Chapter 24: Its Relation to the Ungodly – Part 3
Position 5.—God is the creator of the wicked, but not of their wickedness; He is the author of their being, but not the infuser of their sin.
It is most certainly His will (for adorable and unsearchable reasons) to permit sin, but, with all possible reverence be it spoken, it should seem that He cannot, consistently with the purity of His nature, the glory of His attributes, and the truth of His declarations, be Himself the author of it. “Sin,” says the apostle, “entered into the world by one man,” meaning by Adam, consequently it was not introduced by the Deity Himself. Though without the permission of His will and the concurrence of His providence, its introduction had been impossible, yet is He not hereby the Author of sin so introduced. Luther observes (De Serv. Arb., c. 42): “It is a great degree of faith to believe that God is merciful and gracious, though He saves so few and condemns so many, and that He is strictly just, though, in consequence of His own will, He made us not exempt from liableness to condemnation.” And cap. 148: “Although God doth not make sin, nevertheless He ceases not to create and multiply individuals in the human nature, which, through the withholding of His Spirit, is corrupted by sin, just as a skillful artist may form curious statues out of bad materials. So, such as their nature is, such are men themselves; God forms them out of such a nature.”
Position 6.—The condemnation of the reprobate is necessary and inevitable. Which we prove thus. It is evident from Scripture that the reprobate shall be condemned. But nothing comes to pass (much less can the condemnation of a rational creature) but in consequence of the will and decree of God. Therefore the non-elect could not be condemned was it not the Divine pleasure and determination that they should, and if God wills and determines their condemnation, that condemnation is necessary and inevitable. By their sins they have made themselves guilty of death, and as it is not the will of God to pardon those sins and grant them repentance unto life, the punishment of such impenitent sinners is as unavoidable as it is just. It is our Lord’s own declaration that “a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit” (Matt. 7), or, in other words, that a depraved sinner cannot produce in himself those gracious habits, nor exert those gracious acts, without which no adult person can be saved. Consequently the reprobate must, as corrupt, fruitless trees (or fruitful in evil only), be “hewn down and cast into the fire” (Matt. 3). This, therefore, serves as another argument in proof of the inevitability of their future punishment, which argument, in brief, amounts to this: they who are not saved from sin must unavoidably perish, but the reprobate are not saved from sin (for they have neither will nor power to save themselves, and God, though He certainly can, yet He certainly will not save them), therefore their perdition is unavoidable. Nor does it follow, from hence, that God forces the reprobate into sin, and thereby into misery, against their wills, but that, in consequence of their natural depravity (which it is not the Divine pleasure to deliver them out of, neither is He bound to do it, nor are they themselves so much as desirous that He would), they are voluntarily biassed and inclined to evil; nay, which is worse still, they hug and value their spiritual chains, and even greedily pursue the paths of sin, which lead to the chambers of death. Thus God does not (as we are slanderously reported to affirm) compel the wicked to sin, as the rider spurs forward an unwilling horse; God only says in effect that tremendous word, “Let them alone” (Matt. 15:14). He need but slacken the reins of providential restraint and withhold the influence of saving grace, and apostate man will too soon, and too surely, of his own accord, “fall by his iniquity”; he will presently be, spiritually speaking, a felo de se, and, without any other efficiency, lay violent hands on his own soul. So that though the condemnation of the reprobate is unavoidable, yet the necessity of it is so far from making them mere machines or involuntary agents, that it does not in the least interfere with the rational freedom of their wills, nor serve to render them less inexcusable.
Position 7.—The punishment of the non-elect was not the ultimate end of their creation, but the glory of God. It is frequently objected to us that, according to our view of predestination, “God makes some persons on purpose to damn them,” but this we never advanced; nay, we utterly reject it as equally unworthy of God to do and of a rational being to suppose. The grand principal end proposed by the Deity to Himself in His formation of all things, and of mankind in particular, was the manifestation and display of His own glorious attributes. His ultimate scope in the creation of the elect is to evidence and make known by their salvation the unsearchable riches of His power and wisdom, mercy and love, and the creation of the non-elect is for the display of His justice, power, sovereignty, holiness and truth. So that nothing can be more certain than the declaration of the text we have frequently had occasion to cite, ”The Lord hath made all things for Himself, even the wicked for the day of evil” (Prov. 16). On one hand, the “vessels of wrath are fitted for destruction,” in order that God may ”show His wrath and make His power known,” and manifest the greatness of His patience and longsuffering (Rom. 9:32). On the other hand, He afore prepared the elect to salvation, that on them He might demonstrate “the riches of His glory and mercy” (ver. 23). As, therefore, God Himself is the sole Author and efficient of all His own actions, so is He likewise the supreme end to which they lead and in which they terminate.
Besides, the creation and perdition of the ungodly answer another purpose (though a subordinate one) with regard to the elect themselves, who from the rejection of those learn (1) to admire the riches of the Divine love toward themselves, which planned and has accomplished the work of their salvation, while others, by nature on an equal level with them, are excluded from a participation of the same benefits. And such a view of the Lord’s distinguishing mercy is (2) a most powerful motive to thankfulness that when they too might justly have been condemned with the world of the non-elect, they were marked out as heirs of the grace of life. (3) Hereby they are taught ardently to love their heavenly Father; (4) to trust in Him assuredly for a continued supply of grace while they are on earth, and for the accomplishment of His eternal decree and promise by their glorification in heaven; and (5) to live as becomes those who have received such unspeakable mercies from the hand of their God and Saviour. So Bucer somewhere observes that the punishment of the reprobate “is useful to the elect, inasmuch as it influences them to a greater fear and abhorrence of sin, and to a firmer reliance on the goodness of God.”
 It is a known and very just maxim of the schools, Effectus sequitur causam proximam: “An effect follows from, and is to be inscribed to, the last immediate cause that produced it.” Thus, for instance, if I hold a book or a stone in my hand, my holding it is the immediate cause of its not falling; but if I let it go, my letting it go is not the immediate cause of its falling: it is carried downwards by its own gravity, which is therefore the causa proxima effectus, the proper and immediate cause of its descent. It is true, if I had kept my hold of it, it would not have fallen, yet still the immediate, direct cause of its fall is its own weight, not my quitting my hold. The application of this to the providence of God, as concerned in sinful events, is easy. Without God, there could have been no creation; without creation, no creatures; without creatures, no sin. Yet is not sin chargeable on God: for effectus sequitur causam proximam.
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”.