Sect. 153.-As to myself, I must confess, I am more than astonished, that, when Paul so often uses those universally applying words "all," "none," "not," "not one," "without," thus, "they are all gone out of the way, there is none that doeth good, no not one;" all are sinners and condemned by the one sin of Adam; we are justified by faith "without" the law; "without" the works of the law; so that, if any one wished to speak otherwise so as to be more intelligible, he could not speak in words more clear and more plain;-I am more than a astonished, I say, how it is, that words and sentences, contrary and contradictory to these universally applying words and sentences, have gained so much ground; which say,-Some are not gone out of the way, are not unrighteous, are not evil, are not sinners, are not condemned: there is something in man which is good and which endeavours after good: as though that man, whoever he be, who endeavours after good, were not comprehended in this one word "all," or "none," or "not."
I could find nothing, even if I wished it, to advance against Paul, or to reply in contradiction to him: but should be compelled to acknowledge that the power of my "Free-will," together with its endeavours, is comprehended in those "alls," and "nones," of whom Paul here speaks; if, that is, no new kind of grammar or new manner of speech were introduced.
Moreover, if Paul had used this mode of expression once, or in one place only, there might have been room for imagining a trope, or for taking hold of and twisting some detached terms. Whereas, he uses it perpetually both in the affirmative and in the negative: and so expresses his sentiments by his argument and by his distinctive division, in every place and in all parts, that not the nature of his words only and the current of his language, but that which follows and that which precedes, the circumstances, the scope, and the very body of the whole disputation, all compel us to conclude, according to common sense, that the meaning of Paul is,-that out of the faith of Christ there is nothing but sin and damnation.
It was thus that we promised we would refute "Free-will," so that all our adversaries should not be able to resist: which, I presume, I have effected, even though they shall not so far acknowledge themselves vanquished, as to come over to my opinion, or to be silent: for that is not in my power: that is the gift of the Spirit of God!
Sect. 154.-BUT however, before we hear the Evangelist John, I will just add the crowning testimony from Paul: and I am prepared, if this be not sufficient, to oppose Paul to "Free-will" by commenting upon him throughout. Where he divides the human race into two distinctive divisions, "flesh" and "spirit," he speaks thus-"They that are after the flesh, do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit, do mind the things of the Spirit," (Rom. viii. 5). As Christ also does, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit," (John iii 6).
That Paul here calls all carnal who are not spiritual, is manifest, both from the division itself and the opposition of spirit to flesh, and from the very words of Paul himself, where he adds, "But ye are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of His" (Rom. viii. 9). What else is the meaning of "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of Christ dwell in you," but, that those who have not the "Spirit," are, necessarily, in the "flesh?" And if any man be not of Christ, what else is he but of Satan? It is manifest, therefore, that those who are devoid of the Spirit, are "in the flesh," and under Satan.
Now let us see what his opinion is concerning the endeavour and the power of "Free-will" in the carnal, who are in the flesh. "They cannot please God." Again, "The carnal mind is death." Again, "The carnal mind is enmity against God," And again, "It is not subject to the law of God neither indeed can be." (Rom. viii. 5-8). Here let the advocate for "Free-will" answer me-How can that endeavour toward good "which is death," which "cannot please God," which "is enmity against God," which "is not subject to God," and "cannot" be subject to him? Nor does Paul mean to say, that the carnal mind is dead and inimical to God; but that, it is death itself, enmity itself which cannot possibly be subject to the law of God or please God, as he had said just before, "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God did," &c. (Rom. viii. 3).
But I am very well acquainted with that fable of Origen concerning the three-fold affection; the one of which he calls 'flesh,' the other 'soul,' and the other 'spirit,' making the soul that medium affection, vertible either way, towards the flesh or towards the spirit. But these are merely his own dreams; he speaks them forth only, but does not prove them. Paul here calls every thing "flesh" that is without the "Spirit," as I have already shewn. Therefore, those most exalted virtues of the best men are in the flesh; that is, they are dead, and at enmity against God; they are not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be; and they please not God. For Paul does not only say that such men are not subject, but that they cannot be subject. So also Christ saith, "An evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit." (Matt. vii. 17). And again, "How can ye being evil speak that which is good," (Matt. xii. 34). Here you see, we not only speak that which is evil, but cannot speak that which is good.
And though He saith in another place, that we who are evil know how to give good gifts unto our children, (Matt. vi. 11), yet He denies that we do good, even when we give good gifts; because those good gifts which we give are the creatures of God; but we ourselves not being good, cannot give those good gifts well. For He is speaking unto all men; nay, even unto His own disciples. So that these two sentiments of Paul, that the just man liveth "by faith," (Rom. i. 17), and that "whatsoever is not of faith is sin," (Rom. xiv. 23), stand confirmed: the latter of which follows from the former. For if there be nothing by which we are justified but faith only, it is evident that those who are not of faith, are not justified. And if they be not justified, they are sinners. And if they be sinners, they are evil trees and can do nothing but sin and bring forth evil fruit-Wherefore, "Free-will" is nothing but the servant of sin, of death, and of Satan, doing nothing, and being able to do or attempt nothing, but evil!
Sect. 155.-ADD to this that example, Rom. x. 24, taken out of Isaiah, "I was found of them that sought Me not, I was made manifest unto them that asked not for Me." He speaks this with reference to the Gentiles:-that it was given unto them to hear and know Christ, when before, they could not even think of Him, much less seek Him, or prepare themselves for Him by the power of "Free-will." From this example it is sufficiently evident, that grace comes so free, that no thought concerning it, or attempt or desire after it, precedes. So also Paul-when he was Saul, what did he do by that exalted power of "Free-will?" Certainly, in respect of reason, he intended that which was best and most meritoriously good. But by what endeavours did he come unto grace? He did not only not seek after it, but received it even when he was furiously maddened against it!
On the other hand, he saith of the Jews "The Gentiles which followed not after righteousness have attained unto the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel which followed after the law of righteousness hath not attained unto the law of righteousness" (Rom. ix. 30-31). What has any advocate for "Free-will" to mutter against this? The Gentiles when filled with ungodliness and every vice, receive righteousness freely from a mercy-shewing God: while the Jews, who follow after righteousness with all their devoted effort and endeavour, are frustrated. Is this not plainly saying, that the endeavour of "Free-will" is all in vain, even when it strives to do the best; and that "Freewill," of itself, can only fall back and grow worse and worse?
Nor can any one say, that the Jews did not follow after righteousness with all the power of "Free-will." For Paul himself bears this testimony of them, "That they had a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge," (Rom. x. 2). Therefore, nothing which is attributed to "Free-will" was wanting to the Jews; and yet, it attained unto nothing, nay unto the contrary of that after which they strove. Whereas, there was nothing in the Gentiles which is attributed to "Free-will," and they attained unto the righteousness of God. And what is this but a most manifest example from each nation, and a most clear testimony of Paul, proving that grace is given freely to the most undeserving and unworthy, and is not attained unto by any devoted efforts, endeavours, or works, either small or great, of any men, be they the best and most meritorious, or even of those who have sought and followed after righteousness with all the ardour of zeal?
Sect. 156.-NOW let us come to JOHN, who is also a most copious and powerful subverter of "Free-will."
He, at the very first outset, attributes to "Free-will" such blindness, that it cannot even see the light of the truth: so far is it from possibility, that it should endeavour after it. He speaks thus, "The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not." (John i. 5). And directly afterwards, "He was in the world, and the world knew Him not; He came unto His own, and His own knew Him not." (Verses 10-11).
What do you imagine he means by "world?" Will you attempt to separate any man from being included in this term, but him who is born again of the Holy Spirit? The term "world" is very particularly used by this apostle; by which he means, the whole race of men. Whatever, therefore, he says of the "world," is to be understood of the whole race of men. And hence, whatever he says of the "world," is to be understood also of "Free-will," as that which is most excellent in man. According to this apostle, then, the "world" does not know the light of truth; the "world" hates Christ and His; the "world" neither knows nor sees the Holy Spirit; the whole "world" is settled in enmity; all that is in the "world," is "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life." "Love not the world." "Ye (saith He) are not of the world." "The world cannot hate you; but Me it hateth, because I testify of it that the works thereof are evil."
All these and many other like passages are proclamations of what "Free-will' is-'the principal part' of the world, ruling the empire of Satan! For John also himself speaks of the world by antithesis; making the "world" to be, every thing in the world which is not translated into the kingdom of the Spirit. So also Christ saith to the apostles, "I have chosen you out of the world, and ordained you," &c, (John xv. 16). If therefore, there were any in the world, who, by the powers of "Free-will, "endeavoured so as to attain unto good, (which would be the case if "Free-will" could do any thing) John certainly ought, in reverence for these persons, to have softened down the term, lest, by a word of such general application, he should involve them in all those evils of which he condemns the world. But as he does not this, it is evident that he makes "Free-will" guilty of all that is laid to the charge of the world: because, whatever the world does, it does by the power of "Free-will": that is, by its will and by its reason, which are its most exalted faculties.-He then goes on,
"But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God; even to them that believe on His Name. Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." (John i. 12-13).
Having finished this distinctive division, he rejects from the kingdom of Christ, all that is "of blood," "of the will of the flesh," and "of the will of man." By "blood," I believe, he means the Jews; that is, those who wished to be the children of the kingdom, because they were the children of Abraham and of the Fathers; and hence, gloried in their "blood." By "the will of the flesh," I understand the devoted efforts of the people, which they exercised in the law and in works: for "flesh" here signifies the carnal without the Spirit, who had indeed a will, and an endeavour, but who, because the Spirit was not in them, were carnal. By "the will of man," I understand the devoted efforts of all generally, that is, of the nations, or of any men whatever, whether exercised in the law, or without the law. So that the sense is-they become the sons of God, neither by the birth of the flesh, nor by a devoted observance of the law, nor by any devoted human effort whatever, but by a Divine birth only.
If therefore, they be neither born of the flesh, nor brought up by the law, nor prepared by any human discipline, but are born again of God, it is manifest, that "Free-will" here profits nothing. For I understand "man," to signify here, according to the Hebrew manner of speech, any man, or all men;even as "flesh," is understood to signify, by antithesis, the people without the Spirit: and "the will of man," I understand to signify the greatest power in men, that is, that 'principal part,' "Free-will."
But be it so, that we do not dwell thus upon the signification of the words, singly; yet, the sum and substance of the meaning is most clear;-that John, by this distinctive division, rejects every thing that is not of Divine generation; since he says, that men are made the sons of God none otherwise than by being born of God; which takes place, according to his own interpretation-by believing on His name!In this rejection therefore, "the will of man," or "Free-will," as it is not of divine generation, nor faith, is necessarily included. But if "Free-will" avail any thing, "the will of man" ought not to be rejected by John, nor ought men to be drawn away from it, and sent to faith and to the new birth only; lest that of Isaiah should be pronounced, against him, "Woe unto you that call good evil." Whereas now, since he rejects alike all "blood," "the will of the flesh," and "the will of man," it is evident, that "the will of man" avails nothing more towards making men the sons of God, than "blood" does, or the carnal birth. And no one doubts whether or not the carnal birth makes men the sons of God; for as Paul saith, "They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God;" (Rom. ix. 8), which he proves by the examples of Ishmael and Esau.
Sect. 157.-THE same John, introduces the Baptist speaking thus of Christ, "And of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace." (John i.16).
He says, that grace is received by us out of the fullness of Christ-but for what merit or devoted effort? "For grace," saith He; that is, of Christ; as Paul also saith, "The grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many." (Rom. v. 15).-Where is now the endeavour of "Free-will" by which grace is obtained! John and Paul here saith, that grace is not only not received for any devoted effort of our own, but even for the grace of another, or the merit of another, that is "of one Man Jesus Christ." Therefore, it is either false, that we receive our grace for the grace of another, or else it is evident, that "Free-will" is nothing at all; for both cannot consist-that the grace of God, is both so cheap, that it may be obtained in common and every where by the 'little endeavour' of any man; and at the same time so dear, that it is given unto us only in and through the grace of one Man, and He so great!
And I would also, that the advocates for "Free-will" be admonished in this place, that when they assert "Free-will," they are deniers of Christ. For if I obtain grace by my own endeavours, what need have I of the grace of Christ for the receiving of my grace? Or, what do I want when I have gotten the grace of God? For the Diatribe has said, and all the Sophists say, that we obtain grace, and are prepared for the reception of it, by our own endeavours; not however according to 'worthiness,' but according to 'congruity.' This is plainly denying Christ: for whose grace, the Baptist here testifies, that we receive grace. For as to that fetch about 'worthiness' and 'congruity,' I have refuted that already, and proved it to be a mere play upon empty words, while the 'merit of worthiness' is really intended; and that, to a more impious length than ever the Pelagians themselves went, as I have already shewn. And hence, the ungodly Sophists, together with the Diatribe, have more awfully denied the Lord Christ who bought us, than ever the Pelagians, or any heretics have denied Him. So far is it from possibility, that grace should allow of any particle or power of "Free-will!"
But however, that the advocates for "Free-will" deny Christ, is proved, not by this Scripture only, but by their own very way of life. For by their "Free-will," they have made Christ to be unto them no longer a sweet Mediator, but a dreaded Judge, whom they strive to please by the intercessions of the Virgin Mother, and of the Saints; and also, by variously invented works, by rites, ordinances, and vows; by all which, they aim at appeasing Christ, in order that He might give them grace. But they do not believe, that He intercedes before God and obtains grace for them by His blood and grace; as it is here said, "for grace." And as they believe, so it is unto them! For Christ is in truth, an inexorable judge to them, and justly so; for they leave Him, who is a Mediator and most merciful Saviour, and account His blood and grace of less value than the devoted efforts and endeavours of their "Free-will!"
Sect. 158.-Now let us hear an example of "Free-will."-Nicodemus is a man in whom there is every thing that you can desire, which "Free-will" is able to do. For what does that man omit either of devoted effort, or endeavour? He confesses Christ to be true, and to have come from God; he declares His miracles; he comes by night to hear Him, and to converse with Him. Does he not appear to have sought after, by the power of "Free-will," those things which pertain unto piety and salvation? But mark what shipwreck he makes. When he hears the true way of salvation by a new-birth to be taught by Christ, does he acknowledge it, or confess that he had ever sought after it? Nay, he revolts from it, and is confounded; so much so, that he does not only say he does not understand it, but heaves against it as impossible-"How (says he) can these things be?" (John iii. 9).
And no wonder: for who ever heard, that man must be born again unto salvation "of water and of the Spirit?" (5). Who ever thought, that the Son of God must be exalted, "that whosoever should believe in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life?" (15). Did the greatest and most acute philosophers ever make mention of this? Did the princes of this world ever possess this knowledge? Did the "Free-will" of any man ever attain unto this, by endeavours? Does not Paul confess it to be "wisdom hidden in a mystery," foretold indeed by the Prophets, but revealed by the Gospel? So that, it was secret and hidden from the world.
In a word: Ask experience: and the whole world, human reason itself, and in consequence, "Free-will" itself is compelled to confess, that it never knew Christ, nor heard of Him, before the Gospel came into the world. And if it did not know Him, much less could it seek after Him, search for Him, or endeavour to come unto Him. But Christ is "the way" of truth, life, and salvation. It must confess, therefore, whether it will or no, that, of its own powers, it neither knew nor could seek after those things which pertain unto the way of truth and salvation. And yet, contrary to this our own very confession and experience, like madmen we dispute in empty words, that there is in us that power remaining, which can both know and apply itself unto those things which pertain unto salvation! This is nothing more or less than saying, that Christ the Son of God was exalted for us, when no one could ever have known it or thought of it; but that, nevertheless, this very ignorance is not an ignorance, but a knowledge of Christ; that is, of those things which pertain unto salvation.
Do you not yet then see and palpably feel out, that the assertors of "Free-will" are plainly mad, while they call that knowledge, which they themselves confess to be ignorance? Is this not to "put darkness for light?" (Isaiah v. 20). But so it is, though God so powerfully stop the mouth of "Free-will" by its own confession and experience, yet even then, it cannot keep silence and give God the glory.
Sect. 159.-AND now farther, as Christ is said to be "the way, the truth, and the life," (John xiv. 6), and that, by positive assertion, so that whatever is not Christ is not the way but error, is not the truth but a lie, is not the life but death, it of necessity follows, that "Free-will," as it is neither Christ nor in Christ, must be bound in error, in a lie, and in death. Where now will be found that medium and neuter-that the power of "Free-will," which is not in Christ, that is, in the way, the truth, and the life, is yet not, of necessity, either error, or a lie, or death?
For if all things which are said concerning Christ and grace were not said by positive assertion, that they might be opposed to their contraries; that is, that out of Christ there is nothing but Satan, out of grace nothing but wrath, out of the light nothing but darkness, out of the life nothing but death-what, I ask you, would be the use of all the Writings of the Apostles, nay, of the whole Scripture? The whole would be written in vain; because, they would not fix the point, that Christ is necessary (which, nevertheless, is their especial design) and for this reason,-because a medium would be found out, which of itself, would be neither evil nor good, neither of Christ nor of Satan, neither true nor false, neither alive nor dead, and perhaps, neither any thing nor nothing; and that would be called, 'that which is most excellent and most exalted' in the whole race of men!
Take it therefore which way you will.-If you grant that the Scriptures speak in positive assertion, you can say nothing for "Free-will," but that which is contrary to Christ: that is, you will say, that error, death, Satan, and all evils, reign in Him. If you do not grant that they speak in positive assertion, you weaken the Scriptures, make them to establish nothing, not even to prove that Christ is necessary. And thus, while you establish "Free-will," you make Christ void, and bring the whole Scripture to destruction. And though you may pretend, verbally, that you confess Christ; yet, in reality and in heart, you deny Him. For if the power of "Free-will" be not a thing erroneous altogether, and damnable, but sees and wills those things which are good and meritorious, and which pertain unto salvation, it is whole, it wants not the physician Christ, nor does Christ redeem that part of man.-For what need is there for light and life, where there is light and life already?
Moreover, if that power be not redeemed, the best part in man is not redeemed, but is of itself good and whole. And then also, God is unjust if He damn any man; because, He damns that which is the most excellent in man, and whole; that is, He damns him when innocent. For there is no man who has not "Free-will." And although the evil man abuse this, yet this power itself, (according to what you teach) is not so destroyed, but that it can, and does endeavour towards good. And if it be such, it is without doubt good, holy, and just: wherefore, it ought not to be damned, but to be distinctly separated from the man who is to be damned. But this cannot be done, and even if it could be done, man would then be without "Free-will," nay, he would not be man at all, he would neither have merit nor demerit, he could neither be damned nor saved, but would be completely a brute, and no longer immortal. It follows therefore, that God is unjust who damns that good, just, and holy power, which, though it be in an evil man, does not need Christ as the evil man does.
Sect. 160.-BUT let us proceed with John. "He that believeth on Him, (saith he) is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed on the Name of the only begotten Son of God. (John iii. 18).
Tell me!-Is "Free-will" included in the number of those that believe, or not? If it be, then again, it has no need of grace; because, of itself, it believes on Christ-whom, of itself it never knew nor thought of! If it be not, then it is judged already and what is this but saying, that it is damned in the sight of God? But God damns none but the ungodly: therefore, it is ungodly. And what godliness can that which is ungodly endeavour after? For I do not think that the power of "Free-will" can be excepted; seeing that, he speaks of the whole man as being condemned.
Moreover, unbelief is not one of the grosser affections, but is that chief affection seated and ruling on the throne of the will and reason; just the same as its contrary, faith. For to be unbelieving, is to deny God, and to make him a liar; "If we believe not we make God a liar," (1 John v. 10). How then can that power, which is contrary to God, and which makes Him a liar, endeavour after that which is good? And if that power be not unbelieving and ungodly, John ought not to say of the whole man that he is condemned already, but to speak thus,-Man, according to his 'grosser affections,' is condemned already; but according to that which is best and 'most excellent,' he is not condemned; because, that endeavours after faith, or rather, is already believing.
Hence, where the Scripture so often saith, "All men are liars," we must, upon the authority of "Free-will," on the contrary say-the Scripture rather, lies; because, man is not a liar as to his best part, that is, his reason and will, but as to his flesh only, that is, his blood and his grosser part: so that that whole, according to which he is called man, that is, his reason and his will, is sound and holy. Again, there is that of the Baptist, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him." (John iii. 36). We must understand "upon him" thus:-that is, the wrath of God abideth upon the 'grosser affections' of the man: but upon that power of "Free-will," that is, upon his will and his reason, abide grace and everlasting life.
Hence, according to this, in order that "Free-will" might stand, whatever is in the Scriptures said against the ungodly, you are, by the figure synecdoche, to twist round to apply to that brutal part of man, that the truly rational and human part might remain safe. I have therefore, to render thanks to the assertors of "Free-will;" because, I may sin with all confidence; knowing that, my reason and will, or my "Free-will," cannot be damned, because it cannot be destroyed by my sinning, but for ever remains sound, righteous, and holy. And thus, happy in my will and reason, I shall rejoice that my filthy and brutal flesh is distinctly separated from me, and damned; so far shall I be from wishing Christ to become its Redeemer!-You see, here, to what the doctrine of "Free-will" brings us-it denies all things, divine and human, temporal and eternal; and with all these enormities, makes a laughing-stock of itself!
Sect. 161. - AGAIN, the Baptist saith, "A man can receive nothing, except it were given him from above." (John iii. 27).
Let not the Diatribe here produce its forces, where it enumerates all those things which we have from heaven. We are now disputing, not about nature, but about grace: we are inquiring, not what we are upon earth, but what we are in heaven before God. We know that man was constituted lord over those things which are beneath himself; over which, he has a right and a Free-will, that those things might do, and obey as he wills and thinks. But we are now inquiring whether he has a "Free-will" over God, that He should do and obey in those things which man wills: or rather, whether God has not a Free-will over man, that he should will and do what God wills, and should be able to do nothing but what He wills and does. The Baptist here says, that he "can receive nothing, except it be given him from above."-Wherefore, "Free-will" must be a nothing at all!
Again, "He that is of the earth, is earthly and speaketh of the earth, He that cometh from heaven is above all." (John iii. 31).
Here again, he makes all those earthly, who are not of Christ, and says that they savour and speak of earthly things only, nor does he leave any medium characters. But surely, "Free-will" is not "He that cometh from heaven." Wherefore it must of necessity, be "he that is of the earth," and that speaks of the earth and savours of the earth. But if there were any power in man, which at any time, in any place, or by any work, did not savour of the earth, the Baptist ought to have excepted this person, and not to have said in a general way concerning all those who are out of Christ, that they are of the earth, and speak of the earth.
So also afterwards, Christ saith, "Ye are of the world, I am not of the world. Ye are from beneath, I am from above." (John viii. 23).
And yet, those to whom He spoke had "Free-will," that is, reason and will; but still He says, that they are "of the world." But what news would He have told, if He had merely said, that they were of the world, as to their 'grosser affections?' Did not the whole world know this before? Moreover, what need was there for His saying that men were of the world, as to that part in which they are brutal? For according to that, beasts are also of the world.
Sect. 162.-AND now what do those words of Christ, where He saith, "No one can come unto Me except My Father which hath sent Me draw him," (John vi. 44), leave to "Free-will?" For He says it is necessary, that every one should hear and learn of the Father Himself, and that all must be "taught of God." Here, indeed, He not only declares that the works and devoted efforts of "Free-will" are of no avail, but that even the word of the Gospel itself, (of which He is here speaking,) is heard in vain, unless the Father Himself speak within, and teach and draw. "No one can," "No one can (saith He) come:" by which, that power, whereby man can endeavour something towards Christ, that is, towards those things which pertain unto salvation, is declared to be a nothing at all.
Nor does that at all profit "Free-will," which the Diatribe brings forward out of Augustine, by way of casting a slur upon this all-clear and all-powerful Scripture-'that God draws us, in the same way as we draw a sheep, by holding out to it a green bough.' By this similitude he would prove, that there is in us a power to follow the drawing of God. But this similitude avails nothing in the present passage. For God holds out, not one of His good things only, but many, nay, even His Son, Christ Himself; and yet no man follows Him, unless the Father hold Him forth otherwise within, and draw otherwise!-Nay, the whole world follows the Son whom He holds forth!
But this similitude harmonizes sweetly with the experience of the godly, who are now made sheep, and know God their Shepherd. These, living in, and being moved by, the Spirit, follow wherever God wills, and whatever He holds out to them. But the ungodly man comes not unto Him, even when he hears the word, unless the Father draw and teach within: which He does by shedding abroad His Spirit. And where that is done, there is a different kind of drawing from that which is without: there, Christ is held forth in the illumination of the Spirit, whereby the man is drawn unto Christ with the sweetest of all drawing: under which, he is passive while God speaks, teaches, and draws, rather than seeks or runs of himself.
Sect. 163.-I WILL produce yet one more passage from John, where, he saith, "The Spirit shall reprove the world of sin, because they believe not in me." (John xvi. 9).
You here see, that it is sin, not to believe in Christ: And this sin is seated, not in the skin, nor in the hairs of the head, but in the very reason and will. Moreover, as Christ makes the whole world guilty from this sin, and as it is known by experience that the world is ignorant of this sin, as much so as it is ignorant of Christ, seeing that, it must be revealed by the reproof of the Spirit; it is manifest, that "Free-will," together with its will and reason, is accounted a captive of this sin, and condemned before God. Wherefore, as long as it is ignorant of Christ and believes not in Him, it can will or attempt nothing good, but necessarily serves that sin of which it is ignorant.
In a word: Since the Scripture declares Christ everywhere by positive assertion and by antithesis, (as I said before), in order that, it might subject every thing that is without the Spirit of Christ, to Satan, to ungodliness, to error, to darkness, to sin, to death, and to the wrath of God, all the testimonies concerning Christ must make directly against "Free-will;" and they are innumerable, nay, the whole of the Scripture. If therefore our subject of discussion is to be decided by the judgment of the Scripture, the victory, in every respect, is mine; for there is not one jot or tittle of the Scripture remaining, which does not condemn the doctrine of "Free-will" altogether!
But if the great theologians and defenders of "Free-will" know not, or pretend not to know, that the Scripture every where declares Christ by positive assertion and by antithesis, yet all Christians know it, and in common confess it. They know, I say, that there are two kingdoms in the world mutually militating against each other.-That Satan reigns in the one, who, on that account is by Christ called "the prince of this world," (John xii 31), and by Paul "the God of this world;" (2 Cor. iv. 4), who, according to the testimony of the same Paul, holds all captive according to his will, who are not rescued from him by the Spirit of Christ: nor does he suffer any to be rescued by any other power but that of the Spirit of God: as Christ testifies in the parable of "the strong man armed" keeping his palace in peace.-In the other kingdom Christ reigns: which kingdom, continually resists and wars against that of Satan: into which we are translated, not by any power of our own, but by the grace of God, whereby we are delivered from this present evil world, and are snatched from the power of darkness. The knowledge and confession of these two kingdoms, which thus ever mutually war against each other with so much power and force, would alone be sufficient to confute the doctrine of "Free-will:" seeing that, we are compelled to serve in the kingdom of Satan, until we be liberated by a Divine Power. All this, I say, is known in common among Christians, and fully confessed in their proverbs, by their prayers, by their pursuits, and by their whole lives.
Sect. 164.-I OMIT to bring forward that truly Achillean Scripture of mine, which the Diatribe proudly passes by untouched-I mean, that which Paul teaches, Rom. vii. and Gal. v., that there is in the saints, and in the godly, so powerful a warfare between the spirit and the flesh, that they cannot do what they would. From this warfare I argue thus:-If the nature of man be so evil, even in those who are born again of the Spirit, that it does not only not endeavour after good, but is even averse to, and militates against good, how should it endeavour after good in those who are not born again of the Spirit, and who are still in the "old man," and serve under Satan? Nor does Paul there speak of the 'grosser affections' only, (by means of which, as a common scape-gap, the Diatribe is accustomed to get out of the way of all the Scriptures,) but he enumerates among the works of the flesh heresy, idolatry, contentions, divisions, &c.; which he describes as reigning in those most exalted faculties; that is, in the reason and the will. If therefore, flesh with these affections war against the Spirit in the saints, much more will it war against God in the ungodly, and in "Free-will." Hence, Rom. viii. 7, he calls it "enmity against God."-I should like, I say, to see this argument of mine overturned, and "Free-will" defended against it.
As to myself, I openly confess, that I should not wish "Free-will" to be granted me, even if it could be so, nor anything else to be left in my own hands, whereby I might endeavour something towards my own salvation. And that, not merely because in so many opposing dangers, and so many assaulting devils, I could not stand and hold it fast, (in which state no man could be saved, seeing that one devil is stronger than all men;) but because, even though there were no dangers, no conflicts, no devils, I should be compelled to labour under a continual uncertainty, and to beat the air only. Nor would my conscience, even if I should live and work to all eternity, ever come to a settled certainty, how much it ought to do in order to satisfy God. For whatever work should be done, there would still remain a scrupling, whether or not it pleased God, or whether He required any thing more; as is proved in the experience of all justiciaries, and as I myself learned to my bitter cost, through so many years of my own experience.
But now, since God has put my salvation out of the way of my will, and has taken it under His own, and has promised to save me, not according to my working or manner of life, but according to His own grace and mercy, I rest fully assured and persuaded that He is faithful, and will not lie, and moreover great and powerful, so that no devils, no adversities can destroy Him, or pluck me out of His hand. "No one (saith He) shall pluck them out of My hand, because My Father which gave them Me is greater than all." (John x. 27-28). Hence it is certain, that in this way, if all are not saved, yet some, yea, many shall be saved; whereas by the power of "Free-will," no one whatever could be saved, but all must perish together. And moreover, we are certain and persuaded, that in this way, we please God, not from the merit of our own works, but from the favour of His mercy promised unto us; and that, if we work less, or work badly, He does not impute it unto us, but, as a Father, pardons us and makes us better.-This is the glorying which all the saints have in their God!
Sect. 165.-AND if you are concerned about this,-that it is difficult to defend the mercy and justice of God, seeing that, He damns the undeserving, that is, those who are for that reason ungodly, because, being born in iniquity, they cannot by any means prevent themselves from being ungodly, and from remaining so, and being damned, but are compelled from the necessity of nature to sin and perish, as Paul saith, "We all were the children of wrath, even as others," (Eph. ii. 3.), when at the same time, they were created such by God Himself from a corrupt seed, by means of the sin of Adam,-
Here God is to be honoured and revered, as being most merciful towards those, whom He justifies and saves under all their unworthiness: and it is to be in no small degree ascribed unto His wisdom, that He causes us to believe Him to be just, even where He appears to be unjust. For if His righteousness were such, that it was considered to be righteousness according to human judgment, it would be no longer divine, nor would it in any thing differ from human righteousness. But as He is the one and true God, and moreover incomprehensible and inaccessible by human reason, it is right, nay, it is necessary, that His righteousness should be incomprehensible: even as Paul exclaims, saying, "Oh the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God, how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!" (Rom. xi. 33). But they would be no longer "past finding out" if we were in all things able to see how they were righteous. What is man, compared with God! What can our power do, when compared with His power! What is our strength, compared with His strength! What is our knowledge compared with His wisdom! What is our substance, compared with His substance! In a word, what is all that we are, compared with all that He is!
If then we confess, even according to the teaching of nature, that human power, strength, wisdom, knowledge, substance, and all human things together, are nothing when compared with the divine power, strength, wisdom, knowledge, and substance, what perverseness must it be in us to attack the righteousness and judgments of God only, and to arrogate so much to our own judgment, as to wish to comprehend, judge, and rate, the divine judgments! Why do we not, here in like manner say at once-What! is our judgment nothing, when compared with the divine judgments!-But ask reason herself if she is not, from conviction, compelled to confess, that she is foolish and rash for not allowing the judgments of God to be incomprehensible, when she confesses that all the other divine things are incomprehensible? In every thing else we concede to God a Divine Majesty; and yet, are ready to deny it to His judgments! Nor can we for a little while believe, that He is just, even when He promises that it shall come to pass, that when He shall reveal His glory, we shall all see, and palpably feel, that He ever was, and is,-just!
Sect. 166.-BUT I will produce an example that may go to confirm this faith, and to console that "evil eye" which suspects God of injustice.-Behold! God so governs this corporal world in external things, that, according to human reason and judgment, you must be compelled to say, either that there is no God, or that God is unjust: as a certain one saith, 'I am often tempted to think there is no God.' For see the great prosperity of the wicked, and on the contrary the great adversity of the good; according to the testimony of the proverbs, and of experience the parent of all proverbs. The more abandoned men are, the more successful! "The tabernacles of robbers (saith Job) prosper." And Psalm lxxiii, complains, that the sinners of the world abound in riches. Is it not, I pray you, in the judgment of all, most unjust, that the evil should be prosperous, and the good afflicted? Yet so it is in the events of the world. And here it is, that the most exalted minds have so fallen, as to deny that there is any God at all; and to fable, that fortune disposes of all things at random: such were Epicurus and Pliny. And Aristotle, in order that he might make his 'First-cause Being' free from every kind of misery, is of opinion, that he thinks of nothing whatever but himself; because he considers, that it must be most irksome to him, to see so many evils and so many injuries.
But the Prophets themselves, who believed there is a God, were tempted still more concerning the injustice of God, as Jeremiah, Job, David, Asaph, and others. And what do you suppose Demosthenes and Cicero thought, who, after they had done all they could, received no other reward than a miserable death? And yet all this, which is so very much like injustice in God, when set forth in those arguments which no reason or light of nature can resist, is most easily cleared up by the light of the Gospel, and the knowledge of grace: by which, we are taught, that the wicked flourish in their bodies, but lose their souls!And the whole of this insolvable question is solved in one word-There is a life after this life: in which will be punished and repaid, every thing that is not punished and repaid here: for this life is nothing more than an entrance on, and a beginning of, the life which is to come!
If then even the light of the Gospel, which stands in the word and in the faith only, is able to effect so much as with ease to do away with, and settle, this question which has been agitated through so many ages and never solved; how do you suppose matters will appear, when the light of the word and of faith shall cease, and the essential Truth itself shall be revealed in the Divine Majesty? Do you not suppose that the light of glory will then most easily solve that question, which is now insolvable by the light of the word and of grace, even as the light of grace now easily solves that question, which is insolvable by the light of nature?
Let us therefore hold in consideration the three lights-the light of nature, the light of grace, and the light of glory; which is the common, and a very good distinction. By the light of nature, it is insolvable how it can be just, that the good man should be afflicted and the wicked should prosper: but this is solved by the light of grace. By the light of grace it is insolvable, how God can damn him, who, by his own powers, can do nothing but sin and become guilty. Both the light of nature and the light of grace here say, that the fault is not in the miserable man, but in the unjust God: nor can they judge otherwise of that God, who crowns the wicked man freely without any merit, and yet crowns not, but damns another, who is perhaps less, or at least not more wicked. But the light of glory speaks otherwise.-That will shew, that God, to whom alone belongeth the judgment of incomprehensible righteousness, is of righteousness most perfect and most manifest; in order that we may, in the meantime, believe it, being admonished and confirmed by that example of the light of grace, which solves that, which is as great a miracle to the light of nature!