Saturday, February 6, 2010

Owing The Puritans

Of the Eternity And Immutability Of Almighty God, Denied And Overthrown By The Arminians - John Owen

First, They undermine and overthrow the eternity of God’s purposes, by affirming that, in the order of the divine decrees, there are some which precede every act of the creature, and some again that follow them: so
Corvinus, the most famous of that sect. Now, all the acts of every creature being but of yesterday, temporary, like themselves, surely, those decrees of God cannot be eternal which follow them in order of time; and yet they press this, especially in respect of human actions, as a certain, unquestionable verity. “It is certain that God willeth or determineth many things which he would not, did not some act of man’s will go before it,” saith their great master, Arminius. The like affirmeth, with a little addition (as such men do always “proficere in pejus”), his genuine scholar, Nic. Grevin-chovius. “I suppose,” saith he, “that God willeth many
things which he neither would nor justly could will and purpose, did not some action of the creature precede.” And here observe, that in these 33 places they speak not of God’s external works, of those actions which outwardly are of him, — as inflicting of punishments, bestowing of rewards, and other such outward acts of his providence, whose administration we confess to be various, and diversely applied to several occasions, — but of the internal purposes of God’s will, his decrees and intentions, which have no present influence upon, or respect unto, any action of the creature; yea, they deny that concerning many things God hath any determinate resolution at all, or any purpose farther than a natural affection towards them.
“God doth or omitteth that towards which, in his own nature and his proper inclination, he is affected, as he findeth man to comply or not to comply with that order which he hath appointed,” saith Corvinus. Surely these men care not what indignities they cast upon the God of heaven, so they may maintain the pretended endowments of their own wills; for such an absolute power do they here ascribe unto them, that God himself cannot determine of a thing whereunto, as they strangely phrase it, he is well affected, before, by an actual concurrence, he is sure of their compliance. Now, this imputation, that they are temporary, which they cast upon the decrees of God in general, they press home upon that particular which lies most in their
way, the decree of election. Concerning this they tell us roundly, that it is false that election is confirmed from eternity: so the Remonstrants in their Apology, notwithstanding that St Paul tells us that it is the “purpose
of God,” Romans 9:11, and that we were “chosen before the foundation of the world,” Ephesians 1:4. Neither is it any thing material what the Arminians there grant, — namely, that there is a decree preceding this, which may be said to be from everlasting: for seeing that St Paul teacheth us that election is nothing but God’s purpose of saving us, to affirm that God eternally decreed that he would elect us is all one as to say that God purposed that in time he would purpose to save us. Such resolutions may be fit for their own wild heads, but must not be ascribed to God only wise.

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