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  • WORKS OF ARMINIUS - ON OBEDIENCE TO THE COMMANDS OF GOD IN GENERAL


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    DISPUTATION LXX

    ON OBEDIENCE TO THE COMMANDS OF GOD IN GENERAL

    I. Because the yielding of obedience is the duty of an inferior, therefore, for the performance of it, humility is requisite. This, generally considered, is a quality by which any one becomes ready to submit himself to another, to undertake his commands and to execute them; and, in this instance, to submit himself to God.

    II. Obedience has respect partly to an internal act, and partly to one that is external. The performance of both these is required for entire, true, and sincere obedience. For God is a Spirit, and the inspector of hearts, who demands the obedience of the whole man, both of the inward and the outward man -- obedience from the affections of the heart and from the members of the body. The external act without the internal is hypocrisy; the internal, without the external, is incomplete, unless man be hindered from the performance of the external act without his own immediate fault.

    III. With this, nearly coincides the expression of the scholastic divines "to perform a command either according to the substance of the act only, or also according to the required quality and mode," in which sense, likewise, Luther seems to have uttered that expression -- "Adverbs save and damn."

    IV. The grace and special concurrence of God are required for the performance of entire, true, and sincere obedience, even for that of the inner man, of the affections of the heart, and of a lawful mode. But we allow it to be made a subject of discussion, whether revelation, and that assistance of God which is called "general," and which is opposed to this special aid, and is distinguished from it, be sufficient only to perform the external act of the body and the substance of the act.

    V. Though that special grace which moves, excites, impels and urges to obey, physically moves the understanding and the inclination of man, so that he cannot be otherwise than affected with the perception of it, yet it does not effect or elicit the consent except morally, that is, by the mode of suasion, and by the intervention of the free volition of man, which free volition not only excludes coaction, but likewise all antecedent necessity and determination.

    VI. But that special concurrence or assistance of grace, which is also called "co-operating and accompanying grace" differs neither in kind nor efficacy from that exciting and moving grace which is called preventing and operating, but it is the same grace continued. It is styled "co-operating" or "concomitant," only on account of the concurrence of the human will which operating and preventing grace has elicited from the will of man. This concurrence is not denied to him to whom exciting grace is applied, unless the man offers resistance to the grace exciting.

    VII. From these premises, we conclude that a regenerated man is capable of performing more good than he actually performs, and can omit more evil than he omits; and, therefore, that neither in the sense in which it is received by St. Augustine, nor in that in which some of our divines understand it, is efficacious grace necessary for the performance of obedience -- a circumstance which is highly agreeable with the doctrine of St. Augustine.

    COROLLARY

    Coaction only circumscribes the liberty of an agent, it does not destroy or take it away; and such circumscription is not made, except through the medium or intervention of the natural inclination; the natural inclination, therefore, is more opposed to liberty than coaction is.

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