« PreviousContinue »
through the influence of the Holy Spirit. If the tree be thus made good, the fruit will be good; but if the tree be bad, it is certain the fruit will not be good. Thus good impressions require divine truth as the seal, reason and freewill as the hand, and honesty of heart as the soft wax.
A dishonest and bad heart, like the hard wax, resists the seal. God vouchsafes to all men who hear the gospel, a proposal of divine truth, and physical powers, --judgment and reason, conscience and free-will; these in themselves are valuable gifts of heaven: but he is not under any obligation to soften the hard heart, or to alter the nature of man, which, of itself, ever since the first apostacy,
66 inclineth to evil.” This deserves further explanation.
§ 7. It is manifest that God can take away the heart of stone, and give a heart of flesh, for he has declared that he will do it; nor is it consistent with worthy thoughts of God, or with becoming reverence, to say that he can not do it, in reference to any of the human race, however depraved. Yet, if he were under obligation, in justice to his creatures, or if it any way became him to effect this, we are sure it would be done; for he cannot be unjust to his creatures, nor omit any thing which it becon es him to 'do. Consequently, when any heart is left unchanged, God does not omit what
becomes him, and all the blame attaches to the unbelieving and impenitent sinner. And in those instances wherein the heart is made susceptible of good impressions, through the intervention of truth and free-will, we acknowledge the operation of discriminating grace. For if the obligation is not of justice, there is no other alternative.
§ 8. His Lordship further avows, that conversion is owing to the exercise of our natural powers. His words are these: • The inhabitants of Samaria, by giving heed to the preaching 'of Philip, and by seeing the miracles he
per' formed, believed the things which he spake 'concerning the kingdom of God, and the name ' of Jesus Christ, and were baptized both men and women. The conversion therefore of these persons also was owing to the exercise of their own natural powers.'* Far be it from Calvinists to discard the use of divinely instituted means, especially attention to preaching, and a believing regard to the testimony of God in his word. They are in the habit of inculcating these duties; and many, both men and women, are converted in the use of them to the faith of Jesus, and to the love of God. But we dare not say, that such conversions, or that of the
Samaritans, should be ascribed exclusively to the exercise of natural powers. If his Lordship includes the grace of God as an essential cause of that conversion, disposing men to exercise these powers aright, we have the pleasure of agreeing with him.
§ 9. Conversion, in our view of it, denotes an actual turning from vice to real virtue; from every false refuge to Christ, who is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth in him with the heart; from an inordinate love of self and of the world to the love of God; and from the practice of sin, whether open or secret, to the exercise of divinely prescribed duties and all holy obedience. In this representation, I presume, his Lordship acquiesces. Now, the question is, whence originates so great a change both inward and outward ?-to what is it owing? Can it satisfy any serious and reflecting enquirer, to be told, that the change in converted persons was
owing to the exercise of their own natural powers?' Do not the disobedient exercise their own natural powers? Yes; but the sincere converts, it may be said, exercise them in a different manner. Granted; but the enquirer has a right to ask, why they do so ? For this is the very point in question ; and he is entitled to expect a better answer, than, They do it,
because they do it. Our answer is,--and let the reader judge whether it be not conformable to scripture and the principles of sound reason,the happy change is owing to the special grace of God in the hearts of true converts, disposing them to exercise their natural powers in a proper manner. I said, special grace; 'because that which is displayed in the gospel objectively, which bringeth the tidings of salvation through Christ, has appeared to all men--is alike comion to the converted and unconverted, to numbers who perish, as well as to them who are eventually saved. Consequently that grace which causes the difference of result, must be subjectire, or internal, and special.
The Bishop's avowed Sentiments on Dirine
OPERATIONS, examined. $ 1. The subject stated. $ 2. The Bishop's declaration respecting the manner of co-operation,
examined. 3. Divine operation does not infringe on human freedom. § 4. Is'not merely in the way of suasion. $5. Is internal. $ 6. Not immediately on the will, but the heart. $ 7. With a design to beget a virtuous principle. $ 8. Which is illu
minating, and $ 9. Antecedent to man's co-operation. $ 10. That the communication of the Spirit is subsequent to belief, examined. f 11. Different kinds of influence
-common, and § 12. Extraordinary; this preceded by faith. § 13. Faith distinguished as to its principles and exercise. $ 14. Extraordinary
influence not communicated to any who refused to believe. $ 15. That divine influence is communicated by Baptism, 'examined.
§ 16. This not the office of Baptism. § 17. But to represent. § 18 - 24. Divine influence and Baptism not inseparably
associated. 25. If grace were irresistible, men could not fall into sin,
examined. § 26. In what sense grace is irresistible. $ 27. In
what sense good men can fall into sin, and also cannot. $ 28. That irresistible grace cannot be employed as an argument
for private care and diligence, examined. § 29. Its fallacy shewn from analogy.
§ 1. As his Lordship does not hesitate to acknowledge, in general, the doctrine of divine influence on the human mind, it is not necessary here to enter into a professed vindication of it: and it is no' small pleasure to me, that he so openly avows, and so ably defends, in his Christian Theology, many important points of