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WORKS OF ARMINIUS - ON REGENERATION AND THE REGENERATE
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XX. ON REGENERATION AND THE REGENERATE
1. The proximate subject of regeneration, which is effected in the present life by the Spirit of Christ, is the mind and the affections of man, or the will considered according to the mode of nature, not the will considered according to the mode of liberty. It is not the body of man, though man, when renewed by regeneration through his mind and feelings, actually wills in a good manner, and performs well through the instruments of the body.
2. Though regeneration is not perfected in a moment, but by certain steps and intervals; yet, as soon as ever it is perfected according to its essence, that is, through the renovation of the mind and affections, it renders the man spiritual, and capable of resisting sin through the assisting grace of God. Hence, also, from the Spirit, which predominates in him, he is called spiritual and not carnal, though he still has within him the flesh lusting against the Spirit. For these two, a carnal man and a spiritual man, are so denominated in opposition, and according to [that which is in each of them] the more powerful, prevailing or predominant party.
3. The regenerate are able to perform more true good, and of such as is pleasing to God, than they actually perform, and to omit more evil than they omit; and, therefore, if they do not perform and omit what they ought to do, that must not be ascribed to any decree of God or inefficacy of divine grace, but it must be attributed to the negligence of the regenerate themselves.
4. He who asserts that "it is possible for the regenerate, through the grace of Christ, perfectly to fulfill the law in the present life," is neither a Pelagian, nor inflicts any injury on the grace of God, nor establishes justification through works.
5. The regenerate are capable of committing sin designedly and in opposition to their consciences, and of so laying waste their consciences, through sin, as to hear nothing from them except the sentence of condemnation.
6. The regenerate are capable of grieving the Holy Spirit by their sins, so that, for a season, until they suffer themselves to be brought back to repentance, he does not exert his power and efficacy in them.
10. There are distinctions by which a man is said to sin with a full will, or with a will that is not full -- fully to destroy conscience, or not fully but only partly, and to sin according to his unregenerate part. When these distinctions are employed in the sense in which some persons use them, they are noxious to piety and injurious to good morals.
XXI. ON THE PERSEVERANCE OF SAINTS
1. QUERIES. -- Is it possible for true believers to fall away totally and finally:
2. Do some of them, in reality, totally and finally fall from the faith?
3. The opinion which denies "that true believers and regenerate persons are either capable of falling away or actually do fall away from the faith totally and finally," was never, from the very times of the apostles down to the present day, accounted by the church as a catholic doctrine. Neither has that which affirms the contrary ever been reckoned as a heretical opinion; nay, that which affirms it possible for believers to fall away from the faith, has always had more supporters in the church of Christ, than that which denies its possibility of its actually occurring.
XXII. ON THE ASSURANCE OF SALVATION
3. The affirmative of either of these questions was never accounted in the church of Christ as a catholic doctrine; and the denial of either of them has never been adjudged by the church universal as a heresy.
4. The persuasion by which any believer assuredly persuades himself that it is impossible for him to decline from the faith, or that, at least, he will not decline from the faith, does not conduce so much to consolation against despair or against the doubting that is adverse to faith and hope, as it contributes to security, a thing directly opposed to that most salutary fear with which we are commanded to work out our salvation, and which is exceedingly necessary in this scene of temptations.
5. He who is of opinion that it is possible for him to decline from the faith, and who, therefore, is afraid lest he should decline, is neither destitute of necessary consolation, nor is he on this account, tormented with anxiety of mind. For it suffices to inspire consolation and to exclude anxiety, when he knows that he will decline from the faith through no force of Satan, of sin, or of the world, and through no inclination or weakness of his own flesh, unless he willingly and of his own accord, yield to temptation, and neglect to work out his salvation in a conscientious manner.
XXIII. ON THE JUSTIFICATION OF MAN AS A SINNER, BUT YET A BELIEVER, BEFORE GOD
3. Do legal righteousness and that of the gospel differ in essence? Or, Is the essence of both of them the same, that is, the matter -- the obedience performed to God, and the universal form -- the necessary conformity to the law?
4. Are there three parts of the righteousness of Christ by which believers are constituted righteous? Is the first of them the holiness of the nature of Christ, which is denominated habitual righteousness? Is the second those sufferings which, from infancy to the moment of his decease, he sustained on our account, and is this denominated his passive obedience, or that of his death? Is the third the most perfect, nay, the more than perfect fulfillment of the moral law, (add also that of the ceremonial law,) through the whole of his life to the period of his death; and is this denominated his active obedience, or that of his life?
5. Were not the acts of that obedience which Christ performed, and by which we are justified, imposed on him according to the peculiar command of the Father, and according to a peculiar compact or covenant entered into between him and the Father, in which he prescribed and stipulated those acts of obedience, with the addition of a promise that he should obtain eternal redemption for them, [the human race] and should see his seed, whom this obedience should justify through his knowledge, that is, through faith in him,
9. Or, which is the same thing, Is the object about which God is occupied in the act of justification, an elect person, unrighteous indeed in himself but righteous in Christ his head; so that he accounts him righteous because he is already righteous in Christ, that is, because the punishment due to him has been paid and endured by him in His Surety and Head, or because he has thus performed the obedience which was due from him?
10. Has an elect person really endured punishment in Christ and performed obedience, or only in the divine estimation or reckoning! And is this divine estimation, by which the elect person is reckoned to have endured punishment and performed obedience, an act preceding justification?
14. If this act [of apprehension] be prior to justification, how is faith the instrumental cause of our justification; that is, at once the instrumental cause of the apprehending which precedes justification, and of justification itself which succeeds this apprehending,
16. In this enunciation, "faith is imputed to the believer for righteousness," is the word "faith" to be properly received as the instrumental act by which Christ has been apprehended for righteousness? Or is it to be improperly received, that is, by a metonymy, for the very object which faith apprehends?
18. Or, Is it the same thing to say "we are justified by faith correlatively, and as it is an instrumental act, by which we apprehend Christ for righteousness" as we say "we are justified by obedience or righteousness"?
20. When the apostle expresses himself in this manner, "Faith is imputed for righteousness," must not this be understood concerning the imputation which is made, not according to debt, but according to grace?
22. When God has decreed to justify no one through grace and mercy, except him who believes in Christ, and, therefore, through the preaching of the gospel, requires faith in Christ from him who desires to be justified, can it not be said "when God is graciously judging according to the gospel, he is occupied about faith, as about a condition, which is required from, and performed by, him who appears before the throne of grace to be judged and justified"?
24. Is "If the work of men who are born again were perfect, they might be justified by them, though they may have perpetrated many evil works when [or before] they obtain the remission of them" a correct assertion?