Try out the new Click here!

Century XVI, Chapter XII


From The Death Of The Elector Of Saxony, To The Conclusion Ok Luther's ControVersy With Erasmus.

The Marriage Of Luther.
Controversy With Erasmus.
Continuation Of The Controversy.

About the latter part of the year 1524, the monastery of Wittemberg was reduced to almost perfect insignificance, by the death or desertion of the monks, which had taken place in the course of a few years. In the month of October there were left in it only the Prior, and Luther; and the latter availed himself of that opportunity to resign the title and habit of an Augustine Monk, and in future was called merely Doctor or Professor Martin Luther. He had long been desirous of taking this step, but, well knowing the elector's aversion to innovation, he had delayed to press the point. At last he expressed a wish to Spalatinus that he might have the prince's final answer, and he promised never more to importune him on the subject. Frederic with some humour and much good nature, sent him a piece of cloth, and told him he was at liberty to wear it in whatever shape he pleased *.

The character of the Saxon Reformer seems greatly misunderstood. Many persons conceive him, in general, to have been rash and hasty in his conduct; • Comment, de Luth. CLXXVIII.

Chap, mistaking, I think, a few vehement and impetuous , *lL , expressions in his language, for random, indigested decisions of his understanding. On a close examination of his practice, we shall find that few men have been more patient in investigation, or more deliberate in resolution. He was remarkably so in the very delicate and interesting questions which occurred in the earlier part of the Reformation, Fir.t m»r- respecting the celibacy of the clergy. The first riageofa clergyman who married a wife in Saxony, was the iu'suon*" curate of Kemberg, named Bartholomew Bernard, A. D. in the year 1521. Cardinal Albert, archbishop of 1521. Magdeburg, summoned him to appear at Halle, and requested the elector to enjoin episcopal obedience to his subject. But the cautious Frederic, by a dexterous civility, protracted the affair; and in the meantime Melancthon composed for the man a learned defence, addressed to the officials of the ecclesiastical court. The tender conscience of Luther appears to have hesitated longer than even Melancthon himself, respecting the obligation of voluntary monastic vows. At length from his Patmos issued his admirable tract on this subject, which gave a fatal blow to the whole papal system*. He

* See page 6 of this Vol. Luther himself is known to have set a high value on this treatise, and to have considered it as the most unanswerable of all that he had ever written.

In our days there is no need to insist much on arguments against celibacy, but it may be worth while to take notice how this acute Reformer keeps his eye constantly on the popish doctrine of the Merit of works. " There can be no doubt," says he, " but that to break a vow is contrary to the laws of God. We must observe, however, that Only such vows can be meant, as are lawful. Now there is neither in Scripture, nor in the history of the primitive church, any precept or example in favour of monastic vows : they are restraints of mere human invention.

" In regard to works, evangelical faith does not set ihem aside, but directs us not to put our trust in theni: It enlightens the conscience, and teaches men the principle on which they are to perform good works ; namely, from a real love of doing good to our neighbour, and for the sake of keeping the body in subjection ; not from servile fear, or a view to justification. Such

treatise on astic

had sent the manuscript to Spalatinus, for the in- Cknt. spection of the elector and his court, and soon after xx L it was not to be found. The author suspected it was purposely detained, to prevent the publication of it. " You could not have vexed me worse," says he to Spalatinus, " if indeed the papers are secreted by you. The circumstances press for their publication; s and if either they are lost, or you will not restore Son " them, my mind will be so irritated, that in future Vows, I shall plead the same cause with more force and A- D* vehemence. You may burn my papers to a cinder, 1522but you cannot extinguish the spirit of the writer*." I find they were not published till January 1522^

Through the labours of Luther and his Wit- Sp»iatint» temberg coadjutors, the understandings of men were u"'TM"m become so much enlightened, and their prejudices ' ' abated, that even Spalatinus himself entered into the married state in the latter part of the year 1525%. However, he did not venture on this bold step till Luther himself had set him the example a few months before.

Luther was about forty years old when he married Luther Catharine Bore, a virtuous nun of noble parentage. cuth.'Bore. It is astonishing how his enemies exulted upon this occasion. They not only condemned the conduct of them both, with as much confidence as if they could allege that Scripture authority for the monastic state, which Protestants can do for the matrimonial, but represented Luther as an infamous, hardened sensualist, who had neither command of his passions, nor regard for his reputation; and his wife as an abandoned strumpet, who had lived in the most licentious manner for more than two years among the young academics.—These foolish and wicked • Ep. I. 253. • t Luth. Op. Jen. II. 477. J Amoen. Lit. IV. 427.

works, strictly speaking, are not wrought under the covenant of the law, but of grace; they are the effect of Christ himself working in us by faith, and are therefore as necessary and indispensable as faith itself." Luth. de Vot. Monast. III.

Chap, accusations are effectually refuted by history, which does abundant justice to the moral character of both the parties.

But several of the very best friends of Luther did not think his marriage well timed*. Justus Jonas was so affected with the idea that the Reformation would suffer materially by this event, that he burst into tears the first time he saw his friend in the character of a husband. So he writes to Spalatinus, and adds, " I pray God to bless him abundantly; he is the best and sincerest of men, and our most inestimable father in the Lordf." Melancthon also was aware that the Reformer's conduct, in this instance, would probably give rise to much profane and ill-natured criticism; and that he would be represented as a man of no feeling, now that Saxony was in tears for the loss of Frederic the Wise, and all Germany covered with the slain in the Rustic War.—" But the taunts and revilings of irreligious men," he said, " were to be disregarded.—The man had done nothing that was reprehensible. He was of a lively, social, generous turn of mind, and by nature itself formed for the married state; no wonder, therefore, that he had given way to his innocent inclinations: for as to certain slanderous reports which were in circulation, it was well known that the whole was unfounded calumny." Melancthon then adds, " that though even an opinion of some degree of indiscretion in Luther should prevail, it might have its uses, because an exceedingly high reputation was always a very dangerous thing." However, upon observing that his friend's change of situation had produced in him some unusual marks of gloom and discomposure, he said he omitted no endeavour to console him. Moreover, granting him to have fallen into an error, that circumstance ought not in the least to affect his doctrine. But, he repeated, there was * Scult. 275. f Aina-nitat. IV. 424.

no room for accusation; for he was in possession Cent. of the most decisive proofs of his piety and love v ■ of God*

Compare these judicious and Christian reflections with the malignant, sarcastic credulity of Erasmus, who acquainted the president of the court of Holland, that " the Lutheran tragedy would end, like the quarrels of princes, in matrimony. A monk has married a nun; and that you may know this marriage was contracted under happy auspices, the lady was brought to bed about fourteen days after the bridal song had been chanted. Now Luther begins to be more mild, and not to write with his accustomed violence. There is nothing which a wife cannot tame." To another person he owned afterwards, that this scandalous report was without foundation; and added, in his usual jocose and sarcastic style, that Luther's wife was now said to be pregnant; but that, in regard to the vulgar notion concerning the birth of Antichrist from the connexion of a monk and a nun, if that were true, the world had at this present time many thousand Antichrists.

After all, Luther's own observations on his marriage are the most satisfactory.

In November 1524, he declares he had then no Lather'* intention to marry; not that he was either a stone or a log of wood, but because, on account of the marriage, reproach of heresy under which he laboured, he expected every day might be his lastf. In the May succeeding, for the first time, as far as is known, he expressed his resolution to marry Catharine Bore J. On the seventeenth of June he writes thus to his friend Stifelius, a clergyman: " Pray for me, that God may bless and sanctify to me this new mode of life. Some of our wise ones are exceedingly irritated. They are however compelled

• July 21, 1525, to Joach. Gamer. IV. -24.
+ Ep. II. 545. t Seck. II. 17.

Chap, to own that marriage is a divine ordinance; but the t Xii' . character* of me and my Catharine is the bug-bear that frightens them out of their senses, and makes them both think and talk profanely. But the Lord lives, and is on my side. He is my helper, and 1 will not fear what man can dof-" The marriage had taken place four days before the date of this letter, and he gives several reasons for the hastiness of the measure J. His!««« i. I have now, says he, stopped the mouths of tinusPon his tne calumniators of me and Catharine Bore. You, marrUge. my Spalatinus, must not only be present at the A. D. wedding-dinner, but also endeavour to procure us 1525- some venison. Pray that God may bless us. In the opinion of some, 1 have made myself contemptible; but nevertheless, I trust, angels smile, and demons weep, at what I have done. How inconsistent are these over-wise men, to call that impious and diabolical in me, which in every one else they allow to be a pious and sacred action! Wittemb. June 16, 1525.

2. Providence, in a wonderful manner, and when I was thinking of other things, has suddenly joined me in marriage to C. Bore. June 20.

3. I could not deny my father's earnest request. He is anxious that I should have children. Besides, I judged it right to confirm, by my own example, the doctrine I have taught; for I observe many are still pusillanimous, notwithstanding this great light of the Gospel. I do not pretend to be violently in love, but I have a sincere affection and esteem for my wife. On Tuesday next my parents will be present at the wedding-dinner, and I do intreat you by all means to come. The poor peasants are cut to pieces in every quarter. It is reported that the duke George is so inflated with the successes against them, that he intends to demand my person

* One a Monk, and the other a Nun. \ Ep. II. 294. I June 13, Amccn Liu

to be given up, conceiving me of the same stamp with Munzer. Christ will defend me*.

4. On the twenty-ninth of the succeeding September, he writes thus to the same Stifelius. " If it was really agreeable to the will of God that I should marry, what wonder is it that my conduct should not harmonize with carnal views and sentiments? If the world were not offended with me, I should have reason to suspect I had not supported the Christian character. Worldly men were offended even with God manifested in the flesh. Our two princes confess and support the Gospel openly f. We have resigned the revenues of the monastery to the elector: I live in it as a private master of a family, while God permits. I conjecture my life will be short, now that I see not only the princes in general, but the people also are enraged against me J. It was therefore by no means in the expectation of a long life that I entered into the married state; but, on the contrary, as I may be taken off suddenly, and as my doctrine respecting the lawfulness of the marriage of the clergy may possibly be treated with contempt after my death, I was desirous of showing my weaker brethren that I acted up to my principles§

5. Lastly, in the latter part of the succeeding year he writes thus: " God of his great goodness hath blessed me with a fine healthy little Luther; and my rib Kate is also in excellent plight, and is in all things courteous and obliging to me, much beyond what I could have ventured to hope. I am thankful to God, and would not change my poverty for the riches of Crossus||."

There are but two points respecting the marriage of Luther, which can at all interest the Protestant

* To Amsdorf, June si, p. 295.
T The new elector John, and his son.

t He means the rustic malecontents, who were highly displeased because he declared himself so strongly against their rebellious spirit.

§ Ep. II. p. 300. || To Stifel. p. 318.

reader. Firstly, what were his own reflections near the time of that event, both before and after ? and 2dly, what effects did it produce on the minds of his most sincere friends? for, in regard to his enemies, their slander and misrepresentation were to be expected, and no further notice needs be taken of them. It was with a view to satisfy these two points, that we have been so minute in this part of the narrative, and marked the dates of the letters with so much precision. Beausobre represents Luther, when he came to reflect coolly on the step he had taken, as repentant, afflicted, excessively low-spirited, and even deeply melancholic*. But the attentive student, having now before him sufficient materials to form his own judgment, will consider whether this colouring is not a great deal too high and unwarranted. Scultetus's statement appears to me both much more candid, and much more agreeable to the facts, when he says; "Luther, on account of his unexpected change of situation, and the various sentiments of mankind, was in some degree discomposed : however, as soon as he had collected himself, he wrote to Stifelius," ' Pray for me,' &c. See above, page 251. Now this letter, as I have observed, was written only four days after the day of his marriage, so that he was not very long in collecting himself. Further, not one syllable appears to have dropped from Luther himself, to excite a suspicion that he repented of his marriage, or was low-spirited afterwards f. On the contrary, a good conscience, confidence in Providence, and resignation to the Divine will, characterize all his letters written upon this subject, without a single exception; and moreover, they are all expressed with his accustomed vigour and precision: yet who sees not that all this may have been perfectly consistent with an

* Vol. III. p. 021.

t He lived twenty years with her in the greatest harmony. Seek. II. 18.

unusual degree of thoughtfulness for some time, and Cent.

even of uneasiness and discomposure in his general *VL

deportment, upon so important a change of life? And this, we have seen, is allowed by Melancthon, and also by Scultetus, resting on his authority.

That several of Luther's good friends were exceedingly alarmed for the consequences, is, however, not to be denied. Justus Jonas, we have seen, wept upon the occasion; and Doctor Scurfius is said to have declared, that if this monk married, he would thereby undo all he had done, and that the World and the Devil would be pleased. Luther, on hearing this speech, concluded directly otherwise, namely, that as the action was lawful and right, his marriage would infallibly vex Both*. Melancthon, also, there is no doubt, is to be reckoned among those who were deeply affected on this occasion t; and Beausobre thinks, it was because Luther had too great an opinion of the prudence of his friend, that he did not trust to him his secret intention to marry. Luther's own intimations are to me more satisfactory. From these I collect, that one reason both for his haste and his secrecy was, that he might be joined in matrimony, as he says, with Catharine, Before He Should Be Compelled To Hear A Tumult Of Vociferous OpposiTion^. Moreover, being perfectly aware of the natural timidity of Melancthon's disposition, he did not invite him to supper on the evening of his marriage ; and I entirely agree with the acute author of the Commentary on Lutheranism, that the omission appears to have given some degree of temporary offence. But Melancthon loved Luther too well to harbour long the slightest alienation of mind. Accordingly, on the fourth day after the marriage, we find M\ writing in the best possible humour to a Distant clergyman, W. Lincus, thus, " Doctor

* Sec. 17. t Vita Melan. Canier.

X Letter to Amsdorf, 295.

Chap. Martin is married. May this prove a happy event!

t xlL , He would have invited you to the marriage-dinner,

but he feared to put you to expense. By our friendship I do intreat you to come. It will afford more ample matter for Doctor Scurfius's declamation*."

On the whole, there is the fullest evidence, that, of all his coadjutors in the business of the Reformation, Luther himself was the slowest to admit the lawfulness of the marriage of monks. In the year 1,521 he expresses his surprise " that his Wittemberg friends now carry the matter so far as to allow even monks to marry. However, says he, they shall not force a wife upon MEf." And during the same year he discusses the question of celibacy, in long letters with Melancthon, to this effect; " What then, am I also at liberty to marry? Am I no longer a monk? It should seem that because I supplied you with a wife, you wish to take your revenge upon me; but depend upon it, I will take effectual care not to be caught in your snares."

All his doubts, however, on this subject were completely done away in a very short time after, and he gave his sentiments to the public without reserve J. Lastly, having thus attained true Scriptural views of the nature of Christian liberty, when the proper moment for his own marriage, as he thought, arrived, he acted according to those views without hesitation, under the full conviction that he was doing right, and in confident expectation of the Divine blessing. In all this there is no inconsistency in Luther. Still, the soundness of his discretion is called in question, for marrying a wife at the melancholy conjuncture of affairs in Germany, the Rustic civil war being scarcely over, and Frederic the Wise lately dead. Those, however, will acquit him of all blame, who think with Seckendorf, " That in time of war, or on

• Amoen. Lit. IV. 425. This clergyman had also been an Augustine monk, and had married a wife. Seek. 214. t Ep. II. 240. to Spalat. ; See page 248.

the decease of princes, men are not bound, either Cent. by law or reason, to abstain from matrimonial . xyij , contracts."

If censure on these accounts had been any where due, one might wonder that it should nothave fallen on so celebrated a reformer as Spalatinus himself, who lived many years with Frederic, as his domestic chaplain and private secretary. Spalatinus not only actually married his wife a few months after the elector's death, but even solicited that prince's leave, during his last illness, to marry and to leave his court; and it does not appear that he thereby gave any offence to his master, or acted inconsistently with the prevalent maxims of the times. I cannot but observe, that the sentiments of the several actors in these scenes would have been better understood, if the dates of their private letters had been more attentively considered by historians, and some expressions contained in them interpreted more agreeably to the meaning of the originals. Melancthon's letter to Camerarius is in Greek ; those of Luther, Spalatinus, and the rest, are in Latin.

It is to me utterly unaccountable that Beausobre Marriage of should positively affirm that Spalatinus and Me- Mc^hou. lancthon married in the year 1524*; whereas all ir"20° the accounts agree that the former was married at J Altenburg in November 1525!, and the latter so Marmgeof

o 1 t \ • 1 . Spalalinus,

early as the year 1,520 J. Luther, in a letter writ- A D ten in 1522, mentions the birth of Hannah, whom 15*25. he calls the elegant daughter of Philip §; and Camerarius his biographer informs us, that Melancthon, not long after the Leipsic disputation, married a very reputable virgin of an ancient family in the city of Wittemberg, and lived with her for thirty-seven years ||. In fact, the marriage took

• III. 136. t Amoen. Lit. IV. 427. Sec. I. 22. 314. II. 3°X S.44- § Ep. II.92. || P. 36.

Chap, place on the 25th of November, 1520, and appears xu' to have been brought about by the interference and advice of Luther *.

Controversy With Erasmus.

Every Student of the history of the Reformation finds both instruction and amusement in observing the conduct of Erasmus. On his merits, as a restorer of learning, though it is scarcely possible to express ourselves too strongly, we need say no more. His well-earned honours in that respect are beyond the reach either of calumny or envy. It is the purity of his Christian principles, and the integrity and conscientiousness of his motives, which are called in question. His writings against monks and friars are allowed to have been of considerable service in abating the attachment of mankind to Popery; yet a most excellent judge f has not scrupled to affirm, that, through an excessive desire to be applauded for politeness, elegance, and moderation, no man had injured the cause of Luther so much as Erasmus. In fact, Erasmus himself boasts of his services in this respect to the Romish cause, and intimates how ill he had been requited J. The real character of this great man may be better known by a judicious selection of a few extracts from his own writings, than the numerous and contradictory accounts of his enemies and his advocates. Several passages, conducive to this purpose, will, I trust, be found in different parts of this History.

The weak side of Erasmus was his disposition at all times to court the favour of persons of rank and distinction; and it was through their incessant importunities that he was at length prevailed on, though with much reluctance, to enter the lists

* Melch. Ad. Vit. Mel. Ep. Luth. I. 278. II. 7.

f Seek. 201. J Ep. Sylv. Prier. et Georg. Due. Sax.

against Luther. The papal advocates who had hitherto appeared in the controversy had done their own cause no good. The reformers were growing more bold and numerous every day. The ancient hierarchy was shaken to its very foundations ; and it was become sufficiently manifest, that neither ecclesiastical menaces, nor ecclesiastical punishments, could retard the progress of the new doctrines. The wisest and most moderate of the Roman Catholics saw plainly that the church had lost much of its credit with the people in general, and that nothing could materially serve their cause, but what tended to regain the Public Opinion-. For the purpose of compassing so important an end, they all, to a man, fixed their eyes on Erasmus. Not very anxious respecting his private sentiments in religion, they were fully convinced of his qualifications for the task they wished him to undertake. An extensive erudition, a perspicuous and eloquent style, and especially an exquisite vein of sarcastic humour, marked this celebrated scholar as the proper champion to engage Luther. Accordingly, neither pains nor artifice were spared to secure his services. Princes, and prelates, and cardinals, and even the pope himself, were most assiduous in touching those strings, the vibrations of which they judged most likely to gratify his pride, stimulate his ambition, and awaken his natural timidity. King Henry VIII. of England is known to have entreated him to commence active hostilities against Luther ; and the pope Adrian himself, in two memorable epistles, condescended to act the same suppliant part. The consummate address, artful flatteries, and lavish praises, used by the pontiff on this occasion, do but little accord with that reputation which some would allow him, for simplicity of manners, and ignorance of mankind*. The duke George

* Append. Adrian to Erasmus,

of Saxony, agreeably to that sincerity and openness, which were indeed parts of his character as well as his violence and bigotry, exhorted Erasmus to take up his pen, and come forward as quickly as possible, and attack Luther openly; or, he said, there would be a general outcry against him, as one who had neglected his duty, and neither cared for the dignity of the church, nor the purity of the Gospel. " He ought to have done this several years ago; when he might very easily have extinguished the little flame, which had since increased to an immense conflagration. Whereas the little skirmishes which he had had with the heretic never looked like serious fighting; and the consequence had been, that many persons considered him as in reality of the same sentiments with the man whom he treated with so much lenity and forbearance*." Erasmus, in his answer to the duke, said he had hitherto not yielded to his highness's solicitations, for two reasons: i. Both his age and his disposition forbade him to engage in so very dangerous a business. He had really a sort of instinctive aversion to religious controversies. 2. He had considered Luther's doctrine, whatever it might be, as a species of " necessary evil, from which he had hoped that, in the present very corrupt state of the church, some good might arise. He had never had the smallest connexion with him, but he could not bear that his own moderation should be at last construed into a dishonourable collusion. He therefore at length came forward into the field. Both the king of England, and pope Clement VII. had urged him to take this step 1f."

Erasmus had sent to this pope his Paraphrase on the Acts of the Apostles; and, at the same time, expressed his inviolable attachment to the Roman See, and boasted of having refused the most pressing solicitations, even of great princes, to join Luther

• Ep. 800. f Ep. 813. 743. t Ep. Clement. 783.

Clement, in return, made him most magnificent pro- Cent. mises, and gave him two hundred florins, which t x^1' Erasmus declares he would not have accepted, unless the pope had particularly specified that the money was merely an acknowledgment for the book*. Cardinal Campeggio also, in three flattering epistles, had requested to have a conference with him at Nuremberg, and afterwards sent express messengers to Basil to receive his advice f- Nothing could be more grateful to Erasmus, than to be thus looked up to by persons in high stations. Princes, he tells us, from all quarters, exhorted him to write against Luther. He sent a trusty servant to England, for the purpose of removing a suspicion, which had been injected into the mind of Henry VIII. that he had assisted Luther in his reply to the king; and he expresses great satisfaction that this step had been attended with much success. His servant was rewarded; his old friends were increased and confirmed in their affections: also Henry and Cardinal Wolsey had even condescended to make their apologies to him J. In fact Henry VIII. had Erasmus solicited him to take the field against Luther in such Henryvin. strong terms, that early in the year 1523 we find A. D. Erasmus declaring he could no longer refuse com- 1523. pliance without absolutely affronting that monarch^. Accordingly, in the September of the same year, he wrote to the King, " I am meditating something against the novel doctrines, but I dare not publish it before I leave Germany, lest I should fall a victim before I should appear in the contest ||."

But of all the bigots who importuned Erasmus to commence an attack on the German Reformer, none was more violent, or used more acrimonious and unchristian language, than Tonstall, Bishop of London. Luther's treatise on the abolition of the

• Ep. Pirck, 803. + Ibid, and 794. \ Ep. i8(io.

* Ep. 744. || Ep. 773

Chap. Mass seems to have particularly offended this angry xy- , prelate. He asks, " What can the heretic do more, unless he means to abolish Christ himself, as indeed I hear the Divine Virgin is rejected by his followers ?" He then proceeds, " By the sufferings and blood of Christ, by the glory which you hope for in heaven, I exhort and conjure you, Erasmus, nay, the Church entreats and conjures you, to encounter this many-headed monster ! You are now advanced in years, and, I pray, how can you conclude your life better than in driving back into his den, by the sword of the Spirit, this Cerberus, who by his dismal barking so insults all the ecclesiastical orders * ?"

These and similar multiplied and reiterated importunities, to which we may probably add the fear of losing the pension which he received from England f, at length determined Erasmus to become an open adversary of the Reformers.

* Ep. 772. T Seck. 309.


1. The Diatribe.

2. Luther's Treatise De Servo Arbitrio.

3. Scriptural Arguments Used In The Con


4. Further Account Of The Same Contro


5. Luther's Arguments From St. Paul And

St. John.

6. The Reply Of Erasmus. Hyperapistes.

7. Scepticism Of Erasmus.

8. Orthodoxy Of Luther Compared With The

Scepticism Of Erasmus. p. Melancthon's Judgment Of The ControVersy Between Luther And Erasmus.

10. Hostility Of Erasmus: His Apologies.

11. Inconsistency And Levity Of Erasmus.

1. The Diatribe.

In the autumn of 1524, this elegant scholar published his dissertation, called Diatribe, on the Freedom of the Will; having first sent a part of the manuscript to Henry VIII. for the approbation of that prince, who always pretended to a considerable degree of theological acumen. Perhaps the author hoped by this flattering attention to induce Henry to engage for the expenses of the publication; as he took care to inform his majesty, that no printer at Basil would dare to undertake his or any wbrk


which contained a word against Luther, and that therefore he must print the book some where else. " We may, however," said he, " write what we please against the pope. Such is the present state of Germany*."

In editing his treatise on Free Will, Erasmus appears to have valued himself very much upon his courage, and to have expected mighty consequences from the publication. " The little book," says he, " is out; and though written with the greatest moderation, will, if I mistake not, excite most prodigious commotions. Already pamphlets fly at my head fAgain, " The die is cast: my little book on Free Will is published : a bold deed, believe me, if the situation of Germany at this time be considered : I expect to be pelted; but I will console myself with the example of your majesty, who has not escaped their outrages J." Very much in the same style he expresses himself to Cardinal Wolsey, and adds, " I have not chosen to dedicate this work to any one, lest my calumniators should instantly say that in this business I had been hired to please the great: otherwise I should have inscribed it to you, or the pope §."

The Reader, whose expectations may have been raised by all this ostentatious parade, will be greatly disappointed on the perusal of the Diatribe of Erasmus. It is evidently the production of a man who has scoured the surface of his question, but by no means penetrated into its substance. The author affects much moderation, and would persuade us that he scarcely undertakes to decide : he pretends only to Confer, or to Inquire. An experienced disputant, however, soon perceives, that, under a garb of modesty and diffidence, there is in this performance a firm attachment in some degree

• Ep. 774. Jortin, 322. + To Tonstall, 813.

J To Henry VIII. 816. § To Wolsey, 809.

at least to the Pelagian tenets*. Close reasoning was not the province of Erasmus, and he constantly betrays a consciousness of being out of his element. He uses plenty of inconclusive argument, but is nevertheless abundantly positive.

The ablest defenders of the Freedom of the Will have owned their entire inability to reconcile the prescience of the Deity with the contingency of human actions, or the responsibility of created intelligent beings; but Erasmus, like a true controversialist who conceived it his chief business to conquer, chooses rather to have recourse to scholastic subtilities and distinctions, than candidly to acknowledge his ignorance in a matter which has hitherto exceeded the skill of philosophy.

In reading the Diatribe, persons will be affected differently, according to circumstances. Those who have not made this contentious question their study, may be pleased with the writer's elegant flow of classical Latinity; but if they are of a religious turn of mind, they will be puzzled and confounded as to the grand points in debate, rather than materially enlightened or consoled. Those who have well digested the arguments on both sides, and are aware of the respective difficulties, and know precisely where in this business all human reasoning and research ought to stop, will be convinced how ill-qualified Erasmus was to elucidate difficulties respecting the volitions of the human mind, especially theological difficulties. These they will find neither cleared up in the Diatribe, which indeed may be impossible in some instances, nor yet distinctly stated, which is the next thing to be aimed at, and is always possible.

* The learned Reader will be aware, that besides Pelagians and Semi-pelagians, strictly so called, there are also numerous shades of distinction included under the term Pelagian. However, with all these sectaries it seems indispensable to deny the Scriptural doctrine of the natural depravity of man, and the Calvinislic sentiment of irresistible Grace.

No man that ever lived, perhaps, was less dis. posed than Martin Luther to temporize with his adversaries in essential points; yet in the instance of Erasmus, it is admitted that he exercised extraordinary patience and forbearance. The reason is, Erasmus, by his writings against monks and friars, had been of considerable service in abating the attachment of mankind to popery. Moreover, he was one of the first literary characters in the world, and well deserves the thanks of all who have a relish for classical learning. No wonder therefore Luther, in the great business of the Reformation, should have been anxious to prevent so much weight from being placed in the opposite scale. But Erasmus grew every day more and more out of humour with the Lutherans. He had repeatedly declared that the Church wanted reformation, but would never run any risk to forward the good cause. Hence the reformers became cold in their regards for him; and he, in return, beheld with pique and jealousy the -rapid progress of the new system. Mutual abuse and accusation was the unavoidable consequence of this state of things. By some, Erasmus was libelled as a deserter of the faith, and a parasite, who paid his court to popes, prelates, and cardinals, and might be hired for a morsel of bread, to any purpose *. This was enough to raise the indignation of a man who had been accustomed all his life to receive commendations and flatteries. The angry scholar took up his pen to chastise the Lutherans, and ceased to be on good terms with them any longer. " They were men of a seditious turn of mind')": some of them neither feared God nor man, insomuch that Luther and Melancthon themselves had judged it necessary to write against themX" IQ the Lutheran faction, said Erasmus, there were persons who were actuated by a spirit widely different from that of the Gospel §. Men,

• Ep. 805. f Id- 78l. I Id. 792. $ Id. 805.

■who stood prepared for every mischief, represented Cent. him as timid, because he acted conscientiously. L xv1' Could he but see Evangelical fruit, he would soon convince them he was no coward*.

For a long time, however, the hostility of Erasmus was confined within the bounds of his epistolary correspondence. But circumstances were every day arising to exasperate the contention, and widen the breach between him and the reformers. Ulric Hutten, an intemperate admirer of Luther, published an acrimonious invective against Erasmus, which drew from him a little tract, called Spongia, sufficiently censorious and peevish f.

Hutten had taken the liberty of blaming Erasmus for paying too much regard to the court of Rome. This was a very tender point; and the more provoking, first, because the fact was undeniable; and, secondly, because the Romish faction really disliked him almost as much as they did Luther^; notwithstanding that the ecclesiastical dignitaries gave him good words and fair promises, for the purpose of persuading him to take a decided part against the great Saxon Reformer §.

The sagacity of Luther pointed out to him dis- Luther tinctly the situation of the mind of Erasmus, thus puzzled and distracted by a contrariety of motives. He viewed him as a man of letters buoyed up with the love of praise and the patronage of the great; also, as flattered and caressed by popes and prelates, and supposed peculiarly qualified to support a fall* Ep. 845.

•f Erasmus, however, boasts of bis lenity towards Hutten, and says he had passed over his scandalous conduct; that he had been a spendthrift, a gamester, and a fornicator, and had extorted money from the Carthusians; that he had attacked some ecclesiastics, and killed some monks. Catal. Lucub.

J Erasmus represents the divines as hating literature, and as accusing him of heresy. Ep. 803. He says, he did not much care for the abuse of the Lutherans, but to be pelted on both tides was hard. Id. 826.

§ Id. 743. 819, 820.

writes to Erasmus.

Chap, ing church. Moreover, he was aware how Erasmus, . , by trimming artfully between the two parties, had lost the confidence and friendship of both; and how, in the present state of irritation, he was disposed to do service to the Romanists, and regain their favour. He was sincerely sorry, therefore, that he had been so roughly treated by Hutten, and other advocates of the Reformation. He would gladly have prevented him from becoming an open enemy, as he had long despaired of ever seeing him a decided friend of pure Christianity. Reflecting on these circumstances, and hearing that Erasmus was about to publish his Diatribe, or some other inimical piece, Luther, in the almost forlorn hope of persuading him to peace and silence, determined however to make his last effort. For this purpose he composed a memorable letter, quite in his own best style, clear, nervous, and ingenuous, and full of life, and fire, and spirit, and sent it to his classical adversary*. It is a specimen of epistolatory writing in perfect contrast to the manner of Erasmus, and must have vexed him not a little. To have been told, that the " affairs of the Reformers were now advanced to such a point that their cause was in no peril, even though Erasmus should attack it with all his might," must have been peculiarly galling to his pride: yet the writer mixed so many handsome and just compliments with his animadversions, that Erasmus was constrained to allow, that Martin Luther had written him a letter sufficiently civil, but that, for fear of his calumniators, he did not dare to answer him with equal civility

But whatever might be the secret inclination of Erasmus, or whatever might have been his wish in other circumstances, he was now too deeply pledged, by numerous declarations and promises, to think of

* See Appendix, Luther's Letter to Erasmus in 1524. Also Ep. 846. t Ep. 803.

retracting his design of appearing in the field against Luther.

He answered Luther briefly to this effect: I cannot admit you to have more Evangelical sincerity than myself, and I trust I do more to promote the Gospel than many who boast of being Evangelical. I fear Satan may delude you; at least, I doubt the truth of your doctrines; and I would never profess what I do not believe, much less what I have not attained. Besides, I dread the ruin of literature.

As yet I have not written a syllable against you: otherwise I might have secured much applause from the great; but I saw I should injure the Gospel. I have only endeavoured to do away the idea that there is a perfect understanding between you and me, and that all your doctrines are to be found in my books. Pains have been taken to instil this sentiment into the minds of the princes, and it is hard even now to convince them it is not so.— Whatever you may write against me gives me no great concern. In a worldly view, nothing could do me more service. But it is my desire to surrender with a good conscience, my soul to Christ; and I would that all were so affected. You profess yourself ready to give an account of the faith that is in you; why then do you take it amiss that any one, with a view to learn, should undertake to debate some points with you? Perhaps Erasmus, by writing against you, may do more good to the cause of the Gospel than some foolish scribblers of your own party, who will not suffer a man to be a quiet spectator of these contentions,—the tragical issue of which I do dread*.

It was the authority of Erasmus, and not his arguments, which determined Luther to publish an answer to the Diatribe. " I will answer him," says • MS. Archiv. 310. S.

Chap, he, " for the sake of those, who, with a view to , XIL . their own glory in opposition to Christ, make a bad use of his authority*." And again, " my dislike of the book is beyond all belief; and it is a pain to me to answer so learned a book, composed by so learned an author")"."

2. Luther's Treatise De Servo Arbitrio.

Luther's Reply did not make its appearance till more than a year after the publication of Erasmus. It is intitled, On the Bondage of the Will. The papal advocate Cocklseus J would intimate that Luther was induced to answer Erasmus, chiefly because Emser and himself had translated the Diatribe into the German language. But whoever peruses the elaborate work De Servo Arbitrio, and reflects on the author's numerous employments, will have no difficulty in accounting for the delay that took place. That he formed the design of confuting the Diatribe very soon after he had read it, appears from The Di«- his letters to private friends. This tract was not published, published till the 1st or 2d of September 1524$: A. D. and about the end of the same month he says, " I 1524. am entirely taken up with Erasmus and his Free Will; and I shall do my best to prove him wrong throughout, as is truly the case ||." And in the suc

* Nic Hausman, II. 243.

f The words are: " Respondere tam erudito libro tam eruditi \iri." Jortin thinks it should be iNerudito libro. But 1 see no reason for suspecting an error in the text. The Diatribe is sufficiently learned, if by learning we understood an acquaintance with numerous writers of repute. But the extensiveness of Erasmus's reading, and the rapidity of his glances, very often did not allow him to think and digest.

Moreover, I find it is Erudito not only in Seckendorf's extract, but also in the original itself by Aurifaber,—a book exceedingly scarce, and which Jortin probably never saw. II. 238.

t Acta Luth. § Ep. Eras. 809 and 810.

|| Georg. Spal. 299.

ceeding October he says to another friend, " Go Cent. on with your labours, my Nicholas, and exercise all t xvl' » the patience you can : at present I am wholly employed in confuting Erasmus*." But afterwards we find him interrupted by the affairs of Carolstadt, and resolving to postpone his answer to Erasmus till he should have done with that turbulent reformer']'.

At length, towards the end of 1525 J, came out Lather's Luther's celebrated treatise De Servo Arbitrio, which p,"^^" provoked Erasmus the more, as it was in some A. D. measure unexpected. The work was received with 1525. avidity. The booksellers of Wittemberg, Augsburg, and Nuremberg, strove who could produce their numerous editions the fastest: and in regard to the merits of the composition, it may not be improper to observe, that Luther himself, many years afterwards, had so good an opinion of it, as to declare, that he could not review any one of his writings with complete satisfaction, unless perhaps his Catechism, and his Bondage of the Will§. The following address to Erasmus was printed by Luther, and placed as a sort of preface to this same treatise on the Bondage of the Will. " Venerable Erasmus,

" Every body wonders that Luther, contrary to his usual practice and the general expectation, should have been so long in replying to your Diatribe. How is it, say they, that a man, who hitherto has appeared rather to seek than to decline public discussions of this sort, should at once exhibit so much patience and forbearance ? Or is fear the cause of his silence? for certainly his enemies triumph. They congratulate Erasmus on having gained a vic

* Nic. Haus. 300. f Amsdorfio, II. 270.

t December, T. III. 165. Jena.

§ At Strasburg there is said to be a MS. letter to Fabricius Capito in 1537, in which Luther expresses this opinion of his Catechism and his Bondage of the Will. Scultet. 34. And Sturmius tells us he himself has seen the letter. Melch. Ad. p. 8a, fol. Vit. Luther.

Chap, tory; and they ask with an airof insult, What,has this . X|L . Maccabaeus, this sturdy dogmatist, at last found an antagonist against whom he dare not open his mouth?

" The palm of genius and eloquence all concede to you;—much more therefore I, who am but a perfect barbarian, and have always been conversant in rude scenes. I confess further, you have broken my spirit, and made me languish before the battle : and this for two reasons :

" 1. You have managed your opposition to me with so much astonishing art and steady moderation, that 1 find it impossible to be angry with you.

" 2. By what fate or fortune it has happened I know not, but certainly you have not said one word new on this most important subject. And therefore it may seem superfluous for me now to tread again the same ground which I have so often gone over before; especially as P. Melancthon, in his invincible theological tracts, has trampled upon and absolutely ground to powder every argument you have produced. To be plain, your book, in my judgment, suffers so exceedingly on being compared with his, that I am much grieved for yourself, that you should pollute your most beautiful and ingenious language with such sordid sentiments: and again, I feelmostindignantto seesuch contemptible materials conveyed in themost precious and ornamental pieces of eloquence. They are like the filth of a dunghill placed in golden dishes. Your extreme backwardness to appear in this contest convinces me that you yourself were aware of this, and that conscience suggested to you, that whatever might be the force of your eloquence, it would be impossible for you so to disguise your notions, that I should not discover their vanity through every false covering. I pretend to no eloquence; but, by the grace of God, I trust I have a little knowledge of the subject; and there you are deficient, notwithstanding your great capacity and extraordinary powers of language.

" In this business I have been inclined to reason Cent. thus : Our side of the question is so fortified by t xyr Scripture, that those who can be shaken by the trifling ob jections of Erasmus, however elegantly expressed, do not deserve that on their account I should write an answer to the Diatribe. Thousands upon thousands of books will do such personsno good. Enough has been done, by my friends and myself, for those who take the Spirit for their guide ; and in regard to those who are not led by the Spirit, it is no wonder if they are shaken by every breath of wind. Wherefore I had almost resolved to be silent; not on account of my numerous engagements, nor the difficulty of the thing, nor yet through the dread of Erasmus and his prodigious eloquence, but most sincerely from the low estimation in which I hold the Diatribe,—not to mention, what is so characteristic of Erasmus, your excessive versatility in it throughout. You exceed Ulysses in caution: one whileyou affirm nothing, at another time you assume an air of positiveness : It is impossible to arrive at any distinct and satisfactory issue with such men,— unless indeed one had the art of catching Proteus.

" However, my faithful brethren in Christ Jesus, do now suggest a reason why I ought to answer you ; and there is some weight in it. They tell me a Reply is, in general, expected from me; they say, Erasmus's authority is not to be despised, and that the faith of several is shaken. Therefore I am disposed to own, at length, that I may have carried my silence too far; that I may have been influenced too much by carnal reasonings, and not have sufficiently kept in mind that duty by which I am debtor both to the wise and to the unwise,.

" For, though true religion does notrely onmerely external means, but, besides him who plants and waters, requires the Spirit to give the increase; yet, because the Spirit is free, and in no wise dependent on our wills, the rule of St. Paul should ever be

Vol. v. T

Chap, observed, 1 Be instant in season and out of season.' x*1, , * We know not at what hour our Lord will come.' Be it so, that there are some who in reading my writings have not as yet been led by the Spirit; be it so, that the Diatribe has gained possession of their minds : what does all this prove, except that their hour may not yet be come? And who knows, my excellent Erasmus, but God may be pleased, through the means of such a poor wretched vessel as myself, to visit you?—and I do from my heart beseech the Father of mercies, through our Lord Jesus Christ, that the operation of this little book may be such, that I may thereby gain you as a most dear brother to the cause.

" In conclusion, permit me, my Erasmus, to request you to excuse my defects in eloquence ; as, on the other hand, I have to bear with your want of information in this particular instance. God does not bestow all his gifts on one person."

The controversy between these great men is the same which has appeared in various ages of the Church, and even in our own times. The doctrine maintained by Luther cannot, I think, be comprehended and expressed in fewer or clearer words, than in those of our own Church ; namely, that, as fallen creatures, " We have No Power To Do Good Works, pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us, that we may have a good will, and working with us when we have that good will*." This humiliating sentiment was peculiarly offensive to Erasmus; and so it must ever prove to the pride of every human heart, which is not yet brought, through a sense of its unworthiness, to deep contrition and penitence at the cross of the Saviour.

Erasmus had observed, that he could not but give some weight to the authority of numerous learned

* Tenth Article of Religion.

men, whose judgment had been confirmed by the Cent. consent of ages. Among these, he said, were , XVIexcellent divines and holy martyrs, and many who had wrought miracles. Then, among the modern theologians, and universities, and councils, and bishops, and popes, what a mass of learning, genius, and goodness, all, he said, on his side of the question : and only Wickliff and Laurentius Valla against him #. To this Luther replies, " I own there is a great deal in what you say : I myself, for more than ten years, felt the force of this very argument, and more, I believe, than any person else: insomuch that I thought it impossible for this Troy to be taken. And I call God to witness with my own soul, that I should have remained to this day in the same state, had I not been compelled to yield to the force of evidence, and the pressure of my own conscience f. That Being, who knows the secrets of hearts, knows that my sole object is to magnify His grace, and in no degree to commend myself. But you would reduce me to the dilemma, either of giving up the point, or of boasting of myself, and blaming the fathers. I extricate myself however at once, by owning, that I bow to your judgment in regard to learning, genius, history, and all other things, except three: and in regard to these three; namely, l. What are the evidences of being led by the Spirit; 2. What is the right province of miracles; 3. What the nature and effects of sanctification ;— as far as I know you from your writings, you are so inexperienced and uninformed, that you cannot produce from them a single syllable to the purpose. I repeat it, and press the point close,—that in all the instances on which you place so much stress, there is not one, where there is any clear proof of the operation of the Spirit, or of the existence of miracles, or of a sanctified disposition of the heart.

• Diatribe, 1218, where Erasmus mention* Manichsus also, t Luth. 436.

Chap. You are not aware how much of what you say x*t- j derives its eredit from mere custom and common language; and how all this loses its weight the moment it is called to the bar of conscience."

" Show me," continues Luther, "anyone instance of a man who, through the pure efficacy of Free Will, ever, in the smallest degree, either mortified his appetites, or forgave an injury. On the contrary, I can easily show you, that the very holy men whom you boast of as Free-willers, always in their prayers to God totally laid aside every idea of Free Will, and had recourse to nothing but grace, pure grace. So Augustine often, who is entirely on my side in this dispute : so Bernard also, who, when dying, said, ' I have lost my time, because I have lived to bad purpose.'

" Nevertheless, I grant that these holy men themselves would sometimes, during their disputes, hold a different language concerning the nature of Free Will. And, in general, I observe that good men, when they approach the throne of grace, forget the powers of Free Will, on which they may have written polemically; and despairing of themselves have recourse to grace alone. And though they may have exalted the natural resources of man, yet in prayer they forget all this: that is, in affection and practice they are different from what they were in disputation and argument. But who would not estimate the character both of good and bad men from the former, rather than the latter * ?"

Erasmus had defined Freedom to be that power of the human will, by which a man can either apply himself to those things which lead to his eternal salvation, or turn away from them; for it would be ridiculous, he maintains; to bid a man Choose, who had not the power of turning himself either one way or the other f. Luther, with as much acuteness as if he had studied Mr. Locke's famous • Lutli. 437. f Diatr. 1125.

chapter on power *, replies, that as the expression, Cent. Power of the human will, means that faculty by > XJ'which we choose or refuse, he does not see how this same power can act, or be used, either in the way of applying to any thing or of turning away from it, except by choosing or refusing. For if we should suppose the said power to be a sort of medium between the abstract faculty of the will and its operations, we shall find nothing is gained by such an hypothesis ; nor is it possible to go one step further than simply this, that men do choose and refuse f.

In reading the Diatribe, it is abundantly more difficult to discover the Precise Sentiments of the author, than to perceive a steady intention to discredit the doctrines of Luther. He takes notice, that some, who differ widely from Pelagius, allow very much to the operation of grace, and scarcely any thing to free will; but yet do not take it away entirely. They affirm, that a man can neither begin, carry on, nor finish any thing good, without the continual aid of Divine grace. This opinion, because it leaves a man the power of desiring and endeavouring, and yet takes away every grourtd for ascribing the effect to his own strength, Erasmus pronounces Moderately Probable; yet he seems to think it objectionable. For he goes on to say, There are others whose opinion is More Objectionable^, namely, who contend that the Will can do evil only, and that Grace perforins all the good. These carry too far their fear of ascribing merit to good works. But the most objectionable sentiment of all is §, to call Free Will an empty name; and to say, it is of no avail, either before grace or after it; for that God works both the good and the evil in us, and that all things are absolutely necessary.

* Locke, Hum. Und. t Lutb. 44*- 6

J Diatr. 12124. durior. h Id.durissima.

Chap. " You make three opinions here," replies Luther, t X*L . " when in reality, as far as I am concerned, there is but one. Perhaps, I may not have been able to express myself intelligibly to you, either in the German language, or in my indifferent Latin ; but I call God to witness, that I intended the terms used in the two latter opinions, neither to convey or intimate any sentiment different from what is expressed in the first opinion.—You yourself say, that the human Will, since the fall, is so far depraved, as to have become the servant of sin, and of itself, utterly unable to amend its state*: Then, what is Free Will, when applied to a faculty, where it is granted that all liberty is lost, and that slavery has commenced, under the service of sin, but an empty name ? 1 believe Augustine to have been precisely of the same judgment. It is the Diatribe that is inconsistent. For ifyour Free Will, according to your first opinion, which you call probable, has so lost its liberty, that it cannot choose the good, I would wish to know what is the nature of those desires and endeavours, of which you speak as yet left in men's power: certainly they cannot be good desires, or good endeavours ; for you admit that the Will cannot choose the good. Again, you allow that though desires and endeavours are in a man's power, yet still, there is no room for ascribing any effect to their efficacy. Now, who can comprehend such a position ? If the will really possesses the powers of desire and endeavour, why are not effects proportionate to these powers, to be ascribed to them ? and if there be no effects whatever, then what proof have you that the will possesses the powers you contend for? There is no escape for Proteus here ;—for if these are not monstrous contradictions, what are so ?"

Beausobre undertakes to decide, without ceremony in favour of the very great superiority of Erasmus, compared with Luther, in the articles * Diutr. 1221. Luth. 444 & 5.


Judgment *. It is odd, that the Historian should make such an assertion, when this very controversy on the Will must have been present to his mind.— For though no man, in regard to beauty and elegance of style, will think of pitching Luther against Erasmus in general, yet, in this particular instance, Luther's tract De Servo Arbitrio is abundantly more orderly, perspicuous, and nervous, than any of Erasmus's writings on the same subject; insomuch that Erasmus himself owns it to be a work laboured with the greatest care f- Then, as to the argumentation and general management of the question, whether we think with Luther, or differ from him on the subject-matter in debate, we can scarcely read a page of his treatise, without perceiving the hand of a master conscious of his own strength, and, at the same time, convinced of the weakness of his adversary. In fact, Luther regarded the question concerning the Will, purely as it related to religious doctrines that were near his heart; and therefore his profound knowledge of the Scriptures gave him a great advantage over Erasmus, who was a very superficial theologian, doubtful in his sentiments, and indeterminate in his expressions. Even in the metaphysical niceties, which could not be entirely avoided in this abstruse enquiry, he proved greatly his overmatch. Erasmus's extensive reading enabled him, indeed, to be diffuse and scholastic; but Luther was neither to be frightened nor overborne by quotations and authorities. He swept them away

* Beausob. III. 130.

t "—ingens voluraen diu multoque studio, elaboratuni." 923. To F. Choregat.

"—prater omnem expectationem cmisit librum in me summa cura quidem elaboratum." 911. To F. Sylvius.

"—praster omnem expectationem provolans liber Lutheri - Quicquid EcclesiaWittem. potuit vel eruditione vel maledicentia, id totum in eum librnm collatum est: Volumen est plusqnam justae magnitudinis." 919. To Mich. Episc.

Chap, quickly, like so many cobwebs ; and, by the appli. xl1' , cation of a little plain good sense, pointed out what ought to be the boundaries of every attempt to investigate the nature of human liberty : and lastly, he supported his own sentiments on the question, without disguise, mystery, or ostentation.

Let us hear him briefly on the difficult subjects of Necessity, Contingence, and the Prescience of God.

" A Christian," says he, " should know that nothing is contingent in the mind of the Supreme Being, who foresees and orders all events according to his own eternal unchangeable will."—This is a thunderbolt to the notion of Free Will. For hence, all events, though to our minds contingent, are necessary and unchangeable as they respect the Divine Will. The Divine Will cannot be deceived or disappointed. Contingency implies a changeable will, such as in God does not exist*.

" Nevertheless, I wish we had a better word than Necessity, which is commonly made use of in this dispute. For it conveys to the understanding an idea of restraint, which is totally contrary to the act of choosing. In fact there is no restraint, either on the Divine or the human will : in both cases, the will does what it does, whether good or bad, simply, and as at perfect liberty, in the exercise of its own faculty. This unchangeableness and infallibility in God, is the ground of all our hope and confidence. If His Will were liableto contingencies, what dependence could there be on his promises ? But,' let God be true, and every man a liar.'—Your notions, my Erasmus, destroy peace of conscience, and all the comforts of the Spirit, and lead to impieties and blasphemies almost worse than any thing of Epicurus.—Not that you intend all this: no ; I do not believe you would teach such things designedly. But learn hence, how a man, who undertakes a bad

* De Serv. Arb. 429.

cause, may be led on to advance most dangerous Cent. doctrines *."

Luther proceeds thus : " So long as the operative grace of God is absent from us, every thing we do has in it a mixture of evil; and therefore of necessity, our works avail not to salvation. Here I do not mean a necessity of compulsion, but a necessity as to the certainty of the event. A man who has not the Spirit of God, does evil willingly and spontaneously. He is not violently impelled, Against his will, as a thief is to the gallows. But the man cannot alter his disposition to evil; nay, even though he may be externally restrained from Doing evil, he is averse to the restraint, and his inclination remains still the same. Again, when the Holy Spirit is pleased to change the Avill of a bad man, the new man still acts voluntarily: he is not compelled by the Spirit to determine contrary to his will, but his will itself is changed ; and he cannot now do otherwise than love the good, as before he loved the evilt."

The origin of evil, however, Luther does not attempt to explain; and if Erasmus had seen the difficulties on that head as clearly as Luther did, and had been as candid in owning them, these controversialists would have found themselves much nearer agreed. Erasmus had affirmed, " that to represent God, first as causing evil in men, and secondly, as punishing them on that very account, would have the most pernicious consequences. Who would think God had any love for mankind ? who would not think him a cruel Being, that took pleasure in the sufferings of the wretched; and lastly, who would take any pains to correct their vices, or subdue their passions J V Luther's reply briefly amounts to this: " Wicked men will always harbour wicked and blasphemous thoughts; but pious and good men will

* De Serv. Arb. 430. t lb. 434.

X Diat. 1217.

Chap, adore the Divine Economy, without scrutinizing" y XvIL , into it too nicely, firmly persuaded that God only is just and wise, and never does wrong to any one ; and that, whatever may be the appearances to us, there are always good reasons for what he does. We may not be able to comprehend how it is that he is just and merciful, though many perish, and few are saved ; but it is our duty, nevertheless, to believe that he is so, and that he has no pleasure in the death of him that dieth. God does not punish the wicked, because he delights in the sufferings of the wretched, but because he has wise purposes in view, which call for their punishment. The best of men are content with this account: they pretend not to explain all the difficulties which arise on this subject; they rather repress the risings of pride and discontent, and exercise the graces of humility.

" But still I do not wonder that fallen and depraved creatures should be offended with such notions of the Supreme Being, as that he deserts men, hardens them, condemns them ; and all this from the mere pleasure which he takes in the sins and the eternal punishment of the miserable. Is this the Being who is represented as so abundant in mercy and goodness ? I myself have often been so offended with this view of the Almighty, as to have been brought by it to the very brink of despair, and to have wished I had never been born; till, at length, I learnt how wholesome a thing it is to despair of a man's own powers, and how near he then is to the grace of God *."

3. Scriptural Arguments Used In The


IN this detail, we may be very concise respecting

the Scriptural arguments of the Diatribe ; they are

all so much alike. For example, ' I have set before

* Luth. 434. 461, b. & 462. and in other parts of the De Serv. Arbit.

you this day life and death, therefore choose life.' * Turn ye unto me, and I will turn unto you *.' 4 Whosoever desires life and good days, let him keep his tongue from evil f,' &c. The numerous admonitions, threatenings, and promises, of this sort, appear to have made a great impression on the mind of Erasmus J. However, they had all been well considered by Luther, and he had his answer at hand. " They prove nothing," says he, " as to the human Powers of performance, but are merely imperative as to Our Duties. For, if they prove any thing in Tegard to our powers, they prove too much; they would prove, that our wills, without the assistance of God's grace, are in a condition to keep all the Divine commandments,—a position which Erasmus will not maintain. The use of these scriptural directions and admonitions is, to teach man, who is naturally proud and blind, the nature of his disease; how miserable and impotent he is, and how completely a captive in the chains of sin. It is true, it is written, ' Turn ye to me :' but does it thence follow, that we can turn ourselves ? It is written also, ' Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart;' but will any man say, that fallen creatures can love God with all their hearts ? All such passages point out what the holy law of God requires, but are no proof of our ability to perform it. The Diatribe is a little stupid, or at least rather sleepy here

Erasmus had owned ||, that there were some passages of Scripture, which seem to take away the liberty of the will entirely: and these he had attempted to explain. In answer, Luther says, " You may here observe to what little purpose it is for a human being to raise a smoke, in opposition to the thunder and lightning of God." And then he proceeds to make great use of the ninth chapter of Romans; and,

* Zech. i. 3. T Psalm xxxiv. 12, 13.

X Diat. 1224-6. § Luth.448.

II Id. 1230.

Chap, with an air of triumph, he derides the comments of , x*1- „ Erasmus, who, after Origen and Jerome, had had recourse to tropes and figures in his interpretation of St. Paul. " Mere human reason," continues Luther, " can never comprehend how God is good and merciful; and therefore the Diatribe makes to itself a God of its own fancy, who hardens nobody, condemns nobody; pities every body, saves every body,

. takes away hell, and the fear of death and punish

ment. In this way would the writer excuse and defend the Almighty as just and good.

" But Faith and the Spirit judge otherwise. By them we believe God to be good, though he should visit with destruction even the whole human race. Moreover, to what purpose do we fatigue ourselves with attempts to place the blame of a hard heart on the abuse of Free Will; when, not a single instance can be brought, either where the heart was softened without the help of the Holy Spirit, or where a man obtained mercy while he trusted in his own strength? —Let us stick close to the pure simple word of God * "

The reasonings of St. Paul, respecting the foreknowledge and predetermination of God, appear to have gravelled the author of the Diatribe more than any other arguments contained in the sacred writings.—" Thou wilt say then, Why doth he yet find fault, for who hath resisted his will f V This interrogation is evidently grounded on the idea, that necessity takes away all human responsibility ; and, further, that as the will of God is irresistible, it is unreasonable to find fault. Erasmus admits this to be a great difficulty; and the intelligent Reader will think that he had better have made no attempt to solve it. " God," says he, " who knows what is to come, and has the power of preventing it, and yet does not prevent it, must be considered, in some way, as choosing that the thing should be so. * Luth. 457. & 548. + Rom. Ik.

And this is St. Pauls very argument: ' Who can resist his will,' either when he has mercy on, or when he hardens whom he pleases. Thus, the will of God, which is the chief cause of every event, Appeaus to fix a necessity on all human determinations. Neither does the Apostle untie the knot; but, on the contrary he rebukes the objector. Who art thou ' who repliest against God?'—But observe, it is only the impious murmurer whom he rebukes, just as a master would rebuke a forward servant,—' What have you to do with the reasons of my orders ?—see that you obey them.' Now this same master would have given a different answer to a prudent, well-meaning servant, who modestly, and with a good intention, had asked the question. It was very right that Pharaoh should perish : nevertheless, this king was not compelled by the Divine volitions to continue pertinaciously wicked. God foresaw, and in a certain sense, chose, that he should continue in sin, and should perish, for he had long ago Deserved to suffer for his notorious crimes. But, I ask, at what point in a man's life Does Desert begin, on the supposition that there is no freedom, and that all is necessity from beginning to end 1

" In the same manner," continues Erasmus, " God foreknew, and therefore in a certain sense must have chosen, that Judas should betray his Master. If you consider the prescience of God as infallible, and his will as unchangeable, it must necessarily happen, that Judas would betray his Master; and yet Judas might have changed his mind. Suppose he had changed his mind; you will say, what then? I answer, that still the Divine prescience would neither have failed, nor the Divine will have been obstructed ; for, in that case, God would both have foreknown and chosen that Judas would alter his mind. The schoolmen here make a very nice distinction, between the necessity of a consequence, and a consequence in itself necessary *. They admit the former, but deny the latter." " But, ** says he, " it is not my design to insist on these subtilties."

It was natural that the obscure and indeterminate sentiments of Erasmus, the result of scholastic and theoretical reading, should make little impresssion on the mind of Luther, whose religion was vital, practical, and experimental in the highest degree ; and who had been led, by internal conviction, to feel what nature could Not do, and what grace alone Could effect. Such a character, furnished at the same time with a deep and comprehensive knowledge of Scripture, was conscious of a reasonableness and stability in his faith, which is never to be attained by mere study, acquaintance with books and opinions, or any exertion of natural powers. In this part of the argument, Luther is remarkably nervous and distinct. " You undermine," says he, " at once, all the Divine promises and threatenings ; you destroy faith and the fear of God; in fact, you deny the Deity himself, unless you allow a necessary efficacy to his prescience. The distinction of the necessity of a consequence, and of a consequence in itself necessary, is a mere figment. The Diatribe may invent and re-invent fancy after fancy of this sort, may cavil and re-cavil as much as it pleases; I maintain, if God foreknew that Judas would be a traitor, then it could not be otherwise ; and though Judas certainly committed the act in pursuance of his own will, and without any restraint, yet it was not in his power, or that of any created being, to change his wicked disposition.—The wicked choice here made by Judas was his own act; but that such an Act should exist, is to be ascribed

* Diat. 1233. "—necessitatem consequential consequents nrcessitatem."

to the omnipotence of the Divine agency, precisely as all other things are *. We must never give up this,—that God cannot lie,—that God cannot be deceived. The learned in all ages may have been blind, but there is no obscurity, no ambiguity heref."


THE objections of Erasmus at bottom were le-> veiled, no doubt, at the doctrine of the total depravity of human nature. Occasionally an expression escapes him, which is full to this point. For example : ' The propensity which is in most men to evil, though it is not to be overcome without the help of Divine grace, yet does not entirely destroy their liberty. If that were so, why is time given for repentance ? why even a hundred and twenty years afforded to the Antediluvians, if no portion of men's repentance depended on their own wills ? Again, the case of Cornelius the centurion proves, that a man, before the reception of grace, may, through God's help, prepare himself, by the performance of good moral actions, for the Divine favour, though he be not yet baptized, nor hath obtained the gift of the Holy Ghost. For if all Cornelius's actions, before this last gift of the Spirit, was bestowed upon him, were bad actions, one might ask, whether bad actions can be the cause of procuring us the favour of God

* Erasmus owns, in Diat. 1232, that there is no denying that the Divine operation must concur in the production of every action; and for this reason, because every action implies a real existence of something, and even of something good. This concession, I conceive, provided Erasmus had been consistent with himself throughout, is the whole of what Luther, or any other person of Luther's sentiments, would or could desire.

t Luth. 461—3. I Diat. H36.

Luther replies,—" The very same objection may be made to all the precepts of God ; namely, why do you issue commands where there is not a power to obey ? whereas, the design of the commands is, to instruct and to admonish ; in order, that men may know their duty, be humbled on account of their defects, and, as I said before, have recourse to grace and mercy. I also, as well as Erasmus, have read the Acts of the Apostles, but not one syllable do I find there, which indicates that Cornelius's actions without the Holy Spirit were morally good. This is a mere dream of the Diatribe : the contrary is the fact. He is called a just man, and one that feared God. Now to say, that there can be, without the Holy Ghost, a just man, and one that fears God, is to say that Belial is Christ Jesus. Be it so, that Cornelius was not then baptized, and had not heard of the resurrection of Christ; does it follow he had not had the gift of the Holy Ghost? you may just as well say, that John the Baptist, and his parents, and the mother of our Lord, and Simeon, had not received the Holy Ghost *."

It may be useful to give a short specimen of the manner in which these theological combatants respectively manage the very difficult and delicate subject of the Divine and human co-operation. " There are passages in St. Paul," says Erasmus, " which appear to take away every particle of freedom : for example, ' Not that we are sufficient of ourselves, as to think any thing of ourselves : our sufficiency is of God.' 2 Cor. iii. But there are two ways of supporting my side of the question, l. Some very orthodox fathers divide human actions into three parts ; thought, choice, and execution. They allow there is no room for liberty in the first and third. Grace alone implants good thoughts, and grace alone finishes the work ; but in the middle

part, namely, the choice, there is a co-operation Cent. of grace and the will; though even in that co-ope- t *VIration, it is allowed, that the principal part of the effect is due to grace. 2. The other way of getting rid of the difficulty, consists in taking notice of the force of the very peculiar expression used by St.

Paul, { as to think aay thing as of ourselves,'

that is, as from ourselves. Surely a man might use such an expression, who allowed the natural powers of the Will to be sufficiently efficacious to choose the good, since these very powers are the gift of God; and so St. Paul frequently checks a disposition to pride and arrogance,—' what hast thou, that thou hast not received V Nay, the declaration that God works in us, both to will and to do, is consistent with freedom; for it is added, according to Our Good Wills ; that is, our good wills co-operating with the grace of God. This is Ambrose's interpretation of the passage*; and is the more probable, because, a little before, we are exhorted to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling; words which undoubtedly teach us, that both God works and man works.—But how can man be said to work, if his will be in the hands of God, what clay is in the hands of the potter f?"

Luther's observations on the same subject merit our particular attention. " I grant," says he, " that Erasmus has proved that the creature co-operates with the Creator in his operations. But what has our present controversy to do with any questions concerning co-operation ? The orator was to have harangued concerning a palm, but his whole discourse has been about a gourd. Or, as Horace

• On looking into Ambrose, I do not perceive the least ground for understanding him in this sense. His words are, " pro bona voiuntate," without the possessive pronoun; and so it is in the original, ixij Ttjj ivimiat, which is very properly translated, "of his good pleasure," Philipp. n. 13.

t Eras. 1238, 1239.

Chap, says, ' the potter began to make a cask, but proX*L „ duced a pitcher in the end.'

" We know very well that St. Paul co-operated with God in teaching the Corinthians, when He preached to them publicly, and when God, at the same time, influenced them eternally by his Spirit. God is the universal agent in every thing : even the wicked are subservient to his will. The difference between the co-operation of the wicked and the good is, that the former are devoid of all spiritual principle, whereas the latter, as St. Paul says, are led by the Holy Ghost.

" Our present inquiry, however, is not concerning what we can do Through God's Help, but what is the extent of our natural powers without the Divine assistance ; and whether we can of ourselves in any measure prepare ourselves for the new creation by the Spirit. To this single point Erasmus ought to have adhered.

" My undisguised sentiments are these.—Man, before he is created, can do nothing in any way to promote his creation. Neither after his creation can he do any thing to preserve his existence. Both his creation and his preservation are the result of the sole pleasure of the omnipotent and gracious energy of God ; nevertheless, God does not operate in us, without making use of us, as beings whom he hath created and preserved for the express purpose of a mutual co-operation; namely, that he should work in us, and we co-operate with him. The very same is to be said of the New creature. The man before he is renewed by the Spirit can do nothing, can attempt nothing, to prepare himself for this newcreation. Neither after he is renewed, can he effect any thing, to insure a perseverance in his new state. The Spirit of God alone doth both these things,— he both renews and preserves the renewed, without any aid on our part; as St. James, speaking of the new creature, says, 4 of his own will he begat us by the word of his power.' But here also it must be Cent. remembered, that he does not operate in the re- t ~~ newed, without using them as beings purposely renewed and preserved, that he should work in them, and they co-operate with him. For example : he makes use of them to preach, to pity the poor, to comfort the afflicted. But what does Erasmus's notion of the Will gain by all this,—except an absolute confutation ?

" I would not," continues he, " attribute malice or bad motives to the author of the Diatribe, but I think he can scarcely be deemed sound and sober, when he attempts to prove the freedom of the Will by magnifying the efficacy of Divine grace. Every action of man, says he, may become good through the assistance of the grace of God *. This is the inference of Erasmus, from a selection out of the Gospels and St. Paul's Epistles, of a number of very beautiful similitudes and parables, which imply the Divine assistance and co-operation f- Far be it from me to deny this ; but then, from the very same passages of Scripture, I infer that though a man with the grace of God may surmount all difficulties, yet without that assistance he can do no good works whatever. He who could undertake to support the notion of Free Will by such Scriptures as speak highly of the efficacy of Divine grace, must surely look upon men as senseless stocks and stones. Yet Erasmus has not only done this, but he also boasts in the most triumphant manner as if he had gained a complete victory. This proceeding, however, of my opponent, has given me some insight into the nature and power of the liberty for which he contends. It is no less than a species of insanity. For what else, I beg, but Free Will could induce a man to talk in this manner J ?

* Eras. 1241. t lb. 1235, 1239, and 1241.

; Luth. 474. 6.

" I would that Erasmus would mark the consequences of his own reasoning: Scripture extols the assistance of Divine grace, therefore Scripture confirms the doctrine of Free Will. By what logic does he argue thus, and not directly the contrary? For example : Divine grace, and the assistance of it, are preached and magnified; therefore there is no room for Free Will. For to what purpose should grace be conferred ? Is it for this, that the pride of a Free-wilier, already sufficiently haughty, should, like a bacchanalian in his riots, boast and exult in the possession of the gift of grace, as if it were to him a superfluous and unnecessary ornament?

" Wherefore, though I am no orator, yet my rhetoric is, in this instance, sounder than that of the Diatribe, when I affirm, that all the passages of Scripture—and they are innumerable—which take notice of Divine help, are so many arguments for the inability of man. For the very reason why grace is necessary, and why Divine help is afforded, is, that the human powers can of themselves do nothing, or, in other words, do not avail to choose the good. An inference this, which the gates of hell can never subvert."

Luther concludes his reply to the Diatribe in the following manner : " The system of Erasmus proceeds upon the principle of allowing some little to the powers of fallen man; and I believe his intention to be good; as he thereby hopes to remove some difficulties and inconveniences, and to reconcile certain apparently contradictory passages in Scripture. But the system entirely fails in its object : for, unless you ascribe a perfect and complete ability to the human will, as the Pelagians do, the appearance of several contradictions in Scripture, and also all the difficulties which are raised respecting reward and merit, and the mercy and justice of God, remain in full force, notwithstanding this petty allowance of power to the wills of men. We must therefore go the full length of denying to fallen creatures the existence of any power to do good works without the grace of God : on this plan, we shall find no contradictions in the sacred pages: and if there should remain some difficulties, in consequence of ascribing all events to God, we shall still know precisely what the difficulties are, and modestly submit to be ignorant of what we cannot understand *.

" But, my Erasmus, never believe that I defend my side of the question from passion rather than from conviction. I cannot bear your insinuation that I think one thing and write another, or, that, in the heat of defence, I contradict my former assertions. My publications prove, that to this hour I have constantly maintained the natural inability of man. The truth has been my only motive. The charge of being vehement I submit to, if indeed I am to be blamed on that account: at the same time, I cannot but rejoice that there is such testimony for me in the cause of God, and I pray God it may be found so at the last day. For well will it be then for Luther to have the full testimony of the age in which he lived, that he defended the cause of truth not indolently nor deceitfully, but with sufficient warmth, or, perhaps, a little too much. Then shall I happily escape the threatening of Jeremiah, ' Cursed is he who doeth the work of the Lord deceitfully.'

" And if you shall judge me too severe upon your Diatribe, you must excuse me. I harbour not the least ill-will towards you. My sole motive is, to prevent you from injuring exceedingly the cause of Christ By Your Authority; though it be vain for you to attempt it, either by your learning, or manner of treating the subject.—Besides, let me

ask, what writer has his pen under such complete dominion that it never breaks out into excess? You yourself, who, by aiming at moderation, have become almost frigid in this little tract, yet frequently shoot bitter and fiery darts ; insomuch, that your reader must be very candid, and very much in your favour, to acquit you of the charge of virulence. However, all this is nothing to the question between us : as men, we ought to be sensible of our infirmities, and mutually to forgive one another *."

5. Luther's Arguments From St. Paui
And St. John.

TO the preceding reply to the objections contained in the Diatribe of Erasmus, Luther thought it expedient to subjoin a few striking passages from the New Testament, with a short comment upon them,— as follows: '

" To produce all those Scriptures which prove the original inability of man, would be almost to transcribe the Sacred Writings. Whole armies are at hand; but I shall confine myself to the production of two Generals, namely, Paul the Apostle, and John the Evangelist.

" The language of the former is, that,' the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth,—to the Jew first, and then to the Gentile.' These words have no ambiguity in them ; they prove that the Gospel is absolutely necessary to save men from the anger of God. Again,' Both Jews and Gentiles are all under sin: there is none that doeth good, no not one : all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.' And, ' The wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness.' Here it is for Erasmus to point out the exceptions,

Luth. 475.

either among the Jews or the Greeks. What! not one among those two excellent nations who endeavoured to obtain the Honestum? Not one who exerted to good purpose those natural powers you contend for ? St. Paul is peremptory, declaring them all under the wrath of God.

" Moreover, experience confirms this account. Produce the best men that ever lived. Is there any one of them who ever dreamt of that wrath of God which is here said by St. Paul to be revealed from heaven against all ungodliness ? Or, who ever suspected that the road to justification and salvation is by believing on the God-man who died for sin, rose again, and now sits at the right hand of God ? Read what the greatest philosophers have thought and written concerning the anger of God against sin, in a future life. Examine what the Jews, who had so many signal advantages, thought of the true way of salvation. They not only rejected it, but have hated it to such a degree, that no nation under heaven has persecuted Christ so atrociously, even until this day. Yet, will any man say, that, among such multitudes, there has not been one who has cultivated his natural ability, or endeavoured to make the best of his Free Will ? How is it, that this most excellent faculty of Free Will should, in no one instance of the very best men, have led to the discovery of the way of justification? How is it, that the very best Free-willers have not only been quite ignorant of it, but, even after that it was revealed to them, have rejected it with the greatest hatred? So St. Paul, ' It became a stumblingblock unto the Jews, and to the Greeks foolishness.' —I say then, this natural ability, or Free Will, which you contend for, as far as it respects religion, is the greatest possible enemy to the salvation of men. It cannot be but that some Jews or Gentiles have endeavoured to make the most of this

boasted faculty, and yet they have been at constant war with the grace of God.

" Let Erasmus now tell me how the wills of natural men can be said to exert some degree of endeavour towards the good, when it thus appears that they esteem the righteousness of God to be either a stumbling-block or foolishness."

Luther makes great use of the important doctrine of justification by faith, as stated by St. Paul; but it would detain us too long, were we to dwell upon all the passages which he produces from this apostle. He argues thus from Romans iii. ig. 4 Every mouth must be stopped, and all the world must become guilty before God.' But not so, if a man by nature possesses a power of discharging in any degree his duty to God. Such a one may say to the Almighty, ' There is a something which you cannot condemn :—you have furnished me with a power to do something; and, as far as this goes, there is no guilt; and my mouth will not be stopped. And certainly, if the human Will be a well-disposed and efficacious faculty, it is not true that the whole world must be reckoned guilty before God ; for this very faculty is by no means a slight matter, or confined to a small part of the world : whereas the Whole world is pronounced guilty before God. The expression is so general, that neither the whole conduct, nor any part of the conduct of a man, of men, or of a number of men, can, by possibility, be here excepted.

On the next verse, ' Therefore by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in the sight of God.' Luther observes, that Jerome had ignorantly been the cause of introducing into the world a very erroneousand very mischievous idea, namely, that, by the works of the law St. Paul intended only the works of the ceremonial law. " Augustine," says he, " excellently withstood this false

comment: nevertheless, through the prevalence of . Satan, it has spread very much, and keeps its ground to this day."

Here Luther opposes Jerome, and supports Augustine with great perspicuity and strength of argument.

As the Reader of this History is well aware that there is no part of religious truth which was nearer the heart of Luther, or which he had studied more intensely, than the doctrine of justification by faith, he will not be surprised to find this great Reformer, combating with all his might such notions of the natural faculties of man, as he conceived to be utterly subversive of this fundamental article. Erasmus's defence of Free Will he understood to be, in effect a struggle to establish in men's characters some degree of merit, be it more or less : and such an attempt, according to Luther's ideas, militated directly against the important doctrine just mentioned. He asks, therefore, " What can the advocates for the free powers of man say to the declaration of St. Paul, 1 Being justified Freely by his grace?' Freely: what does that word mean? IIow are good endeavours and merit consistent with a gratuitous donation ? Perhaps you do not insist on a merit of condignity, but only of congruity. Empty distinctions! Nay, Erasmus owns, that he defends Free Will in order that he may find some place for merits : and he is perpetually expostulating, that, where there is no liberty, there can be no merit; and where there is no merit, there is no room for reward. To be brief, St. Paul represents justification as a perfectly free gift, without any consideration of merit; and that along with this free gift are bestowed also the kingdom of God and life eternal. Then, where are the desires, the endeavours, the merits of Free Will ? and what are their uses ? Suppose we admit that the advocates of Free Will allow only exceedingly little to