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What God Knows, part 3 of 3

For every thing to be produced next and under him, God hath prepared divers and several kinds of causes, diversely operative in producing their effects, some whereof are said to work necessarily, the institution of their nature being to do as they do, and not otherwise; so the sun giveth light, and the fire heat. And yet, in some regard, their effects and products may be said to be contingent and free, inasmuch as the concurrence of God, the first cause, is required to their operation, who doth all things most freely, according to the counsel of his will. Thus the sun stood still in the time of Joshua, and the fire burned not the three children; but ordinarily such agents working “necessitate naturae,” their effects are said to be necessary. Secondly, To some things God hath fitted free and contingent causes, which either apply themselves to operation in particular, according to election, choosing to do this thing rather than that; as angels and men, in their free and deliberate actions, which they so perform as that they could have not done them;—or else they produce effects merely by accident, and the operation of such things we say to be casual; as if a hatchet, falling out of the hand of a man cutting down a tree, should kill another whom he never saw. Now, nothing in either of these ways comes to pass but God hath determined it, both for the matter and manner, even so as is agreeable to their causes,—some necessarily, some freely, some casually or contingently, yet also, as having a certain futurition from his decree, he infallibly foreseeth that they shall so come to pass. But yet that he doth so in respect of things free and contingent is much questioned by the Arminians in express terms, and denied by consequence, notwithstanding St Jerome affirms that so to do is destructive to the very essence of the Deity.

~John Owen

from A Display of Arminianismvolume 10 of Works, page 24

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