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Ordaining Sin

It is laid down as a firm foundation, that “known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world,” Acts 15:18. Every thing, then, that in any respect may be called his work, is known unto him from all eternity. Now, what in the world, if we may speak as he hath taught us, can be exempted from this denomination? Even actions in themselves sinful are not; though not as sinful, yet in some other regard, as punishments of others. “Behold,” saith Nathan to David, in the name of God, “I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun; for thou didst it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel,” 2 Sam. 12:11, 12. So, also, when wicked robbers had nefariously spoiled Job of all his substance, the holy man concludeth, “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away,” chap. 1:21. Now, if the working of God’s providence be so mighty and effectual, even in and over those actions wherein the devil and men do most maliciously offend, as did Absalom and the Sabean with the Chaldean thieves, that it may be said to be his work, and he may be said to “do it” (I crave liberty to use the Scripture phrase), then certainly nothing in the world, in some respect or other, is independent of his all-disposing hand; yea, Judas himself betraying our Saviour did nothing but “what his hand and counsel determined before should be done,” Acts 4:28, in respect of the event of the thing itself. And if these actions, notwithstanding these two hinderances,—first, that they were contingent, wrought by free agents, working according to election and choice; secondly, that they were sinful and wicked in the agents,—had yet their dependence on his purpose and determinate counsel, surely he hath an interest of operation in the acts of every creature. But his works, as it appears before, are all known unto him from the beginning, for he worketh nothing by chance or accidentally, but all things determinately, according to his own decree, or “the counsel of his own will,” Eph. 1:11.

~John Owen

from A Display of Arminianismvolume 10 of Works, page 27-28

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