Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

serving, for the sake of his Son, of the fulness of his own grace and free will, righteousness and life, he is not Prosopoleptes, that is, a respecter of persons; as it is said, " What is thine own "and thou hast deserved, take, and go thy way. Is it not lawful "for me to do what I will with mine own? Is not thine eye evil, "not my eye, because I am good?"

If any person should be surprised, that in these public confessions there is much less of the high points of Calvinism, than the writings of the divines who compiled them might have led them to expect; let him also think this concerning our Articles and Homilies, that they contain less of these higher and awful points, than may be extracted from the writings of the compilers, or their contemporaries. For all that is fit for the work of an individual author, is not proper for an article of faith, designed for whole churches or nations, through succeeding generations.

I shall now only add a very few extracts from the Augsburg Confession, and others connected with it. These are generally supposed to be wholly discordant with the other formularies in the Calvinistic churches, set forth in the first years of the reformation: and, indeed, the cautious spirit of Melancthon, and the peculiarly delicate circumstances in which he drew up the Augsburg Confessions, to be presented in the Diet of the Empire, must of course render it something different, even if he and his associates had believed all which Calvin afterwards maintained; which they certainly did not. Yet they avowed, in those perilous times, far more than the clergy of Britain, in these our peaceful days, are generally willing to subcribe, except with such salvos as satisfy their minds in subscribing the Articles of our church.

VI.

From The Confession Of Augsburg, 1530.

Article Ii.

'Moreover they teach,- that, after the fall of Adam, all men propagated in the natural manner, when born, have original sin. VOL. VIII.' 2 E

But we understand by original sin, that which the holy fathers call so, and all orthodox and pious persons in the church,-namely, 'the guilt, in which being born, on account of the fall of Adam, they are exposed (rei sunt) to the anger of God and eternal death; and the corruption itself of nature propagated from Adam.' And this corruption of human nature, the want of righteousness or integrity, or of original obedience, comprises also concupiscence. This defect (defectus) is horrible blindness and disobedience, so as to want that light and knowledge of God which would have been in upright nature; also to want that rectitude which is perpetual obedience, in the true, and pure, and supreme love of God; and the like endowments of upright nature. Wherefore, these defects and concupiscence are a thing condemned, and worthy of death, by its own nature. Therefore the original depravity (yitium originis) is truly sin, condemning, and bringing now also eternal death to those, who are not born again by baptism and by the Holy Spirit. They condemn the Pelagians, who deny original sin, and think that those defects, (defectus,) or concupiscence, are things indifferent, or only punishments, and are not things to be condemned in their own nature; and dream that man can satisfy the law of God; and, on account of this his own" proper righteousness, be pronounced just before God.'

Article Iv.

'But that we may obtain these benefits of Christ, namely, remission of sins, justification, and eternal life, Christ has given the gospel, in which these benefits are proposed to us: as it is written in the last chapter of Luke, " That repentance in his name, and remission of sins, should be preached among all nations." For, when all men, propagated in a natural manner, have sin, nor can truly satisfy the law of God, the gospel convicts sins, (arguit peccata,) and shews unto us Christ the Mediator, and thus teaches us the remission of sins. When the gospel convicts our sins, our greatly terrified hearts ought to determine, that remission of sins, and justification on account of Christ, may be given to us gratis, through the faith with which we ought to believe and confess, that these things are given to us for Christ's sake, who was made a sacrifice for us, and appeased the Father. Therefore, though the gospel requires repentance, yet, that remission of sins may be certain, it teaches that it is freely given; that is, that it does not depend on the condition of our worthiness, nor is given because of any preceding works, or the worthiness (dignitatem) of those that follow. For forgiveness would become uncertain, if it should come to us after we had merited by preceding works, that our repentance was sufficiently worthy. For conscience, under genuine alarms, findeth no work which it can oppose to the wrath of God: and Christ is given and proposed to us, that he should be the Propitiator. This honour of Christ ought not to be transferred to our works. Therefore Paul says, " By grace are ye saved:" also, " By faith freely, that the promise might be firm •" that is, that remission will be certain, when we know that it does not depend on the condition of our worthiness, but is given because of Christ. This is the firm and necessary consolation to pious and terrified minds. And so teach the holy fathers. And there is extant in Ambrose a memorable and remarkable sentiment, in these words,—' This has been appointed of God, that he who believeth in Christ, should be saved, without work, by faith alone, freely receiving the remission of sins.' And the word, 'of faith,' not only signifies the knowledge of the history concerning Christ, but also to believe, and assent to this promise, which is proper to the gospel; in which, for the sake of Christ, remission of sins, justification, and eternal life, are promised to us.'

Article xvm.

'Concerning free will they teach, that the human will has a certain liberty to perform civil justice, and to choose things subjected to reason. But it has not the power, without the Holy Spirit, of performing spiritual righteousness: because St. Paul says, " The animal man does not perceive the things which are of the Spirit of God:" and Christ says, " Without me ye are not able to do any thing." But spiritual righteousness is wrought in us, when we are assisted by the Holy Spirit. Moreover we receive the Holy Spirit, when we assent to the word of God, that we may be comforted by faith under our terrors, as Paul teaches when he says, " That ye may receive the promise of the Spirit by faith." These things Augustine teaches in so many words in the third book of Hypognostica, (where he says,) ' We confess that there is free will to all men, having indeed the judgment of reason, not that which is sufficient, (idoneum,) in those things which belong to God, without God, either to begin, or certainly to accomplish; but only in the works of this present life, as well good as evil. In good things I say, which arise from the good of nature; that is, to be willing to labour in the field; to be willing to eat and drink; to be willing to have a friend; to be willing to have clothing; to be willing to marry a wife; to feed the flocks, to learn the arts of diverse good things; to will whatever good belongs to this present life; all which do not subsist, except by divine government, yea, from God, and by him they are, and began to be. I say also for evil things; that is, to will to worship an idol, to will the commission of murder, &c."—This judgment of Augustine excellently teacheth what is to be attributed to free will, and clearly (diserte) distinguishes civil discipline, or the exercise of human reason, from spiritual motions; from true fear, patience, constancy, faith, prayer, in the severest temptations, amidst the stratagems of the devil, in the terrors of sin. In these certainly tliere is need for us to be governed and assisted by the Holy Spirit; as St. Paul says, "The Spirit helpeth our infirmities."—We condemn the Pelagians, and the like, who teach, that without the Holy Spirit, by the sole powers of nature, we may be able to love God above all things, to perform the law of God, as to the substance of our actions. These dreams we ingenuously and necessarily reprehend: for they obscure the benefits of Christ. For Christ the Mediator is therefore proposed to us in the gospel, and mercy is promised, because human nature cannot satisfy the law; as Paul testifies, when he says, " The feeling of the flesh (sensus carnis) is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the laws of God, nor indeed can be subjected."1 For, though human nature is able in some way to perform outward works of itself; for it can refrain the hands from theft and murder; yet it cannot effect interior emotions, as true fear, confidence, chastity, unless the Spirit of God rule and assist our hearts. And yet even in this place we teach this also, that it is the commandment of God, that even carnal men should be restrained by the diligence of reason, and by civil discipline, as Paul teaches, "The law is a schoolmaster unto Christ:" again, " The law is "enacted against the unrighteous."'

1 Rom. viii. 7, 8.

VII.

FROM THE SAXON CONFESSION, 1551.

Article V.Of Free Will.

'Here now let also the doctrine concerning free will be known. Learned men have always, in the church, rightly distinguished between discipline, and the newness of the Spirit, which is the beginning of eternal life; and have taught, that there is, in man such a liberty of the will, for the governing of the external motions of the limbs, that even those who are not born again may however be able to perform the discipline, which is external obedience according to the law. But man can by no means free himself from sin, and from eternal death, by his own natural powers: but this liberation and conversion of man to God, and this spiritual newness, comes to us by the Son of God making us alive by his Holy Spirit: as it is said, " If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." And the will, when the Spirit of God has been received, is not idle. And we give thanks to God for this immense benefit; because that unto us, on account of his Son, and through him, he gives the Holy Spirit, and rules us by his own Spirit. And we condemn the Pelagians and Manicheeans, as we have in its proper place more copiously explained.

In all the Lutheran or Saxon confessions the doctrine concerning original sin; the will of fallen man as enslaved to sin, so as to be incapable of spiritual good, without special grace; justification by faith; and good works the fruits of living faith; in short, every thing except election and final perseverance, (which are not denied, but omitted, but yet implied, or deducible by undeniable consequence from their other doctrines,) are evidently the same, as in the Helvetian, Gallic, Scotch, and Belgian confessions: and all agree in strongly condemning Pelagianism. —Numbers in these kingdoms, classed in general among Calvinists, almost exactly in these respects, answer the description above given of the Lutherans, &c. The foundation of their, religion is laid in humiliation as fallen sinners: this prepares

« AnteriorContinuar »