11 September 2011

On the Inability/Responsibility Conundrum

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
posted by Phil Johnson

The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. The Following excerpt is from "Illustrations and Meditations: or, Flowers from a Puritan's Garden," Spurgeon's collection of wisdom adapted from the works of Thomas Manton.


"A drunken servant is a servant, and bound to do his work; his master loseth not his right by his man's default."

t is a mere assumption, though some state it with much confidence, that inability removes responsibility. As our author shows, a servant may be too drunk to do his master's bidding, but his service is still his master's due.

If responsibility began and ended with ability, a man would be out of debt as soon as he was unable to pay; and if a man felt that he could not keep his temper he would not be blamable for being angry. A man may be bound to do what he cannot do: the habitual liar is bound to speak the truth, though his habit of falsehood renders him incapable of it. Every sin renders the sinner less able to do right, but the standard of his duty is not lowered in proportion to the lowering of his capacity to come up to it, or it would follow that the more a man is depraved by sin the less guilty his actions become, which is absurd.

Every Christian will confess that it is his duty to be perfect, and yet he mourns over his inability to be so. It never enters into the Christian's head to excuse his failings by pleading the incapacity of his nature; nay, this is another cause for lamentation.

The standard of responsibility is the command of God. The law cannot be lowered to our fallen state. It is sin to neglect or break a divine command. All the theology which is based upon the idea that responsibility is to be measured by moral ability or inability has the taint of error about it.

Lord, make me to know my obligation, that I may be humbled, and help me to adore thy grace, by which alone holiness can be wrought in me.

C. H. Spurgeon


stonetoflesh said...

Great stuff, Phil! Many today try to argue that since the Gospel is meant to save only some, that it's offer to all is not sincere. Spurgeon's article here makes a great, logical argument against such an accusation.

Robert Warren said...

Spurgeon's genius was unpacking the logic of Scripture without reducing it to mere human logic in the process. Contrast this with the
dog's breakfast that Finney made
while trying to lawyer the Bible to death.

Tyrone said...

Amen, Amen and Amen! Phil I am thankful for your work and effort in bring us these gems from Spurgeon. It is not taken for granted as it is clear to see the time and effort it has taken for you and your team to compile this great archive of these wonderful truths. I thank you for it and your effort, may the Lord continue to richly bless your endeavours, a brother in Christ!