Page images
PDF
EPUB

meet with nothing so friendly to our sentiments, nothing so approximating to Calvinism, in all the quotations from Clemens Alexandrinus, Origen, Chrysostom, and others, in the subsequent part of the work.-Does not every reader perceive how exactly our Article states the apostle's doctrine ? “ Work out your own salvation with fear and

trembling; for it is God who worketh in you “ both to will (ut velitis) and to do:” that is dum vultis. “ We are his workmanship, (Toinua, “ Rom. i. 20.) created in Christ Jesus to good “works :”—here can be no co-operation : for who “can co-operate with God in creation _" which « God hath before ordained that we should walk “ in them :"? here are our activity and diligence ; yet not without the grace of God assisting them. Indeed, his Lordship seems to admit this in one place. God, first knocks at the door of our hearts by his preventing grace, without which we have no desire to open unto Christ: and then he helps us, by his adjuvant or assistant grace, that “ we may be able to open.'3 This ascribes our willingness to preventing grace alone; and our co-operation with his adjuvant grace alone is maintained.—“May the God of peace—make you per“fect in every good work to do his will, working “ in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, “ through Jesus Christ.” 4

“The
grace

of Christ, or the Holy Ghost by him given, doth take away the stony heart, and giveth a heart of ' flesh : although those that have no will to good

6

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

6

things, he maketh them to will, and those that 'would evil things, he maketh them not to will the same; yet nevertheless he enforceth not the will; and therefore no man, when he sinneth, 6 can excuse himself as not worthy to be blamed, or condemned, by alleging that he sinned unwillingly, or by compulsion.''

But how does the liturgy expound the article ? -We humbly beseech thee, that, as by thy spe'cial grace preventing us, thou dost put into our 'minds good desires ; so by thy continual help, 'we may bring the same to good effect.'? Here the good desires are ascribed to special grace' pre

venting us,' and ' putting them into our minds ;' then the continual help' is prayed for, in order to bring these good desires to good effect. And what are these good desires, except a willing mind to repent, to believe, and to obey ?--Again, O Lord, ' from whom all good things do come, grant unto

thy humble servants, that, by thy holy inspiration, they may both think those things that be 'good, and by thy merciful guiding may perform • the same.'3 Co-operation is not generally understood to belong to inspiration.--The language of our Homilies has before been adduced ; and I need not dwell on it. I shall, therefore, conclude the section with a few quotations from the Articles of other reformed churches.

* Though man is endued with a will, by which he is moved to this or that, yet, as this is wholly captive ' under sin, it has altogether no liberty to desire

· Article xii. King Edward's Articles. · Collect for Easter Sunday. 3 Collect 5. Sun. after Easter.

' that which is good, except what it may receive

by the gift and grace of God.'! This certainly excludes man's co-operation in producing the willing mind.

• It ought, therefore, to remain certain and firm, that it is God who worketh in us both to will and to effect, of his gratuitous benevolence.

For no 'mind, no will acquiesces in the will of God, which

Christ himself hath not first wrought, who also • himself teacheth us, saying, “ Without me ye can do nothing."' 2

Man can by no means free himself from sin, ‘ and from eternal death, by his own natural powers: .but this liberation and conversion of man to God,

and this spiritual newness, comes to us, by the * Son of God making us alive by his Holy Spirit. * As it is said, “ If any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his.” And the will, when the Spirit of God has been received, is not idle. But we give thanks to God for this immense benefit ; • because that unto us, on account of his Son, and * through him, he gives the Holy Spirit, and rules us by his own Spirit.' 3

The co-operation is evidently, in these passages, excluded from any part in producing the willing mind, though not so prominently as in our Article. This certainly was the constant doctrine of all the reformed churches at the Reformation, when every part of Christianity was examined, and proved, and compared with the holy scriptures, with a diligence and exactness, probably never equalled, either be

6

[ocr errors]

Art. of the Gallic churches. * Art. xix. of the Belgic churches.

» Saxon Confession.

fore or since, except in the days of the apostles : and with impartiality ; except as the reformers had some remaining partiality in favour of fathers . and councils, which occasionally embarrassed and perplexed them. The Augsburg Confession was, as it is well known, drawn up with peculiar caution, , and it is therefore not so explicit on this subject as the others : yet it contains intimations which lead the attentive reader to a discovery of the real judgment of those who compiled it. • The gospel requires repentance: yet, that remission of sins might be certain, it teaches that it is freely given ; “that is, that it does not depend on the condition

of our worthiness, nor is given because of any preceding works, or the worthiness of those that follow.' 'Though human nature is able, in some way, to perform outward good works of itself;

yet it cannot effect interior motions, as true fear, 'confidence, chastity, unless the Spirit of God rule and assist our hearts.'

In respect of Melancthon, who was principally concerned in drawing up this Confession, the single expression, sed cor repugnat,' the heart fights against conviction, shews that he did not think there was any thing in fallen human nature to co-operate with the influence of grace, in producing the willing mind.

The sentiments of Luther have already been adduced ; but a few lines more from him may properly close this topic.—'The man before he is

renewed can do nothing, can attempt nothing, to prepare himself for his new creation. Neither

[ocr errors]

Above, c. i. $5.

after he is renewed can he effect any thing to ensure a perseverance in his new state. The Spirit of God alone doeth both these things : he · both renews and preserves the renewed, without

any aid on our part ; as t. James, speaking of * the new creature, says, “Of his own will begat he us with the word of his power.” But, here it must also be observed, that he does not operate ' in the renewed, without using them as beings

purposely renewed and preserved, that he should 'work in them, and they co-operate with him.”

Here the distinction of our article is preserved : the co-operation does not begin till we are renewed; that is, till the grace of God, by Christ, hath prevented us, that we may have a good will.

We therefore conclude, on these grounds, that God works in us “to will,” gratia præveniente, 'by preventing grace ;' and, when we are willing, gratia co-operante, by co-operating grace :—thus we are excited, inclined, and enabled to "work “ out our own salvation.” The work in this sense is our's, but the will and the power are from God: the duty and the advantage are our's, but the whole glory belongs to God: we devote our all to him, but he has been beforehand with us ; and we must acknowledge with David, “Who are we, “ that we should be able to offer so willingly after “ this sort ? For all things are of thee, and of thine “own have we given thee.” 2

Dr. Milner's continuation of Mr. Milner's Ecclesiastical History

• 1 Chr. xxix. 13, 14.

VOL. VII.

M

1

« PreviousContinue »