Jerome Zanchius on Absolute Predestination (Complete)

Chapter 10: The Omnipotence of God, Part 3

I shall conclude this article with two or three observations, and—

(1) I would infer that, if we would maintain the doctrine of God’s omnipotence, we must insist upon that of His universal agency; the latter cannot be denied without giving up the former. Disprove that He is almighty, and then we will grant that His influence and operations are limited and circumscribed. Luther[1] says, “God would not be a respectable Being if He were not almighty, and the doer of all things that are done, or if anything could come to pass in which He had no hand.” God has, at least, a physical influence on whatsoever is done by His creatures, whether trivial or important, good or evil. Judas as truly lived, moved and had his being from God as Peter, and Satan himself as much as Gabriel, for to say that sin exempts the sinner from the Divine government and jurisdiction is abridging the power of God with a witness, nay, is raising it from its very foundations.

(2) This doctrine of God’s omnipotence has a native tendency to awaken in our hearts that reverence for and fear of the Divine Majesty, which none can either receive or retain, but those who believe Him to be infinitely powerful, and to work all things after the counsel of His own will. This godly fear is a sovereign antidote against sin, for, if I really believe that God, by His unintermitted operation upon my soul, produces actions in me, which, being simply good, receive their malignancy from the corruption of my nature (and even those works that stand opposed to sins are, more or less, infected with this moral leprosy), and if I consider that, should I yield myself a slave to actual iniquity, God can, and justly might, as He has frequently done by others, give me up to a reprobate mind and punish one sin by leaving me to the commission of another, surely such reflections as these must fill me with awful apprehensions of the Divine purity, power and greatness, and make me watch continually as well against the inward risings as the outward appearance of evil.

(3) This doctrine is also useful, as it tends to inspire us with true humility of soul, and to lay us, as impotent dust and ashes, at the feet of sovereign Omnipotence. It teaches us, what too many are fatally ignorant of, the blessed lesson of self-despair, i.e., that, in a state of unregeneracy, our wisdom is folly, our strength weakness and our righteousness nothing worth; that therefore we can do nothing, either to the glory of God or the spiritual benefit of ourselves and others, but through the ability which He giveth; that in him our strength lieth, and from Him all our help must come. Supposing we believe that whatsoever is done below or above, God doeth it Himself; that all things depend both as to their being and operation upon His omnipotent arm and mighty support; that we cannot even sin, much less do any good thing, if He withdrew His aid; and that all men are in His hand, as clay in the hand of the potter—I say, did we really believe all these points and see them in the light of the Divine Spirit, how can it be reasonably supposed that we could wax insolent against this great God, behave contemptuously and superciliously in the world, or boast of anything we have or do? Luther[2] informs us that “he used frequently to be much offended at this doctrine, because it drove him to self-despair, but that he afterwards found that this sort of despair was salutary and profitable, and near akin to Divine grace.”

(4) We are hereby taught not only humility before God, but likewise dependence on Him and resignation to Him. For if we are thoroughly persuaded that of ourselves and in our own strength we cannot either do good or evil, but that, being originally created by God, we are incessantly supported, moved, influenced and directed by Him, this way or that, as He pleases, the natural inference from hence will be that with simple faith we cast ourselves entirely as on the bosom of His providence; commit all our care and solicitude to His hand; praying, without hesitation or reserve, that His will may be done in us, on us, and by us; and that, in all His dealing with us, He may consult His own glory alone. This holy passiveness is the very apex of Christianity. All the desires of our great Redeemer Himself were reducible to these two: that the will of God might be done, and that the glory of God might be displayed. These were the highest and supreme marks at which He aimed throughout the whole course of His spotless life and inconceivably tremendous sufferings. Happy, thrice happy that man who hath thus far attained the mind that was in Christ.

(5) The comfortable belief of this doctrine has a tendency to excite and keep alive within us that fortitude which is so ornamental to, and necessary for us while we abide in this wilderness. For if I believe, with the apostle, that “all things are of God” (2 Cor. 5:18). I shall be less liable to perturbation when afflicted, and learn more easily to possess my soul in patience. This was Job’s support; he was not overcome with rage and despair when he received news that the Sabeans had carried off his cattle and slain his servants, and that the remainder of both were consumed with fire; that the Chaldeans had robbed him of his camels, and that his seven sons were crushed to death by the falling of the house where they were sitting: he resolved all these misfortunes into the agency of God, His power and sovereignty, and even thanked Him for doing what He would with His own (Job 1:21). If another should slander me in word, or injure me in deed, I shall not be prone to anger, when, with David, I consider that the Lord hath bidden him (2 Sam. 16:10).

(6) This should stir us up to fervent and incessant prayer. For, does God work powerfully and benignly in the hearts of His elect? And is He the sole cause of every action they do, which is truly and spiritually good? Then it should be our prayer that He would work in us likewise both to will and to do of His good pleasure, and if, on self-examination, we find reason to trust that some good thing is wrought in us, it should put us upon thankfulness unfeigned, and cause us to glory, not in ourselves, but in Him. On the other hand, does God manifest His displeasure against the wicked by blinding, hardening and giving them up to perpetrate iniquity with greediness? Which judicial acts of God are both a punishment for their sin and also eventual additions to it, we should be the more incited to deprecate these tremendous evils, and to beseech the King of heaven that He would not thus “lead us into temptation.” So much concerning the omnipotence of God.

[1] De Serv. Arb. c. 160.
[2] De Serv. Arb. c. 161.

Jerome Zanchius (1516-1590) was an Italian pastor, theologian, writer and reformer during the Protestant Reformation. After the death of Calvin, Zanchius’ influence filled the void, which was copiously met by a large written ministry. Among his most popular works are, “Confession Of The Christian Religion”, “Observation On The Divine Attributes” and “The Doctrine Of Absolute Predestination”.

Jerome Zanchius on Absolute Predestination (Complete)