Dedicated to the devotional, exegetical and philosophical study of theological paradox in Conservative, Thoroughly Biblical, Historically Orthodox, Essentially Reformed theology . . . to the glory of God alone!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Answering Leighton Flowers on Libertarian Freedom and Compatibilism

In his podcasts, stalwart anti-Calvinist Leighton Flowers is fond of defining "Libertarian Free Will" (LFW) as "the ability to refrain or not refrain from a given moral action."

In at least one of his blog posts, he has defined the term a little further, as follows:
LFW = "The categorical ability of the will to refrain or not refrain from a given moral action." 

First, let's define the added term, "categorical." According to the Oxford Dictionary, this word means "unambiguously explicit and direct." (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/categorical)

So, updating Dr. Flowers' working definition with this meaning, we have:
LFW = "The unambiguously explicit and direct ability of the will to refrain or not refrain from a given moral action."
No real significance is added with the inclusion of "categorical;" it simply renders the statement slightly more emphatic. As far as the addition of "the will" to this working definition, this also does not seem to add anything of substance. By definition, choosing and deciding are activities in which the will is active. Whether we phrase this as "refrain or not refrain from," or, as I would prefer, "engage or not engage in," a given moral action--this is nothing more than a description of the will's basic function. A person without a will could do nothing of a moral nature.

This definition of LFW summarizes the position Dr. Flowers affirms in opposition to what he thinks Calvinists believe. Nevertheless, I wonder how many well-informed Calvinists would actually dispute the fact that this ability exists?

As a Calvinist and theological compatibilist, I really have no problem accepting Dr. Flowers' definition as a valid description of "will" (or even "free will") and affirming that human beings possess it. Every rational person should find this to be intuitive and self-evident. Of course human beings have this ability. At the same time, my compatibilism affirms that all of the "free choices" of human beings are foreknown and foreordained by a wise and good God. One might ask, "How can this be?" 

From the perspective of compatibilism, we can line up the propositions this way:

P1 Human beings possess the ability to refrain or not refrain from given moral actions.
P2 God has ordained which moral actions each human being will choose to refrain from, and which moral actions each human being will choose not to refrain from.
P3 Human beings exercise their "free will" in choosing to refrain or not refrain from given moral actions.
P4 God exercises His sovereignty in determining how, when, where, and why man's "free will" shall be exercised. 

These are the rudimentary claims of theological compatibilism, which in itself is a very simple concept. From this standpoint, I would affirm Dr. Flowers' definition of LFW within my own understanding of compatibilism, and would find no contradiction. In what it affirms, his claim is true and just needs more added to it. His definition adequately describes man's part; however, God's part is neglected.

Of course, much more rigorous philosophical definitions of LFW have been put forth, and they typically entail a denial of the possibility that specified moral actions are pre-determined in any way. We should oppose that type of LFW as an outright denial of Biblical truth. At least at the level of defining terms, Leighton Flowers does not seem to hold to that type of LFW. And that is commendable, for it leaves the door open to a Biblical compatibilism.

On the other hand, if Dr. Flowers were to put forth a definition like the following, we would have to reject it:
LFW = "the willingness of the will to choose what is good (as God defines it), apart from grace."
What is the difference? If we are only talking about "ability," that is one thing. God gives all of us abilities that we do not exercise. I always have the "ability" to steal food from the grocery store; however, by the grace of God I have so far never had the "will" to do it. I also have the "ability" to purchase and smoke cigarettes. And, fortunately, I have never had the "will" to do that, either. I also have the ability to purchase food and give it to homeless people. By God's grace that has actually happened once or twice. The operative phrase here is "by God's grace."

Sadly, there are also morally reprehensible actions I have had the will to do from time to time, and I did not refrain from doing them. And it is just the same with you, my friend. We are all sinners who have had our wills set in opposition to God and have done a variety of evil things. I thank God that by His mercy I have not done even more evil. If not for His mercy, I surely would have. That I recognize my evils as evil, and that He gives me the willingness to repent and pursue the good, is an incredible mercy. But this is not from any purportedly natural "free will," it is from grace alone!

As a compatibilist, I affirm that my every inclination toward good is graciously given from God. Such willingness would not have sprung up out of my own heart, if grace had not been given to direct me toward the good and the right. If not for grace, I certainly would have refrained from every good act and would have only pursued evil.

As a compatibilist, I affirm that every inclination I have toward evil comes solely from me. I own it and I am fully responsible for it, even if God also foreordained which actions I will choose. His foreordination does not change the fact that it is my own will and I am responsible. I was the one who chose to refrain or not refrain. It wasn't as if I tried to do good and He instead directed me toward evil, saying "I would rather you do this evil thing." And it is not as though He made me do it, in any sense. Foreordination is not that. God forbid that such an unworthy thought should ever be embraced.

Ever since the fall, man's will and very nature have been bent toward evil, and this can only change through God's grace. By nature, apart from grace, fallen man, having the ability to choose between good and evil, will always choose evil. The problem is not rooted in "ability;" it is rooted in "will." Fallen man is "totally unable" to do good only because he is "totally unwilling." Thankfully, common grace results in a measure of good that is accomplished even through the unregenerate. Saving grace results in the introduction of a new, regenerated nature within the believer. A nature that truly longs for what is good. And so, by God's grace, there is much good in the world. We should glorify Him perpetually and magnificently for this!

A Biblical perspective would never credit the choice for good to our own mere ability or willingness (this would be self-deception and vainglory); nor would it ever blame God for our own choices of evil (that would be blasphemous and ignorant).

Biblical thinking can only give God all the glory for all of the good that occurs. And we can only accept full responsibility for our own choices and actions. With this perspective, the believer is driven to keep repenting of his own evil and to continually ask God for more grace so that he can grow and do more good to the glory of God.

As Paul states:
I Cor. 15:10  But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.
With Dr. Flowers' perspective, one wonders how the believer may ever know that he is experiencing grace, since it all seems to boil down to the exercise of one's own natural ability to "refrain or not refrain" from this or that moral action. When does a person come face to face with the realities of his own corrupt will, and how sharply that will is bent toward evil? Or with the need for God to rescue us from that will, lest we perish? 

If my salvation or sanctification depended on my own ability and willingness to "refrain" from what is evil and "not refrain" from what is good, I suspect that there would be no hope at all for me. 
Romans 7:24-25a  Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
May those who downplay the need for grace in these matters find themselves desperately longing for the only Redeemer who can rescue us from the results of our own ability and will.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Calvinism, Arminianism, Southern Baptist Traditionalism, and Accusations of Theological Dishonesty

Below is a parable that was written in response to the post and subsequent comment thread that are found here:

https://soteriology101.wordpress.com/2017/06/07/calvinist-slight-of-hand-a-brief-arminian-interaction-with-wayne-grudems-arguments-against-the-compatibility-of-foreknowledge-and-conditional-election

That post was re-blogged from here:

https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2017/06/07/calvinist-sleight-of-hand-a-brief-arminian-interaction-with-wayne-grudems-arguments-against-the-compatibility-of-foreknowledge-and-conditional-election

As a side note: For some reason, the person who moderates the Arminian Perspectives site finds my comments unworthy of approving for publication, and has a long history of either denying my comments outright once the substantive points are on the table, or editing out the most important parts before publishing.

Those two posts raise some interesting issues that are worthy of discussion. However, we should take a far greater interest in the not-so-subtle accusations of theological dishonesty found in the posts, and then stated even more strongly in the comment threads. The reason for this should be obvious: any Christian who publicly accuses a fellow believer (or, in this case, an entire group of fellow believers) of a pattern of dishonesty may face dire spiritual consequences in the event that it was his own misunderstanding or confusion (and not a fellow believer's dishonesty) that led him to a false conclusion.

Scripture is clear on both sides of this point:

I Pet. 2:1 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.
The person who accuses a brother of one of these evils (deceit) may in face be guilty of another (slander). Other Scriptures also apply:
James 4:11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.

Gal. 5:15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
II Cor. 12:20 For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder.
I attempted to post the parable below as a response at the Soteriology101 site and was not successful, most likely due to the length of the material. So, the comment I would have posted there is placed here for your consideration:

Friends, here is a little parable for your consideration, which may illustrate well the dynamic that is occurring on this comment thread (and many, many others across the internet, unfortunately).

Cal Venice and Amond Ian are little kids discussing their respective homes. Let's listen in . . .

Armond: I love my house, it is so great! It has a really solid foundation. You should come over and visit sometime. 
Cal: Cool. Sounds like fun! You might want to visit my house sometime, too. It is very unique and interesting.
Armond: What's so great about your house? Someone told me it isn't even a "real" house and has no foundation. Is that true??? Tell me about the foundation.
Cal: Well, that is partially true. My house does not have the kind of foundation you are used to seeing on a house, it's actually a---
Armond: Is it a foundation made of cement, and planted firmly into the ground, like my house's foundation?
Cal: No, it's not like that at all. It's actually--
Armond: Really? Is it even a house then?
Cal: Well, yes, it is actually a house, but it is much more than just a house. It's a hou--
Armond: That is the strangest thing I have ever heard. If it doesn't have a foundation, it can't be a house at all, right? LOL. 
Cal: If you say so. But my house has four bedrooms, one and a half baths, a living room, dining room, kitchen, family room, quality metal roof, plenty of windows, and lots of awesome closets. It is two stories tall and filled with all of the usual household furniture, like beds and couches and stuff. It has a great HVAC system, plumbing, electricity, and all of that. You'll be surprised when I tell you what kind of house it is.
Armond: You keep calling it a "house" when it obviously isn't one, since it clearly has no foundation. However, other than the odd lack of a foundation, that sounds just like my house! But how can a house not have a foundation? Are you trying to trick me? I'm getting very suspicious.
Cal: No, I assure you I am being completely honest with you. Let me explain further. Unlike your house, which sits permanently on one spot, my house was designed with flexibility in mind. It is able to move around and goes places where a house like yours could never even be built. It's called a--
Armond: Oh, I get it now, your house is nothing more than a two-story trailer!!!!!!! Why didn't you just say so in the first place?
Cal: Because it's not a trailer. It's-- 
Armond: Okay, let's stop playing games and just be upfront and honest about our houses. A house without a regular foundation that moves around to different places is just a trailer. Someone told me your family has been dishonestly acting like you don't live in a trailer for years. But everyone knows your family is a bunch of pretenders who can't admit that they live in a trailer. I even heard a famous architect, Willie Lame Cage, say people who live in trailers don't like to admit it. He's the smartest guy in the world, almost as smart as my dad, James. Or is it Jacob? I can't remember. In any case, you and your family are clearly disingenuous trailer dwellers. Let's fight now!
Cal: Okay, but before we start punching each other, I would like to ask you another question: out of curiosity, have you ever heard of a house boat? 
Armond: A house boat? LOL, what a stupid idea! A "house boat," if such a thing even exists, would be nothing more than a boat! I heard that somewhere, and my teacher, Lee Tin-Flowers, also read it on a website. He says a "house-boat" is just a boat--as much a "boat" as any other kind of boat! Boats are boats, and can't be houses, so there! If you say you live on a boat, then you can't possibly live in a house, and if you say you live in a house, you can't possibly live on a boat. Why aren't you getting this? I knew you were a liar from the moment I first saw you! After I get done beating you up, I'm going to start a podcast and a blog to tell the world how messed up you are. You and your family are clearly disingenuous trailer dwellers who pretend to be house-boaters!

[After this, there is a very long pause, during which Cal ponders whether he should try to explain the compatibility of "house" and "boat." They look at one another suspiciously, considering whether they should start throwing punches, then back away slowly. At last, both boys go home for dinner and then listen to some of their favorite podcasts.]

Lee Tin-Flowers: Am I wrong for questioning what the "house-boaters" say? Am I wrong for saying I see it another way? Here on the podcast, I always like to point out how I once had a part time job as a speed boat driver. I quit that job because I never could understand how boats can be houses. No one in their right mind would try to live on a speed boat, right? I try to tell these so-called "house-boat" people that they actually just live on a boat and can't possibly live in a house, and they never seem to be able to admit it, even though I quote their own favorite website, house-boats-r-us dot com, which clearly states: "A house boat is no less a boat than any other boat." So, as you can see, no matter how many times they try to tell you they live in a house, or a "house-boat" (whatever that is), they just refuse to admit they are actually nothing more than casual boat people without real houses. They also contradict themselves constantly, trying to say they actually do live in houses, which is obviously not true since houses have foundations, and they admit their so-called houses don't have foundations, which means they must actually live in trailers. None of this ever made any sense to me when I was a speed boat driver. It is all just casual boater double speak, as I explain on my website, HouseFoundations101. Go there to read the five best reasons why house-boats don't exist, and why I quit my job as a speed boat driver. Here is a quote from A.W. Tow-boat that proves my point . . .
Armond: Aha! I just knew Cal Venice was a liar, and this confirms it! I'm going to go around telling everyone how he lies! Liar, Liar Liar!!!!!

[Meanwhile, Cal Venice reads a few good books on architecture, engineering and boating, then goes to volunteer at an agency that builds houses for the homeless. Later, he goes to the mission field and gives his life for the cause.]

[Armond and his friend, Trey DeShaun Alice, more firmly convinced than ever of their views on the utter incompatibility of houses and boats, continue to slander Cal and his friends as dishonest liars. They later find themselves standing before a rather concerned Judge who solemnly calls them to account for every word they have ever spoken or written.

THE END.  

Hopefully the tie-ins with determinism, compatibilism, freedom of will, divine sovereignty and human responsibility are clear to all readers.

While we are on the topic of house boats and conversations that miss the point, you might enjoy this video on YouTube:

https://youtu.be/pXUcmVibTUI

One of my favorites.

May you know the blessings of godly fellowship with grace, mercy, and peace in Christ, dear friends!


Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Beza's 38 Aphorisms: A Concise & Pointed Defense of the Reformed Doctrine of Providence


Calling all "theology nerds"!

Although I am generally not a big fan of Theodore Beza's supralapsarianism, this is nonetheless a key Reformed text that deserves our attention and consideration. As a systematic articulation of divine sovereignty and a sound Biblical/philosophical defense of the Reformed doctrine of Providence, these 38 Aphorisms answer directly the false assertions of modern-day anti-Calvinists such as Leighton Flowers. If I was in serious debate with Flowers, I would ask him whether he has read this text and how he answers it, since it directly contradicts his misreading and misrepresentation of the prevailing Calvinistic viewpoint on these matters. Although these statements are dense and demanding of thoughtful reflection, a careful reading is well worth the time and mental effort involved. Right from the start, you will see how this text influenced the Westminster Confession of Faith and the London Baptist Confession of 1689. The many Biblical citations are helpful, too.

HT: http://www.covenanter.org/reformed/2015/8/17/theodore-bezas-thirty-eight-aphorisms-against-castalio and http://www.truecovenanter.com/supralapsarian/beza_against_castalion.html

Presented here for your edification and strengthening in the faithenjoy!

Thirty-Eight Aphorisms against Castalio.

FOR THE STOPPING OF THE MOUTHES OF THE SLAUNDEROUS, AS ALSO FOR THE FURTHER INSTRUCTING OF THE IGNORANT, IN THIS BOTH NECESSARIE AND COMFORTABLE DOCTRINE OF GOD HIS ELECTION, I HAUE THOUGHT GOOD HERE TO SET DOWN A SHORTE SUMME OF THE WHOLE MATTER, CONTAINED IN CERTAINE BRIEFE & PLAINE APHORISMES, TRANSLATED OUT OF A LEARNED TREATISE OF THEODORUS BEZA, AGAINST CASTALION.

Translated by Iohn Stockwood
1. GOD worketh effectually, or bringeth all things to pass according to the counsel of his own will.
2. This counsel doth God execute or fulfill at certain moments of times: yet the counsel itself is everlasting, and going before all things, not only in time, inasmuch as it is before all time, but also in order. For otherwise the will of God should not be the chief rule of the counsel of God: but rather the qualities of things foreseen & foreknown, and driving God to take this or that counsel, should prescribe or appoint a rule to the will of God.
3. This counsel cannot be separated from the will of God, but that we must rob God of his divinity or Godhead.
4. This counsel is not put only in the governing and guiding of the event or that, that cometh to pass, as Pallas is feigned of the Poet to turn away Pandarus Dart from Menelaus breast unto his nether parts fenced with his belt: but hath a working & effectual strength in all things, which Paul hath declared by this word energein, Energein, which signifieth to work effectually.
5. This strength and efficacy is attributed unto God's working, but is not said to be of God. Therefore by this word [Efficacy or strength] is not declared any natural power given by God the Creator, to the things he hath created, that they should do this or that: but by this word is understood the power of God, which he hath in himself to do all things.
6. This universal particle, All, in the saying of Paul, can by no manner of exception at all be restrained, but that God in that point must be made to be idle, according to the opinion of Epicurus. And if we shall say that any thing is done against his will, he shall be robbed of his infinite, or endless power.
7. The conclusion thereof standeth, that God himself, according as it pleased him, to decree all things to come to pass from everlasting, even so also he bringeth them to pass by his power in their time as he willeth.
8. Yet of these things doth there follow none of these blasphemies, to wit, either that God is the Author of sin, either is delighted with iniquity, either willeth iniquity: or that Satan or man in doing of evil, do obey God, or, in that they do evil, they do that that God will, and therefore are without blame. Let all such blasphemies as these, be most far, not only from our tongues, but also from our cogitations or thoughts.
9. And thus it may be proved that these sequels and conclusions that they would gather of our doctrine, are of no force: God doth execute or perform the counsels of his will by second causes and instruments, not as bound unto them as the Stoics did suppose, but freely and mightily making, moving, and guiding them, as it pleased him.
10. Of these instruments there are two principal kinds. For some of them have life, to wit, such as are stirred by an inward moving of their own: others are without life and are only carried of an outward force by others rather than of themselves. Those instruments that have life are also in a double difference. For some of them are endued with judgment and reason, others are without reason, and are carried with a blind force of nature.
11. The instruments which are without life, yea and also they that have life, but are void of reason, are said to do neither well nor ill, because that they are rather caused to do, than to do of themselves: but they which use those instruments, are said to do either well or ill.
12. Instruments endued with reason and judgment, are either Angels, or men, and the same again of two sorts. For Angels, some are good, some are bad: and men by nature are all evil, but by grace there is such difference made between them, that some of them are wholly evil, and some of them are in part good, to wit, so far as the spirit of God hath sanctified or made them holy.
13. Such things as are of this sort, when as in any action they are moved by their own inward moving, are worthily said to work, and therefore in this kind of instruments only falleth the difference of well or ill doing. And in this respect, they cannot properly be called instruments, but rather efficient or working causes.
14. Now I call that an evil action, which hath not the revealed or opened will of God for the end: and contrariwise, I call it a good action which hath respect or looketh to the will of God.
15. The same, albeit they be causes, so far as they work by their own proper motion, yet in another respect they are called instruments, to wit, as often and so far forth as they are moved by another. As when the hangman by the commandment of the Magistrate, killeth a man, or when as by impulsion or setting on of the Devil, men hurt one another: or when as at the commandment, and in the name of any, we do either good or evil unto any man.
16. In this kind of actions, all men see that one & the same work is attributed unto two, to wit, unto the one as to him that moveth, and worketh by another, as by an instrument, and to the other, as to him that worketh himself, for he is in such sort an instrument, that he also worketh by his own inward motion, and not simply, as the Hammer or Axe in the hand of the Smith.
17. Yea, for this double respect, a double work seemeth sometime to be done, insomuch that the one may be laudable or praiseworthy, and the other wicked: as if the Magistrate deliver a man that is an offender unto the hangman to be executed, there is no man but will worthily praise this work: but if the hangman being moved with hatred or covetousness, or any other wicked lust, rather than looking unto the commandment of the Judge, do kill the same offender, certainly before God he cannot escape the crime of murder.
18. Now let us apply these things unto God, whose efficacy or strength, we have proved before to step in, in all things that are done without exception, and in such sort, that by those things which he hath created as by instruments, he doth execute or perform in his time, whatsoever he hath decreed from everlasting.
19. Whatsoever God doth is good, seeing from him, which is the chief good, no evil can proceed. But he doth all things. All things therefore are good, so far forth as they are done by God. And that difference of good and evil, hath only place in the instruments, and in those of whom we have spoken in the thirteenth proposition.
20. For if these instruments be good, and do look unto the opened will of God, they work well, and God also worketh well by them: whereby it cometh to pass, that, that work is always good: as when good Angels do that which God commandeth, and holy men follow, God calling them.
21. Evil instruments (evil I say, not by creation, but by corruption) insofar as they work, they do always work evil, and therefore they worthily incur or run into God's anger: but so far forth as God worketh by them, they do serve to the good work of God, either against their wills, or else of ignorance. For God, by what instruments soever he worketh, worketh always well.
22. Now he so worketh by those instruments, as he doth not only suffer them to work, neither only moderate or rule the event or thing that falleth out, but also he raiseth them up, stirreth, moveth, guideth, and that which is greatest of all he createth them, to the end that he might work by them, which he hath appointed: all which things God doth rightly, and without any injustice.
23. For as often as one evil man sinneth either against himself, or against another wicked person, God without any sin maketh, either that the evil man taketh vengeance upon himself, or that evil men shall punish other evil men, with such punishment as they have deserved: both which works of God are most righteous: and by such examples of his judgments, God lifteth up and comforteth those that are his.
24. But so often as wicked men do hurt the good, the wicked men sin, & in the end, suffer such punishments as they have deserved: yet nevertheless, by them the Lord chasteneth, instructeth and strengtheneth his own, and plainly by the open enemies of his Church maketh his Church glorious.
25. Yet cannot these evil instruments be said to obey God, because albeit God by them bringeth his work to pass, yet they, so far as in them is, and as concerning their own counsel and will, do not the work of God, but their own work for the which they are justly punished. For albeit whatsoever God worketh by the wicked be good, yet whatsoever the wicked work is evil.
26. Neither is this consequent or reason good, God worketh all things, therefore he worketh sin. For the guilt of sin agreeth not but to the vicious and faulty quality, which is wholly in the working instrument.
27. By reason of this corrupted quality, the work which of itself is but one, is made some manner of way twofold and double, insomuch that the one, that is the just work of God, directly fighteth against the other, that is, the unjust work of man.
28. Yet God worketh otherwise by the good instruments than by the evil, for besides that he worketh his work by the good instruments, the good instruments also do work their own work by the same force & efficacy which the Lord giveth unto them: finally the Lord worketh his work by them, and also worketh in them to will & to perform. But by the wicked, as by Satan, or by men, insofar as they are not regenerate or born anew, as often as the Lord executeth or performeth the just counsels and decrees of his everlasting will, he indeed sheweth forth his strength and efficacy in his work by them, either not knowing of it, or against their wills and purposes: but yet insofar as they work their own work, the Lord worketh not in them, but letteth loose the reins unto Satan, to whom by his just judgment he giveth them over being wicked, to be moved and stirred forward, that they may be carried away of their own will and his.
29. Therefore we do not refuse this term, suffering, or granting, neither yet came it in our minds, to say that God so worketh in the evil, as he doth in the good. But because that Sophisters have corrupted the difference of will and sufferance, which Augustine no doubt took of the Greeks, and they received from Augustine, therefore do we flatly refuse it.
30. For the Sophisters set will against permission, or sufferance: whereof doth follow that God suffereth the things which he suffereth, either against his will, or at leastwise being idle,& not caring for them. But contrariwise, lest we should either take from God his endless and unmeasurable power, or after the opinion of the Epicures, say as the thing indeed is, that God neither worketh anything by instruments, but willingly, nor yet suffereth the instruments to work, but willingly, yet in such sort that whatsoever he worketh, he worketh most justly, and whatsoever he permitteth or suffereth, he most justly suffereth.
31. And God worketh in respect of his own work: and permitteth or suffereth in respect of the work that the evil instruments do of their own accord work, or insofar as they are active and not passive instruments, that we may keep the terms used in the schools. Yet doth God justly suffer the thing that these instruments unjustly work, for because that sins, insofar as they are suffered by God that willeth, are not sins: but punishments of sin. For with GOD it is a just thing to punish sins with sins. But these selfsame actions insofar as they come from satan, and evil men provoked by Satan and their own concupiscence or lust, are so far sins, which the Lord in his time doth justly punish. For the Lord doth never suffer sins so far as they are sins, nay he doth always forbid them.
32. Neither is this consequence or reason good: God willeth all things, therefore he alloweth all things. For he willeth many things, and therefore suffereth them, not because he simply alloweth of them, but after a certain sort, for he alloweth them, so far as he suffereth them, even so far as they are no sins, as we said even now: But he disalloweth & punisheth them, so far as he hath respect or looketh unto the evil instruments, whose actions they are.
33. These are Augustine's words, Enchirid. ad Laurent. Cap. 100. "Great are the works of the Lord, for they are excellent in all his wills, so that after a wonderful and unspeakable manner that cometh not to pass besides his will, which is done against his will: because it should not come to pass if he would not suffer it: and doubtless he suffereth it not unwilling, but willing." The same Augustine, Lib. 5. Contr. Julian. Cap. 3. When as he had of purpose disputed against them which make an idle foreknowledge or sufferance, at length he bursteth forth into these words, "We doubtless (saith he) if we suffer those over whom we have power, to do wickedness before our eyes, shall be guilty with them. But how innumerable things doth he suffer (speaking of God) To be done before his eyes, which doubtless if he would not, he would by no means suffer? And yet he is both just and good."
34. The whole Scripture beareth witness, and very common sense or reason doth tell us, that without the will of God nothing is done, no not of those things which seem most chiefly to come to pass by chance or fortune, as Gen. 27.20, God is said quickly to have brought the prey unto Jacob's hands. And Ex. 21.13, As often as murder is committed at unawares, the Lord, saith Moses, caused him to come into thine hands. The selfsame thing is taught as concerning the falling out of Lots, Prov. 16.33. As concerning all the counsels of men, Dan. 4.32. Of the falling of Sparrows, Matt. 10.29. To be short, of all things without exception, Eph. 1.11.
35. And that the will of God, yea and the same most effectually, doth then also step in, when as he worketh by the wicked, may plainly appear almost in every leaf of the scripture. So is he said to have sent Joseph into Egypt, Gen. 45.8. So he stirred up Pharaoh to declare his power in him, Exod. 4.21. So he gave David's wives unto his son Absalom, 2 Sam. 12.11. So he moved the heart of David to number the people, 2 Sam. 24.1. So he commanded Shimei to curse David, 2 Sam. 16.10. So David calleth his enemies the sword & hand of the Lord, Psalm 17.13,14. So the Lord calleth the Medes and Persians his sanctified, and the instruments of his wrath, Isa. 10.5, and 13.6. So he calleth the falling away of the ten Tribes his work, 2 Chron. 11.4. So Job saith, the Lord giveth, and the Lord hath taken away, Job 1.21. So the king of Babylon is compared unto an Axe and a Saw, to wit, because the Lord executed or brought to pass his work by him, thinking on no such thing, Isa. 10.15. So the godly are afflicted or troubled, by the will and Predestination, or foreordaining of God, Rom. 8.29, and 1 Pet. 3.17, and 4.19. So there is no evil in the City which the Lord hath not done, Amos 3.6, and Jeremiah, Lam. 3.37,38. Who is he then, (saith he) which hath said, and it cometh to pass, and the Lord hath not commanded? Out of the mouth of the Lord proceedeth there not good and evil?
36. Go to then, let for example be chosen the most excellent, and also the most wicked deed that ever was: The most excellent, if we behold either both the endless justice, and mercy of the father, or the infinite obedience and love of the son: But the most wicked, if we consider the instruments themselves, to wit, Satan, Judas, the Jews, Pilate, and Herod. This deed (we speak of) is, the death of the son of God, full of cruelty and reproach. In this fact, if we deny the everlasting counsel of God to have stepped in, we shall be convinced or proved to speak false by infinite testimonies of the Scripture. For sure it is, that we were not chosen before the foundations of the world were laid, but only in him appointed to die, Eph. 1.4, and 1 Pet. 1.20. Wherefore he is also called the Lamb slain from the beginning of the world, Rev. 13.8, To wit, not only by the foreknowledge, but especially by the determined counsel of God, insomuch that Herod and Pilate, although thinking of no such thing, yet therefore came together, to fulfill such things as the hand and counsel of the Lord had decreed be done, Acts 4.28. Therefore he could not be taken but at his hour, John 7.30, and 8.29, and 12.27. For he was delivered by the determined counsel of God, and decree before going, Acts 2.23. And was wounded of God for our iniquities, Isa. 53.5. For God is he who spared not his own son, but gave him for us all, Rom. 8.32. Therefore if there were but this one example of God's everlasting providence, which never is idle, it were abundant enough to suffice, to convince, or reprove all those which falsely cry out, that God is made the author of sin, when as we say that nothing cometh to pass, but by the righteous will of God.
37. And yet do we not therefore excuse but rather most sharply accuse Satan working in the disobedient children, (Eph. 2.2.) Even then also when as the Lord most effectually, or strongly, and most justly bringeth his work to pass, both by Satan himself, and also by the bond slaves of Satan, 2 Tim. 2.26. Wherefore we do everywhere acknowledge and reverence the goodness and judgments of God, albeit the reason of them many times do not to us appear. And we condemn both the instruments which are evil, and also naughty and wicked actions, to wit, all the counsels and subtleties of Satan: the envy of Joseph's brethren, and the selling of their brother: the ungodliness and hardness of PharaohAbsalom's mind bent to kill his Father, and his detestable incest: the unadvisedness also of David himself: the wickedness of Shimei: the malice and treachery of David's enemies: the wicked falling away of Jeroboam, and the ten Tribes: the ravenny [violent plundering] of the Chaldeans: the insatiable covetousness, incredible Lechery, intolerable arrogancy of the Babylonians. To be short, all the wicked counsels, and most savage cruelty of the ungodly against the Church.
38. It is also manifest by very many and most plain testimonies of the scripture, that God doth punish sins with sins, and that with no idle, but very strong and effectual, yet notwithstanding, most just permission or sufferance. For it is he that giveth kings in his anger, Hos. 13.11, Neh. 9.37, and Job 34.30. It is he that causeth to err, Isa. 63.17. Because he mingleth amongst them the spirit of error, Isa. 19.14. It is he which hardeneth and turneth the hearts, which blindeth the eyes, which maketh drunk with the wine of giddiness, Exod. 4.21, and 7.3, and 9.12, and 10.1, and 11.10, and 14.4, Deut. 2.29, Josh. 11.20, and 1 Sam. 2.25, and 2 Chron. 22.7, Psalm 105.25. It is he that punisheth his contempt, giving men up into a reprobate mind, Rom. 1.28, And sending the strength of error to believe a lie, 2 Thes. 2.11. It is he which deceiveth Prophets, Ezek. 14.9. Finally, it is he that sendeth also evil spirits, giving them commandment to hurt, & granting them also efficacy or power to deceive, as 1 Kings 22.22,23, and 2 Chron. 18.21,22, Job 1.12, and 2.6.

       Thesethingsbeeingthusmani-
fest by these so plaine testimonies, let the Pellagians,    Freewillians,    Annabaptistes,  Papistes,  and the rest of that filthie rabble, crye out if they liste, till they ware hoarse, and their heartes ake againe, that wee make G O D the Authour of sinne, from which blasphemie wee are as farre, as they are voide of Christian charitie,  insoiudging of us,  ascribinguntoG O D   hisprouidence the whole swinge in all things, which as they proceede from him (as hath beene shewed before) are verie
good, albeit in respecte of the in-
struments, whereby it pleaseth
him in iustice sometime
to worke by, they
may be verie
evill.

FINIS.