The life of those who dwell in the secret place of the Most High may be called a Hidden Life, because the animating principle, the vital or operative element, is not so much in itself as in another. It is a life grafted into another life. It is the life of the soul, incorporated into the life of Christ; and in such a way, that, while it has a distinct vitality, it has so very much in the sense, in which the branch of a tree may be said to have a distinct vitality from the root.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Human Moral Freedom

But what is to be said of human freedom and human responsibility?

If our dependence upon God is to be so strict, and our self-renunciation is to be so entire, is there good reason for regarding man as a being, either possessed of the elements, or responsible for the fact of moral accountability?

The simple truth is, that God never has violated; he never will violate; and while he remains what he is, he never can violate the moral freedom of his creatures. He gave them moral freedom; and the gift itself is the pledge of its protection. This freedom he is bound by the very elements of his nature to respect sacredly and to respect always. Being what he is, he is not so weak in principle as to violate his own implied promise; nor, considered as the superior, and man as the dependent, is he so poor in character as to be satisfied with a homage, which is not voluntarily rendered.

To be saved from sin and to be brought into moral harmony with the Divine Mind, without a recognition of moral freedom, would in our apprehension, be in the nature of a contradiction in terms; and would, in reality, be neither salvation to men nor honor to God. It is, therefore, left to men, and left to all moral beings throughout the universe, to decide, (and it is a question which is always and necessarily decided one way or the other,) whether they will be saved by the divine operation alone, or will attempt to save themselves by their own efforts. If they consent to be thus saved, in other words if they give themselves up to God to be saved in his own way and manner, then they live by the presence and the agency of the divine operation; or in the expression of the Scriptures by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost; but if they do not consent, they live, as Satan and all other rebellious spirits do, by the operation of unavailing and destructive efforts generated out of self. But where consent is given, so that the divine operation may be in harmony with the mental laws, moral freedom is unimpaired.

And this is especially true, when it is considered, that the act of consent is not the same thing as a cessation or annihilation of action; it is not a mere absence or negation of mental movement; but is a real or positive act on the part of the creature; one which may be specifically described as an act of harmonious concurrence and cooperation, with the divine act. And what is worthy of notice, and is especially important here, this consentient and concurrent act is repeated in all time to come; existing always in immediate consecution with the divine influence, moment by moment. It is in this position of the two minds, the Divine Mind, and created minds, (a position which reconciles the two otherwise antagonistical ideas of God’s gift and man’s free reception,) that grace is communicated. The idea of grace imparted or infused in any other manner, the idea of grace enforced, the idea of saving men against their own consent, involves an absurdity. Salvation is nothing else, and can be nothing else, than harmony with God. But harmony without consent would be an adjustment of conceptions not more free from absurdity, than that of love without affection.

— edited from The Life of Faith Part 1, Chapter 9.

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