The Bondage of the Will

Bondage of the Will

Anthony Burgess
Treatise on Original Sin
Part 3, Chapter 4, Section 5.

Of the Natural Servitude and Bondage of the Will, with a brief Discussion of the Point of Free will.

¶. 1.

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).

Hitherto we have been discovering the vast and extensive pollution of the will, in its originals and naturals, both in the several operations and affections of it. The next thing in order is to treat of the will in regard of its state, as in freedom of servitude, about which so many voluminous controversies have been agitated. And indeed a sound judgment in the point of free will is of admirable consequence to advance Christ, and the grace of the Gospel. For whosoever do obscure the glory thereof, they lay their foundation here. They praise nature to the dispraise of grace, and exalt God as a Creator, to the prejudice of Christ as a Redeemer.

Although it is not my purpose to go with this point as many miles as the controversy would compel me, yet because the doctrine of free-will is so plausible to flesh and blood, that in all ages of the Church it hath had its professed patrons. And because the cause of Christ and the Gospel is herein interested, and further, because it is of a great practical concern to know what a slavery and bondage is upon the will of man to sin; it will be necessary and profitable (in some measure) to enlarge upon it. For there is scarce one in a thousand, but is puffed up with his own power and strength, so that he feeleth not the want of grace.

¶. 2.

This last mentioned Scripture opened.

This Text I have pitched upon will be a good and a sure foundation for the superstruction of our future discourse. For Augustine in his hot disputes with the Pelagians about the freedom of the will to what is good, doth often fly to this Text, as a sure sanctuary. And Calvin (gravely upon this discourse of our Saviour) saith, Eunt nunc Papistae (we may add Arminians and Socinians) et liberum arbitrium factuosè extollunt, &c. Let them presumptuously exalt free will, but we being conscious of our own bondage, do glory in Christ only our Redeemer: Though Maldonatus is pleased to censure this expression of Calvin, us Sententia digna verberibus, vel igne.

Let us therefore take notice of the coherence, and we will go no higher then to the 30th verse, where we have specified a blessed and fruitful event upon Christ’s discourse, concerning his person and office. For “as he spake these words, many believed on him” (John 8:30); not by their own natural ability and power, but the Father did draw them by his omnipotent and efficacious grace. Christ, while he spake to the ear, did also reach to the heart. He did not only preach, but could enable the hearer also to believe, herein exceeding all pastors and teachers that ever were in the Church of God. Christ plants and watereth, and giveth the increase likewise all of himself. Yea Christ seemeth here to sow his seed upon the high way, and among thorns and stones, yet some seed cometh up and prospereth well.

Upon this we have the love and care of Christ mentioned to these new converts, he immediately watereth these plants, and swaddleth these newborn infants that they may not miscarry. This is seen in the counsel suggested to them, where you have the duty supposed, and the admirable privilege issuing from it. The duty supposed, “If ye continue in my Word” (John 8:31); it is not enough to begin, unless there be perseverance. It is not enough to receive Christ and his Word, unless we abide therein and have our ears (as it were) bored, never to depart from such a Master. The neglect of this maketh all that dreadful apostasy, and those sad scandals to religion, which in all ages do terribly break forth, except ye abide in Christ, as well as be in him, we shall fall short in the wilderness, and not be able to enter into Canaan.

It is also observable, that Christ saith, “If ye abide in my Word“, it must be the true doctrine of Christ. It must be what he hath delivered, which denoteth two things:

1. That heresy and errour can no ways make to our Christian discipleship, they cannot set us at liberty from any lust or sin; and therefore no wonder if you see men of corrupt judgments at last fall into sinful and corrupt practices. For the Word of God is only the instrument and instituted means of sanctification, “Sanctify them by thy word,” John 17.

2. Hereby we see the necessity of the ministry of it. By the preaching of God’s Word they are first brought to believe, and after that are continually to depend on it. The ministry is both for the begetting of grace, and the increase of it. Those that despise and neglect the Word preached do greatly demonstrate they never got any good by it.

The consequent privilege upon this continuance in the Word is to be Christ’s disciples indeed. From whence we have a distinction of a disciple in appearance and shew, or profession only, and a disciple indeed. There were many that became Christ’s disciples in profession only, they followed him for a season, but afterwards forsook him, which caused our Saviour so much in his parables and sermons to press them upon a pure, thorough, and deep work of grace upon their souls. The title without reality will be no advantage. Musculus observeth that Christ useth the present tense, “Then are ye my disciples indeed” (John 8:31). From whence he gathers, “That continuance or perseverance in grace doth not make the truth of grace, but the truth of grace maketh the perseverance, they do continue, and therefore are disciples indeed, but they are disciples indeed, therefore they continue in Christ’s Word.” But Beza maketh […], as in other places; and if so, then it must be thus understood that our perseverance in grace doth not make grace to be true, but doth demonstrate and evidence the truth. Such will appear to be stars indeed fixed in the firmament, when others like blazing comets will quickly vanish away: But this is not all the privilege, there is a two-fold mentioned in the next verse.

First, “ye shall know the truth” (John 8:32); when they did at first believe the Word, they did know the truth in some measure, but now their knowledge should be more evident, clear, and increasing. Indeed the godly do so grow in knowledge about heavenly things that they account their former knowledge even nothing at all.

The second privilege is, “the truth shall make them free.” Every man (till regenerated) is in bondage and captivity, to blindness in his mind, to lust in his will, and nothing can set us at liberty from this dungeon and prison but the grace of God by the Word preached.

But no sooner is this privilege spoken of, than it stirreth up the cavils and objections of some that heard it, “They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?” (John 8:33). Some think that those who are said to believe did argue thus, but this seemeth very harsh. Therefore no doubt some others that were in the multitude that did not believe were offended at this speech of our Saviour’s, and therefore dispute against it, arrogating to themselves both a native freedom, “We are Abraham’s seed“, and also an actual one, “We were never in bondage to any man.” This expression exerciseth interpreters very much, for whether by [we] they mean their ancestors or themselves, living at that time. It is plain, at first they were in bondage in Egypt, afterwards in Babylon, and at that present in bondage to the Roman Empire. How then could they affirm such a notorious lie, that they were never in bondage to any man? Some say they mean of such vassals and slaves, as sometimes in war are taken and sold to others. Now (though the Israelites were often conquered, and brought under the power of others, yet) they were never sold slaves, and so not in bondage in that sense. Others say they do not speak of a civil, or public, and State liberty, but (as it were) a religious and holy freedom. For, though they were in civil bondage, yet they glorified in Abraham’s seed, and the religious freedom thereby in respect of God’s favor. So Hensius says, “They who spake this, did attend to the Law and Covenant, for such who obeyed the Law, they called free.” Hence they had a paradoxical proverb, “None unless he exercise himself in the study of the Law, is to be accounted a free man.” And, Qui observat legem esse Regem, even as the Stoics say of their wise man. Sixtus Senensis maketh these words to be spoken by some of the Galileans, who would never own any foreign power, but did choose rather to die, than to make such an acknowledgment. That which many pitch upon is, “That the Jews speak this to Christ from their pride and arrogance, not willing to take any notice of their external subjection, but so that they may oppose Christ, care not what they say, though never so contrary to truth.” Although Calvin well addeth, they might have a pretense for what they said, as if the Roman power did by force reign over them, and therefore that they were (de jure) free.

But our Saviour speaking of one kind of freedom and slavery, and they of another, he doth in the next verse more particularly open his meaning, and withal layeth a foundation to prove that though they boasted and gloried in their freedom, yet they were indeed servants and slaves. This he proveth by that universal proposition, “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin” (John 8:34); You must lay an emphasis in that ποιῶν, it is not to be understood of every actual committing of sin, but of the willful, habitual, and constant committing of it. And thus though great men may boast in their sovereignty they have over many others, though they may glory in multitude of servants, yet if they be overcome by any one vice, they be the vilest slaves and vassals of all, Quot vitia, tot domini, so many vices, so many lords. Now Original Sin that is a lord and master to everyone, it reigneth over all mankind. Some actual sins enslave one man, and some another, but Original Sin doth every man. Yea though the godly are (in some measure) freed from the dominion of it, yet it keepeth up a tyrannical dominion over the most holy, as appeareth by that complaint of Paul, he could not do the good he would, because he was sold under sin (Rom. 7).

This foundation then being laid, our Saviour shewing the difference between a servant and a son, doth in my Text suppose:

1. A necessity of every one till sanctified to be made free.
2. The Manner how.
3. That this is freedom indeed.

1. The necessity supposed is, “If the son make them free.” Though he speaketh this to those Jews who were in a two-fold bondage to sin, original and actual, natural and voluntary, yet this is to be applied to every man that is not in the state of regeneration. He hath no liberty or freedom of will to do what is good, but is a vassal to all sin. Sin is the lusts thereof do prevail over him so that he hath neither will or power to come out of this bondage.

2. There is the manner how, or the person by whom we obtain true liberty, “If the son make you free.” In some cities the elder brother had power to adopt sons, and so to make free, however Christ is therefore called the Redeemer, because he doth obtain spiritual freedom for his people, and that not only in respect of the guilt of sin freeing from that. Which grace of Christ the Pelagians did acknowledge (and would constantly interpret my Text in this sense only) but also the power of sin by inherent Sanctification and renovation of the whole man. Of this freedom the Text doth here principally speak, not so much the freedom from the guilt of sin by justifying grace, as from the power of sin by sanctifying grace.

3. You have the commendation of this spiritual liberty, it is called “freedom indeed,” implying, that though they had never so much civil freedom, never so much dominion and power, yet if servants to sin, they were in the vilest bondage that could be. Civil freedom is thought to be so great a good that it can never be prized enough. Therefore the Rabbins have a saying, “If the Sea were ink, and the world parchment, it would never serve enough to contain the praises of liberty.” The Scripture informeth us how great an honor it was accounted to be free of Rome, but if all this while men are captivated either to personal sins, or to sins of the nature, they remain in worse bondage than ever any Gally-slaves were in. The people of Israel in their iron furnace and house of bondage did cry and groan for a Redeemer. But this is the unspeakable evil of this soul-bondage, that we delight in it, that we rejoice in it; all our endeavor and care is that we may not be set at liberty, and have these chains taken off us. From this explication observe:

No man hath any liberty or freedom of will to what is good till Christ, by his grace, hath made him free. We do not by freedom of will obtain grace, but by grace we obtain freedom of will. So that by the Scripture we have not any true ground for a liberum arbitrium, but a liberatum in spiritual things. There is no such thing as a free will, but a freed will in a passive sense, and tunc est liberum, when it is liberatum, as Augustine [says], then it’s actively free when it is first passively made free. Rom. 6:16, “Being made free from sin.” He doth not say, you have made yourselves free, but ye are made free by the grace of Christ. And again, verse 22, “Ye are now made free from sin“, and Rom. 8:2, “The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the Law of sin and death:” By which expressions is implied, 1. That all men till sanctified are in an absolute vassalage and thraldom to sin. And, 2. That it is only the grace of Christ that doth deliver from this bondage. It is Christ, not our own will, that maketh us free.

¶ 3

Of the several Kinds of Freedom which the Scripture speaketh of.

To enter into the depths of this doctrine, consider what kinds of freedom the Scripture speaketh of, and which is applicable to our purpose. The Schools have vast disputes about liberty and free-will, what it is, whether a compounded faculty or a simple one; and whether a faculty, or habit, or act; especially they digladiate [quarrel] about the definition of free-will, what it is; but if anything shall be thought necessary to be said in this point, it may be pertinently brought in, when we shall answer such objections as the patrons of nature do use to bring in the behalf of free-will. Only it is good to know that in the Scripture we find a civil liberty and a spiritual liberty spoken of. A civil liberty, thus bond and free are often opposed, (Eph. 6:8; Col. 3:11; 1 Cor. 7:22). But this is not to the Text, nor to our purpose. Therefore the Scripture speaketh much of a spiritual freedom, and that is:

Spiritual Freedom.

First, in the translating of us out from the dominion of sin and Satan, into a gracious state of holiness. This is called by divines, Libertas gratia, or (as Augustine) libertas à peccato. The freedom of grace of which those Texts speak that we mentioned before.

Secondly, there is the Evangelical and Christian liberty, whereby we are freed from many things of the Law, not only the curse of the moral law and the spirit of bondage which did accompany the legal administration thereof, but also from the obligation unto, and exercise of the ceremonial. This Evangelical liberty is often commended in Scripture as the glorious privilege of the Christian Church, which the legal Church wanted. Of this legal servitude, and Evangelical freedom the Apostle doth largely, and most divinely treat (Gal. 4). This Christian liberty also from Jewish rites, the Apostle exhorteth us to stand fast in, as being purchased for us by the death of Christ, as a glorious privilege (Gal. 5:1). Only the Apostle Peter giveth good advice, that we turn not our liberty into licentiousness (1 Peter 2:16). It is true, the Apostle doth once use the word [free] abusively and improperly where the servants of sin are said to be free from righteousness (Rom. 6:20), or to righteousness, now this is improperly called a freedom. For as the service of God is the truest freedom, so freedom from holiness is the greatest slavery. Although Augustine doth from this Text make a division of liberty into two kinds, which he maketh perpetual use of, Libertas à peccate [freedom from sin], and Libertas a justitia [freedom from righteousness]. The godly man hath the former liberty, the sinner hath the latter, but this latter is improperly called liberty.

Lastly, there is a spiritual freedom mentioned by the Scripture, as the ultimate and complete perfection of all, when the soul shall be freed not only from the dominion of sin, but the presence of it, all the relics and remainders of it, and the body shall be freed from death, pain, and all corruptibility (Rom. 8:2). This is called the glorious liberty of the sons of God; and for this every godly man is to groan and mourn, even as the woman in travail to be delivered. This is called by divines libertas gloriae, and libertas à miserià. But we are to speak of the liberty of grace; and herein we are not to admire the free will of man, but the free grace of God: man hath no free will to do that which is spiritual and holy. Free will is an idol which the corrupt heart of man is apt to advance; he is unwilling to be brought out of himself, to be beholding to the grace of Christ only; therefore Augustine observed well that this truth is to be found out by prayer and supplication, sooner than by disputation. Did men commune with their own hearts, did they observe the Abyss and depth of all evil that is in their corrupt will, how untangled and in slaved to the creature, they would quickly fall from disputation to humiliation, and turn arguments into prayers.

¶. 4.

The Names which the Scripture expresseth that by, which we call Free Will.

The next thing in our method that will be explicating of the doctrine is to take notice of what names the Scripture useth to express this thing by, that we call free will; for free will is not a Scripture name, but Ecclesiastical, yet the sense of it is in the Scripture; for θέλεις is often used in the Scripture, to will, and that in such things wherein freedom is necessarily supposed, Luke 22:9. “Where wilt thou, that we prepare a place?” John 9:27, “Wherefore would ye hear it again, will ye also be his disciple?” Acts 7:28, “wilt thou kill me also,” etc. and in many other places, hence θελήματος is used for the free will of a man (1 Cor. 7:37), and indeed it is disputed whether to do a thing voluntariè, and liberè, voluntarily and freely be not all one, and so libertas, and voluntas, only voluntas denoteth the power and liberty, the qualification of it in its working.

Jansenius is most confident, that in Augustine’s constant dispute with the Pelagians, liberum arbitrium, is no more than voluntas, and that to do a thing freely is no more than to do it voluntarily; this he maintaineth against the Jesuits, and withal wonders at a late writer of their own (whom he nameth not) which writeth that the word servum arbitrium was not heard in the Church of God for fifteen hundred years. It is Bellarmine that saith so, but our divines had detected this falsehood long before Jansenius. Howsoever Augustine may use the word, yet the Scripture expresseth that which we call the will by, θέλεις and θελήματος. A second word to express liberty is ἐλευθερώσει, liberty, yet this is not so much applied to the liberty of the will, as to the liberty of a man, as here in the Text, “the son shall make you free“, your persons not your wills; but because there is an universal bondage in all the powers of the soul to sin, blindness in the mind, contumacy in the will (for Quid est libertas sine gratia, nisi contumacia). What is liberty in the will without grace, but contumacy against God, and a willful delight in evil ways, inordinacy in the affections? Therefore the person is said to be made free, not but that the will is principally included in this, only the will is not all that is made free, “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17). It’s from the Spirit of God we obtain liberty from sin, and also from servile slavish fears. The Jesuits would have this liberty nothing to the purpose in the controversie de libero arbirio, for (say they) this is a spiritual mystical liberty, libertas à peccate, and they are treating of libertas naturae, which they make to consist in an indifference to good or evil, but by their favor. this is a proper liberty, and it is this that the Pelagians did most controvert about, and still the proper dispute between the orthodox and their adversaries is in this particular: Whether there be any liberty or freedom in a man’s will without grace to shake off the dominion of sin. So that they keep most properly to the state of the question who are diligent in the opening of the nature of this liberty.

Another word which the Scripture useth to express this free will by, is ἑκουσίως (1 Pet. 5:2; Phil. 1:4), and this is very proper and full, when we do a thing not by constraint, or by a natural necessity, then we do it freely, therein we shew our liberty, so that liberty doth oppose co-action and natural necessity. It is impossible the will should in its immediate elicit acts be compelled, for then it should be voluntas and noluntas at the same time. Then velle would be nolle which is an high contradiction. Therefore liberty doth necessarily oppose constraint, but ἑκουσίως doth also oppose a natural necessity (I say) a natural necessity (for there are other necessities that liberty doth consist with, yea and the more necessary the more free, as in time is to be shewed). Thus though the stone hath an inclination to descend downwards, yet because the stone’s motion is from a natural necessary principle, therefore it is not free. Beasts likewise, though they exceed the inanimate creatures, yet they do not agere, voluntarily. They do act spontaneously, but not voluntary, because a natural principle of sense doth determine them.

Έκουσίως indeed is translated willfully, “If we sin willfully after we have known the truth” (Heb. 10:26). But there it signifieth an high degree of the obstinacy of the will, and a confirmation in evil against great light and knowledge; but commonly it signifieth doing a thing, so as not to be constrained to it. Platonic philosophers call free will too proud a word to be given to a creature; and therefore the ancient Greek fathers being many of them Platonists, did greatly obscure the glory of grace by receiving Platonic words, of which this is one. Indeed they gave to God free will, but yet free will is too much for a creature, which hath a necessity of subordination to God, and dependency on him. The Stoics they express free will by that which is in our own power. The Aristotelians express it by ἑκουσίως, which is the Scripture expression likewise. Though the Scripture and Aristotelians differ as much as light and darkness about the nature of liberty. As the Ancients by following Platonic philosophy: so the Neotericks (especially the Jesuits by following Aristotle), have greatly prejudiced the doctrine of free grace, setting up free will in the room thereof.

There is one expression more, and the Scripture hath it but once, which is the most emphatic in describing of this liberty, and that is 1 Cor. 7:37. “Having power over a man’s own will,” ἐξουσίαν δὲ ἔχειπερὶ τοῦ ἰδίου θελήματος, for liberty lieth in some kinds of some dominion to have our own will. Hence in liberty we may conceive something negative and something positive. Negative, and that is not to be compelled, not to be constrained, not to be enslaved. Positive, and that is to have some power and dominion over the actions of our will, as the Apostle instanceth in him who had decreed to keep his virgin from marriage. This man is said to have power over his own will. By these Scripture words we may come to understand in a great measure what liberty and freedom of will is.

¶. 5.

Some Observations concerning the Promoters of the Doctrine of Free Will, how Unpleasing the contrary Doctrine is to flesh and blood, with some advice about it.

Secondly take notice that it is the great purpose and design of some to go contrary to the plain intent of the Scripture. For many in all ages of the Church have (with all their learning and parts) endeavored to set up this idol of free will, whereas the great drift of the Scripture is to advance and set up the free grace and free gift of God. The Apostles write to debase man and to exalt the grace of God. Erroneous persons, they dispute, and write, to exalt the will of man, and to take off from the grace of God. What a loud trumpet is Paul in his epistles to sound forth the praises of free grace, not only free grace in justification, but free grace also in sanctification? It’s the grace of God that doth not only pardon the guilt of sin, but conquer the power of it. Consider then whether it be better to set up Dagon or the Ark, the free will of man, or the free gift and grace of God. Truly it is a very uncomfortable task to be disputing against that grace, which yet we must wholly rely upon when we come to die.

It is one thing what men write while they are in health, what cobweb distinctions they please themselves with in their voluminous writings, and another thing when they are in the agonies of death, and are to appear at the tribunal of a righteous God. It was that (which that famous champion for the grace of God) Bradwardine comforted himself with when he undertook the cause of God against Pelagians. That he could pray for the grace of God, to help him in his undertakings, to be present with him, and to direct him, whereas his adversaries could not do so. And indeed how can an Arminian, or a Pelagian with any of those Naturists, cordially pray for the grace of God to assist them while they write against grace and patronize free will? Let them sacrifice to their own nets, to their own parts and abilities. It’s from their will that grace is efficacious. This arrogance is like that of the Heathens whose saying was ignavis opus est auxilio Dei, it is only the sluggish that need the help of God. Yea Tully argueth the case that we are not beholding to God for our virtue, therefore (saith he) our ancestors have praised the gods for their success and outward advantages, but never for their virtues. Happily it is awe and reverence that men bear to the Christian religion, that keepeth them from such blasphemous expressions. Yet even in Christian writers (pleading for the power of nature) instances might be given of proud and swelling expressions.

Thirdly, it is good to observe that even in all those whose end avour hath been to advance the free will of a man to what is truly good, there hath appeared some guiltiness (as it were) in them. Therefore they have often changed, if not their minds, yet their words, thus they have removed from the mountains to the valleys. The Pelagians did encrust their opinions often, and the Papists speak sometimes so plausibly, that you would think Bellarmine and Calvin did embrace each other. Pelagius did at last come to use the word grace, yea did anathematize such as should not hold the grace of God requisite to every good act; by which crafty guile he did deceive the Eastern Bishops, and still in the serpents skin do the Jesuits and Arminians appear. They think it the greatest calumny that can be cast upon them, to say, they are against the grace of God. Hence they use the word of grace often, as well as of free will, but all this ariseth from guilt. They do use the word grace ad frangendam invidiam, to decline, envy, to insinuate more into the hearts of credulous hearers: so that men sacrilegiously advance the will of man, make man to have the greatest praise in converting himself, in saving himself. Whereas Paul said, “Not I, but the grace of God with me” (1 Cor. 15:10), they will on the contrary affirm, “Not the grace of God, but I.” Yet for all this they would be thought to advance the grace of Christ, but that is a true rule of Augustine’s, Gratia non est gratia ullo modo nisi sit gratuita omni modo, Grace is not grace any way, unless it be free and gratuitous every way. Therefore the inconstancy, the changes and shifts all such are put to, who plead for this liberty of the will, argue they are not in the truth, but like thieves do hate the light, and change their garments often, that they may not be discovered. They are afraid of the Scripture, and would more gladly have the controversy ended by Aristotle, than by Paul. So that this Pelagian error hath had Cain’s curse (as it were) upon it, a trembling, lest every place of Scripture it does meet with should kill it.

Fourthly, to maintain the slavery of the will to sin, and to deny any liberty to that which is holy and godly is a truth so unpleasing to flesh and blood, doth so reproach (as it’s thought) mankind, that it hath always in the Church of God (by some heretical persons or others) been spoken against. It hath been judged very scandalous and offensive, as that which did lay the ax to the root of all religion and holiness. But yet experience hath taught us that none have expressed so much holiness in their lives as those who have had this truth of Christ’s grace incorporated into them. And on the other side, the Pelagian doctrine hath left upon men’s spirits, like leaven, à cornu & tumorem, a sourness and bitterness, as also a tumor and vaunting confidence in themselves. So that if the denying of free will and exalting the grace of God be so profane an opinion in its genius and inclination (as some calumniate), it’s a miracle that from such a poisoned fountain such sweet streams should flow, and from such thorns so pleasant grapes should grow. But the reason of this offense to flesh and blood is the self love and self-fullness that is in every man by nature; spiritual pride and self-confidence do reign in all men by nature. Hence it is that though they be naked, yet they are not ashamed of it, which in Adam (while innocent) did come from his integrity, but in corrupt man from his senselessness and stupidity. No wonder then if this doctrine of grace be not justified cordially, and as it ought to be, but by the sons of grace, who have felt the power and efficacy of it upon their hearts, who have experimentally found the grace of God freeing their will from all that bondage it was in to sin and Satan.

Fifthly, from this it is that a gracious heart is required to study this point, as well as a learned head. Experience of regeneration, of being made a new creature, of the conflict between the flesh and the spirit, will excellently direct in this controversy. I wonder not to see a man, though come out of Egypt laden with Egyptian gold, to make a molten calf for a god and to worship it: men of great learning, and it may be of great external civility (as they say of Pelagius) if not humbled by the grace of God, and thoroughly emptied of themselves, how can they stoop and yield all up to Christ? It was therefore Augustine’s wish that the Pelagians would turn their disputations into prayers, for it is the heart as well as the head that is useful in this point. Though all Divinity be practical, and practice is the end of knowledge, yea in Scripture language, Tantum scimus quantum operamur, we are said to know no more than we do. Yet some truths have a more immediate influence into practice than others, whereas some opinions do stand in the court (as it were), others enter into the holiest of holiest. Now this truth about the grace of God, and free will is practice as I may say, what some do of the ultimate dictate of the understanding. This truth lieth in the vitals of religion, and therefore the experience of all the godly is justly brought after Scripture arguments to confirm this great truth. Therefore humble yourselves more, commune with your own hearts, be much in prayer and self-emptiness, and you will quickly find the light of this truth shining into your hearts. Come and taste, come and see, what you hear with your ears; pray that God would grant you an experimental knowledge of grace, and then you will quickly confess not unto your own free will, but to the free grace of God all praise and glory doth belong.

Sixthly, this truth therefore being so contrary to flesh and blood, it is by the grace of God that we come to acknowledge the grace of God. Error in mind is part of our bondage, as well as lust in our heart. It is therefore by the grace of God that we are delivered from both these thraldoms. We have a freed mind from ignorance, and a freed will from concupiscence. It is the Spirit of God that leadeth us into all truth, called therefore the Spirit of truth (John 14:17). It is by the grace of God that thou fallest not in this errour of advancing free will. It’s by the grace of God that thou art no Pelagian or Arminian. It is this that maketh thee to differ from them. Thy judgment, thy heart would be self-confident herein, did not the Spirit of God teach thee.

Lastly, consider that the grace of God is necessary to guide us in this point, because this question hath always seemed very difficult. Augustine acknowledged it so. Hence he saith that when grace is defended, we are thought to destroy free will, and when a free will is acknowledged (though in some sense only) we are thought to deny free grace. Indeed the truth is not so difficult that we have no spiritual liberty to what is good, or that grace only maketh the will free. But how to reconcile this with the natural liberty of the will, that it shall not be as a stock or stone, that hath seemed to some even insoluble, and therefore they advise to captivate our understandings in this point, as we do in the doctrine of the Trinity. However whether soluble or insoluble, the difficulty argueth the necessity of God’s assistance, while we preach, and you hear about it.

¶. 6.

The first Demonstration of the slavery of the Will is from the Necessity of sinning that every man is plunged into.

Several particulars being premised as introductory to our intended matter, our next work is to shew wherein this servitude & slavery of the will doth consist. Not that you are to conceive of the will as some prisoner who is chained up in a dungeon, that hath power to walk and run, only those external impediments do hinder him, which is Bellarmine’s similitude about the inability of a natural man to supernatural good: So the will hath some inward power and ability to do that which is holy, only there are lusts, which are vincentes and vincientes, as Augustine expresseth, conquering and binding this will, that it cannot actually perform what internally it hath a power to do. Here is no such thing. For we must conceive of this habitual depravation and defilement of the will in its state and condition more inward and deeply rooted in it.

First therefore, that the will of man is destitute of any freedom to what is good, appeareth in the necessity of sinning that every man is plunged into, that he cannot but sin in all that he doth. That as the angels and saints in Heaven have beata necessitas, a blessed necessity of loving of God, and delighting in him, so that no temptation in the world can draw them off: Thus every man by nature is in an unhappy and wretched necessity of sinning, dura necessitas, as Augustine called it. Insomuch that though the Scripture doth represent the things of Heaven in a most glorious manner to affect us, yet we cannot be taken off from our sin to love that. Hence it is that every man till regenerated is compared to an evil tree, and (Titus 1) they are said to be unclean, and everything made unclean to them. The person being not accepted, neither can any duties be.

This is our sad and miserable condition by nature. But whose heart is thoroughly affected with it? Thy eating, thy drinking, thy buying and selling, yea thy praying and all other duties, as they come from a man not sanctified by grace are sins in the eyes of God. Think then to what an infinite aggravation they will arise, and whether thou mayest not truly complain, they are more than the sands upon the sea shore. So that as the toad and serpent do necessarily vent what is poison, and can never do that which is sweet and wholesome: Thus no man in his natural estate can ever do anything but be sinning, and so damning of himself all the day long. Only when we say it is thus naturally necessary to a man to sin in all things he doth, you must know, that we do not herein make him absolutely like a brute beast, which is not capable either of vice or virtue. This necessity is voluntarily brought by man upon himself, he did willfully strip himself of all power and ability to do that which is good, and so having shut out the light from himself, he doth necessarily remain in the dark, having chased away the Spirit and presence of God from his soul, which is the life thereof, he becometh spiritually dead, and so in a necessity of sinning. But it is not thus with serpents and toads. For whether they were at first created solely with such a poisonous nature, or whether upon Adam’s Fall it was inflicted upon those creatures as a curse, it is plain that these creatures could not with any will or consent bring themselves into this estate. But man did voluntarily at first, having no seed of evil, or inward propensity to sin, transgress the commandment, whereupon his soul became more shamefully naked than his body. This necessity therefore whereby he is determined only to sin, ariseth from his own free and voluntary impiety. As a man that hath willfully put out his own eyes must blame himself forever if he cannot see. If then this bondage be upon thee, that in all things thou sinnest, whatsoever thou undertakest, evil is presently over ruling of thee, blame not God, or any providence of his, no nor the Devil neither, for though he doth tempt, yet he doth not necessitate to sin, but thy own self, for from thy own bowels this destruction doth arise.

¶. 7.

That a Necessary Determination may arise several ways, some whereof are very consistent with Liberty, yea the more necessary the more free.

It is good to observe, and it may clear many difficulties in this point, that a necessary determination may arise several ways, some whereof are very consistent with liberty, yea the more necessary the more free. Thus God himself doth necessarily will that which is good, and yet freely also. And if you ask, Whence doth it arise that God is thus determined to what is good? I answer, it is from the infinite and absolute perfection of his holiness, whereby he is not, nor cannot be a God that willeth iniquity.

Arminius indeed maketh it little less than blasphemy to say, God is liberè bonus, but that is because he cannot part with his Helena, or Delilah: That liberty consists in an indifference to good and evil, and in this sense to say God doth so freely will good that he can as freely will evil, would be blasphemy. But to will evil is no part at all of freedom, it is a defect in a mutable creature, as is to be shewed. Such a determination to good only was in Christ also from his perfection, and is likewise in the angels confirmed, and saints glorified. Here is no power to sin, yet have they liberty in an eminent degree, though determined to good only. On the contrary, the devils and damned men are necessarily determined to that which is evil, they cannot but hate God, they are not able to have one good thought, or one good desire to all eternity, yet all this is done freely by them. Now as the determination to good did arise from perfection, from the strong principles of holiness within, so in these their necessary determination to evil doth arise from that power of iniquity and sin they are delivered up unto.

In this necessity of sinning are all natural men (till regenerated) absolutely plunged into, and that from the dominion which sin hath over them. Only herein they differ from the devils and damned men, they are in their termino, in their journeys end, and so are not in a capacity of being ever freed from this necessity and thralldom to sin. There will never be a converted devil, or a converted man in Hell, their state is unchangeable, and they can never be recovered. But with wicked men in this life, God hath dealt in many plentiful ways of mercy. So that though for the present determined only to evil all the day long, though for the present under the chains and bonds of sin, yet the grace of God may deliver them out of this prison, and set them at liberty. But till this be, they are as the devils carried out necessarily in all hatred unto God, and this determination to one is from imperfection.

Lastly, there is a determination to one from principles of nature without reason and judgment, and where such is there cannot be any liberty, for reason and judgment is the root of liberty, though it be formally in the will.

By this then you see that this necessity of sinning doth not take away the natural freedom that is in the will, so that a man and a beast should be both alike. Luther indeed wished that the word necessity might be laid aside. Neither doth Bradwardine like that expression, necessitas immutabilitatis, as applied to man, but in the sense all that are Orthodox do agree.

¶. 8.

The second Argument of the Servitude of the Will is its being carried out unto sin voluntarily, and with delight.

Secondly, this necessity of sinning doth not at all take off from the voluntariness and delight therein, but every natural man is carried out so voluntarily and readily unto every sin suggesting itself, as if there were no necessity at all. Hence man by nature is said to swallow down iniquity like water (Job 15:16), even as the feverish or hydropic man is never satiated with water. Therefore the necessity of sinning is never to be opposed to his willingness and freedom; for though a man hath no freedom to good, yet he hath to evil, eoque magis libera, quo magis ancilla, the more he is subject to sin, the more enslaved to it by his delight therein, the freer he is to act it.

We must not then imagine such a necessity of sinning in a man as if that did compel and force a man against his inclination and desire. You must not think that it is thus with a man, as if he could say, O Lord, my will is set against sin, I utterly abhor and detect it, but I am necessitated to do it. For the will being corrupted, doth with all propensity and delight rejoice in the accomplishing of that which is evil.

¶. 9.

3. The Bondage of the Will is evident by its utter impotency to anything that is Spiritual; And wherein that inability consists.

Thirdly, this bondage of the will to sin is evidently manifested in its utter impotency and inability to anything that is spiritual. It’s like Samson that hath lost its strength. God made man right, whereby he had an ability to do anything that was holy. There could not be an instance in any duty, though in the highest degree, which Adam had not a power to do, and now he is so greatly polluted, that there is not the greatest sin possibly to be committed by the vilest of men, but every man hath the seed and root thereof within him. For this reason man by nature is not only compared to the blind and deaf, but also to such who are wholly dead in sin. So that as the dead man hath no power to raise himself, so neither hath a man who is spiritually dead in his sins.

That this truth may greatly humble us, let us consider wherein this absolute impotency to what is holy is in every man, for this is a great part of the demonstration of our spiritual bondage to sin and Satan.

First, such is the thralldom of the will that a man by nature cannot resist the least temptation to sin, much less the greatest, without the special grace of God helping at that time. We matter not those Pelagian doctors who hold a man by his own power may resist less temptations, yea more grievous ones, though not continually. For when our Saviour teacheth us to pray that we may not be lead into temptation: doth not that imply, whatsoever is a temptation, whether it be small or great, if the Lord leave us thereunto, we presently are overcome by it? Certainly, if Adam while retaining his integrity in a temptation, and that about so small a matter comparatively, for want of actual corroborating grace, was overtaken by it: Is it any wonder that we who have no inward spiritual principle of holiness within us, but are filled with all evil and corruption, that we are reeds shaken with every wind? The rotten apple must fall at every blast. Know then that it is either sanctifying or restraining grace that keeps thee from every snare of sin thou meetest with. Thou wouldst every hour fall into the mire did not that uphold. These Delilahs would make thee sleep in their laps, and then as Jael to Sisera, so would they do to thee. Herein is our bondage discovered.

Secondly, our thralldom is manifested in that we are not able of ourselves to have one good thought in reference to our eternal salvation. But if any serious apprehension, if any godly meditation be in thy soul, it is the grace of God that doth breath it into thee. The wilderness of thy heart cannot bring forth such roses. Thus the Apostle, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves” (2 Cor. 3:5). Though the Apostle speaketh it occasionally in his ministerial employment, yet (it holdeth generally true of every one, of thyself) then thy heart is like a noisome dung hill, nothing but unsavory thoughts do arise from it. But if at any time any good motion, any sad and serious thought stirreth within thee, know this cometh from without, it is put into thee, as the cup of gold in Benjamin’s sack, and therefore this must greatly debase us.

Thirdly, we are not able of ourselves to have the least desire or longing after grace, and a state of holiness. Not only Pelagianism, but Semi-Pelagianism is a dangerous rock to be avoided. The later made our desires to begin, and then God’s grace to succeed and accomplish. But there is not so much as the least groan, the least desire can arise in thy heart. Oh that God would change me! Oh that I were in the state of those that do truly fear God! And the reason is because Scripture describeth us by nature to be dead in sin, and compareth the work of grace to a spiritual resurrection. Oh how great is thy bondage which doth so far oppress thee, that thou canst not so much as long for any freedom! Oh hopeless and wretched man, if left to himself!

Fourthly, from this followeth the next demonstration of our vassalage and spiritual impotency, that we cannot pray to God that he would deliver us out of this misery. No natural man can pray, it is the grace of God that doth enable thereunto, he may utter the words of prayer, he may repeat the expressions, but (alas) he doth not, he cannot pray as God requireth, and so as he will accept of it. The Apostle is clear for this, “The Spirit helpeth our infirmities, for we know not what to pray for as we ought” (Rom. 8:26). Is not this unspeakable misery, who needeth to pray more than thou, and yet thou canst not pray? Thou art sinning, thou art dying, thou are damning, and yet canst not pray. Is not thy heart like an adamant if this break thee not?

Fifthly, such is our impotency and bondage that we are not able to affect ourselves with the fear and terror of the Law, thereby to be convinced and humbled in ourselves. If we cannot do the preparations for grace, much less grace itself. If we cannot do the less, how shall we do the greater? Now one great preparatory work is to have a divine and powerful fear in our souls, by reason of the Law, whereby we are afraid of Hell, of the Day of Judgment, and cannot have any rest in our spirits because of this. Now this is wrought by the Spirit of God in a preparatory way. Romans 8:15 it is called the Spirit of bondage, and John 14, the Spirit doth convince the world of sin. So that in and through the preaching of the Law, and discovery of sin, the Spirit of God doth awaken and terrify the conscience of a man, maketh him afraid, that he cannot eat, or drink, or take the delight he used to do.

It is true, the slavish sinfulness of this fear the Spirit of God doth not work, but the heart being like a muddied pool, when it is moved, such slavish fears will arise likewise. But how far is every natural man from this? He is secure and jolly, blessing and applauding himself, crying peace, peace. All is at quiet within him, because the strong man doth keep the house? It is the voice of the Lord only that can make these mountains to quake and melt.

Sixthly, such is our weakness that we cannot harden or soften our hearts in the least manner, but they remain obdurate and like brass and iron. Thy heart is like a stone within thee, and thou art no ways able to mollify it. Therefore God maketh it his work, and he graciously promiseth, “I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh” (Ezek. 11:19). As if God had said, I know this work is above you, you are not able to do it. And certainly, if the godly themselves (because of the remainders of original corruption do complain of the hardness of their hearts) cannot mollify or soften them as they desire, is it any wonder if the wicked man be not able to remove the stone from him?

Seventh, a man cannot by the power of nature believe, no not so much as with an historical faith, till grace prepare the heart therein. Now faith is the first foundation stone (Heb. 11). He that cometh to God must believe he is, and so he must believe the truth about Christ. But we see by the Pharisees, who heard Christ preach, saw the wonderful miracles he did, yet instead of believing in him did deride and oppose him. So that all the acts of faith, whether dogmatic or saving, we are enabled unto only by the grace of God, “it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given” (Mat. 13:11). Thus Acts 18:27, the disciples are said to believe through grace, faith then is the gift of God, not the work of man’s free will. And if he cannot do this, it is plain he cannot move one foot of himself towards Heaven.

Lastly, such is our impotency that when grace is offered and tendered to us, the will of itself hath no power to consent to it, or make improvement of it. It can, and oft doth resist and refuse grace, but of itself it cannot embrace it. It is true, Papists and Arminians plead hard for this power of the will, but this is to give more to man’s will than to God’s grace, this is to make man to differ himself from others.

It might be thought that the will indeed cannot choose Christ, or receive him as a Lord, because there is no revelation or manifestation of a Christ. They are a people happily who sit in darkness, and have no light, and therefore though they may have an inward power to see, yet for want of light to actuate the medium they cannot. So that the defect ariseth not from the power within, but the manifestation of the object without. And this indeed is greatly to be considered, whether an infidel or pagan (for example) doth not believe, because there is no proposition of the object in the ministry, otherwise if he enjoyed that, then he had power over his own to assent to it.

Now even the Pelagians themselves, and their followers, yea even all that give not grace its full due, yet thus far they do acknowledge there must be a doctrinal revelation by the Spirit of God, of the truths to be acknowledged. And when this light is set (as it were) upon the candlestick, then a man of his own self is able to see. But such is the corruption of man that not only grace must bring in the light, but it must also give the eye to see. So that the work of God’s grace is both objective and subjective, objective in revealing the object, and subjective in preparing and fitting the subject. It being the Lord who doth give the seeing eye, and the hearing ear (Prov. 20:12).

Yea the Arminians go further, acknowledging that grace doth irresistibly work upon the understanding of a man, for it being a passive faculty it cannot withstand its illumination, but the will that retaineth its indifference, when grace hath done all it will do. This therefore is granted that without the grace of God enlightening and revealing, we are not able to believe the mysteries of Christ’s Kingdom. But though all this be granted, yet we say that without further grace (even grace regenerating and sanctifying the will), we are not able to cleave to that which is good. You must not then conceive as if God only offered grace in the ministry, and then the will of man by its own self doth love and delight in it. No, the heart of stone is first to be removed, we are to be new born, and made new creatures, before we can put forth any spiritual life at all.

Not that a man is converted without his will, or that he doth not believe or repent, but the grace of God, only God changeth the will, he quickeneth it, and enliveneth it so, that whereas it was like Sarah’s dead womb before, now it was made fruitful. The grace of God doth not compel the will, but change it. As if water which naturally descendeth be turned into air, then it doth as naturally ascend. Indeed this is a physical change, but the moral change by grace in the will is as notable to its operations. To consent therefore to grace is the work of grace. It is grace that maketh us to will and receive grace.

Hence we see by experience of those many who enjoy the means of grace, how few do effectually and powerfully improve them. Whence is this difference? Is it because one doth use his free will better than another? Surely this would attribute far more to free will than to God’s grace; for it’s the will of man that maketh grace effectual, not grace that maketh the will of man pliable. By this Peter should be no more beholding to the grace of God than Judas; nor David than Saul, seeing (ex parte Dei) all had grace alike, only one used this grace of God by his own power better than another. And thus we shall have something that we did not receive, and we shall make ourselves to differ from other. How derogatory and injurious is this to the grace of God?

¶. 10.

That man naturally loves his Thralldom to sin, and contradicts the Means of Deliverance from it; is a great Aggravation of the Bondage and Servitude of the Will.

Secondly, the miserable bondage of the will to sin, is the more to be aggravated in that it loveth this thralldom, delights to be in this drudgery, even as the swine doth in its mire. Yea it doth vehemently oppose and contradict all the means of deliverance from it. Augustine complained, Velle meum inimicus captivum tenebat, Our will is kept captive, so that if the grace of God come to set us free, we love our bondage better than liberty. We had rather be in our prison with chains upon us than abide in God’s palace. This vassalage of the will to sin is not like a bodily one, which is troublesome and very grievous to those that are detained therein, as we see it was to the Israelites groaning under the yoke, but naturally we delight in this slavery, and look upon that freedom which grace would procure for us as the greatest misery. And this maketh us unspeakably miserable, according to that known rule, Quid miserius misero, non miserante seipsum, What is more miserable than that wretched man, who doth not, who cannot pity himself? You must not therefore conceive of the will of man thus captivated to sin, as if it were against its inclination, as if of itself it did endeavor to cast off this yoke, as it is with some people, who being overpowered, are forced to submit, but yet they wait for and long for an opportunity to set themselves at liberty. No, but the will doth delight and rejoice in this servitude. A man doth willingly give his ears to be bored by his lusts, resolving never to go from this master unless grace change him, and make him a new creature all over.

¶. 11.

The Bondage of the Will is seen in its Concupiscent Affection to some Creature or other, never being able to lift its self up to God.

This want of freedom to anything that is good is seen in the concupiscent affection to some creature or other, never being able to lift itself up to God. And certainly, if you ask, Wherein doth the bondage of the will to sin consist? We may in the general say, in its creature affection, so that the will, which while entire and sound did love God as the chiefest good, and all creatures in reference, and with subordination to him, is now so debased that it creepeth upon the ground, and is not able at all to love anything but itself and the creature. So that now everyone taketh up that request Psal. 4, “Who will shew us any good?” Any temporal good, they desire the Devils offer. So that if he would shew them the glory of the world, and bestow it on them, they would presently fall down and worship.

Oh the unhappy and miserable change that sin hath now made upon the will! Being in absolute subjection to everything that he was made lord over. God put all things under his feet, and now all things have put man under their feet. It’s the love of the world, and the things of the world, that is the iron chain about the will, as that about Nebuchadnezzar’s stump of the tree, so that it can never lift itself up to what is Heaven. This maketh the will like that woman who was bowed down with her infirmity, and could not look up, till Christ healed her and made her straight. This maketh the necessity of a spiritual resurrection so we may set our affections upon things above. This love of the world, and the things thereof, is the sum of all those particular ways whereby we are thus wretchedly enslaved. Therefore when grace cometh, it doth loosen these bonds and make us free by working in us a contrary love, and a contrary sweetness and delight. So that now all the world, with the dainties thereof, are but as so many husks in comparison of that manna he now feedeth upon. And as he that steadfastly beholds the Sun for a while, his eyes are so dazzled that he cannot for a season behold anything else: Thus when grace hath so sanctified and affected the will, that it findeth no greater sweetness and delight than in holy things, this presently maketh him throw away all those bonds that were upon him.

¶. 12.

Herein is the Bondage of the Will seen, that when it doth endeavor to overcome any sin, it is by falling into another.

Fourthly, herein is the bondage of the will seen also that when it doth endeavor to overcome any sin, it is by falling into another. So that the argument usually brought to prove that the will hath some freedom to what is good doth indeed more confirm the servitude of it to sin. For it is often objected that if the will be thus in absolute bondage to sin, how cometh it about that even Heathens have by their own strength reformed their lives, and have abounded in justice, fortitude, and chastity even to admiration?

Is not that instance of Polemon famous, who though a drunkard, yet coming to hear Xenocrates lecture about temperance, was so immediately persuaded thereby, that he presently forsook that beastly sin? In this argument Julian the Pelagian did often triumph. But Augustine’s answer was good, and justifiable by Scripture, that when they left one sin, they fell into another, they did cure one lust by another lust, a carnal one by a spiritual one. For when they did abstain from such sins, it was not in reference to God, and from faith in Christ, but it was either from vain glory, or to be sure a sinful confidence, and resting upon themselves. Therefore even the Stoics, who pretended the highest, that we were to do virtuous actions for virtues sake, yet they came too short of the right mark. For virtue is not to be loved ultimately for virtue’s sake, but that thereby we might draw nearer to God, and be made happy in enjoying of him. Therefore the Stoics opinion did teach a man nothing but self-confidence and self-fullness, which sins are forbidden by the Word of God, as well as Epicurean and gross sins.

Oh then the unspeakable bondage of the will to sin! As the bird in a net, the more she striveth to get out, the more she entangleth herself. Thus it is with the natural man, the more he striveth of himself to come out of this mire, the faster he sticketh in. Thou then who art a natural man, though such a sin and such a sin be left, yet see if when the Devil was cast out, a worse did not come in the room thereof. See if it be not with thee, as in that representation to the prophet, “Thou hast broken the yokes of wood; but thou shalt make for them yokes of iron” (Jer. 28:13), thou hast cured a carnal sin by a spiritual one. For you must know that not only grace doth expel sin, but sometimes one lust may expel another, as the Pharisees spiritual pride, and self-righteousness did make them abhor the Publican’s sins. So that even then the natural man cannot but sin, while he is casting off sin.

Therefore though unregenerate persons may do that which is materially good, and for the substance of the act, yet they can never do that which is formally so; or as Augustine expressed it of old, we must distinguish between the officium, the duty itself, and finis, the end of the duty. Now the end of all till regenerated can never be right or pure, it never ascends high enough even to God himself, because they want faith. So that though Aristides was just, yet he was not the Scripture’s just man that liveth by faith. None of the renowned Heathens were chaste by faith, charitable by faith, temperate by faith, and therefore their glorious actions were only splendid, glistering sins, they had a pompous appearance, but were indeed real vices, which were so far from profiting them as to eternal happiness that they were an hindrance to them, for hereby they trusted in themselves. The Epicurean said, it is good for me frui carne, to enjoy the body. The Stoic said, it was good for me frui mente. But David said it was good for him to draw nigh to God.

¶. 13.

The more Means of Grace to free us, the more our Slavery appears.

Fifthly, herein is our miserable bondage to sin manifested, that the more we have the means of grace to set us at liberty, the more doth our slavery discover itself. So that whatsoever good and holy thing we meet with, it draweth out our corruption the more. This the Apostle complaineth of, as part of that captivity he groaned under, Rom. 7. That the Law which was for good, wrought in him all manner of evil. Thus the Gospel, yea Christ preached, is the occasion of more wickedness and impiety in unregenerate men, than otherwise they would be guilty of. And if this be so, though our heads were fountains of water, yet we could not weep enough for the guilt and wretchedness we are in by this means. For our remedies make our diseases greater, light increaseth our darkness, life causeth death. Insomuch that did not God work by his own power mightily in the use of these means, they might be no longer the means of grace, but of anger and judgment, and the preaching of the Gospel, because of the sad effects which it hath through the willful indisposition of many who hear it, might be as much trouble to us as the presence of the Ark was to the Philistines.

Therefore, the clearer light, the more powerful means of salvation a people do enjoy, the more is the impiety and wickedness of such (whom grace doth not convert) daily increased. Insomuch that the Gospel shining upon such men is like the Sun shining upon a noisome dunghill, which maketh it the more loathsome. How then can there be free will in a man to good, when if left to himself all helps are an hindrance to him, and all remedies are more destructive? Hence Scripture calleth it making of the heart fat (Isa. 6:10), an allusion to beasts, which are prepared to destruction by their best pastures.

¶. 14.

The Necessity of a Redeemer demonstrates our thralldom to sin.

Lastly, that the will is enthralled irrecoverably unto sin appeareth in the necessity of grace, and of Christ as a Redeemer. If we were not in bondage, what need we have a Redeemer? Let not then the common expression in the Schools be liberum arbitrium [free will], but liberatum [freed will], which is a phrase we seldom meet within them. It is good to know the full latitude of that glorious title of our Saviour, a Redeemer. He is so called not only because he redeemeth us from the curse of the law and the guilt of sin, but also because we were under the power and dominion of sin and Satan, daily fulfilling the works of the flesh. So that his death was not only to obtain remission of sins, but to make us a peculiar people zealous of good works, Titus 1:14. And hence also he is said to offer himself a sacrifice, that he might present to God a Church without spot or wrinkle (Eph. 5:27), which will be completely perfected in heaven. To set up free will then, is to pull down our Redeemer. As much as we give to that, we deny to Christ, we make him but a half Savior and an half Redeemer, while we maintain that we set ourselves at liberty from the power of Satan. Oh then let the name of a Redeemer for ever make thee blush and ashamed to speak of a free will.

¶. 15.

An Examination of the Descriptions and Definitions of Freedom or Liberty of Will which many give it; Shewing, that none of them are any ways competent to the unsanctified Will.

We proceed therefore to make a further discovery of the bondage of the will to sin, and that it hath no liberty, no power or ability to do anything that is truly godly. If we take notice of all those ways wherein learned men do place liberty or freedom of will, we shall find evidently that none of these descriptions or definitions are any ways competent to the will while it is unsanctified.

First, if that opinion be received (which Bellarmine and others follow), that liberty is radically in the understanding, though formally in the will, (that is) the reason of the will’s liberty is from the understanding, which doth propound several objects, and thereupon the will is indeterminate, whereas in beasts their appetite is plainly limited, because they want reason; as it is arbitrium, so (they say) it is in intellectu, as liberum so in voluntate. Now (I say) let this be received (for I do not dispute the truth of it) then we must say the will hath no liberty to what is good, because it faileth in the root. The stream cannot run when the spring is dried up. For if we take the understanding in respect of spiritual and heavenly things, so it is altogether darkened and blinded. Therefore there is the grace of illumination required that it may know and believe the things of God, without which men love and delight in darkness rather then light. The things of God are said to be foolishness to a natural man, so that all the while a man hath no more than nature in him, he is like those birds that can see in the night, but are blind in the day. They have quick and sharp apprehensions in worldly and earthly matters, but are altogether stupid and senseless in regard of heavenly.

How then can the will be free, when the mind is altogether dark? For God in conversion, when he will set the will and affections at liberty from sin, begins first in the understanding, light in the mind is first created, there are holy thoughts and spiritual convictions wrought in the soul, and by this light the other parts of the soul come to be sanctified. Now then if there be not so much as this antecedent work upon the mind, the will is as yet very far from the Kingdom of Heaven. Wonder not then if ye see unregenerate men walking and stumbling in the dark, that you see them so captivated unto every lust. You may as soon remove a mountain out of its place as take them off from their iniquities. For how can it be otherwise while the will hath no guide to lead it, none to inform it concerning the evil and danger of those ways it is going in? If there be no light in the mind, there is no liberty in the will, so that hereby both horse and rider are (as it were) thrown into the sea.

Secondly, if to be that liberty doth consist in an active indifference to good or evil, then the will is not free, because the former part of this description (upon scriptural grounds) can no ways be accommodated to the will. This description is generally received and applauded by Arminians and Jesuits as the best (though Gibieus saith it is the worst), making the very formal nature of liberty to consist herein, that when all requisites to an action are supposed, yet the will can do, or not do. This they extend even to spiritual objects, to that great work of conversion, affirming, when grace doth assist and help all it can (so that ex parte Dei, all things are ready that do concur to our conversion). Yet the will, because it is free, retaineth an active indifference, either to accept of this grace offered, or to reject it.

This description we do no ways acknowledge, as that which depriveth God, Christ, and the glorified saints from liberty. And besides, liberty being perfection, and so in the most perfect manner in the most perfect subjects, this doth debase it making a defect part of this perfection. It is wholly absurd to make a power to sin part of liberty. Indeed this was a concomitant of Adam’s liberty, but not because liberty, but because his will was mutable and changeable, so that if he had been corroborated and confirmed in grace, he had not put forth any such experience of his liberty.

Well though we cannot assent to it, yet let it be supposed to be true. The Scripture is very clear and pregnant that a man hath no such indifferent power in him to good or evil. Indeed to evil, that he is carried out unto with all delight, he can of himself kill himself, but he cannot of himself give life to himself. But as for the other part, to be able to love what is good, to believe and to turn himself unto God, this is above his power. For the order of nature and of grace differ as much as the order of sense and reason, so that as the sensitive faculty cannot put forth acts of reason, (the eye cannot discourse and reason), so neither can the rational faculties put forth the acts of grace, which come from a divine nature, and that which is borne from above. All these places which describe man in a spiritual sense to be blind in mind, deaf in ears, and hardened in understanding, yea which say, he is dead in sin. Therefore the work of conversion is compared to regeneration, and to a resurrection. All these do plainly declare that the will hath no activity at all as to the first beginnings of grace.

It is true indeed, there are commands to repent, to be converted, yea we are bid to choose life and death, but there are none of these duties commanded, which in other places are not made the gracious gifts of God. To repent, to be converted, they are promised by God as the workings of his grace, whereby they are both duties and gifts. Although the Arminian thinketh that impossible. They are duties because we are the people who do believe and do repent, and are commanded thereunto. They are also gifts because it is the grace of God alone that doth enable thereunto. When therefore you read of such commands, you must not think that they imply our power and ability, for then grace would be wholly excluded, seeing these Texts speak absolutely, as if a good work were wholly done by our own power; whereas the Arminian and Papist will not wholly exclude grace, and so these Texts would prove more than they contend for. But such commands are still imposed upon us by God, to shew what doth belong to him, what he may justly expect from us. For seeing he created man with full power and ability to keep these commands, if man willfully cast himself into an utter impotency, God hath not thereby lost the right of commanding, though we have the power of obeying.

Besides by these commands, as we are to know our duty, so thereby also we are provoked to be deeply humbled under our great inability, seeing ourselves treasuring up wrath every day, and preparing more torments for ourselves, unless the grace of God doth deliver us. Yea by these commands God doth work grace, they are practical and operative means whereby he doth communicate life unto us.

And lastly, therefore God doth use commands because this way is suitable to man, who is a rational agent. For although the work of grace is more than merely persuasive, it is efficacious and really changing the heart, so that the Spirit of God doth far more in converting of a sinner than the Devil doth in tempting to sin. Yet God dealeth suitably to the nature of a man. We are not like stocks and stones to whom it is ridiculous to preach, there being not in them a passive capacity of receiving the work of grace. Hence it is that the Word is preached, miracles are wrought, powerful arguments are used to draw off the heart. So that grace doth work ethicophysically (as some express it), commands then and threats are used, because grace is wrought in us after a rational manner, in an attempered manner to our constitution. The understanding being first wrought upon so the will and affections may more readily give up themselves.

Thirdly, if liberty be the same with voluntariness and no more (as many learned men do contend, making voluntas and liberum arbitrium all one, as that which is opposed to co-action and natural necessity; yea if we add Aurtelus’ opinion to this, that libertas was nothing but complacentia, liberty is the complacency and delight of the will in its object), then in this sense (if rightly understood), a man hath no freedom to what is holy. It is true indeed, the learned to shew that grace in converting doth not destroy the liberty of the will (viz. the natural liberty), no more than the will itself. Grace doth not compel the will, or put an inherent natural necessity upon it. For if there could be co-action, the velle would be nolle, which is a contradiction; and if a natural necessity could be imposed upon it, it would not be appetitus rationalis, a rational appetite. Though grace in converting of man doth insuperably and invincibly change the will, making it of unwilling willing, so that there is a necessity, not natural, but of immutability. The will doth most certainly give itself up to the grace of God mollifying and fashioning of it for that purpose. This iron (as it were) is put into the fire and then is made pliable to receive any form or impression, yet the essential liberty is not destroyed.

For the question about free will is not an sit [could]? but quid possit [what can]? And herein lieth the difficult knot in this whole point about grace and the will of man. How to assert the irresistible (as many call it, but others reject that expression, though the sense of those who use it is very sound and significant enough) work of grace, insuperably determining the will to that which is good, and yet to be free from co-action or such a necessity as is destructive to liberty? The quomodo [manner]. How these two are to be reconciled is that which in all ages hath exercised the most learned and judicious. Insomuch that some have advised to rest in it by faith, as in a mystery above our understanding, even as we do in many other doctrines to be believed by us. But I am not to ascend this mountain at this time.

This is enough for our purpose, to shew that if liberty be said to consist in willing a thing freely from co-action and necessity, even in this respect, we have not thus far liberty to good, because it is God that worketh in us to will. Indeed when we do will, we are not compelled by the grace of God, only we cannot will till the grace of God enable us thereto. “It is not of him that willeth,…but of God that sheweth mercy” (Rom. 9:16). Neither are we born of the will of man, but of God. It is grace then only that maketh us to will the good things tendered to us, though the will in eliciting of this is not compelled, but doth it freely, yea grace giveth this freedom to it, so that grace doth not destroy, but give liberty. And therefore Augustine of old urged that they denied Liberum arbitrium, who would not have it Liberatum, they cannot hold free will in a true sense that do not hold free and efficacious grace, which giveth the will all the strength it hath to what is good. Thus liberty, if it be the same with willingness, we have it not of ourselves till the grace of God bestow it upon us.

Fourthly, if liberty consists in having dominion and power over our actions, then also the will cannot be said to be free as to do holy things. For although the will, when it doth will, is the subordinate cause under God of its own action, and as a cause, so also may be said to have dominion over it, yet because the actual willing of what is good doth not arise or exist by the strength of the will, but by the grace of God, therefore it is that (in respect of good things) the will cannot be said to have the dominion over them. This definition of liberty [to have a dominion over our own actions], is by Jansenius asserted to be the true and proper meaning of Augustine, that his judgment is, then the will is said to be free when it hath dominion and power over what it doth. If so, no wonder then the will be so often said to be captivated and enslaved, that it hath no freedom to what is holy. For what power can the will have over holy actions, when it is corrupted and defiled, that no holy thought, or holy motion is under the power of it. It was Ambrose’s complaint of old that cor nostrum non est in nostra potestate, our heart is not in our power, but sinful and evil workings of soul rise up in us, which we are no ways able to extinguish.

Fifthly, if liberty be (as Anselm of old defined it, to which some Neotericks do adhere) facultas servandi rectitudinem, propter rectitudinem ipsam, that it is a power to observe that which is right, for righteousness sake, then this doth evidently proclaim that man hath no free will. For to observe that which is holy and righteous for holiness sake, which must needs argue a man regenerated and borne again. And indeed liberty in this sense is nothing but the image of God repaired in a man, and so is no more than to be like God himself. And now that every man by nature hath lost this image of God is so plain, that the experience of every man concerning his distance from God may fully confirm it. If to this be added Aquinas’ description, that it is vis electiva mediorum servato ordine ad finem, a power to choose means with a due order and respect to the end (yet still freedom in the will to what is good cannot be found). For as (saith he) the understanding, which is an apprehensive faculty, hath its simple and bare apprehension of a thing (viz. of the first principles), and then it hath another act, which is to reason and discourse, and that is properly of conclusions to be deduced from those principles. So what principles are in respect of conclusions to the understanding, the same the end is in respect of the means to the will. And therefore as the understanding doth necessarily err when it doth not discourse suitably to the first principles, so the will, which is the appetitive part of a man, must necessarily sin when it doth not choose means with a due order to the end. Now God being the chief end of all our actions, how impossible is it for the will corrupted as it is, to will riches, health, learning, or any creature in reference to God as the end?

Lastly, if liberty consist (as Gibieuf would have it) in an amplitude of spirit and independence upon the creature, so that it is above every created object with an eminent magnanimity of spirit adhering to God alone, and resting in him as the chiefest good, then it is plain also that by nature the will of man is utterly impotent to this thing. For the love of the creature is so predominant that we live and do all things in reference to that. So that whereas grace maketh us to do all things of God, and through God, and to God, now the creature doth so reign in our hearts, that we move only in all the workings of our soul to it. Aristotle observeth that some are slaves by nature, and such have no reason of their own to guide them, that do sentire rationem magìs quàm habere, feel reason rather then make use of it. And if we speak in a spiritual sense, we are all thus born slaves and vassals, not being able to put forth the acts of true and right reason, but do follow the lusts of our own soul, and are taken captive by the Devil at his will.

Thus we have at large discovered the bonds and chains of sin our wills are fastened in. Oh that in the reading of this God would breathe into the souls of such wretched sinners strong desires and ardent groans to be redeemed from this thralldom! Shall the ungodly say concerning Christ, “Let us break his bonds” (Psa. 2), when yet they are bonds of love, which are for our eternal happiness? And wilt not thou rather cry out concerning these bonds and these yokes, which are for thy eternal damnation, Let us break them and rend them asunder? Doth not the senselessness and stupidity of men, while they hear these things too sadly evidence the state of thralldom we are in to sin?

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