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The Reality and Efficacy of Divine Grace

LETTER I.

My dear Friend,

I HAVE lately been engaged in a religious controversy, in which my original design was directed against what I considered as an abuse of the doctrines of discriminating grace ; but, in executing this design, I have sustained an attack from an opposite quarter. At this I am not much surprised; as the principles which I maintain are equally repugnant to Arminianism as to Pseudo-Calvinism.

Having carefully attended to this controversy in all its. parts, I must confess myself still of opinion, that, in the main I have engaged on the side of truth ; and that the arguments which I have advanced have not yet been solidly answered.

Mr. Dan Taylor, who, under the signature of Philanthropes, animadverted on my first publication, and to whose animadversions I have written a Reply, has taken up his pen again. In addition to his first Nine Letters, he has written Thirteen more upon the subject; yet it appears, to me, that he has not answered my main arguments, but, in fact, has, in various cases, sufficiently refuted himself.

Mr. T. appears to have been hurt by what I said concerning. his want of reverence, and the resemblance of his objection to that made against the apostle, in Romans ix. He submits it " to the judgment of those who are accustomed to think deliberately, how far any part of this was just; whether I did not arrogate a great deal more to myself than I ought to have done ; whether I ought not, prior to these charges, to have proved myself possessed of apostolical authority, powers, and infallibility, and to have proved, by apostolical methods, that the particular, sentiments against which he there objected, came from heaven." (XIII. 135.) Now, I hope not to be deemed arrogant, if I profess to have thought at least with some degree of " deliberation" upon the subject; and I declare I cannot see the propriety of any thing Mr. T. here alleges. I did not compare him to those who blasphemously opposed the apostle's doctrine: the comparison respected barely his mode of reasoning,' and not his person or character. Nor does what I have alleged require that I should prove myself possessed of apostolical infallibility. The whole of what is said amounts to no more than this, that the resemblance of his objection (IX. 50.) to that made by the adversaries of the apostle, in Romans ix. 19. ought to make him suspect, whether the sentiments he maintains are not too near akin to theirs ; and whether the sentiments he opposes are not of the same stamp with those of the Apostle : otherwise, how is it that they should be liable to have the same objections made against them ?*

As to what I said concerning reverence, I observe that, in one place, (XIII. 6.) he thanks me for it, and hopes he " shall profit by it;" but, presently after, talks of fiardoning me, and, before he has done, charges it to a want of candour or justice; (XIII.135.) and, all through his piece, frequently glances at it in a manner that shows him to have been quite displeased. Now, what can any one make of all this, put together ? There was either occasion for what I wrote, or there was not. If there was, why talk of fiardoning me ? and why charge me with a want of candour or justice? If there was not, and Mr. T. thinks so, why does he thank me for it ? How are we to reconcile these things ? Does the one express the state of mind Mr. T. would be thought to possess, and the otherjLhat he actually feels ?

* It is a good mode of reasoning-, to argue from the similarity of the opposition made to any doctrine in the days of the apostles, with that which is made to a doctrine in the present day. Mr. Caleb Evans has thus, I think, solidly and excellently defended the doctrine of the atonement, in four Sermons on 1 Cor. ii. 23, 24.

or did he set out in a mild and amiwvttpirit, but, before he had done, lose his temper, and n»ot Ww how to conceal it ?

I would not wish, however, to spend much time ing out the defects of my opponent's temper. Wei ticularly when engaged in controversy, need to take t to our spirits. And, perhaps, few can be long emi so difficult an affair, without affording their antagona portunity to say, Ye know not what manner of spiri of. If this does not provoke retaliation, it may be of^ the person reproved, but it is of very littie consequerfcee to the public, especially after the first dispute is over. Lecltus waive this subjeGt in future, and pass on to such things as arl of more general importance.

I do not intend minutely to particularize every article of debate between myself and Mr. T., though, if I were, I am persuaded the far greater part of his observations might be proved to be destitute of propriety. I would only notice, in this Letter, one or two, which seem to fall under the class of general remarks, and then proceed to the consideration of the main subjects wherein we differ.

It is a matter of " wonder" to Mr. T. that I should be "unable to pronounce to what degree, or extent, a poor sinner must believe the truth of the gospel, in order to be happy ; or to what degree of holiness a man must arrive, in order to see the Lord." (XIII. 7.) It should seem, then, to be no difficulty with Aim. Well: how does he solve it ? why, by acknowledging, THAT IT IS NOT ANY DEGREE OF FAITH IN THE GOSPEL WHICH IS NECESSARY TO SALVATION ; NOll ANY DEGREE OF HOLINESS, ANY MORE THAN FAITH; but THE REALITY of it, without which no man shall see the Lord! 1. ' Mr. T. has a mind, surely, to make other people wonder, as well as himself!

Again : I was thronged with opponents. I did not, therefore, think it necessary to make a formal reply to every single argument; such a plan must have swelled the publication to an enormous size : I, therefore, only selected the main subjects in debate, and attempted a fair discussion of them, with the arguments adduced in support of them. Mr. T. seems t^ confcla,n °F this my systematical way of treating the subject, aS /<r rrtalls it; (XIII. 8.) and sometimes singles out aparticularirgu wnrient of his, of which I have taken no notice, and insinuates r»as if it was because I felt it unanswerable. (XIII. 14.) But *s it'^i1"101 wonderful that he should complain of me, and, at the sam^^ time, be guilty of the same thing himself? He has omitted .xjrnaking any reply to nearly as much in mine, as I have in 1 ais; and to things also of considerable force. My reasonnve^s in pp. 32—34.* he has entirely passed over ; as also my <• 'argument on the non-publication of the gospel, pp. 105 1 07. Note.f If Mr. T. looked upon me as obliged to answer o>every particular argument, notwithstanding the number of jf tny opponents, what can be said for his oivn omissions, who ' had only one to oppose ?

In my next, I will begin to attend to the main subjects on X which we differ ; viz. the work of the Sfiiritthe excusable, ness of sinners on the non-provision of gracethe extent of the moral lawand the design of Christ's death. At present, I remain,

Yours, Sec.

AGNOSTOS.

• Pages 266—268 of this volume.
t Pages 328, 329 of this volume.

LETTER II.

Dear Sir,

I WOULD now proceed to the first of the four main sub-
jects in debate between myself and Mr. Taylor—The Work
Of The Spirit. There has been pretty much said between
us on the order of regeneration and faith, and the instrumen-
tality of the word in regeneration. I did not wish to contest that
matter, be it which way it might, provided the agency of the
Holy Spirit was but acknowledged. Mr. T. however, chooses to dwell upon this subject; yet it seems rather extraordinary that, in all his replies, he has taken no notice of what I advanced in pp. 7,8.*

Mr. T. seems to think that regeneration includes the whole change that is brought about upon a person in order to his being denominated a true Christian; and not merely the Jirst beginning-of it (XIII. 11.) I think, in this I may agree with him, so far, at least, as to allow that the term is to be understood in such a large sense in some places in the New Testament ; and, if that is the case, I feel no difficulty in concurring with him, that regeneration is by the word of truth. But this, perhaps, may not satisfy my opponent, after all. He deBies that men are enlightened previously to their believing the gospel; (XIII. 12.) and yet one would think that a person must understand any thing before he believes it; and, if so, his mind cannot be said to be illuminated by faith. But still it is by the-word: here Mr. T. will allow of no difficulties -, or, if I will talk of difficulties, he will impute it to my forsaking mf Bible. (XIII. 12.) Well: have but patience with him, in twelve pages farther, when he begins to feel difficulties him. self, we shall find him atoning for this severity by commending me for the same thing upon which he here puts so heavy a construction^ (XIII. 2ft.)

J.. • Pages 245, 246, of this volume.

f Whatever Mr T. thinks, some have thought that considerable difficulties would attend our supposing all divir<» illumination to be by the word ; nor are these objections drawn from " metaphysical speculations," but from the word itself. Thus they reason : 1. It is a fact that evil propensity in the heart has a strange tendency to blind the mind. Ephes. iv, 18. 2. It is promised by the Holy Spirit, J will give them a heart to know me, Jer. xxiv. 7. But a heart to know God must be prior to that knowledge, and cannot, therefore, be produced by means of it. 3. T/ie natural man is said not to receive the things of the Spirit of God, neither can he krum them. because they are Spiritually discerned. But, if a spiritual discernment is necessary in order to knowing spiritual things,that discernment cannot be produced by those spiritual things, unless the consequent can produce its antecedent. I wished not, however, to dispute about the order of things, but, rather, to attend to what is of far greater importance.

I attempted to prove that Mr. T.'s sentiments leave out the agency of the Holy Spirit in the act itself of believing; or; that, " if there is any divine agency in the matter, it is only a sort of grace given to men in common; which, therefore, can be no reason why any man, rather than another, believes m Christ." Thus I stated it in p. 9.* Mr. T. in reply, complains that I have wronged him in representing him as leaving out the agency of the Holy Spirit in the act itself of believing ; and informs us that he distinguishes between " the operations and indwelling of the Holy Spirit." (XIII. 27.) But wherein have I wronged him ? I have allowed him to maintain a sort of divine agency, or grace, which is given to me« in common: but this, certainly, can be no cause why one man, rather than another, believes in Christ. And with this Mr. T.'s own account, (XIII. 13.) so far as I can understand him, perfectly agrees.

I maintain that it is owing to divine agency, and to that alone, that one sinner, rather than another, believes in Christ. I must confess that Mr. T. writes, on this subject, in a confused and contradictory manner: (XIII. 23.) and well he may; his system will not admit it, and yet his heart knows not how to deny it. First, he goes about to qualify my question: "If by the term alone" says he, "be meant, that n» sinner would believe in Christ, without divine operations, I freely grant it." True, he might; but that is not all I plead for, nor what my words evidently intend: and this he knows Very well, and ought not, therefore, to have made such aa evasion. What he allows may be held, without admitting that it is owing to the Holy Spirit, that one sinner, rather than another, believes in Christ. He adds, " But, if he mean that men are passive in this matter, when the Spirit, by the word operates on the mind: that I do not believe." This is another evasion. My words do not imply that men are passive in believing in Christ. I conceive that men become active, when the Spirit operates upon their minds, though they were passive in that operation. The very idea of operation upon a subject implies that subject to be passive in such operation. The immediate effect may be activity. But to suppose that the subject on whom the operation is performed, is not passive in being the subject of the operation, is to suppose that he himself, and not the Spirit, puts forth that operation bj which grace is produced.

* Page 248 of this volume.

That the mind, in receiving Christ, is active, I allow; but this is no way inconsistent with the Holy Spirit being the proper, sole, efficient cause of such activity. There was no dispute whether " man was the subject of faith and unbelief," as his answer seems to represent ; (XIII. 24.) but whether the Blessed Spirit was the sole, efJicient, and proper cause of our believing.

After all that Mr. T. says, in order to get over this difficulty, (XIII. 24, 25.) what does it amount to ? " If the Spirit, by the word, bring me to believe, and not another, whatever is the cause, or the obstruction; that is, in a general sense done for me, which is not done for another, and demands everlasting grateful acknowledgments." Of this general sense, or meaning, I can make no meaning at all. It certainly does not ascribe the difference between one sinner and another to God, but to the creature; and this is the very spirit and tendency of his whole system, which ought to sink it in the esteem of every humble, considerate mind. But the Holy Spirit " does that for those who do not believe, which is sufficient for the purpose, and which would bring them to faith and happiness, if they were not to abuse it." (XIII. 25.) So far as relates to objective evidence being presented, (and which is sufficient to render men who are in possession of their natural faculties inexcusable,) we are, in this matter, agreed. But, in reference to the work of the Spirit itself, if its success does indeed depend upon the pliability of the subject, then, so far, salvation is not of grace; for the very turning point of the whole affair is owing to the creature, and to his own good improvement of what was given to him in common with others. To speak of that being done which is sufficient, if not abused, is saying nothing at all. For how, if the human heart should be so depraved, as that it will be sure to abuse every word and work of God, short of that which is omnipotent? That men resist the Holy Spirit, and abuse the grace of the gospel, is true: but the question is, not whether (his their abuse is their wickedness, but, how came Mr. T.

cr any other man, to be so pliable and well-disposed, as not to resist it ?*

" I cannot prove," says Mr. T." that the Holy Spirit doe* not do as much, or more, in this (general) sense, for some who do not repent and believe, as for some who do. Truth itself informs us, that what was done, without effect, for Chorazin, Bcthsaida, and Capernaum, would have been effectual for Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom." (XIII. 25.) Truth, indeed, does inform us of something being done for those cities; but it makes no mention of the work of the Spirit in or upon them, but merely of the mighty works (or miracles) which were wrought among them. These ought to have led them to repentance, though they did not. * But did not Christ speak, as if Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom would have repented; had they enjoyed the same means -.' Yes, he did ; and so did God speak concerning his people Israel: Surely they are my people, children that will not lie : so he became their Saviour. Again : J looked that my -vineyard should have brought forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. Again: Thou art not sent unto a people of a strange speech, and of an hard language, but to the house of Israel; surely, had I sent thee to them, they would have hearkened unto thee.—Last of ally he sent hi. son, saying, They will reverence my son.f But do these speeches prove that God really thought things would be so ? Rather, are they not evidently to be understood of God's speaking, after the manner of men, of what might have been expected, according to human appearance i

• In page 23 of his Thirteen Letters, Mr. T. gpeaking of believing hi Christ, says, he does "not apprehend that any man has any will or power, or any concern about the matter, till the Holy Spirit work, awaken, and produce these in the mind." But the Holy Spirit, he thinks, operates sufficiently in all men; fie does that for those who do not believe, which is sufficient for the purpose : yea, he supposes he does as much, or more, in this sense, for some who do not repent and believe, as for some who do. (p. 25.) Mr. T. must allow, that no man can ever do what he has neither -aill nor power to perform. The mind must be either active or passive in the production of the will and power of which he speaks. If passive, his whole system is overthrown : if active, the supposed prior activity is while they have neither will aor power to act; which is absurd.

f Isa. tnii. 8. v. 2. Erek. iii. 5, 6. Matt. xxi. 3T.

" I do not remember," says Mr. T. u that the scripture ever ascribes the final misery of sinners to the want of divine influences," &c. (XIII. 27.) True: nor do my sentiments suppose that to be the cause of final misery. His reasoning on this subject (XIII. 32.) is extravagant. It is sin, and sin alone, which is the cause of any man's ruin. He might as well say, that a man is brought into misery, because he is not brought out of it. The destruction of fallen angels is no more ascribed to the want of divine mercy, than that of fallen men.

Mr. T. thinks the cases of wicked men being restrained from wickedness, godly men growing in grace, &c. may illustrate the subject in question; (XIII. 30.) I think so too. I also think with him concerning men's obligations to these things; that much more might be dome than what is done; but that, if they are done, it is to be ascribed to God, because it is he who works all our works in us; I think the same of faith in Christ. These are not things wherein we differ; but the question is, though, in words, Mr. T. ascribes these things, as well as faith, to God, whether his system does not ascribe them to the creature. This it certainly does; and he as good as acknowledges it, (XIII. 52.) where (in contradiction to what he here asserts) he pleads for men's being able, independent of the grace of the gospel, to abstain from gross abominations. Mr. T. has not thought proper to controvert my arguments in pp. 9—19;* for a special and effectual influence of the Holy Spirit; but thinks that these may be admitted, without destroying his sentiments; only observing, that, if he were ^o follow me through those reasonings, he " should question the propriety of the turn I give to a few passages of scripture." (XIII. 26.) It will be time enough to reply, when we know what he has to object against my sense of those passages. But how is it that Mr. T. would have it thought that his sentiments are unaffected by those arguments ? Had he but admitted the sentiment established by those arguments, it would have saved him much trouble, which he has taken, in trying to account for God's doing the same for one man as for another, and yet making men to differ.

* Pages 248—256 of this volume.

If God works effectually on some, that is more than he will pretend that he does upon all; and this will perfectly account for a difference between one sinner and another. And if this way of God's making men to differ be admitted in some instances, it must in all, seeing one believer, as much as another, is taught to ascribe the difference between him and others to God alone*. But Mr. T. does not believe an effectual influence; such an influence, admitted, would be destructive of his whole system. He supposes an effectual influence would be destructive of free agency and moral government. (XIII. 129.) Thai it would be destructive of either, according to the scriptural account of them, has not yet been proved; but that it would destroy his notions concerning them, is admitted; and this proves that an effectual influence is inconsistent with his sentiments.

If Mr. T.'s rctLcnnings (XIII. 33.) prove any thing, they prove that God will furnisii every man in the world with the means of salvation ; but so far is this from corresponding with fact, that the gospel was never preached to the far greater part of mankind who have hitherto lived ; and some of whom, Mr. T. supposes, would have really believed and been saved, had they but heard it. (XIII. 25.)

I shall close my remarks on this part of the debate with a few observations on the resistibleness or irresistibleness of the Holy Spirit. I apprehend he is both resistible and irresistible, in different respects. The following observations are submitted to the reader's attention : 1. God has so constituted the human mind, that words, whether spoken or written, shall have an effect upon it. 2. The Holy Spirit speaks to men in his word : he has written to them the great things of his law. 3. It would be strange, if God's word should not have some effect upon people's minds, as well as the words and writings of men. It would be very strange, if neither the warnings nor expostulations, the threatenings nor the promises of God, should have any effect upon the mind ; whereas the same things, among men, are constantly known to inspire them with various feelings. 4. The influence of the word upon the mind, seeing that word is indited by the Holy Spirit, may be called, in an indirect and figurative sense, the influence of the Holy Spirit.

• Rom. iii. 9. 1 Cor. xv. 10. John xiv. 22. 1 Cor, iv. 7.

It was with this kind of influence that he strove with the antediluvians in the ministry of Noah, &c. (Gen. vi. 3.) and was resisted by the Israelites. That is, they resisted the messages which the Holy Spirit sent unto them by Moses and the prophets; and their successors did the same by the messages sent them by Christ and his apostles. (Acts vii. 51.) And thus the admonitions of parents, the events of providence, and the alarms of conscience, as well as the word preached and written, may each, in an indirect sense, be said to be the strivings of the Holy Spirit. This influence ought to suffice to bring us to repent of sin, and believe in Christ, and were it not for the resistance that is made to it, would have such an effect; but, through the perverseness of the human heart, it never has. It is a great sin to resist and overcome it; but it is such a sin as every man, while unregenerate, is guilty of. 5. Besides this, it has been allowed, by many of the most steady and able defenders of the doctrine of efficacious grace, that the Holy Spirit may, by his immediate, but more common influence, impress the minds of unregenerate men, and assist reason and natural conscience to perform their office more fully; so that, notwithstanding the bias of the will is still bent in favour of sin, yet they are made sensible of many truths contained in the word of God, and feel somewhat of that alarming apprehension of their danger, and of the power of the divine anger, &c. which all impenitent sinners will experience in a much superior degree at the day of judgment. But sinners, under these common awakenings only, continue destitute of that realizing sense of the excellence of divine things, which is peculiar to those who are effectually renewed in the spirit of their minds; and to which the power of sin has entirely blinded the minds of the unregenerate. 6. From the depravity or perverseness of the human heart arises the necessity of a special and effectual influence of the Holy Spirit. The influence before mentioned may move the soul; but it will not bring it home to God. When souls are effectually turned to God, it is spoken of as the result of a special exertion of almighty power. God who Commanded the light to shine out

of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jestct Christ.Thy fieople Shall be willing in the day of thy PowEr.—J Will put my law in their inward part, and write it on their hearts ; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.—Who hath believed our report; and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed ?*

These observations may account for several things which Mr. T. has remarked, (particularly in XIII. 28, 29.) without supposing that the special operations of the Holy Spirit are ever finally overcome.

I am yours, &c.

• 2 Cor. iv. 6. Psa. ex. 3. Jer. xxxi. 33. Isa. liii. t.

LETTER III.

Dear Sir,

1 HE second general subject in debate respects the Mature of that inability of which mankind are the subjects, in respect of compliance with the will of God; or, more particularly, original sin, human depravity, and the grace of God. On these subjects Mr. T. has written his Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Letters. He sets out with an observation on free agency, which discovers, in my opinion, the ground of a great -many other of his mistakes. He supposes that a moral, as well as natural ability to comply with the commands of God, is necessary to render us free agents. Hence, he does not seem to consider man as a free agent in respect to keeping, or not keeping, the law, but barely " with regard to those objects •which God in his gospel presents to him, as a fallen creature, to recover him from his fallen state." (XIII. 36.) And yet he speaks, in the same page, of his thus being a " subject of God's moral government." Strange, indeed, that he should not be a free agent in respect of the moral law, and yet that he should be a subject of God's moral government; yea, and that the moral law should, notwithstanding, be to him « a rule of life." (XIII. 61.) If we are not free agents in respect of the moral law, we cannot be the subjects of God's moral government, but, rather, of some supposed evangelical government.

A free agent is an intelligent being who is at liberty to act according to hie choice, without compulsion or restraint. And has not man this liberty in respect of the law, as well as of ihegosfiel ? Does he, in any instance, break the law by compulsion, or against his will ? Surely not. It is impossible the law should be broken in such a way ; for where any thing i» done without, or against volition, no equitable law, human or divine, will ever blame or condemn. Mr. T.'s great mistake in these matters lies in considering a bias of mind as destructive of free agency. If a bias of mind to evil, be it ever so deep-rooted and confirmed, tends to destroy free agency, then the devil can be no free agent; and so is not accountable for all his enmity against God. The same may be said of those who are, as Mr. T. expresses it, become " unimpressible," (XIII. 28.) and cannot cease from sin. It is not sufficient to say, that " they had power to receive the word till they wilfully resisted, and rejected the truth;" if Mr. T.'s notion of free agency be just, they ought to have had power at the time, or else not to have been accountable. Mr. T. constantly reasons from natural to moral impoten6y, and, in these cases, admits of no difference between them; but he knows, that, in respect of the former, if a man is unable to perform any thing that is required of him at the. time, he is, to all intents and purposes, excusable ; yea, though he may have brought his impotency upon himself by his own crimes. Suppose, for example, a man destroys both health and reason by mere debauchery and wickedness, so as to besome a poor ghastly ideot, can any one suppose that, in that state of mind, it is just to require him to perform the business of a man, or to punish him for his omission, under the pretence that he once had reason and strength, but, by his wickedness, had lost them. No: far be it from either God or man to proceed in this manner! If, then, there is no difference. between natural and moral impotency, those who ara become.

" unimpressible," and are given up of God to sin, (as were Judas, and the murderers of our Lord,) are not free agents, and so are not accountable beings.

Farther: If a bias of mind to evil, be it ever so confirmed, tends to destroy the free agency of the subject, the same would hold true of a bias to goods which Mr. T. indeed seems to allow ; for he asks, " Are not free agents capable of sinning ?" (XIII. 51.) As if it was essential to free agency, to be capable of doing wrong. But has Mr. T. forgot, that neither God, nor Christ, (even when upon earth,) nor saints in glory, are capable of doing wrong ? The bias of their minds is so invariably fixed to holiness, that it i3 impossible they should, in any instance, deviate from it: and yet will he deny them to be the subjects of free agency ?

Mr. T.'s ideas of free agency have probably led him into some others, respecting the nature of that sin which men commit as the effect of Adam's transgression. (XIII. 52.) His language on that subject, all along, implies, that all the sin which men commit as the effect of Adam's transgression, must be involuntary ; as though it was something that operated within them, entirely against, or at least without, their consent. If this supposition were true, I should not wonder at his pleading for its innocence. If men were under such a necessity as this of sinning, I should coincide with Mr. T. ia denying that they were accountable for that part of their conduct. But, the truth is, there is no such sin in existence. Sins of ignorance, under the law, were not opposed to voluntori/, but to presumfituous sins (Numb. xv. 27—31.) There are many sins that men commit, which are not presumptuous, but none which are, in every sense, involuntary. Mr. T. perhaps, will allege the apostle's assertions in Rom. vii. that what he would not, that he did. He makes much ado (XIII. 43.) about this, and my supposed inconsistency, but all he there says was, I think, sufficiently obviated in my first treatise. After all, Mr. T. does not really think there are any sins, besides what are voluntary. Though he talks of believers being guilty of such sins, and of Christ's dying to atone for them; (XIII. 52.) yet he would not allow it to be just for any man, in his own person, either to be blamed or punished for them; no; he contends that it is the concurrence Hf our wills that denominates us blameworthy; (XIII. 41.) which is undoubtedly true, in respect of all personal blame.

When Mr. T. reviewed my first publication, he spake much in praise of the distinction between natural and moral inability, and of the perspicuity of the manner of stating it. {IX. 9. 63, 64.) Surely he must not, at that time, have understood what he applauded; and having since discovered this sword to have two edges, the one equally adapted to cut up Arminianism, as the other is to destroy Antinomianism, he has now changed his mind, and is striving to prevent its efficacy by giving another meaning to the terms, and thus involving the subject in darkness and confusion.*

By natural power, Mr. T. now understands a power that is barely adapted to the performance of natural things ; and by moral power a power for moral things. (Letter VI.) But natural power as I, and all others who have heretofore written upon the subject, have used it, is as much conversant with spiritual as with natural things ; yea, and as much with wicked things as with either of them. It requires the same members, faculties, and opportunities, to do good as to do evil; to perform spiritual, as to perform natural actions. To pretend, therefore, to distinguish the use of these terms by the objects with which they are conversant, can answer no end but to perplex the subject.

But is natural power sufficient for the performance of moral and spiritual actions ? Mr. T. says, No; and so say I, in one respect.

* Had these terms, or the distinction they are used to specify, been a new invention of my own, there would have been less room to have complained of this treatment; but it appears, to me, a strange, unwarrantable freedom, when we reflect that both had been used in exactly the same sense, by a great number of respectable theological writers. Whereas Mr.T.'snew sense of them is entirely unprecedented; though, no doubt, the most rash and ignorant of the Pseudo-Calvinists would find it suited to subserve their denial of all obligation upon natural men to perform any thing spiritually good. But let men, as they value their •ouls, be first well assured, such an evasive distinction will be admitted at the day of judgment, before they dare to apply it to this sin-extenuating purpose. I do not charge Mr. T. with intending to put weapons into the hands of deluded Antinomians ; but I beseech him to consider how readily they would make their advantage of such a dis. tinction, if once admitted.

But he concludes, therefore, that if God require any thing of a moral or spiritual nature of any man, it is but right that he should- furnish him with moral power for the performance of it. Thus he, all along, represents moral ability as if it were some distinct faculty, formed by the Creator for the performance of moral actions, while natural power is given for the performance of natural actions; and thus the reader is led to imagine, that God is as much obliged to furnish sinful men with the one, as with the other, in order to render them accountable beings. Whereas moral power is not power, strictly speaking, but a heart to use the power God has given us in a right manner. It is natural power, and that only, that is properly so called, and which is" necessary to render men accountable beings. To constitute me an accountable being, it is not necessary that I should be actually disposed to holy actions, (which is the same thing as possessing a moral ability,) butr barely, that J could do such actions, if J were disposed. Indeed, notwithstanding' all that Mr. T. has written to the contrary, and by whatever names he calls this power, natural or moral, he himself means nothing more. He does not mean to plead for its being necessary that men should be actually possessed of holiness, is order to their being free agents; but, merely, that they might possess it, if they would. He only pleads, in fact, for what I allow ; and yet he thinks he pleads for something else, and so goes on, and loses himself and his reader in a maze of confusion. It is not enough for Mr. T. that I allow men. may return to God, if they will; they must have the power of being willing, if they will: (XIII. 57.) but this, as we shall soon see, is no more than having the power of being What they are ! I represented this matter in as forcible a manner as I could in my Reply; (p. 49.*) and it is a poor answer that Mr. T. makes to it; (XIII. 38.) as though I Were out of my province in'writing about the meaning of W opponent. Surely it is a lamentable thing, if the meaning of an author cannot be come at by all he writes upon a Subject. If what I imputed to him was not his meaning, why did he not give it in his next performance? " Is it uncandid to conclude he had no other meaning to give ?"

I am, &c

* Page .280 of this volume.

LETTER IV.

Dear Sir,

WHEN I affirmed natural power to be sufficient to render men accountable beings, Mr. T. puts me upon proof; (XIII. 56.) and, what.is more, supposes that I have acknowledged the contrary in my former treatise. Whether I have not proved this matter already; whether Mr. T. has not allowed me to have proved it; and, whether what I say elsewhere is not in perfect consistency with it; shall be examined. Meanwhile, let us follow Mr. T. in his three-fold argument for the supposed innocence of moral impotence : " If men could never avoid it, cannot deliver themselves from it, and the blessed God will not deliver them, surely they ought not to be punished for it, or for any of its necessary effects."* Mr. T. complains heavily of my treating these subjects separately, which he wished to have considered conjointly. Well: there was an answer, though short, in p. 29 of my Reply,t to the whole conjointly considered ; and If he would solidly have answered that only, he might have been excused from all the rest.

But farther : I can see no justice whatever in his complaint. If three things, all together, constitute a moral inability blameless, it must be on account of some tendency that each of those three things has to such an end, separately considered. What Mr. T. has said of man's being composed of body, poul, and spirit, (XIII. 38.) does not prove the contrary to this; because, though body does not constitute a man, nor soul, nor spirit separately considered ; yet they each form a component part of human nature.

• This, the reader will observe, is Mr. T.'s own way of stating it^ (XIII. 37.) who always chooses to represent moral inability in terms which are properly applicable to natural inability only j and hereby it is that his positions wear the face of plausibility,

J Pages 264, 265, of this volume,

If it could be proved, that body, soul, and spirit had neither of them any part of human nature, separately considered; that would prove, that, all together, they could not constitute a man. Suppose A. owes B. thirty pounds, and proposes to pay him in three different articles. Accordingly, A. lays down ten pounds in cash, ten pounds in bills, and ten pounds in grain. B. refuses each of these articles in payment: ' for,' says he, ' your cash is all counterfeit, your bills are forged, and your grain is damaged to such a degree as to be worth nothing.' A. replies, not by admitting, that, unless each article can be proved to be of value, separately considered, he cannot, in justice, desire the whole to be accepted; but, by complaining of B.'s unwarrantable manner of separating the articles, and examining them apart: as if he should say, ' Though the cash may be counterfeit, the bills forged, and the grain worthless, separately considered, yet, all together, they make up the value of thirty pounds!'

Farther: though all these three things are, in one filace, mentioned together, yet Mr. T. did not, all along, consider them conjointly, nor has he done so now. There need not be a greater proof of his understanding these subjects distinctly, than his attempting to defend them so; which he has done in what follows:

First: he undertakes to prove, that the circumstance of men being born impure, or inheriting their propensities from their first parent, does excuse them in being the subjects of those propensities. (XIII. 39.) Original sin, to be sure, is a mysterious subject. There is a difficulty attending the existence of evil in the souls of all mankind, upon every hypothesis ; but it becomes us, as Mr. T. observes, to hearken to " scripture evidence," and to admit it as decisive : and, after all, I believe the scriptural account of the matter will be found to have the fewest difficulties of any. Some, with Pelagius, deny the thing itself, and maintain that human depravity comes entirely by imitation. Others admit the fact, that we " are depraved by Adam's transgression," but deny the guilt of such depravity, on that account: this appears to. be the case with Mr. T. Others admit both the fact and the guilt of our depravity, notwithstanding: this is my sentiment. Though Mr. T. admits that men are born "impure," and that this impurity is their " depravity," a depravity which David, in Psa. li. 5. " confessed and lamented;" yet he maintains all this to be blameless ;* and, all along, seems to claim it as a matter of justice, either to stand upon his own ground, or to receive the grace of the gospel, as an equivalent for it. The depravity of our nature, then, is not the fault, but the -misfortune of it. It is, however, allowed to be that which is " our ruin, in that it deprives us of happiness, and exposes us to misery :" (XIII. 41.) that is, to undeserved misery ; for such it must be, " be the misery what it may," if it be inflicted without blameworthiness in the subject. Surely such a constitution must have been very unrighteous, and men must have been very much injured, after all, to be ruined by that in the guilt of which they have no concern, either personal or relative. Mr. T. may well represent it as an inducement for God to give his Son to die for them, (XIII. 810 if it were only to make them amends for such an injury ; and especially as he considers God himself as the author of our native depravity, in constituting the union between Adam and his offspring. (XIII. 62.) To be sure, his scheme is so far consistent. There is only this difficulty remains, how shall we reconcile all this with the scriptures ; and with either the justice of the Lawgiver, or the grace of the Saviour ? For it seems, to me, that both law and gospel must surely be overthrown by such an hypothesis.

• By the way, is it not rather extraordinary, that Mr. T. after distinguishing between impurity and sin, impure propensities and evil dispositions, depravity and blameworthiness, confessing iniquity and taking shame and blame to ourselves on account of it, should exclaim against dealing in metaphysics ? Verily, a man had need be endued with something more than metaphysical skill to make distinctions where there is no difference. "I do not understand relative blame," says Mr. T. Then, obviating an objection of mine) he asks, " But how then can they be said to be born in sin?" and answers, " If I use the expression, I mean they are born impure." (XUI. 40.) Beit so; what does David mean ? He did not say, ' I was born impure,' but, I-aat shapen in wtiWitt, and in siir did my mother conceive me.

The scriptures represent God as a just being, who will by no means inflict punishment where there is no guilt. He doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men. To crush* under feet all the prisoners of the earth—to subvert a man in his cause, Jehovah approveth not.Surely God will not do wickedly, neither will the Almighty pervert judgment." Surely, then, we might conclude, even though an apostle had never told us so, that death would not have passed upon all men, by one man's sin, if in that sin, some how or other, all had not sinned. Surely death would not have reigned in the world, over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, if sin had not thus been in the worlds as its procuring cause. This argument (from Rom. v. 13,14.) was urged before : why did not Mr. T. reply to it ? " Is it nncandid to conclude it was because no reply could be made ?"

Farther: the scriptures represent the whole world as guilty before God—as void of every claim, except it be that of shame and confusion of face. Jehovah speaks of himself as being at perfect liberty to save, or not to save, men; and as being determined to exercise it too: I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

Once more: the scriptures represent the gift of Christ as being of mere grace, and the greatest instance of love that ever was displayed ; and that, because it was altogether contrary to our deserts. Christ is nowhere represented as dying for us out of pity for the injury that we had received from the first covenant, but, on the contrary, as being actuated by mere self-moved goodness: Herein is love, Not That We Loved God, but that God loved us, and gave his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.Christ died for the Ungodly, -For scarcely for a righteous man will one die : yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God com-mendeth his love tdwards us, in that while we were yet SinNers, Christ died for us.\ So also the whole of our salvation is always represented, not as making us amends for an injury, but as of mere grace, which God might, without any blemish on his character, have for ever withheld.

* Lam. iii. 33—36. Job xxxiv. 12. t 1 John iv. 10. Bom. v. 6—&

The whole Epistle to the Romans is written with the very design to cut off all claim, to prove that all are under sin; and, therefore, that justification and salvation are altogether of sovereign grace. The Epistle to the Ephesians is written in much the same strain, especially the Second Chapter, wherein the apostle rises in gradation from what they were by practice, to what they were by nature, namely, children of wrath, even as. ethers:* and all this to prove what he immediately asserts,. that by Grace we are saved. Yes, the whole tenour of scripture breathes this language : i" wrought for my name's sake

Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord Jehovah, be

it known unto you !

' But do not " the children of traitors" frequently suffer for their father's crimes, even though they were no way concerned in their guilt ?' (XIII. 40.) Answer, It is not just, fop the children of a traitor to suffer the loss of any natural rights or to be exposed to death, or any punishment, for that in the guilt of which they have no concern ; neither do they, where they are under just laws. (Deut. xxiv. 16.) There is no such union subsisting between a parent and a child, as betweea Adam and his posterity. They are not one in law ; the one therefore, cannot justly suffer punishment for the other's crimes. No one pretends that it is right to punish them with death, or any corporal punishment. God, to be sure, has a right to inflict death where he pleases; as upon the children of Achan ; and that, because all men have forfeited their lives to him: and such an instance of displeasure upon a man's family might tend to deter others from the like wickedness : but the children of a traitor have not forfeited their lives to a civil government, and, therefore, they cannot justly be taken away.

* But " the words by nature" says Mr. T. " relate not to our birth, but to the state in which we lived in s.n, before our conversion." (XIII. 42.) Let the render look at the passage, (Ephes. ii. 3.) and judge if it is not a gradation, from what we are by practice, to what we are by nature. But, suppose it to relate, in a general way, to our unconverted state, the question is. How came that state to be celled a state of nature, but because it is not accidentally acquired by mere imitation, but is the state in which we are born into the world?

The only thing that befals them is loss: and as to that, they may miss of what would have been their social privileges, such as honours and property, had their father died in possession of them ; but, as they were never theirs, properly speaking, they could not be deprived of them. They had no natural right to them, nor any right at all, but by their relation to their parent; and the parent, having deprived himself of them, could not convey them to his posterity.*

* Perhaps as near a resemblance as any, to that of the divine conduct, which relates to Adam and his posterity, will be found in God's treatment of a nation, or body politic. God, in his providence, deals with a nation as if it was one person. Thus God covenanted with Israel, not merely with those who existed at the time, but with their unborn posterity. Deut. xxix. 14, 15. And thus the crimes of a nation often accumulate from generation to generation, like those of an individual from youth to age. Moab, or the nation of the Moabites, is said to have been at ease from his youth, and to be settled upon his lees, &c. that is, from his first beginning to be a nation. Jer. xlviii. 2. At last, divine vengeance falls upon someone generation, like as a judgment befalling a man, in his old age, for the crimes of his whole life. Individuals, in such sea« sons, may be comparatively innocent; but yet, being members of a society, which, as such, is deeply involved in sin, they partake of a kind of relative guilt. Considered as individuals, they are only answerable for their own personal faults, but, as members of society, it is otherwise. Thus the returning captives confessed their national guilt, saying, Ws have done wickedly, and all this is come upon us because of ovn sins. Neh. xi. 33. 37. Both Ezra and Nehemiah, no doubt, joined in this confession, though we have no reason to think that their conduct, as individuals, had been such as to draw down the vengeance of God upon their country. God speaks of the whole human race, in relation to their first head, as he would speak of a nation. Speaking to Israel, he says, / had planted thee a noble vine, -wholly a right seed, how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me ? And thus of the whole human race, God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions. Eccles. vii. 29. This is, undoubtedly, spoken of the whole species; but it cannot be said, of the whole species, that they were made upright, any otherwise than as having a kind of existence in their first parent. Mr. T. himself, when he can get out of a difficulty no other way, will acknowledge such a union between Adam and his posterity, as that what was possessed by him was possessed by them. He talks of God originally giving man power to keep the law; and of this making man's condemnation, for the breach of it, a matter of justice. (XIH. 130.)

But it is suggested, that we might as well be " commended for what Christ did," and for the effects of our constituted union with him, as blamed for what Adam did, and the effects of our constituted union with him. (XIII. 39.) This objection has been thought as plausible as any thing Mr. T. has advanced ; and yet, if I am not greatly mistaken, there is one part of it, at least, that will entirely overthrow his own hypothesis. Admitting that we, in no sense, are praiseworthy on account of what Christ has done, I question if it will follow, that we are in no sense blameworthy for what Adam did. It does not appear, to me, a just conclusion, that, because favours may be conferred without merit; therefore punishment may be inflicted without demerit. But, suppose this did follow, and that we are, in no sense, blameworthy for the sin of Adam; yet it does not follow, that we are not blameworthy for any of its effects. The case from which Mr. T. argues, will prove the very reverse of this. He supposes, that we are not praiseworthy for the effects of our union with Christ, (XIII. 39.) than which there can hardly be a greater mistake. Is not all heart-holiness, and, indeed, every thing in us that is truly commendable and firaiseioorthy, the effect of our union with Christ ? I hope Mr. T. will not deny this, though he so strangely overlooked it. Now, if holiness of heart may be, and is commendable, notwithstanding its being the effect of our union with Christ; then, according to his own reasoning, unholiness of heart may be blameworthy, notwithstanding its being the effect of our union with Adam.

It ought to be observed too, that this is the very question in debate between us in this place. The point that I endeavoured to prove, was, not that we are to blame for Adam's transgression ; (this was only a question that occurred incidentally;) but that a moral inability, or evil profiensity of heart, in an intelligent creature, is blameworthy, Notwithstanding his having been born the subject of it. So I had stated it in my Reply, (p. 33.*) and this, I hope, has been fully proved ; and that, from Mr. T.'s own premises.

• r»ge 263 of this volume.

It may be farther remarked, upon this subject, that, though the holiness of believers is the necessary, or certain effect of their union with Christ, yet they are not the subjects of it by compulsion, or any kind of natural necessity ; but what they are, they freely choose to be;—and will it not hold equally true concerning the unholiness of sinners, that, though it may be the effect of Adam's fall, yet, as they freely choose'to be what they are, it is improper to represent it as that which they possess by a natural necessity ?

But, whether the words natural necessity, or inability, be retained, or given up, in this matter, Mr. T. insists upon it, that our depravity comes upon us according to the nature of things; that is, if I understand him, according to the established law, or settled order of things; and this he thinks equivalent to a natural necessity, and must, therefore, denominate it blameless. (XIII. 62.) But if Mr. T. can thus prove our native depravity blameless; I think I can, by the same mode of reasoning, prove all the fruits of it to be blameless too. Is there not a settled order, or an established law, of some sort, for the operations of the human mind, and, indeed, for all human actions ? Is it not according to the laws of nature, according to the nature of things, that a man always chooses that which, all things considered, appears, in the view of his own mind, the most agreeable ; and pursues, if he have opportunity, that which, all things considered, is the object of his choice ? It is impossible that a man should choose, jn any instance, that which, at the same time, and in the same respects, all things considered, appears, in the view of his mind, disagreeable ; and refuse that which is agreeable. And it is equally impossible, that he should act in contradiction to his prevailing choice. An evil tree, according to the -nature of things, will bring forth evil fruit; and a good tree will bring forth good fruit; and, no less certainly, will " wickedness proceed from the wicked," according to the proverb of the ancients and the manifest implication of our Lord's words, (Matt. xii. 33, 34.) But does it thence follow, that the evil fruit produced by a bad heart, comes by a natural necessity, and is blameless ? Which way will Mr. T. take ? Will he deny an established order in the human mind, and maintain that we choose totally at random, without any respect to what is agreeable or disagreeable in the view of the mind; that we act without any necessary connexion with our prevailing choice ; and that we must do so, in order to be free agents ? Or will he admit of such a connexion in the operations of the mind; and, instead of placing all blame in actions, and none in the state of the mind, as he seems to have done all along, hitherto; will he now exculpate from blame all those acts which necessarily arise from choice, and all those volitions which necessarily arise from the view of the mind, and throw all the blame upon the state of the mind itself? He must either do this, or else allow, that what comes to pass according to established laws, may, nevertheless, be blameworthy.

Mr. T, imputes our pollution by the sin of Adam to the « direction of the all-wise Creator, who constituted the union between Adam and his offspring " (XIII. 62.) This, to be sure, is the way to prove it innocent; for God cannot be the author of confusion in the universe, any more than in the churches. But let us beware, lest we charge God foolishly. That God was the author of the union referred to, is admitted; but that he is the author of whatever that union may be the occasion of, is not true. May not God be the author of an established connexion between the understanding, will, affections, and actions, without being the) author of the depravity of any action that takes place through the medium of that connexion ?

I affirmed, that love to God with all the heart must, of necessity, imply the absence of all evil propensity to rebel againsthim. This Mr. T. denies ; telling us that I have not proved it, and that he apprehends I am not capable of proving it. (XIII. 42.) That is, of proving that a perfect degree of love implies the absence of all aversion ! This reminds me of what is said elsewhere, that I hav e " taken it for granted, that regeneration Alludes to that law of nature wherein life precedes motion ; but Mr. T. does " not think it will be easy to prove it." (XIII. 15.) It is very true, nothing is more difficult of proof than that which is self-evident.

The Apostle Paul declared, that to be carnally-minded is deathbecause the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they who are in the flesh, adds he, cannot please God. But to be carnally-minded, according to Mr. T. does not der serve death; and the very reason which the Apostle gives for its being death, serves, according to his opinion, to prove it innocent; and if so, (unless God be a hard master,) why should not they be able to please him ? Paul meant to deny that the carnal mind is subject to the law of God in fact; but Mr. T.'s reasoning tends to a denial of its being subject to it in right. Paul considered unconverted sinners as incapable of pleasing God, on account of their carnality ; Mr. T.'s argumentation implies that God is, on that account, incapable of being displeased with them.

When I reasoned thus, " If blame does not lie in being the subject of an evil disposition, (or impure propensity, if Mr. T. can tell the difference,) because, as individuals, we could not avoid it; then, for the same reason, it cannot lie in the exercise of that disposition, unless that also can be avoided):" Mr. T. replies, that, to indulge, denotes the concurrence of our wills ; but our wills had nothing to do with the state in which we were born. (XIII. 41.) But this is no answer to the argument. I was not combating any argument of his arising from the concurrence or non-concurrence of our wills, but from what he calls the want of power. Men, by his own confession, have not power to go through life free from every degree of the indulgence of their propensities; for that, according to his ideas, would be to keep the law perfectly : but he does not pretend that men can do this; no, not even by the grace of God. (XIII. 61.) But, if the want of power excuses in the one case, it does in the other; for he maintains, that " no man is to blame for what he could never avoid." (XIII. 48.) And so the exercise of an evil propensity may be as blameless as the propensity itself. But, passing this,

Mr. T. thinks, it seems, that, if the will concur with an evil propensity, then it becomes blameworthy. I wish that he would abide by this doctrine. If I could depend upon that, I would ask him, Whether he can conceive of an evil propensity in his own mind, any otherwise than as the very state and bias of his will towards evil ? To talk of an involuntary propensity in the mind of a rational being, is to talk without meaning, and in direct contradiction to the plainest dictates of common sense. If, then, the concurrence of the will denominates a thing blameworthy, we need have no more dispute, whether an evil disposition in a rational being, be, in itself, blameworthy; seeing the concurrence of the will is included in the very nature of a propensity. Whatever may be said about our propensities at the time we were born, of which we can form but little idea, the question between us is whether an impure propensity, in a rational being, may not be blameworthy, notwithstanding its being received by derivation ? and Mr. T. seems to think, that whatever impurity obtains, the concurrence of the will is criminal. But this is no more than may be said of all propensity in a rational being; the thing itself being expressive of the bias of the will.

Here I expect Mr. T. will not be satisfied. Yet why should he not ? Because he has a notion in his mind, that it is necessary not only that we should be voluntary in a propensity, but that we should choose to be of such a propensity before we are so, in order to denominate us blameworthy. It is a leading principle with Mr. T. that men might have a moral ability to do good, if they would; and that, if this were not the case, they could not be blameworthy: that is, they might have a good disposition, if they were but well disposed ! " I confess," says Mr. T. " it appears, to me, as equitable to condemn a porter because he does not calculate eclipses by the strength of his body, or a feeble philosopher because he does not perform the business of a porter by his refined understanding, as to condemn a man who has only natural ability, and never had, and never Could Have any other, because he does not perform moral and spiritual duties." (XIII. 56.) To this also the Monthly Reviewers bear their testimony of applause.*

* The Monthly Reviewers having pronounced Mr. T.'s cause to be good, and particularly applauded the above passage, add, " Here is a distinction between what is called a moral and a natural power, with which these writers perplex themselves. Perhaps, if they introduced the term rational, which separates man from the brute, it might assist them a little in the contest." Review for Sept. 1788.—I cannot tell what use the Reviewers wish to have made of the term rational, nor whether they are serious, or not, in their advice; but, if these gentlemen mean to suggest, that the term rational would do to supersede the terms natural and moral, by answering all their purposes, I cannot, for my part, acquiesce in their opinion.

I am not inclined to think the Monthly Reviewers destitute of ration' al powers ; and yet it is pretty evident they are, somehow or other, ««able to do justice to Calvinistic writings ; or so much as to read them with impartial attention. Let any unprejudiced person look over their Review, and he will see, that, if any thing controversial is written in favour of Arminianism, or Antitrinitarianism, it is generally much applauded ; but if any thing comes out in favour of Trinitarianisni, or Calvinism, either its weaknesses are exposed, or cold water is thrown upon the subject. See the review of Hampton's Lectures, and Border's pamphlet, Sept. 1788. Were I to look over other numbers of the Review, I might soon add many instances of similar conduct; though, perhaps, few more illiberal than their treatment of Mr. Newton's Cardiphonia, Sept. 1781. Vol. LXV. p. 202.

Indeed, one need go no farther in proof of this than to their review of this controversy. In the review of Mr. Taylor's Nine Letters, (July, 1787, p. 85.) they say, " This pamphlet may be of some use in enlarging the conceptions of those narrow minded Christians, who think the kingdom of heaven no larger than the synagogue of their own little flock." Astonishing! When the matter of debate between myself and Mr. T. was not, in the least, about the extent of the kingdom of heaven. It did not, in the least, respect either the character or number of those that are good men here, or that shall be saved hereafter; but the Cause of their salvation. Is it possible for gentlemen, of only common sense and erudition, to write in this manner upon any subject, except religion I No ,• mere rational powers would there have taught them better. But here, prejudice and supercilious contempt get the better of their understandings, and impel them to write in such a manner as must, in the end, cause their censures to rebound to their own dishonour.

Though the above critique f if it may be so called) displays the grossest ignorance of the subject; yet I really do not think it was for want of rational powers. The reviewers are, generally speaking, men of very good abilities ; but religion is not their province, nor are they able to treat the subject with impartiality. Now, as they unite with Mr. T. in thinking, that, if a man has no moral power, that is, no disposition to do right, and cannot find in his heart so much as to use means that he may have such a disposition, then he cannot justly be blamed; they might, one should think, consider the above as a kind apology on their behalf. Should they reply, hy maintaining, either that they have a moralability, or disposition, to do justice to Calvinistic writings, or, at least, might have, if they would use the means; I should answer, As to the first, facts contradict it; and as to the last, if they know of any means that persons, utterly void of an inclination, may use, in order to give themselves such inclination, I should be glad if they would begin, and make the experiment.

If, in future, we should see, in the Monthly Review, such manifest partiality against Calvinistic writings as we have seen heretofore, we shall then conclude, that the Monthly Reviewers cannot find in their heart to do justice ; nor so much as to use the means that they may have a disposition to do justice; and, if so, then, according to the reasonings which they so highly applaud, we must bring- them in guiltless!

And elsewhere Mr. T. says, " It is to very little purpose to allege, that Pharaoh and others could have complied, if they would; if they could never will to comply, they could not justly be punished." (XIII. 57.) So, then, the blame does not lie in the choice of any evil, but in the choice of that choice. Pharaoh's evil, it seems, did not lie in refusing the divine message, but in that, though he could have had a pliable disposition, yet he would not, he was not disposed to be of a good disposition. But still an objection returns : That indisposition, by which he refused to be of a good disposition, could not be blameworthy, unless he could have chosen to be of a better. But whither will this way of reasoning lead us ? If a choice, or propensity, cannot be blameworthy, unless it be governed by a previous act of choice, neither can that act of choice be blameworthy, unless it is governed by another, and that by another, and so on, in an infinite series. This is metaphysical indeed, or rather hyper-metaphysical. A little while ago, it was thought sufficient if an exercise had but the concurrence of the will, that is, if we had but the power of doing what we please ; but now, it seems, that is a matter that " is very little to the purpose," unless we have also the power ef choosing what we please.

" Pharaoh," Mr. T. maintains, " could have willed to comely with the messages that were sent him, or he was not blameworthy." If no more were meant by this, than that he was possessed of the faculty, or power of choice, which faculty, were it not for the evil bias with which it is polluted, is equal to the choice of any object that might be presented, I should have no objection to it. But this is not Mr. T.'s meaning: natural power to choose is nothing with him ; he is here pleading the necessity of a moral power, in order to our being accountable beings. Here, then, I must infer, that Mr. T. does not understand the meaning of his own expressions, no, nor the Monthly Reviewers either; or rather, that the expressions have no meaning at all. What does Mr. T. maintain? that Pharaoh could find in his heart, at the time, to will a compliance ? No, he will not say so ; for that were the same as doing willing: but that would contradict fact; for we know he was not willing. What, then, does Mr. T. mean ? He must mean this, if any thing ; that he could have been willing if he would; that is, he could have willed, if he had willed: but this is no meaning at all, being a mere identical proposition.

It is possible Mr. T. may here exclaim against such a method of reasoning, and appeal to common sense and common equity, " that no person is blameworthy for the emission of what he could not perform." It is granted to be a dictate of common sense and common equity, that no person should be blamed for the omission of that which he could not do, if he would ; but not that he should be excused for the neglect of that which he could not Will, if he would: for there is no such thing in being. So far is this from being a dictate of common sense, there is no sense in it, nor do they that talk of it understand what they mean.*

" When people puzzle themselves upon this subject," says a judicious writer, " and insist we are not accountable, and cannot be blamed, any farther than we have a moral as well as a natural power to do otherways than we do, what their minds run upon is only natural power, after all. They may say they know what we mean by moral power, viz. that disposition to do a thing which is necessary in order to our doing it; and they mean the same. But, however, when they get into the dispute, they get bewildered, and lose sight of the distinction. They do not suppose an impenitent sinner, going on still in his trespasses, has a present, actual disposition, and a sufficiently strong one, to hearken to, and obey the gospel. But something like this seems to be in the bottom of their minds, viz. that he must be able to be disposed ; or he must have such a disposition as would be sufficient if he was disposed to make a good use of it. Now, this is only to

• The reader may consult, on this subject, President Edwards On the Wills particularly Part IV. Sect. III. IV. XIII. In that piece he will find this notion, with many others upon which Mr. T.'s system rests, thoroughly refuted.

use the word disposition improperly, and to conceive of it as a mere natural power; a price in our hands, which may be used well or ill, and which will turn to our benefit or condemnation, accordingly as we are disposed to improve it. The disposition they think of is not in the least degree virtuous, nor anyways necessarily connected with virtuous conduct. But it may lie still, or go wrong, and will do so, unless a man is disposed, and exerts himself to make it act, and keep it right. The sinner is not helped out of his difficulty in the least by having such a disposition as this. Yea, should we go farther, and say, the impenitent sinner might have a heart to embrace the gospel, if he would take proper pains in order to it; and he might do this, if he was so disposed ; and he might be so disposed, if he would try; and he could try, if he had a mind for h. Yet If, after all, he has not a mind to try, to be disposed, to take any proper pains, to get a heart to embrace the gospel, or do any thing that is good; he is still in as bad a situation as any body supposes him to be in- There is no more hope of his coming to good, so long as this is the case with him, no more possibility of it, nor do we say any thing more in his favour, than if we had only said, as the scripture does of the fool, There is a price in his hand to get wisdom; but he has No Heart To It. Pushing the sinner's moral depravity and impotence back in this manner, may get it out of sight of those who cannot see above ir,o or three steps: but this is all the good it can do. There i still a defect in him somewhere ; and such a one as will prove his everlasting ruin, unless removed by such grace as he never yet has experienced."*

I am yours, &c.

* Smalley on the Inability of the Sinner to comply with the Gospel, &c. pp. 20, 21.

LETTER V.

Dear Siry

JL HE second thing which Mr. T. defends, is what he had written on men's inability to deliver themselves from an in ability: he conceives it must furnish them with an excuse, " if they cannot deliver themselves from it." This takes up the former part of his Fifth Letter. To be sure, we are now got into the regions of metaphysics, if not beyond them; but it ought to be remembered, that these modes of speaking are of Mr. T.'s own invention. I had before urged the consequences of Mr. T.Js opinion on this subject, as a sufficient refutation of it; but he replies by resuming his old complaint, that I consider those subjects separately, which ought to have been considered conjointly. This is all that he has advanced in answer to what I have written from p. 37 to 41.*

It should seem, that, in certain circumstances, Mr. T. will admit a moral inability, though real and total, to be blameworthy. That is, 1. Where a person brings it upon himself by his own personal wickedness. (XIII. 28.) 2. Where grace is offered to deliver him from it, and he refuses it. In these cases, it seems, Mr. T. will not become the sinner's advocate, but admit him to be guilty. (XIII. 47.) But let it be closely considered, if the thing itse{fi& A\ot blameworthy, let us come by it in what manner we may, and though grace should, or should not, be provided to deliver us from it, whether either of the above circumstances will make it so. We may blame a man for his conduct in bringing his mind into such an " unimpressible" state; but the state of the mind itself is not thereby made culpable. Mr. T. often appeals to common equity among men, whether it is right to punish a man for the omission of what was never within the compass of his power; but it is as plain a dictate of common equity, that a man is not to blame for the omission of what he has not the power to perform at the time, as that he is not to blame for what never -was in his power. If once he had power, he was then to blame, but not since he lost it; for, as Mr. T. says, " what a man cannot do, he cannot do." Samson was to blame for losing his hair, and thereby his strength ; but not for being unable, when he had lost it, to repel the enemy, and preserve his eyes. Neither does the possibility of having our moral impotency removed, make any alteration as to the thing itself.

f Pages 271—2T4i of this volume.

If our opposition of heart to God, in itself considered,i not blameworthy, the circumstance of our having grace offered to deliver us from it, cannot make it so. Suppose a man to be fallen into some deep pit, and that he is weak, and incapable of getting out, but some kind friend offers him his hand; now, says Mr. T. the man is to blame, if he does not get out. I answer, He is to blame for rejecting help; but that does not prove him to blame for his own personal inability. Thus, by shifting the argument from one to the other of these three subjects, and dwelling upon none, Mr. T. shuts out blameworthiness frem all moral impotence, in itself considered, and so no man is to blame for the enmity of his heart to God, be it ever so great. Though the carnal mind is enmity against God, and is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be: though their ear is uncircumcised, -and they cannot hearken; though they, being evil, cannot speak good things; though they have eyes full of adultery, and cannot cease from sin; and though, upon this account, it be impossible but that offences will come : yet there is no harm in all this, nothing for which God should speak in such a tone of displeasure; the whole of their blameworthiness consists either in their getting into such a. state of mind, or in neglecting to use the means of getting -out ! And thus my argument, after all, stands its ground, that, according to Mr. T.'s principles, men are excusable in proportion to the strength of their evil propensities.

Let us next follow Mr. T. in his defence of the third branch of his position concerning the non-provision of grace. The reader will remember, that the question here is, not whether grace is, or is Not provided : but whether, supposing it is not, men are excusable in their non-compliance with the gospel. Mr. T.'s views upon this subject are as a millstone about the neck of his system, that must needs sink it in the esteem of all who understand the argument, and expect to be saved by grace alone. He talks much of grace, of free grace, and of salvation by grace ; and yet it is not more evident that the sun shines at noon-day, than that he makes the whole of our salvation a debt, a debt which God, of his " universal benevolence," is excited to pay, from the consideration that " we did not bring everlasting misery upon ourselves, nor was it ever in our power to avoid it." (XIII. 81.)

It is pity that we should cover our ideas by improper words. It is evident, Mr. T,. means to appeal to the divine justice ; only he has not courage sufficient to say so, and, therefore, uses the term benevolence. Yet if this be the truth, that men are pitiable creatures, much injured by the fall, but no way concerned in the guilt of it, nor in any of its certain effects; and if this be a consideration with the great Jehovah to save them ; what a gospel have we sent us at last, and what a representation of the divine character ! The Father sends his Son to atone for men's guilt, and deliver them from everlasting misery, from the consideration that there was nothing in that guilt, antecedently to his sending his Son, and offering them grace, that properly deserved such misery, or indeed any misery at all! The covenant which God originally made with man is so severe, that, if he abide by it, he must deal cruelly with his rational offspring; so severe, that he cannot stand to it throughout ; but is induced, with a view to make the sons of Adam amends for the injury done them by their father's fall, to send them a Saviour, and to offer them assistance, that they may make their escape ! Surely, all this is but th« just picture of the divine character and conduct, according to Mr. T.'s scheme. But is this the real character and conduct of God ? Is mercy indeed built up upon the ruins of equity; or does the grace of the second covenant imply a reflection upon the justice of the first ? Is this the character of that God who declares that men who never heard the gospel of grace are without excuse ? ^-that all the world are become guilty before Him ;—that salvation is altogether of grace ;—that he is not only at liberty to have mercy on whom he will have mercy, but will exercise that liberty, and will have compassion on whom he will have compassion ?

I urged these consequences in my Reply, that, according to Mr. T.'s scheme, " making this supposed grace the only thing which constitutes men accountable beings, was making it Debt, rather than Grace." And what has Mr. T. said, in answer to this objection? (XIII. 49.) " 1. When I speak of grace," says he, " I wish to speak of real, not supposed, grace." That may be, and I hope it is so; but the question is, will his hypothesis coincide with the wishes of his heart on this subject ? " 2. Suppose," says Mr. T. to his friend, " we excuse Mr. F.'s play on the word grace, which is not in the sentence to which he is making this laboured reply, and his change of punished for accountable ; yet still, the position to which he refers, does not s>peak of grace as the only thing which renders men accountable. You remember, Sir, the position is, 'If men could not avoid it,' Sec." Mr. T. seems, all along' to wish to represent me as having bestowed great pains to unravel one poor little period; whereas what I have written about grace is not merely in reply to that single period, (as was declared in my Reply, p. 29.») but to the whole of what Mr. T. had written upon the subject, which in that period happens to be nearly expressed. But he denies, that he has represented grace as the only thing which renders men accountable; how he can make this denial good, is more than I can conceive. He advances three things which, together, would make men not accountable. The first two of these he admits actually to exist; (IX. 44. 57. 59.) the last, therefore, must be the only thing left, which can render men accountable, or, if he likes it better, punishable. But where is the answer, after all to my objection ? Has he proved his notion of grace to be any more than debt? Not at all, nor so much as attempted it. " Is it uncandid to conclude, that it was because he felt the attempt would have been in vain ?" It was farther objected, that, according to Mr. TVs scheme, there was no need for Christ to have died at all; and that, if the Divine being had but let men alone, and had not provided any grace for them, they had been all very innocent; and, if justice had but been done them, very happy. To this Mr. T. replies, by asking, 1. Whether I can prove that, without the bestowment of grace, there would ever have been any men to be free from criminality? "Can he prove," says he, "that Adam would not have died immediately, according to the threatening, if grace had not been given in the promise." (XIII. 50.)-^ According to the threatening," that is begging the question. The question is, whether that threatening implied in it the immediate and actual execution of corporal death ? If what Mr. T. say» elsewhere is true, namely, that Adam's posterity were, by his fall," exposed to misery, whatever that misery be," (XIII. 41.) it could not; for non-existences could never be exposed to misery of any kind.

* Page 264 of this volume.

If in Adam all died; if by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed -upon all men, for that all have sinned; this must imply the existence of all men ; for death cannot pass upon non-entities. But it is asked, 2. " Suppose Adam had not died, can Mr. F. prove that Adam's posterity would have been sent to hell for their father's sin, or for any of its necessary consequences I" Suppose they had not, and ought not, then it only tends to confirm my reasoning, rather than to refute it; which was to prove, that, if things are as Mr. T. represents, men might have been innocent and happy, if Jesus had never died ; and so, that the gift of Christ and the gospel was no real benefit, but rather a curse upon the world, as it is this only that has rendered men capable of sinning, so as to become everlastingly miserable.

The remaining questions (XIII. 52.) have, for the subStance of them, been already discussed. [Reply, 4649.*) Neither are they in point to the present subject in debate. They contain a question of fact ; but that which is now in discussion is a question of right. Were I to admit the universal extent of Christ's death as a. fact, and the utmost advantages as resulting from it; still I should reprobate, with all the powers of my soul, the principles upon which Mr. T. pleads for it, as destructive of the grace of the gospel, and hostile to the throne of God.

Mr. T. had maintained (IX. 57. 59.) 1. That man was s» reduced by the fall, as to be totally unable to do any thing really good: 2. That, if he had been left in this condition, he would not have been to blame for not doing it, but that his inability would have been his excuse; yea, let his practices have been as -vile as they might, upon the supposition of grace not being provided, he declares, that he would have been excusable, and that all real good whatever might be denied to be the duty of the unprincipled mind." From hence I concluded, that, if it were so, then Christ did not die for the sins of any man; because, antecedently to the consideration of his death, and of grace being given in him, there was no sin, or blameworthiness, to atone for.

• Pages 278—281 of this Volume.

What a bustle does Mr. T. make concerning this conclusion; calling it " a wonderful passage," and the reasonings " mere parade ;" imputing it to the " imbecility of the human mind, and to the disadvantageous situation to which the most upright disputant may be reduced," &c. (XIII. 52.) I smile at this friendly apology; but must own it appears, to me, more adapted to himself than his opponent. I before wrote in the language of diffidence : the consequences of Mr. T.'s sentiments appeared so eversive of the whole gospel, that I could hardly help suspecting I must have mistaken him, somehow or other. Accordingly, I gave him a fair opportunity to clear himself, if he could. But it is now time for that language to be laid aside. He has tried to defend his hypothesis, but it is absolutely indefensible.

What has Mr. T. said in answer to my reasoning ? Why he has, as usual, asked a number of questions* " Suppose Christ had never come, and no grace had been provided, does not Mr. F." he asks, " allow that man is a free agent, and therefore, might have sinned voluntarily ?" (XIII. 51.) Yes, I do: I suppose the devil to be a free agent, though his heart is, and ever will be, invariably set in him to do evil; but the question here is, not what / allow, but what Mr. T. allows. Though J allow man to be a free agent, independent of the grace of the gospel, he does not: he considers moral as well as natural necessity as inconsistent with free agency; that, if no grace were provided, " let a man's practice be as -vile as they might, he would be excusable." And it was from his supposition, and not from mine, that I was reasoning.

But he asks farther, " Is nothing done wrong in this world but what is the necessary and unavoidable effect of Adam's transgression ? Are not all our voluntary sins justly chargeable upon us ?" (XIII. 52.) I answer, I know of no such necessity that impels men to sin involuntarily; and as to the evils that are now done in the world, or not done, they are nothing at all to the point; nor whether they are done in consequence of Adam's transgression or not.

• Mr. T. it seems, expected to bf answered in a way of direct reply. But it would fill a volume of no small size, only to give a direct answef to all his and Mr. Martin's questions.

Suppose they are done'simply in consequence of men's own free agency; will Mr. T. allow that they would have had that free agency, and have been accountable beings, without the death of Christ and the grace of the gospel ? If he will not, the consequence still remains unmoved, that, according to him,' Christ did not come into the world to save men from sin, but, rather, to put them into a capacity of sinning ; as it is in consequence of his death, and that alone, that guilt becomes chargeable upon them.' But if, on the other hand, he will allow this, he must, in so doing, disallow of the substance of all his former reasonings. Particularly, he must disown that extravagant language, that, " if my principles are true, let a man's practices be as vile as they may, he may excuse himself from blame."

" Mr. F. justly observes," says Mr. T. " that I suppose fallen man really and totally unable to do good; and I explained my meaning, by saying spiritually good : but is there no medium between doing what is spiritually good, and going to the utmost lengths of wickedness ? Are men under the necessity of working all abominations, because they cannot, without divine grace, serve God spiritually ? Do not men work these abominations? Did not Christ die to atone for them? Did he not then die for OUR SINS i" (XIII. 52.) Now Mr. T. thinks he has escaped the charge. But let it be observed, though, in one place, he had used the term spiritual; yet, in another, he extended blamelessness to " Practices be they As Vile as they May, if my sentiments were true;" that is, if grace were not provided. Now, whatever medium there may be, between not doing things spiritually good and working all abominations, there is none, I should think, between vile practices and abominations. Mr. T. therefore, is as far off as ever from removing the shocking consequences of his sentiments.

I am, &c.

LETTER VI.

Dear Sir,

PERHAPS Mr. T. will again complain, that too much is made of the Ratio ex concessis and the Reductio ad absurdum. (XIII. 53.) Well, it is not my wish to bear too hard upon him ; though, after all, it would have discovered a commendable frankness, consonant to his own profession, (XIII. 15.) to have confessed that he had said rather too much, instead of complaining of me for having improved it against him. But let us take it as he has now stated it, that, without the grace of God, men cannot do any thing really or spiritually good; but they may do some things otherwise good, or, at least, refrain from gross immoralities ; and this is all they are obliged to do, antecedently to the bestowment of grace; and, consequently, the whole of their sin consists in the contrary of this; and these are all the sins for which there was any need for Christ to atone. Now, will Mr. T. stand to this hypothesis ? It is the only ground left him to stand upon, in supporting the body of his system. And, in order to possess this, he must retract his extravagant sentence in p. 59 of his Nine Letters ; and, perhaps, much more. Let him soberly consider, whether he can stand his ground, even here, without giving up at least the three.following sentiments, each of which he has hitherto avowed, and for one of them most strenuously contended.

1. That the moral law is spiritual, and requires love to God with all the heart; and that this law is the rule of life to fallen men, antecedent to, and independent of, the consideration of the bestowment of grace. If nothing but an abstinence from gross abominations is incumbent on men, antecedent to the bestowment of grace ; then either the moral law does not require the heart, or men are not under it as the rule of life.

2. That, if unconverted sinners are preserved from the greatest lengths of wickedness, it is to be ascribed to the preventing and restraining grace of God. This Mr- T, has hith« erto avowed. (XIII. SO.) But, if he will maintain the above hypothesis, this also must be given up. The whole of Mr. T.'-s argument (XIII. 52.) goes upon the supposition, that, if grace had never been bestowed or provided, yet men might have refrained from gross abominations ; for it is brought to prove, that men would not have been utterly blameless without the provision of grace ; and so that there were some sins for Christ to die for, antecedently to the consideration of his death and the grace of the gospel. But, if so, their being preserved from gross wickedness is not, and ought not to be, ascribed to the grace of God.

3. That Christ died for the sins of the whole world. I need not prove to the reader, that Mr. T. maintains this sentiment; but, if he will abide by the above hypothesis, this (all-important as he accounts it) must be given up. It is well known, that the far greater part of the world die in infancy ; but dying infants, according to the above hypothesis, (and, indeed, according to all that he has written,) can have no sin, in any sense whatever, for which Christ could have to atone. He could not, therefore, die for them ; and, as they make the greatest part of the human race, it must follow, that Christ did not die for the sins of one half of the world, after all. Thus Mr. T. by his notion of men being excusable on account of their moral inability, is driven to a most painful dilemma : he is driven to maintain, Either that men, antecedently to the death of Christ and the grace of the gospel, are not free agents at all; are not accountable beings, no, not for even " the -vilest of practices ;" (as he did in his Nine Letters;) and then it follows, that Christ did not die to atone for the sins of any man, but only for Adam's first transgression, there being no sins for which he could have to atone ; and that his death, and the grace of the gospel, must be a curse to the world rather than a blessing ; as it is in consequence of this, and this alone, that guilt becomes chargeable on men : or Else, according to what he has advanced in his last performance, that men, without the grace ot the gospel, would have been free agents in part; that they would have been capable of performing the externals of religion, and refraining from gross abominations; that they, as fallen creatures, are accountable for the contrary of these, and for that only; and that it is for sins of this description only that Christ could have to atone ;* and then it follows, that the law, as a rule of life to fallen men, is not spiritual; that, if men are preserved from gross abominations, it is not to be ascribed to preventing grace; and that Christ did not die for the sins of all mankind.