Imatges de pàgina

what is the meaning of the words which they employ. For if that is said to be done contingently which it is possible not to do, for which may not be done, after all the causes required for i's being done have been fixed,—and, on the other hand, if that is said to be done necessarily which cannot be left undone, [which cannot but be done,] after all the causes required for its performance have been fixed,—and if I grant, that, after some causes have been fixed, it is impossible for any other everit to ensue-than that the thing should be done and exist, - how then can I be of opinion, that “ all things are done (or hapsen] contingently?” But they have deceived themselves by their own ignorance; from which it would be possible for them to be liberated, if they would bestow a becoming and p'oper attention on sentiments that are more correct, and would in a friendly manner obtain from the author a knowledge of his views and opinions.

I have both declared and taught, that “ necessity, in reference to its being said to be or to happen necessarily,—is either absolute or relative.” It is an absolute necessity, in relation to a thing being said simply “ to be or to happen necessarily," without any regard being had to the supposition (or laying down] of any cause whatever. It is a relative necessity, when a thing is said " to be or to happen necessarily,” after some cause had been laid down or fixed.—Thus, God exists by an absolute necessity; and by the same absolute necessity, he both understands and loves himself. But the world, and all things produced from it, are, according to an absolute consideration, contingent, and are produced contingently by God freely operating. But it being granted, that God wills to form the world by his Infinite Power, to which notHING ITSELF must be equal to matter in the most perfect state of preparation,--and it being likewise granted, that God actually employs this power,-it will then be said, “It was impossible • for the world to do otherwise than exist from this cause :' [or, • From this cause the scorld could not but exist :') And this is a relative necessity, which is so called from the hypothesis of an antecedent cauce being laid down or fixed. * not as that, by virtue of which we can do any thing that is good; but as that, without which we CANNOT CHOOSE it. God's GRACE alone is the cause of the good, but Miv's will is as really the INSTRUMENT of the choice. We can do good, as God's engines, without a will; and so did Balaam's ass, without a reason. But we cannot choose yood, without a free will; as that ass could pot possibly understand what she spake without a ratiocination.”

* The reasoning contained in this paragraph, will be explained in a manner somewhat different, by the subjoined extract from Dr. Pierce, who on all occasions gratefully acknowledges his vast obligations to Boetius :

I will explain my meaning in a different manner: Two things in this place come under our consideration,—the CAUSE and the EFFECT.

If both of them be necessarily fixed, that is, if not only the effect be fixed necessarily when the cause is fixed, but if the cause also necessarily exist and be necessarily supposed to operate, the necessity of the effect is in that case simple and absolute. In this manner arises the absolute necessity of the Divine effect, by which God is said to know and love himself; for the Divine Understanding and the Divine Will cannot be inoperative, (cannot but operate). This operation of God is not only an internal one, but it is also ad intra, (inwards,] tending towards an object, which is himself. But whatever God may do ad extra, [externally,] that is, when acting on an object which is something beside himself, [or, something different from himself,]—whether this object be united to him in understanding and he tend towards it by an internal act, or whether it be in reality separated from him and towards which he tends by an external act,—the whole of this he does freely, and the whole of it is therefore said to be absolutely contingent. Thus God freely decreed to form the world, and did freely form it: And, in this sense, all things are done contingently in respect to the Divine decree; because no necessity exists why the decree of God should be appointed, since it proceeds from his own pure and free (or unconstrained] Will.

There is a twofold necessity, whereof one is absolute, and the other on supposition: The absolute is that by which a thing must be moved when something moves it : The suppositive is that by which a man shall be damned if he die impenitent. The latter necessity (though not the first) does extremely well cousist both with the liberty of man's will and God's conditional decrees. For instance, I am now writing, and God foresaw that I am writing; yet it does not follow that I must needs write,--for I can choose. What God foresees, must necessarily come to pass; but it must come to pass in the same manner that he foresees it. He foresces, I will write not of necessity butchoice ; so that his fore-sight does not make an absolute and peremptory necessity, but infers a necessity upon suppositiou. (We must mark, in a parenthesis, how great a difference there is betwixt the MAKING, and the INFERRING of a necessity!) Whatsoever I do, there is an absolute necessity that God should foresee; yet God foreseeing my voluntary action, does not make it necessary, but on supposition that it is done. If all things are present to God, (as indeed they are,) his foresight must needs be all one with our sight. As, therefore, when I see a man dance as he pleases, it is necessary that he do what I see he does,-bit yet my looking on does not make it necessary :—So God's foreseeing that man would sin, implied a certainty that so it would be, but did not make it an absolutely necessary or involuntary thing. For that a thing may be certain (in respect of its EVENT) and yet not necessary (in respect of its CAUSE) is no news at all to a considering persou, who will but duly distinguish God's omniscience from his omnipotence, and his foresight from his decree, and infallible from necessary, and spontaneous from voluntary, and that which follows as a consequence only from that which follows as a consequent. From all that I have spoken upon this last subject, it seems inevitably to follow that a suppo-. sitive necessity, and none else, is very consistent with a free and contingeut action. Whilst I see a man sitting, it is necessary that he sit, but upon supposition that I see him sitting : His posture is still a voluntary contingent thing; for he sat down when he would, and may arise when he pleaseth, but still with a proviso of God's permission. I desire to be taught what is, if this is not, exact speaking, viz. “That God by his prohibition under penalty makes my * disobedience become liable to punishment; aud by his decree to permit or not "hinder me, he leaves me in the hand of mine own counsel, and so in the state of

peccability, that I may sin and perish, if I will. So that by his PRESCIENCE that I will sin, he hath no manner of INFLUENCE or CAUSALITY upon ay sin ; ' which infers my destruction to be entirely from myself.' I am a little coufident, that whosoever shall but read Boethius, bis fifth book,-and, reading, shall understand it,-and, understanding, shall have the modesty to retract an error,—he will not reverence the 1th section of the 23rd chapter of the 3rl book of INSTITUTIONS, because it is Mr. Calvin's but will suspect Mr. Calvin because of that section."

Or, to express it in another form : That is called the simple and absolute necessity of any effect, “when the cause necessarily exists, necessarily operates, and employs that power through which it is impossible for the thing not to exist,” (or through which it cannot but exist]. In the nature of things, such an effect as this cannot be contemplated. For the Intellect of the Deity, by which he understands himself, proceeds from a Cause that necessarily exists and that necessarily understands itself; but it does not proceed from a Cause which employs a power of action for such an understanding.

Under this consideration, the relative necessity of any event is two-fold :-First. When a cause that necessarily exists, but does not necessarily operate, uses a power of action that cannot be resisted. Thus, it being fixed, that “God, who is a Necessary Being, wills to create a world by his Omnipotence," a world must in that case necessarily come into existence.SECONDLY. When a cause that does not necessarily exist and yet necessarily operates, acts with such efficacy as is impossible to be resisted by the matter or subject on which it operates. Thus, straw is said to be necessarily burnt (or consumed] by the fire, if it be cast into the flame : Because it is impossible either for the fire to restrain its power of burning so as not actually to burn, or for the straw to resist the fire. But because God can prevent the fire from burning any combustible matter that is brought near it or put into it,* —this kind of necessity is

In one of his letters to Uitenbogardt, in 1604, this position is thus rendered more plain and evident: “But, that 'the necessity which subsists between ' fire and burning is not ABSOLUTE,' is apparent from the history of the Three Children in the Babylonian furnace. By the decree of God a necessary relation subsists between the end and the means, when, notwithstanding, neither of them is ABSOLUTELY necessary. Thus, it is necessary for a man to believe on

called partial in respect to the cause, and only according to the nature of the things themselves and the mutual affection for relation] between them.*

When these matters have been thus explained, I could wish to see what can possibly be said in opposition. I am desirous, that we should in preference contend for the GOD ALONE,—that is, for his necessary existence and for the necessary production of his ad intra (internal] acts and that we should contend for the CONTINGENCY OF ALL OTHER THINGS AND EFFECTS. Such a procedure on our part would conduce far more to the glory of God; to whom by this method would be attributed both the glory of his necessary existence, that is, of his eternity, according to which it is a pure act without the exercise of] power,—and the GLORY of his free creation of all other things, by which also his Goodness becomes a supreme object of our commendation.


Christ, if he wishes to obtain salvation; but it is not absolutely necessary, that he should either believe or be saved. • But God has decreed to give him * salvation and faith : Therefore he will necessarily have both.' We deny the consequence : For God decreed freely to bestow both of them, and hy such actions as could not possibly be resisted by the man,-although he would not afterwards be found to have offered in reality any resistance, and although God knew that he would not resist. This is the kind of predestination which has St. Augustine for its patron, but concerning which I am not now treating : For I am only contending against that necessity which cannot exist except by a physical determination, which takes away human liberty, and on that account operates as an excuse for his sin that was made inevitable."

* In another of his letters to Uitenbogardt, Arminius says: “ There are some persons who are much grieved at my assertions, that there is no abso'lute necessity in any thing EXCEPT in God. Nay, that even fire does not • burn necessarily ; but that the necessity which exists in things or events, is

nothing more than the relation of CAUSE 10 EFFECT,—and this, even when the 'CAUSE cannot suspend its own action, and the OBJECT cannot binder that 'cause from acting upon it according to the efficacy of such cause : Thus fire “cannot suspend its burning, if materials be brought to feed it; nor can com"bustible materials resist the action of the fire. In the same manner does the

relation subsist between the means and the end. Thus it behoved Christ ta "SUFFER, that he might erter into his glory, (Luke xxiv, 26, 46.] because • God decreed, that he should not enter into glory except through sufferings.'” [Heb. ii. 9, 10, 17.]

+ This was a favourite sentiment with our author; and it cannot be too frequently inculcated, in opposition to the desecrating consequences of the inevitable necessity and binding fatality of Calvin's system. In a letter to Uitenbogardt, dated August 17th, 1604, Arminius writes thus: “I have lately had the company of Helmichius, who discussed with me the topics of Necessity and Contingency, on which I had treated in my Lectures, and in the Disputation concerning the First Sin of Man. He maintained, that in a different respect several things were both contingent and necessary :' I denied this position; that is, I asserted, that they were not necessary absolutely, or with respect to the antecedent cause, which is called Necessitas consequentis, a consequent (or absolute) necessity. We did not agree together; but each of us parted from the other, severally persisting in our own opinions : Yet be confessed, that the discussion did not concern the necessity of faith, and that it was not possible for any beresy to lurk under the opposite sentiment. I insisted that it tends greatly to the GLORY of God, to call nothing. NECESSARY' except Himself, and to declare that he foreknows contingent things, [qua talia) even in reference to their contingency, which He at the same time resolves to execute by contingent events, and free causes."

ARTICLE VII. God has not by his eternal decree determined future and contingent things to the one part or the other.

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ANSWER. A calumny which lies concealed under ambiguous terms, is capable of inflicting a deep injury with the greatest security; but after such equivocal expressions are explained, the slander is exposed, and loses all its force among men of skill and experience.

The word “DETERMINED" is of this ambiguous description: For it signifies (1.) either the determination of God by which

he resolves that something shall be done; and when such a • determination is fixed, (by an action, motion and impulse of • God, of whatever kind it mny be,) the second cause, both with regard to its power and the use of that power, remains free either to act or not to act,-so that, if it be the pleasure of * this second cause, it can suspend [or defer] its own actionOr it signifies, (2.) such a determination, as, when once it is • fixed, the second cause (at least in regard to the use of its power,) remains no longer free so as to be able to suspend its

own action, when God's action, motion and impulse have been • fixed; but by this determination, it [the second cause) is

necessarily bent or inclined to the one course or the other, all indifference to either part being completely removed, before

this determined act be produced by a free and unconstrained creature.'

1. If the word “DETERMINED," in the Article here proposed, be interpreted according to this first method, far be it from me to deny such a sort of Divine Determination. For I am aware that it is said, in the fourth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, “ Both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together against Jesus, to do whatsoever God's hand and counsel determined before (or previously appointed) to be done.” But I also know, that Herod, Pontius Pilate, and the Jews, freely performed those very actions; and (notwithstanding this “fore-determination of

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