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prayer, wherein the pastor and the flock are joint petitioners, shall be found of no use or comfort unto either, since they all be either Elect or Reprobate: For the Elect obtain no new thing by this means, if “God hath written them,” as the Synod says, “from all eternity in the Book of Life, without any relation to, or consideration of, their faith and prayers ; and that it is impossible they should be blotted out of it.” And the Reprobates can never cause themselves to be inrolled therein by any exercises of faith or prayers, no more than they are able to disannul the immutable decree of God.
Gentlemen, I beg your pardon, and shall trouble you no further, but only to desire you to ponder those many prejudices that lie against such a religion, as is rather repugnant than operative to the conversion of an infidel and the correction of the carnal, to the quickening of the careless and the consolation of the afflicted: And if the doctrine maintained and delivered by the divines of that Synod, and their adherents, doth frustrate and nullify the preaching of the word, the use of the Sacraments, and the exercise of prayer; if it overthrow the sacred function of the ministry, (which consists in the faithful administration of wholesome doctrine and good discipline,) and if it give such a total defeat to the whole design of the Divine ordinances, I hope you will, out of your great piety and prudence, not think it reasonable to make the profession of such faith or doctrine, your Kpstopov, or Shibboleth * to discern your examinats, and pass them in the account of the godly ministers.
DR. ABSOLUTE.—Brethren, what think you of this man, now you have heard him discover himself so fully?
FATALITY.--The man hath a competent measure of your ordinary unsanctified learning : But you may see he hath studied the ancient Fathers,-more than our modern Divines, such as Mr. Calvin and Mr. Perkins. And, alas! they (the ancient Fathers] threw away their enjoyments (and their lives too, some of them,) for they knew not what. They understood little or nothing of the Divine decrees, or the power of grace
* Judges xii, 6.
and godliness : This great light was reserved for the honour of
may be an honest moral man ; but I cannot
NARROWGRACE.—He attributeth so much to the ministry of the gospel, that he seems to be superstitiously addicted to it, and turns it into an idol. Whereas, we know, of itself it is but a dead letter; and therefore Maccovius handling that question,
*“And when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren."
Whether the word of God may be savingly heard before regeneration, concludes negatively; and, to avoid his adversaries' argument, he affirms, “that that hearing of the word which produceth faith, doth presuppose regeneration.” To this agrees the opinion of some Divines, who think “that regeneration is effected after another manner than faith is.” To which purpose Johannes Rysius, in his Confession, saith thus, Fides Dei gratia per verbum concipitur: Regeneratio [vero] u Deo per Christum sine ullius rei creatæ interventu proficiscitur : “ Faith is conceived by the grace of God through the word ; but regeneration proceeds from God through Christ, without the intervention of any created thing whatsoever."
TAKE-o'-TRUST.-I conceive, Sir, when we see the ministry so much eclipsed and undervalued as it is, if there were nothing else in it, Christian policy should teach us, not to vent such doctrines as are apt to bring more contempt upon it. But the Holy Ghost hath set it at a higher rate, by clothing it with titles of a greater reputation : He calls it, “the word of grace, the word of faith, the word of life, the word of reconciliation, the ministration of the Spirit, the word that is able to save the soul, the power of God unto salvation, the word of God that effectually worketh in them that believe.".
KNOWLITTLE.- I conceive the ministry of the word bath these excellent titles bestowed upon it, in regard it is the instrument by and through which God doth infuse, into the understanding and heart, his special grace, or rather that regenerating virtue which alone doth powerfully effect the work of regeneration : So that the outward word, as an instrument, conferreth nothing at all to that effect, but is only as the tunnel whereby water is poured into a vessel; and yet that water receives no tincture at all from the nature or quality of the said tunnel.
Take-o'-TRUST.--I have seen this alleged: But they say, we should consider that the nature and property of the word, is, to be intelligible (in expression) and to carry such a sense as is apt to move the party, to whom it is addressed, by working upon his understanding, and inciling his heart to love or hatred, hope or sear; and this is the true efficacy the word is endowed with. But if the word contributes no more to our conversion or re
• John vi, 63.-Heb. iv, 12.-1 Cor. xiv, 24, 25.
generation, than the tunnel (that only conveys the liquor,) to the filling of the vessel ; then it matters not whether the word be intelligible, yea or no: For that regenerating virtue being a distinct power infused beside it, the word doth not work as a verbal, that is, a rational instrument, but only concurs as an instrument destitute of sense and reason. And, therefore, as it matters not what metal the tunnel be made of, whether wood, or brass, or tin; so (had the word no other kind of instrumentality than that hath,) it were all one, whether the language were barbarous non-sense, (as is usual amongst some sectaries,) or significant. And to what end, then, did God confer the gift of tongues upon his Apostles, and they take such care to condescend and apply themselves to the capacity and apprehension of their hearers ? Besides, if the word hath no more to do in this work than is pretended, why should it consist of precepts, and those established with promises and threatenings? For a precept (so established especially,) doth prescribe the thing (under command) as a duty, and concurs unto that duty as the reason moving and obliging a man to perform it. But if that special grace, or regenerating virtue, so infused, doth alone effect a man's regeneration, (taking nothing at all from the word,) how can that effect be said to be “the performance of his duty, and an act of obedience to the command of the word ?"
KNOWLITTLE.—It is a question, whether there be any PRECEPTs, properly so called, under the new covenant, yea or no. Some absolutely deny it. But we confess it; and they (the precepts] may be said to concur to our conversion and believing per modum signi, “as a sign or object” representing what God by his free grace is said to effect and work in us. Indeed they declare what man ought to do; but they serve rather to discover and convince his weakness, than to promote his duty. Take-o'-TRUST.-This doctrine doth cancel the
formal reason and force of all the commands of Christ, and makes the word of God, intended for an instrument of man's conversion, to serve only for an object and mere doctrine for his faith and repentance to converse with ; for they are not to be wrought (it seems) by this means, but immediately effected and wrought of Almighty God, in the heart, by a special action and operation : and, consequently, makes all the exhortations and precepts, as such, all the promises and threatenings, complaints
and obtestations, wherewith the word of God aboundeth, to be nothing else but empty signs and busy trifles, (if not a ludicrous stage-play,) conducing nothing to that effect to which they pretend to be designed. But, that faith and regeneration which flow from it, are both wrought (in a rational way) by the outward ministry of the word, moving and inciting the understanding and heart of man-will evidently appear to be the doctrine of Christ and his Apostles.
First. For Faith, take that expression in our Saviour's prayer, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. Neither pray I for these (Apostles) alone ; but for them also, which shall believe on me through their word.” (John xviii, 17, 20. See John xx, 31; 1 John v, 13.) And “Therefore faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Rom. x, 17.)-(1) That he understands faith working by love, which the gospel determines to be the only means by which we may and ought to be saved,-appears in the 9th and 10th
“If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe, with thy heart, that God raised him up from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the tongue confession is made unto salvation.”—(2) That by THE WORD which works this faith, he understands the outward word, appears by the whole contexture of the chapter: For he saith (i) “ This is that word of faith which we preach." (verse 8.)–(ii) That word, which cannot be heard unless it be preached, not internally by God, but externally by men, sent out to that purpose. *—(iii) That word which is heard with the ears of the body, and (iv) may be disobeyed. +
SECONDLY. As the working of faith is attributed to the mi. nistry of the word, so is the working of REGENERATION too: “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth ; wherefore let every man be swift to hear, " &c. (James i, 18, 19.) To this add, “ Being born again, not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible, by the word of God which liveth and abideth for ever; and this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” (1 Pet. i, 23, 25.) Hereupon St. Paul tells the Corinthians, not only that he was a minister of God, “by whom they did believe;" but tells them also, that “He was their
* Verses 14, 15.
+ Verses 16, 18.