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‘chance; but he who makes himself such, that Yo he deserves to be chosen, is made a chosen vessel sor a vessel of honour.'
99* The author's design, I acknowledge, is to rouse the indolent sensualist, lurking under the covert of fatalism: but it seems to me that no design or occasion whatever can justify this mode of expression," he who makes himself such, that he deserves to be chosen.” It appears equally offensive to Christian humility and philosophic truth. How contrary in language and sentiment from the strong affirmation implied in St. Paul's interrogations : 6 Who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive?” + Do not these questions clearly imply, that God makes one to differ from another in what is good and valuable; and that no one has any
excellence but from him? But on the statement of Origen, a Christian, may say, “ I made myself to differ, I distinguished myself from all the undeserving ones.” What though your will was active in worthy deeds, was it not the Spirit of God who
gave you both the will itself and its goodness? “ Be not high-minded-quench not the Spirit.” Give unto God what belongs to him; “ will a man rob God?”
x § 4. Equally reprehensible, because unscrip
Refut. p. 339.
+ 1 Cor. vi. 7.
tural, is the following assertion of ATHANASIUS: « “ For the knowledge, and accurate compre• hension of the way of truth, we have need of
nothing but ourselves.” How different from the language, and how opposite to the meaning of an inspired apostle is this !
“ Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God." + “ But by the grace of God I am what I am; and his grace
which was bestowed 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.” I Had Paul been asked, Have you“ need of nothing but yourself,”—would he not have contradicted ATHANASIUS in his presumptuous assertion ? Had he been asked, how came you to obtain " the knowledge, and accurate comprehension of the way of truth,” would he not have replied, “ God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ?"| While the church of Rome blindly followed the sayings of the Fathers, it is no wonder, considering the selfish propensities of our depraved hearts, that they should err so widely from the truth, and blunder on the doctrine of human merit.
$ 5. Of the same selfish and censurable tendency is the following remark of CHRYSOSTOM : "" And the very circumstance, that this Patri• arch [Abraham), who lived before the time of grace, and before the law, reached such a
measure of virtue by himself, and from his i natural knowledge, is sufficient to deprive us of all excuse. But perhaps some one will say, this man enjoyed great favour from God, and • that the God of the universe shewed great regard for him. This I acknowledge; but
unless he had first shewn things from himself; she would not have enjoyed things from God."** What is this but the Popish doctrine of merit in its most exceptionable form? This eloquent Father evidently confounds things that differ, He supposed that Abraham, because he' \ived “ before the time of grace,” that is, the time of the gospel, had not gospel promises, and was destitute of internal gråce, and that his virtue
“ from his natural knowledge.” Now this is clearly contradicted by the whole strain of scripture : " What shall we say then that Abraham our Father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory, but not before God.”+ He had to glory before men, that his faith was operative; and his acts of faith and obedience
* Refut. p. 464.
+ Rom. iv. 1, 2.
were justified and highly approved of God: the act of believing was his own, but the principle of faith was of God's gracious operation. And his knowledge was not “natural” but gracious; not less so than that of Paul, or any other Christian after “the time of grace.” Internal religion is derived from the same divine source at all times; and the difference, as to “grace,” in the manifestative use of the term which he employs, is only in degrees--not in kind.
X $ 6. There are other passages in the same
writer that must sound very gratingly in the ears of those who properly know themselves. *“ For if he be not a respecter of persons, as he certainly is not, but, looking to the intention, co-operates with us in our right actions, it is evident that we are ourselves the cause of our obtaining his favour.” This is no less false reasoning than false divinity. The conclusion is illogical, that, unless “ we are ourselves the cause of our obtaining his favour,” God must
a respecter of persons.” For what is the proper and scriptural notion of God acting as a respecter of persons? Is it not to shew partiality to one rather than another in his judicial character? But this he does not; for he will judge every one according as his work shall
* Refut. p. 499.
have been. On the supposition that he is bound as a sovereign benefactor to shew.compassion and kindness, only according as we do things worthy of them, who could be saved? This Father, therefore, confounds these characters of God, and the true state of mankind; confounds human ability with human obligation ; what a man actually does with what he ought to do. Even supposing man to perform what he ought, in order to obtain any divine favour proposed to him, still it is a sentiment replete with selfignorance, ingratitude, and corrupt theology, to ascribe this to himself as the cause ” of obtaining it.
§ 7. Not less unjustifiable is the following declaration of CLEMENT of Alexandria. ' is in your power, if you will, to purchase this precious salvation, with your own treasure,
charity and faith, which is the just price • life. This price God willingly accepts. Because God requires “ charity and faith,” in order to salvation, is it not to the last degree preposterous to call this
own tredture,” with which we “purchase this precious salvation !” Some allowance may be made for a rhetorical mode of speaking; but rhetoric is ill employed when it is made to trample on