« PreviousContinue »
' for him this grace is specially provided; because 'none but he will take the pains to come: but, " lest we should think that this should abridge the ' largeness of the offer, a quicunque vult is immediately added, “and whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.” Yet withal, this must 'be yielded as a certain truth, that “it is God who • must work in us to will and to do of his good pleasure';" and though the call be never so loud and large, yet “none can come except the Father draw him.”! For the universality of the sa'tisfaction derogates nothing from the necessity of the special grace in the application : neither doth the speciality of the one anywise abridge
the generality of the other.' 2–In what sense ' it ' is in the power of every one to attain eternal
happiness,' requires further explanation ; for it is acknowledged that 'we have not the disposition, ‘ and consequently not the ability, without the
grace of God.'
Men are, indeed, naturally willing to be saved from misery, and rendered happy: but this widely differs from willingness to repent, to believe in Christ, to deny themselves, to bear the cross, and diligently to use all the means of grace, and obey the commandments of Christ. His Lordship in one place, says, Even after the understanding
became convinced that Christ was “ a Teacher ' come from God,” “ that Prophet that should come ' into the world,” not only much remained to be
done, but that which infinitely exceeded the na'tural powers of men, weakened and corrupted 'as
John vi. 44.
? Archbishop Usher.
they were by the fall of Adam, and by long and 'inveterate habits of vice and wickedness.'1 In what sense, then, is it' in the power of every one
to attain eternal salvation?' Whether it arises from natural inability, or moral inability, it is allowed · infinitely to exceed the natural powers of • man ;' that is, without the grace of God.
It does not belong to us fully to understand or explain the manner in which God “inclines the
heart,” and “works in us to will;" but something we may perceive respecting it. Our unwillingness to that which is good in the sight of * God' arises partly out of that 'blindness of * heart,' from which in our Litany we beseech the Lord to deliver us; that corrupt state of the judgment and affections, called “ the carnal mind :" and partly from our self-will and aversion to be subject to the authority of God or man. But, when it pleases God to illuminate the mind, by
opening our understandings to understand the
scriptures;” the discoveries which we make, concerning God and ourselves, our state, and character, and danger, and the eternal world, with its infinitely important realities, have a powerful tendency to produce a revolution in our judgment, purpose, and choice. This is like bringing in a light, and uncovering the eyes to a man, who, in the dark and blindfolded, was rashly and eagerly rushing to the brink of a tremendous precipice, of which he had not been at all aware. But, by the light cast on the surrounding objects, he now sees the danger, and willingly stops and turns away from it. Yet this alone would not be sufficient: for evil spirits see these objects, and are aware of the consequences of their conduct; “ they believe “ and tremble,” yet continue to hate and rebel. In this respect we have no adequate illustration : but, when God“ gives a new heart and a right
1 Ref. 28.
spirit,” then we love what we before hated, and hate what we before loved; then we willingly choose, and earnestly long for, and diligently labour with fear and trembling to secure, those very objects which we before despised and hated. Again, when the proud rebellious heart,
" the “ heart of stone,” is taken away, and “ a heart of “ flesh” given, we “submit to God;" we say with Saul, “Lord, what wouldest thou have me to do?" The proud, stout, independent spirit, which scorned subjection, is subdued : the grace of God “casts “ down imaginations,” (or reasonings,) " and every
high thing that exalteth itself against the know“ ledge of God; and brings every thought into
captivity to the obedience of Christ.”! All is done by a divine, yea omnipotent, energy; yet nothing by compulsion: and not much by direct terror : but the Lord draws us with the cords of a “ man, with bands of love." 2 " The Comforter “ convinces concerning sin, concerning righteous
ness, and concerning a judgment” to come. “ He glorifies Christ, and receives of the things “ of Christ, and shows them to us ;"3 and then we most willingly come to him, trust him, love him, count all things but loss for him, obey him, imi
: Hos. xi. 3, 4.
'2 Cor. x. 4, 5.
tate him: and only grieve that we love, obey, and imitate him, no more and no better.
The term co-operation is not, strictly speaking, scriptural, in respect of this entire subject; and many have objected to the use of it, as liable to mislead the minds of the unestablished. But, when employed according to the clear intention of our Article, it may be considered as capable of a very safe and instructive meaning. It is, therefore, only in respect of that beginning, by which man is rendered willing, the cò bédely, that we would exclude it; and this, in order that God may have the glory which he demands, and “ that no flesh “should glory in his presence.” “Of him (8E duré)
are ye in Christ Jesus; who of God is made “ unto us, wisdom, and righteousness, and sancti“fication, and redemption : that, according “ written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the “Lord.” 1
€“ The Spirit helpeth our infirmities, for we · know not what we should pray for as we ought:” 'the spirit helps, but does not compel us ; it sup
plies the deficiency of our natural strength, by suggesting what is right, and by assisting our weakness in performing it. The Greek word ouyartinapbávetal expresses the co-operation for which
we contend, more clearly than the English word
helpeth.” It literally expresses, says Doddridge, ' the action of one who helps another to bear a 'burden, by taking hold of it on one side, and * lifting or bearing it with him ; and so it seems 'to intimate the obligation on us to exert our * little strength, feeble as it is, in concurrence with his almighty aid.'1
The apostle is here speaking, not of the sinner's conversion, but of himself and his fellow Christians, especially in respect of prayer. They had been “ without strength :”but by the grace of God they had now some strength, yet attended with infirmities : 3 but the Spirit so “ helped along with
them,” that they were not overcome by these infirmities. In particular he taught and enabled them to pray “ with groanings which could not “ be uttered.” This, beyond doubt, is widely different from “the old man ” co-operating in his own crucifixion. The meaning of Doddridge, will more clearly appear, by some additional quotations from him on the same scripture.— We
are surrounded with so much ignorance and prejudice, that in many instances “ we do not know ' what to pray for as we ought,” because we know 'not on the whole what may be best for us. But ' the Spirit itself manages these affairs for us, guiding our minds to suitable petitions, and exciting in them correspondent affections; and sometimes inspiring us with that intense ardour ' of holy desire which no words can express, but (must therefore vent themselves in unutterable
Ref. 40, 41.
* Rom. v. 6. ao Séveis.