Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

'Nothing makes the mind companion of lust, 'except its own free-will.'l

But is nothing needful to make it the companion of holiness, but free will, in this sense of the word ?—for the whole controversy hinges on this point.

'Every one is the author of his own sin.'2 True: But is every one of our fallen race the author of his own holiness, if he have any r For this is our question.—Certainly neither Adam's sin, nor ours, can be charged on God without blasphemy: and neither the devil nor wicked men can make us sin, except as our will consents to it. This free-will is natural to us; but it is ' by grace 'that we obey the calling of the word of God.'

'I confess it cannot be denied, that we have

•will. Now go on; let us see what you conclude 'from thence. A. I will: but tell me also first, 'whether you do not think that you have also a 'good will. E. What is a good will? A. A will

•by which we desire to live rightly and honestly, 'and to arrive at the highest wisdom. Only con'sider whether you do not desire a right and honest 'life; or you do not earnestly wish to be wise; or 'whether you dare certainly to deny that we have 'a good will, when we will these things. E. I 'deny none of these things; and therefore I con'fess that I have not only a will, but a good will.'3

at the first outset, renounce all which renders man accessible either to argument, admonition, or persuasion.'—J. S.

1 Aug. Ref. 413. • Ibid. J Ibid.

If, in this dialogue, a good will mean any thing short of' a disposition to do what in the sight of 'God is good,' I would make no objection: but, if it imply what is thus good in the sight of God, I must for once take part with his Lordship against Augustine. 'It is acknowledged that man has 'not the disposition, and consequently not the 'ability, to do what in the sight of God is good, 'till he is influenced by the Spirit of God.'1

'Too great a confidence in their own will has 'raised some to pride, and too great a distrust of * their own will has depressed others to negligence.'2

This latter danger is never guarded against in scripture, because it does not exist. That depression, which induces negligence, springs from distrust of God, and not from distrust of our own will.—" And the Lord said unto me, My grace is "sufficient for thee, for my strength is made per"feet in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I "rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of "Christ may rest upon me." "For when I am "weak, then am I strong." 3 "Watch and pray, "that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit in"deed is willing, but the flesh is weak."4 In what does this trusting in our own will differ from "trusting in our own heart?" But "he that "trusteth in his own heart is a fool." And why so ?" The heart is deceitful above all things and "desperately wicked:" and he who trusts in one that is declared by infallible testimony to be " de

t

'Kef. 61. * Aug. Ref. 423. * 2 Cor. xii. 9, 10.

'Matt. xxvi. 41.

"ceitful above all things and desperately wicked,"1 and that in no instance failed to deceive him who trusted him, must be a very foolish man.

'Free will, naturally given by the Creator to a 'rational creature, is that middle power, which 'may either be directed to faith, or inclined to 'unbelief.'—' When God calls, he arises from free 'will, which he naturally received when he was 'created. But God wills " that all men should 'be saved, and come to the knowledge of the 'truth;" not so, however, as to take away free 'will from them, which using well or ill, they 'may most justly be judged.'2

The free will here spoken of is free agency. That is not taken away in any man; nor is compulsion used. All who 'are inclined to unbelief use their free agency ill, and will be most justly condemned; but do any of our fallen race, without preventing grace, use it well, that they may righteously be justified? Augustine seems to have had confused views on the subject, when he wrote this passage: but he supposes, that when God 'calls' we arise to something superior to our natural free will, or free agency, yet still continue free agents. A modern Calvinist would have said, 'He arises from natural free agency to genuine 'free will.' As Augustine himself says in another place,' Man's will obtaineth not grace by liberty, 'but liberty by grace.'3 His will being now freed from the bondage of his sinful passions by divine grace, he most freely chooses, and taketh "the "testimonies of God as his heritage for ever, and "they are the rejoicing of his heart." * Augustine seems in the passage above quoted to hold the doctrine of grace, almost by renouncing free agency in him who receives grace !2

1 Prov. xxviii. 26. Jer. xvii. 9. a Aug. Ref. 446. 'Aug. in Calvin, Inst. Book II. ch. iii. sec. 14.

Another of the fathers, however, gives a different view of the subject. 'When we depart out 'of this life, we depart at the same time from the 'right of will.' 'When the liberty of will ceases 'the effect also of the will, if there were any, 'ceases also.'3

1 Ps. cxix. 111.

'[The following passage, which occurs in the remarks on this extract from Augustine, in the first edition, seems worthy to be preserved. J. S.]

'If any one should say, Have you, after so many years, any difficulties still remaining in respect of your tenets? I would answer, by asking him the same question. Let me know what your creed is; and I will undertake to press you with difficulties respecting it, at least as great as can be brought against mine; and, if you be a sceptic or an atheist, who professes to have no creed, you will be assailable by still more insurmountable objections. In this world we are but children in the knowledge of divine things: even the apostle knew but in part; and considered his knowledge, even at its highest advancement on earth, when compared with the light of heaven, as resembling his thoughts and language when a child, compared with his views and discourse when he became a man. Our wisdom is to receive " the testimony of God," which is " sure, making wise "the simple ;" and to be satisfied to wait for clearer light, till we come to the bright world above. "But if any man think that he "knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he "ought to know."

'Hilary, Ref. 3.58.

Do then either the righteous or the wicked, in another world, cease to be free agents? By no means. No such thing is intended: it only implies that, so long as we are in this world, good and evil, life and death, are proposed to us; and we are allowed to choose the one or the other: but this allowance, or ' right of will,' ceases when death terminates our present state of probation and preparation. It cannot be determined from this passage, whether or not Hilary supposed any of fallen Adam's posterity, of himself, and apart from grace, inclined to make a holy choice: yet this is the only material point to be decided. Probably he also meant that the wicked in another world, however they might desire it, would not be able to get out of their condemned state; but this cannot be called properly either free will or free agency. The free agent is not omnipotent: and even he, whose will is made free from the bondage of sin by divine grace, cannot in all things do that which he is willing and desirous to do.

'It is carefully to be remembered, that freedom 'consists in the dependence of the existence, or 'not existence, of any action upon our volition of 'it: and not in the dependence of any action or 'its contrary, on our preference. A man stand'ing on a cliff is at liberty to leap twenty yards 'downwards into the sea; not because he has a 'power to do the contrary action, which is to leap 'twenty yards upwards, for that he cannot do: 'but he is therefore free, because he has a power 'to leap or not to leap. But, if a greater force 'than his either holds him fast, or tumbles him

« AnteriorContinuar »