Maybe the insomnia is finally getting to me, but it seems Jerome Zanchius is articulating God to be the architect, designer, etc of sin. I have no problem with this idea and Reformed [Calvinistic] Christians shouldn’t either, especially the way Zanchius explains how the ultimate end will result in good…somehow.
God, as the primary and efficient cause of all things, is not only the Author of those actions done by His elect as actions, but also as they are good actions, whereas, on the other hand, though He may be said to be the Author of all the actions done by the wicked, yet He is not the Author of them in a moral and compound sense as they are sinful; but physically, simply and sensu diviso as they are mere actions, abstractedly from all consideration of the goodness or badness of them.
Although there is no action whatever which is not in some sense either good or bad, yet we can easily conceive of an action, purely as such, without adverting to the quality of it, so that the distinction between an action itself and its denomination of good or evil is very obvious and natural.
In and by the elect, therefore, God not only produces works and actions through His almighty power, but likewise, through the salutary influences of His Spirit, first makes their persons good, and then their actions so too; but, in and by the reprobate, He produces actions by His power alone, which actions, as neither issuing from faith nor being wrought with a view to the Divine glory, nor done in the manner prescribed by the Divine Word, are, on these accounts, properly denominated evil. Hence we see that God does not, immediately and per se, infuse iniquity into the wicked; but, as Luther expresses it, powerfully excites them to action, and withholds those gracious influences of His Spirit, without which every action is necessarily evil. That God either directly or remotely excites bad men as well as good ones to action cannot be denied by any but Atheists, or by those who carry their notions of free-will and human independency so high as to exclude the Deity from all actual operation in and among His creatures, which is little short of Atheism. Every work performed, whether good or evil, is done in strength and by the power derived immediately from God Himself, “in whom all men live, move, and have their being” (Acts 17.28). As, at first, without Him was not anything made which was made, so, now, without Him is not anything done which is done. We have no power or faculty, whether corporal or intellectual, but what we received from God, subsists by Him, and is exercised in subserviency to His will and appointment. It is He who created, preserves, actuates and directs all things. But it by no means follows, from these premises, that God is therefore the cause of sin, for sin is nothing but auomia, illegality, want of conformity to the Divine law (1 John 3.4), a mere privation of rectitude; consequently, being itself a thing purely negative, it can have no positive or efficient cause, but only a negative and deficient one…[end quote]
Before Zanchius brought us to this point, showing that God acting “directly or remotely” is not the “Author of them in a moral and compound sense,” he teaches in Position 2;
That God often lets the wicked go on to more ungodliness, which He does (a) negatively by withholding that grace which alone can restrain them from evil; (b) remotely, by the providential concourse and mediation of second causes, which second causes, meeting and acting in concert with the corruption of the reprobate’s unregenerate nature, produce sinful effects; (c) judicially, or in a way of judgment. “The King’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of waters; He turneth it whithersoever He will” (Prov. 21.1); and if the King’s heart, why not the hearts of all men? “Out of the mouth of the Most High proceedeth not evil and good?” (Lam. 3.38). Hence we find that the Lord bid Shimei curse David (2 Sam. 16.10); that He moved David himself to number the people (compare 1 Chron. 21.1 with 2 Sam. 24.1); stirred up Joseph’s brethren to sell him into Egypt (Genesis 50.20); positively and immediately hardened the heart of Pharaoh (Exod. 4.21); delivered up David’s wives to be defiled by Absalom (2 Sam. 12.11; 16.22); sent a lying spirit to deceive Ahab (1 Kings 22.20-23), and mingled a perverse spirit in the midst of Egypt, that is, made that nation perverse, obdurate and stiff-necked (Isa. 19.14). To cite other instances would be almost endless, and after these, quite unnecessary, all being summed up in that express passage, “I make peace and create evil; I the Lord do all these things” (Isa. 45.7). See farther, 1 Sam. 16.14; Psalm 105.25; Jer. 13.12,13; Acts 2.23, & 4.28; Rom. 11.8; 2 Thess. 2.11, every one of which implies more than a bare permission of sin. Bucer asserts this, not only in the place referred to below, but continually throughout his works, particularly on Matt. 6. § 2, where this is the sense of his comments on that petition, “Lead us not into temptation”: “It is abundantly evident, from most express testimonies of Scripture, that God, occasionally in the course of His providence, puts both elect and reprobate persons into circumstances of temptation, by which temptation are meant not only those trials that are of an outward, afflictive nature, but those also that are inward and spiritual, even such as shall cause the persons so tempted actually to turn aside from the path of duty, to commit sin, and involve both themselves and others in evil. Hence we find the elect complaining, ‘O Lord, why hast Thou made us to err from Thy ways, and hardened our hearts from Thy fear?’ (Isaiah 63.17). But there is also a kind of temptation, which is peculiar to the non-elect, whereby God, in a way of just judgment, makes them totally blind and obdurate, inasmuch as they are vessels of wrath fitted to destruction.” (See also his exposition of Rom. 9.)[end quote]
Now I have to find Bucer’s works! I’ve read this work online over the years but it’s much better reading in physical book form.
Ps: Zanchius was a frightening looking fella, don’t ya think?