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generate. This argument my opponent takes some notice of in a Note, pp. 72, 73. To show that 1 am ■wrong in confining the promise to the regenerate, he quotes lsa. lv 7, " Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous men his thoughts ; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him ; and to our God, and he will abundantly pardon." "In these words," he adds, '■ the promise of pardon is made to the wicked,on condition of (heir returning toGod." Did Mr. 15. understand me to say, that while men were in an unrene-wed state, they did not, and could not know, that there were any promises contained in God's word? or that these promises were not held out as any inducement to them to turn to God? If he did Understand me so, no such thing was intended. We well know, that God promises to the greatest and most htll-dcserving sinners in the world, that if they repent, they shall be forgiven; if they believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, they shall be saved: but while they remain impenitent and ■unbelieving, the firotnisee are not theirs. They cannot plead a single promise as belonging to them. They are children of wrath, being under the sentence of condemnation. In the gospel, commands and promises are so connected, as perpetually to keep this idea in view, that the promises do not belong to us, unless we obey the commands. No one can suppose that all the sinners in the world have a light to cluim the promise of forgiveness, because they are all told, that if they repent, they shall be forgiven. The pron ise is as it were, hid behind the command—when by the spirit of obedience, we come up to the command, we then find and enjoy the promise. He who has evidence that he has complied with divine requirements, may plead with God, as David did ; " Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope."
Having explained our meaning, let the argument be weighed. The question now is, whether the promise of eternal life be made to any sinner who is not born of God—who has not become a new creature—who has not passed from death to life? Does he possess, or can lie possess any thing, while he icmains unrenewed, which will entitle him to one of those promises which ensure eternal life? Has not the word gone out of the
mouth of the faithful and true Witness, " Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." 13ut while it is manifest, that promises of divine favor are not made to the unregenerate, it is equally manifeit, that they are made to those who possess any degree of holy iiffection.— Promises of divine favor are made to those who love God—to those who repent of their sin—to those who Crust in Christ, and to those who love the brethren, so as to give them a cup of cold water because of their relation to chiist. If the love to God; if the repentance, and faith, and brotherly kindness, do but partake of a holy nature, they will meet the divine approbation, and take hold of the promises, and will in no wise lose their reward, though they do not come up to the standard of sinless perfection. Now if the promises are made to those, who have holy love to God, without specifying the degree, then it follows ; that those who cannot claim the promises, have not the least degree of holy love, and must therefore remain totally depraved. Our opponents do not pretend, that perfection in holiness is indispensably requisite to justification, and the promises of eternal life. The question will then arise, how much holiness must a sinner have to become interested in the promises? If our doctrine of total depravity be not true, the sinner ha* some holiness before he is regenerated; how much holiness does regeneration add to him, so as to place him within the promises of the covenant of grace.
Let not my readers view the doctrine before us, as a speculative point, which is of little consequence how it is decided. There is no doctrine nTuie deeply interesting to us all. It is concerning cur own character, that we have been inquiring. It is granted on both 'sides, that this character is bad. Hut how bad, is now the question. If it be totally bid, we must know it, or. the ignorance of it will probably be our ruin. The word ef God seems to make it essential, that -we should 'know every man the plague of his own heart. I. Kings, \iii. 58. If the unregenerate view themselves as any thing better than entirely sinful, their attention to religion will be apt to resemble the conduct of the man, yrtio thinks his. oJd house is too good to pull down, ~ . ~ 7 •
Such a man will spend his time and money, in repairing his old house, when, if the frame and foundation are completely defective, his labor and money will be lest. In this case, it is important that the man be made acquainted with the true state of his building that he may turn all his attention to the erecting of a new one which alone will defend him against the winds and the rains and the floods which may unexpectedly come upon him, while he is attempting to patch up his rotten and irreparable house.
A VINDICATION 0¥ THE DOCTRINE OF PERSONAL ELECTION, BEING A REPLY TO OBJECTIONS RAISED
i AGAINST THIS DOCTRINE PARTICULARLY IN MR. BANGS' THIRD LETTER.
MR. BANGS' Third Letter is designed to expose my erroneous sentiments on the docti inc of election, or, as it is otherwise termed, Predestination. The text which was taken to bring; into view this doctrine, was Rom. ix. 11, For the chitdren being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the /,urpoie of God according to electio?i might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth. The doctrinal proposition which was supposed to be contained in this text, was thus expressed; l'he fiurpose of God, in choosing some creatures to enjoy eternal happiness, in distinction from others, is not foundid ufion their good works, and will therefore invariably stand. In handling the doctrine, it was attempted to be shown, 1. That election is not founded on woiks; II. That God's purpose of election will never in a single instance, be frustrated, but will always stand.
Mr. B. in the commencement of this Letter says, "Your laboring to prove that election is not founded upon works Joresccn, is calculated to impress the reader with an idea that we believe it is." Certainly I did suppose that Arminian*, whether in the Methodist, or Presbyterian church, believed that election was founded on works foreseen; nor did 1 hear any thing offered by Air. B. in the public Debate ; nor do I see any thing in his Letters, to lead me to alter the opinion which I had formed. I would turn the readers attention to one or two sentences on the l£Oih page: "He also knew that the Gentiles would believe in Jesus Christ, and therefore he determined before the foundation of the world, to call them by the gospel, and give them an offer of salvation." "Those among the Jews whom he foreknew would embrace the Lord Jesus, he did not reject, any more than he did the believing Gentiles" Introductory to these sentences he had said; "To this objection the apostle opposes his doctrine of election, predicated of God's prescience." Now put these sen. lences together, and is it net clear, that Mr. B. makes the election of some sinners to eternal life, whether Jews or Gentiles, to turn on the point of their foreseen works, by which they will distinguish themselves from their fellow sinners?
By works in the controversy about election, we do not mean merit. In this sense, works are excluded from the whole of a sinner's salvation. In the eye of the law, the sinner who is perfectly sanctified, is nevertheless without works, and as such he is justified freely through the redemption which there is in Christ Jesus. But when woi ks are considered as the fruit of the operations of the Holy Spirit, all the regenerate have good works. Repentance and faith are holy exeicises> and may be called good works. A life of prayer and obedience to the commands of God, it is script urally proper to call good works. Now the que,stion.is whether these good things which are within us, or done by us, are the reason of our being put into the number of God's elect. Wc believe, that the refson why one sinner \s forgiven, in distinction from another, is that he repents; and why one sinner is justified in distinction from another, is that he believes on the Lord Jesus Christ: He that believcth shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned. Rcper.t-ncc and faith are not meritorious, but they are nevertheless conditions of our bc'mg forgiven and accepted in the Beloved. But are these also conditions of our being chosen in him, before the foundation of the woild, that we should be holy? Are they the conditions on which God pre. destinates sinners to be conformed to the image of his Son? The gracious work of renovating our hearts, is not suspended upon conditions, God does not say, If