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salvation, without destroying the free agency of man, he viewed as one of those SECRET THINGS which belong unto the Lord." The clumsy manner in which the Calvinists solve this difficulty, resembles the act of Alexander the Great when he cut the Gordian knot: They resolve all the deeds of moral agents into the Absolute Will and Irresistible Power of God, and by tearing away one of these relative propositions from its fellow, they make the first of them the foundation of their system, while the numerous exhor tations, promises and threatenings of the scriptures become with them objects of inferior consideration. Arminius did not, in this, follow their example: In modestly advocating the freedom of the will, he spoke more cautiously about it than even Melancthon* had done, and always described it as utterly incompetent to effect any good unless when assisted by the exciting, preceding, and accompanying Grace of God. Though he could not perfectly reconcile the two propositions which are quoted at the commencement of this paragraph, yet he conceived them to be equally binding on the belief and practice of christians, and consequently subjects on which reason, enlightened by revelation and aided by the Spirit of God, might appropriately exercise itself. In the ample notes to the first volume of his WORKS, I have felt much pleasure in elucidating the moderation and sobriety which Arminius displayed in all his theological researches, of which the following extract, from a letter quoted in that volume, page 682, presents a good specimen: "In justification we are not taught from whence faith arises. Let it suffice, that it is there proved, Believers,
* In the sixteen particulars concerning Arminius, which Dr. Thomas PIERCE has given, in his Divine Philanthropy Defended, the following forms the twelfth :
"For myself I do declare, that I was then in the opinions I now am in when I had not read one page of Arminius's works: Nor do I agree with him any farther, than he agrees with Scripture, Antiquity, the Church of England, and Melancthon after the time of his conversion from the errors of Luther, and Mr. Calvin. This Melanchthon at first had been as it were the scholar of Luther, and drew from him his first errors: But, being a pious, learned, and unpassionate man, (pursuing truth, not faction,) he saw his error, and forsook it, embracing those opinions concerning the liberty of the will, the cause of sin, the universality of grace, and the respectiveness of God's decrees, which I asserted in those notes against which Mr. B. now declaims. This Melanchthon was and is still the DARLING, (more than any one man) of the Reformed part of the Christian world; so much the rather, because besides his vast learning, unbiassed judgment, and transcendent piety, he was almost proverbial for MODERATION. For this was he chosen to write the Augustan Confession: For this he was much considered by them that composed our Book of Articles, and our other Book of Homilies which shews us what is the doctrine of the true Church of England: For this he was imitated and admired by the glorious martyrs of our religion in the days of Queen Mary: For this he was esteemed far above Mr. Calvin by Jacobus ARMINIUS, the famous Professor of Divinity in the University of Leyden, who, however a Presbyterian as to matter of discipline, did yet so very far excel the other divines of that sect, in exactness of learning as well as life, that we may say he became Melanchthon's convert."
and they alone, are justified without the works of the law. I have endeavoured to distinguish, or rather to disjoin, this decree by which God resolves to justify and adopt believers, from that by which He determines to bestow faith on these or those [particular individuals: This distinction I have attempted to make, from the nature and necessity of the things themselves; expressly with this design-that people may learn that our controversy does not relate to every kind of Predestination, but to that only which is included in the last-named decree.-A consideration of the only order which God has established, will require us to teach, that God justifies none except those who believe, though in that action He perform the condition required by himself, which condition could not have been performed except through that [irresistible] action. Add to this, that, beside his own omnipotent and internal action, God is both able and willing to employ the following argument: God justifies no persons except such as believe: Believe there'fore, that thou mayest be justified.' With respect, then, to this argument, FAITH will arise from suasion; but with respect to the omnipotent and internal act of God, FAITH will arise from an irresistible efficacy-Should any one object, That it is impossible 'for faith to spring at the same time from a sUASION which may be resisted, and from AN EFFICACY which is irresistible;' I have nothing to offer that will be any great contradiction to this remark. But I have another observation to make, that is somewhat different; it is this, In his omnipotent act God employs [or uses] 'this argument; and by this argument, when rightly understood, 'he efficaciously produces faith." If it were otherwise, the operation would be expended on a stone or a lifeless body, and not upon the INTELLECT of a MAN.' "*
In another part of the letter, he says, "I do not deny, that faith is communicated to us through the Spirit of Christ, whom he has obtained from the Father, and of whom He is constituted the Donor and Dispenser by the Father. But we must observe, that the Spirit, considered absolutely as the Author of faith, precedes even the union of Christ with us: This conclusion may easily be drawn from the circumstance that our union with Christ is perfected by the Spirit and faith.There is nothing in that reasoning by Calvin of which I cannot heartily approve, if all things in it be rightly understood. For I confess, that the grace by which the Holy Spirit is bestowed, is not common to all men. I also acknowledge, that God's gratuitous [free] elecmay be said to be the fountain of faith ;' but it is an election to bestow faith and not to communicate salvation. For a believer is elected to a participation of SALVATION, but a sinner is elected to FAITH. Let this passage also be taken into consideration, (2 Thess. ii. 13.) 'Because God hath ELECTED you to salvation * See exactly a similar mode of reasoning, in the succeeding extract from Dr. Coplestone, (p. xv.) and from Arminius himself at the close of this volume, page 827.
through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth,' &c.; and this two-fold election will be apparent. Or at least, it will seem impossible to say, that election to salvation is an election to faith; because the former is produced through faith [or belief] and sanctification of the Spirit.'
I might quote parallel passages from several of the old evangelical Arminians of the Church of England, but I prefer a large extract, illustrative of the topics which engaged the attention of Arminius, from a highly accomplished modern author, whose chaste and scriptural views of Revealed Truth will recommend themselves to the approbation of every christian, and who has expressed his "dissatisfaction" with some of "the attempts made to refute the Calvinistic opinions,"-attempts which seemed to him "often to retain as much error on their own side as they exposed on the opposite, and to deprive Christianity of much of that SPIRITUAL AND VITAL FORCE which is its main characteristic and essential property." I allude to Doctor Edward COPLESTON, Provost of Oriel College, Oxford, who thus expresses himself in his dispassionate" Enquiry into the Doctrines of NECESSITY and PREDESTINATION:"
"The next difficulty which I suppose may be objected to the opinions we maintain, is, that they are inconsistent with the language habitually employed by religious men to denote their sense of the supernatural agency exerted in the world. It is an undeniable fact, that in all ages and under all forms of religion, (setting aside for the present the doctrines of Revelation,) serious and good men have regarded the events of this life as subject to the controul of Divine Providence that they have talked of the folly and conceit of mankind in supposing that their wisdom, their foresight, their power and contrivance, brought about the great or good things which happen-and though the men who make these reflections have had their hopes and fears, and taken their full share in planning and executing measures with a view to such events, yet after the event is passed, or even before it comes, in their graver and more contemplative hours they admit that it is God's will alone to which the whole is owing-and that all things have conspired to the furtherance of some great plan of his, which has either served to promote the happiness of men, or to illustrate his own transcendent excellence.
"Where then,' it may be said, 'is the consistency of all this? Either they do not, while they are acting, think as they do when 'truth forces these reflections from them; or, if they do, it is a ' proof that men may believe in a Superior Power bearing onward 'with a steady and irresistible course, and yet act in concurrence 'with that Power, just as if the issue depended on themselves.' Now as to the first of these suppositions, it may be admitted without scruple, that men do, while they are engaged in action, think more of their immediate business, than of the share the
Power above them takes in the same process-and that in calmer and more leisurely hours, the impression of that Supreme Influence returns upon the mind with increased force, as some sound which in the stillness of the night fills the air, yet is lost or unperceived amidst the several discords and noises of a busy day. But the position can never be conceded, that the belief of this controlling power is contradictory to the belief of the freedom of human actions. For in the first place it does not follow, that because we believe this power to be exercised, therefore it is exercised to the exclusion of all other influence. And again, it may be, (to speak in a manner adapted to human conception and human experience,) it may be kept in reserve to act upon occasions; it may form the plan and the outline, and delegate the subordinate parts to minor agents; it may, for the purpose of exercising the fidelity and zeal of those agents, one while keep itself out of sight; or at another, to animate their exertions, let them perceive its presence; or, to check their folly and presumption, make them feel their dependence, and frustrate their endeavours-it may, supposing these agents to have a will of their own, incline that will to act conformably to their duty, by making that duty appear easy and agreeable, by removing obstacles and terrors, and placing attractive objects in their way; or if the will be stubborn, it may make it feel the ill consequences of that stubbornness, and it may contrive that its perverseness shall defeat its own purpose, and forward some other purpose which is kind and beneficial: it may make the misconduct of one, instrumental to his own correction, or to the improvement and fidelity of the the rest, by shewing, in ordinary cases of disobedience, the evil he brings upon himself-or, in cases of extreme depravity, the utter abandonment and ruin to which the delinquent is left.
"Does any part of such a scheme either detract from the notion of a Supreme Intelligence planning, governing, guiding, and accomplishing the whole? or can such a conception, in the mind of man, of the scheme of Divine Providence tend to relax his energy, to discourage his industry, to impair the distinctions of right and wrong, or weaken the principle of duty and obedience?
"The only argument brought against it is borrowed from the difficulty of accounting for evil as mixed with God's creation, and of conceiving free-will in His creatures. But difficulties can never be listened to against the evidence of facts. The fact of the existence of evil no one denies and the existence of free-will is by the concurrent unreflecting testimony of all mankind admitted to be a fact, opposed only by the metaphysical objections of a few. That all mankind act, speak, and think, as if the will were free, is admitted by these few themselves. And I trust it may be regarded as proved, that to think otherwise would deprive us of all motives to action, and all sense of right and wrong. It is only because they cannot conceive how these two things can co-exist,
that they call upon us to surrender our consciousness, our activity, and our moral principles.
"Precisely analogous to God's dealings in dispensing the good things of life, and to that method by which a sense of our dependence on him for the enjoyment of these blessings is kept alive in us, is the communication also of that unseen influence upon the mind which good and pious men desire, and the belief of which even under the guidance of the light of nature was very general. That every good and every perfect gift is from above,' is a sentiment not introduced but adopted by an Apostle of Christ. It occasionally breaks through the gloom of the philosophy and the religion of the heathen world: and the sublimer strains of their poetry speak the same language. That God favours those 'who yield to his influence-but that he rejects and abandons or 'drives on headlong to their ruin men who resist his will'—are frequent exclamations of those who contemplate with an awful wonder his moral government of the universe. "That these wicked ' and rebellious men, when they fancy they are pursuing their own schemes, are baffled and foiled, and made subservient to those very purposes which they endeavour to defeat*that they are raised aloft in order to render their fall more exemplary-that they are flattered for a time with the apparent success of their iniquity, in order that the punishment when it comes may be 'more heavy and more instructive' these are reflections which cannot be new to any who are conversant with the ancient heathen writers; and they accord also with those occasional impres sions which the passing events of life or the records of history make upon all serious minds.
"It is not till they involve themselves in metaphysical perplexities, that men regard these things as incompatible with the acknowledged attributes of God, or with the free-will of man. But when once they begin to enquire, whether the world might ' not have been constructed otherwise, whether evil might not have 'been dispensed with, whether what God foreknew can be said to proceed from the free-will of man, and whether He must not be understood as having pre-ordained every occurrence however minute or however iniquitous which takes place in the world,'t it is no wonder that their enquiries should be lost in endless mazes, or in a denial of something which it is as necessary to admit as any other proposition which they think proper to retain.
* See the arguments of Arminius, p. 827.
+ Of the unguarded assertions respecting the agency of Divine Providence, which are sometimes made even by wise and good men, the following brief extracts from Dr. Chalmers's sermon on Predestination, will afford a fair example: "God is as much master of the human heart, as he is of the elements. Every step of every individual character receives as determinate a character from the hand of God as every mile of a planet's orbit, or every gust of wind, or every wave of the sea, or every particle of flying dust, or every rivulet of flowing water.