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vine precepts, I see not what is to be made of the scriptures, nor how it is, that righteousness, goodness, or any thing else which is required of men, should be accompanied, as it is, with the promise of eternal life,
CONTAINING ANSWERS TO OBJECTIONS.
THE principal objections that are made to the foregoing statement of things, are taken from The nature of original holiness, as it existed in our first parents-The divine decrees Particular redemption- The covenant of worksThe inability of man-The operations of the Spirit-and the necessity of a divine principle in order to believing.
It may be worthy of some notice, at least from those who are perpetually reproaching the statement here defended, as leading to Arminianism, that the greater part of these objections are of Arminian original. They are the same, for substance, as have been alleged by the leading writers of that scheme, in their controversies with the Calvinists; and from the writings of the latter, it were easy to select answers to them. This, in effect, is acknowledged by Mr. Brine, whe, however, considers these answers as insufficient, and, therefore, prefers others before them.*
It also deserves to be considered, whether objections drawn from such subjects as the above, in which we may presently get beyond our depth, ought to weigh against that body of evidence which has been adduced from the plain declarations and precepts of the holy scriptures ? What if, by reason of darkness, we could not ascertain the precise nature of the principle of our first parents ? It is certain we know but little of original purity. Our disordered souls are incapable of forming just ideas of so glorious a state. To attempt, therefore,
Arrrinian Principles of a Late Writer Refuted, p. 6.
to settle the boundaries of even their duty, by an abstract inquiry into the nature of their powers and principles, would be improper; and still more so to make it the medium by which
judge of our own. There are but two ways by which we can judge on such a subject : The one is from the character of the Creator, and the other from scripture testimony. From the former, we may infer the perfect purity of the creature, as coming out of the hands of God; but nothing can be concluded of his inability to believe in Christ, had he been in circumstances which required it. As to the latter, the only passage that I recollect to have seen produced for the purpose, is, 1 Cor. xv. 47. The first man was of the earth, earthy ; which Mr. Johnson, of Liverpool, alleged, to prove the earthi. ness of Adam's mind, or principles : but Mr. Brine sufficiently refutes this; proving that this divine proposition respects the body, and not the principles, of our first father ;* and thus Dr. Gill expounds it.
With regard to the doctrine of divine decrees, &c. it is a fact, that the great body of the divines who have believed those doctrines, have also believed the other. Neither Augustine, nor Calvin, who each, in his day, defended predestination, and the other doctrines connected with it, ever appear to have thought of denying it to be the duty of every sinner who has heard the gospel to repent, and believe in Jesus Christ. Neither did the other Reformers, nor the Puritans of the sixteenth century, nor the divines at the synod of Dort, (who opposed Arminius,) nor any of the Nonconformists of the seventeenth century, so far as I have any acquaintance with their writings, ever so much as hesitate upon this subject. The writings of Calvin himself, would now be deemed Arminian by a great number of our opponents I allow, that the principles here defended may be inconsistent with the doctrines of grace, notwithstanding the leading advocates of those doctrines have admitted them; and am far from wishing any person to build his faith on the authority of great men: but their admission of them ought to suffice for the silencing of that kind of opposition against them, which consists in calling names.
* Johnson's Mistakes Noted and Rectified, pp. 18-23.
Were a difficulty allowed to exist, as to the reconciling of these subjects, it would not warrant a rejection of either of them. If I find two doctrines affirmed, or implied in the scriptures, which, to my feeble understanding, may seem to clash, I ought not to embrace the one, and to reject the other, because of their supposed inconsistency : for, on the same ground, another person might embrace that which I reject, and reject that which I embrace, and have equal scriptural authority for his faith, as I have for mine. Yet in this manner many have acted on both sides ; some, taking the general precepts and invitations of scripture for their standard, have rejected the doctrine of discriminating grace; others, taking the declarations of salvation, as being a fruit of electing love, for their standard, deny that sinners, without distinction, are called upon to believe for the salvation of their souls. Hence it is, that we hear of Calvinistic and Arminian texts ; as though these leaders had agreed to divide the scriptures between them. The truth is, there are but two ways for us to take: one is, to reject them both, and the Bible with them, on account of its inconsistencies; the other is, to embrace them both, concluding that, as they are both revealed in the scriptures, they are both true, and both consistent, and that it is owing to the darkness of our understandings that they do not appear so to us.
Those excellent lines of Dr. Watts, in his Hymn on Election, one should think, must approve themselves to every pious heart:
But, O my soul, if truth so bright
Had we more of that about which we contend, it would teach us more to suspect our own understandings, and to submit to the wisdom of God. Abraham, that pattern of faith, might have made objections to the command of offering up his son, on the ground of its inconsistency with the promise, and might have set himself to find some other meaning for the terms: but he believed God, and left it to him to reconcile his promise and his precepts. It was not for him to dis. pute, but to obey.
These general remarks, however, are not introduced for the purpose of avoiding a particular attention to the several objections, but rather as preparatory to it.
ON THE PRINCIPLE OF HOLINESS POSSESSED BY MAN IN IN
The objection drawn from this subject has been stated in the following words: “ The holy principle connatural to Adam, and concreated with him, was not suited to live unto God through a mediator; that kind of life was above the extent of his powers, though perfect: and, therefore, as he, in a state of integrity, had not a capacity of living unto God, agreeably to the nature of the new covenant; it is apprehended that his posterity, while under the first covenant, are not commanded to live unto God in that sort, or, in other words, to live by faith on God through a mediator."
The whole weight of these important conclusions rests upon the first two sentences, and which are mere unfounded assertions. For the truth of them no proof whatever is offered. What evidence is there that the principle of holiness concreated with Adam, was not suited to live unto God through a mediator ?” That his circumstances were such as not to need a mediator, is true; but this involves no such consequence. A subject, while he preserves his loyalty, needs no mediator in approaching the throne : if he have offended, it is otherwise ; but a change of circumstances would not require a change of principles. On the contrary, the same principle of loyal affection that would induce him, while innocent, to approach the throne with modest confidence, would induce him, after having offended, to approach it with penitence, or, which is the same thing, to be sorry at heart for what he had done: and, if a mediator were at hand, with whose interposition the sovereign had declared himself well pleased, it would, at the same time, lead him to implore forgiveness in his name.
Had Cain lived before the fall, God would not have been offended at his bringing an offering without a sacrifice; but after that event, and the promise of the woman's seed, together with the institution of sacrifices, such a conduct was highly
Mr. Brine's Motives to Love and Unity, pp. 50, 51.
offensive. It was equally disregarding the threatening and the promise : treating the first as if nothing was meant by it; and the last as a matter of no account. It was practically saying, God is not in earnest. There is no great evil in sin ; nor any necessity for an atonement. If I come with my offering, I shall doubtless be accepted, and my Creator will think himself honoured.' Such is still the language of a self-righteous heart. But is it thus that Adam's posterity, while under the first covenant," (or, rather, while vainly hoping for the promise of the first covenant, after having broken its conditions,) are required to approach an offended God? If the principle of Adam in innocence was not suited to live to God through a mediator, and this be the standard of duty to his carnal descendants, it must, of course, be their duty either not to worship God at all, or to worship him as Cain did, without any respect to an atoning sacrifice. On the con. trary, is there not reason to conclude that the case of Cain and Abel was designed to teach mankind, from the very outset of the world, God's determination to have no fellowship with sinners, but through a mediator; and that all attempts to approach him in any other way would be vain and presumptuous :
It is true, that man in innocence was unable to repent of sin, or to believe in the Saviour : for he had no sin to repent of, nor was any Saviour revealed, or needed. But he was equally unable to repent with such a natural sorrow for sin as is allowed to be the duty of his posterity, or to believe the his tory of the gospel in the way which is also allowed to be binding on all who hear it. To this it might be added, he was uns able to perform the duty of a father; for he had no children to educate : nor could he pity or relieve the miserable ; for there were no miserable objects to be pitied or relieved. Yet we do not conclude, from hence, that his descendants are excused from these duties.
“ That Adam, in a state of innocence," says Dr. Gill, “ had the power of believing in Christ, and did believe in him as the second person of the Trinity, as the Son of God, cannot well be denied ; since, with the other two persons, he was his Creator and Preserver. AND HIS NOT BELIEVING IN HIM AS THE MEDIATOR, ŞAVIOUR, AND REDEEMER, DID NOT ARISE