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which ye think ye have eternal life, testify of me as the only way to it; but such is the pride and a version of your hearts, that ye will not.come to me: for it.'
Dr. Gill, who in general opposed these prin. ciples, yet frequently when his system was out of . sight, established them. His exposition of this passage is a proof of this remark. He tells us that “the perverseness of their wills was blame-worthy, being owing to the corruption and vitiosity of their nature, which being blame-worthy in them, that which follows
it must be so too."
There is no inconsistency between this account of things, and that which is given elsewhere, that no man can come to Christ except the Father draw him.* No man can chuse that to which his heart is averse. It is common both in scripture and in conversation to speak of a person who is under the influence of an evil bias of heart, as unable to do that which is inconsistent with it. They have eyes full of adultery, and CANNOT cease from sinThe carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh CANNOT please Godot
On account of this different phraseology, some writers have affirmed that men are under both a
moral and a natural inability of coming to Christ; or that they neither will nor can come to him: but if there be no other inability than what arises from aversion, this language is not accurate: for it conveys the idea that if all aversion of heart were removed, there would still be a natural and insurmountable bar in the way.
But no such idea as this is conveyed by our Lord's words : the only bar to which he refers, lies in that reluctance or aversion which the drawing of the Father implies and removes. Nor will such an idea comport with what' he elsewhere teaches. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth: why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God's words. Ye therefore hear them not because ye are not of God. Why do ye not understand my speech? BECAUSE YE CANNOT HEAR MY WORD. These cutting interrogations proceed on the supposition, that they could have received the doctrine of Christ, if it had been agreeable to their corrupt hearts ; and its being otherwise was the only reason why they could not understand and believe it. If sinners were naturally and absolutely unable to believe in Christ, they would be equally unable to disbelieve: for it requires the same powers to reject as to embrace. And in this case there would be no room for an inability of another kind: A dead body is equally unable to do evil as to do good; and a man naturally and absolutely blind, could not be guilty of shutting his eyes against the light. “It is indwell“ ing sin, as Dr. Owen says, that both disenableth
men unto, and hinders them from believing, AND
THAT ALONE. Blindness of mind, stubbornness “ of the will, sensuality of the affections, all concur “ to keep poor perishing souls at a distance from 66 Christ. Men are made blind by sin, and cannot
see his excellency : obstinate, and will not lay "hold of his righteousness; senseless, and take no ut notice of their eternal concernments.” *
A voluntary and judicial blindness, obstinacy, and hardness of heart, are represented as the bar to: conversion. But if that spirit which is exercised in conversion were essentially different from any thing which the subjects of it in any state possessed, it were absurd to ascribe the want of it to such
Those who embraced the gospel, and submitted to the government of the Messiah, were baptized with the baptism of John; and are said, in so doing, to have justified God: their conduct was an: acknowledgment of the justice of the law, and of the wisdom and love of the gospel. On the other hand, those who did not thus submit, are said to have rejected the counsel of God against themselves, not being baptized. But no Christian I suppose, however no baptist, thinks it was their sin not to be baptized while they continued enemies to Christ; and probably very few, if any, serious pædobaptists:
* On indwelling sin, Chap. xvi. Acts xxvüi. 27
Luke xxvii. 29, 30.
would contend for its being the duty of adults to be baptized in Christ's name without first embracing his word. How then can this passage be understood, but by supposing that they ought to have repented of their sins, embraced the Messiah, and submitted to his ordinances? Nor can the force of the argument be evaded by distinguishing between different kinds of repentance and faith : for a profession of true repentance, and of faith unfeigned, was required in order to baptism.
Finally, Unbelief is expressly declared to be a sin, of which the spirit of truth has to convince the world.* But unbelief cannot be a sin, if faith were not a duty. I know of no answer to this argument but what must be drawn from a distinction between a believing the report of the gospel, and saving faith; allowing the want of the one to be sinful, but not of the other. But it is not of
unbe. lief only, or of an open rejection of Jesus as the Messiah, that the Holy Spirit has to convince the world; nor is it to a bare conviction of this truth, like what prevails in all christian countries, that are brought by his teaching.
When he, the Spirit of truth, cometh, his operations are deeper than this amounts to: it is of an opposition of heart to the way of salvation that he convinces the sinner, and to a cordial acquiescence with it that he brings him. Those who are born in a christian land, and who never were the subjects of
* John xvi. 8, 9.
gross infidelity, stand in no less need of thus being convinced than others. Nay, in some respects they need it more. Their unbelieving opposition to Christ is more subtil, refined, and out of sight, than that of open infidels: they are less apt therefore to suspect themselves of it, and consequently stand in greater need of the Holy Spirit to search them out, and show them to themselves. Amongst those who constantly sit under the gospel, and who remain in an unconverted state; there are few who think themselves the enemies of Christ. On the contrary, they flatter themselves that they are willing at any time to be converted, if God would but convert them: considering themselves as lying at the pool for the moving of the waters. But when he, the spirit of truth cometh, these coverings will be stripped from off the face, and these refuges of lies will fail.*
V. GOD HAS THREATENED AND INFLICTED THE MOST AWFUL PUNISHMENTS ON SINNERS, FOR THEIR NOT BELIEVING IN THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.— It is here taken for granted that nothing can be the cause of God's inflicting punishment but sin; and nothing can be sin which is not a breach of duty.
into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved; BUT HE THAT BELIEVETH NOT SHALL
* See Charnock's excellent discourse on Unbelief the greatest sin, from the above passage, Vol. II. of his works.