« Prev 3. Certainty Consistent with Liberty. Next »

§ 3. Certainty Consistent with Liberty.

Although the doctrine of necessity subverts the foundation of all morality and religion, our present concern is with the doctrine of contingency. We wish simply to state the case as between certainty and uncertainty. The doctrine of necessity, in the proper sense of the word, is antichristian; but the Christian world is, and ever has been divided between the advocates and opponents of the 296doctrine of contingency. All Augustinians maintain that a free act may be inevitably certain as to its occurrence.. All Anti-Augustinians, whether Pelagians, Semi-Pelagians, or Arminians, and most moral philosophers and metaphysicians, take the opposite ground. They teach that as the will has a self-determining power it may decide against all motives internal or external, against all influences divine or human, so that its decisions cannot be rendered inevitable without destroying their liberty. The very essence of liberty, they say, is power to the contrary. In other words, a free act is one performed with the consciousness that under precisely the same circumstances, that is, in the same internal as well as external state of the mind, it might have been the opposite. According to the one doctrine, the will is determined; according to the other, it determines itself. In the one case, our acts are or may be inevitably certain and yet be free. In the other, in order to be free, they must be uncertain. We have already proved that this is a fair statement of the case; that the advocates of moral necessity mean thereby certainty; and that the advocates of contingency mean thereby uncertainty. We have admitted that the use of the word necessity, even when qualified by saying negatively, that it is not “absolute, physical, or mechanical,” and that it is merely philosophical or moral, is unfortunate and inappropriate. And if any opponent of Augustine or Edwards say that all he denies is an absolute or physical necessity, and that he has no objection to the doctrine of certainty, then the difference between him and Edwards is merely verbal. But the real controversy lies deeper. It is not the word, but the thing that is opposed. There is a real difference as to the nature of free agency; and that difference concerns this very point: may the acts of free agents be rendered inevitably certain without destroying their liberty?

Points of Agreement.

It may be well before proceeding further, to state the points as to which the parties to this controversy are agreed.

1. They are agreed that man is a free agent, in such a sense as to be responsible for his character and acts. The dispute is not about the fact, but the nature of free agency. If any one denied that men are responsible moral agents, then he belongs to the school of necessity, and is not a party to the discussion now under consideration.

2. It is agreed as to the nature of free agency that it supposes both reason and active power. Mere spontaneity does not constitute 297free agency, because that is found in brutes, in idiots, and in maniacs. There is no dispute as to what is meant by reason as one of the elements of free agency; and so for as active power, which is its second element, is concerned, it is agreed that it means or includes efficiency. In other words, it is agreed that a free agent is the efficient cause of his own acts.

3. It is admitted, on both sides, that in all important cases, men act under the influence of motives. Reid, indeed, endeavours to show that in many cases the will decides without any motive. When there is no ground of preference, he says this must be the case; as when a man decides which of fifty shillings he shall give away. He admits, however, that these arbitrary decisions relate only to trifles. Others of the same school acknowledge that no rational volition is ever arrived at except under the influence of motives.

4. It is further agreed that the will is not determined with certainty by external motives. All Augustinians deny that the internal state of the mind which determines the will, is itself necessarily or certainly determined by anything external to the mind itself.

5. It may be assumed, also, that the parties are agreed that the word will is to be taken in its proper, restricted sense. The question is not, whether men have power over their affections, their likes and dislikes. No one carries the power of the will so far as to maintain that we can, by a volition, change our feelings. The question concerns our volitions alone. It is the ground or reason of acts of self-determination that is in dispute. And, therefore, it is the will considered as the faculty of self-determination, and not as the seat of the affections, that comes into view. The question, why one man is led to love God, or Christ, or his fellow men, or truth and goodness; and another to love the world, or sin, is very different from the question, what determines him to do this or that particular act. The will is that faculty by which we determine to do something which we conceive to be in our power. The question, whether a man has power to change his own character at any moment, to give himself, in the language of Scripture, a new heart, concerns the extent of his power. That is, it is a question concerning the ability or inability of the sinner; and it is a most important question: but it should not be confounded with the question of free agency, which is the one now under consideration.

The whole question therefore is, whether, when a man decides to do a certain thing, his will is determined by the previous state of his mind. Or, whether, with precisely the same views and feelings, 298his decision may be one way at one time, and another at an other. That is, whether the will, or rather the agent, in order to be free, must be undetermined.

Argument that Certainty suits all Free Agents.

It is certainly a strong argument in favour of that view of free agency, which makes it consistent with certainty, or which supposes that an agent may be determined with inevitable certainty as to his acts, and yet those acts remain free, that it suits all classes or conditions of free agents. To deny free agency to God, would be to deny Him personality, and to reduce Him to a mere power or principle. And yet, in all the universe, is there anything so certain as that God will do right? But if it be said that the conditions of existence in an infinite being are so different from what they are in creatures, that it is not fair to argue from the one to the other, we may refer to the case of our blessed Lord. He had a true body and a reasonable soul. He had a human will; a mind regulated by the same laws as those which determine the intellectual and voluntary acts of ordinary men. In his case, however, although there may have been the metaphysical possibility of evil (though even that is a painful hypothesis), still it was more certain that He would be without sin than that the sun or moon should endure. No conceivable physical law could be more certain in the production of its effects than his will in always deciding for the right. But if it be objected even to this case, that the union of the divine and human natures in the person of our Lord places Him in a different category from ourselves, and renders it unfair to assume that what was true in his case must be true in ours; without admitting the force of the objection, we may refer to the condition of the saints in heaven. They, beyond doubt, continue to be free agents; and yet their acts are, and to everlasting will be, determined with absolute and inevitable certainty to good. Certainty, therefore, must be consistent with free agency. What can any Christian say to this? Does he deny that the saints in glory are free, or does he deny the absolute certainty of their perseverance in holiness? Would his conception of the blessedness of heaven be thereby exalted? Or would it raise his ideas of the dignity of the redeemed to believe it to be uncertain whether they will be sinful or holy? We may, however, come down to our present state of existence. Without assuming anything as to the corruption of our nature, or taking for granted anything which Pelagius would deny, it is a certain fact that all men sin. There has never existed a mere man on the face 299of the earth who did not sin. When we look on a new-born infant we know that whatever may be uncertain in its future, it is absolutely, inevitably certain that, should it live, it will sin. In every aspect, therefore, in which we can contemplate free agency, whether in God, in the human nature of Christ, in the redeemed in heaven, or in man here on earth, we find that it is compatible with absolute certainty.

Arguments from Scripture.

A second argument on this subject is derived from those doctrines of Scripture which necessarily suppose that free acts may be certain as to their occurrence.

1. The first and most obvious of these doctrines is the foreknowledge of God. Whatever metaphysical explanation may be given of this divine attribute; however we may ignore the distinction between knowledge and foreknowledge, or however we may contend that because God inhabits eternity, and is in no wise subject to the limitations of time, and that to Him nothing is successive, still the fact remains that we exist in time, and that to us there is a future as well as a present. It remains, therefore, a fact that human acts are known before they occur in time, and consequently are foreknown. But if foreknown as future, they must be certain; not because foreknowledge renders their occurrence certain, but because it supposes it to be so. It is a contradiction in terms to say that an uncertain event can be foreknown as certain. To deny foreknowledge to God, to say that free acts, because necessarily uncertain as to their occurrence, are not the objects of foreknowledge any more than sounds are the objects of sight, or mathematical truths of the affections, is to destroy the very idea of God. The future must be as dark to Him as to us; and He must every moment be receiving vast accessions of knowledge. He cannot be an eternal being, pervading all duration with a simultaneous existence, much less an omniscient Being, to whom there is nothing new. It is impossible, therefore, to believe in God as He is revealed in the Bible, unless we believe that all things are known unto Him from the beginning. But if all things are known, all things, whether fortuitous or free, are certain; consequently certainty must be consistent with freedom. We are not more assured of our existence than we are of our free agency. To say that this is a delusion is to deny the veracity of consciousness, which of necessity not only involves a denial of the veracity of God, but also subverts the foundation of all knowledge, and plunges us into absolute scepticism. We may just as well say that our existence 300is a delusion as that any other fact of consciousness is delusive. We have no more and no higher evidence for one such fact than for another. Men may speculate as they please, they must believe and act according to the laws impressed on our nature by ur Creator. We must believe, therefore, in our existence and in our free agency; and as by a necessity scarcely less imperative we must believe that all things are known to God from eternity, and that if foreknown their occurrence is certain, we cannot deny that certainty is consistent with free agency without involving ourselves in palpable contradictions. This argument is so conclusive that most theistical advocates of the doctrine of contingency, when they come to deal with it, give the matter up, and acknowledge that an act may be certain as to its occurrence and yet free. They content themselves for the time being with denying that it is necessary, although it may be certain. But they forget that by “moral necessity” nothing more than certainty is intended, and that certainty is precisely the thing which, on other occasions, they affirm to be contrary to liberty. If from all eternity it is fixed how every man will act; if the same consequences follow invariably from the same antecedents; if the acts of men are inevitable, this is declared to be fatalism. If, however, it be indeed true that the advocates of indifference, self-determining power of the will, power of contrary choice, or by whatever other name the theory of contingency may be called, really do not intend to oppose the doctrine of certainty, but are simply combating fatalism or physical necessity, then the controversy is ended. What more could Leibnitz or Edwards ask than Reid concedes in the following passage: “It must be granted, that, as whatever was, certainly was, and whatever is, certainly is, so whatever shall be, certainly shall be. These are identical propositions, and cannot be doubted by those who conceive them distinctly. But I know no rule of reasoning by which it can be inferred that because an event certainly shall be, therefore its production must be necessary. The manner of its production, whether free or necessary, cannot be concluded from the time of its production, whether it be past, present, or future. That it shall be, no more implies that it shall be necessarily than that it shall be freely produced; for neither present, past, nor future, have any more connection with necessity than they have with freedom. I grant, therefore, that from events being foreseen, it may be justly concluded, that, they are certainly future; but from their being certainly future it does not follow that they are necessary.”269269Active Powers, Essay iv. ch. 10; Works, edit. Edinburgh, 1849, p. 629. As 301all things are foreseen all things are inevitably certain as to their occurrence. This is granting all any Augustinian need demand.

2. Another doctrine held by a large part of the Christian world in all ages which of necessity precludes the doctrine of contingency, is that of the foreordination of future events. Those who believe that God foreordains whatever comes to pass must believe that the occurrence of all events is determined with unalterable certainty. It is not our object to prove any of these doctrines, but simply to argue from them as true. It may, however, be remarked that there is no difficulty attending the doctrine of foreordination which does not attach to that of foreknowledge. The latter supposes the certainty of free acts, and the former secures their certainty. If their being certain be consistent with liberty, their being rendered certain cannot be incompatible with it. All that foreordination does is to render it certain that free acts shall occur. The whole difficulty is in their being certain, and that must be admitted by every consistent theist. The point now in hand is, that those who believe that the Bible teaches the doctrine of foreordination are shut up to the conclusion that an event may be free and yet certain, and therefore that the theory of contingency which supposes that an act to be free must be uncertain, is unscriptural and false.

3. The doctrine of divine providence involves the same conclusion. That doctrine teaches that God governs all his creatures and all their actions. That is, that He so conducts the administration of his government as to accomplish all his purposes. Here again the difficulty is the same, and is no greater than before. Foreknowledge supposes certainty; foreordination determines it; and providence effects it. The last does no more than the first of necessity presupposes. If certainty be compatible with freedom, providence which only secures certainty cannot be inconsistent with it. Who for any metaphysical difficulty — who, because he is not able to comprehend how God can effectually govern free agents without destroying their nature, would give up the doctrine of providence? Who would wish to see the reins of universal empire fall from the hands of infinite wisdom and love, to be seized by chance or fate? Who would not rather be governed by a Father than by a tornado? If God cannot effectually control the acts of free agents there can be no prophecy, no prayer, no thanksgiving, no promises, no security of salvation, no certainty whether in the end God or Satan is to be triumphant, whether heaven or hell is to be the consummation. Give us certainty — the secure conviction that a sparrow cannot fall, or a sinner move a finger, but as God permits and 302ordains. We must have either God or Satan to rule. And if God has a providence He must be able to render the free acts of his creatures certain; and therefore certainty must be consistent with liberty. Was it not certain that Christ should, according to the Scriptures, be by wicked hands crucified and slain, and yet were not his murderers free in all they did? Let it be remembered that in all these doctrines of providence, foreordination, and foreknowledge nothing is assumed beyond what Reid, one of the most able opponents of Leibnitz and Edwards, readily admits. He grants the prescience of future events; he grants that prescience supposes certainty, and that is all that either foreordination or providence secures. If an act may be free, although certainly foreknown, it may be free although foreordained and secured by the great scheme of providence.

4. The whole Christian world believes that God can convert men. They believe that He can effectually lead them to repentance and faith; and that He can secure them in heaven from ever falling into sin. That is, they believe that He can render their free acts absolutely certain. When we say that this is the faith of the whole Christian world we do not mean that no individual Christian or Christian theologian has ever denied this doctrine of grace; but we do mean that the doctrine, to the extent above stated, is included in the Confessions of all the great historical churches of Christendom in all ages. It is just as much a part of the established faith of Christians as the divinity of our Redeemer. This being the fact, the doctrine that contingency is necessary to liberty cannot be reconciled with Christian doctrine. It has, indeed, been extensively held by Christians; but our object is to show that it is in conflict within doctrines which they themselves as Christians must admit. If God can fulfil his promise to give men a new heart; if He can translate them from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of his dear Son; if He can give them repentance unto life; if there be no impropriety in praying that He would preserve them from falling, and give them the secure possession of eternal life, then He can control their free acts. He can, by his grace, without violating their freedom, make it absolutely certain that they will repent and believe, and persevere in holiness. If these things are so, then it is evident that any theory which makes contingency or uncertainty essential to liberty must be irreconcilable with some of the plainest and most precious doctrines of the Scriptures.

303

The Argument from Consciousness.

A third argument on this subject is derived from consciousness. It is conceded that every man is conscious of liberty in his voluntary acts. It is conceded further that this consciousness proves the fact of free agency. The validity of this argument urged by the advocates of contingency against the doctrine of necessity in any such form as involves a denial of this fact of consciousness, we fully admit. The doctrine opposed by Reid and Stewart, as well as by many continental writers, was really a doctrine which denied both the liberty and responsibility of man. This is not the Augustinian or Edwardean doctrine, although unhappily both are expressed by the same terms. The one is the doctrine of physical or mechanical necessity; the other that of certainty. As between the advocates of the latter theory and the defenders of contingency, it is agreed that man is a free agent; it is further agreed that it is included in the consciousness of free agency, that we are efficient and responsible authors of our own acts, that we had the power to perform or not to perform any voluntary act of which we were the authors. But we maintain that we are none the less conscious that this intimate conviction that we had power not to perform an act, is conditional. That is, we are conscious that the act might have been otherwise had other views or feelings been present to our minds, or been allowed their due weight. No man is conscious of a power to will against his will; that is, the will, in the narrow sense of the word, cannot be against the will in the wide sense of the term. This is only saying, that a man cannot prefer against his preference or choose against his choice. A volition is a preference resulting in a decision. A man may have one preference at one time and another at another. He may have various conflicting feelings or principles in action at the same time; but he cannot have coëxisting opposite preferences. What consciousness teaches on this subject seems to be simply this: that in every voluntary act we had some reason for acting as we did; that in the absence of that reason, or in the presence of others, which others we may feel ought to have been present, we should or could have acted differently. Under the reasons for an act are included all that is meant by the word motives, in the subjective sense of the term; i.e., principles, inclinations, feelings, etc. We cannot conceive that a man can be conscious that, with his principles, feelings, and inclinations being one way, his will may be another way. A man filled with the fear of God, or with the love of Christ, cannot will 304to blaspheme his God or Saviour. That fear or love constitutes for the time being the man. He is a man existing in that state, and if his acts do not express that state they are not his.

Argument from the Moral Character of Volition.

This suggests a fourth argument on this subject. Unless the will be determined by the previous state of the mind, in opposition to being self-determined, there can be no morality in our acts. A man is responsible for his external acts, because they are decided by his will; he is responsible for his volitions, because they are determined by his principles and feelings; he is responsible for his principles and feelings, because of their inherent nature as good or bad, and because they are his own, and constitute his character. If you detach the outward act from the will it ceases to have any moral character. If I kill a man, unless the act was intentional, i.e., the result of a volition to kill or injure, there is no morality in the act. If I willed to kill, then the character of the act depends on the motives which determined the volition. If those motives were a regard to the authority of God, or of the demands of justice legally expressed, the volition was right. If the motive was malice or cupidity, the volition and consequent act were wrong. It is obvious that if the will be self-determined, independent of the previous state of the mind, it has no more character than the outward act detached from the volition, — it does not reveal or express anything in the mind. If a man when filled with pious feeling can will the most impious acts; or, when filled with enmity to God, have the volitions of a saint, then his volitions and acts have nothing to do with the man himself. They do not express his character and he cannot be responsible for them.

Argument from the Rational Nature of Man.

The doctrine that the will is determined and not self-determined, is moreover involved in the rational character of our acts. A rational act is not merely an act performed by a rational being, but one performed for a reason, whether good or bad. An act performed without a reason, without intention or object, for which no reason be assigned beyond the mere power of acting, is as irrational as the actions of a brute or of an idiot. If the will therefore ever acts independently of the understanding and of the feelings, its volitions are not the acts of a rational being any further than they would be if reason were entirely dethroned. The only true idea of liberty is that of a being acting in accordance with the laws of 305its nature. So long as an animal is allowed to act under the control of its own nature, determined in all it does by what is within itself, it has all the liberty of which it is capable. And so long as a man is determined in his volitions and acts by his own reason and feelings he has all the liberty of which he is capable. But if you detach the acts of an animal from its inward state its liberty is gone. It becomes possessed. And if the acts of a man are not determined by his reason and feelings he is a puppet or a maniac.

The doctrine that the will acts independently of the previous state of the mind supposes that our volitions are isolated atoms, springing up from the abyss of the capricious self-determination of the will, from a source beyond the control or ken of reason. They are purely casual, arbitrary, or capricious. They have no connection with the past, and give no promise of the future. On this hypothesis there can be no such thing as character. It is, however, a fact of experience universally admitted, that there are such things as principles or dispositions which control the will. We feel assured that an honest man will act honestly, and that a benevolent man will act benevolently. We are moreover assured that these principles may be so strong and fixed as to render the volitions absolutely certain. “Rational beings,” says Reid, “in proportion as they are wise and good, will act according to the best motives; and every rational being who does otherwise, abuses his liberty. The most perfect being, in everything where there is a right and a wrong, a better and a worse, always infallibly acts according to the best motives. This, indeed, is little else than an identical proposition; for it is a contradiction to say, that a perfect being does what is wrong or unreasonable. But to say that he does not act freely, because he always does what is best, is to say, that the proper use of liberty destroys liberty, and that liberty consists only in its abuse.”270270Active Powers, Essay iv. ch. 4; Works, p. 609. That is, the character determines the act; and to say that the infallible certainty of acts destroys their freedom is to make “liberty destroy liberty.” Though Reid and Stewart wrote against Leibnitz and Edwards as well as against Hobbes and Belsham, the sentences above quoted contain the whole doctrine of the two former distinguished men, and of their innumerable predecessors, associates, and followers. It is the doctrine that infallible certainty is consistent with liberty. This conviction is so wrought into the minds of men that they uniformly, unconsciously as well as consciously, act upon it. They assume that a man’s volitions are determined by motives. They take for granted that 306there is such a thing as character; and therefore they endeavour to mould the character of those under their influence, assured that if they make the tree good the fruit will be good. They do not act on the principle that the acts of men are capricious, that the will is self-determined, acting without or against motives as well as with them; so that it must always and forever remain uncertain how it will decide.

Argument from the Doctrine of a Sufficient Cause.

The axiom that every effect must have a cause, or the doctrine of a sufficient reason, applies to the internal as well as to the external world. It governs the whole sphere of our experience, inward and outward. Every volition is an effect, and therefore must have a cause. There must have been some sufficient reason why it was so, rather than otherwise. That reason was not the mere power of the agent to act; for that only accounts for his acting, not for his acting one way rather than another. The force of gravity accounts for a stone falling to the earth, but not for its falling here instead of there. The power to walk accounts for a man’s walking, but not for his walking east rather than west. Yet we are told even by the most distinguished writers, that the efficiency of the agent is all that is required to satisfy the instinctive demand which we make for a sufficient reason, in the case of our volitions. Reid, as quoted above, asks, “Was there a cause of the action? Undoubtedly there was. Of every event there must be a cause that had power sufficient to produce it, and that exerted that power for the purpose. In the present case, either the man was the cause of the action, and then it was a free action, and is justly imputed to him; or it must have had another cause, and cannot justly be imputed to the man. In this sense, therefore, it is granted that there was a sufficient reason for the action; but the question about liberty, is not in the least affected by this concession.”271271Active Powers, Essay iv. ch. 9; Works, edit. Edinburgh, 1849, p. 625. Again, he asks, “Why may not an efficient cause be defined to be a being that had power and will to produce the effect? The production of an effect requires active power, and active power, being a quality, must be in a being endowed with that power. Power without will produces no effect; but, where these are conjoined, the effect must be produced.”272272Ibid. p. 627. Sir William Hamilton’s annotation on the former of these passages is, “that of a hyper-physical as well as of a physical event, we must, by a necessary mental law, always suppose 307a sufficient reason why it is, and is as it is.” The efficiency of the agent, therefore, is not a sufficient reason for the volition being as it is. It is inconceivable that an undetermined cause should act one way rather than another; and if it does act thus without a sufficient reason, its action can be neither rational nor moral.

Another common method of answering this argument is to assume that because the advocates of certainty say that the will is determined by motives, and therefore, that the motives are the cause why the volition is as it is, they mean that the efficiency to which the volition is due is in the motives, and not in the agent. Thus Stewart says, “The question is not concerning the influence of motives, but concerning the nature of that influence. The advocates for necessity [certainty] represent it as the influence of a cause in producing its effect. The advocates for liberty acknowledge that the motive is the occasion for acting, or the reason for acting, but contend that it is so far from being the efficient cause of it, that it supposes the efficiency to reside elsewhere, namely, in the mind of the agent.”273273Philosophy of the Moral Powers, II. Appendix (§ 4); Works, Hamilton’s edition, Edinburgh, 1855, vol. vi. p. 370. This representation has been sufficiently answered above. Motives are not the efficient cause of the volition; that efficiency resides in the agent; but what we, “by a necessary mental law,” must demand, is a sufficient reason why the agent exerts his efficiency in one way rather than another. To refer us simply to his efficiency, is to leave the demand for a sufficient reason entirely unsatisfied; in other words, it is to assume that there may be an effect without a cause; which is impossible.

The doctrine of free agency, therefore, which underlies the Bible, which is involved in the consciousness of every rational being, and which is assumed and acted on by all men, is at an equal remove, on the one hand, from the doctrine of physical or mechanical necessity, which precludes the possibility of liberty and responsibility; and, on the other, from the doctrine of contingency, which assumes that an act in order to be free must be uncertain; or that the will is self determined, acting independently of the reason, conscience, inclinations and feelings. It teaches that a man is a free and responsible agent, because he is author of his own acts, and because he is determined to act by nothing out of himself, but by his own views, convictions inclinations, feelings, and dispositions, so that his acts are the true products of the man, and really represent or reveal what he is. The profoundest of modern authors admit that this is the true theory of liberty; but some 308of them, as for example Müller, in his elaborate work on “Sin,” maintain that in order to render man justly responsible for the acts which are thus determined by their internal state or character, that state must itself be self-produced. This doctrine has already been sufficiently discussed when treating of original sin. It may, however, be here remarked, in conclusion of the present discussion, that the principle assumed is contrary to the common judgment of men. That judgment is that the dispositions and feelings which constitute character derive their morality or immorality from their nature, and not from their origin. Malignity is evil and love is good, whether concreated, innate, acquired, or infused. It may be difficult to reconcile the doctrine of innate evil dispositions with the justice and goodness of God, but that is a difficulty which does not pertain to this subject. A malignant being is an evil being, if endowed with reason, whether he was so made or so born. And a benevolent rational being is good in the universal judgment of men, whether he was so created or so born. We admit that it is repugnant to our moral judgments that God should create an evil being; or that any being should be born in a state of sin, unless his being so born is the consequence of a just judgment. But this has nothing to do with the question whether moral dispositions do not owe their character to their nature. The common judgment of men is that they do. If a man is really humble, benevolent, and holy, he is so regarded, irrespective of all inquiry how he became so.

A second remark on the principle above stated, is, that it is not only opposed to the common judgment of men, but that it is also contrary to the faith of the whole Christian Church. We trust that this language will not be attributed to a self-confident or dogmatic spirit. We recognize no higher standard of truth apart from the infallible word of God, than the teachings of the Holy Spirit as revealed in the faith of the people of God. It is beyond dispute the doctrine of the Church universal, that Adam was created holy; that his moral character was not self-acquired. It is no less the doctrine of the universal Church, that men, since the fall, are born unholy; and it is also included in the faith of all Christian Churches. that in regeneration men are made holy, not by their own act, but by the act of God. In other words, the doctrines of original righteousness, of original sin, and of regeneration by the Spirit of God, are, and ever have been the avowed doctrines of the Greek, Latin, and Protestant Churches: and if these doctrines are, as these Churches all believe, contained in the word of God, then it cannot 309be true that moral character, in order to be the object of approbation or disapprobation, must be self-acquired. A man, therefore, may be justly accountable for acts which are determined by his character, whether that character or inward state be inherited, acquired, or induced by the grace of God.

310311
« Prev 3. Certainty Consistent with Liberty. Next »
Please login or register to save highlights and make annotations
Corrections disabled for this book
Proofing disabled for this book
Printer-friendly version





Advertisements



| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |