Arminius on the Attributes of God From the Viewpoint of His Will

, posted by drwayman

This post was provided by SEA member, Roy Ingle



I. Those attributes of God ought to be considered, which are either properly or figuratively attributed to him in the Scriptures, according to a certain analogy of the affections and virtues in rational creatures.

II. Those divine attributes which have the analogy of affections, may be referred to two principal kinds, so that the first class may contain those affections which are simply conversant about good or evil, and which may be denominated primitive affections; and the second may comprehend those which are exercised about good and evil in reference to their absence or presence, and which may be called affections derived from the primitive.

III. The primitive affections are love, (the opposite to which is hatred,) and goodness; and with these are connected grace, benignity and mercy. Love is prior to goodness towards the object, which is God himself; goodness is prior to love towards that object which is some other than God.

IV. Love is an affection of union in God, whose objects are not only God himself and the good of justice, but also the creature, imitating or related to God either according to likeness, or only according to impress, and the felicity of the creature. But this affection is borne onwards either to enjoy and to have, or to do good; the former is called “the love of complacency;” the latter, “the love of friendship,” which falls into goodness, God loves himself with complacency in the perfection of His own nature, wherefore he likewise enjoys himself. He also loves himself with the love of complacency in his effects produced externally; both in acts and works, which are specimens and evident, infallible indications of that perfection. Wherefore he may be said, in some degree, likewise to enjoy these acts and works. Even the justice or righteousness performed by the creature, is pleasing to him; wherefore his affection is extended to secure it.

V. Hatred is an affection of separation in God, whose many object is injustice or unrighteousness; and the secondary, the misery of the creature. The former is from “the love of complacency;” the latter, from “the love of friendship.” But since God properly loves himself and the good of justice, and by the same impulse holds iniquity in detestation; and since he secondarily loves the creature and his blessedness, and in that impulse hates the misery of the creature, that is, he wills it to be taken away from the creature; hence, it comes to pass, that he hates the creature who perseveres in unrighteousness, and he loves his misery.

VI. Hatred, however, is not collateral to love, but necessarily flowing from it; since love neither does nor can tend towards all those things which become objects to the understanding of God. It belongs to him, therefore, in the first act, and must be placed in him prior to any existence of a thing worthy of hatred, which existence being laid down, the act of hatred arises from it by a natural necessity, not by liberty of the will.

VII. But since love does not perfectly fill the whole will of God, it has goodness united with it; which also is an affection in God of communicating his good. Its first object externally is nothing; and this is so necessarily first, that, when it is removed, no communication can be made externally. Its act is creation. Its second object is the creature as a creature; and its act is called conservation, or sustentation, as if it was a continuance of creation. Its third object is the creature performing his duty according to the command of God; and its act is the elevation to a more worthy and felicitous condition, that is, the communication of a greater good than that which the creature obtained by creation. Both these advances of goodness may also be appropriately denominated “benignity,” or “kindness.” Its fourth object is the creature not performing his duty, or sinful, and on this account liable to misery according to the just judgment of God; and its act is a deliverance from sin through the remission and the mortification of sin. And this progress of goodness is denominated mercy, which is an affection for giving succour to a man in misery, sin presenting no obstacle.

VIII. Grace is a certain adjunct of goodness and love, by which is signified that God is affected to communicate his own good and to love the creatures, not through merit or of debt, not by any cause impelling from without, nor that something may be added to God himself, but that it may be well with him on whom the good is bestowed and who is beloved, which may also receive the name of “liberality.” According to this, God is said to be “rich in goodness, mercy,” &c.

IX. The affections which spring from these, and which are exercised about good or evil as each is present or absent, are considered as having an analogy either in those things which are in the concupiscible part of our souls, or in that which is irascible.

X. In the concupiscible part are, first, desire and that which is opposed to it; secondly, joy and grief.

(1.) Desire is an affection of obtaining the works of righteousness from rational creatures, and of bestowing a remunerative reward, as well as of inflicting punishment if they be contumacious. To this is opposed the affection according to which God execrates the works of unrighteousness, and the omission of a remuneration. (2.). Joy is an affection from the presence of a thing that is suitable or agreeable — such as the fruition of himself, the obedience of the creature, the communication of his own goodness, and the destruction of His rebels and enemies. Grief, which is opposed to it, arises from the disobedience and the misery of the creature, and in the occasion thus given by his people for blaspheming the name of God among the gentiles. To this, repentance has some affinity; which is nothing more than a change of the thing willed or done, on account of the act of a rational creature, or, rather, a desire for such change.

XI. In the irascible part are hope and its opposite, despair, confidence and anger, also fear, which is affirmatively opposed to hope.

(1.) Hope is an earnest expectation of a good, due from the creature, and performable by the grace of God. It cannot easily be reconciled with the certain foreknowledge of God.

(2.) Despair arises from the pertinacious wickedness of the creature, opposing himself to the grace of God, and resisting the Holy Spirit.

(3.) Confidence is that by which God with great animation prosecutes a desired good, and repels an evil that is hated.

(4.) Anger is an affection of depulsion in God, through the punishment of the creature that has transgressed his law, by which he inflicts on the creature the evil of misery for his unrighteousness, and takes the vengeance which is due to him, as an indication of his love towards justice, and of his hatred to sin. When this affection is vehement, it is called “fury.”

(5.) Fear is from an impending evil to which God is averse.

XII. Of the second class of these derivative affections, (See Thesis 11) some belong to God per se, as they simply contain in themselves perfection; others, which seem to have something of imperfection, are attributed to him after the manner of the feelings of men, on account of some effects which he produces analogous to the effects of the creatures, yet without any passion, as he is simple and immutable and without any disorder and repugnance to right reason. But we subject the use and exercise of the first class of those affections (See Thesis 10) to the infinite wisdom of God, whose property it is to prefix to each of them its object, means, end and circumstances, and to decree to which, in preference to the rest, is to be conceded the province of acting.

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