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WORKS OF ARMINIUS - WRITERS FROM THE MIDDLE AGES SUPPORT OUR OPINION
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IV. OUR OPINION IS SUPPORTED BY SEVERAL WRITERS OF THE MIDDLE AGES
1. Venerable Bede. 2. St. Paulinus. 3. Nicholas De Lyra. 4. Ordinary Gloss. 5. Interlineary Gloss. 6. Hugh the cardinal. 7. Thomas Aquinas, who thinks that Romans vii, 14, may be explained in both ways, but he refers its application to a regenerate man. 8. He is of opinion, that the 17th and 18th verses can only be considered by a forced construction to relate to a man under sin. His reasons for advancing this last assertion are examined and answered. 9. An abbreviation of the comments which Thomas has given on these two verses; with a conclusion deduced from them, that they may be appropriately understood to relate to a man under the law, but in no other than a forced manner to a man under grace.
1. VENERABLE BEDE
For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal. Perhaps, therefore, it is some other person, or perhaps thyself. Either thou art the person, or I am. If, therefore, it be some one of us, let us listen to him as if concerning himself, and, divesting our minds of angry feelings, let us correct ourselves. But if it be he, [the apostle,] let us not thus understand what he has said, "What I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I." (On Romans 7.)
Therefore, because he thrice intreated the Lord, that this thorn might be taken away from him; and because he who was, not heard according to his wishes, was heard according to that which was for his healing; he perhaps does not speak in a manner that is unbecoming when he says, The law is spiritual, but I am carnal."
2. ST. PAULINUS
And I am perfectly aware that this blessed man prefers to employ my weakness; and, lamenting concerning my afflictions, he cries out, instead of me, "O wretched man that I am I" (Second Epistle to Severus Sulpicius, Priest at Tours.)
3. NICHOLAS DE LYRA
But I am carnal, that is, I follow the impulse of the flesh or of sensuality; and the apostle speaks, as was before observed, in the person of the fallen human race, in which there are more persons who follow the impulse of sensuality than that of reason.
After the inward man that is according to the natural dictates of reason; because reason is called "the inward man," and sensuality "the outward man."
4. ORDINARY GLOSS
"For we know that the law is spiritual," &c., quoted to the end of the chapter. It is not perfectly clear whether these things are better understood as spoken in his own person, or in that of all mankind. (On Romans 7.)
5. INTERLINEARY GLOSS
Evil is present with me with my reason; it is near to my inward man.
So then with the mind the rational and inward man, having, as before, fuel.
6. HUGH THE CARDINAL
For we know that the law is spiritual. This is the third part of the chapter, in which he shows, that those things which were commanded in the law of Moses, cannot be fulfilled without the law of the Spirit, that is, without grace.
For what I would according to reason, that is, I approve. but what I hate that is, evil. But from this it is inferred that he wants the spiritual law, by which he may do that which he wills according to reason.
There is, therefore, now no condemnation. The preceding things have been expounded concerning the captivity of mortal sin under which man was carnally living, and concerning the captivity of the venial sin of the man who is in grace; and that the law of the Spirit, or grace, delivers from the captivity of death; and he draws this inference: "There is, therefore, now no condemnation," that is, no mortal sin through which is condemnation.
7. THOMAS AQUINAS
And St. Augustine expounds it thus in the 83d hook of his Questions. But, afterwards, in his book against Julian, he expounds it, that the apostle may be understood to speak in his own person, that is, of a man placed under grace. Let us proceed, therefore, in declaring what kind of words these are, and those which follow them, and how they may be differently expounded in either manner, though the second mode of exposition is the best. (On Romans 7.)
I am fully aware that the same Thomas has marked out two passages in this chapter, which he asserts it to be impossible to explain concerning an unregenerate man except by a distorted interpretation. But it will repay our labour if we inspect those passages, and examine those reasons which moved Thomas to hold this sentiment. The first passage is the 17th verse: "Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me." The second passage is the 18th verse: "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing."
(1.) He says "that the first of these passages cannot, except by a distorted interpretation, be understood concerning a man who is under sin; because the sinner himself perpetrates that din, while he is one who, according to the principal part of himself, that is, according to his reason and mind, consents to the perpetration of sin. But this must properly be attributed to a man, which belongs to him according to what is man; but he is a man by his mind and his reason."
But I answer, First, It is said, not only respecting a man who is under sin, that he does not perpetrate sin except with his mind and reason, which dictate, that sin is forbidden by the law, which yet are conquered through the lust of the flesh, and by the consent of the will, but it is likewise said respecting the regenerate and those who are under grace; for these persons do not actually commit sin except with a mind that is conquered, and through consent of the will; and, therefore, it is a vain attempt to be desirous to distinguish, in this manner, between him, who is under sin and him who is under grace.
Secondly. I deny that all those who are under sin commit iniquity with the consent of their mind, that is, without any resistance of conscience. For when those persons who are under the law, sin, they do this against conscience and with a mind that is reluctant, because they are overcome by the tyranny of sin and carnal concupiscence.
Thirdly. Though the matter really were as he has stated it, yet it would not follow that it cannot be said of this man by any interpretation, except a distorted one: "It is no more he that commits this sin, but it is sin." A reason is produced by Thomas himself; for the man does this through the motion and compulsion of sin which dwelleth in him and has the dominion. But effects are usually ascribed to the principal causes; therefore, this verse may be understood, without any distorted meaning, to relate to a man who is under the law.
If any one, according to the judgment of St. Augustine, declare -- "It cannot be attributed to a man who actually gives his consent to sin, that he does not himself commit it, but sin, and, therefore, the perpetration of it must be understood as relating not to the consent to evil and the commission of it, but to concupiscence or evil desire, and thus this act belongs to a man under grace," to this objection, I reply that I deny the antecedent, as I have previously observed; but I confess that if it be understood concerning concupiscence alone, and not concerning the consent to sin and the actual perpetration of it, the expression contained in this verse can by no means, not even distortedly, be employed concerning a man who is under the law and under sin.
(2.) Thomas says "that the latter of these passages, the 18th verse, cannot be explained, except in a distorted manner, concerning a man under sin, on account of the correction which is added, and which it was unnecessary to adduce if the discourse were about a man under sin, as being one who has no good thing dwelling either in his flesh or in his mind.
To this, I reply that the antecedent is false; for we have already demonstrated, in the remarks on this 18th verse, that, in the mind of a man who is under the law, some good exists and dwells, as Thomas here employs the word to dwell - - nay, that it also reigns and has the dominion, as the word ought properly to be received. Therefore, the ignorance of Thomas about this matter, caused him thus to think and to write.
9. But let the entire comment of Thomas on this passage be perused, and it will then appear, that all these things in the two verses may be explained in the plainest manner concerning a man under the law, but with much perversion and contortion about a regenerate man who is placed under grace, l show this in the following brief manner, having united together, in a compendious summary, those things which he has treated with greater prolixity, as any one may perceive on referring to his pages:
"If the man or the reason be called fleshly or carnal because he is attacked by the flesh -- if to do signifies the same as to lust or desire -- if to will good, and not to will evil, be taken for a complete volition and nolition, which continue in the election or choice of a particular operation; -- but if to commit evil, and not to do good, be understood according to an incomplete act, which consists only in the sensitive appetite, not reaching so far as to the consent of reason -- if this captivity be produced solely at the motion of concupiscence -- if deliverance from the body of this death be desired, that the corruption of the body may be totally removed, then the expression in this passage of Scripture must be understood concerning a regenerate and just man, who is placed under grace.
"But if this man or reason be called fleshly or carnal because he is in subjection to the flesh, consenting to those things to which he is instigated by the flesh -- if to do be the same thing as to execute by actual operation -- if to will that which is good, and not to will what is evil, be taken in the acceptation of an incomplete volition and nolition, by which men will good in general and do not will what is evil, and if they do neither of these in particular; -- but if to commit evil, and not to do good, be understood according to a complete act, which is exercised in external operation through the consent of reason -- if this captivity be produced through consent and operation or doing, and, lastly, if deliverance from the body of this death be desired or asked, that the corruption of the body may not have dominion over the mind, drawing it to commit sin, then the expressions in this passage must be understood concerning a man who is a sinner, and who is placed under the law."
But let us now subjoin -- A man who is attacked by the flesh, yet who conquers it in the conflict, is not called fleshly or carnal; but this appellation is bestowed on the man who, by yielding his consent, is brought into subjection to the flesh. The apostle is here treating about a volition and a nolition that are incomplete and imperfect, and about the actual perpetration of evil and the omission of good, and not solely about the act or motion of lusting or desiring; (for this is declared by the matter itself, for the man wills and does not, therefore the volition is imperfect.) This captivity is not at the motion of concupiscence alone, but it is by consent and operation; for either concupiscence itself, or the law of the members, brings a man into captivity through the waging of war against the law of the mind; and the deliverance which is required is from the corruption of the body, that it may not have dominion over the mind, and not that it may be totally removed; for the apostle presents a thanksgiving to God for having obtained that which he had desired. Therefore, this passage must be understood, not about a man under grace, but about one who is under the law; not about a man who is already restored by grace, but about one who is yet to be restored.
Our proposition is taken from Thomas Aquinas. We have added the assumption from the text itself.