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whithersoever he will;" (/) under one species he clearly comprehends the whole genus. For if the will of any man be free from all subjection, that privilege belongs eminently to the will of a king, which exercises a government in some measure over the wills of others: but if the will of the king be subject to the power of God, ours cannot be exempted from the same authority. Augustine has a remarkable passage on this subject: "The Scripture, if it be diligently examined, shews, not only that the good wills of men, which he turns from evil into good, and directs to good actions and to eternal life, but also that those wills which relate to the present life, are subject to the power of God, so that he by a most secret but yet a most righteous judgment, causes them to be inclined whither he pleases, and when he pleases, either for the com "munication of benefits, or for the infliction of punishments.
VIII. Here let the reader remember, that the ability of the human will is not to be estimated from the event of things, as some ignorant men are preposterously accustomed to do. For they conceive themselves fully and ingeniously to establish the servitude of the human will, because even the most exalted monarchs have not all their desires fulfilled. But this ability, of which we speak, is to be considered within man, and not to be measured by external success. For in the dispute concerning free will the question is not, whether a man, notwithstanding external impediments, can perform and execute whatever he may have resolved in his mind, but whether in every case his judgment exerts freedom of choice, and his will freedom of inclination. If men possess both these, then Attilius Regulus, when confined to the small extent of a cask stuck round with nails, will possess as much free will as Augustus Caesar when governing a great part of the world with his nod.
(0 Prov. Hi. 1.
A Refutation of the Objections commonly urged in Support of
Free WilL ENOUGH might appear to have been already said on the servitude of the human will, did not they, who endeavour to overthrow it with a false notion of liberty, allege on the contrary certain reasons in opposition to our sentiments. First they collect together some absurdities, in order to render it odious, as if it were abhorrent to common sense; and then they attack it with testimonies of Scripture. Both these weapons we will repel in order. If sin, say they, be necessary, then it ceases to be sin: if it be voluntary, then it may be avoided. These were also the weapons used by Pelagius in his attacks of Augustine; with whose authority however we wish not to urge them, till we shall have given some satisfaction on the subject itself. I deny then that sin is the less criminal because it is necessary: I deny also the other consequence, which they infer, that it is unavoidable because it is voluntary. For if any one wish to dispute with God, and to escape his judgment by the pretext of having been incapable of acting otherwise: he is prepared with an answer, which we have elsewhere advanced, that it arises not from creation, but from the corruption of nature, that men being enslaved by sin can will nothing but what is evil. For whence proceeded that impotence, of which the ungodly would gladly avail themselves, but from Adam voluntarily devoting himself to the tyranny of the devil? Hence therefore the corruption, with which we are firmly bound; it originated in the revolt of the first man from his Maker? If all men are justly accounted guilty of this rebellion, let them not suppose themselves excused by necessity, in which very thing they have a most evident cause of their condemnation. And this I have before clearly explained, and have given an example in the devil himself, which shews, that he who sins necessarily, sins no less voluntarily; and also in the elect angels, whose will, though it cannot swerve from what is good, ceases not to be a will. Bernard also judiciously inculcates the same doctrine, that we are therefore the more miserable because our necessity is voluntary; which yet constrains us to be so devoted to it, that we are, as we have already observed, the slaves of sin. The second branch of their argument is erroneous; because it makes an improper transition from what is voluntary to what is free; but we have before evinced, that a thing may be done voluntarily, which yet is not the subject of free choice.
II. They add, that unless both virtues and vices proceed from the free choice of the will, it is not reasonable either that punishments should be inflicted, or that rewards should be conferred on man. This argument, though first advanced by Aristotle, yet I grant is used on some occasions by Chrysostom and Jerome. That it was familiar to the Pelagians however, Jerome himself does not dissemble, but even relates their own words: "If the grace of God operates in us, then the crown will be given to grace, not to us who labour." In regard to punishments, I reply, that they are justly inflicted on us, from whom the guilt of sin proceeds. For of what importance is it, whether sin be committed with a judgment free or enslaved, so it be committed with the voluntary bias of the passions: especially as man is proved to be a sinner, because he is subject to the servitude of sin? With respect to rewards of righteousness, where is the great absurdity, if we confess that they depend rather on the divine benignity than on our own merits? How often does this recur in Augustine, "That God crowns not our merits, but his own gifts; and that they are called rewards, not as though they were due to our merits, but because they are retributions to the graces already conferred on us?" They discover great acuteness in this observation, that there remains no room for merits, if they originate not from free will; but in their opinion of the erroneousness of our sentiment they are greatly mistaken. For Augustine hesitates not on all occasions to inculcate as certain, what they think it impious to acknowledge: as where he says, "What are the merits of any man? When he comes not with a merited reward, but with free grace, he alone being free and a deliverer from sins, finds all men sinners." Again: "If you receive what is your due, you must be punished. What then is done? God hath given you not merited punishment, but unmerited grace. If you wish to be excluded from grace, boast your merits." Again: "You are nothing of yourself; sins are yours, merits belong to God; you deserve punishment; and when you come to be rewarded, he will crown his own gifts, not your merits." In the same sense he elsewhere teaches that grace proceeds .not from merit, but merit from grace. And a little after he concludes, that God with his gifts precedes all merits, that thence he may elicit his other merits, and gives altogether freely, because he discovers nothing as a cause of salvation. But what necessity is there for further quotations, when his writings are full of such passages? But the Apostle will even better deliver them from this error, if they will hear from what origin he deduces the glory of the saints. "Whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified." (m) Why then, according to the Apostle, are the faithful crowned? Because by the mercy of the Lord, and not by their own industry, they are elected, and called, and justified. Farewell, then, this vain fear, that there will be an end of all merits if free will be overturned. For it is a proof of extreme folly, to be terrified and to fly from that to which the Scripture calls us: "If," says he, "thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?" (n) You see that he divests free will of every thing with the express design of leaving no room for merits. But yet, the beneficence and liberality of God being inexhaustible and various, those graces which he confers on us, because he makes them ours, he rewards, just as if they were our own virtues.
III. They farther allege what may appear to be borrowed from Chrysostom, that if our will has not this ability to choose good or evil, the partakers of the same nature must be either all evil or all good. And not very far from this is the writer, whoever he was, of the treatise, On the calling of the Gentiles, which is circulated under the name of Ambrose, when he argues, that no man would ever recede from the faith, unless the grace of God left us the condition of mutability. In which
(m) Rom. viii. 29. (n) 1 Cor.iv. 7.
it is surprising that such great men were so inconsistent with themselves. For how did it not occur to Chrysostom, that it is the election of God, which makes this difference between men? We are not afraid to allow, what Paul very strenuously asserts, that all, without exception, are depraved and addicted to wickedness; but with him we add, that the mercy of God does not permit all to remain in depravity. Therefore, since we all naturally labour under the same disease, they alone recover to whom the Lord hath been pleased to apply his healing hand. The rest, whom he passeth by in righteous judgment, putrefy in their corruption till they are entirely consumed. And it is from the same cause, that some persevere to the end, and others decline and fall in the midst of their course. For perseverance itself also is a gift of God, which he bestows not on all men promiscuously, but imparts to whom he pleases. If we inquire the cause of the difference, why some persevere with constancy, and others fail through instability, no other can be found, but that God sustains the former by his power that they perish not, and does not communicate the same strength to the latter, that they may be examples of inconstancy.
IV. They urge farther, that exhortations are given in vain, that the use of admonitions is superfluous, and that reproofs are ridiculous, if it be not in the power of the sinner to obey. When similar objections were formerly made to Augustine, he was obliged to write his treatise On Correction and Grace: in which, though he copiously refutes them, he calls his adversaries to this conclusion: "O man, in the commandment learn what is your duty; in correction learn, that through your own fault you have it not; in prayer learn whence you may receive what you wish to enjoy." There is nearly the same argument in the treatise On the Spirit and Letter, in which he maintains that God does not regulate the precepts of his law by the ability of men, but when he hath commanded what is right, freely gives to his elect ability to perform it. This is not a subject that requires a prolix discussion. First, We are not alone in this cause, but have the support of Christ and all the apostles. Let our opponents consider how they can obtain the superiority in a contest with such antagonists. Does Christ,
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