« PreviousContinue »
ed that he does not. And what proof can you set in opposition to this? None derived from his promises, for it has been shown that none of the promises respect the actions of the unregenerate. And if no promise then no explicit encouragement; for with every being of truth and honour such an encouragement would amount to a promise. You cannot then find the proof in his word. And to argue from his providence is altogether fallacious. "No man knoweth either love or hatred by all that is before them. All things come alike to all; there is one event to the righteous and to the wicked."* You do not then find the proof in his providence nor yet in his word. Where then do you find it? Indeed for a man, without any other dependence on Christ than the unregenerate feel, to expect to obtain a new heart from God by any thing which he can say or do, is sheer self-righteousness.
Nor does the sinner co-operate in producing this change, unless unabated enmity is co-operation. In the conversion which follows he is indeed active; but in effecting the change itself, he co-operates in no other sense than the rebel who is subdued by force of arms assists his prince in vanquishing himself. His conscience is indeed on the side of God, and so are the consciences of devils. His wishes appear to lean the same way, but it is from a selfish bias. His body so far co-operates as to bring him. to the temple and altar. But his heart, which in the sight of God is the whole man, struggles against the Spirit till the change is complete. Till the whole cause has exerted itself, the whole strength of the moral affections is opposed to holiness.
Eccl. ix. 1. 2.
(1.) Wherever this supernatural power is exerted the effect will surely follow. What should hinder? The opposition of the heart? But the very thing which the power has to do is to annihilate that opposition and make the subject "willing." If it does not this it does nothing, it has not the least influence, it is no power. If God attempts to sanctify the heart and does not succeed, one thing is certain, creatures can never know that the attempt was made unless he informs them. They cannot feel his hand, they only feel the effect. But God is not likely to disclose a secret so discreditable to his power. Do you say his power is limited by a regard for the liberty of his subjects? Then I propose this dilemma: either he can make his people "willing" without destroying their freedom, or he cannot: if he can, why should the attempt ever fail? if he cannot, his success is never certain, and he must ask leave of the self-determining power of the will to have a Church: how then could he promise his Son a seed to serve him? But it is not so. He can make his people "willing" and yet leave them free. If they are "willing" are they not free? What is freedom but a power to do as they please? In no act are they made to act against their will. Their willingness, though produced by God, is as much their own willingness, as though they had produced it themselves. Will you say that the infant does not himself live because he did not produce his own life? or that he does not himself see because he did not create his own eyes? or that a man is not himself willing, and therefore free, because he was made willing in the day of God's power? What then should hinder God from making his people willing in every instance in which he undertakes? In other words what should hinder
him from destroying all resistance, and making the soul a willing captive, in every case where he attempts to produce this identical effect? This is the only thing that he ever attempts to accomplish when he exerts his sanctifying influence. If this is not done nothing is done; if this is not attempted nothing is attempted; for between making his people willing and not making them willing, there is no spot at which his sanctifying power can stop, no point at which it can aim. In all cases then where this influence is exerted, the effect will certainly follow.* Of course wherever this effect does not follow, the influence is not exerted. Therefore,
(2.) God exerts this influence upon some and not upon others; and that not because the favoured ones have better improved his grace, not because they have done any thing to aid or induce him, but because he "will have mercy on whom" he "will have mercy." "So then it is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? for who hath resisted his will? Nay but O man; who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour and another unto dishonour?" "What saith the answer of God? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal. Even so then at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then it is no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace; otherwise work is no more work.
*Yet the influence is not properly called irresistible, for it merely pre
What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for, but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded." "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight." "Who maketh thee to differ from another? 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?"* Does the Arminian hear this? Do a gainsaying world hear this? Let every mouth be stopped, and the whole world prostrate and speechless before God. Amen.
* Mat. xi. 25, 26. Rom. ix, 15-21. and xi. 4-7. 1 Cor. iv. 7.
MEANS OF GRACE.
ISAIAH lv. 11.
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 PLEASE, AND IT SHALL PROSPER IN THE THING WHERETO I SENT IT.
IN former lectures it has appeared that during all the convictions and exertions of the unregenerate, they experience no diminution of depravity, no approximation towards holiness, no feelings which are otherwise than sinful or indifferent; that none of their actions in the sight of God are good, none of their prayers answered; that no influence of the Spirit is exerted upon their minds further than to enlighten them and leave truth to work its natural effect; and that regeneration viewed distinct from the convictions which go before and the exercises which follow is wrought by immediate power.
It might be expected that something should be said, in this part of the course, about the means of grace; and for this purpose I have chosen a text which will lead me to speak of the word of God: for excepting two things in the exertions of Christians which I shall presently mention, all the means of