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Phil. i. 29.
1 Cor, iii, 5.
Acts v. 31.
Acts xi. 18.
2 Pet, i. 1.
believing on Christ was given to them, éxapio on TÒ εις αυτόν πιστεύειν, and they became believers as to each the Lord did give, εκάστω ως ο κύριος έδωκεν. Upon the whole process of conversion, as exhibited in the Church and world, on those within and those without the pale of the Church, must those memorable words be inscribed, 'Him God exalted with his right hand as a Prince and a Saviour, to give (dohval) repentance to Israel and remission of sins'; Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life. As a believer writing to believers, St. Peter comprehends himself and them under one characteristic designation, as those who obtained like precious faith with us,' τοις ισότιμον ημίν λαχούσι πίστιν. .
And what the consciousness and experience of every regenerate and converted man uniformly bears witness to, Holy Scripture distinctly and dogmatically enunciates; namely, that he is no more the author of his own spiritual being than of his natural life. "Ye must be born again' it declares, and that new birth is of the Spirit.' They to whom the power has been given to become the sons of God are said to be born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God, êx Deoû. Therefore are they described as begotten of God. Of his own will begat He us with the word of
truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his John vi. 44 65. creatures. No man,' said Christ to the Jews,
' can come unto me except the Father which hath sent me draw him . . . except it be given unto him of my Father.' And as the initiation of spiritual life is ascribed to a divine source, so also is its con
John iii 3-8.
John i. 12, 13.
Jas. i. 18
tinuance. 'Abide in me, and I in you,' said Christ to his disciples; 'Even as the branch cannot bear John xv. 4. fruit of itself except it abide in the vine, so neither can ye except ye abide in me ... for apart from me ye can do nothing. This was the confidence of St. Paul concerning the Philippians, that He who had begun a good work in them would carry it Phil. i. 6. on to completion; and therefore does he exhort them to work out their salvation, because it was God who was working effectually (éveprywv) in them Phil. ii. 12, 13. both to will and to work, το θέλεις και το ενεργεϊν, in fulfilment of his own good pleasure. And this was the prayer of the writer of the Epistle to the Heb. xiii. 20, 21. Hebrews, that the God of peace would perfect them in every good work for the doing of his will, doing in them that which was well pleasing in his sight.
If we consider the state and condition of the human will, the necessity of such preventing and continuous grace becomes at once apparent. When we speak of the free will of man, it is obviously with some distinction and reserve we must use the term. It cannot, for instance, be predicated of man in the same sense as of angels, or even as of Adam in his first estate. The free will of angels is that of beings having no inherent tendency of nature to evil, nor exposed to temptation from without. The free will of Adam also, as God created him, was that of one with no innate propensity to sin, though liable to temptation. But the free will of man is that of a creature born with a nature predisposed to evil, and throughout his life on earth plied with seductions and provocations to sin from the world and the devil. Plainly, therefore, we can speak of the free
will of man only in a modified and restricted sense. If it be not so obliterated as to put him out of the category of free and therefore responsible agents, yet is there so strong a bias on it from within, and so seductive an influence exerted on it from without, as to render it incapable of its own proper impulse, suo motu, to turn to God, to initiate of itself any movement towards God. However else theologians may differ, whatever their respective theories concerning the freedom or enshacklement of the human will, on this point at least they substantially agree, that its engagement in the first instance to, and its subsequent blending and co-operation with, the good will of God, is a process that would be neither begun, continued, nor completed, except under the operation of divine grace; that, in a word, left to himself man could not and would not turn to God. And this view alone accords with the Inspired Word, wherein the state of man by nature is described as one of slavery and of death, while the regenerate are spoken of as freed and quickened.
“Now,” says Bishop Harold Brown, in his exposition on the tenth Article, “slavery and death are the strongest terms to express utter helplessness that language admits of. So, freeing from slavery and quickening or raising to life as plainly as possible indicate a free gift, independent of the power or will of the recipient, and show that the recipient must previously have been in a condition as unable to free himself as the bondsman, as unable to quicken himself as a dead man.'
So far, then, as the freedom of the human will is concerned, no more objection seems to lie against
Rom. vi., vii.
Eph. ii. 1.
the hypothesis of the ultimate conversion of all men, than lies against the generally received doctrine of grace in effecting conversion now, seeing that no greater interference with the freedom of the human will is implied in the one than in the other. If we acknowledge that the will of man is such that without preventing grace he neither would nor could turn to God, and if we do not call it a violation or coercion of the will when grace so operates upon it as to bring it into captivity to the obedience of 2 Cor. x. 5. Christ,' why is the hope of the ultimate subjection of all souls to God to be rejected as involving a coercion of the human will, seeing that the one would be just what the other is, simply the effect of divine grace? Whether that grace, which in the present alwv is producing conversion now, will in another aio continue to operate to the same end, is indeed a separate question, to be argued upon other grounds. But, for the moment, my simple contention is that the hypothesis of the final subjection of all souls to God is not to be dismissed as necessitating a violation and coercion of the freedom of the human will.
That the grace which produces conversion now will not cease to operate in the ages to come, till all souls have been brought back to God, follows as a matter of course, if it be true, what the two previous chapters have aimed to establish, that the kingdom of Christ is to culminate in the reconciliation and subjection of all things to God. But over and above the reasons already adduced, the question may, I think, be argued out from yet another point of view. It is declared in the Inspired Word that God willeth 2 Pet. üi. 9.
1 Tim. ii. 4.
Tit. ii. il.
not (un Bouróuevos) that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance ; that He willeth
(0é el) that all should be saved and come to the John iii. 16, 17. knowledge of the truth ; that He so loved the world
as to give his only begotten Son, in order that every one believing in Him should not perish but have everlasting life; that He sent not his Son to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved. Hence, the grace of God, of which the incarnation and mission of Christ was the great manifestation, is called η χάρις του Θεού η σωτήριος πάσιν ανθρώπους, the grace of God which bringeth salvation to all men. From these passages, then, we gather the following truths : (1) that God doth not wish that men should perish, but that all should come to repentance; (2) that He willeth that all should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth ; (3) that in accordance with this Bours and de nua, and in his great love, He gave and sent his Son to save the world ; (4) that the mission of the Son contemplated the saving of the world, and that the grace manifested in this mission is ń owtýpuos Trâow åv pátous ; (5) that repentance, faith, and knowledge of the truth are the links, the conditions of connection, between man and this salvation. But men cannot repent, cannot believe, cannot come to the knowledge of the truth, without the grace of conversion ; the Spirit must convict them of sin; it. must be given to them to believe ; the Spirit must take of the things of Christ and show them unto them. All divines alike acknowledge this ; all, too, who have repented, believed, and come to the knowledge of the truth, unanimously confess