John Knox.

Works (Volume 5) online

. (page 34 of 48)
Online LibraryJohn KnoxWorks (Volume 5) → online text (page 34 of 48)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


3G2 ON PREDESTINATION.

formation shall be made. If any of you think that these thinjjs
are but imagined by me, let him, under his ovvne name, impugne
them, and I shall shevve witnesses; which at this time for divers
causes I omitte. Your jesting at us, your bold judgement and
condemnation by you pronounced against us, we remitt to him
who shortly shall declare which of the two sortes be drowned
in infidelitie, and leaving God's plaine Scriptures, have followed
the vanities of their owne imaginations.

Now shortlie to that which followeth in these wordes.

THE42D The Adversarie.

Section.
The 6 Argument. All other proof bring you of that which is written, Reg. 4, " God moved David

1- to nomber Israeli and Judab." To which I answer, that which is written 1 Par.
21, "Sathan stood up against Israeli, and provoked David to nomber the
people." I am certen that if it were not for this manifest scripture, you wold
attribute the wicked provocation of the Devil to God. But here we may see a
great light to understand many other places of the Scriptures, which seraeth to
affirm God to be the author of any evill; for by these two places we may see
that God is called to be the author of the thing which he suffered ; as be-

2. cause he suffered the obstinat resisting of Pharao, he is called the author
thereof. So because he left Semei to the lewdness of his owne mynd, and

S. suffered him to curse David, God is called the author of his cursing; so the
Patriarkes being left of God, did sell their brother; and here now David
being left of God to nomber the people by the provocation of the Devil,
whereunto he was no more moved by God then when he killed Urias. To
this you say, That we do but flatter God when we do assigne any difference
betwene his will and his permission or his sufferance, for God permitteth no-
thing (say you) but that which he will. If ye ment so that God permitteth
nothing but that which he will permitt, I wold then holde your saying true.

4. But forasmuch as you declare your meaning to be this, that whatsoever God
permitteth he willeth it absolutely, this is an erroneous saying; for God
permitteth and suffereth all the wickednes which is done upon the earthe:
and will you say, that God willeth absolutly all such wickednes ? God forbid,

5. the people of God should be so persuaded to beleve such abomination. I say
you are the prophetes of the Devill, which teache such filthie doctrine; and
ye say, ye be the prophetes of God : nowe of necessitie one of us lieth ; for
if you be the prophetes of God, then I lie; and if you be the prophetes of the
Devill, then do ye lie. And if God will us to say the trueth, he will not that
we lie, for then he should will two contraries, which is impossible; yet one of
us doeth lio, which must be by the permission and suffring of God, and not



ON PREDESTINATION. 363

by his will. "Wlierof it folowetb, that there is difference betwixt the suffering
and tlie will of God. The Lord was angry with the careles heathen, because
when God was a little angry with the Israelites, they did their best to de-
stroye them. Then suffered God the heathen thus to punish his people more Zach. i.
grev'ously then he willed them to do; wherfor there must be difference be- 6.
twene the will of God and his suffering. Obed the prophet reproved the 2 Pa. 28.
Israelites, because they afflicted Juda more grevously then God wold they
should have done. Then must the Israelites have done this by the per-
mission of God, and not by his will. Tlie prodigall sonne wasted all his goods Luk. 15.
riatously; if you say that so was his father's will, it should be a great absur-
ditie; wherfor it must nedes folowe that the father suffered that which he
willed not. The father willed both his sonnes to go and labor in his vine-
yarde, yet not both but one of them did his father's will; so the father suffered
the other which went not, against his will. Thus we may see a great differ-
ence betwene the will and the permission of God. A notable saying we have
in the prophecie of Jeremie against this error, which teacheth that sinne is 7.
committed, not onely by the permission of God, but also against his will :
"They have (saieth he) builded high places for Baal to vowe their sonnes and Jere. 3:^.
daughters unto Moloch, which I never commanded them, neither came it
ever in my thoght to make Juda sinne with such abomination." Here we see
that Juda committed that which was contrarie to God's reveled will, "for I
never commanded them" (saieth he), and against his secrete will, "for it
came never in my thoght" (saieth he.) Then did they sinne by the permis-
sion of God against his will. " Thy wayes and thy thoghtes broght thee to
this, saieth the Lord." If it was the Lordes secrete will that the Israelites ^•
cliould sinne, and it was also the Israelites thoghtes and will to sinne, then
were they bothe of one mynd. And as the Lord outwardlie by the word
willeth them not to do evil, so they outwardlie did promise to kepe God's law,
and worshipped him with their lippes. By this it semed that both inwardly ^^
and outwardly they were conforme to God, after your opinion ; wherfor he
ought not to have been offended with them. I am ashamed to write the
abominable absurdities which may be gathered of your poisoned doctrine.
The Lord shall raise up the Spirit of the King of the Medes, which hath 10-
alredie a desire to destroy Babilon : by what meanes should the Lord stirre Jere. 5i.
him up to do any thing which alredie is bent to do it, but by suffering him ?
And yet is the Lord called the doer thereof. And therefor it is written,
"Let one deceitfull offender come against another, and one destroyer Esai 21.
come against another;" for what neded God to move the wicked to do
wickedly, which, being given over of God, do imagine nothing but wicked-
ness; and his master the Devill slepeth never, but is alwayes with him,
tempting him with evill thoghtes, and provoking him to perform his wicked
imaginations.



364 ON PREDESTINATION.

Answer.
The more nie ye draw to the end, the lesse ye prove your
purpose, but the more ye utter your malice and venim. No
just cans see we, why that the place of the bookes of the Kings
shall be explained by that which is written in the Chronicles,
in such sorte as you require, to wit, that nothing be left to God
in that grevous offence of David, except an ydle and onely per-
mission. For the Holie Ghost feareth not to say, " The wrath
of the Lord God was yet moved against Israeli, and stirred up
David against them; that he said, Go and nomber Israeli and
Juda." Here plain it is that the Eternall God, who was angrie
against Israeli, did stirre or move David to nomber them, not
by an ydle permission, as you alledge, but by such motion as
nothing repugneth to his justice. Where ye say, the other
place explaineth this, for it affirmeth that •' the Devil stood up
against Israel, and provoked David to nomber Israeli;'"* I an-
swer, as the one place repugneth nothing to the other, so doeth
it not explaine the other in such sense as ye adduce. For it
repugneth not to say, that God, Man, and the Devil work in
one fact and action, as in the histories of Job, Achab, Seinei,
and Pharao, is manifest. God, for just causes, giveth his com-
mandement and power to Sathan, (as to his instrument,) be he
never so wicked, to do what in his eternal counsel was before
decreed. Sathan, of a wicked and rebellious mynd, chooseth
such instrumentes, and useth such meanes as God likwise hath
appointed. Men, in all wicked actions, of their free and volun-
tarie motion, do follow their corrupt and wicked affections, in
declaring their pride, vanitie, malice, or crueltie; which wicked
affections, in so farre as they are wicked, we confcsse that
God will not, for he can will no iniquitie. But yet that his
eternal and almightie power shall be judged so ydle, that it
doeth nothing in such actions but onely suffer, we can not
admitte, for such reasons as we have before alledged, where
that we did examine the difference betwixt God"'s will and
his permission.



ON PREDESTINATIOX. 365

You retein in your old nature, (and justly I might say, the to the 4.
nature of the Devill,) most maliciously affirming us to say,
That whatsoever God permitteth, he willeth it absolutely, and
so that absolutely he willeth all wickednes. Which saying,
as ye be never able to prove upon us, so do we confesse it not
onely erroneous, but also so blasphemous, that whosoever dare
pronounce or affirme the same deserveth death. For we most
constantly in word and writing affirme, that absolutely God
willeth no iniquitie; for all his workes, in so far as they pro-
cede frome his wisdome and infinite goodnes, are holie and just,
and therfor do we make God author of no sinne, which onely
procedeth frome the fountaines that be corrupted, that is, from
the Devil and frome man, as in divers places most evidently we
have declared.

Because 1 do perceave that greatly ye delyte in your preg- Tothes.
nant wittes, (I will not say foolish vanitie,) I will recite your
whole wordes, by the which ye wold seme to prove contrarietie in
God, except that we wold grante a difference betwixt God's will
and his permission. '' I say,'' saieth the author of your book
to us, '* that ye are the Prophetes of the Devill, which teach
8uch filthie doctrine; and ye say, ye be the Prophetes of God:
Now, of necessitie one of us lieth; for if ye be the Prophetes of
God, I lie; and if ye be the Prophetes of the Devil, ye he. And
if God will us to say the truth, he will not that we lie, for then
he should will two contraries, which is impossible; yet one of
us [doth] lie, which must be by the permission and suffering of
God, and not by his will. Whereof it followeth, that there is
difference betwixt the sufferinof and the will of God.*"

II appereth that in this description of persons in which ye Answer,
oppose yourselves to us, ye wold more declare what is your
judgement and opinion of us, and what ye wold that we should
be estemed of others, then that ye greatly do travale to prove
any contrarie in God's will by the same. For his eternall wis-
dome seeth the meanes how that his comraandement and his will
are not contrarious the one to the other, albeit that he com-



3G6 ON PREDESTINATION.

mand one thing, and yet for just causes will wicked men to do
the contrary; which kinde of contrarietie and repugnance doeth
so blind your eyes, that you cannot see how God can command
all men to speak trueth; and yet for just causes before sene
and determined in his counsell, that he will the Devil and his
slaves to delite in lies. Albeit, I say, that the apperance of
this contrarietie blinde you, yet will not God's trueth cease to
be trueth, neither will the libertie of his eternall Godhead be
broght into bondage to your corrupt judgement. His com-
mandement and his will do neither debate, neither fight be-
twixt themselves, but do agree in all thinges, even as do his
mercie, his justice, his wisdome, and his power, albeit oftener
it is that his justice doth punish such as upon whom he hath
determined to have mercie. Even so he commandeth men to
obeye his commandmentes, whom he not onely foresaw to be
disobedient, but for most just causes willeth his glory to appere
even in their unrighteousnes and lies. And this he doth with-
out all contrarietie in his godly will, to the full knowledge
wherof albeit ye can not atteine; yet more profitable it were for
you to be ignorant of such thinges as God reserveth to be re-
veled in the time appointed in his eternall counsell, then thus
without all reverence and feare to trouble your foolish braines
in devising such absurdities as may seme to oppugne God's
eternall veritie, which in the end will triumphe to your destruc-
tion, shame, and confusion, if obstinatly you procede as you
have begonne. For albeit that he lovetli trueth and hateth
lies, and albeit that he commandeth man to speak the trueth
and forbiddeth man to beare fals witnes, yet feareth he not to
give a commandment to that wicked Spirit to go forth, and to
be a lieing spirite in the mouthes of all Achab's false prophetes.
Yea, forther, he gave him power to worke that in the fals pro-
phetes which he forbiddeth all men to do. For he command-
eth that no man shall deceave an other, and yet giveth he power
to the Devill to be a lieing spirite iu the mouthes of the false
prophetes, and to them he giveth power to deceave Acliab.



ON PREDESTINATION. 367

If ye list to lay contrarietie to the charge of God, prepare
your winges, and with Nabuchadnezer of Bg^bylon saye, '" We is* i^
will passe up to the heavens, and shall establish our seates
above the sterres of God: We shall passe up upon the hight of
the clowdes, and we shall be like to the Most Highest.*" Yea,
if thus ye will call his secret counsels to examination and trial),
ye must be judges and superiors to him. Thus justly I might
illude and skofFe your reasons, as vanities most unworthie to be
answered; but yet having respecte to the simple, I will gather
your argument, and forme it as strongly as yourselves can, and
I will answere so much of the same as ye think unable to be
answered. Your argument is this :

" God can not will two contraries; but to speake the trewth, pe Adversa
and to lie, are contraries: therfor he can not will them both.
But he permitteth men to lie ; and willeth them to speake the
trueth : there is therfor a difference betwene the will and the
permission.'**

God can not will two contraries. True it is in himselfe, in Answer.
one respecte, and for one purpose, he who is author of concord
can not will contrarietie; but in consideration of his creatures,
for divers respectes and sundrie purposes, thinges be not con-
traries the one to the other, which to our judgementes have
apperance of contrarietie. If you be so well scene in your artes
as some of you pretend, ye can not but understand this answere
to be sufficient to dissolve whatsoever ye have unreverently col-
lected. But yet to make it more sensible to the simple, I say,
that in this proposition God can not will two contraries; and
in the conclusion which you make upon the same, you oght to
have made a distinction betwene those thinges which God sim-
ply (or, as ye spake before, absolutely) will, and betwene those
thinges which he will for a certein end and purpose, which
doeth not appere in the external actions. For certein thinges
there be (as in an other place I have entreated) which God
will, even for themselves, such as be mercie, justice, temperance,
chastitie, and all other vertues, which he will have to shyne hi



3ns ON PREDESTINATION.

his Elect, and please him in Christ Jesus his Sonne. And yet,
nevertheles, he also will crueltie, injustice, excesse, filthie life,
blindnes, and induration, to be in others, as just punishraentes
of their sinnes, and causes of their condemnation. The last
(I say) will God to be in the reprobate, not for the wicked
actes sake, which do ever displease his Majestie, but for such
endes as his wisdome hath appointed.

Let this be explained by examples, some natural, and some
taken from God's Scriptures. There is no man (except he be
of a most cruel nature), that, considering the incommodities of
warre and of battell, doth will it for the selfe. And yet a
godly prince persewed by externall ennemies, doth not onely
will his soldiours to fight and to mainteine the warre, but also
he provoketh, he encourageth, and exhorteth his subjectes to
the same. And why is it ? Because that warre or battell pleas-
eth him in the self, or for the self? No; but because without
such travaill, such danger, and hasard, his subjects can not lyve
in quietnes, and the estate of his common wealth can not be
preserved. The same may I say of godlie magistrates punish-
ing murtherers, adulterers, and blasphemers with death, and
yet neither willing the death of any man, neither yet deliting
in the shedding of their blood.

In these similitudes I grant somewhat to be unlike; for
God's power is not subject to such incommodities unwillingly,
as be the powers of men. But yet these similitudes suffice
to explaine the chief purpose, which is, that man may will
two contraries, for divers respects, without any contrarietie
in himself. For peace and warre are contraries; to kill
and to save the life are likewise contraries; and yet one
man, even at one time, may will both the one and the other,
for divers respectes and divers endes. He may will peace
for the comfortable quietnes and felicitie that therof spring-
eth, and, at the same instant, without all contrarietie in
himself, he may will warre, to withstand the furie of the enne-
mie that wold oppresse his subjectes. And may not these



ON PREDESTINATION. 369

thinges which we perceave to be in creatures be in God in
greater perfection, althogh we perceave not the causes 1

Let us trie the answere, both by the examples of God's ser-
vantes, and last by the example of God himself. Lot, no
doubte, did agree with God's will, in that he loved chastitie,
sobrietie, and temperance, and hated filthie life, riotous cheare,
and excesse; for the Holy Ghost beareth him this record,
that he was pure and cleane both in eares and eyes. But what
will had he when he did offer his two daughters to be defloured,
and abused by those vilanous persons? Was it contrarie to his
former will ? Did he now beginne to delyte in that execrable
filthines ? Assured I am he did not. But, being oppressed with
the present necessitie, reteining the same love, will, and minde
to chastitie, and honest conversation, soght the next remedie
that to him appered able to have staid the rage of that furious
multitude : upon God I grant falleth no such necessitie. But
let the chief scope be observed, and we shall understand (that
for divers respectes) to will two thinges, wherof the one is con-
trarie to the other, is not to will contrarietie. But let us come
to God himself. God willeth mercy, justice, and all other ver-
tues, as before we have said, and these he will at all times, and
before all times ; but is it not possible, therfore, that he can
will crueltie, oppression, blood sheding, murther, and death?
Who then sent Nabuchadnezer to destroy, not onely the Jewes,
but also the Moabites and other nations? Who pronounced
this sentence, " Cursed be he that doeth the Lordes worke neg-
ligently, and he that withdraweth his swerd from blood V Who
did create the smiths with their hammers to break downe the zac. i.
homes which had dispersed Israel? And finally, Who gave
his owne Sonne to the cruell death? Who hath subjected the
deare spouse of Christ Jesus to afflictions and temporall cala-
mities? Dare you denie, but that it was and is the Eternall
God, by whose good will all these thinges were appointed and
decreed ? or were any of them done against his Almighty will ?

I think you will not so affirme ; for the Scripture witnesseth,
VOL. V. 2 a



370 ON PREDESTINATION.

that God gave his Sonne to the world, even of determined pur-
pose that he should dye, or els who could have compelled his
Majestie thereunto, if his will had been repugnant ?

1 Pet. 4. Peter affirmeth, " That blessed are we that suffre for the name

of Christ,**^ adding this comfortable sentence, " By them (that
is, by the persecutors) is the name of God blasphemed, but by
you it is glorified. And therfor, let such (saith he) as be
afflicted by the will of God, lay doune their soules in well doing,
as in the hands of a faithfull keeper."*'

Boms- Paul witnesseth, that those whom God hath Elected in

Christ Jesus, he hath also Predestinate and before appointed
to be like fashioned to the image of his owne Sonne. Of which
testimonies it is plaine, that the grevous destruction, the
aboundance of the blood shed among divers nations, the cruell
death of Christ Jesus, and the most fearefull afflictions of his
dearely beloved Church, did precede from God's will; in so
much as he did not onely suffer them, but also, for most just
causes, respectes, and endes, which often before I have recited,
he did will and appoint them. And yet, in God was there no
contrarietie ; for in the destruction of Jerusalem, and of
others, he had not respect simply to the mine and vastation of
those places, but to his just judgementes, which were provoked
to take vengeance upon the multitude of their sinnes, which
long he had suffered. When our Master Christ Jesus did
suffre, he had no delite in the cruel tie of those enraged dogges
who did crucifie him, which as he hated, so after he did most
severely punish; but his pleasure and delite was in the Redemp-
tion of man, which by none other sacrifice could have bene per-
fited., And this day, and from the beginning, he hath had no
pleasure in the blood which is shed, neither in the tyrannie
which is used against his simple and smal flock, but because he
will have the members like that Head, he doeth a strange worke
that he may do his owne worke; that is, he trieth and purgeth
by fyre our faith from all drosse and corruption of earthUe
affections. But in none of all these is there any contrarietie.



ON PREDESTINATION. 371

neither in God, neither in his will, neither in his counsell. For
all thinges be disposed in such ordre, such consent, and so con-
veniently, that his glorie and the perpetual comfort of his Electe
doth finally and assuredly folowe. And even so it is in the ap-
perant contrarietie betwene you and us. God, no doubt, will the
one of us to affirme lies, to raile, to blaspheme, and most unjustly
to accuse the other; he will the other to susteine the cause of
the trueth paciently, to beare opprobrious wordes and sclan-
derous reportes, referring judgement unto Him who righteously
and in equitie shall judge. Is there, therefor, any contrarietie
in God's will? None at all. For the divers respectes and endes
being considered, the same consent shall now be found in this
apperant contrarietie, which hath remained from the encrease
of God's church. For in all ages hath God willed his true
Prophetes, with all boldnes and constancie, to susteine the cause
of his simple veritie, how odious that ever it was unto the world.
And in their contrarie, he hath raised fals prophetes, to whom
he hath given the efficacie of errors (for contrarie purposes I
grant), to witt, that his people may be tried, his faithfull ser-
vantes exercised and humbled, and, finally, that such as delyte
not in veritie may be given over to beleve lies. Goe to now,
and prove contrarieties.

In the wordes of Zacharie, you shew your ignorance, and in to thee.
collecting the minde of Oded, you plainely declare your accus-
tomed falshode, in farther stretching the minde of the Prophete
then his wordes will beare. Which thing I will first shew by
reciting the plaine wordes, and so returne to the Prophete
Zacharie: "There was in Samaria a Prophet of the Lords, 2 Par. li!*.
(saith the historic,) whose name was Oded: and he went oute be-
fore the hoste that came to Samaria, and said unto them. Be-
hold, btcaus the Lorde God of your fathers is wroth with Juda,
he hath delivered them into your handes, and ye have slaine
them in a rage that reacheth up to heaven. And now ye pur-
pose to keepe under the children of Judah and Jerusalem
as servants and handmaides unto you : but are not you such,



372 ON PREDESTINATION.

thatsinnes are with you, bofore the Lord your Go 1? "*" These be
his wordes in that mater, by the which if you be able to prove
that the IsraeHtes did more then God in his eternall counsell
had appointed that they should do against Juda and Jerusar
lem, we will patiently heare your probation and reasons. If
you say, " The Prophete reproved them of their crueltie, therfor
they did more then God wold f that doth not folow, for the just
will of God must not be measured by the crueltie of their
facte, but by his owne word, which doeth affirme, that God gave
over Judah into the handes of the King of Syria, and into the
handes of the King of Israeli, who did strike them with a great
slaughter, and that for the sinnes and abominable idolatrie
which they and Achas^ their King had committed. We heare
and see affirmed by the Holy Ghost, that God gave them over
into the handes of their ennemies, which thing he did willingly,
and not by permission, as you write.

Now, to the place of Zachariah, in which, I say, you shew
grosse and wicked ignorance. For if your interpretation should
be receaved, then of necessitie it should follow, that in God
their lacked power to impede and stay the furie of those cruell
men, who in their victorie did so insolently rage. For if God



Online LibraryJohn KnoxWorks (Volume 5) → online text (page 34 of 48)