Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

effected gradually, the first word might be, Let there be a willing mind and there would be a willing mind. This being done, by him "who com"manded the light to shine out of darkness," and in the same manner; that willing mind, being preserved, as light and life are, by him that gave them, would concur earnestly in the gracious design. The fallen spirit thus rendered willing, and desirous of recovery to the favour and image of God, would" work out his own salvation with fear "and trembling ; and using all other proper means, would pray without ceasing, to God who had "wrought in him to will," that he would " work in "him also to do." Now, if man be indeed 'gone, 'quam longissime, from original righteousness, 'and of his own nature inclined' only 'to evil,' the process in his case must be precisely the same.

'Even St. Paul allowed the possibility of his 'having received "the grace of God in vain;" 'and surely the same possibility must be admitted, 'with respect to all other Christians." 1

Did the apostle mean that grace of God of which our article speaks ?' The grace of God, by Christ, 'preventing us, that we may have a good will, and 'working with us, when we have that good will.' 2 Our argument relates to the grace of God in this sense alone. St Paul says, " By the grace of God "I am what I am: and his grace which was be"stowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured "more abundantly than they all; yet not I, but ". the grace of God which was with me." Did he

1 Ref. 32. 'Art x.

thus labour " more abundantly than they all," in "working out his own salvation," or in seeking the salvation of other men? The latter is evidently meant, and the case is not in point. Yet if the other had been intended, (as no doubt he was in that respect also abundantly diligent,) it still " was God "who worked in him both to will and to do."

"The grace of God " is used in the New Testament in several distinct senses. The mercy and love of God in sending his Son into the world, as the Saviour of the world; in sending the gospel; in " beseeching sinners to be reconciled to him;" as well as in "quickening the dead in sin;" is called " the grace of God." 1 With reference to the former instances, the apostle says to the Corinthians, "We, as fellow workers together with "God, beseech you also, that ye receive not the "grace of God in vain." 2 And the propriety of such exhortations is fully conceded.3 Even the bounty of providence, as entrusted to our stewardship, is included in " the manifold grace of God" by St. Peter, being unmerited favour. In these senses many " receive the grace of God in vain:" but can that which worketh both the will and power to what is good before God be thus received in vain?

'The grace of God does not act with compul'sory force, but only directs and assists our en'deavours.'4

1 See Sect, on Salvation by Grace.

'2 Cor. v. 18—21. vi. 1,2. 1 Pet. iv. 9, 10.—See also ^2 Cor. ix.8—11.

'Sect, on Exertion and Active Diligence. 4 Ref. 69.

It has been shewn, and will still further appear, that something more than assistance and direction is ascribed to the grace of God, both in scripture and in our authorized books; but compulsion certainly is not meant. A humane person sees a fellow creature drowning: he plunges into the water and brings out the apparently lifeless body. Proper means are used for restoring the man, and they are rendered successful. Did the man concur in those means? Could the process be properly called compulsion? Was he not, till life was resuscitated, entirely passive? But now, though weak, yet by help of friends he rises and walks: now he begins to be willing and active. The only difference in this case " from that of God, who is "rich in mercy, quickening the dead in sin," and "working in us to will," seems to be this: the drowned man, though he did not concur, did not resist the efforts of his benevolent helpers; but man, when "dead in sin" and "to God," is so alive to sin, that the grace of God which restores him is neither irresistible nor unresisted.

'A machine necessarily executes the will of its maker.'1

Do we, by the foregoing statement, make man a machine? He cannot as a servant be faithful to his master till he is willing; and "it is God who "worketh in him to will." Yet, after all, it cannot with propriety be said that a machine is compelled, and our argument is exclusively about compulsion.

1 Ref. 70.

If a few passages may be produced from Calvinistic writers, in which the words, compel, force, and such like are used: and may not as many, in proportion, of the same kind be found in the scriptures, when we know that actual compulsion, against the will of the person concerned, is not intended ?" His servants, with the witch of Endor, "compelled" Saul: itapZitiKorro: LXX.1 "Go into "the high ways, and compel them to come in:" avayxoo-ov.2 "I am become a fool in glorying; ye "have compelled me:" jvayxoiffarc.3 "Why com"pellest thou the gentiles to judaize?" avaynaZsts-4 "They constrained him:" tfafE&aSovro.5 "She con"strained us:" ttapSii<raro.6 "I was constrained "to appeal unto Caesar." ijvoyxao-.V.7—It at least from these passages appears, that such words are sometimes used, whenforcible compulsion of those who continue unwilling is not meant; but merely such means earnestly and urgently persisted in, as at length induce voluntary consent. Such terms, however, are so liable to misconstruction, that, in arguments of this kind, the use of them should, I think, be scrupulously avoided.—Compulsion, as it relates to the impenitence and unbelief of those who perish, will hereafter require a brief notice; and, in respect of the case of those who are saved, enough has been stated on the subject.

1 1 Sam. xxviii. 23. 'Luke xiv. 23. '2 Cor. xii. 11. 4 Gal. ii. 14. s Luke xxiv. 29. 'Acts xvi. 15.

'Acts xxviii. 19.

SECTION III.
On the terms Supernatural and Irresistible.

'There is not a single passage in the New Tes'tament, which leads us to suppose, that any 'supernatural power was exerted over the minds 'of ordinary hearers; and therefore we are autho'rized to attribute their faith to the voluntary ex'ercise of their reason.'l

If supernatural here signify miraculous, in the common acceptation of the word, the assertion may be admitted: and if, compulsory, it has already been considered. But supernatural, in the general and proper use of language, means that which is above nature, and which nature left to itself could not attain: and nature, in theology, when used concerning man, signifies the mind and disposition of man as a fallen creature. Will it then be maintained, that, in the case of the primitive converts to Christianity, nothing above the nature of fallen man is mentioned in the New Testament? Our Lord expressly says, "No man "can come unto me, except the Father which "hath sent me draw him." "No man can come "unto me, except it were given unto him of my "Father." 2 Is there nothing supernatural in this drawing and giving?

'The following is the comment of Bishop 'Hooper, one of our reformers and martyrs, upon J this text: " No man cometh unto me, except my

'Ref. 18. \Johniv. 44,46,65.

« AnteriorContinuar »