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ARTICLE XXVIII (VIII.)
The grace sufficient for salvation is conferred on the Elect, and on the Non-elect; that, if they will, they may believe or not believe, may be saved or not saved.
OUR brethren here also manifest the same negligence. They take no pains to know what my sentiments are; they are not careful in examining what truth there is in my opinions; and they exercise no discretion about the words in which they enunciate my sentiments and their own. They know that I use the word "Election" in two senses. (i.) For the decree by which God resolves to justify believers and to condemn unbelievers, and which is called by the Apostle, "the purpose of God according to election." (Rom. ix. 11.) (ii.) And for the decree by which He resolves to elect these or those nations and men with the design of communicating to them the means of faith, but to pass by other nations and men. Yet, without this distinction, they fasten these sentiments on me; when, by its aid, I am enabled to affirm, not only, sufficient grace is conferred on, or rather is offered to, the Elect and the Nonelect;" but also, "sufficient grace is not offered to any except the Elect." (i.) "It is offered to the Elect and the Non-elect," because it is offered to unbelievers, whether they will afterwards believe or not believe. (ii.) "It is offered to none except the Elect," because, by that very thing which is offered to them, they cease to be of the number of those of whom it is said, "He suffered them to walk in their own ways;" (Acts xiv. 16;) and, "He hath not dealt so with any nation." (Psalm cxlvii. 20.) And who shall compel me to use words of their prescribing, unless proof be brought from scripture that the words are to be thus and in no other way received?
I now proceed to the other words of the article. "That, if they will, they may believe or not believe, be saved or not saved." I say, in two different senses may these words be received, "if they will, they may believe," that is, either by their own powers, or as they are excited and assisted by this grace. "Or they may not believe," while rejecting this grace by their own free will, and resisting it. "They may be saved or not saved," that is, saved by the admission and right use of grace, not saved by their own wickedness, rejecting that without which they cannot be saved.
To the whole together I reply, that nothing is declared in these words, in whatever manner they may be understood, which St. Augustine himself and his followers would not willingly have acknowledged as true. I say, in these words are enunciated the very sentiments of St. Augustine; yet he was the chief champion against the Pelagian heresy, being accounted in that age its most successful combatant. For in his treatise on nature and grace, (c. 67.) St. Augustine speaks thus:, Since He is every where present, who, by many methods through the creature that is subservient to Him as his Lord, can call him who is averse, can teach a believer, can comfort him who hopes, can exhort the diligent man, can aid him who strives, and can lend an attentive ear to him who deprecates; it is not imputed to thee as a fault, that thou art unwillingly ignorant, but that thou neglectest to inquire after that of which thou art ignorant; not that thou dost not collect and bind together the shattered and wounded members, but that thou despisest Him who is willing to heal thee." The book entitled "The Vocation of the Gentiles," which is attributed with a greater semblance of probability to Prosper, than to St. Ambrose, has the following passage: "On all men has always been bestowed some measure of heavenly doctrine, which, though it was of more sparing and hidden grace, was yet sufficient, as the Lord has judged, to serve some men for a remedy, and all men for a testimony." (Lib. 2. c. 5.) In the commencement of the ninth chapter of the same book, he explains the whole matter by saying: "The Grace of God has indeed the decided pre-eminence in our justifications, persuading us by exhortations, admonishing us by examples, affrighting us by dangers, exciting us by miracles, by giving understanding, by inspiring counsel, and by illuminating the heart itself and imbuing it with the affections of faith. But the will of man is likewise subjoined to it and is united with it, which has been excited to this by the before mentioned succours, that it may co-operate in the Divine work within itself, and may begin to follow after the reward which, by the heavenly seed, it has conceived for the object of its desire, ascribing the failure to its own mutability, and the success (if the issue be prosperous) to the aid of grace. This aid is afforded to all men, by innumerable methods both secret and manifest; and the rejection of this assistance by many persons, is to be ascribed to their negligence; but its reception by many persons, is both of Divine grace and of the human will."
I do not produce these passages, as if I thought that either my brethren or I must abide by the sentiments of the Fathers, but only for the purpose of removing from myself the crime of Pelagianism in this matter.
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