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Paul should have had no ground to terrify them with such threatenings as these. What do you mean? you take a course to make Christ unprofitable to you, you bring his grace to nothing. Thus then we see that we cannot place, no not the least part of our righteousness in the law, but we renounce Christ and his grace. Amongst several other passages looking the same way, Musculus upon the former of the last recited places commenteth in these words, "He had planted the Galatians, and watered them diligently by preaching the gospel of God unto them, and hoped that it would so have come to pass that they would have increased in the knowledge and grace of Christ. But whilst he thus hopeth and wisheth, they are transplanted or removed from him, in whom they had been planted." The truth is, that several expressions and carriages in the epistle are so pregnant on the one hand, to evince and prove that time was when they were true and sound believers; and several others, as pregnant as they on the other hand, to prove them at the writing hereof to have been mere nullifidians, or persons void of all true justifying faith, that expositors could not lightly but speak them sometimes true believers, whilst they had the former places before them, and afterwards, persons wholly lapsed from such faith, when they had the latter. The case concerning these Galatians being so evident, we shall argue it no further, but conclude with a brief report of M. Luther's judgment upon it. "At first," saith he, "the Galatians heard and obeyed the truth. Therefore, when Paul saith, Who hath bewitched you?' he signifieth, that now being bewitched by the false apostles, they had fallen away from and forsaken that truth which formerly they had obeyed."‡ Not long after: "He had said before, that seeking justification by the law, they cast away the grace of God; and that Christ died for them in vain. Here he adds, that such persons crucify Christ, who had formerly lived and reigned in them. As if he should say, you have not only cast away the grace of God, it is not only true that Christ died for you in vain, but that he is most unworthily crucified in (by or amongst) you."§ Afterwards: "The righteousness of the law, which Paul here calls the flesh, is so far from justifying men, that they, who after they have received the Spirit, by the
Sensus est, si quam justitiæ partem quæritis in operibus legis, Christus nihil ad vos, et à gratiâ estis alienati. Neque enim tam crassa erat opinio, ut solâ legis observatione justificari se crederent: sed Christum miscebant cum lege: alioquì frustrà his minis territaret ipsos Paulus: Quid facitis? redditis vobis Christum inutilem, in nihilum redigitis ejus gratiam. Videmus ergo non posse minimam justitiæ partem constitui in lege, quin Christo et ejus gratiæ renuntietur.
+ Plantaverat Galatas, et rigaverat diligenter, per Evangelii Dei prædicationem, sperabatque fore, ut crescerent in cognitione et gratiâ Christi. Dum hoc sperat et optat, illi, ab co, in quo plantati fuerant, transponuntur, &c.
Primò Galatæ audierant, et obedierant veritati. Ideò cum dicit, Quis vos fascinavit? significat eos per pseudapostolos fascinatos, nunc à veritate, cui anteà obedierant, defecisse, ac eam deseruisse in Gal. iii. 1.
§ Suprà dixit, quærentes justitiam ex lege, abjicere gratiam Dei; item, illis Christum gratis mortuum fuisse. Hic verò addit, quòd tales crucifigant Christum, qui anteà vixit et regnavit in ipsis. Quasi dicat, jam non solum abjecistis gratiam Dei, non solum Christus frustrà vobis mortuus est, sed turpissimè in vobis crucifixus.--Ibid.
hearing of faith, make a defection unto it, are consummated by it, i. e. are made an end of and destroyed utterly."* To conclude upon those words, chap. v. 4, "Ye are fallen from grace," i. e. saith he " ye are no longer in the kingdom of grace. He that falleth from grace, simply (and absolutely) loseth expiation (or atonement), remission of sins, righteousness, liberty, and that life, which Christ by his death and resurrection has merited for us."+ Many other passages of like import with these, might readily be cited from this author in his commentaries upon this epistle. So that there is little question to be made, but that Luther abounded in this sense, viz., that persons truly justified, and in present possession of that righteousness, justification, life, which Christ merited for them, may yet fall away totally from this grace, and to destruction; and that he looked upon the Galatians, as Paul describes them in their different postures, first of faith, then of falling away, as perfect instances to evince the truth of such a doctrine.
I shall conclude the chapter in hand with a brief survey of that place, formerly mentioned, "For some are already turned aside after Satan," 1 Tim. v. 15. These words, Calvin, in his commentaries upon them, dilateth thus: "This expression, after Satan, is observable; because no man can turn aside from Christ, though it be never so little, but he follows Satan. For he reigneth over all who are not Christ's. Hence we are admonished how destructive a thing it is to turn aside from a straight course, which of the sons of God makes us slaves of the devil." So that his sense upon the place clearly is, that the persons here said to have turned aside after Satan, were before this their turning aside, the children of God, and therefore true believers; and that by means of their turning aside, and after it, they were the slaves of the devil; which implies a total defection, at least, from Christ and their faith. I desire the reader to take knowledge once more upon occasion of the passage now transcribed from Calvin, that he was not so absolute or entire in his judgment for an impossibility of a total declining in the saints, as the friends of this notion commonly presume, or as if he never expressed his judgment to the contrary. In the words lately cited, he expressly grants and supposeth, that of the children of God men may be made or become the slaves of Satan. And that the persons spoken of in the Scripture in hand, were, as he supposeth, true believers, is evident from hence, viz. that they are said to have turned aside, or to have been turned aside, after Satan. If they had been unsound or hypocritical Christians before, they could not, by falling
* Adeò ergo justitia legis, quam Paulus hic carnem vocat, non justificat, ut hi qui, post aceceptum Spiritum per fidei auditum, ad eam deficiunt, eâ consummentur, hoc est, finiantur, et prorsus perdantur.-Ad. Gal. iii. 3.
A gratiâ excidistis, i. e. non ampliùs estis in regno gratiæ.-Qui excidit à gratiâ, amittit simpliciter expiationem, remissionem peccatorum, justitiam, libertatem, vitam, &c., quam Christus sua morte et resurrectione nobis emeruit.
Post Satanam; notanda loquutio, quia nemo potest vel tantillum à Christo deflectere, quin Satanam sequatur. Nam regnum in omnes habet, qui Christi non sunt. Hinc admonemur, quàm exitialis sit deflexio à recto cursu, quæ ex Dei filiis nos facit Satanæ mancipia.
into any other course of impiety, be said to have turned aside or out of the way* after Satan; because men and women follow Satan as much, as directly, as close, by walking in ways of hypocrisy, and rottenness of profession, as in ways of uncleanness, or of any other unrighteousness whatsoever. Therefore certainly the way, out of which they turned aside to walk after Satan, was the way of a true faith, and of a life answerable thereunto. And that a " turning aside after Satan," imports a total deserting of Christ, or a total deprivation and loss of that interest which a person had in Christ before, is richer in evidence than to need proof. Nor do I find any one expositor, who, casting up the expression, finds it to amount to any whit less.
Declaring the sense and judgment, as well of the ancient fathers of the church as of modern reformed divines, touching the point of perseverance; and so concluding the digression concerning this subject.
Ir is a vanity whereunto the tongues and pens of learned men, being once engaged and declared for an opinion, especially in matters of religion, are much subject unto, to cast undue aspersions upon, and so to create undeserved prejudice unto, all such doctrines or opinions which are inconsistent with that opinion which themselves are known to hold and to have maintained. Amongst other weapons of this warfare, the arrow of this reproach is most frequently unquivered, and let fly: if men can find that any opinion which hath the least semblance or sympathy, though but in sound of words only, with that which opposeth theirs, hath either been held by any former heretic, or person voted erroneous, or else opposed by those unto whose lot it is fallen to be surnamed orthodox, they make an importune outcry against this opinion, I mean which opposeth theirs, as if it were nothing but an old infamous error, held only by heretics and erroneous men, but stigmatised and cast out of the church by the orthodox long ago. The truth is, that neither the one consideration nor the other, no, not when they are real, and not in pretence or presumption only, I mean neither the asserting of an opinion by men in many things erroneous, nor the disowning of it by men in most things, and in the main, orthodox, are any demonstrative grounds of the unsoundness of this opinion, or that it is not from God. How much less when that opinion indeed, which suffers rebuke from men upon such terms, was neither taught nor held by the one, nor rejected or opposed by the other, but only an opinion in some outward lineaments somewhat like unto it, but in heart and substance of matter altogether differing from it? The doctrine of election or predestination unto life from foreseen faith,
or works, is commonly decried and made odious unto men upon this pretence, that it was a doctrine held by Pelagians and semi-Pelagians, and condemned and cast out of the church for an error by all the orthodox fathers long since. Whereas it is evident from the records of antiquity, that the opinion concerning predestination from foreseen faith or works, which was held by the Pelagians, and rejected by the orthodox fathers, was not simply this, that God predestinated those unto life whom he foresaw would believe or live holily, but whom he foresaw would believe, or live holily, out of the strength or abilities of nature. The orthodox fathers themselves held and taught predestination from foreseen faith and holiness, as well as the Pelagians, but with this difference: The fathers taught it, from the foresight of such a faith and holiness which men should be enabled unto by grace; the Pelagians, from such, whether faith or holiness, which men should raise or exhibit by the strength of nature. This is evident from what Gerardus Vossius, a diligent and faithful surveyor of antiquity, demonstrateth in the sixth book of his Pelagian history. "The Greek fathers," saith he, "always, and all the Latin fathers who lived before Austin, are wont to say, that they are predestinated unto life whom God foresaw would live godlily and well; or, as some others speak, whom he foresaw would believe and persevere, who should believe on him to eternal life, 1 Tim. i. 16. Which they so interpret as to say, that predestination unto glory is made (by God) according to his foreknowledge of faith and perseverance. But they did not mean the foresight or foreknowledge of such things which a man was to do by the abilities of nature, but by the strength and assistance of grace, as well preventing as subsequent. So that this consent of antiquity no ways helpeth either the Pelagians or semiPelagians (in their cause.) For both these held, that the cause of predestination is assignable on man's part, according to all the effects of it; whereas the orthodox fathers acknowledge, that the first (or preventing) grace is conferred, not of merit, but freely. So that their opinion was, that there was no cause assignable on man's part of predestination unto preventing grace,' "* &c. This to have been the true and clear difference between the ancient orthodox fathers and the Pelagians and semi-Pelagians touching the point of predestination, he showeth with a high hand of evidence and proof from several passages cited out of the authors themselves in the prosecution and proof of his said thesis.
* Græci patres semper, patrum Latinorum verò illi, qui ante Augustinum vixerunt, dicere solent, eos esse prædestinatos ad vitam, quos Deus piè rectéque victuros prævidit; sive, ut alii loquuntur, quos prævidit credituros, et perseveraturos, τοὺς μέλλοντας πιστεύειν ἐπ' αὐτῷ ric Swyv aiwviov, ut est 1 Tim. i. Quod ita interpretantur, ut prædestinatio ad gloriam facta dicatur, secundum præscientiam fidei et perseverantia. Verum non intellexerunt præscientiam corum, que homo acturus erat ex viribus naturæ, sed quæ esset facturus ex viribus gratiæ, tum prævenientis, tum subsequentis; eóque antiquitatis ille consensus nihil, vel Pelagianos, vel semiPelagianos juvat. Nam utrique illi crediderunt prædestinationis causam dari ex parte hominis secundum omnes effectus. At Catholici agnoverunt, gratiam primam, non ex merito, sed gratis conferri. Quare nec putârunt, ex parte hominis, causam dari prædestinationis ad gratiam prævenientem, &c.-Gerard. Johan. Vossius, Hist. Pelag. lib. vi. thes, 8.
As the doctrine of predestination from foreseen faith and perseverance, as it is at this day held and taught by some, (which yet is none of my sense or opinion, as I may have occasion, I conceive, more particularly to declare in the progress of the work in hand,) is unjustly traduced, as if it savoured of Pelagianism, and had been long since thrown out of the church by all orthodox antiquity, whereas it was the express doctrine, as we have heard, generally held and taught by them; so is the doctrine of conditional perseverance, and which asserteth an amissibility of grace and true faith, both total and final, most unduly and unworthily branded with this reproach, that it is a rotten Popish error, and was never held by orthodox men. We shall, therefore, in the former part of this chapter, wipe off this aspersion, and prove by express testimonies, and these not a few, that this doctrine was a branch of the faith of the primitive Christians, and of those who were, and are at this day, esteemed to have been the most orthodox and sound in their generation. Some testimonies of this import we have already, as I remember, cited upon other occasions in the preceding part of this discourse; and to save transcriptions as much as with convenience may be, we shall not repeat the words of any author which have been already expressed, but only give the sense of the said words in English, and for the words themselves, send you to those quarters of the discourse where they are lodged, and easy to be found. We shall do the like in the latter part of this chapter, in respect of such testimonies from modern writers, which have been already presented in the express words of their respective authors upon another account.
In the first place I shall account unto the reader what the forementioned author, Gerard Vossius, delivers, in his said Pelagian History, for the sense and judgment of orthodox antiquity in the present question about perseverance: "From this additament of Austin's opinion," saith he, speaking of what this father had added to the common doctrine of those who had gone before him, touching perseverance, which he had expressed in his former thesis, "it is manifest enough that both Austin and Prosper, and Pelagius, with his followers, agreed in this, that justifying faith and regenerating grace may be lost, and that they are lost by very many. A little after: "Therefore they understand not the doctrine or judgment of antiquity who, when they read in Augustin and others that the elect of God either never fall away, or else that they return to God before they die, from hence infer that their opinion was, that true believers either always persevere in faith, or at least never fall away utterly from the grace of God. Whose arguing leans upon this supposition, that true believers and the elect are terms convertible; whereas, according to Augustin's doctrine, not true believers, but true believers persevering, and elect, are reciprocable. Yea, the whole dispute which Augustin had with Pelagius and the Massilienses, about the perseverance of the saints, stands upon a contrary hypothesis. For unless it be granted, that some true believers and