Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

“good works.” “ With man it is impossible, but “ with God all things are possible.”] But not a hint of this kind : no want of such a change is at all adınitted : no great difficulty in becoming what he ought to be, even to the man in whom wickedness is naturalized ! Beyond doubt the heathen has the best part in the argument : for experience and observation shew that such a change is needful, even to moral virtue; and that it is very rare and very difficult. But without it there can be no holiness ; nor is it ever effected except by the grace of God.

of God. In fact, where original sin is denied, or explained away, or lost sight of, regeneration, and a new creation to holiness, by the power of the Holy Spirit, will follow its fate in nearly exact proportion. The closing sentence is an instance of that irreverence, which chooses rather to charge God with injustice, than to allow the possibility that the writer may

be mistaken.

No stronger language can be found, concerning the total loss of original righteousness, in the writings of any modern Calvinists, than that which has already been produced from our Homilies ; the substance of which is this : 'Man of his own na'ture is fleshly and carnal, corrupt and naught, sin"ful and disobedient to God, without one spark of

goodness in him, without any virtuous or godly ' motion, only given to evil thoughts, and wicked deeds.'? 'He (Adam) was become,' by the fall, the bond slave of hell, having in himself no one

1

Ps. li. 10. Ez. xi. 19. xxxvi. 26, 27. 2 Cor. v. 17.
Eph. ii. 10.

* 1st. Part Homily for Whitsunday.

6

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

'part of his former purity and cleanness; but being

altogether spotted and defiled, insomuch that he ' seemed to be nothing else but a lump of sin.'

The whole brood of Adam's flesh should sustain the same fall and punishment,'—that is to say, 'became mortal, and subject unto death, having nothing in themselves but everlasting damnation of body and soul.' . By such passages from the Homilies the language of the Article must be understood ; for the same company of persons composed both the Articles and Homilies ; and the Articles sanction the Homilies. 2

'Homily on the Nativity. A lump of sin ; without one spark of goodness ;' is at least as explicit and strong, as, ' an unmixed 'mass of corruption and depravity:' neither is corrigible, except by grace. Ref. 3.

* Art. xi. xxxv.

[blocks in formation]

Our inquiry concerning the recovery of man from his ruined state must begin with the investigation of the abstruse, or, at least, much perplexed and misunderstood subject of FREE WILL. Not that I purpose to attempt any laboured disquisition on the subject; but merely to state it in such a way, as may shew what Calvinists do maintain, and what they do not; which being clearly done, most of the objections of their opponents will fall to the ground of themselves.

I will not say, that no Calvinists have ever been so absurd as to deny free will, as meaning free agency, and implying responsibility : for what absurdity has not been maintained by some persons, in large bodies of men, all classed under one general name? But Calvin himself never intended to deny man's free agency.

· We reckon among the * natural powers of man, to approve, to reject, to ' will, not to will, to endeavour, to resist; that is, to allow vanity, and refuse perfect goodness,

[ocr errors]

'to will evil, and to be unwilling to good.' -— He

so matcheth the working of God with ours, that 'to will may be of nature, to will well of grace.'1

The doctrine of Calvin on this subject, as I can ascertain it, consists of three particulars, of which the denial of free agency is not one.

is not one. 1. That the will of fallen man is so entirely enslaved to his corrupt affections, that as far as left to himself, without the grace of God, he cannot in any thing will what is spiritually good, or do any thing towards it: that, however, his conscience may be alarmed, or his understanding convinced, yet his heart fights against the conviction, (cor repugnat,) and the determination of the will follows the dictate of the heart. 2. That, even for such things, as a man really willeth ; as a carnal man willeth what would conduce to his health and temporal comfort, or å regenerate man willeth to obey and serve God; yet the will itself is so impaired and weakened by his fallen nature, that he is unable to carry his own purposes and resolutions into effect, against the corrupt desires of his heart ; generally, in things relating to mere heathen virtue ; always, without the continual help of God, in things spiritually good. “ It is God that worketh in us both to will “ and to do.” 3. That, where the volition has no impediment from either the moral or the spiritual nature of the thing to be willed, it is not independent on God, but is limited and restrained by him in various ways.

“ There be many devices in the “heart of man, but the counsel of the Lord that

Calv. Inst. B. II. c. v. sect. 14.

“ shall stand." When Solomon writeth, that

" the Lord holdeth the heart of the king in his hand, and inclineth it whithersoever he will, as • the rivers of water;" under one species he com

prehends the whole kind; for, if the will of any one is free from all subjection, that belongeth especially to the royal will, which in some respects

exercises dominion over other wills : but, if that ' be bowed by the hand of God, neither is our will

exempted from the same condition.'! The first of these three particulars is most insisted on, but the others frequently are noticed. This may suffice to introduce our subject, as far as it will here be necessary

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

6

That man possesses free will, and that God by his Spirit influences this free will, without destroying it, is indisputably true ; but how this is • effected is to us an inexplicable mystery.'?

Exactly to define the concurrence (concursus) of divine grace with the human will, and to say 'what grace alone performs, and what free will

(liberum arbitrium) may do with and under grace, * is a matter of no little difficulty. This very thing

indeed perhaps may, not undeservedly, be placed by pious and learned men, among

things of God,” “ his untraceable ways.” But, · however we may be ignorant of the manner of * the thing, the thing itself is certainly to be firmly believed.'3

If there is not the grace of

“ the deep

6

'Calv. Inst. Book II. chap. iv. sect. 7. » Ref. 37. * Translation of Latin quotation from Bishop Bull. Ref. 36.

« EdellinenJatka »