Thursday, June 24, 2010

Does Human Will Cooperate in a Good Work?

Martin Chemnitz, from his Loci Theologici, Locus 6:
...The human will indeed does cooperate in a good work, but not as a captive and dead will as it was of itself and by its own nature, as it is described in Eph. 2:1, but as a will freed and living through the Holy Spirit. Augustine therefore says correctly: It is certain that our will is required for this that we do good works, but we do not have this will of our own powers, but God works in us so that we are willing. And in his work On Admonition and Grace he says, “Only by the Holy Spirit is the will of the regenerate kindled, so that they can do God’s will because they are willing, and they are thus willing because God causes them to be willing.”

And finally, we should note that feeling and experience do not precede faith, but it must all come out of the Word. Therefore we must not dispute about experience in this way, “I do not feel this movement and impulse of the will with which the Holy Spirit must anticipate us, therefore I will not hear, or meditate, or seek, or struggle, or contend, or try.” But rather when the mind hears and meditates upon the Word, sustains itself, and does not resist; rather when it seriously contends, as we have seen in the case of Augustine, it is certain that then the Holy Spirit is moving, impelling, and aiding the will. Therefore one should seek, beg, contend. Sometimes indeed the heart plainly senses that which it grasps in the promise, but often, to be sure most often, it experiences that the Holy Spirit conceals his aid with groaning “which cannot be uttered” (Rom. 8:26). Thus you should not inquire whether you feel something, because his strength is made perfect in weakness; but by faith you must rest in God according to his promise, even though you feel nothing, yea even though you feel the very contrary. Augustine says, “If you are not drawn, pray that you may be drawn.”
Martin Chemnitz and Johann Gerhard, The Doctrine of Man in the Writings of Martin Chemnitz and Johann Gerhard, ed. Herman A. Preus and Edmund Smits, (St. Louis: CPH, 2005) 125-126.


DRG said...

Thanks for posting this. Very timely for me.

Scott Diekmann said...

You're welcome!

Garry Trammell said...

Excellent, thank you.