Whether the power of believing the Gospel is lost by the sin of Adam.

by Pierre Du Moulin

I. It is questioned whether, through the sin of Adam, we have lost the power of believing in the Gospel. Arminius, the ingenious deviser, denies it. To establish his argument that God is obligated to grant every individual the power to believe in Christ and obtain faith, he contends that Adam, before his fall, neither possessed the power nor the necessity to believe in Christ. Therefore, according to him, we could not lose through Adam what Adam himself did not possess. He also asserts that faith was not commanded by the law, and thus Adam was not obligated to believe, as only the law was given to him. He adds that no one can believe unless they are a sinner. Therefore, if Adam did not receive the power to rise again if he fell, he did not receive the power to believe in the Gospel, which enables us to rise from this fall.

II. Since these arguments serve to lay the groundwork for Arminius's impious and ungodly belief that God is bound to bestow the power to believe on all individuals, and that God is ready to grant faith to all if they choose, this question carries significant weight and should not be treated lightly or superficially.

III. We, on the other hand, contend against Arminius that humanity lost, through the sin of Adam, not only their original purity and righteousness but also the power to believe in Christ. Through Adam's fall, we lost the ability to love God and obey Him. Now, faith inherently includes the love of God and represents a certain form of obedience.

IV. Indeed, before his fall, Adam was not obliged to believe in Christ because Christ had not yet been revealed to him, nor was there any need at that time. However, Adam was obligated to believe every word of God, regardless of when it would be revealed. This obligation also extended to his descendants, but it could not have been passed down if Adam himself had not been subject to it. This is analogous to the Israelites during David's reign; they were not obliged to believe Jeremiah's prophecy of the impending Babylonian captivity because Jeremiah did not exist at that time, and it was unnecessary for them to know about it. Yet, by rejecting Jeremiah's prophecy, they violated the same law by which the people were bound during David's time. It would be foolish to claim that a person who has lost their sight no longer possesses the ability to see a house built four years later or that a person who has become blind due to their own fault has lost the faculty to see ointments or plasters brought to them by a physician several months later. Similarly, Adam possessed the power to believe in Christ before his fall, just as he had the power to aid and comfort the sick and afflicted, even though there was no suffering or sickness before the fall. Adam had the latent power to believe in the Gospel, much like a healthy person has the latent power to use remedies for a disease that might or might not occur. However, his failure to believe in Christ was not due to an inadequacy in the power bestowed upon him by God but because it was unnecessary. Ultimately, since Adam lost the power to believe in the word of God through his unbelief, it follows that he also lost the power to believe in the word that would provide a remedy for this evil.

V. It is futile for Arminius to argue that it is inappropriate to say that Adam had the power to believe when he had no need of it, and that this power was taken away when he began to need it. The power of believing was not lacking in Adam, nor was it forcibly taken from him. Instead, he willingly forfeited it when he lost the ability to obey God. God, out of His grace alone, restores this power to those He chooses, not because we desire it, but because He instills in us the desire to believe.

VI. It is absurd for Arminius to claim that Adam did not receive the power to rise if he fell before his fall. The power by which people rise after the fall is not given before the fall, as it is lost due to the fall and then restored afterward. There is no doubt that Adam possessed the strength to rise again if he had not lost it through his fall. Arnoldus's argument is akin to saying that a person to whom God has given healthy and clear eyes has not received the power to see with those eyes after becoming blind.

VII. Ultimately, all of Adam's descendants are obligated to fulfill the law; this is a natural debt. The law commands us to love God, obey Him, and, therefore, believe in Him when He speaks. Whenever Christ is preached, the Gospel cannot be rejected without disregarding the law as well. However, those to whom Christ was never preached will not be condemned for rejecting Christ, but they will be judged by the law, which bound them to believe in Christ if Christ had been preached to them.

VIII. Arminius is mistaken in asserting that the power by which we believe in God is different from the power by which they believe in Christ. He argues that the words of the law and the words of the Gospel are entirely distinct and opposite. This assertion is hasty, for just because white and black are opposites, it does not mean that one faculty is responsible for seeing white and another for seeing black. It is the same mental faculty that comprehends both contraries. Furthermore, it is difficult to see how the Law and the Gospel can be considered contrary, as the Law serves as a tutor to Christ, and the Gospel provides the means by which the Law is fulfilled. There is no discord between the creditor and the surety. Christ did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it, as stated in Matthew 5:17 and Romans 3:30.

IX. To answer the question of whether the law commands us to believe in Christ, it is necessary to differentiate between two types of obligations imposed by the law. Some obligations are absolute and binding on all people at all times. These include the duty to love God and our neighbor, which Adam knew and was bound to perform even before the fall. However, other obligations are binding when explicitly commanded by God and when the ability to understand them is granted by God. For example, the Israelites in Egypt were not bound by the law to obey commands such as not gathering manna on the Sabbath, looking at the brazen serpent, or crossing the Jordan until God specifically commanded them. Disobeying these commands, had they been given, would have resulted in just punishment for breaking the law.

XI. Arminius incorrectly claims that the discussion here does not pertain to the general power of believing every word of God. In fact, it does, as the power to believe in Christ is encompassed within this general power. Just as the power of sight includes the ability to perceive remedies for blindness, even though those remedies are not immediately present and there is no immediate need for them.

XII. All these considerations point to the fact that the power of believing and embracing the remedies offered by God in the Gospel is lost due to the natural corruption inherited from Adam. Therefore, Arminius is mistaken when he asserts that God is obliged to grant all individuals the ability to believe in Christ, or that He stands ready to provide faith to everyone. God is not obligated to restore what humanity lost through its own fault, nor is He unjust in requiring from individuals what they naturally owe.

XIII. Arminius contradicts himself in this matter and undermines his own arguments. He acknowledges that many nations have been deprived of the light of the Gospel for extended periods, without which faith is impossible, as a punishment for the unbelief of their ancestors. Thus, he admits that God did not grant, nor was He prepared to grant, these nations the power to believe in Christ. Indeed, Arminius, in making this statement, presents the reason why God did not and therefore was not prepared to provide what is essential for faith. Was God prepared to bestow the power to believe on the people of Tyre and Sidon, of whom Christ testified that they would have repented in sackcloth and ashes had they received His word and witnessed His miracles? Did He grant the power of belief to those whose hearts He had hardened by His irresistible will, as Arminius claims? Could they believe of whom it is written in John 12:39, "Therefore they could not believe, because it is written, he hath blinded their eyes, and hath hardened their hearts"? Did He grant the power of belief to those whom Arminius asserts are called by God through means that are incongruent and ineffective, and by which He knows that individuals will never be converted?

XIV. In this context, Arminius indirectly accuses God of folly. He suggests that God is working against Himself and is prepared to do what He ought not to do by adopting incongruous and ineffective means. In effect, he sets laws for God as though He were a judge. For what else do these words imply: "God is bound to give the power of believing"? It seems as though Arminius binds God by this law, leaving God with no justification for His justice unless Arminius provides the means by which God can avoid the charge of injustice.

XV. Although the impotence and inability to believe are punishments resulting from Adam's sin, it is not unjust to punish someone who, due to this impotence, rejects the Gospel. This is because the same impotence or inability that serves as a punishment is also a fault. I argue this to demonstrate how Arnoldus inappropriately employs examples of punishments that are not faults. Arnoldus asks whether it is fair for a soldier who has been punished with the loss of his eyes for failing to keep watch to be offered a pardon for another offense or be promised something on the condition that he watches more diligently, only to be punished again because, being blind, he could not watch. However, this example is not relevant, as being blind is not a fault, and no one is naturally obligated to see. It is different with our inability to believe. Moreover, a person who is punished with the loss of sight would grieve and bear the loss of light heavily. In contrast, a person does not believe because they choose not to believe, and this impotence is voluntary.

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