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ARTICLE XVII. God will not deny his grace to any one who does what is in him.
ANSWER. This Article is so naturally connected with those which precede it, that he who grants one of the three, may by the same effort affirm the remainder; and he who denies one, may reject all the others. They might therefore have spared some portion of this needless labour, and might with much greater convenience have proposed one article of the following description, instead of three : “ It is possible for a man to do some good thing without “ the aid of grace; and if he does it, God will recompense or “ remunerate that act by more abundant grace." But we could always have fastened the charge of falsehood upon an article of this kind : It was therefore a much safer course for them to play with equivocations, that the fraud of calumny might not with equal facility be made known to all persons.
But with respect to this article, I declare, that it never came into our minds to employ such confused expressions as these, which, at the very first sight of them, exclude grace from the commencement of conversion; though 'we always and on all occasions make this grace to precede, to accompany and to follow; and without which, we constantly assert, no good action whatever can be produced by man. ·Nay, we carry this principle so far as not to dare to attribute the power here described even to the nature of Adam himself, without the help of Divine Grace both infused and assisting. It thus becomes evident, that the fabricated opinion is imposed on us through calumny. If our brethren entertain the same sentiments, we are perfectly, at agreement. But if they ate of opinion, that Adam was able by nature, without supernatural aid, to fulfil the law imposed on him, they seem not to recede far from Pelagius, since this saying of Augustine is received by these our brethren, “Supernatural things are lost, natural things are corrupted.” Whence it follows, what remnant soever there was of natural things, just so much power remained to fulfil the law,—what is premised being granted, thut Adam was capable by his own nature to obey God, without grace, as the latter is usually distinguished in opposition to nature.
When they charge us with this doctrine, they undoubtedly declare, that in their judgment it is such as may fall in with our meaning; and, therefore, that they do not perceive so much absurdity in this article'as there is in reality; unless they think, that nothing can
be devised so absurd that we are not inclined and prepared to believe and publish.
We esteem this article as one of such great absurdity, that we would not be soon induced to attribute it to any person of the least skill in sacred matters. For how can a man, without the assistance of Divine Grace, perform any thing which is acceptable to God, and which He will remunerate with the saving reward either of further grace or of life eternal ? But this article excludes primary grace with sufficient explicitness, when it says, “To him who does what is in himself.” For if this expression be understood in the following sense, “ To him who does what he can by the primary grace already conferred upon him," then there is no absurdity in this sentence, “God will bestow further grace upon him who profitably uses that which is primary:" And, by the malevolent suppression of what ought to have been added, the brethren openly declare that it was their wish for this calumny to gain credence.
ARTICLE XVIII. God undoubtedly converts, without the external preaching of the
Gospel, great numbers of persons to the saving knowledge of Christ, among those (ubi est] who have no outward preaching ; and He effects such conversions either by the inward revelation of the Holy Spirit, or by the ministry of angels. (Borrius & ARMINIUS.)
ANSWER. I NEVER uttered such a sentiment as this. Borrius has said something like it, though not exactly the same, in the following words: “ It is possible that God, by the inward revelation of the
Holy Spirit or by the ministry of angels, instructed [Magi] “ the Wise Men, who came from the East, concerning Jesus, “ whom they came to adore." * But the words “ undoubtedly," and “great numbers of persons,” are the additions of calumny, and this of a most audacious character, charging us with that which, it is very probable, we never spoke, and of which we never thought; and we have learnt that this audacity of boldly affirming any thing whatsoever, under which the junior pastors generally labour, and those who are ignorant of the small stock of knowledge that they possess, is an evil exceedingly dangerous . in the church of Christ.
* This subject was thus briefly mentioned by Arminius, in a letter to his friend Vytenbogard, May 2, 1605:—“I was myself present at De Borre's sermon on the eastern Magi, and I heard no such thing as that which is mentioned. He said, what some persons took amiss, that God has many [rationes methods by which He reveals the knowledge of his Truth to whomsoever He pleases, beside the ordinary preaching by men or through men. He drew this inference, because the Magi were so far instructed concerning the Messiah, and yet without any aid of man as a preacher ! But those who may be desirous to know, will have an opportunity of gratifying their curiosity on the arrival of Borrius : I wish they may keep their minds free from prejudice, until they shall hear the explanation of his sentiments from himself.”
1. Is it probable, that any prudent man will affirm that “ something is undoubtedly done in great numbers of persons,” of which he is not able, when required, to produce a single example? We confess, that we cannot bring an instance of what is here imputed to us. For, if it were produced by us, it would become a subject of controversy; as has been the fate of the sentiments of Zwinglius concerning the salvation of Socrates, Aristides, and of others in similar circumstances, who must have been instructed concerning their salvation by the Holy Ghost or by angels: For it is scarcely within the bounds of probability, that they had seen the Sacred Scriptures and had been instructed out of them.
2. Besides, if this saying of Christ had occurred to the recollection of our brethren, “ Speak, Paul ! and hold not thy peace : For I have much people in this city,” (Acts xix, 9, 10,) they would not so readily have burdened us with this article, who have learned from this saying of Christ, that God sends the external preaching of his word to nations, when it is bis good pleasure for great numbers of them to be converted.
3. The following is a saying in very common and frequent use : “ The ordinary means and organ of conversion is the preaching of the Divine word by mortal men, to which therefore all persons are bound; but the Holy Spirit has not so bound himself to this method, as to be unable to operate in an extraordinary way, without the intervention of human aid, when it seemeth good to Himself.” Now if our brethren had reflected, that this very common sentence obtains our high approval, they would not have thought of charging this article upon us, at least they would not have accounted it erroneous. For, with regard to the First, what is extraordinary does not obtain among great numbers of persons ;" for if it did, it would immediately begin to be ordinary. With regard to the Second, if “ the preaching of the word by mortal men,” be “the ordinary means,” by which it is also intimated that some means are extraordinary, and since the whole of our church, nay, in my opinion, since the whole Christian world bears its testimony to this, then indeed it is neither a heresy nor an error to say, “Even without this means (without the preaching of the word] God can convert some persons.” To this might likewise
be added the word “ undoubtedly;" For if it be doubtful whether any one be saved by any other means, (that is, by“ means extraordinary,") than by human preaching; then it becomes a matter of doubt, whether it be necessary for “the preaching of the Divine word by mortal men," to be called “the ordinary means." 4. What peril or error can there be in any man saying ?,
" God converts great numbers of persons, (that is, very many,) by the internal revelation of the Holy Spirit or by the ministry of angels;” provided it be at the same time stated, that no one is converted except by this very word, and by the meaning of this word, which God sends by men to those communities or nations wham He hath purposed to unite to himself. · The objectors will perhaps reply, “ It is to be feared, that, if a nation of those who “ have been outwardly called should believe this, rejecting “ external preaching, they would expect such an internal revela“tion or the address of an angel.” Truly, this would be as unnatural a subject of fear, as that a man would be unwilling to taste of the bread which was laid hefore him, because he understands, “ Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."-But I desist; lest, while instituting an examination into the causes of this fear, I should proceed much further, and arrive at a point to which our brethren might be unwilling for me on this occasion to advance. A word is sufficient for the wise.
ARTICLE XIX. Before his fall, Adam had not the power to believe, because there
was no necessity for faith ; God, therefore, could not require faith from him after the fall.
ANSWER. Unless I was well acquainted with [genius) the disposition of certain persons, I could have taken a solemn oath, that the ascription of this article to me, as the words now stand, is an act which is attributed to them through calumny. Can I be of opinion that “ before his fall Adam had not the power to believe;" and, forsooth, on this account, “because there was no necessity for faith ?? Who is unacquainted with that expression of the apostle ?, “He who approaches to God must believe (or have believed that He exists, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.” I do not think, that there is a single Mahometan or Jew who dare make any such assertion as this article contains : The man who will affirm it, must be ignorant of the nature of faith in its universal acceptation. But who is able to love, fear, worship, honour and obey God, without faith, that is the principle and foundation of all those acts which can be performed to God according to his will ?
This calumny against me is audacious and foolish : But I think, it was the wish of its inventors to have added the words, " the power to believe in Christ ;” and indeed they ought to have made this addition. Yet perhaps some one is insane enough to say, that “all faith in God is faith in Christ,” being inclined to such persuasion by the argument “ that there is now no true faith in God, which is not faith in Christ.” I say therefore, I affirm and assert, I profess and teach, “that, before his fall, Adam had “ not the power to believe in Christ, because faith in Christ was “ not then necessary; and that God therefore could not require “ this faith from him after the fall :" That is to say, God could not require it on this account,—“ because Adam had lost that power of believing by his own fault,” which is the opinion of those who charge me with the doctrine of this article. But God could have required it, because he was prepared (after the fall] to bestow those gracious aids which were necessary and sufficient for believing in Christ, and therefore to bestow faith itself in Christ.
But since I here confine myself to a simple denial, the proof of these three things is incumbent upon the brethren who affirm them, (1.) The Proposition, (2.) The Reason added, and (3.) The Conclusion deduced from it.-The PROPOSITION is this: “ Before his fall, Adam had the power to believe in Christ.”—The REASON is, “Because this faith was necessary for him.”—The ConclusION is, “ Therefore God could of right demand this faith from him after the fall.”
1. A certain learned man endeavours to prove the ProposITION, which he thus enunciates: “Before his fall, Adam had an implanted power to believe the Gospel,” that is, “on the hypothesis of the Gospel;” or, as I interpret it, “ If the Gospel had been announced to him." The argument which this learned man employs in proof is, “ Because Adam did not labour under blind“ ness of mind, hardness of heart, or perturbation of the passions ; “(which are the internal causes of an incapacity to believe ;) but “ he possessed a lucid mind, and [recta] an upright will and “ affections, and, if the Gospel of God had been announced to “ him, he was able clearly to perceive and approve its truth, and “ with his heart to embrace its [bonitatem] benefits.”
2. I do not suppose any one will disapprove of the Reason which they assign, and therefore I do not require a proof of it from them; yet I wish the following suggestion to be well con