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happy in every stage of our existence. But such is not the constitution of Divine wisdom. Grace only co-operates
his weakness. "As the wind is in itself invisible sn» "one seting -whence it cometh, andwhither it goeth) and yet "produces sensible and great effects, so a spiritual prin«« ciple (though invisible) may produce sensible effects "in the moral world." The simile illustrates the reality of the principle not the manner of its operation.
3. But if being born of water was a Jewifli phrase, denoting baptism, how could Nicodemus marvel? Our Saviour shall answer this too: Art thou a master of Israel, and knottiest not These Things? i. e. "my "doctrine, as I said before, is this: A true dif"ciple must become a new creature; he must be "admitted into the covenant of grace by baptism, re"nouncing his former sins, prejudices, and all worlds« ly lusts, and live agreeably to the conditions of this "covenant under the conduct of the Holy Spirit. And "do you, a Jewish doctor, wonder at These Things? "Have you not Two Things, which ought to lead "you into my meaning? Do you not yourselves make "proselytes by washing them with water, and count "them new-born persons ? — And have you not pro«' phets, who have foretold, that God will plentifully "communicate the spirit in the days of the Meffias for *« the instruction and improvement of mankind Vy
with human will: it strengthens, enlightens, and improves, but does not over-rule, our powers.
The doctrine of grace, as I take it, is a mystery: but we may as well doubt of the usefulness of light and heat in the animal world, as of the reality of spiritual influences in the moral. The great difficulty is, to reconcile the operations of grace with the freedom of will, a principle, universally acknowledged essential to moral agency. Pray, tell me, you! that think this difficulty a sufficient reason for rejecting the scripture account of grace, how do you reconcile the spontaneity of your animal functions with the invigorating influences of heat and light? You feel yourself, to be sure, master of your own bodily actions; you really walk, and move, at your full liberty. And yet, when your members are grown unfit to retain, assimilate* and exert the vital heat, death is the inevitable
consequence; when your organ of sight is gone, the common luminary shines upon you in vain; you are blind, and dead, and senseless amidst; the general comfort of things around you.
Now I desire no greater degree of faith from you with regard to grace. If any man, says the scripture, have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his. Rom. viii. 7. This spirit is in the moral, what the sun is in the natural world: it is the fountain of intellectual light and heat: our faculties live and move and act in its influence: from it all holy des res, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed. It leaves us free, but is necessary to our spiritual life. Beware then, lest, as the sun cherishes only those creatures, whose organs are adapted to receive his friendly impulses, you may become so blind and dead in trespasses and fins, that the grace of God itself cannot operate upon you, and
awake awake one generous sentiment in that inanimate bosom of yours.
The grace of God requires the cooperation of man in the various instrumental aids of moral discipline. It is the universal language of scripture, which authorizes us to represent the spirit under the similitude of fire. Quench not the spirit, i. Thes. v. 19. Stir up the gift of God which is in thee by the putting on of my hands, ii. Tim. i. 6. Workout your salvation with fear and trembling; Jor it is God which worketh in you to will and do of 'hisgoodpleasure. Phil. ii. 13, 14. These texts (and many more might be adduced) plainly point out the spirit as the principle of sanctification; and yet at the same time suppose that the application belongs to our freedom, else the precepts would be but empty sounds. They refer to the universal rule of God's proceeding in moral cases: He, that hath, i. e. he that really hath, or exerciscth what he hath, to him shall be given j
and and he, that hath not, from him jhall be taken away, even that which he hath. Mark, iv.25.
It is difficult, uncharitable, and, for aught I know, blasphemy, for any mortal, amidst our present ignorance, to fix the precise limits of final obduracy. But we know enough from experience to believe the possibility of the fact.
Look at a debauchee in the decline of life—his hand shakes, his knees totter, his strength is almost gone — and yet that poor remaining strength—pitiable wretch !—serves only to carry him to the old scenes of his debauchery. The decay of constitution lessons not his corruption. Filthy thoughts have taken possession of his imagination. His soul has no relish for any thing rational, generous, and virtuous. He thinks of nothing, he talks of nothing, but of sensual things. He diabolically employs his reason, to stretch his passions beyond nature i and then turning tutor