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OF ORIGINAL SIN, THE IMPOTENCE OF MAN’S FREE WILL, AND THE NECESSITY OF THE GRACE OF GOD, TO EVERY THING THAT IS SPIRITUALLY GOOD.
AUSTIN has proved the doctrine of original sin out of the writings of the fathers that were before him, by producing such clear testimonies of theirs that, as Vossius says, “it is very much to be wondered at, that there were any formerly, or any now to be found, who think that this was a device of Austin’s, and would persuade others so; against these,” adds he, “we shall show, that even before the times of Austin, ecclesiam Dei semper in eo conspirasse, “the church of God always agreed in this,’ that we sinned in Adam, in whose loins we were virtually contained, and by that sin deserved a privation of original righteousness, temporal death, and an eternal separation from God.” The testimonies of Vossius, besides those of Austin, together with an addition of many others, will be given under the following Sections in proof of this point. These early writers did indeed say many things incautiously, and without guard, concerning free will, which are not easily reconcileable to other expressions of theirs, to which they were led by the opposition they made to the errors of Valentinians, Basilidians, Marcionites, Manichees, and others, who held two different natures in man; that some were naturally good, and others naturally evil, and either of them could possibly be otherwise. Now it was common with the fathers, that when they set themselves against one error, they generally went into the other extreme; this is observed even of Austin himself, “that when he wrote against Arius, he seemed to favor Sabellius; when against Sabellius, Arius; when against Pelagius, the Manichees; when against the Manichees, Pelagius.” Moreover, Vossius has this to say on their behalf, that “those holy martyrs, and other famous doctors, when they ascribe to man freedom to that which is good, either treat only of things natural and moral; or if at any time they speak of works of piety, and such as belong to God, they consider the will of man in common, and indefinitely, not distinguishing what he can do by the strength of nature, and what by the strength of grace, but only attributing that nature to man, by which, before grace, he can do, or not do moral good; and after strength received by race can believe or not believe, do, or omit works of piety; contrary to which were the opinions of the Bardesanists, Manichees, and like. If we interpret the fathers otherwise, adds he, we must not only make them contradict one another, but themselves also.
Besides, we shall make it appear in the following Sections, by a variety of testimonies, that they held the weakness and disability of man, without the grace of God, to do any thing that is spiritually good, yea, even that is morally so; and that the will of man is sinful, and the root of sin; and that it is in a state of servitude and bondage to sin, until released by the grace of God: and as to the necessity of the grace of God to the performance of every good action, Vossius asserts and proves what follows, that the Latin writers who were before the times of Pelagius, clearly acknowledged the necessity of grace; both the Africans, as Tertullian, Cyprian, and Arnobias; and the Italians, French, and others, as Lactantius, Hilary, and Ambrose; nor can any one be produced who thought otherwise.” Again, “They who deny that the Greek fathers understood the doctrine of the necessity of grace, do them a very great injury since, they often most plainly assert it. The citations made by him in proof of this, with many others, will be given hereafter. I conclude with the words of Vincentius Lirinensis: “Whoever,” says he, “before the profane Pelagius, presumed that there was such a power in free will, as to think the grace of God unnecessary to help it through every act in things what are good? who before his prodigious disciple Caelestius denied, that all mankind are guilty of Adam’s transgression?”
CLEMENS ROMANUS. A. D. 69.
CLEMENS was so far from ascribing vocation, conversion, or sanctification, to the will of man, that he always considers it as the effect and produce of the will of God. His epistle to the Corinthians begins thus, “The church of God which dwells at Rome, to the church of God which dwells at Corinth, kletois egiasmenois en thelemati Theou, ‘to the called and sanctified by the will of God,’ through our Lord Jesus Christ.” He denies that men are called and justified, and come to honor, glory, and greatness, by themselves, or by their own works, but by the will and grace of God; for thus he expresses himself, “All therefore are glorified and magnified, ou di eauton, e ton ergon auton, e tes dikaiopragias, es katargeisantoi, alla dia ton thelematos auton, not by themselves or their own works of righteous actions, which they have wrought out, but by his will;” and we also being called by his will in Christ Jesus are justified, ou di eauton, ou de dia tes emeteras sophias, e suneseos, e eusebeias, e ergon, on kateirgasametha, en osioteti kardias, “‘not by ourselves, nor by our wisdom, or understanding, or piety, or the works which we have done in holiness of heart,’ but by faith by which God Almighty hath justified all from the beginning, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
BARNABAS. A. D. 70.
BARNABAS in his Epistle has a passage which sets forth the corruption and weakness of the heart of man before the grace of God is implanted, insomuch that it stands in need of being rebuilt, new made, and created again; it runs thus: “How shall the temple be built in the name of the Lord?
Learn; before we believed in God, the habitation of our heart was phtharton kai asthenes, ‘corrupt and weak,’ as a temple truly built with hands; for it was a house full of idolatry, and idolatry was the house of devils, by doing what was contrary to God. It shall be built in the name of the Lord. Attend, that the temple of the Lord may be built glorious. How?
IGNATIUS. A. D. 110.
IGNATIUS was no favorer of the doctrine of free will; he ascribes sanctification and illumination to the will of God. His epistle to the Romans is inscribed, “To the church sanctified and enlightened, en qelhmasi Qeou to>u poihsantov by the will of God who does,’” or according to another, tou qelhsantov, “who wills all things which are according to the faith and love of Jesus Christ our God and Savior.” He represents repentance as very hard to be obtained, when he warns the members of the church at Smyrna against beasts in the forms of men, and advises them “not to receive them, and if possible, not meet them, only,” says he, “pray for them, if so be they may repent, oper duskolon , ‘which is very difficult; but Jesus Christ, our true life, has the power of this,” that is, of giving repentance. He roundly asserts, that men in a carnal state, have not a power to anything that is spiritual, oi sarkikoi to pneumatika prawein ou dunantai , “They that are carnal,” says he, “cannot do the things that are spiritual, nor they that are spiritual do the things that are carnal, as neither faith the things of unbelief, nor unbelief the things of faith.” He denies Christianity to be the produce of moral suasion, but the effect of divine power; his words are these, Ou peismonhv to ergonallamegeqouv estin o Cristianov , “The Christian is not the work of persuasion but of greatness; that is, of the exceeding greatness of God’s power, which is wonderfully displayed in making the Christian, in continuing, preserving, and supporting him as such, especially, as he observes, when he is hated by the world.
JUSTIN. A. D. 150.
JUSTIN MARTYR held the doctrine of original sin; he says that “mankind by Adam fell under death, and the deception of the serpent; that amartwloi egegoneimen , ‘we are born sinners;’ and that we are entirely flesh, and no good thing dwells in us; he asserts the weakness and disability of men either to understand or perform spiritual things, and denies that man, by the natural sharpness of his wit, can attain to the knowledge of divine things, or by any innate power in him save himself, and procure eternal life.” In one of his treatises, speaking of the doctrines of the Scriptures, he has these words; “Ou de tar phusei onte anthropine ennoia, onto megala kai theia ginoskein anthropois dunaton, ‘ for neither by nature, nor by human understanding, is it possible for men to acquire the knowledge of things so great and so divine;’ but by a free gift descending from heaven upon holy men, who had no need of the art of words, nor of the contentious and vain-glorious way of speaking, but to exhibit themselves pure to the energy of the divine Spirit.” And as for himself, he could say, “I do not study to show an apparatus of words by mere art alone, for I have no such power, alla charis para Theou mone eis to sunienai tas graphas auton edothe moi, but grace alone is given to me by God to understand his Scriptures.” He bids Trypho pray that “above all things the gates of light might be opened to him.” for neither are they seen nor known by all, ei me to Theos do sunienai kai o Christos auton, unless God and his Christ give them to understand, them.’” And in another place he says “At that time being convicted by our own works that we were unworthy of life, and manifested that of ourselves, adunaton eiselthein eis ten basileian ton Theou, to duuamei ton Theou dunatoi genethomen, it was impossible to enter into the kingdom of God, by the power of God we might be made able.” And a little after he says, “Having sometime before convinced us to adunaton tea emeteras phuseos ds to tuchein zoes, of the impossibility of our nature to obtain life, hath now shown us the Savior, who is able to save that which otherwise were impossible to be saved.” It must be owned, that Justin in many places f1351 asserts the free will of man; but then it is to be observed, that in all those places, even in’ those which Dr. Whitby refers to, in proof of his being an advocate for free will, he speaks of it as men and angels were possessed of it, thn archn “at the beginning of their creation,” when they had full power to do that which is good , and avoid that which is evil; though their natures being mutable were capable both of vice and virtue, and of being turned either way, as the event showed, and which is not denied by us. In like manner are we to understand some passages in Athenagoras and Tatian which the Doctor also refers to, where they ascribe free will to men and angels, when created by God, who has a power of doing good and avoiding evil, which clears God from being the author of sin, or being guilty of injustice in punishing of them; for as for Tatian, he clearly asserts the corruption and weakness of human nature; he says, that at the beginning there was a spirit which lived familiar with the soul, but when it would not follow it, the spirit left it, but retaining some spark of its power, though because of the separation, that is, from the spirit, ta teleia kathoran me dunamene, ‘ it is not able to behold things that are perfect,’ and seeking, after God, through error feigns many gods; he adds, that the Spirit of God is not with all men, only with such as live uprightly; yea, he plainly intimates, that man through his free will is now become a slave; which is stating in a few words the doctrine of free will, as held by us; for he expressly says, apolesen emas to autezousion, douloi gegonamen oi eleutheroi dia ten amartian emprathemen, “free will has destroyed us; we who were free are become servants, and for our sin are sold.” Theophilus of Antioch also says, that God made man possessed of free will, but then he represents him now as impotent and standing in need of the grace of God: “They that know not God, and do wickedly,” he says, “are like to birds who have wings, but are not able to fly; no such men creep upon the ground, and mind earthly things, katabaroumenoi upo ton amartion, ‘ and being pressed down by their sins,’ cannot move upward unto God.” He expresses his sense which he himself had of the need of divine grace, as well as how necessary it was to others to know the truth, and understand the mind and will of God, when he says, ego di aitoumai charin para ton monou Theou, “‘ I desire grace from God alone,’ that I may exactly explain the whole truth according to his will; as also that thou, and every one that reads these things, odegetai upo tes aletheias kai tharitos autou, might be guided by his truth and grace.”
IRENAEUS. A. D. 180.
IRENAEUS is expressly for the corruption of human nature through the sin of Adam, which he calls antiqua serpentis plaga, “ the old plague, blow, or wound of the serpent,” from which men cannot be saved otherwise than by believing in Christ. He says f1361 , that “we offended God in the first Adam, not doing his commandment, and which we had transgressed from the beginning;” and that Eve was the cause of death to herself and to all mankind;” and that man “will be justly condemned, f1363 because being made rational, amittitm veram rationem, ‘he has lost true reason,’ and lives irrationally, is contrary to the justice of God, giving himself up to every earthly spirit, and serves all pleasure.”
Also he affirms, that “we lost in Adam will to the image and likeness of God.” Now a very considerable part of this lay in man’s free will to that which is good, and therefore this must be lost by sin; and what free will to that which is spiritually good can there be thought to be in man naturally, who, is said by, Irenaeus to be lignum aridum, a dry tree, which cannot bring forth fruit unless the voluntary rain of the Spirit descends from above upon it? The weakness of human nature is proved by this writer from Romans 7:18; his words are these; “who (Christ) saved them, qia per seipsos non habebanti salvari, ‘because they could not be saved by themselves;’” wherefore Paul declaring the infirmity of man, says, “I know that in my flesh dwells no good thing;” signifying that non a nobis sed a Deo est bonum salutis nostrae “not of ourselves, but of God, is the blessing of our salvation.” The inability, yea. the impossibility of attaining to the true knowledge of God, without divine teaching, is plainly asserted by him, when after citing some passages in Isaiah, as, “I am God, and before me there is no Savior,” etc. he says, “Neither diversely, nor haughtily, nor in a boasting manner, does he say these things, but because impossible erat since Deo discere Deum, ‘it was impossible to learn the knowledge of God without him,’ he teaches men by his Logos, or Word, to know God.” And elsewhere he observes, the bondage state of man by nature, and that immortality and eternal glory are not of himself, but are the pure free gift of God; “Man, says he, “who was before led captive, is taken out of the power of the possessor, according to the mercy of God the Father,” who has pity on his own work, “and restoring it, gives salvation to it by the Word; that is, by Christ; that man may experimentally learn that non a semeteipso, sed donatione Dei accepit incorruptelam, not of himself, but by the gift of God, he receives immortality.” It is true indeed that Irenaeus frequently makes mention of man’s free will, and says, f1369 that God made him free from the beginning that all have a power to do good, or not i and, that God still preserves the will of real free, not only in works, but even in believing which passages are produced by Dr. Whitby, and others, and may be reconciled to what Irenaeus elsewhere asserts, by observing, that in some of them he speaks of free will as man was possessed of it when first created and in others of the natural liberty of the will, which, in all actions good and bad, is preserved free; and in none does it appear more so than in spiritual actions, and even in believing, in which men are influenced and assisted by the grace of God. Besides, it is one thing to say, that man has a free will to do spiritual actions, to believe, and the like, from the strength of grace given by God; and another thing to say that man has a free will and power to do that which is good, and to believe from the mere strength of nature; the former we allow of, the latter we deny, and which can never be proved to be Irenaeus’s meaning, for that would be to contradict himself.
CLEMENS ALEXANDRINUS. A.D. 190.
CLEMENT of Alexandria, being inclined to the stoic philosophy, it is no wonder that he sometimes speaks of ta ephi’ emin, “the things that are in our power,” and says what seems to favor man’s free will; which passages of his are for this purpose referred to by Dr. Whitby; though it is plain in some places he only speaks of the natural liberty of the will against the Basilidians, and of the power of man to perform the natural and civil actions of life; however, certain it is, that Clement did not hold free will in such a sense, as to set aside the grace of God, and render that useless and unnecessary: yea, he affirms, that free will, without the wings of grace, can neither rise nor fly. In one place he says, “Nor can we obtain the perfection of good without our free choice, nor yet does that wholly lie in our will, such as it shall come to pass, “for by grace we are saved, but not without good works.” And in another place he has this observation, “Whether the Father himself draws unto him, every one that lives purely, and attains to the understanding of happiness, and of the incorruptible nature; or whether our free will coming to the knowledge of that which is good, skips and leaps over the ditches, as is said in the schools, plen ou chiaritos aneu tes exairetou pteroutai te kai anistatai kai ano ton uperkeimenon airetai psuchir, yet the soul cannot rise nor fly, nor be lifted up above the things that are on high, without special grace.” He says indeed elsewhere, “that we are by nature fit for virtue, yet not so as to have it ex genetes,’ from our birth,’ but we are fit to possess it.
His meaning is, I apprehend, that men have a capacity, which irrational and inanimate creatures have not, of possessing virtue, and receiving the grace of God, of which they are destitute when born, and so in this respect are not like stocks and stones, that are incapable of such things.
TERTULLIAN. A. D. 900.
TERTULLIAN appears from many passages in his writings to have understood the doctrine of original sin, both with respect, to the imputation of it to men unto condemnation, and the derivation of a corrupt nature from it; whereby not only man is become filthy and impure, but having lost the image of God, is also impotent to, every thing that, is spiritual and heavenly. We call Satan, says he, “the angel of wickedness, the artificer of every error, the interpolator of every age; by whom man from the beginning being circumvented, so as to transgress the commands of God, was therefore delivered unto death, exinde totum genus de suo semine infectum suae etiam damnationis traducem fecit, hence he has also made the whole kind, or all mankind, which springs from his seed, infected, partaker of his damnation.” And in another place, having mentioned John iii. 5, Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of God; that is, says he, he will not be holy. Ita omnis anima eousque in Adam censetur, donec in Christo recensetur, “every soul is reckoned so long in Adam until it is re-reckoned, or reckoned again, or renewed in Christ; so long unclean, as long as not recounted, sinful indeed because unclean, receiving its own disgrace from its society with the flesh.
What crime,” says he, “before that of impatience was committed, is imputed to man? He was innocent, the nearest friend to God, and the husbandman of paradise? but when he once gave way to impatience, desinit Deo sapere, desinit caelestia sustinere posse, he ceased to be wise to God, he ceased to be able to bear heavenly things.” There are indeed some passages in this writer which seem to countenance the doctrine of free will, and are alleged by Dr. Whitby on that account; but in these he is to be understood of the natural liberty of the will, which he defended against the Basilidians and Marcionites, and of the power and freedom of the will, about things natural and moral, with which man was at first created, wherein lay the image and likeness of God in man; but Tertullian could never think that this is to be found with man now as then, since he affirms that “the image of God was destroyed by the sin of our first parents; ‘and it is abundantly manifest, that this writer so held free will as that he believed it was subject to the grace of God; his words are these, f1382 “An evil tree will not yield good fruit, if it is not ingrafted; and a good one will’ yield evil fruit, if it is not dressed; and stones will become the children of Abraham, if they are formed into the faith of Abraham; and a generation of vipers will bring forth fruit to repentance, if they spit out the poison of malignity; haec erit vis divinae gratiae potentior utique natura, habens in nobis subjacentem sibi liberam arbitrii, potestagem, quod autexousion dicitur, this will be the power of divine grace, more powerful truly than nature, having free will in us, which goes by the name of autexousion, subject to itself.”
ORIGINES ALEXANDRINUS. A.D. 230.
ORIGEN is called by Jerom, writing against the Pelagians, their Beloved, their Master, the Prince, or author of their error; and says, that their doctrine is Origenis ramusculus, “a sprig of Origen.” It need not therefore bethought strange that there are in his writings passages which smell rank of free will in the grossest sense; and especially since many of his works come to us through the hands of Ruffinus, said to be a friend to the Pelagian scheme; and indeed it is no wonder that Origen himself should be somewhat tainted with principles tending that way, seeing he succeeded Clemenis and Pantaenus, men both addicted to the stoic philosophy, which obtained in their school, whereby the gospel began to be stripped of its native simplicity. However, notwithstanding all this, it is certain that Origen held the doctrine of original sin, and was sensible of the corruption and weakness of human nature, and of the necessity of the grace and help of God to every good work; and that even to have a will to that which is good, is from the Lord. That he understood the doctrine of original sin, and the guilt and pollution of mankind by it, will appear evident from the following instances; “In Adam, as saith the word, all die, and are condemned in the likeness of Adam’s transgression, which the divine word says not so much of some one, as of all mankind — for e ara tou Adam koine panton esti, the curse of Adam is common to all.”
Again, “But if you please to hear what other saints have thought of this birth, hear David, saying, I am conceived in iniquity, and in sin my mother brought me forth; showing, that whatever soul is born in the flesh, iniquitatis et peccati sorde polluitur, is defiled with the filth of sin and iniquity.” These words he elsewhere says, David spoke ex persana omnium nascentium, “in the person of all born of flesh and blood;” and therefore it is said, which we have already mentioned above, “for no man is pure from filth, the same work, “Every one that comes into this world is said to be made in some defilement, wherefore the Scripture says, no man is pure from filth, though his life is but of one day; and this defilement,” he says “is in the mother’s womb, and that in the mother the child is polluted, even in the very conception. In another place, he says, f1390 “The first man, Adam, being wickedly persuaded, through the deceit of the serpent, hath declined from the right way of paradise, to the evil and crooked paths of mortal life; wherefore consequently, omnes qui ex ipsius successione in hunc mundum veniunt declinaverunt, “all who come into this world by succession from him have turned aside,’ and are together become unprofitable with him.” And in the same commentary he thus argues, “If Levi, who was born in the fourth generation after Abraham, is said to be in the loins of Abraham, multo magis omnes homines qui in hoc mundo nascuntur, et nati sunt, in lumbis erant Adae, cum adhuc esset in paradiso, ‘ much more were all men, who are born in this world, in the loins of Adam, when he was yet in paradise;’ and all men with him, or in him, were driven out of paradise when he was drove from thence; and by him death, which came to him through his transgression, consequently passed upon them who were reckoned in his loins.” Once more, says he, “if any one considers this body of humility in which we are born, if any one considers this, no man is pure from filth, though his life is but of one day, and his months are numbered; he will see how gegenemetha meta akatharsias, ‘we are born with impurity,’ and the uncircumcision of our heart.” In the same work he has this expression, “In Adam all die, and so the whole world fell, and needs rising, again, that all men be made alive in Christ; the devil, he says, “is called a murderer, not because he killed some one privately, but because he killed all mankind” So elsewhere f1395 commenting on these words, Through the offense of one death reigned by one; “This” he says, shows, that through sin the kingdom is given to death; nor could it reign many, unless it receives the right of reigning from sin; by which seems to be pointed out, that whereas the soul was created free by God, ipsa se in servitutem redigat per delictum, it could reduce itself into bondage through sin.” Hence he frequently suggests the weakness of human nature, and its insufficiency to do any thing that is good, and the need it stands in of the assistance of God. “Human nature,” he says, “is weak, and that it may be made stronger, divine auxilio inditer, ‘it needs divine help.’ We read, the flesh is weak, therefore, by what help is it to be confirmed? Verily, by the Spirit, for the Holy Spirit is ready, but the flesh is weak; he that would be stronger ought to be strengthened only by the Spirit. And in another place, “We in our earth (for it was said to Adam, Earth thou art) have need of the strength of God, cwriv de thv dunamewv tov Qeou , ‘for without the power of God’ we are not able to perform those things which are contrary to the wisdom of the flesh.” Again, “What need is there to say, what wisdom do we want to consider the works of Abraham? and what power to do them? H poiav dunamewv deomeqa, ‘what power do we need but Christ’s,’ who is the power of God, and wisdom of God?” He further observes, that “if the branch cannot bear fruit except it abide in the vine, it is evident that the disciples of the word, the intelligible branches, of the true Vine, the Word, ou dunantai pherein tons karpous tes aretes, cannot bear the fruit of virtue, except they abide in the true Vine, the Christ of God;” or, according to another copy, “who is God.” And in the same work he says, “Because ouk autarkes era ciera proairesis, ‘our free will is not sufficient to have a clean heart, but we are in need of God, who creates such an one; therefore it is said by him, who knew how to pray, Create in me a clean heart, O God!” And a little after, “We say, that ouk autarkes e anthropine phusi, ‘human nature is not sufficient to seek God in any manner,’ and to find him, purely, unless helped by him that is sought.
As he will not allow what is done by man to be properly good, and no good thing to be done without God, so he denies that a will to do good is from man, but ascribes it to God; mentioning those words of Christ, If any man will come after me, etc., he makes this observation, f1404 “Hereby is shown, that to will to come after Jesus, and follow him, ouk apo tou tuchontos andragathematos ginetai, ‘ does not arise from any heroic action done by men,’ for no man, not denying himself, can follow Jesus.”
And in another place he says, “Not only to will, but also to work, as saith the apostle Paul, ek tou Theos estin, is of God; to work, always following to will well, as its yokefellow?’ wherefore this doctrine does not at all discourage diligence and industry, study and endeavor to perform good works in a dependence on divine grace and assistance.
GREGORIUS NEOCAESARIENSIS. A.D. 240.
GREGORY, surnamed Thaumaturgus, the Wonder Worker, from the miracles said to be wrought by him, was born at Neocaesarea of Pontus, of noble and wealthy parents, heathens; he was converted to Christianity under the preaching of Origen, and was afterwards made bishop of the place where he was born; upon his leaving Caesarea he made a panegyric oration to a numerous audience, in the presence of Origen, about A.D. 239. which, and his metaphrase on Ecclesiastes, are the chief writings of his extant, to be depended on as genuine. Could the sermons upon the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, be thought to be his, which go under his name, they would furnish us with two or three testimonies in favor of original sin; but as they are dubioius, I shall not transscribe them, but refer the reader to them in the margin, however, he has a passage in his oration which gives some plain hints of original sin, and the sad consequences of it; bewailing his departure from Caesarea, and .leaving Origen, “I know not how,” says he, “through what sufferings, or sinning again, I depart, or am driven hence; what to say I know not, but that as another Adam, out of paradise, I begin to speak — these seem to be sins, thv palaiav apathv , ‘owing to the old deception,’ the punishments arcaiwn ‘of the ancients’ (meaning Adam and Eve) remain still on me; do I not seem again to disobey, daring to transgress the words of God, in which and with which I ought to abide?” He expresses his consciousness of his own weakness, without divine grace and assistance, to attain to any virtue either human or divine, or the knowledge of things spiritual: his words are these; We neither have, nor are we near any virtue, either human or divine; we need much; these are great and high, and neither of them can be attained or gotten, otw mh Qeov ge empneoi dunamin , ‘but to whom God inspires power;’ we are not by nature fit nor worthy to enjoy, we still confess.” He observes, in another place, that “they that hear the prophets, thv authv dunamiov dei profhteuosi , ‘have need of the same power with them that prophesy;’ nor can any one hear a prophet, except the same spirit that prophesies gives him an understanding of his words; for there is such an oracle in the holy writings, affirming that he that shuts can only open, and no other.” Gregory ascribes his conversion, which was when he was very young, to a divine power, and not to his own free will; “I first passed,” says he, “to the saying and true word I know not how, katenagkas-menos mallon eiper ekon, forced rather than willing.”
And a little after, “Human reason, and the divine reason, or Logos, began together in me, the one helping, to alelecto men emoi, oikeia de auto dunamei, by a power indeed unspeakable to me, but peculiar to him, the other helped.”
CYPRIAN. A.D. 250.
CYPRIAN was a strenuous assertor of original sin, as Austin has proved by a considerable number of testimonies cited from him; he, and not only, but the rest of his colleagues, who were present at the African synod, to the number of sixty-six bishops, affirm, “that a new-born infant has not sinned at all, unless that after Adam, being born in a carnal manner, it has contracted by its first birth the contagion of the ancient death; upon which account it is more easily admitted to receive the remission of sins, because not his own, sed aliena peccata, ‘but another’s sins,’ are remitted to it.”
Yea, he asserted that Adam by sinning lost the image and likeness of God, and consequently the moral liberty of the will, which was one part of that image, must be lost, and is what we contend for. The weakness and disability of man is frequently inculcated by him, and that all our strength and power to do that which is good comes from God, who should be applied to for it “Whatsoever,” says he “is grateful, non wrtuti hominis ascribitur, sed de Dei munere praedicatur, ‘ is to be ascribed not to man’s power, but to God’s gift.’ Dei est, inquam, Dei est omne quod possumus, ‘ it is God’s, I say, all is God’s that we can do;’ hence we live, hence we excel, etc.” Yea, he says, “that in nothing must we glory, quando nostrum nihil sit, since nothing is ours.” For the proof of which he mentions, John 3:27, 1 Corinthians 4:7, and “that no man ought to be lifted up with his own works;” which he proves from Luke 17:7-10. And upon those words in the Lord’s prayer, Lead us not into temptation, he makes this remark, “When we pray that we may not come into temptation, admonemur infirmitatis el imbecillitalis nostrae, ‘we are put in mind of our infirmity and weakness, whilst we so pray;” lest any one should insolently lift up himself, lest any one should proudly and arrogantly assume to himself, lest any one should reckon the glory either of confession or suffering his own; when the Lord himself, teaching humility, said, Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak. Thus while an humble and low confession goes before, and the whole is ascribed to God, whatsoever is asked in a supplicating manner, with the fear and honor of God, ipsius pietate praestetur, “through his tenderness may be given.” And, says he, in another place, or his contemporary Cornelius, “We not only produce words which come from the holy fountains of the Scriptures, but with these words we join our prayers and vows to the Lord, that he would open both to us and you the treasure of his mysteries, et vires ad implenda qua cognoscimus tribuat, and that he would give strength to fulfill what we know,” Who also in the same treatise observes, “that among these things he had been speaking of, yea, and before them, de divinis castris auxilium petendum est, ‘help is to be asked of God,’ for God only is powerful, who vouchsafes to make men, et plena hominibus auxilia praestare, and to give sufficient helps to men.” Cyprian does indeed in one place say, “that the liberty of believing, or not believing, is placed in man’s free will.” Which is very true of the natural liberty of the will, which always continues, whether a man believes or does not believe, since no man believes against his will, or disbelieves contrary to it; but is not true of the moral liberty and power of the will, for no man by the strength of nature, without the grace of God, has a power to believe to the saving of the soul.
Nor could this be Cyprian’s meaning, who in the very same tract says, that “nothing is ours.”’ Besides this passage, Doctor Whitby has cited another, from this writer, in favor of man’s free will, in which he observes, that Christ said to his disciple, “Will you go away? Preserving the law, by which man being left to his liberty, and put in the power of his own will, desires for himself either death or salvation.” But this is not to be understood, as though Cyprian thought that the real disciples of Christ were in such a situation, and so left to the freedom of their wills, that they might totally and finally depart from Christ, for his next words are, “Notwithstanding Peter, upon whom the church was built by the same Lord, speaking, one for all, and answering in the church’s voice, said, Lord, whither should we go, thou hast the words of eternal life; and we believe and know that thou art the Son of the living God; signifying and showing, that those who depart from Christ perish, through their own fault, but the church which believes in Christ, and which holds that which it hath once known, never at all departs from him, and they are the church who abide in the house of God.”
ARNOBIUS. A.D. 290.
ARNOBIUS flourished under Dioclesian, taught rhetoric at Sicca in Africa, and was preceptor to Lactantius. He wrote seven books against the Gentiles, which are his only genuine works extant. There is a Commentary upon the Psalms which goes under his name, but is none of his. Bellarmine thinks it was written by Arnobius junior, who lived about the year 445, and after Pelagianism was broached, of which that writer seems to be a favorer, and either to deny, or at least to extenuate original sin; which was far from the true Arnobius, who asserts the corruption of human nature, and the impotence of men to spiritual things. Thus speaking of the prayers and supplications of the Christians to their master Christ, he observes, that “these are not made to him for his sake, but for our profit and advantage; non quia proni ad culpas, et ad libidinis varios appetitus, vitio sumus infirmitatis ingenitae, ‘for because we are prone to faults, and to various lustful desires, and are in the vice of inbred weakness,’ he suffers himself to be always conceived in our thoughts.” And in another place he says, f1427 “Natural infirmity makes a man a sinner.” Addressing himself to the heathens, he thus speaks: “You place the salvation of your souls in yourselves, and trust that you may be made gods by your inward endeavor; but truly we promise ourselves nothing, de nostra infirmitate, ‘from our weakness,’ looking upon our nature virium esse nullarum, ‘to have no strength,’ and in every strife about matters to be overcome by its own affections; you, as soon as you shall go away being loosed from the members of the body, think ye shall have easy wings by which you can fly to the stars and reach heaven; but we dread such boldness, nee in nostra ducimus esse positum potestate res superas petere, nor do we reckon it is in our power to reach things that are above.” And elsewhere he says, f1429 “that the nature of men is blind, neque ullam posse comprehendere veritatem, ‘nor can it comprehend any truth,’ nor find out certainly, and know things that are set before their eyes.” And a little after he observes, that “none but the Almighty God can save souls, nor is there any besides him who can make a long-lived perpetuity, and put a spirit in the room of another, but he who is alone immortal and perpetual, and is not bounded by any circumscription of time.” And a little after, “It is of our High-priest to give salvation to souls, and to put by or in them a spirit of perpetuity” It is true, indeed, he asserts from Plato, that the liberty of the will lies in the power of him that wills, ‘which being understood of the natural liberty of the will, is not denied.
LACTANTIUS. A. D. 320.
LACTANTIUS embraced and maintained the same doctrine his master Arnobius did; he seems to be very sensible of the proneness of human nature to sin, and of its weakness and frailty, and how many ways it becomes subject to it. “No man,” says he, “can be without sin as long as he is burdened with the clothing of the flesh, whose infirmity is subject three ways to the dominion of sin, by deeds, words, and thoughts; therefore just men, who can restrain themselves from every unjust work, yet sometimes are overcome through frailty itself, that either they say that which is evil in anger, or upon sight of things delightful, lust after them in secret thought.” And to the same effect he says in another place, f1434 “There is none who sins not at all, and there are many things which provoke to sin, as age, oppression, want, occasion, reward, adeo subjecta est peccato fragilitas carnis qua induti sumus, ‘ the frailty of the flesh with which ye are clothed, is so subject to sin, that unless God should spare this necessity, very few, perhaps, would live.” He sometimes represents man as in a state of blindness and darkness, and suggests, that it is impossible he should have a knowledge of spiritual and heavenly things without divine teachings; “We,” says he, “who before as blind men, and as shut up in the prison of folly, sat in darkness, ignorant of God and truth, are enlightened by God, who hath adopted us in his covenant, and being delivered from evil bonds, and brought into the light of wisdom, he hath took into the inheritance of the heavenly kingdom.” And elsewhere he says, that “the mind shut up in earthly bowels, and hindered by the corruption of the body, aut comprehendere per se potest aug capere veritatem nisi aliunde doceater, ‘ can neither by itself comprehend nor receive truth, unless it be taught from some other person:” yea, he expressly says in another place, that “man cannot himself come to this knowledge, nisi doceatur a Deo, ‘ unless he is taught of God:’ “ by which he means the knowledge of spiritual and heavenly things; for elsewhere he observes, that “the knowledge of truth, and of heavenly things, non potest esse in homine, nissi Deo docente, percepta, ‘ cannot be perceived in man, unless God teaches it;’ for if man could understand divine things, he could do them; for to understand is, as it were, to follow them closely; but he cannot do what God can, because he is clothed with a mortal body, therefore neither can he understand what God has done.” There are some things which he denies are in the power of man; “To undertake a thing,” he observes, “is easy, to fulfill is difficult; for when thou committest thyself to a combat and conflict, in arbitrio Dei, non tuo, posita victoria est, the victory lies in the will of God, not in thine own.” Hence he says in another place, “It is not the part of a wise and good man to will, to strive, and to commit himself to danger, because to overcome, non est in nostra potestate , is not in our power.” The appeasing of conscience and healing the wounds which sin has made in it, are by him ascribed alone to the power and grace of God; his words are these: “It is better therefore either to avoid conscience, or that we should willingly open our minds, and pour out the deadliness thereof through the lanced wound, quibus nemo altus mederi potest, ‘ which no other can heal,’ but he alone who has given to the lame to walk, and sight to the blind, hath cleansed spotted members, and hath raised the dead; he will extinguish the heat of lust, he will root out unlawful desires, he will draw away envy, he will mitigate anger, he will give true and perpetual soundness.” In one place, indeed, he seems to take too much upon him, and what is beyond the power of a mere man, when he says, “Give me a man that is angry, reproaching, and unruly, with a very few words of God I will make him as quiet as a lamb; give me one greedy, covetous, and tenacious, by and by I will return him to thee liberal, freely giving his money with his own hands, and those full; give me one fearful of pain and death, he shall immediately despise crosses, fires, and Phalaris’s bull; give me one lustful, adulterous, a haunter of stews, you shall presently see him sober, chaste, and continent; give me one cruel and thirsting after blood, at once his fury shall be changed into true clemency; give me one unjust, foolish, a sinner, forthwith he shall be just, and prudent, and innocent.” But then all this he ascribes to the power of divine grace attending the word and ordinances of the gospel; “for by one laver,” adds he, “all wickedness shall be abolished, fanta divinae sapientiae vis est, ut in hominis pectus infusa, such is the power of divine wisdom, that being infused into the breast of man, at once, by one effort, it expels folly, the mother of sin; to effect which, there is no need of hire of books or lucubrations; these things are done freely, easily, quickly, so that the ears be open, and the breast thirsts after wisdom.” This he opposes to the maxims, notions, and wisdom of the philosophers, with all the art of moral suasion they were masters of; “their wisdom,” says he, “the most that it can do, can hide vices, but not root them out; but the few precepts of God so change the whole man, and polishing the old man, make the man new, that you cannot know him to be the same.”
EUSEBIUS CAESARIENSIS. A. D. 330.
EUSEBIUS, as he asserts that man was at first created with a free will, which might be turned to good or evil, which is readily owned, so he signifies, that man’s fall into sin was owing to it, and that through the ill use of it he is not only turned out of the right way, but is become like the beasts that are void of reason; his words are these: having spoken of man as constituted lord of all creatures, and possessed of a free will to that which is good, and the contrary, adds: “but he not well using his free will, tea orthes diatrapeis odou, ten enantian ormato, ‘turned out of the right way, and rushed, or was carried, into a contrary one,’ considering neither God nor the Lord, nor things holy nor religious, but like the beasts without reason, attempted all kind of actions fierce and intemperate.”
The Madgeburgensian Centuriators cite from this writer the following passage, namely, “The liberty of our will in choosing things that are good is destroyed by the devils,” which has not so clearly occurred to me. The words of Eusebius, which I suppose are referred to, are these: “The devil in his oracles hangs all things upon fate, and talking away that which is in our power, and arises from the self-motion of free Will, anagke de kai touto katadoulosas, ‘ brings this also into bondage to necessity.’” Where he seems to have respect not to the fall of man by the temptation of Satan, but to the introduction of the doctrine of fate into the heathen oracles, which is at large confuted by him in the same chapter.
MACARIUS EGYPTUS. A.D. 350.
MACARIUS frequently asserts the corruption of human nature, as derived from the sin and disobedience of Adam, and the impotence of it to that which is good: “We have received,” he says, “within ourselves the vitiosity of the affections, dia thv parkohv tou prwtou anqrwpou , ‘through the disobedience of the first man,’ which, by custom and much use, is, as it were, become our nature.” And in another place he says, f1450 “The whole sinful race of Adam possesses the same condemnation secretly,” meaning that which Cain was under; “for as from one Adam all mankind are multiplied upon the earth, so one certain vitiosity of the affections sits upon the sinful race of men.” Again: “By him (Adam) death hath reigned over every soul, and has destroyed the whole image of Adam, ek thv ekeinou parakohv , ‘through that man’s disobedience;’ so that men were turned aside, and came into the worshipping of devils.”
Moreover he observes, that “all that contrariety in things open and secret hath come upon us apo tes parabaseos tou protou anthropou, from the transgression of the first man. He farther observes, that “as Adam transgressing received into himself the leaven of the evil of the affections, so by participation they that are born of him, even the whole race of Adam, ekeines tea zumes meteche, partake of that leaven.” Once more, he says, “We are all the children of that dark generation, and all partake of the same evil savor; wherefore the same suffering that that man (Adam) endured, pantes ek tou spermatos Adam ontes, we all, being of the seed of Adam, endure.” And elsewhere he says, that through “the transgression of the first man, wickedness entered into the soul, and darkened it;” hence he affirms, “that the soul has need of the divine lamp, the Holy Spirit, who beautifies the darkened house, and of that bright Sun of righteousness, that arises upon and enlightens the heart.” Nay, he asserts, that “as it is not possible that a fish should live without water, or that any one should walk without feet, or see the light without eyes, or speak without a tongue, or hear without ears; so without the Lord Jesus, kai tea energeias tes theias dunameos, ‘ and the energy of divine power,’ it is not possible to know the mysteries and wisdom of God, or to be rich and a Christian.” And, as he elsewhere says, “A soul naked and destitute of the Spirit, and under the hard poverty of sin, ouden dunatai k’ an thele, it cannot, even though it would,’ bring forth truly any fruit of the spirit of righteousness before it partakes of the Spirit.” Or as he expresses himself in another place: “With out his vessels, that is grace, adunaton tina to Theo diakonesai, ‘ it is impossible that any one should serve God,’ that is, be acceptable to him, with respect to his whole will.” Agreeable to which are those words of his “Without that heavenly leaven, which is the power of the divine Spirit, it is impossible that a soul should be leavened with the goodness of God, and attain to life.” And a little after: “That soul that thinks to do any thing of itself with care and diligence, relying alone on its own strength, and thinking that it is able by itself, without the cooperation of the Spirit, to perform a perfect work, polu planatai, is greatly mistaken.”
He observes, that those who have the divine law not written with ink and letters, but planted in hearts of flesh, these having the eyes of the understanding enlightened, and always desiring not a sensible and visible hope, but the invisible and intellectual one, are able to overcome the stumbling-blocks of the evil one; au’ ek tes aettetou dunameos, “but that is by an insuperable power.” They, indeed, who are not honored with the word of God, nor instructed in the divine law, being vainly puffed up, think, did tou idiou autexousiou, “by their own free will,” to abolish the occasions of sin, which is condemned by the mystery in the cross only; for the free will which is in the power of man, can resist the devil, but cannot wholly have power over the affections, Psalm 77:1. For if human nature, “without the whole armor of the Holy Spirit,” could “stand against the wiles of the devil,” it could not be said by the apostle, what is in Romans 16:20, 2 Thessalonians 2:8; wherefore we are commanded to pray the Lord, that he would “not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil;” for unless being delivered from the fiery darts of the evil one, dia tes kreittonos boetheias, “by a better help,” we should have the adoption of children vouchsafed to us, we have our conversation in vain, os porro tes dunameos tou Theou tugchanontes, “as being afar off from the power of God.” Then he goes on to exhort to seek the powerful help of God, and represents fallen men as comparable to beasts without understanding, as become through disobedience douloi tes sarkos pathon, “servants to the affections of the flesh.” He sometimes sets forth the case of men by a bird without wings, or having but one; “As,” says he, “a bird that has but one wing, cannot fly with that one; so human nature, if it remains naked by itself, and does not receive the mixture and communication of the heavenly nature, ouden diorthothe, ‘ can do nothing aright,’ but continues naked and blame-able in its nature, with much filth.”
Yea, though a man may have a will, he denies that he has a power; his words are these “As when any one sees a bird fly, he would fly also, but he cannot, because he has no wings; so, though to will is with man, to be pure, unblameable, unspotted, and not to have any evil in him, but to be always with God, to dunasthai de ouk echei, ‘ he has not a power;’ he would fly into the divine air, and the liberty of the Holy Spirit, but if he does not receive wings, he cannot; let us therefore beseech God, that he would give us the wings of the dove, the Holy Spirit, that we may fly unto him, and be at rest.” Yea, he represents man as dead, and so incapable of doing any thing unless quickened; “As the body,” says he, “without the soul is dead, and cannot do any thing, so the soul, without the divine Spirit, is dead from the kingdom, nor can it do any of the things of God, aneu tou Pneumatos, without the Spirit.” Also he signifies, that “man is so wounded, that it is impossible he should be healed but by the Lord alone, to him only it is possible.” And also, that “it is impossible for any man of himself to deliver himself from contrariety, the error of reasoning, the invisible affections, and the machinations of the evil one.” And elsewhere, having observed, that a man cannot bring forth fruits worthy of the Lord without the wind of the Spirit, and clouds and rains of heaven, he adds; “This is the duty of man, that whether he fasts, or watches, or prays, or does any good thing, that he ascribes all to the Lord; thus saying, Unless God had strengthened me, I could not have fasted nor prayed, nor have left the world.”
There are indeed two passages in this writer, cited and referred to by Dr.
Whitby, in favor of free will; though they seem to be levelled against such who held, that some men are by nature good, and others evil, and cannot possibly be otherwise, being under a necessity of nature to be one or the other, a doctrine held by none that I know of. However, it must be owned, that Macarius, in those places, says such things of man’s free will as are not easily reconciled to his many sessions to the contrary which have been produced.
ATHANASIUS. A.D. 350.
ATHANASIUS held the doctrine of original sin, and the corruption of human nature through it; whereby man is brought into a state of slavery, out of which he cannot recover himself by his own strength, nor restore the image of God lost by sin; he says, that “Adam transgressing, eis pantas, tous anthropous e apate diebe, ‘ the deception passed unto all men;’ and that, when man sinned and fell, through his fall all things were disturbed; death reigned from Adam to Christ; the earth was cursed, hell was opened, paradise was shut, heaven was angry, and at length eppthare o anthropos kai apektenothe , man was corrupted and slain.” He observes, that the apostle in the epistle to the Romans shows, that “otherwise there could be no redemption and grace to Israel and to the Gentiles, ei me luthe e archaia amartia, e die tou Adam eis apantas genomene, “unless the old sin which through Adam came to all men was dissolved;’ and that this could not be blotted out but by the Son of God; by whom also at the beginning the curse came, for it was not possible that another should loose the offense.” And to the same purpose he says in another place, that “the devil wrought sin from the begining in the rational and understanding nature of man; for which reason it is impossible for nature, being rational, and willing, and being under the condemnation of death, eauten anakalesasthai eis eleutherian, ‘ to restore itself to liberty;’ as saith the apostle, “what the law could not do in that it was weak.” The weakness of human nature is frequently inculcated by him. The re-implantation of the image of God in man, he represents as a thing impossible to be done by either men or angels; his words are these: “It was not proper that those who once partook of the age of God should perish; what therefore was fit for God to do? or, what should be done? but to renew the image again, that hereby man might be able to know him again: but how could this be done, unless the image of God, our Savior Jesus Christ, comes? di anthropon men gar ouk en dunaton, ‘for by men it was impossible,’ since they were made after his image; nor by angels, for they are no images; hence the Word of God by himself came, that as being the image of the Father, he might ton kat eikona anthropon anaktisai, ‘ create man again after his image;’ which could not be, unless death and corruption were made to vanish away.” And elsewhere, explaining those words, that they may be one in us, among other things he says, “This phrase in us is the same as if it was said, that they may be made one by the power of the Father and of the Son; aneu gar Theou touto genesthai aduaton, for without God it is impossible that this can be done.” And a little after he says, dia ten dedomenen emin charin tou Pneumatos, “‘through the grace of the Spirit given unto us,’ we are in him, and he in us; and because he is the Spirit of God who is in us, we likewise having the Spirit are reckoned to be in God; and so God is in us, not indeed as the Son is in the Father;” for the Son does not partake of the Spirit, that thereby he may be in the Father; neither does he receive the Spirit, but rather gives it unto all;nor does the Spirit give the Word to the Father, but rather the Spirit receives from the Word. The Son indeed is in the Father as his own Word, and the brightness of him; we truly without the Spirit are strangers and afar from God, but by participation of the Spirit we are joined to the Deity; so that for us to be in the Father, me emeterou einai , “is not ours, or in our power, but the Spirit’s, who is in us, and abides in us.”
Dr. Whitby cites a single passage from Athanasius, proving, that man has a free will to incline to that which is good, or turn from it; and it must be owned, that he does in the place referred to, and elsewhere, f1480 speak of man as autexousios, “endued with free will;” but then he speaks of man as he was at first created by God, and of the power of his will, with respect to natural and civil actions, which he abused to his hurt, being of a moveable, changeable, and flexible nature; and so capable of being turned from that which is good, and inclined to that which is evil, as the event of things showed.
HILARIUS PICTAVIENSIS. A.D. 360.
HILARY of Poictiers says many things concerning original sin, and which show the depravity of human nature, its imbecility to do that which is good, yea, its servitude to sin, and the need it stands in of divine grace and assistance. “Sin,” he says, “the father of our body, unbelief, the mother of the soul, began to be in following generations, ex pecato atque infidelitate primi parentis, ‘ from the sin and unbelief of the first parent;’ for from these we took our rise, through the transgression of the first parent.” And in another place, speaking of the parable of the lost sheep, he says, “The one sheep is to be understood of man, and under one man the whole is to be reckoned, sed in unius Adae errore , but in the error of one Adam all mankind went astray.” Again, upon mentioning David’s confession in Psalm 51:5, “Who will boast that he has a pure heart before God? No, not an infant, though but of one day, the original and law of sin remaining in us.” And upon a repetition of the same words he has this note, “He knew that he was born sub peccati origine, et sub peccati lege, under original sin, and under the law of sin.” Hence he represents man as in a state of great ignorance, and as incapable of knowing divine things without divine teachings; “It ought,” says he, f1485 “to be a doubt to none, that we must make use of divine doctrines to know divine things; neither can human weakness of itself attain to the knowledge of heavenly things; nor can the sense of corporal things assume to itself the understanding of invisible ones.” In another place, “God cannot be understood unless by God. We must not think of God according to human judgment; for neither is there that nature in us ut se in coelestem cognitionem suis viribns efferat, ‘ so as that it can, by its own strength, lift up itself ‘to heavenly knowledge.’ From God we must learn what is to be understood of God; for he is not known but by himself, the author.” Again he says “For the truth of faith, that is, the understanding of God the Father and the Lord, which especially our justification will be proved, quanta opus est nobis Dei gratia, how much of the grace of God do we need,’ that we may think rightly.” Many more passages might be produced to the same purpose. He denies faith to be exnostro arbitro, ‘ of our free will;’ and affirms f1490 , that “we have no love to God the Father but through believing in the Son.” He frequently suggests the weakness of man to keep the commands of God or to do his will. “Statues,” says he, “are more and different, that is, than commands, and are tempered for the observing of each kind of duties; for the keeping of which, nisi a Deo derigamur, infirmi per naturam nostram erimus, ‘ unless we are directed by God, we shall by our nature be infirm;’ therefore we must be helped and directed by his grace, that we may follow the order of the statutes that are commanded.” In another place he says: “The prophet freely ran the way of the Lord, after he began to have his heart enlarged; for he could not run the way of God before he was made a habitation, large and worthy of God.” And elsewhere he observes, that David prays, Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for,” says he, “he knew that his nature was weak, and that he could not attempt that path without a guide. And a little after, ‘The prophet refers all to the hands of God, whether that the law of statutes may be appointed for him by the Lord, or that understanding may be given him, or that he may be led in the path, or that his heart may be inclined to them testimonies;” wherefore he often intimates, what need we stand in of divine assistance upon these and other accounts, which is far from the notion of the power of free will as maintained by Pelagians and Arminians; yea, he represents man as in a state of bondage and slavery, and his will a servant and not free. “In Peter’s wife’s mother,” says he, “an account may be taken of the vicious affection of unbelief, to which adjoins the liberty of the will. She shall be called unbelief, because until she believed voluntatis suae servitio detinebatur, she was held under the bondage of her own will.” And in another place: “The Gentiles are bound in the bonds of their own sins, from which, through infidelity, they cannot loose themselves; according to what is said, the sinner is holden with the cords of his sins.” Once more, citing those words in John 8:34-36, He that committeth sin is the servant of sin, etc., he makes this remark, Therefore we are taken and bound, and serve, not so much in body as in mind;” all which agrees with our sense of free will; though it must be owned, that there are some passages in this writer which cannot well be reconciled to the more frequent expressions of his; two are cited by Dr Whitby and others by Vossius, showing that the beginning of good is from the will of man, and the finishing and perfecting of it from God.
VICTORINUS AFER.A.D. 365.
VICTORINUS represents the state of man by nature as most deplorable and wretched, and clearly expresses the neccessity of the Holy Spirit, who he speaks of as the alone sanctifier, from which work of his he takes his name; “because,” says he, “men’s memory of themselves, and of God, is obrutam, overwhelmed or confounded, there is need of the Holy Ghost, if so be that knowledge may come, to understand what is the breadth, etc. — for life was first to be given mortuis per peccata hominibus, ‘ to men dead through sins,’ that they might be raised up unto God by faith.” The Spirit of God, he says, “is called the Holy Spirit, quod sanciat, id est sanctos facit, because he makes holy.” And a little after he observes, “that “every one that is baptized, and says he believes, and receives faith, he receives the Spirit of truth, that is, the Holy Spirit, et sanctior fit a Spiritu Sancto, and is made more holy by the Holy Spirit.”
OPTATUS MILEVITANUS. A.D. 370.
OPTATUS of Mileviowns the original corruption of human nature, when he says, “Every man that is born, although he may be born of Christian parents, sine spiritu immundo esse non possit, ‘cannot be without an unclean spirit,’ which must be excluded and separated from man before the salutary laver,” meaning baptism. He denies that men, or means, or ordinances, can of themselves remove the pollution of sin. “The filth and spots of the mind,” says he, “none can wash but he who is the Maker of the mind.” Many other things are observed by him in the same chapter against the Donatists, who he thought took that to themselves which belonged to God. He indeed ascribes the willing of what is good to man, not to a natural man, but to a Christian man: mentioning the words of the apostle,1 John 1:8, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us,” he makes this observation: “He that said this wisely reserved himself for the grace of God; for it is of a Christian man to will that which is good, and to run in that which he wins well, but to man it is not given to perfect — for it is ours to win, it is ours to run, it is of God to perfect.”
CYRILLUS HIEROSOLYMITANUS. A.D. 370.
CYRILL of Jerusalem gives plain intimations of the doctrine of original sin; he observes twice in one place, that the sin of Adam brought death into the world: “The wound of the human nature,” he says, “is very great; from feet to head there is no soundness in it.” He represents man, through the fall of Adam, as “deceived, fallen, blinded, lame; yea, even dead.” And as for free will itself, he says, it is kakon, evil; and they that are holy, are so, ou plusei, “not by nature,” but by participation, and by exercise, and by prayer; yea, he affirms, “that Jesus to thelein charizetai, ‘gives the will,’ and receives the faith, and bestows the gift freely.”
Dr. Whitby cites a passage or two from Cyrill in favor of free will, which passages are levelled against the Manichees, who held, that some men are by nature good, and others by nature evil; and that there are two souls in men, one naturally good, the other naturally evil; and that good and evil are respectively done by them through necessity of nature, and not with any freedom of will; and do not militate against our sense of free will, who allow of a liberty of will in all actions good and bad.
BASILIUS CAESARIENSIS. A.D. 370.
BASIL of Caesarea very clearly asserts the doctrine of original sin: “No man,” says he, “can be found pure from filth, though he has been born but one day.” Again, “The rose is florid, but it puts shame and sorrow in me; for as often as I see that flower, tea amartias upomimneskomai tes emes, ‘ I am put in mind of my sin,’ for which the earth is condemned’ to bring forth thorns and thistles.” And in another place: “I was indeed,” says he, “fair by nature, but am now weak, because I am dead in sin, ex epiboules tou opheos, through the snare of the serpent.” Wherefore, in the same place, he observes, that “beauty may come to the soul, and a power effectually perfective, of those things which are necessary, theias eis touto charitos chrezomen, for this we need divine grace.” Agreeable to this he says, “We may understand those words, “they that trust in their power, and boast of the multitude of their riches,” of the powers of the soul, os ouk autotelous ouses ou di’ autes pros soterian , as being by no means sufficient of themselves to salvation.” And elsewhere he observes, that spiritual and enlightened souls “know how impossible it is, by their own strength, to overcome the stumbling-blocks of the evil one, all’ ek tea aettetou duvameos tou Theou, ‘but by the insuperable power of God;’ but they who are not honored with God’s word, are vainly puffed up,’ and think that, by their own free will, they can make void the occasions of sin, which is abolished only by the mystery of the cross.” And a little after: “Human nature, without the whole armor of the Holy Spirit, cannot resist the wiles of the devil.” As for free will, he says, “the power and liberty of it is the beginning and root of sin.” And in another place he affirms, f1519 that “every human soul is subject to ponero tes douleias zugei, ‘ to the evil yoke of bondage of the common enemy of all,’ and being deprived of the liberty it had from its Creator, is led captive by sin.”
Dr. Whitby cites two or three passages from Basil in favor of free will, out of a commentary on Isaiah, ascribed to him; but it is thought by learned men to be none of his, and therefore deserves no regard.
GREGORIUS NAZIANZENUS. A.D. 370.
GREGORY of Nazianzum often inculcates the doctrine of original sin in his writings. He represents himself and all mankind as concerned in Adam’s first sin, as ruined by it, and most bitterly laments the wretched consequences of it. He affirms, that the souls of men sinned in Adam; that all men fell by that sin which was from the beginning; that we are all from the same earth and mass, and have all tasted of the same tree of wickedness. And of himself he says, “I am fallen from paradise, I am turned again to the earth from whence I was taken, having for delicious fare this one thing, to know my own evils, kai and tes mikras edokes, ‘ and for a little pleasure,’ and condemned to sorrow without ceasing, and obliged to war against him who got into my friendship to my hurt, and through tasting, drew me into sin; these are the punishments of sin to me; hence I am born to labor, to live, and die: this is the mother of want, want of covetousness, covetousness of wars.” In another place he says, “I fell wholly, and am condemned ek tes tou protoplas ou parakoes, through the disobedience of him that was first made, and the theft of the adversary.” Elsewhere he cries out, pheu tes e emes atheneias, eme gare tou propatoros, “O my weakness, for that of my first parent is mine; he forgot the commandment which was given him, and was overcome by the bitter taste.” And then he proceeds to enumerate the multitude of evils which spring from this root of bitterness: Beautiful, says he, was the fruit for sight, and good for food, o eme thanatosas, which killed me.”
Hence he calls the eating of it, geuthis oulomene , “the destroying taste,” which brought bitter punishment upon him; and the tree, f1530 phutonandrophonon, “the man murdering plant;” and laments the heavenly image being destroyed by the sin of the first man. One so sensible of the sad effects of the fall of Adam, could not fail of observing the weakness of man to all that is good, and the necessity of the Spirit and grace of God, and of divine help, to the performance of that which is truly so. “We are all poor,” says he kai tes theias charitos epideeis, “and stand in deed of divine grace.” And in another place he observes, that “such is the grossness of the material body, and imprisoned mind, that me boethoumenon, ‘unless it is helped,’ it cannot otherwise have any understanding of God.” And elsewhere he says, “It is by the Spirit of God only that God is heard, explained, and understood. That no man is spiritual without the Spirit. This, says he, “is my sentiment, oti duslepton men to agathon to anthropine phusei, that which is good is hard to be received by human nature.” lie affirms, that “God both gives a capacity to receive, and strength to perform that which is good. That he has two parts therein, the first and the last, and that oude Cristoio dicha brotos ichnos aeimei, ‘ without Christ a man cannot take one step that way;’ and therefore men should be careful not to ascribe too much to themselves, nor trust in their own strength, though never so wise.” For, as he observes elsewhere upon those words “it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy: “There are some who are so lifted up with their good works, as to ascribe all to themselves, and nothing to the Creator and Author of wisdom, and Supplier of good things. These words teach them, oti kai, to boulesthai kalos deitai tes pars Theou boetheias, ‘that to will rightly, requires help from God;’ or rather, the choosing itself of things needful is something divine, and is a gift of God’s good-will to man for salvation, and ought to be both in us and of God: therefore he saith, it is not of him that willeth, that is, not only of him that willeth, “nor of him that runneth only, but of God that showeth mercy; so because to boulethai para Theon, ‘to will is from God,’ he rightly ascribes all unto him; for if thou runnest and strivest never so much, thou standest in need of him who gives the crown, according to <19C701> Psalm 127:1.” In which passage may be observed, that he asserts not only that divine assistance, is requisite to a man’s willing that which is good, but that the will itself is of God. Gregory does indeed assert free will in man, as he was at first created by God, and continued in a state of innocence; but at the same time gives plain intimations, that man’s free-will is now, through transgression, in a state of servitude. “Liberty and riches,” says he, f1540 “were, or lay in the sole keeping of the commandments;’ and on the contrary, the transgressions of it is real poverty, kai douleia, and slavery.”
GREGORIUS NYSSENUS. A.D. 380.
GREGORY of Nyssa, frequently speaks of the corruption and weakness of human nature. He asserts, that man is born in sin; that the image of God is lost in man; that that which is good choran ouk echen , “hath no place in him;” and that human nature, being in wickedness through sin, apokekritai tes kurias tou agathou kleseos, “is exempted from the proper appellation of good,” or does not deserve the name of good; yea, so faulty is it, that it cannot understand exactly what is naturally good, and what through deceit supposed to be so. He owns, that man’s free will was originally good, and the gift of God, but that it is the instrument of sin; yea, the last of evils. Moreover he says, that “man has changed ten poneran tes amartias douleian and tes autexou siou eleutherias, ‘ and has, instead of the freedom of the will, the wicked and base slavery of sin;’ and has chose rather to be under the tyranny of a corrupting power, than to be with God.” Nay, he says, “that he who was without lord and master, and of his own free will, nun upo toiouton kai tosouton kakon kurieutai, ‘ is now lorded over by such and so many evils,’ as it is not easy to number our tyrants. Hence he observes the impotency of man, and the necessity of the Spirit and grace of God. On Song of Solomon 1:2, he has this note: “In what follows, the soul, the bride, touches a more sublime philosophy, showing to aprositon to kai achoreton logismois anthropinois tes theias dunameos, ‘ that divine virtue is not to be come at and comprehended by human reasonings,’ when she says, ‘Thy name is as ointment poured forth.’” And in another place he says, that “the power of human virtue ouk exarkei kath’ eauten, not sufficient of itself to raise up souls destitute of grace to a form of life.”
Yea, he observes, “that such mischievous evils, and so difficult of cure, are hid in the souls of men, oste me dunaton einai dia mones tes anthropines apoudes kai aretes , as that it is not possible, by mere human industry and virtue, to wear them out, and remove them, unless one receives the helping power of the Spirit.” And a little after, “The tempter lays many snares for the soul, and human nature is in so bad a condition in itself, that it cannot get the victory of him.” He argues the weakness of human nature, and the necessity, of divine grace and assistance, from the several petitions in the Lord’s Prayer; “What,” says he, “does that petition mean, Hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come? but this, oti asthenes esti pros agathou tinos ktesin e anthropine phusis, ‘ that human nature is weak to procure any thing that is good;’ and therefore none of the things that we are seeking diligently after befall us, unless the divine help works that which is good in us.” And a little after, “He that says in prayer, hal1owed be thy name , prays thus, genoimen to sunergeia tes ses boetheias, ‘ 0 that I might by thine help and assistance,’ be unblameable righteous, godly, abstaining from every evil work, speaking truth, working righteousness etc.; for God cannot otherwise be glorified by man, unless his virtue witness, that the cause of good things is through the divine power.” Then he goes on to set forth the wretched condition that human nature is in by reason of sin, and adds, “Well do we pray, that the kingdom of God may come upon us; for we cannot otherwise put off the wretched government of corruption, unless the quickening power takes the dominion over us.” Again, on that petition, Thy will be done, he asks, “Why do we pray, that we may have a good will from God? oti asthenes e anthropine phusis pros to agathon estin, because human nature is weak to that which is good.” And a little after he observes, that “there is in us such a bias to that which is evil, that we have no need of an assistant, seeing wickedness perfects itself of its own accord in our will; but if the inclination is made to that which is better, tou Theou chreia ten epithumian eis ergon agontos , ‘we have need of God to bring the desire into action.’ Therefore we say, because thy will is temperance, but I am carnal, sold under sin, “by thy power form aright this good will in me; the same of righteousness, godliness, the alienation of the affections. And yet after all this it cannot be denied, that Gregory drops several expressions which seem to favor free will; and among others of the like nature, that is said by him, which is cited by Dr. Whitby, that “it is in men’s power to be the children of the day, or of the night; and that they are the children of God by virtue, and of the enemy by vice; which must be reckoned among his unguarded expressions, in which he carries the power of man’s free will too far; unless the patrons of that doctrine can reconcile them to the numerous testimonies to the contrary produced here and elsewhere. To which may be added, that prayer of his at the close of one of his treatises; “The Lord give us power, eis to ekklinein apo kakon, kai poiein agathon, ‘to decline from evil, and to do that which is good,’ through the grace and philanthropy of the Lord and God, and our Savior Jesus Christ.”
HILARIUS DIACONUS. A. D. HILARY the Deacon, or the author of the Commentaries on the Epistles of the apostle Paul; formerly thought to be Ambrose’s, very plainly asserts the doctrine of original sin, the impotency of man to fulfill the law, or do that which is spiritually good, and the necessity of divine grace. “It is manifest,” says he, “that in Adam all sinned; quasi in massa, ‘as in the lump;’ for he being corrupted by sin, all whom he begat are born under sin; wherefore from him we are all sinners, because we are all of him.” Again: “It is right and plain, that we ought not to obey the invention of Adam, who acted carnally, and who first sinning hath left death unto us, haereditatis titulo , by way of inheritance.” Likewise speaking of sin, being condemned by the cross of Christ; hence, says he, “The authority as it were of sin was taken away, by which it held men in hell propter delictum Adae, for the sin of Adam.” And elsewhere, to the same effect: “Being delivered from a state of darkness, that is, pulled out of hell, in which we were held by ‘the devil, tam ex proprio quam ex delicto Adae, ‘both for our own and the sin of Adam,’ who is the father of all sinners, we are translated by faith into the heavenly kingdom of the Son of God.’ Once more, “Adam,” Says he, “sold himself first, and hereby his seed are subject to sin, wherefore man is weak to keep the commands of the law, nisi divinis auxilius muniatur, ‘unless he is fortified by divine aids;’ hence it is,” he says, “the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin; that is, the law is firm and just, and without fault, but man is frail, and subjected by his father’s sin; so that he cannot use his power in obeying the law, and therefore must fly to the mercy of God to escape the severity of the law.
And a little after “What is commanded by the law is pleasing, and there is will to do, but power and strength are wanting to fulfill; because man is so pressed with the power of sin that he cannot go where he would, nor can he gainsay, because another is master of his power.” And a little farther: “It was impossible for us to fulfill the law, because we were subject to sin.”
AMBROSIUS MEDIOLANENSIS. A.D. 380.
AMBROSE of Milain abounds with testimonies to the doctrine of original sin, and the depravity and weakness of human nature: “We have all,” says he, “sinned in the first man, and through a succession of nature, a succession also of the fault is transfused from one to all. Adam is in each of us, for in him human nature failed, because through one sin passed upon all.” Again “The species of mankind may be considered in one: Adam was, and in him all were; Adam perished, et in illo omnes perierunt, and in him all have perished.” And in another place he says, “All men are born under sin, quorum ipsc ortis in vitio est, whose very beginning itself is in sin, according to Psalm 51:5.” And elsewhere he thus expresses himself: “I am fallen in Adam, I am cast out of paradise in Adam, am dead in Adam; how could he call me back, unless he had found me in Adam, as obnoxious to fault in him? A debt to death, so justified in Christ.”
Once more, says he, “We are all begotten in bondage. Why dost thou assume the arrogance of liberty in a servile condition? Why dost thou usurp the titles of nobility, O servile inheritance. Thou knowest not that the fault of Adam and Eve has bound thee to servitude.” Yea, he says, f1574 antequam nascamur maculamur contagio, “‘ before we were born we are spotted with the infection;’ and before the use of light we receive the injury of its original; we are conceived in iniquity;” with more that follows to the same purpose. It would be too tedious to transcribe all the passages of this father which speak of this doctrine; I shall therefore refer the learned reader to the places in the margin, which he may consult at his leisure.
Hence he frequently inculcates the inability of man to do any good thing of himself, and the necessity of divine grace and assistance. “We often talk,” says he, “of avoiding this world; I wish the affection was as cautious and careful as the talk is easy; but what is worse frequently the allurement of earthly lust creeps in, and a flood of vanities seizes the mind, that what you study to shun, that you think of, and roll over in your heart; which to beware of is difficult to men, to put off, impossible. Moreover, that this is a matter rather of wish than affection, the prophet testifies, saying, Incline my heart to thy testimonies, and not unto covetousness: Non enim in potestate nostra est cor nostrum, ‘ for our heart is not in our own power.’
Again: “Who can ascend from earthly things to heavenly, from the shadow to, clearness, from the exemplar to the inner chambers of truth, by human steps, sine divino ductu, without divine guidance?” And in another place he says, “Because human nature without divine aid is weak, it requires God a helper to heal it.” Elsewhere he says, “Neither can any say, that man can procure more for himself than what is bestowed upon him by a divine gift.” Having mentioned the complaint and conduct of the apostle Paul, in Romans 7:23-25, he makes this observation, “that if he that was stronger did not commit himself to his own strength, that he might escape the body of death, but sought help from Christ, quid nos facere oportet infirmiores, what should we do who are more infirm?” He ascribes men’s having a will to that which is good, and the beginning of every good action, unto God. “He that follows Christ,” he observes,” f1581 “being asked why he should be a Christian, may answer, it seemed good to me; which, when he says, he does not deny that it seemed good to God; a Deo enim preparatur voluntas hominum, ‘for the will of men is prepared by God;’ for that God is honored by a saint is owing to the grace of God.”
Again: “you see that everywhere the power of God cooperates with human endeavors; no man can build any thing without the Lord; nemo quidquam incipere sine Domino, no man can begin, any thing without the Lord.” As for man in a state of unregeneracy, Ambrose was so far from supposing that he has a free will to that which is good, that he represents him in a state of bondage and slavery; “The soul.” says he, “is fastened as with nails to corporal pleasures, and when it is once immersed in earthly lusts, it sticks fast, so that it is difficult, to fly back on high, front whence it descends, sine favore Dei, without the grace of God.” Again: “Every passion is servile, for he that commits sin is the servant of sin; and what is worse, multorum servus est, ‘he is the servant of many;’ he that is subject to vices has given himself up to many lords, so that he can scarcely come out of the service.” Once more: “He that is in sin cannot be said to be free, but a servant, whom the grievous bonds of sin hold.” I do not remember that either Vossius or Dr. Whitby has either produced or referred to one single passage in this father in favor of free will.
EPIPHANIUS. A.D. 390.
EPIPHANIUS does indeed assert a free will in man, and argues for it, against the pharisaical fate, and destiny of men by birth, owing to the stars; which is equally denied by us in a passage Dr. Whitby has cited or referred to no less than three times; yet he affirms that man is wholly under the power of sin and, in a state of nature, weak, yea, dead. “Our life,” says he f1587 “came, and again showed light unto us, when he found us wandering; for we were immersed in pride and blasphemies, by the images of idols, and impieties of spirits, kakon panton epitagian , under the government of all evils.” And a little after, mentioning those words, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” he adds, “Therefore when ego ethenoun dia tes sarkos, ‘I was weak through the flesh,’ a Savior was sent to me in the likeness of sinful flesh, fulfilling such a dispensation, that he might redeem me from bondage, from corruption, from death.” And a little further: “As many as are accounted to death, these are called natural or carnal; wherefore he commands us to reject the works of the flesh, as being the munitions of sin, and mortify the members of death by his grace, and receive the Holy Spirit, which he had not, to zoopoioun eme ton palai tethnekota, ‘ who quickens me that was formerly dead,’ whom if I had not received I should have died; dicha gar Pneumatos autou pas nekros, for without his Spirit every one is dead.”
MARCUS EREMITA. A.D. 390.
MARK the Eremite acknowledges, that all mankind are guilty of Adam’s sin, and under condemnation on the account of it; that they cannot of themselves remove that or any other sin from themselves, or do anything that is good, being dead in sin; and that, notwithstanding their free will, they are as brutish as the beasts of the field. “Let us suppose,” says he, f1590 “that some are found free from these things, and as soon as born are strangers to all vice, which indeed cannot be, since Paul says, we have all sinned, etc. Yet though they were such, nevertheless they have their original from Adam, cuncti que peccato transgressionis fuerunt ideoque capitali sententia condemnati, ‘and have been all guilty of the sin of transgression, and so condemned by a sentence of death;’ insomuch at without Christ they cannot be saved.” “Wherefore,” as he elsewhere observes, we must not think that Adae peccatura certaminibus amputandum posse, ‘ the sin of Adam can be removed by our strivings;’ nor even our own sins, which befall us after baptism, unless by Christ; for how could we, who were dead in sins, a nobis ipsis bond quipplato agere, ‘do any good thing of ourselves, unless the Lord had quickened us by the laver of regeneration, and had bestowed upon us the grace of the Holy Spirit?” Again, says he, “Let none of those who study virtue, think, se suapte duntaxat facultate boni quippiam fecisse, ‘that they have, by their own power alone, done any good thing;’ ‘for a good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things;’ “where he calls the Holy Spirit hid in the heart of believers a treasure. This writer does indeed in some places speak of man as endued with free will, ‘and yet, notwithstanding this his opinion of him was, that he was sunk below the beasts of the field. “We,” says he f1594 , “who are adorned with free will above all animals, are more savage than wild beasts and appear less rational than the brutes.”
JOANNES CHRYSOSTOMUS. A.D. 390.
CHRYSOSTOM, though, he has been thought too much to favor the Pelagian scheme, yet clearly asserts the condemnation of all mankind for Adam’s sin; the corruption and weakness of human nature; the slavery man is in by sin, and the necessity of. divine grace to his,deliverance. “If,” says he, f1595 “a Jew should say to thee, How can the world be saved through one Christ doing well? you may reply to him, Pos enos parakousantos tou Adam e oikoumene katekrithe, ‘How could the world be condemned through one Adam sinning?” Again: “What is the meaning of that, in whom all have sinned? he falling, they also who do not eat of the tree, gegonasin ex ekeinou pantes thnetoi , all become mortal through him.” Some have observed, that Chrysostom’s sense of original sin was this, that our bodies only are become by it, but that our souls receive no on account of it; but the contrary by what follows, “for along with death” he says, kai o ton pathos epeitelthen ochthos , ‘a multitude of affections also entered in; for when the body became mortal, it necessarily received lust, anger, grief, and all the rest.” And in another place he observes, “that before the coming of Christ, our body was easily overcome by sin; for with death, kai polus pathon epeiselthen esmos, likewise a vast swarm of the affections came in;’ wherefore neither was it very light to run the race of virtue, neither was the Spirit present to help, nor baptism, which is able to mortify; all’ osper tis ippos duoenios, but ‘as an unbridled horse,’ it ran, and frequently went astray; the law indeed showing, what was to be done, and what not, but brought in nothing besides a verbal exhortation to them that strove; but after Christ came, the combats were made more easy; wherefore greater ones are set before ,us, as being partakers of greater help.” Once more f1599 “When Adam sinned, his body became mortal and passible, and received many natural vices; kai baruteros kai dusenios o ippos kateste, ‘and the horse became more heavy and unbridled;’ but when Christ came, he made it lighter for us by baptism; en to ptero diegeiron tou Pneumatos, raising it up with the wings of the Spirit.” Moreover he says, when sin entered, elumenato ten eleutherian , “it destroyed the freedom and corrupted the privilege of nature, which was given, kai ten douleian epeisegagen, and introduced slavery.” And in another place, “We ourselves were weak, but by grace are made strong.” “Nor is it of human strength,” says he, f1602 “that we are delivered from all these things, but the grace of God, who will and can do such things. And that you may know that it is not from their good will alone, alla kai tes tou Theou charitos to pan gegonen, ‘ but that the whole is done by the grace of God;’ he says, ‘ Ye have obeyed from the heart the form of doctrine into which ye were delivered;’ for obedience from the heart shows free will; and to be delivered, ten tou Theou boetheian ainittetai, intimates the help of God.” And though he frequently asserts free will, yet, such as it is after the grace of God is bestowed; “he has left,” says he, “all in our free will, peta ten anothen charin, after the grace which is from above.” And elsewhere he asserts, that all evil things are from our will only, and all good things, from our will, kai tes autouropes, “and his impulse.” Chrysostom has indeed been blamed by many writers, both Papists and Protestants, for too highly extolling the power of man’s free will; and particularly our Bradwardine not only says, that he approached near Pelagius, but said the same he does: and it must be owned, that there are many of his expressions which look this way, some of which Dr. Whitby has cited, and more might be; but then, as Vossius observes, it should be considered, that when he extols the power of man, he does not speak of it as without, but with and under the grace of God; and it is worthy of notice, that the same writer remarks, f1608 ‘that when Chrysostom, being in exile, and near to his death, heard of Pelagius’s fall into error, he lamented it in these words: “I am exceedingly grieved for Pelagius the monk: consider therefore what account they are worthy of, who bravely stand, when men who have lived with so much exercise and constancy appear to be so drawn away.”
HIERONYMUS. A.D. 390.
JEROM asserted the doctrine of original sin, which not only appears from his saying, that “all men transgressed in paradise, are obnoxious to the sin and punishment of offending Adam, and fell with him from paradise into the captivity of this world:” but from that famous passage of his, in which he has put together many of the principal texts of Scripture we make use of in proof of this doctrine; upon which account, and especially for the sake of his sense in Psalm 51:5, I shall transcribe it at large. His words are these; “The world lies in wickedness, ‘and the heart of man from his youth is bent to that which is evil; nor is the human state without sin one day, from the beginning of its birth; hence David confesses in the Psalms, “Behold, I am conceived in iniquities, and in sins my mother conceived me;” non in iniquitatibus matris meae, vel certe meis, sed in iniquitatibus humane conditionis, ‘not in the iniquities of my mother, or truly in my own, but in the iniquities of the human condition.’ Hence the apostle says, “Death reigned from Adam to Moses; even over them that sinned not after the similitude of Adam’s transgression.” The weakness of man to fulfill the law he proves thus, “For that no man can fulfill the law, and do all the things which are commanded, the apostle elsewhere testifies, saying, “For what the law could not do,” etc.
On those words, “The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron,” etc., he has this note, “If this be so, where is that, that the doting old woman (meaning Pelagius) devises, that a man may be without sin, if he will; and that the commands of God are easy?” And elsewhere directing himself to Pelagius, “You say,” says he, “that the commands of God are easy, and yet you cannot produce one man that has fulfilled them all; answer me, are they easy or difficult? If easy, produce the man that has fulfilled them; if difficult, how durst thou say, the commands of God are easy, which no man has fufilled?” Yea, he affirms, that man can do nothing that is good of himself; “Man,” says he, “from the beginning of his creation, makes use of God as his helper; and seeing it is of his grace that he is created, and of his mercy that he subsists and lives, nihil boni operis agere potest absque eo, ‘ he can do no good work without him;’ who hath so given free will, that he may not deny his own grace in every work; lest the liberty of the will should redound to the injury of the Creator, and to the hardening of him who is so made free, that without God he knows that he is nothing.”
And elsewhere he observes, that “without the Holy Ghost there is no strength;” that is, to do any thing that is good. Moreover over he declares, that “this is the chief righteousness of man, to reckon that what soever power he can have, non suum esse, se, Dominiqui largitus est, ‘ is not his own, but the Lord’s who gives it.’” Yea, he pronounces the man “accursed, who not only puts his hope in man, but him that makes flesh his arm, that is, his own strength and whatsoever he does, non Domini clementiae, sed suae putaverit esse virtutis, does not think it is owing to the clemency of the Lord, but to his own power.” He denies that the understanding of the Scripture, and utterance to declare the mind of God, are in the power of man, “for,” says he, “unless all things which are written were opened by him, who has the key of David, “who opens, and no man shuts; who shuts, and no man opens;” nullo alio reserente pan dentur, “they could be opened by no other.’ And in another place he says, “The opening of the mouth, is not in the power of man, but of God; as Paul says, “A great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries; wherefore God is called he that opens.” The whole work of conversion, repentance, and spiritual knowledge, is clearly ascribed by him to the power of God, and not man. He represents man as being much in the same case the poor woman was, whom Satan had bound eighteen years, so that she could not look up to heaven, but always on the earth: so man is bound down, et se erigere non possit, “and cannot raise himself up, because he is bound by the devil.” On these words, “I will give them an heart to know me,” he makes this remark: “This is like to that of the apostle, “God is he that worketh in you both to will and to do;” for not only our works, but our will, Dei nitatur auxilio, depends upon the help of God.” And on those words, “Turn thou me, and I shall be turned,” he has this note; “We cannot fulfill this, that we repent, unless we lean on the help of God; for after thou shalt convert me, and I shall be converted unto thee, then shall I know that thou art the Lord my God, and that my errors and sins shall not slay me; vide quantum sit auxilium Dei, et quam fragilis humana conditio, ‘see how great is the help of God, and how frail the condition of man;’ that we cannot by any means fulfill this, that we repent, unless the Lord first convert us.” And in another place having cited John 6:44, he thus descants upon it; “When he says, no man can come to me, he breaks the proud liberty of free will; for if ever he would come to Christ unless that is done which follows, “except my heavenly Father draw him; nee quicquam cupiat, et frustra nitatur , he can desire nothing, and in vain he endeavors.” And on these words, which he thus reads, “I will give them thought and sense: that they may know me,” he argues “If thought and sense are given by God, and the understanding of the Lord spring from him who is to be known, ubi est liberi arbitrii tantum superba jactatio, where is the proud boasting of free will?” And having mentioned Psalm 77:10, which he renders thus; “Now have I begun; this is the change of the right hand of the Most High;’makes this remark upon it, “It is the language of a righteous man, who after meditation in sleep, and distress of conscience, at last says, Now have I begun either to repent or to enter into the light of knowledge; and this change from good to better, non mearum virium sed dexterae et potentiae Dei est, ‘is not owing to my own strength, but to the right hand and power of God.” He frequently argues against the power of free will, from this consideration, that upon a supposition of this there is no need of prayer, “for,” says he, “if only the grace of God lies in this, that he hath made us endued with free will, with which we are content, nor do any longer stand in need of his help, lest if we should, our free will would be destroyed; ‘ then we ought by no means to pray any longer,’ and thereby engage the goodness of God, that we may daily receive, what, being once received, is in our power; for we pray in vain,” adds he, “if it is in our will to do what we will. Why should men pray for that from the Lord, which they have in the power of their own free will?” He farther argues against the power of free will from the grace of God, and the help and assistance which he affords to man; “Where,” says he, “there is grace, there is no reward of works, but the free gift of the donor; that the saying of the apostle may be fulfilled, “It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy;” and yet to will and nill is ours, but that which is ours, is not ours, sine Dei miseratione, without the mercy of God.” And elsewhere he observes, that “where there is grace and mercy, free will in part ceases: it is only by that we win, desire, and give an assent to things that are liked; but it is in the power of the Lord, that that which we desire, labor for, and endeavor after, we are able to fulfill, illius ope et auxilio, by his help and assistance.” And in another place he says, “If not one, nor few, nor many, but all, are governed by their own will, ubi erit auxilium Dei, ‘ where will be the help of God?” Then how did you explain Psalm 37:23, Jeremiah 10:23, John 3:27, 1 Corinthians 4:7, etc.?” And again, he asks, “Where are they that say, that man may be governed by his own will? That such a power of free will is given, that the mercy and justice of God are taken away? Let them be ashamed that say so.” He allows of and pleads for such a free will, as is consistent with, and depends upon the grace, and power of God; “not that,” says he, “free will is taken away from man by the grace of God, but the liberty itself, Dommum habere debeat adjutorem, ought to have God for its helper.” He owns, f1632 that “it is ours to will and to run; but, that our willing and running may be accomplished, belongs to the mercy of God; and it is so brought about, that in our willing and running, free will may be preserved, and in the consummation of our will and race, Dei cuncta potentiae relinquantur, all things may be left to the power of God.” Yea, he argues that the Pelagians, and not such as himself destroyed free will; “They boast,” says he, “up and down, that free will is destroyed by us; when, on the contrary, they ought to observe, that they destroy the liberty of the will, who abuse it, contrary to the grace of the donor. Who destroys free will? He who always gives thanks to God, and whatsoever flows in his rivulet, he refers to the fountain? Or, he who says, Depart from me, for I am clean, I have no need of thee?” Thou hast once given me freedom of will, that I may do what I will, why dost thou thrust in thyself again, that I can do nothing unless thou completest thine own gifts in me?” Once more, he observes, “that it is not in this we differ from brute beasts, that we were made with a free will; but in this, that this free will depends upon the help of God, illiusque per singula ope indiget, ‘ and stands in need of his assistance in every action;’ which you (Pelagians) do not mean; but this you mean, that he that once hath free will, does not want God for his helper.” From hence we may better understand Jerom’s meaning, when he is speaking in favor of free will, as he does in many places; though it is easy to observe that he f1635 sometimes considers free will, as man was endued with it at his first creation; at other times he speaks of the power of it, with respect to natural and civil actions, to which also he supposes the power of God was necessary; and very often of the freedom of it, as opposed to force and violence, which it cannot admit of. He also observes, that it is not always the same, and is to be regarded according to the mode, time, and condition of man’s frailty.
Now in one or other of these senses are the passages to be taken which Dr.
Whitby has cited from this writer in favor of free will. It must be owned, that Jerom sometimes drops some things incautiously, and without guard, which are not easily reconciled to his avowed principles; but then these passages should not be urged against his declared opinion and sentiments.