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internal principle of light and life. And the reason why they think so is, that it is not an object exhibited or presented to the will. When there is no option, there can be no voluntary rejection. Thus the principle of reason is irresistible in every subject of it, though its proper use, and those things which are adapted to improve it, are often resisted. In like manner, though the principle of divine grace is irresistible, those things are often - resisted, which in their own nature are adapted to promote gracious determinations, affections, and obedience.
§ 26. Yet, there is a sense in which we believe that grace, as to its use and exercise, is irresistible by any thing without or within the mind. In what cases, and to what degree, must depend on the sovereign will of God. If God design (and who can question his right to design?) that his internal grace shall not be resisted, is it not in that degree irresistible? When Calvinists plead for the irresistibility of grace, they take two things into account: First, the nature of that grace which they intend; not the common favour contained in the annunciation of gospel blessings, or in the exhibition of mercy by any divine institution, but the gracious operation of the Holy Spirit producing a new heart, or a right principle of action.
Secondly, they take into the account the will of God, supporting and strengthening the principle, making it victorious over every difficulty. To plead that common favour--the grace of God that bringeth salvation, the proclamation of mercy which is destined for all men is resistible, or to set the will of God -- his efficacious purpose respecting the vital holy principle — out of the question, is to plead without a cause, and to contend without an opposer. What can be plainer in fact, or more reasonable in thought, than that God imparts his favours when, where, how, to whom, and to what degree he pleases? And if he determine that any possessed of a gracious principle shall continue to the end victorious over every resistance, who will be so presumptuous as to say, that his grace in them can be successfully resisted? Is it not to limit his mercy and omnipotence?
$ 27. That good men can fall into sin is a painful fact; and it is equally certain that God is “able to keep them from falling"~" to keep them by his mighty power through faith unto salvation.” Their liability to fall is of themselves, but their ability to stand is of God. While he “ keeps them from falling,” they cannot fall; but if left to themselves they both can and will fall.
A deep sense of this dependence upon God, is the essence of true
devotion; and its language is, “ Hold thou me up, O Lord, and I shall be safe;--without thee, divine Saviour, I can do nothing; but I can do all things if thou strengthen me.” Were there no defect in our nature, or were that defect counteracted by confirming grace, there would be no falling into sin. But to contend, that he ought to do this for us, either in justice or in mercy, is surely both impious and absurd : impious, as impeaching his actual conduct; for he does not keep any of his servants, while in this world, in a state of sinless perfection : " there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good and sinneth not,” and “ if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." The requisition moreover is absurd: it manifestly implies that God ought to confer upon us all the favour he can confer,—that his favours are not at his own disposal,— that he ought to act to the extent of possibility in shewing mercy: and to say, that mercy, or grace, or any favour is due to the creature, is clearly a direct contradiction, both in meaning and in terms.
28. It is further asserted by his Lordship, that irresistible grace cannot be employed as an argument for private care and diligence. His words are: God does not so work in us as to exclude our own care and industry; that
• is, he does not work irresistibly. For, supposing God to work irresistibly, the wit of man cannot make an argument out of it for private care and diligence.”*
Taking the words “irresistible grace' in the sense before explained, and as Calvinists use them, the objection has no more force than the following, viz. ' supposing God to work irresistibly' in imparting to us the principle of reason, we cannot make an argument out of it for private care and diligence, respecting the improvement and right use of it. Again, the succession of day and night, summer and winter, seed time and harvest, is uncontroulable by man, therefore he cannot make an argument out of it ' for private care and diligence,' to work while it is day, to provide in summer for the winter season, or to sow his seed that he inay reap his harvest in due time. Or, because every seed, every plant, and every animal, has its own peculiar nature, and the principles of its nature are irresistibly wrought in it, we cannot make an argument out of it for private care and diligence,' by improving that nature and cherishing those principles.
§ 29. Surely, if the certainty, and irresistibility of principles in physical nature, be no good argu
* Refut. p. 37.
ment against the propriety of private care and diligence, or do not supersede our own industry, whether these principles be in ourselves or in others, some good reason should be assigned why the same is not applicable to gracious nature. Nay, if in physical nature the irresistibility of a principle, and the certainty of its continuance, is a strong argument for care and industry in its cultivation, we are entitled to ask, why the irresistibility of grace, in tlie sense explained, should not be an argument of equal force for fear and diligence, care and industry? What God requires, should be attended to with care and diligence; but he requires belief, love, fear, hope, and universal obedience. Now is it conceivable that the principle, from whence these required graces proceed, being the irresistible work of God, is inconsistent with such requisitions? We do not say, with the Remonstrants, that our possessing the principle is the foundation of the requirement, but that the possession of it is a corroborating argument for the exercise of these required graces and tempers. In a word, the irresistibility of a divine nature in its bestowment, is a strong argument for its careful, industrious, and diligent improvement.