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mind. 1 Thus the person who speaks in the seventh of Romans was habitually 'Exwy, dékoyti ye Juro, Voluntary, but with an unwilling mind. He knows little of human nature, who is not aware that a large proportion of men's actions are performed with this unwilling willingness ; not by compulsion, yet contrary to a man's habitual judgment and inclination, as well as conscience. I really
could not refuse him.' "I could not, as I was • circumstanced, do otherwise.' And he knows as little of vital experimental religion, who is not aware that a considerable proportion of the actions, even of pious men, though by no means the effect of compulsion, are contrary to their previous purposes, resolutions, and habitual character. These are therefore reflected on with shame and remorse, as done against their judgment and conscience. Judas acted in character when he betrayed Christ, deliberately and purposely: but Peter, trusting in his own heart and the strength of his resolution, was, through the weakness and sinfulness of human nature, induced, by the power of temptation, to deny his Lord, contrary to his habitual character, and his fixed purpose and resolution, both before and afterwards. "In Peter's case, but not in that of Judas," it was not he, but sin which dwelt “ in him.”—The text on which Jerome grounds his observation 2 seems only to mean, that hasty vows prove occasions to temptation, and should be avoided. “For thus the mouth causes the flesh," or the depraved nature, “ to sin:” Nor does it appear at all to relate to the subject under consideration. Iliad iv. 43. •
? Ecc. v. 6.
pr«c In whorn also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the 'purpose of him, who worketh all things after the
counsel of his own will.” It is to be considered, that predestination and purpose are here placed together, according to which “ God worketh all things after the counsel of his own will." Not that all things which are done in the world are done with the will and counsel of God: for then 'wicked things might be imputed to God: but
that all things which he does he does with counsel and will, because they are full of reason, and of the power of him who acts. We men will, to do most things with counsel ; but effect by no 'means follows the will. But no one can resist
Him, to prevent his doing whatever he wills. But he wills those things which are full of reason * and counsel : “He wills all men to be saved, and 'to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”. But, ' because no one is saved without his own will,
(for we have free will) he wills us to will that which is good, that, when we have willed it, he himself also may will to fulfil his own counsel in us.'1
All things which are done are not done! according to the commandment of God, nor by any positive influence on the mind. “ God cannot be “ tempted of evil, neither tempteth he any man." But nothing takes place which he did not foresee, or which he could not have prevented; so that permission takes place where direct influence does not : and he purposes, or decrees, to leave both fallen angels and many fallen men, to the lusts of .
· Jerome in Ref. 405, 406
their own hearts, without renewing them to holiness, that they may voluntarily accomplish his secret designs; but, when their free agency combined with depravity and enmity, would carry them further, he limits and restrains them in his providence, or by inward convictions and terrors. Thus “his counsel stands, and he does all his plea“sure,” by voluntary agents of opposite characters. , Many of them think evil against him and his cause, “ but God means it for good.” The wrath of man 6 shall praise him, and the remainder of wrath “ shall he restrain.”] Thus Herod fulfilled the purpose of God, in putting James to death ; yet, when he proceeded to take Peter also, he was restrained, and came to a fearful end.2—“ Him, “ being delivered by the determinate counsel and “ foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by 5 wicked hands have crucified and slain.”3 This was permission : but, when fallen men will and do what is good before God, it is positive influence ; “it is God who worketh in them both to will and “ to do of his good pleasure :” He “ worketh in “ them, that which is well pleasing in his sight, “ through Jesus Christ.” 4_He “wills all men to be “ saved, &c.” He wills us to will &c.' That is, he is willing, that all men should be saved; he commands all men willingly to repent, believe, and obey. But does he will this in the same sense in which our Lord said " I will, be thou clean ?" If so, why are not all cleansed and saved? The revealed will of God, as a Law-giver, and as a Saviour, commanding, and inviting, and declaring his readiness to re' Psal. Ixxvi. 10.
? Acts xii. 3 Acts ii, 23.
- Heb. xii. 20.
ceive all who come to him, in his appointed way; must be distinct from the everlasting purpose of God, whereby, before the foundations of the world, he hath constantly decreed by his counsel, 'secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation
those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of 'mankind, and to bring them by Christ to ever
lasting salvation, as vessels of mercfer. For the revealed will, and the secret purpose of God cannot be the same. The revealed will of God shews us our duty, and the path of peace; his secret purpose relates to what he determines to do in respect to every part of his universal kingdom, and to all eternity. It is his commanding will, that all men should love him perfectly ; that all sinners should repent and believe the gospel : but does he will this in the same manner as he willed the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ? God is willing that we should be willing; he does nothing to prevent it; he affords us means, opportunities, and encouragements : but does he so will it as to exert omnipotence to effect it? to raise all from the death in sin to divine life ? to new “ create all into “ holiness?" to give to "all a new heart, and a “ new spirit?"- He wills us to will that which is
good, that, when we have willed, he also may • will to fulfil his own counsel in us.' Compare this with the seventeenth article as above quoted. His command indeed is, that we should will, &c;' but there is not in man a 'disposition, and conse
quently not an ability, to do what in the sight of
God is good, till he is influenced by the Spirit ' of God: but the counsel of God is previous to
"Art. xvii. VOL. VIII. v
our believing, and relates to his giving us, “ the “ Spirit of life in Christ Jesus,” to quicken us from the death of sin, that we may repent, believe, and obey; and the promise is to those who do repent, believe, and obey.]
AUGUSTINE. «The wicked, who have faith.' Fidelium iniquorum.
What a lamentable thing it is, that in every age there should be great numbers, to whom this description in some sense may be applied! They assent to the truth of Christianity in general, and to many of its doctrines: they are not infidels : they have a notional faith, but they are wicked men; that is, they live in the habitual practice of sin, and neglect of their duty to God and man, and are worldly, and ungodly, and selfish, in their whole conduct. There are no doubt many of this description among Calvinists; but there is, at leást, as large a proportion among Anticalvinists ; and especially among those who oppose the doctrine of justification by faith, and salvation by grace alone. They profess to depend on good works, yet neglect to practise them; as if the very scarcity of them would enhance their value! Yet they encourage themselves in this strange inconsistent course of life by a presumptuous reliance on the mercy of God; and soothe their consciences by the idea, that, as professed Christians, they shall not be judged by the strict and holy law of God, but by some milder and more pliable rule! What millions of these antinomian professors of Christianity are there at this day, in the visible church! Even if he should happen to fulfil all which
' August. Ref. 425.