Sin & the Sovereignty of God

Thomas Whitfield was a Minister of the Gospel for many years at Great Yarmouth in Norfolk & Bugbrooke in Northamptonshire, who authored a number of books, most of which were of a controversal nature, this being one of his latter productions.

Preface: It hath been a question much controverted in all ages, how the good and holy God can have a hand in the great evils that are done in the world. It is one of the mysteries and depths of divinity worthy of our searching into. Scripture expressions for the most part hold this forth by way of action, as when it is said that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, that he sent Joseph into Egypt, that he took away Job’s cattle which were taken away by the Chaldeans, and the like. Papists and Arminians confine this only to a way of permission without action, and calumniate our orthodox divines, as if they made God the Author of sin, because they bring it within the compass of his will and decree, and make him to have a kind of direct action in it. Thus Bellarmine charges Zuinglius, Calvin, Peter Martyr & Beza. The like imputation also Arminius seeks to fasten on Mr. Perkins. I know quite well that it is far beyond my ability to untie this knot as may give satisfaction to all, but if I may contribute any beam of light towards the clearer discovery of God’s manner of proceeding in the production of sin; if I may help to vindicate the innocency and orthodoxy of our worthy writers from the unjust aspiration of their adversaries; especially, if I may in sort vindicate the all wise, and all working Providence and Power of God from that overmuch frightening and diminution which hath been put upon them for the maintaining of his Justice; if, {I say,} I may by this discourse be helpful in any of these ways, I shall obtain the end which I aim at, whereunto I shall only promise these things briefly. 1. That this discourse is not so much intended for those of the learned sort, {who are better able to inform these lines,} as for such ingenuous Christians, who when they meet with those scriptures wherein by the sound of words, God seems to be made the proper cause of sin, they stumble at them, and not being able to satisfy themselves desire help this way. 2. I shall desire the indifferent reader, that if in this discourse he shall meet with that which may seem to go higher than many of our divines have done, in making God to have an active hand in the actions of sinful men, he would forbear either to reject or censor, until he hath weighed the strength of the arguments brought to prove the thing propounded. 3. If I shall let fall anything in this treatise, which shall not be agreeable to clear evidence of Scripture, and this be made to appear so, I shall not refuse to un-say anything which I have said, and readily to embrace any truth though not agreeing with my former apprehensions. The good Spirit of truth make us all lovers of truth, and lead us into all those ways of truth which may bring us at length to the enjoying of him who is the Author of truth. Amen.

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Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle
and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus. Hebrews 3:1