CHAPTER III : OF FREE-WILL IN THE FALLEN STATE, AND OF EFFECTUAL VOCATION OR CONVERSION TO GOD
The Arminians not only deny election to be an eternal, peculiar, unconditional, and irreversible act of God; and assert that Christ died equally and indiscriminately for every individual of mankind; for them that perish no less than for them that are saved; but they also aver that saving grace is tendered to the acceptance of every man; which he may or may not receive, just as he pleases. That the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit in conversion is not invincible but is suspended, or depends for its efficacy on the will of man. That notwithstanding Christ's death, it was possible (in respect of free-will) that all should perish; that now, by His death for all, true grace is given to all; which they may improve, hold fast, and be saved; or despise, neglect, cast away, and be lost!
The will of man is naturally a self-determining power and principle, but hath since the Fall the strong bias of sin upon it. Freedom is radically and originally in the will, not in the understanding; and it is an essential property of it, that it cannot be compelled by any created external agent, in its own free choice. Now it is no wonder, if many mistakes arise about this great engine of the Almighty, since the soul knows not itself but by reflection; and though we know its qualities and operations, yet we know not its essence.
Man is considered in a fourfold state:
The state of creation, therein he had free-will either to good or evil, but was necessitated to neither.
The state of degeneration, wherein he is a servant to sin, and necessitated to evil.
The state of regeneration, wherein he is freed from the slavery and dominion of sin, and from the love of sin, though not at present, from the inbred corruptions and in being of it.
The state of glorification, wherein man is both freely and necessarily good, perfect, and happy. In the first estate, man is free; in the second, a slave; in the third, set free; and in the fourth, having a glorious liberty.
The controversy is concerning the second state, wherein we say, that man is under a necessity of sinning, yet free from coercion; he is free to evil, but not to good; which appears by the following arguments:
Objections in Favour of Free-Will Answered
Objection 1. There is a law written in the hearts of fallen mankind (Ro 2:15).
Objection 2. Why is man blamed for resisting the Spirit, if there is no free-will (Ac 7:51; Mt 23:37).
Objection 3. Why doth God say, "What could I do more to My vineyard?" (Isa 5:4).
Objection 4. Man is a rational creature; his will cannot be determined by anything from without, it being a self-determining principle.
"Not all the outward forms on earth,
Nor rites that God hath given,
Not will of man, nor blood, nor birth,
Can raise a soul to Heaven.
The sovereign will of God alone,
Creates us heirs of grace;
Both in the image of His Son,
A new peculiar race.
Thus quicken'd souls awake and rise
From the long sleep of death;
On Heavenly things they fix their eyes,
And praise employs their breath."
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