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Church of England Magazine.
AUGUST 1, 1823.
MEMOIRS OF THE REFORMERS.
liberty and necessity, was in an
oblique and indirect way to allow [Concluded from Page 249.]
him superior to his adversaries in Flattered by commendations of other respects. Erasmus very dexhis learning and abilities, from "terously and artfully chose this subpopes, kings, cardinals, and pre-ject of dispute, that he might aplates, and requested by many civil pear to the Romanists to write and ecclesiastical dignitaries to ex- against the Reformer, and yet that ercise his talents against Luther, he might avoid censuring his other the erudite and accomplished, but doctrines opposite to the Romish vain and temporizing Erasmus now church. Luther did not reply till attacked the man, whose piety the latter part of the following year. he "must have revered, whose in- He entitled his answer, “On the dustry he must have admired, and Bondage of the Will;" and the whose services he must have ac- work was received with such avidiknowledged.
ty, that the booksellers of WittenIn the autumn of 1524, he sent berg, Augsburg, and Nuremberg, out a dissertation called, -- A Dia- strove to outvie each other in the tribe on the Freedom of the Will.” celerity of their numerous editions. On this difficult part of Christian In an analysis of this subtile armetaphysics he threw little light; gumentation it would be difficult to but it served his purpose to repre- do justice to either disputant; while sent Luther as a blind fatalist or the limits of the present: memoir wild predestinarian. To reconcite forbid a detail of their respective the prescience of the Deity with the reasonings. That we may not, responsibility of man as a free agent, however, entirely pass over the and to prove the compatibility of controversy, we shall extract a irresistible grace, to the honour of few remarks of the Saxon Profesthe mighty God, with a sense of sor, which perhaps have never the volitions of human minds, and been exceeded in soundness and the contingency of human actions, sagacity by any of the numerous is a task above the powers of a Lu- theologians who have coincided ther or an Erasmus; nor can any with hinr in sentiment. arguments of an Augustine on the “ Show me any one instance of a one hand, or'a Pelagius 'on the man, who through thie' pure efficacy other, solve those difficulties which of free will, even in the smallest must ever attach to this mystery degree, either mortified his appeIt has been truly observed, that to tites or forgave an injury. On the attack Luther on the single point of contrary, I can'casily show you,
that the very holy men whom you Again, you allow, that though deboast of as free-willers, always in sires and endeavours are in a man's their prayers to God totally lay power, yet still there is no room aside every idea of free-will, and had for ascribing any effect to their efrecourse to nothing but grace, pure ficacy. Now, who can compregrace. So Augustine often, who bend such a position? If the will is entirely on my side in this dis- really possess the powers of desire pute: so Bernard also, who when and endeavour, why are not effects dying said, I have lost my time, proportionate to these powers to be because I have lived to bad pur- ascribed to them? and if there be pose. Nevertheless I grant, that no effects whatever, then what these holy men themselves would proof have you that the will possometimes, during their disputes, sesses the powers you contend for? hold a different language concern- There is no escape for Proteus ing the nature of free-will. And here; for, if these are not monstrous in general I observe, that good contradictions, what are so? men, when they approach the “ A Christian should know, that throne of grace, forget the powers nothing is contingent in the mind of free-will
, on which they may of the Supreme Being, who forehave written polemically; and de- sees and orders all events accordspairing of themselves, have re- ing to his own eternal, unchangeable course to grace alone. And though will. This is a thunderbolt to the they may have exalted the natural notion of free-will. For hence all resources of man, yet in prayer events, though to our minds conthey forget all this : that is, in af- 'tingent, are necessary and unfection and practice they are differ- changeable as they respect the Dient from what they were in dispu- vine will. The Divine will cannot tation and argument. But who be deceived or disappointed. Conwould estimate the character both tingency implies a changeable will, of good and bad men from the such as in God does not exist. 'Neformer, rather than the latter?' vertheless, I wish we had a better
“ You yourself say, that the hu- word than necessity, which is comman will, since the fall, is so far monly made use of in this dispute. depraved as to have become the For it conveys to the understanding servant of sin, and of itself utterly an idea of restraint, which is totalunable to amend its state. Then, ly contrary to the act of choosing. what is free-will, when applied to a In fact there is no restraint; either faculty, where it is granted that all on the divine or the human will; in liberty is lost, and that slavery has both cases, the will does what it commenced under the service of does, whether good or bad, simsin, but an empty name? I be- ply, and as at perfect liberty, in lieve Augustine to have been pre- the exercise of its own faculty. cisely of the same judgment. It is This unchangeableness and infallithe Diatribe that is inconsistent; bility in God is the ground of all our for, if your free-will, according to hope and confidence. If his will your first opinion which you call were liable to contingencies, what probable, has so lost its liberty that dependence could there be on his it cannot choose the good, I would promises ? But • let God be true, wish to know what is the nature of and every man a liar.' Your nothose desires and endeavours, of tions, my Erasmus, destroy peace which you speak as yet left in of conscience, and all the comforts man's power: certainly, they can- of his Spirit, and lead to impieties not be good desires, or good en- and blasphemies almost worse than deavours; for you admit that the Epicurean. Not that you intend will cannot choose the good. all this : no, I do not believe you
would teach such things designed- and what are their uses ?. Suppose ly. But learn hence, how a man we admit that the advocates of who undertakes a bad cause may free-will allow only exceedingly be led on to advance most dan- little to that faculty ; they neverthe
less make that little the foundation “So long as the operative grace of justification, because they repreof God is absent from us, every sent the grace of God as obtained thing we do has in it a mixture of by that little. eyil; and, therefore, of necessity “ In my judgment my opponents our works avail not to salvation. are at bottom worse than the PelaHere I do not mean a necessity of gians. The Pelagians speak plaincompulsion, but a necessity as to ly and openly, They call a thorn the certainty of the event. A man a thorn, and a fig a tig. They inwho has not the Spirit of God does genuously assert a real worthiness evil willingly and spontaneously. in their merits; and by this worthiHe is not violently impelled against ness, or dignity of merit, they purhis will, as a thief is to the gallows. chase the favour of God. Whereas, But the man cannot alter his dis- those with whom I have to do, position to evil; nay, even though imagine that the favour of God is to he may be externally restrained be bought at a very small price, from doing evil, he is averse to the namely, the meritorious use of that restraint, and his inclination re- extremely small degree of liberty, mains still the same. Again, when which has escaped the wreck of the Holy Spirit is pleased to change our original depravity. But how the will of a bad man, the new does St. Paul, in one word, conman still acts voluntarily; he is not found in one mass all the asserters compelled by the Spirit to deter- of every species and of every demine contrary to his will, but his gree of merit, • All are justified will itself is changed; and he can- freely, and without the works of not now do otherwise than love the the law?' He who affirms the good, as before he loved the evil. justification of all men who are
" What can the advocates for the justified, to be perfectly free and free powers
of man say to the de- gratuitous, leaves no place for claration of St. Paul, · Being jus- works, merits, or preparations of tified freely by his grace?' Freely: any kind; no place for works either what does that word mean? How of condignity or of congruity; and are good endeavours and merit thus, at one blow, he demolishes consistent with a gratuitous dona- both the Pelagians with their comtion? Perhaps you do not insist plete merits, and our Sophists with on a merit of condignity, but only their petty performances." of congruity. Empty distinctions! Brief as this reference has been Nay, Erasmus owns, that he de- to Luther's controversy with Erasfends free-will in order that he may mus on the subject of free-will, in find some place for merits: and he which he advanced positions, difis perpetually expostulating, that, fering probably from the exact senwhere there is no liberty, there timents of many of his followers in can be no merit; where there is the present day, it will be equally no merit there is no room for re- advisable to avoid a detail of that ward. To be brief, St. Paul re- lengthened dispute in which he was presents justification as a perfectly engaged, both before and after this free gift, without any consider- period, with the leading Reformation of merit; and that along with ers, on the mode of the Saviour's this free gift are bestowed also the presence in the Sacrament. Melkingdom of God and life eternal. chior Adam, the great biographer Then, where are the desires, the of these worthies, discovers piety, endeavours, the merits of free-will? and judgment in glancing as slight
ly as possible at a contest, which, lieves he has discovered the more leading to curious and unprofitable excellent way, in feeding spiritudiscussion, 'was the too frequent ally on the body and blood of a cause of betraying the disputants, Redeemer, without the use of their not only into intricate argugient, external symbols. but also into bitter expression. The association of the German Looking back with reverence and princes attached to the old system admiration on such characters as of religious worship, was counterwere then employed in laying the acted by an union of tħe states fafoundations of that Protestant vourable to the reformed doctrines temple, in whose different courts established at Torgau, May 14, the tribes of reformed Christendom 1526, for mutual defence against are accustomed to worship, we re- all persecutions on account of reluctantly advert to a season which ligion. A diet was soon after held produced confusion' among the at Spires, at which Ferdinand of builders, and gave occasion to Austria presided, his Imperial broRomanists to represent the erec- ther being fully occupied with the tion of a shrine for Jehovah as the troubled state of his dominions in rearing a tower of Babel. It Spain and Italy. The Romanmay teach us a lesson of humility ists insisted on the execution of the and self-distrust, when we see such Edict of Worms, and the Lutherans persons departing in any measure demanded a full and complete tofrom the spirit of that Gospel, leration. It was at length deterwhich breathes " peace on earth, mined, that a general council and good
will towards' men; should be convened within the and too nearly realizing, in their year, and in the mean time the literary warfare, the fabled colo- Princes and States were to act, in ny that sprung from the dragon's regard to the Edict, in such a manteeth. Accustomed as we are to ner as to answer for their conduct witness examples of devotion and before God and the Emperor. charity in various religious deno- The cause of Reformation was minations, and arrived at an age in now indirectly, promoted by disthe church when much sympathy of ġust conceived on the part of feeling appears to co-exist with dif- Charles himself against Clement ference of opinion, we are led to VII. who, jealous of his victories . trust, that thousands who are di- over Francis I. had formed a league vided in sentiment on the doctrine with that monarch and the Veneof the Lord's Supper, may yet be fel- tians against the Austrian ascendlow citizens with the saints, and of ancy. In a manifesto to the Ponthe household of God. We would tiff he reprobated his duplicity of lose the remembrance of this stain- conduct, and appealed to a geneed page in the history of the Re- ral council. In a letter to the Colformation, in the soothing reflec- lege of Cardinals, he required tion, that a day is coming when the them, in case of refusal by Cleman of humble heart will be rec- ment, to summon a council by their koned in the" sacramental host of own authority. These papers were God's elect;” whether he hold the generally read in Germany; and transubstantiation of the Romish, while the people saw the head of the consubstantiation of the Luthe- the Empire reviling the head of the ran, the concomitance of the Eng- Church, they were in some degree lish, or the negation of the Zuin- prepared for the strange intelligence ġlian communion; or whether, with that followed, that the Imperialists the refined mysticism of another had actually sacked Rome, and society, he agrees with none of treated the Vicar of Christ himself these conflicting opinions, but be with so little ceremony as to cap
of their party;
ture his sacred person. These secute him whom God hath smitten. events were improved by the friends But enough : let me not be queruof the Reformation to the advau- lous or impatient under the rod of tage of their cause and the increase Him, who smites and heals, who
kills and makes alive. Blessed be After having escaped, through his holy will! It cannot but be, divine mercy, a death by poison that one whom the world and its which had been planned by his ene- prince thus hate must belong to mies, who two years before had Christ. If ye were of the world, employed a Polish Jew for this the world would love its own." To iniquitous purpose, our Reformer Armsdott be used this language : was called, in 1527, to sustain • It pleases God, that I, who have much affliction in body and tempt- been used to comfort others, should ation in mind. An infectious dis- need to be comforted. I have but order prevailed at Wittenberg, and one prayer, which I hope you will the Elector ordered the academics join me in, that Christ may do with to retire to Jena, but Luther thought me according to his pleasure, but it his duty not to desert his flock. preserve me from ungratefully reHe seems to have been preserved belling against Him, whom I liave from an immediate attack of the hitherto served and proclaimed, epidemic, while he suffered ex- though with much and grievous intremely from constitutional infirmi- perfection. Satan seeks to seize ty, aud some disorder in the region on Job, and to sift Peter with his of the heart. He experienced great brethren, but Christ will vouchsafe depression of spirits. His mind to say, · Touch not his life;' and, was deeply affected with the rapa- 'I am thy salvation.'. I hope he cious proceedings of some inte- will not be offended with me for rested nobles who injured the ec- I wish to reply to the Saclesiastical revenues; and he was cramentarians, but unless I gain harassed with the disputes con- some mental strength I shall not cerning the Sacrament, as well as
be able *.” grieved at the schismatical_mea- It was on the sixth of July, that sures of the Anabaptists. To his his friends were inore particularly friend Jonas he wrote; “ I am
alarmed on account of his state of bearing the
anger of God, because health. He had been much troubled I have sinned against him. The in mind in the early part of the day, Pope, Emperor, Princes, Bishops, and had requested the society of all hate and persecute me; and as Bugenhagen, as the minister of his if these were not enough, my own parish, to whom he spoke as one brethren trouble me. Sin, death, not likely to survive, if the hand Satan and his angels, rage without of God should lie heavy upon him, ceasing. And what must support acknowledged his offences, wheand comfort me, if Christ too ther arising from warmth of temper should leave me, for whose sake I or otherwise, and entreated pastoam thus hated? But no; he will ral consolation. Feeling afterwards pot forsake a miserable sinner, and somewhat relieved, he sat down to one who is less than the least of all dinner with some persons of quahis mercies. How often do I wish lity, and alter the repast, walked Erasmus and the Sacramentarians in his garden conversing with Jonas were tried as I am for one quarter for two hours; but, on returning to of an hour! How safely may I the house, was seized with a faintsay, they would convert and being fit. Having been sprinkled healed. But now mine enemies with cold water he recovered, and live and are mighty; yea, they add trouble upon trouble, aud per- Epist. L. ii. pp. 323, 344.