Page images

one was willing to be converted, the other was not willing. He adds further what strikes at the sinews of the Pelagian and Arminian theology, The concurrence of free-will is an effect necessarily consequent, by the necessity of consequence, from Divine etlicacious aid. In these words the learned Bannes rejects and condemns the opinion of those who contend that regenerating and saving grace are procured for and set before all men on account of the merit of Christ. And he also refutes those who resolve the reason why some are regenerated or converted, and others are not, into the willing and refusing of mankind. And he further teaches, that our concurrence or non-resistance, that is, our being willing is the necessary effect of effectual grace given, and therefore is not the reason of its being given or received.

Alvarez (De auxiliis Divinæ grat. disp. 58, p 262) says, If we should assert that there was a law made by God, for infallibly giving effectual aid to those that well used, or were willing to use sufficient aid of their own innate liberty alone, then the beginning of effectual grace would be from rature, and from the innate liberty of the man, who is willing to make a good use of sufficient aid. This is the very law or decree of God which is contended for with such earnestness by Arminius, Corvinus, and other Divines of the same school. For they say, that sufficient grace is given to all, on account of the merit of Christ, the Mediator; but that effectual grace, or that which actually converts and regenerates, is given on this condition, if they make a good use of it when it excites them, or is sufficient for them; that is, if the will, being excited by grace and made able, puts forth its innate power of willing ; which is ascribing the beginning of effectual grace to nature. Alvarez says again, (ibid.) This conclusion is false ; Because man being excited by God is willing to consent, therefore he is assisted. But this is true: Because man being excited by sufficient grace is assisted with effectual aid, therefore he co-operates. Which he fully proves (Disp. 99,) where he also asserts that this proposition is most true, Because God wills that man should will, therefore man wills. These things are diametrically

opposed to the opinions of the Arminians, who deny that any antecedent will of God is the cause why some believe rather than others, and are converted and effectually saved; and refer all this difference to the antecedent will of men, who, when they are excited by grace common to others, are willing beyond others to believe, to convert themselves, to lay hold of salvation.

William Estius,* formerly Professor in the Academy of Douay, (in 1 Sentent. disp. 46, sec. 2, p. 222) says, We ought not to imagine in God any will, desire, or endeavour, by which he wills, endeavours, strives, and as far as he can effects, that all men should be saved, which nevertheless does not therefore follow, because the bad will of man resists his good will, and through its prevuiling and hindering, the will of God is frustrated. But this is almost all which some contend was procured by the death of Christ, namely, that God, by offering saving grace to all men proniscuously, is willing to save those who of their own accord apply themselves to obtain his grace, and condemns those who resist it.

In the last place, Bellarmin may be produced, who does not acknowledge that there is any decree of God connect. ed with the death of Christ, by which God hath determined to give effectual or actually regenerating grace to

• William Estius, an eminent Dutch divine of the Roman communion; he was born at Gorcum, in Holland, about 1542. After he had finished his Classical studies at Utrecht, he studied Divinity and Philosophy at Lou. vain, where he taught those studies for ten years; and afterwards became Professor of Divinity in the University of Douay, was subsequently elected to the Chancellorship, and died there in 1613. He was equally distinguished for his learning, modesty, and benevolence. Of his numerous works, the following are most known, viz. 1. Commentarii in quatuor libros Sententiarum. Douai, 1615. 4 tomis, fol. Du Pin says that this is one of the best theological works of which the Roman Church can boast. 2. Annotationes in præcipua difficiliora Scripturæ loca, Antverpiæ, 1621, folio: of this work, which appears to have been highly esteemed, there were several Editions. 3. In omnes B. Pauli et aliorum Apostolorum Epistolas Commentaria. Douai, 1614, 2 tomis, folio. Du Pin commends this as one of the best works of the kind; but it appears that Estius was prevented by death from proceeding further than 1 John v., and that the rest of the Commentary was supplied by Bartholomew De la Pierre. (Vide Chalmers's Bingraphical Dictionary, and Moreri.)

all men on this condition, If they should not refuse it of their own will. (Lib. I, de Grat. & lib. arbitr. cap. 12,) He rejects the opinion of those who teach that it is in the power of men to make thut grace effectual, which otherwise would not of itself be more than sufficient. He shews that they oppose Augustine and the holy Scriptures, who say, that all men would receive the grace of God, if those to whom it is not given did not refuse it of their own will. (Page 423.) And further, he urges his opinion with this objection, That if effectual calling did not depend on the purpose of God, but on human will, no room would be left for predestination. To which may be added (lib. 1, cap. 1, p. 455,) We believe that God of his absolute will will save many, both children and adults, and that of his absolute will he will not save others. (See Augustini Enchiridion, cap. 102, 103.)

But to what purpose are so many testimonies concerning grace and free-will, when we are employed in explaining the question concerning the death of Christ, as far as it is considered as an universal cause of human salvation ? Truly, because the Pelagians formerly taught, and many are now fallen into the same opinion, which asserts, That, through the death and merit of Christ the Redeemer, saving or effectual grace is equally set before all men, to be granted on this condition, If they should not refuse it of their own will; and is denied on this condition, If they should refuse it: as if the death of Christ had been granted to men of the pure mercy of God, but effectual or saving grace Alowed to men according as they made a good or bad use of their free-will in exciting, embracing, or repelling grace, and salvation was given to those who were willing to be saved from the fountain of their oun willing, as Prosper sang, (lib. de Ingratis, cap. 6.)

In this Dissertation then, concerning the universal efficacy of the death of Christ, as it was our design to shew, against those who endeavour to limit it, That it was a kind of universal covenant, established with the whole human race, concerning the giving of remission and eternal life to all men individually on condition of faith;—so it was also to be demonstrated, against those who extend this universal efficacy of the death of Christ beyond its proper limits, That no law, no decree was established, in the appointment of the death of Christ, concerning the giving of the means of supernatural grace, or concerning the giving of saving or effectual grace itself to all men on the condition, If they make a good or not a bad use of the light of nature; or on the condition, If of their own will they should not refuse it. Therefore, the death of Christ being granted, God is bound by his faithfulness, according to the covenant of the Gospel, to give remission of sins and eternal life to every one that believes and repents; but by no covenant is he bound to give faith itself, love, or saying grace to him that excels another in acting by the strength of his free-will. Moreover, the gift or denial of effectual and saving grace, the death of Christ being granted, remains as free to God, as the gift of Christ himself was, which is understood not to be due or given to any acts of the human will. Therefore the obtaining or not obtaining of effectual and saving grace, is to be referred in its first origin, to the purpose of God in shewing mercy and pity, or not shewing it; and not to the free-will of man choosing or not choosing. Hitherto we have disputed of the death of Christ as far as its virtue and efficacy pertains to all men. In what follows, we shall explain it as far as it is limited to the elect children of God.




HitherTo we have treated of the death of Christ as it regards the whole human race, in the universal circuit of his quickening power to be brought into act under the condition of faith, as to every man. For although, through the want of this condition, the death of Christ does not display its saving virtue in the greater part of men, yet it is not to be denied, that the Scriptures every where clearly testify, nor is it to be doubted, but God had in himself the most just and wise reasons of his counsel, while he determined that the death of his Son should be applicable to all men on condition of faith, and nevertheless did not determine to effect or procure that it should be applied to all by the gift of faith to each individual. We ought not, therefore, to oppose to each other and clash together these Divine decrees, I will that my Son should so offer himself on the cross for the sins of the human race, that all men individuully may be saved by believing in him ;-—and I will so dispense my efficacious grace that not all, but the elect only, may receive this saving faith, whereby they may be saved. If these two decrees seem to any one to oppose each other, he ought rather to acknowledge the weakness of his own understanding, than to deny any of those things which are so plainly contained in the holy Scriptures. Let this, then, be fixed and established, That according to the decree of God himself, Christ was so offered on the cross for all men, that his death is a kind of universal remedy appointed for all men individually, in order to obtain remission of sins and eternal life, to be applied by faith. But now, lest

« PreviousContinue »