June 19, 2017

Samuel Spring (1746–1819) on Natural and Moral Ability

5. Does the total depravity of man consist in the destitution of any faculties or abilities which are necessary to constitute a moral agent. For, if men were not moral agents, or were destitute of natural ability to keep the divine commands, they would be incapable of moral action. It is not possible for men to be disobedient, except they have natural ability to be obedient. For the commands of God never exceed the natural ability of man. God does not require the improvement of more talents than he has given. “For to whom much is given much shall be required.” The depravity of man, therefore, does not consist in the destitution of natural ability to obey the divine command; but in those volitions or exercises which are opposed to it. It is the will or heart of man which is depraved. Accordingly Christ does not condemn sinners because they are destitute of natural ability to come to him; but because they refuse: therefore he says, “Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life.” Sinners are able to do their duty, but not willing. For God requires no natural impossibilities.


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