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'whatever new conditions he willed, the per'formance of which might depend on the free will 'of man ; and therefore it might so happen either 'that none or that all might fulfil them.' Now these think far too meanly of the death of Christ; they in no wise acknowledge the principal fruit, or benefit obtained by it; and they recal from hell the Pelagian heresy.1
4. Who teach,' That that new covenant of grace, 'which God the Father, through the intervention
* of the death of Christ, hath ratified with men, 'does not consist in this, that by faith, forasmuch as 'it apprehends the merit of Christ, we are justified
* before God and saved; but in this, that God,
* having abrogated the exaction of perfect legal
* obedience, imputes (reputet) faith itself, and the
* imperfect obedience of faith, for the perfect 'obedience of the law, and graciously reckons it 'as deserving of the reward of eternal life.' For 'these contradict the scripture: "They are jus"tified freely by his grace, through the redemption "made in Jesus Christ, whom God hath set forth "as a propitiation, through faith in his blood." Rom. iii. 24, 25. And with the impious Socinus, they introduce a novel and strange justification of man before God, contrary to the consent of the universal church.1
1 That so large a body of learned theologians, collected from various churches, should unanimously, without hesitation, and in so strong language, declare the error here rejected to be the revival of the Pelagian heresy, may indeed astonish and disgust numbers in our age and land, who oppose something, at least exceedingly like this, against the doctrines called evangelical; but it should lead them to reflect on the subject, and to pray over it. Are they not, in opposing Calvinism, reviving and propagating the heresy of Pelagius?
5. Who teach, ' That all men are taken into a 'state of reconciliation and the grace of the co'venant; so that no one on account of original 'sin is liable to damnation, or to be damned; but 'that all are exempt from the condemnation of 'this sin.' For this opinion opposes the scripture, affirming, that " By nature we are the children "of wrath."2
1 'We of good reason and right, say with divine Paul, That "we are justified by faith alone," or " by faith without the "works of the law." But properly speaking, we by no means 'understand, that faith by itself, or of itself, justifies us; seeing * it is that which becomes indeed as an instrument, by which we 'apprehend Christ our righteousness. Christ therefore himself 'is our righteousness, who imputes unto us all his own merits; 'but faith is an instrument, by which we are joined to him in 'the society or communion of all his goods, and are retained 'in it: insomuch that all these, having been made cur's are 'more than sufficient for us for our absolution from sins.' Belgic Confession, Art. xxii.
'See on the third article of the Rejection of Errors concerning divine Predestination. 'Original sin,... the fault and corruption 'of the nature of every man that naturally is engendered of the 'offspring of Adam,... in every person born into this world, de'serveth God's wrath and damnation.... And, although there is 'no condemnation for them that believe and are baptized; yet 'the apostle doth confess, that concupiscence and lust hath of 'itself the nature of sin.' Art. ix. Church of England.
'We believe, that by the disobedience of Adam the sin which 'they call original, (originis), hath been spread abroad, and 'poured out upon the whole human race. But original sin is 'the corruption of the whole nature, and hereditary vice, by 'which even infants themselves in the mother's womb are pol'luted: and which, as a certain noxious root, shoots forth '(progerminaf) every kind of sins in man; and is so base and 'execrable before God, that it is sufficient for the condemnation 'of the whole human race. Neither is it to be believed that it 'is entirely extinguished, or pulled up by the roots, in baptism; 'seeing that from it, as a from a corrupt fountain, perpetual 'streams and rivulets continually arise and flow forth; though 'to the children of God it does not avail, nor is imputed to their 'condemnation, but is remitted to them by the pure grace and 'mercy of God; not that they should fall asleep confiding in 'this remission; but that, by the sense of this corruption, it 'should excite the more frequent groans (gemitus) in "the 'faithful; and that they should more ardently desire to be freed 'from this body of death. Hence we condemn the error of the 'Pelagians, who assert that original sin is nothing but imitation. 'Phil. ii. 13. John xv. 5. Psalm li. 7. Rom. iii. 10. Gen. vi. 3. 'John iii. 6. Rom. v. 14. Eph. ii. 5. Rom. vii. 18—24.' Belgic Confession, Art. xv.
6. Who employ the distinction of impetration and application, that they may instil this opinion into the unwary and inexperienced, That God, as far as pertained to him, willed to confer equally upon all men the benefits which were acquired by the death of Christ; and that some rather than others (prce aliis) should be partakers of the remission of sins and eternal life, this discrimination depended on their free will, applying to themselves the grace indiscriminately offered; not from an especial gift of mercy operating effectually in them, that they, rather than others, should apply to themselves this grace. For these, while they pretend that they propose this distinction in a wholesome sense, endeavour to give the people a taste of the pernicious poison of Pelagianism.'
1 1 Cor. xv. 10. Eph. ii. 3—6. Tit. iii. 4—6. Art. x. of the Church of England, on Free Will.
'We believe, that the Holy Spirit dwelling in our hearts im'parts unto us true faith, that we may attain to the true know'ledge of this so great a mystery; which faith,embraces Jesus 'Christ, with all his merits, and claims it to itself, as made its 'own; and seeks thenceforth nothing beyond him.' Belgic Confession. Art. xxii.
7. Who teach, 'That Christ neither could nor 'ought to die, neither did he die, for those whom 'God especially (summe) loved and chose to eter'nal life, when to such there was no need of the 'death of Christ.' For they contradict the apostle, saying, " Christ loved me, and gave himself for me." Gal. ii. 20. Also, " Who can lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God "that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? "It is Christ who died "—doubtless for them. Rom. viii. 32, 34. And the Saviour, who declared, " I lay down my life for my sheep." John x. 15. And, "This is my command, that ye love "one another, as I have loved you; greater love "hath no man than this, that he lay down his life "for his friends." John xv. 12, 13.
THE THIRD AND FOURTH HEADS OF DOCTRINE.
Concerning the Corruption of Man, and the Method of his Conversion to God.
Art. 1. Man, from the beginning created in the image of God, was adorned in his mind with the true and saving knowledge of his Creator and of spiritual things, with righteousness in his will and heart, and purity in all his affections; and thus was altogether holy: but, by the instigation of the devil and his own free will, (libera sua voluntate,) revolting from God, he bereaved himself of these inestimable gifts; and, on the contrary, in their place, contracted blindness, horrible darkness, and perversity of judgment in his mind; malice, rebellion, hardness, in his will and heart; and finally, impurity in all his affections.
2. And such as man was after the fall, such children also he begat: namely, being corrupted, corrupt ones; corruption being derived from Adam to all his posterity, (Christ only excepted,) not by imitation, as the Pelagians formerly would have it, but by the propagation of a vicious nature, through the just judgment of God.l
3. Therefore all men are conceived in sin, and born the children of wrath, indisposed (inepti) to all saving good, prepense to evil, dead in sins, and the slaves of sin; and, without the grace of the regenerating Holy Spirit, they neither are willing nor able to return to God, to correct their depraved nature, or to dispose themselves to the correction of it.2
4. There is indeed remaining in man, since the fall, some light of nature, by the help of which he retains certain notions concerning God and natural things; concerning the difference of things honourable and shameful; and manifests some
1 ' Hence we condemn the error of the Pelagians, who assert 'that this original sin (peccatum originis) is nothing else than 'imitation.' Belgic Confession, Art. xv.
'Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam (in imi'tatione Adami) as the Pelagians do vainly talk (fabulantur); 'but it is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man, 'that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby 'man is very far gone (quam longissime distet) from original 'righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, &c.' Art. ix. Church of England.
* See on Rejection of Errors under the preceding head, No. 6.