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PART 4. Relating To The Sense Of The Ancient Christian Writers, About Some Things In Controversy With The Arminians, From The Cavils, Calumnies, And Defamations Of Mr. Henry Heywood, Etc. HAVING published, some time ago, an Answer to the Birmingham Dialogue-Writer’s Second Part, I annexed a postscript to it, relating to some charges brought against me by one Mr. Henry Heywood, in an introduction of his to a translation of Dr. Whitby’s Treatise of Original Sin. This postscript, containing my answer to the said charges, it seems, is not relished by him and his friends, and has produced a defamatory pamphlet, wrote either by himself or some of his party, entitled A Defence of Dr. Whitby’s Treatise of Original Sin, etc. I say, wrote either by himself, or some of his party — for I greatly suspect that this piteous performance is done by some other person or persons, and published under his name; since, if my information is right, this man was gone for Carolina some months before the publication of this pamphlet; which, had it been drawn up and finished by himself before his departure, might have been published in ten days’ time. The temper and genius of a certain person, not very remarkable for candor and good-nature, are pretty visible in it; but, whoever be the author or authors, revisers and editors of it, they ought to look upon themselves concerned in the guilt and shame arising from the blunders and scandal which are manifestly in it, as will appear by the following examination of it: — I. The first charge brought against me is mistranslation, of which three instances are given, and to which I have replied; the sum of the difference between us is, I have rendered plaga, in Irenaeus, plague; this man, sometimes wound; and, at another time, sore, and sometimes disease; I have interpreted recenseatur, in Tertullian, re-reckoned, or reckoned anew; he, enrolled anew; I have translated damnatio, in the same author, damnation, he condemnation. I shall not contend with him about words: the reader may choose and prefer which translation he pleases. What is more material, is the pertinence of these passages to the point in hand, the sense of them, and whether any injury is done thereunto. And, 1. As to the passage in Irenaeus, whether antiqua serpentis plaga be rendered the old blow, or stroke, or wound, or sore, or plague, or disease of the serpent, it certainly intends some hurt or mischief done by the old serpent, the devil, to our first parents, and to all mankind. This man says that Irenaeus, by this pestilential disorder (and which surely, then, must be a plague,) with which the old serpent has infected mankind, understands not original corruption, or the vitiosity whereby man’s nature is depraved, but only death and mortality. But let the words of Irenaeus be produced and considered, which are these: “Men cannot else be saved from the old wound (the pestilential disorder) of the serpent, nisi credant in eum, except they believe on him, who, in the likeness of sinful flesh, was lifted up from the earth, on the tree of martyrdom, who draws all things to himself, and quickens the dead.” Now, are they that believe in Christ saved by him from mortality and death? Are they not as liable to mortality? And do they not labor under the same diseases of body, and die a corporal death, as other men do? Are these the persons only that will be cured of this mortal disorder, the disease of death, by a resurrection from the dead?
Will there not be a resurrection of the just and unjust, believers and unbelievers? Who then can conceive that this should be the meaning of Irenaeus? As to the passage which Dr. Whitby cites in favor of the sense this author from him has espoused, it makes more against him than for him; for Irenaeus does not say that plaga, the disorder itself, but dolor plagae, “the pain of it,” or what arises from it, “with which men was stricken in the beginning, in Adam inobediens, ‘being disobedient in Adam;’ this is the death which God will cure, by raising us from the dead, and restoring us to our forefathers’ inheritance.” So that corporeal death, according to Irenaeus, is not the blow, the disorder itself, but what arises from it is the fruit and effect of it. Besides, how he, or any other man, can imagine that even mortality and death should be inflicted on men for Adam’s disobedience, unless they are involved in the guilt of it, or that is reckoned to them, which is what we contend for, is unaccountable. And further, it may be observed, that we have here another testimony from this ancient writer in favor of our sentiments, when he says, “man was disobedient in Adam,” as elsewhere, “he offended in him,” which is entirely agreeable to, and confirms our sense of, Romans 5:12, in whom all have sinned: for the reason which Dr. Whitby gives of his use of such phrases, “because we were born of Adam after he was overcome by sin, we receive our name from him,” is exceeding trifling, and ridiculous to the last degree, Upon the whole, since our Lord Jesus Christ saves those that believe in him, not from mortality and a corporeal death, but as from their actual transgressions, so from original sin; from the corruption and vitiosity of their nature; from the damning power of it, by his death; and from its governing influence by his Spirit and grace; there is the strongest reason to conclude that this is the sense of Irenaeus; and in this I am supported by such great names as Austin, Vossius Polyander, Rivet, Walaeus, and Thysius; nay, even Feuardentius the Papist, f2059 though otherwise a strenuous advocate for free will, insists upon it, that this passage of Irenaeus is a proof that the doctrine of original sin was held by the ancients before the time of Austin; and since then, Irenaeus means the same which the Scripture calls: the plague of a man’s heart, no injury is done him by my translation. 2. The first passage out of Tertullian is owned by Dr. Whitby to be more to the purpose than some he had been considering; nor has he anything to object to the former part, of it, for which it is chiefly cited; in which Tertullian says, “Every soul is reckoned in Adam, until it is reckoned anew, or registered in Christ; so long unclean, until it is thus registered.” Nor does our author object to the pertinence of this testimony, which clearly expresses that the souls of men, whilst unregenerate, are not only reckoned in Adam, as belonging to him, and under him as their head; but are also reckoned unclean in him, being partakers of the sinful pollution, which he, by his transgression, brought upon all mankind.
Pamelius makes this to be the argument and summary of the chapter wherein this testimony stands; Tamdiu enem animam ex carnis societate, in Adam immundam censeri, et peccatricem, tam animam, quam carnem dici: “So long as the soul, through society with the flesh, is reckoned unclean in Adam, both soul and body are said to be sinful;” which shows that he thought that Tertullian’s sense was, that not only the soul is reckoned unclean in Adam, but that both body and soul are sinful, being defiled in him; though Dr. Whitby says, his commentator makes a doubt of it, whether, when he adds, “sinful because unclean, receiving its disgrace from society with the flesh,” he attributes this disgrace of the soul from its society with the flesh, in respect of its mere original, or because it made use of it as an instrument of sinning. 3. The other passage in Tertullian is, “Man being at the beginning circumvented by Satan, so as to transgress the commandment of God, and he being therefore given up to death, has defiled all mankind which spring from him, and has also made them partakers of his damnation.” This man finds fault with me for translating in my book, totem genus, “his whole kind,” instead of “his whole race or offspring;” but is not Adam’s whole kind the same with all mankind? and are not all mankind his offspring? or, are any his offspring but mankind? He calls this an egregious blunder in me; but everybody will see that this is egregious trifling in him. A greater oversight is committed by neglecting to translate infectum, which expresses the pollution of nature all mankind are tainted with by Adam, and which exposes them to the same condemnation with him. But, since I have rendered damnatio in this passage damnation, the principal controversy about it is, though this writer says it will not bear any dispute, whether this relates to a bodily death and condemnation only, which he suggests is Tertullian’s sense in this and in all other places; or also to the sense of condemnation and death which passed on Adam, body and soul, for his disobedience, and on all mankind in him, on account of the same. That Adam, according to Tertullian, was assigned to a corporal death, and such a sentence of condemnation passed on him, is out of question. The passages cited by this author, to which more might be added, will be allowed to be proofs of this. But then, this was not all that came upon him, nor the whole of the sentence which was pronounced on him; for, according to this ancient writer, he was not only subject to a corporal death, but also the image of God in him was destroyed; which lay not, as this man suggests is the sense of other ancient writers, in the immortality of the body, but in the soul, its powers and faculties, and especially in the power and freedom of the will, as appears from these following words of his: “I find that man was created by God, free, and possessed of his own free will and power, observing in him no image and likeness of God more than the same form of state: for not in the face and lineaments of the body, so different in mankind is he made after God, who is of one form or essence, but in that substance which he has derived from God, that is, of the soul, answering to the form of God, and is sealed with the liberty and power of his free will.” And a little lower he says, “The image and likeness of God ought to be of his own free will and power, in which this itself, the image and likeness of God, may be thought to be, namely, the liberty and power of free will.” He not only affirms that the image of God in man is defaced; but that also, by his sin, he has lost communion with God: “By not having faith,” he says, “even that which he seemed to have is taken from him, the favor of paradise, and familiarity with God, whereby he would have known all the things of God, had he been obedient.” Now, the deprivation of the image of God, and of communion with him, through the fall, are what we call a mortal or spiritual death. Moreover, in the very passage in dispute, Adam is said “to render all mankind polluted,’’ and so they become partakers of his condemnation, soul and body; hereby they become loathsome and abominable to God, and consequently liable to, and deserving of, his everlasting wrath and displeasure; which is no other than the second death; and that such a sentence of death passed on Adam for his offense, according to Tertullian, is clear from the following passages: f2067 “For though, because of the condition of the law, Adam is given up to death, yet there is good hope for him, since the Lord says, Adam is become as one of us; namely, concerning the future assumption of the man into union with the Deity.” Now, of his being delivered from a bodily death there was no hope, for the sentence of that not only passed, but was executed on him; but of his being delivered from the second death there is hope, through the sacrifice and satisfaction of the Second Adam; hence he elsewhere condemns Tatian as a heretic, for asserting that “Adam could not obtain salvation; as if,” says he, “the branches could be saved, and not the root.” And in another place he has these words: “God, after so many and such great offenses of human indiscretion deliberately committed by Adam, the father of mankind, after man was condemned, with the dowry (the sin) of the world, after he was cast out of paradise, and subject to death, seasonably received him to his mercy, and immediately renewed repentance within himself; that is, as Rigaltius f2070 explains it, as God repented that he had made man, he also repented that he had condemned him; wherefore, having rescinded the sentence of former wrath, or the former sentence of wrath and vengeance, he agreed to forgive his workmanship and image.” Now, pray what was sententia irarum pristinarum, “the former sentence of wrath,” said to be rescinded?
Could it be the sentence of bodily death? Was that rescinded? Did not Adam die that death, as do all his posterity? Could it be any other than the sentence of eternal death and damnation, which, though it passed, was not executed on him, through the grace and forgiveness of God? Since then, according to Tertullian, this was the sentence pronounced on Adam, and he has made all his posterity partakers of it, I have done him no injury by my translation; besides, in the place before us, Tertullian is speaking to and of the soul, and not the body; for he immediately adds, “Thou art sensible of thy destroyer.” And a little after, “We affirm that thou wilt remain after this life is ended, and wait for the day of judgment; and, according to thy deserts, shall be assigned either to torment or rest, both which will be for ever.” Upon the whole, we see that this writer had no reason to say, that Tertullian everywhere declares the sentence of a bodily death alone to be what was pronounced on Adam in the beginning; or that he ever supposes the divine sentence of condemnation pronounced against man in the beginning, to concern the body and bodily death only, and never supposes it to respect the eternal death of body and soul hereafter.
This writer, unwilling to let slip an opportunity, or seeming one, of reproaching me, says, that I have ventured to translate a passage of Dr.
Whitby’s but not without a mistake; whereas I have not pretended to give an exact translation of the passage, but only the sense of it, and in that, it seems, I am mistaken: How so? I say, “the learned Doctor was of opinion, that what he has wrote in the treatise was almost above the capacitics of the common people.” This man says his words are these: “Seeing these things which I shall say of original sin, for the most part, exceed the capacity of the vulgar.” Well, if they, for the most part, exceed, then surely they must be almost above the capacity of the vulgar. Should a person meet with this passage in Terence, fere ruri se continet, which this author mentions, and should render it, “he keeps almost always in the country,” would it not be all one as if it was rendered, “he keeps for the most part, or usually, in the country?” And so, if he should on this scrap of Latin, ut fere fit , and translate it, “as it almost always falls out;” would it not be the same as if it was translated, “as it usually, or for the most part, falls out?” A man that can be grave in such observations as these, whatever opinion he may have of himself as a very learned critic, must be set down for a solemn trifler.
I pass on (having nothing to do with his reasons for translating Dr.
Whitby’s book, nor with the translation itself) to, II. The next charge exhibited against me, which is impertinence, pretending I have alleged testimonies from the ancients beside my purpose, and particularly from Clemens, Barnabas, Ignatius, Justin, and Lactantius, which shall be re-examined. And, 1. Clemens addressed the Corinthians, to whom he writes, as persons “called and sanctified by the will of God;” which translation of his words is censured as inaccurate, though perfectly agreeable to the version of Patricius Junius, a man of great erudition, revised by that very learned hand, Dr. John Fell, bishop of Oxford, who renders them, as I have done, vocatis et sanctificatis voluntate divina; yet this poor creature has the assurance and vanity to suggest, that his own translation is most exact, and this very loose, obscure, and inaccurate; but it is plain what makes him uneasy with this version, because he observes, it “makes it look as if both the calling and sanctification were ascribed here to the will of God;” and truly so it does, and that very rightly: and why should the man boggle at this, since Clemens, in the passage next cited by me, expressly says of the Corinthians, that they were “called by the will of God in Christ Jesus?” whence it is clear, that not only sanctification, but vocation, is ascribed by him to the will of God. But then, it seems, this vocation is to be understood, not of internal, effectual calling, but of the outward call of the gospel. To which may be replied, that persons may be called externally, by the preaching of the gospel, who are never sanctified; but then those who are sanctified, are internally called, are called with a holy calling, or are sanctified in and by their effectual vocation; and since these Corinthians were sanctified as well as called, their vocation cannot be understood of a mere outward call, by the ministry of the word; but of an eternal, efficacious call, by the Spirit and grace of God. If this will not do, it is suggested, that sanctification, in this passage, does not design regeneration, conversion, or any internal work of the Spirit of God upon the soul; but expiation and pardon of sin, through the sacrifice of Christ; the words of Clemens being an allusion to, and the sense of the same, with Hebrews 10:10. Though one should rather think that Clemens, writing to the Corinthians, as the apostle Paul had done before, should copy after him, and in his addresses to them make use of the same characters, and in the same sense, as he does 1 Corinthians 1:2, where we find both these words, kletois and egiasmenois, called and sanctified; and the rather, because Clemens had this epistle in his view when he wrote, makes mention of it, and exhorts the Corinthians to consider it. It is therefore most natural to conclude, that Clemens, using the same words as the apostle did, in an epistle written to the same persons, should design the same things by them, namely, their effectual calling to be saints, and their sanctffication through the Spirit and grace of Christ; and then what is become of the charge of impertinence? why, truly, this passage is still nothing to the point, since none of the Remonstrants pretend that any person can be sanctified, but by the will of God: to which I have made answer, that they will not affirm, that any person can be sanctified by the will of God, without the cooperation of man’s will, by which, according to them, grace becomes effectual; whereas Clemens attributes vocation and sanctification entirely to the will of God: when I add, that the Remonstrants affirm, that the difference of calling grace in man lies not so much in the will of God as in the will of man; and that it is no absurdity to say, that a saint is distinguished from an unregenerate man by his own will; in affirming which, this writer says I say what is weak and false, and which no Remonstrant ever used; but in all these I am supported by the following testimonies out of their own mouths; they affirm that “the holy Scriptures requires especially, to the opening of the heart, the co-operation of man; that co-operation which proceeds from preventing grace, for if God commands man to open his heart in conversion, it is certain that that operation is not effected by God, without the consent of man’s will.”
Corvinus, the Remonstrant, asserts that, “supposing all the operations which God uses to work conversion in us, yet conversion so remains in our power, that we may not be converted.” He denies “that the difference of calling grace is not so placed in the will of man as in the will of God; and expressly uses these words, “It is no absurdity that a man should be distinguished by his own will from an unbeliever.” Grevinchovius, the remonstrant, affirms, that “it is not foreign from Scripture and truth, if any one should assert that believers, not indeed of themselves, or by themselves, yet do distinguish themselves.” And in reply to these words, “Who hath made thee to differ? he says, I make myself to differ, since I could resist God and divine pre-determination, and yet have not resisted, and why may not I glory in it as my own?” The same writer also says, that “the effect of grace ordinary depends on some act of the will, as a previous condition, sine qua non;” and that “no other common cause of the whole complex together can be given beside the liberty of the will.” And again, that “the will of itself alone, by a certain previous motion, determines grace: when we say,” adds he, “that the will determines grace, we mean nothing else than that the will freely performs its concourse with co-operating grace; or that the will so co-operates, as that it might not cooperate, and so, by not so cooperating, hinder the co-operation of grace.”
Many more citations of the like kind might be made, but these may suffice.
Since, then, they ascribe conversion, or calling grace, so much to the will of man, as to give it the turning point in it, as to make conversion dependent on it, for so Grevinchovius allows, “you will say,” observes he, “that in this way of working, even God himself, in some measure depends upon the will. I grant it,” he replies, “as to the act of free determination.” It therefore cannot be saying either a weak or false thing of the Remonstrants, that they may make the difference of calling grace to lie not so much in the will of God as in the will of man.
The other passage cited by me out of Clemens being, in that clause of it for which I cite it, the same with the former, since that is pertinent to my purpose, this must be also, and I therefore need not say any thing more about it; only whereas I have once (not more than once, as this man says) elsewhere cited it, to prove that according to Clemens good works are unnecessary in point of justification. This writer is pleased to make a digression from his subject, and observe, that this passage is full against the doctrine I embrace, will not serve my purpose against the person I opposed; and on the contrary, is a strong bulwark in defense of the Remonstrants, who hold that persons are not justified by works without faith, nor by faith without works; but by faith accompanied with, and productive of, good works. To all which I reply, that this passage of Clemens is not, in the least, against any doctrine I embrace, but entirely agreeable: the doctrine of justification by faith, in the Scripture sense of it, is what I hold and maintain; nor are any thoughts and sentiments of mine concerning justification inconsistent with it. The passage is also full to my purpose for which I cited it, against my antagonist, which was to show, that good works were not necessary to salvation, as the antecedent to the consequent: but, above all, it is surprising that the passage should be thought to be a strong bulwark in defense of the Remonstrants, since Clemens expressly says, “We are justified not by our piety, nor by our good works, which we have done in holiness of heart; but by that faith, by which the Almighty God hath justified all from the beginning;” by which expressions he excludes all works from our justification; yea, such as believers themselves perform, which spring from the best principles, from holiness of heart, and are done in the best manner, even works which spring from faith, and are produced by it: for, can there be holiness of heart where there is no faith, any more than there can be faith where there is no holiness of heart? If the Remonstrants have no stronger bulwarks than this, they are most miserably defended in this article. 2. Barnabas is the next ancient writer mentioned, from whom I have cited a passage, to prove the weakness and corruption of human nature before faith; and here a hideous outcry is raised, of an egregious blunder, false translation, want of sense, and I know not what, through a repetition of the word idolatry; and all this is aggravated by its being in my fourth volume, and retained in my postscript, after I had revised the translation; whereas, upon examination, it will appear the blunder is his, and not mine; and that he has not consulted the original Greek of Barnabas, but the old Latin translation. The Greek of Barnabas, as it stands in the edition of the very learned Isaac Vossius, is as follows: — Pro tou emas pisteusai to Theo, en emon to katoiketerion tes kardias phtharton kai asthenes — oti en pleres men eidololatrias oikos, eidololatria en oikos diamonion, dis to poiein osa en enantia to Theo; which I must again render, “Before we believed in God, the habitation of our heart was corrupt and weak; for it was a house full of idolatry, and idolatry was the house of devils; wherefore we do, or did, such things as were contrary to God.” Indeed the word idolatria is omitted in the old Latin version of Barnabas, which is this: Antequam crederemus Deo erat habitatio nostra corrupta et infirma — quia pleni eramus adorationibus idolorum et srat domus doemoniorum, propter quod faceremus, quae Deo essent contraria. Now where is the egregious blunder? and who is the blunderer? or, where is the impertinence of the passage? Does it not clearly and fully express the corruption and weakness of man before he believes, or has the grace of God implanted in him, for which purpose it was cited? He next finds fault with the version of the latter part of the passage, and in a very magisterial way says, the words will never bear such a translation, without giving any reason for his so saying; but why should not dia to poiein be rendered ‘wherefore we do,’ or did, rather than ‘forasmuch as we have done,’ since the verb is of the present, and not of the preterperfect tense. The reason of his being uneasy with my translation is pretty evident, because it leaves his charge of impertinence utterly insupportable. One would think he might have made use of softer words than those railing ones, of ignorance and dishonesty; but such is modern charity! As for the passage in Barnabas he refers me to, when he says, “When God has received us by the remission of our sins, he then gives us another form, so as to have souls like the soul of an infant:” this is only to be understood in a comparative sense, in like manner, as Matthew 18:3, and 19:14, 1 Corinthians 14:20, and clearly expresses the power and efficacy of divine grace, in forming the new creature in regeneration; for which purpose I have cited it in this my fourth Part. 3. Ignatius comes next under consideration, from whom I have cited a passage which agrees with those out of Clemens Romanus, and which is allowed to be so by this author, and since they are to my purpose, as has been proved, this must be also: but whereas there are three other passages besides, which are produced by me, this man has thought fit to examine them likewise. In the first of these, Ignatius advises the church of Smyrna to avoid some very wicked persons he describes as beasts in the shape of men, and “only to pray for them, if so be they may repent, which is very difficult; but Jesus Christ, our true life,” says he, “has the power of this;” which words are cited, not only to show the difficulty of such wicked persons obtaining repentance, and which this author allows, even such a difficulty as amounts to an impossibility; an impossibility as great as is in the Ethiopian to change his skin, or the leopard his spots; but also to show that Christ, who is our life, who has quickened us, and given us repentance unto life, or we had never had it, has the sole power of it; and who, as he has given repentance to such who may not have been such notorious sinners, or they would never have repented of themselves; so he is able to give it to the most profligate wretches, and which, therefore, is the argument or encouragement to pray for such. The next passage of Ignatius is, “They that are carnal, cannot do the things that are spiritual; nor they that are spiritual, do the things that are carnal;” from whence, this writer says, I infer, that men in a carnal state have no power to do any thing that is spiritual: it is very right, so I do, and that justly: but then, it is said, the former part of the citation cannot intend this, and more than the latter part of it can mean, that a spiritual man has no power to do a wicked action; and therefore can never intend, that a carnal man cannot cease to be carnal, and become spiritual, and then do spiritual things. To which I reply, that a carnal man has nothing that is spiritual in him, and therefore can do nothing that is spiritual; but a spiritual man has both flesh and spirit in him, that which is carnal and that which is spiritual. Now when the carnal part prevails, it puts a man upon doing of carnal things, as in the case of David referred to; but then this same man, as spiritual, and when in a spiritual frame, and in the exercise of spiritual grace, according to Ignatius, cannot do carnal things; and which is the sense of the apostle John, 1 John 3:9, Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin, for his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
We do not deny that a carnal man may cease to be carnal, become spiritual, and then do spiritual things; but then we affirm that he cannot cease to be carnal, become spiritual, and do spiritual things, but by the grace of God, and not by his own power and strength. The last citation from Ignatius, and which is no marginal reading, but stands in the body of Vossius’s edition, is, that “the Christian is not the work of persuasion, but of greatness;” that is, as I explain it, of the exceeding greatness of God’s power, referring to Ephesians 1:19, to which I am inclined to think Ignatius refers; where the word megethos, used by him, is to be taken in this sense; our author, from Mr. Whiston and Archbishop Wake, interprets it of fortitude and courage in times of persecution. The place referred to, as a parallel one, to support this sense, is not to the purpose, where Ignatius says, “They that profess themselves to be Christians, shall be seen by what they do; for now it is not the business of a profession, but it is through the power of faith, if any man is found to be a Christian to the end; by which he means, that it is not by a mere outward profession, but by the power and strength of faith, that a Christian continues and perseveres to the end. Nor is there any mention of peismone, or megethos, or any thing that answers to them, in the passage. But when this author suggests that I have left out these words, “especially when he is hated by the world;” and if purposely, he says, it will be a full proof that I am not overstocked with integrity; he is guilty of a vile piece of slander, and is a glaring proof of his having a very small share of integrity himself: what guilt, shame, and confusion, must rise up in him, when I have produced the whole passage, as it stands in my book, thus: “The Christian is not the work of persuasion, but of greatness, 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!” 4. Justin Martyr is another ancient writer from whom I have cited passages, showing that the Scriptures, and the doctrines contained in them, are not to be understood without the Spirit and grace of God. The first of these I freely own, and I never gainsaid it, does most clearly express, that the doctrines of the sacred writings are such as could never be discovered by the light of nature, nor without the inspiration of the Holy Spirit; but then, since these writings contain such great and divine things, as Justin says, exceeding the natural knowledge and understanding of men, it follows, that they can only be spiritually discerned, through the assistance of the Spirit of God, the dictator of them; which, as it is the sense of the apostle Peter, 2 Peter 1:20,21, so it is of this holy martyr, as will fully appear from what he elsewhere says, notwithstanding what this man has said to the contrary; for, in the very next citation from him, Justin declares that “he understood the Scriptures by the grace of God alone, which was given to him, and not through any natural or acquired parts of his.” This man believes that the word charis, which he renders favor, and I have translated grace, for which he charges me with unskillfulness, how justly, let others judge, never signifies, throughout Justin’s works, the operations or assistances of the Spirit: but his faith and judgment in this matter are of very little weight and significance. The learned Scultetus believed otherwise, and so did the famous Vossius, and whom the men of his party cite with great applause, when they meet with any thing in him that serves their turn: his words are these, “Justin, in his dialogue with Trypho, asserts, that the outward preaching of the word, or reading of the Scriptures, is not sufficient, but that besides them, the internal illumination of the Holy Spirit is requisite; for thus he writes, Do ye think, O men, that we could ever have understood the things contained in the Scriptures, unless by the will of him that wills these things elabomen charin tou noesai, we had received grace to understand them?” And in some other place before this he had said the same; “Unless one should take upon him, meta megales charitos tes para Theou, ‘with that great or wonderful grace which is of God,’ to understand the things which are said or done by the prophets; it will not avail him, to seem to relate their words or facts, unless he can also give a reason of them.” These, with some others of the like nature, I have cited in my book, and have referred him to them in my postscript, of which he has not taken the least notice, being, no doubt, convinced in his own mind, that they were clear testimonies against him.
Besides, were charis to be rendered favor, what could that favor be, to understand the Scriptures, but the illumination of the blessed Spirit?
The third passage cited by me, which directs to pray that “the gates of light, that is, the Scriptures, might be opened, since they are not seen or known by all, except God and his Christ give an understanding of them.”
This he owns sounds something more to the purpose, though he afterwards says, most probably it has no such meaning, at least it is very uncertain whether it has or not. But that this also may not pass without some reproachful censure, he represents me as here blundering on according to custom, because I took these words to be an address of Justin’s to Trypho; whereas, he says, they are Justin’s advice to a Gospel preacher. Now, who is most likely to blunder in this matter, he or I? Is it probable that Justin should give such advice to a gospel preacher, one that. was more knowing than himself at that time, and who was then instructing him? or, is it not much more likely that he should thus address Trypho, the blind, ignorant Jew, with whom he was conversing, and relating some matters of fact respecting himself? But, indeed, the truth of the case is this, the words are not spoken by Justin at all, either to Trypho or to a gospel preacher; but they are the words of a Christian man, whether a gospel preacher is not so manifest, to Justin himself, whilst a heathen philosopher, who had been instructing him in the Christian religion, and closes with these words; upon which Justin immediately observes, that this man having said these, and many other things, which he had not then time to relate, departed from him, charging him to pursue those things, and he never saw him any more; which, with what he had said before, made such an impression on him, as to engage his affections to the prophets and Christians, and issued in his conversion.
Two other passages being cited by me out of an epistle of Justin’s to Diognetus, showing the impossibility of obtaining life and salvation of ourselves, by our own works, or any other way than by Christ; this man represents this epistle as doubtful and uncertain, whether it was Justin’s or no; whereas Sylburgins formerly thought it savoured of Justin’s spirit and genius: and the very learned Fabricus of late could see no reason why it should not be thought to be his; and the famous Scultetus says, that with the common consent of all, that, and also the epistle to Zenas, which this man blunderingly calls the epistle of Zenas, and which he likewise represents as dubious, were ascribed to Justin; by which learned writer also the passage out of the epistle to Zenas is twice produced, and that for the same purpose for which I have cited it. 5. Lactantius is the last of the ancients excepted to by our author under this head, from whom I have cited three passages, to prove that man is in such a state of blindness and darkness, that it is impossible he should have a knowledge of spiritual things without divine teachings. And the first of them fully expresses that such is the condition and situation of the mind, or soul of man, that “it cannot of itself apprehend or receive the truth, unless it be thought by some other;” where Lactantius is speaking, not of the inability of the mind to discover truth without a revelation, but to comprehend, or apprehend, receive, or embrace truth when it is revealed; wherefore he argues, that the teacher must be heavenly, and not earthly, and have both virtue and knowledge. The second of them, in which he says, that “man cannot, of himself, come to the knowledge of the truth, unless he is taught of God,” the excellent Scultetus understands as I do, to intend, not the necessity of a revelation to lead men to a knowledge of the truth, but of divine teachings to understand the revelation made; his words are these: “Concerning the understanding of the Christian religion, very remarkable is that saying of his, Man of himself cannot come to this knowledge, unless he is taught of God.” The third of them, in which Lactantius asserts, that the knowledge of truth, and of heavenly “things, cannot be perceived by man, unless God teaches him,” is of the same kind with the former, and expressed in almost the same words, and is to understood in the same manner.
But, it seems, did these passages of Justin and Lactantius prove ever so clearly the necessity of grace, or the assistance of the Spirit to understand the Scriptures, they must still be impertinent; since the Remonstrants never deny this, nor will they contest such a proposition. This is not a slip of his pen, but what he repeats over and over, and most manifestly betrays his ignorance of the writings and sentiments of the Remonstrants, who have very openly expressed themselves on this head, in the following manner: “Such is the clearness and perspicuity of the Scriptures, in doctrines, especially which are necessary to be understood in order to everlasting salvation, that all readers, not only learned men but private persons (that are but endued with common sense and judgment,) may sufficiently attain the meaning of them, provided they do not suffer themselves to be blinded with prejudice, vain confidence, and other evil affections.” And when the Anti-Remonstrants charged this passage with smelling rank of Pelagianism and Socinianism, and urged that they confounded the literal and spiritual sense of the Scripures, the Remonstrants reply, by arguing after this manner, that if there is “a sense of Scripture superinfused, it cannot be the sense of the words of Scripture, but the sense of the Spirit of God: or if it is the sense of the words of Scripture, how or wherein does it differ from the literal sense? To what purpose is it superinfused? Is it that the sense may be understood, which is understood already? This is trifling. Is it that it may be more clearly understood? But the sense lies in something indivisible; should you say, this light of the Holy Spirit is pre-requisite to understand the true sense, you increase the absurdity.” Episcopius, a leading man among the Remonstrants, says f2094 many things to the same purpose; hence it most clearly appears, that all such passages of the ancients, which express the necessity of grace and the assistance of the Spirit to understand the Scriptures, are most pertinently alleged, being diametrically opposite to the sentiments of these men.
When I say, that the Remonstrants and Dr. Whitby allow of no supernatural grace infused, or supernatural aid requisite to conversion and good works, besides objective evidence, respecting truth to the understanding, and bringing it to remembrance; this man asks, with what face I could say this, when the Remonstrants and Dr. Whitby assert supernatural grace in words and terms as express as any of my party.
Strange! why then has a controversy about it been continued for so many years? But this is but a further proof, that he is utterly unacquainted with the writings and tenets of those of his own party. The Remonstrants expressly deny that any grace is infused in order to conversion, either into the understanding, or will, or affections. “As to the distinction,’’ say they, “of habitual and actual grace, this is rejected by us; since by habitual grace is meant such an infusion of faith, hope, and love, into the will, as that a man may be said to obtain those habits without any intervening operation of the will; there is no such thing in Scripture, this is a device of the schoolmen.” Again, they say, that “faith cannot be called the gift of God, unless in respect of the actual infusion of it into our hearts, as the brethren, that is, the Anti-Remonstrants, profess they understand it; that, indeed, we utterly deny.” Corvinus, a noted one among them, expresses himself thus: “Infusion of habits, or virtues, whether into the will, or into the understanding and affection, if you regard ordinary conversion, is contrary to the use of means, by which God would produce a new life in man.” And, says Grevinchovius, another of them, “That there be any intrinsic form, or any supernatural habit infused, raising and determining the natural faculty by its own power and efficacy, this figment I do not admit of.” They do indeed own, “that a supernatural power is conferred on the will, and that hereby God immediately acts on the will, provided this action does not necessitate the will antecedently, and take away the liberty and power non valendi, of not willing or nilling,” which this man has falsely translated, willing. So that notwithstanding this supernatural power, the will remains indifferent to will or not will, to act or not act, believe or not believe, do well or not, and by this power it is only enabled to bring into act its innate faculty of willing and nilling; for thus they say, “Though God may so affect the will by his word, and the internal operation of his Spirit, and confer the power of believing and supernatural aid, and cause a man actually to believe, yet man can of himself reject this grace and not believe, and so even perish through his own fault.” What kind of supernatural power or aid must this be? And as for Dr Whitby, he affirms that supernatural and infused habits, or Christian virtues, are never styled grace in Scripture; and he humbly conceives, that the inward operation of the Holy Spirit consists in these two things, in representing divine truths, and in bringing them to our remembrance; and further observes, in a passage I referred this author to, though he has thought fit to take no notice of it, “that any supernatural habits must be infused into us in an instant, or that any other supernatural aid is requisite to the conversion of a sinner, besides the fore-mentioned illumination of the Holy Spirit, and the impression which he makes upon our hearts by the ideas which he raises in us, is that which my hypothesis by no means will allow; which ideas, though they are raised by a physical operation, yet they are moral in their operations; even as a man’s tongue, in speaking to persuade or dissuade another, performs a physical operation, though the effect of it is only moral.”
The reader will easily see from hence in what sense Dr. Whitby is to be understood, when he says, as this author has cited him, that “we become new creatures, is, indeed, effected by the supernatural aid of the Spirit;” and with what face I could, and still say, that the Remonstrants and Dr.
Whitby, besides the moral suasion of the Word and Spirit, allow of no supernatural grace infused, or supernatural aid requisite to conversion and good works.
This writer seems uneasy with me for representing the Remonstrants and Dr. Whitby as meaning no more by the aids of the Spirit, and the grace of God, which they allow to be necessary to conversion and good works, than what Pelagius called the grace of nature, or moral suasion; and produces a large citation, which it is very probable somebody or another has helped him to, showing in what manner the Remonstrants at the synod of Dort endeavored to clear themselves from the charge of Pelagianism; from whence, it is manifest, that such a charge was exhibited against them; and, notwithstanding all the color and artifice they made use of, they were not able to convince that venerable body of men to the contrary, who continued to charge them with introducing Pelagianism; and particularly, that they meant no more by grace, than external calling by the word, and internal moral suasion by the Spirit, as appears from the Act of that Synod, and which is fully evident from these men’s own writings: “If the word of the gospel,” say they, “is not the sole and only ordinary means of conversion; but the internal and efficacious, or irresistible action of the Spirit must concur; then it follows, that that, together with the word, is the means of conversion, or collaterally works along with the word, by a distinct action from the action of the word; or the one is subordinate to the other; neither of which can be asserted.” Again, after the power is conferred on the will, before-mentioned, they say, “We confess, that no other grace is owned by us to be necessary, to draw out an act of faith, than that which is moral, or that which uses the word as an instrument to produce faith.” Once more, they say, “It may be disputed whether that is not the most noble action respecting man, which is performed by persuasion and admonitions; and, whether it is expedient that any other power should be used with man, maintaining the properties of the human nature; and moreover, whether such an operation as Satan uses, would not be strong enough.” And, says Grevinchovius, “What hinders, but that moral grace alone may make natural men spiritual ones?” These men, indeed, sometimes talk of special and supernatural grace; but can that be special, which they say is universal and common to all men? Or supernatural, which produces no supernatural effects, and which may be overcome and made of no effect, by that which is natural? But after all, it seems the holy fathers of the Christian church always speak of God’s grace just as the Remonstrants do: and that I have not cited, nor am able to cite, a single father who has said more than the Arminians; whereas in Part IV., of the Cause of God and Truth, chap. 4, I have produced not only one but many, who speak of regeneration and conversion, as owing entirely to powerful and efficacious insuperable and unfrustrable grace, and not to moral suasion; to which I refer him and the reader. And thus, having done with his impertinent charge, I go on.
III. To consider his next charge of weakness, in citing passages from the ancients, which only prove that “by the fall of Adam, men are become prone to sin, and subject to a corporeal death:” but supposing no more is proved by such passages; a proneness to sin is a corruption of nature, and if a bodily death is inflicted as a punishment, than which there is not a greater corporeal punishment on Adam’s posterity for his sin, they must be involved in the guilt of it, or that must be imputed to them; otherwise, how should they be liable to such a punishment of death for it? Now the derivation of a corrupt nature from Adam, and the imputation of the guilt of his sin to his posterity, are the very things in the controversy we contend for; and if the Remonstrants will accede to these things, they in a manner give up their cause. Should it be said, that though they allow of a proneness to sin, yet not such a general corruption of nature as we plead for; and though they own that men are become subject, through Adam’s sin, to a corporeal death, yet not to death in soul and body. I have cited passages from the ancients, and referred this man to them, showing that men by the fall have lost the image of God, even true reason, moral goodness, righteousness, and holiness; that they are born sinners, yea, infected with sin before they are born; that they are under a spiritual darkness and death, and held by the devil in hell for the sin of Adam, the fault of which is transferred to them. To which this author has chiefly replied by referring me to Dr. Whitby’s Treatise of Original Sin, particularly respecting the passages of Origen, Macarius the Egyptian, Athanasius, Basil, Cyrill, and Optatus. Whose replies to these passages, as well as to some others of Origen and Chrysostom, about which this man elsewhere so much blusters, are mere shifts and evasions, and chiefly lie in setting other passages against them.
It will not be denied, nor is it to be wondered at, that there are some passages in those writers which may seem to militate against this doctrine; for no controversy being moved about it, they wrote without guard; but, if it was entirely unknown till the times of Austin, it is much there should be any thing of it in their writings; wherefore, upon these considerations, I say again, and which was before my sense, that one full testimony in favor of it, before the controversy was moved, is of more weight than ten which may seem to be against it.
But to go on: this author replies to the passages referred to by to me, partly by saying of others of them, as of Hilary of Poictiers, Victorinus Afer, and Gregory Nazianzen, that they are nothing to the purpose; if the reader pleases to take his ipse dixit, his bare word for it; though the first of these affirms, that sin and unbelief arise from the transgression of our first parents; that all mankind are to be considered under the first man, and went astray when he did; and that man is born under original sin, and the law of it; and the other represents man in a state of nature, as dead through sin; and the third asserts, that all men sinned in Adam, fell by his sin out of paradise, were condemned through his disobedience, and lost the heavenly image. The passages of the ancients referred to which he has ventured to make some remarks upon, are those of Justin, Irenaeus, Hilary the Deacon, Ambrose, and Mark the Eremite, which will be attended to. 1. Justin Martyr affirms, that “we were born sinners:” which words this man says in one place I have translated to a false sense; but in some pages after, when he had forgot what he had said before, says, it may be translated either way; either “we were, or were made, or were born sinners:” but be this as it will, the question, he says, will return, in what sense Justin uses the word sinners, as it is now the question between us, in what sense St. Paul uses the word, Romans 5. I answer, Justin does not use the word sinners for sufferers, in which sense our modern Arminians, silly enough, make the apostle to use it in the above place; and I can scarcely think our author has front enough to assert this, when he reads the passage in Justin, which stands thus; “We, who by him (Christ) have access to God, have not received the carnal, but spiritual circumcision, which Enoch, and those like him, kept; but we, seeing we were born sinners, have received it by baptism, through the mercy of God.” 2. Irenaeus has such a passage as this referred to by me, “Christ hath granted us salvation, that what we lost in Adam, that is, to be after the image and likeness of God, we might receive in Christ Jesus;” which this man, after Dr. Whitby, would have to be understood of the immortality of the body, which is only a part of that image; whereas Irenaeus f2111 elsewhere makes this likeness to be in the whole man, body and soul, and particularly to consist in the reason of man, and the freedom of his will, which, he says, he has lost; his words are these; “Man being rational, el secundum hoc similis Deo, ‘and in this respect like to God,’ and being made free in his will, and of his own power, is himself the cause why he may become sometimes wheat, and sometimes chaff; wherefore he will be justly condemned, because being made rational, he hath lost true reason; and living irrationally, he acts contrary to the righteousness of God, giving himself up to every earthly spirit, and serving all sorts of pleasures:” Feuardentius, Irenseus’s annotator, interprets image, in the place in dispute, of the excellent gifts of grace, righteousness, and godliness, bestowed on man in his creation; it is therefore no piece of weakness, to cite or refer to such a passage, showing that man has lost by the fall the image of God, which chiefly lies, according to this ancient writer, in the freedom of his will, and the exercise of right reason. 3. Hilary, the Deacon, is another ancient writer cited and referred to by me, to prove that men are held in hell by Satan for the sin of Adam: and here I am gravely reprimanded for translating inferi “hell,” and not hades; but supposing the word inferi should not be used by Hilary, and that these phrases apud inferos and in inferis are not to be met with in the passages referred to, as this man has put them, as indeed they are not; with what shame and confusion must he appear, who makes such large pretensions to accuracy, and takes every slight occasion, and indeed where there is none at all, of charging others with blunders! Hilary’s words are these, 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 (not apud inferos, as this man says, but) de inferno, in hell for the sin of Adam.” Again, “Being delivered,” says he, from a state of darkness, that is, pulled (not inferis but) de inferno, ‘out of hell,’ in which we were held by the devil, 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, that God might show us with what love he loves us, when he lifts us up de imo tartari, ‘out of the lowest hell,’ and introduces us into heaven with his own real Son.” Now, let Hilary mean what he will by infernus and imum tartari, it is certain, that according to him, men are in the custody of the devil, and are in some sort of punishment, propter delictum Adae, “for the sin of Adam.” which is what the passages were cited for. This writer, after Dr. Whitby, and which he has taken from him, cites a passage of Hilary’s in which he says, that “we do not endure the second death in hell for Adam’s sin, but only by occasion thereof it is exacted for our sins:” and I could direct him to another in the same commentary, where he says, delicto Adae multi tenentur a morte secunda in inferno inferiori; many are held by the second death in the lowest hell for the sin of Adam.” 4. Ambrose is allowed to say some things of men’s deriving pollution and corruption from Adam, and it is owned that some passages in him do declare that he thought mankind defiled in Adam, and that they are undone and destroyed in him: but Ambrose not only declares that a corrupt nature is derived from Adam, but also, that the fault of his transgression is transferred or imputed to his posterity, as appears from what I have cited from him. As to what Ambrose says concerning infants going to heaven, which he makes a doubt of, and being freed from punishment; it is to be hoped they may, through the pardoning mercy of God, the blood of Christ, and the regenerating grace of the Spirit, notwithstanding the corruption of their nature, and the imputation of Adam’s sin to them. 5. Mark the Eremite is the last upon the list excepted to; who says, that “all men have been guilty of the sin of Adam’s transgression, and have therefore been condemned to death, so that without Christ they cannot be saved.” Our author desires to know where the Latin word for guilty is to be found in, this passage: Mark’s words are these, cunctique peccato transgressionis fuerunt; which being literally rendered is, “all have been in the sin of his transgression;” and is not the sense the same? If they were in it, they must be guilty of it; for if not guilty, how should they be condemned on account of it? for Mark adds, ideoque capitali sententia condemnati, “and therefore have been capitally condemned,” or condemned to die, insomuch that without Christ they cannot be saved; not merely from a corporeal death by the resurrection from the dead, which wicked men will partake of, and yet not be saved; but from the second death, from wrath to come, which none will escape, but such who are saved by Christ with a spiritual and eternal salvation.
The fourth charge brought against me by this writer, is great partiality in reciting all the passages of Vossius which relate to original sin, without taking notice of Dr. Whitby’s replies to them. To which I have answered, by observing and proving, that I have not recited all the passages of Vossius relating to this point, nor has he all the passages I have cited; and that Dr. Whitby has not replied to all the citations of Vossius, and has passed over many passages of the ancients which he refers to. This author being shut up on every side, betakes himself to this miserable subterfuge, “that I have mistaken his meaning;” which was, he says, that I have recited all the passages of Vossius concerning original sin, which I have recited, without taking any notice of Dr. Whitby’s answers; which would have been true if I had not recited one of Vossius’s citations; but certain it is, that he would have had the reader understand, that I have recited every individual citation of Vossius; for in his margin he observes, that I have copied him even to his mistakes, which he affirms, without pointing out one single instance to support it.
The reply to my answer to his fifth charge has nothing in it worthy of any notice; only I would observe, that to refer to passages of the ancients which seem to favor the Arminian scheme, if not transcribed at length, is at one time chargeable with unfairness, and at another time it is weakness to the last degree, to cite such passages from them, in which they seem to agree with their tenets, and not denied by us. So determined is this man to cavil at any rate!