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is, in effect to bid one that is made alive, to put forth living ac. tions; which respect, more especially, the progress of grace after the work is begun ; in which sense I understand those words of the apostle, Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God which worketh; that is, hath wrought, in you both to will and to do, of his good pleasure, Phil. ii. 12.
2. If we consider the gospel as holding forth promises of salvation, when, at the same time, it is not in our power to exercise those graces that accompany it; which gives farther occasion to those that except against the doctrine we are maintaining, to conclude, that it represents God as offering those blessings which he does not design to bestow : This may give us occasion to explain what we mean, when we consider salvation as offered in the gospel ; whereby we understand nothing else but a declaration, that all who repent and believe, shall be saved ; which contains a character, or description of the persons who have ground to expect this privilege : not that salvation is founded on dubious and uncertain conditions, which depend upon the power and liberty of our wili ; or impossible conditions ; as though God should say, if man will change his own heart, and work faith, and all other graces in himself, then he will save him : but all that we mean by it is, that those graces, which are inseparably connected with salvation, are to be waited for in our attendance on all God's ordinances, and when he is pleased to work them, then we may conclude, that we have a right to the promise of salvation. Thus concerning the gospel-call, what it is, how far it may be improved by those who are destitute of special grace, and what is God's design in giving it: we now proceed to consider,
3. The issue and consequence thereof, as it is farther observed in this answer, that many wilfully neglect, contemn, or retuse to comply with it, with respect to whom it is not made effectual to their salvation. This appears from the report that Christ's disciples brought to him, concerning the excuses that many made when called to come to the marriage feast, in the parable : One pretended, that he had bought a piece of ground, and must needs go see it; and another, that he had bought five yoke of oxen, and must go to prove them; and another had married a wife, and therefore could not come. It is elsewhere said, that they all made light of it, and went their ways ; one to his farm, another to his merchandise; and the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them, Luke xiv. 18-20. compared with Matt. xxii. 5, 6.
And the prophet introduces our Saviour himself as complaining, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, Isa. xlix. 4, 5. And the reason hercof is, because Israel is not gathered ; which words are to be understood in a comparative sense, as denoting the fewness of those who complied with his gracious invitations, to come to him, or were convinced, by the miracles which he wrought to confirm his doctrine.
This is also farther evident, from the small number of those who are effectually prevailed upon under the gospel dispensation, which the apostle calls the grace of God that brings salvation, that hath appeared to all men, teaching them to deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts; and to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world. And also, from the great opposition and hatred, which many express to the person of Christ, who is the subject matter thereof; which the prophet not only relates, as what was observed in his day, but foretells, that in after-ages, a great part of mankind would not believe the report made concerning him ; but that he should be despised and rejected of men, who would hide, as it were, their faces from him, and not esteem him, Isa. liii. 1, 3. This is certainly the highest contempt of the gospel ; for it is an undervaluing the great est privileges, as though they were not worthy to be embraced, desired, or sought after; and inasmuch as this is wilful, arising from the enmity of the will of man against God, and the method of salvation which he has prescribed therein, it has a tendency to provoke his wrath ; so that being justly left in their unbelief, they will not come to Christ, that they may have life. And as they are judicially left to themselves, they contract a greater degree of alienation from, and averseness to God, and so never truly come to Jesus Christ ; which is an awful and tremendous consideration.
This is the consequence of it, with respect to those who have only this common call; and therefore we must not conclude, that it is sufficient to salvation, unless there be an internal effectual call; and what this is, will be considered under our next head; but before we enter thereon, it is necessary for us to enquire, whether all, at least, those who sit under the sound of the gospel, have sufficient grace given them, so as that, by their own conduct, without the internal powerful influences of the Spirit, they may attain to salvation. This argument is much insisted on by those who adhere to the Pelagian scheme ; and therefore we cannot wholly pass it over : and for our setting this matter in a just light, let it be considered; that every one must allow, that all who sit under the sound of the gospel, have sufficient objective grace, or sufficient external means, to lead them in the way of salvation ; for to deny this, would be to deny that the gospel is a perfect rule of faith : this therefore is allowed on both sides ; and we think nothing more is intended, when God says, concerning the church of the Jews, What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it, Isa. y, 4,
But the question is, whether there be a sufficiency of power, or ability in man; so that without the internal efficacious grace of God, determining and inclining the will, to make a right improvement of it, it may be sufficient to the salvation of those to whom it is given? This is what we cannot but deny. Now, that the external means of grace are not rendered effectual to the salvation of all who are favoured with them, is evident; because, as was but now observed, many neglect and contemn the gospel : and as to others who improve it, so that the means of grace become effectual, it must be enquired; what it is that makes them so ? How comes it to pass, that the preaching thereof is styled, to some, a savour of life, to others, a savour of death? The answer which the Pelagians give to this, is, that they, in whom it is effectual, render it so, by their improving the liberty of their will ; so that they choose what is represented in the gospel, as eligible, and refuse the contrary. And if the question be asked, who maketh thee to differ from another ? they have, when disposed to speak agreeably to their own scheme, this answer ready at hand, I make myself to differ ; that is as much as to say, I have a natural power of improving the means of grace, without having recourse to God for any farther assistance, in a supernatural way.
It may easily be observed, that this supposition is greatly derogatory to the glory of God; and renders all dependance on him, both to will and
do, unnecessary : It supposes that we have sufficient ability to work those graces in ourselves that accompany salvation ; otherwise it is not sufficient to salvation ; and therefore it is contrary to all those scriptures which speak of them as the work, or the effect of the exceeding greatness of the power of God : which leads us to consider,
Secondly, The doctrine of effectual calling, as contained in the former of the answers, which we are explaining; in which we may observe,
I. The character of those who are effectually called antecedent thereunto. They have nothing that can recommend them to the divine favour; for being considered as fallen, guilty creatures, they are not only unable to make atonement for sin, but to do what is spiritually good : thus the apostle represents them, as without strength, Rom. v. 6. which is the immediate consequence of man's first apostacy from God; and universal experience, proves that we have a propensity to every thing that is evil, which daily increases : And to this we may add, that the mind is blinded, the affections stupified, the will full of obstinacy, the conscience disposed to deal treacherously, whereby we deceive ourselves ; so that the whole soul is out of order. The apostle speaks of man by nature, as dead i.
trespasses and sins, walking according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience ; having their condersation in the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh, and of the mind, Eph. ii. 1-3. And the prophet speaks of the heart of man, as being deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, Jer. xvii. 9. And the apostle describes some as walking in the vanity of their mind, having the under. • standing darkened, being alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who being past feeling, have given them. * selves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with 'greediness,' Eph. iv. 17–19. and others, as being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, ma·liciousness, full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity, whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection,
implacable, unmerciful,' Rom. i. 29–31. This, indeed, is spoken of the Gentiles, who were destitute of the means of grace, and had contracted greater degrees of impiety than many others; but they, who are effectually called, would have run into the same abominations, their natures being equally inclined thereunto, without preventing grace; as some of the church of Corinth are said to have done before their conversion, whom he speaks of as once having been unrighteous, fornicators,
idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, abusers of themselves with * mankind, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, extortioners, 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10, 11. And elsewhere he says, “We ourselves • also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, sérving • divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, 6 and hating one another, Tit. iii. 3. And the obstinacy and perverseness of men, going on in a course of sin, is so great, that God reproves a professing people, by telling them, that their neck was as an iron sinew, and their brow brass, Isa. xlviii. 4. Thus they were, before he refined and chose some of them, in the furnace of affliction, ver. 10. From hence it evidently appears, that men are not naturally inclined to comply with the gospel-call ; but this is a privilege conferred on them, when, by the Spirit, it is made effectual to their salvation.
Objec. It is objected, to what has been said concerning persons being dead in sin, before they are effectually called ; that that is no other than a metaphorical expression ; and therefore the sense thereof is not to be strained so far as to suppose from hence, that they are altogether without a power to do that which is spiritually good.
Anst. When the state of men, before they are effectually called, is styled, a death in sin, which is a metaphorical expression, we must suppose, that there is a sense affixed to it, which, in some respects, is adapted to those ideas that we have of the word. If scripture-metaphors prove nothing, because the words are transferred from their literal sense to some other that is intended thereby, we shall be at the greatest loss to understand many important doctrines contained in the sacred writings, which abound very much with such modes of speaking. We do not suppose the metaphor to be extended so far, as that a person, dead in sin, is incapable of acting, as though he was a stock or a stone, the contrary to which is evident, from what has been before said concerning the power which they, who are in an unregenerate state, have of doing things materially good; but we are now considering men as unable to do what is good in all its circumstances, which may render their actions the object of the divine approbation, as agreeable to God's revealed will; and this, we suppose, an unregenerate person is as unable to do, as a dead man is to put forth living actions; and the reason is, because he is destitute of a supernatural principle of spiritual life. Scripture and experience, not only evince the weakness, blindness, and disinclination of such, to what is good, but their averseness to it: So that whatever we do, either in the beginning or progress of the life of faith, must proceed from a renewed nature, or a supernatural principle implanted in the soul ; which is sometimes called, a new heart, Ezek. xxxvi. 26. a divine nature, 2 Pet. i. 4. as well as a quickening, or being raised from the dead. This leads us to consider,
II. The change that is wrought in this effectual calling, together with the grounds we have to conclude, that it is a supernatural work, or, as it is styled in this answer, the work of God's almighty power and grace. Those whom we more especially oppose in this head of argument, are the Pelagians, and others; who, though in some things they seem to recede from them, yet cannot support their cause without giving into their scheme, when treating on the subjects of free-will, nature and grace : these all allow that there is a change made in conversion or effectual calling; but they suppose that it is a change in man's natural temper and disposition, rather than what arises from a supernatural principle, which, according to them, consists in overcoming those habits of sin, which we have contracted, and acquiring habits of virtue, a ceasing to do evil, and learning to do well; and that it is in their own power supposing the concurrence of God as a God of nature, or at least, some superadded assistances, from the external dispensations of providence, which have an influence on the minds of men,