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For SEPTEMBER 1782.
Of FREE-JVILL: translated from Sebastian Castellio's Dialogues, between Lewis and Frederic.
[Continued from page 397-]
Fred. T ET us now consider, how God workerh in men to .*—* will that which is good. This we may the more easily understand, by considering how the devil works in man to will that which is evil. Take a covetous man, who desires to make his son just like himself. By commending riches as the chies Good, and inveighing against poverty as the chies evil, he endeavours t'o work- in his son a desire of riches. And because he speaks out of the abundance of his heart, there is an inward force in his words, the spirit of covetousness, which has sar more power over his son, than the bare words have. On the other hand, God shews us what is good. Vol. V. Iii by by a man sent of him. And because he speaks out os the abundance of his heart, there is an inward force in his words, the Spirit of holiness, which has far more power over our minds, than any bare words whatever. This force was in that sermon of St. Peter (Acts xiv.) whereby sive thoufand souls were converted. Whereas had a man without that Spirit spoken the fame words, they would have had no more essssect than the words of a stage-player.
Lewis. 1 have nothing to fay against this. But I have one dissiculty remaining. How shall I answer thofe who fay, You ascribe too much to the will of man, so that he seems to be faved by his own merit, at least in part, and thereby to diminish the benesit and glory of Christ. Fred. They seem to me, to do the very thing themselves, of which they accuse us. Lewis. How so? Fred. I will tell you. If your father had begotten you such, that you must always have remained an insant, unable either to will or to do any thing freely, would his merit or his glory have been greater than it is, in begetting you such, that you are able to walk to and fro, to will, and to act at your pleasure? Lewis. Nay, I am much more obliged to him for begetting me such as I am. Fred. And is not God much more to be praised, sor creating man a Free-Agent, than is he had created him like a beast? And will it not be more glory to Christ, to fave man as a free-agent, than is he had treated him as a piece of passive clay, which is moulded into a vessel, without any choice of its own?
As to Pride, we know men may be proud of them; but we must not theresore deny the gists of God. And is we credit Experience, the men who deny Free-will are prouder than thofe that assert it. And no wonder; for thinking themselves elect, and theresore incapable of falling, they cannot sear, but reign as kings. To repress this insolence, the Apostle speaks thus: Be net high minded, but fear; if Cod spared not the natural branches, take heed lejl he spare not thee. How glaring are the instances of their pride? They
condemn all others with such disdain, as manisestly to shew in fact, the Free-will which they deny in words! Yet is you exhort them to good works, you would act as impertinently, as is you exhorted the King's son, to take pains that he might become the King's son. They are elected already. They cannot fall: they are faved by faith. The good works of Christ are theirs. They have no Free-will. They do not pretend to be faved by their works. I know no man upon earth upon whom there is less room for exhortations to piety. Besides, they do not scruple bare-faced calumnks. I could mention many. *But the most impudent of all is, That " we are seeking to be faved by our own works." Nothing can be more false. We neither think so, nor speak so. We fay and testisy this, That we are faved by the mere gratuitous mercy of God, without any merit of our own, so that we cannot in anywise fave ourselves; but we can easily destroy Ourselves. Even as Adam was placed in Paradise for no merit of his own; but was cast out of it by his own demerit. But we likewise fay with St. Paul, Is ye live after the Jlejh, ye Jhall die; but if ye mortify the deeds of the body, ye fliall live. But here they exclaim, that we seek to be faved by our own righteousness. Nay, let them exclaim against the Scripture, which abounds with such declarations as these, Not every one that saith unto me. Lord, Lord, Jliall enter into the kingdom cf heaven; but he that doth the will of my Father which is in heaven, Matt. vii. 21. Whosoever doth the will of my Father which is in heaven, the s'ame is my brother,and filer, and mother, chap. xii. 5o. Now I prav, what do these words mean? Do they asciibe 1o man the merit of his falvation? Nothing less: It is not of him that willeth, or of him that runneth, but of God that Jhacelk mercy. And yet we must both will and run; or we cannot expect to sind mercy.
The Ifraelites who came out of Egypt, would not invade Canaan: and so they did not obtain it. Their cluldien did
"Wiio would imagine, that this Wi» wrote above two hundred yeart sr;o?
I i i 2 invade invade it (as God commanded,) and obtained it. That their sathers did not obtain it, was their own sault; because they would not sight. That their sons did obt.iiu it, was the free gist of God: yet they fought: and is they had not fought, they would not have obtained it. But God gave them the strength wherewith they fought: theresore His was all the glory of the victory. So JoJJiua; the Lord your God is he that fought for you. II Naaman, the Syrian, had not washed seven times in Jordan, he would not have been healed. Was he theresore healed by his own merit? Who wi'l assirm this? If the Ifraelites had not designed to gather the manna, they would have starved in the midst of plenty. But tho' they did gather it, it was no merit of theirs that preserved their lives. Unless the husbandman sows, he will not reap. Is ittheresore by his merit or strength that the corn grows? Are not all good things the gist of God? What room is there then for man to be proud, is he has received from God, not only all good things, but his very being?
I myself was formerly of the same mind with our Friends. I saw, they resuted several manisest errors. And seeing this, I was easily induced to believe them, in the things I did not understand. And I tlien sell into the same pride with them, which I do not scruple to acknowledge. But since God was pleased to teach me-thofe truths, which you have heard yesterday and to day; this was so far from making me prouder than besore, that it convinced me of my pride. Convinced theresore as I am by my own experience of the tendency of one and the other doctrine, I am now rooted and grounded in this truth, which I will avow to all the world. All who are saved, are saved by the free mercy of God, without any merit of their own: all who perish, perish for no other reason, than because they would not obey the commands of God. I acknowledge this, as the sirst and the last cause of the destruction of man.