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He may from that time, will and operate together with man, so that man may accomplish that which God wills. And this mode I ascribe to grace--the beginning, continuance, and completion of all good, insomuch that after a man is regenerated, without this preventing, co-operating, and exciting grace, he can neither think, will, nor do any thing that is good, nor resist any temptation to evil.
“ Hence, it appears that I do no injury to grace, and am not, as I am reported, one who attributed too much to the free-will of man, for the whole controversy tarns upon this, whether the grace of God is an irresistible force. That is, the controversy is not about the actions, or operations, which may be ascribed to grace, of which I confess and inculcate as many as any other person, but concerning the mode of operation, whether it be irresistible. For as to this, I believe according to the Scriptures, that many resist the Holy Spirit, and repel offered grace.
“ Again, a question is moved concerning the words, faith is imputed for righteousness, (Rom. iv.) whether they are to be understood properly, as if faith itself, as an act performed according to the command of the Gospel, be imputed before God, to or for righteousness, and that of grace, since it is not the very righteousness of the law; or whether they should be so understood, that the righteousness of Christ, apprehended by faith, is imputed to us for righteousness, figuratively and improperly; or whether that the righteousness, to or for which faith is imputed, be the instrumental work of faith, as some assert. I have followed the first opinion, in the thesis disputed under me, concerning Justification. For this cause I am said to teach wrong concerning man's justification before
God. This may be cleared up at a proper season.
At present I briefly say, that I believe that sinners are made righteous through the sole obedience of Jesus Christ, and that the righteousness of Christ is the only meritorious cause, for which God forgives sin to believers, and counts them for righteous, no otherwise than if they had perfectly fulfilled the law. But since God imputes the righteousness of Christ to none but believers, in this sense I affirm it to be well and properly said, that faith is imputed to the believer for righteousness through grace: since God hath offered his Son Jesus Christ to be the tribunal of grace, or the propitiation through faith in his blood. But, however, my opinion is the same as that of Calvin, to whose third book of the Institutes, on this subject, I am ready to subscribe." - Declaration of Arminius.*
Now, when we have heard Arminius state his own belief, let us hear how it is stated for him, by Mr. Evans, in his Sketch. Having observed that the tenets of Arminius include five propositions, he gives this as the third, “ That mankind are not totally depraved, and that depravity does not come upon them by virtue of Adam's being their public head; but that mortality and natural evil only are the direct consequences of his sin to posterity.” Several Calvinists have given representations of Arminius's doctrine on this head, equally false and distorted. Had Mr. Evans acted with the fairness and impartiality that Mr. Adams has displayed,t by giving the article as maintained by this divine, and then adding that which has been substituted in its place, by Dr. Gregory, and others, who take the name of Arminians, it must have been apparent to all how
Christian Observer for March, 1807. ✓ Religious World Displayed,
Vol. 11, p. 252. Note. VOL. II.
far the disciples have departed from the sentiments of their pretended master. The consequences of these misrepresentations are, that the disputants on both sides are often led into Quixotical adventures, and, when they cannot find a giant, they engage with a windmill.
It is evident from the review of the creed of Arminius, that he believed man to be so corrupted by the fall, that without the Holy Spirit of God preventing him, co-operating with him, and inclining him, he is not fit to think, to will, or to do any good thing. Who, after such a declaration, can affirm that Arminius denied either the doctrine of original sin, or that of regeneration by the Holy Spirit of God; or, lastly, that of justification through grace, by faith in the imputed righteousness of Christ ? With respect to the dispute about the freedom of the will, there is reason to suppose that it arises principally from the ambiguity of language, and is continued because the disputants misunderstand one another. Arminians are often by Calvinists (we mean the more illiberal part of them,) called Free-willers, and this name is not given them out of respect. But do not Calvinists maintain the freedom of the will, and the free agency of man as absolutely necessary to his being the subject of moral government ? Calvinists sometimes assert that man, as a sinner, has no freedom of will to do good. Arminians affirm that man has freedom of will to good, and then, like men in the dark, they fall to blows, and after many are given and received on both sides, if they come to mutual explanations, they find the dispute to be, as Horace says, De laná caprind about words, and that both their affirmations are equally just, though in different respects. To the Calvinist's affirmation, that man as a sinner has no freedom of will to good, the Arminian supposing him to mean
that the will of man is controlled by external force, from choosing good, justly enough encounters this declaration with another, and affirms that the will of man, though fallen, is as free to good as the will of Adam, in the state innocence. But let the Calvinist declare that which probably was all he meant to declare, that the will of man as a sinner, never chooses what is good, till it is purified by Divine grace, both agree in the statement; for both agree that the bias to evil is wholly in the depravity of man's nature.
We may observe that the doctrine of a double justification, one by faith now, being forgiven our sins upon our profession of Christianity, and another, being justified before God by our works at the last day, was equally unknown to Arminius, and to Calvin. Both of them consider justification as one act, by which the sinner is pardoned and accepted, through faith in the redemption, that is Jesus Christ. Nor does Arminius represent justification to be by faith, as the aggregate of all Christian virtues; as many persons have done who take the name of Arminians. This doctrine is very justly reprobated by Mr. John Wesley, a genuine disciple of that celebrated theologian.--"I went to church at ten, and heard a remarkable discourse, asserting that we are justified by faith alone; but that this faith, which is the previous condition of justification, is the complex of all Christian virtues, including all holiness and good works, in the very idea of it.'
“ Alas! How little is the difference between asserting, either, First,-- That we are justified by works, which is Popery bare-faced, (and indeed so gross that the sober Papists, those of the council of Trent in particular, are ashamed of it); or Second;-- That we are justified by faith
and works ; which is Popery refined or veiled ; (but with so thin a veil, that every attentive observer, must discern it is the same still); or Third,—That we are justified by faith alone, but by such a faith as includes all good works. What a poor shift is this? • I will not say, we are justified by works ; nor yet by faith and works : because I have subscribed articles and homilies which maintain just the contrary. No, I say we are justified by faith alone.But then, by faith, I mean works !''*
Upon the whole it is evident that on the subjects of original sin and justification, the real followers of Armi. nius and of Calvin are in perfect harmony. That, upon the doctrines of grace or the influences of the Holy Spirit of God, they are both agreed in the necessity of this grace to prevent men, that they may have a good will, and to work with them when they have that good will. Both of them therefore believe in the doctrine of regeneration, and that Christians are born not of the will of man, but of God. It is evident that while you keep absolute election out of the view of both, there seems scarcely to be a perceptible line of distinction. Their faith is the same, their experience is the same, and both ascribe to free grace the rise, the progress, and the final perfection of the souls of men in holiness. But, if the doctrines of absolute election and the final perseverance of the saints be introduced, the line of distinction appears to be plainly marked, and they retire from one another on the different sides of it, though slowly, yet so effectually that they are soon at a considerable remove. The Cal. vinist presses the Arminian with the consequence of the
• Journal, Vol. XXVIII, P: 81.