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The grace afforded to man before the fall was the operation of the same “ hidden causes,” but it was then given merely as an aid co-operative, but after the fall as a power restorative.
Pelagian Theory. Grace is of wide signification. It embraces the fact of our creation out of nothing, the endowments of reason and free will, and the dignity and manifold advantages which result from them. In the original and permanent constitution of our being, all men possess the power and possibility of doing good. By the promulgation of the law, and by the instructions of Jesus, the performance of good is rendered easier : Hence these are gifts of grace. The communication of supernatural influences is the highest measure of grace. As the Christian receives higher gifts than he who is not a Christian, so he can attain a higher degree of moral perfection. Supernatural influences are given only to him who merits them by the proper and faithful use of his natural powers. The understanding, and not the will of man, is the seat of supernatural influences. The death of Christ, the forgiveness of sin, and baptism are all likewise grace. There is no irresistible grace.
According to Augustine, human nature, in its best estate, is weak and imperfect, and requires the aid of grace, or the “ hidden causes.” The whole power and possibility of not sinning which Adam possessed depended upon grace. According to Pelagius, “ human nature itself in which we are made is grace,'
, and of itself sufficient to do good. Thus strongly contrasted are the two systems.
Augustinian Theory. “The consequences of redemption extend to the soul, by freeing it from sin and its punishment, and to the body, by raising it to felicity.” The power of the “hidden causes" the supernatural, inward working or grace is the immediate efficient of the deliverance from sin with consequent glory and blessedness; but the death of Christ is the ground of the communication of this grace. The object of Christ's incarnation was not merely to suffer for us to free us from sin and the devil, and by his doctrine and grace redeem us from all imperfection; but also to inspire us by his example, to the ardent pursuit of holiness.
As to the extent of the atonement, Augustine is explicit. Christ died only for the elect. In Augustine's scheme of predestination, grace is confined to the elect. Hence, the death of Christ, which is made the ground of the communication of that grace, can contemplate only the elect.
Pelagian Theory. “ All sinners are pardoned by God simply for Christ's sake; are freed merely on his account from the guilt and punishment of their sins.” Thus far this theory agrees with the preceding. “ But since, according to Pelagius, men are able to live without sin, and to practise virtue by their own power, so all men are not sinners; and hence the atoning virtue of the death of Christ is imparted to those only who have actually sinned." The death of Christ, however, was not superfluous to those who needed no atonement. The teaching and example of Christ, the communication of supernatural influences, and the grace of baptism would lead to a more perfect excellence than could be attained without them.
The death of Christ, as an atonement or otherwise, is not limited to any particular class or number of men. All who will may partake of its benefits.
VII. PREDESTINATION AND PERSEVERANCE.
Augustinian Theory. “By Adam's sin the whole human race became a corrupt mass (perditionis massa), and justly subject to eternal damnation; so that no one can blame God's righteous decision, if none are saved.” Of this “mass” “no one can be freed but he who has received the gift through the grace of the Saviour.” The whole race is not only lost, but irretrievably lost, unless God interpose to save them. God, indeed, must be supposed to have power to save any number, or even the whole ; for all must be saved to whom he imparts“ irresistible grace.
Before the creation of the world, by an unconditional decree, without reference to human merit-for merit there was none“ God elected a definite number” to salvation. For these alone Christ died; and to these alone grace is imparted. The rest, number of those who are predestinated to the kingdom of God is so certain, that not one shall be either added to them or taken from them.” “For the salvation of the elect, God employs means.”
“ Perseverance is a special gift to the elect, which is afforded to all the elect, and to none but the elect.” This gift of perseverance amounts to an “ inability to apostatize.” The final cause, or the reason of the salvation of the elect number, lies simply in the will of God. He has mercy on whom he will
Pelagian Theory. Predestination is conditional. “God designed those for salvation who, as he foreknew, would believe in him and keep his commands; and reprobated those who, as he foreknew, would remain in sin."
Perseverance depends upon the exertion of the free will: and those, who have hitherto been “saints” and “elect according to the foreknowledge of God,” may fall away and be lost.
Passing over the external history of this controversy—which our author has given with great clearness, and placed in interesting points of view—as well as much other matter of deep interest for which, as well as for the more ample details of the respective theories, and the arguments with which the great disputants met each other, we must refer our readers to the work itself, with the earnest hope that they will not forego the benefit of a careful study of so rare a production,—we shall now proceed to examine, as far as our limits will permit, these two antagonistic systems.
Philosophical systems are suggested and conditionated by human experience. But, not only is that experience which is common to man allowed to exercise an undue authority, and, from a mere condition, to be elevated to the rank of an ultiand his habits, formed amid the elegant dissoluteness of a wealthy city, he was addicted, up to the time of his conversion, in the highest degree to sensual pleasure. His mother was a woman of exemplary piety; and had, from his earliest years, Jabored to restrain his hot and jovial temper, and to initiate him into the Christian life.
It appears that, from an early period, Augustine was subject to severe conflicts between an enlightened conscience and his voluptuous propensities. It is not surprising, therefore, that, in the full career of pleasure and ambition, and at the age of nineteen, he should have found strong and peculiar charms in the doctrines of the Manichæans; a sect who referred the origin of sin to the necessary weakness of man, arising from his union with matter, the great principle of evil. In such a doctrine, the voluptuous heart could find relief from the rebukes of conscience.
When he was released from the bonds of this sect, and, under the full conviction of moral obligation and the power of divine love, entered into the fellowship of Christ, the revulsion of feeling which he naturally experienced led him zealously to oppose the doctrines which he had once espoused. Hence one of his earliest works against this sect, was his first book on Free Will;
a work which he afterwards completed while a presbyter at Hippo, and in which he endeavored to refute the theory of the Manichæans on the origin of evil. They derived evil from a distinct nature, which was coeternal with God; Augustine, from the free will of man.” The composition of this treatise is a remarkable event in the history of Augustine. In it, he clearly exhibits the will as endowed with the power of choosing good or evil; and solves at once the question respecting the origin of the sin of the first man.
No man perhaps ever went through a severer ordeal in turning from the “carnal” to the "spiritual mind,” than this venerable and distinguished man. After he had become a disciple of the “ pious Ambrose," and had abandoned the Manichæans, and while he was drawn by sincere aspirations towards a higher life, “ his heart was still encompassed by the allurements of life. “Worldly concerns, it is true, had no longer any charm for him; but love still held his heart a captive. In this disquietude, and impelled by his longing for a better mode of life, he went to Simplicianus, formerly a rhetorician, and a zealous Christian, and who afterwards succeeded Ambrose in the episcopal chair at Milan. With some emotion, he heard from him the account of the conversion of Victorianus. Soon after this, a certain Potitianus described to him the life of St. Anthony, and the conversion of two high commissaries. This made the most lively impression on his heart. He betook himself to a garden, where his friend Alypius followed him, who had been present at the conversation. A violent contest arose between his sensual and spiritual nature. He knew the better; and yet sensuality and the power of habit held him a prisoner in their chains. He fell into à violent passion. He tore his hair; smote his forehead; grasped his knees. He then withdrew a little from Alypius, and cast himself under a fig-tree. A flood of tears broke forth; and he implored the divine mercy for grace. Augustine believed he heard a divine voice, calling to him in the words : Tolle, lege ; Tolle, lege:—Take up, read; Take up, read. He dried his tears; rose up; went forth where Alypius sat, and where he had been reading the book of the apostle. He seized and opened it; and the first words on which his eyes fell, were Rom. 13: 13,—not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying ; but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof. Now his heart was completely changed and converted to God. He went with Alypius to his mother. With joy she learned the change which had taken place in her son. Now Augustine was at rest. External things no longer troubled his heart, and he began quietly to meditate on the manner in which he should direct his future life."
There were obviously two elements co-working to form Augustine's views of original sin ;—the doctrine of the Manichæans respecting the seat of the evil principle, and his own experience of the “ law in his members, warring against the law of his mind.” He had indeed abandoned the sect of the Mani. chæans, and had even written against their doctrines, on the points where these doctrines invaded moral responsibility, and that freedom of the will on which alone responsibility can be based. With respect to the origin of evil, he rejected their theory of a coeternal evil principle. But there were points in