« AnteriorContinuar »
to that of the Jews, who believed in Christ, and were reserved, when the nation in general was cast off for unbelief : and the whole, in both instances, was “ by grace, and not by works.".
In the subsequent page, his Lordship quotes several passages from the prophets, containing pressing exhortations to repentance, and works meet for repentance: and I have a confidence, that none of the clergy enforce these exhortations more fully and frequently, than those whom he has undertaken to refute. We know indeed, that while we perform this our bounden duty, “ God alone can give the “ increase;" we lament, with Moses, over many whom we address; “ Yet the LORD hath not given
you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears " to hear, unto this day:" but we would still plead the promise in our prayers for them; “ The LORD « shall circumcise thy heart, and the heart of thy “ seed, to love the LORD thy God, with all thine “ heart, and with all thy soul; that thou mayest “ live :-and thou shalt return and obey the voice “ of the LORD, and do all his commandments."
P. 8, 1. 8. The incorrigible depravity of human nature, was not a doctrine inculcated under the • Mosaic dispensation. The depravity of human nature is every where in “ ihe oracles of God," most clearly inculcated. This depravity is incorrigible, except by divine grace, as will clearly appear in the sequel : but no Calvinist maintains, that it cannot be corrected and rectified by divine grace.
Deut. xxix. 4. XXX. 6-8.
The exhortations, in the New Testament, are as energetick, at least, as those in the Old : yet they do not prove fallen man's moral ability, by nature, independent of divine grace, to comply with them; but merely what God requires of him, and to what the gospel calls and encourages him.
. We have no power to do works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of Christ preventing us, that 'we may have a good will, and working with us, ' when we have that good will."-" They who be 'endued with so excellent a benefit of God, be called ' according to his purpose, by his Spirit working in * due season ; they through grace obey the calling;
they be justified freely; they be made the sons of ! God by adoption, &c.” (Art. xvii.)
P. viii. 1. 10. St. Paul, &c.'' The Gentiles were " a law to themselves :” their own reason and conscience formed the law, to which they ought to have been obedient; and for violating which they merited condemnation. The apostle does not say, that “the " law was written upon their hearts ;” but, “they “ shew the work of the law written in their hearts."
I Art. X.
2 “St. Paul, in referring to the antient Gentile world, as contradistinguished to the Jews, says, that “the Gentiles were a law “unto themselves ;" that “the law was written upon their “ hearts." Surely then it was possible for them to obey it; other
wise, how could their “ consciences bear them witness, and their “ thoughts accuse or excuse one another?” Indeed' he expressly
safs, that “ibe Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature “the things contained in the law," that is, the Gentiles, through • the natural suggestions of their own mind, discharge the moral duties enjoined by the law of Moses,
been any instances of men performing sincere, habitual, persevering, though imperfect; obedience, in all particulars, through life, to the dictates of their own reason and conscience? If no instances of this kind have been found: the capacity of man to obey, whatever it be, is an aggravation of his guilt in disobeying, and an additional proof of the desperate wickedness of the human heart. The interpretation given of the apostle's words, as if spoken concerning men in general, and not concerning a particular description of persons, brought in some measure at least under the influence of Christian principles, certainly cannot be supported : but it does not affect the main argument.
P. ix. l. 9. • It will scarcely, &c.? There never was on earth a wretch so abandoned to vice, as not to do externally some acts of mercy, justice, 6 and self-denial. Cicero speaks in energetick language of Catiline's self-denial, in seeking to accomplish his most nefarious designs. Bands of robbers must observe some rule of justice to each other, in
' their frame; and that they were capable of obeying it, although ' in fact their obedience has been very rare, and always imperfect. * This has arisen from the extreme difficulty of resisting “ another “ law in their members warring against the law of their minds, “ and bringing them into captivity to the law of sin, which was in or their members."
1 Rom. vii. 23.
2 " It will scarcely be denied that some acts of mercy, justice, ' and self-denial are recorded in profane history; and therefore upon • these occasions, as far at least as external deeds are concerned,
men were able to counteract the depravity introduced into their s nature by the fall of Adam.'
dividing their booty. Even murderers, under a special impulse, have been known to shew mercy : and seducers, whose general conduct is as cruel as that of murderers, are not unfrequently noted for a sort of liberality and partial beneficence. But is there in all this any 'good thing in the sight of • God?' For of this alone Calvinists consider fallen man as morally incapable, without the special grace of God. They do not suppose the temporary and occasional control of their sinful passions to be
physically impossible:' nay, they allow, that from regard to health, or interest, or reputation, numbers of ungodly men impose a restraint on their strongest inclinations, of a far more permanent nature: yet this, not being done from regard to God, is not good in his sight.
P. ix. 1. 22. · The understanding was greatly impaired by the fall; but no one will maintain, that it was utterly destroyed, or that what remains is
incapable of improvement.'-As his Lordship most reasonably allows, that no one, (not even a Calvinist,) will inaintain, that the understanding was utterly destroyed by the fall; the passage is adduced merely as introductory to what next follows.
P. x. l. 1. “Every good affection, towards God, ‘ and towards man, was not totally extinguished.. It must not be concealed, that we Calvinists do maintain, that all good affections towards God ! were totally extinguished by the fall.'
66 That “ which is born of the flesh is flesh :" and,' “ the * carnal mind is enmity against God:” and enmity against God is wholly incompatible with good affac
tions towards him.-If natural instinctive love to near relatives, or any of those things, which have before been mentioned, as found in fallen man, apart from special grace be good affections,' we allow of them; but in no other sense. Because,
through the weakness of our mortal nature, we can do no good thing without thee, grant us the
help of thy grace.'? Things good before men, no doubt, fallen man can do without special grace: but not things good before God; as his Lordship afterwards concedes.
P. 10. Note from Melancthon. This note I shall attempt to translate; and then it will speak for itself. * Therefore the true definition of the law of nature ‘is, that the law of nature is the knowledge of the
divine law, implanted in the nature of man. For on this account man is said to have been created
after the image of God, because the image shone ' forth in him; that is, the knowledge of God, and a certain likeness of the divine mind: that is, the discrimination of things honourable and base : and with this knowledge the powers of man agreed. The will, before the fall, was turned unto God; true
sentiments also glowed in the mind, and in the will, love towards God; and the heart assented, without
any hesitation, to the things known. And they • determined, that we were created, to acknowledge • and praise that God, and to obey that Lord, who created us, sustained us, and impressed his image on us; who demands and approves righteous things;
1 John iii. 6. Rom. viii. 7.
2 Col. 1 Sunday after Trinity.