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§ 7. Wesleyan Arminianism.
The Arminian system received such modifications in the hands of Wesley and his associates and followers, that they give it the designation of Evangelical Arminianism, and claim for it originality and completeness. It differs from the system of the Remonstrants, —
1. In admitting that man since the fall is in a state of absolute or entire pollution and depravity. Original sin is not a mere physical deterioration of our nature, but entire moral depravity.
2. In denying that men in this state of nature have any power to coöperate with the grace of God. The advocates of this system regard this doctrine of natural ability, or the ability of the natural man to coöperate with the grace of God as Semi-pelagian, and the doctrine that men have the power by nature perfectly to keep the commandments of God, as pure Pelagianism.291291W. F. Warren, System. Theologie. Erste Lieferung, Hamburg, p. 145.
3. In asserting that the guilt brought upon all men by the sin of Adam is removed by the justification which has come upon all men by the righteousness of Christ.
4. That the ability of man even to coöperate with the Spirit of God, is due not to anything belonging to his natural state as fallen, but to the universal influence of the redemption of Christ. Every infant, therefore, comes into the world free from condemnation on the ground of the righteousness of Christ and with a seed of divine grace, or a principle of a new life implanted in his heart. “That by the offence of one,” says Wesley,292292Works, vii. p. 97. “judgment came upon all men (all born into the world) unto condemnation, is an undoubted truth, and affects every infant, as well as every adult person. But it is equally true, that by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men (all born into the world — infants and adults) unto justification.” And Fletcher,293293Works, pp. 284, 285. says, “As Adam brought a general condemnation and a universal seed of death upon all infants, so Christ brings upon them a general justification and a universal seed of life.” “Every human being,” says Warren, “has a measure of grace (unless he has cast it away), and those who faithfully use this gracious gift, will be accepted of God in the day of judgment, whether Jew or Greek, Christian or Heathen. In virtue of the mediation of Jesus Christ, between God and our fallen race, all men since the promise Gen. iii. 15, are under an economy of grace, and the only difference between them as subjects of the 330moral government of God, is that while all have grace and light enough to attain salvation, some, over and above this, have more and others less.”294294Warren, p. 146. Wesley says, “No man living is without some preventing grace, and every degree of grace is a degree of life. And in another place, “I assert that there is a measure of free will supernaturally restored to every man, together with that supernatural light which enlightens every man that cometh into the world.”295295Works, vii. p. 97; vi. p. 42. Fletcher, i. p. 137, ff. etc.
According to this view of the plan of God, he decreed or purposed, (1.) To permit the fall of man. (2.) To send his Son to make a full satisfaction for the sins of the whole world. (3.) On the ground of that satisfaction to remit the guilt of Adam’s first transgression and of original sin, and to impart such a measure of grace and light to all and every man as to enable all to attain eternal life. (4.) Those who duly improve that grace, and persevere to the end, are ordained to be saved; God purposes from eternity, to save those who He foresees will thus persevere in faith and holy living.
It is plain that the main point of difference between the later Lutheran, the Arminian, and the Wesleyan schemes, and that of Augustinians is, that according to the latter, God, and according to the former, man, determines who are to be saved. Augustine taught that out of the fallen family of men, all of whom might have been justly left to perish in their apostasy, God, out of his mere good mercy, elected some to everlasting life, sent his Son for their redemption, and gives to them the Holy Spirit to secure their repentance, faith, and holy living unto the end. “Cur autem non omnibus detur [donum fidei], fidelem movere non debet, qui credit ex uno omnes isse in condemnationem, sine dubio justissimam: ita ut nulla Dei esset justa reprehensio, etiamsi nullus inde liberaretur. Unde constat, magnam esse gratiam, quod plurimi liberantur.”296296Augustine, De Prædestinatione Sanctorum, VIII. 16; Works, edit. Benedictines, vol. ii. p. 1861, c. It is God, therefore, and not man, who determines who are to be saved. Although this may be said to be the turning point between these great systems, which have divided the Church in all ages, yet that point of necessity involves all the other matters of difference; namely, the nature of original sin; the motive of God in providing redemption; the nature and design of the work of Christ and the nature of divine grace, or the work of the Holy Spirit. Thus, in a great measure, the whole system of theology, and of 321necessity the character of our religion, depend upon the views taken of this particular question. It is, therefore, a question of the highest practical importance, and not a matter of idle speculation.
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