The Divine Decrees -- By: Daniel T. Fiske
BSac 19:74 (April 1862) p. 400
The Divine Decrees
That God has decreed or “fore-ordained whatsoever comes to pass,” is a doctrine which holds a conspicuous place in the history of dogmatic theology. It has been a prominent element in not a few of those great controversies which have agitated the church. Upon it, and the ethical and metaphysical problems intimately connected with it, has been expended much of the profoundest thought of every age. It has often been discussed with earnestness and eminent ability, though not always with Christian candor and charity. By many it has been defended on biblical and rational grounds, as one of the most fundamental doctrines of Christianity; by others it has been rejected as contrary to reason and scripture, and as having no place in the Christian system. Some have claimed for it the highest practical value, while others have insisted that, if true, it is a purely speculative doctrine, having no connection whatever with the practical duties of religion; and yet others have branded it as a false dogma, fraught with all manner of mischievous tendencies. It is a doctrine which can be easily misrepresented and caricatured; and which has often been rejected through sheer misapprehension and prejudice; while it is manifestly held, in its true spirit and substance, by many persons who sedulously exclude the formal statement of it from their creed. Indeed we are persuaded that not a few of its most vehement opposers might, by an unprejudiced inspection, find all the essential elements of this doctrine among their most cherished convictions of religious truth. We are willing, moreover, to admit that the formal rejection of the doctrine, and the prejudice entertained against it, are in part, at least, traceable to the infelicitous manner in which it has sometimes been represented and defended. There
BSac 19:74 (April 1862) p. 401
has not always been, on the part of its advocates, a judicious and discriminating use of terms, nor a sympathetic appreciation of the difficulties and objections with which, to most minds, the doctrine of divine decrees is environed. It has been made to wear a stern and forbidding aspect, which does not properly belong to it, and needlessly to assume an attitude of antagonism to certain other well-established truths.
It is earnestly hoped that the present discussion of this important doctrine may tend to abate prejudice and misunderstanding, and to promote that unity of faith which may reasonably be expected to characterize those who are taught by the same “Spirit of truth.”
I. Statement Of The Doctrine
In stating what we believe to be the Calvinistic and true doctrine of divine decrees, we shall aim to distinguish it, on the one hand, from fatalism, an...
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