« PreviousContinue »
revealed doctrine, which he holds in comnion with the Calvinists; especially the doctrine of the sacred Trinity in Unity, as well as that of atonement for sin by the substitution of Jesus Christ. Some things, however, he advances, respecting divine operations, which appear to me highly exceptionable. While he frankly acknowledges, that the manner of divine co-operation is unknown to him, which is a sufficient apology why he does not attempt to explain it, he yet contends that the communication of the Holy Ghost is subsequent to belief, indiscriminately—that Baptism imparts the Holy Ghost-that if divine influence were irresistible, men could not fall into sin--and that the doctrine of irresistible grace cannot be employed as an argument for private care and diligence. . On these points let us attend to his own declarations.
§ 2. Though it might be thought presumptuous in me, to pretend to instruct his Lordship on a point which, he explicitly avows, is unknown to him; yet a few observations, for the sake of the general reader, may be hazarded, perhaps, without offence. The declaration I refer to is this: 'in what manner, or in what proportion, if I may so say, God and man
* Refut. p. 36.
co-operate, I am utterly unable to explain or discover.'*_I do not indeed hesitate to add, with Bishop BULL, “ Modum quidem concursus gratiæ divinæ cum humana voluntate exacte definire, ac dicere quid sola præstet gratia, quid cum et sub grátiâ liberum agat arbitrium, non exiguæ difficultatis res est.” | But there is an important difference between a subject being attended with considerable difficulty, in our attempts at accurately defining and describing it, and its being utterly unknown. Whatever difficulties belong to the manner and proportion of the co-operation of God and man, there are some considerations which tend considerably to lessen them.
§ 3. We may be certain that the freedom of the human will is not infringed by the divine operation : since to infringe the freedom of a moral agent, is to diminish his accountability, in the same proportion, his freedom being the very foundation on which his accountability depends. The reality of divine operation on some human minds, and the certainty of a future account of our actions, whether good or evil, are fundamental and acknowledged truths. Consequently the operation does not infringe our freedom,
* Bull Harm. Apost. Dissert. Post.
§ 4. We may further be certain that the operation is not merely external, in the way of suasion, but internal. We have a distinct idea of moral means, external testimonies and pro-, clamations, proofs and persuasive considerations, addresses to the fancy and the passions; and it is easy to conceive how such things operate on the mind, according to its previous disposition and preparatory state. We know, as a matter of fact, that the most solemn divine testimonies, the most awful proclamations of wrath and mercy,' the most conclusive proofs, the most persuasive considerations, the most affecting addresses, the most lively descriptions, and the most powerful appeals to the passions, not only fail to engage many minds to love God and to obey him from the heart, but often become the innocent occasion of growing aversion to God and holiness. The discourses and miracles of our Saviour before the Pharisees and rulers, is a case in point. The very same things excited the love of some, and the hatred of others. And this the apostles, and subsequent preachers of the gospel ever since, have had abundant cause to notice,--and the parable of the sower illustrates it. If moral suasion were of itself sufficient, addressed to the reason and free-will of men, none of our Saviour's hearers would have remained unconverted. But
the rejectors of him and his gospel wanted a good and honest heart.
§ 5. We must therefore conclude, that the operation whích renders the means effectual to salvation, is internal, or in the person himself. The word of God is in itself perfect, and needs no operation to make it more excellent: conseqụently it is not in, nor, strictly speaking, with the word, in order to make it different from what it always was. It must then be a physical operation as contradistinguished from what is moral. Let not the reader be alarmed at the term physical operation; for we do by no means intend by it what some have been pleased to suggest. The term is used by Calvinists-not to convey the idea of producing a superadded physical power, or natural faculty, but-- to represent a positive and actual agency by the Holy Spirit, enabling the person to exercise the powers he had before, in a proper manner. It is not used as a contrast to spiritual or supernatural, but rather to any agency
be supposed to exist in objects of choice presented to the mind. The latter are properly denominated moral means, because they act according to the will and disposition of the person. .
6. Hence, the immediate object of the
Spirit's operation is not the will, bat the heart, as the source of moral actions. A physical, or positive influence on the will itself directly, would in the same degree destroy its freedom; whereas a direct influence on the heart leaves the freedom unimpaired. The will can only be solicited by objective means, or indirectly influenced by an inward principle. And in every virtuous choice there must be both a virtuous principle and a worthy object of choice presented to the mind, and each is equally essential. A worthy object presented where the principle is bad, will never generate a virtuous choice; and a worthy principle where the object is unworthy, is equally barren and ineffectual. If it be said that an unworthy object may be rejected, as well as a worthy one chosen, and each virtuous; it is answered, that such a rejection is virtuous only in a negative sense. Where the virtue is positive there is always implied a more worthy object preferred, in comparison of it. To reject idols or falsehood is, but a negative virtue; but to prefer God to idols, or truth to falsehood, where that preference is sincere and cordial, is positive virtue.
$ 7. The end of divine operations must be to produce a virtuous principle, or in the language of the prophet, to “ take away the heart