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Amandus Polanus on Divine Permission of Sin

May 21, 2008

1)

Thus much touching the first distribution of God’s decree.

Secondly the decree of God, is either of action or of permission.

The decree of action is that, by which God from eternity purposed to do good, either by himself or by others, Ephes. 1:11. Philip. 2:13.

The decree of permission is that by which God has from eternity purposed and appointed to permit sins to be done, Act. 2:23, and 4:27, 28. Amandus Polanus, The Substance of Christian Religion, (London: Arn. Hatfield for Felix Norton, dwelling in Paules Chuchyard, at the sign of the Parrot, 1600), 52.

2)

Thus far concerning the action of God: now concerning his permission.

God’s permission, is the work of God’s permission, whereby God, according to his eternal decree permits the evil of the offence, or sin to be done, whilst he does not vouchsafe the grace not to sin, or gives it not to sinners, and does not incline or bend their will, no let or hinder sin. Isai. 2.6; Acts 14. 16; Rom. 1.24, 28; Psal. 81:13.

Permission is a suffering of the evils of the offence, that is to say, of sins which are not done by God himself, but he does suffer them according to his decree. Esai. 2.6; Acts 14:16; Roms. 1.24.

But God suffers the evil of the offense so that it cannot be done except he be wiling to it, & it can no otherwise be done then he suffers, nor no further then he permits, that he also may direct it to a good end.

He suffered the first man to fall, for two cause. The first is, that man might know his infirmity and weakness to stand in goodness, if he were left to himself, and had not every moment God’s grace vouchsafe unto him, and faith given, and continued unto him. The second, that by this means God might declare, both his mercy and power, in restoring and saving the elect, and also his justice and power, in punishing and destroying the reprobate.

He suffers even yet the Saints to fall into sin, that they being chastened for their sin, he might bring them to the true knowledge of themselves, and to humility, Psalm. 119:

“It is good for me O Lord, that thou hast humbled me, that I might learn thy statutes.”

He suffered also the reprobate to fall into sin, that he might show the glory of his justice in punishing them for their sin, Roms. 9:17; Exod. 9:16.

For God would not being good, suffer anything to be done evilly, except also being omnipotent, could evil to God.

He has not therefore by his eternal, immutable, most wise and most just purpose at any time wrought or approved evil, but permitted only, that the chief creatures should fall into sin.

Howbeit the devil and the wicked, yea all creatures are so in God’s power, that without his will, they cannot only not do anything, but they cannot so much as once move themselves, Gen. 20.6. So the false Prophet Balaam could not curse the people of Israel, Numb. 22; Job. 1:12; Proverb. 21.1; Acts 17, 25.28.

Hereupon we gather two doctrines or consequences.

The first pertains to our comfort, namely, that no evil can befall us from the devil or from wicked men, without the will & permission of God.

The other pertains to our instruction, namely, that whatsoever adversity comes to us, our mind must be turned away from our enemies, and the evil things with which we are afflicted, and be lifted up to God, and we must bear all things patiently, Job. 1. we must acknowledge the judgments of God to be just, and reverence them. Psal. 119. It is good for me O Lord, that thou hast humbled me and so forth. And we must commit our injury to God, and so forth. Amandus Polanus, The Substance of Christian Religion, (London: Arn. Hatfield for Felix Norton, dwelling in Paules Chuchyard, at the sign of the Parrot, 1600), 95-98.

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