Use 1.

How much to blame are those that dread not extremes? It is very common with men, when once they are fully convinced that there is a dangerous error on the one hand, to be careless how far they run to the other hand, and to entertain an error as dangerous, and maintain it to help against the other; though it may prove as incommodious to their souls, as once our predecessors found it to the State, when they fetch in the Saxons to drive out the Picts.

St. Austin tells us it was the great care of every orthodox teacher in his time, to take heed lest they should Grace, as to deny free-will; and lest they should so defend free-will, as to deny Grace: and a good care it was [lib. 2. de peccat. me ir. cap. 18.].

Some have spoken against free-will to good in any sense, have spoken without fear, of over-speaking of man’s impotency to Good, without any check or limitation; yea, and called it a Natural Impotency in the sense explained, that the most understand it  (without explication) of a Natural Impotency, which to affirm, is virtually to lay man’s destruction at God’s door, notwithstanding that Christ’s death and the Gospel, and to clear man. How sad it should be to us, that many have expressed themselves in such terms (though they did contradict it again virtually), that if wicked men had believed them (without doubt they had such checks of conscience, that they did not), they might have encouraged their hearts, as if their refusal of Christ and Grace was not their malignity and wickedness; was not a moral thing, but their weakness; a weakness opposed to willfulness, or however, different from it,  a “cannot” distinct from “will not;” which every one has a notion that a man may be pitied, but not blamed for. If any say I have spoken thus, and held thus; but now see it is an error subverting the very foundation:” but I did practically hold the contrary, or I could not have reproached others, or repented of my former sins: I readily believe you, and shall only say, “Learn charity to those that differ from you.”

Again, some have so defended free-will, that they have maintained that God gives to men only a power of choosing Good and Evil, and will go no further with any.  If any such are sensible that blasphemy to the Spirit is written on the forehead of this opinion, and that it makes the Spirit’s help needless to a man of sound intellectuals; having a sufficient objective evidence, and shall say, “I held this notionally; for I did pray, which I could not have done had I held it practically:” I shall say the same, I readily believe it, do you also learn charity.

If any should tell me I am too charitable, in granting that men may hold errors destructive of religion, notionally and doctrinally, and yet hold the contrary truth practically, I answer, “I know I am not, and any observant man sees it very frequent.” If you should reply, “Surely, no man holds contradictions; quite contrary opinions, however no judicious man.” Yea, I may confidently say, “ever judicious man does so, since every man in this world holds some errors; and this may convince you, viz., If there be any man that you think you can truly convince of an error he holds, you do equally think he holds contradictions; because else you could not think you could confute him, or so much as rationally dispute with him, if you did not think he agreed in something with you, even in that which you will make your medium to convince him, by showing that his erroneous opinion contradicts that which he agrees with you in. And you also so judge that he holds that truth wherein he agrees with you far more distinctly and firmly; so that when you have manifested unto him that those opinions contradict one another, he will rather renounce and condemn (for no man can hold what he sees a contradiction) that erroneous opinion, than that tenet wherein he agrees with you, and therefore he holds as you judge the truth opposite to the error more firmly and practically.

If any man ask me, “Which extreme is most dangerous?” I shall only answer, there have been many have constantly held this middle way for substance, yea, the most have done so virtually; and they of them in extremes were in most danger that did least contradict themselves.

And if such an incompetent judge as I, may speak without offence (and why may I not, you suffer fools gladly, your selves being wise) I would commend both and blame both. I commend their zeal in general on the one hand, for maintaining God’s love to the world, and his willing the salvation of all men, on the condition they would turn to him. And though I blame their denying special grace, yet I am confident the main reason of their denial was, because they were sure there was such general grace, and none could preach without holding it in sense; and they could not see it consistent with special: and their opposition to this special grace was not through any ill will to it, had they thought it consistent with general.

So I commend the zeal in the other, in maintaining special grace, but I blame their denying general grace. But yet am confident the main reason of their denial was, because they were sure there was special grace; and none could pray without holding it in sense, while they deny it in words; and they could not see it consistent with general grace, and their opposition to this general grace was not through any ill will to it, had they thought it consistent with special.

But Sirs, are these so inconsistent, that you must either deny one or the other? For God to be so far willing the salvation of all, as to be willing to receive them on a condition, they have so far power enough to perform, that nothing hinders their performances but their own willfulness; And to be so much further willing the salvation of some, as to resolve the use of effectual means to cause such to perform it eventually? Is not the Scripture clear for both? And if  we must measure Him by ourselves, is it such a difficulty that none can understand? for one to be really willing to entertain such a one to be his servant, if he will upon sufficient offers and persuasions; and yet resolve he will go no further; and to be so willing to have another his servant, that he is resolved to use all means to compass it. Suppose we cannot understand these things, may we deny in in Divinity whatsoever we cannot understand consistent, as the Trinity in Unity. It is apparent, that many things were inextricable difficulties in former, have in after ages been made well intelligible by studious men. How know you but had half the pains, that learned men have lately taken in opposing, been spent in reconciling the distant opinions about Grace and Free-will; that might ere this have been done more satisfactorily which I have here weakly endeavored, and done but too unsatisfactorily to myself.

Joseph Truman, A Discourse of Natural and Moral Impotency (London: Printed for Robert Clavel; and are to be sold at the Sign of the Peacock in St. Pauls Church yard, 1675), 153-159.   [Some reformatting; italics original; Latin marginal reference cited inline; some spelling modernized; and underlining mine.]

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