Adam and Christ; Conscience; Deliverance; the Doctrine of Free Will; Christian Life; Man and the World; Obedience of Christ; Responsibility and Purpose

Genesis 2:17; Matthew 4; John 6:44; John 12:31; Romans 6; 1PE 1:2
I just got your note, and write a line in reply. We use words so inexactly that it is necessary to explain, not to have endless discussion.
Usually when we speak of free and can-that is, the absence of compulsion, and the presence of power are confounded. I say 'every one can come to the meeting,' meaning it is open to every one. I am told it is not true, for such an one has broken his leg and cannot. I take a plain case, to show what I mean. Thus where the Lord says, " No one can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him;" it is not that God prohibits or hinders, but that man is so wicked in will and corrupt, that unless a power outside himself act on him he cannot come-he is never morally so disposed. Man is perfectly free to come now as far as God is concerned, and invited to come, yea, besought; and the precious blood of Christ there on the mercy-seat, so that moral difficulty is removed by God's own grace as regards the holy One receiving a sinner. In this sense he is perfectly free to come. But then there is the other side, man's own will and state. There is no will to come, but the opposite. Life was there in Christ. "Ye will not come to me that ye might have life." "All things are ready, come to the marriage," and "they all with one consent began to make excuse." Man does not wish to be with God. "There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God." " Wherefore when I came was there no man, when I called was there none to answer." "The carnal mind is enmity against God." The crucifixion of the Lord is the proof that man would not have God, when come in mercy and relieving even every present misery-" For my love I had hatred:" " They hated me without a cause:" " Now they have both seen and hated both me and my Father." And the Lord gives the reason. Whatever the love, and it was infinite and perfect, God is Light as well as Love, "and men loved darkness rather than light." They reject a love that humbles their pride, as they detest a light which awakens their conscience; henceforth we find "as many as received him to them gave he right to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." It is simple nonsense to talk of freedom when applied to man's actual condition, if he is already inclined to evil; admitting him more than free to come, invited and besought by every motive, all made ready- but which proves that he will not, and that no motive induces him. I have yet one son, says God, but that is over. To say he is not inclined to evil, is to deny all scripture and all fact; to make him free to choose he must be as yet indifferent, indifferent to-having no preference for-good and evil, which is not true, for evil lusts and self-will are there, the two great elements of sin, and if it were true would be perfectly horrible. But there is more, when he does will good, evil is present with him; how to perform that which is good he finds not. There is a law in his members bringing him into captivity to the law of sin which is in his members. No doubt, thank God, there is deliverance, deliverance in another; but deliverance is not freedom, but what is granted and effected by another, because I have learned by experience under divine teaching that I am not free and cannot free myself. Hence in Rom. 6, where this question is treated in its roots, we are set free by being dead, the Adam nature crucified with Christ. Then he can say, but not before, "Yield ye yourselves:" a blessed and true principle when I reckon myself dead to sin and alive to God- not in Adam, but in Jesus Christ our Lord. This is resumed in chapter 8:2, 3. "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death"; so that I was not free before I had Christ. And he adds, "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh."
Freedom is the fruit of deliverance by Christ. First, in His death the old man, sin in the flesh, is dead for faith; we are crucified with Him, and I have life in the power of the Spirit in Christ, and then I am free. But the facts of man's state, and the scriptural history of his responsibility, put this matter on another ground altogether: and first that history which will bring out more clearly the facts of his state. The purpose of God was always in the second Adam, not in the first. The first promise; also was to the seed of the woman, not to Adam, who was not that. The seed of the woman was to destroy Satan's power, as Adam had succumbed to it. All promises are made to Christ, Israel as a chosen people, or to Abraham and to his seed-none to man as such. But God began with responsibility first in the first Adam, and not with purpose or promise. And this responsibility was fully dealt with in every way, I mean now after the fall, without law, under law, and after the prophets by Christ's coining in grace according to the word. "Having yet therefore one Son, his well-beloved, he sent him also last unto them." Thus man's responsibility was fully dealt with, and the Lord says, "Now is the judgment of this world." Stephen sums this up, saying (Acts 7), "You have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it; which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted and slain? who testified beforehand of the coming of the Just One, of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers; ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did so do ye." And one, full of the Holy Ghost, thereon goes up into heaven, and earth's tale is told. But it will be said, Yes, but the death of Christ has laid a new ground of responsibility. So it has, but by placing man on the ground that man is already lost, and that when we were yet without strength, Christ died for the ungodly. There is none to will, none to understand, none to answer. We cannot give divine life to ourselves, nor beget ourselves to God.
I am not questioning the door being freely open and the blood on the mercy-seat, but this is the final proof that man will not come, when he can as regards God, and God has proved that No motives suffice to induce him: he must be born again wholly afresh. The history of scripture is of God's using all means and motives, the result being, the rejection of His Son and judgment. The case of Adam was somewhat different, because lust and self-will were not yet there: man was not captive to a law of sin in his members; sin was not there, nor was deliverance required; he was with God in innocence. Clearly God put no restraint on him to leave Him and disobey: his obedience was tested; it was not a question of coming to God when already evil: the prohibition was a pure test of obedience, and the act innocent if it had not been forbidden. There was as yet no conscience in the sense of knowing the difference of good and evil for oneself; he had only to stay where he was and not disobey. There was nothing in him, nor, I need not say, in God, to hinder him; in this he was free: his fall proved that not the creature was bad, but if left to himself could not stand firm. But in this state, so far from choice, and freedom of choice being what he had to do to go right, the moment there was choice and will there was sin. Obedience simply was my place; if a question arose whether he should obey, sin was there. Choice is not obedience. The moment he felt free to choose, he had left the place of simple obedience. Think of a child who takes the ground of being free to choose whether he shall obey, even if he chooses right. I deny that morality depends on freedom of choice. Man was created in a given relationship with God; morality consisted in walking in that relationship. But that relationship was obedience. There he could have continued simple and happy, and not set himself free from God. This is what Christ did. He came to do God's will, took the form of a servant. Satan in the temptation in the wilderness sought to get Him to leave this to be free and do His will, only in eating when He was hungry. What harm was there in that? It was freedom and His own will: and His answer is, that man shall live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. There was no movement in His heart or will but from or by the will of God; and that is perfection. Not a rule checking self-will, which we, alas, often need, but God's will the motive of our action-of the action of our will. That is what is called in scripture the obedience of Christ to which we are sanctified. Man has in one sense made himself free, but it is free from God, and thus is in moral apostasy and the slave of sin. From this Christ wholly delivers, and sanctifies us to obedience, having borne the penalty of the fruits of our free will. How came I to have to choose? If I have, I have no good yet, and what is to make me choose it?
They confound too, conscience as to good and evil, with will. Man acquired this by the fall, and it is thus exercised in a state of alienation from God in the unconverted; and will is a distinct thing. In the flesh it is enmity against God, lust and lawlessness, and, if the law comes, transgression. If even I have the Spirit of God, it lusts against it. It is expressed by the heathen in saying, I see better things and approve them, I follow the worse. There is conscience and lust governing will. If all this be so, man was perfectly at liberty as to what he might do as put to the test, but the exercise of will or choosing was just sin, obedience being his place with God. He was created in good, and had it not to choose; now he loves sin and his own will, and has to be delivered from it.
April 17th, 1872.