Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[graphic]

piscence, have used an expression not improper, if it were only added, which is far from being conceded by most persons, that every thing in man, the understanding and will, the soul and body, is polluted and engrossed by this concupiscence; or, to express it more briefly, that man is of himself nothing else but concupiscence.

IX. Wherefore I have asserted that sin has possessed all the powers of the soul, since Adam departed from the fountain of righteousness. For man has not only been ensnared by the inferior appetites, but abominable impiety has seized the very citadel of his mind, and pride has penetrated into the inmost recesses of his heart. So that it is weak and foolish to restrict the corruption which has proceeded thence, to what are called the sensual affections, or to call it an incentive which allures, excites, and attracts to sin, only what they style, the sensual part. In which the grossest ignorance has been discovered by Peter Lombard, who when investigating the seat of it, says, ;s in the flesh, according to the testimony of Paul, (/) not indeed exclusively, but because it principally appears in the flesh. As though Paul designated only a part of the soul, and not the whole of our nature, which is opposed to supernatural grace. Now Paul removes every doubt by informing us that the corruption resides not in one part only, but that there is nothing pure and uncontaminatcd by its mortal infection. For when arguing respecting corrupt nature, he not only condemns the inordinate motions of the appetites, but principally insists on the blindness of the mind, and the depravity of the heart: (,§•) and the third chapter of his Epistle to the Romans is nothing but a description of original sin. This appears more evident from our renovation. For "the Spirit," which is opposed to "the old man" and "the flesh," not only denotes the grace, which corrects the inferior or sensual part of the soul, but comprehends a complete reformation of all its powers. And therefore Paul not only enjoins us to mortify our sensual appetites, but exhorts us to be renewed in the spirit of our mind; (A) and in another place he directs us to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. (?) Whence it

(/) Rom. vii. 18. (g) Ephes. iv. 17, 18.

(A) Ephes. iv. 23. (,) Rom. xii. 2.

follows, that that part, which principally displays the excellence and dignity of the soul, is not only wounded, but so corrupted, that it requires not merely to be healed, but to receive a new nature. How far sin occupies both the mind and the heart, we shall presently see. My intention here was only to hint, in a brief way, that man is so totally overwhelmed, as with a deluge, that no part is free from sin; and therefore that whatever proceeds from him is accounted sin: as Paul says that all the affections or thoughts of the flesh, or the carnal mind, is enmitv against God, and therefore death, (i)

X. Now let us dismiss those, who dare to charge God with their corruptions, because we say that men are naturally corrupt. They err in seeking for the work of God in their own pollution, whereas they should rather seek it in the nature of Adam while yet innocent and uncorrupted. Our perdition therefore ■ proceeds from the sinfulness of our flesh, not from God; it being only a consequence of our degenerating from our primitive condition. And let no one murmur that God might have made a better provision for our safety, by preventing the fall of Adam. For such an objection ought to be abominated, as too presumptuously curious, by all pious minds, and it also belongs to the mystery of predestination, which shall afterwards be treated in its proper place. Wherefore let us remember, that our fall must be imputed to a corruption of nature, that we may not bring an accusation against God himself, the Author of nature. That this fatal wound is inherent in our nature, is indeed a truth; but it is an important question whether it was in it originally, or was derived from any extraneous cause. But it is evident that it was occasioned by sin. We have therefore no reason to complain, but of ourselves; which in the Scripture is distinctly remarked. For the Preacher says, " This only have I found, that God hath made men upright; but they have sought out many inventions." (/) It is clear that the misery of man must be ascribed solely to himself, since he was favoured with rectitude by the Divine goodness, but has lapsed into vanity through his own folly.

XI. We say therefore that man is corrupted by a natural

(t) Rom. viii. 6, 7. (I) Eccles. vii. 29.

depravity, but which did not originate from nature. We deny that it proceeded from nature, to signify that it is rather an adventitious quality or accident, than a substantial property originally innate. Yet we call it natural, that no one may suppose it to be contracted bv every individual from corrupt habit, whereas it prevails over all by hereditary right. Nor is this representation of ours without authority. For the same reason the Apostle says, that we are all by nature the children of wrath, (m) How could God, who is pleased with all his meanest works, be angry with the noblest of all his creatures? But he is angry rather with the corruption of his work, than with his work itself. Therefore, if on account of the corruption of human nature, man be justly said to be naturally abominable to God, he may also be truly said to be naturally depraved and corrupt: as Augustine, in consequence of the corruption of nature, hesitates not to call those sins natural, which necessarily predominate in our flesh, where they are not prevented by the grace of God. Thus vanishes the foolish and nugatory system of the Manicheans, who, having imagined in man a substantial wickedness, presumed to invent for him a new creator, that they might not appear to assign the cause and origin of evil to a righteous God.

[graphic]
[ocr errors][merged small]

Man in his present State despoiled of Freedom of Will, and subjected to a miserable Slavery.

SINCE we have seen that the domination of sin, from the time of its subjugation of the first man, not only extends over the whole race, but also exclusively possesses every soul; it now remains to be more closely investigated, whether we are despoiled of all freedom, and, if any particle of it yet remain, how far its power extends. But that we may the more easily discover the truth of this question, I will first set up by the

(m) Ephes. ii. 3.

way a mark, by which our whole course must be regulated. The best method of guarding against error is to consider the dangers which threaten us on every side. For when man is declared to be destitute of all rectitude, he immediately makes it an occasion of slothfulness; and because he is said to have no power of himself for the pursuit of righteousness, he totally neglects it, as though it did not at all concern him. On the other hand, he cannot arrogate any thing to himself, be it ever so little, without God being robbed of his honour, and himself being endangered by presumptuous temerity. Therefore to avoid striking on either of these rocks, this will be the course to be pursued; that man being taught that he has nothing good left in his possession, and being surrounded on every side with the most miserable necessity, should nevertheless be instructed to aspire to the good of which he is destitute, and to the liberty of which he is deprived; and should be roused from indolence with more earnestness, than if he were supposed to be possessed of the greatest strength. The necessity of the latter is obvious to every one. The former, I perceive, is doubted by more than it ought to be. For this being placed beyond all controversy, that man must not be deprived of any thing that properly belongs to him, it ought also to be manifest how important it is that he should be prevented from false boasting. For if he was not even then permitted to glory in himself, when by the Divine beneficence he was decorated with the noblest ornaments, how much ought he now to be humbled, when on account of his ingratitude he has been hurled from the summit of glory to the abyss of ignominy. At that time, I say, when he was exalted to the most honourable eminence, the Scripture attributes nothing to him, but that he was created after the image of God; which certainly implies that his happiness consisted not in any goodness of his own, but in a participation of God. What then remains for him now, deprived of all glory, but that he acknowledge God, to whose beneficence he could not be thankful, when he abounded in the riches of his favour? and that he now at least by a confession of his poverty glorify him, whom he glorified not by an acknowledgment of his blessings? It is also no less conducive to our interest than to the Divine glory, that all the praise of wisdom and strength be taken away from us, «.^^ that they join sacrilege to our fall, who ascribe to us any thing more than truly belongs to us. For what else is the consequence, when we are taught to contend in our own strength, but that we are lifted into the air on a reed, which being soon broken, we fall to the ground. Though our strength is placed in too favourable a point of view, when it is compared to a reed. For it is nothing but smoke, whatever vain men have imagined and pretend concerning it. Wherefore it is not without reason, that that remarkable sentence is so frequently repeated by Augustine, that free will is rather overthrown than established even by its own advocates. It was necessary to premise these things for the sake of some who, when they hear that human power is completely subverted in order that the power of God may be established in man, inveterately hate this whole argument, as dangerous and unprofitable: which yet appears to be highly useful to us, and essential to true religion.

[graphic]

II. As we have just before said that the faculties of the soul consist in the mind and the heart, let us now consider the ability of each. The philosophers indeed with general consent, pretend, that in the mind presides Reason, which like a lamp illuminates with its counsels, and like a queen governs the will: for that it is so irradiated with Divine light as to be able to give the best counsels, and endued with such vigour as to be qualified to govern in the most excellent manner: that Sense, on the contrary, is torpid and afflicted with weakness of sight, so that it always creeps on the ground, and is absorbed in the grossest objects, nor ever elevates itself to a view of the truth: that Appetite, if it can submit to the obedience of reason, and resist the attractions of sense, is inclined to the practice of virtues, travels the path of rectitude, and is formed into will; but that if it be devoted to the servitude of sense, it is thereby so corrupted and depraved as to degenerate into lust. And as, according to their opinion there reside in the soul those faculties which I have before mentioned, understanding, sense, and appetite, or will, which appellation is now more commonly used; they assert that the understanding is endued with reason, that most excellent guide to a good and a happy life, provided it only maintains itself in its own excellence, and exerts

« AnteriorContinuar »