by William Twisse
Updated to modern English
Consideration: When the Apostle says that election is not based on works, and proves it by citing the example of Esau and Jacob, it is clear that before they were even born, it was said that the elder shall serve the younger. Let any sensible reader judge whether it is not more in line with the Apostle's teaching to profess that election proceeds without considering man's faith and obedience, rather than with any regard to them. It should also be evident, based on the same reasoning the Apostle employs, that just as election is not based on good works, reprobation is likewise not based on evil works. However, the unanimous confession of all our theologians is that God decreed to condemn no one except for sin. Moreover, to my knowledge, there is none among them who denies that God ordained to bestow salvation only on those of mature years as a reward for their obedience. In fact, even Tilenus himself, when he was on our side, took issue with Arminius' representation of the decree of predestination and reprobation according to our perspective, stating that it was presented inaccurately and contrary to our belief. He gives his reason for objection on both parts: with regard to reprobation, he says, "Since God condemns anyone, it is for no other reason than because of their impenitence, unbelief, and, consequently, their sin, and therefore He did not decree to condemn anyone without considering this matter." On the subject of election, it is stated that God saves no one at the appointed time except those who repent and believe (although this is only true if it is understood to refer specifically to adults). In the same way, Piscator does not deny that there is a will of God revealed in the Gospel, namely, to save those who persevere in faith and condemn those who persist in unbelief and impenitence. However, he denies that this is the entire will of God revealed in the Gospel regarding the salvation of some and the damnation of others. In the conference at the Hague, when the Remonstrants' first article came up for discussion, which stated, "God has decreed from eternity to save persevering believers," their opponents did not deny this. In fact, they acknowledged that no Christian denies it. Thus, they urged the Remonstrants to clarify whether this article contained the complete decree of predestination. When the Remonstrants affirmed this, their opponents found it necessary to oppose and challenge them on that point. However, let us distinguish between what authors like this one tend to confuse. The absoluteness of God's decree can be considered in two ways: either in terms of the act of God's decree itself or in terms of the things that are decreed. According to this distinction, Aquinas professes that no cause can be assigned for the will of God with regard to the things willed. His words are as follows: "It has been said above that it is not possible to assign a cause of the divine will on the part of the act of willing, but a reason can be assigned on the part of the things willed." And applying this doctrine specifically to predestination, he adds, saying: "No one with a sane mind would say that merits are the cause of divine predestination on the part of the act of predestining. But the question arises as to whether predestination has any cause on the part of its effects."
And regarding the distinction between "voluntas absoluta" and "voluntas absoluta et conditionalis," Vossius interprets them as being the same as "voluntas antecedens" and "voluntas consequens." However, Vossius himself explains that "voluntas conditionalis" is caused only by the things willed. He defines a conditional will as follows: "He wills something with a condition, which therefore does not come into effect unless the condition is fulfilled. For example, He wills the salvation of all men, but only through and by means of faith in Christ." Dr. Jackson, in his recent book on providence, acknowledges that the distinction between antecedent and consequent will is to be understood in relation to the things willed. The consequent will is a will that derives its cause from man. However, this, he says, should be understood in terms of the things that are willed. We willingly agree with this, and accordingly, we acknowledge that some things willed by God have their cause in man. For example, we say that faith is the determining cause of salvation, while final unbelief or impenitence are the deserving causes of damnation. Yet, there are certain things willed by God that have no cause in man, but their cause lies solely in God's sovereign pleasure. One such thing is the giving or withholding of grace, as the Apostle states: "He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills, He hardens" (Romans 9:18). As for the decree of God considered in terms of the act of God's will, it cannot have a cause in man. I prove this in relation to both the decree of salvation and the decree of damnation. I willingly challenge all the Arminians to answer this argument. The argument is as follows: If faith is the cause by which God ordains a person to salvation, then it must be either by necessity of nature or by the mere will of God. Not by necessity of nature, as it is evident (and I have discovered that even Arminians themselves have confessed this), so if any way is considered to be the cause of this, it can only be by the arrangement of God. Now, observe the absurdity of this: it follows that God has decreed or ordained that, based on foresight of faith, He would ordain people to salvation. In this case, the very eternal act of God's ordination becomes the object of God's ordination, which is utterly impossible. Everyone knows that the objects of God's ordination are only temporal and by no means eternal. Similarly, if sin is the cause for which God ordains people to damnation, it can only be either by necessity of nature or by divine arrangement. It is not by necessity of nature, for surely God is not obliged to damn anyone for sin. Therefore, if it is by divine arrangement, observe the inevitable absurdity that follows: God has ordained that, based on foresight of sin, He would ordain people to condemnation. Here again, God's eternal ordination becomes the object of His ordination. However, I do not claim that at any moment in nature the decree of salvation precedes the consideration of people's faith and obedience, or that the decree of damnation precedes the consideration of final unbelief or impenitence. Because I consider the decrees of granting faith and crowning it with salvation, as well as the decrees of permitting final unbelief and impenitence, to be not subordinate to one another but simultaneous and coordinated. Now I move on to the second point.
2. The Holy Scripture uses different expressions to designate those for whom Christ died. In Matthew 10:28, it is stated that the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many. And in Matthew 26:28, it is said, "This is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for you and for many for the remission of sins." This notion is quite indefinite, yet nothing indicates a more comprehensive understanding than contrasting it with universal inclusivity. However, in other passages, these "many" are specified, thereby limiting the benefits of Christ's death to certain individuals or groups. For example, to the people of Christ (Matthew 1:21), to the Church (Acts 20:28, Ephesians 5:25), to Christ's sheep (John 10:15), to the children of God (John 11:51), to Christ's friends (John 15:8), to Israel (Acts 13:23), and to the body of Christ (Ephesians 5:25). Furthermore, our Saviour prayed only for those whom His Father had given Him (John 17:9) and for those who would be given to Him in the future (verse 20), explicitly excluding the world (verse 9). For their sake, He sanctified Himself (verse 19), which, according to the consensus of the Fathers, includes offering Himself on the Cross, as affirmed by Maldorate in his commentaries on that passage in John. However, it is worth noting those passages that extend the benefit of Christ's death to all, such as Romans 5:18, which states, "As by one man's offense judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." Yet, for the sake of clarification, let us observe the limitation immediately preceding it in verse 17: "For if by one man's offense death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ."
It is also stated that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (1 Corinthians 5:19), that He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29), that He gave His life for the life of the world (John 6:51), and that He is the Savior of the world (John 4:42 and 1 John 4:14). Yet, these statements can be reasonably explained without contradicting the previous limitation, namely, that it refers to people in the world. Since "the world" is an indefinite term, it needs to be understood in light of other passages that define who these people are. For example, in John 13:1, it is stated that He loved His own who were in the world, and He loved them to the end. Now, who are Christ's own? They are the ones He speaks of in John 17:9, where He says, "For they are Yours" (referring to God the Father) and in verses 10 and 11, "And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them." It is in the same verse (9) that an exclusion of the world is made: "I pray for them. I do not pray for the world, but for those whom You have given Me."
It is further said that Christ is the reconciliation for our sins, and not only for ours, but for the sins of the whole world. This can be fairly understood as referring to the sins of people scattered throughout the entire world, which is especially true for God's elect. Just as in John 11:50, they are called the children of God who were scattered, and in Matthew 24:31, it is said that God will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other, with the sound of a great trumpet. However, even if it is understood to include all individuals, John 3:19 provides a suitable explanation. It states: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish." We willingly confess that Christ died to obtain salvation for all and every one who believes in Him.
And indeed, our opponents usually take pleasure in confusing things that are different.
When it comes to stating this thesis, there is a wretched confusion, as if these individuals delight in stirring up trouble. When we say that Christ died for us, we mean that Christ died for our benefit, and His death brings a benefit to us. Now, there may be various benefits that arise from Christ's death, and they are of such diverse nature that, with respect to some, we do not hesitate to profess that Christ died for all. However, regarding others, the Arminians themselves do not grant that He died to obtain any such benefit for all. In fact, they completely deny that these are any benefits at all resulting from Christ's death for anyone. Yet, we willingly acknowledge that they are benefits that result from Christ's death, although they do not apply to everyone, but only to God's elect. Now, if this is true, is it not a proper course for this author to confuse things that are so extremely different? And as I have stated, I will now proceed to demonstrate it in this manner.
We assert that forgiveness of sin and salvation of souls are benefits purchased by the death of Christ, to be enjoyed by people. However, how are they enjoyed? Not unconditionally, but rather conditionally, namely, if they believe, and only if they believe. Just as God does not bestow these upon anyone of mature age unless they believe, Christ has not earned that they should be bestowed upon anyone except those who believe. Therefore, we profess that Christ died for all, meaning that He died to obtain forgiveness of sin and salvation of souls for all. However, this is not an absolute declaration, regardless of whether they believe or not. It is only conditional, namely, provided that they believe in Christ.
And indeed, our opponents often take pleasure in confusing things that are different.
Therefore, we willingly profess that Christ had both a full intention of His own and the commandment of His Father to make a propitiation for the sins of the whole world, to the extent that He procured both forgiveness of sin and salvation of souls for all who believe and for none of mature age, as stated in Romans 3:24: "We are all justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." And in verse 25: "Whom God hath sent for the be a propitiation (or reconciliation) through faith in His blood." However, we further assert that there are other benefits that result from Christ's death, namely, the grace of faith and repentance. Just as these are gifts from God, worked within us by His Holy Spirit, they are worked in us for the sake of Christ, as the Apostle prays for the Hebrews, asking God to make them perfect in every good work, working in them that which is pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ. Regarding these benefits, we openly state that Christ did not die for all, meaning that He did not die to obtain the grace of faith and repentance for all, but only for God's elect. These graces are bestowed by God not conditionally, for then grace would be given based on human works, but absolutely. If Christ died to obtain these graces for all absolutely, it would logically follow that all would believe, repent, and consequently be saved. Do our opponents criticize us for denying that Christ died to procure faith and repentance for all? Far from it. In fact, it is evident that the Remonstrants openly profess nowadays that Christ has not merited faith and regeneration for anyone. When this is brought up to them, as they themselves admit in these words: "Indeed it is so. Nothing is more absurd, nothing more vain than to attribute this merit to Christ." Their plain meaning is that Jesus Christ did not die for anyone to obtain the grace of faith and regeneration, not even for God's elect. He did not have the slightest intention or commandment from His Father to purchase these gifts, these blessings, for anyone. Let us proceed to the third point.
3. We can engage in discussions about the freedom of the will in creatures, and theologians typically approach it in different ways and consider various factors. These factors include the state of the creature itself, whether it is corrupted or free from corruption, and the divine decree from an external perspective. However, this author, in a manner reminiscent of Arminians, mistakenly confuses these aspects as one.
It is completely untrue that any divines, to my knowledge, assert that by Adam's sin, his entire offspring has lost their free will. During my time in the university, when I was studying theology, we commonly heard a distinction made regarding free will. The actions of humans can be categorized as natural, moral, or spiritual. Regarding free will, based on this distinction, the conclusion was as follows: we have not lost our free will in natural actions or moral actions, but only in spiritual actions. This means that the natural person does not comprehend the things of God, for they appear as foolishness to them. They cannot understand them because they require spiritual discernment (1 Corinthians 2:14). Moreover, the inclination of the flesh is enmity towards God, for it does not submit to God's law and cannot do so (Romans 8:7-8). Hence, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. The Apostle also affirms that the minds of the pagans are blinded, their hearts are hardened, and they have estranged themselves from the life of God (Ephesians 4:18). They are trapped by the devil, held captive by him to do his will (2 Timothy 2:26). It is stated that the Ephesians were dead in trespasses and sins before they were called by the Gospel (Ephesians 2:1), and similar descriptions are given of the Colossians (Colossians 2:11).
Yet, what follows in this author's statement is entirely untrue, as they falsely attribute to us the belief that every person is bound by an unavoidable necessity to do or not do whatever they choose, whether good or evil. This accusation is truly unfounded. We assert that every individual acts freely in whatever they do, and freely omits whatever they leave undone. However, this should be rightly understood in terms of the means leading to ends, where the true liberty of human will lies, rather than in the desire for the end itself. It is natural for a person to be necessarily inclined towards their desired end, as Aristotle stated: "Qualis quisque est finis apparet" (Ethics, Book 4, Chapter 5). Is it fitting for these individuals to dictate to us not only a new theology but also a new philosophy according to their own whims?
Regarding the reason presented here, based on the eternal and efficacious decree of God, it not only fails to confirm their claims but actually undermines them and supports our position. We agree with Aquinas that the efficacious will of God is the cause of some things happening contingently and freely, just as it is the cause of other things happening necessarily. Did Josiah perform the act of burning the bones of the prophets any less freely than any other action he took? Did Cyrus proclaim the return of the Jews from captivity any less freely than anything else he did? Yet, both actions were predetermined by God. No, I say more: I prove that everything that comes to pass in the course of time was decreed by God. In response to any argument against this, I challenge both the entire nations of Arminians and Jesuits. It cannot be denied that God foresaw from eternity everything that would happen in time. Therefore, everything was future from eternity, otherwise God could not have seen it as future. Now, let us soberly inquire how these things, which we consider to be future, came to be future when, in their own nature, they were merely possible and indifferent, capable of not happening at all or happening in the future. There must be some external cause for this transition of things from the state of mere possibility (as they were in themselves) to the state of being future. Now, I ask, what was the cause of this transition? Since nothing outside the nature of God could be the cause (for this transition was eternal, but nothing apart from God was eternal), there must be something within the nature of God that is suitable to be the cause of this transition.
And what might that be? It is not the knowledge of God, for that actually presupposes things being future and knowable as future, rather than making them future. Therefore, it remains that the sole decree and will of God is what makes things future. If, in an attempt to avoid this, it is argued that the essence of God is the cause, I further inquire whether the essence of God is the cause in a necessary manner or in a free manner. If it is a necessary working, then the most contingent things become future by necessity of the divine nature, and thus He produces everything by the compulsion of nature, which is atheistic. Therefore, it remains that the essence of God has made them future by working freely, and consequently, the mere will and decree of God is the cause of the future existence of all things. And why should we doubt this, when even the most heinous sins committed in the world are acknowledged in the language of Scripture to have been predetermined by God Himself (Acts 4:24 et seq.)? Based on the assumption of this divine will and decree, we acknowledge it to be necessary for the determined things to come to pass, but how? Not necessarily, but either necessarily or contingently and freely. In other words, necessary things happen necessarily, contingent things and free things happen contingently and freely. So contingent things, based on the assumption of God's will, have a kind of necessity, but in an absolute sense, they are still contingent. It should not be surprising to people of understanding that the same thing can come to pass both with a qualified necessity and in an absolute contingent manner, considering that the mere foreknowledge of God is sufficient to attribute a kind of necessity to the most contingent events.
Now, I move on to the consideration of the fourth point.
4. Regarding this article that is being objected to us, we have no reason to avoid defending it, but rather to embrace it with enthusiasm and resolve, as it is the truth of God clearly presented to us in the Word of God. The illumination of minds is compared to God causing light to shine out of darkness in the act of creation (1 Cor. 4:6). The same God who commanded light to shine out of darkness has also shined in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Additionally, when God declares to Zion, "You are My people," it is likened to the planting of the heavens and the laying of the foundation of the earth (Is. 51:16). God says, "I have put My words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of My hand, that I may plant the heavens and lay the foundation of the earth and say to Zion, 'You are My people'" (Ps. 51:10).
David, in Psalm 51, says, "Create in me a clean heart" when he seeks restoration from God after falling into grievous sins. Although David was already a regenerated child of God, he recognizes that his spiritual restoration is akin to a new creation. By this, he signifies that even the children of God have sinful and untamed desires within them, and the process of healing and mastering those desires is no less significant than the work of creation or the making of the world. In 2 Corinthians 5:17, it is stated, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature" (kanh ktisiv), and in Galatians 6:15, it is said, "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creature." This new creature is synonymous with faith working through love, as expressed by the Apostle in Galatians 5:6, "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love." And Ephesians 2:10 also emphasises the transformative work of God, stating that we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works. We are described as God's masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which He has prepared in advance for us to walk in. While God created the world with a word, the new creation of humanity cost our Saviour, Jesus Christ, great suffering—His sweat, His blood as the Son of God, His agonies in the garden, and His agonies on the Cross. He had to rise from the grave to accomplish this. The Schoolmen also acknowledge that grace is worked in man through a process of creation, otherwise it couldn't be considered supernatural. And regarding the power by which God raises the dead, it is explicitly stated in Colossians 2:12 that faith is "the working of God" (energeiav tou qeou), the same power that raised Christ from the dead. This is affirmed by Cornelius de Lapide, who acknowledges that faith is worked by the same power that raised Christ. Ephesians 1:19 tells us of the surpassing greatness of God's power towards us who believe, which is in accordance with the mighty power He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead. Therefore, it is most fitting for the Apostle to consider this work of God in raising Christ when he prays for the Hebrews, asking God to perfect them for every good work and to work in them what is pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ (Heb. 13:20-21). The God of peace, who brought back our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, the great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, will make you complete in every good work to do His will, etc. It is also referred to as the "work of faith in power" in 2 Thessalonians 1:11.
And as for perseverance with patience, the Apostle requires a strength that is wrought by God's glorious power (Colossians 1:11; 2 Peter 1:3). Piscator, not fully understanding its meaning, interprets it as "glory and virtue" instead of "for glory and power" (eis doxanki arethn). Daniel Heynsius, in the preface to his Aristarchus Sacei on Nonnius upon John, dares to criticize this interpretation. He explains that Piscator's misunderstanding arises because he only knows the usual sense of areth as virtue. However, in the Greek Etymologicum, it is found that areth, in its notion, means "potentia," which can be understood as "power." Thus, we are called by glory and power, as Saint Peter says, meaning by God's glorious power. Doesn't Scripture clearly state that God found us dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13)? And isn't the work itself called regeneration in John 3 and 1 Peter 1, among other places? Isn't it a new life wrought within us? We were previously estranged from the life of God (Ephesians 4:18), but now we are not. And isn't this life the life of faith, as stated in Galatians 2:20? Augustine plainly declares that God converts people with omnipotent ease; therefore, He uses His almighty power in the process, although He accomplishes it effortlessly, just as He created the world and will raise the dead with ease. He spoke the word, and they were made; He commanded, and they were created. Similarly, the time will come when those in the graves will hear the voice of the Son of Man and come forth, some to the resurrection of life and some to the resurrection of condemnation (John 5). And power less than the power of God is unable to regenerate man. Can a man regenerate himself and make himself a partaker of the divine nature? Can he breathe the life of God, the life of grace, or the Spirit of God into himself? Consider the significance of faith that is so often disregarded by this generation. Consider it in terms of its object and the things that are believed. Consider it in terms of its form and the confidence of the creature in his Creator. Judge impartially whether any created power can be sufficient to create faith in man. The things that are believed are the mystery of the Trinity, the incarnation of the Son of God—God manifested in the flesh—and for what purpose? So that His soul might be offered for sin, the just dying for the unjust, in order for God to justify the ungodly (Romans 4). By the judgment of all flesh and blood, what wisdom is there in this? Are not these things considered foolishness by the natural man (1 Corinthians 2:14)? Consider also the resurrection of the dead, the eternal judgment, and the powers of the world to come. What reason can convince a natural man to embrace these truths? And as for our confidence in God and our dependence upon Him in relation to these mysteries, is it within the power of human nature to rest the fate of one's salvation upon a crucified God? This was a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles, but to us who are saved, it is the power and wisdom of God. For a sinner to be assured that God is his Father in Christ and that He receives us as sons and daughters, and if sons, then heirs—yes, heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. To say, like Job, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him," not only in spite of His judgments that fight against us, causing His arrows to pierce us and their venom to consume our spirit, but also in spite of our own sin, which often provokes Him, even in the face of His glory.
However, these disputers do not want it to be thought that they deny faith to be the work of God. Yet they have gone so far as to explicitly deny that Christ merited either faith or regeneration for anyone. A Time for Censure of Censure, page 59. Perhaps the time will come when they will open their mouths a little wider and openly declare that faith is solely the work of man and not the work of God. But for now, they do not think it opportune to reveal this state secret. They claim to acknowledge that faith is a gift from God, but they insist that it must be wrought in such a way that man can reject it. And they reproach us for saying that those to whom God gives His grace are unable to reject it. They want God to work faith in a man only through persuasion. Arminius declares (Examination, page 150) that there are only two ways in which God influences the will: one, as he puts it, is by nature, and the other according to the will and freedom of the individual. The former he calls a physical compulsion, while the latter he says can be called persuasion. They cannot tolerate the idea that the effect comes about necessarily through the former operation. Therefore, it remains that God's operation in bestowing faith is only through persuasion. Here they stumble upon a clear heterodoxy, even in philosophy. For the one who persuades acts directly upon the understanding, presenting the object of persuasion in the most alluring manner possible. Suadens agit, as Bellarmine says, per modum proponentis objectum. And consequently, it is left to the object thus presented to work upon the will. However, the object only works in the category of a final cause, not as an efficient cause. And it is well known that the end only moves metaphorically, not in actuality. Hence, it follows that God, while He only persuades, is not an efficient cause of faith at all. Indeed, this is the true doctrine of these divines, though they are reluctant to let the world know as much.
Secondly, let us examine their language more closely. They mention God giving grace, but in such a way that those to whom He gives it are able to reject it. Furthermore, they assert that this ability is often exercised in such a manner that, even though God gives it, those to whom He gives it reject it. This can be understood in two ways: either after God has given it and they have received it, they subsequently reject it, or they reject it in a way that they never receive it at all. The first sense implies a reasonable notion, although its truth may be questioned. However, in that sense, it pertains to the next article. In the present article, it only applies to the latter sense. Now, I say that in this latter sense, there is no reasonableness. It asserts that something is given which is not received at all, which is clearly nonsensical. It is no wonder that they exhibit a lack of common sense in opposing God's grace. Something may be offered and rejected, but it cannot, in a reasonable manner, be said to be given if it is not received. This is especially true when it comes to gifts given to the soul. A gift given to the soul must either be a lasting quality or an inward act, both of which are inherent in the soul. Unless they are made inherent in it, and the latter is also produced by it, it cannot be said to be given to the soul. For example, in the present question of producing faith in the soul of man, this can be understood either as the quality and habit of faith or as the act of faith. However, neither of these can be said to be given unless the former becomes a quality of the soul and the latter becomes the act of the soul. Assuming this, they are not rejected, nor can they be rejected in such a way that they are not received at all. The author seems to have been aware of this problem and sought to avoid it. Therefore, in the third place, he does not say that those to whom God gives faith are able to (and accordingly sometimes do) reject it, according to our belief. This would imply that, in his view, even though God gives faith to people, they sometimes reject it. Instead, he presents our doctrine as stating that those to whom God gives His grace are able to (and accordingly sometimes do) reject it, thereby suggesting that the grace given by God to humans may be and sometimes is rejected.
And indeed, this grace, which is not faith itself but an operation leading to it, and specifically persuasion, can be said to be rejected in a positive sense. It is both given by God and received by man, yet it can be rejected in this way. However, the same cannot be said of faith, as it is not received except through believing. Unless faith is received in this manner by man, it cannot be said to be given by God. Similarly, if God exhorts someone to have faith, it cannot be said that the person is not being exhorted. Therefore, to whom God gives exhortation, it is undeniable that the exhortation is received to the extent that the person can be rightly said to have been exhorted. But besides the receiving of persuasion and exhortation in this sense, which cannot be denied wherever it is given, there is another sense of receiving it, namely, receiving it so as to obey and yield to it.
In this sense, we acknowledge that the grace of persuasion and exhortation, although it is made by God, can be rejected by man. While it cannot be denied that man has received it to the extent that he has heard it, which is sufficient to consider him exhorted to have faith, he has not received it in such a way as to embrace and obey it. It is on the basis of this ambiguity of sense and equivocation that these impostors proceed, willingly deceiving themselves. Their affections are possessed with a love for error, which always disturbs judgment from the truth. Afterwards, they strive to deceive others who do not discern their trickery. Now, we openly declare that just as when the sun illuminates the world, it is not possible for the world not to be illuminated, in the same way, if God enlightens people's minds, the mind cannot help but be enlightened. For understanding is a natural power, not a free one. Consequently, if God makes it evident to a Christian soul that He is not only the highest good but his highest good, it is inevitable that the person will be enlightened with the light of His loving presence. This is referred to in scripture as the glory of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18), and it is signified to be the glory of His grace appearing in Christ (John 1:14), which we are said to behold in Christ with an open face (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Furthermore, it is inevitable for us to love this manifestation of God's grace appearing as our greatest good (for we love Him because He loved us first - 1 John 4:19) and for our wills to be fixed upon Him as our supreme end. The freedom of the will does not lie in the desire for the end, but only in the choice of means. This is a principle acknowledged by Aristotle and generally accepted without dispute, affirmed by the light of nature. Accordingly, by beholding the glory of the Lord with an open face, we are said to be transformed into the same image. And what is that image but the image of Christ? In the Lord mentioned there, Christ is meant, in whom the glory of God's grace and His love for humanity is revealed. This image of Christ has two aspects: Christ crucified and Christ raised from the dead, ascended into heaven, and seated at the right hand of God to intercede for us.
Our transformation into this image constitutes our regeneration, which consists of both mortification, conforming to Christ's death, and vivification, conforming to Christ's resurrection. In this process, we experience the power of His resurrection and share in His sufferings (Philippians 3:10). In the work of regeneration, which involves the illumination of our minds and the renewal of our affections, we are entirely passive. We undergo a change that enables us to discern our greatest good and set our hearts upon it as our ultimate end. All of this is inherent in our nature and not a result of our free will. Freedom only comes into play in the choice of means to our end, in which we often fail due to the weakness of our judgment and the persistence of our affections. For we are regenerated only in part, and darkness still occupies a portion of our understanding. In our hearts and affections, there is both a tendency towards the flesh, inclining us disorderly towards the created world, and a principle of the Spirit, inclining us towards God, our Creator.
And in regards to the statement that the Reprobates cannot obtain the grace of God, even though it is offered to them in the Gospel, this claim lacks sobriety or, when understood rationally, is completely untrue. Their argument relies solely on the ambiguous concept of grace, allowing them to babble without understanding. Faith itself is not offered in the Gospel; instead, people are called upon to believe and are promised that upon their faith, they will receive the grace of forgiveness of sins and salvation. These graces can be said to be offered to all, conditioned upon faith. However, faith itself cannot reasonably be said to be offered. Yet, through the preaching of the Gospel, the Lord does work faith in the hearts of those whom He chooses, as it is said that He shows mercy to whom He wills and hardens whom He wills. Nevertheless, when it comes to persuasion and exhortation to have faith, both the reprobates and God's elect in the Church partake in this grace. Now, let us move on to the fifth and final point.
5. That those who have once received this grace through faith can never fall completely or finally, regardless of the most grievous sins they may commit." [This is Twisse quoting his opponent's misrepresentation of the doctrine of Dort.] There are three things to be considered here. Firstly, his use of the phrase "a certain grace received by faith" in reference to the previous statements. He calls it "this grace by faith," although there was no mention at all of any grace received by faith in the previous statements, let alone such a specific grace. This is their deceptive way of arguing. First, he spoke of God producing faith, then of God giving His grace, and now he assumes that he had spoken of a certain grace received by faith. This is their deceitful tactic, as no such grace received by faith was mentioned before. We speak plainly about faith, not some unknown grace received by faith, when we say that it cannot perish completely or finally. Scripture plainly professes that it is not possible for the elect to be deceived by false prophets (Matthew 24:24). Now, false prophets' practice is to corrupt their faith, but they cannot prevail over God's elect in this matter. Here, the elect refers to the regenerated elect, as it is evident that before regeneration, they are as susceptible to errors of faith as anyone else. The reason they cannot be led astray, as our Savior indicates in John 10:29, is that they are in the hands of God the Father. "My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all" (now, to be given to Christ by God the Father means to be brought to faith in Christ by God the Father, John 6:37, 44, compared with verses 35 and 47, and John 17:9, 20). And no one is able to snatch them out of my Father's hand. So when we say they cannot fall from grace, it is spoken not in terms of absolute impossibility, but based solely on the assumption of divine preservation, namely, God's upholding of them.
And accordingly, they are said to be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation (1 Peter 1). Now, this impossibility of falling away from grace, in scholastic terms, is a conditional impossibility. It is like saying that it is impossible for Antichrist (i.e., the Papacy) to fall or for the Jews to be called until the appointed time for God to bring forth His great and wonderful works. However, the contrary is simply possible on either side. As for the last clause, "notwithstanding the most enormous sins which they can commit," this is a malicious addition. It insinuates that we claim the children of God cannot fall from grace, even if they indulge their lusts and commit sin with eagerness. On the contrary, we teach that God keeps them from falling away by instilling His fear in their hearts, as stated in Jeremiah 32:40, "I will put My fear in their hearts that they shall never depart away from me." Therefore, the true essence of our belief is not that God will keep them from falling away despite their presumptuous actions, but that He will hold them fast by keeping them from such courses through a holy fear. Just as David prayed for God to cleanse him from secret faults and to keep him from presumptuous sins, so Paul expressed his faith that God will deliver him from every evil work (whether through obedience or repentance) and preserve him for His heavenly Kingdom. Similarly, the saints of God are referred to as His called ones, His faithful ones, and His sanctified ones, as well as His reserved ones in the Epistle of Jude. For God's way is to make them worthy participants of the inheritance of the saints in light, not to save them despite their unfitness, but to first make them fit through holiness and then grant them participation.
None of our theologians have ever held such presumption in God's children as to say, as they do in Deuteronomy 29:19, "I shall have peace though I walk according to the stubbornness of my own heart," thus adding drunkenness to thirst. On the contrary, their faith is akin to that of Paul, as mentioned earlier: "The Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me to His heavenly kingdom." It is true that David once committed adultery, which led to an even greater sin—plotting to have Uriah killed to conceal the shame and scandal of the first sin. However, we know that the initial temptation arose when he imprudently saw Bathsheba from the battlements of his house while she was bathing. But he never repeated such actions thereafter.
Regarding the sins of David, Bertius, the main proponent of the Apostasy of Saints, professes that he will not assert that these sins expelled the Spirit of God from David, and he presents weighty reasons for this view.
Peter also committed a grave sin during the course of the temptation by denying his Master three times, and it was done in a peculiar manner. However, if we examine the root cause, we will discover how, due to lack of foresight, he fell into the devil's trap unknowingly. But our Saviour had prayed for him, that his faith would not fail, and Peter, remembering His promise (although he had not yet recalled the clear warning our Saviour had given him about Satan's desire to sift him like wheat), turned his gaze back to Him. He went out and wept bitterly. Moreover, immediately after His resurrection, word was sent to the Apostles, specifically to Peter, so that he would not doubt the love of God and Christ towards him because of this. Therefore, it is true that whoever is born of God does not sin (referring to the sin of death or final apostasy) because God's seed remains in them, and they cannot sin (that sin) because they are born of God. However, as I mentioned, this impossibility is not absolute or categorical, but only in a certain sense and on the assumption of divine support.
Regarding the true state of our beliefs and the truth of our doctrine, I can confidently say that it has been sufficiently demonstrated to the world, and with even stronger authority than any evidence they have presented to the contrary. Many of our writings remain unanswered by them to this day, just as there are unanswered writings of theirs by us.
However, if that were sufficient for this author, why does he bother to pick up a pen and write at all? I am here to respond to what he presents, and not to be redirected to the writings of others. I can engage with them, one by one, on their own terms, as God gives me the opportunity. So far, I have had no intention or purpose to avoid any of their writings, not their "Anti-Synod Dordrae," nor Vossius' history of the Pelagian heresies. However, I have chosen to begin with their Goliath, first against Perkins, then in his conference with Junius. After that, I will confront Corvinus, his main lieutenant, and therein I will encounter Arminius and his twenty reasons presented in the declaration of his opinion before the States. This will be done in a detailed digression. I have no greater desire than to engage with each of them, as best I can. I consider them to be nothing more than charlatans in logic, philosophy, and theology—full of display, I admit, but lacking in true knowledge throughout. It saddens me to see that the Christian world today is in danger of being deceived in their Christian faith, just as Celestinus was once deceived in his papacy. Yet it is just for God to abandon us in this manner. Superstition is on the rise, and wickedness flaunts itself shamelessly. Holiness and sincerity are attacked and spoken against.