aA
aA
aA
aA
aA
aA
De Servo Arbitrio “On the Enslaved Will” or The Bondage of Will
« Prev Section CXXVII. Next »

Sect. CXXVII. — BUT it is most excellent to observe how well this gloss, “nothing” may be understood to signify ‘that which is in degree,” cofisists with itself: yet the Diatribe says, — ‘that in this sense of the passage, it is most true that we can do nothing without Christ: because, He is speaking of evangelical fruits, which cannot be produced but by those who remain in the vine, which is Christ.’ —

Here the Diatribe itself confesses, that fruit cannot be produced but by those who remain in the vine: and it does the same in that ‘convenient interpretation,’ by which it proves, that “nothing” is the same as in degree, and imperfect. But perhaps, its own adverb ‘cannot,’ ought also to be conveniently interpreted, so as to signify, that evangelical fruits can be produced without Christ in degree and imperfectly. So that we may preach, that the ungodly who are without Christ can, while Satan reigns in them, and wars against Christ, produce some of the fruits of life: that is, that the enemies of Christ may do something for the glory of Christ. — But away with these things.

Here however, I should like to be taught, how we are to resist heretics, who, using this rule throughout the Scriptures, may contend that nothing and not are to be understood as signifying that which is imperfect. Thus — Without Him “nothing” can be done; that is a little. — “The fool hath said in his heart there is not a God;” that is, there is an imperfect God. — “He hath made us, and not we ourselves;” that is, we did a little towards making ourselves. And who can number all the passages in the Scripture where ‘nothing’ and ‘not’ are found?

Shall we then here say that a ‘convenient interpretation’ is to be attended to? And is this clearing up difficulties — to open such a door of liberty to corrupt minds and deceiving spirits? Such a license of interpretation is, I grant, convenient to you who care nothing whatever about the certainty of the Scripture; but as for me who labour to establish consciences, this is an inconvenience; than which, nothing can be more inconvenient, nothing more injurious, nothing more pestilential. Hear me, therefore, thou great conqueress of the Lutheran Achilles! Unless you shall prove, that ‘nothing’ not only may be, but ought to be understood as signifying a ‘little,’ you have done nothing by all this profusion of words or examples, but fight against fire with dry straw. What have I to do with your may be, which only demands of you to prove your ought to be? And if you do not prove that, I stand by the natural and grammatical signification of the term, laughing both at your armies and at your triumphs.

Where is now that ‘probable opinion’ which determined, ‘that “Free-will” can will nothing good?’ But perhaps, the ‘convenient interpretation’ comes in here, to say, that ‘nothing good’ signifies, something good — a kind of grammar and logic never before heard of; that nothing, is the same as something: which, with logicians, is an impossibility, because they are contradictions. Where now then remains that article of our faith; that Satan is the prince of the world, and, according to the testimonies of Christ and Paul, rules in the wills and minds of those men who are his captives and servants? Shall that roaring lion, that implacable and ever-restless enemy of the grace of God and the salvation of man, suffer it to be, that man, his slave and a part of his kingdom, should attempt good by any motion in any degree, whereby he might escape from his tyranny, and that he should not rather spur and urge him on to will and do the contrary to grace with all his powers? especially, when the just, and those who are led by the Spirit of God, and who will and do good, can hardly resist him, so great is his rage against them?

You who make it out, that the human will is a something placed in a free medium, and left to itself, certainly make it out, at the same time, that there is an endeavour which can exert itself either way; because, you make both God and the devil to be at a distance, spectators only, as it were, of this mutable and “Free-will”; though you do not believe, that they are impellers and agitators of that bondage will, the most hostilely opposed to each other. Admitting, therefore, this part of your faith only, my sentiment stands firmly established, and “Free-will” lies prostrate; as I have shewn already. — For, it must either be, that the kingdom of Satan in man is nothing at all, and thus Christ will be made to lie; or, if his kingdom be such as Christ describes, “Free-will” must be nothing but a beast of burden, the captive of Satan, which cannot be liberated, unless the devil be first cast out by the finger of God.

From what has been advanced I presume, friend Diatribe, thou fully understandest what that is, and what it amounts to, where thy Author, detesting the obstinate way of assertion in Luther, is accustomed to say — ‘Luther indeed pushes his cause with plenty of Scriptures; but they may all by one word, be brought to nothing.’ Who does not know, that all Scriptures may, by one word, be brought to nothing? I knew this full well before I ever heard the name of Erasmus. But the question is, whether it be sufficient to bring a Scripture, by one word, to nothing. The point in dispute is, whether it be rightly brought to nothing, and whether it ought to be brought to nothing. Let a man consider these points, and he will then see, whether or not it be easy to bring Scriptures to nothing, and whether or not the obstinacy of Luther be detestable. He will then see, that not one word only is ineffective, but all the gates of hell cannot bring them to nothing!

« Prev Section CXXVII. Next »

Advertisements


| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |