IT may appear Somewhat extraordinary, that the same s£h» timents should be liable to opposition from two gentlemen of such contrary principles as Mr. Button and Philanthropos. It may be less surprising, however, when it is considered, that there are certain points in which the most opposite extremes are known to meet. An attentive reader will perceive a great affinity in the tendency of their reasonings on various subjects. If I am not greatly mistaken, they both particularly agree in denying faith in Christ to be a duty required by the moral law; and in excusing the sinner, unless grace is bestowed upon him, in his non-compliance with every thing spiritually good.
As to the sfiirit of Philanthropos, he has treated me with candour and respect. Though I quite disapprove of many of his sentiments; and though I think he has written in some places (pp. 88. 92, 93.) in a manner bordering on irreverence ; yet, so far as it concerns myself, what he has advanced has never, that I remember, " given me a moment's pain." He has examined with freedom what I advanced. I respect him for so doing. I can, with the less fear of offence, use a like freedom in return.
Complaint is made of the use of the terms Arminian, Calvinist, &c. (pp. 52—36.) When I have used the former of VOL. J. 2 H
these terms, I am not conscious of ever having used it as " as a term of reproach." As to calling P. or any other person, an Arminian ; I never desire to affix to an honest man a name by which he would not call himself. For my own part, though I never mean to set up any man as a standard of faith ; and though, in some things, I think differently from Calvin; yet, as I agree with him in the main, particularly in the leading sentiments advanced in the former treatise, and as it served to avoid unnecessary circumlocution, I have used the term Calvinist, and have no objection to being so called by others. Whether P. is an Arminian, or not, is of very little account with me ; it is not very difficult, however, to discern the leading features of his scheme in the works of those who have chosen to be called by that name.
But complaint is farther made of the Arminian divines being misrepresented, (p. 52.) Though I have no better an opinion of Arminius's doctrine of the Spirit's work, as given us by P. (p. 53.) than I had before; and though I believe it would be no difficult matter to prove that the generality of Arminian divines have carried matters farther than Arminius himself did ; (as P. seems in part to admit ;)* yet I acknowledge, what I said on that subject, in the passage referred to, was too strong: though, at the time I wrote, I was not aware of it.
To what is said in p. 10. I have no material objection. What I meant was, merely to disown that any sinner was encouraged by the gospel to hope for eternal life, without returning home to God by Jesus Christ. The omission of part of Isa. lv. 7. as also the mistake respecting the prayer of the publican, were altogether without design.
* If I am not misinformed, the Remonstrants, in their Jlpology, maintained, that " that ought not to be commanded which is wrought in us ; and cannot be wrought in us which is commanded ; that he foolishly commandeth that to be done of others, who will work in them what he commandeth." Cap. 9. p. 105. And to the same purpose Episcopius; " That it is a most absurd thing to affirm, that God either effects by his power, or procureth by his wisdom, that the elect should do those things that he requireth of them." Disp. pri. 8. Thes. 7. These sentiments, if I understand them, amount to the same thing as " Denying The NeCessity OF TUB Spibit OP GoD TO ENABLE US TO DO OCB DUTY."
The above passages are taken from Dr. Owen'* Display of Arminiamsm, Chap.X.
There are some remarks which, I think, are made merely for want of considering that those with whom I was in debate were professed Calvinists. Thus, in p. 30,1 am corrected for taking for granted that which should have been proved. Had the controversy been with P. or those of his sentiments, the observation had been just; or, had I called any sentiment, which was professedly a subject in debate, a " gospel-doctrine," as P. has done; (p. 38.) perhaps the complaint had been made with greater propriety.
I need not have any dispute with P. concerning the definition of faith : for, though he tells his correspondent that I " do not suppose faith to include in it confidence" yet he knows I, all along, maintain confidence, or trust, to be incumbent on men in general. God ought, no doubt, to be trusted, or confided in, for the fulfilment of whatever he has promised, be that what it may. I acknowledged before, that "faith in Christ, as generally used in the New-Testament, was to be taken in a large sense ; as including not only the belief of the truth, but the actual outgoing of the soul towards Christ in a way of dependence upon him." (p. 23.) My views of trust, or confidence, will be seen more fully in the Third Section of this Reply.
By what I said of believing the gospel-report, and of this report extending not only to general truths, but to the particular description of their intrinsic nature; I certainly did not mean, as P. has understood me, " that all poor sinners, who are brought to the enjoyment of salvation, must have the very same ideas of whatever God hath reported concerning Christ and his salvation ; and this to the very same extent." (p. 17.) My intention was to prove, that a real belief of the gospel-report carried in it a belief of its glory and importance, and so included more than it was frequently supposed to do. Many persons, observing that people would avow the general doctrines of Christianity, and yet live in a course of sin, have hence concluded, that a belief of the gospel was no more than a man might have, and perish everlastingly. It was this [Anion that I meant to oppose; and, by proving that a real j'lief of the gospel is a belief of its intrinsic nature, as well as of its general truths, I suppose I proved what was there in-, tended; viz. that it extends farther than the faith of any wicked man, let him have assorted his notions with ever so much accuracy.
There is a great difference between a want of ideas, through a natural weakness of intellect or lack of opportunity to obtain them, and a positive rejection of what God has revealed. There is an equal difference between a Christian of weak capacity believing the intrinsic excellency of the gospel, and ( being able to describe it, or even to ascertain all the general truths of Christianity." The weakest Christian believes and lives upon That in the gospel, of which a wicked man, whatever be his intellects and advantages, has np idea. We All with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Sftirit of the Lord. But the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not.*
P. allows the necessity of believing the gospel; (p. 16.) and yet seems, afterwards, rather to wish to set this idea aside, and to place the essence of faith in trusting, or confiding, in Christ for salvation, (pp. 17, 18.) But shall we not talk without jneaning, if we talk of confiding in Christ without respect had to something testified, or some rule, by which our confidence is to be directed ? If we dispense with the truth of God, as the warrant and rule of our confidence, however it may become very extensive, and fit professors of opposite ways of thinking, it will be found, at the great day, no better than a building erected upon the sand.
As to the question, « To what degree, or extent, must a poor sinner believe the truth of the gospel ?" (p. 16.) it is not for jne to answer it. If I were asked, ' To what degree of holiness must a man arrive, in order to see the Lord ?-' I should be equally unable to reply. That men have different natural capacities and opportunities, is certainly true; and according to the different degrees of these are their obligations both to receive God's truth, and to exert themselves for his glory. That there is also great contrariety of sentiment, is equally true : and how far the mercy of God may extend, through the death of his Son, in passing over the errours of men's minds, or those of their conduct, is not for me to say; but I think it is our business to maintain a rule for faith, as well as for practice.
* 3 Cor. iii. 18. iv. 4,
But, waiving lesser remarks, the substance of what is advanced may, I think, be reduced to the following heads:— Whether regeneration is prior to coming to Christ, as a cause is prior to its effect ? Whether moral inability is, or is not, excusable ? Whether faith in Christ is required by the moral law ? and, Whether an obligation upon all those to whom the gospel is preached to believe in Christ, and the encouragements held out to them to do so, is inconsistent with a limitation of design in his death. On each of these subjects I shall make a few remarks.
WHETHER REGENERATION IS PRIOR TO OUR COMING TO CHRIST.
Those writers, whose sentiments I made free to examine, generally maintain a distinction between the principle and the act of faith. I did not dispute this matter, but admitted it; and, upon those principles, endeavoured to prove the point then in question. P. greating disapprobes of this distinction, and asks "wherein the distinction lies;" and, where the scripture teaches us to make it. (p. 14.) The difference between a principle and an actual exertion was supposed to be illustrable by a principle of honestly being prveious to an upright conduct: but P. thinks this will not answer the end, because faith is purely mental; it being with the heart that man believeith. Although this is true, yet I swee not how it affects the matter. A principle of honesty is as necessary to a purpose to act uprightly, (which is a mental exertion,) as it is to the action itself.
It is not supposed, however, that there is a distinct principle wrought in the heart, which may be called a principle of faith, in distinction from other graces; bat, rather, a new turn, or bias, of mind, previous to all acts or exercises whatsoever, internal or external, which are spiritually good. And if faith is an act of the mind at all; if, especially, it be taken for the soul's coming to Christ, as P. contends; then, unless an evil tree can bring forth good fruit, there must be a new bias of mind previous to such an act. Again, Coming to Christ, if it be a duty, (and P. will allow it is,) must be something pleasing to God ; and if this may be done prior to the Spirit of God dwelling in us ; then it should seem, notwithstanding what the scripture affirms to the contrary, that they who are tn the ftesh May pleate God; for every man is in the flesh, till the Spirit of God dwelleth in him.*
One should think, that not only scripture, but a common observation of the workings of our own minds, might teach us the need of a bias of mind different from that which prevails over men in general, in order to come to Christ. Whoever be the cause of such a bias, let that, at present, be out of the question : suppose it is man himself, still a turn of some sort there must be ; for it will hardly be said, that the same thoughts, and temper of mind, which lead a man to despise and reject the Saviour, will lead him to esteem and embrace him ! That a turn of mind is necessary to our coming to Christ, seems evident, then, from the nature of things ; and, if so, our mistake must lie, if any where, in ascribing it to the Spirit of God.
Whether the first beginning of God's work upon the mind consists in giving us a spiritual discernment, whereby spiritual things, or the importance and glory of divine truth are discerned ? or, Whether it consists in a divine energy attending the word itself, causing it to break in, as it were, upon the mind, and bear down every opposition before it ? are questions which have each its difficulties. But, whatever difficulties might attend a discussion of these questions, and whatever might be the issue; it would very little, if at all, affect the present controversy. If it is said, It does affect it; for if • he first beginning of God's work upon the mind is by the word, it must be by the word believed: I answer, First, That may be questioned.
• Rom. viii. 8, 9.
The word, it is true, must be understood, in a measure, in order to have any effect; but it is a question with me, whether a person must believe the gospel, before it can have any effect upon him. We know that truth frequently maintains a long struggle with darkness and errour, before they are overcome ; during which time, it may be said that God has been at work upon the mind by means of his word : and yet that word cannot be said to be believed, till the opposition drops, and the soul becomes a captive; in other words, till the heart is brought to set seal that God is true. If it is insisted, that that degree of conviction which exists in the mind, while the heart remains unsubdued, is properly called believing the word, so far as it goes; I shall not dispute about terms, but shall, at the same time, insist, that it is not such believing as to denominate any person a believer. But, Secondly, P. insists, that true faith in Christ is something more than believing the divine testimony; that it is the soul's actual coming to Christ: now, if so, though the word should be allowed to be instrumental in the renewal of the mind, yet that renewal must precede believing, or the soul's application to the Saviour. So that, granting him all he can desire, it will not prove that regeneration follows upon believing, in his sense of the word.
The great question between us is this, Whether The HoLy Spirit Op God Is The Proper And Efpicient Cause Of A Sinner's Believing In Jesus Christ ; Ok, Whether It Be Owing To His Holt Influence, And That Alone, That One
SINNER BELIEVES IN CHRIST, HATHF.R THAN ANOTHER ? If this
-were but allowed, we should be contented. If the first beginning of God's work upon the mind is by the word, let it but be granted that it is by the agency of the Holy Spirit causing that word to be embraced by one person, so as it is not by another, and so to become effectual; and we are satisfied. If this is but granted, it will amount to the same thing as that which we mean by regeneration preceding our coming to Christ; since the cause always precedes the effect.
But if I rightly understand P. he leaves out the agency of the Holy Spirit in the act itself of believing; maintaining that the Spirit is not given till after we have believed, (p. 22.) If there is any divine agency in the matter, it can be only a sort of grace which is given to men in common ; and this can be no reason why any man believes, rather than another: it is the man himself, after all, who is the proper cause of his own believing. It is owing to himself, it seems, that the good work is begun ; and then God promises to carry it on to the day of Jesus Christ.
I cannot but think this sentiment highly derogatory to the honour of the Holy Spirit, and contrary to the tenour of the sacred scriptures. In proof of this, let the following observations be duly considered :—
I. The scriptures not only represent salvation as being through faith, but they ascribe faith itself to the operation of the Spirit of God. Those who come to Christ are described as having first heard and learned of the Father, and as being drawn by him ; nor can any man come to him, except it be given him of the Father. Nor can this learning be applied to the mere outward ministry of the word; for all who are thus taught of God, do not come to Christ. Faith, as well as love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, and goodness, is a fruit of the Spirit. We believe, according to the working of his mighty fiower; a power equal to that which raised our Lord from the dead. Faith is expressly said to be of the O/m eration of God. We are not only saved by grace through faith ; but even That is not of ourselves : It Is The Gift Of God. If regeneration be brought about by any exertion of ours, it is not only contrary to all ideas of generation, (to which, undoubtedly, it alludes,) but also to the express testimony of scripture, which declares that we are born not of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God,*
Those parts of scripture which speak of the instrumentality of the word in our sanctiikation, take care to ascribe all to the agency of the Holy Spirit. They who understand the gospel, and who are changed into the same image, are represented as so doing by the Sfiirit of God. Christ did not pray that the truth might sanctify men ; but that God would sanctify them by his truth.
* John vi. 44, 45. 65. Gal. v. 22. Eph. i. 19. Col. ii. 12. Eph. ii. 8.. John i. 13.
If the word become effectual, it is when it comes not in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in muck assurance. If it bring about the salvation of those who believe, it is because it is the power of God to that end.*
II. The scriptures represent all the great instances of conversion as effects of some peculiar out-pourings of the Sfiirit of God. We may instance two periods; the time of the great conversions in the apostles' days, and the time of latterday glory, yet to come. Of the former of these periods it was promised, The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength. out of Zion; rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. Thy fieople shall be willing In The Day or Thy Power. And again, In that day will I pour out upon the house of David, and -upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of aupplicalions, and they shall look upon me whom they have flierced, and they shall mourn.—In that day there shall be a fountain tpened, &c.f These promises were gloriously accomplished soon after Christ's ascension, when thousands of those who had voted for the crucifixion of the Messiah, became captives to all-conquering grace !
The Lord Jesus himself preached to these very people; yet, though he was the greatest of all preachers, he laboured in vain. They believed not his report. He was a root out of a dry ground in their eyes. How came they to believe the apostles, rather than him ? To what cause can it be imputed, but to the arm of the Lord being revealed? To what cause can we ascribe their superior success, not only in Judea, but throughout the gentile world, except to the Spirit being poured down from on high, in consequence of Christ's ascension ? Christ told his disciples that they should do the works that he did, and greater works than those, " because," sayshe, " I go unto my Father." Yes: hence it was that the Spirit of truth was sent, not only to comfort believers, but to convince the world of sin.\
The prayers of the apostles and primitive ministers show, that their hope of success did not arise from the pliableness of men's tempers, or the suitableness of the gospel to their dispositions; but from the power of Almighty God attending their ministrations.
• 2 Cor. iii. 18. John xvii. 17. 1 Thess. i. 5. Bom. i. 16.
fPsa. ex. 2,3. Zech. xii. 10. xiii. 1.
t Isa. liii. 1. xsxii, 15. John xiv. 12. xvi. 8.
The weapons of their warfare, however fitted for the purpose, were mighty Through God to the pulling down of strong holds. To God they sent up their earnest and united petitions, before they opened their commission. Meeting in an upper room, they continued with one accord in prayer and supplication. And, afterwards, we find the apostle Paul requesting his Thessalonian brethren to pray for him and his associates in the work of the ministry, that the word of the Lord might have free course, and be glorified*
The great accessions to the church of God in the latter days, are ascribed to the same cause. In the 60th chapter of Isaiah, after abundance of rich promises of a large and glorious increase, after the multitudes of conversions to Christ had been rapturously resembled to a cloud, and the flocking* of doves to their windows, the whole is thus concluded ; Thy people shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch Of My. Tianting, The Work Of Mt Hands, That I May Be Glorified. A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I The Lord Will HasTen It In His Time. When the seventh angel sounded, and voices were heard, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ, the fourand-twenty elders immediately fell upon their faces, and blessed him who was, who is, and is to come, because he had TaKen To Him His Great Power, And Reigned.*
But, if the Spirit of God is not the cause why one sinner believes in Christ, rather than another, then he is not the cause why there are more believers at one period of time than at another. And, if so, to what purpose are the before-cited prayers or promises ? As to the former, however strongly they speak of latter-day glory, and of God's taking to him his great power, and reigning, they are, after all, mere predictions of what will be, rather than promises of what shall be. The same may be said of the promises concerning the success of the gospel after Christ's ascension. As to the latter, to what purpose was it to pray for what they already had ?
* 2 Cor. x. 4.' Acts i. 14. 2 Thess. iii. I. f ^y- xi-15—I7
They had a gospel adapted to the condition of lost sinners ; and as to divine grace, if any thing of that be necessary to a reception of it, their hearers are supposed to have had a sufficiency of that already bestowed upon them, otherwise it would have been a mockery to address them. Now, if things are so, might not the apostles have expected some such an answer to their prayers as was given to Dives ? < They have Moses and the prophets, yea, Christ and the apostles, let them hear them; I have given them grace sufficient already ; I shall do nothing more in order to their conversion, nothing at all, until they have believed.'
III. The scriptures represent God as having a determinate design in his goings forth in a way of grace, a design which shall never be frustrated. My counsel, saith the Lord, shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.—/ will work, and who shall let it? In the sending forth of his gospel, particularly, he speaks on this wise : For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but waterelh the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I file as e, and it shall firosper in the thing whereto I sent it.* But the scheme of P. if I understand it, supposes no such design. On the contrary, it supposes that God, in sending his Son into the world, and the gospel of salvation by him, never absolutely determined the salvation of one soul; that, notwithstanding any provision which he had made to the contrary, the whole world, after all, might have eternally perished; the Son of God might never have seen of the travail of his soul; the gospel might have been a universal savour of death unto death ; and the whole harvest of the divine proceedings an heafi in the day of grief, and of desperate sorrow !
To say that God designed to save believers, and therefore his design is not frustrated, is to say true, but not sufficient. For how if there had been no believers to save ? And there might have been none at all, according to this scheme; and so, instead of the serpent's head being bruised by the seed of the woman, Satan might, at last, have come off triumphant} and the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Sanctifier of men might have been baffled in all the works of their hands !
* Isa. xlvi. JO. xliii. 13. lv, 10,11.
IV. The character of the converted, during their carnal state, is frequently such as proves that their conversion is to be ascribed to sovereign, discriminating, and efficacious grace. It is not owing to any excellency in the objects, either natural or moral, that they are converted, rather than others. The apostle appeals to the Corinthians, in respect of the former kind of excellencies: For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God hath chosen the foolish— the weak—-and the base things of this world, to confound the wise, the mighty, See. And all this is said to be, That no flesh should glory in his firesence. But Of Him, continues the apostle, Are Ye In Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption; that he that glorieth may glory in the Lord*
God bestows converting grace without any respect to moral qualities. The chief of sinners are frequently brought to believe in Christ before others, who are far behind them in iniquity. Numberless examples might be produced of this. I shall only instance the case of those two famous, or rather, infamous cities, Jerusalem and Corinth. The one had been guilty of shedding the Redeemer's blood, and the other was a sink of abominations. And yet there were more believers in these cities than in almost any other. How this can be accounted for, but upon the supposition of sovereign and invincible grace, is difficult to say. For, whether the depravity of man is sufficient to overcome any grace that is not invincible, or not, it will be allowed, surely, to have a tendency that way. And if so, one should think, the greater the depravity of any jnan is, the more improbable must be his conversion. The worst of sinners, therefore, believing before others, appears to be altogether inexplicable on the scheme here opposed : but to sovereign and omnipotent grace every mountain becomes a plain; and to this the conversions in both these cities are afc tributed in scripture. Of the one it was promised, Thy people ple shall be willing in the day of thy power.
» l<3or.i, 25-aj.
As to the other, they were reminded, that, though they had been of the worst of characters, yet now they were washed—they were sanctified by the Spirit of God. And before their conversion, the Apostle was encouraged in preaching, by this testimony, I have -much people in this city.*
V. The scriptures represent the grace given by the Holy Spirit as being effectual; or as producing certain and abiding effects. One great difference between the covenant made with the whole nation of Israel at Sinai, and that which God promised to make with his elect under the gospel, appears to consist. in this; that the former only propounded things by way of moral suasion, but the latter not only admits of this, but provides for its becoming effectual: Behold, the days tome, sailh the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah : not according (0 the covenant that I made with their fathers—which covenant they brake.—But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and will be their God, and they shall be my fleople.\ This seems to constitute one essential difference between the law and the gospel; on account of which the one is called the letter, and the other the spirit. The one is a mere inefficient rule of right and wrong; the other makes provision for the bestowment of the Holy Spirit. It is observable also, that these promises which respect the first beginning of real good in the soul are in every respect absolute. When promises are made of things which follow after our believing, they are generally, if not always, connected with something good in the subject: thus it is promised, that the righteous shall hold on his way, and that they that endure to the end shall be saved.. But nothing of that kind is mentioned here.
If it is objected, that, after mention made of some such things in the prophecy of Ezekiel, it is added, Thus saith the Lord God, I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Jsrael, to do it for them:%
» Psa. ex. 3. 1 Cor. vi. 2. Acts xviii. 10.
t Jer. xxxi. 31—33. iiEzefe xxxvi. 26. 37,
I reply, It is granted that nothing is more reasonable than that every man should pray to God to create in him a clean heart, and renew in him a right spirit; and yet nothing is more certain than that no man ever did so pray in sincerity and truth, while under the dominion of sin. And if God, in the bestowment of a new heart, were to wait for this, not an individual would be found amongst the fallen race of man to be a recipient of his favour.* But how, then, are we to understand the passage before cited ? I answer, Does not the Lord there speak of what he would do for his church, in a way of increasing it with men like a flock? If giving a new heart, in the former part of the chapter, is to be understood of regeneration, God might make promises to them to renew souls for their enlargement, and these promises might be fulfilled in answer to their prayers, though not in answer to the prayers of the unregenerate.
VI. The apostle Peter (chap. i. ver. 2.) styles those to whom he wrote, Elect, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the S/iirit, Unto Obedience. Obedience, it should seem, in all its parts, according to this passage, is that of which election and the sanctification of the Spirit are the proper causes. By the first they are chosen to it; through the last they art fitted for it. Now P. must admit, that faith in Christ is not only the root of evangelical obedience, but that itself, being a duty, is a part of obedience. Hence it is, that believing in Christ is called obeying him, (Rom. x. 16. vi. 17. i. 5. Heb. v. 9.) and the contrary is represented as disobeying him. (2 Thes. i. 8, 9. 1 Pet. iv. 17.) It follows then, that, if election and the sanctification of the Spirit are the causes of our obedience, they must be the causes of our believing; and, consequently, must precede it, since the cause always precedes the effect. God Be Thanked, says the grateful Apostle, that ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you !f
VII. Whatever difference there is between us and others, we are taught, in the scriptures, to ascribe it all to God, and not to boast as if it were of ourselves: Are we better than they? no, in nowise.—By the grace of God I am what I am.— Who maketh thee to differ ? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now, if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?*
That there is a difference between believers and unbelievers, all will allow : but, if the question be asked, Who maketh thee to differ ? what must be the answer ? If the scheme of P. be true, I should think it must be a person's own self, and no; God. If he reply, ' No, I do not maintain that man, of himself, can do any thing spiritually good, it is all by the grace of God.' Be it so : this grace is supposed to be given indiscriminately to mankind in general. This, therefore, does not in the least alter the case. However the grace of God may be a remote cause of the good that is in me, yet it is easy to see, that, upon this supposition, it is no cause whatever of the difference between me and another. My unbelieving neighbour had, or might have had, as much grace given him as I; but either he did not ask it, or did not improve the stock imparted to him ; which I did. He resisted the Holy Spirit; but I was of a pliable temper, and yielded to his persuasions. I have, therefore, by a good improvement of the grace given or offered to me in common with my neighbour, to all intents and purposes, made myself to differ. But who am I personating ?—Philanthropos ?—No, surely ! It is the language of his creed, not of him : No, no, whatever may escape from the lip, or the pen,his heart must unite with ours, Not Unto us, Lord, Not Unto Us, But To Thy Name Give Glory i
If it is objected, The Apostle is writing to the Corinthians concerning spiritual gifts and advantages, and cutting off their vain boastings on that score, and not concerning spiritual dispositions; I answer, There is, in my opinion, considerable evidence of the contrary.f But, be that as it may, the reasoning with which this is effected is equally applicable to the latter as the former.
* Rom. iii. 19. 1 Cor. xv. 10. iv. 7.
f See Dr. Gill's Cause of God and Truth, Part II. Chap. IV. No. XV. and T)r. Guyse's paraphrase and note upon the text..
If there is any force in the Apostle's reasoning, it certainly implies thus much; that if, in any thing whatever, we do make ourselves to differ, then we have, so far, a ground for boasting ; and if, as believers, we make ourselves to differ from unbelievers, then boasting, in the affairs of our salvation, after all, is not excluded ; no, not by the law of faith.
I remember a noted writer admits as much as this, and maintains, that, though the primitive Christians had no reason to boast, or glory in their enjoyment of spiritual gifts, seeing they were immediately infused without human industry, and were dispensed by God, and by his Spirit, according to his good pleasure ; yet that is not the case in respect of virtue and pious dispositions : in these, he avers, we may boast; yes, in these we may glory in ourselves.* But I have too good an opinion of the humility of P. to imagine that such sentiments. can occupy his bosom. I cannot persuade myself that he has so learned Christ. I will venture to repeat it, whatever his hostile creed may affirm, his heart, especially in his near addresses to God, must accord with the Apostle : Of him, yes, Of Him, are ye in Christ Jesus.—He that glorieth, let him. glory in the Lord.\
• Dp. Whitby, on 1 Cor. iv. 17. "Tis true, the Doctor observes, " That we having our faculties from God, the action may well be ascribed, and the whole glory must be due to him." Indeed! If the -whole be due to him, how is it that we are entitled to a part? Besides, how does this ascribe the glory of our being made to differ to God ; seeing one is possessed of these faculties, as well as another ?
-j- The hinge of a great part of the controversy between us turns on the solution of the above subject. That there is a difference between one man and another, cannot be called in question. This difference is either to be ascribed to the grace of God, or to the goodness of the creature. tf to the former, the supposition of God's making no difference between one man and another must be given up: if to the latter, then boasting is not excluded, but cherished, even by the law of faith.
It may seem as if we were wanting in our Iove To Mankind ; and, by the name my opponent has assumed, he seems to wish to remind us of it, and to suggest the superiority of his system in point of philanthropy. But it is not for human passions to govern the divine conduct. We should rejoice in the salvation of the whole human race, if it pleased God; but the whole human race will not be finally saved. That is a fact admitted on both sides : and a fact which the utmost flow of phillanthropy cannot alter : the question then, with us, is, AVho deserve* the praise of the difference between one man and another'. If God has made no difference, we must have made it ourselves ; and to us must belong the glory of that difference to eternal ages.
But it is time for me to attend to the Reasonings and ObJections of P. upon this subject. Are there not passages of scripture, it may be asked, which represent the Spirit as being given to us after we believe ? Yes, there are; and to some of them P. refers us. (p. 22.)* To which it is replied, The Holy Spirit is said to be given in other respects, as well as for the purpose of regeneration. The Spirit was given for the endowing of the primitive Christians with extraordinary gifts and grace. See Acts xix. 2. And this is evidently the meaning of John vii. 39. The Spirit which they that believed on him were to receive was not yet given, because Jesus was Hot yet glorified. But surely the eleven Apostles were not till then, in every sense, destitute of the Spirit of God! Farther, The Holy Spirit was given as the enlightener, comforter, and sanctifier of true Christians. Thus Christ promised to send them the Comforter, to guide them into all truth; and this, it is apprehended, is the meaning of Ephes. i. 13, 14. After ye believed, ye were sealed, &c. The Apostle prayed for these Ephesians, (ver. 17.) that God would give them the Spirit of wisdom, Sec. We might as well infer from this, that they were, at that time, destitute of the Spirit of God, as, from the other, that they were so, in every sense, till after they believed. Much the same might be said of the other passages produced.
That men are the children of God by faith in Christ Jesusy is true; but I apprehend the godly sustain that character on two accounts. One is from their bearing the image of their heavenly Father, which is communicated in regeneration; the* Other is from their sharing the rights, privileges, and inheritance of the sons of God, which follow upon believing. The one is a wotk of grace upon us; the other an act of grace towards us. Both are mentioned by the evangelist John, (chap. i. 12, 1&) and the former, I apprehend, is there represented as being prior to the latter.
" The passages he has referred us to, are John vii, 38, 39. Ephes. i, 13,14. Gal. iii. 2.14.
As to the consequence which P. observes must follow-«-as, that a man must be " regenerated and condemned at the same time." (p. 22.) I answer, This proceeds upon the supposition of a period of time taking place between regeneration and coming to Christ. When we speak of one being prior to the other, we mean no more than as a cause is prior to an effect which immediately follows. A blind man must have his eyes open before he can see ; and yet there is no period of time between the one and the other. As soon as his eyes are opened, he sees. And thus, it is supposed, a man must be born again, in order to see the kingdom of God.* A man of a wicked temper of mind must be turned to be of another spirit, before he can love or choose that which is lovely : but yet there is ne supposable period of time between them; for no sooner is he turned, than he is of another spirit, and does love and choose different objects from what he did before.
If, however, P. should not be satisfied with this answer, let him reflect, that, if an absurdity remains, it is such a one as attends his own principles, equally with ours. He supposes we receive the Spirit after believing, and refers us for proof to Ephes. i. 13. After that ye believed, ye were sealed -aiitk that holy Sfiirit of promise, (p. 22.) Now the scripture is express, He that hath not the Spirit of Christ is none of his.f We might, therefore, retort, and ask, In what condition is a man when he has believed, and before he has received the Spirit of Christ ? He is supposed to be a believer, and therefore shall not come into condemnation; but yet, not having the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. To what master, then, does he belong ? and to what world must he go, if he should happen to die in this condition? 'But this is mere triflingI' Be it so: it is such as, when used against us, occupies the place of reasoning.
But " if men are regenerated before they come to Christ, then believing in Christ is not the mean of a sinner's recovery, but only a consequence of that recovery." (p. 23.) Coming to Christ is the mean of a sinner's enjoying the forgiveness of sins, with various other blessings, all included in the term life; (John v. 40.) but that is no proof that it is the mean of his regeneration; which it cannot be, unless, contrary to every law of nature to which regeneration alludes, spiritual motion *in precede, and be the means of spiritual life.
* John iii. 3. | Rom. viii. 9.
Perseverance is the mean of our enjoyment of eternal glory; but it does not thence follow, but that perseverance is a consequence of the grace of the Holy Spirit.
But if regeneration precede our coming to Christ, then ** men are excusable, it is supposed, in not coming; and it must be absurd to exhort them to it while they areunregenerate." (p. 22.) If I understand this reasoning, the amount of it is this : If men are so bad, that none but God can turn their hearts, then their badness becomes excusable ; and if, in our exhorting them, no hope is to be placed in them, then neither is there any to be placed in God ," Were I to enter the company of a malicious rebel, with a view to persuade him to go and cast himself at the feet of his abused sovereign, I should have no hope of succeeding, or of bringing him to a compliance, while he remained under the dominion of such a spirit. * Why, then,' it may be asked, ' do you exhort him to it, till you see his spirit changed ?' Why ? What if I go in hope of being instrumental in the changing of his spirit ? Suppose I urge upon him the goodness of the law he has broken, his wicked and unreasonable revolt, his great and imminent danger, and, above all, the clemency of the prince towards returning rebels ; suppose I conjure him, therefore, to go and submit to mercy : may not all this be done without imagining that going and submitting to mercy is a matter so easy, that it may be done by a person possessing a mind still under the dominion of wickedness ? May it not, rather, be done in the hope that such means may be succeeded to the reducing him to a. right spirit ?*
* But might we not, upon these principles, as well let them alone ? Some, I am aware, of very different sentiments from P. would say, we mighty and that such a mode of exhorting is only setting them to want, which tends to fill them with an idea of their men rigliteoumess. It is granted, if the works to which they are directed are mere external things, such as are " within the compass of a carnal heart," and such as they may go on in with ease ; then it may tend to lift them up with pride and self-sufficiency. But, if things which are spiritually good are pressed upon them, and they go about a compliance, it is. so fyr from having a, tendency to promote self-righteousness, that it is the most likely mean to destroy it. People who never try to repent, praj-, &c. generally think they can do these things at any time. Putting a person to the experiment, is the most likely way to convince him of his insufficiency, or, in other words, of his dreadful depravity; and if this is but effected, he will then cry in earnest to the strong for strength. I believe it is God's usual way thus to convince people of their insufficiency. While Saul went on in external services, be was at ease, alive, and in high spirits, not doubting but that all was right, and that he was doing God service; but a view of his great obligations to things spiritually good, discovered to him a world of iniquity of which he had never thought. It was from this period that his self-righteousness received its fatal wound: yes, then it was that sin revived, and he died. Rom. vii. 9. Now, if this is God's usual method of working, surely we ought not, as ministers, to set ourselves against it, but rather to concur with it.
It is worthy of remark, how well our opponents here agree amongst themselves. 'Tis true they differ in some respects : some think coming to Christ a matter so easy, that an unrenewed heart may, somehow or other, accomplish it; the others cannot think so, and, therefore, confine their exhortations to things of an external nature. But both agree in this, that men should not be exhorted to any thing but what may be done by an unregenerate heart; that is, by a heart at enmity with God» '* Surely," says P. " it cannot be sin for men, as depraved, not to attempt that which the word tells them they cannot perform." (p. 23.) And the reasonings of Mr. Button are frequently of the same tendency. But whether such a position be agreeable or contrary to the word of God, let the following passages, amongst many others, determine; Jer. vi. 8— 11. 15, 16. Matt. xii. 34. John v. 44, 45. viii. 43—46. Rom. viii. 8. 2 Pet. ii. 14. If Mr. Button should here complain, and say, he has acknowledged that " internal religion is required of men in general,"—I answer, If Mr. B. or any other minister does, indeed, exhort the carnal part of their auditory to any thing more than what is " within the compass of a carnal heart," then, it is acknowledged, they are not affected by what is above advanced.
This also may serve for a reply to what P. observes on " exhorting those who are in doubt of their conversion, to apply to Christ." (p. 25.) I think, with him, it is much better to direct such persons immediately to apply to Christ, than to set them about examining the evidences of their regeneration to the neglect of that. And though he is pleased to call this " absurd and ridiculous" upon my principles, yet he has not condescended to back that assertion with any thing like evidence. If regeneration were that which constituted our warrant to apply to Christ, his reasoning would be just; but if it is only a begetting in us a right spirit, a spirit to comply with the warrant which we already have, then there is no weight in it. All right action, whether corporeal or mental, must proceed from a right spirit; yet if a man were in doubt whether he was of a right spirit, which would be reckoned the most ridiculous, to exhort him to right action, or to set him to examine his spirit by rules of theory, and bid him wait till he found he was of a good spirit, and then perform a good action ? The latter would be pernicious, or, to say the least, perplexing; but a compliance with the former would be attended with both safety and satisfaction.
P. frequently makes mention of a passage from Mr. Caleb Evans, which I also had quoted, which is as follows: " The calls and invitations, the promises and threatenings of the word of God, are means which every one knows are in their own nature adapted to remove a moral indisposition of the mind, just as much as the prescriptions of a physician, or the operations of a surgeon, are suited to remove any natural disorder of the body." He also frequently speaks as if the reason why the gospel, rather than the law, succeeded to the conversion of a sinner was, because of this fitness, adaptedness, or innate tendency of which it is possessed. (p. 67.) But, it should be observed, Mr. Evans's words are not spoken simply of the gospel; they are spoken of the threatenings as well as the promises in the word of God, which, I should think, are no part of the gospel, though, as P. somewhere expresses it, they are necessarily attendant on it, and so make a part of the ministerial message.
Farther: Our dispute is not whether the gospel be a suitable mean in the hand of the Holy Spirit to convert a sinner, but whether it is sufficient in virtue of this its suitableness, to effect the change without an almighty and invincible agency attending it ? A sword is a suitable instrument to cause a wound; but it does not thence follow, that it is of itself sufficient to effect this without a hand to wield it. Three things I would here beg leave to offer: 1. The Holy Spirit can, and does make use of the law, as well as the gospel, in a sinner's conversion. Ihadnot known sin, says the apostle, but by the law.—The law is a schoolmaster, to bring us to Christ.9 2. If the success of the gospel is to be attributed to its suitableness, then, I suppose, it must be on account of its containing good tidings ; and so tending to slay men's native enmity, and to conciliate their hearts to God. But the scripture represents the human heart as equally prone to abuse God's mercy, as to despise his severity. Let favour be showed to the wicked, says the prophet, yet will he not learn righteousness: in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the Lord.\ The reason why men hate God is not because they consider him, in every sense, as their enemy : if so, could you but persuade them that God loved them, and Christ died for them, their enmity would subside. But is that indeed the case ? Do not the generality of men consider God as their friend ? nor can you persuade them that they are under his displeasure. Yet this has no tendency to remove their enmity. What they hate in God is that from which their hearts are wholly averse ; and that is, his true character. 3. The success which has attended the gospel is not ascribed to its supposed fitness to conciliate a sinner's heart, but to the power of Almighty God attending it. I hope this last has been sufficiently proved already. God ordered Moses to take a rod, and smite the rock. The rod, to fie sure, was the means of breaking the rock ; not, however, on account of its being equal to such an effect: the rock rather had a tendency to break the rod, than the rod the rock. But an almighty energy attended it from Him with whom all things are possible.
That the gospel is suited to the state of men, as fallen, is granted: (p. 23.) it is suited to their forlorn circumstances, but not to their evil propensities. It could not be of God, if it were. But to make believing in Christ something that may be done by a wicked mind, is to reduce the gospel to the latter, rather than the former; and this, contrary to the apostle's declaration, They that are in the flesh cannot please God.\
P. observes, that, if believing is the effect of regeneration, then men certainly " ought to be taught this truth;" and seems greatly to tremble for the consequences of such teaching (p.22.)
* Rom. vii. 7. Gal. iii. 24. f &»- xsvi. 10. i Rom. viii^8.
It is granted there is a way of conveying this sentiment which is very pernicious: nevertheless, I see no reason why we should scruple the publishing of the sentiment itself, in the course of our ministry. To tell a sinner he cannot love God, repent of sin, and come to Christ, is only another mode of telling him that he has the very heart of a devil, "But this is killing work." It is granted; and all my hope is, that God will please to succeed my labours, first to kill, and then to make alive. A conviction of our being utterly lost must precede an application to the Saviour. So long as a sinner can find any hope, or any help in himself, he will never fall at the feet of Christ, as utterly undone. The wholen need not a physician, but those that are sic,. If it tends to drive sinners to despair,it is such a despair as lies at the foundation of gospel-hope. The sinner may be alivewithout the law; but, if he live to God, the commandment must first come, sin, revive, and he die. So far froms hunning to declare this sentiment, humiliating as it is, I should rejoice, therefore, to see it propagated throughout the earth. That which renders it peculiarly offensive, is one thing on account of which it appears to me to be a truth; and that is, its laying the sinner absolutely at the divine discretion, and curring off all hope whatever, but what shall arise from the sovereignty of God.
ON NATURAL AND MORAL INABILITY.
On this subject I find it difficult to collect the real sentiments of P. Sometimes, he seems to admit of the distinction, and allow that i have written upon it with "perspicuity." (p.63.) At other times, he appears utterly to reject it, and to reason upon the supposition of there being no difference between the one and the other; and that to command a person to perform any thing with which it is not in the power of his heart to comply, (for this, he must know, h the only idea we have of moral inability,) is as unreasonable, unless grace is bestowed, as to " command a stone to walk, or a horse to sing." (p. 44.) If this is indeed the case, the distinction ought to be given up. Be that, however, as it may, whether there be any real difference between natural and moral inability, in point of blame-worthiness, or not, P. knows that I suppose there is: by what rule of fair reasoning, therefore, he could take the contrary for granted, is difficult to determine.
But, passing this, from the whole of what P. has written on this subject, I observe there are three things, which, somehow or other, either severally or jointly, are supposed to constitute even a moral inability blameless. One is, men could not avoid it; they were depraved and ruined by Adam's transgression ; another is, its being so great in degree, as to be insupi-rable; and the last is, if grace is not given, sufficient to deliver us from it. " If," says he, " men could never avoid it, and 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." (p. 67.)
The first two of these suppositions, be it observed, are admitted by P. as facts. Men are, he acknowledges, born in sin, and " their inability to do things spiritually good is real and total." (pp. 44. 57.) They cannot love God, nor keep his holy law. Now, these facts either do excuse mankind in their want of conformity to the law, or they do not. If they do not, why are they produced ? If they do, there is no need for what respects the last supposition. There is no need, surely, for grace to deliver men from a state wherein they are already blameless. The justice of God, one should think, would see to that, and prevent the innocent from being condemned. But let us give each of these subjects a separate consideration.
I. Men being Born In Sin, or inheriting their evil propensilies from Mam's fall. It has been observed already, that P. admits the fact: now, to admit this fact is, I should think, to admit a constituted union having taken place between Adam and his posterity. And yet the whole of what he says upon
P. thinks this matter so plain, it seems, that he even tells his correspondent, " neither he nor his friend (meaning me,) could imagine that a command given, and not obeyed, renders the subjects of such command criminal, unless these subjects have power, or might have power, to obey such command." (p. 43 ) If by " power" he had meant natural ability, I should certainly have accorded with the sentiment; but it is very plain he means to apply it to moral, as well as natural ability; and then he is certainly mistaken. For I not only can imagine that to be the case, but do verily believe it. Yea, I can scarcely think that P. himself can believe the contrary ; at least,"he will not, he cannot, abide by its just and necessary consequences. If what he says be true, it is either possible that no offences should come, or else no woe is due to those by whom they come.* It must likewise follow, that every man has, or might have, power to live entirely blameless through life, both towards God and towards man ; for be it so, that some degree of imperfection will continue to attend him, yet that imperfection, being supposed to be " a necessary effect" of the fall, cannot be blameworthy : (p. 67.) and so it is possible for a fallen son of Adam to live and die blameless, and, consequently, to appear in his own righteousness without fault before the throne of God. These consequences, however anti-scriptural and absurd, are no more than must inevitably follow from the position of Philanthropos.
" According to my principles," I am told, " men's moral inability is invincible." (p. 68.) If I have used that term in the former treatise, or the present, it is for want of a better. It is easy to see, that my principles do not so much maintain that the moral inability of men is such as to render all their attempts to overcome it vain, as that sin hath such a dominion in their heart as to prevent any real attempts of that nature being made. If a whole country were possessed by a foreign enemy, and all its posts and avenues occupied by his forces, and all the inhabitants dead, that so much as wished to oppose him; in that case, to say, his power was become invincible by any opposition from that country would hardly be proper; seeing all opposition there is subdued, and all the country are of one side.
* Luke xvii. 1.
Invincible is a relative term, and supposes an opposition made, though made in vain. But moral inability is of such a nature, where it totally prevails, as to prevent all real and direct opposition being made. It is the same thing as for the hearts of the sons of men to be fully set in them to do evil—to be full of evil, while they live ; for every imagination of the heart to be only evil, and that continually.* Now, if we say, this moral indisposition is invincible, it is for the want of a better term. What we affirm is this, rather; that, suppose it were conquerable, there is nothing of real good in the sinner's heart to conquer it. If sin is conquered by any efforts of ours, it must be by such as are voluntary. It is not enough, that we are " rational beings," and that conscience suggests to us what ought to be : (p. 66.) we must choose to go about it, and that in good earnest, or we shall never effect it. But where the thoughts of the heart are only evil, and that continually, it is supposing a plain contradiction, to suppose ourselves the subjects of any such volition, or desire.
III. But it will be said, Though moral inability is total, yet it is conquerable by The Grace Of God ; and this grace is given to every man in the world, or would be given, were he to ask it: and this it is which renders men inexcusable. (p. 66.) Without this, P. avows, that " any man, be his practices as vile as they may, may excuse himself from blame ; and all real good whatever may be denied to be the duty of an unprincipled mind." (p. 59.) This seems to be his last and grand resort, and what he often dwells upon. The discussion of this subject will finish the present Section.
I bless God that moral inability is indeed conquerable by the grace of God, though I question whether it is, or ever was, conquered by what P. calls by that name. But suppose, for argument's sake, we grant him his hypothesis, I question if it will answer his end. This grace is either actually given to ail mankind, or would be given upon their application. If actually given, I should be glad to know what it is. Is it light in the understanding, or love in the heart ? Is it any thing, or productive of any thing, that is truly good ?
•Eccles.viii.il. ix. 3. Gen. vi. S.
If so, how does this accord with the description given of men, that their minds are darkness, their hearts enmity, and that there is none of them that doeth good, no not one ?* Or is it something for which there is no name, a sort of seed sown in the heart, which, if neglected, will perish, but, if watered by human industry, will be productive ? If so the difficulty is not at all removed; for then the question is, Whether a mind so depraved as to be totally unable to do any thing spiritually good, will ever be inclined to improve that grace, to water the seed, so as that it may bring forth fruit ?
If the last member of the position be adopted, viz. that all mankind might have grace sufficient to overcome their moral inability, if they would apply for it; still the question returns, Will a mind totally destitute of any thing spiritually good, and fully set upon doing evil, apply to God for grace to such an end ? Is it not inconsistent for a tree that is wholly evil, to bring forth good fruit ? Or are we to imagine, after all, that Satan will rise up against himself? To apply to God in any right manner for grace for the cure of an evil propensity, must suppose a desire to have that propensity cured ; but to suppose a person totally under the dominion of a propensity, and at the sam» time properly and directly desiring to have such propensity removed, is what some people would call by the hard name of self-contradiction.f
Farther; I query if the hypothesis of P. instead of answering his end, will not be found subversive of itself, and destructive of his main design. Making this supposed grace the only thing which constitutes men accountable beings, is making it Debt, surely, rather than Grace. I have too good an opinion of the humility and integrity of P. to imagine he intends merely to compliment the Almighty in calling it grace; but I think it becomes him to examine his scheme, and see whether it amounts to any thing less. Grace is free favour towards the unworthy. It supposes the subject destitute of all claim whatever, and the author to be free to give or to withhold. But all that this supposed grace amounts to is, not to prove that God has done any thing more than he was bound to do, but, barely, that he has done what he had a right to expect, or else to be at liberty to throw off his yoke with impunity.
* Epbes. v. 8. Rom. viii. 7. iii. 12.
f See President Edwards on the Witt, Part III. Sect. V. on sincere endeavours.
It does not, therefore, at all prove Jehovah to be gracious; if it serve for any thing, it can be only to justify his character from the imputation of injustice and cruelty, or from being what P. calls " a merciless tyrant." (p. 88.)
But farther i I question if even this end will be answered by it. I question if it will not be found, upon the principles and reasonings of P. that this supposed grace, instead of being any real favour towards mankind, is the greatest curse that could ever befal them. If Christ had never come, and no grace had been given in him, then, according to the reasoning of P. men had never been responsible for any part of their conduct. They would, it is true, have been born depraved, and lived depraved ; but, having no power to avoid it, or to free themselves from it, " where," he asks, " would have been their criminality ?" (pp. 44. 57.) He does not scruple to acknowledge, that, if no grace were provided, " any man, be his practices as vile as they might, might excuse himself from blame : and all real good whatever might be denied to be the duty of an unprincipled mind." (p. 59.) Now, if things are so, that men without the bestowment of grace, would have been free from criminality ; surely the righteousness of God could never have suffered them to be sent to hell, and the goodness of God, we may suppose, would have raised them to eternal life ; and so they might have been innocent and happy, if Jesus had never died : but now, alas ! in consequence of his coming, and of grace being given them, to deliver them from something wherein they were never blameworthy ; now they lie all exposed to inexcusable blame and everlasting ruin ! ! !*
• When I consider the above positions, I am entirely at a loss to understand the following' passage : "It is granted, Sir, that God might justly have left man in the state he was born in, and brought into by Adam's sin, whatever state that be." (p. 57.) What such a state would have been P. does not determine: he. seems here to consider it, however, as deserving some sort of punishment; otherwise there is no meaning-in that comparative mode of speaking, which he so frequently uses, of being punished Mohe severely. But does P. really mean what he writes ? Compare this passage with what he has asserted in pages 44. 57. 59. and it amounts to nothing less than this—that it -would have been just in God to have punished the human race by acquitting them vf all blame, and bringing them in guiltless ! ? J.Cor.xy.3—17.
P. speaks of the " almighty and all-gracious God being represented as contriving to make poor sinners miserable under the colour of invitations," &c. (p. 45.) I delight not in the use of such expressions; they appear to me, to say the least, as bordering on irreverence. But, if such language must be used, and such consequences urged, let the reader judge to whose sentiments they belong; to those of P. or mine. •
That Christ died for our Sins, according to the scriptures, is allowed by P. and, I should think, by every Christian, to be a fundamental doctrine of Christianity. (p. 34. note.) The apostle, doubtless, considered this, and his resurrection from the dead, in such a light, when he concluded, that, if the opposite were true, the faith of the Corinthians was vain, and they were yet in their sins* But, fundamental as these sentiments are, if the scheme of P. be true, the first of them must, of necessity, be false. If his sentiments are true, Christ did not come into the world To Save Men From Sin, But RaTher TO PUT THEM INTO A CAPACITY OF SINNING J AS IT IS IN OONSt'qUhNC". OF HIS DEATH, AND THAT ALONE, THAT GUILT
Becomes Chargeable Upon Them. So far from being yet in\ their sins, if Christ had neither died for them, nor risen from the dead, they had then been incapable of sinning at all, and ought not to have been accountable to God, let their practices have been what they might!
It is possible the reader may be startled at the imputation of such consequences as the above; and, truly, they are of such a nature as ought to startle not the reader only. ' But are not things carried to an extreme ?' If they are, it is un* known to me : but let us go over the ground again, and see. P. supposes, 1. That man was so reduced by the fall, as to be " really and totally unable to do good." (p. 57.) 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: (pp. 44. 57. 59.) yea, " let his practices have been as vile as they might, he would have been excusable." (p. 59.) But, 3. That God has not left him in this condition. He has sent his Son to die for all men universally; and, by giving, or, at least, offering, his Spirit to all men, he removes the inability which they derived from the fall; and from hence they become accountable beings, and are inexcusable, if they do not comply with things spiritually good. (p. 66.) If words have any meaning, I should think these are the real sentiments of P. Now, if these be true, it must follow, that Christ did not die for the Sins of any man, except it were Adam ; since none of the fallen race could have sinned, if he had never died. The reasonings of P. suppose that men are not chargeable with sin, or blameworthiness, independently of the death of Christ and the grace of the gospel: and, if so, it could not be to atone for sin that he laid down his life ; for, prior to the consideration of this, there was no sin for which he could have to atone.
If I have unhappily adopted an indefensible mode of reasoning, let it be fairly confuted. Till I see that done, I shall continue to think the sentiments of P. on this subject eversive of one of the fundamental principles of Christianity.
There is a thought on which P. repeatedly insists. It is this, that, " supposing it to be just to punish men eternally for that depravity which they derive from their first parents, (this, however, is more than he in fact will allow,) yet it is very hard that any addition should be made to the obligations they lie under, and that punishments should be annexed to these obligations which they have no power either to regard or avoid." (p. 45.) He often speaks of the injustice of punishing those who enjoy gospel-opportunities, and neglect them, " more severely than if they had never enjoyed them, if they had not power sufficient to have embraced them." (p. 57.) To all which I reply,
It seems, if men had but power to comply, all this injustice would subside. Well: we affirm they have power. They have the same natural ability to embrace Christ, as to reject him. They could comply with the gospel if they would. Is any thing more necessary to denominate them accountable beings ? We believe not; and perhaps, in fact, P. believes the same. In some places, however, he appears to think there is. Well: what is it ? If any thing, it must be an inclination, as well as an ability. Now, would P. be willing to have his objection thus stated: It is hard that new obligations should be laid upon persons who have no inclination to what they already lie under ? If so, it will afford final unbelievers a powerful plea at the last day. ' No,' it will be said, 'they might have had an inclination, if they would:' but let it be considered, whether any thing like this is revealed in scripture, and whether it is not repugnant even to common sense. If they had been willing, they might, or would, have been willing: that is the amount of it, which is saying just nothing at all. But, passing this,
Whoever be right, he or I, neither of us ought to take our own hypothesis for granted, and proceed to charge the consequences upon the other. And yet this is what P. has done. The whole force of his reasoning in p. 45, and divers other places, rests upon the supposition of that being true which is a matter of dispute ; viz. that natural power is not power, and is not sufficient to denominate men accountable beings. His Statement of the above objection takes this for granted: whereas this is what we positively deny, maintaining that natural power is power, properly so called, and is, to all intents and purposes, sufficient to render men accountable beings; that the want of inclination in a sinner is of no account with the Governor of the world ; that he proceeds in his requirements, and that it is right he should proceed, in the same way as if no such disinclination existed. If this can be solidly disproved, let it: it will be time enough then to exclaim of injustice and cruelty, and to compare the Divine Being to an Egyptian taskmaster, or to " a wicked Rehoboam." (p. 92.)*
* I wish P. had spoken of the Divine Being, here, and in some other plaoes, in language more becoming a worm of the dust. I have no objection to the consequences of a sentiment being fairly pointed out, and thoroughly urged; but, suppose such a consequence aa this had been just, it might have been urged in more sober language. Surely it is too much for a creature to talk of his Creator being wicked ! But I have no conviction, at present, of such a consequence being just If it be, it must be upon this supposition, that not capacity and opportunity, but inclination to do good, is analogous to the straw with which the Israelite! ought to have been furnished, for the making of brick.
The question appears, to me, to be this, Is it unrighteous in God to do right, because he knows men will be sure from thence to take occasion to do wrong, and aggravate their own destruction ? God knew assuredly, that all the messages sent to Pharaoh would only harden his heart, and aggravate his ruin : / am sure, said Jehovah to his servant, that the king of Egyfit will not let you go ; no, not by a mighty hand: and yet he did not, in the least, hold himself obliged either to give him grace that should soften his heart, or to discontinue his messages, which, without such grace, were certain to issue in the aggravation of his ruin. ' But Pharaoh could have complied, if he would.' We grant it: and so could they who reject Christ. They are under no other necessity in the one case, than Pharaoh was in the other.
Whatever dissimilarity there may be between the condition of fallen angels and that of sinners in the present life, who will finally perish; the case of the former sufficiently serves to refute the supposition of P. The redemption of man has certainly been an occasion of a world of guilt to those revolted spirits. Had not Christ come, Satan could never have had an opportunity to have sinned in the manner he has, in tempting him, instigating his murderers, and, all along, opposing the spread of his kingdom. But would it be right, therefore, for Satan, in behalf of himself and his associates, to plead in this manner at the great assize—' Why were we not confined to the deep? Seeing no mercy was designed for us, where was the justice of suffering us to range in the world, where it was certain we should only increase our guilt, and so be punished the more severely ? Surely our first revolt was enough for us, without being suffered to go any farther ?'
If the reasoning of P. on this subject, particularly in p. 57, prove any thing, it will prove, not merely that sinners ought not to be punished more severely ; but that, if it were not for grace provided for them, they ought not to be punished at all. In that case one should think, the greatest grace would have been to have let them alone, and left them under the ruins of the fall: then had they been blameless and harmless, without rebuke, and, consequently, unexposed to misery, either here or hereafter.
After all, I question if P. really means any thing more by his notion of grace, than we do by natural ability. We allow this subject proceeds from the supposition of no such union taking place ; for he, all along, speaks of Adam and his descendants in a separate capacity. Thus he insists upon it, that " we could not be to blame for what we could not avoid ;" -with many passages of the like kind. Very true : but, if the notion of a union between Adam and his posterity be admitted, then it cannot properly be said, we could not avoid it: for, in that case, he was the head, and we the members; the whole constituting one body, or, as it were, one person. A union of this nature must either be admitted, or denied; if admitted, why consider the descendants of Adam in a separate capacity ?—If denied, why speak of inheriting any thing from him, unless it were by ill example ?
Infants are not to blame in a personal capacity: but, if there be a union between the parent of mankind and his posterity, through which their depravity is derived, as it is supposed there is, they must be to blame relatively. No owe, I suppose, can be to blame in a personal capacity, till he is capable of the knowledge of right and wrong; but it does not follow from thence, that, till then, he is, in every sense, blameless ; for that would be the same thing as to be sinless : and if so, I see not how they can be said to be born in sin. If there is not blame somewhere, it will be very difficult to account for the misery and death to which infants are exposed ; and for the apostle's mode of reasoning, who first asserts, that before the Mosaic law sin was in the world, and then proves this assertion by the reign of death, " even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression."*
That this is a difficult and awful subject, is allowed ; and so is the introduction of moral evil into the world, be it upon what hypothesis it may. It is a subject, however, which, in my apprehension, I must either admit, or reject the authority of the Bible : and when I had done that, my difficulties, in^ stead of being diminished, would be abundantly increased. I therefore admit it, upon the credit of divine revelation; and herein, it seems, I have the happiness to agree with P. He admits that men become sinners in consequence of Adam's fall. The question, then, between us seems to be this;
* Rom. v. 13,14.
Whether to be a sinner is the same thing as to be a subject of blame; or, whether there be a sort of sin which has nothing blameworthy in it, and a sort of sinners who, nevertheless, are blameless beings ?
P. admits of our being born with imflure firopensities, and yet supposes these propensities in themselves to be blameless. He reckons the whole blame to lie, not in being the subject of these propensities, but in the exercise and indulgence of them, (pp. 65, 66.) I confess I cannot understand how this can consist either with his own sentiments, or with the nature of things. Not with his own sentiments; for he allows that " men are ruined and defiraved by Adam's fall." But how cah we be ruined and depraved by that which does not, in any sense, constitute us blameworthy ? What though we derive impure propensities from him, yet, if these propensities are innocent, how can they ruin us? how can they deprave us? Our depravity must consist in, and our ruin arise from, that which constitutes blame, and that alone ; and if blame lies merely in the indulgence of impure propensity, and not in being the subject of the thing itself, why, then, it is there we have to look for the beginning of depravity and ruin, and nowhere else. How far these sentiments will agree likewise with the doctrine of human depravity, which P. assures us he by no means intended to oppose, may deserve his attention.
Farther: I see not how the above sentiments can consist with the nature of things. If blame does not lie in being the subject of an evil disposition, 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. And tiiis is what P seems to allow ; for he extends blamelessness not only to evil dispositions, but to all their " necessary effects." (p. 67.) Now, there is either a possibility of that exercise being totally avoided, or there is not: there is either a possibility, for instance, of a person living all his life without a foolish thought, Of there is not. If there is, then there is a possibility of going through life in a sinless state; and if so, how are we depraved by Adam's fall? If there js.not, then, it must follow, that the exercise of evil dispositions may be blameless, as well as the dispositions themselves'; and, contrary to the decision of holy scripture, that the thought of foolishness is not sin.
We may go on to distinguish an evil propensity from its exercise, till we use words without ideas; for what is an evil propensity, but an evil bias, or a bias of the soul towards evil ? And whether it is possible to conceive of an inactive propensity in a rational being, is doubtful with me. But suppose we may, the common sense of mankind never teaches them so to distinguish them, as to excuse the one, and place all blameworthiness in the other. An impure propensity is an impure temper of mind ; and a propensity to revenge is the same thing as a revengeful temper: but tempers of this description are so far from being excusable, that there is nothing mankind are more apt to censure. 'Tis true they cannot censure them but as they see them discovered, because they have no other method of knowing the evil stock but by its evil branches; but, when they do discover them, they seldom fail to curse both root and branch.*
Neither do people think of excusing a churlish, haughty, or covetous temper in any man, because of his father's being so before him. On the contrary, they often turn that very circumstance to his reproach. ' You are a villain,' say they, 4 by nature, and all your family were so before you.' If men offend one against another, strict inquiry is made whether the offence proceeded from an evil disposition, or from mere inadvertency ; and, according as this is found, allowances are made. But I know not that it is ever asked, how the party came by his evil disposition : that is a matter introduced into divinity, where God is the object offended ; but it cannot be admitted into the common affairs of life, between man and man.
• 'Tis time, there are certain propensities which constitute a part of our nature, as men, and which, therefore, are simply natural; the ex~ cessive indulgence whereof is, nevertheless, sinful Tims, emulation, in itself, is natural ; but, carried to excess, it becomes pride. Thus, also, the love of pleasure is, in itself, natural; but, carried to excess, it becomes voluptuousness, &c. &c. But P. cannot jusily pretend, that when he makes blame to consist not in the propensity itself, but in the exercise or indulgence of it, he means these natural propensities ; because he speaks of them as derived from Adam's fall, which these are not; and calls them impure, whereas these, in themselves considered, are a part of human nature in its purest state.
Now, if the common sense of mankind never leads them to take this circumstance into consideration in matters between themselves, it is, at least, a presumptive argument, that it will not bear advancing in matters of offence against God. Out of thine own mouth will J judge thee, thou wicked servant.
That evil dispositions are, in themselves, blameworthy, notwithstanding their derivation from our first parents, not only accords with the common sense of mankind, but also with the word of God. The word of God requires us to love him with all the heart, soul, mind, and strength ; but to love God in this manner supposes the absence of all evil propensity to rebel against him, and of every approach towards a spirit of contrariety to him. It must follow, then, so long as this holy law of God is allowed to be an " infallible test of right and wrong," (p. 67.) that such a propensity is, in itself, sinful, being directly contrary to its righteous requirements. It is not merely a something which " leads to evil tempers," (as P. speaks, p. 66.) but it is itself an evil temper of the mind ; a temper that can take no delight in God, or in any thing that bears his holy likeness.
Farther: His idea of blameworthiness, if I understand it, agrees to nothing but positive acts of sin ; the exercise or indulgence of an evil propensity can agree to nothing else. Now, according to this, there is no such thing as sin or blame in that universal want of love to God, which has place in all unregenerate men, and to an awful degree in good men ; for that, strictly speaking, is not so much a positively evil disposition, as it is the absence of a good one. But, if the law of God is the " test of right and Wrong," this must, nevertheless, be found sinful; for it is the very reverse of what that law requires. If there is nothing blameworthy in the want of a heart to love God, nor even in a propensity to hate him, then, surely, the moral law must he abrogated by man's apostacy; and can be no longer to us " the standard of right and wrong."
The law is said to have entered, that (he Offence might abound; and by the law is the knowledge of sin* The onlycertain rule, therefore, of determining what is sin, is %o inquire into the extent of that unerring rule.
* Rom. v. 20. iii. 20.
Now, the law, as given in the decalogue, requires love to God with all the heart, without making any allowance for our being born destitute of a disposition so to do. It should seem, therefore, that God considered the want of a disposition to love him as offensive; and gave the law, which requires such a disposition, that that offence might abound, or be made manifest. But if there be nothing blameworthy in it, there can be nothing offensive; and if no offence exists, none can be made to abound.
P. allows my " reasonings on the extent of the moral law to be very conclusive." This, I should think, is rather extraordinary ; but this is not all: he thinks " it would most certainly contribute much, under the blessing of God, to the conversion of sinners, if a due regard were always paid to it." (p. 67.) But, according to the reasoning above, I see no such tendency it could have. For the carnal mind of man is enmity against God, and is not subject to the law of God, neither in . deed can it be; and they were born in this condition. How, then, could it promote rational conviction ? -Whatever tendency it might have to bring them to love the Saviour, it must be at the expense of their regard for the Lawgiver. Yea, it must fill them with greater enmity against him, to hear of his requiring that of them which is not reasonable, in their present circumstances, should be required. If they are taught to consider the Lawgiver of the world as resembling a cruel Egyptian task-master, and the Saviour as one who came into the world to deliver them, by repealing his rigorous edicts; then they may love the one, and hate the other. But if the Saviour is viewed in his true character, as not coming to abrogate the law, but to magnify, and make it honourable; to condemn the sinner's conduct, while he saves his soul; then they cannot hate the one, without equally hating the other.
" I do not know," says P. " that the scripture ever blames man, much less condemns him, because he is born impure, or because he is the subject of impure propensities." (p. 65.) As to the actual execution of condemnation, it is not for me to say, how far the mercy of God will be extended. If those who die before their evil propensities are reduced to action are all saved, I suppose they are saved through the mediation of Christ, and not taken to heaven on the footing of personal innocency. But, in respect to blame-worthiness, I remember a man who once took blame and shame to himself for his original impurity; bringing it in amongst his penitential confessions, that he was shapen in iniquity, and conceived in sin; and that, surely, with an intention not to excuse, but to aggravate his crimes. In the same Psalm, and in the next sentence, after acknowledging the depravity of his nature, the penitent Psalmist adds, Thou desireth truth in the inward parts ; which, I should think, must intend the opposite of that in which he had just confessed himself to have been conceived and shapen.* Farther: we are said to have been, by nature, the children of wrath :| but one should suppose, there could be no wrath due to us, if no blame were found in us.
P. asserts, that, in respect of the impurity of our nature, we -are under a natural inability of avoiding it; which, therefore, must be innocent. (p. 65.) But to call such an inability as this natural, is, I apprehend, to apply the term in such a manner as tends to produce a confusion of ideas. Whatever defect attends any man, which is simply natural, it must belong to some constituent part of his nature, or of that which constitutes him a man. If the definition which I have heretofore given of natural ability be just, (and this P. has fully acknowledged, p. 64.) it must be either a defect in ' rational faculties, or bodily powers, or opportunity to put those faculties, or powers, in exercise.' But neither purity nor impurity, come by them how we may, are any constituent parts of human nature ; a defect, therefore, in that matter, cannot, with propriety, be called a natural defect. The depravity of our hearts is not owing to natural weakness, either of body or mind, nor yet to the want of opportunity to know and glorify God. When we speak of it as being the sin of our nature, we use the term in a very different sense from what we do, when speaking of natural inability. By the sin of our nature, we mean, not any thing which belongs to our nature as human, but what is, by the fall, so interwoven with it, -as if it were, though, in fact, it is not, a part of it; and so deeply rooted. in our souls as to become natural, as it were, to us.
• Pi*. li. 5, 6. f Ephes. ii. 3..
But it will be said, ' It must be a natural inability ; for it is not at our option whether we will be born pure or impure : it is, therefore, what we cannot avoid, in any sense whatever.' To this it is replied, as before, There is no justice, or fairness, in considering mankind as united to Adam, or not united, just as it may serve a purpose. If they are not to be considered as one, why speak of inheriting impure propensities ? If they are, why speak of them in a separate capacity ? To admit of a union between Adam and his posterity, and, at the same time, keep exclaiming, ' We could not avoid being sinners ; we are not to blame, and ought not to suffer;' is as unreasonable as if a criminal should complain, at the hour of execution, that he was to be hanged by the neck, for what he had stolen with his hands. Whatever difficulty may attend us in this part, it is a difficulty that belongs not to the doctrine of natural and moral inability, but to that of original sin; a difficulty, therefore, which affects us no more than it does those who differ from us.
II. The next thing which P. considers as contributing to render even a moral inability blameless is, its being so great in degree, as to become insuperable. According to my principles, he says, our moral inability is invincible; and insists upon it, that, if so, it is excusable. " No man," says he, blames a lion, because he has not the disposition of a lamb : and if a lion had the understanding of a man, yet, if he could not alter his native ferocity, he would certainly be as unblameable as he is without understanding." The same reasoning holds good in all other instances? (p. 68.) To all which it is replied, If he mean that they cannot but sin, though they would do otherwise never so fain, it is granted all this reasoning is fair and just: it would then be a natural inability, and, therefore, excusable. But, if this were all he meant, it would amount to nothing. If he mean any thing to the purpose, any thing different from that which he opposes, it must be this: that, if their hearts are so set in them to do evil, that, though they could do otherwise, if they would, yet they will not, but will be sure, in every instance, to choose the wrong path; Then they must, of course, be excusable. And, if this be what he maintains, his reasoning appears, to me, not only inconsist* ent, but extravagant.
P. must know, surely, that, when the terms cannot, inability, &c. are used in these connexions, they are used, not in a proper, but in a figurative sense; that they do not express the state of a person hindered by something extraneous to his own will, but denote what we usually mean by the phrase. cannot find in his heart; that depravity is not natural to us, in the same sense as ferocity is to a lion; that it is rather the ruin and disgrace of our nature, than any part of it: and that, therefore, such comparisons are but ill adapted to illustrate the subject.
We suppose that the propensities of mankind to evil are so strong as to become invincible by every thing but omnipotent grace: but, whether that is allowed, or not, I think it must be allowed, that they are such as to render spiritual exercises very difficult; at least, they have some tendency that way. Now, if the above reasoning be just, it will follow, that, in proportion to the degree of that difficulty, the subjects thereof ought to be excused in the omission of spiritual exercises. P. supposes, that, in this case, there is no difference between natural and moral inability; and his argument proceeds, all along, upon this supposition. Now, we know, that in all cases where impediments are simply natural, it is not at all more evident than an entire inability amounts to a full excuse, than that & great difficulty excuses in a great degree. If, therefore, such reasoning be just, it must follow that men are excusable in exact proportion to the strength of their evil propensities ; that is, they are excusable in just the same proportion as, according to the common sense of mankind, they are internally wicked, or culpable !
If we suppose a man, for example, in his younger years to have had but very little aversion from Christ, and his way of salvation: he is then exceedingly wicked for not coming to him. As he advances in years, his evil propensities increase, and his aversion becomes stronger and stronger; by this time, his guilt is greatly diminished. And, if it were possible for him to become so much of a devil as for his prejudices to be utterly invincible, he would then, according to P. be altogether innocent .'*
• See President Edwards on tte Will, Part III. Sect. III.
vox. 1. Sn
sidle things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse* 3. The manner in which the godly have prayed for grace to fulfil their duty, and to preserve them from sin, shows that they considered themselves as obliged to duty, and as liable to sin, antecedently to its bestowment. Thou hast commanded us that we should keep thy precepts diligently : O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes I— We know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself helpeth our infirmities.—Hold ufl my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not.— 0 that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me !—Keep back thy servant from presumptuous sins: then shall I be innocent from the great transgression.\ 4. Fallen angels are under a moral inability to love God, or to do any thing that is really good, and no grace is provided for them ; yet they are without excuse.
P. informs us of some unsuccessful conferences which he has frequently had with unconverted sinners, in endeavouring, upon Calvinistic principles, to fix blame upon their consciences. (p. 60.) If I had had the pleasure of being a bystander in one or more of those conferences, I imagine I should have seen a very easy conquest: and no wonder; people seldom manage to the best advantage those principles which they do not believe. We too often see this exemplified, when a controversy is written in the form of a dialogue.
I do not apprehend that P. intended to plead the cause of the infernal legions in their continued enmity to, and rebellion against the Most High ; but, if I am not greatly mistaken, the purport of his reasoning is fully of that tendency. There is only one particular wanting; viz. deriving their depravity from a predecessor, to render all their iniquities, according to his reasoning, entirely excusable. They cannot now find in their hearts to do aught but evil: and, no grace being bestowed upon them to deliver them, wherein can consist their blame ?
• Rom. i. 19, 20.
t Psa. cxix. 4, 5. Rom. viii. 26. Psa. xvii. 5. 2 Cbron. iv. 10. Psa. xix. 13.
It is true, each of them brought his depravity upon himself, without deriving it from another; and this may prove them to have been to blame in their first revolt, but not in any thing that follows. They sinned, to be sure, at the beginning : but, if the reasoning of P. be just, I do not see how they can have sinned'/rom it. He insists upon it, that, in these cases, there is no difference between a natural and moral inability ; " for what we cannot do, we cannot do." (p. 60.) Now, in all cases of natural inability, the party is excusable, even though he may, by his own fault, have brought that inability upon himself. If a man, by debauchery, or excess, bring upon himself an utter disability for all future employment ; it is not then his duty to do the same business which it was before. It is true, it does not excuse his former intemperance ; for in that he was to blame : but it excuses his present cessation from business : for that he is not to blame ; nor can any person blame him. This will hold good in all cases of natural ability whatever ; and, if there is no difference between that and what is of a moral nature, the same reasoning will apply to the fallen angels. They were certainly to blame for their first revolt, by which they contracted their inability; but how can they be to blame for continuing what they are ? Their propensity to evil is now become invincible, and no grace is bestowed upon them, to deliver them from it; how, then, can they be to blame ? And if truth is of a like force in all places, and at all times, why should not the ploughboy's argument, as it is called, " What we cannot do, we cannot do," be as irrefragable in the language of an apostate angel, as of an apostate man ?
ON FAITH IV CHRIST BEING A REQUIREMENT OF THE MORAL LAW.
I FIND it difficult to come at the real sentiments of P. touching the moral law. Sometimes, he speaks of it as "an invariable rule of human conduct, and infallible test of right and wrong;" (p. 67.) at other times, he speaks of it as wholly abrogated; as if final misery was not brought upon sinners by their transgression of the law, but by their rejection of the overtures of mercy." (p. 86.) In his Ninth Letter, he admits that men " are bound, as subjects of God's moral government, to embrace whatever he reveals." (p. 89.) One should think, that, if so, a rejection of the overtures of mercy must itself be a transgression of the law. And yet he, all along, speaks of our obligations to obey the gospel as arising, if not wholly, yet chiefly, from the gospel itself. He does not seem willing to deny the thing in full; for he cautiously uses the terms " wholly and chiefly :" and yet, if his arguments, especially from the contrary nature of the two dispensations, (p. 90.) from the silence of scripture, &c. Sec. prove any thing, they will prove, that our obligations to obey the gospel must arise wholly and entirely from the gospel itself, and not from the moral law.*
The purport of all the reasoning of P. on this subject supposes me to maintain, That Men Are Exhorted And Invited
TO SUCH AND SUCH THINGS, MERELY AS MATTER OF DUTT, WITHOUT ANY PROMISE OF SALVATION ON THEIR COMPLIANCE.
Hence he speaks of " binding men down in chains of darkness ;" of their " seeking the salvation of their souls in vain;" (p. 46.) with various things of the kind : whereas I have given sufficient proof of the contrary throughout the former treatise; particularly in pp. 102—104.
• That there is a. sense in which our obligation to comply with the gospel does arise from the gospel itself, is allowed. On this subject I have given my thoughts in the former treatise, p. 41.
It is, all along, supposed that eternal salvation is promised by a faithful God to any and every exercise of what is spiritually good; and that, if every sinner who hears the gospel were truly to come to Christ for salvation, every such sinner would undoubtedly be saved.
It mmst be upon this mistaken supposition, that P. denies the gospel upon our principles to be in itself " good news." (p. 92.) or, in its own nature, a " real privilege." (p. 87.) But, unless the aversion of men's hearts from embracing the gospel, (if grace is not provided, to enable them to do so,) makes that to be no privilege which would otherwise be so, such a consequence cannot justly be imputed to our sentiments. This, however, will not be admitted: yet P. seems to take it for granted, and proceeds to draw consequences from it, as an undoubted truth.
There is some force in what P. has advanced on the subject of trust; (p. 32.) and, for any thing I yet perceive, he is in the right in supposing that the venture of the four lepers into the Syrian camp could not properly be called by that name. It should be considered, however, that the above case, which I produced for illustration, was not designed as a perfect representation of a sinner's application to Christ. I never supposed it possible for a soul to apply to Christ, and be disappointed. Whether the resolution of the lepers can be called trust, or not, it never was my design to prove that a sinner has no greater encouragement to apply to Christ than they had in their proposed application to the Syrians. On the contrary, the purport of the argument in that place was thus expressed : " If it would be right to venture, even in such a case as that, surely Christ's having promised, saying, Him that cometh unto me I will in nowise cast out, cannot make it otherwise. (p. 133.)
I admit, there is no doubt of a sinner's acceptance, who, from his heart, applies at the feet of Christ, as one who is utter? ly lost, and righteously condemned ; yet I do not feel the force of my opponent's censure, when, speaking of coming to Christ with a ' Peradventure he will save my life,' he calls it the mere language of heathenism. A heathen's having used such language does not prove it to be the mere language of Aea» thenism: nor is it so. Peter exhorted the sorcerer, saying, Refient therefore of this thy wickedness, If Perhaps the thought of thy heart may be forgiven thee.* Though there be no doubt of one who truly conies to Christ being accepted, yet there may be some doubt concerning a person's coming in the spirit of the gospel; and I believe it is not usual for a person, on his first application to Christ, to be able to decide upon that matter. On these accounts, I should think it is usual for a sinner, on his first application to the Saviour, to pray to the Lord, \f so be that the evils of his heart and life may be forgiven him. It is not the way of a contrite sinner to come as a claimant, but as a suppliant: He fiutteth hi* mouth in the dust, if so be there may be hope.\
Trust, according to my present apprehensions, when used to express faith in Christ, refers, like that, to a divine testimony, or firomise. That for which every sinner who hears the gospel ought to trust in Christ is this; that, if he truly come to him, he shall surely be accefited of him; for this is testified, or promised. He ought not so to trust in Christ, as to depend upon being saved by him, whether he come to him in the spirit of the gospel or not, (for that wouid be trusting in a falsehood,) but so as to give up every false object of confidence, and make trial of the divine veracity.
If there is any difference between the manner in which a sinner ought to trust in Christ, and in which a saint does trust in him, it appears to be this; the former ought to trust in God's promise, that, If he come, he shall be accepted, and so make the trial; the latter may be conscious that he Has come to Christ, and does fall in with his gospel and government; and, if so, he trusts in his promise for the hapfiy issue. There are seasons, however, in which true saints are in great darkness about their evidences for glory. At those times, they find it necessary to exercise renewed acts of trust on Christ in the manner.Am described. Not possessing a certain consciousness that they do fall in with his gospel and government, all they can do is to consider, that the promise is still in force, Him that cometh unto me, I will in nowise cast out £ and so make trial afresh of the Redeemer's veracity.
• Acts viii. 22. f Lam. iii. 29,
P. seems to think, that his sentiments lay a proper foundation for trust, to every poor sinner; and that ours do not. But what has any sinner to trust in upon his principles, more than upon ours? According to our principles, any sinner may trust that he shall be saved, if he come to Christ: and what do his do more ? They do not warrant a sinner to trust that he shall be saved, whether he come to Christ or not; for, though P. supposes Christ died for all, yet he maintains that many of those for whom he died will finally perish. I see no advantage whatever, therefore, attending his scheme, in laying a more solid and extensive foundation for a sinner's trust than ours.
If I am not very much mistaken, P. has greatly confounded two very different things ; viz. an obligation and an encouragement to believe. The one, I suppose, arises from the moral law; the other from the gospel. That the encouragements held out to sinners to return to God by Jesus Christ belong to the law, is what I never affirmed. P. has quoted various scriptures, in his Ninth Letter, of an encouraging nature ; and these, doubtless, are the language of the gospel. But the question is, does our obligation to believe arise from these encouragements, or from the injunctions with which they are connected ? The encouragement of the prodigal to return, and make a frank acknowledgment to his father, arose from his father's well-known clemency, and there being bread enough in his house, and to spare; but that was not the ground of his obligation. It had been right and fit for him to have returned, whether such a ground of encouragement had existed, or not.
As to those encouragements being improper without a provision of mercy: if it were possible for any returning sinner to be refused admittance for a want of a sufficiency in the death of Christ, this might be admitted, but not else. And, if by a provision of mercy is meant no more than a provision of pardon to all who believe, and supposing, for argument's sake, every man in the world should return to God in Christ's name, that they would all be accepted, I have no objections to it. At the same time, it is insisted, that no man ever did come to Christ, or ever can find in his heart to do so, but whom the Father draws. But more of this hereafter: at present, I shall offer a few arguments for the following position;—Though the encouragements of a sinner to come to Christ arise wholly from the gospel, yet his obligation so to do arises from the moral law.
I. All obligation must arise from some law. If, therefore, our obligations to believe in Christ do not arise from the moral law, they must arise from the gospel as a new law: but the gospel, as P. admits, is simply good news; (p. 5.) and news, whether good or bad, relates not to precepts or injunctions, but to tidings proclaimed.
II. Sin is defined, by an inspired apostle, to be the transgression of the law.* If this be a perfect definition, it must extend to all sin; and consequently to unbelief, or a rejection of God's way of salvation. But, if unbelief be a transgression of the law, faith, which is the opposite, must be one of its requirements.
III. If love to God includes faith in Christ wherever he is revealed by the gospel, then the moral law, which expressly requires the former, must also require the latter. In proof that love to God includes faith in Christ, I ask leave to refer the reader to pages. 39—41, and 81—84, of the former treatise.
P. allows my " reasonings on the extent of the moral law, in pages 121, 122, are very conclusive;" but what he calls " analogical reasonings, in this and other places, from the law to the gospel, he cannot think to be equally conclusive, unless the dispensation of the law, and that of the gospel were the same." (p. 67.) If I understand what he refers to by analogical reasonings, it is the argument contained in those pages to which I have just now referred the reader. I might here ask, Is what was advanced in those pages answered ? I do not recollect that any thing like an answer to it is attempted by any one of my opponents. If the reasoning is inconclusive, I should suppose its deficiency is capable of being detected. Let P. or any other person prove, if he is able, that supreme love to God would not necessarily lead a fallen creature, who has heard the gospel of Christ, to embrace him as God's way of salvation; or let him invalidate those arguments in the pages referred to, in which the contrary is maintained.
* 1 John ill. 4.
Let him consider also, whether, if he succeed, he will not, in so doing, invalidate the reasoning of our Lord to the Jews, I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not.*
That the law and the gospel are two very different dispen« sations, is allowed. The one is a mere inefficient rule, requiring what is right, but giving no disposition to a compliance ; the other provides for the bestowment of the Holy Spirit, by which we are renewed in the spirit of our mind. The gospel makes effectual provision for the producing of those dispositions which the law simply requires. The law condemns the sinner, the gospel justifies him. On these accounts, the former is fitly called the Letter which. Killeth, and the latter the Spirit which Giveth LiFE.f For these reasons also, with others, the gospel is a better covenant. All this may be allowed, without making it a new law, requiring a kind of obedience that shall be within the compass of a carnal mind, and different in its nature from that required by the moral law.
IV. Unbelievers will be accused and convicted by Moses: their unbelief must, therefore, be a breach of the law of Moses. After our Lord had complained of the Jews, that they would not come unto him, that they might have life ; that though he was come in his Father's name, yet they received him not; he adds, Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father; there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me.% It is very plain, I think, from this passage, that the thing for which Moses would accuse them was a rejection of Christ and the way of salvation by him; which, according to our Lord's reasoning, implied a rejection of the writings of Moses.§
» John v. 42, 43. f 2 Cor. iii. 6. * John v. 45.
§ By Moses' accusing them, I apprehend, is meant the lav of Moses, which condemns the Jews to this present time, for not believing in that prophet whom Moses foretold, Deut. xviii. 18,19.
From hence, therefore, it is inferred, that a compliance with the gospel is what the law of Moses requires, and a non-compliance with it is a matter for which that law will accuse and condemn.*
P. has brought many proofs of the invitations of scripture being enforced on gospel principles. This is a matter I should never have thought of denying. But, if an invitation to believe in Christ, enforced by gospel motives, will prove that faith is not a requirement of the moral law, then invitations to love God, to fear him, and to lie low before him, enforced in the same manner, will prove the same of them. Love, fear, and humility, are enforced upon gospel principles, as well as faith in Christ. Things which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, and of which it hath not entered into the heart of man to conceive, are prepared for them who love God. The exhortations to fear God are not more numerous than the promises of mercy to those who are of such a spirit.
* If I understand P. he considers the moral law as a system of government now no longer in force; and the gospel as a new system of government, more suited to the state of fallen creatures, which has taken place of it: for he supposes, that " final misery is not now brought upon men by their transgression of the moral law, but by their rejection of the overtures of mercy." (p. 86.) Final misery, we are sure, must be brought upon men by tin, be it against what law it may ; and, whatever law it is the breach of which subjects us to final misery, that must be the law that we are under. If this is not the moral law, then men are not under that law, nor can it be to us " the standard of right and wrong." If the gospel be anew system of government, taking place of the moral law, then all the precepts, prohibitions, promises, and threatenings, the neglect of which subjects men to final misery, must belong to the former, and not to the latter.
How far these sentiments accord with the scripture account of either law or gospel, let the reader judge. Let it be considered also, whether it is not much more consistent with both, to conceive of the former as the guardian of the latter, enjoining whatever regards are due to it, and punishing every instance of neglect and contempt of it Such a viewof things accords with the passage in John v. just cited, and is in nowise contradicted by those scriptures to which we are referred in page 86. On the contrary, one of those passages, viz. 2 Thes. i. 8. in my opinion, tends to establish it, and is in direct contradiction to the hypothesis of P. Vengeance is said to be taken on men, not merely for their disobedience to the gospel, but, as well, for their ignorance of God, which is 'iistinguished from the other, and is manifestly a. breach of the moral law.
Men are exhorted to humble themselves under the mighty hand of God, with the encouragement that he will lift them up. These are all gospel motives ; yet P. will not deny that the dispositions enforced are requirements of the moral law. Even relative duties, such as those of husbands and wives, parents and children, masters and servants, &c. which certainly are of a moral nature, are, nevertheless, enforced by gospel motives.
But " How can the gospel answer the end of recovering miserable men," it is asked, " if it contain new injunctions, equally impossible, if not more so, than the moral law itself; and these injunctions enforced by more awful punishments P" (p. 93.) I might ask in return, How can the gospel have a tendency to recover sinful men from their evil propensities, if it is a kind of law which requires only such exercises with which those propensities may consist ? It can have no such tendency, unless tolerating an evil has a tendency to destroy it.
' But is not the gospel adapted, as a mean, to recover lost sinners ?' Yes, it is. By the cross of Christ, it exhibits the evil of sin in stronger colours than all the curses of the law could paint it; and so has a tendency, in the hand of the Holy Spirit, to convince the world of sin. Nor is this all: it exhibits a Saviour to the guilty soul, to keep him from despair, which, at the same time, tends to conquer his heart with a view of God's free and self-moved goodness. A person thus conquered would admire the free and sovereign grace of the gospel, but he would abhor the thought of a gospel that should make Jehovah stoop to the vile inclinations of his apostate creatures. His prayer would be, not, ' Incline thy testimonies to my heart;' but,' my heart to thy testimonies.'
But " Could the gospel have a tendency to recover lost sinners, if it contained new injunctions equally impossible, if not more so than the moral law itself?" I own, I think it could not. And who supposes it could ? Surely P. must have here forgotten himself. Does he not know that those are his own sentiments, rather than mine ; so far, however, as relates to the gospel containing new injunctions.' I suppose the gospel, strictly speaking, to contain no injunctions at all, but merely the good tidings of salvation by Jesus Christ; and that, whatever precepts or injunctions are to be found respecting its being embraced, they are the diversified language of the moral law, which obliges men, as P. himself allows, to " embrace whatever God reveals." (p. 89.)
Sometimes, the word gospel is used in a large sense, for the whole of the Christian dispensation, as contained in the New-Testament, or the whole of that religion taught by Christ and his apostles, whether doctrinal or practical. In this use of the word, we sometimes speak of the firecepts of the gosfiel. But, when the term gospel is used in a strict sense, it denotes merely the good news proclaimed to lost sinners through the mediation of Christ. In this view, it stands opposed to the moral law, and, in itself, contains no injunctions at all. If the gospel were a new system of government taking place of the mora] law, one should think there would be no farther need of the latter ; whereas Christ, in his sermon on the mount, maintained its perpetuity, and largely explained and enforced its precepts. Do we then make void the law through faith P God forbid : yea, we establish the law.
ON THE DEATH OF CHRIST.
1HE extent of Christ's death is well known to have been a matter of great controversy. For my part, I cannot pretend to so much reading upon the subject, as to be fully acquainted with the arguments used on either side. If I write any thing about it, it will be a few plain thoughts, chiefly the result of reading the sacred scriptures.
I think no one can imagine, that I am under any obligation, from the laws of controversy, to follow P. into a long and laboured defence of the limited extent of Christ's death. All that can be reasonably thought incumbent upon me is, to treat of it so far as respects its consistency or inconsistency witb/indefinite invitations. On this score, I might very well be excused from entering upon any defence of the subject itself, or answering the arguments advanced for the contrary. Whatever notice is taken of either, will be rather in compliance with what has been done by my opponent, than in conformity to the laws of disputation.
I suppose P. is not ignorant, that Calvinists in general have considered the particularity of redemption as consisting, not in the degree of Christ's sufferings, (as though he must have suffered more, if more had been finally saved,) Or in any insufficiency that attended them, but in the sovereign purpose and design of the Father and the Son, whereby they were constituted or appointed the price of redemption, the objects of that redemption ascertained, and the ends to be answered by the whole transaction determined. They suppose the sufferings of Christ, in themselves considered, are of infinite value, sufficient to have saved all the world, and a thousand worlds, if it had pleased God to have constituted them the price of their redemption, and to have made them effectual to that end. Farther; whatever difficulties there may appear in these subjects, they, in general, suppose that there is in the death of Christ a sufficient ground for indefinite calls and universal invitations ; and that there is no mockery, or insincerity, in the Holy One in any one of these things.*
• a The obedience and sufferings of Christ," says Witsius, "considered in themselves, are, on account of the infinite dignity of the person, of that value as to have been sufficient for redeeming not only all and every man in particular, but many myriads besides, had it so pleased God and Christ that he should have undertaken and satisfied for them." And again, " The obedience and sufferings of Christ are of such worth, that all, without exception, who come to him, may find perfect salvation in him : and it was the will of God that this truth should, without distinction, be proposed both to them that are to be saved, and to them that are to perish: with a charge not to neglect so great salvation, but to repair to Christ with true contrition of soul; and with a most sincere declaration, that all who come to him shall find salvation in him. John v\. 40." (Economy, Vol. I. Chap. IX. To the same purpose 6peaks Peter l)u Moulin, in his Anatomy of Arminianism, Chap. XXVII. § 9. And Dr. Owen, in his Death of Death, Book IV. Chap. I. also in his Display iff Arminianism, Chap. IX.
These views of the subject accord with my own. I know not but that there is the same objective fulness and sufficiency in the obedience and sufferings of Christ, for the salvation of sinners, as there is in the power of the Holy Spirit tor their renovation : both are infinite; yet both are applied under the direction of infinite wisdom and uncontrollable sovereignty. It is allowed, that the death of Christ has opened a way whereby God can, consistently with his justice, forgive any sinner whatever, who returns to him by Jesus Christ. If we were to suppose, for argument's sake, that all the inhabitants of the globe should thus return, it is supposed not one soul need be sent away, for want of a sufficiency in Christ's death to render his pardon and acceptance consistent with the rights of justice. But, great and necessary as this mercy is, if nothing more than this had been done, not one of the human race had ever been saved. It is necessary to our salvation, that a way and an highway to God should De opened ; Christ is such a way, and is as free for any sinner to walk in, as any highway whatever from one place to another; but, considering the depravity of human nature, it is equally necessary that some effectual provision should be made for our walking in that way.* We conceive, that the Lord Jesus Christ made such a provision by his death, thereby procuring the certain besiowment of faith, as well as ali other spiritual blessings which follow upon it; that, in regard of all the sons who are finally brought to glory, he was the surety, or cafitain, of their salvation; that their salvation was, properly speaking, the end, or design, of his death. And herein, we suppose, consists the particularity of redemption.
I think I might reduce all that is necessary to be said upon this subject to two questions—First: Had our Lord Jesus Christ any absolute determination, in his death, to save any of the human race ? Secondly: Supposing such a determination to exist concerning some, which does not exist concerning others, is this consistent with indefinite calls and universal invitations ? The discussion of these two questions will contain the substance of what I shall advance upon the subject; but, as pretty much is required to be said, I shall subdivide the whole into four lesser sections.
* I use the metaphor of a -aay, the rather because it conveys an idea sufficiently clear; and is frequently applied to Christ in the scriptures. .lohn xiv. 4—6. Isa. xxxv. 8. Jer. vi. 16.
§ 1. Containing A Discussion Of The First Question, Whether Our Lord Jesus Christ Had Any Absolute DeTermination In His Death To Save Any Oe The Human Race ?
If the affirmative of this question be proved ; if it be shown that Christ had such an absolute purpose in his death; the limited extent of that purpose must follow of course. The reason is plain: an absolute purpose must be effectual. If iti extended to all mankind, all mankind would certainly be saved. Unless, therefore, we will maintain the final salvation of all mankind, we must either suppose a limitation to the absolute determination of Christ to save, or deny any such determination to exist. The scheme of P. concurs with the latter, supposing that by the death of Christ a mere conditional provision of redemption is made for all mankind. I own I think otherwise; some of the reasons for which are as follows:
I. The promises made to Christ of the certain efficacy of his death. One of our grand objections to the scheme of P. is, that, in proportion as he extends the objects for whom Christ died beyond those who are actually saved, he diminishes the efficacy of his death, and renders all the promises concerning it of no account. His scheme, instead of making redemption universal, supposes that Christ's death did not properly redeem any man, nor render the salvation of any man a matter of certainty. It only procured an offer of redemption and reconciliation to mankind in general. We apprehend this is diminishing the efficacy of Christ's death, without answering any valuable end. Nor is this all: such an hypothesis appears, to us, utterly inconsistent with all those scriptures where God the Father is represented as promising his Son a reward for his sufferings in the salvation of poor sinners. God the Father engaged, saying, Thy fieople shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning; thou hast (or shall have J the dew of thy youth. Yes: he engaged that he should see Ms seed; that the pleasure of Jehovah should prosper in his hand; that he should see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied; and by his knowledge, it was added, shall my righteous servant justify many, For he shall bear their iniquities. It was promised to Christ, as the reward of his sufferings, that kings should see, and arise: princes also, it was added, ,shatl "worship, because of the Lord that is faithful; and the Holy One of Israel shall choose thee: thus saith Jehovah, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee; and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people; to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages ; that thou may est say to the prisoners, Go forth, and to them that sit in darkness, Show yourselves.—Behold, these shall came Jrnm far ; and lo, these from the north and from the west, and these from the land of Sinim !* But what security, I ask, was there for the fulfilment of these promises, but upon the supposition of the certain salvation of some of the human race ? How could it be certain that Christ should justify many, if there was no effectual provision made that any should know and believe in him ? and what propriety was there in assigning his bearing their iniquities as his Reason and Evidence of it, if there is no necessary connexion between our iniquities being borne away, and our persons being justified ?
II. The characters under which Christ died. He laid down his life as a shepherd; and for whom should we expect him to die in that character ? For the sheep, no doubt. So the scriptures inform us : The good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. Hay down my life for the sheep. Those for whom Christ laid down his life are represented as being his sheep, prior to their coming to the fold. These, saith the blessed Redeemer, Imust bring; and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. As sheep are committed into the hands of a shepherd, and as he becomes responsible for their preservation or restoration, so Christ is represented as the great shepherd of the sheep, whose blood was shed by covenant; and who, by fulfilling that covenant, was entitled to a discharge, which, as the representative of those for whom he died, he enjoyed in his resurrection from the dead.f
• Psa. ex. 3. Isa. liii. 10,11. slix. 7—9.12.
| John x. 11. 15,16. Heb. xiii. 20.
Again: Christ laid down his life as a husband; and for whom should we expect him to die in that character ? For his bride, surely. So the scriptures inform us : Husbands, love your -mives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it. The love of a husband, of which his death is here supposed to be the Result, is certainly discriminating. If it is said, ' True; but the church here means actual believers ;' I reply, If they were actual believers, I should suppose they were not unsanctified; for faith purifies the heart: but Christ gave himself, that he might sanctify them with the washing of water by the word. Besides, he did not die for believers, as such; for, while we were yet enemies, Christ died for us: but he died for the church, as such considered. This is evident, for that his death is represented as resulting from his love, which he exercises as a husband. I conclude, therefore, the church cannot, in this place, be understood of those only who actually believed.*
Again: Christ laid down his life as a surety. He is expressly called the surety of a better testament. He needed not to be a surety in the behalf of the Father, to see to the fulfilment of the promises, seeing there was no possibility of his failing in what he had engaged to bestow; but there was danger on our part. Ought we not, therefore, to suppose, that, after the example of the high-priest under the law, Christ was a surety for the people, to God ? and, if so, we cannot extend the objects for whom he was a surety, beyond those who are finally saved, without supposing him to fail in what he has undertaken. In perfect conformity with these sentiments, the following scriptures represent our Lord Jesus, I apprehend, as having undertaken the certain salvation of all those for whom he lived and died. It became him for whom are all things—in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. He died, not for the Jewish nation only, but that he might gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad
The children being partakers of fiesh and blood, he also took part of the same.—Here am I, and the children whom the Zsord hath given me. or
* F.phes. v. 25, 26.
Though we receive not the power, privilege, to become the sons of God till after we believe in Christ; yet, from before the foundation of the world, were we predestinated to the adoption of children, by Jesus Christ unto himself, according to the good pleasure of his will; and so, in the esteem of God, were considered as children, even while as yet we lay scattered abroad under the ruins of the fall.*
Once more : Christ laid down his life as a sacrifice of atonement; and for whom did the priests under the law offer up the sacrifice ? For those, surely, on whose behalf it was sanctified, or set apart for that purpose. Some of the Jewish sacrifices were to make atonement for the sin of an individual; others for the sins of the whole nation: but every sacrifice had its special appointment, and was supposed to atone for the sins of those, and those only, on whose behalf it was offered. Now, Christ, being about to offer himself a sacrifice for sin, spake on this wise : For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified through the truth. 'For their sakes,' as though he had said, ' who were given me of the Father, I set myself apart as a victim to vengeance, that I may consecrate and presentlthem faultless before the presence of my Father.'!
III. Such effects are ascribed to the death of Christ as do not terminate upon all mankind. Those for whom Christ died are represented as being redeemed by the shedding of his blood : He hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.% But redemption includes the forgiveness of sin; (Ephes. i. 7. Col. i. 14.) and we know that to be a blessing which does not terminate upon all mankind.§
* Heb. vii. 22. ii. 10.13, 14. John si. 52. i. 12. Ephes. i. 4, 5.
f John xvii. 9. 19. * Gal. iii. 13.
§ P. I suppose, has felt the force of this reasoning heretofore, and, therefore, if I am rightly informed, he disowns a universal redemption; supposing that, properly speaking, Christ did not, by laying down his life, redeem any man; that no person can be said to have been redeemed, till he has believed in Christ. It is true, we receive this blessing when we believe, as we then receive the atonement. It is then that we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: but, as it does not follow from our receiving the atonement when we believe, that atonement was not properly made when Christ hung upon the cross, so neither does it follow from our having redemption when we believe, that Christ did not properly redeem us when he laid down his life. Certain it is, that the passage before cited (Gal. iii. 13.) refers not to what takes place on our believing, but to what was done at the time when Christ was made a curse for us by hanging upon the tree.
Though I apprehend for the reasons above, that being redeemed from the curse of the law does not necessarily suppose the subject to be in the actual possession of that blessing; yet, to understand it of any thing less than such a virtual redemption as effectually secured our enjoyment of deliverance in the fulness of time, is to reduce it to no meaning at all. We must either allow it to mean thus much, or say, with P. that Christ, in laying down his life for us, did not redeem any man; but this, at present, appears, to me, to be contradicting, rather than. explaining, scripture.]
Farther: it is not only ascribed to the death of Christ that pardon and acceptance are procured for all who return in his name; but any return at all is attributed to the same cause : He gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. He gave himself for the church, that he might sanctify and cleanse it. Our old man is said to be crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed. But we see not these effects produced upon all mankind; nor are all mankind his peculiar people.*
IV. Christ is said to have borne the sins of many; and the blood of the new covenant was shed for many, for the remission of sins.f The term many, it is allowed, when opposed to one, or to few, is sometimes used for an unlimited number : in one such instance, it is put for all mankind. But it is self-evident, that, when no such opposition exists, it is always used for a limited number, and generally stands opposed to all. Who the many are, in Isa. liii. 12. whose sins he bare, may be known by comparing it with the verse foregoing: By his knowledge (that is, by the knowledge of him) shall my righteous servant justify many ; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he hath poured out his soul unto death: he was numbered with the transgresssors, he bare the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
* Titus ii. 14. Ephes. v. 26. Rom. vi. 6.
f Isa. Jiii. 12. Malt, xxvi. 18.
There is no reason, that I know of, to be given, why the many, whose sins he bare, should be understood of any other persons than the many who by his knowledge are justified, and who, it must be allowed, are not all mankind.
V. The intercession of Christ, which is founded upon his death, and expressive of its grand design, extends not to all mankind: I pray for them: says Christ, I pray not for the world, but for them whom thou hast given me, for they are thine* The intercession of the priests under the law, so far as I know, was always in behalf of the same persons for whom the oblation was offered. The persons prayed for by our Lord must either mean those who were then believers, to the exclusion of the unbelieving world; or, all who should, at any period of time, believe, to the exclusion of those who should finally perish. That Christ prayed for those who then believed in him, is granted ; but that his intercession was confined to them, and excluded all that did not believe in him, cannot be admitted, for the following reasons : 1. Christ prays for all that were given him of the Father: but the term given is not applied to believers as such : for men are represented as given of the Father, prior to their coming to Christ. John vi. 27. 2. The scripture account of Christ's intercession docs not confine it to those who are actually believers, which it must have done, if the sense I oppose be admitted. When he hung upon the cross, he prayed for his enemies ; and, herein, most evidently fulfilled that prophecy : He poured out his soul unto death, he was numbered with the transgressors, he bare the sin of many,
and MADE INTERCESSION FOR THE TRANSGRESSORS.! 3. It is
expressly said, in verse 20, JVeither pray I for these alone, but for them also who Shall believe in me through their word. VI. If the doctrine of eternal, personal, and unconditional election be a truth, that of a special design in the death of Christ must necessarily follow. I do not suppose P. will admit the first; but I apprehend he will admit, that, if the first could be proved a scripture-truth, the last would follow of course.
• John xvii. 9. f Luke ^iii. 31. Isa. liii. 12.
I might then urge all those scriptures and arguments which appear, to me, to prove the doctrine of election. But this would carry me beyond my present design. I only say, the following scriptures, among many others, appear, to me, to be conclusive upon that subject, and such as cannot be answered without a manifest force being put upon them. God the Father hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus, according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy.— God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through sanctification
of the Spirit and belief of the truth. 4.11 that the Father
giveth to me shall come to me.— Whom he did foreknow, he did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called: whom he called, them he also justified : and whom he justified, them
he also glorified.—I have much people in this city. 4s many
as were ordained to eternal life believed.—Elect, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience.— Who hath saved us, and called -us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.— Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain.—I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou, hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight.-—Except the Lord of hosts had left us a seed, we had been as Sodom, and been made like unto Gomorrha.—At this present time also there is a remnant, according to the election of grace. The election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.—/ will have mercy on whom I will have mercy ; and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.*
The above passages must be allowed to speak only of a part of mankind.
* Ephes. i. 3, 4. 2 Thes. ii. 13. John vi. 37. Bom. viii. 29, 30. Acts xviii. 10. xiii. 48. 1 Pet. i. 2. 2 Tim. i. 9. John xv. 16. Matt. xi. 25,26. Rom. jx. 15, 16. 2-J. xi. 5. 7.
This part of mankind must be styled the chosen of God, given of the Father, &c. either because of their actually being believers, or because it was foreseen that they would believe, or, as we suppose, because God eternally purposed in himself that they should believe, and be saved. It cannot be on account of the first; seeing they were chosen before the foundation of the world, and given to Christ prior to their believing in him. It cannot be on account of the second; because, then, what he had done for us must have been according to something good in us, and not according to his own purpose and grace, given us in Christ Jesus, before the world began. It would also be contrary to all those scriptures recited above, which represent our being chosen, and given of the Father, as the cause of faith and holiness. If our conformity to the image of the Son of God, our faith, holiness, and obedience, are the effects of election, they cannot be the ground, or reason of it. If men are given to Christ prior to the consideration of their coming to him, then they cannot be said to be given on account of their so coming. If, then, it cannot be on account of either the first or the second, I conclude it must be on account of the last.
The death of Christ is assigned as a reason why none, at the last day, shall be able to lay any thing to the charge of God's elect.* But, if it extends equally to those who are condemned as to those who are justified, how does it become a security against such a charge ? Whatever difference there may be, in point of security, between those who, at that day, are justified, and those who are condemned, the death of Christ is not supposed to have had any influence towards it. The security of the elect should rather have been ascribed to what they themselves have done in embracing the Saviour, than to any thing done by him; seeing what he did was no security whatever. It was no more than a cipher, in itself considered. The efficacy of the whole, it seems, rested, not upon what Christ had done, but upon what they themselves had done in believing in him.
VII. The character of the redeemed in the world above implies the sentiment for which we plead.
* Horn. viii. 33,34.
Not only did the four living creatures, and the four-and-twenty elders (which seem to represent the church militant) adore the Lamb, saying, Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; but it is witnessed of those who are without fault before the throne of God, that they were redeemed (or bought') from among men, being the first-fruits unto God and the Lamb. But, if all of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation, were bought by the blood of Christ, there could be no possibility of any being bought/rom among them.
The above are some of the reasons which induce me to think there was a certain, absolute, and, consequently, limited design in the death of Christ, securing the salvation of all those, and only those, who are finally saved. The reader will now judge of the confident manner in which P. asks, ' What end can it answer to take all these pains to vindicate a doc* trine which God has never revealed ?" (p. 36.)
§ 2. Wherein Some Notice Is Taken Of The Arguments Of P. For The Contrary Hypothesis.
The limited extent of Christ's death is said to be " inconsistent with divine goodness, and with the tender mercies of God over all his works."* (p. 73.) To this it is replied, Fallen angels are a part of God's works, as well as fallen men; but Christ did not die for them : if, therefore, his death is to be considered as the criterion of divine goodness, and if the exercise of punitive justice is inconsistent with that attribute, then, suppose we were to admit that Christ died for all mankind, still the Psalmist's assertion cannot be true, and the difficulty is never the nearer being removed.
That God loves all mankind I make no doubt, and all the works of his hands, as such considered, fallen angels themselves not excepted; but the question is, whether he loves them all alike; and whether the exercise of punitive justice be inconsistent with universal goodness ?
* Surely, it is of vast importance to remember, that the death of Christ was intended not to prevent the divine character's being reproached on account of the strictness of his law in condemning all transgressors; but to prevent its being censured on account of the exemption of amj transgressors from deserved punishment. Whatever considerations prove the necessity, or infinite expediency, of the atonement, must prove it was altogether optional, and an instance of infinite and sovereign goodness in God to provide a Lamb for a sin-offering. R.
It is going great lengths, for a weak worm to take upon him to insist that divine goodness must be exercised in such a particular instance, or it can have no existence at all. I dare not say, there is no love, no goodness, in all the providences of God towards mankind, nor yet in his giving them the means of grace and the invitations of the gospel, though he does not do all for them which he could do, to incline them to embrace them, and has neither purposed nor provided for such an end. On the contrary, I believe these things, in themselves considered, to be instances of divine goodness, whatever the issue of them may be through men's depravity.
But, if Christ did not die for all mankind, it is said, " His tender mercies cannot be exercised towards them, no, not in the good things of this life ; for these only increase their misery; nor in life itself; for every moment of it must be a dreadful curse." (p. 73.) But, horrid as these consequences may appear, a denier of God's foreknowledge would tell P. that the same consequences followed upon his own scheme, and in their full extent. He would say, ' You pretend to maintain the tender mercies of God over all his works; and yet you suppose him perfectly to know, before any of these works were brought into being, the part that every individual would act, and the consequent misery that would follow. He was sure that millions of the human race would so act, place them under what advantages he would, as that they would certainly involve themselves in such a condition that it were better for them never to have been born. He knew precisely who would come to such an end, as much as he will at the day of judgment. Why, then, did he bring them into existence ? Surely they had better never have been born ; or, if they must be born, why were they not cut off from the womb; seeing he was sure that every moment of time they existed would only increase their misery ? Is this goodness ? Are these his tender mercies ?'.... I tremble while I write ! For my part, I feel difficulties attend every thing I think about. I feel myself a poor worm of the dust, whose understanding is infinitely too contracted to fathom the ways and works of God. I wish to tremble and adore; and take comfort in this—that what I know not now, I shall know hereafter.
But " it is nowhere expressly said that Christ died only for a part of mankind." (p. 71.) It is expressly said that he gave himself that he might purify unto himself a peculiar people; that he laid downJiis life.for the sheep; that he loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he died that he might gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad ; and that those who are without fault before the throne of God, were bought from among men. But be it so, that we nowhere expressly read that Christ did not die to redeem all mankind ; the scriptures do not so much deal in negatives, as in positives: their concern is not so much to inform mankind what is not done, as what is done. I know not that it is any where expreisly said, that all mankind are not to be baptized ; yet I suppose P. well understands that part of our Lord's commission to be restrictive.
There was no necessity for the apostles to publish the divine purposes to mankind in their addresses to them. These were not designed as a rule of action, either for the preachers or the hearers. It was sufficient for them both, that Christ was ready to pardon and accept of any sinner whatever, thatshould come unto him. It was equally sufficient, on the other hand, if, after people believed, they were taught those truths which relate to the purposes of grace on their behalf, with a view to cut off all glorying in themselves, and that they might learn to ascribe the whole difference between themselves and others to the mere sovereign grace of God. Hence it is, that the chief of those scriptures which we conceive to hold forth a limitation of design in the death of Christ, or any other doctrine of discriminating grace, are such as were addressed to believers.
But the main stress of the argument seems to lie in the meaning of such general expressions as all men—world— ivhole world, &c. If these are discussed, I suppose I shall be allowed to have replied to the substance of what P. has advanced ; and that is all I can think of attending to.
It is admitted, as was before observed, that there is in the death of Christ a sufficient ground for indefinite calls and universal invitations ; that God does invite mankind, witho ut distinction, to return to him through the mediation of his Son, and promises pardon and acceptance to whomsoever
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shall so return. There have been, and now are, many considerable writers, who are far from disowning the doctrine of particular redemption, (or, that the salvation of those who are saved is owing to an absolute, and consequently limited, design in the death of Christ,) who yet apprehend that a way is opened for sinners, without distinction, being invited to return to God, with the promise of free pardon on their return. And they suppose the above general expressions are intended to convey to us this idea. For my part, though I think with them in respect to the thing itself, yet I question if these general expressions are so to be understood. The terms ran. om, firofiu Hation, 8cc. appear, to me, to express more than this, and what is true only of those who are finally saved. To die for ue appears, to me, to express the design, or intention, of the Redeemer. Christ's death effected a real redemption, through which we are ju tified. He redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us, and thereby secured the blessing to come upon us in due time.* Such a meaning, therefore, of the general expressions above-mentioned does not appear, • to me, agreeable ; much less can I accede to the sense put upon them by Philanthropos.
The rule of interpretation mentioned by P. (p. 76.) I approve. His sense of the passages referred to I apprehend to be " contradicted by other scriptures—contrary to the scope of the inspired writers—and what involves in it various absurdities."
The following observations are submitted to the judgment of the impartial reader.
I. It is the usual language of scripture, when speaking of the blessings of salvation extending to the Gentiles, to describe them in indefinite terms: O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all fiesh come.— The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all fl.-sh shall see it together.—And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord.—And I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, inc.—Thy Maker is thy husband, (the Lord of hosts is his name ;) the God of the whole earth shall be called.
• Bom. iii, 24. Gal. iii. IS, 14.
—All the ends of the world halt remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds 3/ the nations shall worship, before thee. 4nd I, if I be
lifted ufi, will draw all men unto me.—Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low ; and
alt flesh xhall see the salvation of God. 411 nations whom
thou hast made shall come and worshifi before thee, O Lord, and shall glorify thy name.—All kings shall fall down before him : all nations shall serve him. Men shall be blessed in him ; all nations shall call him blessed.*
These passages, with many others, express blessings which cannot be understood universally, as P. himself must acknowledge. Now, I ask, would not these furnish a contender for the universal and final salvation of all mankind with as good an argument as that which P. uses against us? Might he not say, " The subject in question can require no figures. Surely the great God could not intend to impose upon his poor, ignorant creatures. He could receive no honour from such an imposition. It would be no glory to you, Sir, to ensnare a fly or a gnat. We are infinitely more below Deity than a fly or a gnat is inferior to us. He cannot, then, be honoured by deceiving us. And we may say, with reverence, that his justice, and all his moral perfections, require that he should be explicit in teaching ignorant men on subjects of such importance as this ?" (p. 40.)f
• Psa. lxv. 2. Isa. xl. S. Ixvi. 23. Joel ii. 28. Isa. liv. 5. Psa. xxii. 27. Johnxii. 32. Luke iii. 6. Psa lxxxvi. Q.lxxii. 11.7.
+ P. speaks of reverence; and I have no doubt but that, in general, he feels it; but surely, in this place, he must have forgotten himself. Surely, a greater degree of sobriety would have become a creature so ignorant and insignificant as he describes himself, than to determine what kind of language God shall use in conveying his mind to men. There is no doubt but God's word, in all its parts, is sufficiently explicit. Every thing that relates to the warrant and rule of a sinner's application for salvation, especially, is plain and easy. The wayfaring man, though a fool, shall not err. And, if some truths, which do not affect either his right to apply to the Saviour, or his hope of success on application, should be expressed in figurative language, I hope such a mode of expression will not be found to reflect upon the moral character of God.
II. The time in which the New Testament was written renders such a sense of the indefinite terms there used very possible and very probable. The Jews, it is well known, were, at that time, very tenacious of exclusive privileges. Their prejudices taught them to expect a Messiah, whose blessings should be confined to their own peculiar nation. The generality of even those who believed were exceedingly jealous, and found it hard work to relinquish their peculiar notions, and be reduced to a level with the Gentiles. It seems highly proper, therefore, that the Holy Spirit should, in some sort, cut off their vain pretensions; and this he did, not only by directing the apostles to the use of indefinite language, but by putting words into the mouth of Caiaphas, their own highpriest. He bore witness for God, though he meant no such thing, how that Jesus should die for that nation; and not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one
THE CHILDREN OF GoD, THAT WERE SCATTERED ABROAD.*
III. The scope and connexion of several of the passages produced, countenance such an interpretation :
1 lim. ii. 6. He gave himself a ransom for all, inc. This is a passage on which considerable stress is laid. The whole passage reads as follows : I exhort, therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men: for kings, and for all that are in authority ; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour: who will have oilmen to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. Whereunlo I am ordained a preacher and an apostle, a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.
I wish, especially, that P. had written with more sobriety in what he says of God's " deceiving and ensnaring us." What deception is there in the case ? Do we suppose it possible for a poor sinner, encouraged by the invitations of the gospel, to apply to Christ, and there meet with a repulse ? No such thing. To what purpose, then, is it asked, " How can any man believe the promises of God, if he be not assured that God is in earnest, and means to fulfil them >" (p. 49.)
• John xi. 51, 52.
I allow it to be the revealed will of God, that every man who hears, or has opportunity to hear the gospel, should return to him by Jesus Christ; and whosoever so returns shall svrely be saved. But I apprehend, let us understand by the •bill of God, in this place, what we may, we can never make /it applicable to all men universally. By the truth which God will have all men to come to the knowledge of, is plainly intended that of the one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; which is here opposed to the notion of many gods and many mediators among the heathens. But in no sense can it be said to be God's will that all men universally should come to the knowledge of the latter branch of this truth, unless it be his will that millions of the human race should believe in him of whom they have never heard.
I should think the latter part of verses 6,7, determines the meaning. The phrase, to be testified In Due Time, doubtless refers to the gospel being preached among all nations, though not to all the individuals of any one nation, before the end of the world. Hence it follows, Whereunto I am ordained a preacher—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and -verity. ' God does not now,' as if the apostle had said, ' confine his church, as heretofore, amongst the Jews. Your prayers, hopes, and endeavours, must now extend over all the world. God will set up his kingdom in all the kingdoms of the earth. Seek the welfare and eternal salvation of men, therefore, without distinction of rank or nation. There is not a country under heaven which is not given to the Messiah for his inheritance ; and he shall possess it in due time. In due time, the gospel phall be testified throughout all the world; for the ushering in of which glorious tidings I am appointed a herald, an apostle, a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.'*
* He gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.—Whether the ransom of Christ extends farther than the testimony of the gospel, or not, is a question which I do not pretend to determine: be that, however, as it may, neither supposition will suit the scheme of P. If it does not, his point is given up. If it does, if it includes the whole heathen world, it is to be hoped they are somewhat the better for it, not only in this world, but in that to come. But, if so, either they must go to heaven without regeneration, or regeneration, in those cases, is not byfailh.
I have seen nothing, at present, sufficient to convince me but that this is the meaning of 1 John ii. 2. He is the firopitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. John, the writer of the Epistle, was a Jew, an apostle of the circumcision, in connexion with Peter and James. (Gal. ii. 9.) The Epistles of Peter and James -were each directed to the Jews; (1 Pet. i. 1. 2 Pet. iii. 1. James i. 1.) and Dr. Whitby acknowledges, concerning this Epistle,* that " it being written by an apostle of the circumcision, it is not doubted but it was written to the Jews." The same is intimated by several passages in the Epistle itself. The fathers to whom he writes (chap. ii. 13, 14.) knew Christ from the beginning. In verse 18 of the same chapter, he appears plainly to refer to our Lord's prophecies concerning the awful end of the Jewish nation, and to the falsa prophets that should come into the world previous to that event. He insists much upon Christ's being come in the flesh; which was a truth more liable to be denied by the Jews, than by the Gentiles. Finally: the term itself, which is renderedprofiitiation, plainly alludes to the Jewish mercy-seat. It is true, that many things in it will equally apply to Jews and Gentiles. Christ is the advocate of the one, as well as of the other: but that is no proof that the Epistle is not directed to believing Jews : as the same may be said of many things in the Epistle of James, which also is called a catholic, or general Epistle, though expressly addressed to the twelve tribes which were scattered abroad.]
After all, I wish it to be considered, whether the text refer to any other than believers of either Jews or Gentiles. In my opinion, it does not; and, if so, the argument from it, in favour of the universal extent of Christ's death, is totally invalidated. My reasons for this opinion are as follow: the term firofiitiation is not put for what Christ is unto us, considered only as laying down his life, and offering himself a sacrifice, but for what he is unto us throughfaith.
* Preface to his Annotations on the First 'Epistle of John.
-\ Had not an argument been drawn from the title of this Epistle, in favour of its being written to both Jews and Gentiles, I should have taken no notice of it; as these titles, I suppose, were given to the Epistles by uninspired writers.
He is " set forth to be a propitiation, through faith in his blood."* He cannot therefore, one should think, be a propitiation to any but believers. There would be no propriety in saying of Christ, that he is set forth to be an expiatory sacrifice through faith in his blood, because he was a sacrifice for sin prior to the consideration of our believing in him. The text does not express what Christ was, as laying down his life, but what he is in consequence of it. Christ being our propitiation certainly supposes his being a sacrifice for sin; but it also supposes something more : it includes the idea of that sacrifice becoming the medium of the forgiveness of sin, and of communion with God. It relates, not to what has been called the impetration, but to the application of redemption. Christ is our propitiation in the same sense as he. is The Lord our righteousness, which also is said to be through faith ,- but how he should be a propitiation through faith to those who have no faith, is difficult to conceive.
The truth seems to be this: Christ is that of which the Jewish mercy-seat (or propitiatory) was a type. The Jewish mercy-seat was the medium of mercy and communion with God for all the worshippers of God of old.t Christ is that in reality which this was in figure, and is not, like that, confined to a single nation. He is the medium through which all believers, of all ages and nations, have access to God, and receive the forgiveness of their sins. All this perfectly agrees with the scope of the Apostle, which was to encourage backslidden believers against despair.
Though it is here supposed the Apostlf personates believing Jews, and that the whole world means the Gentiles; yet, if the contrary were allowed, the argument would not be thereby affected. Suppose him by our sins to mean the sins of us who now believe, whether Jews or Gentiles, still it amounts to the same thing; for then what follows is as if he had added, ' and not for ours only, but for the sins of all that ever came, or shall come, unto God by him from the beginning to the end of time.'
* Rem. Ui. 25. f Exod. xxv. 22.
P. objects the want of other passages of scripture, in which the term " whole world signifies the elect, or those that believe, or those that are saved, or any thing contradictory to the sense he has given." (p. 81.) The term whole world is certainly used in a limited sense by the Apostle Paul, when he says of the Christians at Rome, that their faith was spoken of throughout the whole world.* Though Rome, at that time was, in a sort, the metropolis of the known world, and those who professed Christianity in that famous city were more conspicuous than those who professed it in other places; yet there were many countries not then discovered, in which the news of their faith could not possibly have arrived. Besides, it is evident, from the drift of the Apostle, that the faith of the Romans was spoken of in a way of commendation ; but it is not supposable, that the whole world universally would so speak of it. By the whole -world, therefore, can be meant no more than the believing part of it in those countries where Christianity had begun to make its way. Farther : Christ is called the God of the whole earthy The whole earth must here mean believers; as it expresses, not his universal government of the world, but his tender relation of a husband, which it was here foretold he should sustain towards the Gentile, as well as the Jewish church. Again; the gospel of Christ preached in the world is compared to leaven hid in three measures of meal till the whole was leavened.J This, doubtless, implies that the gospel, before it has finished its operations, shall spread throughout the whole world, and leaven it. But this will never be true of all the individuals in the world; for none but true believers are leavened by it.
But P. thinks the phrase whole world, in 1 John ii. 2. ought to be interpreted by a like phrase in chap. v. 19. and yet he himself cannot pretend that they are of a like meaning; nor does he understand them so. By the whole world in one place he understands all the inhabitants that ever were, or should be, in the world, excepting those from whom they are there distinguished: but, in the other, can only be meant the wicked of the world, who, at that time, existed upon the earth.
* Rom. i. 8. J Isa. lir. 6. * Matt. xiii. 33.
The most plausible argument advanced by P. is, in my opinion, from 2 Cor. v. 15. on which he observes, that the phrase they who live, is distributive, and must, therefore, include only a part of the all for whom Christ died. (p. 78.) Whether the following remarks are sufficient to invalidate the argument of P. from this passage, the reader is left to judge.
1. The context speaks of the Gentiles being interested in Christ, as well as the Jews. Henceforth know we no man after the flesh ; yea, though we have known Christ after the
flesh, yet now henceforth know %ve him no more.— If any mart be in Christ, he is a new creature. Ver. 16, 17, compared with Gal. vi. 15.
2. It does not appear to be the design of the Apostle, to affirm that Christ died for all that were dead, but that all were dead for whom Christ died. P. wonders, and, it seems, ha9 much ado to keep up his good opinion of my integrity, for what I said in a note on this subject before, (p. 26.) That it is the main design of the Apostle to speak of the condition of those for whom Christ died, I conclude, partly from his having been describing the condition of sinners, as subject to the terrors of divine vengeance, (ver. 11.) and partly from the phrase* ology of ver. 14. The Apostle's words are, If one died for all, then were They all dead; which proves, both that the con* dition of those for whom Christ died was the subject of the Apostle's main discourse, and that the extent of the term all, in the latter part of this verse, is to be determined by the former, and not the former by the latter.
But " has the little word all lost its meaning?" No, cer* tainly; nor does what is here advanced suppose that it has. The main design of a writer is not expressed in every word in a sentence ; and yet every word may have its meaning. Though I suppose that the term here may refer to Jews and Gentiles, yet that does not necessarily imply, that it was the Apostle's main design here to speak of the extent of Christ's death.
3. Though our hypothesis supposes that all for whom Christ died shall finally live, yet it does not suppose that they all live at present. It is but a part of those for whom he died, viz. such as are called by his grace, who live not unto themselves, but to him who died for them, and rose again.
There are some other passages produced by P. particularly Heb. ii. 9. and 2 Pet. U. 1. but I am ready to think he him
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aelf does not place much dependence upon them. He is not unacquainted with the scope of the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, nor of the word man not being in the text. Nor need he be told, that the apostle Peter, in the context of the other passage, appears to be speaking nothing about the purchase of the Saviour's blood; that the name there given to the purchaser, is never applied to Christ: and that, if it is applied to him in this instance, it is common to speak of things, not as they actually are, but as they are professed to be : thus apostates are said to be twice dead, as if they had been spiritually alive ; though, in fact, that was never the case, but barely the matter of their profession. See also Matt. xiii. 12. and Luke viii. 18.
§ 3. On The Consistency Of The Limited Extent Of Christ's Death, As Stated Above, With Univ.eb.sal Calls, Invitations, &c.
Here we come to the second question, and to what is the only part of the subject to which I am properly called upon to reply. If a limitation of design in the death of Christ be inconsistent with exhortations and invitations to mankind in general, it must be because it is inconsistent for God to exhort and invite men to any thing with which he has not made gracious provision, by the death of his Son, to enable them to comply.
When I deny a gracious provision being necessary to render exhortations consistent, I would be understood to mean, 1. Something more than a provision of pardon in behalf of all those who shall believe in Christ: 2. More than the furnishing of men with motives and reasons for compliance ; or ordering it so that these motives and reasons shall be urged upon them. If no more than this were meant by the term, I should allow that such a provision is necessary. But, by a gracious provision, I mean that, be it what it may, which removes a moral inability to comply with the gospel, and which renders such a compliance possible without the invincible agency of the Holy Spirit.
What has been said before may be here repeated, that the doctrine of a limitation of design in the death of Christ stands or falls with that of the divine purposes. If the latter can be maintained, and maintained to be consistent with the free agency of man and the entire use of means, then it will not be very difficult to defend the former. I confess, the subject is profound, and that I enter upon it with fear and trembling.It is a subject on which I dare not indulge a spirit of speculation. Perhaps the best way of studying it is upon our knees ! I hope it will be my endeavour to keep close to what God has revealed concerning it. There are, doubtless, many questions that might be started by a curious mind, which it would be difficult, and, perhaps, impossible to solve. Nor is this to be wondered at. The same difficulty attends us, in our present state, respecting almost all the works of God. No man could solve one half of the difficulties that might be started concerning God's goodness in creating the world, when he knew all that would follow. The same might be said of a thousand things in the scheme of divine providence. Suffice it for us, at present, that we know our littleness; that, when we come to see things as they are, we shall be fully convinced of all that has been told us, and shall unite in the universal acclamation, He Hath Done All Things Well !
That there is a consistency between the divine decrees and the free agency of men, I believe : but whether I can account for it, is another thing. Whether it can be accounted for at all, so as to enable us clearly to comprehend it, I cannot tell. Be that as it may, it does not distress me: I believe in both, because both appear, to me, to be plainly revealed. Of this I shall attempt to give evidence in what follows :
I. The time of man's life is appointed of God. Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth ? are not his days also like the days of an hireling ?—His days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass. All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come* And yet men are exhorted to use means to prolong their lives, and actually do use those means, as if there was no appointment in the case. God determines to send afflictions to individuals and families ; and he may have determined that those afflictions shall terminate in death ; nevertheless, it is God's revealed will, that they should use means for their recovery, as much as if there were no determination in the affair.
* Job vii. 1. xjv. 5.14.
Children were exhorted to honour their parents, that their days might be long in the land which the Lord their God had given them. He that desired life, and loved many days, was exhorted to keep his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking guile.* If, by neglect or excess, any one come to what is called an untimely end, we are not to suppose either that God is disappointed, or the sinner exculpated.
II. Our fiortion in this life is represented as coming under the divine appointment.! It is a cufi, a lot, an heritage. David spake of his portion as laid out for him by line. The lines, Says he, are fallen to me in fileasant filaces: yea, I have a goodly heritage. The times before appointed are determined, and the bounds of our habitation are fixed. It is a satisfaction to an humble mind, that his times and concerns are in God's hand, and that he has the choosing of his inheritance.\ And yet, in all the concerns of life, we are exhorted to act with discretion, as much as if there were no divine providence.
The purposes of God extend to the bitter part of our portion, as well as to the sweet. Tribulations are things to which we are said to be afifiointed. Nor is it a mere general determination : of all the ills that befel an afflicted Job, not one came unordained. Cutting and complicated as they were, he calmly acknowledged this; and it was a matter of relief under his trouble: He performeth the thing that is afifiointed for me ; and many such things are with him. Nevertheless, there are things which have a tendency to fill up this cup with either happiness or misery ; and it is well known, that men are exhorted to pursue the one, and to avoid the other, the same as if there were no divine purpose whatever in the affair.
God appointed to give Pharaoh and Sihon up to their own hearts' lusts, which would certainly terminate in their destruction ; and yet they ought each to have accepted of the messages of peace which God sent to them by the hand of Moses.
• Exod. xx. 12. Psa. xxxiv. 12.
f P. calls this in question; (p. 47.) and seems to admit that, if this pould be proved, it would prove the consistency of the divine purpose* concerning men's eternal state, with their obligations to use the means; of salvation.
* Psa. xvi. 5, 6. Acts xvii. 26. Psa. xxxi. 15. xlvl'i. 4.
But here, I am told, I have obviated my own reasoning, by observing, elsewhere, that the ' predeterminations of God concerning those persons were founded on the foresight of their wicked conduct, of which their non-compliance with these messages of peace was no inconsiderable part.' (p. 47.) By this it should seem, then, that P. admits the reality of divine decrees, and that the final state of every one is thereby determined of God ; only that it is upon the foresight of faith or unbelief. In that case, he seems to admit of a consistency between the purposes of God to punish some of the human race, and their being universally invited to believe, and be saved. And yet, if so, I see not the propriety of some of his objections against the doctrine of decrees. The thing against which he, in some places, reasons, is not so much their unconditionally, as the certainty of their issue. " All must be sensible," says he, "that the divine decrees must stand." (p. 50.) Be it so: must they not stand, as much upon his own hypothesis, as upon ours ?
As to the conditionality of the divine decrees, it is allowed, that, in whatever instances God has determined to furnish any of the sons of men, either in this world or in that to come, it is entirely upon the foresight of evil. It was so in all the punishments that befel Pharaoh and Sihon. But there was not only the exercise of punitive justice discovered in these instances, but, as well, a mixture of sovereignty. If the question be asked, Why did God punish these men ? the answer is, On account of their sin. But if it be asked, Why did he punish them rather than others, in themselves equally -wicked? the answer must be resolved into mere sovereignty. He that stopped a persecuting Saul in his vile career, could have turned the heart of a Pharaoh : but he is a debtor to none; he hath said, he will have mercy on whom he will have mercy. The apostle Paul considered the destruction of Pharaoh as not merely an instance at justice, but likewise of sovereignty ; (Rom. ix. 10.) and concludes, from his example, therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will, he hardeneth: which, I should suppose, can intend nothing less than leaving them to the hardness of their hearts. The 19th verse, which immediately follows, and contains the objections of that day, is so nearly akin to the objections of P. (p. 50.) that I wonder he should not perceive it, and learn instruction by it.
III. Events which imply the evil actions of men come under the divine appointment. The visitations with which Job was afflicted were of God's sending. He himself knew this, and acknowledged it. And yet this did not hinder but that the Sabeans and Chaldeans acted as free agents in what they did, and that it was their duty to have done otherwise. Assyria was God's rod to Judah, and the staff in their hands was his indignation. And yet Assyria ought not so to have oppressed Judah. Pride, covetousness, and cruelty, were their motives ; for all which they were called to account, and punished. Our Lord was delivered according to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. His worst enemies did nothing to him but what his hand and his counsel determined before to be done. And yet. this did not hinder but that with wicked hands they crucified and slew him ; that the contrary of all this was their duty; and that the invitations and expostulations of our Lord with them were founded in propriety and sincerity. God did not determine to give Judas a heart to forbear betraying his master, when tempted by the lure of gain : on the contrary, he determined to give him up to his own heart's lust. The Son of man, in being betrayed, went as it was determined: and yet there was a wo due to, and denounced against, the horrid perpetrator, notwithstanding.*
Exclamations may abound ; but facts are stubborn things. It is likely we may be told, ' If this be the case, we need not be uneasy about it; for it is as God would have it.' " If God has ordained it, why should we oppose it ?" (p. 50.) But such a mode of objecting, as observed before, though of ancient, is not of very honourable extraction. If it be not identically the same which was made to the apostolic doctrine, it is certainly very nearly akin to it. I can discern no difference, except in words : Thou wilt say then, Why dost thou yet Find Fault ? For who hath resisted his -will ? To which it was thought sufficient to reply, JVay, but O man, who art thou that repliest against God ?
* Job i. 2t Isa. x 5—14. Acts ii. 23. iv. 28, Luke xxii. 22.
After all, surely, there is a wide difference between an efficient and a permissive determination in respect to the existence of moral evil. To assign the former to the Divine Being, is to make him the author of sin : but not so, the latter. That God does permit evil, is a fact that cannot be disputed : and, if we admit the perfection of his moral character, it must be allowed to be consistent with his righteousness, whether we can fully conceive of it, or not. But, if it be consistent with the righteousness of God to permit evil, it cannot be otherwise to determine so to do, unless it be wrong to determine to do what is right.*
* Were it not for the candour which P. has discovered in other instances, and his solemn appeal to " the Searcher of hearts, that misrepresentation was not his aim," I should almost think he must take pleasure in representing my sentiments on the divine decrees in as shocking a light as he is able. What I should express in some such manner as this : ' God commands men in general to believe in Christ, though he knows they are so obstinately wicked that they cannot find in their heart so to do ; and he has determined not to do all that he is able, to remove their obstinacy'—he will express forme thus: " God commands all to believe in Christ; and yet knows that they are not, or ever were, and determines they never shall It able to do it." (p. 49.) P. will allow, I suppose, that God has not determined to enable men, in the present state, perfectly to love him, with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength : and yet, if this were put into a positive form ; if it were said, that God has determined that men, in the present state, shall not love him with all their hearts, but that they shall continue to break his law, it would wear a very different appearance.
That there is a conformity between God's revealed will and his decrees, I admit, (p. 49.) There is no contradiction in these things, in themselves considered, however they may appear to short-sighted mortals. That there is, however, a real distinction between the secret and revealed will of God, is not very difficult to prove. The will of God is represented, in scripture, 1. As that which Caw Hever Be FrustraTed.— Who hath resisted his will ?—lie is in one mind, and -who can turn, him ? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth.—Being predestinated according- to the purpose of him who worketh all things rtfter the counsel of his o-wn will.—My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.— He doeth according to his trill in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth.— Of a truth, I^ord, against thy holy child Jesus— both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done .-f 2. As that which Mat Be Frustrated, or disobeyed.—
ix, X9. Job ssjii. 13. Eph«. i. 11. Is*, xlri. 10. Dim. iv. 35. Acts iv. 27, 28.
That servant which knew his Lord's will and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. —He that doeth tlte will of God, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.* The former belongeth unto God, being the rule of his own conduct, and to us is secret .• the latter belongeth to us, and to our children for ever; being the rule of our conduct, that w&may do all the words of his law ; and this is fully revealed.^
It was God's will, in some sense or other, to permit Job, at the devil's request, to be deprived of his property by the Sabeans and Chaldeans; otherwise he would not have said to Satan, as he did—All that he hath is in thy power, only upon himself put not forth thine hand. And yet the conduct of these plunderers was certainly contrary to his revealed will, and to every rule of reason and equity. Nevertheless, God was not under obligation to do all he could have done to restrain them. It was not, therefore, at all inconsistent with his righteous disapprobation, that he willed to permit their abominations. It was the will of God, that Joseph should go down into Egypt. God is said to have sent him. The very thing which his brethren meant for evil, God meant for good. They fulfilled his secret will in what they did, though without design ; but they certainly violated his revealed will in the most flagrant manner.
If the commission of evil were the direct end, or ultimate object, of the secret will of God, that would certainly be in opposition to his revealed will; but this we do not suppose. If God wills not to binder sin in any given instance, it is not from any love he has to sin, but for some other end. A master sees his servant idling away his time. He secretes himself, and suffers the idier to goon without disturbance. At length he appears, and accosts him in the language of rebuke. The servant, at a loss for a better answer, replies, ' How is this ? I find you have been looking on for hours. It was your secret will, therefore, to let me alone, and suffer me to idle away your time; and yet I am reproved for disobeying your will! It seems you have two wills, and these opposite to each other. " How can I obey your commands, unless I knew you would have me to obey them ?" Idleness, it seems, was agreeable to you, or you would not have stood by so long, and suffered me to go on in it undisturbed. Why do you yet find fault ? who hath resisted your •aid V
Would any one admit of such a reply ? And yet, for aught I see, it is as good as that for which my opponent pleads. In this case, it is easy to see, that the master does not will to permit the servant's idleness for idleness' sake, but for another end. Nor does the servant do wrong, as influenced by his master's will, but by his own ; and, therefore, his objections are altogether unreasonable and wicked. These things hast thou done, said God to such objectors, and I kept silence: and thou thoughtest I was altogether such a one as thyself; but I will reprove thee, mid set them in order before thine eyes !
* Luke xii. 47. Mark iij. 35. t Deut. xxix. 29.
IV. Our Lord declared, concerning those who should blaspheme against the Holy Sfiirit, that their sin should not be forgiven, neither in this world nor in that to come. And there is no doubt, I think, but that some of the Jews were guilty of this sin, if net before, yet after the pouring out of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Their destruction, then, was inevitable. And yet the apostles were commissioned to preach the gospel to every creature, without distinction; and Christ's promise, Him that cometh to me I will in nowise cast out, continued of universal force. The primitive ministers made no scruple to call men to repent and believe, wherever they came. It is true, they seem to have been forbidden to pray for the forgiveness of the sin itself, (1 John v. 16.) for that would have been praying in direct contradiction to God's revealed will; but, as they knew not the hearts of men, nor who had, nor who had not, committed that sin, they were never forbidden, that I know of, to pray for men's souls, without distinction. They certainly did so pray, and addressed their auditors as if no such sin had existed in the world.* P. will allow, that the exhortations and invitations of the gospel were addressed to men indefinitely ; and, if so, I should think they must have been addressed to some men, whom, at the same time, it was not the intention of Christ to save.
V. God has not determined to give men sufficient grace, in the present state, to love him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and their neighbour as themselves; or, in other words, to keep his law perfectly. He has not made provision for it by the death of his Son. I suppose this may be taken for granted. If, then, a gracious provision is to be made the ground and rule of obligation, it must follow, that all commands and exhortations to perfect holiness in the present state, are utterly unreasonable. What meaning can there be, upon this supposition, in such scriptures as the following ? O that there were such an heart in them, that they would love me, and fear me, and keefi All my commandments always !
* Acts xxvi. 29. Col. i. 23. VOL. I. 2 s
And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in All his ways, and to lo-vc him, and to serve the Lord thy God with All thy heart, and with All thy soul ?—Be ye therefore Ferfrot, even as your father which is in heaven is fierfect.* If God's law continues to be an " invariable rule of human conduct, and infallible test of right and wrong," as P. says it does, then either there is a gracious provision made for perfection in the present state, or God requires and exhorts men to that for which no such provision is made.
VI. If I am not misinformed, P. allows of the certain tierseverance of all true believers. He allows, I suppose, that God has determined their perseverance, and has made gracious and effectual provision for it. He will not say so of hypocrites. God has not determined that they shall continue in his word, hold out to the end, and finish their course with joy. Nevertheless, the scriptures address all professors alike, with cautions and warnings, promises and threatenings ; as if there were no decree, nor any certainty in the matter, about one or the other. Holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, on the one hand are exhorted to fear, lest a promise being left them of entering into rest, any of them should seem to come short of it, and are warned, from the example of the unbelieving Israelites, to labour to enter into rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. The disciples of Christ were charged, upon pain of eternal damnation, if their right hand or right eye caused them to offend, to cut it off, or filuck it out. Whatever some may think of it, there would be no contradiction in saying to the best Christian in the world, ' If you deny Christ, he will deny you I'f Such as proved to be mere professors, on the other hand, were addressed by Christ in this manner; If ye Continue in my word, then shall ye be my disciples indeed ;f and, when any such turned back, and walked no more with him, though no such provision was made for their perseverance as is made for true believers, yet their falling away was always considered as their sin.
* l)eut. v. 29. x 12. Matt. v. 48.
f Heb. iii. 1. iv. 1.11. Matt, xviii. 8, 9. x. 33. 2 Tim. ii. 12.
v John viii. 31.
Judas, and Detnas, and many others, fell under the divine displeasure for their apostacy.
I confess, these things may look like contradictions. They are, doubtless, profound subjects; and, perhaps, as some have expressed it, we shall never be fully able, in the present state, to explain the link that unites the appointments of God -with the free actions of men: but such a link there is: the fact is revealed abundantly in scripture ; and it does not distress me, if, in this matter, I have, al] my life, to walk by faith, and not by sight.
From the above cases I conclude, that, however difficult it may appear to us, it is proper for God to exhort and invite men to duties with which he has not determined to give them a moral ability, or an heart, to comply; and for which compliance he has made no effectual provision by the death of his Son: and, if it is so in these cases, I farther conclude, it may be so in the case in hand.
Two remarks shall conclude this part of the subject:
1. Whether P. will allow of some of the foregoing grounds, as proper data, may be doubted. I could have been glad to have reasoned with him wholly upon his own principles; but, where that cannot be, his right and just to make the word of God our ground. If he can overthrow the doctrine supposed to be maintained in these scriptures, it is allowed, that, in so -doing, he will overthrow that which is built upon them ; but not otherwise. In the last two arguments, however, I have the happiness to reason from principles which, I suppose, P. will allow.
2. Whether the foregoing reasoning will convince P. and those of his principles, or not, it may have some weight with considerate Calvinists. They must either give up the doctrine of predetermination, or, on this account, deny that men are obliged to act differently from what they do ; that Pharaoh and Sihon, for instance, were obliged to comply with the messages of peace which were sent them; or else, if they will maintain both these, they must allow them to be consistent with each other; and, if divine decrees and free agency are consistent in some instances, it becomes them to give some solid reason why they should not be so in others.
§ 4. General Reflections.
I am not insensible that the cause I have been pleading is such as may grate with the feelings of some of my readers. It may seem as if I were disputing with Philanthropy itself. To such readers I would recommend a few additional considerations:
I. The same objection would lie against me, if I had been opposing the notion of universal salvation; and yet it would not follow from thence, that I must be in the wrong. The feelings of guilty creatures, in matters wherein they themselves are so deeply interested, are but poor criterions of truth and errour.
II. There is no difference between us respecting the number or character of those that shall be finally saved. We agree, that whoever returps to God by Jesus Christ shall certainly be saved; that in every nation they that,fear God, and work righteousness, are accepted. What difference there is respects the efficacy of Christ's death, and the causes of salvation.
III. Even in point of provision, I see not wherein the scheme of P. has the advantage of that which he opposes. The provision made by the death of Christ is of two kinds :
1. A provision of pardon and acceptance for all believers;
2. A provision of grace to enable a sinner to believe. The first affords a motive for returning to God in Christ's name : the last excites to a compliance with that motive. Now, in which of these has the scheme of P. any advantage of that which he opposes ? Not in the first: we suppose the provisions of Christ's death altogether sufficient for the fulfilment of his promises, be they as extensive as they may; that full and free pardon is provided for all that believe in him ; and that, if all the inhabitants of the globe could be persuaded to return to God in Christ's name, they would undoubtedly be accepted of him. Does the scheme of P. propose any more ? No : it pretends to no such thing as a provision for unbelievers being forgiven and accepted. Thus far, at least, therefore, we stand upon equal groundBut has not P. the advantage in the last particular ? does
not his scheme boast of a universal provision of grace, suffi
cient to enable every man to comply with the gospel ? Yes, it does ; but what it amounts to is difficult to say. Does it effectually produce, in mankind in general, any thing of aright spirit; any thing of a true desire to come to Christ for the salvation of their souls ? No such thing, that I know of, is pretended. At most, it only amounts to this, that God is ready to help them out of their condition, if they will but ask him ; and to give them every assistance in the good work, if they will but be in earnest, and set about it. Well: if this is the whole of which P. can boast, I see nothing superior, in this either, to the sentiment he opposes. We consider the least degree of a right spirit as plentifully encouraged in the word of God. If a person do but truly desire to come to Christ, or desire the influence of the Holy Spirit to that end, we doubt not but grace is provided for his assistance. God will surely give his Holy Sfiirit to them that ask him.* Where, then, is the superiority of his system ? It makes no effectual provision for begetting a right disposition in those who are so utterly destitute of it that they will not seek after it. It only encourages the well disposed ; and, as to these, if their welldisposedness is real, there is no want of encouragement for them in the system he opposes.
4. Whether the scheme of P. has any advantage of that which he opposes, in one respect, or not, it certainly has a disadvantage in another. By it, the redemption and salvation of the whole human race is left to uncertainty ; to such uncertainty, as to depend upon the fickle, capricious, and perverse will of man. It supposes no effectual provision made for Christ to see of the travail of his soul, in the salvation of sinners. P. has a very great objection toasinner's coming to Christ with a peradventure; (p. 33.) but, it seems, he has no objection to his Lord and Saviour coming into the world, and laying down his life with no better security. Notwithstanding any provision made by his scheme, the Head of the church might have been without a single member, the King of Zion without a subject, and the Shepherd of Israel without any to constitute a flock.
* Luke xi. 13.
Satan might have triumphed for ever and the many mansions in glory have remained eternally unoccupied by the children of men !*
5. Do we maintain that Christ, in his death, designed the salvation of those, and only those, who are finally saved ? the same follows from our opponents' own principles. They will admit that Christ had a certain foreknowledge of all those who would, and who would not, believe in him : but did ever an intelligent being design that which he knew would never come to pass ?
6. The scheme of P. though it professedly maintains that Christ died to atone for the sins of all mankind ; yet, in reality, amounts to no such thing. The sin of mankind may be distinguished into two kinds: that which is committed simply against God as a lawgiver, antecedently to all considerations of the gift of Christ, and the grace of the gospel; and that which is committed more immediately against the gospel, despising the riches of God's goodness, and rejecting his way of salvation. Now, does P. maintain that Christ made atonement for both these ? I believe not: on the contrary, his scheme supposes that he atoned for neither: not for the first; for he abundantly insists that there could be nothing of the nature of blameworthiness in this, and, consequently, nothing to require an atonement—not for the last; for, if so, atonement must be made for impenitency and unbelief; and, in that case, surely these evils would not prove the ruin of the subject.
* P. observes, on Heb ii 9. that " it is undoubtedly a greater instance of the grace of God that Jesus Christ should die for all, than only for a part of mankind;" and this he thinks " an argument of no little force in favour of his sense of the passage." (p. 80.) It is true, if Christ had made effectual provision for the salvation of all, it would have been a greater display of grace than making such a provision for only apart;f but God has other perfections to display, as well as his grace; and the reader will perceive, by what has been said, that to make provision for all, in the sense in which P. contends for it, is so far from magnifying the grace of God, that it enervates, if not annihilates it. Where is the grace of taking mankind from a condition in which they would have been for ever blameless, and putting them into a situation in which, at best, their happiness was uncertain, their guilt certain, and their everlasting ruin very probable >. R.
t Yet would grace have appeared so evident, if no one of our race had suffered the penalty of the taw ? Would every surmise have been precluded, that its infliction would have been too great a stretch of severity ? Would it have b Jen equally clear, that either the removal of guilt, or that the conquest of depravity, was solely of grace ?
7. If the doctrine of the total depravity of human nature be admitted, (and it is so, professedly,) the scheme of P. would be utterly inadequate for the salvation of one soul. Supposing Christ to have died for all the world, in his sense of the phrase, yet, if all the world are so averse from Christ that they will not come unto him that they may have life, still they are never the nearer. It is to no purpose to say, There is grace provided for them, if they will but ask it: for the question returns, Will a mind, utterly averse from coming to Christ for life, sincerely desire grace to come to him ? Nor is it of any use to suggest, that the gospel has a tendency to beget such a desire: for, be it so, it is supposed there is no certainty of its producing such an effect. Its success depends entirely upon the will of man in being pliable enough to be persuaded by it: but, if man is totally depraved, there can be no such pliability in him. Unless the gospel could exhibit a condition that should fall in with men's evil propensities, the aversion of their hearts would for ever forbid their compliance. Such a scheme, therefore, instead of being more extensive than ours, is of no real extent at all. Those good men who profess it, are not saved according to it; and this, in their near addresses to God, they as good as acknowledge. Whatever they say at other times, they dare not then ascribe to themselves the glory of their being among the number of believers, rather than others.
If the supposed universal extent of Christ's death had a universal efficacy, it would be worth the while of A Lover Of All Mankind to contend for it; but, if it proposes finally to save not one soul more than the scheme which it opposes ; if it has no real advantage in point of provision, in one respect, and a manifest disadvantage in another; if it enervates the doctrine of the atonement; confessedly leaves the salvation of those who are saved to an uncertainty, and, by implication, renders it impossible; then to what does it all amount? If P. holds that Christ died for all, it is neither so as to redeem all, nor so much as to procure them the offer of redemption; since millions and millions for whom Christ suffered, upon his principles, have died, notwithstanding, in heathen darkness.*
* It seems, to me, a poor and inconsistent answer, which is commonly given by our opponents upon this subject.. They affirm, that Christ died with a view to the salvation of the whole human race, how wicked toever they have been ; and yet they suppose that God, for the sin of some nations, withholds the gospel from them. The giving of Christ to die for us, is surely a greater thing than sending the gospel to us. One should think, therefore, if, notwithstanding men's wickedness, God could find it in his heart to do the greater, he would not, by the self-same wickedness, be provoked to withhold the lesser. Besides, on some occasions, our opponents speak of the gospel as a system adapted to the condition of sinners, yea, to the chief of sinners; and, if so, why not to these nations who are the chief of sinners ' P. observes very justly, however inconsistent with some other things which he elsewhere advances, that the gospel takes men's fallen, polluted, and depraved state for granted, and is properly adapted to remove it: (p. 23.) How is it, then, that that which renders them proper objects of gospel invitations, should be the very reason assigned for those invitations being withheld .'
Whether there may not be a mixture of punitive justice in God's withholding the gospel from some nations, I shall not dispute. At the same time, supposing that to be the case, it may be safely affirmed, that the same punishment might, with equal justice, have been inflicted upon other nations who have all along enjoyed it; and that it is not owing to their having been better than others, that they have been so favoured. One might ask of Jerusalem and Corinth, Chorazin and Bethsaida, Were they less infamous than other cities ! rather, were they not the reverse ! And may we not all, who enjoy the gospel, when we compare ourselves with even Heathen nations, adopt the language of the Apostle, Are we better than they ? no, in nowise !
If it be said, The providence of God is a great deep ; and we cannot, from thence, draw any conclusions respecting his designs ; I answer, by granting that, indeed, the providence of God is a great deep ; and, if our opponents will never acknowledge a secret and revealed will in God in any thing else, one should think they must here ; seeing Christ's revealed will is, Go, preach the gospel to every creature, without distinction ; and yet, by their own confession, it is his secret purpose to withhold it from some, even whole nations. As to drawing conclusions from hence concerning God's designs, I should think it no arrogance so to do, provided we do not pretend to judge from thence concerning events which are future. We are warranted to consider God's providences as so many expressions of what have been his designs. He worketh all things after the counsel of his own will. It is true, we cannot thence learn his revealed will, nor what is the path of duty ; nor are we to go by that in our preaching, but by Christ's commission. It were well, if Christian ministers could be excited and encouraged to enter into the most Heathen and dark corners of the earth to execute their commission. They ought not to stand to inquire what are God's designs concerning them: their work is to go and do as they are commanded. But, though the providence of God is not that from whence we are to learn his revealed will, yet, when we see events turn up, we may conclude, that, for some ends, known to himself, these were among the all things which he worketh after the counsel of his own will.
Far be it from me to pretend to fathom the great deep of divine providence ! But when I read in my Bible, that as many as were ordained to eternal life believed; and that the apostle Paul was encouraged to continue his ministry in one of the most infamous cities in the world, by this testimony, / have much people in this city ; I cannot but think such passages throw a light upon those darker dispensations.
P. thinks success to be a proof of the goodness of a doctrine. (pp. 4, 5.) I think it is a matter deserving considerable attention ; but cannot consider it as decisive : especially as certain questions might be asked concerning it, which it would be difficult to answer; as, What is real success ? and, What was it, in the ministry of a preacher, which was blessed to that end? If, however, that is to be a criterion of principles, then we might expect, if the scheme of P. be true, that, in proportion as the doctrines maintained by Calvin and the first Reformers began to be laid aside, and those of Arminius introduced in their stead, a proportionable blessing should have attended them. Surely he cannot complain, that the universal extent of Christ's death, with various other kindred sentiments, are not generally embraced. The number of advocates for these sentiments has certainly been long increasing. If, therefore, these are gospel truths, the Christian world, in general, may be congratulated for having imbibed them ; and, one should think, a glorious harvest might be expected as the effect. But, I suppose, were we to be set down by fact, as it has occurred in our own country, both in and out of the Establishment, it would be far from confirming this representation. I question if P. himself will affirm, that a greater blessing has attended the ministry in the Church of England since little else but these sentiments have sounded from its pulpits, than used to attend, and still attends, the labours of those whom he is pleased to style " Inconsistent Calvinists." As to Protestant Dissenters ; if such of them as maintain the universal extent of Christ's death, have been, more than others, blessed to the conversion of sinners, and if their congregations, upon the whole, have more of the life and power of godliness among them than others, it is happy for them ; but, if so it is, I acknowledge it is news to me. I never knew nor heard of anything sufficient to warrant a supposition of that nature.
P. thinks my " views of things, after all, open a wide door to licentiousness ; (p. 60.) but that, if we were to admit what he accounts opposite sentiments, it would be the most likely way to put a stop to real and practical Antinomianism." (p. 51.) I reply, as before, Surely he cannot complain that the universal extent of Christ's death, with other kindred sentiments, are not generally embraced ; and will he pretend to say, that real and practical Antinomianism has been thereby rooted up ? Since the body of the Church of England have embraced those principles, have they been better friends to the law of God than before ? and has a holy life and conversation been gradually increasing among them, as the old Calvinistic doctrines have fallen into disrepute ? Farther: do the body of those Protestant Dissenters who reject what are commonly calledthe Calvinistic doctrines, discover more regard to holiness of life than the body of those who embrace them ? God forbid that we should any of us boast; by the grace of God we are what we are : and we have all defects enow to cover our faces with shame and confusion! But, without invidious reflections, without impeaching the character of any man, or body of men, I am inclined to think, that, if such a comparison were made, it would fail of proving the point which P. proposes. It is a well-known fact, that many who deny the law of God to be a rule of life, do, at the same time, maintain the universal extent of Christ's death.
P. seems to have written with the benevolent design of bringing me and others over to his sentiments ; and I thank him for his friendly intention. Could I see evidence on his side, I hope I should embrace his invitation. But it is a presumptive argument, with me, that his views of things must be, some how or other, very distant from the truth, or they could not abound with such manifest inconsistencies. A scheme that requires us to maintain that we are saved wholly by grace, and yet, so far as we differ from others, it is not the Spirit of God, but we ourselves that cause the difference; that to be born in sin is the same thing as to be born blameless, or, in other words, free from it; that, if vice is so predominant that there is no virtue to oppose it, or not virtue sufficient to overcome it, then it ceases to be vice any longer; that God is obliged to give us grace, (or, in other words, we may demand that of him to which we can lay no claim,) or else insist upon it, that we are not accountable beings ; that God so loved mankind as to give his Son to die—not, however, to save them from sin—but to deliver them from a blameless condition, put them into a capacity of being blameworthy, and thus expose them to the danger of everlasting destruction ;—a scheme, I say, that requires us to maintain such inconsistencies as these, must be, some how or other, fundamentally wrong. What others may think, I cannot tell; but, for my part, I must withhold my assent, till more substantial and consistent evidence is produced.
If I have not taken notice of every particular argument and text of scripture advanced by P. I hope I shall be allowed to have selected such as were of the greatest force, and by which the main pillars of his system are supported.
If I have, in any instance, mistaken his meaning, I hope he will excuse it. I can say, I have taken pains to understand him. But, whether I have always ascertained his meaning, or not; and whether the consequences which I have pointed out as arising from his sentiments, be just, or not; I can unite with him in appealing to " the Searcher of hearts, that misrepresentation has not, in any one instance, been my aim."
As I did not engage in controversy from any love I had to the thing itself, so I have no mind to continue in it any farther than some good end may be answered by it. Whether what I have written already tends to that end, it becomes not me to decide ; but, supposing it does, there is a point in all controversies, beyond which they are unprofitable and tedious. When we have stated the body of an argument, and attempted an answer to the main objections, the most profitable part of the work is done. Whatever is attempted afterwards must either consist of little personalities, with which the reader has no concern; or, at best, it will respect the minutiae of things, in which case it seldom has a tendency to edification. To this I may add, though I see no reason, at present, to repent of having engaged in this controversy, and, were it to do again, should probably do the same: yet it never was my intention to engage in a controversy for life. Every person employed in the ministry of the gospel, has other things, of equal importance, upon his hands. If, therefore, any or all of my opponents should think proper to write again, the press is open; but, unless something very extraordinary should appear, they must not conclude that I esteem their performances unanswerable, though I should read them without making any farther reply. The last word is no object with me : the main arguments, on all sides of the controversy, I suppose are before the public ; let them judge of their weight and importance.
A reflection or two shall conclude the whole. However firmly any of the parties engaged in this controversy may be persuadedof thegoodnessof his cause, let us all beware ofidolizing a sentiment. This is a temptation to which controversialists are particularly liable. There is a lovely firoportion in divine truth : if one part of it be insisted on to the neglect of another, the beauty of the whole is defaced; and the ill effects of such a partial distribution will be visible in the spirit, ifnotinthe conduct, of those who admire it.
Farther : Whatever difficulties there may be in finding out truth, and whatever mistakes may attend any of us in this controversy, (as it is very probable we are each mistaken in some things,) yet let us ever remember, truth itself is of the greatest importance. It is very common for persons, when they find a subject much disputed, especially if it is by those whom they account good men, immediately to conclude, that it must be a subject of but little consequence, a mere matter of speculation. Upon such persons religious controversies have a very ill effect: 'for, finding a difficulty attending the coming at the truth, and, at the same time, a disposition to neglect it, and to pursue other things; they readily avail themselves of what appears, to them, a plausible excuse, lay aside the inquiry, and sit down and indulge a spirit of scepticism. True it is, that such variety of opinions ought to make us very diffident of ourselves, and teach us to exercise a Christian forbearance towards those who differ from us. It should teach us to know and feel what an inspired Apostle acknowledged, that here we see but in part, and are, at best, but in a state of childhood. But, if all disputed subjects are to be reckoned matters of mere speculation, we shall have nothing of any real use left in religion. Nor shall we stop here: if the same method of judging of the importance of things were adopted respecting the various opinions in useful science, the world would presently be in a state of stagnation. What a variety of opinions are there, for instance, concerning the best modes of agriculture ; but, if any person were to imagine from hence, that agriculture itself must be a matter of no importance, and that all those articles therein, which have come under dispute, must be matters of mere idle speculation, what a great mistake would he be under ! And if a great number were to imbibe the same spirit, and, seeing there were so many opinions, resolve to pay no attention to any of them, and to live in the total neglect of all business, how absurd must such a conduct appear, and how pernicious must be the consequences! But a neglect of all divine truth, on account of the variety of opinions concerning it, is fully as absurd, and infinitely more pernicious. As much as the concerns of our bodies are exceeded by those of our souls, or time by eternity ; so much is the most useful human science exceeded in importance by those truths which are sacred and divine.
Finally: Let us all take heed that our attachments to divine truth itself be on account of its being divine. We are ever in extremes: and whilst one, in a time of controversy, throws off all regard to religious sentiment in the gross, reckoning the whole a matter of speculation ; another becomes excessively affected to his own opinions, whether right or wrong, without bringing them to the great criterion, the word of God. Happy will it be for us all, if truth be the sole object of our inquiries, and if our attachment to divine truth itself be, not on account of its being what we have once engaged to defend, but what God hath revealed. This only will endure reflection in a dying hour, and be approved when the time of disputing shall have an end with mea