The Testimony of the Spirit necessary to confirm the Scripture, in order to the
complete Establishment of its Authority. The Suspension of its Authority on the
Judgment of the Churchman impious Fiction. BEFORE I proceed any farther, it is
I know, indeed, that they commonly cite the opinion of Augustine, where he says,
"that he would not believe the Gospel, unless he were influenced by the authority
of the Church." (p) But how falsely and unfairly this is cited in support of such a ...
obtained its authority by the holy consent of various nations, who agreed in
nothing besides. And as such an agreement of minds, so widely distant in place,
and so completely dissimilar in manners and opinions, ought to have great
These arguments, I conceive, will suffice to refute the impudence of those who
make use of the authority of Tertullian in order to deceive the minds of the simple.
XXIX. And certainly whoever will diligently compare the writings of the fathers, ...
The sum of it therefore will be, that we should reverence them, whom God hath
exalted to any authority over us, and should render them honour, obedience, and
gratitude. Whence follows a prohibition to derogate from their dignity by contempt
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‣ He apparently writes the book for the purpose of disputing critics of his Doctrine of Divine Providence, which he claims "our doctrine must stand, exalted above all the glory, and invincible by all the power of the world;". He also writes this book "in opposition to fortune and fate" as well as to oppose praying to saints or other "lesser spirits" and opposes many traditions of the catholic church.
‣ He devotes an entire chapter to defining HIS meaning of the term "free will" which he makes great attempts to differentiate from "free choice" and "voluntary". Maybe something was lost in it's translation from french or something but I think he intends "free will" to mean: "choosing whether or not to have a sin nature" - those are my words not his.
‣ He also was very concerned that people would misuse his doctrine by saying things like "god was the cause: I believe it was the divine will. for had it not been so, I know it would not have happened." He goes on to say: "There is the greatest danger that those who know not the right use of this doctrine will embarrass themselves with intricate perplexities." Furthermore he devotes an entire chapter to this topic. He warns his followers to not just lay down and take it: "but it will be objected, no danger can hurt, unless it has been ordained that it shall hurt us, and then no remedies can avert it. But what if dangers are therefor not fatal because God hath assigned you remedies to repulse and overcome them?". With this wording he makes it appear that god both appoints the problem and the solution. But later he says that problems/evils you must "excuse ... under the pretext of the divine providence ... but direct attention to inferior causes of this kind."
‣ His Doctrine of Divine Providence gets even more confusing: "I admit more than this: even that thieves, and homicides, and other malefactors, are instruments of Divine providence, whom the lord uses for the execution of the judgments which he hath appointed." and then on the flip side he says "Why shall a homicide be punished for having slain him whose life the lord had terminated? ...But I deny that they serve the will of god. For we cannot say, that he who is influenced by a wicked heart acts in obedience to the commands of god."
‣ So which is it? Did god ordain the murder or not? Perhaps he clarifies this aspect of his Doctrine of Divine Providence by attributing all evil events to be understood from the point of view that puts "him as the supreme cause of all things and ... also consider inferior causes in their proper order" - him meaning god and inferior causes being the perpetrator of the crime.
‣ I personally didn't gain anything from this book. I do not believe in "Fate" nor do I have any regard for "Lesser Spirits" neither do I hold to "Catholic Traditions" therefor I realize now that I was not his target audience.
‣ A note about me: I am not at all knowledgeable in Calvinism or Arminianism but I study the bible often and read it more than any other reading material I have. I prefer the KJV translation for many reasons, among them, it has good Hebrew and Greek lookup resources.