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De Moor VII:31: The Predisposing Cause of Reprobation

Reprobation flows from God’s Altogether Free Good Pleasure. We do not deny in the Decree of Reprobation a Cause Final and Proegumenal[1] in God, but from it we desire every Procatarctic[2] and extrinsically impulsive Cause removed. It is asked, whether Sin is the Cause of eternal Reprobation? I Respond in the Negative; not only with respect to the Act Negative, of preterition, of not intending saving grace; and Relative, that is, of this Reprobate to another Elect person: but also with respect to the Act Positive, of determining to destruction, and Absolute, of rejecting certain men without comparison of the same made with others. This is evident from those things that have already been observed in § 8, 10. In particular, we here urge,

α. Passage of Scripture that set forth God, not at Judge, but as αὐτοκράτορα, absolute ruler, acting according to His Altogether Free Good Pleasure, Matthew 20:15; 11:25, 26; Romans 9:11 (Sin did not distinguish twin-born Jacob and Esau, but rather ἡ κατ᾽ ἐκλογὴν τοῦ Θεοῦ πρόθεσις, the purpose of God according to election), 18 (if Hardening follows upon the mere Will of God, according to His mere Good Pleasure also God will have decreed the Hardening of some), 20 (to the complaint set forth in verse 19, Paul does not respond that Sin is the Cause of Reprobation, and so there is not even the slightest appearance of Injustice here: but he shuts the mouth of man, commanding him to ascend to the absolute and highest Right of God over His creatures), 21-23 (the mass of Election and Reprobation is the same, of which the Lord the heavenly Lord appoints accord to His ἐξουσίᾳ ἀνυπευθύνῳ, power not accountable to any other).

β. We argue from the Independence of God, which does not permit His Will to depend on any external Cause; and hence with good reason does HEINRICH ALTING say, after his Exegesin Confessionis Augustanæ, page 250, “The Eternal Cause of the Will of God is not Sin. For, 1. the Will of God is the first and highest cause, and is not able to depend upon any superior cause: therefore, it does not depend upon Sin. 2. The Efficient cause of a thing existing from eternity is not able to be that which began in time. The Decree of Reprobation was from eternity; Sin began in time: therefore.”

γ. If Sin were the cause of Reprobation, all men together would have to be condemned: an absurd consequent, because thus there would be no Election, no Elect men: Therefore. The knot is not loosed, when Sin is said to be the cause of Reprobation when conjoined with final impenitence. For what will we say is the reason why God leaves some in impenitence, and grants to others saving penitence? Recourse has to be had here to the Good Pleasure of God, having mercy upon some, and hardening others.

δ. We have already seen in § 10 the consequence of the Causes of Damnation from the Decree of God, hence Sin is not able to be called the cause of the Decree by circularity.

If you should say, 1. that Reprobation certainly supposes man as Liable to Reprobation, but no one is Reprobable except by Sin. I Respond, that Sin is indeed a necessary prerequisite in man as Reprobable, so that not without all consideration of Sin does God reject man; but it is not the cause of the Will of God. Sin, as BRADWARDINE[3] has it, is a Sufficient Cause of Reprobation, because it makes man Reprobable, but is not the Efficient Cause of Reprobation. Sin is not the Cause of the Decree of Reprobation and of destination unto hardening and damnation; but it is the Cause of the thing willed and the destined Damnation.

If you should Insist, 2. that Reprobation is an Act of Judgment: Therefore, it presupposes Sin as the Cause. I Respond in the Negative, because Reprobation is an Act of the Altogether Free Lord; but God most freely destines in the execution of this Decree the exercise of His own Justice. And it is so far removed, that this Most Free Decree should injure His Justice, that, contrariwise, just as He chose certain ones to the praise of His glorious Grace, so on the other side in the Reprobates He destined a perfectly equal demonstration of His Justice as Judge of the whole earth; determining no punishment for any, except vengeance upon the deserving through Sin.

If you should add, 3. If Sin is the cause of Hatred, it will in a similar manner be the cause of Reprobation, because Hatred is the cause of Reprobation, Romans 9:13. I Respond, that Sin is indeed the meritorious Cause of divine Hatred, and makes man worthy of divine Hatred: but it is not the impulsive Cause that determined from eternity the Will of God, to constitute a man as the object of His Hatred; since thus God would be obliged to have hated all men.

This is to be held fast against the Remonstrants, see above in § 11 and below in § 32; and against the Lutherans, see Eckhardus’ Fasciculum Controversiarum cum Calvino, chapter XV, question XIII, pages 362-369; Buddeus’ Institutiones Theologiæ dogmaticæ, tome 2, book V, chapter II, § 11, pages 1616-1619, when he contends that, according to the opinion of the Lutherans, the external impulsive Cause of Reprobation is the sin of men, not retracted through true repentance, and conjoined with final unbelief, and especially that final unbelief itself: hence the Object of Reprobation is men, not as men, but as sinners, and indeed such sinners as reject the grace of faith and constancy in it offered to them by God, who willed to bestow the same upon them with all the remaining gifts of grace, and themselves so act that faith is not able to be produced in them; or, if they should believe, yet they do not persist in faith unto the end of life. See Jasper de Hartogh, Wegwyzer der Eenvuldigen, chapter I, pages 30, 31; WENDELIN’S Exercitationes theologicas XVI-XVIII; and also STAPFER’S Theologicæ polemicæ, tome 5, chapter XX, § 31-33, pages 136-145, especially § 33, likewise § 48-64, pages 164-169, § 80-93, pages 189-206; and after the likeness of all SPANHEIM, Decadum theologicarum VIII, § 5, opera, tome 3, column 1246-1248.

[Although certain of Our Men also, standing upon the same substance, speak otherwise:] As, with HEINRICH ALTING relating, Theologia problematica nova, locus IV, in the Appendix, page 308, URSINUS[4] and PAREUS assert, that the cause of Reprobation is Sin, which most others deny. But ALTING, page 310, subjoins: “Their opinion is not incompatible, understood rightly, concerning the Cause of Reprobation in Sin. For Reprobation is taken strictly concerning Predestination or determination unto destruction because of sin: in which sin, as the proximate cause of destruction, as the thing decreed, ought not to be passed over in silence, Romans 9:22; 1 Thessalonians 5:9. Especially since Scripture itself presses the difference of Election and Reprobation at this point. Compare Deuteronomy 9:4-6.” Reprobation is also able to be taken for the execution of the Decree of Reprobation, in which Sin in a certain sense is said to be the cause of the same; compare SPANHEIM’S Disputationem inauguralem de Quinquarticulanis Controversiis, § 19, 20, opera, tome 3, columns 1172, 1173.

[1] That is, internal. [2] That is, external, contextual, predisposing. [3] Thomas Bradwardine (c. 1300-1349) was an English scholar and theologian, serving as Archbishop of Canterbury. He is known as Doctor Profundus, and did much to revive Augustinian theology in the fourteenth century. [4] Zacharias Ursinus (1534-1583) was a German Reformed theologian. He was a leader of the Reformation in the Palatinate, and served at the University of Heidelberg. He was involved in the composition of the Heidelberg Catechism.

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