Article XVIII. Free Will




THE Article of the Augsburg Confession coming next in the regular order in which the several articles have been discussed on the Holman foundation, is the eighteenth — “De Libero Arbitrio,” or “Of Free Will.” It reads as follows:

“Concerning free will they teach, that the human will possesses some liberty for the performance of civil duties, and for the choice of those things subject to reason. But it does not possess the power, without the influence of the Holy Spirit, of fulfilling the righteousness of God, or spiritual righteousness: for the natural man receiveth not the things which are of the Spirit of God: but this is accomplished in the heart, when the Holy Spirit is received through the word. The same is declared by Augustine in so many words: ‘We confess that all men have a free will, which possesses the judgment of reason, by which they cannot indeed, without the divine aid, either begin or certainly accomplish what is becoming in things relating to God; but only in works of the present life, as well good as evil. In good works, I say, which arise from our natural goodness, such as to choose to labor in the field, to eat and drink, to choose to have a friend, to have clothing, to build a house, to take a wife, to feed cattle, to learn various and useful arts, or to do any good thing relative to this life; all which things, however, do not exist without the divine government; yea, they exist and begin to be from him and through him. And in evil works (men have a free will), such as to choose to worship an idol, to will to commit murder, etc.’

“They condemn the Pelagians, and others, who teach that we are able, by the mere powers of nature, without the aid of the Holy Spirit, to love God above all things, and to do his commands, as to the substance of our actions. For, although nature may be able, after a certain manner, to perform external actions, such as to abstain from theft, from murder, etc., yet it cannot perform the inner motions, such as the fear of God, faith in God, chastity, patience, etc.”


Although here, as elsewhere, the Confessors avoid all mere philosophy, looking at the subject merely from a religious standpoint, yet it may not be amiss for us, before entering directly on a consideration of what they say on this, a pre-eminently philosophical subject, to seek some clear definition of the subject itself, even though we go to the philosophers for it. What is the Will? and what is the Freedom of the Will? Writers on the Human Mind with general consent arrange its functions into the threefold division of The Intellect, the Sensibilities, and the Will, or the mind knowing or reasoning, the mind feeling, and the mind willing. These are but functions or acts of the one indivisible mind. The Will is that in man which is casual and constitutes more than anything else his personality. He has reason and consciousness, intelligence and desire; but when he puts forth a volition he declares himself and becomes conscious that he is, and of what he is!

There is in man a nature-basis, by which he is a part of that which we call Nature: and nature is determined by the fixed laws that govern it, and is, therefore, not in any sense free. But there is in man also a personal basis, whereby he is distinguished from nature, whereby he knows himself to be a moral being, having in himself a power of causation, which is free from outward compulsion, free from the fixedness of natural law, and in the exercise of which he is conscious of moral responsibility, of right and wrong.

“Every man is conscious,” says Dr. Reid, “of a power to determine in things which he conceives to depend upon his determination. To this power we give the name of will.”

Carpenter calls the Will, “A self-determining power within us.”

Liebmann says, “Will is the function of the Ego by which it determines itself to action.”

Bouillet calls it, “The faculty of willing, of self-determining?” and says, “It differs from desire and from the understanding; it ought to control the former, and receive illumination from the latter.”

Tappan says, “Will is employed to express the casuality of the mind,” is “the power by which to determine personal acts,” and, in view of its essential connection with intelligence, calls it “A power of rational self-determination.”

Many of you will recall President Valentine’s definition, that “The will is the soul’s power of causality for choices.

The very idea of the Will involves the idea of a certain freedom or liberty possessed by it. The question before us involves the  extent of this liberty. The two things are so inseparably connected  as to be defined together by philosophers. Thus Kant says, ‘Everything in nature works according to laws. A rational being alone has the faculty of acting in accordance with conception of laws, principles, i. e. has a will. As reason is required that we may deduce action from laws, the will is nothing more than practical reason. If the will be in itself in complete conformity with reason, it is the faculty of choosing that only which the reason recognizes as good; in opposition to this, the determination of the will is necessitation. A perfectly good will cannot be conceived of as necessitated to actions in conformity with law. Hence, for the will  of God, and for a holy will in general, there can be no imperatives. The shall is out of place, the will is of itself in necessary harmony with law.” Again, he says, “Will is that kind of casuality attributed to living agents, in so far as they are possessed of reason; and freedom is such a property of that causality as enables them to orginate events independently of foreign determining causes.”

I. H. Fichte says, “Liberty, in its highest sense, can be attributed to that only which is through itself everything that it is. There can be nothing freely willed which does not in some degree express the essential nature of Him who wills. To be free is to determine ourselves; knowing, feeling and willing in accordance with our individual nature.”

K. Ph. Fischer says, “All actual liberty of the subject willing, is a making of oneself free, and as the will can be nothing which it is not in itself, this essential liberty must be the presupposition of our becoming subjectively free; and the self-freeing of a subject willing, is nothing more than making itself that for which it was created.”

Hegel says, “Liberty lies in the indetermination of the will; it has in it no determination produced by nature; it has itself only as object and contents; it refers itself only to itself; it is the faculty of reflective self-determination.”

Schelling says, “Liberty is not a totally fortuitous occurrence of actions, “nor are these actions determined by empirical necessity; rather it consists in a loftier necessity, whose spring is the essential nature of him who acts. That only is free which acts in accordance with the laws of its own essential nature, and thus results of necessity” (i. e. a necessity of certainty). “It is the faculty of the good and of the evil.”

Ulrici says, “Liberty is the consciousness of the ability to decide differently, to act differently. The human will as the power of self-manifestation, self-assertion, and self-determination, is simply the highest grade of that spontaneity which pertains to every human being. In the consciousness of itself it is exalted to the consciosness of liberty. We impute to ourselves, in our consciousness, liberty of willing. The impulses which operate on our wills present themselves to our consciousness not as coercive causes, but are rendered motives by the soul itself. Thus our willing and acting are to our consciousness free.”

Zeller says, “To determine oneself means that we have in our Self, in the Ego, in the personality as such, the ground of the specific action which is determined.”

Again, Freedom of the Will has been, briefly but somewhat loosely, defined to be, “Power to the contrary.”

In looking over the many definitions and statements of philosophers, we are impressed with the fact there is, to say the least, as much difference among them in reference to the same subjects, and as much contradiction of themselves and of one another, as ever has existed among or been alleged against the much abused theologians and dogmaticians.

Stewart vs. Reed seems to acknowledge that in certain respects the problem we are considering is beyond the capacity of human thought, and to admit that all reasoning for, as all reasoning against, our liberty, is on this account invalid.

Yet it would not do thus to dismiss a practical question of such importance that its determination affects the whole subject of Anthropology.

The question of Free Will is not concerning man in his original state before the fall, nor after regeneration, nor after the resurrection; but only concerning his fallen state before regeneration. How was man’s will affected by the fall? How were his powers as a self-determining moral agent affected? “What powers in spiritual things he has from himself, since the fall of our first parents, and before regeneration, and whether, from his own powers, before he has been born again by God’s Spirit, he be able to dispose and prepare himself for God’s grace, and to accept or not the grace offered through the Holy Ghost in the word and holy sacraments?”


During the first three centuries after the closing of the New Testament Canon, the doctrines of sin and grace, in their more difficult and scientific aspects did not seriously engage the attention of the Church. As a natural consequence of her polemic attitude towards the fatalism of Paganism and the denial of responsibility by Gnosticism, the anthropology of the period was marked by a strong emphasis of the doctrine of human freedom. This was particularly manifest in the Alexandrian and Antiochian schools, and became the general type of doctrine for the Eastern Church. In the Western Church, led by Tertullian, Cyprian, Hilary, and Ambrose, a contrary tendency manifested itself and grew, until the two opposite predominant tendencies ran into two great dogmatic divisions, which exist until to-day. In respect to that early period, they were known respectively as the Greek Anthropology and the Latin Anthropology. The former virtually denied original sin, made the fall to affect only the corporeal and sensuous nature, but not the rational and voluntary, and was synergistic in its view of regeneration. The latter held original sin to be voluntary, as being self will, and, therefore, a matter of guilt; that the Adamic connection relates to the entire man, the voluntary and rational as well as the corporeal and sensuous, and the will is corrupted as well as the other parts of his nature, and that the corruption of the sensuous nature is consequent upon, and not antecedent to, the apostasy of the rational and voluntary nature of man. The Latin Church was also monergistic in its view of regeneration, holding the human will to be, up to that point, hostile to God, and therefore not co-operating with him.

The Pelagian controversy of the fifth century furnished occasion for a thorough and animated discussion of the subject of Free Will; and, since the condemnatory clause of our Article puts the Pelagians and those who may be classed with them under the ban, we may as well, right here, consider the points of that controversy, which will lead us to examine first the negative side of the views and statement of the Confessors.


The man whose name is inseparably connected with this controversy and gave it origin was Pelagius, a British monk of honest and good intentions, who, seeing so much of that so-called faith of which St. James speaks, which is divorced from works, and finding men who used the doctrine of human corruption and free grace to excuse their own sins, thought to correct these evils by preaching a rigorous morality and stimulating men thereto by exalting their merely human powers, setting forth possibilities in the spiritual realm of which he represented them to be capable by the powers of their own will and a culture of their own faculties.

Pelagius’ leading opponent was the great Augustine, of North Africa. Between these two persons and their experiences, there was as great a difference as between the opposing systems to which each has given his name. Pelagius is represented as a man of cold passionless nature, who lived a quiet, cloister life, unshaken by conflicts from without or within. Augustine, as is well known, was a man of ardent temperament, and during the “early period of his life was in bondage to strong corrupt passion. He passed through the throes of intense conflict of flesh and spirit before he arrived at peace with conscience and with God, and an experience of that renovating power, requisite to a holy life, of which he felt the need. Like Luther, his anthropology was born of his own innermost experience. He had himself been in the depths of human depravity, and knew himself to be utterly unable of himself to get out of the horrible pit. He had experienced in himself the power of divine grace as able to save unto the uttermost. He found in himself nothing, morally and spiritually, to commend or hang a hope upon: he found in the treasures of divine grace a fulness that satisfied all his needs. His system is found in miniature in his own experience, and is deep and rich: whereas Pelagius, devoid of a rich inward Christian experience, misconceived the true spiritual nature of holiness and sanctification, and his most serious religious teaching never went beyond the exhortation to live a sober and virtuous life: and his system is correspondingly superficial, and perhaps for this reason more acceptable to the natural heart.

The deepest ground of the difference between Pelagianism and Augustinianism lies in their respective views of the relation between the Creator and the creation, the former looking upon the creature as at first endowed by the Creator with sufficient powers and faculties, and then left to itself to develop itself independently of God, whereas the latter viewed the creature as entirely and always dependent on the Creator, as much for the continuance and development of its powers and faculties as originally for their gift. Augustine called the relation of man to God, even before the fall, and that of the pure spirits in heaven, by the term gratia. As the eye is circumstanced to the light of the sun, so is the created spirit to the grace of God. Pelagius said, “That the eye can see is the gift of God; whether it sees well or ill, depends on ourselves.” In reference to goodness, he distinguished a posse, a velle and an esse. The posse is the gift of God; the velle and esse are to be referred to man as proceeding from his will. All moral character, then, comes from the use man makes of his powers. Pelagius held that man has the ability, at every moment, of doing good or evil; that his will is, as before the fall, in moral equilibrium, which is broken by his choice in every case. This gives an atomistic theory of character; it is made to consist in acts or the expression, and not at all in the habitus or condition. The fruit itself is made the character of the tree, instead of an expression of the character inherent in the root and sap, the trunk and leaf.

Pelagius held that our first parents stood only for themselves, and that their sin did not affect the race except by the power of example. Men are corrupt through constant habit of evil, not by nature. They still have the same natural powers of holiness that Adam had. There have been those, Pelagius said, who have lived without sin: among his list of whom he mentions Abel, John the Baptist, and Mary, the Lord’s mother. The Pelagians appealed to the virtues of the heathen, as evidences of the moral powers of unaided human nature. Indeed, the whole Pelagian system resolved itself into nothing more than natural religion.

It is such teachings — “that we are able, by the mere powers of nature, without the aid of the Holy Spirit, to love God above all things, and to do his commands, as to the substance of our actions “— that the Augsburg Confessors “condemn.”

“In the system of Pelagius,” says Baur, “everything depends upon the principle of the freedom of the will: this is the determining and fundamental conception in his doctrine of sin and of grace. Freedom, as the absolute capacity of choice (liberum arbitrium) to determine equally for good or evil, appeared to him in such a degree to be the substantial good of human nature, that he even reckoned the capacity for evil as a bonum naturae, since we cannot choose good without in like manner being able to choose evil.” We are reminded here of Eve’s argument with herself before the forbidden tree — she saw that it was “a tree to be desired to make one wise,” and of Satan’s persuasion that by eating of it they would know both “good and evil.”

Augustine, on the contrary, held that state of the mind in which it is no longer necessary to choose between good and evil, the being free from sin, to be the true freedom, and, in his treatise, De Civit. Dei., xiv. II, which was not written against the Pelagians, says, “The will, therefore, is then truly free, when it does not serve vices and sins. Such it was given by God; and, having been lost by man’s own vice, it cannot be restored, unless by Him who was able to give it. Whence the Truth says, ‘If the Son shall make you free, then shall ye be free indeed.’ But this is the very same as if He should say, If the Son save you, then shall ye be truly saved. Whence, forsooth, He is the Liberator, the Saviour.”

Such a thing as a characterless will, a liberum indifferentiae , in equilibrium between choices good or ill — such as Pelagius ascribed to man — Augustine regarded as an impossibility, contrary to the very nature of the faculty called will, and in this he is fully sustained by the philosophers. Power to the contrary, in either direction (of good or evil), he considered only an accident and not the substance of voluntariness. “Voluntariness consists in positively willing the one thing that is willed, and not in the bare possibility of willing a contrary thing. If a person walk by his own self-decision, this decision would be neither strengthened nor weakened by endowing him with another power to fly. His voluntariness depends upon the single fact that he is walking without external compulsion, and of his own accord.” “The power of contrary choice, according to the Augustinian anthropology, can be given in only one direction “— that is, in the downward direction of sin. “It is a transient and accidental characteristic of the human will, which is intended to belong to it only during the middle or probationary stage in its history, and which disappears either in a state of immutable holiness or immutable sin.”

“Even when the power to the contrary, or the possibilitas peccandi, is given for purposes of probation, the real freedom of the will, according to Augustine, is seen in not using it, rather than in using it — in continuing to will the right, and refusing to will the wrong. Persistency in the existing determination, and not a capricious departure into another determination, is the token of true rational liberty. “Velle et nolle, propriae voluntatis est — by which Augustine means that to will holiness and to will sin, and to will either holiness or sin, is the characteristic of the will.” On the other hand what the Latin anthropology made the accident of moral freedom the Greek anthropology made its substance, holding it “not sufficient that the will be uncompelled and self-moved. It must possess, over and above this, a power of alternative choice — the possibilitas usque partis. Hence the human will, by creation and structure, is indifferent and undetermined. Having no choice by and at creation, it can choose with equal facility either of the two contraries, holiness or sin. And in this fact, and not in its positive self-motion, consists its freedom.”.

Here we see an important difference between the two tendencies as to the very nature of the will, and, consequently, in their conceptions of moral freedom. This has tended to confusion in the discussion.

In the Pelegian controversy the doctrine concerning Grace naturally came in for as much discussion as that of Free Will: and generally Liberty and Grace are the co-ordinate parts of one and the same discussion. In the Pelagian system there would seem to be no room for grace, in the usual scripture sense of the term. For if children are now born with uncorrupted powers, equal to those of our first parents, and if, even after sins committed, their faculties are so unimpaired that every moment they have power to choose the good or the evil, their probation also is like that of our first parents, into which grace, in the evangelical sense, did not enter. If man is sufficient of himself, what expectation or need of grace?

However, they did not carry out their principles to this extent, but contended, sometimes stoutly, for the necessity of grace as an assistant to nature. Pelagius asserted that God’s grace enabled men to accomplish more easily what they ought to accomplish by their free will, and admitted various stages in the divine education of humanity correspondent to its progressive deterioration. But, as the two systems differed in their idea of freedom, so it was in respect to grace. The Pelagian view was indefinite and superficial, and was always an external communication, something foreign, and not, as Augustine viewed it, an impartation of divine life through Christ. Christ’s work was educational. He promulgated a new and higher law, presented new motives to virtue, and gave a perfect example. But men did not need a Redeemer, since they were not sold under sin, in moral bondage; nor to be born again of the Holy Spirit and renewed into the divine life of Christ, for they were not by nature morally dead.

Wiggers compares the three systems with each other as follows: Augustinianism asserts that man is morally dead; Semi-Pelagianism maintains that he is morally sick; Pelagianism holds that he is morally well. And they that be whole need not a physician. But the dead need to be raised, if they are to live; need to be born again (or from above) by the new-creating Spirit of God.

Augustine, in his theory of regeneration, distinguished three stages of grace: gratia praeveniens or praeparans, which, without any efficiency of man’s powers, working sovereignly, illumines the understanding, arouses the sensibilities, and leads man to faith, herein setting free the enslaved will: then follows, gratia operans, or grace working the divine life in the soul, establishing it in a peaceful sense of justification and acceptance with God, confirming the liberated will in choosing God and goodness: finally , gratia cooperans, in which the will of man is brought into entire harmony with God, and a perfection is attained characterized by impossibility of sinning (non posse peccare), which Augustine regarded as the real freedom, and which is realized only in the future state.

In solving the problem how it comes that grace is effective in some persons and fruitless in others, Augustine argued that as man is at first, through the bondage of his will, unable to do any thing toward his own regeneration, is dead, the reason of the difference cannot be referred to man, every individual person being equally unable. Therefore it must be referred to God, who works in man of his own good pleasure; and, accordingly, Augustine resorted, for explanation, to the Divine Sovereignty and to a Decree of unconditional Predestination, whereby some are elected, irrespective of God’s foreknowledge concerning them, to everlasting life, begun in regeneration and carried on by grace, whilst all others are left to their sinful selves without any attempt at recovery on God’s part. His doctrine doomed even infants to hell. It was reactionary against the severity of this doctrine of absolute Predestination that the Semi-Pelagian theories arose, which attempted to take a middle ground between Pelagianism and Augustinianism. They conditioned the efficiency of divine grace in the individual upon an internal recipiency and susceptibility on his part. At the head of the Semi-Pelagian party was John Cassian, and, his views may serve to represent the tendency.

Free Will, he held, and Grace agreed, and hence there was an opposing one-sidedness which maintained either Grace alone or Free Will alone. Augustine and Pelagius were each wrong in their own way. The idea of the Divine justice in the determination of man’s lot after the first transgression did not preponderate in Cassian’s writings as in Augustine’s, but the idea of a disciplinary divine love, by the leadings of which men are to be led to repentance. He appeals also to the mysteriousness of God’s ways, not as concerns predestination, but the variety of leadings by which God leads different individuals to salvation. Nor is one law applicable to all; in some cases Grace anticipates (gratia praeveniens), in others a conflict precedes and then divine help comes to them as Grace. In no instance can divine Grace operate independently of the free self-determination of man. As the husbandman must do his part, but all this avails nothing without the divine blessing, so man must do his part, yet this profits nothing without divine grace.

Another semi-Pelagian leader, Faustus, in a presentation of the pure doctrine, compares the contrast of Freedom and Grace with that of the divine and human in the person of Christ; as in that its peculiar qualities are to be attributed to each nature, so in man we must distinguish what proceeds from the grace of God and what is of man. The Free Will must not be regarded as annihilated, but it belongs to man to regain the divine favor by his own exertions and God’s help. A spark is placed within him which it behooves him to cherish by the help of grace.

Before the close of the fifth century Augustinianism had triumphed in the Western Church as the orthodox doctrine, though not without leaving in many individuals therein the seeds of the contrary doctrine. The leaders of the Eastern Church kept up a decided opposition to Pelagianism, yet the former tendency, toward confidence in the natural human powers, still characterized it.

In the middle ages semi-Pelagianism gradually supplanted Augustinianism, even where the latter had been before triumphant, and though supported by Gottschalk, Bede, Anselm, Bernard, and most of the schoolmen, until finally it was by the Council of Trent formally stated as the papal doctrine.

Chemnitz, in his review of this Council, expresses the opinion that such doctrines (semi-Pelagianism) are condemned by the language of the decrees, but quotes the expositor of the Council to the effect that said decrees were composed with such ingenuity as to declare nothing positively, and to leave men on the fence of this controversy, free to get down on either side.

Bellarmin, the great Romish expositor, represents man as created in puris naturalibus — which is very much like Pelagius’ non pleninascumur — and that the condition of man in puris naturalibus differed from his condition after the fall only as that of a naked person from one who had been stripped of his clothes. For, in the papal view, original righteousness was not inherent in man’s nature, but was a supernatural endowment; and, accordingly, the corruption of human nature consists not in an inherent defect, but in the loss of supernatural gifts.

“Holding such views of original sin,” says Shedd, “it was logical that the Tridentine theologians should combat the doctrine of human impotence, and the helpless dependence of the apostate will upon the divine efficiency in order to its renewal. They adopt the theory of synergism in regeneration, and defend it with great earnestness.”

“If any one,” say the Tridentine Canons, “shall affirm that the free will of man was lost, and became extinct, after the sin of Adam, * * * let him be accursed. If any one shall affirm that the free will of man, moved and excited by God, co-operates nothing by assenting to God thus exciting and calling, so that it disposes and prepares itself for obtaining the grace of justification, but like some inanimate object does nothing at all, but is merely passive, let him be accursed. If any one shall affirm that all works that are performed before justification, from whatever reason they are done, are really and truly sins, and merit the displeasure of God, or -that the more a man endeavors to dispose himself for grace, the more does he sin, let him be accursed. If any one shall affirm that the sinner is justified by faith alone, in the sense that nothing else is requisite

which may co-operate to the attainment of the grace of justification, and that the sinner does not need to be prepared and disposed by the motion of his own will, let him be accursed.”

We have come now to the Reformation period, and to the positive and direct teaching of Protestantism, upon the subject in hand, as formulated by the Confessors of Augsburg in their


“Concerning free will they teach, that the human will possesses some liberty.” Melanchthon says in the Apology, “Nor, indeed, do we deny liberty to the human will.” They did not deny that universal human consciousness, distinguishing man from the rest of creation, that his acts are his own, unconstrained by anything external. They did not take away human personality, or destroy, by their theory on this subject, the possibility of a sense of responsibility and guilt, which latter feelings are in other parts of the Confession so strongly insisted upon. They did not hold that any of the human faculties were destroyed by the fall. Man still has Reason, Feeling, Will. But a will without any freedom is no will at all. If will is “the power by which we determine personal acts” (Tappan), man still has this. If “will is that kind of causality attributed to living agents, in so far as they are possessed of reason; and freedom is such a property of that causality as enables them to originate events independently of foreign determining causes” (Kant), then fallen and unregenerate man is still possessed of will and freedom of will. If “to be free is to determine ourselves” in the sense of “knowing, feeling, and willing in accordance with our individual nature “(Fichte), man still has such freedom. But what if his “individual nature” be changed from what it was? “The question,” says Gerhard (v. IOO), “is not concerning the essence of the will itself, whether this has survived the fall; for this we loudly maintain, viz., that man has lost not his will, but the soundness of it.” “The will,” he further (v. 87) says, “is an essential power of the soul, and the soul is nothing else than the powers or essential faculties themselves. Therefore whilst the soul remains, its essential powers, intellect and will, also remain. On the other hand, the power of free and uncoerced volition is essential to the will; therefore, as long as the will remains this power also remains. In this sense and in this respect we firmly believe, and profess with uplifted voice, that the will of man has remained free even after the fall.” This is what is termed by some “formal” freedom.

The sphere of this freedom allowed to fallen and unregenerate man by our Article is “for the performance of civil duties, and for the choice of those things subject to reason:” “works of the present life, as well good as evil,” as they explain in a quotation attributed to Augustine; “good works which arise from our natural goodness, such as to choose to labor in the field, to eat and drink, to choose to have a friend, to have clothing, to build a house, to take a wife, to feed cattle, to learn various and useful arts, or to do any good thing relative to this life; all which things, however, do not exist without the divine government; yea, they exist and begin to be from him and through him. And in evil works, such as to choose to worship an idol, to will to commit murder, etc.”

It is observable that the instances of “good works” here cited embrace nothing that has moral quality, while as to “evil works “it was scarcely necessary to cite any; because in the latter man’s freedom is by no means denied, but in the former the theory is that fallen and unregenerate man can do nothing that may be truly called good, can perform no good works, can really do nothing but sin — since “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin!” Accordingly a man may externally observe all the commandments — like that earnest young ruler in the Scriptures — and yet be outside, if not far from, the kingdom of God, be without real goodness. Thus one may acknowledge God — for this, too, is within the sphere of reason, since it is only “the fool” who says “there is no God” — may abstain from taking his name in vain, and from all outward profanity, may pay outward and manifest respect to God’s day and house, worshiping (outwardly) reverently with his people, may with a beautiful obedience honor his parents, may curb his passions, keep himself pure, be scrupulously honest, be liberal and kind, considerate of the poor and generous in the support of religious and charitable institutinos, may, in short, be a model of an excellent citizen; and yet God, who looks upon the heart, the seat of character, and knows the secrets thereof, will say of such a man — as he virtually did of the young ruler — “Thy heart is not right in the sight of God.” His is a “natural goodness” of “outward works,” such as are within “the judgment of reason,” a “performance of civil duties,” constituting a “civil righteousness” or “righteousness of works,” which is within the ability of the unregenerate, but cannot justify before God, and which is no part of true sanctification.

We have somewhere read of such a man, one whose life was so exemplary that every one wondered why he did not become a member of the church. He seemed to be such in everything except the profession. And when that man lay upon his dying bed and was asked by the ambassador of Christ, under whose ministrations he had so often sat, “What think you of Christ?” the poor man, with conscious knowledge of his own heart and with rare candor replied,

I hate him!” So radically different is “natural goodness” from “spiritual righteousness.” As Paul so impressively sets forth in I Cor. xiii. declaring even him who has all knowledge, and all intellectual faith, and all charitableness, to be nothing without love: and “Love is of God” and not of man! In like manner, speaking of himself — and we know the upright moral character of the man, that touching the righteousness which is in the law he was externally blameless, his outward character was unimpeachable, yet he disclaims any real righteousness, and declares his aim, “That I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith” (Phil. iii. 6-1 1). Here and frequently he puts in sharpest contrast man’s “own righteousness,” that is, the “civil righteousness” of our Article, which is possible to the unregenerate, with “the righteousness of God,” which becomes man’s only by faith.

The Apology says of the human will, “It can to a certain extent render civil righteousness or the righteousness of works, it can speak of God, offer to God a certain service in outward works, obey magistrates and parents; by a choice in outward works can restrain the hands from murder, from adultery, from theft. Since there is left in human nature reason and judgment concerning objects subjected to the senses, choice between these things, and the liberty and power to render civil righteousness, are also left. For Scripture calls that righteousness of the flesh (Heb. ix. 10) which the carnal nature, i. e., reason by itself without the Holy Ghost, renders. Although the power of concupiscence is such that men more frequently obey evil dispositions than sound judgment. And the devil, who is efficacious in the godless, as Paul says (Eph. ii. 2), does not cease to incite this feeble nature to various offences. These are the reasons why even civil righteousness is rare among men, as we see that not even the philosophers themselves, who seem to have aspired after this righteousness, attained it. But it is false that the man does not sin, who performs the works of the commandments without grace.”

It is, however, an extreme and untenable position when these acts of civil righteousness and natural goodness are themselves called sin. This overlooks the fact that the moral character of an act does not always reside in the motive only, but in the act and the motive; so that, whilst the motive may not be pure and good, the act itself may be. To call such acts sins is to confound distinctions and overthrow morality. They have a moral goodness, though not a spiritual goodness. The distinction between such acts and the same when done from right motives, is briefly set forth in that ever recurring opening to Luther’s explanations of the commandments, “That we should so fear and love God” — as not to do evil, but the good toward our neighbor. The absence of this godly fear, this godly motive, from the acts referred to, takes them out of the religious sphere and relegates them to the merely moral and natural. The doer of them cannot claim in virtue of them restoration to harmony with God and the truly good.

Flavel compares the natural graces of unregenerate men to “flowers that decorate the dead.”

It is in the realm of spiritual things that the Confessors deny all freedom to the human will. They say, “But it does not possess the power, without the influence of the Holy Spirit, of fulfilling the righteousness of God, or spiritual righteousness: for the natural man receiveth not the things which are of the Spirit of God: but this is accomplished in the heart, when the Holy Spirit is received through the word. * * It cannot perform the inner motions, such as the fear of God, faith in God, chastity, patience, etc.” With this statement the other articles of the Confession, the Apology, the Smalcald Articles, and the Catechisms of Luther, fully agree; to prove which quotations from them all are made in the Formula of Concord, Sol. Dec. II. We will recite from these only from the Small Catechism, the answer to the question on the Third Article of the Creed, “What is meant by this Article?” The answer is, “I believe that I cannot, merely by my own reason or natural powers, believe in or come to Jesus Christ, my Lord; but that the Holy Spirit hath called me by the gospel, enlightened me by his gifts, and sanctified and preserved me in the true faith, in like manner as he calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and preserves it in union with Jesus Christ, by the true faith; in which Christian Church he daily and richly forgives me and all other believers all our sins; and will at the last day, raise up me and all the dead, and will grant unto me and all that believe in Jesus Christ everlasting life. — This is most certainly true.”

Man was created “in the image of God.” To clearly and completely define what is meant by this is difficult. Hollazius thinks that “The substance itself of the human soul exhibits certain things that are dein or divine, and stands related to the Divinity as to a model. For God is a Spirit, immaterial, intelligent, acting with a free will, etc. These predicates can in a certain manner be affirmed of the human soul.” In this sense man did not lose the divine image through the fall: for the substance of man, that which makes him man, remains. Quenstedt (ii. 17) says, “We must distinguish between the substance of man, or the matter itself of which he is composed, and that which, as if something following, adheres most closely to the substance of man, and nevertheless, as to its accidents, perfects it internally; or we must distinguish between nature itself and its qualities, or perfections in the qualities; the image of God indicates the latter, not the former. In a few words, that the image of God is not man, but in man, i. e. it is not substantial or essential to man, but accidental.” Wherein the divine image inhered in man’s substance, it could not be lost without man’s ceasing to be man: wherein it inhered in man’s faculties or qualities or the perfection of them, it was lost in the fall. Man’s intellect was blinded, his sensibilities weakened and deadened, his will enslaved. The day he sinned he knew good and evil. The divine sentence, “In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,” took immediate effect: and a chief part of that death was the loss of man’s freedom. Henceforth he is the servant of sin. He still indeed has the libertas naturae, as explained above, a formal freedom of choice in evils, but not a freedom of power to good. “He is free,” as Luthardt says, “wherein he is unfree: “free in that nature which he now has, which is a corrupted, deteriorated nature, and nowhere is this corruption more surely seen than in man’s powerlessness for good. Ask almost any Sunday-school whether it is easier to do right or to do wrong, and on the spur of the moment, thinking it ought to be so, the little folks will answer, “To do right! “Then when you reply, “How is it, then, that everybody does wrong? “they are puzzled and still. Ask the same of grown people, philosophers and theologians; and Pelagians and Socinians will say it is from the habit of doing wrong, through the example of Adam. But it seems strange that a habit should be universal; that there should be one exception to it and but one, in the whole history of man. And surely none can by mere habit become a child of God or a child of the devil. Reason and experience unite in pronouncing such an answer unsatisfactory. But when it is alleged that all mankind, since the fall, are under a power operating on the soul with the like force of gravitation upon material bodies, and that there is in all men at birth an inertia of downward direction, from the force of which external power is required to deliver him, then man’s evil status is sufficiently explained.

The statement of the Formula of Concord on the controversy concerning human powers, is, “That in spiritual and divine things the intellect, heart and will cannot, in any way, by their own natural powers, understand, believe, accept, think, will, begin, effect, do, work or concur in working anything, but they are entirely dead to good, and corrupt; so that in man’s nature, since the fell, there is, before regeneration, not the least spark of spiritual power remaining still present, by which, of himself, he can prepare himself for God’s grace, or accept the offered grace, or for and of himself, be capable of it, or apply or accommodate himself thereto, or, by his own powers, be able of himself, as of himself, to aid, do, work or concur in working anything for his conversion, either entirely, or in half, or in even the least or most inconsiderable part, but he is the servant of sin (John viii. 34; Eph ii. 2; 2 Tim. ii. 26). Hence the natural free will, according to its perverted disposition and nature, is strong and active only with respect to what is displeasing and contrary to God.” This reads like a legal paper, in its effort to be explicit and exclusive. The prime question concerning this doctrine is, Is it according to the Holy Scriptures?


God said to Adam in reference to the forbidden tree (Gen. ii. 17), “In the day that thou eatest thereof,” i. e. in the day that thou sinnest, “thou shalt surely die.” The truth of God, observation and experience testify that straightway upon man’s disobedience this sentence was executed upon him. Accordingly Paul to the Ephesians (Eph. ii. I— 3), speaking of their natural state, calls them, “Dead in trespasses and sins” — a death which yet had about it activity, a freedom of death — “wherein,” he continues, “in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lust of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.”

Shortly before the flood we read (Gen. vi. 3) that, “The Lord said, My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: “and, a little after, that God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually: “and the Psalmist in two places (Ps. xiv. 2, 3; liii. 2, 3), wherein he is quoted by Paul to the Romans (Rom. iii. 10, sq.) as uttering a general truth, represents God as looking down from heaven “to see if there were any that did understand and seek God,” and coming to the conclusion, in his perfect knowledge of all hearts, “They are all gone aside, they are together become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no not one.” Compare with this our Lord’s words to Nicodemus (John iii. 6), “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit,” explaining his assertion, “Ye must be born again; “and Paul’s contrast between “the flesh” and “the Spirit “and his delineations of the conflict between the two, meaning by “the flesh “not merely the body, or the sensuous nature, but the whole corrupt nature of fallen man. David in the fifty-first Psalm cries out, not in extenuation of his crime, but in illustration of his desperate need of God’s grace, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me “(Ps. Ii. 5).

The whole tenor of the Old Testament shows on the one hand the absolute necessity of spiritual righteousness, and at the same time man’s utter inability to attain to it: and thus makes man feel his need of, and prepares the way for redeeming grace in Christ.

Of the Jews of his day, so punctilious in outward observances, the Saviour said, quoting from Isaiah (Matt. xv. 8), “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me.” And explained to his disciples that “Out of the heart proceed all the things that defile a man.” Paul (Eph. iv. 17, 18) characterizes the unregenerate as walking “in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their hearts.” (i Cor. ii. 14:) “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” See the whole of the passage in i Cor. i. 18 to ii. 6, in which it is set forth strongly that (i Cor. i. 21), “After that, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” Saul converted was sent to the Gentiles (Acts xxvi. 18) “To open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me” (Christ).

The state of the natural man respecting spiritual things is represented in the Scriptures as “darkness” (Eph. v. 8) and “The Light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” {John i. 5). And our Saviour says (Matt. vi. 23), “If, therefore, the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is the darkness!” “Without me,” says Christ to his disciples (John xv. 5), “ye can do nothing:” a statement confirmed by the illustration of the vine and the branches. A branch of the vine is of necessity incapable of bearing any fruit. (2 Cor. iii. 5:) “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God.” (Rom. viii. 7:) “The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Hence, (John iii. 3), “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” And (2 Cor. v. 17), “Therefore if any man be in Christ he is a new creature:” and man can no more create himself anew than he could create himself at first. Of but One we say, “He can create, and He destroy!” (Eph. ii. 8:) Faith itself is declared to be “the gift of God.” And (i Cor. xii. 3), “No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” (Acts v. 31): Christ is declared to be exalted “to give repentance to Israel “as well as “forgiveness of sins.” Paul admonishes Timothy to meekness and patience with men (2 Tim. ii. 25), “If God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.” To the Jews, so careful about external acts, having a righteousness of the law, or civil righteousness, which put them in esteem among men and for which they greatly esteemed themselves, the Saviour said (John viii. 31-36), “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” To which they indignantly replied, “We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them. Verily, verily, I say unto you. Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house forever; but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed!”

We will let these citations suffice, though many more to the same purpose might be given.

The remedy for man’s inability, thus so fully declared, the recovery to real freedom, is also in this article set forth by the Confessors. They declare that this power for spiritual righteousness “is accomplished in the heart when the Holy Spirit is received through the word.” This means


These terms are often used synonymously: but it promotes clearer views to understand by the former the new birth, and by the latter the exhibitions of the new life in turning day by day from sin and Satan to holiness and God. The necessity for such change is evident from the natural state of fallen man as it has already been described, and from Scripture citations that have already been given, as well as others that might be quoted. But the point at which our Article touches this subject is not one concerning the fact of regeneration and conversion, but concerning the agency of their accomplishment.

The Pelagians taught that man by his own powers, without the grace of God, can turn himself to God, believe the gospel, work spiritual righteousness, and merit the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. The semi-Pelagians taught that man by his own powers can make a beginning of his conversion, but cannot complete it without God’s grace. Others taught that whilst man is unable to make a beginning, yet, after a beginning is made by divine grace, man can by his own natural powers add, help and co-operate in the work of renewal.

The Confessors deny to man’s natural powers any ability or share whatever, exercised in and of themselves, in this work. They ascribe it from beginning to end to the grace of God ministered by the Holy Spirit. The Scriptures say, ”Repent” — but Christ gives repentance: the Scriptures say,” Believe” — but faith is the gift of God: the Scriptures enjoin perfect love, and declare one without love to be nothing, spiritually — but love is of God, and he that loveth is, and must first have been, born of God. It is the Holy Spirit that opens the blind eyes, illumines the darkened understanding, convincing man of sin: it is the Holy Spirit that awakens and elevates the affections, leading man to love what God loves and hate what God hates: it is the Holy Spirit that works in man to will and to do (Phil. ii. 13) of God’s good pleasure, delivering the bond-servants of sin and introducing them into the liberty of the glory of the sons of God. (Rom. viii. 21.) And he does this “through the word,” the Holy Scriptures. “God the Holy Ghost effects conversion not without means; but uses for this purpose the preaching and hearing of God’s word, as it is written (Rom. i. 16), ‘The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.’ Also (Rom. X. 17), ‘Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.’ With this word the Holy Ghost is present, and opens hearts, so that they, as Lydia in Acts xvi., are attentive to it and are thus converted.” Thus at Pentecost Peter’s hearers’ hearts were pricked with contrition: and similarly Christ opened the hearts of the disciples going to Emmaus to understand the Scriptures.

“For after that, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe”‘ (i Cor. i. 21). “Sanctify them by thy truth,” prays our Lord; “thy word is truth “(John xvii. 17, 18).

Hence those who imagine that without means, without the word and the sacraments, the Holy Spirit illumines men, draws them to himself, justifies and sanctifies them, as well as those who think to attain these ends by their own preparation, feelings, struggles and works of whatever sort, are in error.

Now if it be asked what we are to make of the many invitations of the Scriptures inviting and urging men to accept God’s grace, to come to Christ, to seek and strive, we answer that these refer to those external things which are within the power of man, such as to use the means God has provided, to read the word, to go to church, to give attention to spiritual things, while at the same time our Lord’s word is still most true, “No man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John vi. 44). But even those very invitations are drawing toward Christ, and in the use of the means one will find these drawings increasing more abundantly.

It was to a little girl whose spirit had just left her body (Lk. viii. 41—56) that Jesus said, “Maid, arise,” and she arose straightway: it was to a young man whose corpse they were bearing to the grave (Lk. vii. 11-15) that Jesus said, “Young man, I say unto thee, arise”; and he that was dead sat up and began to speak: it was to a man who had been dead four days already and been buried (John xi. 39-44) that Jesus said, “Lazarus, come forth,” and he came out with his grave clothes bound about him. And these are but types of God’s word to men “dead in trespasses and in sins,” young and old, bidding them live: the words that Jesus speaks to them are spirit and life; and when his “I say unto you “comes to any one, there comes with it power to do the bidden thing. But the condition is, “If any man will hear his voice! “For the bad power of closing and hardening the heart belongs to man.


Here arises a question, at once philosophical and practical. How is it that, among those to whom the gospel is preached and God’s grace offered, some are regenerated and converted, and others are not? If men are equally unable to do anything whatsoever toward this end, and are equally hostile to God, the logical deduction seems to be that the cause of the difference inquired into lies in God. Augustine accepted this conclusion and resorted to the theory of unconditional Predestination, based on the sovereignty of God. God has from all eternity chosen a portion of mankind to be the recipients of his grace and salvation, and that irrespective of any foreseen faith or character in them, and has left the rest of mankind in their fallen, helpless and condemned condition. Moreover, to the chosen ones God’s grace is an irresistible power, overcoming the utmost intensity of man’s self-will and aversion.

It is just here that our Church parts company with Augustinianism. Having kept it close company all through the subject of Anthropology hitherto, here she draws the line and says, “Thus far, but no further.” It is into this theological slough that our Missouri brethren have fallen, in the midst of which they are struggling, while Calvinists, creeping out at the sides, in amazement cry, “Are ye become like unto us?’ and the Ohio and Wisconsin brethren are vigorously throwing stones at them, with reproaches for so besmirching the ”reine Lehre!’””

For whilst Luther and other individuals in Reformation times may have been extreme Predestinarians of the Augustinian type, this never was the doctrine of the Church. Among the points expressly condemned in the Formula of Concord are these:

1. When it is taught that God does not wish all men to repent and believe the gospel.

2. That, when God calls us to himself, he is not in earnest that all men should come to him.

3. That God does not wish every one to be saved, but, without regard to their sins, alone from the counsel, purpose and will of God, some are appointed to condemnation, so that they cannot be saved.

And the sam.e authority declares: — That, however, “many are called, few are chosen,” does not mean that God is unwilling that all should be saved, but the reason is that they either do not at all hear God’s word, but willfully despise it, close their ears and harden their hearts, and in this manner foreclose the ordinary way to the Holy Ghost, so that he cannot effect his work in them, or, when it is heard, they consider it of no account, and do not heed it. For this [that they perish] not God or his election, but their wickedness, is responsible.

Paying less attention to logic and more to the Scriptures, our Church teaches that the reason why any to whom the gospel is preached and grace is offered are not regenerated, converted and saved, is because they resist the Holy Ghost and refuse to accept the offered grace. For in evil we have seen that man has freedom of will, and he may by his own natural powers refuse and resist God’s grace. And if it be said that the natural resistance of all men is alike and the same, we reply that there may be and is an additional, superadded, wilful resistance. For just as the regenerate man, through the power of the Holy Spirit, with which his renewed powers can and do now co-operate, goes on from grace to grace, from strength to strength, in that which is good, so the unrenewed, following the evil bent of his depraved mind through voluntary choices, goes on to more ungodliness: and so there are, from many occasions, differences in the voluntary character of unregenerate men. Moreover, God has too much respect for his creature man, to un-man him by forcing his will: God will not, to convert man, destroy his moral agency. And though the Scriptures speak of the natural heart as a hard and stony heart, and some of our theologians have expressed themselves very strongly in comparing the natural man to a block or stone or pillar of salt, yet, as the Formula of Concord (Part ii. 2) says, “God has a modus agendi, or way of working in a man, as in a rational creature, quite different from his way of working in another creature that is irrational, or in a stone and block.” He treats him as a man, enlightens, beseeches, urges, threatens, but does not force him.

Said Christ to Jerusalem that had neglected and despised her day of grace (Matt, xxiii. 37), “How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” Stephen to the same generation said (Acts vii. 5 i), “Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.” To the Ephesians Paul says (Eph. iv. 30), “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God:” and to the Thessalonians (i Thess. v. 19), “Quench not the Spirit.” Man is regarded as so much harder for God to work upon than even a stone or block, in that he has this power of resisting God in spiritual things, which by their very nature must be voluntary.

Calvin, at the head of the Reformed Church, fully adopted the Augustinian theory of Predestination, and sought to bring over Melanchthon to the same view: but the latter was horrified at the doctrine, and called Calvin “the modern Zeno, who wanted to introduce a stoical necessity into the Church.” Neander says that when Calvin sent him his confession of faith, Melanchthon struck his pen through the whole passage on Predestination.

It was, probably, on account of his revulsion from this doctrine, and his sense of the logical tendency of a rigid monergism in that direction, that Melanchthon, in his writings subsequent to the Augsburg Confession and the Apology, allowed that there was in man’s natural powers “a faculty of applying himself to grace,” and taught that there are three concurrent causes in man’s regeneration and conversion, viz., the Word of God, the Holy Ghost, and the will of man. He made the non-resisting will of man an active factor. This teaching is seen in the 1835 and 1843 editions of his Loci Theologici. This co-operation of man by his natural powers in spiritual things is called synergism, and is condemned by the standards of our Church.

Says the Formula of Concord, “Conversion to God is a work of God, the Holy Ghost alone, who is the true master- workman that alone works this in us, for which he uses the preaching and hearing of his Holy Word as his ordinary means and instrument. But the understanding and will of the unregenerate man are nothing else than the subjectivum convertendum ,i. e. that which is to be converted, as the understanding and will of a spiritually dead man, in whom the Holy Ghost works conversion and renewal, for which work the will of the man who is to be converted does nothing, but allows God alone to work in him, until he is regenerate; and then also by the Holy Ghost he works (co-operates) in other succeeding good works, that which is pleasing to God, in the way and to the extent fully set forth above.”

As has been said, the two tendencies, represented by Pelagius andAugustine, continue until this day. The Romish Church still teaches that man’s moral nature was not totally depraved by the fall, but only weakened, and that, therefore, man can fit himself through his own moral power for the acceptance of justifying grace, and thus to a certain extent merit the same, and is able, after renewing justifying grace, not only to keep all God’s commandments and through good works directly to merit eternal salvation, but even to perform works of supererogation. The Calvinistic and Arminian controversy has kept up the antagonism concerning the nature of man’s inheritance from Adam, irresistible grace and predestination. And the modern Socinians and Rationalists, in advocacy of philanthrophy and humanity, speak chiefly of the dignity and possibilities of man, exalting his merely natural powers, so detracting from the necessity and worth of God’s grace.

It is not long since we heard a distinguished Unitarian divine, setting forth the tenets of his sect, extol their humanity, their reputation for education and culture, and say it was no part of their teaching to say or sing, “Oh, to be nothing, nothing.”  but rather “Oh, to be something, something!” — a laudable ambition, indeed, if sought for in the only way by which man may recover his original freedom and greatness and attain even higher position than that. That man who, excepting the Perfect One, was “something” above any of whom history speaks, declares, “By the grace of God I am what I am!” But there was little or nothing heard of grace in the discourse or on the occasion of which we speak.

Indeed, the times are not characterized by deep sense of sin or helpless need of God’s grace as offered in the Church of Christ. Men have not time to know themselves. The demands of business and of society are all-engrossing. God’s word and ordinances are much slighted by indifference or haste. So that men come to feel that they do not need the Church; they can be as good without. And this, from the easy-going trifler who can worship God as well in the field as in the congregation of his people, and needs not the Bible, since it is no more inspired than all truth, nor the sacraments, since they are too simple or or too supernatural to mean anything to him — to the educated, thinking apostles and devotees of culture, who think to attain the highest development by the exercise and discipline of their own natural powers.

Even in the Sunday school the young people are carelessly taught to sing such songs as “Only an armor-bearer,” with its boastful, self-dependent chorus, “Surely the Captain can depend on me:” and these self-vaunting, subjective, rollicking songs claim equal place with such hymns as “I need Thee every hour. Most Gracious Lord,” and, “More love to Thee, O Christ, more love to Thee,” and, “Rock of Ages, cleft for me. Let me hide myself in Thee” — hymns born of a consciousness of human helplessness and the humble spirit of entire dependence on God, the God of our salvation.

The practical effect of our Church’s teaching in the matter of Liberty and Grace should be, upon the unregenerate, to lead them to constantly use the means of grace, that they may be in the way of salvation, and, when Jesus of Nazareth passeth by, may have their eyes opened to see and know their Liberator, their Saviour; to make them fear lest, by neglecting and resisting the Holy Spirit, they may grieve him away and they be left forever in their helpless bondage to sin; that, when God calls, they may not refuse, and reject the counsel of God against themselves, to their everlasting death. And upon the regenerate the effect should be to make them diligent in the great business of life, quick to listen to and obey the Spirit’s sanctifying influences, careful lest they receive the grace of God in vain, working out their own salvation with fear and trembling, while God works in them to will and to do of his good pleasure: and, on the other hand, to make them eager to bring to the knowledge of all people that sacred word through which the Holy Spirit enlightens, frees and sanctifies the heart, that all men may come, according to God’s gracious will (i Tim. ii. 4), to the knowledge of the truth and be saved.