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Jean Taffin on Providence and Permission

April 8, 2009

Taffin:

1. Sam. 1:6.
Amos 3:6.
Jere, La. 3:38.
Job. 30:39.
Psalm 104,
& 105, & 106,
& 107, & 136.
Math. 10:29.

18. Moreover, as concerning the transgression of Adam & Eve, it is certain that the same never came to pass without the decree and ordinance of God. And indeed, the Holy Scripture in infinite places does testify, that all things depend upon his providence & decree. If a sparrow falls not to the ground without the will of God, shall man, so excellent a creature, created after the image of God, take so horrible a fall without his providence and decree? A man may give a little child some small stripe with a rod, without the parents’ appointment, which notwithstanding they would peradventure dissemble and wink at: but none dare undertake to cut him off the stone, or to cut off any limb, without his Father’s good will and authority: even so, the greater that the importance of Adam’s transgression was, in that it tended to destroy & overthrow so excellent a work of God, namely, man created to his image: the more are we to believe, that it was never done without his counsel or decree. Moreover, if in his providence he has ordained what he will have done with all other creatures, has he not, think you, ordained what shall be done with the principal and most excellent, for which he created all the others? Again, if God creating all the world, and man to his own image, purposed that the principal end of his work should be the manifestation of his glory: did he not also ordain means and a preparation, to declare his love in his redemption through Christ, & to make manifest his mercy to his elect, & his justice to the reprobate. And in this especially does the glory of God appear. If there were sin in the fall of Adam, so was there in the pursuit against Jesus Christ: And yet lo, the Apostle speaking unto Almighty God does say:

Doubtless against the holy Son Jesus whom thou hast anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel gather together, to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel had before determined to be done, [Acts 4:27.].

Again, speaking to the Jews an in express words, they object unto them, that by the hands of the wicket they took Jesus Christ and crucified him, being to them delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, [Acts 2:23.]. Albeit they cannot comprehend that Adam’s transgression wherein there was sin, came not to pass without the providence and decree of God, and yet that God is not the author of sin. Must they therefore deny his providence, & those places of Holy Scripture, wherein the Holy Ghost does so often and so evidently testify the same? Or contrary to so many testimonies of his word will they make God the author of sin? They do not murmur, blaspheme, or reply against us, but against the Holy Ghost? Must they, because they cannot comprehend how it should be possible that God should prohibit Adam that thing, which nevertheless came not to pass without his decree, will, and eternal counsel, or maliciously gather, that in God there should be two contrary wills? Let us believe so much as he testifies in his word, and reverence so much as we do not understand. If we should conjoin the redemption wrought by Jesus Christ with the fall of Adam, we should soon confess, that as well as the one as the other came to pass by the providence of God.

19.Yet if it were requisite to consider some reasons, the same which Saint Augustine does note might well content us. We safely do confess, says he, that we do well believe that God, the Lord of all, who created all things good, and who both did foresee that from that they should digress to bad, or knew that it did better beseem his almighty goodness to make of evil good, than not to suffer the evil, has so determined to lives of Angels and men, that in the same he would manifest, full what free will was about to do: next, what his grace, with the judgment of his justice, were able to bring to pass [Augustine of reproving & grace, c. 10.]. First Saint Augustine says, in that he calls God the Lord of all, he does show that he had power and authority to dispose of his creatures as he would. Secondly, in that he says, that God created all things good, he notes that God is the author of the goodness that has been in all his creatures, namely, in man, created to his image, but not of the sin afterward committed. Thirdly, in that he knew, that from good they should degenerate to evil, and yet that voluntarily he permitted it, he propounds this reason: that it better beseemed him to show his almighty goodness, in making of evil good, then in permitting evil: And then he shows that the good God gathered out of the fall of Adam. Firs, that it served to show what free will was able to do, thereby signifying that there is no steadfastness but in God: and yet that Adam was inexcusable in his fall. For having created man with free will, his sin was not upon compulsion, but voluntarily: and, indeed, he did eat of the forbidden fruit, not to the end to obey the decree of God, where of he was yet ignorant: but at the instigation of Satan, and upon a lust to be like God. And therefore, when God reproved him, he complained not of God’s decree but of his wife Eve, and his wife of the Serpent : and God in his sentence pronounced against them, he denounces them all to be guilty and worthy of punishment [Gen. 3:6, and 3:12, 13, 14.].

John Taffin, The Amendment of Life, Comprised in Fower Books: Faithfully Translated according the the French Coppie (Londini: Impensis Georg. Bishop, 1595), 439-441. [Some spelling modernized, some reformatting, underlining mine.]

[Notes:

Brief Biographical note of Taffin:

Taffin, Jean (1529/30-1602)

Jean Taffin (1529/30-1602), a Calvinist theologian, who studied at Geneva under Calvin and Beza, French pastor at Metz, Antwerp, and Heidelberg (where he was superintendent of the Reformed church), from 1573 court chaplain of Prince William I of Orange, and 1584-1602 pastor of the French (Walloon) Reformed church at Amsterdam, attacked the Mennonites in his Instruction contre les erreurs des Anabaptistes (Haarlem, 1589), which book also was translated into Dutch: Onderwysinghe teghens de dwalinghe der Wederdooperen (Haarlem, 1590), and into German: Kurtzer Unterricht wider die Irrthumb der Wiedertäufjer (Amberg, 1597). The book contains four parts: I. Concerning the Incarnation of Christ; II. Concerning the baptism of the infants of Christians; III. Concerning the obligation, authority, and power of the magistracy; IV. Concerning the oath.
Bibliography

Boer, C. Hofpredikers van Prins Willem van Oranje. Assen, 1952.
Glasius, B. Godgeleerd Nederland III. ‘s Hertogen-bosch, 1856: 411-13.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon. 4 v. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: v. IV.

See also here.]

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