On Andrew Rivet’s Thought
Willem van Asselt in The Theology of the French Reformed Churches (RHB, 2014), p. 265-266
“In February 1634, Rivet wrote his answer to Van Beverwijck. (Rivet’s answer is found in Opera Theologica, 2:413-419) Referring to many church fathers, especially Basil and Augustine, and his own exegesis of Exodus 23:26 (‘the number of thy days I will fulfill’), he defended the thesis that determination by God as the first cause does not destroy the free activity of the second causes.
As in his disputation in the Synopsis [of Pure Theology] on divine providence [disputation 11], Rivet emphasized that the term ‘God’s prescience’ as such is a phrasis dura [hard phrase] and cannot be discussed without the presupposition of the divine will or decree. Referring to Duns Scotus, he argued that God’s knowledge of future contingent things rests on His contingent will, and that this will therefore does not impose an absolute necessity on created reality but leaves room for the free agency of human beings and, accordingly, for the work of doctors and the use of medicine.
The fact that God as the first cause exerts a universal form of sustenance and governance does not entail that God takes over the activity of His creatures. Rather, god often pursues His own goals by including secondary causes that have their own power of producing effects and their own freedom of choice. In this way, Rivet rejected the idea of mono-causality (God) and tried to hold a middle way between, on the one hand, a denial of the reality of secondary causes, and, on the other hand, an overemphasis on created reality, which is considered independent of divine providence.”