Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

man ; but as soon as it directs itself to particular objects it finds itself limited by the divine order of the world, so that it can take only the direction where the way has been left open for it by the latter." Before his fall man was equally able to sin or not to sin, "posse peccare et posse non peccare." After the fall, and without grace, he can only sin, " posse peccare et non posse non peccare." By the aid of prevenient grace he can sin or not sin, "posse peccare et posse non peccare." In the state of Christian sanctification he has risen above the liability to sin, "posse non peccare et non posse peccare." With such essentially catholic synergistic views the retention of predestination could manifestly be but an empty phraseology.

Alexander Hales (ob. 1245) says: "God's foreknowledge is all-embracing, and yet man's acts are truly free and contingent. Free-will and destination stand in no contradiction to each other: Ipsum liberum nostrum arbitrium est una causarum secundum cujus ordinationem ad suos effectus currit series fati." With these views of Hales Albertus Magnus fully coincides. He distinctly holds that human volition is a true cause.

Thomas Aquinas, (ob. 1274,) though seriously entangled in the innovations of Augustine, yet constantly repels the unethical consequences of that system. He assigns a positive value to the free-will of man. Says Shedd, (ii, 312:) Aquinas *' teaches that the remission of sin depends to a certain extent upon the character and conduct of the individual." Thus Aquinas is a synergist.

Bonaventura (ob. 1274) speaks of predestination, but bases it in God's foreknowledge of the free conduct of man: "Praescientia includit in cognitione liberum arbitrium et ejus cooperationem et vertibilitatem." This is the uniform catholic view.

Duns Scotus (ob. 130S) is no longer hampered by the novelties of Augustine. He thoroughly safeguards man's moral autonomy. In the will we are to distinguish between potentia and habitus, between formal freedom and determined freedom. The latter is generated by the action of the former, and not the converse, as Augustine taught; otherwise, freedom would be compromised. Conformity to the will of God, as effected by man in co-operation with grace, constitutes a fitness for heavenly reward. Predestination is contingent. It in no way binds the freedom of man.

The tendency of Duns Scotus in respect to man's moral autonomy was the prevailing one in the following centuries.

"We pass at once to the last of the scholastics, Gabriel Biel, ob. 1495. Biel taught that inherited depravity is not per se positive, damnable sin. It is a defect, (" carentia justitiae originalis.") Man, though free, is yet unable without assisting grace (" gratia gratum faciens ") to lead a God-pleasing life. It is only by the co-operation of grace and our own moral nature that rewardable virtue (" bonum meritorium ") is possible. Biel went so far as to hold that as man possesses real, not seeming, moral freedom, hence he is abstractly able to avoid sin; but that, nevertheless, in the concrete reality of life this abstract possibility is never realized. A holy life is never realized without grace. Such is the extent of Biel's much-decried Pelagianism.

But the uncatholic fatalism of Augustine was not entirely lost sight of. Occasionally an isolated mind, charmed with its seeming high appreciation of grace, raised a feeble voice in its behalf. Thus Thomas Bradwardine (ob. 1349) proclaimed the most absolute fatalism. In order to exalt God and abase man he held that God is the sole, direct, absolute cause of all that takes place in time. Hence there is no ground for a distinction between foreordination and foreknowledge. Predestination does not depend on foreknowledge — " quod nulla scientia Dei causatur a posterioribus rebus scitis."' Even sin is, in a certain sense, willed by God." Man's will is a mere form in which God's will operates. God's will and grace are irresistible and unconditioned.

It was only by such uncatholic, unscriptural, fatalistic, and pantheistic errors that earnest though narrow men like Gottschalk and Bradwardine undertook to counteract the over-emphasizing of human ability which had practically, not theoretically, been occasionally exhibited by official orthodoxy. It is but the uniform phenomenon of human weakness. "Similia similibus curantur." One error is thought to be cured by another. But the matter is worse than that in this case. For a merely practical error is thought to be cured by committing a grave theological one. Human autonomy, moral liberty, is thought to be kept within due limits by suppressing it altogether. Divine co-operating grace is thought to be honored by making it all-operative, and by changing it from an ethical to a magico-dynamic character.

The earnest Wiclif (ob. 1384) fell into this fatalistic departure from catholicity. In the footsteps of Bradwardine he held that God's causative action is the sole cause of all that is. And he avoided making God the direct cause of sin only by denying all positive character to sin. Sin is not an actuality, but simply a non ens. So far as sin exists, it is willed by God: "Dens necessitat creaturas singulas activas ad quemlibet actum suum." This manifestly annihilates all possibility of human freedom. And yet Wiclif stands aghast at this consequence, and endeavors by subtleties to avoid it. Thus his moral consciousness is synergistic and catholic, while his speculations are Angustinian and Gottschalkiau.

It is by a curious though entirely unessential connection of things that the Reformation of the sixteenth century—that . intense virtualization of man's moral autonomy, (avTE^ovmov,) that highest proof of the reality of man's individual initiative power—becoming outwardly associated with an unorthodox form of doctrine, theoretically annihilated that very autonomy of which it was itself the intensest exemplification. That this association of a revived Christian life in Luther, Zwinglius, and Calvin with nncatholic and unorthodox notions of an unconditional predestination and of the irresistibility of grace, was not essential but simply incidental, is evident (to cite but a single reason) from the entire absence of these notions from the great Wesleyan revival of the eighteenth century. What more thorough, spiritual, and lasting reformation than this can be cited in the whole history of the Church? And who denies its thoroughly synergistic character?

But the alliance of the Reformation with an uncatholic speculative theology is readily accounted for on historical grounds. Bv the time of the Reformation it had become a long-standing tradition that opposition to the official orthodoxy should assume the form of an exaggerated Augustinianism. In the first place the predestinarian innovations of Augustine himself had been officially condemned. Then, in the ninth century, when the wandering monk, Gottschalk, put himself into antagonism to the Church of the age, it was in the name of an extreme supralapsarian predestination that he appeared. Gottschalk was rewarded for his zeal by being harassed and vexed to death. Thus his earnest, persecuted life and his high predestinarianism became historically closely associated. Four centuries later Bradwardine revived the fatalistic views of Gottschalk. He escaped persecution only by dying before official attention became fixed upon him. Wiclif took up the views of Bradwardine, and was condemned and persecuted. Hnss, whose theology was but an echo of that of Wiclif, was condemned, and his followers were put down by fire and sword. Thus it had become traditional that earnest protests against the practical irreligion of the priesthood were allied with an uncatholic theology. And thus it was a prion almost certain that any future assaults upon the religious abuses of the official Church would be associated with an unorthodox predestinationism. And this merely incidental historical association constituted in fact the mold by which, a century later, the theoretical systems of Luther and Calvin were actually shaped.

Before noticing the peculiar doctrines of Luther and Calvin, it will be well to trace the current of Latin orthodoxy down to its latest utterances on the question before us.

Wimpina (pb. 1531) charged Luther with teaching direct fatalism. To this he opposed the catholic doctrine thus: If even the heathen, (Bom. i, 14,) who have but the "lex naturae," can by preventing grace (" solo auxilio divino praeventi ") do works "moraliter bona," how much more is this the case with those who have the "lex scripta" and the help of special grace! —" auxilium gratuito movens!" Grace is not irresistible— "hominem non cogit ad bene operandum." It simply works with the will—" assistat et juvet arbitrium." We are synergists with God: "Dei sumus adjutores, quod alii synergos, id est, cooperatores appellarunt." The "libertas arbitrii" is annulled neither by preventing grace (" generalis influentia ") nor by the grace of special awakening, (" auxilium gratuito voluntatem movens;") but it is simply helped. The ground of predestination is the foreseen good or bad conduct of the subject. Without grace men cannot turn to God—" non possunt sese praeparare."

The notorious Eck (ob. 1543) pleaded boldly for orthodoxy against the early fatalism of Melanchthon: "Quia omnia dc necessitate absoluta eveniunt, nulla est arbitrii libertas." Against this he had but to exclaim: "What need, then, for preoes, cotisilia, praemia virtutum, poenae, leges, statuta! Though we owe to God all that we have, yet this does not exclude the "activitas liberi arbitrii." Though without grace a holy life is impossible, yet the action of grace is not of a physico-dynamic character; it does not force, but it co-operates with the will."

Erasmus (ol. 1536) stood firm against the revival of the errors of Augustine. He held thus: Freedom of will in man in general still exists, otherwise sin would not be sin. Our good lives are the joint products of divine grace and human freedom. Awakening grace is universal; no one is without it.

The Council of Trent (1546) in its philosophy of regeneration formulated what had been essentially the voice of orthodoxy from the beginning. It held thus: By the fall of Adam all men have so become the servants of sin that they are unable (" non possunt") by the law of nature to be liberated (" liberari ") therefrom. Nevertheless, free-will is not extinct. The beginning of the regenerated life is from the prevenient grace of God. This grace becomes effective by man's freely assenting to and co-operating with it, (" gratiae libere assentiendo et cooperando.") Though man is able to reject grace, yet he is unable by his own free-will (" libera sud voluntate ") to turn to holiness. "If anyone eaith that man's free-will, moved and excited by God, by assenting to God exciting and calling, nowise co-operates toward disposing and preparing itself for obtaining the grace of justification, and that it cannot refuse its consent if it would, but that, as something inanimate, it does nothing whatever, and is merely passive: let him be anathema." So reads Canon IV, on Justification. And Canon V is equally explicit: "If any one saith that. since Adam's sin the free-will of man is lost and extinguished; or, that it is a thing with only a name; yea, a name without a reality, a figment, in fine, introduced into the Church by Satan: let him be anathema." And the unorthodox notion of the physico-dynamic action of grace is thus condemned in Canon XXIII: "If any one saith that a man once justified can sin

« IndietroContinua »