« PreviousContinue »
right, or which accords with the divine precept, must be so: for the scriptures uniformly promise eternal life to every such exercise. They that do good shall come forth to the resurrection of life -He that doth righteousness is righteous. The giving of a cup of cold water to a disciple of Christ, because he belongs to him, will be followed with a disciple's reward. Nay, a blessing is pronounced upon those who are not offended in him. But though these things are spiritual, and are characteristic of the godly; yet who will say they are not binding on the ungodly? Are they excused from good, from doing right, from bestowing a cup of water on a disciple of Jesus, because he belongs to him ; at least, are they allowed to be offended in him ?
If God's law be spiritual, and remain in full force as a standard of obligation; if men while unconverted have no real conformity to it; if regeneration be the writing of it upon the heart, or the • renewal of the mind to a right spirit ; all these things are clear and consistent. This is for the same thing, in different respects, to be “man's duty and God's gift :” a position which Dr. Owen has fully established ;* and somewhere remarks, that he who is ignorant of it has yet to learn one of the first principles of religion. In short, this is rendering the work of the Spirit what the scriptures denominate it,-LEADING US BY THE WAY
* Display of Arminianism, Chap. x.
THAT WE SHOULD GO. But if that which is bestowed by the Holy Spirit be something different in its nature from that which is required in the divine precepts,
I see not what is to be made of the scriptures, nor how it is that righteousness, goodness, or any thing else which is required of men, should be accompanied, as it is, with the promise of eternal life.
GOSPEL OF CHRIST
WORTHY OF ALL ACCEPTATION.
CONTAINING ANSWERS TO OBJECTIONS.
The principal objections that are made to the foregoing statement of things, are taken from the nature of original holiness, as it existed in our first parents—The divine decrees- Particular redemption—The covenant of works—The inability of man- The operations of the Spirit--and the necessity of a divine principle in order to believing
* Isaiah xlviii. 17.
It may be worthy of some notice, at least from those who are perpetually reproaching the statement here defended as leading to Arminianism, that the greater part of these objections are of Arminian original. They are the same for substance as have been alleged by the leading writers of that scheme, in their controversies with the Calvinists; and from the writings of the latter it were easy to select answers to them. This, in effect, is acknowledged by Mr. Brine, who, however, considers these answers as insufficient, and therefore prefers others before them.*
It also deserves to be considered, whether objec. tions drawn from such subjects as the above, in which we may presently get beyond our depth, ought to weigh against that body of evidence which has been adduced from the plain declarations and precepts of the holy scriptures? What if by reason of darkness we could not ascertain the precise nature of the principle of our first parents? It is certain we know but little of original purity. Our disordered souls are incapable of forming just ideas of so glorious a state. To attempt, therefore, to settle the boundaries of even their duty, by an abstract inquiry into the nature of their powers and principles, would be improper; and still more so to make it the medium by which to judge of our own. There are but two ways by which we can judge on such a subject: The one is from the
Arminian principles of a fate writer refuted, p. 6.
character of the Creator, and the other from scripture testimony. From the former, we may infer the perfect purity of the creature, as coming out of · the hands of God; but nothing can be concluded of his inability to believe in Christ, had he been in circumstances which required it. As to the latter, the only passage that I recollect to have seen produced for the purpose, is 1 Cor. xv. 47. The first man was of the earth, earthy, which Mr. Johnson of Liverpool alleged to prove the earthiness of Adam's mind, or principles: but Mr. Brine sufficiently refutes this : proving that this divine proposition respects the body, and not the principles of our first father ;* and thus Dr. Gill expounds it.
With regard to the doctrine of divine decrees, &c. it is a fact that the great body of the divines who have believed those doctrines, have also believed the other. Neither Augustine, nor Calvin, who each in his day defended predestination, and the other doctrines connected with it, ever appear to have thought of denying it to be the duty of every sinner who has heard the gospel, to repent, and believe in Jesus Christ. Neither did the other reformers, nor the Puritans of the sixteenth cen. tury, nor the divines of the synod of Dort, who opposed Arminius, nor any of the nonconformists of the seventeenth century, so far as I have any acquaintance with their writings, ever so much as hesitate upon this subject. The writings of Calvin
* Johnson's Mistakes noted and rectified, pp. 18—23.
himself would now be deemed Arminian by a great number of our opponents. I allow that the principles here defended may be inconsistent with the doctrine of grace notwithstanding the leading advocates of those doctrines have admitted them; and am far from wishing any person to build his faith on the authority of great men: but their admission of them ought to suffice for the silencing of that kind of opposition against them which consists in calling names.
Were a difficulty allowed to exist, as to the reconciling of these subjects, it would not warrant a rejection of either of them. If I find two doctrines affirmed, or implied in the scriptures, which to my feeble understanding may seem to clash, I ought not to embrace the one, and to reject the other, because of their supposed inconsistency: for on the same ground another person might embrace that which I reject, and reject that which I embrace, and have equal scriptural authority for his faith, as I have for mine. Yet in this manner many have acted on both sides: some taking the general precepts and invitations of scripture for their standard, have rejected the doctrine of discriminating grace; others taking the declarations of salvation as being a fruit of electing love, for their standard, deny that sinners without distinction are called upon to believe for the salvation of their souls. Hence it is that we hear of Calvinistic, and Arminian texts ; as though these leaders had agreed to divide the scriptures between them. The truth is, there are