Augustine Refutes the
common grace (psychology) ideas
of Scottish Common Sense Realism
and Pelagianism, and how this relates to
the Heresy of Decisional Regeneration
This is the 3rd of 13 parts
Many modern Calvinists think SAINT AUGUSTINE had a view of salvation similar to their own. But in the eighteenth century, Scottish Common Sense Realism saddled Calvinism with the "verbal restrictive" theory of the Holy Spirit, jettisoning the Calvinist understanding of regeneration as a supernatural change of nature and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
This discussion by Augustine should prove to be a real "eye-opener" for many...in the process of defending the possibility that a Christian might be able to live free from experiential sin, he refutes the Pelagian and Scottish Common Sense Realism view of how people come to God with the ordinary means known as "common grace".
Augustine’s A Treatise on Nature and Grace from His Retractions
Augustine's words are black, comments are in blue.
Augustine continues his attack against Pelagianism by citing over and over again the necessity of the immediate activity of the Holy Spirit. He ends with perhaps the hundredth citation of Romans 5:5, “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” as emblematic of how God changes man supernaturally and maintains relationship with saints supernaturally.
“it is certainly not 'shed abroad in our hearts' by any energies either of the nature or the volition that are within us, but 'by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us,' "and which both helps our infirmity and co-operates with our strength. For it is itself indeed the grace of God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, appertained eternity, and all goodness, for ever and ever. Amen. No mere psychological change of mind can account for New Testament salvation”.
Augustine refutes the Scottish Common Sense Realism error of regeneration being merely a tipping point in a process of gradual change of the mind by moral persuasion. Scottish Common Sense Realism teaches the “verbal restrictive” theory that limits Holy Spirit activity to moral persuasion by “quickening” scripture truth to the rational mind, while Augustine teaches that the immediate activity of the Holy Spirit is essential to regeneration.
IS REGENERATION A SPECIES CHANGE FROM SOULISH TO SPIRITUAL OR MERELY A CHANGE OF DIRECTION OF THE WILL?
How this work came to be written:
While The Pelagian believed man's spirit is pure at birth, the Scottish Common Sense Realist believes that man's spirit is his higher rational mind. The Pelagian assumed that every man could live without sin if he obeyed the impulses of his spirit, as guided by common grace available to all men. Augustine did not believe man is born with a pure spirit, and located the spirit of man within the corrrupt soul from birth. Incidently, this debate was the beginning of the separation of Eastern Christian salvation theology and Western Christian salvation theology. The West believes a man is body and soul, while the East believes man is body soul and spirit. Before this debate, the implication of the spirit being perfect at birth was not fully fleshed out.
Returning to the idea that man could live sinless in this life: Augustine says just because something has not happened, it does not mean it could not happen. Experiential sanctification is supernatural and not merely moral persuasion, and God is not prevented from entirely changing a person’s disposition. But Scottish Common Sense Realists believe God can only change a person’s nature by “truth impressions” on the rational mind, so an entirely pure nature is out of the question. Another way of stating this is a rational mind can never be entirely sin free, while a nature could be. It all depends of whether you have a Biblical view of the nature of man or a Scottish Common Sense Realism view of the nature of man.
Because Scottish Common Sense Realists identify man’s nature entirely with the operations of the mind, and since a mind can never be entirely sin free, a saint can never be entirely sin free. John Witherspoon, who changed the course of American new Light Calvinism in America, defined “sincerity” and “true” as relative terms, since, according to Scottish Common Sense realism, the mind determines what is truth, and God does not change the mind by the immediate activity of the Holy Spirit.
Augustine compares other supernatural possibilities with the possibility that God could make a saint entirely sin free. Augustine can do this because he had a Biblical view of regeneration and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as supernatural and not merely moral persuasion of the rational mind.
As you read Augustine's arguments, you will see that the immediate activity of the Holy Spirit is what causes what we call today "saving faith". Unlike the Evangelical salvation of today, Augustine argues perhaps 100 times that "saving faith" is impossible without supernatural regeneration and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which is evidenced by the saint serving God with love and not merely fear.
"It is certainly not 'shed abroad in our hearts' by any energies either of the nature or the volition that are within us, but 'by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us,' "and which both helps our infirmity and co-operates with our strength. For it is itself indeed the grace of God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, appertained eternity, and all goodness, for ever and ever. Amen. No mere psychological change of mind can account for New Testament salvation”.
Augustine questions whether people who hold the "verbal restrictive" theory of the Holy Spirit are even saved: "There is, however, no method whereby any persons arrive at absolute perfection, or whereby any man makes the slightest progress to true and godly righteousness, but the assisting grace of our crucified Saviour Christ, and the gift of His Spirit; and whosoever shall deny this cannot rightly, I almost think, be reckoned in the number of any kind of Christians at all".
Chapter 18 - Who May Be Said to Be in the Flesh
There is a passage which nobody could place against these texts with the similar purpose of showing the impossibility of not sinning: "The wisdom of the flesh is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be; so then they that are in the flesh cannot please God;" for he here mentions the wisdom of the flesh, not the wisdom which cometh from above: moreover, it is manifest, that in this passage, by the phrase, "being in the flesh," are signified, not those who have not yet quitted the body, but those who live according to the flesh. The question, however, we are discussing does not lie in this point. But what I want to hear from him, if I can, is about those who live according to the Spirit, and who on this account are not, in a certain sense, in the flesh, even while they still live here, - whether they, by God's grace, live according to the Spirit, or are sufficient for themselves, natural capability having been bestowed on them when they were created, and their own proper will besides. Whereas the fulfilling of the law is nothing else than love; and God's love is shed abroad in our hearts, not by our own selves, but by the Holy Ghost which is given to us.
Chapter 29 - A Simile to Show that God's Grace is Necessary for Doing Any Good Work Whatever
Observe, indeed, how cautiously he expresses himself: "God, no doubt, applies His mercy even to this office, whenever it is necessary because man after sin requires help in this way, not because God wished there should be a cause for such necessity." Do you not see how he does not say that God's grace is necessary to prevent us from sinning, but because we have sinned? Then he adds: "But just in the same way it is the duty of a physician to be ready to cure a man who is already wounded; although he ought not to wish for a man who is sound to be wounded." Now, if this simile suits the subject of which we are treating, human nature is certainly incapable of receiving a wound from sin, inasmuch as sin is not a substance. As therefore, for example's sake, a man who is lamed by a wound is cured in order that his step for the future may be direct and strong, its past infirmity being healed, so does the Heavenly Physician cure our maladies, not only that they may cease any longer to exist, but in order that we may ever afterwards be able to walk aright, - to which we should be unequal, even after our healing, except by His continued help.
For after a medical man has administered a cure, in order that the patient may be afterwards duly nourished with bodily elements and ailments, for the completion and continuance of the said cure by suitable means and help, he commends him to God's good care, who bestows these aids on all who live in the flesh, and from whom proceeded even those means which [the physician] applied during the process of the cure. For it is not out of any resources which he has himself created that the medical man effects any cure, but out of the resources of Him who creates all things which are required by the whole and by the sick. God, however, whenever He - through "the one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" - spiritually heals the sick or raises the dead, that is, justifies the ungodly, and when He has brought him to perfect health, in other words, to the fulness of life and righteousness, does not forsake, if He is not forsaken, in order that life may be passed in constant piety and righteousness. For, just as the eye of the body, even when completely sound, is unable to see unless aided by the brightness of light, so also man, even when most fully justified, is unable to lead a holy life, if he be not divinely assisted by the eternal light of righteousness. God, therefore, heals us not only that He may blot out the sin which we have committed, but, furthermore, that He may enable us even to avoid sinning.
Chapter 34 - A Man's Sin is His Own, But He Needs Grace for His Cure
Well, but what does he mean when he says: "Then again, how can one be subjected to God for the guilt of that sin, which he knows is not his own? For," says he, "his own it is not, if it is necessary. Or, if it is his own, it is voluntary: and if it is voluntary, it can be avoided." We reply: It is unquestionably his own. But the fault by which sin is committed is not yet in every respect healed, and the fact of its becoming permanently fixed in us arises from our not rightly using the healing virtue; and so out of this faulty condition the man who is now growing strong in depravity commits many sins, either through infirmity or blindness. Prayer must therefore be made for him, that he may be healed, and that he may thenceforward attain to a life of uninterrupted soundness of health; nor must pride be indulged in, as if any man were healed by the self-same power whereby he became corrupted.
Note: Augustine is referring to the person who thinks he is righteous because he acts righteously. Such a person thinks he has overcome sin by his own power and does not recognize his faulty condition, so grows stronger in depravity either through infirmity or blindness.
This brings up the danger of “name it and claim it” salvation when combined with “once saved always saved” presumption. The person thinks they are saved because they believed salvation scriptures applied to them, not because they believed on the Person, the Lord Jesus Christ. Not having a living relationship with Christ by the indwelling Holy Spirit, they serve God out of fear and not out of love. They have a form of godliness without the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit.
Not only are they blind to their lost condition, they are blind to their ongoing need of the Holy Spirit to grow in God.
The means by which false converts are convinced they are saved is the same means by which false converts are told they continue in salvation, that is, by thinking the right thoughts.
The modern king of false conversions was Bill Bright, who distributed four billion copies of his Four Spiritual Laws tract. Before his death, he admitted in his book Red Dawn, that the vast majority of his version of Christians had no fruit of the Holy Spirit. His solution? They needed the baptism of the Holy Spirit. How to get the baptism? EXACTLY IN THE SAME WAY THEY WERE “SAVED”…BY JUST ASKING GOD TO GIVE IT TO THEM AND THEN BELIEVE GOD GAVE IT TO THEM WITHOUT ANY EVIDENCE
Chapter 35 - Why God Does Not Immediately Cure Pride Itself. The Secret and Insidious Growth of Pride. Preventing and Subsequent Grace.
But I would indeed so treat these topics, as to confess myself ignorant of God's deeper counsel, why He does not at once heal the very principle of pride, which lies in wait for man's heart even in deeds rightly done; and for the cure of which pious souls, with tears and strong crying, beseech Him that He would stretch forth His right hand and help their endeavours to overcome it, and somehow tread and crush it under foot. Now when a man has felt glad that he has even by some good work overcome pride, from the very joy he lifts up his head and says: "Behold, I live; why do you triumph? Nay, I live because you triumph." Premature, however, this forwardness of his to triumph over pride may perhaps be, as if it were now vanquished, whereas its last shadow is to be swallowed up, as I suppose, in that noontide which is promised in the scripture which says, "He shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday;" provided that be done which was written in the preceding! verse: "Commit thy way unto the Lord; trustalso in Him, and He shall bring it to pass," - not, as some suppose, that they themselves bring it to pass.
Now, when he said, "And He shall bring it to pass," he evidently had none other in mind but those who say, We ourselves bring it to pass; that is to say, we ourselves justify our own selves. In this matter, no doubt, we do ourselves, too, work; but we are fellow-workers with Him who does the work, because His mercy anticipates us. He anticipates us, however, that we may be healed; but then He will also follow us, that being healed we may grow healthy and strong. He anticipates us that we may be called; He will follow us that we may be glorified. He anticipates us that we may lead godly lives; He will follow us that we may always live with Him, because without Him we can do nothing. Now the Scriptures refer to both these operations of grace. There is both this: "The God of my mercy shall anticipate me," and again this: "Thy mercy shall follow me all the days of my life." Let us therefore unveil to Him our life by confession, not praise it with a vindication. For if it is not His way, but our own, beyond doubt it is not the right one. Let us therefore reveal this by making our confession to Him; for however much we may endeavour to conceal it, it is not hid from Him. It is a good thing to confess unto the Lord.
Note: The entire premise of this chapter acknowledges that God could instantaneously change the saint so they would not have pride. How would God do it if he wanted? Supernaturally, or course…this is the way a saint could be made to not sin in this life if God wanted to do it. The fact that there are no examples of this other than Jesus Christ does not mean God could not do if He wished.
Augustine says this makes saints MORE dependent on God. Unlike the “once saved always saved” abomination (the modern perversion of perseverance of the saints), Augustine says synergistic ongoing sanctification forces saints to recognize their utter dependence on the Holy Spirit.
Chapter 37 - Being Wholly Without Sin Does Not Put Man on an Equality with God
But God forbid that we should meet him with such an assertion as he says certain persons advance against him: "That man is placed on an equality with God, if he is described as being without sin;" as if indeed an angel, because he is without sin, is put in such an equality. For my own part, I am of this opinion that the creature will never become equal with God, even when so perfect a holiness shall be accomplished in us, that it shall be quite incapable of receiving any addition. No; all who maintain that our progress is to be so complete that we shall be changed into the substance of God, and that we shall thus become what He is, should look well to it how they build up their opinion; for myself I must confess that I am not persuaded of this.
Note: Augustine deals with the interpretation of 1 John 1:8.
We Must Not Lie, Even for the Sake of Moderation. The Praise of Humility Must Not Be Placed to the Account of Falsehood.
I am favourably disposed, indeed, to the view of our author, when he resists those who say to him, "What you assert seems indeed to be reasonable, but it is an arrogant thing to allege that any man can be without sin," with this answer, that if it is at all true, it must not on any account be called an arrogant statement; for with very great truth and acuteness he asks, "On what side must humility be placed? No doubt on the side of falsehood, if you prove arrogance to exist on the side of truth." And so he decides, and rightly decides, that humility should rather be ranged on the side of truth, not of falsehood. Whence it follows that he who said, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us," must without hesitation be held to have spoken the truth, and not be thought to have spoken falsehood for the sake of humility. Therefore he added the words, "And the truth is not in us;" whereas it might perhaps have been enough if he merely said, "We deceive ourselves," if he had not observed that some were capable of supposing that the clause "we deceive ourselves" is here employed on the ground that the man who praises himself is even extolled for a really good action. So that, by the addition of "the truth is not in us," he clearly shows (even as our author most correctly observes) that it is not at all true if we say that we have no sin, lest humility, if placed on the side of falsehood, should lose the reward of truth.
Chapter 39 - Pelagius Glorifies God as Creator at the Expense of God as Saviour
Beyond this, however, although he flatters himself that he vindicates the cause of God by defending nature, he forgets that by predicating soundness of the said nature, he rejects the Physician's mercy. He, however, who created him is also his Saviour. We ought not, therefore, so to magnify the Creator as to be compelled to say, nay, rather as to be convicted of saying, that the Saviour is superfluous. Man's nature indeed we may honour with worthy praise, and attribute the praise to the Creator's glory; but at the same time, while we show our gratitude to Him for having created us, let us not be ungrateful to Him for healing us. Our sins which He heals we must undoubtedly attribute not to God's operation, but to the wilfulness of man, and submit them to His righteous punishment; as, however, we acknowledge that it was in our power that they should not be committed, so let us confess that it lies in His mercy rather than in our own power that they should be healed. But this mercy and remedial help of the Saviour, according to this writer, consists only in this, that He forgives the transgressions that are past, not that He helps us to avoid such as are to come. Here he is most fatally mistaken; here, however unwittingly - here he hinders us from being watchful, and from praying that "we enter not into temptation," since he maintains that it lies entirely in our own control that this should not happen to us.
Note: Pelagius did not believe in the immediate activity of the Holy Spirit being necessary for ongoing sanctification. He had the same view held by Scottish Common Sense Realists that man’s mind is a closed system which has “truth impressions” that shaped it to be the way it is…therefore there is no need the immediate activity of the Holy Spirit to help the saint.
Chapter 46 - Shall We Follow Scripture, or Add to Its Declarations?
It is, to be sure, a grand sentence with which he concluded this passage, when he says: "What we read, therefore, let us believe; and what we do not read, let us deem it wicked to add; and let it suffice to have said this of all cases." On the contrary, I for my part say that we ought not to believe even everything that we read, on the sanction of the apostle's advice: "Read all things; hold fast that which is good." Nor is it wicked to add something which we have not read; for it is in our power to add something which we have bona fide experienced as witnesses, even if it so happens that we have not read about it. Perhaps he will say in reply: "When I said this, I was treating of the Holy Scriptures." Oh how I wish that he were never willing to add, I will not say anything but what he reads in the Scriptures, but in opposition to what he reads in them; that he would only faithfully and obediently hear that which is written there: "By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men; in which all have sinned;" and that he would not weaken the grace of the great Physician, - all by his unwillingness to confess that human nature is corrupted! Oh how I wish that he would, as a Christian, read the sentence, "There is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved;" and that he would not so uphold the possibility of human nature, as to believe that man can be saved by free will without that Name!
Chapter 47 - For What Pelagius Thought that Christ is Necessary to Us
Perhaps, however, he thinks the name of Christ to be necessary on this account, that by His gospel we may learn how we ought to live; but not that we may be also assisted by His grace, in order withal to lead good lives. Well, even this consideration should lead him at least to confess that there is a miserable darkness in the human mind, which knows how it ought to tame a lion, but knows not how to live. To know this, too, is it enough for us to have free will and natural law? This is that wisdom of word, whereby "the cross of Christ is rendered of none effect." He, however, who said, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise," since that cross cannot be made of none effect, in very deed overthrows that wisdom by the foolishness of preaching whereby believers are healed. For if natural capacity, by help of free will, is in itself sufficient both for discovering how one ought to live, and also for leading a holy life, then "Christ died in vain,"and therefore also "the offence of the cross is ceased." Why also may I not myself exclaim? - nay, I will exclaim, and chide them with a Christian's sorrow, - "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by nature; ye are fallen from grace;" for, "being ignorant of God's righteousness, and wishing to establish your own righteousness, you have not submitted yourselves to the righteousness of God." For even as "Christ is the end of the law," so likewise is He the Saviour of man's corrupted nature, "for righteousness to every one that believeth."
Perhaps, however, he thinks the name of Christ to be necessary on this account, that by His gospel we may learn how we ought to live; but not that we may be also assisted by His grace, in order withal to lead good lives.
Note: Scottish Common Sense Realist do not believe in the immediate activity of the Holy Spirit being necessary for man to live for God. They are identical to Pelagius in that respect…but they give Pelagians a way to see man as self-contained WITH the grace of God in the “truth impression”. The “truth impression” makes the self-contained mind able to live a good life WITHOUT the immediate activity of the Holy Spirit…of course this is not the view of the Bible.
Well, even this consideration should lead him at least to confess that there is a miserable darkness in the human mind, which knows how it ought to tame a lion, but knows not how to live. To know this, too, is it enough for us to have free will and natural law? This is that wisdom of word, whereby "the cross of Christ is rendered of none effect." He, however, who said, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise," since that cross cannot be made of none effect, in very deed overthrows that wisdom by the foolishness of preaching whereby believers are healed.
For if natural capacity, by help of free will, is in itself sufficient both for discovering how one ought to live, and also for leading a holy life, then "Christ died in vain," and therefore also "the offence of the cross is ceased." Why also may I not myself exclaim? - nay, I will exclaim, and chide them with a Christian's sorrow, - "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by nature; ye are fallen from grace;" for, "being ignorant of God's righteousness, and wishing to establish your own righteousness, you have not submitted yourselves to the righteousness of God." For even as "Christ is the end of the law," so likewise is He the Saviour of man's corrupted nature, "for righteousness to every one that believeth."
Note: Scottish Common Sense Realist believe Christ is the “Saviour of man's corrupted nature” only in the sense that God enables “truth impressions” to man’s rational mind until he reaches a “tipping point” where he is convinced to serve God over self. This is almost identical to the Pelegian idea expressed by Augustine: “by His gospel we may learn how we ought to live; but not that we may be also assisted by His grace”. Augustine is speaking of supernatural saving grace, not common grace available to all men in the Gospel.
The way Scottish Common Sense Realism maintains a label of orthodoxy is by asserting that the common processes of the mind of those that will be saved are helped by “truth impressions”. But Witherspoon admitted that he saw no species difference between saving and common grace, between soulish and spiritual man. He saw “truth impressions” as changing the orientation of the will only by the acceptance of Scriptures as true. There is no immediate activity of the Holy Spirit in a sense that Augustine would recognize as orthodox.
Pelagius never disputed the need of common grace in the learning process. The issue between Augustine and Pelagius was not over the need of common grace for learning, but saving grace for salvation.
The pseudo-scientific “truth impression” theory is that God is somehow involved in the learning process without an immediate change of nature, which is by definition, common grace. If a “truth impression” was saving grace, there would be no more need of “truth impressions”. “Truth impressions” in themselves, could never be identified as “saving grace”. They could be identified as prevenient grace or prevailing grace, but never saving grace. Indeed, Witherpoon said he saw no species difference between saving and common grace. He wrote, “There were … great debates whether special and common grace differ essentially in their nature, or if
Chapter 48 - How the Term "All" Is to Be Understood,
His opponents adduced the passage, "All have sinned," and he met their statement founded on this with the remark that "the apostle was manifestly speaking of the then existing generation, that is, the Jews and the Gentiles;" but surely the passage which I have quoted, "By one man sin entered the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men; in which all have sinned," embraces in its terms the generations both of old and of modern times, both ourselves and our posterity. He adduces also this passage, whence he would prove that we ought not to understand all without exception, when "all" is used: - "As by the offence of one," he says, "upon all men to condemnation, even so by the righteousness of One, upon all men unto justification of life." "There can be no doubt," he says, "that not all men are sanctified by the righteousness of Christ, but only those who are willing to obey Him, and have been cleansed in the washing of His baptism." Well, but he does not prove what he wants by this quotation. For as the clause, "By the offence of one, upon all men to condemnation," is so worded that not one is omitted in its sense, so in the corresponding clause, "By the righteousness of One, upon all men unto justification of life," no one is omitted in its sense, - not, indeed, because all men have faith and are washed in His baptism, but because no man is justified unless he believes in Christ and is cleansed by His baptism. The term "all" is therefore used in a way which shows that no one whatever can be supposed able to be saved by any other means than through Christ Himself. For if in a city there be appointed but one instructor, we are most correct in saying: That man teaches all in that place; not meaning, indeed, that all who live in the city take lessons of him, but that no one is instructed unless taught by him. In like manner no one is justified unless Christ has justified him.
Chapter 49 - A Man Can Be Sinless, But Only by the Help of Grace
"Well, be it so," says he," I agree; he testifies to the fact that all were sinners. He says, indeed, what they have been, not that they might not have been something else. Wherefore," he adds, "if all then could be proved to be sinners, it would not by any means prejudice our own definite position, in insisting not so much on what men are, as on what they are able to be." He is right for once to allow that no man living is justified in God's sight. He contends, however, that this is not the question, but that the point lies in the possibility of a man's not sinning, - on which subject it is unnecessary for us to take ground against him; for, in truth, I do not much care about expressing a definite opinion on the question, whether in the present life there ever have been, or now are, or ever can be, any persons who have had, or are having, or are to have, the love of God so perfectly as to admit of no addition to it (for nothing short of this amounts to a most true, full, and perfect righteousness).
Note: Augustine has consistently promoted the idea that the best evidence of salvation is that a person serve God out of love and not fear, and be willing to give and get rid of whatever God asks without compulsion. This, of course, is only possible in a heart that has been supernaturally changed and indwelt by the Holy Spirit…he is emphatic that the indwelling Holy Spirit sheds abroad the love of God in hearts that have a “healed and cleansed nature”.
For I ought not too sharply to contend as to when, or where, or in whom is done that which I confess and maintain can be done by the will of man, aided by the grace of God. Nor do I indeed contend about the actual possibility, forasmuch as the possibility under dispute advances with the realization in the saints, their human will being healed and helped; whilst "the love of God," as fully as our healed and cleansed nature can possibly receive it, "is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given to us." In a better way, therefore, is God's cause promoted (and it is to its promotion that our author professes to apply his warm defence of nature) when He is acknowledged as our Saviour no less than as our Creator, than when His succour to us as Saviour is impaired and dwarfed to nothing by the defence of the creature, as if it were sound and its resources entire.
Chapter 50 - God Commands No Impossibilities
What he says, however, is true enough, "that God is as good as just, and made man such that he was quite able to live without the evil of sin, if only he had been willing." For who does not know that man was made whole and faultless, and endowed with a free will and a free ability to lead a holy life? Our present inquiry, however, is about the man whom "the thieves" left half dead on the road, and who, being disabled and pierced through with heavy wounds, is not so able to mount up to the heights of righteousness as he was able to descend there from; who, moreover, if he is now in "the inn," is in process of cure. God therefore does not command impossibilities; but in His command He counsels you both to do what you can for yourself, and to ask His aid in what you cannot do. Now, we should see whence comes the possibility, and whence the impossibility. This man says: "That proceeds not from a man's will which he can do by nature." I say: A man is not righteous by his will if he can be by nature. He will, however, be able to accomplish by remedial aid what he is rendered incapable of doing by his flaw.
Chapter 51 - State of the Question Between the Pelagians and the Catholics. Holy Men of Old Saved by the Self-Same Faith in Christ Which We Exercise.
But why need we tarry longer on general statements? Let us go into the core of the question, which we have to discuss with our opponents solely, or almost entirely, on one particular point. For inasmuch as he says that "as far as the present question is concerned, it is not pertinent to inquire whether there have been or now are any men in this life without sin, but whether they had or have the ability to be such persons;" so, were I even to allow that there have been or are any such, I should not by any means therefore affirm that they had or have the ability, unless justified by the grace of God through our Lord "Jesus Christ and Him crucified." For the same faith which healed the saints of old now heals us, - that is to say, faith "in the one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus," - faith in His blood, faith in His cross, faith in His death and resurrection. As we therefore have the same spirit of faith, we also believe, and on that account also speak.
Note: The reader knows from previous chapters, that Augustine believes it is possible for the Holy Spirit to make a man walk sinless in this life. But it is not in unregenerate man to do so.
Chapter 52 - The Whole Discussion is About Grace
Let us, however, observe what our author answers, after laying before himself the question wherein he seems indeed so intolerable to Christian hearts. He says: "But you will tell me this is what disturbs a great many, - that you do not maintain that it is by the grace of God that a man is able to be without sin." Certainly this is what causes us disturbance; this is what we object to him. He touches the very point of the case. This is what causes us such utter pain to endure it; this is why we cannot bear to have such points debated by Christians, owing to the love which we feel towards others and towards themselves. Well, let us hear how he clears himself from the objectionable character of the question he has raised. "What blindness of ignorance," he exclaims, "what sluggishness of an uninstructed mind, which supposes that that is maintained and held to be without God's grace which it only hears ought to be attributed to God!" Now, if we knew nothing of what follows this outburst of his, and formed our opinion on simply hearing these words, we might suppose that we had been led to a wrong view of our opponents by the spread of report and by the asseveration of some suitable witnesses among the brethren. For how could it have been more pointedly and truly stated that the possibility of not sinning, to whatever extent it exists or shall exist in man, ought only to be attributed to God? This too is our own affirmation. We may shake hands.
Chapter 53 - Pelagius Distinguishes Between a Power and Its Use
Well, are there other things to listen to? Yes, certainly; both to listen to, and correct and guard against. "Now, when it is said," he says, "that the very ability is not at all of man's will, but of the Author of nature, - that is, God, - how can that possibly be understood to be without the grace of God which is deemed especially to belong to God?" Already we begin to see what he means; but that we may not lie under any mistake, he explains himself with greater breadth and clearness: "That this may become still plainer, we must," says he, "enter on a somewhat fuller discussion of the point. Now we affirm that the possibility of anything lies not so much in the ability of a man's will as in the necessity of nature." He then proceeds to illustrate his meaning by examples and similes. "Take," says he, "for instance, my ability to speak. That I am able to speak is not my own; but that I do speak is my own, - that is, of my own will. And because the act of my speaking is my own, I have the power of alternative action, - that is to say, both to speak and to refrain from speaking. But because my ability to speak is not my own, that is, is not of my own determination and will, it is of necessity that I am always able to speak; and though I wished not to be able to speak, I am unable, nevertheless, to be unable to speak, unless perhaps I were to deprive myself of that member whereby the function of speaking is to be performed."
Many means, indeed, might be mentioned whereby, if he wish it, a man may deprive himself of the possibility of speaking, without removing the organ of speech. If, for instance, anything were to happen to a man to destroy his voice, he would be unable to speak, although the members remained; for a man's voice is of course no member. There may, in short, be an injury done to the member internally, short of the actual loss of it. I am, however, unwilling to press the argument for a word; and it may be replied to me in the contest, Why, even to injure is to lose. But yet we can so contrive matters, by closing and shutting the mouth with bandages, as to be quite incapable of opening it, and to put the opening of it out of our power, although it was quite in our own power to shut it while the strength and healthy exercise of the limbs remained.
Note: Augustine is presenting Pelagius’s view of common grace inherent in the nature of man to not sin without the need of a supernatural change of nature and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This sounds like Witherspoon’s, “regeneration does not consist in giving us new souls, new faculties, or new affections, but in giving a new tendency and effect to those we had before”
Chapter 54 - There is No Incompatibility Between Necessity and Free Will
Now how does all this apply to our subject? Let us see what he makes out of it. "Whatever," says he, "is fettered by natural necessity is deprived of determination of will and deliberation." Well, now, here lies a question; for it is the height of absurdity for us to say that it does not belong to our will that we wish to be happy, on the ground that it is absolutely, impossible for us to be unwilling to be happy, by reason of some indescribable but amiable coercion of our nature; nor dare we maintain that God has not the will but the necessity of righteousness, because He cannot will to sin.
Chapter 63 - Does God Create Contraries?
He next endeavours, by much quotation from the apostle, about which there is no controversy, to show "that the flesh is often mentioned by him in such a manner as proves him to mean not the substance, but the works of the flesh." What is this to the point? The defects of the flesh are contrary to the will of man; his nature is not accused; but a Physician is wanted for its defects. What signifies his question, "Who made man's spirit?" and his own answer thereto, "God, without a doubt?" Again he asks, "Who created the flesh?" and again answers, "The same God, I suppose." And yet a third question, "Is the God good who created both?" and the third answer, "Nobody doubts it." Once more a question, "Are not both good, since the good Creator made them?" and its answer, "It must be confessed that they are." And then follows his conclusion: "If, therefore, both the spirit is good, and the flesh is good, as made by the good Creator, how can it be that the two good things should be contrary to one another?"
I need not say that the whole of this reasoning would be upset if one were to ask him, "Who made heat and cold?" and he were to say in answer, "God, without a doubt." I do not ask the string of questions. Let him determine himself whether these conditions of climate may either be said to be not good, or else whether they do not seem to be contrary to each other. Here he will probably object, "These are not substances, but the qualities of substances." Very true, it is so. But still they are natural qualities, and undoubtedly belong to God's creation; and substances, indeed, are not said to be contrary to each other in themselves, but in their qualities, as water and fire. What if it be so too with flesh and spirit? We do not affirm it to be so; but, in order to show that his argument terminates in a conclusion which does not necessarily follow, we have said so much as this.
For it is quite possible for contraries not to be reciprocally opposed to each other, but rather by mutual action to temper health and render it good; just as, in our body, dryness and moisture, cold and heat, - in the tempering of which altogether consists our bodily health. The fact, however, that "the flesh is contrary to the Spirit, so that we cannot do the things that we would," is a defect, not nature. The Physician's grace must be sought, and their controversy must end.
Chapter 64 - Pelagius' Admission as Regards the Unbaptized, Fatal
Now, as touching these two good substances which the good God created, how, against the reasoning of this man, in the case of unbaptized persons, can they be contrary the one to the other? Will he be sorry to have said this too, which he admitted out of some regard to the Christians' faith? For when he asked, "How, in the case of any person who is already baptized, can it be that his flesh is contrary to him?" he intimated, of course, that in the case of un-baptized persons it is possible for the flesh to be contrary. For why insert the clause, "who is already baptized," when without such an addition he might have put his question thus: "How in the case of any person can the flesh be contrary?" and when, in order to prove this, he might have subjoined that argument of his, that as both body and spirit are good (made as they are by the good Creator), they therefore cannot be contrary to each other?
Now, suppose unbaptized persons (in whom, at any rate, he confesses that the flesh is contrary) were to ply him with his own arguments, and say to him, Who made man's spirit? he must answer, God. Suppose they asked him again, Who created the flesh? and he answers, The same God, I believe. Suppose their third question to be, Is the God good who created both? and his reply to be, Nobody doubts it. Suppose once more they put to him his yet remaining inquiry, Are not both good, since the good Creator made them? and he confesses it. Then surely they will cut his throat with his own sword, when they force home his conclusion on him, and say: Since therefore the spirit of man is good, and his flesh good, as made by the good Creator, how can it be that the two being good should be contrary to one another?
Here, perhaps, he will reply: I beg your pardon, I ought not to have said that the flesh cannot be contrary to the spirit in any baptized person, as if I meant to imply that it is contrary in the unbaptized; but I ought to have made my statement general, to the effect that the flesh in no man's case is contrary. Now see into what a corner he drives himself. See what a man will say, who is unwilling to cry out with the apostle, "Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? The grace of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. "But why," he asks, "should I so exclaim, who am already baptized in Christ? It is for them to cry out thus who have not yet received so great a benefit, whose words the apostle in a figure transferred to himself, - if indeed even they say so much." Well, this defence of nature does not permit even these to utter this exclamation! For in the baptized, there is no nature; and in the unbaptized, nature is not! Or if even in the one class it is allowed to be corrupted, so that it is not without reason that men exclaim, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from this body of death?" to the other, too, help is brought in what follows: "The grace of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord;" then let it at last be granted that human nature stands in need of Christ for its Physician.
Note: Most theologians believe Paul was referring to his regenerate state in Romans 7:25. But whatever state he was in, he still needed the grace of God. Man’s rational mind can not handle the dilemma of Romans 7:25 without the indwelling Holy Spirit. Romans 8:9: “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his”. In fact, Scottish Common Sense Realists have no reasonable way of understanding “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin” because they do not believe in the remedy of Romans chapter 8, that is the immediate activity of the Holy Spirit in the heart of a regenerate believer.
In other writings, Augustine endorsed the view that Paul in the seventh chapter of Romans is speaking of a regenerate man, since the “will is present” to serve God out of love and not out of fear. His comment, “this is effected by the believer” indicates Augustine’s belief that the struggle of conscience in the seventh chapter of Romans is that of a regenerate believer between his flesh and spirit, and the solution to that struggle in chapter 8 is synergistic cooperation with the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Paul sums the problem of Romans 7: “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin” (Romans 7:24-25). It sound like he endorsing Gnostic idea of the spirit of man being holy while the flesh of man is evil (and never the two shall meet) that Paul condemned in Romans 6: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid”.
Paul uses a rhetorical device at the beginning of Romans 6 and the same rhetorical device at the end of Romans 7. He shocks the reader into paying attention... so he can provide a new solution to the problem. In Romans 6, the solution is regenerate believers are dead to sin, as symbolized in baptism, whereby the old man dies under the water and the new man comes up filled with the Holy Spirit. But Paul holds off talking about the Holy Spirit so he can flesh out the problem of the struggle of the residual old man and the new man all through Romans 7.
Romans 6:4 gives us a categorical statement without explaining how the regenerate believer walks in newness of life: “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” does not tell us the way of the newness of life, just that we have newness of life after baptism.
The 15 explanations of the newness of life will have to wait till Romans 8. First Paul must fully explain 13 ways the problem of the residual Old Man fighting with the rational mind of the regenerate believer in Romans 7:
In Romans 8, the solution comes as 15 things the indwelling Holy Spirit does in the regenerate believer.
1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them…, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Scottish Common Sense Realism does not allow for the immediate activity and indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the believer except in a poetic sense. The “verbal restrictive” theory limits the activity of the Holy Spirit to “truth impressions” on the rational mind and “quickening scripture to the heart”. For that reason, Scottish Common Sense Realism ignores the lessons of Romans 8 in favor of a gradual change of mind, something the Apostle Paul says happens as well, but in addition to , and not instead of the immediate activity of the Holy Spirit.
The problems of Romans 7 could never be solved without the immediate activity of the Holy Spirit, because the rational mind is not able to fight the old man without the immediate activity of the Holy Spirit. That is the main reason Scottish Common Sense realism is DEAD WRONG. It was this error that led to the BIST system replacing the BEST system after the American Civil War.
The BIST system presumes the FALSE HOPE that the rational mind can overcome the old man without the immediate activity of the Holy Spirit. This false hope has been the undoing of Evangelical salvation. The BIST system holds that if a seeker agreed to the truth of Scripture, they possessed saving faith. This false hope became the reason Billy Sunday eliminated the Inquiry Room altogether because he reasoned that if people came forward in altar calls because they believed salvation scriptures, there was no more need for Inquiry Rooms.
The BEST (Biblical Evidence of Salvation Test) system looked for evidence of supernatural regeneration and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, so there would never be a reason to eliminate Inquiry Rooms. But the BIST (Belief In Scripture Test) system tried to get seekers to agree with salvation scriptures, even having them read the words of scriptures three times so they could experience a “Eureka!” moment when they supposedly “realized” the scripture applied to them, thought to be evidence of saving faith.
In 1812, most New Light Calvinist evangelists were Hopkinsians, but after 1813 (when the Presbyterian Princeton Theological Seminary was started), disciples of Scottish Common Sense Realism gradually replaced Hopkinsian and Bellamite ministers as the leading evangelists (Beecher and Nettleton were Hopkinsians, Finney was educated in Scottish Common Sense Realism for two years. It was the ONLY systematic theology he was taught.
By the Civil War, the BIST system was used mostly by Presbyterian ministers (Finney was ordained Presbyterian), but many ministers of other denominations, including Congregationalists like D. L. Moody were affected.
Moody used BIST system on church people who were unsure of their salvation and the BEST system with everyone else. But the BIST system worked much better than the BEST system with the post-Civil War spirit of the gilded age.
The North saw itself as victorious because it had acted with the common faith of conviction of overcoming injustice. The North used the rational mind to perceive truth and do it, trusting that God gave the ability. Trusting scriptures became evidence of saving faith the same way. God works with man’s rational mind…no reason to wait on God for regeneration…regeneration was now seen as merely the “tipping point” of the rational mind when man is convinced to serve God over self. In the same way the North trusted God gave them factories to make guns and canons, God also gives the ability to accept Scripture as true. Salvation was just accepting the truth of Scripture.
Chapter 65 - "This Body of Death," So Called from Its Defect, Not from Its Substance
Now, I ask, when did our nature lose that liberty, which he craves to be given to him when he says: "Who shall liberate me?" For even he finds no fault with the substance of the flesh when he expresses his desire to be liberated from the body of this death, since the nature of the body, as well as of the soul, must be attributed to the good God as the author thereof. But what he speaks of undoubtedly concerns the offences of the body.
Now from the body the death of the body separates us; Whereas the offences contracted from the body remain, and their just punishment awaits them, as the rich man found in hell. From these it was that he was unable to liberate himself, who said: "Who shall liberate me from the body of this death?" But whensoever it was that he lost this liberty, at least there remains that "inseparable capacity" of nature, - he has the ability from natural resources, - he has the volition from free will. Why does he seek the sacrament of baptism? Is it because of past sins, in order that they may be forgiven, since they cannot be undone? Well, suppose you acquit and release a man on these terms, he must still utter the old cry; for he not only wants to be mercifully let off from punishment for past offences, but to be strengthened and fortified against sinning for the time to come.
For he "delights in the law of God, after the inward man; but then he sees another law in his members, warring against the law of his mind." Observe, he sees that there is, not recollects that there was. It is a present pressure, not a past memory. And he sees the other law not only "warring," but even "bringing him into captivity to the law of sin, which is"(not which was) "in his members." Hence comes that cry of his: "O wretched man that I am! who shall liberate me from the body of this death?" Let him pray, let him entreat for the help of the mighty Physician. Why gainsay that prayer? Why cry down that entreaty? Why shall the unhappy suitor be hindered from begging for the mercy of Christ, - and that too by Christians? For, it was even they who were accompanying Christ that tried to prevent the blind man, by clamouring him down, from begging for light; but even amidst the din and throng of the gainsayers He hears the suppliant; whence the response: "The grace of God, through Jesus Christ out Lord."
Note: Augustine confirms again that be believes Paul is speaking from a regenerate state in Romans 7.
Chapter 66 - The Works, Not the Substance, of the "Flesh" Opposed to the "Spirit
Now if we secure even this concession from them, that unbaptized persons may implore the assistance of the Saviour's grace, this is indeed no slight point against that fallacious assertion of the self-sufficiency of nature and of the power of free will. For he is not sufficient to himself who says, "O wretched man that I am! who shall liberate me?" Nor can he be said to have full liberty who still asks for liberation. But let us, moreover, see to this point also, whether they who are baptized do the good which they would, without any resistance from the lust of the flesh. That, however, which we have to say on this subject, our author himself mentions, when concluding this topic he says: "As we remarked, the passage in which occur the words, 'The flesh lusteth against the Spirit,' must needs have reference not to the substance, but to the works of the flesh." We too allege that this is spoken not of the substance of the flesh, but of its works, which proceed from carnal concupiscence, - in a word, from sin, concerning which we have this precept: "Not to let it reign in our mortal body, that we should obey it in the lusts thereof."
Chapter 67 - Who May Be Said to Be Under the Law
But even our author should observe that it is to persons who have been already baptized that it was said: "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would." And lest he should make them slothful for the actual conflict, and should seem by this statement to have given them laxity in sinning, he goes on to tell them: "If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are no longer under the law." For that man is under the law, who, from fear of the punishment which the law threatens, and not from any love for righteousness, obliges himself to abstain from the work of sin, without being as yet free and removed from the desire of sinning. For it is in his very will that he is guilty, whereby he would prefer, if it were possible, that what he dreads should not exist, in order that be might freely do what he secretly desires.
Note: Augustine’s consistent themes are
Therefore he says, "If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law,"-even the law which inspires fear, but gives not love. For this "love is shed abroad in our hearts," not by the letter of the law, but "by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." This is the law of liberty, not of bondage; being the law of love, not of fear; and concerning it the Apostle James says: "Whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty." Whence he, too, no longer indeed felt terrified by God's law as a slave, but delighted in it in the inward man, although still seeing another law in his members warring against the law of his mind. Accordingly he here says: "If ye be led of the Spirit, he is not under the law; because, so far he rejoices in the law of God, he lives not in fear of the law, since fear has torment," not joy and delight.
Chapter 68 - Despite the Devil, Man May, by God's Help, Be Perfected
If, therefore, we feel rightly on this matter, it is our duty at once to be thankful for what is already healed within us, and to pray for such further healing as shall enable us to enjoy full liberty, in that most absolute state of health which is incapable of addition, the perfect pleasure of God. For we do not deny that human nature can be without sin; nor ought we by any means to refuse to it the ability to become perfect, since we admit its capacity for progress,-by God's grace, however, through our Lord Jesus Christ. By His assistance we aver that it becomes holy and happy, by whom it was created in order to be so. There is accordingly an easy refutation of the objection which our author says is alleged by some against him: "The devil opposes us." This objection we also meet in entirely identical language with that which he uses in reply: "We must resist him, and he will flee. 'Resist the devil,' says the blessed apostle, 'and he will flee from you.' From which it may be observed, what his harming amounts to against those whom he tees; or what power he is to be understood as possessing, when he prevails only against those who do not resist him."
Such language is my own also; for it is impossible to employ truer words. There is, however, this difference between us and them, that we, whenever the devil has to be resisted, not only do not deny, but actually teach, that God's help must be sought;
Note: The idea that God’s help must be sought is based on the hope of immediate help of the Holy Spirit, not just a “truth impression” of Scripture. Augustine is saying a self-contained mind can never overcome the devil. Every argument that says if grace is not necessary, then Christ died in vain can be applied to the argument, if the Holy Spirit is not necessary, then Christ died in vain. If the only Holy Spirit help comes in the form of “truth impressions”, then resisting the devil must be done with self that has been shaped by truth impressions. God can offer no immediate help…all the saint has is their faith, which is the circular argument of Scottish Common Sense Realism.
That is how the idea of saving faith evolved from the intimate relationship of “trusting God” to the rational belief of facts in “trusting Scripture”. Before Scottish Common Sense Realism, the effective decision for Christ was seen as saving faith, but that saving faith was the result of a supernaturally changed heart and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. After Scottish Common Sense Realism, the effective decision for Christ was seen as saving faith, but that saving faith was thought to be evident because of a “eureka!” moment when the penitent thought a salvation scripture applied to them.
The change went from spiritual to soulish, species change of heart to psychological change of mind, knowing in the heart to thinking in the mind, relationship between God and man in the heart to self-contained man in the mind, grace as immediate connection to God to grace as metaphysical material causation of the mind.
whereas they attribute so much power to will as to take away prayer from religious duty. Now it is certainly with a view to resisting the devil and his fleeing from us that we say when we pray, "Lead us not into temptation;" to the same end also are we warned by our Captain, exhorting us as soldiers in the words: "Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation."
Chapter 69 - Pelagius Puts Nature in the Place of Grace
In opposition, however, to those who ask, "And who would be unwilling to be without sin, if it were put in the power of a man?" he tightly contends, saying "that by this very question they acknowledge that the thing is not impossible; because so much as this, many, if not all men, certainly desire." Well then, let him only confess the means by which this is possible, and then our controversy is ended. Now the means is "the grace of God through our Lord Jesus Christ;"
Note: Augustine does not believe unregenerate man can live without sin, but DOES believe it is possible for regenerate man to live without sin by the immediate grace of God (although he acknowledges no examples).
by which he nowhere has been willing to allow that we are assisted when we pray, for the avoidance of sin.
Note: The assistance is the immediate activity of the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:26: “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered”.
If indeed he secretly allows this, he must forgive us if we suspect this subject, wishes to entertain the secret opinion, and yet is unwilling to confess or profess it. It would surely be no great matter were he to speak out, especially since he has undertaken to handle and open this point, as if it had been objected against him on the side of opponents. Why on such occasions did he choose only to defend nature, and assert that man was so created as to have it in his power not to sin if he wished not to sin; and, from the fact that he was so created, definitely say that the power was owing to God's grace which enabled him to avoid sin, if he was unwilling to commit it; and yet refuse to say anything concerning the fact that even nature itself is either, because disordered, healed by God's grace through our Lord Jesus Christ or rise assisted by it, because in itself it is so insufficient?
Now, whether there ever has been, or is, or ever can be, a man living so righteous a life in this world as to have no sin at all, may be an open question among true and pious Christians; but whoever doubts the possibility of this sinless state after this present life; is foolish. For my own part, indeed, I am unwilling to dispute the point even as respects this life. For although that passage seems to me to be incapable of bearing any doubtful sense, wherein it is written, "In thy sight shall no man living be justified" (and so of similar passages), yet I could wish it were possible to show either that such quotations were capable of beating a better signification, or that a perfect and plenary righteousness, to which it were impossible for any accession to be made, had been realized at some former time in some one whilst passing through this life in the flesh, or was now being realized, or would be hereafter.
They, however, are in a great majority, who, while not doubting that to the last day of their life it will be needful to them to resort to the prayer which they can so truthfully utter, "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us," still trust that in Christ and His promises they possess a true, certain, and unfailing hope. There is, however, no method whereby any persons arrive at absolute perfection, or whereby any man makes the slightest progress to true and godly righteousness, but the assisting grace of our crucified Saviour Christ, and the gift of His Spirit; and whosoever shall deny this cannot rightly, I almost think, be reckoned in the number of any kind of Christians at all.
Note: Augustine questions whether a person who does not believe in the immediate activity of the Holy Spirit in the saint (the gift of the Holy Spirit) is saved. Romans 8:14: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God”. Augustine suggests that those who are not conscious of being “led by the Spirit of God” are Christians. Whether or not someone needs to be conscious of the immediate activity of the Holy Spirit if they are saved is an interesting question. There is no question as to the necessity of “ye must be born again” and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in order to be saved: Romans 8:9: “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his”.
Augustine now comments on the errors of Pelagius in misinterpreting the writings of church Fathers to buttress his claim that man can live sinless without the immediate activity of the Holy Spirit.
Chapter 72 – Hilary - The Pure in Heart blessed. The Doing and Perfecting of Righteousness.
He quotes the following words from the blessed Hilary: "It is only when we shall be perfect in spirit and changed in our immortal state, which blessedness has been appointed only for the pure in heart, that we shall see that which is immortal in God." Now I am reply not aware what is here said contrary to our own statement, or in what respect this passage is of any use to our opponent, unless it be that it testifies to the possibility of a man's being "pure in heart." But who denies such possibility? Only it must be by the grace of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord, and not merely by our freedom of will. He goes on to quote also this passage: "This Job had so effectually read these Scriptures, that cause he worshipped God purely with a mind unmixed with offences: now such worship of God is the proper work of righteousness."
It is what not what he had brought to perfection in this world,-much less what he had done or perfected without the grace of that Saviour whom he had actually foretold. For that man, indeed, abstains from every wicked work, who does not allow the sin which he has within him to have dominion over him; and who, whenever an unworthy thought stole over him, suffered it not to come to a head in actual deed. It is, however, one thing not to have sin, and another to refuse obedience to its desires. It is one thing to fulfil the command, "Thou shalt not covet;" and another thing, by an endeavour at any rate after abstinence, to do that which is also written, "Thou shalt not go after thy lusts." And yet one is quite aware that he can do nothing of all this without the Saviour's grace. It is to work righteousness, therefore, to fight in an internal struggle with the internal evil of concupiscence in the true worship of God; whilst to perfect it means to have no adversary at all. Now he who has to fight is still in danger, and is sometimes shaken, even if he is not overthrown; whereas he who has no enemy at all rejoices in perfect peace. He, moreover, is in the highest truth said to be without sin in whom no sin has an indwelling,-not he who, abstaining from evil deeds, uses such language as "Now it is no longer I that do it, but the sin that dwelleth in me."
Chapter 73 - He Meets Pelagius with Another Passage from Hilary
Now even Job himself is not silent respecting his own sins; and your friend, of course, is justly of opinion that humility must not by any means "be put on the side of falsehood?" Whatever confession, therefore, Job makes, inasmuch as he is a true worshipper of God, he undoubtedly makes it in truth. Hilary, likewise, while expounding that passage of the psalm in which it is written, "Thou hast despised all those who turn aside from Thy commandments," says: "If God were to despise sinners, He would despise indeed all men, because no man is without sin; but it is those who turn away from Him, whom they call apostates, that He despises." You observe his statement: it is not to the effect that no man was without sin, as if he spoke of the past; but no man is without sin; and on this point, as I have already remarked, I have no contention with him. But if one refuses to submit to the Apostle John,-who does not himself declare, "If we were to say we have had no sin," but "If we say we have no sin," -how is he likely to show deference to Bishop Hilary? It is in defence of the grace of Christ that I lift up my voice, without which grace no man is justified,-just as if natural free will were sufficient. Nay, He Himself lifts up His own voice in defence of the same. Let us submit to Him when He says: "Without me ye can do nothing."
Chapter 74 Ambrose.
St. Ambrose, however, really opposes those who say that man cannot exist without sin in the present life. For, in order to support his statement, he avails himself of the instance of Zacharias and Elisabeth, because they are mentioned as "having walked in all the commandments and ordinances "of the law "blameless." Well, but does he for all that deny that it was by God's grace that they did this through our Lord Jesus Christ? It was undoubtedly by such faith in Him that holy men lived of old, even before His death. It is He who sends the Holy Ghost that is given to us, through whom that love is shed abroad in our hearts whereby alone whosoever are righteous are righteous. This same Holy Ghost the bishop expressly mentioned when he reminds us that He is to be obtained by prayer (so that the will is not sufficient unless it be aided by Him); thus in his hymn he says: "Votisque praestat sedulis, Sanctum mereri Spiritum," -"To those who sedulously seek He gives to gain the Holy Spirit."
Note: Scottish Common Sense Realists could never agree with Augustine’s contentions against Pelagius because Augustine recognizes the ONLY way a person COULD walk sinless would be by the immediate activity of the Holy Spirit. Scottish Common Sense Realists agree with Pelagius that 1) the immediate activity of the Holy Spirit is NOT the way man overcomes sin, and 2) the natural man through natural means (common grace) is “born again”.
Chapter 75 - Augustin Adduces in Reply Some Other Passages of Ambrose
I, too, will quote a passage out of this very work of St. Ambrose, from which our opponent has taken the statement which he deemed favourable for citation: "It seemed good to me," he says; "but what he declares seemed good to him cannot have seemed good to him alone. For it is not simply to his human will that it seemed good, but also as it pleased Him, even Christ, who, says he, speaketh in me, who it is that causes that which is good in itself to seem good to ourselves also. For him on whom He has mercy He also calls. He, therefore, who follows Christ, when asked why he wished to be a Christian, can answer: 'It seemed good to me.' In saying this he does not deny that it also pleased God; for from God proceeds the preparation of man's will inasmuch as it is by God's grace that God is honoured by His saint"
See now what your author must learn, if he takes pleasure in the words of Ambrose, how that man's will is prepared by God, and that it is of no importance, or, at any rate, does not much matter, by what means or at what time the preparation is accomplished, provided no doubt is raised as to whether the thing itself be capable of accomplishment without the grace of Christ.
Note: Augustine is speaking of prevenient grace, not the grace of regeneration.
Then, again, how important it was that he should observe one line from the words of Ambrose which he quoted! For after that holy man had said, "Inasmuch as the Church has been gathered out of the world, that is, out of sinful men, how can it be unpolluted when composed of such polluted material, except that, in the first place, it be washed of sins by the grace of Christ, and then, in the next place, abstain from sins through its nature of avoiding sin?"
Note: Here Augustine refers to the grace of regeneration. Regeneration IS NOT merely a “tipping point” when the rational mind is convinced to serve God over self. Regeneration is a supernatural change of nature of the heart, not merely a psychological change direction of the mind.
-he added the following sentence, which your author has refused to quote for a self-evident reason; for [Ambrose] says: "It was not from the first unpolluted, for that was impossible for human nature: but it is through God's grace and nature that because it no longer sins, it comes to pass that it seems unpolluted." Now who does not understand the reason why your author declined adding these words? It is, of course, so contrived in the discipline of the present life, that the holy Church shall arrive at last at that condition of most immaculate purity which all holy men desire; and that it may in the world to come, and in a state unmixed with anything of evil men, and undisturbed by any law of sin resisting the law of the mind, bad the purest life in a divine eternity.
Still he should well observe what Bishop Ambrose says, -and his statement exactly tallies with the Scriptures: "It was not from the first unpolluted, for that condition was impossible for human nature." By his phrase, "from the first," he means indeed from the time of our bring born of Adam. Adam no doubt was himself created immaculate; in the case, however, of those who are by nature children of wrath, deriving from him what in him was corrupted, he distinctly averred that it was an impossibility in human nature that they should be immaculate from the first.
Note: Human nature, unaided by the immediate activity of the Holy Spirit, will sin.
Chapter 76 - John of Constantinople
He quotes also John, bishop of Constantinople, as saying "that sin is not a substance, but a wicked act." Who denies this? "And because it is not natural, therefore the law was given against it, and because it proceeds from the liberty of our will." Who, too, denies this? However, the present question concerns our human nature in its corrupted state; it is a further question also concerning that grace of God whereby our nature is healed by the great Physician, Christ, whose remedy it would not need if it were only whole. And yet your author defends it as capable of not sinning, as if it were sound, or as if its freedom of will were self-sufficient.
Chapter 77 - Xystus
What Christian, again, is unaware of what he quotes the most blessed Xystus, bishop of Rome and martyr of Christ, as having said, "God has conferred upon men liberty of their own will, in order that by purity and sinlessness of life they may become like unto God?" But the man who appeals to free will ought to listen and believe, and ask Him in whom he believes to give him His assistance not to sin. For when he speaks of "becoming like unto God," it is indeed through God's love that men are to be like unto God,-even the love which is "shed abroad in our hearts," not by any ability of nature or the free will within us, but "by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."
Note: Human nature, unaided by the immediate activity of the Holy Spirit within the saint, will sin.
Again, when he says, "A man of chastity and without sin has receded power from God to be a son of God," he of course meant it as an admonition that on a man's becoming so chaste and sinless (without raising any question as to where and when this perfection was to be obtained by him,-although in fact it is quite an interesting question among godly men, who are notwithstanding agreed as to the possibility of such perfection on the one hand, and on the other hand its impossibility except through "the one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus"); -nevertheless, as I began to say, Xystus designed his words to be an admonition that, on any man's attiring such a high character, and thereby being rightly reckoned to be among the sons of God, the attainment must not be thought to have been the work of his own power.
This indeed he, through grace, received from God, since he did not have it in a nature which had become corrupted and depraved,-even as we read in the Gospel, "But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God;" which they were not by nature, nor could at all become, unless by receiving Him they also received power through His grace. This is the power that love which is only communicated to us by the Holy Ghost bestowed upon us.
Note: Man’s fallen nature must be changed supernaturally and the immediate activity of the Holy Spirit in the saint is the ONLY way man can live for God, since living for God must be out of supernatural love, and not out of natural fear. “Love which is only communicated to us by the Holy Ghost bestowed on us” is an immediate phenomenon.
Chapter 78 - Jerome
We have next a quotation of some words of the venerable presbyter Jerome, from his exposition of the passage where it is written: "'Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God.' These are they whom no consciousness of sin reproves," he says, and adds: "The pure man is seen by his purity of hear; the temple of God cannot be defiled." This perfection is, to be sure, wrought in us by endeavour, by labour, by prayer, by effectual importunity therein that we may be brought to the perfection in which we may be able to look upon God with a pure heart, by His grace through our Lord Jesus Christ. As to his quotation, that the forementioned presbyter said, "God created us with free will; we are drawn by necessity neither to virtue nor to vice; otherwise, where there is necessity there is no crown;" -who would it? Who would deny that human nature was so created? The reason, however, why in doing a right action there is no bondage of necessity, is that liberty comes of love.
Note: Augustine is saying the person who has been supernaturally regenerated and and indwelt by the Holy Spirit chooses to serve God because his heart has the nature to love God. There is no necessity (compulsion from circumstances) causing the love, but a heart that loves according to its God-given nature.
In the controversy on the freedom of the will between Augustine and the Pelagius, the point of dispute was the relation of the will in its activity to the grace of God. Freedom was affirmed on both sides, each asserting that its own was the true idea of freedom. The differences consist in the degree and manner of influence upon the soul ascribed to divine grace. The early Calvinists were more true to Augustine’s ideas, but many Calvinists after Scottish Common Sense Realism have used the term “necessity” in ambiguous and misleading ways.
The primary reason for this is the abandonment of the Holy Spirit as an immediate force.
Augustine looked upon grace as the active principle of life, generating as an abiding good that freedom of the will which is entirely lost in the natural man." Pelagius admitted that man stands in need of divine aid, but he supposed this grace of God to be something external, and added to the efforts put forth by the free-will of man.
Many modern Calvinists, having abandoned the immediate activity of the Holy Spirit, are consistent Pelagians, that is, not only do they believe that common grace is all that is necessary for unregenerate man to come to God to be saved, but they also believe that salvation itself is by common grace. Pelagius at least believed that regeneration was by special grace.
Calvinism began it’s downgrade with the empirical method of Bacon, and its definition of truth as only that which can be demonstrated by material causation experiments. Many Calvinists began to see salvation truths as something that could be proven as cause and effect, which naturally would eliminate the immediate activity of the Holy Spirit. Truth in the mind was increasingly seen as a line of thought, the tendency of which was to reduce the phenomena of volition to some law either analogous to the law of cause and effect observed in physical phenomena, or identical with it, and a part of it, giving a physical or materialistic necessity.
By the time Charles Hodge took over Princeton theological Seminary, Calvinist salvation was seen as a purely psychological phenomenon. Freedom on the will consisted in the fact that a man's volitions are truly and properly his own, determined by nothing out of himself, but proceeding from his own views, feelings, and innermost dispositions, so that they are the real, intelligent, and conscious expression of his character, or of what is in his mind.
Princeton’s Dr. M'Cosh, wrote "that the principle of cause and effect reigns in mind as in matter. But there is an important difference between the manner in which this principle operates in body and in spirit. In all proper mental operations the causes and the effects lie both within the mind. Mind is selfacting substance. We hold that the true determining cause of every given volition is not any mere anterior incitement, but the very soul itself by its inherent power of will."
There is an important difference between this theory and the theory of Pelagius. Pelagius believed that man’s spirit was not the same as his mind. Scottish Common Sense realists equated man’s spirit with the higher rational mind. Pelagius saw man’s spirit as pure from birth, able to help the mind overcome sin. Scottish Common Sense Realism, because it came forth from Western Christian theology, saw the spirit of man as part of the mind.
Both Pelagius and Scottish Common Sense Realism abandoned the Biblical view that the immediate activity of the Holy Spirit was needed to change the mind….Pelagius relied on the spirit of man to change the mind and Scottish Common Sense Realism relied on the higher rational mind quickened by “truth impressions” to change the mind. “Truth impressions” are not identifiable except in their effect. “Truth impressions” are the de facto “grace” of Scottish Common Sense Realism that gradually changes the mind to the point it is convinced to begin serving God over self.
M’Cosh summed up the reason for abandoning the Biblical view of the immediate activity of the Holy spirit this way: “So far as our investigation pushes out into the world of nature, we find that law and order exist, and every increase of knowledge reveals to us further illustrations of the assertion that "order is Heaven's first law." Belief in the supernatural does not, therefore, require us to believe in any violation of law, since all reasoning which starts from what we know leads to the conclusion that "supernatural phenomena are as much the result of law as phenomena which are called 'natural.'"
The immediate activity of the Holy Spirit could never conform to the new theory of truth being empirical. Scottish Common Sense Realism went with the new theory and abandoned the Biblical view of regeneration being a supernatural change of nature and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Chapter 79 - A Certain Necessity of Sinning
But let us revert to the apostle's assertion: "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." By whom given if not by Him who "ascended up on high, led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men?" Forasmuch, however, as there is, owing to the defects that have entered our nature, not to the constitution of our nature, a certain necessary tendency to sin, a man should listen, and in order that the said necessity may cease to exit, learn to say to God, "Bring Thou me out of my necessities;" because in the very offering up of such a prayer there is a struggle against the tempter, who fights against us concerning this very necessity; and thus, by the assistance of grace through our Lord Jesus Christ, both the evil necessity will be removed and full liberty be bestowed.
Note: The immediate activity of the Holy Spirit is necessary to fight the immediate activity of evil spirits. Pelagius and Scottish Common Sense Realists do not believe in either force as immediate.
Chapter 80 - Augustin Himself
Let us now turn to our own case. "Bishop Augustin also," says your author, "in his books on Free Will has these words: 'Whatever the cause itself of volition is, if it is impossible to resist it, submission to it is not sinful; if, however, it may be resisted, let it not be submitted to, and there will be no sin. Does it, perchance, deceive the unwary man? Let him then beware that he be not deceived. Is the deception, however, so potent that it is not possible to guard against it? If such is the case, then there are no sins. For who sins in a case where precaution is quite impossible? Sin, however, is committed; precaution therefore is possible.'" I acknowledge it, these are my words; but he, too, should condescend to acknowledge all that was said previously, seeing that the discussion is about the grace of God, which help us as a medicine through the Mediator; not about the impossibility of righteousness. Whatever, then, may be the cause, it can be resisted. Most certainly it can.
Now it is because of this that we pray for help, saying, "Lead us not into temptation," and we should not ask for help if we supposed that the resistance were quite impossible. It is possible to guard against sin, but by the help of Him who cannot be decayed. For this very circumstance has much to do with guarding against sin that we can unfeignedly say, "Forgive us our debt, as we forgive our debtors" Now there are two ways whereby, even in bodily maladies, the evil is guarded against,-to prevent its occurrence, and, if it happen, to secure a speedy cure. To prevent its occurrence, we may find precaution in the prayer, "Lead us not into temptation;" to secure the prompt remedy, we have the resource in the prayer, "Forgive us our debts." Whether then the danger only threaten or be inherent, it may be guarded against.
Chapter 81 - Augustin Quotes Himself on Free Will
In order, however, that my meaning on this subject may be dear not merely to him, but also to such persons as have not read those treatises of mine on Free Will, which your author has read, and who have not only not read them, but perchance do read him; I must go on to quote out of my books what he has omitted but which, if he had perceived and quoted in his book, no controversy would be left between us on this subject. For immediately after those words of mine which he has quoted, I expressly added, and (as fully as I could) worked out, the train of thought which might occur to any one's mind, to the following effect: "And yet some actions are disapproved of, even when they are done in ignorance, and are judged deserving of chastisement, as we read in the inspired authorities." After taking some examples out of these, I went on to speak also of infirmity as follows: "Some actions also deserve disapprobation, that are done from necessity; as when a man wishes to act rightly and cannot. For whence arise those utterances: 'For the good that I would, I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do'?" Then, after quoting some other passages of the Holy Scriptures to the same effect, I say: "But all these are the sayings of persons who are coming out of that condemnation of death; for if this is not man's punishment, but his nature, then those are no sins."
Then, again, a little afterwards I add: "It remains, therefore, that this just punishment come of man's condemnation. Nor ought it to be wondered at, that either by ignorance man has not free determination of will to choose what he will rightly do, or that by the resistance of carnal habit (which by force of mortal transmission has, in a certain sense, become engrafted into his nature), though seeing what ought rightly to be done and wishing to do it, he yet is unable to accomplish it. For this is the most just penalty of sin, that a man should lose what he has been unwilling to make good use of, when he might with ease have done so if he would; which, however, amounts to this, that the man who knowingly does not do what is right loses the ability to do it when he wishes”.
“For, in truth, to every soul that sins there accrue these two penal consequences-ignorance and difficulty. Out of the ignorance springs the error which disgraces; out of the difficulty arises the pain which afflicts. But to approve of falsehoods as if they were true, so as to err involuntarily, and to be unable, owing to the resistance and pain of carnal bondage, to refrain from deeds of lust, is not the nature of man as he was created, but the punishment of man as under condemnation. When, however, we speak of a free will to do what is right, we of course mean that liberty in which man was created."
Some men at once deduce from this what seems to them a just objection from the transfer and transmission of sins of ignorance and difficulty from the first man to his posterity. My answer to such objectors is this: "I tell them, by way of a brief reply, to be silent and to cease from murmuring against God. Perhaps their complaint might have been a proper one, if no one from among men had stood forth a vanquisher of error and of lust; but when there is everywhere present One who calls off from himself, through the creature by so many means, the man who serves the Lord, teaches him when believing, consoles him when hoping, encourages him when loving, helps him when endeavouring, hears him when praying,-it is not reckoned to you as a fault that you are involuntarily ignorant, but that you neglect to search out what you are ignorant of; nor is it imputed to you in censure that you do not bind up the limbs that are wounded, but that you despise him who wishes to heal them."
Note: The immediate activity of the Holy Spirit is essential to salvation. The dilemma of Romans chapter seven can only be overcome by the immediate activity of the Holy Spirit of Romans Chapter eight.
Paul explains 13 ways the problem of the residual Old Man fighting with the rational mind of the regenerate believer in Romans 7:
In Romans 8, the solution comes as 15 things the indwelling Holy Spirit does in the regenerate believer.
1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them…, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
In such terms did I exhort them, as web as I could, to live righteously; nor did I make the grace of God of none effect, without which the now obscured and tarnished nature of man can neither be enlightened nor puttied. Our whole discussion with them on this subject turns upon this, that we frustrate not the grace of God which is in Jesus Christ our Lord by a perverted assertion of nature.
In a passage occurring shortly after the last quoted one, I said in reference to nature: "Of nature itself we speak in one sense, when we properly describe it as that human nature in which man was created faultless after his kind; and in another sense as that nature in which we are born ignorant and carnally minded, owing to the penalty of condemnation, after the manner of the apostle, 'We ourselves likewise were by nature children of wrath, even as others.'"
Chapter 82 - How to Exhort Men to Faith, Repentance, and Advancement
If, therefore, we wish "to rouse and kindle cold and sluggish souls by Christian exhortations to lead righteous lives," we must first of all exhort them to that faith whereby they may become Christians, and be subjects of His name and authority, without whom they cannot be saved. If, however, they are already Christians but neglect to lead holy lives, they must be chastised with alarms and be aroused by the praises of reward,-in such a manner, indeed, that we must not forget to urge them to godly prayers as well as to virtuous actions, and furthermore to instruct them in such wholesome doctrine that they be induced thereby to return thanks for being able to accomplish any step in that holy life which they have entered upon, without difficulty, and whenever they do experience such "difficulty," that they then wrestle with God in most faithful and persistent prayer and ready works of mercy to obtain from Him facility.
Note: Compare what M’Cosh wrote: “We hold that the true determining cause of every given volition is not any mere anterior incitement, but the very soul itself by its inherent power of will."
But provided they thus progress, I am not over-anxious as to the where and the when of their perfection in fulness of righteousness; only I solemnly assert, that wheresoever and whensoever they become perfect, it cannot be but by the grace of God through our Lord Jesus Christ When, indeed, they have attained to the clear knowledge that they have no sin, let them not say they have sin, lest the truth be not in them; even as the truth is not in those persons who, though they have sin, yet say that they have it not.
Chapter 83 - God Enjoins No Impossibility, Because All Things are Possible and Easy to Love
But "the precepts of the law are very good," if we use them lawfully. Indeed, by the very fact (of which we have the firmest conviction) "that the just and good God could not possibly have enjoined impossibilities," we are admonished both what to do in easy paths and what to ask for when they are difficult. Now all things are easy for love to effect, to which (and which alone) "Christ's burden is light," -or rather, it is itself alone the burden which is light. Accordingly it is said, "And His commandments are not grievous;" so that whoever finds them grievous must regard the inspired statement about their "not being grievous" as having been capable of only this meaning, that there may be a state of heart to which they are not burdensome, and he must pray for that disposition which he at present wants, so as to be able to fulfil all that is commanded him.
And this is the purport of what is said to Israel in Deuteronomy, if understood in a godly, sacred and spiritual sense,
Note: Here we can clearly see the foundational problem of Scottish Common Sense Realism. If “sacred and spiritual sense” means, “of the supernatural, immediate activity of God”, Augustine is saying saving grace is necessary for saving faith. If however, “sacred and spiritual sense” means “of the higher rational mind”, Augustine is saying saving faith is merely when the mind sees truth. The arguments Augustine makes against Spiritless Pelagianism can be applied to Spiritless Scottish Common Sense Realism.
since the apostle, after quoting the passage, "The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth and in thy heart" (and, as the verse also has it, in thine hands, for in man's heart are his spiritual hands), adds in explanation, "This is the word of faith which we preach." No man, therefore, who "returns to the Lord his God," as he is there commanded, "with all his heart and with all his soul," will find God's commandment "grievous." How, indeed, can it be grievous, when it is the precept of love?
Either, therefore, a man has not love, and then it is grievous; or he has love, and then it is not grievous. But he possesses love if he does what is there enjoined on Israel, by returning to the Lord his God with all his heart and with alI his soul. "A new commandment" says He, "do I give unto you, that ye love one another; " and "He that loveth his neighbour hath fulfilled the law;" and again, "Love is the fulfilling of the law." In accordance with these sayings is that passage, "Had they trodden good paths, they would have found, indeed, the ways of righteousness easy." How then is it written, "Because of the words of Thy lips, I have kept the paths of difficulty," except it be that both statements are true: These paths are paths of difficulty to fear; but to love they are easy?
Chapter 84 - The Degrees of Love are Also Degrees of Holiness
Inchoate love, therefore, is inchoate holiness; advanced love is advanced holiness; great love is great holiness; "perfect love is perfect holiness,"-but this "love is out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned," which in this life is then the greatest, when life itself is condemned in comparison with it." I wonder, however, whether it has not a soil in which to grow after it has quitted this mortal life! But in what place and at what time soever shall reach that state of absolute perfection, which shall admit of no increase, it is certainly not "shed abroad in our hearts" by any energies either of the nature or the volition that are within us, but "by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us," "and which both helps our infirmity and co-operates with our strength. For it is itself indeed the grace of God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, appertained eternity, and all goodness, for ever and ever. Amen.