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which he holds it, he turns God's grace into lasciviousness, and ventures upon a certain evil for an uncertain good; “whose damnation is just.”
DR. CONFIDENCE.-If a man should do so, wilfully and of set purpose, I grant it : But if you cannot satisfy our question concerning your certainty of being in the state of grace, how will you be able to obey that of the Apostle?, “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” (1 Pet. iii, 15.)
Til.—That you may not think I have a desire to wave your question, by telling you, “that I perceive you do many times allege Scriptures very impertinently," I shall shape my answer directly to what I conceive to be your meaning. We must consider therefore what our Saviour Christ saith, (very applicable to our purpose,) “The kingdom of God” (in the work we speak of,) “cometh not (always) with observation:" (Luke xvii, 20.) but (many times) it is “as if a man should cast seed into the ground, and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring, and grow up, he knoweth not how." (Mark iv, 26, 27.) And therefore, I observe, our Saviour and [his] Apostle do direct us to make our judgment a posteriori, “ from the effects :" “By their FRUITS ye shall know them;" and “let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.” (Gal. vi, 4.) The children of God are called “ Saints of light;" (Col. i, 12.) and the wise man saith, “The path of the just is like the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” (Prov. iv, 18.) It is only the conscience loaded with guilt, and fear, and horror, that, having fire put to it, like a gun charged with powder and shot, makes a bounce when it is discharged. Experience teacheth, that the natural day breaks, without a crack to report it to us; and so does the day of grace too, in many souls. Though the sun rise under a cloud, and undiscernibly, and the clock of conscience do not strike to give us notice of the hour, yet we may be assured he is up, by the effects ; viz. if his influences have dried up the dirt, and made the plants and herbs to spring out and flourish. Grace is more discoverable in the progress than in the dawning of it.
IMPERTINENT.-But the Apostle saith, “He that hath not the Spirit of Christ, is none of his."
Til.–And I say, as the same Apostle to another purpose, “I think also, that I have the Spirit of God.” (1 Cor. vii, 40.)
DR. Confidence.—You said well even now from our Saviour, that “the tree is known by the fruits ;" can you give us a good account of the fruits, that the Spirit of Christ hath brought forth in you, so as we may be able to distinguish them from counterfeit, and discern that they proceed from the Holy Spirit, and not [from] a lying one?
Til:- That I may not deceive myself nor you herein, I think the surest way is, not to go by the common Inventory of the world; whereby I find men pretending to godliness, to be generally very partial in their reckoning. If they abhor idols, they think it tolerable enough to commit sacrilege and sedition; and if they be not drunk with wine or strong drink, they think it is no matter though the spirit of pride and disobedience stagger them into any schism or heresy. I choose therefore to follow the Apostle's catalogue, and (if I can find that in myself, I hope I am safe: “ The fruit of the Spirit," saith he, “is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law :" (Gal. v, 22, 23.) That is, (as I conceive,) "the love of Christ in sincerity,” as it is in Ephes. vi, 24; which sincerity discovers and approves itself, in a constant and uniform observation of all his commandments. (John xiv, 15.)
EFFICAX.—How did the Spirit of God bring forth these fruits in
you find them ? Did you ever feel it offer a holy violence to your will and affections, so that you were not able to resist the power of it? You have read how Paul was surprised in the height of his rebellion, his spirit subdued and forced to yield, and he cast down to the earth in great astonishment.
Til.-Though I have intimated mine opinion in this particular already, yet I shall add, that the conversion of St. Paul was not according to the common way and rule, but extraordinary, in regard whereof he may very well style himself “an abortive.” (1 Cor. xv, 8.) For the ordinary course is not for the kingdom of heaven to offer violence to us, and to take us by force ; but for us to do so by it. (Matt. xi, 12.)
Efficax.—You speak as if the grace of conversion were resistible ; and so you would make man stronger than God : But the Apostle tells you, that God exerts and putteth forth a
power for the conversion of a sinner, equal to that " which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead.” (Ephes. i, 20.) And indeed there is a necessity of such a power, for the accomplishment of this work; because the sinner is as a dead person,_"dead in trespasses and sins.” (Ephes. ii, 1.)
Til. It is a rule we have learned in the schools, that Theologia Symbolica non est argumentativa, “Metaphors never make solid and cogent arguments.” Sinners are like dead men;
but no like is the same. If they were absolutely dead, then it were impossible for them to make any opposition or resistance at all, to any the least dispensation of grace. Resistance implies reaction; but the dead have no power at all to act : And yet
it is acknowledged, that the sinner hath a power to resist, and doth actually resist. But that which is maintained generally by that side, is, that the power of grace is so prevalent and invincible that at last it will subdue and take away the resisti. bility of man's will. And therefore man is not dead in every
We find him sometimes resembled to one half dead; (Luke x, 30.) and sometimes to one asleep: (Ephes. v, 14.) So that you cannot certainly infer the conclusion desired, from such figurative expressions. Besides, [that passage in] Ephes. i, 20, speaketh of God's power towards those that were already believers, and not of his power that works belief in them.
IMPERTINENT-It is said of those that disputed with Stephen, that “they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spake." (Acts vi, 10.)
Til.—He speaks of that conviction which the force of his arguments (dictated to him by the Holy Spirit,) made upon their understandings, so that they were not able to answer him in disputation. But he speaks not of any irresistible impression that the internal Divine grace made upon their wills; for there was no such effect wrought in them, as appears in the following verses: but rather the contrary, as you may conclude from St. Stephen's word, “Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost!” (Acts vii, 51.)
EFFICAX.—By resisting the Holy Ghost there, Stephen's meaning is, that they opposed the outward ministry, which was authorized and sent out by the Holy Ghost.
Til.—The words are plain in themselves, and so they are literally clear against you. But that this evasion may not
serve your turn, we find the Word and the Spirit both together, in Zach. vii, 12.* Yet it is said, “ they hardened their hearts like an adamant," and resisted both. (Isa. Ixiii, 10.) But (2) men may, and do resist that power of Divine grace which doth effectually and eventually convert others; yea, [they resist) a greater power than that which doth it. “ The men of Nineveh shall rise up in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah : and behold, a greater than Jonah is here!" (Luke xi, 32.) And as much is implied in those other words of Christ: “Woe unto thee, Chorazin! Woe unto thee, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were dcne in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.” (Matt. xi, 21.)-Those Heathen cities would have been wrought upon by these gracious dispensations ; but you, to whom they are so freely and earnestly administered, do resist them. And why should our Saviour work so many miracles to their senses, to induce them to believe and be converted? Ad quid perditio hæc? Why so much pains lost ?” For, if that had been the way, that one superlative miracle,—the irresistible operation of internal grace,-had superseded the necessity of all others, and made them utterly superfluous.
IMPERTINENT.—What say you to that text in Luke xiv, 23?, “Compel them to come in.” Doth not that imply an irresistible power upon
them? Til.—This place in St. Luke speaks of a charge given to a minister, whose office it is to call, invite, and importune, (to say nothing, that it is a part of a parable ;) and I remember even now, when you were urged with that in Acts vii, 51, (“ye always resist the Holy Ghost,") then you could allege, that that was spoken concerning the outward ministry of the word, which, you confessed, might be resisted. But now, you produce a text yourselves, which, though it doth most evidently belong to the outward ministry, yet because it hath the word COMPEL in it, and will serve your interest, it must needs signify
The passage in Zechariah reads thus : “ Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the WORDS which the Lord of Hosts bath seat in his Spirit by the former prophets."
The next passage from Isaiah is, “But they rebelled, and vexed bis Holy Spirit : Therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them.”-Editor.
"irresistible." So that, in the Acts, “the Holy Ghost" must, according to your interpretation, signify the outward ministry, and that must be the only thing resisted; but, in St. Luke, the outward ministry shall signify “the inward working of the Holy Ghost,” and that shall be irresistible.
EFFICAX.—The Apostle saith, “ It is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Phil. ii, 13.)
Til.-The Apostle doth not say, that “God doth this immediately and irresistibly;" for if he did, that would evacuate the force of his exhortation, (which is both a mean and suasion,) to the duty of “working out our salvation,” &c.; for the enforcing whereof that is rendered as the reason, which is “the cord of a man.” He speaks not of the means or manner of God's working." And that he works the ability, I grant; but not the very act itself of our duty, (which if he did, it would be his act, not ours, and so not obedience, for he hath no superior,) much less doth he work it immediately and irresistibly.
Efficax. The Prophet acknowledgeth, that the Lord “worketh all our works in us.” (Isai. xxvi, 12.)
TIL.-If the text were to be read “in us," there were some small colour for your pretension; but in the original, it is “ for us;" and, therefore, rejecting the sense which you would put upon the words, some understand "all the benefits, which God nad bestowed upon them,” answerable to the former part of the verse, Lord, thou wilt ordain peace for us : for thou hast wrought,” &c. Others understand it of “their afflictions and distresses,” in opposition to that former branch of the verse, and agreeable to the verse following, "Other Lords have had dominion over us." But if you would have the meaning of that (or any other place of scripture,) to be this, “that God doth immediately and irresistibly produce all our spiritual works," (which are works as well of duty as of Grace in us,) and “that he hath tied himself by covenant and promise so to do," (as is affirmed by some,) then it will undeniably follow, that God himself, being so engaged, ought to believe, and repent, and pray, and do all other necessary good in us: As Servetus said, “The fire burns
not, the sun shines not, bread nourishes not: but that God “ alone doth immediately all these things in his creatures, with“out having given them such properties.” And then, sure, it were
* 1 Pet.i, 22.-1 Cor. xv, 10.