... Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.—Revelation 15.3.
Translated by Iohn Stockwood
1. GOD worketh effectually, or bringeth all things to pass according to the counsel of his own will.
2. This counsel doth God execute or fulfill at certain moments of times: yet the counsel itself is everlasting, and going before all things, not only in time, inasmuch as it is before all time, but also in order. For otherwise the will of God should not be the chief rule of the counsel of God: but rather the qualities of things foreseen & foreknown, and driving God to take this or that counsel, should prescribe or appoint a rule to the will of God.
3. This counsel cannot be separated from the will of God, but that we must rob God of his divinity or Godhead.
4. This counsel is not put only in the governing and guiding of the event or that, that cometh to pass, as Pallas is feigned of the Poet to turn away Pandarus Dart from Menelaus breast unto his nether parts fenced with his belt: but hath a working & effectual strength in all things, which Paul hath declared by this word energein, Energein, which signifieth to work effectually.
5. This strength and efficacy is attributed unto God's working, but is not said to be of God. Therefore by this word [Efficacy or strength] is not declared any natural power given by God the Creator, to the things he hath created, that they should do this or that: but by this word is understood the power of God, which he hath in himself to do all things.
6. This universal particle, All, in the saying of Paul, can by no manner of exception at all be restrained, but that God in that point must be made to be idle, according to the opinion of Epicurus. And if we shall say that any thing is done against his will, he shall be robbed of his infinite, or endless power.
7. The conclusion thereof standeth, that God himself, according as it pleased him, to decree all things to come to pass from everlasting, even so also he bringeth them to pass by his power in their time as he willeth.
8. Yet of these things doth there follow none of these blasphemies, to wit, either that God is the Author of sin, either is delighted with iniquity, either willeth iniquity: or that Satan or man in doing of evil, do obey God, or, in that they do evil, they do that that God will, and therefore are without blame. Let all such blasphemies as these, be most far, not only from our tongues, but also from our cogitations or thoughts.
9. And thus it may be proved that these sequels and conclusions that they would gather of our doctrine, are of no force: God doth execute or perform the counsels of his will by second causes and instruments, not as bound unto them as the Stoics did suppose, but freely and mightily making, moving, and guiding them, as it pleased him.
10. Of these instruments there are two principal kinds. For some of them have life, to wit, such as are stirred by an inward moving of their own: others are without life and are only carried of an outward force by others rather than of themselves. Those instruments that have life are also in a double difference. For some of them are endued with judgment and reason, others are without reason, and are carried with a blind force of nature.
11. The instruments which are without life, yea and also they that have life, but are void of reason, are said to do neither well nor ill, because that they are rather caused to do, than to do of themselves: but they which use those instruments, are said to do either well or ill.
12. Instruments endued with reason and judgment, are either Angels, or men, and the same again of two sorts. For Angels, some are good, some are bad: and men by nature are all evil, but by grace there is such difference made between them, that some of them are wholly evil, and some of them are in part good, to wit, so far as the spirit of God hath sanctified or made them holy.
13. Such things as are of this sort, when as in any action they are moved by their own inward moving, are worthily said to work, and therefore in this kind of instruments only falleth the difference of well or ill doing. And in this respect, they cannot properly be called instruments, but rather efficient or working causes.
14. Now I call that an evil action, which hath not the revealed or opened will of God for the end: and contrariwise, I call it a good action which hath respect or looketh to the will of God.
15. The same, albeit they be causes, so far as they work by their own proper motion, yet in another respect they are called instruments, to wit, as often and so far forth as they are moved by another. As when the hangman by the commandment of the Magistrate, killeth a man, or when as by impulsion or setting on of the Devil, men hurt one another: or when as at the commandment, and in the name of any, we do either good or evil unto any man.
16. In this kind of actions, all men see that one & the same work is attributed unto two, to wit, unto the one as to him that moveth, and worketh by another, as by an instrument, and to the other, as to him that worketh himself, for he is in such sort an instrument, that he also worketh by his own inward motion, and not simply, as the Hammer or Axe in the hand of the Smith.
17. Yea, for this double respect, a double work seemeth sometime to be done, insomuch that the one may be laudable or praiseworthy, and the other wicked: as if the Magistrate deliver a man that is an offender unto the hangman to be executed, there is no man but will worthily praise this work: but if the hangman being moved with hatred or covetousness, or any other wicked lust, rather than looking unto the commandment of the Judge, do kill the same offender, certainly before God he cannot escape the crime of murder.
18. Now let us apply these things unto God, whose efficacy or strength, we have proved before to step in, in all things that are done without exception, and in such sort, that by those things which he hath created as by instruments, he doth execute or perform in his time, whatsoever he hath decreed from everlasting.
19. Whatsoever God doth is good, seeing from him, which is the chief good, no evil can proceed. But he doth all things. All things therefore are good, so far forth as they are done by God. And that difference of good and evil, hath only place in the instruments, and in those of whom we have spoken in the thirteenth proposition.
20. For if these instruments be good, and do look unto the opened will of God, they work well, and God also worketh well by them: whereby it cometh to pass, that, that work is always good: as when good Angels do that which God commandeth, and holy men follow, God calling them.
21. Evil instruments (evil I say, not by creation, but by corruption) insofar as they work, they do always work evil, and therefore they worthily incur or run into God's anger: but so far forth as God worketh by them, they do serve to the good work of God, either against their wills, or else of ignorance. For God, by what instruments soever he worketh, worketh always well.
22. Now he so worketh by those instruments, as he doth not only suffer them to work, neither only moderate or rule the event or thing that falleth out, but also he raiseth them up, stirreth, moveth, guideth, and that which is greatest of all he createth them, to the end that he might work by them, which he hath appointed: all which things God doth rightly, and without any injustice.
23. For as often as one evil man sinneth either against himself, or against another wicked person, God without any sin maketh, either that the evil man taketh vengeance upon himself, or that evil men shall punish other evil men, with such punishment as they have deserved: both which works of God are most righteous: and by such examples of his judgments, God lifteth up and comforteth those that are his.
24. But so often as wicked men do hurt the good, the wicked men sin, & in the end, suffer such punishments as they have deserved: yet nevertheless, by them the Lord chasteneth, instructeth and strengtheneth his own, and plainly by the open enemies of his Church maketh his Church glorious.
25. Yet cannot these evil instruments be said to obey God, because albeit God by them bringeth his work to pass, yet they, so far as in them is, and as concerning their own counsel and will, do not the work of God, but their own work for the which they are justly punished. For albeit whatsoever God worketh by the wicked be good, yet whatsoever the wicked work is evil.
26. Neither is this consequent or reason good, God worketh all things, therefore he worketh sin. For the guilt of sin agreeth not but to the vicious and faulty quality, which is wholly in the working instrument.
27. By reason of this corrupted quality, the work which of itself is but one, is made some manner of way twofold and double, insomuch that the one, that is the just work of God, directly fighteth against the other, that is, the unjust work of man.
28. Yet God worketh otherwise by the good instruments than by the evil, for besides that he worketh his work by the good instruments, the good instruments also do work their own work by the same force & efficacy which the Lord giveth unto them: finally the Lord worketh his work by them, and also worketh in them to will & to perform. But by the wicked, as by Satan, or by men, insofar as they are not regenerate or born anew, as often as the Lord executeth or performeth the just counsels and decrees of his everlasting will, he indeed sheweth forth his strength and efficacy in his work by them, either not knowing of it, or against their wills and purposes: but yet insofar as they work their own work, the Lord worketh not in them, but letteth loose the reins unto Satan, to whom by his just judgment he giveth them over being wicked, to be moved and stirred forward, that they may be carried away of their own will and his.
29. Therefore we do not refuse this term, suffering, or granting, neither yet came it in our minds, to say that God so worketh in the evil, as he doth in the good. But because that Sophisters have corrupted the difference of will and sufferance, which Augustine no doubt took of the Greeks, and they received from Augustine, therefore do we flatly refuse it.
30. For the Sophisters set will against permission, or sufferance: whereof doth follow that God suffereth the things which he suffereth, either against his will, or at leastwise being idle, & not caring for them. But contrariwise, lest we should either take from God his endless and unmeasurable power, or after the opinion of the Epicures, say as the thing indeed is, that God neither worketh anything by instruments, but willingly, nor yet suffereth the instruments to work, but willingly, yet in such sort that whatsoever he worketh, he worketh most justly, and whatsoever he permitteth or suffereth, he most justly suffereth.
31. And God worketh in respect of his own work: and permitteth or suffereth in respect of the work that the evil instruments do of their own accord work, or insofar as they are active and not passive instruments, that we may keep the terms used in the schools. Yet doth God justly suffer the thing that these instruments unjustly work, for because that sins, insofar as they are suffered by God that willeth, are not sins: but punishments of sin. For with GOD it is a just thing to punish sins with sins. But these selfsame actions insofar as they come from satan, and evil men provoked by Satan and their own concupiscence or lust, are so far sins, which the Lord in his time doth justly punish. For the Lord doth never suffer sins so far as they are sins, nay he doth always forbid them.
32. Neither is this consequence or reason good: God willeth all things, therefore he alloweth all things. For he willeth many things, and therefore suffereth them, not because he simply alloweth of them, but after a certain sort, for he alloweth them, so far as he suffereth them, even so far as they are no sins, as we said even now: But he disalloweth & punisheth them, so far as he hath respect or looketh unto the evil instruments, whose actions they are.
33. These are Augustine's words, Enchirid. ad Laurent. Cap. 100. "Great are the works of the Lord, for they are excellent in all his wills, so that after a wonderful and unspeakable manner that cometh not to pass besides his will, which is done against his will: because it should not come to pass if he would not suffer it: and doubtless he suffereth it not unwilling, but willing." The same Augustine, Lib. 5. Contr. Julian. Cap. 3. When as he had of purpose disputed against them which make an idle foreknowledge or sufferance, at length he bursteth forth into these words, "We doubtless (saith he) if we suffer those over whom we have power, to do wickedness before our eyes, shall be guilty with them. But how innumerable things doth he suffer (speaking of God) To be done before his eyes, which doubtless if he would not, he would by no means suffer? And yet he is both just and good."
34. The whole Scripture beareth witness, and very common sense or reason doth tell us, that without the will of God nothing is done, no not of those things which seem most chiefly to come to pass by chance or fortune, as Gen. 27.20, God is said quickly to have brought the prey unto Jacob's hands. And Ex. 21.13, As often as murder is committed at unawares, the Lord, saith Moses, caused him to come into thine hands. The selfsame thing is taught as concerning the falling out of Lots, Prov. 16.33. As concerning all the counsels of men, Dan. 4.32. Of the falling of Sparrows, Matt. 10.29. To be short, of all things without exception, Eph. 1.11.
35. And that the will of God, yea and the same most effectually, doth then also step in, when as he worketh by the wicked, may plainly appear almost in every leaf of the scripture. So is he said to have sent Joseph into Egypt, Gen. 45.8. So he stirred up Pharaoh to declare his power in him, Exod. 4.21. So he gave David's wives unto his son Absalom, 2 Sam. 12.11. So he moved the heart of David to number the people, 2 Sam. 24.1. So he commanded Shimei to curse David, 2 Sam. 16.10. So David calleth his enemies the sword & hand of the Lord, Psalm 17.13,14. So the Lord calleth the Medes and Persians his sanctified, and the instruments of his wrath, Isa. 10.5, and 13.6. So he calleth the falling away of the ten Tribes his work, 2 Chron. 11.4. So Job saith, the Lord giveth, and the Lord hath taken away, Job 1.21. So the king of Babylon is compared unto an Axe and a Saw, to wit, because the Lord executed or brought to pass his work by him, thinking on no such thing, Isa. 10.15. So the godly are afflicted or troubled, by the will and Predestination, or foreordaining of God, Rom. 8.29, and 1 Pet. 3.17, and 4.19. So there is no evil in the City which the Lord hath not done, Amos 3.6, and Jeremiah, Lam. 3.37,38. Who is he then, (saith he) which hath said, and it cometh to pass, and the Lord hath not commanded? Out of the mouth of the Lord proceedeth there not good and evil?
36. Go to then, let for example be chosen the most excellent, and also the most wicked deed that ever was: The most excellent, if we behold either both the endless justice, and mercy of the father, or the infinite obedience and love of the son: But the most wicked, if we consider the instruments themselves, to wit, Satan, Judas, the Jews, Pilate, and Herod. This deed (we speak of) is, the death of the son of God, full of cruelty and reproach. In this fact, if we deny the everlasting counsel of God to have stepped in, we shall be convinced or proved to speak false by infinite testimonies of the Scripture. For sure it is, that we were not chosen before the foundations of the world were laid, but only in him appointed to die, Eph. 1.4, and 1 Pet. 1.20. Wherefore he is also called the Lamb slain from the beginning of the world, Rev. 13.8, To wit, not only by the foreknowledge, but especially by the determined counsel of God, insomuch that Herod and Pilate, although thinking of no such thing, yet therefore came together, to fulfill such things as the hand and counsel of the Lord had decreed be done, Acts 4.28. Therefore he could not be taken but at his hour, John 7.30, and 8.29, and 12.27. For he was delivered by the determined counsel of God, and decree before going, Acts 2.23. And was wounded of God for our iniquities, Isa. 53.5. For God is he who spared not his own son, but gave him for us all, Rom. 8.32. Therefore if there were but this one example of God's everlasting providence, which never is idle, it were abundant enough to suffice, to convince, or reprove all those which falsely cry out, that God is made the author of sin, when as we say that nothing cometh to pass, but by the righteous will of God.
37. And yet do we not therefore excuse but rather most sharply accuse Satan working in the disobedient children, (Eph. 2.2.) Even then also when as the Lord most effectually, or strongly, and most justly bringeth his work to pass, both by Satan himself, and also by the bond slaves of Satan, 2 Tim. 2.26. Wherefore we do everywhere acknowledge and reverence the goodness and judgments of God, albeit the reason of them many times do not to us appear. And we condemn both the instruments which are evil, and also naughty and wicked actions, to wit, all the counsels and subtleties of Satan: the envy of Joseph's brethren, and the selling of their brother: the ungodliness and hardness of Pharaoh: Absalom's mind bent to kill his Father, and his detestable incest: the unadvisedness also of David himself: the wickedness of Shimei: the malice and treachery of David's enemies: the wicked falling away of Jeroboam, and the ten Tribes: the ravenny [violent plundering] of the Chaldeans: the insatiable covetousness, incredible Lechery, intolerable arrogancy of the Babylonians. To be short, all the wicked counsels, and most savage cruelty of the ungodly against the Church.
38. It is also manifest by very many and most plain testimonies of the scripture, that God doth punish sins with sins, and that with no idle, but very strong and effectual, yet notwithstanding, most just permission or sufferance. For it is he that giveth kings in his anger, Hos. 13.11, Neh. 9.37, and Job 34.30. It is he that causeth to err, Isa. 63.17. Because he mingleth amongst them the spirit of error, Isa. 19.14. It is he which hardeneth and turneth the hearts, which blindeth the eyes, which maketh drunk with the wine of giddiness, Exod. 4.21, and 7.3, and 9.12, and 10.1, and 11.10, and 14.4, Deut. 2.29, Josh. 11.20, and 1 Sam. 2.25, and 2 Chron. 22.7, Psalm 105.25. It is he that punisheth his contempt, giving men up into a reprobate mind, Rom. 1.28, And sending the strength of error to believe a lie, 2 Thes. 2.11. It is he which deceiveth Prophets, Ezek. 14.9. Finally, it is he that sendeth also evil spirits, giving them commandment to hurt, & granting them also efficacy or power to deceive, as 1 Kings 22.22,23, and 2 Chron. 18.21,22, Job 1.12, and 2.6.
These things beeing thus mani-
fest by these so plaine testimonies, let the Pellagians, Freewillians, An-
nabaptistes, Papistes, and the rest of that filthie rabble, crye out if they liste, till they ware hoarse, and their heartes ake againe, that wee make G O D the Authour of sinne, from which blasphe-
mie wee are as farre, as they are voide of Christian charitie, in so iudging of us, ascribing unto G O D his pro-
uidence the whole swinge in all things, which as they proceede from him (as
hath beene shewed before) are verie
good, albeit in respecte of the in-
struments, whereby it pleaseth
him in iustice sometime
to worke by, they
may be verie