The Plan of Salvation

by Charles Hodge

charles hodge

Part VI: The Remonstrant Doctrine.

In the early part of the seventeenth century Arminius introduced a new system of doctrine in the Reformed churches of Holland, which was formally condemned by the Synod of Dort which sat from November 1618 to May 1619. Against the decisions of that Synod the advocates of the new doctrine presented a Remonstrance, and hence they were at first called Remonstrants, but in after years their more common designation has been Arminians. Arminianism is a much lower form of doctrine than Lutheranism. In all the points included under Anthropology and Soteriology it is a much more serious departure from the system of Augustinianism which in all ages has been the life of the church. The Arminians taught,—

1. That all men derive from Adam a corrupt nature by which they are in-clined to sin. But they deny that this corruption is of the nature of sin. Men are responsible only for their own voluntary acts and the consequences of such acts. “Peccatum originate nee habent (Remonstrantes) pro peccato proprie ditto . . . . nee pro malo, quod per modum proprie dictae poem ab Adamo in pos teros dimanet, sed pro malo infirmitate.”10 Limborch11 says, “Atqui illa physica est impuritas (namely, the deterioration of our nature derived from Adam), non moralis: et tantum abest ut sit vere ac proprie dictum peccatum.”

2. They deny that man by his fall has lost his ability to good. Such ability, or liberty as they call it, is essential to our nature, and cannot be lost without the loss of humanity. “Innatam arbitrii humani libertatem (i.e. ability) olim semel in creations datam, nunquam . . . . tollit (Deus).”12

3. This ability, however, is not of itself sufficient to secure the return of the soul to God. Men need the preventing, exciting, and assisting grace of God in order to their conversion and holy living. “Gratiam Dei statuimus esse princip-ium, progressurn et complementum omnis boni: adeo ut ne ipse quidem re-genitus absque praecedente ista, sive praeveniente, excitants, prosequente et cooperante gratia, bonum ullurn salutare cogitare, velle, aut peragere possit.”13

4. This divine grace is afforded to all men in sufficient measure to enable them to repent, believe, and keep all the commandments of God. “Gratia effi-cax vocatur ex eventu. Ut statuatur gratia habere ex se sufflcientem vim, ad producendum consensum in voluntate, sed quia vis illa partialis est, non posse exire in actum sive effectum sortiri sine cooperatione liberae voluntatis hu-manae, ac proinde ut effectum habeat, . . . . pendere a libera voluntate.”14 This grace, says Limborch, “incitat, exstimulat, adjuvat et corroborat, quantum satis est, ut homo reipsa Deo obediat et ad finem in obedientia perseveret.” And again:15 “Sufficiens vocatio, quando per cooperationem liberi arbitrii sortitur suum effectum, vocatur efficax.”

5. Those who of their own free will, and in the exercise of that ability which belongs to them since the fall, cooperate with this divine grace, are converted and saved. “Etsi vero maxima est gratiae disparitas, pro liberrima scilicet voluntatis divinae dispensatione tamen Spiritus Sanctus omnibus et singulis, quibus verbum fidei ordinarie praedicatur, tantum gratiae confert, aut saltem conferre paratus est, quantum ad fidem ingenerandum, et ad promo-endum suis gradibus salutarem ipsorum conversionem sufficit.”16 The Apology for the Remonstrance, and especially the Remonstrant Theologians, as Episcopius and Limborch, go farther than this. Instead of limiting this suffi-cient grace to those who hear the gospel, they extend it to all mankind.

6. Those who thus believe are predestinated to eternal life, not however as individuals, but as a class. The decree of election does not concern persons, it is simply the purpose of God to save believers. “Decretum vocant Remon-strantes decretum pr aedesti-nationis ad salutem, quia eo decernitur, qua ra-tione et conditione Deus peccatores saluti destinet. Enunciatur autem hoc de-cretum Dei hac formula: Deus decrevit salvare credentes, non quasi eredentes quidam re ipsa jam sint, qui objiciantur Deo salvare volenti, sive praedesti-nanti; nihil minus; sed, ut quid in iis, circa quos Deus praedestinans versatur, requiratur, ista enunciatione clare significetur. Tantundem enim valet atqui si diceres, Deus decrevit homines salvare sub conditione fidei. . . . . Etiamsi hu-jusmodi praedestinatio non sit praedestinatio certarum personarum, est tamer omnium hominum praedestinatio, si modo credant et in virtute praedestinatio certarum personarum, quae et quando credunt.”17

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