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De Servo Arbitrio “On the Enslaved Will” or The Bondage of Will
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Sect. CXIII. — NOR is it at all to the purpose, your saying, — ‘that Moses is speaking with reference to the men of that age’ — for the same applies unto all men; because, all are flesh; as Christ saith, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh.” (John iii. 6.) And how deep a corruption that is, He Himself shews in the same chapter, where He saith, “Except a man be born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Let, therefore, the Christian know, that Origen and Jerome, together with all their train, perniciously err, when they say, that “flesh” ought not, in these passages, to be understood as meaning ‘corrupt affection:’ because, that of 1 Cor. iii. 3, “For ye are yet carnal,” signifies ungodliness. For Paul means, that there are some among them still ungodly: and moreover, that even the saints, in as far as they savour of carnal things, are “carnal,” though justified by the Spirit.

In a word; you may take this as a general observation upon the Scriptures. — Wherever mention is made of “flesh” in contradistinction to “spirit,” you may there, by “flesh,” understand every thing that is contrary to spirit: as in this passage, “The flesh profiteth nothing.” (John vi. 63.) But where it is used abstractedly, there you may understand the corporal state and nature: as “They twain shall be one flesh,” (Matt. xix. 5,) “My flesh is meat indeed,” (John vi. 55,) “The Word was made flesh,” (John i. 14.) In such passages, you may make a figurative alteration in the Hebrew, and for ‘flesh,’ say ‘body’. For in the Hebrew tongue, the one term “flesh” embraces in signification our two terms, ‘flesh’ and ‘body.’ And I could wish that these two terms had been distinctively used throughout the Canon of the Scripture. — Thus then, I presume, my passage Gen. vi. still stands directly against “Free-will:” since “flesh” is proved to be that which Paul declares, Rom. viii. 5-8, cannot be subject to God, as we may there see; and since the Diatribe itself asserts, ‘that it cannot will any thing good.’

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