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are taught, in the plainest manner, that the grace of God “ prevents our choice,” in direct opposition to CHRYSOSTOM's assertion. It represents the grace of God not only as “ working with us when we have a good will,” but also
prevents us, that we may have a good will." And this view of the Article immediately follows from the statement given of “Original or Birth-sin” in the Ninth Article: “ Original Sin standeth not in the following of Adam, (as the Pelagians do vainly talk,) but it is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man, that naturally is ingendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the Spirit.” If this be the real state of every man, what prospect is there of his recovery without preventing grace? That man has not any claim upon God for this assistance, is apparent from the very notion of its being grace ; and yet that man is bound in duty to seek this preventing grace, is evident from its being held forth to him as a matter of promise, which he may possess on terms prescribed. In these views there is no inconsistency ; because our native corruption and impotence dissolves no obligation of dutiful compliance. The proper mode of considering the point, as a doctrine, is a posteriori ; and the question to be decided is this:
Admitting the fact, that any man has a spiritual choice, to what is the goodness of that choice to be ascribed? Is it to preventing grace, or to a self-determining power in the will prior to such a grace? We conclude, and so does the English Church, that it is to be ascribed to Grace.
§ 32. The words of THEODORET, that God “ does not necessitate one man to practice virtue, and another to work wickedness," may be admitted in a compound sense; but not in a divided sense. God does not “necessitate"
any man to “work wickedness.” Nor is there any necessitating force upon the will to practice virtue. But his remark, as a universal proposition, is subversive of an important theological truth, taught in the holy scriptures, and by the Church of England, its Offices and Articles. Without some kind of necessitation, there can be no certainty, or no certain gracious effect; and yet this effect, as certain to follow, is every where implied in the Church - Prayers. For instance, in the prayer which relates to "those that are to be admitted to holy orders,” God is petitioned “ to guide and govern the minds of his servants the Bishops and Pastors of his flock, that they may lay hands suddenly on no man, but faithfully and wisely make choice of fit persons to serve in the sacred ministry.” And
in the “ Prayer for all conditions of men,” this is one petition : “ More especially we pray for the good estate of the Catholic Church; that it may be so guided and governed by thy good Spirit, that all who profess and call themselves Christians, may be led into the way of truth, and hold the faith in the unity of spirit, in the bond of of
peace, and in righteousness of life.” Again, in the Collect for “ the first Sunday in Advent,' this petition is included : “ Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light.” It would be easy to fill many pages with extracts from the prayers, collects, &c. of the Established Church of the same tendency, in which“ preventing grace” and a necessitating influence are clearly implied.
§ 33. Is it not clearly implied, that if God is pleased to “ guide and govern the minds of his servants,” the certain effect will be their acting “ faithfully and wisely.” And if the Church catholic be “ guided and governed by the good spirit of God” in some special manner, the certain effect will be truth, faith, and righteousness. Should it be said, the implication is, that then they “ may,” if they please, act faithfully and wisely, &c.; this would render the petitions both superfluous and unmeaning. For are not men always at liberty,
if they please, to do every thing that is right and praiseworthy? The design of asking for grace and the Holy Spirit, is to secure the event, to make what we desire certain; and consequently, that these divine aids may prove in us a necessitating cause of the event. have not such meaning in our prayers, when we ask for grace and the Holy Spirit, what meaning can we have? Are they any better than vain repetitions of words without a meaning? When we pray, “ Lord have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law,” does it not imply, that if God be pleased to do this, we shall keep his law? When we supplicate the Almighty in these words, “ Mortify and kill all vices in us; and so strengthen us by thy grace, that by the innocency of our lives, and constancy of our faith even unto death, we may glorify thy holy name,” is it not implied, that the certainty of the events depends on that grace which is desired? If any from this doctrine of the church and of the holy scriptures, wrongfully infer, that if grace necessitates in any sense,nothing is left for man to do, they know not “ what they say, nor whereof they affirm.” They might urge, with equal propriety, because God necessitates our souls and faculties to exist, we have nothing to do with thinking, reasoning, fearing, or loving. Grace in the heart is a living principle, at the sovereign disposal of God, and
the exercise of this principle, when obtained, is as much our duty, as it is to consult the preservation of our lives and of our faculties. And as the existence of our lives and faculties necessitates thoughts and volitions of some kind; so divine grace, existing as a principle in the soul, necessitates the goodness of our thoughts and volitions. But not so, exhibited grace, as an object of choice, which will be received or rejected, improved or abused, according to the state of the mind. These important differences Chrysostom and THEODORET, and many others of the Christian Fathers, perpetually confound.
V § 34. Though much more might have been said on the quotations from the Fathers, whoever has done me the honour to accompany me through the whole of this chapter will probably think it too long. Considering, however, that his Lordship's chapter on this head is much longer, that many pay undue deference to these writers, and that few English authors have introduced them except as authorities, I thought it might be of some service to the Christian cause to examine their opinions more minutely than otherwise would have been needful. It would not be difficult to produce whole volumes of quotations from the ancient Fathers upon the plan adopted in the Refutation; but to read, mark, and translate, without any arrangement