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cent babes into hell-torments; a piece of doctrine which the great Patriarch certainly never dreamt of, when he expostulated of thinking, it seems too crude or open to say, God can command blasphemy perjury, lies, &c.: He can also command, that He shall not himself be worshipped, loved, honoured, &c. Yet all this is most true in itself; and from our general question this necessarily follows as a special consequence, and it cannot be denied without admitting a number of absurdities,”-SZYDLOVII Vindiciæ Quæst. aliquot &c.
lo a preceding passage he says, “ These are subjects of enquiry, Is any thing antecedently good gwen to the will of God ? Or, Are things just and good, on account of God having willed them ? Or, Does he will them, because they are just ? It is denied that any thing antecedently good is presented to the will of God;' and it is affirmed, that things are just and good, on account of God having willed them,'—but not, ou the contrary, that “God wills them, because they are just and good.'
In a subsequent paragraph he says, “Some one will object, . It will " therefore be possible for God to command blasphemy, perjury, lies, &c.; which seems an absurdity!'-1 answer, Even in those matters which relate to the worship of God, men are placed under obligation in no other way, than by command and through law : For if it had been God's good pleasure, then he might have ordered other worship, or another mode of it, to be performed to Himself. God, therefore, most freely commanded even those matters which relate to his worship, and in such a manner as it was possible for him to have commanded otherwise : and therefore it is only from the hypothesis of the Divine command, that these are vices. And it seems here to be presupposed, as though lies and blasphemy affected God in some measure,—which is entirely false. It is certain then, that it was possible for God to have commanded a contrary mode of worship to be performed to himself. For those things which he has once freely commanded, he could have commanded otherwise : But this it was not possible for God to do, on the principles of our adversaries, if this be essential and natural to him. For natural things are immutable, and always proceed in an uniform manner.”
In the Eighth Chapter be says, “ This question is asked, “Can God command any thing contrary to all the precepts the Decalogue,-but * principally against the first, second, and third commandment?'-A certain famous Divine rejects the affirmative opinion of some of the school-men who say, Offences against the Decalogue are evils, solely because God has prohibited them ; and it is possible, therefore, for God to dispense with all the precepts of the Decalogue. Yet, I confess, I am not only incapable of perceiving any strong reason in the disputatiou of that famous man, but, on the contrary, it is possible to produce solid reasons and principles by which that opinion may be refuted."
In the Ninth Chapter Szydlovius says, “ It is objected, It is repugnant to the Divine Nature to deny itself; and it follows, therefore, from the force of this proposition, that it is impossible for God to command that He shall not be worshipped, invoked, &c.-I answer, We deny the consequence. It is one thing, For God to deny Himself; it is another, For God to be able to command, that he be denied. The First of these things it is, without doubt, impossible for God to do, without destroying bis nature; but it is possible for Him to do the Second,"
with his Maker, and said, “Shall not the Judge of all the world do right?” (Gen. xviii, 25.)—Indeed you seem to magnify the riches of Divine Grace; but when we come strictly to examine it, it is by a false glass. For when we look through the other end of the perspective, we find that grace infinitely extenuated, by the flat and absolute denial of it to the far greater number of mankind. And that you may have it the more free to yourselves, you render it very illiberal to the most part of Christians, who equally share with you in the common invitations and dispensations of it. And that you may make it serve your own turns in all cases whatsoever, you have laid the great excommunication (of Reprobation) upon the rest of Adam's posterity, to exclude them, utterly and for ever, from the benefit thereof. Nay, you think you cannot sufficiently extol, as to some persons, that special grace which is God's free gift, unless you extinguish, as to others, (as far as your opinions
These are extracts from a work entitled, A Vindication of some Difficult Questions in Theology, that have been Subjects of Controversy, which Szydlovius had published at Franeker, about two years prior to the appearance of Professor Curcellæus De Jure Dei in Creaturas, who adds, “I judged it proper to make these few extracts, from a multitude of other opinions, (not only absurd but blasphemous,) with which that pamphlet abounds, that they may serve as examples of the doctrine which resounds in the pulpits of the University of Franeker; and that I might shew what large camels the reverend Fathers of the Synod of Dort could swallow in their own MacCovius, who was Professor of Divinity in that University, and from whose instruction Szydlovius imbibed these sentiments; while they strained, with tenacious scrupulosity, even at the least gnats in the Remonstrants. I congratulate the University of Saumur, [in which Amyraldus was Theological Professor,] such [doctrical] monsters are banished from it, and I humbly pray God, that they may remain there buried in eternal oblivion. It is pleasing to me to hope, that Amyraldus will hereafter exert the force of his genius and the powers of bis eloquence against those portentous doctrines, rather than against men (the Arminians] against whom he cannut frame any objection that is in the slightest degree repugnant to piety and the Diviue Glory."
The Friezland University of Franeker was in those days the grand hotbed of the rankest Calviuism. It is only necessary to mention the names of three of the Theological Professors,-Sybrandus LUBBERTUS, John Maccovius, and the English Puritan William Ames !!!,--and the intelligent reader will instantly recognize three of the greatest Calvinistic sticklers and most pragmatical Divines of that age. Bishop Womack has given a concise but just description of Maccovius and his opinions in his CALVINISTS' CABINET UNLOCKED,--a work which abounds with the most interesting religious information respecting the Predestinarian disputes that agitated the Christian Church at that period. For the character of Lubbertus and Ames, consult the English translation of The Works of ARMINIUS, Vol. I, pp. 452, 465, 469,-EDITOR.
can reach,) that Universal Justice which is his
Nature ; to the dignity whereof it is not only disagreeable, but inconsistent, that he should (as you would have him,) procure himself glory out of the everlasting misery of his own poor innocent creatures, or take pleasure in it.-What think you of that passage, which a honest ear-witness told me from the mouth of one of your brethren?, “ that God deals by Reprobates, as the rat-catcher does by those vermin, who stops up all their avenues and passages, and then hunts them with his dogs, that he may provoke them to fly in his face.” Do such expressions become the pulpit, or that reverence which should govern our thoughts when we speak of the Divine Majesty ? But this is one of your excellent artifices to salve the justice of God's decree of Reprobation, and because you dishonour him in the first act of it, (the preterition of those forlorn wretches, without any respect to sin,) you think to make him amends in the latter, by saying, in effect,* “ that he does necessitate them to sin, that he may seem not to condemn them without justice.”+ For thus, some of your party say, his wisdom hath contrived it, and his will decreed it, and his power brings it to pass insuperably. I know you will shift this off, by saying, that “the Reprobates sin voluntarily." But will this plea more alleviate or aggravate the cruelty ? That holy man could say, “ It is better to be in
• Reprobatio facta est nulla habità peccati ratione. (Ant. Thysius ad Summ. Baronis ex Piscatore.)— Ibi demum infinitum Balos et abyssus est divinædiscretionis, quando sine peccati ratione quidam reprobantur. (Idemn ib. ex Wittakeri Cygn. Cant. p. 57.)—" Reprobation was decreed without any regard being paid to sin.”—“ It is the very abyss and infinite profundity of the Divine determination, when certain individuals are reprobated without any consideration of sin.”
+ Quia reprobatio immutabilis est, &c. damus reprobos necessitate peccandi eoque et pereundi er hac Dei ordinatione constringi, atque ita constringi, ut neque aut non peccare et perire.-Et Mox, Non dubitamus ergo confiteri &c. (ZANCHIUS de Nat. Dei, 1.5, c. 2, de Præd. pt. 4, Respon. ad postremum arg. p. 571, Edit. Genev. 1619.)—“ This is the answer which we return to the other reason drawn from that necessity of sinning by which reprobate men are coustrained even unto death :' First, Because the reprobation is immutable by which reprobates are destined to be vessels of dishonour through wickedness, and on that account vessels of God's wrath : We grant that reprobates are constrained by a necessity of sinning, and therefore of perishing, through this ordination of God; and that they are constrained in such a manner as to be unable to do otherwise than sin and perish. The Apostle teaches this when he returns no answer to that question, Who hath resisted his will ?, but confirms it by his silence. St. Au
hell without sin, than in heaven with it.” If a man be cast into the gaol without fault, he carries the comforts of a good conscience to help to bear the burden of his durance: But when his judge contrives to draw him in to be a partner in some crime, that the guilt and remordency of his own conscience may make an accession to his misery, this leaves him nothing to reflect upon to mitigate his torments. I pray, by whose decree comes it to pass that the soul of the Reprobate is polluted at the first? * Their first sin comes to them only by imputation, (as divers of your party do contend,) and that draws all the resť after it by an unavoidable and invincible necessity, as they acknowledge likewise. Upon which account, God should have been less severe if he had cast them into hell innocent, and without any sin at all, as (you say,) “ He cast them off, or passed them by, at first, without any respect at all to it.”
gustine also often says, that the will of. God is the necessitating cause of things ; and that whatever he has willed, must necessarily come to pass,in the same manner as those things will certainly occur which he has foreseen.
“We do not hesitate therefore to confess, that, through this immutable reprobation, an incumbent necessity of sinning rests on the reprobate, of sinning indeed without repentance even unto death, and therefore of being punished with death eternal. But we deny, that they are on this account forced to sin. For it is one thing, to be constrained by necessity; and it is another, to be forced. We are forced, when reluctantly and against our will, and therefore with some resistance, we are compelled to do or to suffer any thing: But we are constrained by necessity, when it is impossible for us to do otherwise,—although what we do is performed willingly, spontaneously, of our own accord, and with delight. Thus, a man who is oppressed with a violent thirst, is constrained by the nesessity of drinking, and necessarily driuks; he cannot do otherwise than drink,-although he does it willingly and with great pleasure, and therefore can on no account be said to do it in opposition to his inclination, or to be forced to drink.–But when the wicked commit sin, they do it knowingly, willingly, and with delight; so that if you be desirous of preventing them from committing iniquity, they are soon angry with you. Therefore, you did not speak correctly when yon said, • They were forced to sin.' Yet, in the mean time, it is impossible for them to do otherwise ; and they are constrained to it by a certain necessity through God's ordination or appointment. This necessity, therefore, is by po means an excuse for sin, which is committed by a free will,—that is, by a will wbich is neither forced nor reluctant, but is perfectly ready and agreeable. From this necessity, therefore, by which wicked men cannot do otherwise than sin, it is not to be deduced that God punishes and condemns them with injustice : For the cause of damnation is found in the reprobates themselves, according to that passage in the prophecy of Hosea, • Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself” (xiii, 9.)"
What a mass of inconsistent sophistry do the tenets of Calvin require, to give them an air of plausibility! If the reader wish to behold a singular instance of the unprofitable expenditure of intellect and ability,' on the hopeless attempt of saving the Divine Attributes from the open attacks which Fatalism makes upon them,—but which Calvin's disciples assert, cannot be justly charged on their system,-he may consult the otherwise) admirable works of Zanchius. The concluding passage of scripture from Hosea, it will be perceived, is incomplete ; for the remaining clause of the verse, (But in me is thy help, which removes its applicability to the reprobate, would not suit the purpose of Zanchius, by whom it has for that reason been prudently omitted.-- EDITOR.
But you have one reserve behind, by the strength whereof you are confident, after all these disputes and foils, to win the field at last. Upon the matter you say,
“ God's decrees could be no other than they are ; for Decreta et liberæ Dei actiones
* Unde factum est, ut tot gentes, &c. (Calv. Instit. 1.3, c. 23, sect. 7.) -“What other than the good pleasure of God is the cause why the fall of Adam involved in eternal and remediless death whole nations, with their infant offspring ? I coufess, that it is indeed a horrible decree : Yet no one will be able to deny, that God foreknew what end man would have before he created him; and that he foreknew it, solely because he had so ordained it by his decree.”—Calvin's Institutes, Book iii, ch. 23, sec. 7.
Et in ResponSIONE ad Calumn. Nebul. ad artic. 1, Interea hanc meam esse doctrinam agnosco, Non solo Dei permissu, 8c. “ In the mean time, I acknowledge the following to be my doctrine :-Adam fell, not only by God's permission, but also by God's secret will, and drew by his fall all his posterity into eternal destruction. If thou hast proposed to subject God to the laws of nature, thou wilt bring him in guilty of injustice, because on account of one man's crime we are all considered to be implicated in the guilt of death e:ernal. One man sinned, and all are drawn on to punishment. Nor is that the only circumstance, but from the crime (or vice) of one man all contract the contagion, that they may be born in a state of corruption, infected with a mortal distemper. What hast thou to do with this, my good censor? Wilt thou accuse and convict God of cruelty, because through the fall of one man he has plunged into destruction all his offspring ? For though Adam has destroyed himself and his posterity, yet we must attribute the corruption and the guilt to the secret judgment of God; because the offence of one man would not have concerned us, unless the Heavenly Judge had condemned us to eternal destruction.” -Calvini Responsio ad Calumn. Nebul. ad art l.
He hath also these words. Liberi arbitrii fuisse dicunt [Adam] ut fortunaw ipse sibi fingeret : &c. Tam frigidum commentum (so he calls it,) si recipiatur, &c.-Vide locum. Instit. ubi supra. “ They say, that It was at the option (or free-will] of Adam to shape his own fortune;' and that God destined nothing more than to treat him according to bis deserts.' If such a dull and frigid contrivance as this be admitted, where will be that omnipotence of God by which he governs all things, according to his secret counsel which is independent of every other thing?". -Calvin's Institutes, Book 3.