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'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.''
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. 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 comprehends 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.'1 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.
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 “ the deep 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
'Calv. Inst. Book II. chap. iv. sect. 7. Ref. 37. * Translation of Latin quotation from Bishop Bull. Ref. 36.
God, how can he save the world ? if there is not 'free-will (liberum arbitrium) how can he judge the world :'3
All this is liable to no exception, provided free agency is meant by free will: even Calvin would admit it. God by influencing the will neither destroys it, nor interferes with the exercise of it, in all the freedom of which a creature is capable ; and certainly not with any kind of freedom, which the slave of sinful passions and propensities can exercise. Yet the subject when pursued in metaphysical speculations, is involved in difficulties, which have hitherto proved inexplicable, and probably will continue to do so. Yet if we confine ourselves to the thing itself, and leave the manner of it, among “ the deep things of God,” we escape the danger of going beyond our depth.
The subject of co-operation will be treated of . separately: it may, however, be proper here to observe that the grace of God, by enlightening the mind, rectifying the judgment, purifying the affections, and producing submission in the will, produces an inward change, called “ a new heart," .. which leads the possessor to “ walk in newness of “ life.” Thus the man himself, or his will, is made free from the bondage of sin: “for where the Spirit “ of the Lord is, there is liberty.” Now he willingly repents, believes, and obeys: even as before he willingly rebelled and rejected the gospel; while he is not conscious of any influence, distinguishable from the operation of his own heart and mind;
Translation from Augustine, Ref. 36.
but merely complies with the dictates of his conscience, now awakened and enlightened to perform its office. But, perhaps, afterwards, reflecting on the change which has taken place, and comparing it with that described in the Holy Scriptures, he learns to ascribe the whole to God, who “worketh « in us, both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” This view indeed reconciles the several parts of scripture, which relate to this subject, and this alone can reconcile them.
Freedom of will and liberty of action are the essential qualities of men, as moral responsible beings; but to foresee how every individual of
the human race will, upon every occasion, deter* mine and act, is the incomprehensible attribute
of the Deity. That such an attribute does belong 'to God, is placed beyond all doubt by the accurate accomplishment of numerous prophecies ; and the free agency of man is proclaimed in
every page of scripture, and confirmed by the • experience of every moment. These sublime and
important truths are to be treated as fundamental and incontrovertible principles; and no in* terpretation of scripture is to be admitted in * contradiction of them.''
Calvinists, in general, would not much object to this statement. They indeed consider free agency as a less ambiguous term than free will : and they recognize in the whole plan of prophecy something beyond mere prescience : “ Him, being
“ delivered by the determinate counsel and fore“ knowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked “ hands have crucified and slain.” 1
I assert that man is endued with free will, declaring that this is the greatest gift of God bestowed on him.'2
Free agency must be here meant by free will. But did God never confer a greater or better gift either on man as “ created after his own image,” or on believers, as new “ created unto holiness," than free agency? Free agency is common to man, to fallen angels, and to every intelligent being in the universe. Indeed animals may, in some sense, be called free agents, though not moral and responsible free agents. Surely that which man had in common with holy angels before the fall ; and that to which Christians shall be restored, when made“ equal to the angels in “heaven;" must be something of a far nobler and more excellent kind! Free agency cannot be lost by an intelligent agent, except by the loss of reason or existence: was then that which remained after the fall greater and better than that which was lost by it? Was that, which unholy men and fallen angels retain, greater and better than that “ gift of God, which is eternal life through “ Jesus Christ our Lord?” The freedom of the will in the sense which we mean,) was by the fall exchanged for slavery.-“ Of whom a man is over“come, of the same is he brought in bondage.” “ Whosoever committeth sin is the slave of sin."
* Origen, Ref. 336.
· Acts. ii. 23. VOL. VII.