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sible, of his own accord to chuse that to which he is utterly averse, let him make the trial.
Some have alleged, that natural power is only sufficient to perform natural things; and that spiritual power is required to the performance of spiritual things. But this statement is far from being accurate. Natural power is as necessary to the performance of spiritual, as of natural things : we must possess the powers of men in order to perform the duties of good men. And as to spiritual power, or, which is the same thing, a right state of mind, it is not properly a faculty of the soul, but a quality which it possesses : and which though it be essential to the actual performance of spiritual obedience, yet is not necessary to our being under obligation to perform it.
In like manner,
If a traveller, from an aversion to the western continent, should direct his course perpetually towards the east, he would in time arrive at the place which he designed to shun. it has been remarked by some who have observed the progress of this controversy, that, there are certain important points in which false Calvinism, in its ardent desire to steer clear of Arminianism, is brought to agree with it. We have seen already that they agree in their notions of the original holiness in Adam, and the inconsistency of the duty of believing, with the doctrine of Election and particular redemption. To this may be added, they are agreed in making the grace of God necessary
to the accountableness of sinners, with regard to spiritual obedience. The one pleads for graceless sinners being free from obligation ; the other admits of obligation, but founds it on the notion of universal grace. Both are agreed that where there is no grace there can be no duty. But if grace be the ground of obligation, it is no more grace, but debt. It is that which, if any thing good be required of the sinner, cannot justly be withheld. This, in effect, is acknowledged by both parties. The one contends that where no grace is given, there can be no obligation to spiritual obedience, and therefore acquits the unbeliever of guilt in not coming to Christ that he might have life, and in the neglect of all spiritual religion. The other argues that if man be totally depraved, and no grace be given him to counteract his depravity, he is blameless : that is, his depravity is no longer depravity: he is innocent in the account of his judge ; consequently he can need no saviour; and if justice be done him, will be exempt from punishment, if not entitled to heaven, in virtue of his personal innocence. Thus the whole system of grace is rendered void ; and fallen angels, who have not been partakers of it, must be in a far preferable state to that of fallen men, who, by Jesus taking hold of their nature, are liable to become blameworthy, and eternally lost. But if the essential powers of the mind be the same, whether we be pure or depraved, and be sufficient to render any creature an accountable being, whatever be his disposition, grace is what its proper meaning imports,-free favour, or favour
towards the unworthy; and the redemption of Christ, with all its holy and happy effects, is what the scriptures represent it,—necessary to deliver us from the state into which we were fallen, antecedent to its being bestowed.
OF THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
The scriptures clearly ascribe both repentance and faith, wherever they exist, to divine influ. ence.t From hence many have concluded that they cannot be duties required of sinners. If sinners have been exhorted from the pulpit to repent or believe, they have thought it sufficient to shew the absurdity of such exhortations, by saying, "An heart of flesh is of God's giving : Faith is not of ourselves ; it is the gift of God;' as though these things were inconsistent, and it were improper to exhort to any thing but what can be done of ourselves, and without the influence of the Holy Spirit.
The whole weight of this objection rests upon the supposition, That we do not stand in need of the Holy Spirit to enable us to comply with our duty. If this principle were admitted, we must conclude, either with the Arminians and Socinians, that “Faith and conversion, seeing they are acts of obedience, cannot be wrought of God;" or with
* Rom. v. 5. 15-21. Heb. ix. 27, 28. 1 Thess. i. 10.
See Owen's Display of Arminianism, Chap. .
the objector, that, seeing they are wrought of God, they cannot be acts of obedience. But if we need the influence of the Holy Spirit to enable us to da our duty, both these methods of reasoning fall to the ground.
And is it not manifest that the godly in all ages have considered themselves as insufficient to perform those things to which, nevertheless, they acknowledge themselves obliged? The rule of duty is what God requires of us : but he requires those things which good men have always confessed themselves, on account of the sinfulness of their nature, insufficient to perform. He desireth truth in the inward part; yet an Apostle acknowledged that they were not sufficient of themselves to think any thing, as of themselves ; but their sufficiency was of God.* The Spirit, saith he, helpeth our infirmities : for we know not what we should pray for AS WE OUGHT: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us, with groanings which cannot be uttered. The same things are required in one place, which are promised in another :-Only fear the Lord, and serve him in truth, and with all your hearts I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.t-When the sacred writers speak of the divine precepts, they neither disown them, nor infer from them a self-sufficiency to conform to them; but turn them into prayer :Thou hast COMMANDED us to keep thy precepts
* Psalm li. 6. 2 Cor. iii. 5.
+ 1 Sam, xii. 24. Jer. xxxii. 40.
diligently. Oh that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes ! *-In fine, the scriptures uniformly teach us that all our sufficiency to do good, or to abstain, from evil, is from above: repentance and faith, therefore, may be duties, notwithstanding their being the gifts of God.
If our insufficiency for this, and every other good thing, arose from a natural impotency, it would indeed excuse us from obligation: but if it arise from the sinful dispositions of our hearts, it is otherwise. Those whose eyes are full of adultery, and THEREFORE cannot cease from sin, are under the same obligations to live a chaste and sober life, as other men are : yet if ever their dispositions be changed, it must be by an influence from without them; for it is not in them to relinquish their courses of their own accord. I do not mean to suggest that this species of evil prevails in all sinners : but sin in some form prevails, and has its dominion over them, and to such a degree that nothing but the grace of God can effectually cure it. It is depravity only that renders the regenerating influence of the Holy Spirit necessary. “ The bare " and outward declaration of the word of God, " says a great writer,t ought to have largely suf. “ficed to make it to be believed, if our own blinda
ness and stubbornness did not withstand it. But
our mind hath such an inclination to vanity, that “ it can never cleave fast to the truth of God; and
* Psalm cxix. 4, 5. Calvin: See Institutions, Book III. Chap. 2.