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trary to the Improvement you ought to make of if.
I begin with the sirst of these, and shall endeavour to convince you, that Man is indeed in fuch a lofl and helplefs State, that he lies at mere Mercy, and cannot bring himself into a Claim to the divine Favour, by any Power or Ability of his own.—I shall not run into the scholastic Contraversies and tubtile Distinctions, with which this Doctrine has been clouded by many of our wrangling Disputers; but fhall endeavour to set it in the most plain, ealy, and practical Light, that I am able. , I think you must readily grant, that you cannot make an Atonement for your Sins, by any Performances within your Power.—You are, Sir, to consider yourself as a Sinner, as a Criminal and Delinquent in the Sight of God.—Your Nature is
corrupt and denied Your actual Transgressions of
the Law of God have been very numerous, and perhaps some of them attended with special Aggravations.— All your Sins are directly repugnant to the Persections of the divine Nature, and consequently offensive to a pure and holy God. And
what greatly increases the Difficulty and Danger of your Case is, that you are still continuing to act contrary to God in all you do, while your Nature is unrenewed; and while you are without a Principle of Love to God. (I am sure you will pardon this Freedom, for it is necessary you should know the Disease, in order to the Cure.)—Judge then/ yourself, whether it can be suppofed, that an omniscient, Heart-searching God can be pleafed with any, even the most devout of yout overt Actions, when he knows that your Heart is estranged from him, and your Nature has no Conformity to him, but your Affections are glevved to your several
Idols. How then can you be reconciled to God,
by virtue of your own Performances and Attainments? meats? Can you pay ten thousand Talents with
less than nothing? Can you please God by os
fonding him, as you do by the Obliquity of all your Duties, the Desects of your best Devotions, and the sinsul Affections from whence they all flow?
Or can you have thofe unworthy Thoughts of
an infinite unchangeable God, as to hope you can make such Impressions upon his Affections, by acknowledging your Offences, and imploring his Mercy, as to excite his Compassion and Sympathy; and to make your impure and unholy Nature agreeable to his insinite Purity and Holiness ?—Can your insincere and hypocritical Duties (for such they are all at best, while they proceed from an unsanctifiect Heart) bring the glorious God to take Complacency in what is directly contrary to his own Nature t
• You cannot but see, that these Propofals
are most unreasonable and absurd. One of these Things must certainly be true; either first, that you have naturally, whilst in an unrenewed State, a Principle of Holiness and Love to God: Or secondly, that Works flowing from an impure Fountain, and from a Principle of Opposition and Alienation to God, are yet pleasing to God, will serve to appease him, and will intitle you to his Favour r Or thirdly, that you cannot, by any Thing you do, have a Claim to God's Favour, until your Nature is renewed, and you can act from a Principle of Holiness and Love to God. I think every Man's Experience will consute the first of these, who gives any Attention at all to the natural Dispositions of his own Soul: The second is altogether inconsistent both with the Nature of Things, and with the Nature of an insinitely pure and holy God: And
therefore the third is necessarily true. It won't
at all help the Case to alledge,. in Bar of what is here said, that Christ Jesut has made an Ator.e. I rr
ment for us. For what is that to you, while you
remain without an Interest in him? Did Christ
p rchase for you a Capacity to make an Atonement
for your'clf? Did he die, that God might be
pleased with what is contrary to his own Nature, and pacisied with such Duties as can be no better than impure Streams from a corrupt Fountain?
Let Reason sit Judge in the Case besore us, and you must allow your Case to be as I have described it. And it is equally evident, that you have no Power to change your ow/i He,;rt, and to produce in yourself a new Principle of Love to God, and Consormity to him, by any Endeavours of your
own It is visible, from what has been already
said, that our Hearts and Afsections must be renewed and sanctisied, before either our Persons or Services can be acceptable in the Sight of God: And which Way can this be compassed? If you take up Refolutions, these will no longer stand you in Stead than the Principle of Fear, from which they proceed is kept in Act.——If you execute these Resolutions in f me external Reformations, this is but lopping off the Branches, while the Stock and the Root of the Tree are still alive, the Affections and Dispositions of the Soul being still
the same. If by Fear, or other selsish Motives,
you something restrain the present more sensible Exercise of your sinsul Appetites or Passions, this is but damming up the Stream, and forcing it into another Channel; pull down the Dam, and it will run where it did before. Certain it is, that every Man naturally loves the World, and the I hings of the World, the Objects of his sensual Appetites; and loves his Lusts and Idols more than God : And it is equally certain, that whatever Restraints he may sometimes put upon these dispositions, an omniscient niscient Eye beholds the same Principle in him notwithstanding; and consequently he can never pleafe God, till there be in this Respect a real and thorough Change wrought in all the Powers of his Soul: such a Change as the Scriptures describe by a Tranfation from Darknefs unto Light, from Death to Life, and from the Power, of Satan unto God.— And to suppofe, that any but he who sirst gave Bing to our Souls, can give them a new Being, in all spiritual or moral Respects, and make their Dispositions, Appetites, Passions, Contemplations, Desires and Delights, not only differing from, but directly and lastingly contrary to whit they were, is to ascribe to the Creature what is the peculiar Property and Prerogative of the glorious God himself.
Do you, Sir, but make the Trial, and you
will sind, aster all your Endeavours, that the Violation of your Promises and Resolutions, the Deadness and Hypocrisy of your Duties, the Prevalence of your Sins, and the continued Estrangement of your Affections from God and Godliness, will give you more sensible Conviction, than any Methods of Reasoning can do, that there is a greater Power needsul than your own, to make you a new Creature,
It must therefore necestarily follow, that there is nothing you are able to do can giwe you a Claim to the renewing Influences of the Holy Spirits If any Thing you can do can give you a Claim to the renewing and sanctifying Influences ot the divine Grace, your Claim must be either Irom Merit,
or Promife. Not of Merit; when you c nnot
of yourself so much as leave offsinninti, and hereby running surther into Debt to the Juliice of God; and this, even in and by the best of \our Dutes; your highest Attainments therefore can merit nothing but the divine Disp!earure.—Notes Promise;
IS for for where, I beseech you, has God premised to reward your Insincerity with his saving Mercy? And how vain are all Pretences to serve God Jinterely, where there is not one Grain of true Holiness in the Heart? Whatever moral Honesty Men in a State of Nature may boast of, it is all but spiritual Hypocrif' in the Sight of a Heart-searching God, and can bring none under the Promife, which is made to Faith unseigned, the only Simplicity and godly Sincerity in the Account of the Gofpel.
But I return to consider your Objection more distinctly.—" The Scriptures, you tell me, pro
"misc, that he who seeks stall find." But, Sir,
do not the Scriptures also insorm us, that many shallseek to enter in at the strait Gate, and shall not be able; that some ask and receive not, because they ask amifs: And that he who does not ask in Faith, nothingwavering, must not think he shall receive any Thing of the Lord There is indeed a Promise to him who seeks in Faith and Sincerity: But what Claim can he have to that Promise, who has neither true Faith nor Sincerity ? —Will mocking God, and flattering him with your Lips, while your Heart is estranged from him, intitle you to the Promise?
But you say, " All our Divines tell us, that the "most sinsul and unworthy may have Access to "God through Christ; and this is the Purport of "all my reasoning with you."—True, by Faith in Christ they may: But God is a consuming Fire to Unbelievers. He that believeth not is condemned already. What Claim therefore can they
have to the Favour of God upon Christ's Account, .who have never received him by Faith; and consequently have no Interest in him, nor in any of his