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Thoughts on the Inability of Sin- tion laid in regeneration for holy
affections and exercises in a
train is evident from the expeseems generally agreed, rience of all Christians ; for
are the subjects in the new birth ment the power of indwelling · is moral and not physical ; or, sin, they can still bear witness in other words, that it is predica- to the faithfulness of God in ble of the will and affections on- carrying on the work which he ly, and not of the intellect, or has begun in their hearts; and other natural faculty, as its pro- also from the scriptures which deper seat. For though it be true, clare, that the gifts and calling as it certainly is, that in the of God are without repentance. new birth the whole man is, in It is a fact that they love what an important sense, renewed, they hated before, and hate what the understanding is illuminated, they loved before : and there is the conscience is purged, and a reason to be sought for, in the every faculty is sanctified ; yet nature of things, why they this is supposed to be the neces- do so; and a reason sufficient sary consequence of the change for the effect. There is a perof the will and affections. But manent reason resulting from though the change, in its main the nature of creatures or of their character be moral, it will not characteristic temper ; we follow that there is no change in mark the difference, and we acthe nature of the subject as the count for the fact, by supposing ground of holy affections: and that their frame and constitution, if such change be supposed, it or their natures are different.-inust be admitted, that so far it | The dog and the lamb are so is physical : for moral quality is made as to be differently affectpredicable of the will and affec-ed with the same object. The tions only, and not of that state dog will bite, and the lamb will of the soul which is the ground of lick the band that offers violence. them. That there is a founda- Perceiving this diversity we
Vol. VI. NO. 10.
have no more doubt that their | of events, except in upholding make or constitution is differ- the vast machine which, in the ent, than we have, that their beginning, he had set in motion. passions and affections are so. It is no more inconsistent with In like manner if we see cause the holy nature of God to opeto conclude from the uniform rate in and by the serpent, than conduct of two persons, for ato operate in and by the dove. course of years, that one loves His agency in and by the two God and his neighbor, and that she-bears out of the wood, which the other loves no being but tare forty and two children who himself, and sensibly hates all mocked Elisha, was as pure, as who stand in his way, we ne-in and by the ravens which fed cessarily conclude, that their Elijah : or, in and by the dove natures or constitutions are dif- which returned to Noah in the ferent, as well as their affections ark with the olive leaf. His and exercises themselves. So agency in afflicting Job through when we observe that an indi- the malice of Satan was as holy vidual from spiteful and mali- as it was in and by Job in feedcious becomes uniformly kinding the hungry and clothing the and benevolent, we conclude naked. The divine benignity is that his nature is changed ; not impressed on all his works; and his affections only, but his cor- every creature of God, either stitution, in which we seek a by itself, or in its connection reason of the existence of af- with other things, and in the fections of a certain kind in a use to which it is applied by train.
him who filleth all in all, will Should it be said, that holy show forth his praise. affections, in the regenerate, The opinion, that the change are produced by a law of con- in regeneration cannot be physstant divine operation, it will be ical, seems to have originated admitted ; but it will be proper in the theory, that man could to remark, tliat, for ought ap- not be to blame for a state of pears, all that is meant by na- unregeneracy; or for being detúre, in any creature, is a law of stitute of a principle of holy constant divine operation by love, if a physical change was which, certain affections, voli- necessary as the ground of that tions, actions, or motions, are affection ; because, this would produced, in a certain stated imply a natural inability for holy course and order, so as to bring exercise ; but that he would be about the end for which the to blame for being in that state, creature was made. Such an if the new birth were supposed idea of nature in creatures is only a moral change ; because not seen to be inconsistent with such a change would imply only sound philosophy, or divinity. a moral inability for holy exerOn the contrary, by making cise, consisting in the want of God, as it were, visible in every a heart for it. This reasoning thing and event, it has the ad-goes on the supposition, that vantage of that idea of nature natural inability excuses from which tends to exclude him blame, but that moral inability from our thoughts, as having does not. But this must be unlittle or no agency in the course I derstood with limitations. No
thing seems necessary to blame-, himself and others. Indeed, the
The blame of a rational agent themselves. Still, it will remain does not consist in this that he true, that our affections are not had power to do otherwise if he what they are as a consequence had pleased ; nor in this, that of our choosing them ; but they his evil temper is the fruit of his are what they are, by a law of own choice ; but it consists in our nature ; which is indepenthis, that his temper is, in itself, dent of our volitions and prior to evil ; prompting to a train of them. If it were otherwise, we volitions and external actions should, in a sense, be masters of which dishonor God, and injure our own destiny; for, as our af.
fections, which are nothing more delight, they alone will be than modifications of pleasure sought on their own account, the and pain, are the spring of hap- whole enquiry will be, who will piness, and misery ; or, more shew us any good ? If spiritual properly, are themselves happi- objects afford delight, we sball ness or misery, in proportion to live a life of faith, which will their intensity, if they were the be to us the substance of things objects of choice, or choice itself, hoped for ; and the desire of we should never be the subjects our souls will be, .“ Lord lift of pain or distress in any case. “ thou up the light of thy counIndeed, the very existence of “ tenance upon us.” There is painful affections which, more no natural man, who has just or less, we always experience, speculative views of God, but such as fear, despair, envy, and knows, that the love of God shed the like, proves, that the affec- abroad in the heart would be the tions are distinct from volition or greatest of all blessings ; and choice.
he may seek this, in the word, The view of an approaching and other means of grace, as evil will excite fear; if seen to be being essential to his happiness, unavoidable, it will produce des- fin this world, and in the world to pair : if we love not our neigh- come : while he is wholly desbor, his good, if we covet it, will titute of it, and is conscious that excite envy ; and his opposition he is so. Nor is there any reato ours, malice. All these af- son to doubt, but sinners, who fections are modes of pain which are thoroughly convinced of the application of their objects their true character and state, will certainly produce, whether would undertake the most painwe will or not ; and the effect is ful service imaginable, and necessary by a natural necessity; would give ten thousand worlds, for it will exist, notwithstanding if they owned them, for the love any actual or supposable will or of God, as a means of escaping endeavor to the contrary. The hell. Nay, they may be satispleasing affections are equally fied, that the love of God in the independent of the will as the heart would itself be blessedpainful ones. In view of attaina-ness, and the only proper life of ble good, a man cannot choose the soul, and yet feel nothing but hoře, and in the possession but enmity against him. And of it, he cannot choose but re- they might continue in such a joice : and he might be willing, state, and with such views, for in vain, to purchase love at the many years, even to their dying price of all the substance of his day, and in the agonies of death house. Our affections constitute itself, and sink to endless woe us sensitive beings; and they at last. In such a state they are the spring of all our volitions would know for certain, “ that and outward actions. We seek" it is not of him that willeth, the good, and shun the evil,“ nor of him that runneth, but of which we find the presence of God that sheweth mercy." objects around us is calculated These views, indeed, commonly to produce ; and this occupies prepare the way for the bestowthe whole of our attention. If ment of mercy ; but there is no the objects of sense alone afford ! certain connection between theią
and that bestowment. They are / ty: I loath the very sight of not of the nature of holiness, him: my will has nothing to do because they imply no sense of with the subject, except to shun the beauty and glory of the di- an object in itself loathsome : vine character ; and are wholly my nature, or the nature of the selfish. The Saviour says, in- creature, must be changed bedeed, ye will not come unto me fore I can love him. The case that ye might have life; and this is the same with respect to is the character of every sinner. moral objects. The wicked are But coming to Christ is an exer- an abomination to the righteous, cise of that faith which worketh and the righteous to the wicked. by love ; love is pre-supposed, There is an opposition of charand is most essential in the act acter ; they cannot feel complaof coming to Christ. They can cency in each other : though will any thing which does not the righteous may and do exerimply this. But he also says, cise good will towards the wick“No man can come to me, ex-ed, they cannot love their charac
cept the Father who hath sent ter. Tell a natural man to love
me draw him." These words, Christ, and he will answer, if he in their obvious meaning, imply speak out his heart, I see no not only a want of will, but form or comeliness in him, no strictly a want of power. The beauty that I should desire him. affection of love to God, or, Ofer him eternal glory if he which is the same thing, a per- will love him, and come to him ; ception of his beauty and glory, tell him that Christ is infinitely is wanting. Now it is certain, lovely, the chiefest of ten thouthat the sinner cannot obtain this sands ; that he is the delight of perception by any possible or all holy beings; that God himsupposable volition of his own. self, whose judgment is perfect, The reason is, it is the work of loves him with infinite love ; and God alone, it is a new creation : has highly exalted him, and givit infinitely transcends the pow- en him a name that is above er of any creature ; nor is the every name ; and he will anproduction of it connected, in- swer, it may be so; or I believe fallibly, with any thing which it is so ; and I have no doubt, the sinner can do, by the pro- but if I loved the Lord Jesus mise of God.
Christ in sincerity, I should be Ask the first man you meet blessed for ever. Yet I must say, whether he can love a toad or a as before, I see no beauty in him. viper? He will answer, it is im- Threaten him from God, the possible. Offer him an estate if God of truth, with eternal torhe will love and caress the ugly ments in hell, if he live and die creature ; he will feel himself an enemy to Christ; and he may insulted, and will retort, Sir, you reply that he expects to be damknow it is impossible. Tell him ned if he continue of his present his inability is nothing else but temper ; for he sees no forin or the want of a will, and that he comeliness in Christ, and feels can love the creature if he plea- that his heart is enmity against ses. He will rejoin, Sir, I per- him ; and that he can no more ceive no beauty in the creature: change his own heart, than he djerceive nothing but deformi- can create a world. Tell liim,