(BE) - A Brief Exposition of the Teachings for the New Church Meant by the New Jerusalem in the Book of Revelation

BE 15

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15. Concerning free-will, from the Formula Concordiae. (a) That man has plenary impotence in spiritual things (pp. 15, 18, 219, 318, 579, 656, seq.; Appendix, p. 141). (b) That man by the fall of his first parents is become so totally corrupt, that he is by nature blind with respect to spiritual things which relate to conversion and salvation, and judges the Word of God to be a foolish thing; and that he is and continues to be an enemy to God, until by the power of the Holy Spirit, through preaching and hearing of the Word, he is of mere grace, without any the least cooperation on his part, converted, gifted with faith, regenerated and renewed (pp. 656, 657). (e) That man is altogether corrupt and dead to what is good, so that in the nature of man, since the fall, and before regeneration, there is not so much as a spark of spiritual strength subsisting or remaining, whereby he can prepare himself for the grace of God, or apprehend it when offered, or of and by himself be capable of receiving it, or understand, believe, embrace, think, will, begin, perfect, act, operate, cooperate in spiritual things, or apply or accommodate himself to grace, or contribute anything towards his conversion, either in the whole, the half, or the least part (pp. 656, 658). (d) That man in spiritual and Divine things, which regard salvation, is like the statue of salt into which Lot's wife was turned, and like a stock or a stone without life, which have neither the use of eyes, mouth, nor any of the senses (pp. 661, 662). (c) That still man has a locomotive power, by virtue whereof he can govern his outward members, attend public assemblies, and hear the Word and the Gospel; but that in his private thoughts he despises it as a foolish thing; and in this respect is worse than a stock, unless the Holy Spirit is efficacious in him (pp. 662, 671, 672, 673). (f) That still it is not with man in his conversion, as in the forming of a stone into a statue, or the stamping of an impression upon wax, which have neither knowledge, sense, nor will (pp. 662, 681). (g) That man in his conversion is a merely passive subject, and not an active one (pp. 662, 681). (h) That man in his conversion does not at all cooperate with the Holy Spirit (pp. 219, 579, 583, 672, 676; Appendix, pp. 143, 144). (i) That man since the fall retains and possesses the faculty of knowing natural things, as also free-will in some measure to choose natural and civil good (pp. 14, 218, 641, 664; Appendix, p. 142). (j) That the assertions of certain fathers, and modern doctors, that God draws man, but draws him in a manner consistent with his will, are not consonant with Holy Scripture (pp. 582-583). (k) That man, when he is born again by the power of the Holy Spirit, cooperates, though in much weakness, from the new powers and gifts, which the Holy Spirit has begun to operate in him at his conversion, not indeed forcibly, but spontaneously (pp. 582, seq., 673-675); Appendix, p. 144). (l) That in the regenerate, not only the gifts of God, but likewise Christ Himself dwells by faith, as in His temples (pp. 695, 697, 698; Appendix, p. 130). (m) There is an immense difference between baptized and not baptized men; for it is the doctrine of Paul, that all who have been baptized, have put on Christ, and are truly regenerate, having thereby acquired a freedom of will, that is to say, being again made free, as Christ testifies, whence they not only hear the Word of God, but are likewise enabled, though in much weakness, to assent to it and embrace it by faith (p. 675).
It is proper to observe, that the foregoing extracts are taken from a book called Formula Concordiae, which was composed by men attached to the Augsburg Confession; but that nevertheless the like doctrines concerning justification by faith alone are maintained and taught by the Reformed in England and Holland; wherefore the following treatise is intended for all; see below (n. 17, 18).


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