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been supposed by some that the strivings of the Spirit are granted to enable men to do their duty. But this opinion is evidently erroneous ; for‘it implies that sinners, antecedent to the strivings of the Spirit, are not able to do their duty, and consequently are not culpable for neglecting it. Besides, if sinners without the striving of the Spirit are incapable of doing their duty, then God is in justice bound to grant them the strivings of the Spirit, or to excuse them from doing their duty; an alternative utterly subversive of the whole system of grace. But the object for which the Spirit strives with sinners is not to enable them to do their duty, but to convince them of sin. It gives no new powers to the sinner. These he did not need; for he possessed before all the powers of moral agency. If it were not so, he would not be accountable nor criminal. All men, therefore, are made capable of complying with the terms of the gospel.
Suitable motives are also set before them to induce them to comply. God, in his word, has offered heaven with all its glories on the one hand; and threatened hell with all its miseries on the other. More powerful motives than these cannot possibly be presented to the human mind.
All this God has done for all men. He has provided a Savior. He has offered salvation. He has made all men capable of accepting it ; and presented to them the most powerful motives to induce them to accept.
The question now is, Is this all which God ever does for the salvation of any of the human race?
Before I proceed to answer this inquiry, I will premise one or two remarks.
1. If this were all which God ever does for the salvation of any of the human race, it is more than they have any right to demand. Man, as a sinner, has no claim to any favor. He is justly condemned; and a criminal justly condemned has no claim to pardon, or to the offer of pardon on any condition whatever. God was under no obligation to provide a Savior, or to offer salvation to one of the human
In doing it, therefore, he has done more for them than they had any right to claim. He has displayed the riches of his grace.
2. Supposing this were all which God has done for the salvation of any of the human race, those who perish will not only perish justly, but their condemnation will be pre-eminently just. It will be seen by all intelligent beings in the universe, that they perish wholly through their own fault. Why do any perish? In the first place, they have transgressed the divine law, and fallen under its curse; and as the law is holy, just, and good, their condemnation is just. But God has not left them in this state without hope. He has given his Son to be a propitiation for their sins, and offered them pardon on reasonable conditions ; on conditions with which they are capable of complying ; and set before them the strongest inducements to accept. And now why do they perish? Because they voluntarily reject the mercy offered. And can they now charge their ruin upon their Maker? When he has provided an atonement for them, and thrown open the door of heaven, and invited them to enter ; can they say that it is his fault
that they are not saved ? If a poor beggar spurns from him the hand that offers to feed him, whose fault is it that he perishes with hunger ? If a criminal, who is justly condemned refuses to accept a pardon which is freely offered to him, whose fault is it if he is not pardoned ? And if sinners who are justly condemned refuse to accept the salvation which is freely offered to them, whose fault is it if they perish? What has God done to hinder their salvation ? Has he compelled them to sin ? Has he laid them under restraint ? - Has he hedged up the path of life so that they cannot walk in it if they choose ? No. They are laid under no restraint. Life and death are set before them, and they are capable of choosing between them. The reason that they perish is, that they reject the counsel of God against themselves. They choose the road that leads to death, and will not come to Christ, that they might have life. Thus they perish wholly through their own fault, and will have none to blame but themselves.
But the question returns,—Is this all which God ever does for the salvation of any of the human race ? On the supposition that it is all, the question at once arises, how comes it to pass that some obey the gospel, while others disobey? To what are we to attribute this difference? If all which God does is to prepare the way for all, and place suitable motives before them; why do not all comply, or all refuse? They are alike free agents, and capable of being influenced by motives. Why then do some yield to the motives, while others resist them? Why do some make a right use of their free agency, while others pervert it? If God does no more to give efficacy to motives in one case than in another, why do not the same motives produce the same effects in all cases? Why did Peter believe in Christ, while Judas remained an unbeliever? Why did Paul become a disciple, while multitudes of the Pharisees persisted in unbelief? Why did one of the thieves on the cross embrace Christ, while the other continued to revile him? And why is it, that wherever the gospel has been preached, some have believed, while others have believed not?
Will it be said, that those who believe are by nature less depraved, less averse to holiness, and more inclined to yield to the motives of the Gospel, than others ? This cannot be said with truth ; for as in water, face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man. They are all by nature children of wrath. Besides, not a few who have been distinguished for their wickedness, and for their hostility to the truth, have been made the subjects of renewing grace. Paal testifies that he was the chief of sinners, and yet he obtained mercy, while many who manifested far less opposition to Christianity continued in unbelief. How is this fact to be explained ? Besides, if God only presents motives to the mind, why is it that the same motives which have long been resisted, sometimes prove effectual ? Why is a simer sometimes converted, after having long abused the means of grace, and resisted every motive presented to his mind? If God does no more to render means efficacious at one time than at another, why were they not effectual upon the individual supposed, while his heart was less hard, and his habits in sin less confirmed ? These facts are utterly inexplicable, without admitting a special Divine agency in the conversion of sinners.
But, to the law, and to the testimony. The apostle says, By the grace of God I um what I am. He felt that it was owing to the distinguishing grace of God, that he was brought to embrace that Savior whom he had rejected and despised. And to the same grace
he ascribed the salvation of all true believers. Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost. Who then is Paul, or who is Apollos, bul ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man ? To the Ephesian believers he says, You hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins ; wherein in times past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience ; among whom also we all had our conversation in times past, in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh, and of the mind; and were by nature children of wrath even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he hath loved us, even whe we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace ye are saved): und hath raised us up together, and maile us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus ; that in the
ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace, in his kindness towards us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God. To the Philippians he says in the text, Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God that worketh in you to will, and to do, of his good pleasure. Is this doing no more than to prepare
of salvation, to enable men to accept offered mercy, and to present motives to their minds ? God is here represented as performing a work in them. And what is the work? It is God that worketh in you TO WILL AND TO DO. This surely is something different from giving them ability to do their duty; it is making them willing to do it. ably to the declaration of the Psalmist, -Thy people shall be willing in the duy of thy power.
The great point of difference between the saint and the sinner is, the one is willing to do his duty, the other is not willing. It does not lie in the fact that one has opportunity and ability to secure eternal lise, while the other has not. Both are alike free agents. Both have the same opportunity and ability to obtain an interest in Christ. But one is willing to obey the gospel, and the other is not. Sinners will not come to Christ that they might have life. Hence it is necessary, not only that the way of salvation should be prepared, and mercy offered, and motives presented; but that God should work in men 'To WILL AND TO DO, that is, that he should incline their hearts to accept the mercy offered. That he actually does this for all those who are the subjects of his grace, the Scriptures explicitly
A new heart will I give you, and a right spirit will l put within
and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you, and
you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
If we look through the Bible, we shall find that all the Christian graces are ascribed to God as their author.
He is the author of repentance. Him hath God exalted at his own right hand, TO GIVE REPENTANCE unto Israel and remission of sins.
THE GIFT OF GOD.
Then hath God also to the gentiles GRANTED REPENTANCE unto life. In meekness instructing them that oppose themselves, if peradventure God will GIVE THEM REPENTANCE.
Faith, in no less explicit terms, is ascribed to God as its author. By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is
Looking unto Jesus THE AUTHOR AND FINISHER OF
Wherein also ye are risen with him through THE FAITH OF THE OPERATION OF GOD.
Love is the gift of God. The fruit of the Spirit is love. The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost.
A spirit of prayer is the gift of God. We know not what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us, with groanings which cannot be uttered. I will pour out upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, a spirit of grace and of supplication.
God is the author of all the Christian graces. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, meekness, temperance, patience, faith.
In short, the Christian character is of his formation. We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works. He that hath wrought us for the self same thing, is God, who hath also given to us the earnest of the Spirit.
We are now prepared to form some opinion of the nature of that work which God performs in effecting the salvation of sinners. It is not merely an outward work, as some have supposed. It does not consist merely in providing a Savior, offering salvation, giving ability to accept, and presenting motives to the mind. In addition to all this, there is an inward effectual work. God renews the heart. He influences the will. He changes enmity into love, melts the hard heart into penitence, and transforms the rebel into a loyal and obedient subject of his kingdom. In short, he works in his people to uill and to do.
But in the mean time they must work out their own salration with fear and trembling. The agency of God does not destroy the agency of men.
On the contrary, it puts their agency into operation, and guides and directs it to a proper end.
When God works in men to will and to do they will and do. They act, and act voluntarily-as much so as if they were entirely independent. To show that this is not impossible, let it be observed, that we act upon the minds of our fellowmen by arguments and persuasions; and we influence their conduct by the motives which we present to their minds. The whole system of intercourse between man and man is a system of mutual influence. But who ever supposed that his agency was destroyed, or his freedom impaired, by the influence exerted upon him by his fellow-men? I do not mean to assert that the manner in which God acts upon our minds, is the same as that in which one man acts upon the mind of another. But whatever the manner be, it does not impair our free agency, any more than the influence exerted upon us by our fellow-men. When the sinner is made willing to comply with the invitations of the Gospel, he complies as freely as a man ever complies with the solicitations of a friend.
And here let it be particularly noted, that the special dependence of sinners on God for salvation results entirely from the perverseness of their hearts. The reason that a supernatural Divine influence is necessary to bring them to the belief and obedience of the truth, is not because they are incapable of obeying the Gospel ; but because they will not come to Christ that they might have life. It is necessary that God should give then repentance, because they will not repent of themselves. If they were inclined to do their duty, they would need no supernatural Divine 'influence. They are dependent on God for salvation, not because they are not free agents, but because they abuse and pervert their free agency.
Permit me here to correct a mistake into which multitudes have fallen. They always associate the idea of dependence with that of inability to do their duty. When they read in the Scriptures such declarations as the following: Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy. By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God: they conclude that until God shall grant the influences of his Spirit, they are really unable to do their duty; and that they need these influences to give them power to do their duty. But this is altogether a mistake, and a mistake of very dangerous tendency; for it tends directly to blind the eyes of the sinner to his true character and condition. While he feels that he is unable to do his duty, in any other sense than that he is unwilling, he does not feel guilty for neglecting it. He views his depravity as a calamity merely, and not as a crime. He does not take blame to himself, but casts it upon his Maker. He feels that he has a good excuse for neglecting the great salvation, because he persuades himself that he cannot do otherwise. He feels that it is not his fault that he is not a Christian ; but that it is owing entirely to the fact that God does not grant his regenerating grace.
Now the truth is, the influences of the Divine Spirit are never granted to give the sinner ability to do his duty. He is able without them. The sinner has all the natural ability which the saint possesses; and it is wholly his own fault that he does not immediately embrace the Gospel. He is not dependent on God in any such sense, as to furnish him with the least excuse for continuing another moment a rebel
God now commandeth all men everywhere to repent. This is a reasonable command ; and every sinner is under obligation to obey it. If he does not obey, he sins. Every moment that he refuses to obey, he sins. He sins voluntarily, and is without excuse. It will not avail him to plead that he has no power to obey. He
If he has power to sin, he has power to cease from sinning—if he has power to rebel against God, he has power to submit to God. He has all the power which he needs : all, indeed, which he can possess.
If God were to renew his heart this moment, his power would not be increased; he would only be willing to use aright the power which he now abuses and perverts.
It will not avail him to plead that God has not granted him the inflyences of his Spirit. Those influences God is under no obligation