« PreviousContinue »
it is no marvel, if, before the Pelagian controverfy was moved, they dropped fome things which were not fo agreeable to the doctrines of fpecial grace, or even to their own fentiments concerning them; fince they had never been put upon the more ftrict examination and defence of these things, and fo wrote without guard. This made Austin fay, in answer to Profper and Hilary, who moved to have the fenfe of former writers concerning predestination and grace, in order to stop the mouths of fome cavillers; "What need is there to fearch into their works, who before this herefy arofe, were under no neceffity of troubling themselves to folve this difficult queftion; which without doubt they would have done, had they been obliged to anfwer to such things. Hence it is that what they thought of the grace of God, they have briefly and tranfiently touched upon in fome places of their writings, but dwelt on those things in which they difputed against other enemies of the church."
6. It is worthy of notice, and what ferves greatly to show the general fenfe of the Chriftian church concerning thefe doctrines, that when Pelagius firft broached his notions concerning grace and free-will, they were looked upon as new and unheard of, and were condemned by feveral councils;
De Praedeft. Sanct. 1. 1. c. 14.
by one at Diofpolis in Palestine, at which were fourteen bithops; by two at Carthage, in the laft of which were fixty-feven bishops; and by another at Milevis in Africa, which confifted of fixty bishops. And in the first of these Pelagius recanted, and was obliged to fubfcribe the condemnation of his tenets, or elfe he had been anathematized. So that Austin was far from being the only perfon that rose up and oppofed him. And indeed Pelagius for fome time had very few, that either did or dared openly to efpoufe his notions. And as for Austin, he was fo far from being alone in his fentiments, that it was well" known that not only the Roman and African churches, but all the fons of promife in all parts of the world, agreed with his doctrine, as in the whole of faith, fo in the confeffion of grace;" as Profper obferves f.
I have only further to obferve, that the teftimonies produced in the following work, are taken from the writers before Auftin. I have made no use of him, nor of Profper and Fulgentius, his two boatswains; as Dr. Whitby & very wittily no doubt, as he thought, calls them: Nor have I taken any citations upon truft from others; but what is here prefented to the reader, is the fruit of my
• Vid. Voff. Pelag. Hift. 1. 1. c. 40, 41, 42, 43. f Epift. ad Ruffin. p. 304.
Pref. p. 6. Ed. 2. p. 3.
own reading, care and diligence. I fay not this in an oftentatious way, but that the reader may more fafely depend upon them. To all which I only add, that I have not attempted an elegant tranflation of these teftimonies, but have as much as poffible purfued a literal one, left I should be thought to impofe my own fenfe upon an author. Great allowance must be made those writers, on account of the age in which they lived, and the ftile in which they wrote: Nor can it be expected they should write with exactnefs and accuracy, or exprefs themselves as moderns do, upon points which had never been the fubject of controverfy. I do not pretend to reconcile all their different expreffions, which may feem contradictions to themselves, and to truth: What I propose, and have in view, is to make it appear that the Arminians have no great reafon to boast of antiquity on their fide; and I hope, on the perufal of the following fheets, it will be allowed that this point is gained.
HAT the doctrine of Abfolute Election and Reprobation bears a contradiction to the fentiments of the antient Fathers, Dr. Whitby fays is fo evident, that Calvin, Beza, and many other patrons of it, do partly confefs it; and therefore he shall content himself with three or four demonstrations of this truth. As to the confeffions of Calvin and Beza, the former only obferves", that the doctrine of Election and Reprobation, according to God's fore-knowledge, has had magnos authores, great authors or abettors in all ages; and the latter, that Origen led most of the Greek and Latin writers into that grofs error, that the forefight of works is the cause of election. But thefe confeffions, as they are called, are fo far from granting that the doctrine of Abfolute Election and Reprobation contradicts the fentiments of all the antient Fathers, that they plainly fuppofe that fome were
8 Difcourfe, &c. p. 96. Ed. 2. 95. Poftfcript, P. 557. Ed. 2. 534. Inftit. 1. 3. c. 22. S. 1.
for it. As for his three or four demonftrations, they are taken from feveral paffages of the antients, refpecting the power of man's free-will; from their expofition of the 8th and 9th chapters of the epiftle to the Romans, which will be confidered hereafter; and from the teftimonies of Voffius and Profper. The words of Voffius, but not as the Doctor has rendred them, are thefe: "The Greek Fathers always, and thofe of the Latin Fathers, who lived before Austin, are wont to fay, that they were predeftinated unto life, whom God forefaw would live piously and rightly; or as others fay, whom he forefaw would believe and perfevere." The Doctor ought to have tranfcribed what Voffius adds, which ferves to explain their fenfe; "Which, fays he, they fo interpret, that predeftination to glory may be faid to be made according to prefcience of faith and perseverance: But they did not mean the prescience of thofe things which man would do from the ftrength of nature, but what he would do from the strength of grace, both preventing and fubfequent. So that the confent of antiquity nothing helps the Pelagians, or Semipelagians; for they both believed that the cause of predeftination is given on the part of man, according to all effects. But the Catholicks owned, that the first grace is be
Hift. Pelag, 1. 6. Thef. 8. p. 538, 539.