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WORKS OF ARMINIUS - THE EIGHTEENTH AND NINETEENTH VERSES
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THE EIGHTEENTH AND NINETEENTH VERSES
1. "In this man, (that is, in his flesh,) dwelleth no good thing," &c. 2. An argument for the contrary opinion is proposed from the eighteenth verse -- the answer to it. 3. A reply and its rejoinder. 4. Another reply and its rejoinder. 5. An argument from the same words in favour of the true opinion. 6. The second part of the eighteenth verse, "To will is present with this man, but how to perform that which is good, he finds not." 7. An argument for the contrary opinion from the second part of this verse -- the answer to it, with distinctions between each kind of willing and nilling, with extracts from St. Augustine, Zanchius and Bucer. 8. An argument for the true opinion, from the eighteenth and nineteenth verses -- the proof of the major proposition, which alone can be called in question. 9. An objection and the answer to it. 10. Another reply and its rejoinder -- not only some other things, but likewise those which precede things, that are saving, have a place in some of the unregenerate, with extracts in confirmation from St. Augustine, and references to Calvin, Beza and Zanchius. 11. The dissimilar appellations by which the Scriptures distinguish those who are under constraint through the law, from those who are renewed or regenerated by the grace of the gospel.
1. Let the 18th verse now be brought under consideration, in which the apostle follows up the same rendering of a cause, and the proof of it. The rendering of the cause is, "For I know that in me, (that is, in my flesh,)dwelleth no good thing;" by which words the same thing is signified, as by the following: "I am carnal." For he is carnal, in whom no good thing dwelleth. The proof is contained in these words: "For to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good, I find not."
2. From this rendering of the cause, some persons have instituted an argument for the support of their opinion, in the following terms: "In this man, about whom the apostle is treating, are the flesh, and some other thing either distinct or differing from flesh; otherwise, the apostle would not have corrected himself by saying, In me, that is, in my flesh. "But in unregenerate persons, there is nothing else but the flesh; Therefore, the man about whom the apostle here treats, is a regenerate person.
Answer. I grant, that, "in this man is some other thing diverse or distinct from the flesh;" for this is to be seen in the apostolical correction. But I deny, that "in unregenerate persons is nothing else beside the flesh" -- in those unregenerate persons, I say, who are under the law, and about whom we are engaged in this controversy.
I adduce this reason for the justness of my negation; because in men who are under the law is a mind which knows some truth concerning God and "that which may be known of God," (Rom. i, 18,19) which has a knowledge of that which is just and unjust, and whose "thoughts accuse or else excuse one another," (ii, 1-15,) which knows that the indulgence of carnal desires is sinful, (vii, 7) which says that "men must neither steal nor commit adultery," (2, 21,22)&c., &c. To certain of the unregenerate, also is attributed some illumination of the Holy Ghost, (Heb. vi, 4,) a "knowledge of the Lord and saviour Jesus Christ,", a "knowledge of the way of righteousness," (2 Pet. 2, 20,21) some acquaintance with the will of the Lord, (Luke xii, 47,) the gift of prophecy, &c., &c. (1 Cor. 13.) That man who is bold enough to style such things as these "the flesh," inflicts a signal injury on God and his Spirit. And indeed how, under the appellation of "the flesh" can be comprehended that which accuses sin, convinces men of sin, and compels them to seek deliverance?
There is, then, in men who are under the law, "the flesh, and something beside the flesh," that Is a mind imbued with a knowledge of the law and consenting to it that it is good; and in some unregenerate persons there Is beside the flesh, a mind enlightened by a knowledge of the gospel. But to the "other thing which is distinct from the flesh," the apostle does not, in this chapter, give the title of the Spirit, but that of the mind.
The remark of Musculus on this passage is as follows: "Behold how cautiously the apostle again employs the word to dwell. He does not say, "I know that in me is no good thing;' for, whence could he otherwise approve of good things and detest those which are evil, consenting to 'the law of God, that is holy, and just, and good,' if he had in himself nothing of good? But he say, 'I know that in me dwelleth no good thing;' that Is, it does not reign in me, does not possess the dominion, since it has seized upon sin for itself, and since the will earnestly desires that which is good, though it is not free, but weak and under restraint, enduring the power of a tyrant."
3. But some one will here reply, "Not only is something different from the flesh attributed to this man, but the inhabitation or residence of good is likewise attributed to that which is different from the flesh; for, otherwise, that part of the verse in which the apostle corrects himself, would not have been necessary; but in an unregenerate man, or one who is under the law, there is nothing in which good may reside. Therefore, this is a regenerate man," &c.
Rejoinder. While I concede the first of these premises, I deny the second which affirms, "In an unregenerate man, or one who is under the law, there is nothing in which good may dwell or reside." For in the mind of such a man dwells some good thing, that is, some truth and knowledge of the law. The signs of habitation or residence are the works which this knowledge and truth in the mind unfold or disclose. For instance -- a conscience not only accusing a man of sin, but also convincing him of it -- the delivering of a sentence of condemnation against the man himself -- the enacting of good laws -- careful attention to public discipline -- the punishment of crimes -- the defense of good people -- despair of obtaining righteousness by the law and by legal works the impelling necessity to desire deliverance and to seek for it. These works, indeed, are most certain signs of the law dwelling and reigning in the mind of such a man as has been described.
On this point, I intreat, that no one will condemn as heresy that which he has yet either not heard, or not sufficiently considered. For I do not assert that good dwells and reigns in a man under the law, or in any of the unregenerate. For to reign in the mind, and, simply, to reign in the man, are not the same thing. Because, if this knowledge were simply to dwell and reign in the man, this very man would then live in a manner agreeable to his knowledge, the resistance of the flesh being repelled by that which would simply obtain the first and principal place in a man.
If any one closely considers this rendering of the cause, and accommodates it to the design of the apostle, he will understand that the apostolical correction was both necessary and produced for this purpose -- that, notwithstanding the indwelling of something good in the mind of a man who is under the law, a proper and adequate cause might be given why, in such a man as this, "the motions of sins" flourish, and work all concupiscence; which cause is this: In the flesh of this man dwelleth no good thing. For if any good thing dwelt in his flesh, he would then not only know and will what is good, but would also complete it in actual operation, his passions or desires being tamed and subdued, and subjected to the law of God. In reference to this, it is appositely observed by Thomas Aquinas on this very passage -- "And by this, it is rendered manifest that the good thing [or blessing] of grace does not dwell in the flesh; because if it dwelt in the flesh, as I have the faculty of willing that which is good through the grace that dwells in my mind, so I should then that of perfecting or fulfilling what is good through the grace that would dwell in my mind."
REPLY. -- First. This mode of speaking is metonymical, and the word carnal "flesh," is used instead of carnal, by a usage peculiar to the Hebrews, who employ the abstract for the concrete. This is clearly pointed out by Beza, on the passage just quoted, (John iii, 6,) on which he observes -- "Flesh is here put for carnal, as, among the Hebrews, appellatives are frequently employed as adjectives. This was also a practice among the Greeks and Romans, as in the words, kaqarma &c.
Secondly. Though the word flesh, in the abstract, be urged, yet the whole man may be called flesh, but not the whole of man; for the mind which condemns sin and justifies the law, is not flesh. But this very same mind may in some degree be called carnal, because it is in a man who is carnal, and because the flesh, which fights against the mind, brings the whole man into captivity to the law of sin, and by this means has the predominance in that man.
5. But from these remarks may be constructed an argument in confirmation of the true sentiment, in the following manner:
I prove the proposition from the proper effect of the indwelling Spirit; for the Holy Spirit crucifies the flesh with its affections and lusts, mortifies the flesh and its deeds, subdues the flesh to Himself, and weakens the body of the flesh of sin: And He performs all these operations by his indwelling. Therefore, good dwelleth in the flesh of a regenerate man. The assumption is in the text itself; therefore, the conclusion follows from it.
6. Let us now examine the proof of the affirmation -- that in the flesh of this man "dwelleth no good thing." This is contained in the words subjoined: "For to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good, I find not." From a comparison of the question to be proved, and the argument produced to prove it, it is apparent that the argument is contained in these words: "For I find not to perform that which is good," that is, I attain not to the performance of that which is good. This proof is taken from the effect; for as, from the indwelling in the flesh of that which is good, would follow the performance of good; so, from "no good thing dwelling in the flesh," arises the impossibility of performing that which is good. For these words, "for to will is present with me," are employed through a comparison of things that differ; which was necessary in this place, because the proof was to be accommodated to the man about whom the apostle was treating: And this is the way in which the proof is accommodated -- "To will is indeed present" with a man who is under the law; but the same man "does not find to perform that which is good," because he is carnal. From this it is apparent, that "he is carnal," and that "in his flesh dwelleth no good thing." If any good thing resided in his flesh, it would in that case restrain the strong force and desires of the flesh, and prevent their being able to hinder the performance of the good which he might will.
But let the whole proof be stated in the following syllogism: In the flesh of him who has the power to will, but who "does not find to perform that which is good," dwelleth no good thing; But the man about whom the apostle is treating, has indeed the power of willing, but "does not find to perform that which is good; " Therefore, in the flesh of such a man as this, "dwelleth no good thing."
It will not be denied by any one who is in the least degree acquainted with logic, and who has accurately considered the eighteenth verse, that this is the syllogism of the apostle. But from this proposition I may conclude the proposition of the syllogism which I have already adduced for confirming my opinion, and which is, "In the flesh of a regenerate man dwelleth some good thing," by this argument, "Because a regenerate man finds to perform that which is good." For the contrary would be a consequence from things contrary. That this may the more plainly appear, let us now see this proposition, with others which are deduced from it by inversion. The proposition is, "No man who is incapable of performing that which is good, has any good thing dwelling in his flesh;" therefore, by inversion, "No man who has that which is good dwelling in his flesh, is incapable of performing what is good." To this, is equivalent the following: "Every man who has any thing good dwelling in his flesh, is capable of performing what is good; in fact he is capable, because he has good dwelling within him," therefore, by simple Inversion in a necessary and reciprocal matter, "Every one who is capable of performing what is good, has good dwelling in his flesh." This is the major, from which I assume, "But a regenerate man can perform that which is good." (Phil. 2.) "Therefore, a regenerate man has good dwelling in his flesh;" which was the major of the syllogism that I had previously adduced.
7. But the defenders of the contrary opinion seem to think, that, from this proof, they are able, for the confirmation of their own opinion, to deduce an argument, which they frame thus:
He is a regenerate man, with whom to will that which is good is present: But to will that which is good, is present with this man; Therefore, this man is regenerate.
Answer. Before I reply to each part of this syllogism, I must remove the ambiguity which is in this phrase, "to will that which is good," or the equivocation in the word "to will." For it is certain, that there are two kinds of this volition or willing; since it is here asserted of one and the same man, that he is occupied both in willing and in not willing that which is good, concerning one and the same object; in willing it, as he [merely] wills, it but in not willing it as he does not perform it; for this is the reason why he does not perform it, because he does not will it, though [he acts thus] with a will which is, as it were, the servant of sin and compelled not to will [that which is good]. Again, he is occupied both in not willing and in willing that which is evil concerning one and the same object -- in not willing it, as he does not will it and hates it -- in willing it, as he performs the very same [evil] thing; for he would not do it, unless he willed it, though [he acts thus] with a will which is impelled to will by sin that dwelleth in him.
St. Augustine gives his testimony to the expressions which I have here employed, in his Retractions. (Lib. I, cap. 13.)
The remarks of Bucer on this passage are: "Hence it came to pass that David did, not only that which he willed, but also that which he willed not. He did that which he willed not, not indeed when he committed the offense, but when the consideration of the divine law still remained, and when it was restored. He did that which he willed, just at the time when he actually concluded and determined about the woman presented to his view. So Peter," &c. (Fol. 368.)
Zanchius, also, in his book, On the Works of Redemption, observes -- "This was undoubtedly the reason why Peter denied Christ, because he willed so to do, though not with a full will, neither did he willingly deny Him." (Lib. I, cap. 3, fol. 25)
Wherefore, since it is impossible that there should be only a single genus of volition and nolition, or one mode of willing and not willing, by which a man wills the good and does not will the same good, and by which he does not will the evil and wills the same evil; this phrase, "to will that which is good" and "not to will that which is evil," must have a twofold meaning, which we will endeavour now to explain.
(1.) Because every volition and every nolition follows the judgment of the man respecting the thing presented as an object, each of them, therefore, is also different according to the diversity of the judgment. But the judgment itself, with reference to its cause, is two-fold: For it either proceeds from the mind and reason approving the law that it is good, and highly esteeming the good which the law prescribes, and hating the evil which it forbids; or, it proceeds from the senses and affections, and (as the expression is) from sensible knowledge, or that which is derived from the senses, and which approves of that which is useful, pleasant and delightful, though it be forbidden; but which disapproves of that which is hurtful, useless, and unpleasant, though it be prescribed. The former of these is called "' the judgment of general estimation," the latter "the judgment of particular approbation or operation." Hence, one volition is from the judgment of general estimation; the other is from the judgment of particular approbation, and thus becomes a nolition. On this account, the will which follows the judgment of general estimation wills that which the law prescribes, and does not will that which the law forbids. But the same will, when it follows the judgment of particular approbation, wills the delectable or useful evil which the law forbids, and does not will the troublesome and hurtful good which the law prescribes.
(2.) This distinction, when considered with respect to one and the same object contemplated in various ways, will be still further illustrated. For that object which is presented to the will, is considered either under a general form, or under one that is particular. Thus adultery is considered either in general, or in particular; considered in general, adultery is condemned by reason as an evil and as that which has been forbidden by the law; considered in particular, it is approved, by the knowledge which is derived from the senses, as something good and delectable. Bucer, when treating on this subject, in his remarks on the same verse, says: "But there is in man a two-fold will -- one, that by which he consents to the law -- another, that by which he does what he detests. The one follows the knowledge of the law by which it is known to be good; The other follows the knowledge which is derived from the senses, and which is concerning things present."
(3.) This volition and nolition may likewise be distinguished in another manner. There is one volition and nolition which follow the last judgment formed concerning the object; and another volition and nolition which follow not the last but the antecedent judgment. In reference to the former of these, volition will be concerning good; in reference to the latter, volition will be concerning the evil opposed to it, and contrariwise. Thus, likewise, concerning nolition. And with respect to the former, it will be volition; in respect to the latter, it will be nolition, concerning the same object, and the contrary. But the volition and nolition which follow not the last judgment, cannot so well be simply and absolutely called "volition" and "nolition," as velicity and nolicity. Those, however, which follow the last judgment, are simply and absolutely called efficacious volition and nolition, to which the effect succeeds.
(4.) Thomas Aquinas, on this very passage in Romans 7, says, that the former is not a full will, the latter is a complete will. But let this same distinction be considered as it is employed concerning God. For God is said to will some things approvingly as being good in themselves, but to will other things efficaciously, as simply conducing to his glory.
We must now consider the kind of willing and nilling about which the apostle is here treating. He is treating, not about the volition and nolition of particular approbation, but about those of general estimation -- not about the volition and nolition which are occupied concerning an object considered in particular, but concerning one generally considered -- not about the volition and nolition which follow the last judgment, but about those which follow the antecedent judgment -- not about simple, absolute and complete volition, but about that which is incomplete, and which rather deserves to be called velicity. "For the good that he would, he does not; but the evil which he would not, that he does." If he willed the good prescribed by the law, with the will of particular approbation, which follows the last judgment, he would then also perform the good which he had thus willed. If, in the same manner, he did not will the evil forbidden by the law, he would then abstain from it. This is explained, in a learned and prolix manner, by Bucer on this passage.
(1.) I now come specially to each part of the syllogism, in which the Major Proposition seems to me to be reprehensible on two accounts:
(1.) Because "to will that which is good, "which is here the subject of the apostle's argument, is not peculiar to the regenerate; for it also appertains to the unregenerate -- for instance, to those who are under the law, and who have in themselves all those things which God usually effects by the law;
(2.) Because, even when used in that other sense, [as applicable to the regenerate,] it does not contain a full definition of a regenerate man; for a regenerate man not only wills that which is good, but he also performs it; because "it is God who worketh in" the regenerate "both to will and to do." (Phil. ii, 13.) And "God hath prepared good works," that the regenerate "might walk in them;" or, "he hath created them in Christ Jesus unto good works." (Ephes. ii, 10.) They are "new creatures;" (2 Cor. v, 17) are endued with that "faith which worketh by love;" (Gal. v, 6) and to them is attributed the observance, or "keeping of the commandments of God;" (1 Cor. vii, 19; ) they "do the will of God from the heart;" (Ephes. vi, 6) "have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which they were delivered." (Rom. vi, 17) etc, &c. From these observations, it is apparent that the particle "only" must be added to the proposition; for when this is appended, it will, at first sight, betray the falsehood and insufficiency of the proposition in this manner: "He is a regenerate man, with whom only to will that which is good is present."
(2.) To the assumption, I reply that it is proposed in a mutilated form. For this, "to will is present with me," is not the entire sentence of the apostle; but it is one part separated from another. without which it is not consistent. For this is a single discrete axiom: "To will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good, I find not." But nothing can be solidly concluded from a passage of Scripture proposed in a form that is mutilated. I add that, when this latter part of the apostle's sentence is omitted, the reader is left in doubt concerning the kind of volition and nolition which is here the subject of investigation. But when the omission is supplied from the text of the apostle, it plainly signifies that the subject of discussion is inefficacious volition and that of general estimation, but, as has already been observed, this kind of volition is not peculiar to the regenerate.
But the assumption may be simply denied, as not having been constructed from the context of the apostle. For St. Paul does not attribute to the man about whom he is treating, that he wills that which is good and does not will that which is evil, but that he does that which is evil, and does not perform that which is good, to which attributes, something tantamount to a description is added -- "That which I would not," and "that which I would." This description is added in accommodation to the state of the man about whom the apostle is treating, and it is required by the method of demonstrative investigation. For he had determined to produce the proper and reciprocal cause, why the man about whom he is treating "does not find to perform that which is good;" and therefore all other causes were to be removed, among which were the nolition of good and the volition of evil, also ignorance of that which is good and that which is evil, &c. Thus, in that other disjunctive axiom, "to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not," the principal thing which is attributed to the man about whom the apostle is treating, or that which is predicated concerning him, is that "he does not find to perform that which is good;" for the illustration of which, is produced that differing attribute, "to will indeed is present with me." This is a remark which must be diligently observed by every one who engages in the inquiry, about the most correct manner in which this very difficult passage is to be understood.
8. But the preceding observations make it evident that a contrary conclusion may be drawn from these two verses in the following manner: He is not a regenerate man, with whom to will is indeed present, but not to perform, and who does not perform the good which he would, but who commits the evil which he would not; (this is from the description of regeneration and its parts; ) But to will is present with this man, but not to perform; and the same man does not perform the good which he would, but commits the evil which he would not; Therefore, the man about whom the apostle is treating, is unregenerate.
The assumption is in the text of the apostle; the proposition alone, therefore, remains to be proved. Regeneration not only illuminates the mind and conforms the will, but it likewise restrains and regulates the affections, and directs the external and the internal members to obedience to the divine law. It is not he who wills, but he who performs the will of the Father, that enters into the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. vii, 21.) And, at the close of the same chapter, he is called a wise or prudent man "who doeth the sayings of Christ," not he who only wills them. Consult what has already been remarked in the negation of the proposition in that syllogism which was produced for the establishment of the contrary opinion; And, Those persons who fulfill the will of the flesh in its desires, are unregenerate; But this man fulfills the will of the flesh; Therefore, he is unregenerate.
But these [attributes] agree most appropriately with a man who is under the law -- to will that which is good and not to will evil, as agreeing with one who "consents to the law that it is good," but not to do that which is good and to do evil, as agreeing with one who is "carnal and the servant of sin."
9. But perhaps some one will here reply, "From this man is not simply taken away the performing of that which is good, but the completion of it, that is, the perfect performance of it -- a view of the matter which has the sanction of St. Augustine, who gives this explanation of the word."
Answer. Omitting all reference to the manner in which the opinion of these persons agrees with that of St. Augustine, which we shall afterwards examine, I affirm that this is a mere evasion. For the Greek verb katergazomai does not signify to do any thing perfectly, but simply to do, to perform, to dispatch, as is very evident from the verb poiw "to do," which follows, and from this word itself as it is used in the fifteenth verse, where, according to their opinion, this verb cannot signify completion or perfect performance -- for the regenerate, to whom, as they understand it, this clause in the fifteenth verse applies, do not perfectly perform that which is evil. Let those passages of the sacred writings be consulted in which this word occurs, and its true meaning will be easily understood from Scripture usage.
I add that, in this sense, "the completion," that is, "the perfect performance" of that which is good, can no more be taken away from a regenerate man, than "the willing" of that which is good. For while the regenerate continue in this state of mortality, they do not "perfectly will" that which is good.
10. But some one will further insist, that "to will good" and "not to will evil," in what mode and sense soever these expressions are taken, is "some good thing;" and that, to an unregenerate man can be attributed nothing at all which can be called GOOD, without bringing contumely on grace and the Holy Spirit.
To this I reply, We have already understood the quality and the quantity of this "good thing." But I am desirous to have proof given to me, that nothing at all which is good can be attributed to an unregenerate man, of what description soever he may be. According to the judgment which I have formed, the Scriptures in no passage, openly affirm this; neither do I think that, by good consequence from them, it can be asserted. But the contrary assertion may be most evidently proved:
"The truth" which is mentioned in Romans i, 18, is good, as being opposed to "unrighteousness;" but this "truth" is in some unregenerate persons. "The work of the law," which is mentioned in Romans ii, 15, is a good thing; but it is: written in the hearts" of heathens, and that by God. "The taste of the heavenly gift, of the good word of God, and of the powers of the world to come," (Heb. vi, 4,5,) is good; and yet it is in the unregenerate. "To have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and saviour Jesus Christ, and to have known the way of righteousness," (2 Pet. ii, 20,21) are good things; yet they belong to the unregenerate. "To receive the word of God with joy," (Matt. xiii, 20, is good; and it appertains to the unregenerate. And, in general, all those gifts of the Holy Spirit which are for the edification of the church, and which are attributed to several of the reprobate, are good things. (1 Cor. 12 & 13.) To acknowledge themselves to be sinners, to mourn and lament on account of personal transgressions, and to seek deliverance from sin, are good things; and they belong to some who are unregenerate. Nay, no man can be made partaker of regeneration, unless he have previously had within him such things as these. From these passages, it is evident that it cannot be said with truth, that nothing of good can be attributed to the unregenerate, what kind of men soever they may be.
If any one reply, "But these good things are not saving in their nature, neither are they such as they ought to be "I acknowledge the justness of the remark. Yet some of them are necessarily previous to those which are of a saving nature; besides, they are themselves in a certain degree saving. That which has not yet come up to the point toward which it aims, does not immediately lose the name of "a good thing" The dread of punishment, and slavish fear are not that dread and fear which are required from the children of God; yet they are, in the mean time, reckoned by St. Augustine among those good things which precede conversion. In his thirteenth sermon on these words of the apostle, have not received the spirit of bondage again unto fear, (Rom. viii, 15) he says, "What is this word again? It is the manner in which this most troublesome schoolmaster terrifies. What is this word again? It is as ye received the spirit of bondage in Mount Sinai. Some man will say, The Spirit of Bondage is one, the spirit of liberty another. If they were not the same, the apostle would not use the word again. Therefore, the spirit [in both cases] is the same; but, in the one case, it is on tables of stone in fear, in the other, it is on the fleshly tables of the heart in love," &c. In a subsequent passage he says, "You are now, therefore, not in fear, but in love, that you may be sons, and not servants. For that man whose reason for still doing well is his fear of punishment, and who does not love God, is not yet among the children of God. My wish, however, is that he may continue even to fear punishment. Fear is a bond-servant, love is a free man; and, if we may thus express ourselves, fear is the servant of love. Therefore, lest the devil take possession of the heart, let this servant have the precedence in it, and preserve a place within for his Lord and Master, who will soon arrive. Do this, act thus, even from fear of punishment, if you are not yet able to do it from a love of righteousness. The master will come and the servant will depart; because, when love is perfected, it casts out fear."
But these things, and others, (if any such there be,) are attributed to the unregenerate, without any injury to grace and the Holy Spirit; because they are believed to be, in those in whom they are found, through the operation of grace and of the Holy Spirit. For there are certain acts which precede conversion, and they proceed from the Holy Spirit, who prepares the will; as it is said by Zanchius, in his Judgment on the First and Second Tome of the objections and answers of Pezelius, which judgment is subjoined to the second tome. Consult likewise what we have cited in a preceding page from Beza against Tilman. Heshusius.
11. What man is there who possesses but a moderate acquaintance with theological matters, and does not know, that the Holy Spirit employs the preaching of the word in this order, that he may first convict us of sin, by the law, of whose equity and righteousness he convinces the mind -- may accuse us of being obnoxious to condemnation -- may place before our eyes our own impotency and weakness -- may teach us that it is impossible to be justified through the law, (Rom. iii, 19-21) -- that he may compel us to flee to Christ, using "the law as a schoolmaster, to lead us by the hand to Christ," who is "the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth"? (Gal. ii, 16-21; iii, 1-29.) On this account, also, the unregenerate receive certain names or appellations, in the Scriptures: They are called sinners, as they are contra-distinguished from the righteous that boasted themselves of their righteousness, which sinners Christ came to call -- labouring and Heavy-Laden, to whom Christ came to afford refreshment and rest -- sick and infirm, and such as stand in need of a Physician's aid, that they may be distinguished from those who supposed themselves to be "whole," and not to require the services of a Physician -- poor and needy, to whom Christ came to preach the gospel -- captives and prisoners in bonds, who acknowledge their sad condition, and whom Christ came to deliver -- contrite in spirit and broken hearted, whom Christ came to bind up, &c.
Secondly. Having completed these effects by the law, the same Spirit begins to use the preaching of the gospel, by which he manifests and reveals Christ, infuses faith, unites believers together into one body with Christ, leads them to a participation of the blessings of Christ, that, remission of sins being solicited and obtained through his name, they may begin further to live in him and from him. On this account likewise, the very same persons are distinguished by certain other appellations in the Scriptures. They are called believers, justified, redeemed, sanctified, regenerated, and liberated persons, grafted into Christ, concorporate with him, bones of his bones, flesh of his flesh, &c.
From this order, it appears that some acts of the Holy Spirit are occupied concerning those who are unregenerate, but who are to be born again, and that some operations arise from them in the minds of those who are not yet regenerate, but who are to be born again. But I do not attempt to determine whether these be the operations of the Spirit as He is the regenerator. I know that, in Romans viii, 15-17, the apostle distinguishes between the Spirit of adoption and the spirit of bondage. I know that, in 2 Corinthians iii, 6-11, he distinguishes between the ministration of the law and of death, and the ministration of the gospel and of the Spirit. I know the apostle said, when he was writing to the Galatians, that the Spirit is not received by the works of the law, but by the faith of the gospel of Christ. And I think that we must make a distinction between the Spirit as he prepares a temple for himself, and the same Spirit as He inhabits that temple when it is sanctified. Yet I am unwilling to contend with any earnestness about this point -- whether these acts and operations may be attributed to the Spirit, the regenerator, not as He regenerates, but as He prepares the hearts of men to admit the efficiency of regeneration and renovation. Hence, I think it is once generally clear, that this opinion is not contumelious to the Holy Spirit, nor can it take away from the Spirit any thing which is attributed to Him in the Scriptures; but that it only indicates the order according to which the Holy Spirit disposes and distributes his acts. I am not certain whether, on the contrary, it be not contumelious to the Spirit of adoption who dwells in the hearts of the regenerate, if he be said to effect in them a volition of this description from which no effect follows, but which fails or becomes defective in the very attempt, being conquered by the tyranny of sin that dwelleth within -- and this in opposition to the declaration in 1 John iv, 4, "Greater is HE that is in you, than he that is in the world." Neither do I think it to flow as a consequence from this, that in Romans vii, 18,19, the subject under investigation is a man faced under grace; for it is one thing to feel or perceive some effect of preparing grace; and it is another to be under grace, or to be ruled, led and influenced by grace.