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God, as the naked essence of a Deity. Inferior creatures may, and do move within the compass of their natures, and yet they reach that end which was propounded and assigned to their being; but such was the special and peculiar love of God, which He manifested to a rational nature, as that it must be advanced above itself by a
supernatural aid,'1 before it can be blest with so great a perfection as to arrive to the full end of its being.
Yet God has touched Nature with Himself, and draws it by the attractive and magnetical virtue of so commanding an object as His own essence is, which makes Nature affect and desire somewhat supernatural, that it may make nearer approaches unto happiness. For this end, God did assume human nature to the Divine, that He might make it more capable of this perfection, and by a strict love-knot and union might make it partaker of the Divine nature; not that it is changed into it, but that it has the very subsistence of its happiness by it. Every being does naturally long for its own perfection; and, therefore, a rational nature must needs thus breathe and pant after God, and the nearer it comes to him, the more intensely and vehemently it does desire him ; for, as they tell us, 'the nearer a body approaches to its centre, the more cheerful and vigorous is its motion.” The understanding that sees most of God desires to see more of Him ; its eye will never leave rolling till it fix itself in the very centre of the Divine essence.
Nature, that has but some weak glimpses of Him, has but faint and languishing velleities 3 after Him. "The heathens seem to nod after a summum bonum.'4 What the state and condition of those heathens was and is, in
1 Supernaturale auxilium.
Motus naturalis velocior est in fine. 3 The term used to signify the lowest degree of desire.'-Locke, Hum. Und. b. ji. ch. 20. 4 Οι μεν εκ φύσεως νεύουσι προς το αγαθόν.
order to eternal happiness, we cannot easily nor certainly determine ; yet this much may be safely granted, though we say not with the Pelagians, that the improvements of 1 nature can make men happy ; nor yet with the semi-Pelagians, that natural preparations and predispositions do bespeak and procure grace; nor yet with the Papists and Arminians, that works flowing from grace do contribute to more grace and glory; yet this we say, that upon the improvement of any present strength, God, out of His free goodness, may, if He please, give more. As God freely gave them nature, which makes Pelagius sometimes call nature grace; and as He freely, and out of His grace, gave them some improvement of nature, so He might as freely give them supernatural strength, if it so please Him. Yet a creature cannot come to heaven by all those improvements which are built upon nature's foundation ; for if it should accurately and punctually observe every jot and tittle of Nature's law, yet this natural obedience would not be at all correspondent or commensurate to a supernatural happiness, which makes Saint Augustine break out into such an expression as this : 'I doubt whether he who says that a man can be saved without Christ, can himself be saved by Christ;'1 for this is the only way, the new and living way,' by which God will assume human nature to Himself, Heb. X. 20. and make it happy.
Yet, notwithstanding, their censure is too harsh and rigid, who, as if they were judges of eternal life and death, damn Plato and Aristotle without any question, without any delay at all; and do as confidently pronounce that they are in hell, as if they saw them flaming there. Whereas the infinite goodness and wisdom of God might, for aught we know, find out several ways of saving
* Qui dicit hominem servari posse sine Christo, dubito an ipse per Christum servari possit.
such by the pleonasms of His love in Jesus Christ; He might make a Socrates a branch of the true vine, and might graft Plato and Aristotle into the fruitful olive; for it was in His power, if He pleased, to reveal Christ unto them, and to infuse faith into them after an extraordinary manner; though, indeed, the Scripture does not afford our charity any sufficient ground to believe that He did ; neither doth it warrant us peremptorily to conclude the contrary. These are 'secrets of God.' It does not much concern us to know what became of them ; let us then forbear our censure, and leave them to their competent Judge.?
But when we mention Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, and the more eminent and refined ones among the heathen, you must be sure not to entertain such a thought as this, that the excellency of their intellectuals and morals did move and prevail with the goodness of God to save them inore than others of the heathen, as if these were dispositions having a congruous, though not condignous merit of salvation.'3 This, indeed, were nothing but Pelagianism a little disguised ; whereas you must resolve it only into the free grace of God that did thus distinguish them here in time, and might more distinguish them eternally, if it pleased Him to bestow a Saviour upon them. Which grace of God is so free as that it might save the worst of the heathen and let go the rest; it might save an Aristophanes as well as a Socrates, nay, before a Socrates, as well as a Publican before a Pharisee.
i Secreta Dei.
2 To a flippant young man, who asked the most Socrates-like Christian divine I ever knew, whether Socrates and Plato would be found in heaven ? the reply was, 'Our first concern is to get there ourselves, and, if we succeed, we shall find these great men there, or a good reason why they are not there.'- Ed.
3 Dispositiones de congruo merentes salutem æternam. The reference is to the casuistic distinction between merit of congruity and merit of condignity.
Not only all heathen, but all men are of themselves in equal circumstances in order to eternal happiness; it is God only that makes the difference, according to His own determinations, that were eternal and unconditional. Yet I am far from the mind of those patrons of universal grace, that make all men in an equal propinquity to salvation, whether Jews, or Pagans, or Christians; which is nothing but dight and gilded Pelagianism, while it makes grace as extensive and catholic, a principle of as full latitude, as nature is, and resolves all the difference into created powers and faculties. This makes the barren places of the world in as good a condition as the garden of God, as the enclosure of the Church. It puts a philosopher in as good an estate as an apostle. For if the saving remedy,'l be equally applied to all by God himself, and happiness depends only upon men's regulating and composing of their faculties, how then comes a Christian to be nearer to the kingdom of heaven than an Indian ? Is there no advantage by the light of the Gospel shining among men with healing under its wings ? Surely, though the free grace of God may Mal. iv. 2. possibly pick and choose a heathen sometimes, yet, certainly, He does there more frequently pour His goodness into the soul where He lets it stream out more clearly and conspicuously in external manifestations. It is an evident sign that God intends more salvation there, where He affords more means of salvation; if, then, God do choose and call a heathen, it is not by universal but by distinguishing grace. They make grace nature that make it as common as nature. Whereas nature, when it was most triumphant, shining in its primitive beauty and glory, yet even then it could not be happy without grace. Adam hiniself, besides his 'purity of nature,'? had also
1 Remedium salutiferum, • Integritas naturæ.
the help of grace ;'1 for, as the schoolmen explain it, though he had strength fit for performing all natural duties, yet, in fact, he did nothing without the help of grace.'? As, if you expect any goodly and delicious clusters from a vine, besides its own internal form, which we will style Nature, there must be also the help of grace ;'3 the sun must favour it and shine upon it, the rain must nourish it and drop upon it, or else Nature will never be pregnant and fruitful. Adam's candle did not shine so clearly but that grace was fain to snuff it. Nature, though it were complete and entire, yet it was fain to strengthen and support itself by its twinings about grace, and for want of the powerful support and manu-tenency4 of grace, Nature fell down presently; it startled from itself, and apostatized like a broken bough.
What mean the Pelagians to tell us of a 'natural felicity,'5 when Nature now is surrounded with so many frailties and miseries, so many disorders and imperfections ? Yet were it as green and flourishing as ever it was when it was first planted in paradise, even then it would be too remote from happiness; for perfect happiness excludes and banishes all futurity and possibility of misery, which Nature never yet did, nor could do. And happiness never flows out till the sun look upon it, till it see the face of God himself, whom Nature's eye will never be able to behold. Yet, О how desirous is Nature of this ! how inquisitive is human nature into the causes of things, and esteems it no small piece of its beatitude if it can find them out,
'Happy is he who of things is able to find out the causes.'' 1 Adjutorium gratiæ.
2 Vires idoneas ad prestanda omnia naturalia ; reipsa tamen nihil præstitit sine auxilio gratiæ.
3 Auxilium gratiæ. 4 Holding by the hand- a word, I suspect, of the author's coinage, which has not become current.--Ed.
5 Naturalis beatitudo. Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas.–Virgil, Georg. ii. 490.