« PreviousContinue »
that in every good work we do not begin, and are holpen afterwards by the mercy of God, but he first of all, no good merits of our's going before, inspireth into us both faith and the love of him, that we may both faithfully seek the sacrament of baptism, and after baptism with his help we may fulfil the things that are pleasing unto him.”
Touching which last canon we may note, first, for the reading, that in the tomes of the councils set out by Binius, it is most notoriously corrupted. For where the council hath, “ Nullis præcedentibus bonis meritis, No good merits going before:” there we read : “Multise præcedentibus bonis meritis, Many good merits going before." Secondly, for the meaning, that “the fathers understand grace to be given according to merits, when any thing is done by our own strength, in respect whereof grace is given, although it be no merit of condignity :” as both Bellarmine himself doth acknowledge in the explication of the determination of the Palestine synod against Pelagius; and in the case of the Semi-Pelagians, as it is delivered by Cassianus, is most evident: “ Forthe grace of God," saith he, "doth always so cooperate to the good part with our free will, and in all things help, protect, and defend it, that sometime it either requireth, or expecteth from it some endeavours of a good will, that it may not seem to confer its gifts upon one that is altogether sleeping, and
nullis præcedentibus bonis meritis, et fidem et amorem sui prius inspirat, ut et baptismi sacramenta fideliter requiramus, et post baptismum cum ipsius adjutorio ea quæ sibi sunt placita implere possimus. Concil. Arausican. II. can. ult.
e Concil. tom. 2. part. 1. pag. 639. edit. Colon. ann. 1618.
r Gratiam secundum merita nostra dari intelligunt Patres, cum aliquid fit propriis viribus, ratione cujus datur gratia, etiamsi non sit illud meritum de condigno. Bellarm. de grat. et lib. arbitr. lib. 6. cap. 5.
8 Ita semper gratia Dei nostro in bonam partem cooperatur arbitrio, atque in omnibus illud adjuvat, protegit ac defendit, ut nonnunquam etiam ab eo quosdam conatus bonæ voluntatis vel exigat, vel expectet; ne penitus dormienti aut inerti otio dissoluto, sua dona conferre videatur : occasiones quodammodo quærens, quibus humanæ segnitiei torpore discusso, non irrationabilis munificentiæ suæ largitas videatur, dum eam sub colore cujusdam desiderii ac laboris impartit ; et nihilominus gratia Dei semper gratuita perseveret, dum exiguis quibusdam parvisque conatibus tantam immortalitatis gloriam, tanta perennis beatitudinis dona, inæstimabili tribuit largitate. Jo. Cassian. collat. 13, cap. 13.
given to sluggish idleness : seeking occasions after a sort, whereby the dulness of human slothfulness being shaken off, the largeness of its bounty may not seem to be unreasonable, while it imparteth the same under the colour of a kind of desire and labour. Yet so notwithstanding that grace may always continue to be gracious and free, while to such kind of small and little endeavours, with an inestimable largess it giveth so great glory of immortality, so great gifts of everlasting bliss. Leth human frailty therefore endeavour as much as it will, it cannot be equal to the retribution that is to come; neither by the labours thereof doth it so diminish God's grace, that it doth not always continue to be given freely."
Where you may observe, from what fountain the schoolmen did derive their doctrine of works preparatory, meriting grace by way of congruity, though not of condignity. For Cassianus (whom Prosperi chargeth, notwithstanding all this qualifying of the matter, to be a maintainer in very deed of that damned point of Pelagianism, “ that the grace of God was given according to our merits”) Cassianus, I say, was a man that bare great sway
in our monasteries, where his writings were accounted as the monks' general rules: and until the other day, Faustus himself (who of all others most cunningly opposed the doctrine of St. Augustine touching grace and free will) was accepted in the popish schools for a reverend doctor and a Catholic bishop. Yea the works of Pelagius himself were had in such account, that some of them (as his epistle ad Demetriadem for example, and the exposition upon St. Paul's epistles, fraught with his heretical opinions) have passed from hand to hand, as if they had been written by St. Hierome; and as such, have been alleged against us by some of our adversaries in this very question of free will. The less is it to be wondered, that three hundred years ago in the midnight of popery, the pro
b Quantumlibet ergo enisa fuerit humana fragilitas, futuræ retributioni par esse non poterit ; nec ita laboribus suis divinam imminuit gratiam, ut non semper gratuita perseveret. Joh. Cassian. collat. 13. cap. 13.
Prosp. contr. Collator. cap. 3. et 17, tomo 10. oper. Augustini.
found doctor Thomas Bradwardin (then chancellor of London, and afterwards archbishop of Canterbury) should begin his disputations, Of the Cause of God against Pelagius, with this lamentable complaint: “ Behold* (I speak it with grief of heart touched inwardly) as in old time against one prophet of God, there were found eight hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, unto whom an innumerable company of people did adhere : so at this day, in this cause, how many, O Lord, do now fight with Pelagius for free will against thy free grace, and against Paul, the spiritual champion of grace? For the whole world almost is gone after Pelagius into error. Arise therefore, O Lord, judge thine own cause : and him that defendeth thee, defend, protect, strengthen, comfort." To whose judgment I also now leave these “ vain” defenders," or (as St. Augustine rightly censureth them) " deceivers, and puffers up, and presumptuous extollers of free will."
* Ecce enim (quod non nisi tactus dolore cordis intrinsecus resero) sicut olim contra unicum Dei prophetam octingenti et quinquaginta prophetæ Baal, et similes sunt reperti, quibus et innumerabilis populus adhærebat : ita et hodie in hac causa ; quoi, Domine, hodie cum Pelagio pro libero arbitrio contra gratuitam gratiam tuam pugnant, et contra Paulum pugilem gratiæ spiritualem ? Thom. Bradwardin. præfat. in libros de causa Dei contra Pelag.
| Totus etenim pene mundus post Pelagium abiit in errorem. Exurge igitur Domine, judica causam tuam ; et sustinentem te sustine, protege, robora, consolare. Ibid.
• Liberi arbitrii defensores, imo deceptores quia infatores, et infatores quia præsumptores. Augustin. epist. 194. ad Sixtum, op. tom. 2. pag. 719. Vani, non defensores, sed inflatores liberi arbitrii. Id. in opere imperf. contra Julian. Pelagian. lib. 2. cap. 154. op. tom. 10. pag. 1014. Non defensores, sed inflatores et præcipitatores liberi arbitrii. Id. de Grat. et lib. arbitr. cap. 14. ibid. pag. 731.
In the last place we are told, that the fathers of the unspotted Church of Rome did teach, that man “ for his meritorious works receiveth, through the assistance of God's grace, the bliss of everlasting happiness.” But our challenger, I suppose, will hardly find one father either of the spotted or unspotted Church of Rome, that ever spake so babishly herein, as he maketh them all to do.
6. That man by the assistance of God's grace, may do meritorious works,” we have read in divers authors, and in divers meanings. But after these works done, that a man should “ receive through the assistance of God's grace the bliss of everlasting happiness,” is such a piece of gibberish, as I do not remember that before now I have ever met withal even in Babel itself. For with them that understand what they speak, assistance hath reference to the doing of the work, not to the receiving of the reward: and simply to say, that a man“ for his meritorious works," taking merit here as the Romanists in this question would have it taken, " receiveth through God's grace the bliss of everlasting happiness," is to speak flat contrarieties, and to conjoin those things, that cannot possibly be coupled together. For that conclusion of Bernard is most certain : “ There is no place for grace to enter, where merit hath taken possession;" because it is grounded upon the apos
# Non est quo gratia intret, ubi jam meritum occupavit. "Be nard, in Cant. ser. 67. VOL. III.
tle's determination, “ If it be of grace, it is no more of works: or else were grace no more grace.”
Neither do we therefore take away the reward, because we deny the merit of good works. We know that in the keeping of God's commandments" there is great reward," and that unto him who " soweth righteousness,” there shall be "a sure rewarda." But the question is, whence he that soweth in this manner, must expect to reap so great and so sure a harvest? Whether from God's justice, which he must do if he stand, as the Jesuits would have him do, upon merit; or from his mercy, as a recompence freely bestowed out of God's gracious bounty, and not in justice due for the worth of the work performed. Which question, we think, the prophet Hosea hath sufficiently resolved, when he biddeth us “ sowe to ourselves in righteousness, and reap in mercy.” Yea and God himself in the very publication of the decalogue, where he promiseth to shew mercy unto thousands of them that love him, and keep his commandments'. Neither do we hereby any whit detract from the truth of that axiom, that “ God will give every man according to his works:" for still the question remaineth the very same, whether God may not judge a man according to his works, when he sitteth upon the “ throne of grace, as well as when he sitteth upon the throne of justice ?" and we think here, that the prophet David hath fully cleared the case, in that one sentence, “ With thee, O Lord, is MERCY : for thou rewardest every one according to his works."
Originally therefore, and in itself, we hold that this reward proceedeth merely from God's free bounty and mercy, but accidentally, in regard that God hath tied himself by his word and promise to confer such a reward, we grant that it now proveth in a sort to be an act of justice, even as in forgiving of our sins (which in itself all men know to be an act of mercy) he is said to be “faithful" and
Rom. chap. 11. ver. 6. a Prov. chap. 11. ver. 18. I Exod. chap. 20. ver. 6. h 1 John, chap. 1. ver. 9.
e Psal. 19. ver. 11.