« PreviousContinue »
Lib. Arbit. 'If the leopard can change mandeth, maketh himself difhis spots, and the Ethiopian fer from him who will not ;' his skin, then can ye do good Rem. Apol. who are taught to do evil;' · I may boast of mine own, Jer. xiii. 23.
when I obey God's grace, • Believing on him who which it was in my power not justifieth the ungodly;' Rom. to obey, as well as to obey ;' iv. 5. Being justified freely Grevinch. by his grace;' Rom. iii. 24. • True conversion and the
'I thank thee, Father, Lord performance of good works, of heaven and earth; that thou is a condition required on our hast hid these things from the part before justification;' Fiwise and prudent, and hast re- lii Armin. vealed them unto babes; even
God sendeth the gospel so, Father, for so it seemed to such persons or nations, good in thy sight;' Matt. xi. that in comparison of others, 25, 26,
may be said to be worthy of
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 shewed 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 cooperation 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 cooperate, 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 freewill 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 every one 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
hath in himself to live anew, and come out at the next call. God's 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 God's
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 any thing 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: 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
a Deus statuit salvare credentes per gratiam, id est, lenem ac suavem liberoque ipsorum arbitrio convenientem seu congruam suafionem, non per omnipotentem actionem seu motionem. Armin. Antip. pag. 211.
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 they 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, 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, 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 a declaration of the gospel unto us.' Right like their old master Pelagius; 'God,' saithe he, '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
Corvin. ad Molin.—His ita expositis ex mente Augustini, &c. Armin. Antip. de elec.
€ Fatemur, aliam nobis ad actum fidei eliciendum necessariam gratiam non agnosci quam moralem. Rem. act. Synod. ad art. 4.
Annuntiatio doctrinæ evangelicæ. Popp. August. port. pag. 110. e Operatur in nobis velle quod bonum est, velle quod sanctum est, dum nos terrenis cupiditatibus deditos mutorum more animalium, tantummodo præsentia diligentes, futuræ gloriæ magnitudine, et præmiorum pollicitatione, succendit : dum revelatione sapientiæ in desiderium Dei stupentem suscitat voluntatem, dum nobis suadet omne quod bonum est. Pelag. ap. Aug. de grat. Ch. cap. 10.
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,' 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, thats in operation the efficacy thereof dependeth on free-will,'so the remonstrants in their apology. 'And to speak confidently,' saith Grevinchovius, 'I say that the effect of grace in an ordinary course, dependeth on some act of our freewill.' Suppose then that of two men made partakers of the same grace, that is, 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 God's 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.
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. decla. cap. 17. sect. 1.
& Ut gratia sit efficax in actu secundo pendet a libera voluntate. Rem. Apol. pag
164. [ Imo ut confidentius agam, dico effectum gratiæ, ordinaria lege, pendere ab actu aliquo arbitrii. Grevin. ad Ames. p. 198.
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, “Iti 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 gracę which God useth in the great work of our conversion, by reason of its
Manet semper in potestate Lib. Arbit. gratiam datam rejicere et subsequentem repudiare, quæ gratia non est omnipotentis Dei actio, cui resisti a libero hominis arbitrio non possit. Armin. Antip. pag. 243.