De Moor on God's Essential Vindicatory Righteousness: Against Twisse


William Twisse

Now, as far as TWISSE is concerned, he makes use of four Arguments above all, in the passage cited, § 4, upon which observe: α. That concerning the Omnipotence of God are to be observed what things the most illustrious MARCKIUS (so that I might not cite more witnesses) taught, Compendio Theologiæ, chapter IV, § 22: With this Independence of Power not preventing, apparently some limits of it are wont to be observed; that God, actually not from any want of power, but rather from the abundance of His perfection, is not able to do those things…that are repugnant to His Perfections, since He is not able to deny Himself, 2 Timothy 2:13; etc. Subjoining in the place of a conclusion: And, with all these limitations of the Divine Power passed over, or with certain omitted, not without reason does Calvin, with others, abhor the Absolute Power of God. The words of CALVIN, unto which the most illustrious Man has regard, book III of the Institutes, chapter XXIII, section 2, are these: Nevertheless, we do not obtrude the fiction of absolute power: which, as it is profane, so it ought for good reason to be detestable to us. And so much the less is this sort of Absolute Power of God to be admitted by the Reformed; if they observe that the Scholastics, and also the More Recent men among the Papists following the former, argue on behalf of this opinion, and perhaps chiefly for the sake of this opinion; that they might be able in this way to commend in a certain measure their doctrine of Transubstantiation, so openly opposed to the Divine Word and all sound Reason. β. On the second Argument of Twisse: because some things surpass the capacity of our intellect (but who shall search out the Almighty unto perfection? Job 11:7), what things God has clearly delivered in His Word are not therefore to be called into doubt. That the degree of punishment differs from the punishment itself, which, if God remit the whole, He would be said to deny His Righteousness: but, remitting a degree of it, nevertheless a place is conceded to the demonstration of Righteousness. γ. That an uncertain thing ought not to be proven by a thing equally uncertain; and that that precarious hypothesis concerning the afflicting of an innocent Creature with eternal torments by the Absolute Power of God does not at all prevail for the confirmation of the other concerning the dismissal of the guilty without punishment. δ. That that most learned Man incorrectly supposes no Necessity is granted except the brute and irrational, which we most willingly confess is not to be at all attributed to God: since it is abundantly shown in the doctrine concerning the Decrees and Providence against the Patrons of Free Will, that Necessity does concur with the Liberty of Spontaneity in God and in the Rational Creature. And I am not able to be sufficiently amazed over what I have read in the same, that this Necessity of punishing out of Righteousness is not able to be attributed to God antecedently to the Decree, because God works all things according to the counsel of His own will.[1] But, it is as if at this point they had descended into madness, who uphold contrary positions, so that they might assert that God punishes the sinner with no intervening act of the will, whereby He ought necessarily to determine that which is going to happen: although this is of the nature of a Being furnished with reason, to act according to counsel and the good-pleasure of the will leading the way. While nevertheless that would be evident, that the rational will to determine all things does not hold itself with equal indifference, but in many things is determined to one or the other of opposites by the Essence of the Being itself. But if those that deny Vindicatory Righteousness to be an Essential Attribute of God meant nothing other than that in the exercise of this Righteousness an act of Will also intervenes, they altogether take our part, and truly by thus speaking only contrive the most inane logomachies, from which, as in all disciplines, so also especially in the Theological, it is fitting to abstain; and more worthy of avoidance than a skunk or a snake are expressions of this sort, which, although they are able to be admitted in a sound sense by whatever distinction or limitation, yet altogether tend to this, that they lead the simpler sort, if not quite into error, at least into dangerous doubt. If τὸ αὐτὸ φρονοῦεν, we think the same thing,[2] why do we not also τὸ αὐτὸ λέγομεν πάντες, all speak the same thing[3]? We do not devote much attention to what Twisse has in addition, that God does not need to uphold His cause with our lie or error. And that the convenience or inconvenience of the opposite position is not our Ursa Minor, which might direct our navigation to eternal life; but the Word of God, and Christian reasoning founded on the Word of God. For we rightly acknowledge this, that the truth ought not to be defended with lies: but at the same time we are persuaded that, although it is certain concerning any matter from the Word of God and Christian reason depending upon it, which the Most Learned Man rightly asserted to be Ursa Minor for us, our cause is not easily to be deserted, or put to the service of Adversaries unto the detriment of orthodox truth: which Adversaries, unless they had certainly recognized the eminent bulwark of their cause in the denial of this foundation of the Satisfaction of Christ, would not have so moved every stone in order to overthrow it. And now, being content with these things indeed, which, if anyone well comprehend, I hardly doubt that he will easily untangle this matter: a more abundant explication of the same things with a fuller discussion of the reasonings of which our Adversaries make use, I reserve for the public examination, in which a great opportunity of disputation is furnished.

[1] Ephesians 1:11.


[2] Philippians 2:2: “Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded (ἵνα τὸ αὐτὸ φρονῆτε), having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.”


[3] 1 Corinthians 1:10: “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing (ἵνα τὸ αὐτὸ λέγητε πάντες), and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”

ABOUT US

Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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