Tag Archive | Guilt

They Fiercely Rejected Him

John Ball encouraging Wat Tyler rebels from ca 1470 MS of Froissart Chronicles in BL

“If a prince sets forth edicts to rebels to return, and promise them pardon upon their returning, though he knows they are rebelliously bent, that they will not entertain a thought of coming again under his scepter, but will still be in arms, and draw down his wrath upon them, will not all interpret this to be an act of clemency and goodness in the prince? Neither is God an accepter of persons, because he doth not give grace unto all; for may he not do with his own what he please without injustice? Those to whom we give alms have reason to thank us; those to whom we give not an alms have no reason to complain; we have gratified the one, but we have done no wrong to the other. We are all by nature criminals, deserving death; should God leave us in that deplorable estate wherein he found us, can we accuse him of injustice? Those that by grace are snatched out of the pit, have reason to acknowledge it an admirable favor, as indeed it is; those that are destitute of grace, and by their own willful rejection left to sink to the bottom, cannot impute their unhappiness to him; for he left them not without witness; he presented them the word, exhorted them to hearken to him; but, instead of paying their duty, they fiercely rejected him, abhorred his exhortations, and gave themselves over to sin and vice. If a man proclaim by a crier that such that can bring such a mark shall receive such an alms, he sends this private mark to some; they come and receive an alms. Had he not power to do what he pleased with his own, to send his distinguishing token to whom he pleased? What injustice is done to the other, to whom he sends not this mark?”

~Steven Charnock, “A Discourse on the Efficient of Regeneration, in Works 3:223-228.

Source: http://www.puritanboard.com/showthread.php/89079-illustrations-of-moral-inability-%28Man-WILL-not-come-rather-than-merely-CANNOT-come%29, Comment #2

He Commits The Evil With Pleasure

Ninfa Garden,tower and fall

“Supposing man hath a power to avoid such and such sins, he is justly punished for not making use of that power. Nay, supposing he had no power to avoid them, yet if his will be set to that sin he is justly condemned, not for want of power, but for the delight his will took in it. From which delight in it, it may be gathered that if he had had a power to have shunned it, he would not have shunned it. If a man be assaulted by murderers that will cut his throat, if he will not use his power against them, but take a pleasure in having his throat cut, is not this man a self-murderer, both in the judgment of God and man? Let me use another illustration, since the end of all our preaching should be to humble man and clear God. If a man be cast out of an high tower, and be pleased with his fall, would he not be justly worthy of it, and to be neglected by men, not because he did not help himself in his fall, for that was not in his own power, but because he was mightily pleased and contented with his fall, and with such a pleasure, that if he had been able to have helped himself he would not? So though man be fallen in Adam, yet when he comes to discern between good and evil, he commits the evil with pleasure. So that supposing he had no power to avoid sins, yet he is worthy of punishment because he doth it delightfully. Whence it may be concluded, if he had had power to avoid it, he would not, because his will is so malignant.

(2.) Without some liberty in the will, free from necessity of compulsion, man would not be capable of sin, nor of moral goodness. No human law doth impute that for a vice, or a virtue, to which a man is carried by constraint, without any power to avoid. Where anything is done without a will, it is not an human action. Beasts therefore are not capable of sin, be cause they want reason and will. If man had not liberty of will, he would be as a beast, which hath only a spontaneous power of motion without reason. Sin could not be charged upon man, as God doth all along: Ps. xcv. 10, “It is a people that do err in their hearts”; and Ps. cxix. 21, “Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy commandments.” It had been no error in them, if they had not done it voluntarily. The erring from God’s commandments arises from pride of heart, they had not else deserved a rebuke. Who would chide a clock for going wrong, which hath no voluntary motion? Man without a liberty of will could not be the author of his own actions, and sin could no more be imputed to him, than the irregular motion of a watch can be imputed to the watch itself, but rather to the work man or governor of it. Without a voluntary power, man would be as an engine, moved only with springs; and human laws, which punish any crime, would be as ridiculous as Xerxes’ whipping the sea, because it would not stop its tide. Neither were any praise due to man for any moral virtue, no more than praise is due to a lifeless picture for being so beautiful, or to the limner’s pencil lor making it so: the praise is due to the artist, not to the instrument.”

~Stephen Charnock, “A Discourse of the Efficient of Regeneration” in The Works of Stephen Charnock, 3:227-228.

Source: http://www.puritanboard.com/showthread.php/89079-illustrations-of-moral-inability-%28Man-WILL-not-come-rather-than-merely-CANNOT-come%29, Comment #1

The Fault Lies Exclusively With Themselves

Constant Wauters Der ertappte HausdienerThere is nothing to prevent men from obeying the will of God but their own depraved dispositions, and aversion to the things of God. The natural faculties of men would be sufficient to enable them to do what he commands, if they employed them properly. If they employ them otherwise, the fault rests exclusively with themselves. And as the corruption of our nature does not deprive a man of his natural faculties, or of perfect liberty to act conformably to the decision of his own mind, the obligation under which he lies to do right continues in full force. From this we see, first, how justly God punishes men for their crimes, who, unless inclined and enabled by his grace, cannot liberate themselves from the slavery of sin; and, further, that the inability of men to obey God, not being natural but moral inability, cannot deprive God of the right to command obedience, under the pain of his most awful displeasure.

On this subject the distinction between natural and moral should always be kept in view. Natural inability consists in a defect in the mind or body, which deprives a man of the power of knowing or doing anything, however desirous he may be of knowing or doing it. Natural inability, then, can never render a man criminal. Moral inability consists in an aversion to anything, so great that the mind, even when acting freely, that is, without any external impulse or constraint, cannot overcome it. When this aversion exists as to what is good, it is inseparable from blame, and the greater this aversion is, the greater is the criminality. All men are daily accustomed to make these distinctions, and according to this rule they constantly form their opinion of the conduct of others.

In the nature of things it is impossible that the justice of God can ever demand of reasonable creatures less than perfect obedience. To say that the moral inability of man to obey the law of God destroys or weakens in the smallest degree his obligation to obey that law, is to add insult to rebellion. For what is that moral inability? It is, as has been observed, no other than aversion to God, the depraved inclination of the carnal mind, which not only entertains and cherishes enmity against God, but is itself that enmity. And let it not be said that the view the Scriptures give of the natural depravity of men, and of the sovereign and efficacious grace of God, reduces them to the condition of machines. Between men and machines there is this essential difference, and it is enough for us to know, that man is a voluntary agent both in the state of nature and of grace. He wills and acts according to his own dispositions, while machines have neither thought nor will. As long, then, as a man’s will is depraved and opposed to God, his conduct will be bad; he will fulfill the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and on the other hand, when God gives the sinner a new disposition, and a new spirit, his conduct will undergo a corresponding change. “The liberty of a moral agent consists in the power of acting conformably to his choice. Every action performed without external constraint, and in pursuance of the determination of the soul itself, is a free action. The soul is determined by motives; but we constantly see the same motives acting diversely on different minds. Many do not act conformably to the motives of which they yet acknowledge all the force. This failure of the motive proceeds from obstacles opposed by the corruption of the heart and understanding. But God, in giving a new heart and a new spirit, takes away these obstacles; and in removing them, far from depriving a man of liberty, he removes that which hindered him from acting freely, and from following the light of his conscience; and thus, as the Scriptures express it, makes him free. The will of man, without divine grace, is not free but enslaved, and willing to be so.”

Is it objected, that if a man be so entirely corrupt that he cannot do what is right, he should not be blamed for doing evil? To this it is sufficient to reply, that if there be any force in the objection, the more a voluntary agent is diabolically wicked, the more innocent he should be considered. A creature is not subject to blame if he is not a voluntary agent; but if he be so, and if his dispositions and his will were absolutely wicked, he would certainly be incapable of doing good, and according to the above argument he could not be blamed for doing evil. On this ground the Devil must be excused, nay, held perfectly innocent in his desperate and irreconcilable enmity against God. A consequence so monstrous totally destroys the force of the objection whence it is deduced. But if the objection be still pressed, if any one shall proudly demand who hath resisted his will, why hath he made me thus? the only proper answer is that of the Apostle, ” Nay but, man, who art thou that replies against God?”

~Robert Haldane, Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans (New York: Robert Cater, 1847), 339-343; Romans 8:7. [Some spelling modernized; italics original; and underlining by post’s author as cited below.]

Source: http://www.puritanboard.com/showthread.php/89079-illustrations-of-moral-inability-%28Man-WILL-not-come-rather-than-merely-CANNOT-come%29, Comment #1

Our Iniquities Were Laid On Him


Hugh Binning, Works, p. 130:

There was in him nothing condemnable, no sin, no guile in his mouth; yet there was condemnation to him, because he was in stead and place of sinners. Our iniquities were laid on him, not in him; he who knew no sin was made a curse for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. So then, the soul that fleeth into Jesus Christ’s righteousness, though it have in it all that deserveth condemnation, yet there is no condemnation to it, because his righteousness is laid upon it, and Christ hath taken away the curse. The innocent Son of God was condemned, therefore are guilty sinners absolved.

Source: http://www.puritanboard.com/showthread.php/89074-Our-iniquities-were-laid-on-him

Conscience and Infidelity

Rembrandt Saskia in Bed

REV. EDWARD HOARE, M.A. on those troubled by conscience:

That men under such circumstances must seek out a remedy is perfectly obvious, and that there is only one remedy provided by the Lord is equally plain to the student of the Scriptures.  That remedy is the free grace of God in Christ Jesus.  Let a man be really brought to believe in Him, let him be taught by the Spirit to take home the blessed truth that the whole burden of his blackest sin has been laid on Jesus, and that a pardon, free, immediate, and complete, is granted to the guilty man who stands in Christ, so that “now there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit,” and that man being justified by faith has peace with God.  But then he is taken out of the rank of natural men, and, by the new birth, he is separated unto the kingdom of his Lord; he ceases to be a natural man, and all his peace now flows into his soul through grace.

But suppose this change does not take place, what then?  The uneasiness still remains, and the contact with the Gospel only quickens it.  The conscious heart therefore is forced back upon its own remedies, and these remedies are of two kinds.  The first is Infidelity.  The heart struggles to get free from the sense of condemnation by clearing itself if possible from the sense of a God.  When conscience convicts of sin, Infidelity steps in and strives to hush its voice, saying, “Thou shall not surely die;” and when the heart persuades the man that he is guilty, he strives to find a refuge in the soothing voice of unbelief, which pretends to teach that there is no God to judge him.

But such a remedy cannot satisfy.  There is such a deep conviction of God in the heart, and such unbounded and irresistible proofs of his presence throughout creation, that no man can really rest in such a system.  Even Paine himself, when the vessel in which he was crossing to America was on the point of sinking, cried out in his alarm, “Lord Jesus, save me.”  And Voltaire, with all his blasphemous daring, six weeks after he had said he should die of glory, did die in all the agonies of despair.  The nurse who attended him refused many years afterwards to nurse a devoted Christian Protestant, because she confounded a Protestant with an Infidel, and declared that she never again dare witness such horrors as she had seen in the chamber of Voltaire.  So it is told of one who moved not many years back in the centre of Infidel society, that on one occasion, being seized with severe illness at midnight, and dreading the near approach of death, the terror-stricken sufferer sent for an intimate friend, and on his arrival, addressed him in words to this effect.  “I fear I am dying, and I am greatly alarmed; so I have sent for you to remind me of the arguments which prove that there is no God.”  A fearful confirmation of a remark once made by a Unitarian to a beloved relative of my own—“Our principles are very well while you live, but they won’t do to die upon.”

Thus there is no real peace secured by Infidelity, as it cannot still the conscience, and leaves the heart in as much uneasiness as ever.  There appears, therefore, no remedy left for the unconverted man.  The Gospel is presented to his view, and the effect is to fill his heart with fear.  If he were altogether to accept it, he would be at peace; or if he could altogether reject it, then perchance, he might be at ease; but now there is so much power in it, that he cannot altogether shake it off; while, at the same time, there is so much opposed to all his will in it that he will not by faith embrace it as his own.  The only hope that remains in such a case is to discover, if possible, some modification of the Gospel—some system which will profess the grand principles so as not to violate his deep and irresistible convictions, but which at the same time will so modify those principles in their practical application, that it may still the conscience without a change of heart, and give him something that he may rest in as a substitute for peace, while, at the same time, it leaves him still a natural man, with his heart unchanged, and his will unsubdued by the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

Source:  POPERY THE ACCOMMODATION OF CHRISTIANITY TO THE NATURAL HEART at https://www.gutenberg.org/files/42280/42280-h/42280-h.htm, p. 5-7

Uneasiness Is Strongest Amongst The Unconverted


Basilique Saint-Pierre Vatican domeThere are thousands who feel the power of the Gospel, but who never know its grace.  It throws its light beyond the range of its salvation, and just in proportion as that light breaks in upon a natural heart does it quicken conscience, and revive the uneasiness of sin.  When the revealed word is never presented, the law of nature becomes gradually obscured, and the voice of conscience gradually silenced, so that the uneasiness begins to die away, and a fatal apathy by little and little creeps insensibly over the soul.  But when the revealed word reaches the mind, even though the heart be never new-born by the Spirit, conscience regains much of its power, the waters of the heart are stirred up and troubled, and the sense of uneasiness rises afresh with renewed vigour in the soul.  Hence it follows that the sense of uneasiness is always strongest amongst the unconverted members of the visible Church.  By their outward profession they are brought into the closest contact with the Gospel, and therefore, if not saved by it, they above all others are rendered most uneasy by its holiness.  Whatever effects therefore are likely to result from this uneasiness, those we should expect to find in greatest strength within the limits of the visible Church.  Accordingly, within those very limits, we find that which I believe to be its great and chief result, viz., Popery.

Source:  POPERY THE ACCOMMODATION OF CHRISTIANITY TO THE NATURAL HEART at https://www.gutenberg.org/files/42280/42280-h/42280-h.htm, p. 5

Uneasiness Increases In Proportion To Contact With The Gospel

REV. EDWARD HOARE, M.A. discussing general principles relating to the human heart:

Carl Reichert Zwei schlechte GewissenOur business to-night is to shew that this transformation is the work of the natural heart when brought into contact with the Gospel: and in doing this, there are a few general principles which it is important we should clearly understand in the outset.

The first of these is, that every living man has a certain conviction of God’s existence, combined with a sense of right and of wrong naturally implanted in his heart.  This may be deadened and perverted, but it is implanted there at birth, and has remained amidst the wreck of our ruined nature.  We do not require revelation to assure us of the sin of murder, nor could any doubt the duty of obedience to parents, even if there were no sanction for it in the written word.  Bishop Butler says, “Let any plain, honest man, before he engages in any course of action, ask himself,—Is this I am going about right, or is it wrong?  Is it good, or is it evil?  I do not in the least doubt that the question would be answered agreeably to truth and virtue.”

A second universal fact is, that every living man has sinned against this natural law; that there never has been a single individual in the whole race, who has not, in countless instances, done that which he by the light of nature has known to be offensive to the mind of God.

A third fact is, that there is within every heart a certain faculty which is termed conscience, which sits like a judge, and passes sentence on every action we commit.  Like a sensitive nerve, it feels the approach of sin, and, unless it be completely seared as with an hot iron, it is ever sounding within the heart the still small voice of just reproach.  Thus every man in a state of nature is uneasy; he may endeavour to palliate sin, and discover excuses for its commission; but he cannot altogether shake off the sense of it.  A consciousness of insecurity hangs around him.  He is not ready to die; he has no joy in the prospect of the advent; and, though he may have some undefined hope of mercy, he knows nothing of the calm peace of the child of God.

A fourth remark is, that this uneasiness is increased just in proportion as such a character is brought into contact with the Gospel.

Source:  POPERY THE ACCOMMODATION OF CHRISTIANITY TO THE NATURAL HEART at https://www.gutenberg.org/files/42280/42280-h/42280-h.htm, p. 4-5