Arminius on Predestination (Part 8)
X. This doctrine is at open hostility with the Nature of Eternal Life, and the titles by which it is signally distinguished in the Scriptures. For it is called “the inheritance of the sons of God ;” (Tit. iii, 7,) but those alone are the sons of God, according to the doctrine of the Gospel, “who believe in the name of Jesus Christ.” (John i, 12.) It is also called, “the reward of obedience,” (Matt. v, 12,) and of “the labour of love;” (Heb. vi, 10,) “the recompense of those who fight the good fight and who run well, a crown of righteousness,” &c. (Rev. ii, 10; 2 Tim. iv, 7, 8.) God therefore has not, from his own absolute decree, without any consideration or regard whatever to faith and obedience, appointed to any man, or determined to appoint to him, life eternal.
XI This Predestination is also opposed to the Nature of Eternal Death, and to those appellations by which it is described in Scripture. For it is called “the wages of sin; (Rom. vi, 23,) the punishment of everlasting destruction, which shall be recompensed to them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; (2 Thess. i, 8, 9,) the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels, (Matt. xxv, 41,) a fire which shall devour the enemies and adversaries of God.” (Heb. x, 27.) God, therefore, has not, by any absolute decree without respect to sin and disobedience, prepared eternal death for any person.
XII This Predestination is inconsistent with the Nature and Properties of Sin in two ways:
(1.) Because sin is called “disobedience” and “rebellion,” neither of which terms can possibly apply to any person who by a preceding divine decree is placed under an unavoidable necessity of sinning.
(2.) Because sin is the meritorious cause of damnation. But the meritorious cause which moves the Divine will to reprobate, is according to justice; and it induces God, who holds sin in abhorrence, to will reprobation. Sin, therefore, which is a cause, cannot be placed among the means, by which God executes the decree or will of reprobation.
XIII. This doctrine is likewise repugnant to the Nature of Divine Grace, and as far as its powers permit, it effects its destruction. Under whatever specious pretenses it may be asserted, that “this kind of Predestination is most admirably adapted and quite necessary for the establishment of grace,” yet it destroys it in three ways:
1. Because grace is so attempered and commingled with the nature of man, as not to destroy within him the liberty of his will, but to give it a right direction, to correct its depravity, and to allow man to possess his own proper notions. While, on the contrary, this Predestination introduces such a species of grace, as takes away free will and hinders its exercise.
2. Because the representations of grace which the scriptures contain, are such as describe it capable of “being resisted, (Acts, vii, 51,) and received in vain;” (2 Cor. vi, 1,) and that it is possible for man to avoid yielding his assent to it; and to refuse all co-operation with it. (Heb. xii, 15; Matt. xxiii, 37; Luke vii, 30.) While, on the contrary, this Predestination affirms, that grace is a certain irresistible force and operation.
3. Because, according to the primary intention and chief design of God, grace conduces to the good of those persons to whom it is offered and by whom it is received: while, on the contrary, this doctrine drags along with it the assertion, that grace is offered even to certain reprobates, and is so far communicated to them as to illuminate their understandings and to excite within them a taste for the heavenly gifts, only for this end and purpose, that, in proportion to the height to which they are elevated, the abyss into which they are precipitated may be the deeper, and their fall the heavier; and that they may both merit and receive the greater perdition.