« PreviousContinue »
mer was absolutely gratuitous and unmerited: 7. That the punishment of the latter (observe: not their reprobation itself, but their perdition, or actual damnation) is owing to their foreseen ungodliness. Which foreseen ungodliness results, 8. not from any compulsive force offered to them, or put upon them by God himself, but from that “stubborn and persevering naughtiness of their own iniquity,” which God is indeed able to remove, but under the power and guilt of which it is his inscrutable will to leave them.
Among the illustrious partisans of grace, I must not omit to number,
IV. Florus, sirnamed Magister, a deacon of the church of Lyons: who, about A. D. 852, published A Defence of Predestination, in opposition to a Semipelagian treatise on that subject, written by the famous scholastic, Duns Scotus. The drift of Florus' book (drawn up, it seems, in the name of the whole church of Lyons) was, says Vossius, to prove, “ That there is a double predestination : viz. of some, who are elected into life ; and of others, who are destined to death. That men have, by nature, no free-will, except to what is evil. That the elect are compelled to good. But that the reprobate are not compelled to sin : they are only compelled to undergo the punishment which, by sin, they have merited (x).” I am inclinable to doubt, whether Vossius (whose “ Pelagian History” might, with more truth, be styled, An Apology for Pelagianism). has, in the above passage, stated the Theses of Florus with sufficient candour. I can hardly suppose a man of the judgment and learning, which Florus seems to have possessed, would ever assert, that “ The elect are compelled to what is good.” We may, perhaps, learn bis sentiments on this subject, with greater certainty and precision, from
(2) Vossii Histor. Pelagian. p. 745.
his own words, largely cited by archbishop Usher (y).
"Our Lord himself,” says Florus, “plainly shows, that the very first commencement of what good we have, is not of ourselves, but of him : Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, John xv. 16. Thus likewise the apostle speaks to believers : He who hath begun a good work in you, will perfect it even unto the day of Christ, Phil. i. 6. And again; Unto you it is given, in Christ's behalf, not only to believe, but also to suffer for his sake, Phil. i. 29. The blessed apostle, St. John, affirms, Not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and gave his Son to be the propitiation for our sins, 1 John iv. 10, And again, a blessed apostle says, Let us run, with patience, the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and the finisher of our faith, Heb. xii. 2. If, therefore, we desire to be true members of the universal church, let us faithfully put all to the account of grace. The Lord chooseth his saints; not they him. God himself both begins and accomplishes what is good, in his believers. He first loves his saints, in order that they may also love him. Man has not, of himself, a will to that which is good : neither has he of himself, the power to perform a good work. Both one and the other are received from him, of whom the apostle saith, It is God that worketh in us, both to will and to do, of his own good pleasure. Through his mercy, he himself is beforehand with the will of man: as saith the Psalmist; My God will prevent me with his goodness. He himself inspires man with the grace of thinking rightly ; according to that of the apostle; Not that we are, of ourselves, sufficient to think any thing, as of ourselves'; but our sufficiency is of God. He is, himself, the cause of our having a good will. He is, himself, the cause
(y) Cottesch. Hist. cap. x. per totum.
of our desiring and accomplishing what is holy. And he not only worketh these things, at present, in his elect; but he hath also, before the formation of the world, predestinated them, by bis grace, that they should be holy and blameless before him, Eph. i. 4. Whoever, then, does not believe that this grand and most efficacious cause” (viz. God's predestination and grace) “precedes our will, in order that we may will and do that which is right, doth manifestly oppose the truth, and stands convicted of pelagianism (2).” It is true, that, in these passages, Florus nervously asserts the efficacy of divine influence: but says nothing about forcible compulsion. And, indeed, there was no reason why he should. The operation of grace renders itself effectual, without offering the least violence to the human mind. Open a blind man's eyes to see the sun, and he will need no compulsion to make him admire it. Suppose there was a person to whose ceaseless bounty you owed every comfort you enjoy, but of whom, notwithstanding, you never had so much as the sight. Should that person, in process of time, favour you with a visit; would you stand in need of compulsion to make you speak to him ? must you be dragged by the hair of your head, into his presence? No. You would at once fiy to him, and bid him welcome. You would freely, yet irresistibly (such is the sweetly captivating power of gratitude), thank him, and give him your best accommodations, and wish your best were better for his sake. Similar is the free, though necessary, tendency of an enlightened soul to God and Christ. Calvinism disclaims all compulsion (a), properly so called. It pleads only
(2) Florus Magist. apud Usser. u. s. p. 143-146. (a) According to Mr. Locke, compulsion may then be said to
“ When the beginning or continuation of any action is contrary to the preference of the mind.” (See his Essay on Understanding, book ii. chap. 21. sect. 13). If, therefore, this acute logi
for that victorious, conciliating efficacy, which is inseparable from the grace of divine attraction : and acknowledges no other energy, but that to which the apostle sets his comprobatum est, where he says, The love of Christ constraineth us.
The Judgment of some eminent Persons, prior to the
If we carry down our enquiries, to the century preceding the reformation, we shall find that pe. riod illuminated by several very distinguished advocates for the doctrines of free and sovereign grace,
cian was in the right; it will follow, that, in the supernatural agency of gråce on the beart, compulsion is quite excluded, be that agency ever so effectual: since, the more effectually it is supposed to operate, the more certainly it must engage the “preference of the mind.” And, where the preference of the mind is thus engaged, won over, and secured, (the accomplishing of which is the very business of grace, Psal. cx, 3.) there compulsion can have no manner of footing or existence.
Another remark of Mr. Locke's deserves to be well considered: “ voluntary is not opposed to necessary, but to involuntary. For a man may prefer what he can do, to what he cannot do :" [he may, for instance, prefer] " the state he is in, to its absence or change, though necessity has made it in itself unalterable." Ibid. sect. 11. 1 am apt to think, that the preceding citations from Locke will make Mr. Sellon stare. I wish the citation next ensuing may not make him swear. If the “ Exotic” can get any body to lend him Locke's Essay, he will find in the 14th section of the chapter above referred to, the following observations: “ Whether man's will be free, or no," is an unreasonable, because unintelligible question. It is as insignificant to ask, whether man's will be free; as to ask, whether his sleep be swift, or his virtue square. Liberty being as little applicable to the will, as swiftness of motion is to sleep, or squareness to virtue.” How far such concessions, as these, are reconcileable with some parts of that great man's theological system; or even with some of his own favourite metaphysical principles; I leave to the determination of more competent readers.
as now held by those who are since called (6) Calvinists.
V. John Huss, the well known Bohemian martyr, was converted to the truth of the gospel, next under God, by reading the works of our renowned countryman John Wickliff. He took his batchelor of arts' degree in the university of Prague, A. D. 1393, and was eminent for learning (as learning then went), but more so for the exemplary sanctity of his life (c). I need not relate the perfidy of the council of Constance, who condemned him to the flames, in open violation of the safe-conduct which had been solemnly granted him by the emperor Sigismund. Suffice it to observe, that this infamous synod acted up to their own maxim, of “ No faith to be kept with heretics :" and that he was burned, A. D. 1415. His dying prediction at the stake, is, however, too remarkable to be omitted. " He behaved himself at his martyrdom, with a wonderful cheerfulness; and seems to have had a spirit of prophecy : for whereas Huss, in the Bohemian tongue, signifies a goose, he told them, you now roast a goose; but, after an hundred years, a swan shall rise out of my ashes. Which was fulfilled in Luther, who, just an hundred years after Huss' death, began to appear in opposition to the pope (d).”
(b) It seems, we are originally indebted to the church of Rome, for this appellation. “ Calvinists: a name given by papists to the reformed of France, Switzerland, Germany, and the Low Countries.” Great Hist. Dict.
(c) Vir, ipsis fatentibus adversariis, doctrinâ illustris, pietate conspicuus. Wharton, in App. ad Cavii Hist. Liter. p. 76.
(d) Hist. of Popery, vol. ii. p. 193., Mr. Rolt, in his Lives of the Reformers (p. 17, 18.) gives a more circumstantial account of Dr. Huss' martyrdom and prophecy. “ Dr. Huss," says that judicious compiler, “ heard his sentence, without the least emotion. He kneeled down, with his eyes lifted toward heaven, and said, with all the spirit of primitive martyrdom, May thy infinite mercy, O my God, pardon this injustice of my enemies. Thou knowest the