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OF THE FREEDOM OF THE WILL OF MAN.
IHAVE considered the nature of the power and liberty of man’s will in the first part of this work, where I have shown, that the liberty of it does not consist in an indifference or indetermination to either good or evil; that the will of man is free from coaction or force, but not from an obligation to the will of God; the powerful influence of whose grace it stands in need of, to move and act in any thing that is spiritually good, without any infringement of the natural liberty of it; for the opposition we make is not to the natural, but moral liberty of the will, which is lost by the fall. And though we cannot allow that man has either will or power to act in things spiritually good, as conversion, faith, repentance, and the like, yet we readily grant, that he has a power and liberty of performing the natural and civil actions of life, and the external parts of religion: hence all the instances produced by Dr. Whitby, to prove the liberty of the will as opposite not only to coaction, but necessity, are to no purpose; since they relate to such cases as are allowed to be within the compass of the natural power and will of man; such as choosing, and retaining virginity, a power of eating and drinking, given of alms, and the external ministration of the gospel. I have likewise considered, in the same performance, the several passages of Scripture which are thought to contain arguments in favor of man’s free will and power in conversion, taken from the calls, invitations, commands, and exhortations of God to it, as is supposed. In the second part of this work I have endeavored to vindicate such passages of Scripture objected to, which represent the depravity and corruption of human nature, and the disability of man to that which is spiritually good; what remains now, is to consider the arguments taken from reason, to prove the liberty of the will from necessity, that it cannot consist, with a determination to one, namely, either good or evil; and that it does not lie under a disability of choosing and doing that which is spiritually good.
And, I. It is said, “that the freedom of the will, in this state of trial and temptation, cannot consist with a determination to one; namely, on the one hand, in a determination to good only, by the efficacy of divine grace; seeing this puts man out of a state of trial, and makes him equal to the state of angels; nor with the contrary, determination to evil only; for then man, in this state of trial, must be reduced to the condition of the devil and of damned spirits.” And it is more than once urged, “that the doctrine, which teacheth that man is so utterly disabled by the fall of Adam, that, without the efficacious grace, which God vouchsafes only to some few who are the objects of his election to salvation, he hath no power to do what is spiritually good, or to avoid what is spiritually evil, must be destructive of the liberty belonging to man, in a state of trial, probation, and proficiency.” This seems to be the principal argument, and on which the greatest stress is laid, since it is so often repeated and referred to. In my first Part, I have considered this case, whether man is now in such a state of trial and probation as is contended for; where I have shown, by several arguments, that man is not in such a state; and have given an answer to those which are brought in favor of it; and therefore am not concerned to reconcile the doctrine of man’s disability to do that which is spiritually good, to the liberty of man in such a state; or what becomes of this imaginary state, and the liberty of man in it. But though man is not in such a state, and his will is biased and determined, either by the efficacy of divine grace, to that which is good, or through the corruption of nature, to that which is evil: yet he is not, by the one, made equal to the state of angels; nor by the other, reduced to the condition of the devil and of damned spirits: for though regenerated persons, when and while they are under the divine impulse, or powerful operation of grace, are blessed and determined to that which is spiritually good, as the angels are, without any violation of the natural liberty of their wills; yet they are not in an equal state with them, for they are still liable to sin, and their obedience is imperfect; neither of which can be said of angels. Besides, at the same time, there is a principle of corruption in them, sin, that dwells in them, the old man, which is as much biased and determined to that which is evil, as the new creature, or the new man, is biased and determined to that which is good. And as for unregenerate men, whose hearts are fully set in them to do evil, though their hearts and inclinations may be as bad as the devils and damned spirits, yet they are not reduced to the same condition with them; for, besides their not being in a state of punishment, and being in the enjoyment of many mercies, and in a capacity of attending to the external ordinances, and duties of religion, there is a possibility of their having the grace of God implanted in them.
II. Another argument against this disability of man is thus formed; f606 “That which disables any man from choosing what is spiritually good, or refusing what is thus evil, and therefore must be destructive to his soul and spirit, must also take away his liberty to choose what is spiritually good, and to refuse what is spiritually evil.” I reply; It is certain that what disables man from choosing what is spiritually good, or refusing what is thus evil, must take away his liberty to choose and refuse them: nor do we say, that man thus disabled, has still a freedom in reference to these actions, nor a power of doing otherwise; we deny both; these are the things in controversy between us. We allow that man has a faculty and power of willing and doing things natural, but not a power and faculty of willing and doing things spiritual; we own that this disability is destructive to his soul and spirit; if by being destructive, is meant being injurious to the well-being of it, to its spiritual and eternal welfare, unless the grace of God takes place; but if by it is meant, that it is destructive to the natural powers and faculties of the soul and spirit, this must be denied; for though the moral liberty of the will is lost by sin, yet the natural liberty of it remains. Now, the moral liberty of the will is not essential to it, and therefore may be taken away without the destruction of it. I doubt not, but it will be allowed, that the liberty to choose what is spiritually good, and refuse what is spiritually evil, is the same liberty which is pleaded for in man’s supposed state of trial and probation; and yet this learned writer freely owns, that this is not essential to man, as man; and consequently may be taken away, without the destruction of the soul, or spirit, or will of man: he owns, that it is no perfection of human nature, yea, that it is an imperfection, and that it will, with our other imperfections, be done away. So that the doctrine of man’s disability to that which is spiritually good, is not destructive of any of the natural faculties of the soul or spirit, nor of the will, nor of the natural liberty of it.
III. It is further urged, that “the doctrine of man’s disability, by the fall of Adam, to do what is spiritually good, is inconsistent with the new covenant of grace, established in the blood of Jesus, and tendered to all to whom the gospel is vouchsafed.” Some men, indeed, plead for offers of Christ, and tenders of the gospel; but the offer or tender of the new covenant, is what I never met with in other writers. If this covenant is tendered, upon the conditions of faith and repentance, to all to whom the gospel is vouchsafed, how can it be said to be established in the blood of Jesus? It must be very precarious and uncertain, until the conditions of it are fulfilled by those to whom it is tendered. The doctrine of man’s disability to do what is spiritually good, may seem inconsistent with the covenant of grace, to such who have no other notions of it, than that it is a conditional one; that faith, repentance, and obedience, are the conditions of it; and that these are in the power of man to perform; but not to those who believe, and think they have good reason to believe, that the covenant of grace is made with Christ, as the head and representative of the elect, and with them in him, and with them only; and that, with respect to them, it is entirely absolute and unconditional, to whom grace is promised in it, to enable them to believe, repent, and obey. The covenant of grace supposes the disability of man to do that which is spiritually good, and therefore provides for it; for God promises in this covenant to put his law in the inward parts, and write it in the hearts of his people: yea, to put his Spirit within them, and cause them to walk in his statutes; and says, they shall keep his judgments, and do them. ( Jeremiah 31:33; Ezekiel 36:27.)
IV. It is argued, that “if the will of man is determined to one, namely, to that which is good, by the grace of God; or to that which is evil, through the disability contracted by the fall; this must take away the freedom of men’s actions: since then, there is no place for election and deliberation; it being certain, that the liberty of man must be deliberative, if it doth choose, there being no election without deliberation.” To which I reply; Supposing choice necessary to free actions, a determination of the will to some one thing, is not contrary to choice, for the human will of Christ, and the will of angels and glorified saints, are determined only to that which is good; and yet they both choose and do that good freely. And again, all that is done freely, is not done with deliberation and consultation; a man that falls into water, and is in danger of being drowned, spying something he can lay hold on to save himself, does not stay to consult and deliberate what he had best to do; but immediately, without any deliberation or consultation, lays hold upon it; and yet this he does freely. Besides, neither the disability of man, nor the efficacious influences of grace, at all hinder the freedom of human actions. A wicked man, who is under the strongest bias, power, and dominion of his lusts, acts freely in his fulfilling of them; as does also a good man, in doing what is spiritually good; and never more so, than when he is under the most powerful influences of divine grace.
V. It is observed, that “the freedom of man’s will, pleaded for, is absolutely requisite, to render our actions worthy of praise or dispraise: and that a determination to one, leaves no room for either of these.” I reply; As to good men, they are not solicitous about the praise of their actions, being very willing to give the praise and glory of them to the grace of God, by which they are what they are, and do what they do; though I see not why these should not be praiseworthy; and the more, for being done in a dependance on the grace of God, and under the influences, and by the assistance of it. The good actions of angels and glorified saints are praiseworthy; they are commended for doing the commandments of the Lord, for their constant and perfect obedience to his will; hence our Lord taught his disciples to pray, that the will of God might be done on earth, as it is done in heaven; and yet the wills of these celestial inhabitants are only determined to what is divine, spiritual, and heavenly. And as to the actions of wicked men, notwithstanding their disability to do that which is spiritually good, they are worthy of dispraise; for if bad fruit may be dispraised which comes from a corrupt tree, that brings it forth by a physical necessity, a necessity of nature, much more must the actions of wicked men be worthy of dispraise, who voluntarily choose their own ways, and delight themselves in their abominations. The actions of apostate angels deserve dispraise, and they have been rebuked for them by the Lord himself: and yet their wills are determined only to that which is evil.
VI. It is said, that “the freedom pleaded for, is such, as is absolutely requisite, to render our persons worthy of rewards or punishments;” and that “without such a power and liberty to choose or refuse what is spiritually good, men are no more rewardable for choosing it than the blessed angels, and as little liable to punishment for not doing what is spiritually good, as the devils and damned spirits;” or, as it is elsewhere f614 expressed, “then must all future recompenses be discarded, it being sensibly unjust to punish any man for doing that which it never was in his power to avoid; and as unreasonable to reward him for the action which cannot be praiseworthy.” I have already observed, that actions to which men are directed, influenced, and determined by the grace of God, are commendable and praiseworthy; as the services of angels and glorified saints, and so are rewardable by the grace of God, though not through any merit or desert in them; for as the saints have all they have through the grace of God, and do all they do, that is well done, by the assistance of it, so they expect no other reward but what is according to it. And as to wicked men, they are justly liable to punishment for their wicked actions, since these are committed by them against the law of God, voluntarily, with a full will, desire, delight, and affection, without any force upon them: though they are influenced and determined to them by the corruption of their nature; which corruption of nature is so far from excusing them from condemnation and punishment, that it is an aggravation of it: even as the devils are not only liable to punishment for their former transgressions, but to greater degrees thereof, by their daily repeated sins; though their wills, through the malice and wickedness of their natures, are only determined to sin.
VII. The learned writer attended to, argues from what he had more largely insisted on elsewhere, to show, that “God acts suitably to our faculties, by the illumination of our understanding, and by persuading the will by moral causes; and from his having demonstrated the falsehood of that supposition, that though God has laid no necessity upon man to do evil by his own decrees, yet man lies under a necessity of doing evil since the fall, by reason of the disability he hath contracted by it, to do any thing which is truly good; and from his having showed, that though the evil habits, added to our natural corruption, do render it exceeding difficult, they do not render it impossible for them to do what is good and acceptable in the sight of God.” I reply; If no more light were put into the understanding of man, or communicated to him, but what is done by moral causes, he would never be capable of knowing and receiving the things of the Spirit of God; and if the will of man were no otherwise wrought upon than by moral suasion, it would never be subject to the law of God, or gospel of Christ. Nor has this author demonstrated the falsehood of the hypothesis, that though God has laid no necessity upon men to sin, by his decrees, yet such is the disability of man, contracted by the fall, that he cannot but sin; for God’s decrees do not all infringe the liberty of the will, as the case of Joseph’s being sold by his brethren, and the crucifixion of Christ, do abundantly declare; and that such is the state of man since the fall, such the corruption and impotency of his nature, that he cannot do that which is spiritually good, and is fully set and wholly bent upon that which is evil, both Scripture and all experience sufficiently testify. I observe, this author allows of the natural corruption of man, which he elsewhere seems unwilling to own; and that evil habits added to it, render it exceeding difficult, though not impossible, to do that which is good: whereas the prophet represents it ( Jeremiah 12:23) as impossible for persons to do good, that are accustomed to do evil, as it is for the Ethiopian to change his skin, or the leopard his spots.
VIII. The same author argues from the received notion of the word, that “that only is said to be free for us to do, which it is in our power to do; which may be done otherwise than it is done, and about which there is ground for consultation and deliberation.” I reply: that these rules will hold good about the natural and civil actions of life, which, it is allowed, are in the power of man to do, are controllable by his will, upon consultation and deliberation; and as to outward acts of religion, there are many things in the power of man, which may be done otherwise than they are, upon consultation and deliberation. But as to spiritual things, they are not in the power of man, and yet they may be done freely, under the influence and by the assistance of the grace of God; and if no actions can be free, but what may be done otherwise than they are, then the actions of the holy angels and glorified saints, of Christ as man, yea, of God himself, cannot be free.
And as to evil actions, committed by wicked men, they are done by them freely; even though they are such slaves to sin, so overcome by it, and so much under the power of it, that they cannot do otherwise but sin and that oftentimes, without consultation or deliberation, the corruption of their natures strongly inclining and pushing them on unto it.
IX. This author goes on to argue from Le Blanc, that all the actions which proceed freely from us, may be subject to a command, and by the law of God or man may be enjoined or forbidden; but this cannot agree to those acts, circa quos voluntas immutabiliter se habet, in which the will is so immutably determined, that it never can or could do otherwise. To which may be replied; that the actions of the holy angels and glorified saints are subject to a command, and are done in obedience to the will of God, and which proceed from them freely, though their wills are immutably determined, that they never can do otherwise. On the other hand, the evil actions of devils are forbidden by the law of God, and proceed from them freely, though their wills are immutably determined, that they never can do otherwise. And if so, why may not, on the one hand, the good actions of saints, done in obedience to the law of God, proceed freely from them, though their wills are influenced and determined by the grace of God to them? And, on the other hand, why may not the actions of wicked men, forbidden by the law of God, proceed freely from them, though their wills are influenced and determined to them through the corruption of their nature? This writer further observes, “that if this be the case of lapsed man, his sin cannot proceed freely from him, and so cannot reasonably be forbidden; and that those laws are certainly unjust, which prohibit that under a penalty, which a man cannot possibly shun, or require that which cannot possibly be done:” or, as he elsewhere expresses it, “to make laws for lapsed man, impossible to be performed by him, is unsuitable to the divine wisdom; to punish him for not doing what he could not do; or performing what he could not avoid, is unsuitable to the divine justice: and to excite them to their duties by motives, which he knows cannot work upon them, is unsuitable to the sincerity of God.” I answer: that when God first made and gave laws to man, he was in a capacity to obey them; they were not impossible to be performed by him, he was not then in his lapsed estate; and therefore it was not unsuitable to the divine wisdom to make and give out the laws he did; nor is it now unsuitable to it to continue them; which is necessary to support his own authority, though man has lost his power to obey. Man’s present impossibility to fulfill the law of God, does not arise from the nature of that law, nor from his original constitution, but from that vitiosity and corruption which he has contracted by sin: wherefore, it is not unsuitable to divine justice to punish for that which man cannot do, or cannot avoid: any more than it is unjust in a creditor to demand his just debts, and punish for the same, though the debtor is not in a capacity to pay. Nor is it unsuitable to the sincerity of God, nor in vain, that he makes use of motives, as promises and threatenings, to excite men to duty, which he knows cannot work upon them without his powerful grace; since by these he more fully points out the duty of man, admonishes him of it, expresses more largely the vile nature and dreadful consequences of sin, leaves the impenitent inexcusable, and, by the power of his grace accompanying these means, brings his own people effectually to himself.
X. Another argument to prove freedom from necessity, is thus formed: “If wicked men be not necessitated to do the evil that they do, or to neglect the good they do neglect, then have they freedom from necessity, in both these cases; and if they be thus necessitated, then neither their sins of omission nor of commission could deserve that name.” It is elsewhere said, “that the notion concerning the consistence of liberty with necessity, and a determination to one, is destructive of the nature of vice and virtue:” and if this be true, “then vice and virtue must be empty names.” I reply:
As to the first of these, the definition of sin is not to be taken from the power of man, or from what he can or cannot do, but from the law of God; for sin is a transgression of the law; and that action which is voluntarily committed against the law of God, is blameworthy, and deserves the name of sin or vice, and so is punishable; though the will may be influenced and determined to it by the corruption of nature; for sin is no less sinful, because man has so corrupted his way, and implicated himself in sinning, that he cannot do otherwise. The devils can do nothing else but sin; and yet, surely, their actions deserve the name of vice. As to the actions of good men, performed under the influences of the grace of God, it is certain, that they are called ( Philippians 4:8 2 1 Peter 1:3,5. ) virtues in Scripture, and are truly and properly so; it is strange, that the grace of God, which influences, determines, and enables men to perform an action better, should destroy the goodness of it, and take away both his name and nature. The good actions of the holy angels may be called virtues, though their wills are influenced and determined by the grace of God to these, and these only.
XI. It is affirmed, “that there is a plain agreement betwixt the doctrine of Mr. Hobbes and of us (Calvinists) concerning this matter, as to the great concernments of religion.” Be it so; if it be truth we agree in, it is never the worse for being held and maintained by a man otherwise of corrupt principles. Truth is truth, let it drop from what mouth or pen soever; nay, if delivered by the devil himself, it ought to be assented to as such; but perhaps, upon an examination of this matter, it will not appear, that there is such a plain agreement between our sentiments and those of this gentleman. For, 1. The question between Mr Hobbes and Bishop Bramhall, as drawn up by the latter, and allowed by the former, was plainly this; “whether all agents and all events, natural, civil, moral (for we speak not now of the conversion of a sinner, that concerns not this question), be predetermined extrinsically and inevitably, without their own concurrence in the determination; so as all actions and events, which either are or shall be, cannot but be, nor can be otherwise, after any other manner, or in any other place, time, number, measure, order, nor to any other end, than they are, and all this in respect of the supreme cause, or a concourse of extrinsical causes determining them to one.” So that the conversion of a sinner did not concern the question between them; whereas this is the main thing between us and the Arminians, “whether the conversion of a sinner is to be ascribed to the efficacy of the grace of God, or to the power of man’s free will.” 2. The dispute between Mr. Hobbes and his antagonist, was not about the power of the will, or of man to do this or that thing, but about the natural liberty of his will. Mr. Hobbes allows, that “man is free to do what he will;” but denies that “he is free to will;” and therefore declares, that whatever is alleged to prove that a man hath liberty to do what he will, is impertinent to the question; and complains of the bishop, who “would fraudulently insinuate, says he, that it is my opinion, that a man is not free to do if he will, and to abstain if he will; whereas, from the beginning, I have often declared, that it is none of my opinion, and that my opinion is only this, that he is not free to will, or which is all one, he is not master of his future will;” which he elsewhere explains thus: “Put the case, a man has a will today to do a certain action tomorrow, is he sure to have the same will tomorrow, when he is to do it? Is he free today to choose tomorrow’s will? this is that now in question.” Hence it appears, that though he denies the natural liberty of the will, or that the will has a liberty of itself to will, but supposes it is necessitated by preceding causes: yet he affirms, that man has a power of doing whatsoever he will: in which he agrees not with us, but with the Arminians; as is more fully manifest from what he observes concerning the covenant made with man, Do this, and thou shalt live. It is plain, says he, that if a man do this he shall live; and he may do this if he will: in this the bishop and I disagree not. This, therefore, is not the question; but “whether the will to do this, or not to do this, be in a man’s own election;” whereas, on the other hand, we believe that man has no power to do anything that is spiritually good, and that if he had a will to keep the law of God, he is not able to do it; we affirm with the apostle, that though to will is present with us, but how to perform that which is good we find not. ( Romans 7:18.) 3. The learned author himself, I attend to, has such an observation as this: “It is no great difference,” says he, “betwixt the opinion of these men and that of Mr. Hobbes, that the one destroys the liberty of all our actions, and theirs only destroys our liberty in spiritual and moral actions.” This observation implies that there is a difference, though it supposes no great difference, between our opinion and that of Mr. Hobbes. The difference must appear considerable to every one that observes, that as the case is here stated, the one only destroys our liberty in spiritual and moral actions, the other destroys the liberty of all our actions. We say, that “the moral liberty of the will is only lost by the fall, but that the natural liberty of it continues, and is even preserved in all those actions, in which man appears to be a slave to his sinful lusts and pleasures.” We suppose that man has a liberty of will in things of a natural and civil, but not in things of a moral and spiritual kind 4. Our opinion is, that “the will of man is moved and determined by the special influence of the grace of God, to that which is spiritually good; as it is moved and determined, whilst the man is in a natural estate, by the influence of corrupt nature, to that which is evil.” Mr. Hobbes will not allow, that the will is determined by special influence from the first cause: “that senseless word influence,” says he, “I never used;” nor will he allow, that the will is moved at all; and still less, by any thing infused: whereas, we suppose, that grace is infused into the soul: and by this the will is moved and determined to that which is spiritually good;” his words are these; “and because nothing can move, that is not itself moved, it is untruly said, that either the will, or anything else, is moved by itself, by the understanding, by the sensitive passions, or by acts or habits, or that acts or habits are infused by God; for infusion is motion, and nothing is moved but bodies.” 5. The necessity we contend for, that the will of man lies under, is only a necessity of obligation to the will of God, and a necessity of immutability and infallibility with respect to the decrees of God, which have their necessary, unchangeable, and certain event, and a necessity of influence by the power of the grace of God, to that which is spiritually good; and by the strength and prevalence of corruption, to that which is evil; all which is consistent with the natural liberty of the will; but then we say, it is free, not only from a necessity of coaction or force, but also from a physical necessity of nature; such as that by which the sun, moon, and stars, move in their course, fire burns, light things ascend upwards, and heavy bodies move downwards; whereas Mr. Hobbes affirms, that “every man is moved to desire that which is good to him, and to avoid that which is evil to him, especially the greatest of natural evils, death; and that by a certain necessity of nature, no less than that by which a stone is moved downwards.” And elsewhere he expresses himself thus: “My meaning is, that the election I shall have of anything hereafter, is now as necessary, as that the fire that now is, and continueth, shall burn any combustible matter thrown into it hereafter; or, to use his (the bishop’s) own terms, the will hath no more power to suspend its willing, than the burning of the fire to suspend its burning; or rather, more properly, the man hath no more power to suspend his will, than the fire to suspend its burning.” 6. Mr. Hobbe’s opinion makes God the cause of all sinful actions, as well as good; and this is not only a consequence deduced from his principles by his opposers, but is what is allowed by himself, though he will not admit that it follows, that God is the author of them. “Author,” he says, “is he which owneth an action, or giveth a warrant to it: do I say,” adds he, “that any man hath in the Scripture (which is all the warrant we have from God for any action whatsoever) a warrant to commit theft, murder, or any other sin? Does the opinion of necessity infer that there is such a warrant in the Scripture? Perhaps he (the bishop) will say, no; but that this opinion makes him the cause of sin. But does not the bishop think him the cause of all actions? and are not sins of commission actions? Is murder no action? and does not God him say, Non est malum in civitate quod ego non feci? And was not murder one of these evils? Whether it were or not I say no more, but that God is the cause (not the author) of all actions and motions; whether sin be the action or the defect, or the irregularity, I mean not to dispute.” But in another place, he will by no means admit of the distinction between the action, and the sinfulness or irregularity of it.
Now, though our opinion is often charged with making God the author of sin, yet we are far from admitting such a charge to be just, and one way of clearing ourselves from such an imputation, we take, is by using the distinction of an action, and the ataxy, disorder, or irregularity of it, which Mr. Hobbes disallows of. And so far are we from making God the cause of sin, that we allow sin to have no efficient, but only a deficient cause, though Mr. Hobbes is of opinion “that the distinction of causes into efficient and deficient, is bohu, and signifies nothing.” All these things being considered, it will not appear that there is such a plain and manifest agreement between the doctrine of Mr. Hobbes and us concerning this matter, as to the great concernments of religion, as is undertaken to be shown. But supposing there is a plain agreement between him and us in this single point, of the consistence, of liberty with necessity, why should it be cast upon us in a way of reproach? when it is notorious, that in many things there is a plain and manifest agreement between him and the Socinians and Arminians; for, not now to give instances of his agreement with the former, about the doctrine of the Trinity, the person, and offices of Christ, and his satisfaction, the doctrine of justification, f640 the immortality of the soul, its state after death, and the eternity of the future torments of the wicked: I shall just hint some few things in which he agrees with the latter; by which it will appear that if any reproach attends an agreement of sentiments with him, it will fall upon them, and not upon us. And, 1. We say that all men are, as David was, shapen in iniquity, and conceived in sin; that they are evil from their birth, and are by nature children of wrath. But Mr. Hobbes says, “that men are by nature evil, cannot be granted without impiety; and though from their birth they may have desire; fear and anger; yet they are not to be reckoned evil on the account of these, since the affections of the mind, which flow from the animal nature, are not evil; but the actions which arise from them are sometimes so, when they are noxious and contrary to duty. Infants, unless you give them all that they desire, weep and are angry, and even beat their parents, and this they have from nature; and yet they are without fault: nor are they evil: first, because they cannot hurt; and next, because, wanting the use of reason, they are free from all duty.” In this the Arminians agree with him, who, one and all, deny the doctrine of original sin: it would be needless to refer to authorities in proof of this. 2. We say that every imagination of the thought of the heart is evil; that the first thought and desire of sin, or inclination and motion to it, is sinful. “But,” says Mr. Hobbes, their opinion, who say the first motions of the mind are sins, seems to me to be too severe, both to themselves and others.” He denies “that the affections of the mind are evil,” or “that the passions of men are sins.” And do not the Arminians agree with him, when they say, “that concupiscence, and the first motions of it, are no sins; and that it was not forbidden to Adam in his state of innocence?” 3. We say, that men have no good thing in them, but what is put into them by the grace of God; that they cannot think a good thought of themselves; and that everything of this nature comes from God. But Mr. Hobbes says, that “the schools, not knowing the nature of the imagination and sense, teach what they have learnt; some, that the imaginations arise from themselves, that is, without a cause; others, that, for the most part, they arise from the will; and that good thoughts are inspired into men by God, and evil ones by the devil; or that good thoughts are infused into men by God, and evil ones by the devil.” This he represents as a great mistake, and arising from gross ignorance, that good thoughts are infused by God; and what else do the Arminians say, when they affirm, “that man, before regeneration, has a power of willing that which is good; and that the will of man is flexible to that which is good, without the grace of God; and observe that when the apostle says, not that we are sufficient as to think anything as of ourselves, that he does not say that they were not sufficient to think any good thing of themselves; intimating that men are sufficient of themselves to think that which is good.” 4. We affirm, that the understanding of man is so darkened by sin, that, without the illumination of the Spirit of God, he cannot understand the mind of God in the Scriptures. On the other hand, Mr. Hobbes f649 intimates, that “men, without a supernatural revelation or inspiration, which he calls enthusiasm, may, by mere natural reason, know what God says, and understand the Scriptures, as much as is necessary to know our duty to God and man.” And do not the Arminians teach the same, that the mind and will of God may be easily known from the sole reading of the Scriptures, without any illumination of the Holy Ghost; for, say they, “a sense superinfused, would be the sense of the Holy Ghost, and not of the Scripture; and that men endued with common sense and judgment may understand the meaning of them; and that there is a natural power, common to all that are endued with reason, to attain unto it.” 5. We say, that faith is the gift of God, and does not proceed from natural causes, and that all grace is implanted in us, and infused into us by the Spirit of God. Mr. Hobbes rejects everything of this kind; and says, f651 “that these phrases, infused virtue, inspired virtue, are insignificant, mere sounds, and are equally as false as, that a foursquare is round; and that it is giving the name of body to an accident, to say that faith is infused or inspired, when nothing is fusible or spirable but a body.” He reckons it among the diseases of a body politic, as a seditious opinion, and what makes men apostates from natural reason, “that faith and holiness cannot be acquired by study and reason, but are supernaturally inspired or infused;” and roundly asserts that “though faith and holiness are scarce, yet not miracles; and that they proceed from education, discipline, correction, and other natural causes.” And elsewhere he says, “that God disposeth men to piety, justice, mercy, truth, faith, and every kind of virtue, moral and intellectual, by doctrine, example, and other natural and frequent methods.” And though he is obliged to own, that “faith is the gift of God, which he works in different persons, and in different ways, as seems good unto him, and is what he gives and denies to whom he pleases; yet,” he says, “when he gives it, he gives it by teachers: and therefore the immediate cause of faith is hearing; as in a school, where many are taught, some are proficients, some not, the difference is not always from the master. All good things, indeed, come from God; but most commonly by natural means; therefore we must not rashly give credit to them, who, in their doctrines, pretend to a supernatural gift; for their doctrine is first to be examined by the church. Though elsewhere, when it serves his purpose, he thinks fit to contradict himself, and asserts, that faith is an act of the mind, not commanded, but wrought by God; which, when, and to whom he will, he gives or denies.” And moreover says, that” the hearts of all men are in the hands of God, who works in men both to do and to will; and without his free grace, no man hath inclination to good, or repentance for sin.” And do not the Arminians agree with this man in his other expressions? since they deny the infusion of habits, before any act of faith, or that any grace is infused into the will, or that the internal principle of faith is a habit infused by God, or that faith is called the gift of God, in respect of any actual infusion of it into our hearts; and affirm, that no other grace is necessary, to draw forth an act of faith, than that which is of a moral nature, or that which uses the word as an instrument to produce faith; which word of the gospel is the sole and ordinary means of conversion, without the concurrence of any internal, efficacious, and irresistible act of the Holy Ghost. 6. We say, that that faith which is commonly called justifying faith, or that by which we believe to the saving of our souls, is not a general assent to the person and offices of Christ, and to the truths and doctrines of the gospel; but is that grace by which a soul goes out of itself to Christ, and relies upon him for pardon, righteousness, life, and salvation; by which it appropriates Christ to itself, and is a holy and humble persuasion and confidence of interest in him, and in the blessings of grace procured by him.
But Mr. Hobbes says, that “the only article of faith which the Scriptures make necessary to salvation is, that Jesus is the Christ.” And not much different from this, is the definition of faith given by the Arminians, who say, that “justifying faith is that by which we believe in Christ as the Savior of them who believe in general;” or, “that it is a fiducial assent to the gospel, by which a man is persuaded that all that is in it is true, and by which he trusts and acquiesces in God through Christ.” 7. We affirm, that we are only justified by the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and not by faith or works, as the matter of our justification before God; that faith is that grace by which we receive the righteousness of Christ, as a justifying one, by which we have the sense and perception of our justification, and enjoy the peace and comfort which flow from it; and that good works, springing from faith, are declarative of it before men. But Mr. Hobbes says, that “both faith and obedience justify, God accepting the will for the deed; that obedience justifies, because it makes righteous, in the same manner as temperance makes a man temperate, prudence makes a man prudent, and chastity makes a man chaste, namely essentially: faith justifies in the same sense as a judge is said to justify, who absolves by a sentence which actually saves; in this acceptation of justification, faith alone justifies; in the other, obedience alone.” And how near does this come to the sentiments of the Arminians? who say “that faith only, although it is not alone without works, is imputed for righteousness; and by this alone we are justified before God, absolved from sin, and reckoned, pronounced, and declared righteous by him?” and, that “this, by the free acceptation of God in Christ, is reckoned for the whole righteousness of the law, which we are bound to perform;” and “that faith is properly to be taken for the habit, without that obedience which is to be yielded to the gospel; and by that we are properly, though freely, justified and saved by God.”
Now, not to take any notice of the agreement of these men with Mr.
Hobbes, about the extent of Christ’s death and the nature of his sacrifice, the power of man to do what he will, before observed, and the easy performance of the laws of nature, when these things are seriously considered, the charge of Hobbism or Hobbesianism, will fall upon them, and not upon us.
XII. It is said, “that our opinion differs very little, and in things only of little moment, from the stoical fate; and lies obnoxious to the same absurdities which the philosophers and Christians did object against it.” To which I reply: 1. That of all the sects of the ancient philosophers, the stoics come nearest to the Christian religion, has been observed by many; and that not only with respect to their strict regard to moral virtue, but also on the account of principles and doctrines; insomuch that Jerome affirms, “that in most things they agree with us. They assert the unity of the divine Being, the creation of the world by the Logov , or Word, the doctrine of Providence, and the conflagration of the universe.” And it is not to be wondered at, that they should have any knowledge of these things, since Zeno, the founder of their sect, was a Phenician, as was also Antipater of Sidon; and others of them were of Syrian extract, as Diogenes Babylonins, and Posidonius, who, doubtless conversed with and received most of their doctrines from their neighbors, the Jews. And certain it is, that several of the first Christian writers were either of this sect, or much inclined to it, and greatly favored it; as Pantaenus, Clemens Alexandrinus, Tertullian, Arnobins, and others. It is an observation of Lipsins, that “Divine Providence, before it would spread the first light of wisdom among us, by sending Wisdom itself, that is, the Son of God, thought good to send first such as these, meaning the stoics, and their writings, to light up the sparks thereof, and drive away some of the Cimmerian darkness of vice and error.” And should it appear, that we agree with them in the doctrine of God’s decrees, I know no other consequence that will follow upon it but this, that our doctrine is consonant to the light of nature, and far from being, repugnant to the natural reason of mankind. It is indeed, not very easy, to settle their true sense and meaning of fate, since they do not seem to agree one with another, nor to write consistently with themselves; did they, we should not be ashamed to own an agreement with them. And it must be allowed, that there are some things said by them which have an affinity with some tenets of ours; as, (1.) When they say that “fate is God himself, to whom all things are subject, and by whom they are all determined, ordered, and directed as he pleases. This is mentioned by Laertius, as one of the positions of Zeno, the author of this sect, that “there is one God, who is called the mind, fate, Jupiter, and by many other names.” And, says Seneca, who was one of the best writers among them, “If you call him (God) fate, you will not be mistaken, since fate is nothing else but an implicated series of causes, and he is the first cause of all on which the rest depend.” And a little after, f674 “If you call him nature, fate, fortune, they are all the names of the same God, using his power, in a different way.” Panaetius, the stoic, also expressly asserts fate to be God; with whom agrees Phurnutus, another of the same sect, who says, that Jupiter is called fate, because of the invisible distribution or ordination of things which befall every man in this life.” Now, setting aside the language in which these things are expressed, there is nothing but what is agreeable to our sentiments, namely, that God is he who has fixed and determined all things in their own order, place and time, according to his good will and pleasure; and that God’s decree is God himself decreeing: and therefore we also agree with them when, (2.) They represent fate as no other than the will, purpose, and decree of God. This Homer calls “the counsel, or good will and pleasure of God; and Seneca, “a divine law, and an eternal law;” which is no other than the eternal will of God, and so agreeable to the derivation of the word, f679 fatum a fando. Servius says, that “fate is the voice of Jupiter.” To this nothing can be excepted, but the use of the word fate, as has been owned by many Christian writers: “what else is fate,” says Minutius Felix, “but what God says of every one of us?” And so the great Augustin allows the thing, though he denies the name; “human governments are entirely constituted by Divine Providence,” says he; “which if therefore any one will ascribe to fate, because he calls the will or power of God by that name, let him hold his opinion, but correct his language.” And when the Pelagians charged the doctrine of grace, as maintained by him, with being the same with the stoical fate, he replies, “Under the name of grace we do not assert fate, because we say, that the grace of God is not anteceded by any merits of men; but if any please to call the will of the omnipotent God by the name of fate, we shun indeed the use of new profane words, but do not love to contend about them.” So our Bradwardine, who was a second Austin, says, concerning the stoics: “They spoke of fate according to the efficacy of the divine will, wherefore they were free from all real, though perhaps not from verbal, error; for the word fate is suspected with catholics though the thing itself is right.” (3.) We agree with them when they assert, that “all things that happen f685 are determined by God from the beginning or from eternity; and that they happen very justly, and always for the best; and therefore advise men to give themselves up willingly to fate, or patiently and quietly to submit to the will of God: all which entirely agrees with many passages of Scripture, ( Acts 15:17,18; <19E517> Psalm 145:17; Romans 8:28; James 4:15 Psalm 46:10 ) and with the practices of the best of men, both among Jews and Christians, ( 1 Samuel 3:18; Job 1:21; Psalm 39:9; Acts 21:14) and of our Lord and Master Jesus Christ himself. ( Luke 22:42.) (4.) Some of them were very careful to preserve the natural liberty of the will of man, as we are. Chrysippus, one of the principal among them, f690 was of opinion, that “the mind was free from the necessity of motion,” which, in this case, he disapproved of; and though it was his sentiment, that nothing happened without preceding causes, yet, that he might escape necessity, and retain fate, he distinguished causes; some of which, he said, were ferfectae et principales; others, adjuvantes et proximae; and, therefore, when he asserted, that “all things were by fate from preceding causes, his meaning was, that they were so, not by the former, but the latter sort of causes.” And says Seneca, men know not what they may will, but in the very moment in which they will; for to will, or nill, is not entirely decreed to any man. Indeed, they seem to be jealous of the liberty of the will, and fear, where no fear or cause of fear was, as if liberty could not consist with any kind of necessity; and, therefore, Austin blames them when he says, “Hence it appears, that that necessity is not to be feared; by fearing which, the stoics have labored so to distinguish the causes of things, as to withdraw some from, and put others under necessity; and among those which they would not have to be under necessity, they place our wills, lest they should not be free, if put under necessity:” and goes on to prove, that the will may be subject to some sort of necessity, without any disadvantage to it; so that in this he, with whom we agree in some respect, exceeded the stoics themselves. (5.) It must be allowed, that much the same objections were made against the stoical destiny, as are made against the decree of election; and met with like success, and were refuted in much the same manner. As our opponents argue, that if a man is chosen to salvation, he need not be concerned about the means; whether he has them, and uses them, or not, he shall certainly be saved: but if he is not chosen to it, let him be never so careful and concerned about means, he shall not be saved. So the opposers of the stoics argued against them thus: “If it is thy fate that thou shalt recover of this disease, thou shalt recover whether thou makest use of a physician or not; but if thy fate is, that thou shalt not recover, whether thou usest a physician or not, thou shalt not recover. This argument, in Cicero, is represented agreeable to the philosophers, as argov logov , ignava ratio, iners genus interrogationis, an idle way of reasoning. Cicero observes, that if there was any thing in this argument, it would hold equally good if fate was never mentioned: his words are these: “You may change, and not use the word fate, and yet hold the same opinion, in this manner: If this was true from eternity, that thou shalt recover of this disease, thou shalt recover, whether thou usest a physician or not; but if this was false from eternity, that thou shalt recover of this disease, whether thou usest a physician or not, thou shalt not recover.” And then proceeds to show in what manner Chrysippus, the stoic, answered and refuted this argument, by distinguishing things into simplicia et copulata; which are illustrated by the instances of OEdipus being begotten by Laius, and Milo’s wrestling in the Olympic games; where he shows, that it is a mistake to suppose that it was destined that Laius should beget OEdipus, whether he had carnal knowledge of a woman or not; or that Milo should wrestle, whether he had an adversary to wrestle with or not; for these things, he observes, are confatalia, equally included in fate: to which Cicero assents, and says, that in this way all captious arguments of this kind are refuted; and, upon the whole, Carneades himself, a violent opposer of the stoics, disapproved of this kind of reasoning, and thought the argument was too inconsiderately concluded, and therefore pressed Chrysippus in another way, and left off calumny. In like manner we say, that “the means, sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth, or faith, holiness, etc., are, to use Chrysippus’s phrase, confatalia, equally with the end included in the decree of election, as they are left out of the decree of reprobation;” and therefore pronounce it a captious and idle way of talking, to say, that if a man is elected to salvation, he shall be saved, whether he is sanctified or no, or whether he believes or no; and if he is not elected, he shall not be saved, let him be never so much concerned for faith and holiness. Again, it was objected to the stoics, that they made God the author of sin, and particularly by Plutarch to Chrysippus, that, according to him, “there was no intemperance or fraud but what Jupiter was the author of:” and by others, to the same stoic, “that if all things were moved and governed by fate, and could by no means be avoided, then the sins and transgressions of men were not to be ascribed to their own wills, but to a certain necessity which arises from fate, and is the governess of all things, by which that must needs be which shall be; and therefore the punishment of transgressions is unrighteously fixed by laws, if men do not willingly commit sin, but are drawn to it by fate.” To this Chrysippus answers, and the substance of his answers is this, “that though all things are connected with fate, yet the dispositions of our minds are only subject to it, agreeable to the property and quality of them: for if they are first wholesomely and profitably formed by nature, they more inoffensively and tractably get over all that force which extrinsically comes upon them by fate; but if they are rough, ignorant, and uncultivated, and not assisted by the help of wholesome arts, though they may be moved by little or no force of fatal disadvantage, yet, through their own badness and voluntary impetus, fall into daily sins and mistakes.” This he exemplifies by the rolling of a stone down-hill; the man that pushes it gives it its first motion, but not its volubility; and its continuing to move downwards does not arise from him that first moved it, but from its own volubility. So, says he, the necessity of fate moves the kinds and principles of causes; but it is our own will that moderates, governs, and directs the counsels, determinations, and actions of our minds; and therefore denies, “that such vile and wicked men are to be heard or borne with, who, when they are in fault, and convicted of a crime, fly to the necessity of fate, as to an asylum, and say, that what they have wickedly done is not to be ascribed to their own rashness, but to fate.” And then some lines in Homer are mentioned, in which Jupiter is introduced complaining that men accused the gods of being the author of their evils, when their sorrows arose from their own wickedness. Now, from hence it appears, whatever mistakes there may be thought to be in this way of reasoning, they did not believe that God was the author of sin, or that the sins of men were to be ascribed to fate, but to the pravity of their wills; and that whatever distant concern fate had in these things, yet it did not excuse the wickedness of the actions of men, nor exempt them from punishment.
This may be further illustrated by the instance of Zeno and his servant Zeno caught his servant playing the thief, and beat him for it. The fellow, agreeable to his master’s doctrine, as he thought, and in vindication of himself, says, that “he was destined by fate to steal.” “Yes,” replied Zeno, “and to be beaten too.” When it is objected to us, that we make God the author of sin, we deny it, and clear ourselves, by distinguishing between the action and the disorder of it; for though God is concerned in all motion and action, for in him we live, move, and have our being; and he is the first cause and mover of all things: yet the ataxy, disorder, and iniquity of any action, arise from ourselves, and our own corrupt wills and affections; and whatever concern we suppose the decrees of God have about sin, yet they do not excuse the wickedness of men, or exempt them from proper punishment: the same degree which permits sin, provides for the punishment of it. (6.) How far soever the stoics carried their doctrine of fate or destiny, it is certain they never thought it had a tendency to looseness of life; nor does it appear to have had any such influence upon them; for, of all the sects of the philosophers, none were more addicted both to the love and practice of moral virtue, than this sect. The Manual of Epictetus, his Commentaries, digested by Arrianus, the writings of Seneca, and of the emperor Mark Antonine, do abundantly declare their strict regard to the worship of God, and the doing of justice among men. This made Josephus say, that the sect of the Pharisees, which was the strictest sect among the Jews for morality and external holiness, was very much like to that of the stoics. It is, indeed, said of Tiberius Nero, that he was more negligent of God and religion, being fully persuaded that all things were done by fate; but then the historian observes, that he was addicted to the mathematics; so that the fate he gave into was not the stoical fate, as asserted by the best writers of that sect, but the mathematical fate, which depended upon the influence of the stars. Now, of these things, in which we agree with them we are not ashamed; and what advantage our opponents are able to make of all this, I see not. But others of this sect, or the same writers, by either contradicting themselves, or one another, or as they have been understood by others, very greatly differ from us in their doctrine of fate or destiny, as when, (1.) And as far as they agree with the Chaldeans and astrologers, who placed fate in the position and influence of the stars. The wiser sort of them, indeed, rejected the dreams and folics of judiciary astrology, and were far from making fate wholly to consist in these things; and yet it seems as though they were moro or less included by them in their series and connection of causes, which they make fate to be; however, it is certain that the vulgar sort had no other notion of fate than this, which made Austin say, that “when men hear fate spoken of according to the usual custom of speech, they understand nothing else but the influence of the position of the stars, such as it is when a man is born or conceived.”
Now between this notion of fate, and our doctrine concerning God’s decrees, there is no manner of agreement. We deny any such influence of the stars which work by a necessity of nature upon the wills and actions of men; and therefore, when this was objected to the doctrine of grace, taught by the above writer, he answers, “They that assert fate,” says he, “contend, that not only actions and events, but that our wills depend upon the position of the stars, at the time that a man is conceived or born, which they call constellations; but the grace of God not only exceeds all the stars, and all the heavens, but even all the angels. Moreover, the assertors of fate, ascribe both the good and evil things of men unto it; but God prosecutes the sinful demerits of men with their due reward, and gives good things with a merciful will, through undeserved grace; doing both, not according to the then present consort of the stars, but according to the high and eternal counsel of his severity and goodness; wherefore, we see, that neither belong to fate.” (2.) When they make fate to be something distinct from the divine Being, something without him, and by which he himself is bound and governed, and which he cannot obstruct nor alter, such laws being put in the nature of things, that he cannot change. Seneca says, “The same necessity binds both God and man, the irrevocable course equally carries things divine as human. The Maker and Governor of all things himself has, indeed, ordained the fates; yet follows them, and always obeys, having once commanded.” It is said, that “it is not lawful for him to alter the connection, or turn the course of causes, or go contrary to the laws which he has fixed, and by which he himself is bound; yea, that it is impossible f706 for him to avoid the destined fate.” So Jupiter is introduced in Homer, f707 complaining that he could not deliver his son Sarpedon from death, which was appointed by fate for him. But we say, that God’s decree is within himself, and that whatever is in God, is God; and that his decree is nothing else but himself decreeing, which flows from his sovereign free good will and pleasure; and that whatsoever he does in heaven or in earth, he does freely, and as he pleases; and can, and does, when he thinks fit, interrupt, stop, or change the natural order and course of things; he can make the sun to stand still, stop the course of waters, and make them to stand up as a wall, hinder the burning of fire, open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys, make the wilderness a pool of water, and dry land springs of water. If indeed, they meant no more, than that God is immutable in his purposes, unalterable in his decrees, and will, stare decreto, stand by his decree, and never repent, primi consilii, of his first counsel and thoughts, as Seneca says; we are of the same mind with them: but otherwise, as Lactantius observes, “If such is the power of the destinies, that they can do more than all the celestial beings, than even the Lord and Governor himself, why may not they be rather said to rule, whose laws and statutes necessity obliges all the gods to obey?” (3.) When they make fate to be a series of causes, whose connection is natural, or which are in their own nature fitly and unalterably joined and connected together; for according to Chrysippus, “fate is a natural order or connection of all things from eternity, one following upon another, such being the complication of them, that it is entirely unalterable;” whereas we say, that all second causes are governed, directed, and disposed of by the will of God, and entirely depend upon his free good will and pleasure; and that, when he pleases, he can break the chain and connection, and can act without them, besides them, and above them. The sentiments of the stoics in this respect, seem to have the nearest affinity with those of a certain generation of men who have lately risen up among us, who talk of the nature and fitness of things, by which God himself is bound, to which he conforms, and according to which he acts: though one would think, if this was the case, the nature and fitness of things should rather be called God, than he whom they call so. (4.) When they assert, as Chrysippus does in the above definition, that fate is a series of all causes and things from everlasting; whereas, though we believe that whatsoever comes to pass, was known and determined by God from all eternity, and comes to pass in the way and manner, with, without, or besides second causes, just as he pleases; yet neither the things, nor their causes, nor the series of them, were from eternity, but arise and proceed in time, according to the eternal will of God. (5.) When they seem to say, that all causes act naturally, and by their own natural strength produce their effects necessarily, and so destroy all contingency in any sense: whereas we suppose, that as there are some causes which act naturally and necessarily, others are free, and produce their effects freely; others are contingent, and produce their effects contingently, in respect of themselves, though with respect to the decree of God they act necessarily. (6.) When they intimate that the will of man may be forced, though this is sometimes strongly denied by them; and, indeed, they talk much of free will, and say, “A wise man does nothing unwillingly, and escapes necessity; but then it is, because he wills what she would otherwise force him to.” And even in that famous wish or prayer of the stoic Cleanthes f714 so often mentioned by themselves and others, where, though he desires that fate and Jupiter would lead him to what he was ordained; yet observes, that “if he did not follow, whether he would or no, he must: for,” says he, “the fates lead him that is willing, and draw him that will not, that is, by force, whether he will or no.” Now we deny that the will of man, though it is in the ‘hand of the Lord, and is influenced and determined by his grace to that which is good, has any violence offered to it, or is forced and compelled unto it. But, supposing there was a greater likeness between our sentiments and those of the stoics concerning fate, why should it be thought so reproachful in us to agree with that sect of philosophers, when it is notorious, that in many things the Pelagians and Arminians agree with them? as will appear from the following hints. As, (1.) When they affirm it to be a mistake, that sin is born with us, or we in sin, or that it comes into the world with us; and say, that nature allures us to no vice; that we are born whole and free; that man is by nature led to that which is convenient and proper for him; that nature has laid the foundation, and implanted seeds of virtue in man; that all are born unto it, and that if we look within, there is a fountain of good, which would continually spring up, if we would but dig. And do not the Pelagians and Arminians agree with them in these things, when they cry up the purity of human nature, and deny original sin? But, on the other hand, we, with the Scriptures, say ( Psalm 51:5; Romans 7:18, Romans 3:10) that men are shapen in iniquity, and conceived in sin; and that in us, that is, in our flesh, dwells no good thing; and that there is none righteous, no, not one, of themselves. (2.) When they talk of their orqov logov, recta ratio, right reason, and ascribe so much to it as they do. They say, it is the nature of God, and the same in man as in God; only with this difference, that it is in him consummate, in them consummable; that to follow it, is the same as to follow God himself; that it is implanted in nature to live according to it; and that this completes man’s happiness, yea, that this alone perfects a man, and alone makes him happy. And do not the Pelagians and Arminians likewise extol it, as the rule of all doctrine and practice, and the measure of happiness? (3.) When they speak so much concerning ta ef hmin , the things that are in our power, and the free will of man. They say, it is in a man’s power to be sincere, grave, patient, without love of pleasure; to be content with one’s state and condition, to want but little; to be meek, free, without luxury, serious, and sublime; to avoid our own wickedness; yea, to be wholly without any; to live well, to do no other but what God approves of, and cheerfully receive what he appoints. They affirm, that both good and evil are in the power of man’s will; that if he desires any good thing, he may have it from himself; and that such is the nature of his will, that God himself cannot conquer it; yea, they are bold to say, that God can do no more than a good man; and that there is something in which a wise man exceeds him; since he is wise, not of himself, but by the indulgence of nature. And in this Cicero himself seems to agree with them, when he says, “No man ever looked upon himself obliged to God for virtue, and that very rightly; we are justly praised for virtue and rightly glory in it, which could not be, if we esteemed it a gift of God, and not of ourselves. Did ever any man give thanks to God, that he was a good man? But that he was rich, or honored, or in health and in safety?” It is easy to observe, how near all this comes to the Pelagian and Arminian tenets; only these philosophers are, perhaps, somewhat more bold and free in expressing themselves than the Pelagians and Arminians are, though many of them have used great liberty of speech. (4.) When they represent it as possible for a man to live without sin, and arrive to perfection. They say, that wise men are without sin, and cannot fall into it. Epictetus used to say, that “if a man had but these two words at heart, and took care to observe and obey them, he should be, for the most part, impeccable, and live a most quiet life: the words were, bear and forbear.” And, said another of them, “It is now in my power, that there should not be any iniquity or lust, or any perturbation at all in this soul of mine.” Zeno, the founder of the sect, in a letter to king Antigonus, tells him, “that a good genius, with moderate exercise, and by the help of a candid preceptor, might easily attain to perfection of virtue.” Now this entirely agrees with the notion of the Pelagians concerning impeccability and perfection, which they supposed persons might easily arrive to by the mere strength and power of nature, as appears from the writings of Augustin and Jerome; the latter of these observes, f733 that the Pelagians “embraced the poisons of all heretics; which, says he, flow from the fountain of the philosophers, and especially of Pythagoras and Zeno, the prince of the stoics; who assert, that by meditation, and the daily exercise of virtue, sin may be so extirpated out of the minds of men, that no root nor fibre of it may remain.” (5.) When they intimate that virtue may be lost. They are not all of them, indeed, agreed in this point. Chrysippus was of opinion, that virtue might be lost. Cleanthes differed from him, and affirmed it could not be lost, but remained firm and constant. Seneca seems to be of his mind, when he asserts, that virtue is natural, cannot be unlearned; being once received, never departs: the preservation of it is easy, and is a perpetual possession. But others of them incline to the opinion of Chrysippus, and suggest, that modesty, meekness, integrity, etc. may be entirely destroyed. Upon the whole, it is certain, that there is a very great affinity between Pelagianism and the stoic philosophy; and it is more than probable, that the former took its rise from the latter. There is one expression of Seneca’s, which is the very life and soul of Pelagianism; he says, “There is one good thing, which is the cause and security of a blessed life, and that is, to trust to one’s self.” Pantaenus and Clemens of Alexandria were both addicted to the stoic philosophy, which led the latter especially to say many things which seem to favor free will. Origen greedily slicked it in, in the school of Alexandria, where the Christian religion received its first taint, or began to be corrupted; and this paved the way for the rcception of the positions of Pelagius, when he published them in the world.
XIII. And lastly, it is objected, “that our notions of liberty are contrary to the sense, and repugnant to the common reason of mankind, as will be evident by the rules laid down by them, who were guided only by the light of nature.” To which I answer, our case is very hard indeed, for if we seem to agree with the stoics, who were governed only by the light of nature, we are reproached with holding a stoical fate, and charged with the absurdities of it. If we differ from them, we are cried out against as maintaining notions contrary to the sense and repugnant to the common reason of mankind; for, I observe, that the authors this writer refers to, by whom the rules were laid down he produces, were all, excepting Aristotle, of the stoic sect, or inclined to it. And as for the rules themselves; as, “that a lawgiver must act absurdly to command what is impossible; that vice and virtue are in our own power, and are voluntary, otherwise not worthy of praise or dispraise, reward or punishment that it is no fault not to do that which we have no power to do; that what is natural to all men, cannot be evil; and that there can be no deliberation or consultation about things which are not in our power;” I say, as to these rules laid down, and which are objected to us, I have already considered them, and replied to them, so far as they concern the argument before us. What now remains is only to subjoin some arguments, proving that liberty does not consist in an indifference to good and evil; and that it is consistent with some kind of necessity, and a determination to one, and a vindication of them.
I. God is a most free agent, and liberty in him is in its utmost perfection, and yet does not lie in an indifference to good and evil; he has no freedom to that which is evil; he cannot commit iniquity, he cannot lie, or deny himself; his will is determined only to that which is good; he can do no other; he is the author of all good, and of that only; and what he does, he does freely, and yet necessarily. It is said, that “this argument is vain, since he is in no state of trial, nor can he be tempted to do evil.” I reply, neither is man in a state of trial, as has been before shown; he may be, indeed, and is tempted to do evil; and there is a propensity in his nature, nay, he is only determined to it before a principle of grace is wrought in him; which shows that the liberty of his will lies in a determination to one.
Moreover, since God cannot be tempted to evil, nor is it possible that he should ever commit it, it follows, that true liberty does not consist in an indifference to good and evil.
II. The human nature of Christ, or the man Christ Jesus, who, as he was born without sin, and lived without it all his days on earth; so was impeccable, could not sin. He lay under some kind of necessity, from the purpose of God, the command of God, the covenant between God and him, as well as from the purity of his nature, to fulfill all righteousness; and yet he did it most freely and voluntarily: which proves that the liberty of man’s will, in its greatest perfection, which is so in the man Christ Jesus, does not lie in equilibrio, in an indifference to good and evil, but is consistent with some kind of necessity, and with a determination to that which is good only. The objection to the former argument can have no force here, for though Christ was not in a state of trial, as men in common are not; yet he was liable to be tempted, and was tempted to evil, though he had no inclination to it, nor was it possible that he should be prevailed upon to commit it.
III. The good angels, holy and elect, who are confirmed in the state in which they are, and by the confirming grace of God are become impeccable, cannot sin, or fall from that happy state; yet perform their whole obedience to God, do his will and work cheerfully and willingly. The freedom of their wills is not lost, nor in the least curtailed by their impeccability, confirmed state, and determination to take that which is only good. To say, “There was a time when they were not confirmed in goodness, as now they are, and have lost that liberty ad utrumvis, they then had,” is more that can be proved; since, for aught we know, they might be confirmed in goodness from the original of their creation; and the reason why they fell not when others of the same species of creatures did, might be because they were thus confirmed, and the rest left to the weakness and mutability of creatures. I have, indeed, in the first part of this work, allowed the good angels to have been in a state of probation, antecedent to their confirmation, which I amn now tempted to retract; but since we know so little of angels, I choose to be in suspense about it. When it is urged f741 that being thus confirmed, they are not in a state of trial; it must be replied, as before, nor is man. When it is said, that they are not under any temptation to do evil, it is saying more than can be made good. But, suppose it true, as it is certain, that there is no propensity in them to sin, nor can they by any temptation be induced to it, it serves but to confirm what is contended for, that liberty, does not consist in an indifference to good and evil. When it is further asserted, that their actions are not now rewardable, it is nothing to the purpose, since this no ways affects the liberty of their actions; though I see not why their actions, which are taken notice of with commendation, may not be rewarded now by the grace of God.
IV. The devils and damned spirits have no inclination to, nor capacity of doing that which is good, but are wholly determined to that which is evil, and yet do all they do freely and voluntarily. It is true, they are not in a state of trial: no more are men. But to say, they are not subject to any farther punishment for the evil they do, is not consistent with the justice of God, and the dreadful expectation of the devils themselves, who are not as yet in full torment.
V. The liberty of the will of man, in every state he has been, is, or shall be in, lies not in an indifference to good and evil. In his state of innocence, as he was made after the image, and in the likeness of God, so the bias of his soul was only to that which is good, which he performed willingly, in obedience to the will of God. In his fallen state, he is averse to all that is spiritually good, and is a slave to his sinful lusts and pleasures, is wholly set upon them, and given up to them; and yet serves and obeys them with the utmost willingness and freedom. In his regenerate state, there is, indeed, an inclination both to good and evil; but this arises from two different principles in the regenerate man. The new man, or principle of grace, is inclined, bent, and determined to that which is good only; and yet freely serves the law of God. The old man, or corrupt nature, is inclined, bent, and determined to that which is evil only; and yet freely serves the law of sin. In the state of glorification, the saints will be impeccable, cannot sin, can only do that which is good; and yet what they do, or will do, is and will be done with the utmost freedom and liberty of their wills, whence it follows, that the liberty of man’s will does not lie in an indifference or indetermination to good or evil; but is consistent both with some kind of necessity, and a determination to one.
VI. If liberty is not consistent with necessity in any sense, then it is not consistent with the decrees of God, nor even with the foreknowledge of God, from whence must follow some kind of necessity, not, indeed, a necessity of coaction or force upon the will of man, but of event; for if there is not a necessity of the things coming to pass, which are foreknown and decreed by God, then his foreknowledge is uncertain, and is but mere supposition and conjecture, and his decrees must be frustrable and precarious. It is said this “was of old the chief argument of the fatalists, espoused of late by Mr. Hobbes, and is still made the refuge of the predestinarians.” Be it so; if the fatalists and Mr. Hobbes meant no more by necessity than we do, namely, a necessity of the immutability and unfrustrableness of God’s foreknowledge and decrees, and not of coaction or force upon the will of man; we have no reason to be ashamed of the argument they made use of; and, instead of making it a refuge, or mere shift, shall think ourselves obliged to defend it, and abide by it.