When Jean Paul Richter says of himself: ?I have made of myself all that could be made out of the stuff,? be evinces a self-complacency which is due to self-ignorance and lack of moral insight. When a man realizes the extent of the law?s demands, he sees that without divine help obedience is impossible. John B. Gough represented the confirmed drunkard?s efforts at reformation as a man?s walking up Mount Etna knee deep in burning lava or as one?s rowing against the rapids of Niagara.
B. Qualitative lack. Since the law of God requires of men, not so much right single volition as conformity to God in the whole inward state of the affections and will, the power of contrary choice in single volition does not constitute a natural ability to obey God. Man does not possess the power, by those single volition, to change the underlying state of the affections and will. Since God judges all moral action in connection with the general state of the heart and life, natural ability to good involves not only a full complement of faculties but also a bias of the affections and will toward God. Without this bias there is no possibility of right moral action and, where there is no such possibility, there can be no ability either natural or moral.
Wilkinson, Epic of Paul, 21 ? ?Hatred is like love Herein, that it, by only being, grows, Until at last usurping quite the man, It overgrows him like a polypus.? John Caird, Fund. Ideas, 1:53 ? ?The ideal is the revelation in one of a power that is mightier than my own. The supreme command ?Thou oughtest? is the utterance, only different in form, of the same voice in my spirit which says ?Thou canst?; and my highest spiritual attainments are achieved, not by self-assertion, but by self-renunciation and self-surrender to the infinite life of truth and righteousness that is living and reigning within me.? This conscious inability in one?s self, together with reception of ?the strength which God supplieth? ( <600411>1 Peter 4:11), is the secret of Paul?s courage; <471210>2 Corinthians 12:10 ? ?when I am weak, then am I strong?; <503512>Philippians 2:12, 13 ? ?work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who worketh in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure.?
C. No such ability known. In addition to the psychological argument just mentioned, we may urge another from experience and observation.
These testify that man is cognizant of no such ability. Since no man has ever yet, by the exercise of his natural powers, turned himself to God or done an act truly good in God?s sight, the existence of a natural ability to do good is a pure assumption. There is no scientific warrant for inferring
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