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afraid they would lose or make shipwreck of an unsound, light, or hypocritical faith, (such losses, whether of our own or of our friends, are no matter of fear unto us,) but of such a faith, which persevered in would have saved them. And, to forbear other
passages which might readily be produced upon the same account, when he speaks thus unto them, “Ye are abolished from Christ, whosoever are justified by the law," (i. e. depend upon the works of the law for your justification,) “ye are fallen from grace.” And again, “Ye did run well, who hindered you that you should not obey the truth ?" Gal. v. 447. He clearly supposeth that they had been true believers. If they were now fallen from grace, which the apostle clearly affirmeth they were, by depending upon the works of the law for their justification, it must needs follow that sometimes they were possessed of it and were the children of grace, which also their running well undeniably importeth. " Whereas therefore,” saith Musculus upon the place, " he saith that the Galatians ran well, he commendeth their zeal and studiousness in the true faith and religion of Christ ; signifying withal, that they might have attained or reached the mark of true blessedness, had they persevered in that which they had well begun ;'*
* with more of like import. Let other orthodox expositors be consulted upon these latter, together with the former passages, mentioned by way of proof, that these Galatians were sometimes true and sound believers, and they will be found to carry the sense of them to the same point. On the other hand, several of the said passages, with some others, do as plainly and pregnantly suppose, that at the writing of the said epistle unto them they were wholly alienated from Christ, and had neither part nor fellowship in the great business of justification by him. They were removed from him that had called them into the grace of Christ, unto another gospel. They were abolished from Christ, they were fallen from grace, they did not obey the truth. Calvin, upon the first of these expressions, "I marvel that ye are so soon removed," &c., writeth thus, “He convinceth them of a defection, not only from his doctrine, but from Christ himself; for men cannot hold Christ upon any other terms than by acknowledging, that by his benefit they are freed from the bondage of the law.”+ Upon the second, "Ye are abolished from Christ,” &c., thus, “The meaning is, if you seek for any part or piece of righteousness in the works of the law, Christ becomes nothing to you, and you are aliens from grace. For their opinion was not so gross, as that they thought they should be justified by the alone observation of the law; but they mingled Christ and the law together, otherwise
* Cum itaque Galatas benè cucurrisse dicit, laudat illorum zelum ac studium in verâ fide ac religione Christi : significatque potuisse eos ad veræ felicitatis ac salutis metam pertingere, si in eo, quod bene cæperant, perseverâssent. Qui à principiis fidei, ac spiritûs boni ad perfidiam degenerant, omnem suam vitam, quæ veniæ particeps erat, mortalem constituunt : quales illi sunt, qui cum Galatis spiritu quidem incipiunt, tandem verò carne desinunt. - Idem, loc. de Peccato, sect. 5.
† Arguit autem eos dcfectionis, non à sua doctrinâ tantum, sed à Christo. Nam Christum tenere aliter non poterant, quàm si agnoscerent ejus beneficio nos manumissos esse à serviente legis.
Paul should have had no ground to terrify them with such threatenings as these. What do you mean? you take a course to make Christ unprofitable to you, you bring his grace to nothing. Thus then we see that we cannot place, no not the least part of our righteousness in the law, but we renounce Christ and his grace. Amongst several other passages looking the same way, Musculus upon the former of the last recited places commenteth in these words, "He had planted the Galatians, and watered them diligently by preaching the gospel of God unto them, and hoped that it would so have come to pass that they would have increased in the knowledge and grace of Christ. But whilst he thus hopeth and wisheth, they are transplanted or removed from him, in whom they had been planted.”+ The truth is, that several expressions and carriages in the epistle are so pregnant on the one hand, to evince and prove that time was when they were true and sound believers; and several others, as pregnant as they on the other hand, to prove them at the writing hereof to have been mere nullifidians, or persons void of all true justifying faith, that expositors could not lightly but speak them sometimes true believers, whilst they had the former places before them, and afterwards, persons wholly lapsed from such faith, when they had the latter. The case concerning these Galatians being so evident, we shall argue it no further, but conclude with a brief report of M. Luther's judgment upon it.
" At first,” saith he, “the Galatians heard and obeyed the truth. Therefore, when Paul saith, "Who hath bewitched you?' he signifieth, that now being bewitched by the false apostles, they had fallen away from and forsaken that truth which formerly they had obeyed." Not long after: “He had said before, that seeking justification by the law, they cast away the grace of God; and that Christ died for them in vain. Here he adds, that such persons crucify Christ, who had formerly lived and reigned in them. As if he should say, you have not only cast away the grace of God, it is not only true that Christ died for you in vain, but that he is most unworthily crucified in (by or amongst) you." Afterwards : “ The righteousness of the law, which Paul here calls the flesh, is so far from justifying men, that they, who after they have received the Spirit, by the
Sensus est, si quam justitiæ partem quæritis in operibus legis, Christus nihil ad vos, et à gratiâ estis alienati. Neque enim tam crassa erat opinio, ut solâ legis observatione justificari se crederent: sed Christum miscebant cum lege : alioquì frustı à his minis territaret ipsos Paulus : Quid facitis ? redditis vobis Christum inutilem, in nihilum redigitis ejus gratiam. Videmus ergo non posse minimam justitiæ partem constitui in lege, quin Christo et ejus gratiæ renuntietur.
+ Plantaverat Galatas, et rigaverat diligenter, per Evangelii Dei prædicationem, sperabatque fore, ut crescerent in cognitione et gratiâ Christi. Dum hoc sperat et optat, illi, ab co, in quo plantati fuerant, transponuntur, &c.
Primd Galatæ audierant, et obedierant veritati. Ided cum dicit, Quis vos fascinavit ? significat eos per pseudapostolos fascinatos, nunc à veritate, cui anteà obedierant, defecisse, ac eam deseruisse : in Gal. iii. l.
§ Suprà dixit, quærentes justitiam ex lege, abjicere gratiam Dei ; item, illis Christum gratis mortuum fuisse. Hìc verò addit, quòd tales crucifigant Christum, qui anteà vixit et regnavit in ipsis. Quasi dicat, jam non solum abjecistis gratiam Dei, non solum Christus frustrà vobis mortuus est, sed turpissimè in vobis crucifixus.--Ibid.
hearing of faith, make a defection unto it, are consummated by it, i. e. are made an end of and destroyed utterly."* To conclude upon those words, chap. v. 4, “ Ye are fallen from grace,” i. e. saith he “ye are no longer in the kingdom of grace. He that falleth from grace, simply (and absolutely) loseth expiation (or atonement), remission of sins, righteousness, liberty, and that life, which Christ by his death and resurrection has merited for us."| Many other passages of like import with these, might readily be cited from this author in his commentaries upon this epistle. So that there is little question to be made, but that Luther abounded in this sense, viz., that persons truly justified, and in present possession of that righteousness, justification, life, which Christ merited for them, may yet fall away totally from this grace, and to destruction ; and that he looked upon the Galatians, as Paul describes them in their different postures, first of faith, then of falling away, as perfect instances to evince the truth of such a doctrine.
I shall conclude the chapter in hand with a brief survey of that place, formerly mentioned, “ For some are already turned aside after Satan," 1 Tim. v. 15. These words, Calvin, in his commentaries upon them, dilateth thus : “ This expression, after Satan, is observable; because no man can turn aside from Christ, though it be never so little, but he follows Satan. For he reigneth over all who are not Christ's. Hence we are admonished how destructive a thing it is to turn aside from a straight course, which of the sons of God makes us slaves of the devil.”# So that his sense upon clearly is, that the persons here said to have turned aside after Satan, were before this their turning aside, the children of God, and therefore true believers ; and that by means of their turning aside, and after it, they were the slaves of the devil; which implies a total defection, at least, from Christ and their faith. I desire the reader to take knowledge once more upon occasion of the passage now transcribed from Calvin, that he was not so absolute or entire in his judgment for an impossibility of a total declining in the saints, as the friends of this notion commonly presume, or as if he never expressed his judgment to the contrary. In the words lately cited, he expressly grants and supposeth, that of the children of God men may be made or become the slaves of Satan. And that the
And that the persons spoken of in the Scripture in hand, were, as he supposeth, true believers, is evident from hence, viz. that they are said to have turned aside, or to have been turned aside, after Šatan. If they had been unsound or hypocritical Christians before, they could not, by falling
* Aded ergo justitia legis, quam Paulus hic carnem vocat, non justificat, ut hi qui, post acceptum Spiritum per fidei auditum, ad eam deficiunt, eâ consummentur, hoc est, finiantur, et prorsus perdantur.- Ad. Gal. iii, 3.
+ A gratiâ excidistis, i. e. non ampliùs estis in regno gratiæ. - Qui excidit à gratiâ, amittit simpliciter expiationem, remissionem peccatorum, justitiam, libertatem, vitam, &c., quam Christus suâ morte et resurrectione nobis emeruit.
I Post Satanam; notanda loquutio, quia nemo potest vel tantillum à Christo deflectere, quin Satanam sequatur. Nam regnum in omnes habet, qui Christi non sunt. Hinc admonemur, quàm exitialis sit deflexio à recto cursu, quæ ex Dei filiis nos facit Satanæ mancipia.
into any other course of impiety, be said to have turned aside or out of the way* after Satan; because men and women follow Satan as much, as directly, as close, by walking in ways of hypocrisy, and rottenness of profession, as in ways of uncleanness, or of any other unrighteousness whatsoever. Therefore certainly the way, out of which they turned aside to walk after Satan, was the way of a true faith, and of a life answerable thereunto. And that a “ turning aside after Satan,” imports a total deserting of Christ, or a total deprivation and loss of that interest which a person had in Christ before, is richer in evidence than to need proof. Nor do I find any one expositor, who, casting up the expression, finds it to amount to any whit less.
Declaring the sense and judgment, as well of the ancient fathers of
the church as of modern reformed divines, touching the point of perseverance; and so concluding the digression concerning this subject.
It is a vanity whereunto the tongues and pens of learned men, being once engaged and declared for an opinion, especially in matters of religion, are much subject unto, to cast undue aspersions upon, and so to create undeserved prejudice unto, all such doctrines or opinions which are inconsistent with that opinion which themselves are known to hold and to have maintained. Amongst other weapons of this warfare, the arrow of this reproach is most frequently unquivered, and let fly: if men can find that any opinion which hath the least semblance or sympathy, though but in sound of words only, with that which opposeth theirs, hath either been held by any former heretic, or person voted erroneous, or else opposed by those unto whose lot it is fallen to be surnamed orthodox, they make an importune outcry against this opinion, I mean which opposeth theirs, as if it were nothing but an old infamous error, held only by heretics and erroneous men, but stigmatised and cast out of the church by the orthodox long ago. The truth is, that neither the one consideration nor the other, no, not when they are real, and not in pretence or presumption only, I mean neither the asserting of an opinion by men in many things erroneous, nor the disowning of it by men in most things, and in the main, orthodox, are any demonstrative grounds of the unsoundness of this opinion, or that it is not from God. How much less when that opinion indeed, which suffers rebuke from men upon such terms, was neither taught nor held by the one, nor rejected or opposed by the other, but only an opinion in some outward lineaments somewhat like unto it, but in heart and substance of matter altogether differing from it? The doctrine of election or predestination unto life from foreseen faith,
or works, is commonly decried and made odious unto men upon this pretence, that it was a doctrine held by Pelagians and semi-Pelagians, and condemned and cast out of the church for an error by all the orthodox fathers long since. Whereas it is evident from the records of antiquity, that the opinion concerning predestination from foreseen faith or works, which was held by the Pelagians, and rejected by the orthodox fathers, was not simply this, that God predestinated those unto life whom he foresaw would believe or live holily, but whom he foresaw would believe, or live holily, out of the strength or abilities of nature. The orthodox fathers themselves held and taught predestination from foreseen faith and holiness, as well as the Pelagians, but with this difference: The fathers taught it, from the foresight of such a faith and holiness which men should be enabled unto by grace; the Pelagians, from such, whether faith or holiness, which men should raise or exhibit by the strength of nature. This is evident from what Gerardus Vossius, a diligent and faithful surveyor of antiquity, demonstrateth in the sixth book of his Pelagian history. “ The Greek fathers," saith he, “always, and all the Latin fathers who lived before Austin, are wont to say, that they are predestinated unto life whom God foresaw would live godlily and well; or, as some others speak, whom he foresaw would believe and persevere, who should believe on him to eternal life, 1 Tim. i. 16. "Which they so interpret as to say, that predestination unto glory is made (by God) according to his foreknowledge of faith and perseverance. But they did not mean the foresight or foreknowledge of such things which a man was to do by the abilities of nature, but by the strength and assistance of grace, as well preventing as subsequent. So that this consent of antiquity no ways helpeth either the Pelagians or semiPelagians in their cause.) For both these held, that the cause of predestination is assignable on man's part, according to all the effects of it; whereas the orthodox fathers acknowledge, that the first (or preventing) grace is conferred, not of merit, but freely. So that their opinion was, that there was no cause assignable on man's part of predestination unto preventing grace,"* &c. This to have been the true and clear difference between the ancient orthodox fathers and the Pelagians and semi-Pelagians touching the point of predestination, he showeth with a high hand of evidence and proof from several passages cited out of the authors themselves in the
prosecution and proof of his said thesis.
* Græci patres semper, patrum Latinorum verò illi, qui ante Augustinum vixerunt, dicere solent, eos esse prædestinatos ad vitam, quos Deus piè rectéque victuros prævidit ; sive, ut alii loquuntur, quos prævidit credituros, et perseveraturos, toùs uéxlovras TOTEÚELV Ér' aŭrų els Swriv aiáriov, ut est 1 Tim. i. Quod ita interpretantur, ut prædestinatio ad gloriam facta dicatur, secundum præscientiam fidei et perseverantiæ. Verum non intellexerunt præscientiam corum, quæ homo acturus erat ex viribus naturæ, sed quæ esset facturus ex viribus gratiæ, tum prævenientis, tum subsequentis ; eóque antiquitatis ille consensus nihil, vel Pelagianos, vel semiPelagianos juvat. Nam utrique illi crediderunt prædestinationis causam dari ex parte hominis secundum omnes effectus. At Catholici agnoverunt, gratiam primam, non ex merito, sed gratis conferri. Quare nec putârunt, ex parte hominis, causam dari prædestigationis ad gratiam prævenientem, &c.— Gerard. Johan. Vossius, Hist. Pelag. lib. vi. thes. 8.