Sect. 76.-THE Diatribe, having thus first cited numberless passages of Scripture, as it were a most formidable army in support of "Free-will," in order that it might inspire courage into the confessors and martyrs, the men saints and women saints on the side of "Free-will," and strike terror into all the fearful and trembling deniers of, and transgressors against "Free-will," imagines to itself a poor contemptible handful only standing up to oppose "Free-will:" and therefore it brings forward no more than two Scriptures, which seem to be more prominent than the rest, to stand up on their side: intent only upon slaughter, and that, to be executed without much trouble. The one of these passages is from Exod. ix. 13, "The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh:" the other is from Malachi i. 2-3, "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated." Paul has explained at large both these passages in the Romans ix. 11-17. But, according to the judgment of the Diatribe, what a detestable and useless discussion has he made of it! So that, did not the Holy Spirit know a little something of rhetoric, there would be some danger, lest, being broken at the outset by such an artfully managed show of contempt, he should despair of his cause, and openly yield to "Free-will" before the sound of the trumpet for the battle. But, however, I, as a recruit taken into the rear of those two passages, will display the forces on our side. Although, where the state of the battle is such, that one can put to flight ten thousand, there is no need of forces. If therefore, one passage shall defeat "Free-will," its numberless forces will profit it nothing.
Sect. 77.-IN this part of the discussion, then, the Diatribe has found out a new way of eluding the most clear passages: that is, it will have that there is, in the most simple and clear passages, a trope. And as, before, when speaking in defence of "Free-will," it eluded all the imperative and conditional sentences of the law by means of conclusions tacked, and similitudes added to them; so now, where it designs to speak against us, it twists all the words of the divine promise and declaration just which way it pleases, by means of a trope which it has invented; thus, being everywhere an incomprehensible Proteus! Nay, it demands with a haughty brow, that this permission should be granted it, saying, that we ourselves, when pressed closely, are accustomed to get off by means of invented tropes: as in these instances:-"On which thou wilt, stretch forth thine hand:" (Ex. viii. 5,) that is, grace shall extend thine hand on which it will. "Make you a new heart:" (Ezek. xviii. 31,) that is, grace shall make you a new heart: and the like. It seems, therefore, an indignity offered, that Luther should be allowed to give forth an interpretation so forced and twisted, and that it should not be far more allowable to follow the interpretations of the most approved doctors.
You see then, that here, the contention is not for the text itself, no, nor for conclusions and similitudes, but for tropes and interpretations. When then shall we ever have any plain and pure text, without tropes and conclusions, either for or against "Free-will?" Has the Scriptures no such texts anywhere? And shall the cause of "Freewill" remain for ever in doubt, like a reed shaken with the wind, as being that which can be supported by no certain text, but which stands upon conclusions and tropes only, introduced by men mutually disagreeing with each other?
But let our sentiment rather be this:-that neither conclusion nor trope is to be admitted into the Scriptures, unless the evident strife of the particulars, or the absurdity of any particular as militating against an article of faith, require it: but, that the simple, pure, and natural meaning of the words is to be adhered to, which is according to the rules of grammar, and to that common use of speech which God has given unto men. For if every one be allowed, according to his own lust, to invent conclusions and tropes in the Scriptures, what will the whole Scripture together be, but a reed shaken with the wind, or a kind of Vertumnus? Then, in truth, nothing could, to a certainty, be determined on or proved concerning any one article of faith, which you might not subject to cavillation by means of some trope. But every trope ought to be avoided as the most deadly poison, which is not absolutely required by the Scriptures itself.
See what happened to that trope-inventor, Origen, in expounding the Scriptures. What just occasion did he give the calumniator Porphery, to say, 'those who favour Origen, can be no great friends to Hieronymus.' What happened to the Arians by means of that trope, according to which, they made Christ God nominally? What happened in our own times to those new prophets concerning the words of Christ, "This is my body?" [See Note <\l >] One invented a trope in the word "this," another in the word "is," another in the word "body." I have therefore observed this:-that all heresies and errors in the Scriptures, have not arisen from the simplicity of the words, as is the general report throughout the world, but from men not attending to the simplicity of the words, and hatching tropes and conclusions out of their own brain.
For example. "On which soever thou wilt, stretch forth thine hand." I, as far as I can remember, never put upon these words so violent an interpretation, as to say, 'grace shall extend thine hand on which soever it will:' "Make yourselves a new heart," 'that is, grace shall make you a new heart, and the like;' although the Diatribe traduces me thus in a public work, from being so carried away with, and illuded by its own tropes and conclusions, that it knows not what it says about any thing. But I said this:-that by the words, 'stretch forth thine hand,' simply taken as they are, without tropes or conclusions, nothing else is signified than what is required of us in the stretching forth of our hand, and what we ought to do; according to the nature of an imperative expression, with grammarians, and in the common use of speech.
But the Diatribe, not attending to this simplicity of the word, but with violence adducing conclusions and tropes, interprets the words thus:-"Stretch forth thine hand;" that is, thou art able by thine own power to stretch forth thine hand. "Make you a new heart," that is, ye are able to make a new heart. 'Believe in Christ,' that is, ye are able to believe in Christ. So that, with it, what is spoken imperatively, and what is spoken indicatively, is the same thing; or else, it is prepared to aver, that the Scripture is ridiculous and to no purpose. And these interpretations, which no grammarian will bear, must not be called, in Theologians, violent or invented, but the productions of the most approved doctors received by so many ages.
But it is easy for the Diatribe to admit and follow tropes in this part of the discussion, seeing that, it cares not at all whether what is said be certain or uncertain. Nay, it aims at making all things uncertain; for its design is, that the doctrines concerning "Free-will" should be left alone, rather than searched into. Therefore, it is enough for it, to be enabled in any way to avoid those passages by which it finds itself closely pressed.
But as for me, who am maintaining a serious cause, and who am inquiring what is, to the greatest certainty, the truth, for the establishing of consciences, I must act very differently. For me, I say, it is not enough that you say there may be a trope here: but I must inquire, whether there ought to be, or can be a trope there. For if you cannot prove that there must, of necessity, be a trope in that passage, you will effect nothing at all. There stands there this word of God-"I will harden the heart of Pharaoh." (Ex. iv. 21, Rom. ix. 17-18.) If you say that it can be understood or ought to be understood thus:-I will permit it to be hardened: I hear you say, indeed, that it may be so understood. And I hear this trope used by every one, 'I destroyed you, because I did not correct you immediately when you began to do wrong.' But here, there is no place for that interpretation. We are not here inquiring, whether that trope be in use; we are not inquiring whether any one can use it in that passage of Paul: but this is the point of inquiry-whether or not it be sure and safe to use this passage plainly as it stands, and whether Paul would have it so used. We are not inquiring into the use of an indifferent reader of this passage, but into the use of the author Paul himself.
What will you do with a conscience inquiring thus?-Behold God, as the Author, saith, "I will harden the heart of Pharaoh:" the meaning of the word "harden" is plain and well known. But a man, who reads this passage, tells me, that in this place, 'to harden,' signifies 'to give an occasion of becoming hardened,' because, the sinner is not immediately corrected. But by what authority does he this? With what design, by what necessity, is the natural signification of this passage thus twisted? And suppose the reader and interpreter should be in error, how shall it be proved that such a turn ought to be given to this passage? It is dangerous, nay, impious, thus to twist the Word of God, without necessity and without authority. Would you then comfort a poor soul thus labouring, in this way?-Origen thought so and so. Cease to search into such things, because they are curious and superfluous. But he would answer you, this admonition should have been given to Moses or Paul before they wrote, and so also to God Himself, for it is they who vex us with these curious and superfluous Scriptures.
Sect. 78.-THIS miserable scape-gap of tropes, therefore, profits the Diatribe nothing. But this Proteus of ours must here be held fast, and compelled to satisfy us fully concerning the trope in this passage; and that, by Scriptures the most clear, or by miracles the most evident. For as to its mere opinion, even though supported by the laboured industry of all ages, we give no credit to that whatever. But we urge on and press it home, that there can be here no trope whatever, but that the Word of God is to be understood according to the plain meaning of the words. For it is not given unto us (as the Diatribe persuades itself to turn the words of God backwards and forwards according to our own lust: if that were the case, what is there in the whole Scripture, that might not be resolved into the philosophy of Anaxagoras-'that any thing might be made from any thing?' And thus I will say, "God created the heavens and the earth:" that is, He stationed them, but did not make them out of nothing. Or, "He created the heavens and the earth;" that is, the angels and the devils; or the just and the wicked. Who, I ask, if this were the case, might not become a theologian at the first opening of a book?
Let this, therefore, be a fixed and settled point:-that since the Diatribe cannot prove, that there is a trope in these our passages which it utterly destroys, it is compelled to cede to us, that the words are to be understood according to their plain meaning; even though it should prove, that the same trope is contained in all the other passages of Scripture, and used in common by every one. And by the gaining of this one point, all our arguments are at the same time defended, which the Diatribe designed to refute; and thus, its refutation is found to effect nothing, to do nothing, and to be nothing.
Whenever, therefore, this passage of Moses, "I will harden the heart of Pharaoh," is interpreted thus:-My long-suffering, by which I bear with the sinner, leads, indeed, others unto repentance, but it shall render Pharaoh more hardened in iniquity:-it is a pretty interpretation, but it is not proved that it ought to be so interpreted. But I am not content with what is said, I must have the proof.
And that also of Paul, "He hath mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth, "(Rom. ix. 18,) is plausibly interpreted thus:-that is, God hardens when He does not immediately punish the sinner; and he has mercy when He immediately invites to repentance by afflictions.-But how is this interpretation proved?
And also that of Isaiah lxiii. 17, "Why hast Thou made us to err from Thy ways and hardened our heart from Thy fear?" Be it so, that Jerome interprets it thus from Origen:-He is said to 'make to err' who does not immediately recall from error. But who shall certify us that Jerome and Origen interpret rightly? It is, therefore, a settled determination with me, not to argue upon the authority of any teacher whatever, but upon that of the Scripture alone. What Origens and Jeromes does the Diatribe, then, forgetting its own determination, set before us! especially when, among all the ecclesiastical writers, there are scarcely any who have handled the Holy Scriptures less to the purpose, and more absurdly, than Origen and Jerome.
In a word: this liberty of interpretation, by a new and unheard-of kind of grammar, goes to confound all things. So that, when God saith, "I will harden the heart of Pharaoh," you are to change the persons and understand it thus:-Pharaoh hardens himself by My long-suffering. God hardeneth our hearts;-that is, we harden ourselves by God's deferring the punishment. Thou, O Lord, has made us to err;-that is, we have made ourselves to err by Thy not punishing us. So also, God's having mercy, no longer signifies His giving grace, or showing mercy, or forgiving sin, or justifying, or delivering from evil, but, on the contrary, signifies bringing on evil and punishing.
In fact, by these tropes matters will come to this:-you may say, that God had mercy upon the children of Israel when He sent them into Assyria and to Babylon; because, He there punished the sinners, and there invited them, by afflictions, to repentance: and that, on the other hand, when He delivered them and brought them back, He had not then mercy upon them, but hardened them; that is, by His long-suffering and mercy He gave them an occasion of becoming hardened. And also, God's sending the Saviour Christ into the world, will not be said to be the mercy, but the hardening of God; because, by this mercy, He gave men an occasion of hardening themselves. On the other hand, His destroying Jerusalem, and scattering the Jews even unto this day, is His having mercy on them; because, He punishes the sinners and invites them to repentance. Moreover, His carrying the saints away into heaven at the day of judgment, will not be in mercy, but in hardening; because, by His long-suffering, He will give them an occasion of abusing it. But His thrusting the wicked down to hell, will be His mercy; because, He punishes the sinners.-Who, I pray you, ever heard of such examples of the mercy and wrath of God as these?
And be it so, that good men are made better both by the long-suffering and by the severity of God; yet, when we are speaking of the good and the bad promiscuously, these tropes, by an utter perversion of the common manner of speaking, will make, out of the mercy of God His wrath, and His wrath out of His mercy; seeing that, they call it the wrath of God when He does good, and His mercy when He afflicts.
Moreover, if God be said then to harden, when He does good and endures with long-suffering, and then to have mercy when He afflicts and punishes, why is He more particularly said to harden Pharaoh than to harden the children of Israel, or than the whole world? Did He not do good to the children of Israel? Does He not do good to the whole world? Does He not bear with the wicked? Does He not rain upon the evil and upon the good? Why is He rather said to have mercy upon the children of Israel than upon Pharaoh? Did He not afflict the children of Israel in Egypt, and in the desert?-And be it so, that some abuse, and some rightly use, the goodness and the wrath of God; yet, according to your definition, to harden, is the same as, to indulge the wicked by long-suffering and goodness; and to have mercy, is, not to indulge, but to visit and punish. Therefore, with reference to God, He, by His continual goodness, does nothing but harden; and by His perpetual punishment, does nothing but shew mercy.
Sect. 79.-BUT this is the most excellent statement of all-'that God is said to harden, when He indulges sinners by long-suffering; but to have mercy upon them, when He visits and afflicts, and thus, by severity, invites to repentance.'-
What, I ask, did God leave undone in afflicting, punishing, and calling Pharaoh to repentance? Are there not, in His dealings with him, ten plagues recorded? If, therefore, your definition stand good, that shewing mercy, is punishing and calling the sinner immediately, God certainly had mercy upon Pharaoh! Why then does not God say, I will have mercy upon Pharaoh? Whereas He saith, "I will harden the heart of Pharaoh." For, in the very act of having mercy upon him, that is, (as you say) afflicting and punishing him, He saith, "I will harden" him; that is, as you say, I will bear with him and do him good. What can be heard of more enormous! Where are now your tropes? Where are your Origens? Where are your Jeromes? Where are all your most approved doctors whom one poor creature, Luther, daringly contradicts?-But at this rate the flesh must unawares impel the man to talk, who trifles with the words of God, and believes not their solemn importance!
The text of Moses itself, therefore, incontrovertibly proves, that here, these tropes are mere inventions and things of nought, and that by those words, "I will harden the heart of Pharaoh," something else is signified far different from, and of greater importance than, doing good, or affliction and punishment; because, we cannot deny, that both were tried upon Pharaoh with the greatest care and concern. For what wrath and punishment could be more instant, than his being stricken by so many wonders and with so many plagues, that, as Moses himself testifies, the like had never been? Nay, even Pharaoh himself, repenting, was moved by them more than once; but he was not effectually moved, nor did he persevere. And what long-suffering or goodness of God could be greater, than His taking away the plagues so easily, hardening his sin so often, so often bringing back the good, and so often taking away the evil? Yet neither is of any avail, He still saith, "I will harden the heart of Pharaoh!" You see, therefore, that even if your hardening and mercy, that is, your glosses and tropes, be granted to the greatest extent, as supported by use and by example, and as seen in the case of Pharaoh, there is yet a hardening that still remains; and that the hardening of which Moses speaks must, of necessity, be one, and that of which you dream, another.
Sect. 80.-BUT since I have to fight with fiction-framers and ghosts, let me turn to ghost-raising also. Let me suppose (which is an impossibility) that the trope of which the Diatribe dreams avails in this passage; in order that I may see, which way the Diatribe will elude the being compelled to declare, that all things take place according to the will of God alone, and from necessity in us; and how it will clear God from being Himself the author and cause of our becoming hardened.-For if it be true that God is then said to "harden" when He bears with long-suffering, and does not immediately punish, these two positions still stand firm.
First, that man, nevertheless, of necessity serves sin. For when it is granted that "Free-will" cannot will any thing good, (which kind of Free-will the Diatribe undertook to prove) then, by the goodness of a long-suffering God, it becomes nothing better, but of necessity worse.-Wherefore, it still remains that all that we do, is done from necessity.
And next, that God appears to be just as cruel in this bearing with us by His long-suffering, as He does by being preached, as willing to harden, by that will inscrutable. For when He sees that, "Free-will" cannot will good, but becomes worse by His enduring with long-suffering; by this very long-suffering He appears to be most cruel, and to delight in our miseries; seeing that, He could remedy them if He willed, and might not thus endure with long-suffering if He willed, nay, that He could not thus endure unless He willed; for who can compel Him against His will? That will, therefore, without which nothing is done, being admitted, and it being admitted also, that "Free-will" cannot will any thing good, all is advanced in vain that is advanced, either in excusation of God, or in accusation of "Free-will." For the language of "Free-will" is ever this:-I cannot, and God will not. What can I do! If He have mercy upon me by affliction, I shall be nothing benefited, but must of necessity become worse, unless He give me His Spirit. But this He gives me not, though He might give it me if He willed. It is certain, therefore, that He wills, not to give.
Sect. 81.-NOR do the similitudes adduced make any thing to the purpose, where it is said by the Diatribe-"As under the same sun, mud is hardened and wax melted; as by the same shower, the cultivated earth brings forth fruit, and the uncultivated earth thorns; so, by the same long-suffering of God, some are hardened and some converted."-
For, we are not now dividing "Free-will" into two different natures, and making the one like mud, the other like wax; the one like cultivated earth, the other like uncultivated earth; but we are speaking concerning that one "Free-will" equally impotent in all men; which, as it cannot will good, is nothing but mud, nothing but uncultivated earth. Nor does Paul say that God, as the potter, makes one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour, out of different kinds of clay, but He saith, "Out of the same lump, &c." (Rom. ix. 21.) Therefore, as mud always becomes harder, and uncultivated earth always becomes more thorny; even so "Free-will," always becomes worse, both under the hardening sun of long-suffering, and under the softening shower of rain.
If, therefore, "Free-will" be of one and the same nature and impotency in all men, no reason can be given why it should attain unto grace in one, and not in another; if nothing else be preached to all, but the goodness of a long-suffering and the punishment of a mercy-shewing God. For it is a granted position, that "Free-will" in all, is alike defined to be, 'that which cannot will good.' And indeed, if it were not so, God could not elect any one, nor would there be any place left for Election; but for "Free-will" only, as choosing or refusing the long-suffering and anger of God. And if God be thus robbed of His power and wisdom to elect, what will there be remaining but that idol Fortune, under the name of which, all things take place at random! Nay, we shall at length come to this: that men may be saved and damned without God's knowing anything at all about it; as not having determined by certain election who should be saved and who should be damned; but having set before all men in general His hardening goodness and long-suffering, and His mercy shewing correction and punishment, and left them to choose for themselves whether they would be saved or damned; while He, in the mean time, should be gone, as Homer says, to an Ethiopian feast!
It is just such a God as this that Aristotle paints out to us; that is, who sleeps Himself, and leaves every one to use or abuse His long-suffering and punishment just as He will. Nor can reason, of herself, form any other judgment than the Diatribe here does. For as she herself snores over, and looks with contempt upon, divine things; she thinks concerning God, that He sleeps and snores over them too; not exercising His wisdom, will, and presence, in choosing, separating, and inspiring, but leaving the troublesome and irksome business of accepting or refusing His long-suffering and His anger, entirely to men. This is what we come to, when we attempt, by human reason, to limit and make excuses for God, not revering the secrets of His Majesty, but curiously prying into them-being lost in the glory of them, instead of making one excuse for God, we pour forth a thousand blasphemies! And forgetting ourselves, we prate like madmen, both against God and against ourselves; when we are all the while supposing, that we are, with a great deal of wisdom, speaking both for God and for ourselves.
Here then you see, what that trope and gloss of the Diatribe, will make of God. And moreover, how excellently consistent the Diatribe is with itself; which before, by its one definition, made "Free-will" one and the same in all men: and now, in the course of its argumentation, forgetting its own definition, makes one "Free-will" to be cultivated and the other uncultivated, according to the difference of works, of manners, and of men: thus making two different "Free-wills"; the one, that which cannot do good, the other, that which can do good, and that by its own powers before grace: whereas, its former definition declared, that it could not, by those its own powers, will any thing good whatever. Hence, therefore, it comes to pass, that while we do not ascribe unto the will of God only, the will and power of hardening, shewing mercy, and doing all things; we ascribe unto "Freewill" itself the power of doing all things without grace; which, nevertheless, we declared to be unable to do any good whatever without grace.
The similitudes, therefore, of the sun and of the shower, make nothing at all to the purpose. The Christian would use those similitudes more rightly, if he were to make the sun and the shower to represent the Gospel, as Psalm xix. does, and as does also Hebrews vi. 7; and were to make the cultivated earth to represent the elect, and the uncultivated the reprobate; for the former are, by the word, edified and made better, while the latter are offended and made worse. Or, if this distinction be not made, then, as to "Free-will" itself, that, is in all men uncultivated earth and the kingdom of Satan.
Sect. 82.-BUT let us now inquire into the reason why this trope was invented in this passage.-"It appears absurd (says the Diatribe) that God, who is not only just but also good, should be said to have hardened the heart of a man, in order that, by his iniquity, He might shew forth His own power. The same also occurred to Origen; who confesses, that the occasion of becoming hardened was given of God, but throws all the fault upon Pharaoh. He has, moreover, made a remark upon that which the Lord saith, "For this very purpose have I raised thee up." He does not say, (he observes) For this very purpose have I made thee: otherwise, Pharaoh could not have been wicked, if God had made him such an one as he was, for God beheld all His works, and they were "very good"-thus the Diatribe.
It appears then, that one of the principal causes why the words of Moses and of Paul are not received, is their absurdity. But against what article of faith does that absurdity militate? Or, who is offended at it? It is human Reason that is offended; who, being blind, deaf, impious, and sacrilegious in all the words and works of God, is, in the case of this passage, introduced as a judge of the words and works of God. According to the same argument of absurdity, you will deny all the Articles of Faith: because, it is of all things the most absurd, and as Paul saith, foolishness to the Gentiles, and a stumbling-block to the Jews, that God should be man, the son of a virgin, crucified, and sitting at the right hand of His Father: it is, I say, absurd to believe such things. Therefore, let us invent some tropes with the Arians, and say, that Christ is not truly God. Let us invent some tropes with the Manichees, and say, that He is not truly man, but a phantom introduced by means of a virgin; or a reflection conveyed by glass, which fell, and was crucified. And in this way, we shall handle the Scriptures to excellent purpose indeed!
After all, then, the tropes amount to nothing; nor is the absurdity avoided. For it still remains absurd, (according to the judgment of reason,) that that God, who is just and good, should exact of "Free-will" impossibilities and that, when "Freewill" cannot will good and of necessity serves sin, that sin should yet be laid to its charge and that, moreover, when He does not give the Spirit, He should, nevertheless, act so severely and unmercifully, as to harden, or permit to become hardened: these things, Reason will still say, are not becoming a God good and merciful. Thus, they too far exceed her capacity; nor can she so bring herself into subjection as to believe, and judge, that the God who does such things, is good; but setting aside faith, she wants, to feel out, and see, and comprehend how He can be good, and not cruel. But she will comprehend that, when this shall be said of God:-He hardens no one, He damns no one; but He has mercy upon all, He saves all; and He has so utterly destroyed hell, that no future punishment need be dreaded. It is thus that Reason blusters and contends, in attempting to clear God, and to defend Him as just and good.
But faith and the Spirit judge otherwise; who believe, that God would be good, even though he should destroy all men. And to what profit is it, to weary ourselves with all these reasonings, in order that we might throw the fault of hardening upon "Free-will"! Let all the "Free-will" in the world, do all it can with all its powers, and yet, it never will give one proof, either that it can avoid being hardened where God gives not His Spirit, or merit mercy where it is left to its own powers. And what does it signify whether it be hardened, or deserve being hardened, if the hardening be of necessity, as long as it remains in that impotency, in which, according to the testimony of the Diatribe, it cannot will good? Since, therefore, the absurdity is not taken out of the way by these tropes; or, if it be taken out of the way, greater absurdities still are introduced in their stead, and all things are ascribed unto "Free-will"; away with such useless and seducing tropes, and let us cleave close to the pure and simple Word of God!
Sect. 83.-AS to the other point-'that those things which God has made, are very good: and that God did not say, for this purpose have I made thee, but "For this purpose have I raised thee up."'-
I observe, first of all, that this, Gen. i., concerning the works of God being very good, was said before the fall of man. But it is recorded directly after, in Gen. iii. how man became evil,-when God departed from him and left him to himself. And from this one man thus corrupt, all the wicked were born, and Pharaoh also: as Paul saith, "We were all by nature the children of wrath even as others." (Eph. ii. 8). Therefore God made Pharaoh wicked; that is, from a wicked and corrupt seed: as He saith in the Proverbs of Solomon, xvi. 4, "God hath made all things for Himself, yea, even the wicked for the day of evil:" that is, not by creating evil in them, but fly forming them out of a corrupt seed, and ruling over them. This therefore is not a just conclusion-God made man wicked: therefore, he is not wicked. For how can he not be wicked from a wicked seed? As Ps. li. 5, saith, "Behold I was conceived in sin." And Job xiv. 4, "Who can make that clean which is conceived from unclean seed?" For although God did not make sin, yet, He ceases not to form and multiply that nature, which, from the Spirit being withdrawn, is defiled by sin. And as it is, when a carpenter makes statues of corrupt wood; so such as the nature is, such are the men made, when God creates and forms them out of that nature. Again: If you understand the words, "They were very good," as referring to the works of God after the fall, you will be pleased to observe, that this was said, not with reference to us, but with reference to God. For it is not said, Man saw all the things that God had made, and behold they were very good. Many things seem very good unto God, and are very good, which seem unto us very evil, and are considered to be very evil. Thus, afflictions, evils, errors, hell, nay, all the very best works of God, are, in the sight of the world, very evil, and even damnable. What is better than Christ and the Gospel? But what is more execrated by the world? And therefore, how those things are good in the sight of God, which are evil in our sight, is known only unto God and unto those who see with the eyes of God; that is, who have the Spirit. But there is no need of argumentation so close as this, the preceding answer is sufficient.
Sect. 84.-BUT here, perhaps, it will be asked, how can God be said to work evil in us, in the same way as He is said to harden us, to give us up to our own desires, to cause us to err, &c.?
We ought, indeed, to be content with the Word of God, and simply to believe what that saith; seeing that, the works of God are utterly unspeakable. But however, in compliance with Reason, that is, human foolery, I will just act the fool and the stupid fellow for once, and try, by a little babbling, if I can produce any effect upon her.
First, then, both Reason and the Diatribe grant, that God works all in all; and that, without Him, nothing is either done or effective, because He is Omnipotent; and because, therefore, all things come under His Omnipotence, as Paul saith to the Ephesians.
Now then, Satan and man being fallen and left of God, cannot will good; that is, those things which please God, or which God wills; but are ever turned the way of their own desires, so that they cannot but seek their own. This, therefore, their will and nature, so turned from God, cannot be a nothing: nor are Satan and the wicked man a nothing: nor are the nature and the will which they have a nothing, although it be a nature corrupt and averse. That remnant of nature, therefore, in Satan and the wicked man, of which we speak, as being the creature and work of God, is not less subject to the divine omnipotence and action, than all the rest of the creatures and works of God.
Since, therefore, God moves and does all in all, He necessarily moves and does all in Satan and the wicked man. But He so does all in them, as they themselves are, and as He finds them: that is, as they are themselves averse and evil, being carried along by that motion of the Divine Omnipotence, they cannot but do what is averse and evil. Just as it is with a man driving a horse lame on one foot, or lame on two feet; he drives him just so as the horse himself is; that is, the horse moves badly. But what can the man do? He is driving along this kind of horse together with sound horses; he, indeed, goes badly, and the rest well; but it cannot be otherwise, unless the horse be made sound.
Here then you see, that, when God works in, and by, evil men, the evils themselves are inwrought, but yet, God cannot do evil, although He thus works the evils by evil men; because, being good Himself He cannot do evil; but He uses evil instruments, which cannot escape the sway and motion of His Omnipotence. The fault, therefore, is in the instruments, which God allows not to remain action-less; seeing that, the evils are done as God Himself moves. Just in the same manner as a carpenter would cut badly with a saw-edged or broken-edged axe. Hence it is, that the wicked man cannot but always err and sin; because, being carried along by the motion of the Divine Omnipotence, he is not permitted to remain motionless, but must will, desire, and act according to his nature. All this is fixed certainty, if we believe that God is Omnipotent!
It is, moreover, as certain, that the wicked man is the creature of God; though being averse and left to himself without the Spirit of God, he cannot will or do good. For the Omnipotence of God makes it, that the wicked man cannot evade the motion and action of God, but, being of necessity subject to it, he yields; though his corruption and aversion to God, makes him that he cannot be carried along and moved unto good. God cannot suspend His Omnipotence on account of his aversion, nor can the wicked man change his aversion. Wherefore it is, that he must continue of necessity to sin and err, until he be amended by the Spirit of God. Meanwhile, in all these, Satan goes on to reign in peace, and keeps his palace undisturbed under this motion of the Divine Omnipotence.
Sect. 85.-BUT now follows the act itself of hardening, which is thus:-The wicked man (as we have said) like his prince Satan, is turned totally the way of selfishness, and his own; he seeks not God, nor cares for the things of God; he seeks his own riches, his own glory, his own doings, his own wisdom, his own power, and, in a word, his own kingdom; and wills only to enjoy them in peace. And if any one oppose him or wish to diminish any of these things, with the same aversion to God under which he seeks these, with the same is he moved, enraged, and roused to indignation against his adversary. And he is as much unable to overcome this rage, as he is to overcome his desire of self-seeking; and he can no more avoid this seeking, than he can avoid his own existence; and this he cannot do, as being the creature of God, though a corrupt one.
The same is that fury of the world against the Gospel of God. For, by the Gospel, comes that "stronger than he," who overcomes the quiet possessor of the palace, and condemns those desires of glory, of riches, of wisdom, of self-righteousness, and of all things in which he trusts. This very irritation of the wicked, when God speaks and acts contrary to what they willed, is their hardening and their galling weight. For as they are in this state of aversion from the very corruption of nature, so they become more and more averse, and worse and worse, as this aversion is opposed or turned out of its way. And thus, when God threatened to take away from the wicked Pharaoh his power, he irritated and aggravated him, and hardened his heart the more, the more He came to him with His word by Moses, making known His intention to take away his kingdom and to deliver His own people from his power: because He did not give him His Spirit within, but permitted his wicked corruption, under the dominion of Satan, to grow angry, to swell with pride, to burn with rage, and to go on still in a certain secure contempt.
Sect. 86.-LET no one think, therefore, that God, where He is said to harden, or to work evil in us (for to harden is to do evil), so does the evil as though He created evil in us anew, in the same way as a malignant liquor-seller, being himself bad, would pour poison into, or mix it up in, a vessel that was not bad, where the vessel itself did nothing but receive, or passively accomplish the purpose of the malignity of the poison-mixer. For when people hear it said by us, that God works in us both good and evil, and that we from mere necessity passively submit to the working of God, they seem to imagine, that a man who is good, or not evil himself, is passive while God works evil in him: not rightly considering that God, is far from being inactive in all His creatures, and never suffers any one of them to keep holiday.
But whoever wishes to understand these things let him think thus:-that God works evil in us, that is, by us, not from the fault of God, but from the fault of evil in us:-that is, as we are evil by nature, God, who is truly good, carrying us along by His own action, according to the nature of His Omnipotence, cannot do otherwise than do evil by us, as instruments, though He Himself be good; though by His wisdom, He overrules that evil well, to His own glory and to our salvation.
Thus God, finding the will of Satan evil, not creating it so, but leaving it while Satan sinningly commits the evil, carries it along by His working, and moves it which way He will; though that will ceases not to be evil by this motion of God.
In this same way also David spoke concerning Shimei. "Let him curse, for God hath bidden him to curse David." (2 Samuel xvi. 10). How could God bid to curse, an action so evil and virulent! There was no where an external precept to that effect. David, therefore, looks to this:-the Omnipotent God saith and it is done: that is, He does all things by His external word. Wherefore, here, the divine action and omnipotence, the good God Himself, carries along the will of Shimei, already evil together with all his members, and before incensed against David, and, while David is thus opportunely situated and deserving such blasphemy, commands the blasphemy, (that is, by his word which is his act, that is, the motion of his action), by this evil and blaspheming instrument.
Sect. 87.-IT is thus God hardens Pharaoh-He presents to his impious and evil will His word and His work, which that will hates; that is, by its engendered and natural corruption. And thus, while God does not change by His Spirit that will within, but goes on presenting and enforcing; and while Pharaoh, considering his own resources, his riches and his power, trusts to them from the same naturally evil inclination; it comes to pass, that being inflated and uplifted by the imagination of his own greatness on the one hand, and swollen into a proud contempt of Moses coming in all humility with the unostentatious word of God on the other, he becomes hardened; and then, the more and more irritated and chafed, the more Moses advances and threatens: whereas, this his evil will would not, of itself, have been moved or hardened at all. But as the omnipotent Agent moved it by that His inevitable motion, it must of necessity will one way or the other.-And thus, as soon as he presented to it outwardly, that which naturally irritated and offended it, then it was, that Pharaoh could not avoid becoming hardened; even as he could not avoid the action of the Divine Omnipotence, and the aversion or enmity of his own will.
Wherefore, the hardening of Pharaoh's heart by God, is wrought thus,:-God presents outwardly to his enmity, that which he naturally hates; and then, He ceases not to move within, by His omnipotent motion, the evil will which He there finds. He, from the enmity of his will, cannot but hate that which is contrary to him, and trust to his own powers; and that, so obstinately, that he can neither hear nor feel, but is carried away, in the possession of Satan, like a madman or a fury.
If I have brought these things home with convincing persuasion, the victory in this point is mine. And having exploded the tropes and glosses of men, I understand the words of God simply; so that, there is no necessity for clearing God or accusing Him of iniquity. For when He saith, "I will harden the heart of Pharaoh," He speaks simply: as though He Should say, I will so work, that the heart of Pharaoh shall be hardened: or, by My operation and working, the heart of Pharaoh shall be hardened. And how this was to be done, we have heard:-that is, by My general motion, I will so move his very evil will, that he shall go on in his course and lust of willing, nor will I cease to move it, nor can I do otherwise. I will, nevertheless, present to him My word and work; against which, that evil impetus will run; for he, being evil, cannot but will evil while I move him by the power of My Omnipotence.
Thus God with the greatest certainty knew, and with the greatest certainty declared, that Pharaoh would be hardened; because, He with the greatest certainty knew, that the will of Pharaoh could neither resist the motion of His Omnipotence, nor put away its own enmity, nor receive its adversary Moses; and that, as that evil will still remained, he must, of necessity, become worse, more hardened, and more proud, while, by his course and impetus, trusting to his own powers, he ran against that which he would not receive, and which he despised.
Here therefore, you see, it is confirmed even by this very Scripture, that "Free-will" can do nothing but evil, while God, who is not deceived from ignorance nor lies from iniquity, so surely promises the hardening of Pharaoh; because, He was certain, that an evil will could will nothing but evil, and that, as the good which it hated was presented to it, it could not but wax worse and worse.
Sect. 88.-IT now then remains, that perhaps some one may ask-Why then does not God cease from that motion of His Omnipotence, by which the will of the wicked is moved to go on in evil, and to become worse? I answer: this is to wish that God, for the sake of the wicked, would cease to be God; for this you really desire, when you desire His power and action to cease; that is, that He should cease to be good, lest the wicked should become worse.
Again, it may be asked-Why does He not then change, in His motion, those evil wills which He moves? This belongs to those secrets of Majesty, where "His judgments are past finding out." Nor is it ours to search into, but to adore these mysteries. If "flesh and blood" here take offence and murmur, let it murmur, but it will be just where it was before. God is not, on that account, changed! And if numbers of the wicked be offended and "go away," yet, the elect shall remain!
The same answer will be given to those who ask-Why did He permit Adam to fall? And why did He make all of us to be infected with the same sin, when He might have kept him, and might have created us from some other seed, or might first have cleansed that, before He created us from it?-
God is that Being, for whose will no cause or reason is to be assigned, as a rule or standard by which it acts; seeing that, nothing is superior or equal to it, but it is itself the rule of all things. For if it acted by any rule or standard, or from any cause or reason, it would be no longer the will of GOD. Wherefore, what God wills, is not therefore right, because He ought or ever was bound so to will; but on the contrary, what takes place is therefore right, because He so wills. A cause and reason are assigned for the will of the creature, but not for the will of the Creator; unless you set up, over Him, another Creator.
Sect. 89.-BY these arguments, I presume, the trope-inventing Diatribe, together with its trope, are sufficiently confuted. Let us, however, come to the text itself, for the purpose of seeing, what agreement there is between the text and the trope. For it is the way with all those who elude arguments by means of tropes, to hold the text itself in sovereign contempt, and to aim only, at picking out a certain term, and twisting and crucifying it upon the cross of their own opinion, without paying any regard whatever, either to circumstance, to consequence, to precedence, or to the intention or object of the author. Thus the Diatribe, in this passage, utterly disregarding the intention of Moses and the scope of his words, tears out of the text this term, "I will harden," and makes of it just what it will, according to its own lust: not at all considering, whether that can be again inserted so as to agree and square with the body of the text. And this is the reason why the Scripture was not sufficiently clear to those most received and most learned men of so many ages. And no wonder, for even the sun itself would not shine, if it should be assailed by such arts as these.
But (to say nothing about that, which I have already proved from the Scriptures, that Pharaoh cannot rightly be said to be hardened, 'because, being borne with by the long-suffering of God, he was not immediately punished,' seeing that, he was punished by so many plagues;) if hardening be 'bearing with divine long-suffering and not immediately punishing;' what need was there that God should so many times promise that He would then harden the heart of Pharaoh when the signs should be wrought, who now, before those signs were wrought, and before that hardening, was such, that, being inflated with his success, prosperity and wealth, and being borne with by the divine long-suffering and not punished, inflicted so many evils on the children of Israel? You see, therefore, that this trope of yours makes not at all to the purpose in this passage; seeing that, it applies generally unto all, as sinning because they are borne with by the divine long-suffering. And thus, we shall be compelled to say, that all are hardened, seeing that, there is no one who does not sin; and that, no one sins, but he who is borne with by the divine long-suffering. Wherefore, this hardening of Pharaoh, is another hardening, independent of that general hardening as produced by the long-suffering of the divine goodness.
Sect. 90.-THE more immediate design of Moses then is, to announce, not so much the hardening of Pharaoh, as the veracity and mercy of God; that is, that the children of Israel might not distrust the promise of God, wherein He promised, that He would deliver them. (Ex. vi. 1). And since this was a matter of the greatest moment, He foretells them the difficulty, that they might not fall away from their faith; knowing, that all those things which were foretold must be accomplished in the order in which, He who had made the promise, had arranged them. As if He had said, I will deliver you, indeed, but you will with difficulty believe it; because, Pharaoh will so resist, and put off the deliverance. Nevertheless, believe ye; for the whole of his putting off shall, by My way of operation, only be the means of My working the more and greater miracles to your confirmation in faith, and to the display of My power; that henceforth, ye might the more steadily believe Me upon all other occasions.
In the same way does Christ also act, when, at the last supper, He promises His disciples a kingdom. He foretells them numberless difficulties, such as, His own death and their many tribulations; to the intent that, when it should come to pass, they might afterwards the more steadily believe.
And Moses by no means obscurely sets forth this meaning, where he saith, "But Pharaoh shall not send you away, that many wonders might be wrought in Egypt." And again, "For this purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew in thee My power; that My name might be declared throughout all the earth." (Ex. ix. 16; Rom. ix. 17). Here, you see that Pharaoh was for this purpose hardened, that he might resist God and put off the redemption; in order that, there might be an occasion given for the working of signs, and for the display of the power of God, that He might be declared and believed on throughout all the earth. And what is this but shewing, that all these things were said and done to confirm faith, and to comfort the weak, that they might afterwards freely believe in God as true, faithful, powerful, and merciful? Just as though He had spoken to them in the kindest manner, as to little children, and had said, Be not terrified at the hardness of Pharaoh, for I work that very hardness Myself; and I, who deliver you, have it in My own hand. I will only use it, that I may thereby work many signs, and declare My Majesty, for the furtherance of your faith.
And this is the reason why Moses generally after each plague repeats, "And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, so that he would not let the people go; as the Lord had spoken." (Ex. vii. 13, 22; viii. 15, 32; ix. 12, etc.). What is the intent of this, "as the Lord had spoken," but, that the Lord might appear true, who had foretold that he should be hardened?-Now, if there had been any vertibility or liberty of will in Pharaoh, which could turn either way, God could not with such certainty have foretold his hardening. But as He promised, who could neither be deceived nor lie, it of certainty and of necessity came to pass, that he was hardened: which could not have taken place, had not the hardening been totally apart from the power of man, and in the power of God alone, in the same manner as I said before; viz. from God being certain, that He should not omit the general operation of His Omnipotence in Pharaoh, or on Pharaoh's account; nay, that He could not omit it.
Moreover, God was equally certain, that the will of Pharaoh; being naturally evil and averse, could not consent to the word and work of God, which was contrary to it, and that, therefore, while the impetus of willing was preserved in Pharaoh by the Omnipotence of God, and while the hated word and work was continually set before his eyes without, nothing else could take place in Pharaoh, but offence and the hardening of his heart. For if God had then omitted the action of His Omnipotence in Pharaoh, when He set before him the word of Moses which he hated, and the will of Pharaoh might be supposed to have acted alone by its own power, then, perhaps, there might have been room for a discussion, which way it had power to turn. But now, since it was led on and carried away by its own willing, no violence was done to its will, because it was not forced against its will, but was carried along, by the natural operation of God, to will naturally just as it was by nature, that is, evil; and therefore, it could not but run against the word, and thus become hardened. Hence we see, that this passage makes most forcibly against "Freewill"; and in this way-God who promised could not lie, and if He could not lie, then Pharaoh could not but be hardened.
Sect. 91.-BUT let us also look into Paul, who takes up this passage of Moses, Rom. ix. How miserably is the Diatribe tortured with that part of the Scripture! Lest it should lose its hold of "Freewill," it puts on every shape. At one time it says, 'that there is a necessity of the consequence, but not a necessity of the thing consequent.' At another, 'that there is an ordinary will, or will of the sign, which may be resisted; and a will of decree, which cannot be resisted.' At another, 'that those passages adduced from Paul do not contend for, do not speak about, the salvation of man.' In one place it says 'that the prescience of God does impose necessity:' in another, 'that it does not impose necessity.' Again, in another place it asserts, 'that grace prevents the will that it might will, and then attends it as it proceeds and brings it to a happy issue.' Here it states, 'that the first cause does all things itself:' and directly afterwards, 'that it acts by second causes, remaining itself inactive.'
By these and the like sportings with words, it does nothing but fill up its time, and at the same time obscure the subject point from our sight, drawing us aside to something else. So stupid and doltish does it imagine us to be, that it thinks we feel no more interested in the cause than it feels itself. Or, as little children, when fearing the rod or at play, cover their eyes with their hands, and think, that as they see nobody themselves, nobody sees them; so the Diatribe, not being able to endure the brightness, nay the lightning of the most clear Scriptures, pretending by every kind of maneuver that it does not see, (which is in truth the case) wishes to persuade us that our eyes are also so covered that we cannot see. But all these maneuvers, are but evidences of a convicted mind rashly struggling against invincible truth.
That figment about 'the necessity of the consequence, but not the necessity of the thing consequent,' has been before refuted. Let then Erasmus invent and invent again, cavil and cavil again, as much as he will-if God foreknew that Judas would be a traitor, Judas became a traitor of necessity; nor was it in the power of Judas nor of any other creature to alter it, or to change that will; though he did what he did willingly, not by compulsion; for that willing of his was his own work; which God, by the motion of His Omnipotence, moved on into action, as He does everything else.-God does not lie, nor is He deceived. This is a truth evident and invincible. There are no obscure or ambiguous words here, even though all the most learned men of all ages should be so blinded as to think and say to the contrary. How much soever, therefore, you may turn your back upon it, yet, the convicted conscience of yourself and all men is compelled to confess, that, IF GOD BE NOT DECEIVED IN THAT WHICH HE FOREKNOWS, THAT WHICH HE FOREKNOWS MUST, OF NECESSITY, TAKE PLACE. If it were not so, who could believe His promises, who would fear His threatenings, if what He promised or threatened did not of necessity take place! Or, how could He promise or threaten, if His prescience could be deceived or hindered by our mutability! This all-clear light of certain truth manifestly stops the mouths of all, puts an end to all questions, and forever settles the victory over all evasive subtleties.
We know, indeed, that the prescience of man is fallible. We know that an eclipse does not therefore take place, because it is foreknown; but, that it is therefore foreknown, because it is to take place. But what have we to do with this prescience? We are disputing about the prescience of God! And if you do not ascribe to this, the necessity of the consequent foreknown, you take away faith and the fear of God, you destroy the force of all the divine promises and threatenings, and thus deny divinity itself. But, however, the Diatribe itself, after having held out for a long time and tried all things, and being pressed hard by the force of truth, at last confesses my sentiment: saying-
Sect. 92.-"THE question concerning the will and predestination of God, is somewhat difficult. For God wills those same things which He foreknows. And this is the substance of what Paul subjoins, "Who hath resisted His will," if He have mercy on whom He will, and harden whom He will? For if there were a king who could effect whatever he chose, and no one could resist him, he would be said to do whatsoever he willed. So the will of God, as it is the principal cause of all things which take place, seems to impose a necessity on our will."-Thus the Diatribe.
At last then I give thanks to God for a sound sentence in the Diatribe! Where now then is "Free-will"?-But again this slippery eel is twisted aside in a moment, saying,
-"But Paul does not explain this point, he only rebukes the disputer; "Who art thou, O man, that repliest against God!" (Rom. ix. 20.)-
O notable evasion! Is this the way to handle the Holy Scriptures, thus to make a declaration upon ones own authority, and out of ones own brain, without a Scripture, without a miracle, nay, to corrupt the most clear words of God? What! does not Paul explain that point? What does he then? 'He only rebukes the disputer,' says the Diatribe. And is not that rebuke the most complete explanation? For what was inquired into by that question concerning the will of God? Was it not this-whether or not it imposed a necessity on our will? Paul, then, answers that it is thus:-"He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth. It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy." (Rom. ix. 15-16, 18.). Moreover, not content with this explanation, he introduces those who murmur against this explanation in their defence of "Free-will," and prate that there is no merit allowed, that we are damned when the fault is not our own, and the like, and stops their murmuring and indignation: saying, "Thou wilt say then, Why doth He yet find fault? for who hath resisted His will?" (Rom. ix. 19.).
Do you not see that this is addressed to those, who, hearing that the will of God imposes necessity on us, say, "Why doth He yet find fault?" That is, Why does God thus insist, thus urge, thus exact, thus find fault? Why does He accuse, why does He reprove, as though we men could do what He requires if we would? He has no just cause for thus finding fault; let Him rather accuse His own will; let Him find fault with that; let Him press His requirement upon that; "For who hath resisted His will?" Who can obtain mercy if He wills not? Who can become softened if He wills to harden? It is not in our power to change His will, much less to resist it, where He wills us to be hardened; by that will, therefore, we are compelled to be hardened, whether we will or no.
If Paul had not explained this question, and had not stated to a certainty, that necessity is imposed on us by the prescience of God, what need was there for his introducing the murmurers and complainers saying, That His will cannot be resisted? For who would have murmured or been indignant, if he had not found necessity to be stated? Paul's words are not ambiguous where he speaks of resisting the will of God. Is there any thing ambiguous in what resisting is, or what His will is? Is it at all ambiguous concerning what he is speaking, when he speaks concerning the will of God? Let the myriads of the most approved doctors be blind; let them pretend, if they will, that the Scriptures are not quite clear, and that they tremble at a difficult question; we have words the most clear which plainly speak thus: "He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth:" and also, "Thou wilt say to me then, Why doth He yet complain, for who hath resisted His will?"
The question, therefore, is not difficult; nay, nothing can be more plain to common sense, than that this conclusion is certain, stable, and true:-if it be pre-established from the Scriptures, that God neither errs nor is deceived; then, whatever God foreknows, must, of necessity, take place. It would be a difficult question indeed, nay, an impossibility, I confess, if you should attempt to establish, both the prescience of God, and the "Free-Will" of man. For what could be more difficult, nay a greater impossibility, than to attempt to prove, that contradictions do not clash; or that a number may, at the same time, be both nine and ten? There is no difficulty on our side of the question, but it is sought for and introduced, just as ambiguity and obscurity are sought for and violently introduced into the Scriptures.
The apostle, therefore, restrains the impious who are offended at these most clear words, by letting them know, that the divine will is accomplished, by necessity in us; and by letting them know also, that it is defined to a certainty, that they have nothing of liberty or "Free-will" left, but that all things depend upon the will of God alone. But he restrains them in this way:-by commanding them to be silent, and to revere the majesty of the divine power and will, over which we have no control, but which has over us a full control to do whatever it will. And yet it does us no injury, seeing that it is not indebted to us, it never received any thing from us, it never promised us any thing but what itself ple