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De Moor IV:38: Verbal Dispute among the Reformed over Middle Knowledge

Franciscus Gomarus

Antonius Walaeus

Indeed, some of Our Own to some extent imprudently consent in thesis, but not in hypothesis, says our AUTHOR. Whether GOMARUS, in his Disputationum Theologicarum X, § 30, 31, and WALÆUS in his Locis Communibus, discoursing concerning God’s Knowledge and God’s Actual Providence, may rightly be said to be patrons of Middle Knowledge, is inquired into in the treatise called Examen van het Ontwerp van Tolerantie etc., part 4, pages 328-333. That GOMARUS and WALÆUS differ more in expression than in substance from other Orthodox that deny Middle Knowledge, our AUTHOR observes, Exercitationibus Textualibus XIV, Part V, § 10, whom I wish to be consulted, where, with others things now dismissed, you will find him speaking his opinion unto this sense: “But, if those of Our Own once spoke of a certain Middle or Hypothetical Knowledge in God, we discover that these differ from us more in expression than in sense. As thus our WALÆUS in his Locis Communibus, which appears opportunely to be pointed out here, while acknowledging such a Knowledge with GOMARUS, at the same time disputes against Jesuitical abuses, and in this matter declares himself in a sufficiently orthodox manner…. Certainly, if by a Conditioned manner of speaking concerning a matter known and decreed you wished to call the definite Knowledge and Will of God Conditioned, and to remove far from God’s Knowledge and Will every Condition that might be left to Second Causes alone and might neither be determined nor to be determined by God, by substituting in its place a condition determined by God with the event, no real controversy would remain here. Although I do not think that those expressions of Knowledge and Will Conditioned or Hypothetical are, either sufficiently apt, since they appear to have regard more to the mode than to the object, or rashly to be renewed and urged after the use, or should I say abuse, of Heretics, lest under the cover of ambiguous speech Pelagianism be introduced again into the Church, to the great reproach of Divine Providence and Grace.” SPANHEIM, in his Elencho Controversiarum cum Remonstrantibus, opera, tome 3, column 859, similarly has: “The Middle Knowledge of the Remonstrants is falsely ascribed to Gomarus, Walæus, or our Theologians that suppose the Decree as the always intervening condition, if God thus determine this or that thing; so that they suppose that nothing of those things that God according to His infinite penetration is said to have foreknown by His natural knowledge, is going to be, except with His Decree intervening.” While the same SPANHEIM, in his Euangelicis Vindiciis, book II, locus III, opera, tome 3, column 229, more distinctly indicates the distinction between the Middle Knowledge of God according to the sense of the Heretics, and that of which some Orthodox men make use in this expression, whom he particularly relates to have stayed far from the worst Scope/goal in this invention of the Jesuits and Remonstrants, concerning the upholding of Predestination according to things foreseen, and the establishing of the Indifference of Free Will, so that the work of Conversion might be divided between that and God’s Grace, and the efficacy of the work of Conversion suspended upon the determination of the Free Will; and thus human acts of will would be produced independently of the Decree of God, men would be believed to distinguish themselves, God would be put in subjection to the human will, etc. At the same time, quite grave is the vow of the Theologians of Leiden in Festivitate Seculari anni 1719, page 42: “Would that, with the figment of Middle Knowledge eternally blotted out, the true Concursus of God as the First Cause with Rational Creatures as Second Causes for their perfectly free operations might never be diminished, or removed under any pretext! upon which depends, not only all true efficacy of Divine Government, but also all Certitude of Foreknowledge and Prediction."

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