William Bradford Institute
for Study of the
Early Settlement of America

Home
Sermons
 
Back
 
A Display of Arminianism, Part 3


John Owen's first work against the heresy of Arminius.


CHAPTER 11.


WHETHER SALVATION MAY BE ATTAINED

WITHOUT THE KNOWLEDGE OF, OR FAITH IN, CHRIST JESUS.


It shall shut up all this discourse concerning the meritorious cause
of salvation, with their shutting out of Christ from being the only
one and absolutely necessary means to bring us unto heaven, to make
us happy. This is the last pile they erect upon their Babylonish
foundation, which makes the idol of human self-sufficiency every way
perfect, and fit to be sacrificed unto. Until these proud builders,
to get materials for their own temple, laid the axe to the root of
Christianity, we took it for granted that there is no salvation in
any other, because there is none other name under heaven given
unto men whereby we must be saved, Acts 4:12. Neither yet shall
their nefarious attempts frighten us from our creed, nor make us be
wanting to the defense of our Saviors honor. But I shall be very
brief in the consideration of this heterodoxy, nothing doubting but
that to have repeated it is fully to have confuted it, in the
judgment of all pious Christians.

First, then, They grant salvation to the ancient patriarchs and
Jews, before the coming of Christ, without any knowledge of or faith
in him at all; nay, they deny that any such faith in Christ was ever
prescribed unto them or required of them. [i] [1] It is certain
that there is no place in the Old Testament from whence it may
appear that faith in Christ as a Redeemer was ever enjoined or found
in any of them, say they jointly in their Apology; the truth of
which assertion we shall see hereafter. Only they grant a general
faith, involved under types and shadows, and looking on the promise
as it lay hid in the goodness and providence of God, which
indirectly might be called a faith in Christ: from which kind of
faith I see no reason why thousands of heathen infidels should be
excluded. Agreeable unto these assertions are the dictates of their
patriarch Arminius, affirming, [ii] [2] that the whole description
of the faith of Abraham, Romans 4, makes no mention of Jesus Christ,
either expressly or so implicitly as that it may be of any one
easily understood. And to the testimony of Christ himself to the
contrary, John 8:56, Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day;
and he saw it, and was glad, he answereth, He rejoiced to see the
birth of Isaac, who was a type of me, a goodly gloss, corrupting
the text.

Secondly, What they teach of the Jews, that also they grant
concerning the Gentiles living before the incarnation of Christ;
they also might attain salvation, and be justified without his
knowledge. [iii] [3] For although, saith Corvinus, the covenant
was not revealed unto them by the same means that it was unto the
Jews, yet they are not to be supposed to be excluded from the
covenant (of grace), nor to be excluded from salvation; for some
way or other they were called.

Thirdly, They are come at length to that perfection in setting out
this stain of Christianity, that Bertius, on good consideration,
denied this proposition, [iv] [4] That no man can be saved that is
not ingrafted into Christ by a true faith; and Venator to this
question, [v] [5] Whether the only means of salvation be the life,
passion, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ?
answereth, No. Thus they lay men in Abrahams bosom who never
believed in the Son of Abraham; make them overcome the serpent who
never heard of the Seed of the woman; bring goats into heaven, who
never were of the flock of Christ, never entered by him, the door;
make men please God without faith, and obtain the remission of sins
without the sprinkling of the blood of the Lamb,to be saved without
a Savior, redeemed without a Redeemer,to become the sons of God,
and never know their elder Brother;which prodigious error might yet
be pardoned, and ascribed to human imbecility, had it casually
slipped from their pens, as it did from some others.[vi] [6] But
seeing it hath foundation in all the grounds of their new doctrine,
and is maintained by them on mature deliberation,[vii] [7] it must
be looked on by all Christians as a heresy to be detested and
accursed. For, first, deny the contagion and demerit of original
sin; then make the covenant of grace to be universal, and to
comprehend all and every one of the posterity of Adam; thirdly,
grant a power in ourselves to come unto God by any such means as he
will appoint, and affirm that he doth assign some means unto
all,and it will naturally follow that the knowledge of Christ is
not absolutely necessary to salvation, and so down falls the
preeminence of Christianity; its heaven-reaching crown must be laid
level with the services of dunghill gods.[viii] [8]

It is true, indeed, some of the ancient fathers, before the rising
of the Pelagian heresy,who had so put on Christ, as Lipsius speaks,
that they had not fully put off Plato,have unadvisedly dropped some
speeches seeming to grant that divers men before the incarnation,
living meta< lo>gou, according to the dictates of right reason,
might be saved without faith in Christ; as is well showed by learned
Casaubon in his first exercitation on Baronius. But let this be
accounted part of that stubble which shall burn at the last day,
wherewith the writings of all men not divinely inspired may be
stained. It hath also since (as what hath not?) been drawn into
dispute among the wrangling schoolmen; and yet, which is rarely
seen, their verdict in this particular almost unanimously passeth
for the truth. Aquinas[ix] [9] tells us a story of the corpse of a
heathen, that should be taken up in the time of the Empress Irene
and her son Constantine, with a golden plate on his breast, wherein
was this inscription:Christ is born of a virgin, and I believe in
him. O sun, thou shalt see me again in the days of Irene and
Constantine. But the question is not, Whether a Gentile believing
in Christ may be saved? or whether God did not reveal himself and
his Son extraordinarily to some of them? for shall we straiten the
breast and shorten the arm of the Almighty, as though he might not
do what he will with his own; but, Whether a man by the conduct of
nature, without the knowledge of Christ, may come to heaven? the
assertion whereof we condemn as a wicked, Pelagian, Socinian heresy,
and think that it was well said of Bernard, [x] [10] That many
laboring to make Plato a Christian, do prove themselves to be
heathens. And if we look upon the several branches of this Arminian
novel doctrine, extenuating the precious worth and necessity of
faith in Christ, we shall find them hewed off by the two-edged sword
of Gods word.

FIRST, For their denying the patriarchs and Jews to have had faith
in Christum exhibendum et moriturum, as we in him exhibitum et
mortuum, it is disproved,
First, By all evangelical promises made from the beginning of the
world to the birth of our Savior; as that, Genesis 3:15, The seed
of the woman shall break the serpents head; and chapter 12:3,
49:10; Psalm 2:7,8,110; with innumerable others concerning his life,
office, and redeeming of his people: for surely they were obliged to
believe the promises of God.

Secondly, By those many clear expressions of his death, passion, and
suffering for us, as Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 53:6-10, etc., 63:1-3;
Daniel 9:26. But what need we reckon any more? Our Savior taught his
disciples that all the prophets from Moses spake concerning him, and
that the sole reason why they did not so readily embrace the faith
of his passion and resurrection was because they believed not the
prophets, Luke 24:25,26; showing plainly that the prophets required
faith in his death and passion.

Thirdly, By the explicit faith of many Jews, as of old Simeon, Luke
2:34; of the Samaritan woman, who looked for a Messiah, not as an
earthly king, but as one that should tell them all things,redeem
them from sin, and tell them all such things as Christ was then
discoursing of, concerning the worship of God, John 4:25.
Fourthly, By the express testimony of Christ himself. Abraham,
saith he, rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad,
John 8:56. His day, his hour, in the Scripture, principally denote
his passion. And that which he saw surely he believed, or else the
father of the faithful was more diffident than Thomas, the most
incredulous of his children.

Fifthly, By these following, and the like places of Scripture:
Christ is a Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,
Revelation 13:8; slain in promises, slain in Gods estimation and in
the faith of believers. He is the same yesterday, and today, and
for ever, Hebrews 13:8, under the law and the gospel. There is
none other name under heaven given unto men, whereby we must be
saved, Acts 4:12. Never any, then, without the knowledge of a
Redeemer, participation of his passion, communication of his merits,
did ever come to the sight of God; no man ever came to the Father
but by him. Hence St Paul tells the Ephesians that they were
without Christ, because they were aliens from the commonwealth of
Israel, Ephesians 2:12; intimating that Gods covenant with the
Jews included Christ Jesus and his righteousness no less than it
doth now with us. On these grounds holy Ignatius called Abel [xi]
[11] A martyr of Christ; he died for his faith in the promised
Seed. And in another place, [xii] [12] All the saints were saved by
Christ; hoping in him, and waiting on him, they obtained salvation
by him. So Prosper, also, [xiii] [13] We must believe that never
any man was justified by any other faith, either before the law or
under the law, than by faith in Christ coming to save that which was
lost. Whence Eusebius contendeth [xiv] [14] that all the old
patriarchs might properly be called Christians; they all ate of the
same spiritual meat, and all drank of the same spiritual drink, even
of the rock that followed them, which rock was Christ.

SECONDLY, If the ancient people of God, notwithstanding divers other
especial revelations of his will and heavenly instructions, obtained
not salvation without faith in Christ, much less may we grant this
happiness without him to them who were deprived of those other helps
also. So that though we confess the poor natural endeavors of the
heathen not to have wanted their reward (either positive in this
life, by outward prosperity, and inward calmness of mind, in that
they were not all perplexed and agitated with furies, like Nero and
Caligula; or negative in the life to come, by a diminution of the
degrees of their torments,they shall not be beaten with so many
stripes), yet we absolutely deny that there is any saving mercy of
God towards them revealed in the Scripture, which should give us the
least intimation of their attaining everlasting happiness. For, not
to consider the corruption and universal disability of nature to do
anything that is good (without Christ we can do nothing, John
15:5), nor yet the sinfulness of their best works and actions, the
sacrifice of the wicked being an abomination unto the LORD,
Proverbs 15:8 (Evil trees cannot bring forth good fruit; men do not
gather grapes of thorns, nor figs of thistles, Matthew 7:16,
17);the word of God is plain, that without faith it is impossible
to please God, Hebrews 11:6; that he that believeth not is
condemned, Mark 16:16; that no nation or person can be blessed but
in the Seed of Abraham, Genesis 12:3. And the blessing of Abraham
comes upon the Gentiles only through Jesus Christ, Galatians 3:14.
He is the way, the truth, and the life, John 14:6. None cometh to
the Father but by him. He is the door, by which those that do not
enter are without, with dogs and idolaters, Revelation 22:15. So
that other foundation of blessedness can no man lay than that is
laid, which is Jesus Christ, 1 Corinthians 3:11. In brief, do but
compare these two places of St. Paul, Romans 8:30, where he showeth
that none are glorified but those that are called; and Romans 10:14,
15, where he declares that all calling is instrumentally by the
preaching of the word and gospel; and it will evidently appear that
no salvation can be granted unto them on whom the Lord hath so far
poured out his indignation as to deprive them of the knowledge of
the sole means thereof, Christ Jesus. And to those that are
otherwise minded, I give only this necessary caution,Let them take
heed, lest, whilst they endeavor to invent new ways to heaven for
others, by so doing, they lose the true way themselves.

S.S.Lib. Arbit.
O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets
have spoken: ought not Christ to have suffered these things?
Luke 24:25, 26.There is no place in the Old Testament whence
it may appear that faith in Christ as a Redeemer was either
enjoined or found in any then, Rem. Apol.
Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad,
John 8:56. By his knowledge shall my righteous servant
justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities, Isaiah
53:11. See the places before cited.Abrahams faith had no
reference to Christ, Annin.

At that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the
commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of
promise, having no hope, and without God in the world,
Ephesians 2:12.The Gentiles living under the Old Testament,
though it was not revealed unto them as unto the Jews, yet
were not excluded from the covenant of grace, and from
salvation, Corv.

There is none other name under heaven given unto men, whereby
we must be saved, but only by Christ, Acts 4:12.I deny this
proposition, That none can be saved that is not ingrafted into
Christ by a true faith, Bert.

The blessing of Abraham cometh on the Gentiles through Jesus
Christ, Galatians 3:14. He that believeth not is condemned,
Mark 16:16. Without faith it is impossible to please God,
Hebrews 11:6. Other foundation can no man lay than that is
laid, which is Jesus Christ, 1 Corinthians 3:11.To this
question, Whether the only way of salvation be the life,
passion, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ? I
answer, No, Venat.


ENDNOTES:


[xv] [1] Certum est locum nullum esse, unde appareat fidem istam,
sub Vet. Test., praeceptam fuisse ant viguisse.Rem. Apol., cap. 7.
p. 91.
[xvi] [2] Consideretur omnis descriptio fidei Abrahae, Romans 4;
et apparebit in illa Jesu Christi non fieri mentionem, expresse, sed
illa tantum implicatione, quam explicare cuivis non est
facile.Armin. Gavisus est videre natalem Isaac, qui fuit typus
mei.Idem.
[xvii] [3] Gentes sub Veteri Testamento viventes licet ipsis ista
ratione qua Judaeis non fuit revelatum, non tamen inde continuo ex
faedere absolute exclusae sunt, nec a salute praecise exclusi
judicari debent, quia aliquo saltem mode vocantur.Corv. Defens.
Armin. ad Tilen., p. 107.
[xviii] [4] Nego hanc propositionem: neminem posse salvari, quam
qui Jesu Christo per veram fidem sit insitus.Bert, ad Sibrand., p.
133.
[xix] [5] Ad hanc queestionem an unica via salutis, sit vita,
passio, mors, resurrectio, et as-censio Jesu Christi? respondeo,
Non.Venat., apud Fest. Hom. et Peltium.
[xx] [6] Zulng. Profes. Fid. ad Reg. Gall.
[xxi] [7] Art. of the Church of Eng., art. xvii.
[xxii] [8] Nihil magis repugnat fidei, quam sine fide salvum esse
posse quempiam hominum.Acost. de Indo. Salu. Proc.
[xxiii] [9] Aquin. 2, 2ae q. 2, a. 7, c. Christus nascitur ex
virgine, et ego credo in eum. O sol, sub Irenae et Constantini
temporibus iterum me videbis.
[xxiv] [10] Dum multum sudant nonnulli, quomodo Platonem faciant
Christianum, se probant esse ethnicos.Bern. Epist.
[xxv] [11] Paradoqei>v ge, tw~n dia< Cristonoin,
ajpo< tou~ ai]matov ]Azel tou~ dsikai>ou.Ignat. Epist. ad Ephes.
[cap. 12.]
[xxvi] [12] Pa>ntev ou=n eiJ a[gioi ejn Cristw~| ejsw>qhsan,
ejlpi>santav eijv aujtonantev, kai< di j
aujtou~ swthei>av e]tucon.Epist, ad Philippians [cap. 5.]
[xxvii] [13] Non alia fide quemquam hominum, sive ante legem sive
legis tempore, justificatum esse, credendum est, quam hac eadem qua
Dominus Jesu, etc.Prosp. ad Ob. 8., Gallorum.
[xxviii] [14] Omnes ergo illos qui ab Abraham sursum versus ad
primum hominem, generationis ordine conscribuntur, etsi non nomine,
rebus tamen, et religione Christianos fuisse, si quis dicat, non
mihi videtur errare.Euseb. Hist. Eccles., lib. 1. cap, 4.


CHAPTER 12.

OF FREE-WILL, THE NATURE AND POWER THEREOF.


Our next task is to take a view of the idol himself, of this great
deity of free-will, whose original being not well known, he is
pretended, like the Ephesian image of Diana, to have fallen down
from heaven, and to have his endowments from above. But yet,
considering what a nothing he was at his first discovery in
comparison of that vast giant-like hugeness to which now he is
grown, we may say of him as the painter said of his monstrous
picture, which he had mended or rather marred according to
everyones fancy, Hunc populus fecit,it is the issue of the
peoples brain. Origen[xxix] [1] is supposed to have brought him
first into the church; but among those many sincere worshippers of
divine grace, this setter forth of new demons found but little
entertainment. It was looked upon but like the stump of Dagon, with
his head and hands laid down before the ark of God, without whose
help he could neither know nor do that which is good in any kind,
still accounted but truncus ficulnus, inutile lignum,a fig-tree
log, an unprofitable piece of wood. Incerti patres scamnum
facerentne? The fathers of the succeeding ages had much debate to
what use they should put it, and though some exalted it a degree or
two above its merits, yet the most concluded to keep it a block
still; until at length there arose a stout champion,[xxx] [2]
challenging on his behalf the whole church of God, and, like a
knight-errant, wandered from the west to the east to grapple with
any that should oppose his idol; who, though he met with divers
adversaries,[xxxi] [3] one especially,[xxxii] [4] who in the behalf
of the grace of God continually foiled him and cast him to the
ground, and that in the judgment of all the lawful judges assembled
in councils,[xxxiii] [5] and in the opinion of most of the Christian
bystanders,[xxxiv] [6] yet, by his cunning insinuation, he planted
such an opinion of his idols deity and self-sufficiency in the
hearts of divers, that to this day it could never be rooted out.
Now, after the decease of his Pelagian worshippers, some of the
corrupter schoolmen, seeing him thus from his birth exposed without
shelter to wind and weather, to all assaults, out of mere charity
and self-love built him a temple, and adorned it with natural
lights, merits, uncontrolled independent operations, with many other
gay attendances. But in the beginning of the Reformation,that fatal
time for idolatry and superstition, together with abbeys and
monasteries,the zeal and learning of our forefathers, with the help
of Gods word, demolished this temple, and brake this building down
to the ground; in the rubbish whereof we well hoped the idol himself
had been so deeply buried as that his head should never more have
been exalted, to the trouble of the church of God, until not long
since some curious wits, whose weak stomachs were clogged with manna
and loathed the sincere milk of the word, raking all dunghills for
novelties, lighted unhappily upon this idol, and presently, with no
less joy than did the mathematician at the discovery of a new
geometrical proportion, exclaim, We have found it! we have found
it! And without more ado, up they erected a shrine, and until this
day continue offering of praise and thanks for all the good they do
to this work of their own hands.

And that the idol may be free from ruin, to which in himself they
have found by experience that he is subject, they have matched him
to contingency, a new goddess of their own creation, who, having
proved very fruitful in monstrous births upon their conjunctions,
they nothing doubt they shall never want one to set on the throne
and make president of all human actions: so that after he hath, with
various success, at least twelve hundred years, contended with the
providence and grace of God, he boasteth now as if he had obtained a
total victory. But yet all his prevailing is to be attributed to the
diligence and varnish of his new abettors, with (to our shame be it
spoken!) the negligence of his adversaries. In him and his cause
there is no more real worth than was when by the ancient fathers he
was exploded and cursed out of the church: so that they who can
attain, through the many winding labyrinths of curious distinctions,
to look upon the thing itself, shall find that they have been, like
Egyptian novices, brought through many stately frontispieces and
goodly fabrics, with much show of zeal and devotion, to the image of
an ugly ape.

Yet here observe, that we do not absolutely oppose free-will, as if
it were nomen inane, a mere figment, when there is no such thing
in the world, but only in that sense the Pelagians and Arminians do
assert it. About words we will not contend. We grant man, in the
substance of all his actions, as much power, liberty, and freedom as
a mere created nature is capable of. We grant him to be free in his
choice from all outward coaction, or inward natural necessity, to
work according to election and deliberation, spontaneously embracing
what seemeth good unto him. Now, call this power free-will, or what
you please, so you make it not supreme, independent, and boundless,
we are not at all troubled. The imposition of names depends upon the
discretion of their inventers. Again; even in spiritual things, we
deny that our wills are at all debarred, or deprived of their proper
liberty: but here we say, indeed, that we are not properly free
until the Son makes us free;no great use of freedom in that wherein
we can do nothing at all. We do not claim such a liberty as should
make us despise the grace of God,[xxxv] [7] whereby we may attain
true liberty indeed; which addeth to, but taketh nothing from, our
original freedom. But of this after I have showed what an idol the
Arminians make of free-will. Only take notice in the entrance that
we speak of it now, not as it was at first by God created, but as it
is now by sin corrupted; yet, being considered in that estate also,
they ascribe more unto it than it was ever capable of. As it now
standeth, according to my formerly-proposed method, I shall
show,first, what inbred native virtue they ascribe unto it, and
with how absolute a dominion and sovereignty over all our actions
they endow it; secondly, what power they say it hath in preparing us
for the grace of God; thirdly, how effectually operative it is in
receiving the said grace, and with how little help thereof it
accomplisheth the great work of our conversion;all briefly, with so
many observations as shall suffice to discover their proud errors in
each particular.

[xxxvi] [8] Herein, saith Arminius, consisteth the liberty of the
will, that all things required to enable it to will any thing being
accomplished, it still remains indifferent to will or not. And all
of them at the synod: [xxxvii] [9] There is, say they,
accompanying the will of man an inseparable property, which we call
liberty, from whence the will is termed a power, which, when all
things pre-required as necessary to operation are fulfilled, may
will anything, or not will it; that is, our free-wills have such an
absolute and uncontrollable power in the territory of all human
actions, that no influence of Gods providence, no certainty of his
decree, no unchangeableness of his purpose, can sway it at all in
its free determinations, or have any power with his highness to
cause him to will or resolve on any such act as God by him intendeth
to produce. Take an instance in the great work of our conversion.
[xxxviii] [10] All unregenerate men, saith Arminius, have, by
virtue of their free-will, a power of resisting the Holy Spirit, of
rejecting the offered grace of God, of contemning the counsel of God
concerning themselves, of refusing the gospel of grace, of not
opening the heart to him that knocketh. What a stout idol is this,
whom neither the Holy Spirit, the grace and counsel of God, the
calling of the gospel, the knocking at the door of the heart, can
move at all, or in the least measure prevail against him! Woe be
unto us, then, if when God calls us our free-will be not in good
temper, and well disposed to hearken unto him! for it seems there is
no dealing with it by any other ways, though powerful and almighty.
[xxxix] [11] For grant, saith Corvinus, all the operations of
grace which God can use in our conversion, yet conversion remaineth
so in our own free power that we can be not converted; that is, we
can either turn or not turn ourselves; where the idol plainly
challengeth the Lord to work his utmost, and tells him that after he
hath so done he will do what he please. His infallible prescience,
his powerful predetermination, the moral efficacy of the gospel, the
infusion of grace, the effectual operation of the Holy Spirit, all
are nothing, not at all available in helping or furthering our
independent wills in their proceedings. Well, then, in what estate
will you have the idol placed? [xl] [12] In such a one wherein he
may be suffered to sin, or to do well, at his pleasure, as the same
author intimates. It seems, then, as to sin, so nothing is required
for him to be able to do good but Gods permission? No! For the
Remonstrants[xli] [13] (as they speak of themselves) do always
suppose a free power of obeying or not obeying, as well in those who
do obey as in those who do not obey;that he that is obedient may
therefore be counted obedient, because he obeyeth when he could not
obey, and so on the contrary: where all the praise of our
obedience, whereby we are made to differ from others, is ascribed to
ourselves alone, and that free power that is in us. Now, this they
mean not of any one act of obedience, but of faith itself, and the
whole consummation thereof. [xlii] [14] For if a man should say,
that every man in the world hath a power of believing if he will,
and of attaining salvation, and that this power is settled in his
nature, what argument have you to confute him? saith Arminius
triumphantly to Perkins; where the sophistical innovator as plainly
confounds grace and nature as ever did Pelagius. That, then, which
the Arminians claim here in behalf of their free-will is, an
absolute independence on Gods providence in doing anything, and of
his grace in doing that which is good,a self-sufficiency in all its
operations, a plenary indifferency of doing what we will, this or
that, as being neither determined to the one nor inclined to the
other by any overruling influence from heaven. So that the good acts
of our wills have no dependence on Gods providence as they are
acts, nor on his grace as they are good; but in both regards proceed
from such a principle within us as is no way moved by any superior
agent. Now, the first of these we deny unto our wills, because they
are created; and the second, because they are corrupted. Their
creation hinders them from doing anything of themselves without the
assistance of Gods providence; and their corruption, from doing
anything that is good without his grace. A self-sufficiency for
operation, without the effectual motion of Almighty God, the first
cause of all things, we can allow neither to men nor angels, unless
we intend to make them gods; and a power of doing good, equal unto
that they have of doing evil, we must not grant to man by nature,
unless we will deny the fall of Adam, and fancy ourselves still in
paradise. But let us consider these things apart.

FIRST, I shall not stand to decipher the nature of human liberty,
which perhaps would require a larger discourse than my proposed
method will bear. It may suffice that, according to my former
intimation, we grant as large a freedom and dominion to our wills
over their own acts as a creature, subject to the supreme rule of
Gods providence, is capable of. Endued we are with such a liberty
of will as is free from all outward compulsion and inward necessity,
having an elective faculty of applying itself unto that which seems
good unto it, in which it is a free choice; notwithstanding, it is
subservient to the decree of God, as I showed before, chap. 4. Most
free it is in all its acts, both in regard of the object it chooseth
and in regard of that vital power and faculty whereby it worketh,
infallibly complying with Gods providence, and working by virtue of
the motion thereof; but surely to assert such a supreme independency
and every way unbounded indifferency as the Arminians claim,
whereby, all other things requisite being pre-supposed, it should
remain absolutely in our own power to will or not to will, to do
anything or not to do it, is plainly to deny that our wills are
subject to the rule of the Most High. It is granted that in such a
chimerical, fancied consideration of free-will, wherein it is looked
upon as having no relation to any act of Gods but only its
creation, abstracting from his decree, it may be said to have such a
liberty in regard of the object; but the truth is, this divided
sense is plain nonsense, a mere fiction of such an estate as wherein
it never was, nor ever can be, so long as men will confess any deity
but themselves, to whose determinations they must be subject. Until,
then, more significant terms may be invented for this free power in
our nature, which the Scripture never once vouchsafed to name, I
shall be content to call it with Prosper, a [xliii] [15]
spontaneous appetite of what seemeth good unto it, free from all
compulsion, but subservient to the providence of God. And against
its exaltation to this height of independency, I oppose,

First, Everything that is independent of any else in operation is
purely active, and so consequently a god; for nothing but a divine
will can be a pure act, possessing such a liberty by virtue of its
own essence. Every created will must have a liberty by
participation, which includeth such an imperfect potentiality as
cannot be brought into act without some premotion (as I may so say)
of a superior agent. Neither doth this motion, being extrinsical, at
all prejudice the true liberty of the will, which requireth, indeed,
that the internal principle of operation be active and free, but not
that that principle be not moved to that operation by an outward
superior agent. Nothing in this sense can have an independent
principle of operation which hath not an independent being. It is no
more necessary to the nature of a free cause, from whence a free
action must proceed, that it be the first beginning of it, than it
is necessary to the nature of a cause that it be the first cause.
Secondly, If the free acts of our wills are so subservient to the
providence of God as that he useth them to what end he will, and by
them effecteth many of his purposes, then they cannot of themselves
be so absolutely independent as to have in their own power every
necessary circumstance and condition, that they may use or not use
at their pleasure. Now, the former is proved by all those reasons
and texts of Scripture I before produced to show that the providence
of God overruleth the actions and determineth the wills of men
freely to do that which he hath appointed. And, truly, were it
otherwise, Gods dominion over the most things that are in the world
were quite excluded; he had not power to determine that any one
thing should ever come to pass which hath any reference to the wills
of men.

Thirdly, All the acts of the will being positive entities, were it
not previously moved by God himself, in whom we live, move, and
have our being, must needs have their essence and existence solely
from the will itself; which is thereby made aujto< o>n, a first and
supreme cause, endued with an underived being. And so much to that
particular.

Let us now, in the SECOND place, look upon the power of our freewill
in doing that which is morally good; where we shall find not only an
essential imperfection, inasmuch as it is created, but also a
contracted effect, inasmuch as it is corrupted. The ability which
the Arminians ascribe unto it in this kind, of doing that which is
morally and spiritually good, is as large as themselves will confess
to be competent unto it in the state of innocency, even a power of
believing and a power of resisting the gospel, of obeying and not
obeying, of turning or of not being converted.

The Scripture, as I observed before, hath no such term at all, nor
anything equivalent unto it. But the expressions it useth concerning
our nature and all the faculties thereof, in this state of sin and
unregeneration, seem to imply the quite contrary; as, that we are in
Hebrews 2:15; dead in sins, Ephesians 2:1, and so free from
righteousness, Romans 6:20; servants of sin, verse 17; under the
reign and dominion thereof, verses 12, 14; all our members
being instruments of unrighteousness, verse 13; not free indeed,
until the Son make us free. So that this idol of free-will, in
respect of spiritual things, is not one whit better than the other
idols of the heathen. Though it look like silver and gold, it is
the work of mens hands. It hath a mouth, but it speaketh not; it
hath eyes, but it seeth not; it hath ears, but it heareth not; a
nose, but it smelleth not; it hath hands, but it handleth not; feet,
but it walketh not; neither speaketh it through its throat. They
that made it are like unto it; and so is every one that trusteth in
it. O Israel, trust thou in the LORD, etc., Psalm 115:4-9. That it
is the work of mens hands, or a human invention, I showed before.
For the rest, it hath a mouth unacquainted with the mystery of
godliness, full only of cursing and bitterness, Romans 3:14;
speaking great swelling words, Jude 16; great things, and
blasphemies, Revelation 13:5; a mouth causing the flesh to sin,
Ecclesiastes 5:6;his eyes are blind, not able to perceive those
things that are of God, nor to know those things that are
spiritually discerned, 1 Corinthians 2:14; eyes before which
there is no fear of God, Romans 3:18;his understanding is
darkened, because of the blindness of his heart, Ephesians 4:18;
wise to do evil, but to do good he hath no knowledge, Jeremiah
4:22; so that without farther light, all the world is but a mere
darkness, John 1:5;he hath ears, but they are like the ears of
the deaf adder to the word of God, refusing to hear the voice of
charmers, charming never so wisely, Psalm 58:5; being dead when
his voice first calls it, John 5:25; ears stopped that they should
not hear, Zechariah 7:11; heavy ears that cannot hear, Isaiah
6:10;a nose, to which the gospel is the savor of death unto
death, 2 Corinthians 2:16; hands full of blood, Isaiah 1:15; and
fingers defiled with iniquity, chap. 59:3;feet, indeed, but, like
Mephibosheth, lame in both by a fall, so that he cannot at all walk
in the path of goodness; but swift to shed blood, destruction and
misery are in his ways, and the way of peace hath he not known,
Romans 3:15-17. These, and divers other such endowments and
excellent qualifications, doth the Scripture attribute to this idol,
which it calls The old man, as I shall more fully discover in the
next chapter. And is not this a goodly reed whereon to rely in the
paths of godliness? a powerful deity whereunto we may repair for a
power to become the sons of God, and attain eternal happiness? The
abilities of free-will in particular I shall consider hereafter; now
only I will, by one or two reasons, show that it cannot be the sole
and proper cause of any truly good and spiritual act, well-pleasing
unto God.

First, All spiritual acts well-pleasing unto God, as faith,
repentance, obedience, are supernatural; flesh and blood revealeth
not these things: Not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor
of the will of man; but of God, John 1:13; That which is born of
the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit,
John 3:6. Now, to the performance of any supernatural act it is
required that the productive power thereof be also supernatural; for
nothing hath an activity in causing above its own sphere. Nec
imbelles generant feroces aquilas columbae. But our free-will is a
merely natural faculty, betwixt which and those spiritual,
supernatural acts there is no proportion, unless it be advanced
above its own orb, by inherent, habitual grace. Divine, theological
virtues, differing even in the substance of the act from those moral
performances about the same things to which the strength of nature
may reach (for the difference of acts ariseth from their formal
objects, which to both these are diverse), must have another
principle and cause above all the power of nature in civil things
and actions morally good, inasmuch as they are subject to a natural
perception, and do not exceed the strength of our own wills. This
faculty of free-will may take place, but yet not without these
following limitations:First, That it always requireth the general
concurrence of God, whereby the whole suppositum in which free-will
hath its subsistence may be sustained, Matthew 10:29, 30. Secondly,
That we do all these things imperfectly and with much infirmity;
every degree, also, of excellency in these things must be counted a
special gift of God, Isaiah 26:12. Thirdly, That our wills are
determined by the will of God to all their acts and motions in
particular; but to do that which is spiritually good we have no
knowledge, no power.

Secondly, That concerning which I gave one special instance, in
whose production the Arminians attribute much to free-will, is
faith. This they affirm (as I showed before) to be inbred in nature,
everyone having in him from his birth a natural power to believe in
Christ and his gospel; for Episcopius denies that [xliv] [16] any
action of the Holy Spirit upon the understanding or will is
necessary, or promised in the Scripture, to make a man able to
believe the word preached unto him. So that it seems every man hath
at all times a power to believe, to produce the act of faith upon
the revelation of its object: which gross Pelagianism is contrary,

First, To the doctrine of the church of England, alarming that a man
cannot so much as prepare himself by his own strength to faith and
calling upon God, until the grace of God by Christ prevent him, that
he may have a good will.Artic. 10.

Secondly, To the Scripture, teaching that it is the work of God
that we do believe, John 6:29. It is not of ourselves; it is the
gift of God, Ephesians 2:8. To some it is given to know the
mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, Matthew 13:11. And what is
peculiarly given to some cannot be in the power of everyone: To you
it is given in the behalf of Christ to believe on him, Philippians
1:29. Faith is our access or coming unto Christ; which none can do
except the Father draw him, John 6:44; and he so draweth, or hath
mercy, on whom he will have mercy, Romans 9:18. And although
Episcopius rejects any immediate action of the Holy Spirit for the
ingenerating of faith, yet St. Paul affirmeth that there is no less
effectual power required to it than that which raised Christ from
the dead; which, sure, was an action of the almighty Godhead. That
ye may know, saith he, what is the exceeding greatness of his
power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty
power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the
dead, Ephesians 1:18-20. So that, let the Arminians say what they
please, recalling that I write to Christians, I will spare my labor
of farther proving that faith is the free gift of God; and their
opposition to the truth of the Scripture in this particular is so
evident to the meanest capacity that there needs no recapitulation
to present the sum of it to their understandings.


ENDNOTES:


[xlv] [1] Hieron. ad Ruff
[xlvi] [2] Pelagius: Dogma quodPestifero vomuit coluber sermone
Britannus.Prosper. de Ingrat., cap. 1.
[xlvii] [3] Adfuit, exhortante Deo provisa per orbem, Sanctorum pia
cura patrum:1. Pestern subeuntem Prima recidit, Sedes Roma Petri.
2. Non segnior inde, orientis Rectorum cura emicuit. Synod. Palest.
3. Hieronymus libris valde excellentibus hostem Dissecuit. 4.
Atticus Constantinop. 5. Duae Synodi Africanae.Prosper. de Ingrat.
[xlviii] [4] Concilium cui dux Aurelius ingeniumque Augustinus
erat. Quem Christi gratia cornu Uberiore rigans, nostro lumen dedit
aevo.Prosp., ibid.
[xlix] [5] Dixit Pelagius, quis est mihi Augustinus? Universi
acclamabant blasphemantem in episcopum, ex cujus ore, dominus
univerae Africae, unitatis indulserit felicitatem, non solum a
conventu illo, sed ab omni ecclesia pellendum.Oros. Apologet., p.
621, de Synod. Palest.Prae omnibus studium gerite libros. S. Aug.
quos ad Prosp. et Hilar. scripsit, memoratis fratribus legendos
iugerere, etc.Epist. Synod. Byzac.
[l] [6] Imo noverunt, non solum Romanam Africanamque ecclesiam,
sod per omnes mundi partes, universae promissionis filios, cum
doctrina hujus viri, sicut in tota fide, ita in gratiae confessione
congruere.Prosp. ad Rufin. Augustinum sanctae recordationis virum
pro vita sua, et meritis, in nostra communione semper habuimus, nec
unquam hunc sinistrae suspicionis saltem rumor suspexit.Coelest.,
Epist. Ad Gal. Episcop. These I have cited to show what a heavy
prejudice the Arminian cause lies under, being professedly opposite
to the doctrine of St. Austin, and they continually slighting of his
authority.
[li] [7] Homo non libertate gratiam, sed gratia libertatem,
assequitur.Aug.
[lii] [8] Libertas Arbitrii consistit in eo, quod homo, positis
omnibus requisitis ad volendum, indifferens tamen sit, ad volendum
vel nolendum, hoc vel illud.Armin. Art. Perpend., p. 11.
[liii] [9] Voluntatem comitatur proprietas quaedam inseparabilis,
quam libertatem vocamus; a qua voluntas dicitur potentia, quae
positis omnibus praerequisitis ad agendum necessariis, potest velle
et nolle, aut velle et non velle.Remon. in Act. Synod, p. 16.
[liv] [10] Omnes irregeniti habent Lib. Arbit. et potentiam
Spiritui Sancto resistendi, gratiam Dei oblatam repudiandi,
consilium Dei adversus se contemrendi, evangelium gratiae
repudiandi, ei qui cot pulsat non aperiendi.Armin. Artic. Perpend.
[lv] [11] Positis omnibus operationibus gratiae, quibus Deus in
conversione nostri uti possit, manet tamen conversio ita in nostra
potestate libera, ut possimus non converti; hoc est, nosmet ipsos
convertere vel non convertere.Corv, ad Bog., p. 263.
[lvi] [12] Non potest Deus Lib. Arbit. integrum servare, nisi tam
peccare hominem sineret, quam bene agere.Corv, ad Molin., cap. 6.
[lvii] [13] Semper Remonstrantes supponunt liberam obediendi
potentiam et non obediendi; ut qui obediens est idcirco obediens
censeatur, quia cum possit non obedire obedit tamen, et e
contra.Rem. Apol., p. 70.
[lviii] [14] Quod si quis dicat omnes in universum homines, habere
potentiam credendi si velint, et salutem consequendi: et hanc
potentiam esse naturae hominum divinitus collatam, quo tuo argumento
eum confutabis?Armin. Antip., p. 272.
[lix] [15] Lib. Arbit. est rei sibi placitae spontaneus
appetitus.Prosp, ad Collat., cap. 18, p. 379.
[lx] [16] An ulla actio S. S. immediata in mentem aut voluntatem
necessaria sit, aut in Scriptura promittatur ad hoc, ut quis credere
possit verbo extrinsecus proposito, negativam tuebimur.Episcop.,
Disput. Privat.


CHAPTER 13.


OF THE POWER OF FREE-WILL

IN PREPARING US FOR OUR CONVERSION UNTO GOD.


The judgment of the Arminians concerning the power of free-will
about spiritual things in a man unregenerate, merely in the state of
corrupted nature, before and without the help of grace, may be laid
open by these following positions:

First, That every man in the world, reprobates and others, have in
themselves power and ability of believing in Christ, of repenting
and yielding due obedience to the new covenant; and that because
they lost not this power by the fall of Adam. [lxi] [1] Adam after
his fall, saith Grevinchovius, retained a power of believing; and
so did all reprobates in him. [lxii] [2] He did not lose (as they
speak at the synod) the power of performing that obedience which is
required in the new covenant considered formally, as it is required
by the new covenant; he lost not a power of believing, nor a power
of forsaking sin by repentance. And those graces that he lost not
are still in our power. Whence they affirm, that [lxiii] [3] faith
is called the work of God only because he requireth us to do it.

Now, having appropriated this power unto themselves, to be sure that
the grace of God be quite excluded, which before they had made
needless, they teach,

Secondly, That for the reducing of this power into act, that men may
become actual believers, there is no infused habit of grace, no
spiritual vital principle, necessary for them, or bestowed upon
them; but everyone, by the use of his native endowments, doth make
himself differ from others. [lxiv] [4] Those things which are
spoken concerning the infusion of habits before we can exercise the
act of faith, we reject, saith the epistle to the Walachians. [lxv]
[5] That the internal principle of faith required in the gospel is
a habit divinely infused, by the strength and efficacy whereof the
will should be determined, I deny, saith another of them. Well,
then, if we must grant that the internal vital principle of a
supernatural spiritual grace is a mere natural faculty, not elevated
by any divine habit,if it be not God that begins the good work in
us, but our own free-wills,let us see what more goodly stuff will
follow. One man by his own mere endeavors, without the aid of any
received gift, makes himself differ from another. [lxvi] [6] What
matter is it in that, that a man should make himself differ from
others? There is nothing truer; he who yieldeth faith to God
commanding him, maketh himself differ from him who will not have
faith when he commandeth. They are the words of their Apology,
which, without question, is an irrefragable truth, if faith be not a
gift received from above; for on that ground only the apostle
proposeth these questions, Who maketh thee to differ from another?
and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst
receive, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received? The
sole cause why he denies anyone by his own power to make himself
differ from another is, because that wherein the difference
consisteth is received, being freely bestowed upon him. Deny this,
and I confess the other will fall of itself. But until their
authority he equal with the apostles, they would do well to forbear
the naked obtrusion of assertions so contradictory to theirs; and so
they would not trouble the church. Let them take all the glory unto
themselves, as doth Grevinchoviua [lxvii] [7] I make myself, saith
he, differ from another when I do not resist God and his divine
predetermination; which I could have resisted. And why may I not
boast of this as of mine own? That I could is of Gods mercy
(endowing his nature with such an ability as you heard before); but
that I would, when I might have done otherwise, is of my power.
Now, when, after all this, they are forced to confess some
evangelical grace, though consisting only in a moral persuasion by
the outward preaching of the word, they teach,

Thirdly, That God sendeth the gospel, and revealeth Christ Jesus
unto men, according as they well dispose themselves for such a
blessing. [lxviii] [8] Sometimes, say they in their synodical
writings, God calleth this or that nation, people, city, or person,
to the communion of evangelical grace, whom he himself pronounceth
worthy of it, in comparison of others. So that whereas, Acts 18:10,
God encourageth Paul to preach at Corinth by affirming that he had
much people in that city (which, doubtless, were his people then
only by virtue of their election), in these mens judgments [lxix]
[9] they were called so because that even then they feared God, and
served him with all their hearts, according to that knowledge they
had of him, and so were ready to obey the preaching of St Paul.

Strange doctrine, that men should fear God, know him, serve him in
sincerity, before they ever heard of the gospel, and by these means
deserve that it should be preached unto them! This is that pleasing
of God before faith that they plead for, Act. Synod., p. 66; that
[lxx] [10] preparation and disposition to believe, which men attain
by the law and virtuous education; that something which is in
sinners,[lxxi] [11] whereby though they are not justified, yet they
are made worthy of justification. For [lxxii] [12] conversion and
the performance of good works is, in their apprehension, a
condition pre-required to justification, for so speak the children
of Arminius; which if it be not an expression not to be paralleled
in the writings of any Christian, I am something mistaken. The sum
of their doctrine, then, in this particular concerning the power of
free-will in the state of sin and unregeneration, is, That every man
having a native, inbred power of believing in Christ upon the
revelation of the gospel, hath also an ability of doing so much good
as shall procure of God that the gospel be preached unto him; to
which, without any internal assistance of grace, he can give assent
and yield obedience; the preparatory acts of his own will always
proceeding so far as to make him excel others who do not perform
them, and are therefore excluded from farther grace;which is more
gross Pelagianism than Pelagius himself would ever justify.

Wherefore we reject all the former positions, as so many monsters in
Christian religion, in whose room we assert these that follow:

First, That we, being by nature dead in trespasses and sins, have no
power to prepare ourselves for the receiving of Gods grace, nor in
the least measure to believe and turn ourselves unto him. Not that
we deny that there are any conditions pre-required in us for our
conversion, dispositions preparing us in some measure for our new
birth or regeneration; but we affirm that all these also are the
effects of the grace of God, relating to that alone as their proper
cause, for of ourselves, without him, we can do nothing, John
15:5. We are not sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of
ourselves, 2 Corinthians 3:5, much less do that which is good. In
respect of that, every one of our mouths must be stopped; for we
have all sinned and come short of the glory of God, Romans 3:19,
23. We are by nature the children of wrath, dead in trespasses and
sins, Ephesians 2:1-3; Romans 8:6. Our new birth is a resurrection
from death, wrought by the greatness of Gods power. And what
ability, I pray, hath a dead man to prepare himself for his
resurrection? Can he collect his scattered dust, or renew his
perished senses? If the leopard can change his spots, and the
Ethiopian his skin, then can we do good who by nature are taught to
do evil, Jeremiah 13:23. We are all ungodly, and without
strength considered, when Christ died for us, Romans 5:6; wise to
do evil, but to do good we have no strength, no knowledge. Yea,
all the faculties of our souls, by reason of that spiritual death
under which we are detained by the corruption of nature, are
altogether useless, in respect of any power for the doing of that
which is truly good. Our understandings are blind or darkened,
being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is
in us, because of the blindness of our hearts, Ephesians 4:18;
whereby we become even darkness itself, Ephesians 5:8. So void is
the understanding of true knowledge, that the natural man receiveth
not the things of the Spirit of God; they are foolishness unto him,
1 Corinthians 2:14.[He is] nothing but confounded and amazed at
spiritual things; and, if he doth not mock, can do nothing but
wonder, and say, What meaneth this? Acts 2:12, 13. Secondly, we
are not only blind in our understandings, but captives also to sin
in our wills, Luke 4:18; whereby we are servants of sin, John
8:34; free only in our obedience to that tyrant, Romans 6:20. Yea,
thirdly, all our affections are wholly corrupted, for every
imagination of the thoughts of the heart of man is only evil
continually, Genesis 6:5. While we are in the flesh, the motions
of sin do work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death,
Romans 7:5.

These are the endowments of our nature, these are the preparations
of our hearts for the grace of God, which we have within ourselves.
Nay,

Secondly, There is not only an impotency but an enmity in corrupted
nature to anything spiritually good: The things that are of God are
foolishness unto a natural man, 1 Corinthians 2:14. And there is
nothing that men do more hate and contemn than that which they
account as folly. They mock at it as a ridiculous drunkenness, Acts
2:13. And would to God our days yielded us not too evident proofs of
that universal opposition that is between light and darkness, Christ
and Belial, nature and grace,that we could not see everyday the
prodigious issues of this inbred corruption swelling over all
bounds, and breaking forth into a contempt of the gospel and all
ways of godliness! So true it is that the carnal mind is enmity
against God: it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can
be, Romans 8:7. So that,

Thirdly, As a natural man, by the strength of his own free-will,
neither knoweth nor willeth, so it is utterly impossible he should
do anything pleasing unto God. Can the Ethiopian change his skin,
or the leopard his spots? then can he do good, Jeremiah 13:23. An
evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit. Without faith it is
impossible to please God, Hebrews 11:6; and that is not of
ourselves, it is the gift of God, Ephesians 2:8. So that though
Almighty God, according to the unsearchableness of his wisdom,
worketh divers ways and in sundry manners, for the translating of
his chosen ones from the power of darkness into his marvelous
light,calling some powerfully in the midst of their march in the
way of ungodliness, as he did Paul,preparing others by outward
means and helps of common restraining grace, moralizing nature
before it be begotten anew by the immortal seed of the word,yet
this is certain, that all good in this kind is from his free grace;
there is nothing in ourselves, as of ourselves, but sin. Yea, and
all those previous dispositions wherewith our hearts are prepared,
by virtue of common grace, do not at all enable us to concur, by any
vital operation, with that powerful, blessed, renewing grace of
regeneration whereby we become the sons of God. Neither is there any
disposition unto grace so remote as that possibly it can proceed
from a mere faculty of nature, for every such disposition must be of
the same order with the form that is to be introduced; but nature,
in respect of grace, is a thing of an inferior alloy, between which
there is no proportion. A good use of gifts may have a promise of an
addition of more, provided it be in the same kind. There is no rule,
law, or promise that should make grace due upon the good use of
natural endowments. But you will say, here I quite overthrow
free-will, which before I seemed to grant. To which I answer, that
in regard of that object concerning which now we treat, a natural
man hath no such thing as free-will at all, if you take it for a
power of doing that which is good and well-pleasing unto God in
things spiritual, for an ability of preparing our hearts unto faith
and calling upon God, as our church article speaks, a home-bred
self-sufficiency, preceding the change of our wills by the almighty
grace of God, whereby any good should be said to dwell in us; and we
utterly deny that there is any such thing in the world. The will,
though in itself radically free, yet in respect of the term or
object to which in this regard it should tend, is corrupted,
enthralled, and under a miserable ; tied to such a necessity of
sinning in general, that though unregenerate men are not restrained
to this or that sin in particular, yet for the main they can do
nothing but sin. All their actions wherein there is any morality are
attended with iniquity: An evil tree cannot bring forth good
fruit; even the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the
LORD. These things being thus cleared from the Scripture, the
former Arminian positions will of themselves fall to the ground,
having no foundation but their own authority; for any pretense of
proof they make none from the word of God. The first two I
considered in the last chapter, and now add only concerning the
third,that the sole cause why the gospel is sent unto some and not
unto others is, not any dignity, worth, or desert of it in them to
whom it is sent, more than in the rest that are suffered to remain
in the shadow of death, but only the sole good pleasure of God, that
it may be a subservient means for the execution of his decree of
election: I have much people in this city, Acts 18:20; I thank
thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid
these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto
babes. Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight, Matthew
11:25, 26. So that the Arminian opposition to the truth of the
gospel in this particular is clearly manifest:

S.S.Lib. Arbit.
Of ourselves we can do nothing, John 15:5. We are not
sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves, 2
Corinthians 3:5. We are by nature the children of wrath, dead
in trespasses and sins, Ephesians 2:1-3.We retain still
after the fall a power of believing and of repentance, because
Adam lost not this ability, Rem. Declar. Sen. in Synod.
Faith is not of ourselves: it is the gift of God, Ephesians
2:8.Faith is said to be the work of God, because he
commandeth us to perform it, Rem. Apol. There is no infusion
of any habit or spiritual vital principle necessary to enable
a man to believe, Corv.

Who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou
that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive, why
dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received? 1 Corinthians
4:7.There is nothing truer than that one man maketh himself
differ from another. He who believeth when God commandeth,
maketh himself differ from him who will not, Rem. Apol.

Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?
Then may ye also do good, who are taught to do evil, Jeremiah
13:23.I may boast of mine own, when I obey Gods grace, which
it was in my power not to obey, as well as to obey, Grevinch.
Believing on him that justifieth the ungodly, Romans 4:5.

Being justified freely by his grace, Romans 3:24.True
conversion and the performance of good works is a condition
required on our part before justification, Filii Attain.
I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because
thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast
revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father; for so it seemed
good in thy sight, Matthew 11:25, 26.God sendeth the gospel
to such persons or nations, that in comparison of others may
be said to be worthy of it, Rem. Apol.


ENDNOTES:


[lxxiii] [1] Adamus post lapsum potentiam credendi retinuit, et
reliqui reprobi etiam in illo.Grevinch. ad Ames., p. 188.
[lxxiv] [2] Adamus non amisit vires eam obedientiam praestandi
quae in novo foedere exigitur, prout puta ea consideratur
formaliter, hoc est, prout novo foedere exacta est, nec potentiam
credendi amisit; nec amisit potentiam, per resipiscentiam, ex
peccato resurgendi.Rem. Declar. Sent. in Synod., p. 107.
[lxxv] [3] Fides vocatur opus Dei, quia Deus ipse id a nobis fieri
postulat.Rem. Apol., cap. 10. p. 112.
[lxxvi] [4] Ea quae de habituum infusione di ur, ante omnem fidei
actum, rejiciuntur a nobis.Epist, ad Wal., p. 67.
[lxxvii] [5] Principium internum fidei a nobis in evangelio
requisitum, esse habitum quendam divinitus infusum, cujus vi ac
efficacitate voluntas determinetur; hoc negavi.Grevinch, ad Ames.,
p. 324.
[lxxviii] [6] Quid in eo positum est, quod homo discriminare
seipsum dicitur? Nihil verius; qui fidem Deo praecipienti habet, is
discrimiunt se ab eo qui Deo praecipienti fidem habere non
vult.Rem. Apol., cap. 14. p. 144.
[lxxix] [7] Ego meipsum discerno, cum enim Deo ac divinae
praedeterminationi resistere possem, non restiti tamen. Atqui in eo
quidni liceat mihi tanquam de meo gloriari? Quod enim potui Dei
miserentis est, quod autem volui cum possem nolle, id meae
potestatis est.Grevinch, ad Ames., p. 253.
[lxxx] [8] Interdum Deus hanc vel illam gentem, civitatem,
personam, ad evangelicae gratiae communionem vocat, quam ipse dignam
pronuntiat comparative, etc.Rein. Declarat. Sent. Synod.
[lxxxi] [9] Illi, in quorum gratiam, Dominus Paulum in Corinthum
misit, di ur Dei populus, quia Deum turn timebant, eique, secundum
cognitionem quam de eo habebant, serviebant ex animo, et sic ad
praedicationem Pauli, etc.Corv. ad Molin. 3. sect. 27.
[lxxxii] [10] Per legem, vel per piam educationem vel per
institutionemper haec enim hominem praeparari et disponi ad
credendum, planissimum est.Rem. Act. Synod.
[lxxxiii] [11] Praecedit aliquid in peccatoribus, quo quamvis
nondum justificati sunt, digni efficiantur
justificatione.Grevinch, ad Ames., p. 434.
[lxxxiv] [12] Tenendum est, veram conversionem praestationemque
bonorum operum esse conditionem praerequisitam ante
justificationem.Filii Arm. Praef. ad cap. 7. ad Rem.


CHAPTER 14.


OF OUR CONVERSION TO GOD.


How little or nothing at all it is that the Arminians assign to the
grace of God, in performing the great work of our conversion, may
plainly appear from what I have showed already that they ascribe to
our own free-will, so that I shall briefly pass that over, which
otherwise is so copiously delivered in holy Scripture that it would
require a far larger discussion. A prolix confirmation of the truth
we profess will not suit so well with my intention; which is merely
to make a discovery of their errors, by not knowing the depths
whereof so many are deceived and inveigled. Two things, in this
great conjunction of grace and nature, the Arminians ascribe unto
free-will:first, A power of co-operation and working with grace, to
make it at all effectual; secondly, A power of resisting its
operation, and making it altogether ineffectual; God in the meantime
bestowing no grace but what awaits an act issuing from one of these
two abilities, and hath its effect accordingly. If a man will
co-operate, then grace attains its end; if he will resist, it
returns empty. To this end they feign all the grace of God bestowed
upon us for our conversion to be but a moral persuasion by his word,
not an infusion of a new vital principle by the powerful working of
the Holy Spirit. And, indeed, granting this, I shall most willingly
comply with them in assigning to free-will one of the endowments
before recited,a power of resisting the operation of grace; but
instead of the other, must needs ascribe to our whole corrupted
nature, and everyone that is partaker of it, a universal disability
of obeying it, or coupling in that work which God by his grace doth
intend. If the grace of our conversion be nothing but a moral
persuasion, we have no more power of obeying it in that estate
wherein we are dead in sin, than a man in his grave hath in himself
to live anew and come out at the next call. Gods promises and the
saints prayers in the holy Scripture seem to design such a kind of
grace as should give us a real internal ability of doing that which
is spiritually good. But it seems there is no such matter; for if a
man should persuade me to leap over the Thames, or to fly in the
air, be he never so eloquent, his sole persuasion makes me no more
able to do it than I was before ever I saw him. If Gods grace be
nothing but a sweet persuasion (though never so powerful), it is a
thing extrinsical, consisting in the proposal of a desired object,
but gives us no new strength at all to do anything we had not before
a power to do. But let us hear them pleading themselves to each of
these particulars concerning grace and nature. And,

First, for the nature of grace: [lxxxv] [1] God hath appointed to
save believers by grace,that is, a soft and sweet persuasion,
convenient and agreeing to their free-will,and not by any almighty
action, saith Arminius. It seems something strange, that the
carnal mind being enmity against God, and the will enthralled to
sin, and full of wretched opposition to all his ways, yet God should
have no other means to work them over unto him but some persuasion
that is sweet, agreeable, and congruous unto them in that estate
wherein they are. And a small exaltation it is of the dignity and
power of grace, when the chief reason why it is effectual, as
Alvarez observes, may be reduced to a well-digested supper or an
undisturbed sleep, whereby some men may be brought into better
temper than ordinary to comply with this congruous grace. But let us
for the present accept of this, and grant that God doth call some by
such a congruous persuasion, at such a time and place as he knows
they will assent unto it. I ask whether God thus calleth all men, or
only some? If all, why are not all converted? for the very granting
of it to be congruous makes it effectual. If only some, then why
them, and not others? Is it out of a special intention to have them
obedient? But let them take heed, for this will go near to establish
the decree of election; and out of what other intention it should be
they shall never be able to determine. Wherefore [lxxxvi] [2]
Corvinus denies that any such congruity is required to the grace
whereby we are converted, but only that it be a moral persuasion;
which we may obey if we will, and so make it effectual. Yea, and
Arminius himself, after he had defended it as far as he was able,
puts it off from himself, and falsely fathers it upon St. Austin. So
that, as they jointly affirm, [lxxxvii] [3] they confess no grace
for the begetting of faith to be necessary, but only that which is
moral; which one of them interpreteth to be [lxxxviii] [4] a
declaration of the gospel unto us;right like their old master,
Pelagius. God, saith he, [lxxxix] [5] worketh in us to will that
which is good and to will that which is holy, whilst he stirs us up
with promise of rewards and the greatness of the future glory, who
before were given over to earthly desires, like brute beasts, loving
nothing but things present, stirring up our stupid wills to a desire
of God by a revelation of wisdom, and persuading us to all that is
good. Both of them affirm the grace of God to be nothing but a
moral persuasion, working by the way of powerful, convincing
arguments; but yet herein Pelagius seems to ascribe a greater
efficacy to it than the Arminians, granting that it works upon us
when, after the manner of brute beasts, we are set merely on earthly
things. But these, as they confess that, for the production of
faith,[xc] [6] it is necessary that such arguments be proposed on
the part of God to which nothing can probably be opposed why they
should not seem credible; so there is, say they, required on our
part a pious docility and probity of mind. So that all the grace of
God bestowed on us consisteth in persuasive arguments out of the
word; which, if they meet with teachable minds, may work their
conversion.

Secondly, Having thus extenuated the grace of God, they affirm,
[xci] [7] that in operation the efficacy thereof dependeth on
free-will: so the Remonstrants in their Apology. [xcii] [8] And to
speak confidently, saith Grevinchovius, I say that the effect of
grace, in an ordinary course, dependeth on some act of our
free-will. Suppose, then, that of two men made partakers of the
same grace,that is, [who] have the gospel preached unto them by the
same means,one is converted and the other is not, what may be the
cause of this so great a difference? Was there any intention or
purpose in God that one should be changed rather than the other?

No; he equally desireth and intendeth the conversion of all and
every one. Did, then, God work more powerfully in the heart of the
one by his Holy Spirit than of the other? No; the same operation of
the Spirit always accompanieth the same preaching of the word. But
was not one, by some almighty action, made partaker of real infused
grace, which the other attained not unto? No; for that would
destroy the liberty of his will, and deprive him of all the praise
of believing. How, then, came this extreme difference of effects?
who made the one differ from the other? Or what hath he that he did
not receive? Why, all this proceedeth merely from the strength of
his own free-will yielding obedience to Gods gracious invitation,
which, like the other, he might have rejected: this is the immediate
cause of his conversion, to which all the praise thereof is due.

And here the old idol may glory to all the world, that if he can but
get his worshippers to prevail in this, he hath quite excluded the
grace of Christ, and made it nomen inane, a mere title, whereas
there is no such thing in the world.

Thirdly, They teach, that notwithstanding any purpose and intention
of God to convert, and so to save, a sinner,notwithstanding the
most powerful and effectual operation of the blessed Spirit, with
the most winning, persuasive preaching of the word,yet it is in the
power of a man to frustrate that purpose, resist that operation, and
reject that preaching of the gospel. I shall not need to prove this,
for it is that which, in direct terms, they plead for; which also
they must do, if they will comply with their former principles. For
granting all these to have no influence upon any man but by the way
of moral persuasion, we must not only grant that it may be resisted,
but also utterly deny that it can be obeyed. We may resist it, I
say, as having both a disability to good and repugnancy against it;
but for obeying it, unless we will deny all inherent corruption and
depravation of nature, we cannot attribute any such sufficiency unto
ourselves.

Now, concerning this weakness of grace, that it is not able to
overcome the opposing power of sinful nature, one testimony of
Arminius shall suffice: [xciii] [9] It always remaineth in the
power of free-will to reject grace that is given and to refuse that
which followeth; for grace is no almighty action of God, to which
free-will cannot resist. [Not that I would assert, in opposition to
this, such an operation of grace as should, as it were, violently
overcome the will of man, and force him to obedience, which must
needs be prejudicial unto our liberty; but only consisting in such a
sweet effectual working as doth infallibly promote our conversion,
make us willing who before were unwilling, and obedient who were not
obedient, that createth clean hearts and reneweth right spirits
within us.

That, then, which we assert, in opposition to these Arminian
heterodoxies, is, That the effectual grace which God useth in the
great work of our conversion, by reason of its own nature,being
also the instrument of and Gods intention for that purpose,doth
surely produce the effect intended, without successful resistance,
and solely, without any considerable co-operation of our own wills,
until they are prepared and changed by that very grace. The
infallibility of its effect depends chiefly on the purpose of God.

When by any means he intends a mans conversion, those means must
have such an efficacy added unto them as may make them fit
instruments for the accomplishment of that intention, that the
counsel of the Lord may prosper, and his word not return empty. But
the manner of its operation,that it requires no human assistance,
and is able to overcome all repugnance,is proper to the being of
such an act as wherein it doth consist. Which nature and efficacy of
grace, in opposition to an indifferent influence of the Holy Spirit,
a metaphorical motion, a working by the way of moral persuasion,
only proposing a desirable object, easy to be resisted, and not
effectual unless it be helped by an inbred ability of our own (which
is the Arminian grace), I will briefly confirm, having premised
these few things:

First, Although God doth not use the wills of men, in their
conversion, as malign spirits use the members of men in enthusiasms,
by a violent wrested motion, but sweetly and agreeably to their own
free nature; yet in the first act of our conversion the will is
merely passive, as a capable subject of such a work, not at all
concurring cooperatively to our turning. It is not, I say, the cause
of the work, but the subject wherein it is wrought, having only a
passive capability for the receiving of that supernatural being,
which is introduced by grace. The beginning of this good work is
merely from God, Philippians 1:6. Yea, faith is ascribed unto grace,
not by the way of conjunction with, but of opposition unto, our
wills: Not of ourselves; it is the gift of God, Ephesians 2:8.

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves; our sufficiency is of
God, 2 Corinthians 3:5. Turn thou us unto thee, O LORD, and we
shall be turned, Lamentations 5:21.

Secondly, Though the will of man conferreth nothing to the infusion
of the first grace, but a subjective receiving of it, yet in the
very first act that is wrought in and by the will, it most freely
cooperateth (by the way of subordination) with the grace of God; and
the more effectually it is moved by grace, the more freely it
worketh with it. Man being converted, converteth himself.

Thirdly, We do not affirm grace to be irresistible, as though it
came upon the will with such an overflowing violence as to beat it
down before it, and subdue it by compulsion to what it is no way
inclinable [unto.] But if that term must be used, it denoteth, in
our sense, only such an unconquerable efficacy of grace as always
and infallibly produceth its effect; for who is it that can
withstand God? Acts 11:17. As also, it may be used on the part of
the will itself, which will not resist it: All that the Father
giveth unto Christ shall come to him, John 6:37. The operation of
grace is resisted by no hard heart; because it mollifies the heart
itself. It doth not so much take away a power of resisting as give a
will of obeying, whereby the powerful impotency of resistance is
removed.

Fourthly, Concerning grace itself, it is either common or special.
Common or general grace consisteth in the external revelation of the
will of God by his word, with some illumination of the mind to
perceive it, and correction of the affections not too much to
contemn it; and this, in some degree or other, to some more, to some
less, is common to all that are called. Special grace is the grace
of regeneration, comprehending the former, adding more spiritual
acts, but especially presupposing the purpose of God, on which its
efficacy doth chiefly depend.

Fifthly, This saving grace, whereby the Lord converteth or
regenerateth a sinner, translating him from death to life, is either
external or internal. External consisteth in the preaching of the
word, etc., whose operation is by the way of moral persuasion, when
by it we beseech our hearers in Christs stead that they would be
reconciled unto God, 2 Corinthians 5:20; and this in our conversion
is the instrumental organ thereof, and may be said to be a
sufficient cause of our regeneration, inasmuch as no other in the
same kind is necessary. It may also be resisted in sensu diviso,
abstracting from that consideration wherein it is looked on as the
instrument of God for such an end.

Sixthly, Internal grace is by divines distinguished into the first
or preventing grace, and the second following cooperating grace. The
first is that spiritual vital principle that is infused into us by
the Holy Spirit, that new creation and bestowing of new strength,
whereby we are made fit and able for the producing of spiritual
acts, to believe and yield evangelical obedience: For we are the
workmanship of God, created in Christ Jesus unto good works,
Ephesians 2:10. By this God gives us a new heart, and a new spirit
he puts within us; he takes the stony heart out of our flesh, and
gives us an heart of flesh; he puts his Spirit within us, to cause
us to walk in his statutes, Ezekiel 36:26, 27.

Now, this first grace is not properly and formally a vital act, but
causaliter only, in being a principle moving to such vital acts
within us. It is the habit of faith bestowed upon a man, that he may
be able to eliciate and perform the acts thereof, giving new light
to the understanding, new inclinations to the will, and new
affections unto the heart: for the infallible efficacy of which
grace it is that we plead against the Arminians. And amongst those
innumerable places of holy Scripture confirming this truth, I shall
make use only of a very few, reduced to these three heads:

First, Our conversion is wrought by a divine, almighty action, which
the will of man will not, and therefore cannot resist. The impotency
thereof ought not to be opposed to this omnipotent grace, which will
certainly effect the work for which it is ordained, being an action
not inferior to the greatness of his mighty power, which he wrought
in Christ when he raised him from the dead, Ephesians 1:19, 20. And
shall not that power which could overcome hell, and loose the bonds
of death, be effectual for the raising of a sinner from the death of
sin, when by Gods intention it is appointed unto that work? He
accomplisheth the work of faith with power, 2 Thessalonians 1:11.

It is his divine power that giveth unto us all things that pertain
unto life and godliness, 2 Peter 1:3. Surely a moral, resistible
persuasion would not be thus often termed the power of God, which
denoteth an actual efficacy to which no creature is able to resist.

Secondly, That which consisteth in a real efficiency, and is not at
all but when and where it actually worketh what it intendeth, cannot
without a contradiction be said to be so resisted that it should not
work, the whole nature thereof consisting in such a real operation.

Now, that the very essence of divine grace consisteth in such a
formal act may be proved by all those places of Scripture that
affirm God by his grace, or the grace of God, actually to accomplish
our conversion: as Deuteronomy 30:6, And the LORD thy God will
circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD
thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou
mayest live. The circumcision of our hearts, that we may love the
Lord with all our hearts, and with all our souls, is our conversion,
which the Lord affirmeth here that he himself will do; not only
enable us to do it, but he himself really and effectually will
accomplish it. And again, I will put my law in their inward parts,
and write it in their hearts, Jeremiah 31:33. I will put my fear
in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me, chap. 32:40.

He will not offer his fear unto them, but actually put it into them.
And most clearly, Ezekiel 36:26, 27: A new heart also will I give
you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away
the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of
flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in
my statutes. Are these expressions of a moral persuasion only? Doth
God affirm here he will do what he intends only to persuade us to,
and which we may refuse to do if we will? Is it in the power of a
stony heart to remove itself? What an active stone is this, in
mounting upwards! What doth it at all differ from that heart of
flesh that God promiseth? Shall a stony heart be said to have a
power to change itself into such a heart of flesh as shall cause us
to walk in Gods statutes? Surely, unless men were willfully blind,
they must needs here perceive such an action of God denoted, as
effectually, solely, and infallibly worketh our conversion; opening
our hearts, that we may attend unto the word, Acts 16:14; giving
us in the behalf of Christ to believe on him, Philippians 1:29.

Now, these and the like places prove both the nature of Gods grace
to consist in a real efficiency, and the operation thereof to be
certainly effectual.

Thirdly, Our conversion is a new creation, a resurrection, a
new birth. Now, he that createth a man doth not persuade him to
create himself, neither can he if he should, nor hath he any power
to resist him that will create him,that is, as we now take it,
translate him from something that he is to what he is not. What
arguments do you think were sufficient to persuade a dead man to
rise? or what great aid can he contribute to his own resurrection?

Neither doth a man beget himself; a new real form was never yet
introduced into any matter by subtle arguments. These are the terms
the Scripture is pleased to use concerning our conversion:If any
man be in Christ, he is a new creature, 2 Corinthians 5:17. The
new man after God is created in righteousness and true holiness,
Ephesians 4:24. It is our new birth: Except a man be born again, he
cannot see the kingdom of God, John 3:3. Of his own will begat he
us with the word of truth, James 1:18. And so we become born
again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of
God, which liveth and abideth for ever, 1 Peter 1:23. It is our
vivification and resurrection: The Son quickeneth whom he will,
John 5:21, even those dead, who hear his voice and live, verse
25. When we were dead in sins, we are quickened together with
Christ by grace, Ephesians 2:5; for being buried with him by
baptism, we are also risen with him through the faith of the
operation of God, Colossians 2:12. And blessed and holy is he that
hath part in that first resurrection; on such the second death hath
no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall
reign with him a thousand years.


ENDNOTES:


[xciv] [1] Deus statuit salvare credentes per gratiam, id est,
lenem ac suavem liberoque ipsorum arbitrio convenientem seu congruam
suasionem, non per omnipotentem actionem seu motionem.Armin.
Antip., p. 211.
[xcv] [2] Corv. ad Molin.His ita expositis ex mente Augustini,
etc.Armin. Antip. De Elec.
[xcvi] [3] Fatemur, aliam nobis ad actum fidei eliciendum
necessariam gratiam non agnosci quam moralem.Rem. Act. Synod. ad
Art. 4.
[xcvii] [4] Annuntiatio doctrinae evangelicae.Popp. August.
Port. p. 110.
[xcviii] [5] Operatur in nobis velle quod bonum est, velle quod
sanctum est, dum nos terrenis cupiditatibus deditos mutorum more
animalium, tantummodo praesentia diligentes, futurae gloriae
magnitudine et praemiorum pollicitatione, succendit: alum
revelatione sapientiae in desiderium Dei stupentem suscitat
voluntatem, dum nobis suadet omne quod bonum est.Pelag., ap. Aug.
de Grat. Ch. cap. 10.
[xcix] [6] Ut autem assensus hic eliciatur in nobis, duo in primis
necessaria sunt:1. Argumenta talia ex parte Dei, quibus nihil
verisimiliter opponi potest cur credibilia non sint. 2. Pia
docilitas animique probitas.Rem. Declar., cap. 17. sect. 1.
[c] [7] Ut gratia sit efficax in actu secundo pendet a libera
voluntate.Rem. Apol., p. 164.
[ci] [8] Imo ut confidentius again, dico effectum gratiae,
ordinaria lege, pendere ab actu aliquo arbitrii.Grevinch, ad
Ames., p. 198.
[cii] [9] Manet semper in potestate Lib. Arbit. gratiam datam
rejicere et subsequentem repudiare, quae gratia non est omnipotentis
Dei actio, cui resisti a libero hominis arbitrio non possit.Armin.
Antip., p. 243.

 

Promoting a Greater Understanding of the Discovery of the Americas