Thursday, January 2, 2014

William Twisse on Why Reprobation is not Conditional

1. No temporal thing can be the cause of that which is eternal. But the sins of men are temporal, whereas Reprobation is eternal. Therefore the sins of man cannot be the cause of Reprobation.

2. My 2nd reason is, if permission of sin be first in intention and then damnation, it follows that permission of sin should be last in execution. But this is most absurd, namely, that a man should be first damned, and then suffered to sin.

3. Reprobation, as it signifies God’s decree, is the act of God’s will. Now, the act of God’s will is the very will of God, and the will of God is God’s essence. And, like as there can be no cause of God’s essence, so there can be no cause of God’s will, or the act thereof.

4. In saying sin foreseen is the cause of God’s decree of damnation they presuppose a prescience of sin as of the thing future, without all ground. For, nothing can be foreseen as future unless it be future. Now these dispute or’s presuppose a futurition of sin, and that from eternity, without all ground. For consider, no sin is future in its own nature, for in its own nature it is merely possible and in different, as well not to be future as to become future. Therefore it cannot pass out of the condition of a thing merely possible into the condition of a thing future without a cause. Now what cause do these men devise of this futurition of sin? Extra Deum, nothing can be the cause thereof. For this passage of things out of the condition of things possible into the condition of things future, was from everlasting, for from everlasting they were future. Otherwise, God could not have known them from everlasting. Consequently, the cause of this passage must be acknowledged to have been from everlasting, and consequently nothing without God could be the cause of it, seeing nothing without God was from everlasting. Therefore the cause hereof must be found intra Deum, within God; then either the will of God, which these men do utterly disclaim, or the knowledge of God; but that is confessed to presuppose things future rather than to make them so; or the essence of God; now that may be considered either as working necessarily, (and if in that manner it were the cause of things future, and all such things to become future by necessity of nature, which to say is atheistical) or as working freely. And this is to grant that the will of God is the cause why everything merely possible in its own nature passes from everlasting into the condition of a thing future, if so be it were future at all. And indeed seeing no other cause can be pitched upon, this free will of God must be acknowledged to be the cause of it. And consequently the reason why everything becomes future is because God has determined it shall come to pass, but with this difference: all good things God hath determined shall come to pass by his election, all evil things God has determined shall come to pass by his permission. And the Scripture naturally affords plentiful testimony to confirm this, without forcing it to interpretations congruous hereunto, upon presumptuous grounds that these arguments proceed from understandings ‘purged from prejudice and false principles.’

5. My 5th argument is this. If sin because of Reprobation, that is, of the decree of damnation, then either by necessity of nature, or by the constitution of God; not by necessity of nature as all that hitherto I have known confess. But I say neither can it be by the free constitution of God; for Mark what a notorious absurdity follows hence, and that unavoidably, namely, that God did ordain, that upon foresight of sin he would ordain them to damnation. Mark it well, “God did ordain that he would ordain, or God did decree that he would decree.” In which words God’s eternal decrees made the object of God’s decree. Whereas it is well known that the objects of God’s decrees are merely things temporal and cannot be things eternal. We truly say God did decree to create the world, to preserve the world, to redeem us, call us, justify us, sanctify and save us. But it cannot be truly said that God did decree to decree, or ordain to ordain. For to decree is the act of God’s will, and therefore it cannot be the object of the act of God’s will. Yet these arguments I am not so enamored with, as to force the interpretations of Scripture to such a sense as is suitable hereunto, presuming the purity of my understanding as ‘purged from prejudice and false principles.’ I would willingly content myself with observation of the apostle’s discourse in arguing to this effect, “Before the children were born or had done good or evil, it was said, ‘the elder shall serve the younger.’” Therefore the purpose of God concerning Reprobation stands not of works. And like as hence it is inferred that therefore election stands not of good works; so therehence may I infer, that therefore Reprobation stands not of evil works.

6. If sin foreseen be the cause meritorious of Reprobation, then faith and repentance and good works are the disposing causes unto election. For therefore evil works foreseen are made the meritorious cause of reprobation because evil works existence or the meritorious cause of damnation. If this be true, then also because faith and repentance and good works are the disposing causes unto salvation, than by the same force of reason faith repentance and good works foreseen must be the disposing cause unto election. But faith, repentance, and good works foreseen are not the disposing causes unto election as I prove thus:
1. If they were then the purpose of God according to election should be of faith, repentance and good works, which is expressly denied by the apostle is touching the last part; and may as evidently be proved to be denied by him in effect of the other parts also, by the same force of argumentation which he uses: as for example, from this antecedent of the apostle’s, “Before the children were born or had done good or evil,” it no more evidently follows that therefore the purpose of God according to election is not of works, then it follows that the same purpose of God according to election is not of faith, nor of repentance. For before they were born they were no more capable of faith, or of repentance than of any other good works. And undoubtedly faith and repentance are as good works as any other.
2. If God doth absolutely work faith in some and not in others according to the mere pleasure of his will, then it cannot be said that faith foreseen is the cause of any man’s election. For in this case faith is rather the means of salvation, than salvation a means of faith. Consequently, the intention of salvation rather precedes the intention of faith than the intention of faith can be said to precede the intention of salvation. And to this the Scripture accords, Acts 13:48, “As many believed as were ordained to everlasting life,” making ordination to everlasting life the cause why men believed. Answerable hereunto is Acts 2:47, “God added daily to the church such as should be saved;” and that of Paul to Titus, “according to the faith of God’s elect.” So that according to Paul’s phrase fides est electorum, but according to the Arminian’s doctrine the inverse hereof is a more proper and natural predication, as to say electio est fidelium.


  1. Definitely Supralapsarian! I Maybe we can get Dr. Beeke to publish his works.

    1. He definitely was a Supralapsarian. But the Infralapsarians of the Dordt and Westminster Era held that both Election and Reprobation were unconditional. That no longer seems to be the case today. I'm not sure when it changed.

  2. He seems to be arguing for equal ultimacy in the decree of Predestination.

    1. This is definitely a touchy issue. I know what your views on the subject are. I find nothing in Twisse's argument to quibble with. Interestingly enough, this book (Riches of God's Love...) delineates Twisse's Supralapsarian position within about the first 50 pages. The he goes on for over 400 more pages defending the Infralapsarian position from Armnian cavils.


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