; and that if thou take away common sense from His teaching all His parables must fall at once, for it is by common sense that those parables are to be judged of and understood.
This THIRD ARTICLE shows, equally with the preceding, how greedily and to what extent you feed on calumnies. If you did wish thus fiercely to gnaw my doctrine, why did you not, at least, cite my words
REPLY OF JOHN CALVIN TO ARTICLE III., AND TO CALUMNIATOR'S STATEMENTS.
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honestly? In the vast cause now before us, I affirm that to make a difference between the permission and the will of God is, indeed, " frivolous." But you interpose a witty and clever argument as you imagine though it is an empty sophism. If all things are done by the will of God, God (you assert) wills things which are contrary in nature and in principle, which is proved (you maintain) by saying that I really am a prophet of the devil, while I affirm that I am a true servant of God. This appearance of contradiction is that which dazzles and blinds your eyes. But God Himself, who well knoweth in Himself how it is that He willeth that same thing in one sense which is contrary to His will in another, pays no regard whatever to your dullness of understanding and stupidity. As often as God called forth the true prophets, He most certainly willed that they should contend zealously and earnestly in declaring the doctrine of the law. Upon this there secretly rose up false prophets, who strove to overthrow that doctrine. That there should be a conflict, therefore, between the true and false prophets was inevitable. But God did not therefore contend with or contradict Himself, though He willed that both these true and these false prophets should come forth. You obtrude upon me the long-suffering of God. But God, on the other hand, declares that no false prophets arise, but those whom He ordains to be such, either to prove the faith of His own people, or to blind the unbelieving. " If there arise among you a false prophet (saith Moses), your God proveth you by that prophet" (Deut. xii. 1, 3). Now you, by a most perverse and preposterous comment, transfer to some other that which Moses ascribes expressly to God. Therefore, either deny at once that God searches the hearts of His people, or else admit that which is the evident and indubitable truth: that false prophets are instruments of God, by which He proves, as by a touchstone, that of which He will have Himself acknowledged to be the author. But Ezekiel sets this forth
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still more clearly and remarkably: " And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out My hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of My people Israel" (Ezek. xiv. 9).
You would have us to rest content with the permission of God only. But God, by His prophet, asserts that His will and His hand are in the whole matter as the moving cause. Now just consider, then, which of the two is the more worthy to be believed, God, who by His Spirit, the only fountain of truth, thus speaks concerning Himself; or you, prating about His hidden and unsearchable mysteries out of the worthless knowledge of your own carnal brain? What ! when God calls in Satan for His purposes, as the instrument of His vengeance, and openly gives him commandment to go and deceive the prophets of Ahab, does this positive command differ nothing from a mere permission? The voice of God contains in it no ambiguity whatever. " Who (saith God) will go and deceive Ahab for me? " Nor does God command Satan in any obscure manner. Go thou and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets " ( 1 Kings xxii. ). Now I wish to know from you whether the doing a thing is the same as the permitting it to be done? When David had secretly abused the wife of another man, God declares that He will cause all David's wives to be dragged forth, to make an example of the same disgraceful sin openly in the sight of the sun. God does not say, " I will permit it to be done," but " I will do it." But you, in your wondrous defence of God (as you think), would aid Him by your fallacious help in thrusting forward your imaginary permission! How very differently does David think and act ! He, while revolving in his mind the fearful judgment of God, exclaims, " I was dumb, because Thou didst it !" In like manner Job blesses God, and confesses that he was plundered by the robbers, not only through the permission, but by the will and act of God; for he plainly affirms " that it
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was the Lord who gave, and that it was the Lord who took away," what He had Himself given. If, upon your authority, giving and receiving are to be understood in the same way as willing and permitting, riches so considered are not blessings actually bestowed of God, but they fall into our hands at random by the permission of God. But if you and your foul band should continue thus to cry out against God until doomsday, He will nevertheless, in due time, fully justify and vindicate Himself. But as for us, we will adore with all reverence those mysteries which so far surpass our comprehension, until the brightness of their full knowledge shall shine forth upon us in that day when He. who is now seen " through a glass darkly," shall be seen by us "face to face." " Then (saith Augustine) shall He be seen in the brightest light of understanding that which the godly now hold fast in faith. How sure, certain, immutable and all-efficacious, is the will of God ! How many things He can do which He yet wills not to be done; but that He wills nothing which He cannot do ! "
With reference, however, to the present ARTICLE, I will answer you from the mouth of the same godly writer. " These (saith he) are the mighty works of the Lord; exquisitely perfect according to every bent of His will. And so perfect in exquisite wisdom, that when both the angelic and the human natures had sinned -- that is, had done, not what God willed, but what each nature willed, even by a like will, in each creature -- it came to pass that what God, as the Creator, willed not, He Himself accomplished according as He had willed; thus blessedly using, as the God of perfect goodness, even evils to the damnation of those whom He had righteously predestinated unto punishment, and to the salvation of those whom He had mercifully predestinated unto grace. For, as far as these transgressing natures were themselves concerned, they did that which God willed not; but with respect to the Omnipotence of God, they could by no means have done what
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they did without it, nor without its concernment therein. For by the very act of their doing that which was contrary to the will of God, they were themselves thereby fulfilling the will of God. Wherefore, these mighty works of God, exquisitely perfect, according to every bent of His will, are such that, in a wonderful and ineffable way, that is not done without the will of God which is even done contrary to His will, because it could not be done at all, unless He permitted it to be done; and yet, He does not permit unwillingly, but willingly. Nor, as the God of goodness, would He permit a thing to be done evilly, unless, as the God of Omnipotence, He could work good even out of the evil done."
As to the testimonies of the Scripture which you adduce, they have no more to do with the present mighty question and cause, than oil has to do with wine to make a mixture, or to dilute the one with the other. God, speaking to the Jews by the prophet Ezekiel, and addressing them as disobedient, says: " Go ye; worship every man his own idols." This, I openly profess, is not the voice of God commanding or exhorting, but of God rejecting an impious mixture of worship -- a worship by which the Jews had profaned His sanctuary. Now what else can you conclude from this passage, but that God sometimes permits that to be which He disapproves and condemns? As if it were not evident to all that God sometimes commands and sometimes permits by the same forms of expression. God says in the Law, " Six days shalt thou labour." Here is a permission. For sanctifying every seventh day to Himself, He leaves the other six free to men. In a manner somewhat different also He permitted of old divorce to the Jews, which He nevertheless by no means approved. In the present case, recorded by the prophet Ezekiel, He gives up the double-minded and the perfidious to idols, because He will not suffer His name to be polluted. But how is it that you have forgotten, here, that all this is wrought by the " Secret Providence
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of God," by which He ordains and turns to the accomplishment of His own purposes all the movements and tumults of the world, according to His own will? Moreover, corrupting vainly and ignorantly as you do that other passage (Ezekiel xx. 24, 25), you evince how everything sacred is disregarded by an impure and profane person like yourself. The words of God are, " Because they despised My statutes, I gave them precepts that were not good." Here you trifle by observing that when they were forsaken of God they fell into idolatry. But God undoubtedly means that the Jews were given over to the Chaldeans into slavery, and that the Chaldeans, who were idolaters, were oppressing them by their tyrannical laws.
But our question now is, whether God merely permitted the Jews to be thus dragged into exile by the Chaldeans, or whether He used the latter as rods, chosen by Himself, wherewith to scourge the Jews for their sins? For if you will still make the doctrine of mere permission a pretext, you might as well commit all the prophets to the flames at once, who at one time declare that Satan was sent by God to deceive, and at another that the Chaldeans or Assyrians were sent by God to destroy; and who, at the same time, assert that God " hissed for " the Egyptians, that He might use their might in punishing His people, and at another that the Assyrians were His hired soldiers; that Nebuchadnezzar was His servant in plundering Egypt, and that the Assyrians were the " axe " in His hand and the " rods " of His anger in utterly devastating Judaea. I do not multiply, as I might do, kindred examples, lest I should exceed all moderate bounds of proof ( Isa. x. 5).
Nor is your inebriated audacity the less manifest, where you would vainly make it appear that God's sending " strong delusions " on the unbelieving, that they might believe a lie, means that He permits false teachers to exist; and that, as He permitted the prodigal son to fall into riotous living when he had deserted his father, so He permits His prodigals to fall into error
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and delusion when they forsake Him. And when you spout forth all this folly, you imagine that your readers are so blind that they do not see things to be quite otherwise in the words of Paul, where he says, " God shall send upon them strong delusions, that they might believe a lie" (2 Thess. ii. 11). But it is no marvel whatever that he should prate thus, at will and at random, who imagines that there are no judgments of God at all, or who does not know what the judgment means, or holds it in perfect contempt if he does. For no man who is not insane would say that a judge had no hand in the judgment of the wicked, or that he would sit down in unconcern and leave others to perform that duty which belonged properly to himself alone.
You attempt, however, by your barking, either to frighten me or to provoke me, when you say that by the permission of God spirits of error and delusion exist, who teach that God wills sin. But as this same reproach was cast in the teeth of the apostle Paul himself, why should I grieve or complain at being a partaker of the same reproach with him? You adduce a passage from the prophet Zechariah, where the nations are described as punishing God's people beyond the extent which His wrath required. Are you, then, really such a simpleton as not to believe that there was protection enough in God to prevent this excess of His people's affliction by their enemies, and to have made their punishment less, had He been pleased, or had He willed so to do? You reply that the words of the prophet intimate this excess of punishment. But you must be twice or thrice dipped in stupidity, if you perceive not that God tries the patience of His people in a marvellous manner by the severest proofs, sometimes in one way and sometimes in another, and that He is often, at the same time, offended by the insolence of their enemies, where He sees them become too much elated with their victories, and when they insult and cruelly use the conquered. Nay, your foolish comments and reasonings fall to the ground of their own
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accord, directly militating against and mutually destroying each other. For the truth and fact must be, either that God positively commanded those profane nations, or He merely permitted them, to gently chastise His people. If you reply that He commanded them to do so, I then obtain the conclusion that, though these neighbouring enemies were, without cause, afflictive to the miserable exiles who dwelt with them, yet, that they would have been without blame if they had not exceeded due bounds in their cruel treatment of them as the conquered and as captives. For who would attribute that to them as iniquity which they had done at God's command?
But you are labouring all the time to establish a difference between the permission of God and His command, thus making it appear that though God commanded their enemies to inflict punishment on His people, yet it was by His permission only that they exceeded all due bounds in the punishment they inflicted. In this same way of reasoning the Israelites also were deserving of censure, for they also afflicted their brethren of Judah more severely than the wrath of God against them (according to your reasoning) required. But your insanity blinds you so far as to cause you to assert that they would have been free from all guilt and blame if they had been moderate in their vexation of their brethren. For I have to bring you back again and again to this point: that the Israelites sinned, not only because (by the permission of God as thou imaginest) they exercised too great severity towards their brethren, but because they took up arms against them at all. You, however, hesitate not to declare that there was no sin in their commencing war against their brethren, because God was angry with the people of Judah, and Himself armed the Israelites, that they might execute His vengeance upon them at His own command. Whereas I maintain that the Israelites sinned in a twofold sense: first, because they had themselves no intent or desire to do the will
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Of God, although they were really the instruments of His vengeance; and secondly, because their atrocity itself proves that they were destitute of all sense of equity. Nay, at the very outset you betray your shameless ignorance in your pretending that men, as far as they are themselves concerned, err and fall by the permission of God. Whereas, such a representation of the sacred matter is impious and profane. It is making God to give permission to men to do evil in reference to their own actions, as considered in themselves; while the reality and truth are, that God severely prohibits and solemnly forbids the doing of anything that is contrary to His commands. But why God of His will permits men to do wrong; nay, why God by His secret decree gives men over to evil, whom He nevertheless commands to continue in the right way; it becomes our sobriety and modesty of mind to remain willingly ignorant. To search into this profound secret insolently as you do is rashness, audacity and madness !
How cleverly and appropriately you interpret that passage where Christ (as you make it appear) permits His disciples to go away (John vi. 67), learn from the following reality of the case. When Christ, referring to those who had gone away, turns to His disciples and says to them, " Will ye also go away? " He is positively exhorting them to persevere and continue with Him. For, asking them in grief whether they also would go away, He puts, as it were, a gentle rein upon them to prevent them from falling away with apostates. And is this, I pray you, the manner in which you convert all such forms of speech as these into permissions? Common sense does, I acknowledge, at first sight, take to command to be one thing, and to permit to be another. But the fact is, that this difference, or this sameness, is not the real question at issue. The question between us is, whether God, in unconcern and inactivity, merely observes, as an uninterested, unconcerned and idle spectator, all the things
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that are done upon earth; or whether, from His all-high throne, He rules, overrules and governs, by His Divine command, every single action of the sons of men? Or, if the term permission gives you so much satisfaction and pleasure, answer me this question: Does God permit things to be done willingly or unwillingly? That God permits unwillingly is positively denied by Psalm cxv. 3: " The Lord hath done whatsoever He willed " (or, " whatsoever He hath pleased "). If, therefore, God permits willingly, to represent Him as sitting on His throne as a mere unconcerned and unengaged spectator, is utterly profane. Wherefore it follows that God determines and rules by His counsel whatsoever He wills to be done. But you are for bringing, with child's talk, this sublime mystery of God down to the rule and measure of common sense!
And as to your objecting and arguing, on the other hand, that Christ so taught all the Divine lessons of His teaching, as to accommodate Himself to the capacity of people of common sense; Christ Himself flatly denies this, and convicts you at once both of lying and of impudence in the matter. Hear you not Christ Himself declaring that He spoke in " parables," to the very end, that the common people, or people in general, " might hear, and yet not understand "? It is, indeed, quite true that the Holy Spirit does, for our sakes, everywhere speak in a certain manner, as a nurse would speak to children; but this is a widely different matter from representing, as you do, that common sense is a capable and competent judge of those profound doctrines, which exceed in their incomprehensibility the capacity of angels. Paul proclaims aloud that " the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, neither can he know them" ( 1 Cor. ii. 14). He therefore admonishes all those to become fools, and to resign all their own wisdom, who would profit in the heavenly school. In a word, God everywhere vindicates to Himself as His own all true light of understanding. Indeed, both days and
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volumes would fail me, if I were to attempt the accumulation of those testimonies of Scripture which condemn common sense as perfect darkness, for they are numberless, and they all declare that light can be obtained from heaven alone, and that whosoever would be wise in the things of God, and of his own salvation, must renounce all his own wisdom, how much human light soever it may contain. I will content myself, therefore, with one example only. God willed not that the doctrine of the Gospel should be preached unto the Gentiles, and He withheld it from them even until the coming of Christ. And therefore it is, that the apostle calls the Gospel " the mystery that was hidden from ages;" nay, that was unknown to the angels themselves in heaven ( Col. i. 26; 1 Peter i. 12).
Notwithstanding such testimonies as these, however, you will persist in thrusting upon us the sufficiency of common sense, which, by its own natural will and judgment, subverts this very doctrine of the apostle altogether. For you will grant nothing to be even probable, but that of which common sense may be the estimator, arbiter and judge. Whereas the prophet, when speaking of the secret Providence of God, exclaims, " O Lord, how great are Thy works ! and Thy thoughts are very deep" (Psalm xcii. 5). But you, on the contrary, deny that anything is divine but that which you can measure by the rule of your own reason. What becomes, then, of the remonstrance of the apostle, when he is discussing the mighty question now before us? Why doth he make the appeal, " Nay, but who art thou, O man? " And again, what meaneth his wonder and admiration, " O the depth ! " " How unsearchable," etc., etc.? The apostle commands us to wonder and be astonished, because, whenever we come to the incomprehensible counsel of God, all mortal senses and powers fail before it. Whilst you, all the time, will admit nothing that you cannot see with your own natural eyes !
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(THAT IS, CALUMNY IV.)
ALL THE CRIMES THAT ARE COMMITTED BY ANY MAN WHATSOEVER ARE, BY THE OPERATION OF GOD, GOOD AND JUST.
Against this FOURTH ARTICLE all your opponents utter aloud that passage of Isaiah v. 20: " Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil." Now, if sin is a good and righteous work of God, it follows that righteousness is an evil and unrighteous work of God, for righteousness is altogether contrary to sin. Again, if sin is righteous, it follows that unrighteousness is righteous, for sin is unrighteousness. Farther, if sin is a work of God, it must follow (your opponents argue) that God doeth that which is sinful.
CALUMNIATOR'S OBSERVATIONS AND STATEMENTS ON ARTICLE IV.
REPLY OF JOHN CALVIN TO ARTICLE IV., AND TO CALUMNIATOR'S OBSERVATIONS, STATEMENTS, &C., &C.
In the case of this FOURTH ARTICLE, also, you go on grossly lying as before, of which fact I would, at the outset, cautiously warn my readers, and for this reason, that they may form their judgments from the reality of the case rather than from your foul calumnies. Nor do I so much condemn your objections in them-
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selves, as indignantly complain that by altering and perverting my words, you malignantly wrest what I did say, for the purpose of fanning the flame of hatred against my doctrine, which doctrine is far different from your false representations of it. You enter into a quarrel with me, as if I had said, " that sin was a just, or righteous, work of God," which doctrine, and the idea of it, I hold throughout my writings in the utmost detestation. Wherefore, the greater the cleverity of argument you imagine yourself to possess, the greater is your real puerility. You arrive in your argument on this mendaciously stated FOURTH ARTICLE, at the conclusion that righteousness is evil, and that unrighteousness is good; and that God, as the author and (as you awfully state) the doer of sin, is unjust in punishing that which is His own work. Whereas, all these monstrous profanities are the fabrications of your own brain ! And all such enormities of profaneness I have ever most carefully, and with abhorrence, condemned and refuted in all my writings.
You yourself, however, will one day find, to your sorrow, how abhorrent a crime it is to trifle and lie in this manner concerning the secret mysteries of God ! And that you may clearly understand that you are not dealing with me in this your war against the truth, but with the supreme judge of heaven Himself, whose tribunal, you may be assured, you can never escape, listen to that which Job testifies -- and certainly under none other influence than the inspiration of the Holy Spirit -- that the doings of Satan, and of the robbers who plundered him, were the works of God Himself. And yet Job never, in the extremest idea, charges God with sin. No such most distant intimation is found in the patriarch. On the contrary, he blesses God's holy name for what He had done by Satan and by these robbers (Job i. 21). So also when the brethren of the innocent Joseph sold him to the Ishmaelites, the deed was evidently a most wicked one. But when Joseph ascribes this to God as His work,
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so far is he from imputing sin to God, that he considers and lauds His infinite goodness, because that, by this very means, He had given nourishment to his father's whole family (Gen. xlv.). Again, when Isaiah declares that the Assyrian is the " staff of God's wrath" in His righteous hand, by which He was about to work that terrible slaughter by means of the same Assyrian (Isa. x. 15), the prophet thereby makes God the author of that awful destruction, yet without the least imputation of sin to God, or the most distant idea of it. In like manner, when Jeremiah curses those who do the work of God negligently (Jer. xlviii. 10), the prophet, by " the work of the Lord," means all that cruel destruction which their enemies wrought upon the Jews. Go then, therefore, and expostulate with the prophet, and declare to him that he has made God to commit sin. In a word, all who are in the least acquainted with the Scripture, know full well that a whole volume might be made of like passages of the Holy Scriptures, where God is made the author, as commander, of the evil and cruel deeds done by men and nations. But it is utterly vain to spend more words upon a subject so well known and self-evident.
Was it not a signal manifestation of the grace of God when He spared not His own Son? Was it not an equally marvellous exhibition of grace in Christ when He delivered up Himself? Now wilt thou really here affirm, with thy foul and profane mouth, that God sinned in thus ordaining the deed of this crucifixion of His Son and in ordaining the men also who should do the deed? (Acts iv. 28.) Was God's work of the offering up of His only begotten Son a sin in Him? O no ! All godly persons very easily untie this knot, as Augustine does in the following clear and striking manner: --
" When the Father gave up the Son, when the Lord gave up His own body, when Judas delivered up the Lord, how was it that, in this one same ' delivering up,' God was righteous and man guilty? The
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reason was that, in this one same thing which God and man did, the motive was not the same from which God and man acted. Hence it is that Peter without hesitation declares that Pontius Pilate and Judas, and the other wicked people of the Jews, had done ' what God's hand and His counsel had afore determined to be done' (Acts iv. 28), as Peter had just before said, ' Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God' (chap. ii. 23)." Now if you turn your back on the term " foreknowledge," the definitiveness of the terms, " determinate counsel," will floor you at once. Nor indeed does the former passage leave the least degree of ambiguity behind it, namely, that Pontius Pilate and the Jews, and the wicked people, did " whatsoever God's hand and His counsel had before determined to be done." Now if your understanding cannot hold a mystery and a secret so deep as these, why do you not wonder and exclaim with the apostle Paul, " O the depth ! " why do you daringly trample upon them as an infuriated madman? Had you been of a teachable mind, you would have found in my writings explications of this deep matter far more copious that I can here repeat. My present object is only to blunt the edge of your impudence, that it might not disturb the minds of the weak.
(THAT IS, CALUMNY V.)
NO ADULTERY, THEFT, OR MURDER, IS COMMITTED WITHOUT THE INTERVENTION OF THE WILL OF GOD. (" Institutes," chap. xiv. 44.)
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(THAT IS, CALUMNY VI.)
THE SCRIPTURE OPENLY TESTIFIES THAT EVIL DOINGS ARE DESIGNED, NOT ONLY BY THE WILL, BUT BY THE AUTHORITY, OF GOD.
Against this FIFTH and SIXTH ARTICLE your opponents bring these and many other arguments. If (they say) God wills sin, God is the author of sin. And again, if God wills sin (they argue), it is not the devil that wills sin, for the devil is the mere servant of God. And they affirm that if God wills sin, He must be inferior to many men, for many men are unwilling to sin. Nay, the nearer any man approaches to the very law of nature, the less he will sin. Else, how is it that Paul says, " The good that I would, I do not; but the evil that I would not, that I do." If Paul wills sin by nature (as Calvin saith), how is it that Paul does not will what God wills? And how is it that Paul wills that good which God (according to Calvin) does not will? Finally, your opponents ask of you, what Scriptures testifies that evil doings are designed of God, not only by His will, but by His authority?
CALUMNIATOR'S STATEMENTS AND OBSERVATIONS.
REPLY OF JOHN CALVIN TO ARTICLES V. AND VI., AND TO THE CALUMNIATOR'S STATEMENTS AND OBSERVATIONS THEREON.
In the case of this FIFTH ARTICLE, it is not without the peculiar intervention of the providence of God that you have pretended to give the reference to the passage
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in my " Institutes," from which you falsely assert it is extracted. In this instance, readers will see that I state these things in these articles (that is, calumnies), which my adversaries bring against my doctrines, just as, and as faithfully as, if they themselves stated them.
Now seizing, as you do, upon this mutilated passage, do you not deserve that everyone who passes you should spit in your face? And though you do not attempt to offer any reference in the case of the SIXTH ARTICLE, yet your real audacity takes a wider leap still. Now tell me, did I, who in all my writings so reverently and solemnly declare that whenever and wherever sin is mentioned the Name of God should be kept in all solemnity wide out of the way; did I ever, or anywhere, assert that " evil doings were perpetrated, not only by the design, but by the authority of God"? Most certainly nothing can be uttered too powerful or too severe in condemnation of such monstrous blasphemy. I am willing to hear all that you or any men can say in its abhorrence. Let not my name, therefore, ever be associated with its horrible profanity.
How successful you are in deceiving fools I know not, but of one thing I am certain: that if anyone will just take the pains to compare your foul inventions with my genuine writings, your dishonesty and wickedness will leave you painted in your true and execrable colours. You profanely contend that if God loves sin, He must hate righteousness; and you utter many things in the same line of profanity. And why do you utter them, but that you might be forced at last to subscribe, under your own convictions, to my written doctrines? For not yesterday only, nor the day before yesterday, but for these many years past, I have written and spoken concerning Job thus: If in the spoliation of that patriarch: by robbers, the work of God, and of Satan, and of the plunderers, were one and the same in the act abstractedly considered, how
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is it that God is clear of all that fault (as He sacredly is), of which fault Satan and the robbers are guilty? Why, it is thus: If, in the actions of men, an entire difference exists when the motives and ends of those actions are duly considered, so that the cruelty of that man is condemned who barbarously pierces the eyes of a crow, or the sacrilege of him who kills a crane (a bird held in so much religious veneration among the ancients>, while the sentence of that judge is lauded who sanctifies his hands by putting to death a murderer; why should the position of God be held inferior to that of man? Why should not His infinite righteousness vindicate Him, and hold Him separate from a participation in the guilt of evil-doing men? Only let readers cursorily observe what I am now about to subjoin. Nay, let them carefully read the whole of that part of my " Institutes" where I am discoursing on the Providence of God, and he will, in a moment, see all thy cloudy-minded objections discussed, exposed, answered and refuted.
Let readers consider also, if they please, what I have written in my Commentary on the Second Chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. Men (I have there shown), when they commit theft or murder, sin against God because they are thieves and murderers, and because, in their theft and in their murder, there is wicked design. But God, who makes sovereign use of their wickedness, stands in an infinitely different, and in an all-high position above all men, and acts, and things. And the objects and ends of God are infinitely different from, and higher than, those of men. God's purpose is, by the wicked acts of men, to chastise some and to exercise the patience of others. Hence, in all these His uses of the evil doings of men, God never deviates in the remotest degree from His own nature; that is, from His own infinitely perfect rectitude. If, then, an evil deed is thus to be estimated according to its end and object, it is fully manifest that God is not, nor can be, the author of sin !
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The sum of the whole great matter is this: Since an evil will, in men, is the cause of all and every sin, God, in performing His righteous counsels by the hands of men, is so far from being involved in the same sin and fault with men, that in a marvellous manner He causes, by their means, the light of His glory to shine forth out of darkness. And, indeed, in that very book of mine, " On the Providence of God," which lighted up all these very flames of the deepest pits of hell against me, there will be found continually occurring the distinctive declaration that nothing is more impious or more preposterous than to drag God into a participation of sin or guilt with man, while He is performing His secret judgments by means of the hands of men and of the devil, because there is no affinity whatever between the motives and ends of God and those of men and devils. But there was published by me, more than twelve years ago, a book which clearly vindicates both me and my doctrine from all these foul calumnies, and which ought to preserve me free from all this present trouble also, if there were but one spark of honesty or humanity either in yourself or your fellows. But with reference to that mad and impious dream of the Libertines, concerning God being the author of sin, which fascinated so many, how fully I have refuted that horrible idea I will not now boast. Most certainly I undertook to defend the cause of God therein purposely, and I proved with all possible clearness that God was not, in any sense, or degree, or manner whatever, the author of sin.
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(THAT IS, CALUMNY VII.)
WHATSOEVER MEN DO WHEN AND WHILE THEY SIN, THEY DO ACCORDING TO THE WILL OF GOD, SEEING THAT THE WILL OF GOD OFTEN CONFLICTS WITH HIS PRECEPT.
On this SEVENTH ARTICLE your opponents ask you this question: If the will of God is often at variance with His precept, in what way can it be known when God wills, and when He does not will, that which He commands? For (say they) if Calvin asserts that what God commands ought always to be done, whether God wills it or does not will it, it will follow that God wills in order that His will might sometimes be resisted. For if God commands me not to commit adultery, and yet wills that I should commit adultery, and yet I ought not to commit adultery, it follows that I ought to do that which is contrary to His will. For when God commands the people of Israel generally, " Thou shalt not commit adultery;" does He mean that none of them should commit adultery, or that some should commit adultery, but that others should not? On this point, Calvin, your adversaries ask of you some direct answer. If you reply that God wills that some should commit adultery, but that He at the same time wills that others should not, you will make God inconsistent with Himself in the one same precept.
CALUMNIATOR'S OBSERVATIONS AND STATEMENTS.
If you reply to these arguments of your adversaries by asserting that God has a twofold will -- the one open and manifest, the other secret -- they next inquire: Who was it, then, that made this secret will known to Calvin? For if Calvin and his followers know this secret will, it cannot be secret; and if they know it not, how dare they affirm that which they know not?
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Your opponents again inquire whether God commands according to His will when He enjoins His people to pray, " Thy will be done;" and where Christ also saith, " He that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is My brother and sister and mother " (Mark iii. 35)? There is also that passage of Paul, " Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, and knowest His will, and approvest that which is excellent, and art a teacher of the law" (Rom. ii. 17). Surely we have here the will of God, and that which is commanded in the law, which will, if it be good (which it certainly is), it must necessarily follow that that which is contrary thereto is evil; for whatsoever is contrary to good must be evil. There is, moreover, that memorable ejaculation of Christ, " How often would I have gathered thy children together, . . . but thou wouldest not." Christ most certainly speaks here of the open or manifest will of God, namely, that will which He ( Christ) Himself had explained in so many ways. Now, if Christ had in His mind another will of God contrary to this will, His whole life must have been a contradiction.
REPLY OF JOHN CALVIN TO ARTICLE VII., AND TO THE CALUMNIATOR'S OBSERVATIONS, STATEMENTS, &C., &C.
I am utterly unconcerned to make to this SEVENTH ARTICLE any reply at all. Produce me the place in my writings where I have asserted that " the will of God is frequently at variance with, or conflicts with,
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His precept." Such an idea never entered my mind; no, not even as a dream. Nay, on the entire contrary, among many other kindred explanations, I have faithfully expounded and set forth how simple and uniform, and one, the will of God is; although, between the secret coursel of God and His general doctrine, there is, to ignorant and inexperienced persons, at first sight, a certain appearance of difference. But whosoever modestly and soberly and reverently submits and commits himself to God and His teaching will, in a moment, see and acknowledge (as far as the human mind's capacity can see and acknowledge it) how it is that God, who forbids adultery and fornication, punishes by the incestuous intercourse of Absalom with the wives of David, David's sin of adultery with the wife of Uriah. God ever wills one and the same thing, but frequently in different forms. Wherefore, that the foulness of your lies may not cast any filth on me or my doctrine, let my readers receive in one word this solemn declaration: that that which you cast in my teeth, as promulgated by me concerning the two wills of God, is an entire fiction of your own. For, as to myself, I have ever proclaimed that there is between the secret or hidden counsel of God and the openly revealed voice of His doctrine, the most perfect, divine and consummate harmony.
Augustine did, indeed, by way of concession and explanation to his adversaries, make mention of a twofold will, or of different wills of God -- a secret will, and an open or revealed will -- but he so represented that twofold will as to show that they are in such consummate harmony with each other, that the " last day" will make it most gloriously manifest that there never was, nor is, in this multiform way of God's workings and doings, the least variance, conflict or contradiction, but the most divine and infinite harmony and oneness.
Having laid down this solemn principle and taken this immovable stand, I will now, if thou wilt have it
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so, draw swords with thee in battle for the truth. Thou arguest thus: " If God forbids a man to do that which He really wills him to do all the time, or if He commands to do that which He really wills not, He must command for the very purpose that His will might be resisted." Now, in none of all this filth of argumentation are either myself or my doctrines the least concerned. I acknowledge nothing whatever of the profane sentiments to which it refers to be mine. On the contrary, the sum of my doctrine is this: that that will of God, which is set forth in His Law, clearly demonstrates that righteousness is His delight, and that iniquity is His hatred; and also, that it is most certain that He would not denounce punishment against evil doers, if their evil doings pleased Him. This, however, by no means prevents God from willing, by His secret and unexplicable counsel, that those things should be done, in a certain sense and manner, which He yet wills not to be done, and which He forbids to be done.
If you will here raise the objection, that I make God inconsistent with Himself, I, in return, would ask you whether it belongs to you to prescribe a law or a bound for God, forbidding Him to do anything that surpasses your judgment and comprehension? Moses declares aloud that " the secret things of God belong unto Himself alone; but that whatsoever things are useful for man to know are revealed in the Law" (Deut. xxix. 29). Will you, therefore, deny God the right of doing anything but that, the reason of which you can fully comprehend and explain? After the depth of the counsel of God, which engulfs all human capacities of comprehension, has been fully declared in the Book of Job, the sublime description closes with this significant intimation, " Lo! these are parts of His ways; but how little is heard of Him ! " (Job xxvi. 14). But as for you, you will not permit God to have any counsel to Himself, but that which you can as plainly see as a thing which you behold with your natural
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eyes. You are more than blind, however, if you cannot see that when God, by His voice, forbids you to commit adultery, His will is that you should not be an adulterer; and yet, that He, the same great God, exercises His righteous judgments in those same adulteries which He condemns, which righteous judgments He most certainly exercises not but with His full knowledge and will.
Take the matter more briefly and condensedly thus: God wills that adultery should not be committed, in as far as it is a pollution and violation of the holy bond of matrimony, and a great transgression of His righteous law. But, in as far as God uses adulteries, as well as other wicked doings of men, to execute His own acts of vengeance on the sins of men, He certainly executes the office and performs the sacred duty of a Judge, not unwillingly, but willingly ! Wherefore, in what instances soever either the Chaldeans or Assyrians acted cruelly in their terrible victories and horrible slaughters, for such awful barbarities we by no means praise them. Nay, farther, God Himself declares that He will be the avenger of the afflicted and inhumanly treated; and yet, the same righteous God elsewhere declares that these slaughters are sacrifices which He has in this way prepared for Himself ! (Isa. xxix.; xxxiv. 6; Jer. xlvi. 10; Ezek. xxxix.) And will you deny that God wills that which He thus dignifies with the honoured designation of " a sacrifice "? Awake, then, from thy slumber, open thine eyes from thy blindness, and at length acknowledge that God, by secret and inexplicable ways, rules and overrules His righteous judgments.
You, however, by a subtlety of argument, which you deem marvellously wise, inquire whether God, from the time that He first forbade men to commit adultery, willed that all should be adulterers, or only a part of them. Take this as a sure and certain reply: God demands of all men chastity, because God loveth chastity in all men. Experience itself, however, manifests
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(without our entering into any proof or mention of the important facts themselves) there are in God different reasons, motives and manners, of His willing. For if He equally and effectually willed that all men should be chaste, He would, without all doubt, make and render all men chaste. Wherefore, since chastity is a singular gift of God, the prompt and evident conclusion is, that He wills that which He commands in His Word differently from that which He effectually works and fulfils by His regenerating Spirit. Hence your impure and profane tongue has no ground whatever for charging God with inconsistency. God is neither dubious nor ambiguous in anything which He commands or forbids, but He plainly discovers His pure and holy nature in both. Neither will you find anything contrary to this, His purity, holiness and righteousness, in that secret and hidden will of His, by which He rules and overrules all the actions of the sons of men.
Whoredom is highly displeasing to God as the author of all chastity. Yet the same holy God's will was to punish the adultery of David by the incestuous lust of Absalom. God forbids man's blood to be shed. For as He greatly loves His own image, so He defends it by His own protection. And yet He raised up out of the wicked nations slaughterers of the sons of Eli, because it was His will that they should be killed; for so the Sacred History plainly and literally teaches us. If your blindness is as a stone-wall in your way, yet all who really have eyes see a perfectly holy and harmonious consistency in God, when He, the same Divine Being who hates whoredom and slaughter in as far as they are sins, or (which is the same thing) who hates the sins of whoredom and of murder because they are transgressions of His righteous law, yet exercises His secret and righteous judgments in justly punishing the wickednesses of nations and of men by means of the cruelties and sins of other nations and other men. And as to your own conceit of your acute wisdom when you
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ask the question, " If there be any secret will of God, when and how will that will be revealed to me? " the answer to your impious question will contain no difficulty when you have granted to me the acknowledgment that we are to follow the Holy Spirit alone as our teacher. For if God, according to the testimony of Paul, " dwelleth in the light that no man can approach unto," and if the same apostle reverentially declares that " His ways are past finding out," why am I not freely permitted to wonder at, and adore, that secret will of His which is hidden from my comprehension? The wisdom of God is exalted in the Book of Job with the highest praises, that mortals may know and confess that it cannot be spanned by any human intellect. Are you, then, purposed to laugh at everything which is said concerning a matter so sublimely secret? Will you upbraid David with folly for solemnly proclaiming and adoring those judgments of God which he confessed to be a " great deep "? I hear from all the prophets, and from all the apostles, that the counsels of God are incomprehensible. What they all declare I embrace with a firm and unhesitating faith, and what I believe I freely and undoubtingly profess and teach. Why, then, is this my reverence for God's secret will charged upon me as a fault and a crime?
And that you may not turn round upon me, and say that I adduce from the Scriptures examples and proofs wholly irrelevant, Paul's case and mine are surely one and the same, who, when speaking of the secret election or reprobation of God and adoring the riches and profundity of His wisdom, the incomprehensibility of His judgments and the unsearchableness of His ways, yet ceases not openly to affirm that God hath mercy on whom He will, and consigns whom He will to eternal destruction. In a word, exult, I pray you, no more in the irreconcilable inconsistency which you imagine you have discovered in my doctrines. For the Scriptures furnish an abundance of testimonies concerning the secret and hidden will of God. What I have from them
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learned, I fearlessly assert and speak of as a thing sure and certain. But as my human intellect cannot soar to a height so stupendous, I adore with reverence, fear and trembling, that mystery which is too high and too deep for the angels themselves to penetrate. And this is my reason for offering so frequently in my writings the admonitory warning, that nothing is better or safer in these solemn matters than wise ignorance ! because the folly of those who suffer themselves to be, or who wish to be, wise above what is written or permitted of God, is worse than the frenzy of madmen.
By this time you must see how sure and certain I hold that will of God to be, concerning which the Scriptures so clearly and fully testify, which same will is, nevertheless, so secret and incomprehensible with reference to the reasons why God wills this or that, or how He wills this or that, that the angelic intellects cannot grasp the comprehension. The fact is, that the pride and presumption of yourself, and of all like you, so madden ye all, that whatever ye cannot comprehend, but are compelled to relinquish as beyond your capacity, ye labour with all your might to make out to be nothing at all ! As to your continuing to cast in my teeth inconsistencies, contrarieties and contradictions, I have settled all those a hundred times over. And as to your scurrility, by which you attempt to overwhelm me, all that being insipid and pointless penetrates me not. And as to your charge against me, that I am an imitator of God, you, on account of your presumptuous and devil-like imitation of His wisdom, will one day find, to your eternal cost, what it is to exalt your own wisdom and to make yourself therein equal unto the Most High. The only pain and agony I feel are caused by your frenzied blasphemies, by which you profane the sacred Majesty of God, of which profanation He will Himself be, in His appointed time, the sure and certain Avenger.
As the will of God, which He has revealed in His
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Law, is good, whatsoever is contrary to that Law and that will I acknowledge to be evil. But when you brawl that that secret and hidden will of God, by which He separates the " vessels of mercy " from the " vessels of wrath," according to "His good pleasure," and by which He makes use of both "vessels," as He will, is contrary to His Law; when you utter this, you breathe forth from the foul sink of your ignorance a detestable fiction of your own brain and a horrible lie.
I freely acknowledge that Christ is speaking of the revealed will of God, when He says, " O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered thy children together, . . . and ye would not." For He is upbraiding the Jews with the same ingratitude and hardness of heart as He had before done in the song of Moses (Exod. xv. 17, etc.). And we know full well that God did in reality bestow on the Jewish nation all the blessings which the words of that song expresses, seeing that, by giving them His law, by the ordinances of His worship, and by the many benefits which He conferred on that people, and by which He bound them to Himself, He protected them, as it were, by the overshadowing of His wings; and He would still have done so, had not their indomitable obstinacy and obduracy carried them away from Him. After, therefore, Christ had testified His will so often and in so many different ways, spoken in order to win a perverse nation to their obedience, but all in vain; it is with the utmost justice that He complains of their ingratitude. For, as to your restricting all these things to the lifetime of Christ, this you do with your usual ignorance of these divine things. Just as if Christ were not the true God, who, from the beginning, had not ceased to spread the wings of grace over His own elect people ! But here you, in a moment, conclude that, if there were another and secret will in Christ, while He thus addressed Jerusalem, the whole life of Christ must have been an inconsistency. Just as if, to allure
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by the voice and by kindnesses, and yet to leave the heart untouched by the inspiration of His secret Spirit, were in Christ diverse and contrary acts !
But, that the absurdity and futility of your calumny may the more plainly appear, answer me, I pray you, this question: Where does Christ complain that He was mistaken or deceived by the event, that the vine, from which He had expected grapes, brought forth wild grapes? What answer have you to give, noble teacher and skilful rhetorician? Will you impute ignorance to Christ, to avoid making Him speak falsely? What I did the Jews entirely prevent and defeat the purposes of God? Why, according to you, the blessed God was sitting in doubt all the time as to what the event would be, and that event quite deceived and surprised Him at last. No ! nor will it at all alter the state of the case if you make the saying of Christ, which He speaks to the fact and to the state of Jerusalem, refer to the secret foreknowledge of God. God had elsewhere said, " Surely they will fear My Name" (Zeph. iii. 7), but they hastened to corrupt themselves more and more. God had expected some profit from His great punishments inflicted, but He afterwards complains that He was disappointed. Can you, then, disentangle yourself from this divine set of truth in no other way than by reducing God to order, and making Him depend for the accomplishment of His eternal purposes upon the free will of men? Surely it is plain and evident to the meanest capacity, that God, in order to set forth the greatness of the wickedness of His people, speaks as in the person and after the manner of men, when they complain that all their labour is lost, because they are quite disappointed in their expected success.
It is most certain that those whom God wills to gather unto Himself effectually He " draws " by His Spirit, and that that which it is in His hand and purpose to do, He will, according to His promises, perform. Wherefore, when many who are called follow Him not,
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it is openly manifest that that manner of gathering together, of which Christ complains as having been unfruitful and inefficacious, was not attended with that efficacious influence of His Spirit, of which He elsewhere makes frequent mention, as, for instance, by the prophet Isaiah: " He shall gather together the dispersed of Judah " (Isa. xi. 12). Again, " The glory of the Lord shall gather thee " (Isa. lviii. 8). Again, " I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west " (Isa. xliii. 5). Again, " Your God will be your rearward" (or will gather you) (Isa. lii. 12). For the prophet had just before said, " The Lord hath made bare His holy arm," that His power might be displayed " before the eyes of all the nations " (Isa. lii. 10). Hence it is that the prophet a little afterwards repeats, " For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee" ( Isa. liv. 7). But what I have before advanced concerning the precepts of God, is sufficient and abundant, I hope, to stop the mouth of all your blasphemies. Although, therefore, God commands nothing feignedly, or ambiguously, or fictitiously, but plainly and solemnly declares what He wills and approves; yet His mind and will are that a different kind of obedience should be rendered to Him by His elect (whom He effectually bends and turns to His obedience), from that which is offered to Him by the reprobate, whom, indeed, He also calls to Himself by the outward voice of His Word, but whom He condescends not effectually " to draw " by His Spirit.
The natural obstinacy and depravity of all men are alike; so that no man will take upon himself the yoke of obedience to God voluntarily and willingly. To some God promises the Spirit of obedience; others He leaves in their depravity. For notwithstanding all your vain talk about it, the truth is that " a heart of flesh " and " a new heart " are not promised to all men promiscuously, but to the elect peculiarly, that they might walk in the commandments of God. What
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have you to reply to these things noble teacher and judge of the truth? And what if God invites the whole mass of mankind to come unto Him, and yet knowingly, and of His own will, denies His Spirit to the greater part, " drawing" a few only into obedience to Himself by His Spirit's secret inspiration and operation -- Is the adorable God to be charged, on that account, with inconsistency?
(THAT IS, CALUMNY VIII.)
THE HARDENING OF PHARAOH, AND SO HIS OBSTINACY OF MIND AND REBELLION, WAS THE WORK OF GOD, EVEN ON THE TESTIMONY OF MOSES HIMSELF, WHO ASCRIBES ALL THE REBELLION OF PHARAOH TO GOD.
(THAT IS, CALUMNY IX. )
THE WILL OF GOD IS THE SUPREME CAUSE OF ALL THE HARDNESS OF HEART IN MEN.
Under the EIGHTH and NINTH ARTICLES your adversaries ask this question: What, then, does Moses mean when he writes, " And Pharaoh hardened his heart "? Are we to interpret the words, " And Pharaoh hardened his heart," thus; that is, " And God hardened the heart of Pharaoh"? Now surely this must be a far more violent manner of speaking than to say, " God hardened the heart of Pharaoh;" that is, God knew Pharaoh as to the natural hardness of his heart, because Pharaoh
CALUMNIATOR'S STATEMENTS AND OBSERVATIONS.
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had refused to obey Him. Another like question they ask concerning the words, " To-day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts." Now, if you should interpret this passage by rendering it, " God would not have you harden your hearts," such explanation would involve the greatest absurdity, for it would be making God command men to do that which is the prerogative of Himself alone. For if the hardening of hearts is the work of God, it is absurd to command men to harden their own hearts or not to harden their own hearts; for they could no more do it than they could add one cubit to their stature, or take one cubit from it.
Here again do I beg of my readers, thou unholy calumniator of the Truth, to give me their confidence, and to compare my writings and my whole " line " of teaching with your perverted and mutilated article, If they will kindly do this, your slanders will at once be detected, and all the flame of animosity which you thus light up against me will soon go out of itself. Meanwhile, I deny not that I have taught, as Moses and Paul teach, that the heart of Pharaoh " was hardened" of God. Hereupon, however, despising both Moses and Paul, and considering all that is read in them as nought, you take upon yourself to expostulate with me, and to ask me whether, since we read in one place that " Pharaoh hardened his heart," there is any necessity for giving a more violent interpretation of the passage, and to say that " God hardened the heart
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318 CALVIN'S CALVINISM.
Of Pharaoh"? Now I need no farther reply to this your question than that which you furnish in the words of this lying article yourself, which you, pretending to quote from my writings, or corrupting, or not comprehending them, make to say that, as the will of God is the supreme or remote cause of the induration, man himself, who hardens his own heart, is, and must be, the proximate cause of the hardening. Now, I have everywhere most distinctly shown the difference between the supreme or remote cause, and all mediate and proximate causes. For while a sinner can find the root of every evil affection in himself, what ground can there be for charging God with any fault of such sinner's transgressions? Such an accuser of God acts, as I have elsewhere said, just like the nurse of Medea, as represented by the ancient poet, who preposterously exclaims, " O that the planks that formed the ship Argo had never been cut down by the axe on Mount Pelion ! " For, all the while the impure princess, her mistress, was burning with her own depraved lust, and felt herself driven headlong by its force to betray and ruin her father's kingdom, this foolish nurse blames neither her mistress's corrupt passion, nor the deep enticements of Jason, nor sees those immediate causes at all; but goes on complaining of the ship that brought Jason to Colchis, and laments that such a ship was ever built in Greece. Exactly in the same manner does the man who, being conscious of his own sin and fault, fetches a remote cause of his iniquity from afar, even from God Himself, utterly and ridiculously forget what he himself is.
Surely, then, you must now see that although God does, in His own secret and sovereign way, harden men's hearts, yet that no fault can possibly be imputed to Him, because every man hardens his own heart by the essential evil and wickedness of his own nature.
But when God turns the hearts of men to the obedience and worship of Himself, that is another
THE SECRET PROVIDENCE OF GOD. 319
form of His working altogether. For as we are all, by nature, bent on obstinacy and resistance, no man will desire to do good unless he be acted upon of God and led so to do. And though the Scripture saith that " the preparations of the heart in man are from the Lord," and that the faithful prepare their hearts to seek God, and to render Him a voluntary worship, the Scripture by no means contradicts itself herein, but it distinctly shows that all the true worshippers of God render Him their service willingly and from an affection and holy freedom of soul. And yet, again, this by no means stands in contradiction, or in the way, of the fact that God all the while performs His part by the operations and influences of His secret Spirit.
But with reference to His hardening men's hearts, that is a different way of God's working, as I have just observed. Because God does not govern the reprobate by His regenerating Spirit; but He gives them over to the devil, and leaves them to be his slaves; and He so overrules their depraved wills by His secret judgment and counsel, that they can do nothing but that which He has decreed. Hence, such is the Divine harmony and marvellous consistency of these things, that though God hardens whomsoever He will, yet everyone so hardened is the cause and author of his own induration. But that I may not extend my observations to too great a length in replying to this article, let me be permitted to impress on the minds and memories of godly and upright readers the following admonition of Augustine: " When the apostle says that God ' gave ' certain characters ' over to vile affections,' it is preposterous ignorance to refer this to the longsuffering of God. For the same apostle elsewhere connects the longsuffering of God with His power, as where he says, ' What if God, willing to show His wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath, fitted to destruction? ' (Rom. ix. 22)," etc. Indeed, even if this
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learned and pious father and teacher had never written or spoken on this great matter, the authority of God alone ought to be enough, and more than sufficient, for our understanding and faith. It is not I that said that " God taketh away the hearts of princes, and causeth them to err," or " that God held the heart of Pharaoh, that he might not incline to humanity and mercy." It is not I that said " that God turned the hearts of the nations, and hardened them to hate His people;" or, " that He hissed for the Egyptians, and used them as His servants." It was not I that said " that Sennacherib was God's rod in His hand, to punish His people." I did not say all these things. They are all the declarations of the Spirit of God Himself .
What ! when the Scripture itself affirms that Saul was carried away by an evil spirit from God, will you ascribe this to the sole patience or mere permission of God? How much nearer the truth is Augustine in his admonitory instruction, when he observes: " The sins which Satan and the wicked commit are their own; but that which is accomplished by their sins is effected by the power of God, who divides the darkness from the light as He will. " Now you charge me with saying that which God Himself asserts all the while in His own words. In this matter, let the same Augustine reply to you in my stead, where he says: " If the Scripture be carefully examined, it shows that God not only directs those good wills of men (which wills He has made good out of evil wills) unto good actions and unto eternal life, but that those wills also which remain in their natural corruption are so under the power of God, that He turns and inclines them when soever and whithersoever He will, either to confer blessings, or to inflict punishments; and that He does this by judgments the most secret, but at the same time most just."
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Against this TENTH ARTICLE, Calvin, which is a part of your doctrine, your adversaries argue thus: If Satan is a liar at the command of God, to be a liar is just, and therefore Satan is just. For if it is just to command a lie (and, if Calvin speak the truth, it is), then to obey a lie is also to be considered just from the justice of the precept. And again, as to obey an unjust precept is unjust, so to obey a just precept is just. If Calvin hereupon reply that Satan is not a liar obediently -- that is, out of mere obedience to God -- we reply, according to Calvin's own sentiments, that Satan's being a liar, but not out of obedience to God, is also at the command of God.
(THAT IS, CALUMNY X.)
SATAN IS A LIAR, AT THE COMMAND OF GOD.
Now only reflect at what kind of a man it is that you are hurling your shafts ! For that assertion at which you aim your weapon is not mine; it proceeds from the Spirit of God Himself. The very words of the Scripture are these, " Whom shall I send? and who will go for Us? " Immediately upon which God calls Satan, and commands him to go and to be a lying spirit in the mouth of all the prophets, in order that he might deceive Ahab ( 1 Kings xxii. 20-22). Now, then, bark, dog as you are, as loud as you will. You will no more obscure the glory of God by your revilings, than you can obscure the brightness of the sun by
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spitting in his blazing face. But here again let me use the words of Augustine rather than my own, " When God testifies that false prophets are sent by Him, and that His hand is upon them, to cause them to deceive men or kings, this is not an act of His mere patience or permission, but an exercise of His effectual power." As to your prating that Satan is not a liar by the command of God, out of obedience to that command, it is no marvel that you entangle yourself in knots and nets without number whilst you refuse to acknowledge that God uses the workings of Satan in an inexplicable manner, according to His sovereign will, that He may thereby manifest the justice and equity of His supreme dominion. Yet He never liberates the wicked instruments which He uses from the sin and the guilt, which are theirs, which instruments His power compels to execute His decrees, and, in some sense, even against their own wills. Though, therefore, your bitter malice may howl an hundred times over, what I utter is not the voice of Calvin, but the voice of God, who saith, " I have given commandment unto My saints." Wherefore, if you imagine that God assumes to Himself more than He ought, He will sooner or later find a way to clear and vindicate Himself from all such accusations as thine, and to take vengeance on all such accusers as thee.
Against this ELEVENTH ARTICLE your opponents argue thus: Calvin actually attributes to God that which evidently belongs to the devil, as is manifest from the
(THAT IS, CALUMNY XI.)
GOD GIVES THE WILL TO THOSE WHO DO EVIL. HE ALSO SUGGESTS DEPRAVED AND DISHONEST AFFECTIONS, NOT ONLY PERMISSIVELY BUT EFFECTIVELY, AND THAT, TOO, FOR HIS OWN GLORY.
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united testimony of the whole of Scripture. Moreover, if God suggests depraved and dishonest affections, and yet commands us to resist depraved affections, He must positively command us to resist Himself, and is therefore inconsistent with Himself. " Every good gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights" (the Scripture saith). Are, then, even depraved affections to be considered good gifts? Do they also come down from the Father of lights? James plainly asserts " that no one is tempted of God, but that every man is tempted by his own heart's lust." And whereas you add that God doeth this for His own glory, your opponents maintain that such an idea is absurd. Nebuchadnezzar did indeed experience the justice and the power of God when, on account of his own pride, he was changed into the nature and habits of a brute; and he gave glory to God for the same, because he judged and plainly saw that God therein was just as well as mighty.
Here again you go on, as before, to fabricate monsters out of your own brain, and to slaughter them in your own imagination, glorying to yourself in a mighty triumph, which you vainly think you had gained over a harmless servant of God. But, as to the places in my works wherein I have spoken or taught the doctrines contained in this article, those places you are, and ever will be, wholly unable to find. Wherefore, without my saying one word, your futility and your impudence also fall to the ground together. As to
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the murders, the adulteries, the rapines, and the frauds, etc., with which the wicked pollute themselves, my teaching is that all these wickednesses proceed from the desperate evil of their own natures; but I teach that God, who bringeth light out of darkness, so rules in these wicked men, and by them, that, by His secret, incomprehensible judgment, He executes by the wickedness of these men His own eternal decrees. Now, if you will fight against these solemn truths, prepare at once to enter into battle with God Himself. He is quite prepared to receive your insane onset.
If there were but in you one drop or spark of modesty or docility, that distinction which I ever make, and which continually occurs in my writings, must at once undoubtedly satisfy your mind. If the wicked who discover the root of all evil in themselves would but ask their own consciences where all the fault lies, those consciences would testify that the whole fault of all their wickedness is found in that root of all iniquity within them. Nor could they fail to see that God, by righteously turning their depraved wills whithersoever He pleases, uses those evil affections for the working of various good. As to quarrelling with this, I tell you again, you are not contending against me, but against God Himself. O that you could from your heart acknowledge God to be indeed the Father of lights ! Then you would not, as Paul descriptively expresses it, force yourself, by your audacity, into " that light which no man can approach unto;" you would not thus turn, by your profane insolence, that light into darkness.
Moreover, you disclose your ignorance and folly when you conclude that because every good thing cometh down from the Father of lights, therefore, those terrible acts of righteous vengeance at which the wicked fear and tremble do not proceed from the same glorious Being. Still greater is your folly and stupidity when you ask me whether I consider depraved and perverse affections to be among the good and perfect gifts
THE SECRET PROVIDENCE OF GOD. 325
which come down from the Father of lights. O yes ! you are yourself a solemn proof that there is a wonderful difference between the Spirit of wisdom and of judgment and of knowledge, and the spirit of slumber and of delusion, though both are sent of God; the one in mercy, the other in judgment. Yes ! There is a marvellous difference between the Spirit of regeneration, who creates the faithful anew in the image of God, and an evil spirit from God, who drives the reprobate into madness, as in the case of Saul.
With equal impudence it is that you attack me when I teach that God executes His decrees by means of Satan and the reprobate, to the manifestation of His own glory. That Satan is an instrument of His wrath God plainly testifies both in His Word and by universal experience. And to what end do we say that God works by the hand of Satan, unless we mean thereby that God, by means of Satan and his malice and doings, works His own glory and the manifestation of it? By this clever cavil of yours respecting Satan, you think you have eluded the net of the Divine matter. Why ! you cannot hinder God from working His own glory by all these your iniquitous contendings against the truth. No ! No more than Pharaoh could, by his madness of pride, prevent God from showing forth the brightness of His glory, because God " for that very deed raised him up," that by him He might manifest forth the glory of His " power." You would meet me by saying that Nebuchadnezzar gave glory to God when he confessed the justice of God in His terrible judgments. But that you might know in what contempt I hold all your pointless and ineffectual shafts, I will myself willingly aid you in this your argument, and will put that into your mind which otherwise never would have entered there. For what end did Joshua call upon Achan to give glory to God? His object was to show that God would be glorified by the detection of Achan's profane theft and lie.
But the essential question is now, whether there is
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but one way in which God can show forth His glory. For if the glory of God did not continually shine forth out of the lies, as well as out of other wickednesses, of men, Paul speaks in vain when he says that God alone is true, but all men are liars; and he speaks equally in vain when he immediately adds, " But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say, Is God unrighteous? " (Rom. iii. 5.)
When you argue that God's will is that He should be praised by all nations for the blessings which He confers, what you assert is true, provided you grant also that there is a mighty wood of circumstances out of which God, by His wonderful workings, secures praises and glory to Himself. And by your ignorance of this you bring on yourself the just punishments of your pride. For, professedly laughing at all sound logic and legitimate reasoning, you perpetually argue from the species to the genus negatively.
Nor will I deem your profane and blasphemous jest worthy of any lengthened reply, when you intimate that God might as well punish men for wearing the beards which Himself has created. For whoever asserted that iniquity was created of God, although it be true that God, by His secret and incomprehensible purpose ordains and overrules the working of that iniquity to righteous, good and glorious ends? Away, therefore, with your stupid and insipid insolence, when you ignorantly confound the beard of men, which grows naturally and imperceptibly even while they are asleep, with their acts of wickedness, which are voluntary, perceptible and conscious. Rage against me as rabidly as you will, this I nevertheless hold fast and maintain that although God does indeed decree and overrule the depraved affections of men to the accomplishment of His own eternal purposes, yet He nevertheless righteously punishes the depraved agents and instruments themselves, and makes them to stand condemned in their own consciences.
Only observe how you again entangle yourself in a
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net of your own creation, when you pretend to confess that the secrets of God are unknown to us, and yet would maintain that His justice, like the justice of man, is clearly comprehensible by us. Now suppose anyone should ask you whether there is any justice contained in the secrets of God, would you deny that there is? Would you, then, pretend or assert that that justice of God, in His secret acts which David and Paul contemplate with wonder and adoration, because it surpasses the utmost stretch of their mental comprehension, is easily intelligible and plainly known? Do not the profundity of the depth and the riches of the height of the wisdom of God in His marvellous judgments contain in them justice? Why, then, will you deny that God is just whensoever the reason of His works surpasses your comprehension? There is in the Book of Job a Divine and remarkable distinction made between that wisdom of God which is unsearchable and the brightness of which holds all human nature at an immeasurable distance, and that wisdom which is made manifest to us in His revealed and written law. In the same manner, you, if you did not thus confound all things, ought to have made a distinction between that wonderful and profound justice of God, which no human capacity can comprehend, and that rule of justice which God has prescribed for the regulation of the lives of men in His revealed Law. I at once confess that it is by the openly revealed doctrine of the Gospel that God will assuredly judge the world. But He will as assuredly vindicate, at the same time, the righteousness of His secret providence against all profane brawlers !
Indeed, were you but acquainted, even in the least degree, with that Gospel, concerning which you thus vainly prate, you would easily understand how it is that God richly rewards that righteousness which He sets forth in His glorious law, nor ever deprives of their promised crown those who from the heart obey His commandments, and yet righteously punishes all those
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who refuse their obedience. These latter, nevertheless, He calls His servants, because He holds their hearts in His hands for the accomplishment of His eternal purposes. Hence Nebuchadnezzar, that furious plunderer of nations and slave of Satan, is called by Jeremiah, and with peculiar significance, the " servant " of God. And if I have taught that God, as is manifest by His judgments on every side, inclines the hearts of men hither and thither for the execution of His purposes and decrees, when the prophets of God declare these same things in the same words, and when I cite their own words, why impute you such citations as awful crimes committed by me? Are not these the very words of the Divine history? " And again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah" ( 2 Sam. xxiv. 1).
With reference to this TWELFTH ARTICLE, Calvin, which is your doctrine, your opponents argue thus: If this really be the case, then, God is often angry at that which is good. For if wickedness is the work of God, wickedness itself is good; for all the works of God are good. And again, if wickedness is good, it follows of necessity that godliness is evil, because it
(THAT IS, CALUMNY XII.)
THE WICKED, BY THEIR ACTS OF WICKEDNESS, DO RATHER GOD'S WORK THAN THEIR OWN.
CALUMNIATOR'S OBSERVATIONS AND STATEMENTS ON ARTICLE XII.
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is the direct contrary to wickedness. Hence, it will again follow, that when the Holy Scriptures command us to hate evil and love that which is good, they commend us to love wickedness and hate godliness. Your opponents, moreover, affirm that this article of your doctrine really savours of libertinism, and they consequently marvel that you should be so determined a foe to the libertines.
Before God, and the angels, and the whole world, I here again testify that what I did truly teach upon this subject, you have by the basest and most wicked calumny, utterly perverted. If it really seems to you an absurdity to teach that the wicked do the work of God, enter the battle at once with Jeremiah, the prophet of God, whose words are these, " Cursed is he that doeth the work of the Lord negligently, and that keepeth back his sword from blood " (Jer. xlviii. 10). Now, by the work of the Lord, the prophet evidently and undeniably means hostile slaughters and desolations, which you surely must call wickedness, seeing that they proceed from pure avarice, cruelty and pride. The Chaldeans were urged on to make war upon Moab by their own ambition and thirst for plunder, so that, regardless of all justice, they forged on their way by rapine and slaughter to accomplish their inhuman purposes. But since it pleased God to punish, by their hands, the idolatry and defiance of the Moabites, their depravity
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did not alter the fact of their executing the judgments of God upon the Moabites by their wicked hands. What availeth, then, your barking and growling? What availeth your profane logic and argument " that, therefore, wickedness is good" ? As if wickedness could be imputed unto God because, by His wonderful working, He turns the wickednesses of men to an end and a purpose entirely different to those which the wicked themselves designed. Nay, you would even class me with the libertines, the mad delusions of which sect I have laboured to expose and confute beyond all other men; so that I need no new defence of myself on the present occasion.
(THAT IS, CALUMNY XIII.)
WE SIN OF NECESSITY (WITH RESPECT TO GOD), WHETHER WE SIN OF OUR OWN PURPOSE OR ACCIDENTALLY.
(THAT IS, CALUMNY XIV.)
WHAT WICKEDNESSES SOEVER MEN COMMIT OF THEIR OWN WILL, THOSE WICKEDNESSES PROCEED ALSO FROM THE WILL OF GOD.
Against these two articles your opponents urge the following arguments: If we sin of necessity all admonitions are evidently vain, and the prophet Jeremiah therefore speaks these words to the people in vain,
CALUMNIATOR'S OBSERVATIONS AND STATEMENTS ON ARTICLES XIII. AND XIV.
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" Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I set before you the way of life, and the way of death. He that abideth in the city shall die by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence: but he that goeth out, and falleth to the Chaldeans that besiege you, he shall live, and his life shall be unto him for a prey" (Jer. xxi. 8, 9). All this warning and admonition is utterly vain, I repeat, if, from the state and necessity of things, to flee unto the Chaldeans was as great an impossibility as to swallow a mountain.
If Calvin here reply that the commandments of God are set before men to render them inexcusable, we rejoin that this also is positively vain. For if any father should command his son to eat up a mountain, and the son did it not, that son would be no more inexcusable after such commandment of his father than he was before. Just in the same manner, if God should command me not to steal, and yet I must steal of necessity imposed on me by Him; and if I can no more abstain from stealing, on account of that necessity, than I can eat up a mountain; I am no more inexcusable after such a commandment than I was before, nor am I more excusable before such commandment than I was after. In a word, the opponents of Calvin argue that, if this his doctrine be really true, a man is inexcusable even before the commandment of God is set before him. From which it will follow that all commandment, given with the intent to produce this inexcusableness in man, is altogether needless and vain.
Moreover, if the wicked is reprobated of God before he becomes wicked -- that is, before he is born, even from all eternity and if, therefore, he sins of necessity, he is already inexcusable and condemned, even before any precept is given to him. And he is so condemned before he has done any evil act at all; whereas all laws, human and divine, condemn a man after the act and for the act.
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What you really mean or propose to yourself in this THIRTEENTH ARTICLE (that is, calumny), I cannot possibly catch or comprehend. You seem to me like one endeavouring to spell-bind the senses of men by a buzz of magic whispers. For what are accidental sins? Who, beside yourself, ever fabricated such unheard of creatures as these in the workshop of the human brain? I have elsewhere in my writings and ever taught that all those things which seem to happen accidentally are ruled and overruled by the secret Providence of God. Who was it that gave you the license to gather from thence the idea of an accidental sin? And was this doctrine which I have taught my own and of my own creation? NO ! It has God Himself for its author. If, when a man is cutting the boughs of a tree, the axe slips from his hand and falls upon the head of one passing by, is this, think you, an accident? Not so thought the servant of God, Moses. The Holy Spirit declares by him that the man thus stricken was killed of God. And will you dare to say that God hurls His weapons and deals His blows on this side and on that as a man would do who was intoxicated or insane? Indeed, if, as you imagine, men sin without the purpose, understanding, or mind of God, how shall God be judge of the world? And if the things which are done in the world, are done without God's purpose, understanding, mind, and will, in what does God exceed mortal man? In what is the adorable God higher and greater than man?
REPLY OF JOHN CALVIN TO ARTICLE XIII. (THAT IS, CALUMNY XIII.) AND TO CALUMNIATOR'S OBSERVATIONS, ETC., THEREON.
Hence, when I affirm that God knows, and has His mind concerned in, every sin of man, are you driven thereby into such madness and hatred of the doctrine
THE SECRET PROVIDENCE OF GOD. 333
as to denounce me the maker of a false God? Now suppose I were to concede to you that men sinned without God's knowledge, and without His mind being at all concerned therein, what God would be left in heaven or in earth at all by such a concession? And yet you imagine and boast yourself to be a great popular teacher; whereas, by thus depriving God of a concerned mind in all things which men do, whether sins or not, and merely dignifying Him with the title of God, as Lucretius did his dreams, you make the adorable God nothing more than a lifeless, unconcerned -- idol.
As to your arguments, that if men sin of necessity all doctrine is superfluous, all precepts useless, all admonitions vain, and all rebukes and threats absurd; if Augustine's book to Valentinus " concerning compulsion and grace" suffices not to wash these frivolous objections out of your brain (to the discussion of which subject Augustine was especially appointed of God), you are not worth the hearing of one word farther from me on the sacred matter. Moreover, I have so beaten off Pighius and your favourite master; Servetus, from their hold of this calumny, that teachable and candid readers require not another word of defence from me on this point of my testimony. I will only offer this one brief word to your boasting calumnies directed against me on the momentous doctrine of truth now in question. If you will not permit God to command anything which is beyond the natural comprehension of men, when God shall bring you to stand before His tribunal, He will make you to see with awful plainness that which He hath declared, and not in vain, by the mouth of His apostle; that He hath accomplished by His grace that which was impossible by the Law (Rom. viii. 3). It is plain and certain that in the Law is set forth that perfect righteousnesss which God required, in order that it might be ready at hand and plainly presented before the eyes of all men, if men had but strength to do what God commands. But the
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apostle openly declares that to attain unto the righteousness commanded in the Law is, on our part, impossible. What ground have you, then, for contending with and reviling Calvin respecting his doctrine on this Divine point?
If you steal of necessity (according to your own argument), think you not that you are less excusable after the Law has been given than you were before it was given? How widely different is the apostle Paul's opinion of himself, where he confesses that he was " sold under sin," but where, at the same time, he freely and loudly testifies that the Law " worketh wrath"? showing thereby that it is in vain to stretch forth in our defence the shield of necessity, when every man's own conscience condemns him of voluntary and wilful wickedness.
Now I would just ask you this question: When, a year ago, you had your own hook in your hand, by which you might have pulled down firewood to warm your own house, was it not your own will that drove you to steal wood from your neighbour? If, then, this one act suffices for your own righteous condemnation, that you willingly made a base and wicked gain to your neighbour's loss, what noise soever you may make about necessity, necessity did not acquit you on that occasion. And as to your farther noisy argument: that no one can be justly condemned, excepting on account of his crime and after his crime; concerning the former there exists no strife nor cause of strife (or ought not to exist) between me and you, because I everywhere teach that no one perishes but by the just judgment of God. But I cannot withhold my testimony that there lies concealed under your words a great depth of poison. For if your statement of the Divine matter and your figure of speech are to be received, God will appear unjust who righteously includes the whole race of Abraham under the guilt of original sin.
You deny that it is lawful and right in God to condemn any one of mortals, unless it be on account of
THE SECRET PROVIDENCE OF GOD. 335
sin committed. Now numberless mortals are taken out of life while yet perfect infants. You had better then commence your virulent war with God Himself, Who casts-innocent babes, just taken from the wombs of their mothers, under the guilt of original sin, and subjects them to His wrath and the desert of eternal death. Who, I pray you, must not detest the blasphemy of thus contending against God, when it is exposed to view, either by the voice or by pen of truth? Curse me as long as you will, but blaspheme not the adorable God. For, as to myself, I can never expect to be free or exempt from the reproaches of those who spare not the ever blessed God Himself.
With respect to the second member of your argument, that no one can justly be condemned until after his crime, just weigh in your own balance the lightness and emptiness of your loquacity herein. Why, your own masters, Pighius, Servetus, and all like barking unclean dogs, will at least confess that all those whom God foreknew to be worthy of eternal destruction were condemned by Him before the foundation of the world; whereas you will not grant unto God the right to condemn any to eternal death, but those who have first been brought before earthly judges for their actually perpetrated crimes. From such arguments as these, readers may at once gather the marvellous extent of your insanity, who hesitate not to root out, in absolute sport or jest, all the solemn order of the Divine justice.
The false God is slow to mercy and swift to anger; Who has created the greatest part of the world to perdition, and has predestinated them not only to damnation, but also to the cause of their damnation; and has,
CALUMNIATOR'S DESCRIPTION OF THE FALSE GOD.
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therefore, decreed, from all eternity, and wills and causes their sins, which sins are consequently of necessity; so that neither thefts, nor adulteries, nor murders are committed, but by His will and instigation. For He suggests in men depraved and evil affections, not only permissively, but effectively, and hardens men's hearts. Wherefore, while men are living wickedly, they are rather doing the work of God than their own work, and cannot do otherwise. This God makes Satan a liar; so that Satan is not the cause of his own lies, but Calvin's God is.
But that God which nature, reason, and the Holy Scriptures teach, is plainly the contrary to this God of Calvin, for He is inclined to mercy and slow to anger. And He created the first man from whom all men arose in His own image, that He might place him in Paradise and bestow upon him eternal life. This God wills that all men should be saved, and that no one man should perish. And for this very end He sent His Son into the world, that His righteousness might abound wherever the sin of man had abounded. The light of this righteousness " lightens every man that cometh into the world," and this Son of God, the Saviour of the world, calls aloud to all, " Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." This God suggests good affections and honourable, and delivers men from the necessity of sinning (into which they precipitate themselves by their disobedience); and He heals all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. Nay, so merciful is He, that He never denies His mercy and help unto anyone that prays to Him for them. In fact, this true God
CALUMNIATOR'S DESCRIPTION OF THE TRUE GOD.
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comes for the very end that He might destroy the works of that God of Calvin, and thrust Him out of doors.
Now these two Gods, as they are by nature contrary to each other, so do they beget children the direct contraries to each other. The children of that false merciless God are ever proud, unmerciful, envious, bloodthirsty, calumnious, feigned, carrying one thing in their countenance and another in their heart, impatient, rash, malicious, seditious, contentious, ambitious, avaricious, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; in a word, filled with depraved and evil affections with which their God Himself had inspired them. But the other God begets men merciful, modest, gentle, benevolent, beneficent, abhorring the shedding of blood, open, candid, speaking the truth out of the abundance of the heart, benignant, quiet, peaceful, detesting broils and strifes, despisers of honours, liberal, lovers of God more than lovers of pleasure; in a word, full of all pure and honest affections, with which they are inspired of their Father.
These are the views and arguments which your adversaries entertain concerning your doctrine, Calvin. And they advise all men to judge of your doctrine by its fruits. They, moreover, affirm that both you and your disciples bear abundant fruits of your God; that they are, for the most part, contentious, thirsty after revenge, ever tenacious and mindful of an injury received and filled with numberless other vices, which your God begets in them.
If anyone reply to these assertions of your adversaries, and allege that these are not faults caused by your doctrine, your opponents rejoin that your doctrine does evidently beget such men, and that such is the case is manifest from the fact that many, after they have embraced and followed your doctrine, become such characters, who were before far from being persons of that evil description; while, on the other hand, those who have believed the doctrine of Christ have
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always been rendered better men, but they affirm that men ever become manifestly worse by your doctrine. They also assert that when you and your followers profess that you hold a sound doctrine, you are not to be believed.
The truth is, that I myself once favoured your doctrine, and even defended it, though I really did not clearly understand it. For I thought so much of the weight of your authority, that I considered the mere entertaining one thought contrary to it was quite a crime. But now, having heard the arguments of your opponents, I have nothing to say in reply to their conclusions and proofs. Your disciples indeed do attempt a reply in your defence, and among those whom they can find to be favourers of your doctrine they boldly boast of having the truth on their side. But when they come to deal with your opponents, they vacillate and run to your books for protection; but that which they there find is too weak to support them. For your reasonings are so weak and, for the most part, so unsound, that as soon as your book drops from their hands, your reasonings drop from their memories, and therefore they fail to convince your adversaries. On the other hand, the arguments of your opponents are manifest, powerful and easily committed to memory, and are therefore at once understood by the illiterate ( of which description were most of those who followed Christ); whence it results that the generality of your disciples depend more upon your authority than upon sound reason; and finding that they cannot vanquish their adversaries by argument, they hold them as heretics and bigots, shun their society, and warn all on every side to do the same. On the contrary, I, who am always of opinion that what is said, not the person who speaks, ought to be the subject of consideration, judge that all men ought to be heard, and all things that are said duly proved, and that what is good ought to be received and retained.
Wherefore, Calvin, if you have any arguments to
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produce which are true, plain and sound, and by which your adversaries can be refuted, bring them forth, I pray you, before us all, and thus prove yourself, in reality, a defender of the truth. You know what is written, " I will give you a mouth and wisdom which none of your adversaries shall be able to gainsay or resist" (Luke xxi. 15). As to myself, wheresoever I can find the truth, I am prepared to follow it, and to exhort others to adopt the same course. If you have, perchance, erred (for we are all men), I entreat you, Calvin, give glory to God by a full confession. Your so doing will be more noble, and will bring you more fame than the persevering in error. But be not, I pray you, angry with me on account of this my letter. If you are just and true, you have nothing to fear from it. First, because it is to your own advantage to be admonished by its arguments; and secondly, as you believe, as you say, that all things are done of necessity, you must believe that this letter also was written by me of necessity. Farewell !
It now only remains that I vindicate the glory of the true and eternal God from your profane maledictions and blasphemies.
REPLY OF JOHN CALVIN TO ARTICLES XIII. AND XIV. (THAT IS, CALUMNIES XIII. AND XIV.) AND TO CALUMNIATOR'S OBSERVATIONS, ETC., THEREON.
You boastingly assert that I place before men the devil in the place of the true God. My defence needs only to be brief and comprehensive, because all my writings openly testify that I never had before me any other end, or purpose, or prayer, than that the whole
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world should dedicate itself to God with all fear, reverence and holiness; and that all men should cultivate equity with a good conscience among and towards each other; and also, that my own life might not be inconsistent with my doctrine. I will not so disregard and dishonour the grace of God as to compare myself with you or your fellows, whose professed blamelessness of life consists in a mere fawning external appearance. I will only observe that if any unprejudiced and upright arbitrator should sit to judge between us, he would at once acknowledge that holy reverence of God was conspicuous both in my speech and in the actions of my life; and he would, with equal readiness, confess that whatsoever proceeded from you breathed fear and dread, which all the godly despise and laugh at.
But that I may examine as briefly as possible your base calumnies -- who or what can be more profane than yourself, when you contend that God proves Himself to be slow to mercy and quick to anger in predestinating the greater part of the world to eternal death? -- one thing is certain, that what kind of God soever you might fabricate or imagine for yourself, that One adorable God is to be worshipped and is worshipped by all the godly, who for more than 2,000 years left the whole human race, except the one family of Abraham, to wander in total darkness, to the destruction of their souls. Now, if you are prepared to charge God with cruelty, because He condescended to bless one family of the earth only with the light of life, while He willed that numberless nations should still lie for the same 2,000 years sunk in the darkness of their soul's death, one question will furnish a solemn reply to every inquiry into the deep mystery: How was it that whole nations were not utterly destroyed daily, until no more peoples existed? How was it that the whole world was not destroyed, if such a thing were possible, a hundred times a year? How was it that during those same 2,000 years so many glorious proofs of God's patience and mercy towards men were
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manifested? Even Paul the apostle himself, after having asserted that the " vessels of wrath " were " fitted to destruction " by God's secret and eternal decree, forgets not, nor hesitates to praise His patience and longsuffering therein. If, then, the testimony of the apostle does not content you, I think that such an humble one as I may unconcernedly despise all your growlings at my doctrine.
God, however, needs not my feeble defence. He is now, and in the last day will be, a mighty Avenger of His own righteousness, even though all the foul tongues of the whole world should combine their efforts to becloud that righteousness with obscurity and confusion. Wherefore, go you on, with your band of like spirits, to hurl your blasphemies up to the very heavens. They shall all assuredly fall back on your own heads. As to your base revilings, I can bear them with patience and without trouble, provided they touch not the everblessed God, Whose servant I am. I challenge you to stand (where you must one day stand) before His tribunal, that He may show Himself, as He one day will show Himself, the righteous Avenger of His own doctrine, which doctrine you thus furiously assail in my feeble person.
As to your description of the nature of the true God, how appropriately you argue concerning the Divine Being, let readers judge from the absurd fact that you make the beginning of all true knowledge of Him to proceed from common sense. That there is a God is a truth received by the one consent of all nations and all ages, because the seed and principle of this knowledge is imparted by nature in every human mind. But what God is, how shall reason define? which, by its own power of sight, can do nothing but turn the truth into a lie, and adulterate whatever of light and understanding true religion and faith possess. The Holy Spirit commands us to become fools, if we would be the true learners of heavenly doctrine, because the animal man himself can neither receive nor taste any
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thing of wisdom divine. On the direct contrary, you would have human reason and common sense to form a judgment of the great and adorable God. And you would not only set up reason, which, by its blindness, ever extinguishes God's glory as a leader and guide, but would exalt that blind reason above the Scripture itself. What marvel, then, if you should unconcernedly permit all religions of all kinds to be confounded together? And that you should consider the Turk, who is enveloped in the deliriums of Mahomet, and who adores as his deity no one knows what, as much a worshipper of God as he who calls upon the Father of Christ our Redeemer, instructed by the sure word and faith of the everlasting Gospel? Though that you do not patronise infidels seriously is a fact proclaimed aloud by those sarcastic grins of yours, which show your teeth gnashing at every plainest and holiest article of our faith, while the excuses which you make for the superstitions of all nations prove your malicious purpose to be to root out of the earth every doctrine of that holy religion which the Sacred Oracles of God reveal and teach.
On the other hand, out of that very human reason, which is the mother of all errors, you form that God of yours, who wills, without any election or predestination of His own, that all men should be saved. Has, then, the word election, which occurs so frequently in the Scriptures, no meaning whatever? Is it altogether a vain and empty term? Have the Law, the Prophets and the Gospel, no meaning whatever, when they everywhere proclaim aloud that all those who were chosen by the eternal counsel of God before the foundation of the world are called and illuminated unto salvation? Is, we repeat, the united and harmonious testimony of the Law, the prophets and the Gospel, an utter vanity, when they pronounce, free from all ambiguity, that the source and cause of eternal life is the free love of God, by which He has loved and em-
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braced not all mankind, but those out of mankind whom He pleased!
And what will you gain after all, I pray you, by thus roaring against this truth a hundred times over? You dazzle the sight of the ignorant and the inexperienced by setting before their eyes, as a shining cloud, your doctrine that God will have all men to be saved. But if these words of the apostle are not in perfect harmony with that election whereby God predestinated His own children unto eternal life, let me ask you this question: How is it, that if God willed all men to be saved, He did not show unto all nations and all men the way of salvation? Universally and well known is that remarkable word of God in the law, " Behold, I set before thee this day the way of life, and of death" (Jer. xxi. 8). If, therefore, God willed to gather together unto salvation all men without distinction, why did He not set before all men in common the way of life and of salvation? Whereas, the fact was, that He deemed one family or nation only worthy of this high privilege. Nor did He confer this great blessing upon that one family for any other reason than because He loved them (if the testimony of Moses is to be believed), and because He would " choose them for a peculiar people."
You affirm that Christ was sent down from heaven in order that His righteousness might over-abound wherever sin had abounded; whereas, this one sentence of yours evidences that you have come forth, furnished by the devil out of the very bowels of hell itself with this spirit and doctrine, that it might conceal every possible religious lie under the show of godliness and truth, in order that you might hold up Christ Himself and His true religion to derision. For if, wherever sin abounded, the righteousness of Christ was designed of God to super-abound, the condition of Pilate was just as good and as safe as that of Peter or of Paul. But to say nothing of Pilate, Paul declares that the righteousness of Christ and the faith of the Gospel can
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never be separated. And what Gospel, I pray you, was there in France, and in other distant heathen nations, at the time when Christ was upon earth? What ! Was not God the same before the coming of His Son, as He was when His Son did come, and as He now is, and ever will be? Why, then, was it that He withheld the treasure of salvation from the nations of the earth, except from the family " of Abraham," until the " fulness of the time was come "? (Gal. iv. 4.)
Wherefore, swell yourself with rage to the utmost, and burst into derision, if you will and must, at the apostle Paul himself, for he declares that " that mystery was made known by the preaching of the Gospel, which was before hidden in God" (Eph. iii. 9). And now that the voice of the Gospel hath sounded forth, the righteousness of Christ cometh unto none, save those who receive it by faith. And whence cometh this faith? If you reply, " By hearing," your answer is true. But remember, that it cometh not by hearing without the especial revelation of the Holy Spirit. Isaiah himself expresses aloud his wonder at the small number of those " to whom the arm of the Lord is revealed" (Isa. liii. 1). And Paul uses the very words of the prophet Isaiah when he confines the gift of faith to the elect alone. And will you permit and admit no distinction to be made of God in the salvation of men? Christ does indeed say aloud, " Come unto Me, all ye that are heavy laden." But the same Redeemer of men elsewhere also exclaims, " No one can come unto Me except My Father which hath sent Me draw him." Nor is there any want of harmony, or oneness of truth, when the same Saviour, who invites all men unto Him without exception by His external voice, yet declares that " A man can receive nothing, except it were given him from above," and " that no one can come unto Him, but those to whom it is given of the Father " (John xix. 11; vi. 65).
There is also another scripture which you bedaub and defile by your swine-like pollution, when you say
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" that the light of the righteousnesss Christ lighteneth every man that cometh into the world " (John i. 9). But had not John, I pray you, just before said " that the light shineth in darkness, but the darkness comprehendeth it not"? (ver. 5). By these words John signifieth that whatsoever of human reason or understanding was given to men at the beginning, was all stifled and extinguished by sin, and that no other remedy now remains than the enlightening of the blind eyes by the Spirit of Christ. It is indeed quite true that Christ never refused His grace to anyone that asked for it. But you forget all the while that all true prayers and entreaties are dictated and directed by the Spirit of God; and you are equally ignorant that faith, which is the fruit and consequence of free election, is the key that opens the ears of God and unlocks the door of the kingdom of heaven. Now, as you are thus evidently ignorant of these first principles of the doctrines of Christ (which, if you take away, you bring down the Gospel of Christ at once to a level with the dark heathen mysteries of Proserpine or of Bacchus), it is really a marvel that persons, ensnared by such enormous errors and delusions, should ever find their way at all into the company of Christian men.
As to your foul assertion that my disciples are made of my God like unto myself -- cruel, envious, proud, slanderers, carrying one thing on their tongue and another in their heart -- I will come forward and refute this, your impudent reviling; prepared to do so, not so much by words, as by facts. For as I have no inclination to revile in return, let all your base calumnies, as far as I am concerned, remain dead and buried by my hands, except that I assume the permission (as in sacred duty bound) to make one solemn declaration, calling God to witness, that during the time I fed you at my house, I never saw a man more proud, more perfidious, or more devoid of human kindness. And sure I am, that those who do not confess that you are an impostor, a fellow of impudent audacity, a religious
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buffoon, professedly set to brawl down all godliness; those, I say, who do not confess these to be your real principles, have no right judgment of your character. For what particular act of mine you accuse me of cruelty I am anxious to know. I myself know not that act, unless it be with reference to the death of your great master, Servetus. But that I myself earnestly entreated that he might not be put to death his judges themselves are witnesses, in the number of whom at that time two were his staunch favourers and defenders. But I have said quite enough about myself.
What are the real fruits produced by my doctrine, both in this city and far and wide throughout many nations, I leave to the consideration and reflection of all men. Out of this very school, which you so atrociously attack, and unceasingly rend in pieces, God daily chooses to Himself men of the highest principles, and of the sweetest odour of His truth, to illustrate the doctrine of His Gospel, and to be the victims of malice and cruelty. All those who really grow and make any advancement in the doctrine of the Gospel (of the number of whom neither the world nor the Church needs repent nor be ashamed), live a life supported by the slenderest means, with difficulty indeed, but with the greatest patience and with the greatest kindness towards all men; or else, bidding a spontaneous farewell to luxury of every kind, they give themselves up to frugality peacefully and freely; they all, as one man, resigning the world and self-enjoyment, aspire to the hope of a blessed immortality. Being averse to glorying in myself, or boasting of myself, I have called to witness these bright examples of His grace, which God thus sets before the world to prove the truth of, and to defend, that doctrine which you vainly endeavour to rend in sunder by your foul revilings.
But do pray tell me what you were at the time that you favoured this my doctrine. What was your state of mind at that time? You affirm that you could never clearly understand it because the weight of my authority
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stood in your way, inducing you to consider it a perfect crime to entertain any judgment whatever in the least contrary to mine. Why, this is a marvellous matter. You must have been a brainless fellow indeed, if you could not comprehend, after so many years' trial, that which I had taught you in the most familiar manner, in my own house, and had so often expounded in your hearing in the public congregation. There are, however, many credible witnesses, that although I laboured long, but in vain, to correct and heal by every possible means the depravity of your nature, yet that during the time you did profess to be one of my followers, you were restrained by a somewhat effectual bridle from your evil ways. So that the real cause of your alienation from me evidently appears to be a longing desire to throw off the rein, that you might break forth with unbridled license into this your present impious course, which is your true delight and boast.
You affirm that it is a principle with you to regard not who it is that speaks, but what is spoken. I wish this had been a real principle with you long ago, so that you might have profited by the labours of others, and thus accustomed yourself to a teachable spirit. Whereas now, since audacity and loquacity are your only powers, all the favour you can procure to yourself from the evil-minded is gotten from your base despising of others. I would arrogate nothing to myself. But I really seem to myself to have so far deserved well of the Church, that if a place among the faithful servants of God be given to me by her, no man has a right to labour to bring my authority into contempt. Had you asserted that a few unlearned men looked to my nod, or hung upon my judgment, or were influenced by my fame and authority, you might have had some colour of covering for your calumny. But now, since you magnify it into a notorious disgrace to me, that my doctrine does not satisfy or please illiterate men, who, think you, will believe you, if you assert that learned and talented men alone have a test
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for my books, and that they derive their wisdom from them? Nay, that they are so overawed by my authority, as not to attempt any judgment of their own? If things be so, we shall prove, upon your own authority, that nothing can be judged to be true or right but that which seems to the ignorant multitude to be plausible.
Yes ! you would drive away all men from the liberal and useful arts and sciences, and would boast among your fellows that all study and learning are useless and all the time spent in vain which is devoted to philosophy, to grammar, to logic, and even to divinity itself. You would thus cry down, I say, all useful learning for this very reason, that you might procure to yourself ignorant disciples, and make yourself great among them. And you say they that followed Christ were such. Just as if the Christian faith were a matter standing contrary to, and inconsistent with, learning ! But let Christian readers here mark the difference which exists between you and me. I ever affirm that the wisest among men, until they become fools, and, bidding farewell to all their own wisdom, give themselves up humbly and meekly to the obedience of Christ, are blinded by their own pride, and remain utterly unable to taste one drop of heavenly doctrine. For all human reason is tasteless in the mysteries of God, and all human perspicacity blind. I maintain, therefore, that the beginning and essence of all divine wisdom is humility. This strips us of all the wisdom of the flesh, and prepares us to enter upon the mysteries of God with reverence and faith. You, on the contrary, bid ignorant and untaught men to come forth into public; men who, despising all learning and inflated with pride alone, rashly attempt to pass their judgment on divine things. Nor will you acknowledge any to be legitimate judges in divine matters, but those who, content with the opinion of reason and commonsense, unceremoniously reject all which does not just suit their own mind and taste.
Respecting the other reproach with which you load
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my humble followers, that of being heretics, the testimony of the apostle Paul quite satisfies them on that point, upon whose authority they would rather turn away from such real heretics as yourself and your followers, than knowingly pollute their ears by listening to their blasphemies. You maintain, however, that such is not your principle of action. You hold that all men ought to be heard. Think you, then, that the apostle saith in vain, " A man that is an heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject" (Titus iii. 10)? Now if anyone had denied to you the right of being heard, you would have had some cause for complaint. But when there was always granted you the liberty of prating as you liked in the public assembly of the people; nay, when after having been called and almost dragged there, you have often sat down vanquished and with nothing to say; what farther liberty of speech would you have if the ears of the godly are ever open to you, until they are satiated and nauseated unto disgust at your blasphemies against the adorable God? As to yourself, you can find gratification and delight in holding up all the first great principles of godliness to derision. But would you therefore have all the children of God to be such fools as to laugh at your audacious impudence, or to endure your profane reproaches without a word or an emotion?
With regard to the sacred cause in question, I feel confident that I have hereby given you a sufficient answer. So that all readers of a sound mind may easily perceive that I am not altogether destitute of that blessed Spirit, who giveth a mouth and wisdom, which mouth and wisdom, if you are still determined to resist, you can do nothing more thereby than sustain a disgrace and a confusion corresponding with your obstinacy. Nevertheless, I will not cease to wish and to pray that you may yet bow to the manifest truth of God, though such a thing I scarcely dare to hope.
One final word upon your remaining profane jeer: that I have no ground for being angry at your reproaches,
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because, according to my own doctrine, they were written of necessity. But I am here furnished by the Scriptures with a solemn and effectual exhortation to forbearance; and nothing can be more instructive and appropriate, in this my case, nor better adapted to appease my indignation, than this admonition of David, "Let him curse, for God hath bidden him" (2 Sam. xvi. 11). David knew that Shimei on that occasion was driven on by the same rage of cursing as that with which you boil now. But those curses which Shimei thought he was hurling at David, under the (to him) fortuitous occurrence of the then present circumstances, David knew, by reflection, to be directed by the overruling and secret Providence of God, and therefore he restrains himself by the utterance of these memorable words. And, indeed, no man will ever bear the assaults of the devil and of wicked men with a composure and moderation, but the man who can turn away his mind and thoughts from those assaults to God alone, Who ordained them; and who can say, using the words of God Himself, " The Lord rebuke thee, Satan " (Zech. iii. 2). Amen.
Geneva, January 5th, 1558.