Thursday, October 08, 2009

John Knox on Free Will (Old Spellings)

Before I answer to the absurdities which of our doctrine ye collect, I must, in few wordes, put you in minde, that very foolishely ye joyn the free will of Adame with the free will of Christe Jesus, and with the libertie of God. For Adam's will was never so free but that it might (as that it did) come to thraldom; which weaknes you be never able to prove at any tyme to have bene in Christes will. Further, the will of Adam was alwaies under the impire and threatning of a law; to which subjection I think ye will not bring God. But now to your absurdities.

"If (say you) I shall grante that all thinges of mere Necessitio must come to passe, according to the prescience and foreknowledge of God, then had Adam afore his transgression no Free will." Your illation or consequence is fals, for the foreknowledge and prescience of God did neither take away free will from Adam, neither yet did compell it by any violence, but did use it as an ordinarie mean, by the which His eternall counsell and purpose should take effect. But for the better understanding hereof, we must adverte and note that which before we have touched, and promised after more largely to entreat the same; to witt, That God's prescience and foreknowledge is not to be seperated from his Will and decree. For none otherwise doeth God foresee things to come to passe, but according as He himself hath in his eternall counsell decreed the same. For as it apperteineth to His wisdom to foreknow and foresee all things that are to come, so doeth it appertein to his power to moderate and reule all things according to his own will. Neither yet therefor doeth it folow that His foreknowledge, prescience, will, or power, doeth take away the free will of his creatures. but in all wisdom and justice (however the contrarie appere to our corrupted judgements,) he useth them as best it pleaseth his wisdom to bring to passe in time that which before all tyme he had decreed. To the which purpose and end, they (I mean the creatures and their willes), whatsoever they purpose to the contrarie, or how ignorantly that ever they worke it, nevertheles do voluntarely, and as it were of a naturall motion, incline and bow to that end to the which they are created.

To make the mater more plain, let us take the creation and fall of Adam, with the creatures that served in the same, for example. For what cheif end did God create all things (of Salomon and Paule we have before declared), to witt, for his own glorie to be shewed; the glorie, I say, of the riches of his mercie towardes the vessels of mercie, and the glorie of his justice and most just judgements towards the vessels of wrath. And that this eternall counsell of God should take effect, as he had purposed, man was created righteous, wise, just, and good, having free will; neither subject to the thraldom of sinne nor of Sathan, at the first creation. But sodanly cometh Sathan, ennemie to God and to man his good creature, and first poured in vennom into the heart of the woman, which afterward she poured into the heart of Adam; to the which bothe the one and the other, without all violence used of God's part, dothe willingly consent; and so conspiring with the serpent, do accuse God of a lie; do fully consent to vendicat or challenge to themselves the power of the Godhead, of minde and purpose (so far as in them lay) to thrust downe and depose Him from his eternall throne. Here we see how the creatures and their willes, without compulsion, do serve God's purpose and counsell. For Sathan was neither sent nor commanded of God to tempt man, but of malice and hatred did most willingly and gredely runne to the same: The will of man being free before, was not by God violently compelled to obey Sathan; but man of free will did consent to Sathan, and conspire against God. And yet was the fall of man not only foresene and foreknowen of God, but also before decreed, for the manifestation of his glorie.

Let us yet take an other exemple, that the mater may be more evident. The death of Christ Jesus for man's redemption, was decreed in the eternall counsell of God before the foundations of the world were laid, as we were elected in him, and as he was the Lamb killed from the beginning; which death also was decreed in the same counsell of God to be in a certein time appointed; and that so certenly, that neither could the malice of any creature prevent the houre appointed of God thereto, neither yet could any policie or chance impede or transferre the same to any other tyme. For how oft Christ was afore assaulted, the Evangclistes do witnes; but alwaies his answere was, "My houre is not yet come." And what impedimentes did oucure immediatly before his death, is also evident. The feast of Easter was instant, the fame of Christ was great, the favor of the people with publick voices was declared, and the counsels of the Hie Priestes and Seniors had decreed, that, to avoid sedition, his death should be delayed till after that feast. But all these were shortly overthrowen, and Christ did suffer in the verey tyme appointed, as he before had forespoken.

But now to the instrumentes which serve in this mater, and whether they were compelled by God or not. Judas, we know, was not one of the least; and what moved him the Holie Ghost doeth witnes, to witt, his avariciousnes. The Scribes, Pharisies, Priestes anil Seniors, and people, led, some of malice and envie, some to gratifie their rulers, and altogether of set purpose to crucifie Christ, do consent with Judas. Pilate, albeit he long refused, and by divers nieancs studied to delyver Christ, yet in the end, for fear of displeasure, aswell of the priestes and people, as of the Emperor, he willingly, without all compulsion of God's part, pronounced an unjust sentence of deathe against Christ Jesus; which his soldiours also most willingly did execute. Thus, I say, we see that the creatures and their willes, without all compulsion, do serve God's counsell and purpose.

Here I know, that ye think that either I write against myself, or els that I conclude a great absurditic: For, if I say that God did nothing but foresee these thinges, and so permitted them (as after you speak) to folow their own train; that he worketh no more but as a simple beholder of a tragedie; then do I agree with you. And if I do say (as in verey dede I do understand and afiirme,) that the eternall counsell and purpose of God did so reule in all these thinges, that rather they did serve to God's purpose and most just will, then fulfill their most wicked willes; then will you cry, Blasphemie, and say that I deliver the Devill, Adam, and all the wicked, frome sinne, of the which I make God to be author. To the first I have answered before, that as I seperate not God's foreknowledge from his counsell, so do I affirme that He worketh all in all thinges, according to the purpose of the same his good will; and yet that he useth no violence, neither in compelling his creatures, neither constreining their willes by any externall force, neither yet taking their willes from them, but in all wisdom and justice using them as he knoweth most expedient for the manifestation of his glorie, without any violence, I say, done to their willes. For violence is done to the will of a creature, when it willoth one thing, and yet by force, by tyranny, or by a greater power, it is compelled to do the thinges which it wold not; as if a pudique and honest matron, or chaste virgine, should be deprehended alono by a wicked and filthie man, who with violence and force (thoghe the will of the woman did plainely repine) did deflowre and corrupte her. This is violence done to the will, and she of necessitie was compelled to suffer that ignominie and shame, which nevertheles she most abhorred.

Do we say that God did (or doeth) any such violence to his creatures? Did he compell Sathan to tempt the woman, when his will was contrarie thereto? Did the will of Adame resist the temptation of the woman, and did he so hate and abhorre to eate of that fruite, that it behoved God to compell his will repugning thereto to eat of it, and so to break his commandements? or, did he not rather willingly hear and obey the voice of his wyfe? Consider, I beseech you, how plainely we put a difference betwixt vidlence, which you call mere Necessitie, and God's secrete counsell and eternall purpose. But yet ye crie, "Wherein then did man offend? Who can resist the will of God ? Why doth he complein, seing that his counsell and purpose, by such meanes, is broght to passe?" Do ye not understand that these were the furious cries of those to whom Saint Paul imposeth silence, with this sentence, " 0 man, what art thou that darest reason against God ?" &c.

But lest that ye complein (as your common custom is) of our obscuritie and darke speaking, I will even in one or two wordes declare, Why the creatures offend even when they serve most effectually to God's purpose; to witt, becaus that they neither have the glorie of God in their actions before their eies, neither yet mynd they to serve nor obey God's purpose and will. Sathan, in tempting man, studied nothing to promote God's glorie; man, in obeying the temptation, looked not to the counsell of God; Judas, Ananias, Pilate, the soldiours, and the rest, had nothing less in mind then mannes redemption to be performed by their counsells and wicked workes. And therefor, of God's justice, were they everio one reputed sinners; yea, and some of them reprobated for ever. If these reasons do not satisfic you, yet shall they be a testimonie what is our doctrine; and, as I trust, shall also be a reasonable contentation to the godlie and simple reader. More would I have spoken in the same matter, and so to have put end unto it at once; but becaus that after, by the reason of your most unjust accusations, I wilbe compelled to have to do with you againe, I abyde opportunitie.

Now to your reasons: Mannes will, I say, in the self remained free, notwithstanding that God in his eternall counsell had decreed his fall; and that becaus no violence, as before is declared, was done unto it. The will of our Master and Saviour Christ Jesus, notwithstanding the immutable decree of his death, appointed to be at a certein time, was so free, that albeit the power of nature might have given unto him mo yeares of life; and also that the humaine nature did abhorre the crueil and ignominious death; yet did he subject bothe his will and the power of nature unto the will of his heavenlie Father; as he doeth witnes, saying, "Not that I will, Father, but let that be done which thou willest."

Wonder it is, that ye can not see how God's will can remaine in hbertie, except that he abyde m suspence or dowte, and so daily and hourely change his purpose and counsell, as occasion is offered unto him by men and by their actions. If this be to make God bounde, and to take frome him libertie, to affirme that lie is infinite in wisdom, infinite in goodnes, infinite in justice, and infinite in power, so doeth he most constantly, most freely, most justlie, and most wisely, bring that to passe which in his eternall counsell he hath determined; if this, I say, be to take from God freedom, wisdome, and libortie, as ye do rayle, I must confess myself a transgressor. But if your cogitations and foolishe conclusions of his eternal Godhead, be, as, alas! too manifestly ye declare yourselves, so prophane, so carnal, and so wicked, that long, you abiding in the same, can not escaip God's just vengeance; repent, before that in his anger he arrest, and declare that your justice, wherof so much ye bragge, is manifest blasphemie against his dear Sonne Christ Jesus! God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve his small flock from your vennom and most dangerous heresies, and stoppe your blasphemous mouthes, that thus dare jeast upon God, as if he were one of your companions, saying, " Then is he a goodly wvse God; Then is God bounde himself," &c.

(John Knox, "On Predestination," 19th Section, as presented in the Works of John Knox, Volume 5 (1856), pp. 140-46) (I've presented here the old spellings which ought to be readable to the average reader. God willing, I will provide a modernized version at a later date.)(The work is a response, written in 1560, to an response to an Anabaptist.)

7 comments:

natamllc said...

A digression, at least here and there may be more?:::>

"....as if a pudique and honest matron,..."

"PUDIQUE"

Huh? What modern word would that word be?

natamllc said...

Oh, yes, here too:::>

"....how plainely we put a difference betwixt vidlence, which you call mere Necessitie,..."

"VIDLENCE"??

Turretinfan said...

perhaps vidlence = violence

natamllc said...

And:::>

"....Pilate, albeit he long refused, and by divers nieancs studied to delyver Christ,..."

"NIEANCS"??

Turretinfan said...

pudique = modest, I think.

Turretinfan said...

nieancs is a bad OCR for the word "meanes" which is an old spelling of "means"

natamllc said...

Of this article, it seems to be my opinion this is the crux of his point to the ANABAPTISTs, am I wrong here in your opinion?

"....Here I know, that ye think that either I write against myself, or els that I conclude a great absurditic: For, if I say that God did nothing but foresee these thinges, and so permitted them (as after you speak) to folow their own train; that he worketh no more but as a simple beholder of a tragedie; then do I agree with you. And if I do say (as in verey dede I do understand and afiirme,) that the eternall counsell and purpose of God did so reule in all these thinges, that rather they did serve to God's purpose and most just will, then fulfill their most wicked willes; then will you cry, Blasphemie, and say that I deliver the Devill, Adam, and all the wicked, frome sinne, of the which I make God to be author. To the first I have answered before, that as I seperate not God's foreknowledge from his counsell, so do I affirme that He worketh all in all thinges, according to the purpose of the same his good will; and yet that he useth no violence, neither in compelling his creatures, neither constreining their willes by any externall force, neither yet taking their willes from them, but in all wisdom and justice using them as he knoweth most expedient for the manifestation of his glorie, without any violence, I say, done to their willes. ..."

I make that opinion in light of these verses which seem to fly in the face of the passive nature of Anabaptists:::>

Psa 143:10 Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!
Psa 143:11 For your name's sake, O LORD, preserve my life! In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble!
Psa 143:12 And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies, and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul, for I am your servant.

It is agreed that Jesus "had to" go passive and be unjustly and criminally abused to the point of the humiliation of His own physical death. That had to happen in order for Him, that is, afterwards and soon, quickly, to "destroy" him who had the power over death:::>

Heb 2:14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,
Heb 2:15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.