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very earnest to maintain the contrary. You never hear a person, in such circumstances, reason as he does in religion. He does not say, 'If I be unable, I am unable; it is of no account whether my inability be of this kind or that:' but he labours with all his might to establish the difference. Now, if the subject be so clearly understood and acted upon, where interest is concerned, and never appears difficult but in religion, it is but too manifest where the difficulty lies. If, by fixing the guilt of our conduct upon our father Adam, we can sit comfortably in our nest; we shall be very averse from a sentiment that tends to disturb our repose, by planting a thorn in it.

It is sometimes objected, that the inability of sinners to believe in Christ, is not the effect of their depravity ; for that Adam himself, in his purest state, was only a natural man, and had no power to perform spiritual duties. But this objection belongs to another topic, and has, I hope, been already answered. To this, however, it may be added, The natural man who receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, (1 Cor. ii. 14.) is not a man possessed of the holy image of God, as was Adam, but of mere natural accomplishments; as were the wise men of the world, the philosophers of Greece and Rome, to whom the things of God were foolishness. More over, if the inability of sinners to perform spiritual duties were of the kind alleged in the objection, they must be equally unable to commit the opposite sins. He that, from the constitution of his nature, is absolutely unable to understand, or believe, or love a certain kind of truth, must, of necessity, be alike unable 10 shut his eyes against it, to disbelieve, to reject, or to hate it.

But it is manifest that all men are capable of the latter; it must, therefore, follow, that nothing but the depravity of their heart renders them incapable of the former.

Some writers, as has been already observed, have allowed, that sinners are the subjects of an inability which arises from their depravity : but they still contend that this is not all; but that they are both naturally and morally unable to believe in Christ : and this they think agreeable to the scriptures, which represent them as both unable and unwilling to come to him for life. But these two kinds of inability cannot consist with


each other, so as both to exist in the same subject, and towards the same thing. A moral inability supposes a natural ability. He who never, in any state, was possessed of the power of seeing, cannot be said to shut his eyes against the light. If the Jews had not been possessed of natural powers, equal to the knowledge of Christ's doctrine, there had been no justice in that cutting question and answer, Why do ye not understand my speech ? Because ye CANNOT hear my word. A total physical inability must, of necessity, supersede a moral

To suppose, therefore, that the phrase, No man can come to me, is meant to describe the former; and, Ye WILL NOT come to me, that ye may have life, the latter; is to suppose, that our Saviour taught what is self-contradictory.

Some have supposed, that, in attributing physical, or natural, power to men, we deny their natural depravity. Through the poverty of language, words are obliged to be used in different senses. When we speak of men as by nature depraved, we do not mean to convey the idea of sin being an essential part of human nature, or of the constitution of man as man : our meaning is, that it is not a mere effect of education and example; but is, from his very birth, so interwoven through all his powers, so engrained, as it were, in his very soul, as to grow up with him, and become natural to him.

On the other hand, when the term natural is used, as opposed to moral, and applied to the powers of the soul, it is designed to express those faculties which are strictly a part of our nature as men, and which are necessary to our being accountable creatures. By confounding these ideas, we may be always disputing, and bring nothing to an issue.

Finally : It is sometimes suggested, that, to attribute to sinners a natural ability of performing things spiritually good, is to nourish their self-sufficiency; and that to represent it as only moral, is to suppose that it is not insuperable, but may, after all, be overcome by efforts of their own. But surely it is not necessary, in order to destroy a spirit of self-sufficiency, to deny that we are men, and accountable creatures; which is all that natural ability supposes. If any person imagine it possible, of his own accord, to choose that from which he is utterly averse, let him make the trial.

Some have alleged, that “natural power is only sufficient VOL. I.


to perform natural things; and that spiritual power is required to the performance of spiritual things." But this statement is far from accurate. Natural power is as necessary to the performance of spiritual, as of natural things : we must possess the powers of men, in order to perform the duties of good men. And as to spiritual power, or, which is the same thing, a right state of mind, it is not properly a faculty of the soul, but a quality which it possesses; and which, though it be essential to the actual performance of spiritual obedience, yet is not necessary to our being under obligation to perform it.

If a traveller, from a disinclination to the western continenty should direct his course perpetually towards the east, he would, in time, arrive at the place which he designed to shun. In like manner, it has been remarked, by some who have observed the progress of this controversy, that there are certain important points in which false Calvinism, in its ardent desire to steer clear of Arminianism, is brought to agree with it. We have seen already, that they agree in their notions of the original holiness in Adam, and in the inconsistency of the duty of believing with the doctrines of election and particular redemption. To this may be added, they are agreed in making the grace of God necessary to the accountableness of sinners with regard to spiritual obedience. The one pleads for graceless sinners being free from obligation; the other admits of obligation, but founds it on the notion of universal grace. Both are agreed, that where there is no grace, there is no duty. But if grace be the ground of obligation, it is no more grace, but debt. It is that which, if any thing good be required of the sinner, cannot justly be withheld. This is, in effect, acknowledged by both parties. The one contends, that where no grace is given, there can be no obligation to spiritual obedience; and, therefore, acquits the unbeliever of guilt in not coming to Christ that he might have life, and in the neglect of all spiritual religion. The other argues, that, if man be totally depraved, and no grace be given him to counteract his depravity; he is blameless : that is, his depravity is no longer depravity; he is innocent in the account of his judge : consequently, he can need no saviour; and, if justice be done him, will be exempt from punishment, (if not entitled to ha

ven,) in virtue of his personal innocence. Thus the whole system


grace is rendered void : and fallen angels, who have not been partakers of it, must be in a far preferable state to that of fallen men, who, by Jesus taking hold of their nature, are liable to become blameworthy and eternally lost. But, if the essential powers of the mind be the same, whether we be pure or depraved, and be sufficient to render any creature an accountable being, whatever be his disposition, grace is what its proper meaning imports-free favour, or favour towards the unworthy; and the redemption of Christ, with all its holy and happy effects, is what the scriptures represent it-necessary to deliver us from the state into which we were fallen, antecedently to its being bestowed.*


The scriptures clearly ascribe both repentance and faith, wherever they exist, to divine influence.t From hence, many have concluded, that they cannot be duties required of sinners. If sinners have been required from the pulpit to repent or believe, they have thought it sufficient to show the absurdity of such exhortations, by saying, “A heart of fesh is of God's giving : faith is not of ourselves ; it is the gift of God:' as though these things were inconsistent, and it were improper to exhort to any thing but what can be done of ourselves, and without the influence of the Holy Spirit.

The whole weight of this objection rests upon the supposition that we do not stand in need of the Holy Spirit to enable us to comply with our duty. If this principle were admitted, we must conclude, either, with the Arminians and Socinians, that « faith and conversion, seeing they are acts of obedience, cannot be wrought of God;"! or, with the objector, that, seeing they are wrought of God, they cannot be acts of obedi. ence. But, if we need the influence of the Holy Spirit to en. able us to do our duty, both these methods of reasoning fall to the ground.

And is it not manifest, that the godly, in all ages, have considered themselves insufficient to perform those things to

* Rom. v. 5. 15–21. Heb. ix. 27, 28. 1 Thes. i. 10. + Ezek. xi. 19 2 Tim. ii. 25. Ephes. i. 19. ii. 8. See Owen's Display of Arminianism, Chap. X.

which, nevertheless, they acknowledge themselves to be obliged? The rule of duty is what God requires of us: but he requires those things which good men have always confessed themselves, on account of the sinfulness of their nature, insufficient to perform. He desireth truth in the inward part : yet an Apostle acknowledges, We are not sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves : but our sufficiency is of God.*- The Spirit, saith he, helpeth our infirmities : for we know not what we should pray for AS WE OUGHT: but the Spirit itself makech intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. The same things are required in one place, which are promised in another: Only fear the Lord, and scrve him in truth with all your heart.--I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.t When the sacred writers speak of the divine precepts, they neither disown them, nor infer from them a self-sufficiency to conform to them; but turn them into prayer: Thou hast comMANDED us to keep thy precepts diligently. O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes !! In fine, the scriptures uniformly teach us, that all our sufficiency to do good, or to abstain from evil, is from above : repentance and faith, therefore, may be duties, notwithstanding their being the gifts of God.

If our insufficiency for this, and every other good thing, arose from a natural impotency, it would indeed excuse us from obligation ; but, if it arise from the sinful dispositions of our hearts, it is otherwise. Those whose eyes are full of adultery, and THEREFORE, cannot cease from sin, are under the same obligations to live a chaste and sober life, as other men are : yet, if ever their dispositions be changed, it must be by an influence from without them; for it is not in them to relinquish their courses of their own accord. I do not mean to suggest, that this species of evil prevails in all sinners : but sin, in some form, prevails, and has its dominion over them, and to such a degree that nothing but the grace of God can effectually cure it. It is depravity only that renders the regenerating influence of the Holy Spirit necessary.

" The

* Psalm li. 6. 2 Cor. iii. 5.
† 1 Sam. xi. 24. Jer. xxxii. 40.

* Psa. cxix. 4, 5.

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