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' that which is good, except what it may receive
by the gift and grace of God.'' This certainly excludes man's co-operation in producing the willing mind.
• It ought, therefore, to remain certain and firm, that it is God who worketh in us both to will and to 'effect, of his gratuitous benevolence.
For no ‘mind, no will acquiesces in the will of God, which ‘Christ himself hath not first wrought, who also · himself teacheth us, saying, “ Without me ye can 'do nothing.
* Man can by no means free himself from sin, and from eternal death, by his own natural powers: • but this liberation and conversion of man to God, ' and this spiritual newness, comes to us, by the 'Son of God making us alive by his Holy Spirit. As it is said, “ If any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his.” And the will, when the Spirit of God has been received, is not idle. But 'we give thanks to God for this immense benefit ; ' because that unto us, on account of his Son, and 'through him, he gives the Holy Spirit, and rules ‘us by his own Spirit.' 3
The co-operation is evidently, in these passages, excluded from any part in producing the willing mind, though not so prominently as in our Article. This certainly was the constant doctrine of all the reformed churches at the Reformation, when every part of Christianity was examined, and proved, and compared with the holy scriptures, with a diligence and exactness, probably never equalled, either be
"Art. of the Gallic churches. ? Art. xix. of the Belgic churches,
3 Saxon Confession.
fore or since, except in the days of the apostles : and with impartiality ; except as the reformers had some remaining partiality in favour of fathers . and councils, which occasionally embarrassed and perplexed them. The Augsburg Confession was, as it is well known, drawn up with peculiar caution, and it is therefore not so explicit on this subject as the others : yet it contains intimations which lead the attentive reader to a discovery of the real judgment of those who compiled it. The gospel requires repentance: yet, that remission of sins
might be certain, it teaches that it is freely given; “that is, that it does not depend on the condition
of our worthiness, nor is given because of any preceding works, or the worthiness of those that follow.' Though human nature is able, in some way, to perform outward good works of itself;yet it cannot effect interior motions, as true fear, 'confidence, chastity, unless the Spirit of God rule and assist our hearts.'
In respect of Melancthon, who was principally concerned in drawing up this Confession, the single expression, sed cor repugnat,' the heart fights against conviction, shews that he did not think there was any thing in fallen human nature to co-operate with the influence of grace, in producing the willing mind.
The sentiments of Luther have already been adduced ; but a few lines more from him may properly close this topic.— The man before he is • renewed can do nothing, can attempt nothing, to prepare himself for his new creation. Neither
Above, c. i. $5.
after he is renewed can he effect any thing to ensure a perseverance in his new state. The Spirit of God alone doeth both these things : he • both renews and preserves the renewed, without
any aid on our part ; as t. James, speaking of • the new creature, says, “Of his own will begat - he us with the word of his power.” But, here it 'must also be observed, that he does not operate ' in the renewed, without using them as beings
purposely renewed and preserved, that he should ' work in them, and they co-operate with him.''
Here the distinction of our article is preserved : the co-operation does not begin till we are renewed; that is, till the grace of God, by Christ, hath prevented us, that we may have a good will.
We therefore conclude, on these grounds, that God works in us“ to will," gratia præveniente,
by preventing grace ;' and, when we are willing, gratia co-operante, by co-operating grace :—thus we are excited, inclined, and enabled to work
out our own salvation.". The work in this sense is our's, but the will and the power are from God: the duty and the advantage are our's, but the whole glory belongs to God: we devote our all to him, but he has been beforehand with us ; and we must acknowledge with David, “Who are we, “ that we should be able to offer so willingly after “ this sort ? For all things are of thee, and of thine “own have we given thee.” 2
' Dr. Milner's continuation of Mr. Milner's Ecclesiastical History.
21 Chr. xxix. 13, 14.
On Exertion, or Active Diligence.
“The personal exertions of Christians are necessary for salvation ; else why should they be commanded “ to work out their own salvation,” ' and that too,“ with fear and trembling ?” with an anxious care lest their exertions should not be successful, and lest from their negligence, 'the furthering help of the Spirit should be withdrawn?'1
I feel no objection to this statement, nor the least inclination to write in vindication of those, who maintain any thing inconsistent with it.
«« Draw nigh to God,” says St. James," and • he will draw nigh to you."
Some approach, therefore, towards God on the part of men, some * exertion of their own will is necessary to obtain • his effectual assistance.' 2
Such exhortations abound in every part of scripture, and they shew us what is our bounden duty; but not the source of that disposition to do our duty, about which we are inquiring.-Iam confident that a large majority of those who are called the evangelical clergy, including even the Calvinists among them, are far more abundant and earnest in enforcing these exhortations, than most other preachers are : and that, by thus“ testifying
~ of the world that its works are evil,” and calling on all men to renounce their sins, and turn to God by Jesus Christ, and “ do works meet for repen“ tance;" they incur a great proportion of that marked disapprobation, with which they are pursued by the careless, the profane, the formal, and the dissipated. In argumentative discussions we must descend to distinctions, limitations, and explanations ; but, in our popular addresses, we seldom clog or enfeeble our carnest exhortations by them : either wholly omitting them, or stating what we deem needful in this respect, in another part of our public instructions. It is then needless to adduce, as if objected to, any thing spoken of
the dutiful necessity of exertions, voluntary endeavours, diligence, activity, and abounding in
every good word and work;" except when some unfounded charge is connected with it. I avow that ministers, and writers on religious subjects, cannot too strongly insist on the necessity and importance of “striving to enter in at the strait gate, or pressing forward in “ the narrow way;" provided they remember that “if a man strive for the mas“tery, he is not crowned except he strive lawfully."! The whole must be done in dependence on the mercy and grace of God in Christ Jesus, and not in self-dependence or self-righteousness; and, when what is really good before God has been wrought, we teach men by our instruction and example, to trace back the effect to the cause, and to say, “Yet “not I, but the grace of God that was with me :" “ By the grace of God I am what I am." 2
I 2 Tim. ï. 5.
2 1 Cor. xv. 10. .