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' will but admit that he ought to commit himself 'to the supreme God, and do every thing with a ' reference to pleasing him, with whom the good and the bad are not held in the same estimation, and with whom the indolent and the active man 'do not meet with the same fate. But, if a change ' be very difficult to some, it must be said, that the
cause is in the disposition of those, who will not * allow that the supreme God will be the just Judge
of all the actions done by every one in this life. · For will and exertion have great weight in enabling a person to do those things which appear very difficult, and, to use a strong expression, • almost impossible. Would a man be able by ex'ertion and practice to walk upon a rope stretched 'on high from one side of a theatre to the other, 'with considerable weight upon him ; and would ' he find it impossible to live virtuously when he · desires it, although he has previously been very wicked? But consider, whether a person who
makes such assertions does not accuse the Cre*ator of the rational being, rather than the being • himself; if he has made man capable of doing ' things difficult, but useless, and incapable of doing things conducive to his own happiness.'1
This is a quotation from Origen, one of the fathers, brought as authority against modern Calvinists; and as such adopted in the Refutation. But the whole passage, taking not the least notice of our fallen state in Adam, and in fact denying original sin,' as the fault of our nature,' stands in diametrical opposition to our Article ; and even
to many parts of the Refutation itself! Is there then no medium between God creating man • wicked, and his becoming wicked merely by
education, by example, and by influence, ? Are we totally to deny original sin, and suppose man to be what God at first made him, and assign his wickedness to other causes, lest we should throw the blame of it on the Creator ? Let Calvin for once be permitted to speak : < This is now to
be maintained, that man in his first creation was ' far different from all his posterity ; which, deriv
ing its origin from him being corrupted, doth • draw from him an hereditary stain.” “We were “ by nature children of wrath even as others.” 2 If Origen, by a carnal and corrupt policy, in disputing with a learned pagan philosopher, concealed his sentiments, and did not habitually and totally deny the doctrine of the fall ; why should his Pelagian statement (for so it would afterwards be called,) be brought against us, especially by any of those who require subscription to our Articles ?
But how comes it to pass, that men every where, in all ages, receive such bad educations, are surrounded by such contagious examples, and are brought under such a pernicious influence, as to become universally evil : yea so evil as to fill the world with all kinds of wickedness, from generation to generation ? How could this be possible, if man's nature were not universally prone to evil, and this by a most powerful bias - Só that it seems an alien to the human mind and character, till naturalized by some, and not by others. It becomes natural, from external causes, and by habit ; but it was not previously natural. Custom is indeed second nature : but how is it that men so generally contract bad habits, as well as imbibe bad instructions, and copy bad examples, if they have not naturally bad propensities? The sheep never copies the pattern of the swine, or learns the habit of “ wallowing in the mire.” No education, no example, no influence, not even that of keen hunger, can induce the ox to devour animals for food; or the wolf and lion to feed on vegetables with the ox. Each creature has its peculiar nature and propensities; which may indeed be restrained or cherished, but cannot be extirpated, by any created skill or power, or by any combination of circumstances whatever. This illustration is peculiarly worthy of attention, as it has pleased God to describe the new creation unto holiness, in Christ Jesus, under the emblem of a change of the natural propensities of animals affected by omnipotence. I
wickedness is naturalized in some.' It was then,
1 Inst. B. I. ch. xv. sec. 8.
Eph. ii. 3.
Many things contained in this quotation will fall in our way in a subsequent part of this work. Yet, if wickedness were indeed merely naturalized, inveterate habits, the result of bad education, early self indulgence, contagious examples, and corrupt influence, are not so easily conquered. “ Can the Ethiopian change his skin, and the
leopard his spots ? Then may ye also do good, “ who are accustomed to do evil." 2 Habits of
! Is, xi. 6-9. Ixv. 52.
· Jer. xiii. 23.
gross sensual gratification would form no small obstacle to the attainment even of heathen virtue, from selfish motives : but from pure motives “ to
crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts ;' to conquer nature and second nature at once ; Hoc opus, hic labor est. “Naturam expellas furca, , ' tamen usque recurret.' Thrust out nature with a
pitchfork, yet she will return upon you’ Horace knew this, and it is strange that Christian divines should not know it.“ With man it is impossible, “ but with God all things are possible.” Even when a man is desirous of doing it, and earnestly attempts it ; he finds it so far from easy, that, if done at all, it is like “ cutting off a limb,” or
plucking out an eye :" nor can he effect it at all except as God, who has “ worked in him to will,” (το θέλειν,) “works in him also to perform” (το ενεργέιν :) " That which I do I allow not ; for what I would " that I do not: but what I hate that I do." “To “ will (cò béherv,) is present with me ; but how to
perform that which is good I find not.” “I find “ then a law, that when I would do good” (5cõ bénovla čuo Toteī tò xenòv) “ evil is present with me. For I
delight in the law of God after the inward man, “but I see another law in my members, warring “ against the law of my mind, and bringing me “ into captivity to the law of sin which is in my “ members. O wretched man that I am, who
shall deliver me from the body of this death ? “ I thank God through Jesus Christ.”] Whoever speaks in this . passage, it is undeniable that he greatly desired and longed to obey the law of
I Rom. vii. 15--25.
God, in which he inwardly delighted ; that he willed and purposed to do it; and no doubt his exertions were vigorous and persevering ; yet he found such difficulties from within, as of himself he was wholly unable to surmount. Along with his doleful lamentation, therefore, he earnestly inquires after a DELIVERER : and he thanks God for Jesus Christ as that Deliverer. “ Without “ Christ he could do nothing ;” but “ he could do “ all things, through Christ strengthening him.”
-" He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for “thee: for my strength is made perfect in weak
Most gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest “ upon me. Therefore I take pleasure (fudox@) in
infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in per
secutions, in distresses for Christ's sake ; for “ when I am weak then am I strong."! Is not this language of the apostle the very antipodes to the quotation from Origen: It might have been expected that a champion for Christianity, answering the objections of a shrewd and learned pagan, concerning the difficulty of a perfect change in 'nature, (which justly implied that nature required to be changed;) would have brought forward some of those scriptures which relate to this essential part of our holy religion. “A new heart " will I give you: and a new spirit will I put within
.” “ Create in me a clean heart O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”
“ If any man “ be in Christ, he is a new creation."
We are “ his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto