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Title: John Calvin - Secret Providence - Article Sixth
Author: John Calvin
Language: English

00004-0011 Secret Providence - Article Sixth
The Scripture openly testifies, that crimes are appointed not merely by the will, but by the authority of God.

Against the Fifth and Sixth

Against the fifth and the sixth your adversaries pay many things, and these especially. If God wills sin, and is the author of sin, God himself is to be punished. For sin should be visited altogether on its author. If God wills sin, the Devil does not will sin; for the Devil is in all things contrary to God. If God wills sin, he loves sin; and if he loves sin he hates righteousness. If God wills sin, he is worse than many men, for many men are unwilling to sin. Nay, the nearer any one approaches the nature of God, the less he wills sin. Why then does Paul say, the good I would I do not; but the evil I would not that I do? Why does not Paul will, what God wills? Or why does Paul will what God does not will? Lastly, they demand what Scripture testifies that crimes are appointed not merely by the will but by the authority of God?

John Calvin’s Reply

It was owing to that very divine providence which you oppose, that you happened to mark the passage in the fifth article. Readers will perceive, that I am there, reciting in the person of my adversaries, the objections which are ordinarily brought against my doctrine. You snatch at that mutilated passage; and do you not deserve that every one should spit in your face? In the sixth article, though you do not specify the place, your impudence makes a still wider bound, that I, who, as often as sin is mentioned, uniformly give the most solemn warnings, that the name of God must be kept wide apart, that I should anywhere have said, that crimes are perpetrated not only by the will, but by the authority of God.

Certainly I shall willingly suffer anything to be said against a blasphemy so prodigious, only let not my name be in unrighteously coupled with it.

How far you succeed in deceiving fools, I know not; but I have no fear, should any one choose to compare your figments with my writings, but your dishonesty will render you execrable as you deserve to be. You contend if God loves sin, he hates righteousness, and you bring forward many things of the same import. For what purpose? If not to subscribe my language. For it is not yesterday for the first time, nor the day before, but many years since, I have distinctly used this language, (book on Eternal Predestination,) “If in the spoiling of Job, there was a work common to God, to Satan, and to robbers, how shall God be exempted from whatever blame belongs to Satan and his instruments? Beyond all question human actions are distinguished by their object and design, so that his cruelty is condemned, who digs out crows’ eyes, or kills the stork, while the merit of the Judge is praised, who sanctifies his hands by the slaughter of the wicked. And why shall the condition of God be worse, so that his justice may not separate him from the crimes of men?” Let readers only run over what I there subjoin, nay, let them peruse the whole passage in that treatise, where I dispute about the Providence of God, and they will easily perceive, how all your mists are there sufficiently, and more than sufficiently dispelled. Let them add, if they please, what I have written on the second chapter of Acts. When men commit theft or homicide, they therefore sin, because they are thieves and homicides. Blow in theft and homicide, there is a wicked design. God who employs their wickedness, is to be placed in a higher position, for he has an entirely different object, inasmuch as he intends to chastise one, and exercise the patience of another; and thus he never swerves from his nature, that is, from perfect rectitude. Wickedness being always estimated from the design contemplated, it is evident that God is not the author of sin.

The sum of the whole matter is this; since the cause of sin is an evil will in men, when God executes his righteous judgments by their hands, he is so far from being involved in blame, that he brings form the light of his glory out of darkness. In that tract too, which roused these furies from deep hell against me, the following clear distinction frequently occurs, that nothing is more iniquitous, or more preposterous, than to draw God into fellowship in guilt, when he executes his judgments by the hands of the Devil and the wicked; since there is no affinity in their ways of acting.

Besides I have published a work twelve years since, which more than sufficiently vindicates me from your putid calumnies; and should have protected me from all annoyance, if in you and those like you, there were one drop of humanity; for I boast not how skillfully I have refuted that frenzy, by which the libertines (those monsters) had fascinated many. It is certain I professedly undertook the management of that cause, and have luminously demonstrated that God is not the author of sin.