Calvin the Calvinist: The Second Argument Against Pighius (of Seven)


The second argument: Why are crimes punished by the law if they are committed of necessity? Why does the judge pass sentence on the person through whom God has acted? For if a murder has been committed, no punishment will be inflicted upon the sword. But the wicked when they commit their crimes are, according to Luther, in exactly the same position in God’s sight as is a sword in someone’s hand. I reply that there is an answer to this objection if with due humility rather than ungodly arrogance one reflects on the way in which divine providence governs human affairs. For we do not say that the wicked sin of necessity in such a way as to imply that they sin without willful and deliberate evil intent. The necessity comes from the fact that God accomplishes his work, which is sure and steadfast, through them. At the same time, however, the will and purpose to do evil which dwells within them makes them liable to censure. But, it is said, they are driven and forced to this by God. Indeed, but in such a way that in a single deed the action of God is one thing and their own action is another. For they gratify their evil and wicked desires, but God turns this wickedness so as to bring his judgments to execution. This subject is one that I am touching on lightly with, as it were, only a brief mention, since elsewhere it will have to be treated at greater length and with more attention. But his attempt to heap odium on Luther for comparing the wicked to a sword deceives no one and only shows up his brazen impudence. For they are the Holy Spirit’s words, not Luther’s” O Assyria, rod of my anger! Again: Why does the axe boast, which is guided by the hand of him that cuts? (Isa. 10).

John Calvin, The Bondage and Liberation of the Will: A Defence of the Orthodox Doctrine of Human Choice against Pighius (pgs. 37-38)

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