תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

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 ; 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.

'Translation from Augustine, Ref. 36.

* 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 accu‘rate 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 fundamen· tal and incontrovertible principles; and no in' terpretation of scripture is to be admitted in contradiction of them.'1

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

i Ref. 229

.“ 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

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.

1

* Origen, Ref. 336.

Acts, ii. 23.
VOL. VII.

G

[ocr errors]

1

“ If the Son shall make you free, then are ye free or indeed.” “ Ye were the slaves of sin; but

being made free from sin, and become the ser“vants of God,” “ ye have your fruit unto holi

ness, and the end everlasting life.”—“ Slaves to “ divers lusts and pleasures.” 6. The slaves of

corruption.” Now where is the seat of this slavery fixed ? in the will, or in some other of the faculties of our souls ? Calvinists say in the will: we are the voluntary slaves of sin, and therefore inexcusable: but were we slaves against our will, some excuse might be made for us. If, however, others choose to fix the seat of this slavery elsewhere, let them at least understand what we mean; and not erroneously charge us (as at present it is done from every quarter,) with denying free agency.

“The soul is endowed with free will, and is at ' liberty to incline either way; and therefore the * judgment of God is just, because the human soul ' of its own accord obeys either good or bad advisers.'2

Nothing interferes with this liberty from without; but the love of sin enslaves the mind within ; so that it cannot incline to what it hates, nor decline from what it loves, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us, that we may have a

good will'-ut velimus. Let those who maintain that man's will, independent of grace, is so at liberty from sinful bias, as to be capable of choosing

John viij. 34-36. Rom. vi. 16--22. Tit. iii. 3. 2 Pet. ii. 19.

* Origen, Ref. 339.

'what is good in the sight of God,' show it in the superior holiness of their lives : but let them allow those who consider “all holy desires” as from God, to ascribe all the good, which they either will or do, to the grace of God, and not to their own free will.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

* Free will is given to the soul, which they who * endeavour to weaken by trifling reasoning, are blind to such a degree, that they do not even understand, that they say those vain and sacrilegious things by their own will.'1

Free agency, and not freedom from the slavery of sin, is evidently meant; and to this Calvinists, with but few exceptions, have no objection. The same remark suffices for whole pages of laboured arguments, quoted from the fathers on this sub

1

ject. 2

[ocr errors]

Aug. Ref. 412. * One more passage on this subject may be added from the first edition of this work. Observing on a quotation from Augustine (Ref. p. 444.) that by free will must there be meant “ free agency, as connected with responsibility,' the author adds : It appears astonishing, that these ancient fathers should have found any need so frequently to recur to this point, which seems absolutely undeniable. I apprehend that the worst parts of pagan philosophy, concerning fatal necessity, had been adopted and even perverted by heretics, and interwoven with evangelical doctrines; and thus made an excuse for actual wickedness, as the effect of necessity or compulsion, and so, unavoidable, and not deserving of punishment. A few wrongheaded persons, indeed, may now be found, who talk as if man were a sort of machine in what he did, whether good or bad ; who yet are very angry when their servants or relations act improperly towards them: but I would as soon go to a mad-house, and dispute with the lunatics, as argue with human beings who

« הקודםהמשך »