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IV. THE WANT OF FAITH IN CHRIST IS ASCRIBED, IN THE SCRIPTURES, TO MEN'S DEPRAVITY, AND IS ITSELF REPRESENTED AS A HEINOUS SIN.

It is taken for granted, that whatever is not a sinner's duty, the omission of it cannot be charged on him as a sing nor imputed to any depravity in him. If faith were no more a duty than election or redemption, which are acts peculiar to God; the want of the one would be no more ascribed to the evil dispositions of the heart, than of the other. Or, if the inability of sinners to believe in Christ, were of the same nature as that of a dead body in a grave' to rise up and walk, it were absurd to supposo, that they would, on this account, fall under the divine censure. No man is reproved for not doing that which is naturally impossible : but sinners are reproved for not believing, and given to understand, that it is solely owing to their criminal ignorance, pride, dishonesty of heart, and aversion from God.

Voluntary ignorance is represented as a reason why sinners believe not. Being IGNORANT of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousne88, THEY HAVE

SUBMITTED THEMSELVES UNTO THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF God. If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost : In whom the god of this world hath BLINDED THE MINDS OF THEM THAT BELIEVE NOT, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.* To the same purpose, we are taught by our Lord, in the parable of the sower, when any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and UNDERSTANDETH IT NOT, then cometh the wicka ed one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart ; and this, as Luke expresses it, lest they should BELIEVE AND BE SAVED.T

If men, even though they were possessed of the same principles as our first father in paradise, would, nevertheless, be blind to the glory of the gospel ; with what propriety is their blindness attributed to the god of this world? Is he ever represented as employing himself in hindering that which is naturally impossible, or in promoting that which is innocent?

Pride is another cause to which the want of saving faith is

NOT

* Rom. x. 3. 2 Cor. iv. 3, 4,

† Matt. xü. 19. Luke viji. 12.

ascribed. The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek. God is not in all his thoughts.* We have geen already, that seeking God is a spiritual exercise, which implies faith in the Mediator : and the reason why ungodly men are strangers to it is, the haughtiness of their spirits; which makes them scorn to take the place of supplicants before their offended Creator, and labour to put far from their minds every thought of him. How can ye BELIEVE, said our Lord to the Jews, who receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only.t

If believing were here to be taken for any other faith than that which is spiritual or saving, the suggestion would not hold good : for we are told of some who could and did believe in Christ, in some sense, but who did not confess him ; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. It was pride that blinded the minds of the wise and prudent of this world to the doctrines of Christ ; and what is it but this same proud spirit, working in a way of self-conceit and self-righteousness, that still forms the grand objection to the doctrine of salvation by mere grace ?

Dishonesty of heart is that on account of which men receive not the word of God, so as to bring forth fruit. This is fully implied in the parable of the sower, recorded in the eighth chapter of Luke. The reason why those hearers represented by the good ground, received the word, and brought forth fruit, rather than the others, was, they had good and honest hearts ; plainly intimating, that the reason why the others did not so receive it, was, their hearts were not upright before God. Indeed such is the nature of divine truth, that every heart which is honest towards God must receive it. An honest heart must needs approve of God's holy law, which requires us to love him with all our powers; and this, because it is no more than giving him the glory due to his name. An honest heart will approve of being justified wholly for Christ's sake, and not on account of any of its own works, whether legal or evangelical ; for it is no more than relinquishing a claim which is justly forfeited, and accepting, as a free gift, that which God was under no obligation to bestow. Further: An honest heart must rejoice in the way of salvation, as soon as he understands it; because it provides a way in which mercy can be exercised consistently with righteousne88. A right spirit would revolt at the idea of receiving mercy itself, in a way that should leave a blot upon the divine character. It is the glory of Christ, that he has not an honest man for an enemy. The upright love him.

John v. 44.

* John xii. 43,

* Psalm &. 4. VOL. 1.

We are not ignorant who it is that must now give men honest hearts, and what is the source of every thing, in a falien creature, that is truly good; but this does not affect the argument. However far sinners are from it, and whatever divine agency it may require to produce it, no man who is not disposed to deny the accountableness of creatures to the God that made them, will deny that it is their duty : for if we are not obliged to be upright towards God, we are obliged to nothing; and if obliged to nothing, we must be guiltless, and so stand in no need of salvation.

Finally : Aversion of heart is assigned as a reason why sinners do not believe. This truth is strongly expressed in that complaint of our Lord, in John v. 40. Ye will not, or YE ARE NOT WILLING to come unto me, that ye might have life. Proudly attached to their own righteousness, when Jesus exhibited himself as the way, the truth, and the life, they were stumbled at it; and thousands, in the religious world, are the same to this day. They are willing to escape God's wrath, and to gain his favour ; yea, and to relinquish many an outward vice, in order to it: but to come to Jesus among the chief of sinners, and be indebted wholly to his sacrifice for life, they are not willing. Yet, can any man plead that this their unwillingness is innocent ?

Mr. Hussey understands the foregoing passage, of barely owning Christ to be the Messiah ; which, he says, would have saved them, as a nation, from temporal ruin and death; cr, as he in another place expresses it, “ from having their brains dashed out by the battering rams of Titus,” the Roman general.*

But it ought to be observed, that the life for which they were not willing to come to him, was the same as that which they thought they had in the scriptures, and this was

* Glory of Christ Revealed, pp. 527.615.

eternal life.Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye: have eternal life, and they are they which testify of me : and ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life. This was the same as saying, "These very scriptures, in which ye think ye have eternal life, testify of me, as the only way to it; but such is the pride and aversion of your hearts, that ye will not come to me for it."

Dr. Gill, in general, opposed these principles; yet frequently, when his system was out of sight, he established them. His exposition of this passage is a proof of this remark. He tells us, that the “ perverseness of their wills was blame-worthy, being owing to the corruption and vitiosity of their nature ; which being blame-worthy in them, that which follows upon it must be so too.”

There is no inconsistency between this account of things, and that which is given elsewhere, that no man can come to Christ, except the Father draw him.* No man can choose that from 'which his heart is averse. It is common, both in scripture and in conversation, to speak of a person who is under the influence of an evil bias of heart, as unable to do that which is inconsistent with it. They have eyes full of adultery, and CANNOT cease from sin.-The carnal mind is enmity against God : for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed

So then they that are in the flesh CANNOT please Godit

On account of this different phraseology, some writers have affirmed that men are under both a moral and a natural inability of coming to Christ; or that they neither will nor can come to him: but, if there be no other inability than what arises from aversion, this language is not accurate: for it conveys the idea, that, if all aversion of heart were removed, there would still be a natural and insurmountable bar in the way. But no such idea as this is conveyed by our Lord's words : the only bar to which he refers, lies in that reluctance, or aversion, which the drawing of the Father implies and re

Nor will such an idea comport with what he elsewhere teaches. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe

Which of you convinceth me of sin ? And if I

CAN be.

moves.

me not.

* John vi. 44.

† Rom. viii. 7, ..

say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God's words : ye 'therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. Why do ye not understand my speech?

BECAUSE YE CANNOT HEAR MY WORD. These cutting interrogations proceed on the supposition that they could have received the doctrine of Christ, if it had been agreeable to their corrupt hearts : and its being otherwise was the ONLY reason why they could not understand and believe it. If sinners were naturaliy and absolutely unable to believe in Christ, they would be equally unable to disbelieve: for it requires the same powers to reject, as to embrace. And, in this case, there would be no room for an inability of another kind : a dead body is equally unable to do evil, as to do good; and a man naturally and absolutely blind could not be guilty of shutting his eyes against the light. “ It is indwelling sin," as Dr. Owen says, “ that both disenableth men unto, and hinders them from believing, AND THAT ALONE.

Blindness of mind, stubbornness of the will, sensuality of the affections, all concur to keep poor perishing souls at a distance from Christ. Men are made blind by sin, and cannot see his excellency; obstinate, and will not lay hold of his righteousness ; senseless, and take no notice of their eternal concern

ments."*

A voluntary and judicial blindness, obstinacy, and hardness of heart, are represented as the bar to conversion. But, if that spirit which is exercised in conversion, were essentially different from any thing which the subjects of it, in any state, possessed, or ought to have possessed, it were absurd to ascribe the want of it to such causes.

Those who embraced the gospel, and submitted to the government of the Messiah, were baptized with the baptism of John, and are said, in so doing, to have justified God: their conduct was an acknowledgment of the justice of the law, and of the wisdom and love of the gospel. On the other hand, those who did not thus submit, are said to have rejected the counsel of God against themselves, not being baptized. I But no Christian, I suppose, certainly no Baptist,) thinks it

* On Indwelling Sin, Chap. XVI. $ Luke vii. 29, 30.

† Acts xxviii. 27.

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