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Wendelin's "Christian Theology": Secondary Attributes of God, Part 3

THESIS XIX: In the Scripture there are various names for the divine will, which nevertheless indicate concepts, diverse to us, of clearly distinct properties: but they are able to be recalled to two top-level classes, namely, goodness and righteousness.



THESIS XX: The Goodness of God it that whereby God is consummately perfect and desirable in Himself, and is the cause of all desirable and good things outside Himself.

EXPLANATION: I. Good is wont to be described à posteriori, as what all that are acquainted with it desire: or, what is desirable in its own nature. Thus God is consummately good in Himself: because He is consummately desirable: Hence Christ says, Matthew 19:17, there is none good, except the one God: that is, good by essence, and the author of all good.

That God is the cause of all desirable and good things outside of Himself, through the communication of His own goodness, is evident from this, that all things are of Him, and through Him, and to Him, Romans 11:36. A man does not have any good, which he has not received from God, 1 Corinthians 4:7. Hence the earth is said to be filled with the goodness of Jehovah, Psalm 33:5; and in Psalm 103:11, As the heaven is high above the earth, so great is His benignity toward them that fear Him.

This consummate goodness of God excludes from God and from His works, to the extent that they are His works, all evil that is referred to sin and is a privation of moral good.

* II. It is proven that God is our highest good, concerning which it has been so anxiously disputed for so many ages.

1. Because God alone is our salvation and glory, from whom alone all things necessary for eternal blessedness come to us: Psalm 3:3, 4; 18:2, 3; 1 Corinthians 15:28; Colossians 3:11.

2. Because He renders us truly blessed: Psalm 36:9, 10; 94:12-14.

3. Because He alone makes for us a tranquil soul: Psalm 23:3, 4; 27:1-3.

4. Because in Him alone is a perfect consolation for us against all evil: James 5:11.

5. Because the knowledge of God alone and the faith placed in Him make us truly blessed: Proverbs 3:5, 6; Psalm 2:12; Jeremiah 17:7; John 17:3; 2 Peter 1:1-4.

6. Because His fear makes us blessed: Psalm 1:1, 2; Proverbs 8:32; Isaiah 56:2; Matthew 5:3.

7. Because He alone is perfect without qualification, completely sufficient, and consummately desirable.

III. Let the distinction of the communication of divine goodness be briefly observed. God communicates His goodness in two ways: (1.) internally; (2.) externally.

The prior communication is natural and necessary, whereby from eternity God the Father communicated essence to the Son through generation: and the Father and Son to the Holy Spirit through spiration.

The latter communication is free, whereby God communicates His goodness to creatures: 1. by creation; 2. by incarnation; 3. by the grace of adoption; 4. by glory and blessedness; 5. by love and desire.


THESIS XXI: The species or attendants of divine goodness are grace, love, mercy, and patience.



THESIS XXII: Grace is that whereby God is amiable in Himself, and favors and blesses His creature. Whence in this respect the grace of God is the favor wherewith He pursues His creatures, and especially men.

EXPLANATION: The ineffable grace of God is argued by the desire of angels and holy men to see the face of God: which is a definite indication of the superlatively excellent grace shining from the face of God. For, what things are not pleasing, the sight of these we shun. To this pertains the prayer of the saints, of finding grace in the eyes of the Lord: which is common among the holy Patriarchs.[1]

The grace of God is wont to be distinguished into grace freely giving[2] and freely given.[3] Grace freely giving is the favor of God, whereby in time He confers and gives whatever He decreed from eternity: it is otherwise called grace making one pleasing,[4] which the Apostles pray for the Churches: Grace given freely comprehends all means and benefits necessary for salvation, derived from Christ to us, in this life.

Grace is also wont to be distinguished into sufficient and efficacious: against which distinction see the disputation of Maccovius, in his volume of Thesium, part I, disputation 25, § 4.


THESIS XXIII: The Love of God is that whereby He delights Himself in that of which He approves, and desires good for it, and unites it to Himself.

EXPLANATION: I. Scripture attributes Love to God, John 3:16, God so loved the world; and verse 35, the Father loveth the Son; Romans 5:8, God commendeth His love toward us, etc.; 1 John 4:8, God is love.

II. A distinction in the divine love into natural and voluntary, which is related by some, is to be observed.

That is natural, whereby God necessarily loves Himself, and the Persons of the most holy Trinity one another. Thus the Father is said to love the Son, John 5:20. Nevertheless, this love is also in some manner voluntary, although it is manifestly necessary: because, with respect to order, it follows knowledge and has regard to ethical perfection. But, what things are merely natural, do not presuppose knowledge.

That is called voluntary in a special manner, wherewith God freely pursues His creatures: and it is either universal or special.

That is universal, whereby God in some manner loves all creatures: according to that saying in Wisdom of Solomon 11:24, thou lovest all the things that are, and abhorrest nothing which thoug hast made.[5] The same is proven by reason: For, to love is to will good to anyone. But God wills some good to all creatures. Hence Christ in Matthew 5:45, He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust. Now, evil men, whom God hates, He nevertheless loves, not with respect to their evil, but with respect to nature, which is not effaced by sin. Whence that saying of Augustine, book 1 ad Simplicianum, question 2, God does not hate Esau as man, but Esau as sinner.

There is a special love, because God unequally loves these and those creatures, with respect to the unequal good that He wills to them. Thus He loves irrational creatures in one degree, rational creatures in another: and among rational creatures, the man Christ in one degree, the remaining mere men in another: and among these, the elect and pious in one degree, and the reprobate and impious in another. Hence Augustine in tractate 110 on John, God loves all the things that He has made, and among those He loves rational creatures more, and among them those that are members of His only begotten even more: and much more the only begottem Himself.


THESIS XXIV: Mercy is that whereby God is disposed to succor His creatures placed in any misery, and actually succors them.


EXPLANATION: I. Scripture everywhere attributes mercy to GOD. In Exodus 34:6, Jehovah Himself exclaims: Jehovah, Jehovah, the mighty God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and faithfulness. Psalm 103:8, Jehovah is merciful and gracious. Luke 6:36, Be ye merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Ephesians 2:4, God is rich in mercy.

II. A distinction in the divine mercy into universal and special is to be observed.

That is universal, whereby God in some measure succors all creatures placed in any misery. To this mercy are obliged eating creatures for food, drinking creatures for water, sick for the restoration of health, sorrowing for the mitigation of sorrow, sad for consolation, captive for liberation, naked for clothing, forsaken for help, etc. Everywhere in the Psalms David proclaims this mercy of GOD, as in Psalm 140; 147; and elsewhere.

That is special, whereby out of fallen and miserable men God takes pity on some, whom from eternity He freely chose unto life, in time freely calls, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies. Concerning this mercy, we will treat it in its place.

III. That our Churches profess doctrines opposite to divine mercy, write the Lutherans and Photinians: both do injury to us.

The Lutherans thus dispute:

Those that teach that the greatest part of men is destined by GOD to eternal damnation, by an absolute decree, without any respect to guilt or sin, as the cause of the decree of damnation, ascribe a lack of mercy and cruelty to God.

But the Calvinists teach that the greatest part of men is destined by God to eternal damnation, by an absolute decree, without any respect to guilt or sin, etc.

Therefore, they ascribe a lack of mercy and cruelty to God.

Eckhard proves the Minor in his fasciculo out of Beza, volume 3, page 438.

Response: This is the artiface of these men, that the individual opinion of one or another of our doctors, as a pretext, and as harsh in the ears of common people, they fix upon all our Churches; and they make of these Calvinistic Symbols, and thus bring all without distinction into a common odium: which is certainly foreign to all humanity and Christian piety.

The same also happens in this argument especially: In the minor, which is attributed to Calvinists in general, without any distinction, in the proof it is elicited by Eckhard out of Beza alone. But to each and every opinion of Beza or Calvin have our Churches committed? Demonstrably far less than the Lutherans to each and every opinion of Luther. And so we deny the Minor, and say that what error is believed to belong to only one or another is incorrectly imputed to all without distinction. It is evident that the Orthodox Theologians of France, England, the Palatinate, the March, Hessia, Switzerland, and Belgium. Let the acts of the Synod of Dort be considered. At the same time, Beza answers on his own behalf, and denies the Proposition. Let him be seen and considered in the place alleged. Concerning this argument, more in its own palce. See Exercitations 2, 3.

The Photinians thus dispute:

Whoever has received an enormous price for the liberation of men, his mercy in the salvation of men (in which context it is nevertheless proclaimed to be especially conspicuous) is proclaimed in vain and falsely.

But GOD, according to our opinion, has received an enormous price for the liberation of men: because He is said to have satisfied His own righteousness by the death of His innocent Son, as a ransom.

Therefore, in the salvation of men the mercy of God is proclaimed in vain and falsely.

Response: I make a distinction in the Major: Whoever exacts and receives an enormous price for the liberation of men from the very men to be liberated and saved, his mercy in the salvation of men is proclaimed in vain.

We deny the Minor with this limitation: For God exacted and received the price, or ransom, not from us, the men to be liberated, but from His Son, and that He graciously imputes to us out of His consummate mercy: and so He brings to pass a remarkable balance of justice and mercy. Justice indeed against sin, which He punished in His infinitely beloved Son: but mercy towards sinners, which He liberates without their own satisfaction, and blesses forever.


THESIS XXV: Patience is that whereby God so moderates His wrath towards creatures, that He either delays punishment, or pours not out His wrath in one moment.

EXPLANATION: Scripture everywhere commends to us the patience of God. Exodus 34:6, God calls Himself longsuffering, that is, patient. Romans 2:4, Despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?


THESIS XXVI: Hitherto the goodness of GOD: Righteousness is that whereby God is holy and just in Himself, and outside Himself by a steadfast will He renders to each his own.


EXPLANATION: I. In innumerable places Scripture proclaims the righteousness of God. Let only one and another be observed. Deuteronomy 32:4, all the ways of God are judgment: a mighty God, faithful, and without iniquity, just and right is He. Psalm 11:7, righteous Jehovah loveth what things are righteous. Psalm 48:10, thy right hand is full of righteousness. 1 John 2:29, ye know that He is righteous: ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of Him.

II. Let a distinction in the divine Righteousness into disposing and distributing be observed.

That is disposing, whereby God disposes and governs everything and each thing in a just order, concerning which the Wisdom of Solomon 11:20, thou hast disposed all things in measure, number, and weight.[6]

Distributing righteousness is of grace or wrath: the former is His most ready will to fulfill promises: the former, His will to fulfill threats: it is sometimes called wrath and hatred. Sometimes wrath and hatred, like love and mercy, are placed among the affections: concerning which let it be observed that that ancient saying was approved in every Theological School, Affections are attributed to GOD according to effects. Whatever is in them of imperfection and passion is to be far removed from GOD. Whence concerning the holy Angels also Augustine, The City of God, book 9, chapter 5: The names of those passions (love, anger, hatred, etc.), by custom of human speech, are also applied to them, because of a certain similitude of operation, not because of the infirmity of the affections.

At this point it is to be observed, that often both God’s promises and threats are conditional, and so, with the conditions not posited, the promises are sometimes not fulfilled, without any change to the divine will.

Concerning the punishing righteousness of God, whereby He does not leave sins unpunished, let the testimonies of Scripture be observed, Exodus 34:7; Nehemiah 9:33; Psalm 11:7; 129:4; Lamentations 1:18; Nahum 1:3; Daniel 9:14.

Socinus refers the punishing righteousness of God to the sins of the impenitent alone: but he affirms that the sins of the penitent are left unpunished. But this is false: seeing that He punishes the sins of believers in His Son, through whose blood we have the remission of sins, Ephesians 1:7; Romans 3:24; Hebrews 9:15; 1 John 2:2.

But, indeed, God does not only not leave sins unpunished, but He is not able by nature to leave them unpunished: because by His nature from eternity He most perfectly and justly hates them; since they are altogether opposite to His purity and holiness. Whence He has also decreed from eternity to punish them, by an irrevocable sentence; which by wisdom and immutability is not able to be rendered void.

Socinus objects: Any man is able to remit something of his own right: Therefore, God also concerning the right of punishing sins. For God is not inferior to man.

Response: The Consequence is denied: the proof is not logically cogent: For God is not able to do some things that a man is able to do: not because He is inferior to man, but because He is far superior. Thus a man is able to renounce the dominion that he has over his servant, in such a way that he no longer has a right over him: God is not able to do this because of His majesty: for thus He would deny Himself. Neither is He able, because of His truth and immutability, to do the contrary of that to which He has obliged Himself.

III. Against the Justice of God some dispute in this way:

One that is consummately merciful is not consummately just.

But in Scripture God is proclaimed as consummately merciful.

Therefore, He is not consummately just.

The Major is proven: because consummate justice is not consistent with consummate mercy.

Response: The Major is denied: the proof is not true in a simple way: for Scripture attributes both virtues in the highest degree to God: Whence it is evident that one does not exclude or overthrow the other. Neither do the exercises of these virtues remove or impede each other: because they are not occupied with the same object: for, towards some God is consummate just, towards others consummately merciful: just as He loves some, and hates others. In some He tempers justice with mercy; as in those whom He saves through and because of Christ: at the same time, He leaves the sins of none unpunished: for, He punishes them either in the sinners themselves, or in the Mediator.

[1] See Genesis 6:8; 18:3; 19:19. [2] That is, gratia gratis dans. [3] That is, gratia gratis data. [4] That is, gratia gratum faciens. [5] Wisdom of Solomon 11:22-26: “For the whole world before thee is as a little grain of the balance, yea, as a drop of the morning dew that falleth down upon the earth. But thou hast mercy upon all; for thou canst do all things, and winkest at the sins of men, because they should amend. For thou lovest all the things that are, and abhorrest nothing which thou hast made: for never wouldest thou have made any thing, if thou hadst hated it. And how could any thing have endured, if it had not been thy will? or been preserved, if not called by thee? But thou sparest all: for they are thine, O Lord, thou lover of souls.” [6] Wisdom of Solomon 11:15-23a: “But for the foolish devices of their wickedness, wherewith being deceived they worshipped serpents void of reason, and vile beasts, thou didst send a multitude of unreasonable beasts upon them for vengeance; that they might know, that wherewithal a man sinneth, by the same also shall he be punished. For thy Almighty hand, that made the world of matter without form, wanted not means to send among them a multitude of bears or fierce lions, or unknown wild beasts, full of rage, newly created, breathing out either a fiery vapour, or filthy scents of scattered smoke, or shooting horrible sparkles out of their eyes: Whereof not only the harm might dispatch them at once, but also the terrible sight utterly destroy them. Yea, and without these might they have fallen down with one blast, being persecuted of vengeance, and scattered abroad through the breath of thy power: but thou hast ordered all things in measure and number and weight. For thou canst shew thy great strength at all times when thou wilt; and who may withstand the power of thine arm? For the whole world before thee is as a little grain of the balance, yea, as a drop of the morning dew that falleth down upon the earth. But thou hast mercy upon all…”

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