Front Page Titles (by Subject) §85 - The Divine Feudal Law: Or, Covenants with Mankind, Represented
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§85 - Samuel von Pufendorf, The Divine Feudal Law: Or, Covenants with Mankind, Represented 
The Divine Feudal Law: Or, Covenants with Mankind, Represented, trans. Theophilus Dorrington, ed. with an Introduction by Simone Zurbruchen (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2002).
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Concerning the Order of the Divine Decrees.From thence Jurieu proceeds to explain and vindicate the Decree of Absolute Predestination, according to the Mind of the Synod of Dort.67 About which the Sum of the Matter seems chiefly to turn upon the Order of the Divine Decrees, or in what order these are to be placed in the Exercise of the Divine Mind. Where we indeed did presuppose this in the beginning, That since the Business of Salvation cannot be clearly searched out by the Principles and Powers of Reason, that which God has Decreed concerning it must be known from his Revelation, or from his Works which confer something towards it. But since the laborious and subtle Engine of an Absolute Decree recommended by the Synod of Dort, is no where extant in the Holy Scriptures, and which the very Anxiousness of the Structure, and the number of the Divisions renders suspected, the simplest and safest way of knowing what God hath Will’d and Decreed, will be to inspect what he hath actually done. Since therefore it is confess’d by all that God is from all Eternity a Being most perfect in himself, and most happy, and self-sufficient, In the first place we conceive him to have Will’d this, That he would manifest his Majesty and Glory to Works produced by him, and would Communicate of his Goodness to them: So as that the Glory of God, and the Revelation of the Divine Majesty is the beginning and end of all things. But as he truly Created Man upright, holy, and capable to attain Eternal Felicity, and such, as that no necessity, either Extrinsick, or Intrinsick, manifest, or hidden should oblige him to abdicate or loose that State, so he decreed to create him such. For the contrary is repugnant to the Goodness of God, and it is manifestly better never to exist, then to exist with this Law, and Necessity, that it must be always Ill with one, and so the Benefit of Creation by such a Law as this would have the place of the highest Cruelty. Altho’ on the other hand, neither was there any Indispensible Necessity, but that Man might of his own accord throw himself from that Original State. But that he might not rashly will this it seem’d good to God to strengthen that State by a Covenant made with Man, which was the most sacred of all Moral Obligations. If this Covenant had been always kept by Man, there had been no Diminution of the Divine Majesty and Glory. If at the most his Judiciary, and Vindicative Justice could not have had an Object of Man, yet God might have gain’d sufficient matter for the glorifying of this under the name of Justice from the Punishment of the Devils. Yea, the Majesty of God had remain’d safe, if there never had been any one upon whom Punishment might take place. On the contrary, many of the first of the Reform’d Party did in the first place among the Decrees of God, even before the Fall, set this, That God Will’d to show his Mercy and Justice; for the attaining which End he would Create Men, and procure their Fall, that so there might be an Object for the Exercise of both. Which Doctrine is indeed the most absurd, and contrary to all Reason, while the Decree of exercising Justice is set before the Decree of Creation. For Justice, as it is among Men, is a Vertue respecting another. So that even in God it cannot be understood unless there be for Objects of it Creatures capable of Virtue and Sin. For Justice in God cannot be otherwise conceiv’d of, then as that of a Ruler and Judge, Gen. 18:25. Rom. 11:35. and so it supposes those that are subject. But tho’ the Punitive Justice supposes Creatures Culpable, there had been no Diminution of the Divine Majesty if such an Object had never been existent upon which such Justice might exert it self. Certainly God Created Man for eternal Life, Wisd. 1:13, 14. 2:23, 24. And when he punishes Men, he is said to do his strange Work. Among Men also a Prince may retain his Majesty, even tho’ he never commands any Man to be punish’d. For tho’ there be no exercise of the thing, the Right and Power may be safe. Absurdly also is the Salvation and Damnation of Men set as an ultimate end, since they are Means which may serve to an End, namely, the Manifestation of the Divine Majesty and Glory. The following Doctors of the Reform’d Party therefore, and the Synod of Dort themselves, that they might after some manner soften the horrid Opinion of their Predecessours, they cut off part of their System, and set the Fall before their absolute Decree, abstracting by whose Fault, or Impulse Mankind fell into that. Which however is that which ought to be first look’d into by those who would search this Doctrine to the Foundation, since it cannot be but those who contemplate these Matters must carry their Minds to the State and Condition which Mankind were in before that Fall, since that Fall is not accounted by any one the Original State. But supposing the Fall, it does not appear by any one place of Holy Scripture, that God propos’d to himself in his Prescience, all that were to be born of the first Parents, and of them now being all infected with the same Pollution did pass by some, and suffer them without Remedy to perish in their Misery, and follow others with his Mercy, for whom he has prepar’d Means of Salvation. But on the contrary, immediately after the Fall a new Covenant is propos’d, in which there appears no Exception, and by which a Way is opened for the Salvation of all. And perhaps some Pretence might have been found for the Doctrine of Pretention, by an Absolute Will, if that Decree could be said to have been made concerning those who by their own Fall precipitated themselves into that Misery, to wit, Adam and Eve, that one of these should be allow’d Mercy, and the other be suffer’d to perish in the Misery which they had voluntarily Contracted: But that this Pretention should be extended to those who were afterwards to be born, who have not sinned after the Similitude of Adam’s Transgression, that is equally Repugnant to the Divine Goodness, as if he had destin’d them from the beginning by an Absolute Will to eternal Torments, without any regard to Sin. For it was not in their Power to hinder but that they must be born, but if the Covenant of God be refused by those that are born; that is what may afford Matter for Imputation. Therefore the first Decree concerning the Fall, is concerning the making a Covenant with Men in the Mediatour; who by bruising the Serpent’s Head should prepare a way for their Salvation. And that Decree since it involves a Covenant, cannot be conceiv’d to be Absolute without great Absurdity. Certainly it is in no wise order’d by that Decree on which the Covenant with Man is founded, that Men should either obtain eternal Life, or die the Death from an absolute Will and Pleasure of God: But there is included under it a Performance requir’d on the part of Man, if thou wilt always observe the Law of God thou shalt live, If thou dost eat of the forbidden Tree thou shalt die. Whereas ’tis superfluous and illusory to enter into Covenant about that which God had determin’d to procure by an unavoidable Necessity, and by his meer Will and Pleasure. And the Case is the same with the Covenant after the Fall. Where if God out of his Absolute Pleasure, and without Respect, not only of any Merit on the part of Men, but also without regard to the not rejecting his federal Grace, would destine some of those who were in the common Filthiness of Sin to eternal Life, what need had there been for preparing Means of so great Price, and Value. And to provide that those Benefits should be declar’d to Men already Reprobate were a new Cruelty, when nothing could come from thence but the Encrease of their Infelicity. But neither does any thing appear in that Covenant, which may argue that certain Men are excluded from it by any Absolute Decree. Further, as that Covenant is free, and made without any Respect to Merit on the part of Man, so also God has yielded himself ready, and prone to give Power to embrace it to all; for as much as without this that Covenant must have been still unprofitable to Men fallen into that Misery. But yet that the Covenant might retain the true Nature of such a thing, and that neither the Salvation of Men, nor their Perdition should come to pass like the Operation of an Engine, or by the Laws of Natural Motion, there must be left to Men at least a Faculty of refusing this Covenant. Whence, on the part of Man there is nothing else requir’d to his coming under this Covenant but Faith, and that not consider’d as a Vertue, but as a Mean of Accepting it, which also it self God is ready to give to those who do not refuse as it were the first Motions of his Grace. But they who do not accept the Covenant, do by their own Fault remain in their damnable State. When therefore God hath Decreed to bestow Salvation upon fallen Mankind by that Covenant, he hath also Decreed to give eternal Life to those particular Persons who do not reject, but accept of that Covenant; or, which comes to the same thing, to give eternal Life under the Condition of Faith, the rest being left for their rejecting of the Covenant, that is for their Incredulity, in a damnable State, which of it self leads to Perdition. All which things are clearly intimated, John 3:16, 17, 18. 1 John 4:9, 10. But when God has propos’d this Covenant out of meer Goodness and Mercy, that he does invite Men seriously into it, and afford Strength and Means proper for the embracing of it, the same Goodness and Faithfulness of God will not suffer us to doubt. For what Cause can be imagin’d to induce a most free Agent, him who owes nothing to any one, who is subject to no one, that he should mock Men by obscure and ambiguous Expressions, and by words differing from the secret Sense of his Mind, and by that illusion should do nothing else but increase their Infelicity. And this is that which we suppose to be the most simple Order of the Divine Decrees about the Salvation and Predestination of Men, and most agreeing with right Reason, and the sacred Writings.
[67.]The Synod of Dort (1618–19) was held in order to settle the serious Arminian controversy in the Dutch Reformed Church. In 1610 Dutch followers of Jacob Arminius had presented to the States General a remonstrance in five articles, directed against the strict Calvinist doctrine of predestination. The Synod of Dort rejected the remonstrance and set forth the orthodox doctrine on this and associated points in the “Canons of Dort.”