WORKS OF ARMINIUS - FIRST PROPOSITION OF ARMINIUS
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FIRST PROPOSITION OF ARMINIUS
I see, then, most renowned sir, that there are three views in reference to that subject, [predestination] which have their defenders among the doctors of our church. The first is that of Calvin to Beza; the second that of Thomas Aquinas and his followers; the third that of Augustine and those who agree with him. They all agree in this, that they alike hold that God, by an eternal and immutable decree, determined to bestow upon certain men, the rest being passed by, supernatural and eternal life, and those means which are the necessary and efficacious preparation for the attainment of that life.
THE REPLY OF FRANCIS JUNIUS TO THE FIRST PROPOSITION OF ARMINIUS
If one should wish to accumulate a variety of opinions, he would in appearance have a large number of them; but let these be the views of men to whom will readily be assigned the first place in relation to this doctrine. But in reference to the points of agreement among them all, of which you speak, there are, unless I am deceived, two things most worthy of explanation and notice. First, that what you say is indeed true, that "God, by an eternal and immutable decree, determined to give eternal, supernatural life to certain men;" but that eternal life is not here primarily, or per se the work of that divine predestination, but rather in a secondary manner, and dependent, by consequence, on adoption th~v uiJoqesiav The apostle demonstrates this in Ephes. i, 5.
"Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will." And in verse 11, "which He hath purposed in Himself; that in the dispensation of the fullness of time, He might gather together in one all things in Christ," &c.
Also, Romans viii, 17, "if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ," &c. We must not, however, forget that if an effect is substituted for the distinguishing part of the essence the definition of the thing is defective. Predestination, if we regard its peculiar and distinguishing quality, is, according to the testimony of the Scripture, to filiation, (so to speak,) or the adoption of children, the effect and sequence of which is eternal life. It is thus true that we are predestinated to life, but, accurately speaking, we are predestinated to adoption by the special grace of our heavenly Father. He who proposes one, supposes the other; but it is necessary that the former should be always set forth distinctly in the general discussion. Hence it seems that the arrangement of this whole argument will be less encumbered, if we consider that saving decree of the divine predestination in this order; that God has predestinated us to the adoption of children of God in Christ "to himself," and that he has pre-arranged by his own eternal decree the way and the end of that adoption; the way of that grace, leading us in the discharge of duty, by our vocation and justification, but its end, that of life, which we shall obtain when our glorification is perfected, (Rom. 8,) which are the effects of that grace, and the most certain consequences of our adoption. The statement that God has predestinated certain persons to life, is a general one; but it is not sufficiently clear or convenient for the purpose of instruction, unless gratuitous adoption in Christ is supposed, prior to justification and life and glory.
There is still another statement, made by you, which seems to me to need consideration, that "God has bestowed on certain men those means which are the necessary and efficacious preparation for the attainment of that life." For though that assertion is true, yet it must be received with cautious discrimination and religious scrupulousness. Our filiation is (so to speak) the work of the divine predestination, because God is our father, and by His grace unites us to himself as sons. But whatever God has ordained for the consummation of this adoption in us, it is, in respect to that adoption, not a means but a necessary adjunct or consectary. That eternal life, bestowed on us, is a consectary of our adoption "to himself." But in respect to the adjuncts and consequence, they may be called mutually, the means one of another; as calling is said to be the means of justification, and justification of glorification, (Rom. 8.) Yet though they are means, most of them are necessary and efficacious in certain respects, not per se and absolutely. For if they were, per se and absolutely necessary and efficacious, they would be equally necessary and efficacious in all the pious and elect. Yet most of them are not of this character; since even infants and they who come in their last hours, being called by the Lord, will obtain eternal life without those means. These things have been said, the opportunity being presented. We agree generally in reference to the other matters.
THE REPLY OF JAMES ARMINIUS TO THE ANSWER OF FRANCIS JUNIUS
I have read and reviewed your reply, and used all the diligence of which I was capable, considering it according to the measure of my strength, that I might be able to judge with greater certainty concerning the truth of the matter which is under discussion between us. But while I consider everything in the light of my judgment, it seems to me that most of my propositions and arguments are not answered in your reply. I venture, therefore, to take my pen and to make some comments in order to show wherein I perceive a deficiency in your answer, and to defend my own arguments. I am fully persuaded that you will receive it with as much kindness as you received the liberty used in my former letter, and if any thing shall seem to need correction and to be worthy of refutation, you will indicate it to me with the same charity; that, by your faithful assistance, may be able to understand the truth which I seek with simplicity of heart, and explain it to others to the glory of God and their salvation, as occasion shall demand. May that Spirit of truth be present with me, and so direct my mind and hand, that it may in no respect err from the truth. If however any thing should fall from me not in harmony with its meaning, I shall wish that it had been unsaid, unwritten.
THE REPLY OF ARMINIUS TO THE ANSWER TO HIS FIRST PROPOSITION
In my former letter I laid down three views held by our doctors in reference to the decree of Predestination and Reprobation, diverse, not contrary. Others might perhaps have been adduced, but not equally diverse among themselves or from others. For each of these are distinguished by marks which are manifest and have reference to the essence and nature of the subject itself, which is under discussion.
Secondly, they adapt to that decree attributes of the Deity, either different or considered in a different relation. For the first presents mercy and justice as preparing an object for themselves; the third introduces the same attributes as finding their object prepared; the second places grace, which holds the relation of genus to mercy, over predestination; and liberty of grace over non-election or the preparation of preterition, and justice over punishment.
Thirdly, they differ in certain acts. The first view attributes the act of creation to that decree, and makes the fall of man subordinate to the same decree; the second and the third premises creation; the third also supposes the fall of man to be antecedent in the order of nature to the decree, regarding the decree of election which flows from mercy and that of reprobation which is administered by justice, as having no possible place except in reference to man considered as a sinner, and on that account meriting misery.
It is hence apparent that I have not improperly separated those views which are themselves separated and discriminated by some marked distinction. But you will perhaps persuade me that our doctors differ only in their mode of presenting the same truth, more easily than you will persuade them or their adherents. For Beza in many places sharply contends that God, when predestinating and reprobating man, considers him, not as created, not as fallen, but as to be created, and he claims that this is indicated by the term "lump," used in Rom. ix, 21, and he charges great absurdities on those who hold different views. For example, he says that they "who present man as created to God decreeing, consider the Deity as imprudent, creating man before he had his own mind arranged any thing in reference to his final condition. He accuses those who present man as fallen, of denying, divine providence, without the decree or arrangement of which sin entered into the world, according to their view. But I can readily endure, indeed I can praise any one who may desire to harmonize the views of the doctors, rather than to separate them more widely, only let this be done by a suitable explanation of views, apparently diverse, not by change in statement, or by any addition, differing from the views themselves. He, who acts otherwise, does not obtain the desired fruit of reconciliation, and he gains the emolument of an erroneously stated sentiment, the displeasure of its authors.
As to those two respects in which you think that my explanation of the agreement of those views needs animadversion, in the former I agree, in the latter I do not much disagree with you. For Predestination is, immediately, to adoption, and, through it, to life; but when I propose the sentiments of others, I do not think that they should be corrected by me. Yet I cheerfully receive the correction; though I consider that it has little or nothing to do with this controversy. Indeed I think that it tends to confirm my view. For adoption in Christ not only requires the supposition of sin as a condition requisite in the object, but of a certain other thing also, of which I did not in my former letter think it best to treat. That thing is faith in Jesus Christ, without which adoption is in fact bestowed on no man, and, apart from the consideration of which, adoption is prepared for no one by the divine predestination. (John i, 12.) For they who believe are adopted, not they who are adopted receive the gift of faith: adoption is prepared for those who shall believe, not faith is prepared for those who are to be adopted, just as justification is prepared for believers, not faith is prepared for the justified. The Scripture demonstrates that this is the order in innumerable passages. But I do not fully understand in what sense you style vocation and justification the way of adoption. That may be called the way of adoption which will lead to adoption, and that also by which adoption tends to its own end. You seem to me to understand the term way in the latter sense, from the fact that you make justification subsequent to adoption, and you speak of the way of grace leading us in the discharge of duty, by our vocation and justification. Here are two things not unworthy of notice. The first is that you connect vocation with adoption as antecedent to it, which I think can scarcely be said of vocation as a whole. For the vocation of sinners and unbelievers is to faith in Christ; the vocation of believers is to conformity to Christ and to communion with him. The Scripture makes the former antecedent to adoption. The latter is to adoption itself, which is included in conformity and communion with Christ. The second is that you made adoption prior to justification; both of which I regard as bestowed on believers at the same time, while in the order of nature, justification is prior to adoption. For the justified person is adopted, not the adopted person is justified. This is proved by the order both of the attainment of those blessings made by Christ, and that of the imputation of the same blessings made by God in Christ. For Christ obtained the remission of sins, before he obtained adoption, before in the order of nature: and righteousness is imputed before sonship. For "when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son," (Rev. v, 10,) but being reconciled, we are adopted as sons.
Let us consider also what are opposed to these, namely, imputation of sins and non-adoption. From these it is clearly seen that such is the order. Sin is the cause of exclusion from filiation by the mode of demerit. Imputation of sin is the cause of the same exclusion by the mode of justice, punishing sin according to its demerit. In reference to your remarks concerning means, I observe that this term is applied by the authors to whose sentiments I refer, to those things which God makes subordinate to the decree of Predestination, but antecedent to the execution of that decree, not those by which or in respect to which Predestination itself is made, whether to adoption or to life. But I think it may be most useful to consider whether these, either as adjuncts, or consectaries, or means, or by whatever other name they may be called, are only effective to consummate the adoption already ordained for certain individuals, or whether they were considered by the Deity in the very act of predestination to sonship, as necessary adjuncts of those to be predestinated.