I do not remember any thing in St. Augustin that is peculiar about this Doctrine; Only I take notice from several passages, that he goes still the Narrow Way: That the Elect only are redeemed: That none but those who are brought into the Church, by receiving all her Articles, and being Baptized, can be of that Number. That no Heathen, no Heretick, no Separatist from the Church, no Donatist, no Infant, though of Believing Parents, that dies unbaptized, can be saved. I must confess here I am not of the mind with this Father. And, as I apprehend, that Justine Martyr, and some such Ancients, who were Philosophers as well as Christians, have spoken more nobly than thus: So do I think that he goes not here the way of the Scriptures. There is the universal Grace of God; and special Grace of God, I count, held forth therein: and both consistent with one another. When Christ sayes, He came to save the World, that The Father so loved the World, as to give his Son, That he tasted Death for every Man, and the like; let not any think, but the Grace of Redemption doth concern all the World: And when we yet maintain special Grace with this, let not any confine the same to this or that Sort or Sect of Religion, but let him judge rather, that the Elect are scattered throughout the Earth; and it is God alone knows who are his. There is the universal Grace of Origen, that all at last shall be saved, of Pelagius, of Arminius. There is also gratia universalis aqualis & Pracedanea, of John Camero; we are not bound to maintain either of these: but there is Gratia universalis simpliciter, which if we maintain not, we must leave our Preaching, and the Gospel. The Followers of Truth and Mediocrity will be afraid to hold any other universal Grace, but such as I suppose St. Ambrose holds in his Books, De vocatione Gentium; that will agree well with the special Grace also and Election of St. Augustine; that is, such only, I count, as may justly lay the
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blame of mans Sin and his Destruction, altogether on himself, when it gives the whole Glory of his Salvation unto God. They that observe lying vanityes, forsake their own mercy.
For my proceeding on this point, it is not sutable to my purpose to be critical upon any words in the original Languages that Redemption is expressed by: or, to pretend to curiosity in the Laws and Customs of the Jews or other natious [nations?] about Redemption at large, which might be alluded to: I will rather leave this Note in my way, that, as the curious oftentimes are least apt for plain things, so must I say, that whatsoever notion is offered upon this or any other head of Divinity by any, who perhaps are of more exquisite learning and search in some things than others are, if when they are sufficiently declared, they are not apprehensible by common and ordinary people as well as themselves, I do account them little worth in the Christian Religion. They were plain men who at first Preached the Gospel, and they were plain men for whose sake it was Preached, and is Written. When I see evidently that there must goe more skill to the finding such or such things out, more learning, subtil distinction, and wit, than, I beleeve, any of the Apostles if they were living ever had, I cannot but think presently, There is none of Christs disciples would have delivered this, and it matters not my salvation whether it be so or not.
Neither do I entend a Common place upon this, or other of the Heads which I treat on, but an Exercitation onely, in order to my particular design: you must not expect any more. There is one thing then I account here to be mainly of necessity or moment; and that is, the understanding our Redemption by Jesus Christ but so, as that we may be solidly able to fix upon what that is which indeed accrewes to man from it, or which we may avouch for the immediate and uncontrolable fruit, or benefit, to us by it. I will not therefore make many words. The Redemption of man by Christ, I humbly conceive, does lye chiefly in this, The delivery of him from the Law as it was a Covenant of works, that is requiring of him such conditions as he is not now in his faln estate ever able to perform; and so must inevitably perish, if he were not delivered from it. When the fulness of time was come (sayes the Apostle) God sent his Son, made under the Law. &c. The
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Law as given to the Jews was a representative of the Law of Nature or Covenant of Works: and in Christs redeeming the jewes from it as given by Moses, he does redeem the World from that covenant which it represented, and there, I say, does lye the chief point of our Redemption. That very thing then, or that great immediate effect or benefit which accrewes to man from Christs dying for him, is his having other terms procured upon which he may be justified and saved, than those which by the Covenant of nature were due from him to obtain that end. For, God so loved the World that he gave his onely begotten son that whosoever beleeveth in him should not perish but have everlasting life. What is the immediate end here of God's giving his Son, That must be the Immediate fruit of Christs coming, dying, and redeeming the World. And what is that, but that Whosoever beleeveth in him, may not perish? That is, The delivery of him from the law of Works, and bringing him under the Covenant or law of Faith, that, upon the performance only hereof (who could not have it else without perfect doing) he may obtain everlasting life. And whether this favour of Christs procuring new terms upon which man may be saved does belong to the Elect only, or to all the world, there will need no more but to ask, To whom the Gospel is to be preached, to decide that question.
It is true, that the freedom of the Jewes from the Mosaical law; the breaking down the partition-wall thereby for the Gentiles to be incorporated into one Church visible; and a power in Christ himself to dispense all assistances necessary to both for their obedience to the Gospel; as also a discharge of mankind from damnation for Adams sin onely, are fruits of Christs death, which may be said too, immediate and universal: but the great benefit which indeed comprehends these and the like in it, and appeares so notorious in the whole New Testament, is, The reconciliation of the world unto God by his death or Redemption. And what else such a reconciliation can eminently consist in, but that I have named, I leave to the understanding to give judgment.
Neither are we to forget that our Redemption in the Scripture is said to be from Sin, and the Devil, as well as from the Law; for the one is the Foundation of the other. When man fell from God, the Devil obtained a right and dominion over him.
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This was not a right as Lord, and Proprietour, but as Goaler and Executioner; that is, by vertue of that sentence which the Law as the Covenant of works passed on him. When Christ then by his Satisfaction to the Justice of God, did put an end to that Covenant; this Right which the Devil held thereby, must cease with it. In the Cessation of this Right; As the Slave who is redeemed from his slavery, is redeemed also from the work which he lives in as a Slave: So must all Mankind be redeemed from sin; only this Redemption must be distinguished, in regard of Title, and in regard of Possession. It follows not because the World lies in Wickedness, and the Prince of the Air still rules in the Children of Disobedience; that Christ hath not done His part in their Redemption: No, while the Law which held them under an impossible Duty (that is, the Law of Sin and Condemnation) is taken off, and the New Law is such, as every one is capable to perform the Terms of it, if he will: It is not for want of Right to come out of this slavery; it is not for want of Power; but it is because they are not willing to come out of it, because they love their sins; that the Devil keeps them still in Possession. Even as the Hebrew Servant, when the Jubile came; if he said, he loved his Master, and would not go out free, he was to have his Ears boared to the Door-posts of the House, and remain his Slave for ever. There is a double work, therefore, Christ has to do as our Lord-Redeemer. The one is to procure Deliverance if we are willing; that is, our Redemption in regard of Title: And the other is, To make us Willing, which is, to put us also in Possession. The one of these is that which is properly the work of our Redemption, and Universal: The other is peculiar to the Elect, and hath another name in Scripture; that is, our Vocation, Effectual Calling, or Conversion. Unless when this Possession comes to be perfectly compleat, that is, at Death; and then it is again called the Day of Redemption. Whom he did predestinate (saith the Apostle) them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified: And whom he justified, them he also glorified. If Redemption were not of a larger extent than Election, Vocation, Justification, and Glory, then would the Apostle have said; Whom he did predestinate, he redeemed: And whom he redeemed, he called.
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But when we find no such Link in this Chain, it is a convincing Argument to my understanding, for the Universalitie of Redemption.
It is said of Chirst, that he is the Saviour of the world; especially of his own body. In that Sentence we have both universal and special grace together; and the one is Applicatory, not Destructive to the other. The Redemption of Christ is universal: The Grace whereby a Man savingly believes, and repents, and so becomes one of his Body, is special, and belongs to Election. The Death of Christ may be considered, as it redounds to the purchasing Remission of Sin and Salvation upon condition; or, as it redounds to the purchasing the Condition for Remission and Salvation. In the first sense, Christs Redemption and Grace of the Gospel is universal; Doctor Twisse, and the like Divines, will say twenty times over: In the second sense, they will have it for his Elect only. For my own part, I must go from them here, and account, That the work of Christs Redemption and whole Mediation upon Earth, does terminate in the former consideration. The business of a Mediatour between parties, does lie in this, To bring them to some New terms, wherein they may be agreed when they were at odds before. The business of Christs Mediation, Redemption, Reconciliation, Propitiation, Satisfaction; or whatsoever word out of Scripture, or Orthodox Writers is used, does lie, I account, in this altogether, That he hath taken that course with the Father, that he shall not deal with the world according to the Covenant of our Creation; which requires such terms, as no Man now thereby can be justified or saved; but according to the Covenant of Grace, which is such, that whosoever he be, that trusting in his Mercy and Goodness through Christ, does repent, and walk sincerely before him; though imperfectly, shall be Pardoned, Accepted, and Saved, and yet he be Righteous in so doing. This I say, is the res ipsa, (as I take it) the thing it self, intended in all these sorts of words, with the connotations only of the modus also, the mode or qualification thereof, according to such several Expressions.
Here then appears a Truth (as it seems at least) very agreeable to my Reason; and will be found as Consonant perhaps to
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the Judicious, with the Scripture; that the Merit, or Purchase of Christ's Death, or the Price he laid down for our Redemption, was not offered to the Father, to procure of Him, that he should give Faith and Repentance to any; but that he should give Remission to those that Repent, and Salvation to those that believe on him. I humbly offer you these Reasons:
1. The holding otherwise than thus, does make Christ's Redemption a double thing; one thing for one man, and another thing for another: It shall be procuring Salvation for Judas, if he repent; and it shall be the procuring Repentance for Peter, that he may be saved. 2. It goes quite against the hair to reason, that Christ should procure the Benefit upon Condition, and only on Condition, and not otherwise; and yet that he should procure also the Performance. To what purpose do we make such a Labour about as this? Why do you not say, He purchased the Benefit rather free altogether without condition? 3. If our Believing, and Repenting, be also purchased, then is there nothing in Man's Salvation but of Purchase; and we shall be beholding to Christ for all, and to God for nothing. But if we are beholding to Christ for his Purchase; that Salvation may be had if we repent, and to God for this Repenting; then do we see, how highly Both are to be magnified for the Contrivance. 4. The Death and Redemption of Christ is for All, for every man; for our sins, for the world's. Distinctions to answer this, are but Evasions. But if Faith and Repentance be the purchase of Christs Death or Redemption, then cannot his Death and Redemption be universal, according to so many Scriptures. Let me double this, and add also, that the Purchase, or Redemption of Christ being universal certainly, as it is in Scripture, if by his Death he had procured the Condition, as well as the Covenant, and abatement of Terms, then must all Men Actually have been saved. I have one Reason yet more to offer; which is, That the want of knowing this, is, I take it, the great Stumbling-block, or Temptation to our Divines, in the receiving universal Grace, to cast special Grace quite off; when they should learn the true Mediocrity of reconciling both these together, according to the Scriptures.
When the Arminian then argues here, Christ hath died for
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All and Every man and that is not to be put off with the genera singulorum, or, the Gentiles as well as the Jewes: therefore the grace of God is universal for all and every one to repent and beleeve that they may be saved. I answer, this is manifestly inconsequent, because it is true that what Christ hath done by way of Redemption is universal, and belongs to all the World, and every man alike, which is terminated in procuring these terms to be offered to the World for salvation. But as for mans belief, repentance, sincere obedience, which are the terms, they come directly and immediately otherwise, not from the grace of Redemption, nor from the fountain of mans free will with them, but from the grace of Election. God gives us his Son, and he gives us his Spirit. His sending his Son is one thing, and his sending his Spirit another. The work of drawing persons to Christ, I do observe, is attributed to the Father and the Spirit, because this is Peculiar: when the work which is attributed to Christ in distinction to them, is Generall to all mankind. He sent his Son to purchase salvation, if we Beleeve: he sends his Spirit to work that faith and repentance in us that we may be saved. In the one does lye the mystery of our Redemption, in the other, I say, the mystery of Election. Let it be true on one hand that Christ by his Redemption hath indeed procured no more for Paul and Peter, than for Judas and the reprobate, and so the honour of his Redemption be kept up with the Arminian to the height they contend for it: Yet may it be true, I hope likewise, on the other hand, that the grace of God towards Peter and Paul was more in giving them saving faith and repentance, than to Judas or the reprobate, and so the doctrine of Special Grace and Election need not neither be discarded.
For caution, There is the Direct, and Collateral issue (if I may so speak) of Christs merit, purchase or death. It is certain that the Lord Jesus may be said by his death and merit to have procured his own exaltation, and as he is become thereby the Dispensatour of those treasures that are in his Fathers Election, so repentance or faith in a collateral way may be accounted to issue from thence. Whom God hath exalted to be a Prince to give repentance, as well as be a Saviour, to procure remission to Israel. But repentance, faith perseverance, or the condition which God
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requires of us, and not of Christ, in the business of our salvation, does not flow to us directly from, or is no direct and immediate fruit of, his Death or Redemption. I know moreover the Scripture tells us that we are blessed with all spiritual blessings in him: But that may be true I hope, though some of those blessings only are the purchase of his death, and others the effect of his Intercession: or some the fruit of his Purchasing, others the effect of his Administring of the new Covenant.
This is certain, the Spirit is the Authour of our faith, repentance, all grace: but the Spirit is obtained by vertue of Christs intercession. I will pray the Father, and he will send the Comforter. I offer you one argument. The Spirit proceeds not from the Son alone but from the Father and Son. The mission or giving of the Spirit therefore cannot be the effect of our Redemption which is peculiar to the Son, and belongs to all the World: but is the fruit or offspring of our Election. It is true, we come in the name of Christ to ask his Spirit, and grace, that is, we ask it through Christs merits: but there is the merits of his Person, as well as the merits of his Death; & it is one thing to be the Propitiation for our sins, and another to be also our Advocate with the Father. This is that I will pitch upon, that we are not so to attribute all things to his Oblation, as to make any other part, or parts of his Mediator-ship, more then needs.
There is a distinction the Scripture makes of Christ in the Flesh and in the Spirit. He was of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the son of God according to the Spirit, in his Resurrection from the dead, and in his living ever to make intercession for us. What he did for man in the flesh I account he did for all mankind, for he took not on him the flesh of David onely and the elect, but of all man-kind, or of human nature: but what he does in the Spirit, that may be peculiar (in some points at least) onely to his elect. Hence it is, that when he tells us he Laid down his life for the World, yet I pray sayes he not for the World, but for those thou hast given me out of the World. The prayer of Christ is a part of his intercession, which is Distinct from his oblation, and it is no argument from his not Praying for the World, that therefore he Died not for it. If ye being evil know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more
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shall your heavenly Father give his holy Spirit to them that ask him. God hath given his Son to those that never ask him, even to the whole World: but he gives the Spirit of the Son only to his Children, even to such as can cry Abba Father, when they have received it. I will pray the Father and he shall give you another Comforter, even the Spirit of truth, whom the World cannot receive. When he prayes not for the world, that he prayes for is the Spirit, and the Spirit which works grace in the heart whereby we are sanctified, and perseverance to bring us to glory, is peculiar to those whom God does give to Christ, and of whom Christ can say, For they are thine, and all mine are thine, and thine are mine, and I am glorified in them.
You may say, on the one hand, If it be no more which Christ hath purchased for Peter than for all, then Peter might perish for all Christs Purchase. I answer, you may say so, and without ignominy to his Redemption, provided you know also that the Election of God and Christs Prayer will provided for Peter that further which it provides not for all, and Jesus Christ when he hath made his purchase, is the Executor of Gods Election. On the other hand it may be said, But to what purpose is this Redemption universal when none but those that perform the condition are saved? I answer, it is therefore universal, that none of those who performe the condition may misse of Salvation. As also, that though it be all one to him that does not perform the same, in regard of the event, as if he was not all Redeemed: Yet it is not all one as to God, and the Verity of Scripture, and his Judgement according to it. The Scripture sayes often, Christ Dyed for All; and that God will Judge the World according to this Gospel. He that believes, shall be saved, he that believeth not, shall be damned; the Foundation whereof is Christs Death, which must reach so far, as to make this good. And who knows not, that the very business of our whole Religion, does depend upon the Establishment of the Verity of the Holy Scriptures?
I must confess, I should most willingly hearken to any, that could make Christs Death more Advantagious; and when his purchase hath procured Faith and Repentance to no body, but Remission and Salvation to All, upon their Faith and Repentance,
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if they are willing to say, that there is sufficient Grace also purchased for the World, that all, and every one should Repent and Believe, and apply that Redemption; I am indifferent to the use of their Thoughts: But if when I rather grant a universal Power, arising from Christs purchase, not as a direct fruite of his Death, but as a consequential Event (N.B.) from the Abatement only of the terms; that God is not wanting to any in necessariis, and consequently, that all men have sufficient Light, Spirit, Grace, or Power, to be saved, if they in gratuitis, and to give the Will and Deed it self, is more than to give Power, (as to have given Adam the Ipsum velle, had been more, and a gratuitum wherein he might have abounded, if he had pleased, than in giving him only Posse velle) I cannot see by any means, but when Christs Death is made universal, the Fathers Election must be left still, Per modum decreti efficaciter operantis, By way of a decree effectually operating, free and absolute, in regard to the condition of it's Application. If all men have alike the Posse velle, The Power to will, and no more, then must the reason, Why one man Repents, and is Saved, and not another, be resolved into his own self only, and so may and must he say, it is I, I myself have made the difference, when the Scripture does say, Who is it, O man, that hath made thee to differ? But if we allow (as Redemption to be universal so) a Posse velle from general: (I say, not a Posse velle as to the Covenant of our Creation, but as to the Terms of the Gospel:) And to the Elect, the Ipsum velle from special Grace, we shall neither have any thing to charge God, nor give occassion to Mans boasting. Neither shall the condition be held impossible; nor when we have performed it, shall we rob God of his Glory.
It is pleaded, That unless Faith and Repentance does lie in every Man's own Breast, Christ's purchase of Pardon upon that Condition, is but a Mock. I answer, To deny that to Believe, and to Repent, does lye in our Power, were indeed, to evacuate Christ's Death to All, besides the Elect: But to say, that Faith and Repentance therefore does flow from our Wills, is another matter. I must offer moreover; If Christ had purchased Faith and Repentace for some which All have not, the
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Reprobate might here have something to say, That the Reason why he Repented not, as the Elect did, was, because Christ purchased Repentance for the One, and not for the Other: But if Christ hath purchased nothing for One, but what he hath purchased for All (which directly is true,) then cannot the purchase of Christ be a Mock to any, seeing some do reap a real Benefit by it, and if others do not, it must be their Own fault. Indeed those Divines, who confound the Blessings we have in Christ, so as to make them All alike the direct Fruits of his Death with no difference, must be under some manifest Prejudice here against St. Augustine, and his Doctrine. It stands not with reason, that any thing which is part of Christ's Purchase, should be peculiar, for how then hath Christ dyed for All? That which is of meer Favour, is fit for the Elect; that which is of Purchase, should be universal, or for All Mankind. If that Grace then, whereby we Believe and Repent, is a Fruit flowing from Christ's Death, no otherwise than the Covenant itself does, these Divines alone must speak agreeably, who will allow no other, but that which they call sufficient, putting all men into an æqui librium, or equal Ballance, between Choosing and Refusing, and so leaving it upon their own Wills, to make the Difference, Who are saved, and who are not saved? But to what little purpose such Grace as this, is distinguished at all from Nature, and into what inconveniences, especially in reference to our Prayers, they must be lead that maintain it, I shall not be able to say presently. Cur admonemur orare pro inimicis nostris utique nolentibus pie vivere, nifi ut Deus in illis operetur & velle? Item cur admonemur petere ut accipiamus, nifi & ab illo fiat quod volumus, a quo factum est ut velimus. Again, Cur petitur quod ad nostram pertinet potestratem, si Deus non adjuvat veluntatum? Why are we bid to pray for our Enemies, whose Hearts we know are Averse? Why are we to bid to ask any thing which is in our Power, but that it is God who turns the Will? Augustine. Enchir: ad Laur. c. 31. Item De Gra. & alibi passim.
It is certain, that St. Austine, speaking of what Grace Adam had, and what We have (De correptione & Gratia. c.11.) does ascribe the Posse permanere si vellet, The power of standing if he would unto Grace. Prima gratia qua data est Adam, est qua fit
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ut habeat homo justitiam si velit: Secunda ergo plus potest, qua etiam fit, ut velit. Again, Posse permanere si vellet, quia dederat adjutorium per quod posset. He could have stood if he would, because God vouchsafed help whereby he could. I must confess, I should have judged it not to be of Grace, that Adam had his Posse perseverare, his strength to persevere, but of Nature, or his Original Righteousness: And that Grace (which he calls Adjutorium) is proper to our falne Estate, for the relieving of Nature. But if it were of Grace, that Adam had the posse only, when he had not the velle, then may we assert universal Grace with the more Authority; while we say, that there is a posse not in Man falne, as to the performance of the Covenant of Grace, no less than in Adam at first, as to his keeping the Covenant of Works: when yet the velle, which is of special Grace, is not vouchsafed.
There may be here indeed, a most difficult Demand, and that must not be baulked; Whether the Power, which is universal, be of Nature or Grace? And I must profess, it is an Entaglement to my Thoughts, to distinguish Nature at all, from that Grace which is universal. Although for the sake I suppose of some Texts, which attribute our sufficiency, our can, our power, as well as our will and deed to God, when they say too it is not of our selves, Divines do it. There is that Concourse, or Operation of God with Us, as reaches to the Endowing us with Power: or that which reaches to the Endowing us with the Will. The last of these only, if I might choose, I would have called Grace: Yet seeing Divines speak otherwise, whether the former also, be called Grace or Nature, so long as it be held universal, I desire to move no Contention. And you see me speak as one indifferent in it.
If we consult the Schools, we shall find them giving as little to the strength of nature as any others can doe. Nullum initium justificationis potest fieri sine gratia, Sive Illud initium sit causa, sive meritum, condigni aut congrui, sive impetratio, dispositio, conditio ad quodlibet aliquid, quocung; modo per se & ratione sui, conducens ad justificationem. There is nothing that we can doe of our own strength without grace that is any cause, merit, disposition, condition, or occasion of our justification, or the beginning of it. Ruiz.
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De prædestinationis exordio. Trac. 3. Disp. 17. By justification they understand in effect regeneration, and they distinguish of an occasion which is active or given of men, and passive or taken of God. They will allow indeed that we doe may be a Passive occasion or opportunity to God for the infusing his grace, which is with them to justify us, but no Active. Illa occasiones perse, & ratione sui, nullam Physican, nec moralem causalitatem exercent, ad obtinendam misericordian Dei, sed Deus pro sua intriuseca boxitate & Sapientia, ex illis occasionem accipit. Jb. Dist. 16 Sec. 2. The sum is, that whatsoever man does by the strength of nature, conduces to his effectual conversion onely (as a removens prohibens) by removing the hinderance which otherwise we might put, if we withdrew from the means that God hath appointed to obtain his grace. Licet enim aliquis per motum liberi arbitris divinam gratiam nec promereri nec acquirere possit: potest tamen serpsum impedire ne eam recipiat, sayes Aquinas. Though a man by the motion of his freewill cannot merit or procure the divine grace: yet can he hinder himself from receiving it. They said unto God, Depart from us we desire not the knowledg of thy ways. Quilibet acuis qui a nobis eliciatur per vires nature sine auxilio gratiæ nihil ad gratiam justificantem, nee(?) ad auxiliatricem gratiam influit: nihilue conducit aut convert perse ratione sui, sed solummodo quasi causa per accidens remonendo prohibens, aut tan quam occasio & opportunitas passina & a Deo accepta, non ab hominibus data. Jb. Dist. 20.
Having gon thus far in abasing the strength of nature, we shall find how they make it up again, with advancing an universall Sufficient grace, by the help of which lever the free will of man shall be lifted into the same throne, from when before they threw it down. For when that grace which they set up, must be such only as gives a next power to beleeve and repent if we will, but leaves the will undetermined and uninclined, and this being Supposed to be vouchsafed to all according to the condition they are in, whether Elect or Reprobate alike, it is apparent that mans free will by the cooperation with this grace, or refusal, is that which begins, or puts by his own justification, and causequently makes the difference (in the upshot) between him that is saved, and him that is damned. Supponimus omnibus adultis
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nullo excepto, dari auxilia sufficientia ad salutem, & non impedita, sed ita expendita, ut in poestate (?) cujusque sit, illis cooperando, ulteriora auxilia obtinere, quanruis per vires naturæ non possint obtinere auxilia gratis. Again, Barbari ignorantissimi per interiorem gratiam moventur ad cognoscendum (non explicite sed implicite & virtualiter, non certo sed subdubio, non in particulari sed in universali) aliquid supernaturale, atque ad illud desiderandum: Idque sufficit ut illustrationes & inspirationes suit quidditative supernaturales & sufficientes ad justificationis initium. Idem ib Disp. 25. Now what my thoughts are on this, I have offered as I pass; and more particularly, at the end, upon the first Head, of Election. There is universal Grace consistent with the Special Grace of Gods Elect: Or inconsistent with it. The former, I shall like to have well explained. The latter, I take to be against St. Augustine, and the Scriptures. The Grace of God is without, or within us. There is the Love, or Good-will of God to Mankind, who would have All to be saved: Our Redemption by Christ; The remedying Covenant; The Gospel. This is Grace without, and that some Grace there is then sufficient, and universal, that yet hath no Effect on the most, is out of doubt. There is moreover, that Grace which lies in the Help, or Assistance of the Spirit within, and the Fruit of it (Gratia Auxiliatrix, & Infusa) and this our Divines doe distinguish into Common and Saving. By Common, they understand not the universal sufficient Assistance of the Schools before, but some particular Operation of the Spirit, Effecting so much as it is given for, only because those Effects reach no farther than what is Common to the Elect and Reprobate, they call such Help or Grace only Common Grace. Thus far we are safe; As for any Grace besides all this, if there be any, not opposing Electing Grace, I shall be glad to hear it; but my own mind, I perceive, hangs thus. There is a Power to will or nill, to act of not to act, which is the power of Nature: And there is a Disposition on the Will, being touched by the Holy Spirit, to the doing what is good. Between these two, Nature, and Grace, to advance a middle Power, arising from an Assistance sufficient, preceding Effectual, that is to say, To make God by a supernatural Help, to produce a New Power,
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which they call, a next Power, in every man, over and above that Power which we have by Nature (which is the Remote Power, though the Schools mean it not so, and which alone will render the Sinner inexcusable without any other) antecendent to the giving the Will and the Deed, wherein effectual Grace does lie: Even a New Power, I say, Supernatural, of Believing, Repenting, or Willing, besides the Natural, antecendent to Faith, Repentance, or the Will it self: I do not see to what purpose else, if it be no a Device under the Cover of that Name, to advance Free-will, and slap off St. Augustine (as I take it to be in the Schooles) it can be made to serve. What need is there of Grace, to put the Will only in æquilibrio, which it is in by Nature? If it encines not the Will, and carries the Heart and Life: What shall I say of it, but as of the Wood or the Vine? Is it meet for any Work? Yet if it be, I refuse not to hang my Vessel on it.
Auxilium, aliud est proxime & immediate sufficiens, quod videlicet formaliter & actualiter continet omnes causas, & conditiones, ex parte principii requisitas ad eliciendum actum quo immediate dispo umur ad justificationem: Aliud vero non sufficit ad salutem nifi mediate atque remote, quatenus immediate sufficiens est ad eliciendum aliquem actum supernaturalem minus perfectum & remote distantem a justificatione; quem actum si peccator eliciat, de congruo merebitur, & impetrabit ulteriora auxilia supernaturalia, quibus possit elicere Perfectiores actus, proximius disponentes ad justificationem, quousque ipsam obtineat. Ruiz De præcip. effec. benevol. Dei erga reprob. Sec. 2. Auxilium vel immediate vel mediate sufficiens, omnibus adultis, quamdiu sunt viatores, tribuitur ad omnes actiones quæ sunt ad salutem simpliciter necessariæ. Ib. Sec. 3. Auxilium remotum simpliciter necessarium cujus virtute fit absolute possibile proximum Auxilium obtinere, nunquam subrahitur, etiam, propter gravissimas culpas. De prin. imped. justif. Sec. 5. I present this to the Reader only for Light, out of courtisie, that he who would without more pains, may yet see, how the Schools order their Matters. And the truth is, if they would order it but a little otherwise, without its Antecedency and Equality, This sufficient universal Grace of theirs might do well. There is an Equality in regard of Quantity,
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which no body will contend for: Or in regard of Principle, Ratione principii in actu primo causantis Operationem. The concourse of God, as the first cause, with Nature in all her Acts, and so with Mans Free-will, is one principle of Operation: And that Assistance which we call Grace, is another. Of Grace likewise, the Assistance which is Common, and which is Effectual, are two Principles according to us. If we shall therefore make the Assistance of God, which belongs to all, to be equal, we destroy special Grace: But if we seperate this Equality from the Universality, and tye not an Antecedency to the sufficiency (for what hinders, but God may work effectually on some Persons altogether graceless at once?) I see no hurt in the Maintenance of it, if I were first convinced of a necessity for it.
From hence there is a Point of another sort, that is, of Practical Divinity comes in upon us: To wit, How far a Natural Man may go, and yet fall short of True Grace, and Salvation? To answer which, we are to know, that it is one thing to ask what a Natural man can do? And another, What he may do, and yet be an Unregenerate Man? The first Question, is the Controversial Point in hand, between Us and the Arminians: And I say, it is agreeable to that Righteousness of God, which is Revealed in the Gospel, and to Common Reason, that when Christ dyed to Redeem the World from the Law of Works, because through the Weakness of the Flesh, it was impossible for us to perform the same; the New Terms which he hath procured for us in the Remedying Law, should be so Adapted to our Falne Estate, as to be made no less possible to us, or within our Power now, than the Terms of the Covenant of Nature, was to Adam in the state of Innocency. There is no Interpretation of any Scripture, must be admitted against universal Reason, and the goodness of God. For the second Question: Take a Drunkard, or the like Sinner, I say, this man can, and may presently resolve to keep his ill Company no more; he may command his outward Man, and so his leggs to carry him from the Ale-house, if he will. If he does thus, he leaves that sin, so may he others. He may Hear, Pray, set up Duty in his Family: He may Receive the Word, which is more, and bring forth Fruit,
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with this difference only, that the Regenerate man, does it with an honest Heart, which he hath not. There is the matter of our Duty, and the manner of Performance. This Question which seems so difficult, perhaps to many, is easily determined. The Unregenerate Man can do if he will, and may will, and do, that, and all that which the Regenerate man does, in the matter: but as for the manner, this is certain, that the Regenerate man, only does act out of that Principle, and to that End, and with those Circumstances (particularly, in regard to the Predominancy of Gods Interest, over the Flesh and the World) as brings up what he does, to answer the Covenant Terms, and so alone is entituled to the promised Reward, which is to be justified and saved. In conclusion, we see how the Mistery [sic] of Election shews it self; when there is no man but can, if he will, and yet there is no man ever will, as he ought without this special Grace of the Elect; What shall we say, but, Great is the mystery of Godliness! It is he hath wrought us for this self same thing; Blessed be the God of Grace!
And here are there some Socinian, as well as Arminian Disputes might be Touched, under this Head of Christ's Redemption, especially in relation to his Satisfaction. For it may be, that such a less intricate Conception only of what we are to understand by Christ's Satisfaction, might bring the most of several Parties to Agreement. It is a Question, Whether God could pardon a Sinner without Satisfaction? And consequently, Whether there be any necessity of Christ's Dying to that purpose? I answer, There is no Mortal, upon the Terms of Covenant of our Creation, can be justified. (Hence it is (N. B.) that by Nature, we are all said to be the Children of Wrath,) It is necessary therefore, these Terms be altered. This is that which Jesus Christ hath procured for Us by His Redemption, by the Merits of his Life and Death, by his Satisfaction; that is, such a well-pleasing of the Father, in the whole course of his Life and Death, that for his sake, he might (without any Dishonour to him, or to his Law, as Rector) and does condescend to do it: And there should be an end, if I might over-rule the more Intelligent, of such, and the like kind of Questions.
Deo Gloria, mihi Condonatio. J. H.
September 28, 2009
As far as I can tell, this paper from John Humfrey has not been referenced or quoted in any other source dealing with moderate Calvinism since the work was originally published in 1673. I accidentally stumbled across his name and this work while doing EEBO searches. It took me some time to type this section on redemption, and I have tried to accurately reproduce the original, so I have retained the older spellings (or misspellings). The italics are also in the original.
John Humfrey, The Middle-Way in One Paper of Election & Redemption (London: Printed for T. Parkhust, at the Three Bibles in Cheap-side, 1673), 24–40.
September 25, 2009
"That God "requires of sinners faith in Christ that they may be saved," admits of no dispute. The part assigned to faith, however, has been much controverted. Many excellent divines, in consequence of the distinction which they made between the covenant of redemption and the covenant of grace, were led to speak of faith as the condition of the latter covenant. But the term, as used by them, signifies not a meritorious or procuring cause, but simply something which goes before, and without which the other cannot be obtained. They consider faith merely as a condition of order or connection, as it has been styled, and as an instrument or means of obtaining an interest in the salvation offered in the gospel. This is very different from the meaning attached to the term by Arminians and Neonomians, who represent faith as a condition on the fulfilment of which the promise is suspended.. The Westminster Assembly elsewhere affirm, that God requires of sinners faith in Christ, "as the condition to interest them in him." But this is very different from affirming that faith is the condition of the covenant of grace. That faith is indispensably necessary as the instrument by which we are savingly interested in Christ, and personally instated in the covenant, is a most important truth, and this is all that is intended by the Westminster Divines. They seem to have used the term condition as synonymous with instrument; for, while in one place they speak of faith as the condition to interest sinners in the Mediator, in other places they affirm, that "faith is the alone instrument of justification," and teach, that "faith justifies a sinner in the sight of God, only as it is an instrument by which he receiveth and applieth Christ and his righteousness." As the word condition is ambiguous, apt to be misunderstood, and is frequently employed in an unsound and dangerous sense, it is now disused by evangelical divines."
Robert Shaw, An Exposition of the Confession of Faith of the Westminster Assembly of Divines, 8th edition (Blackie and Son: Glasgow, 1857), 91–92.
"V. Faith is the alone instrument of the sinner's justification. That we are justified by faith is so frequently and expressly declared in the Scriptures, that no one who professes to receive the Word of God as the rule of his faith can venture to deny it. There are very different opinions, however, in regard to the office of faith in the justification of a sinner. Some say that a sinner is justified by faith, as it is an act performed by him; as if faith came in the room of perfect obedience, required by the law. This we have already disproved; and "it is well known," says Witsius, "that the Reformed Churches condemned Arminius and his followers for saying that faith comes to be considered, in the matter of justification, as a work or act of ours." Some have said, that faith is to be considered as the condition of our justification. The "condition " of anything usually signifies that which, being done, gives us a right and title to it, because it possesses either intrinsic or conventional merit. To call faith, in this sense, the condition of our justification, would introduce human merit, to the dishonour of divine grace, and would entirely subvert the gospel. Some worthy divines have called faith a condition, who were far from being of opinion that it is a condition properly so called, on the performance of which men should, according to the gracious covenant of God, have a right to justification as their reward. They merely intended, that without faith we cannot be justified—that faith must precede justification in the order of time or of nature. But as the term "condition" is very ambiguous, and calculated to mislead the ignorant, it should be avoided."
I disagree with the last sentence above. I don't think the term "condition" should be avoided. I think it just needs to be qualified when it is used.
These quotes are meant to compliment John Flavel's statements about faith as a condition.
September 24, 2009
Justin Taylor has recently posted an excellent quote by Ken Sande on the subject of humility. As I read it, I could not help but think of the utter absence of humility among Calvinists in the blogosphere. Read their blogs and the comments following their posts to see if they have the virtues or the attitude described in this quote. If they (or I) don't, then they (or I) haven't really digested their Calvinism, which ought to be thoroughly abasing by its very nature.
Many leaders conceal a proud attitude under a demeanor of humility, which is not the same as actual humility. One of the many evidences of actual humility is the inclination to “consider others better than yourself,” which results in valuing their thoughts and interests as highly as your own (Phil. 2:3-4). A closely related evidence of humility is to sincerely welcome critique and correction, no matter who brings the “observation” (Prov. 13:10, 17:10). Therefore, wise leaders regularly meditate and pray about the “pride and humility” passages in Scripture (see Prov. 11:2, 19:20; Isa. 66:3; 1 Pet. 5:5-6), asking God to help them put off self-confidence, pride, and every hint of arrogance, and to put on a humility that genuinely welcomes questions, suggestions, criticism, and anything else that might aid us in the process of presenting ourselves before God as empty vessels, so that we might be utterly dependent on and fulfilled in him, which is the essence of true humility.
Frankly, I see a dismissive, condescending and scornful treatment of others among many Calvinists who interact on the internet. For example, if they are not theoretical hyper-Calvinists in the sense of thinking that Arminians are lost, you could hardly tell a difference in terms of the way in which they treat them practically. They not only treat them like enemies of the faith, as if they are secretly suspicious of their regeneration, but they often treat fellow Calvinists the same way if they happen to be lower in their Calvinism on some points. This attitude and behaviour is a regular stench in the nostrils of God, I'm sure. May God grant us repentance in His sovereign grace.
September 18, 2009
Rush Limbaugh mentioned a few months ago on his show that his father once told him, "If you want to learn about another person's character, watch how they treat people who can't do anything for them." I have meditated on this ever since. While this principle would shed a great deal of light on corrupt and selfish individuals in the political sphere, the same applies to the sphere of ministry and theological education.
As you allow your character to be shaped and influenced by certain preachers, teachers, theologians and apologists, ask yourself these questions: Is this leader inclined to befriend or treat kindly those people who can't be used for purposes of self-promotion? Do they seem like people who merely surround themselves with sycophants? Are they dismissive, condescending or scornful towards the average person who asks them sincere theological questions? Do they behave like angels around people with influence, status and credentials, but act disrespectful toward others without that status?
Avoid such prideful and selfish men. They are unfit for ministry and they certainly should not be holding office in any church.
September 10, 2009
Al Mohler spoke at the God Blog Conference in 2007 on "Pioneering the New Media for Christ." It's an outstanding lecture, as one might expect. Of particular interest are some of his concluding comments on the ethics of communication. Here is that 8 minute section:
Download Clip Here
Notice what he says about accountability and credibility. He rightly says, "We need to make sure that our blogs are accountable to the Christian church... Someone ought to be able to call us on this... Our fellow Christians in the local church need to be reading our blogs and holding us personally accountable... Credibility must be personal... There should be no anonymity... Anonymous blogs are a scandal."