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or ability of his own. : I shall not run into the fcholastick controverfies and fubtile diftinétions, with which this doĉtrine has been clouded by many of our wrangling difputers: but shallendeavour to fet it in the most plain; eafy, and praćłical light, that I am able. |I think, you muft readily grant, that you cannot make an atonement for your fins, by any performances within your power. You are, Sir, to confider yourself as a finner, as a criminal and delinquent in the fight of God. Your nature is corrupt and defiled. Your aĉtual tranfgreffions of the law of God have been very numerous ; and perhaps fome of them attended with fpecial aggravations. All your fins are direćtly repugnant to the perfećtions of the divine nature; and confequently offenfive to a pure and holy God. And what greatly increafes the difficulty and danger of your cafe, is, that you are still continuing to aĉt 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 fure, you will pardon this freedom; for it is necessary you should know the difeafe, in order to the care ) Judge then yourfelf, whether it can be fupposed, that an omnifcient heart-fearching God can be pleased with any, even the most devout of your overt aćtions, when he knows that your heart is estranged from him, and your nature has no conformity to him ; but your affećtions are glewed to your feveral idols. How then can you be reconciled to God, by virtue of your performances and attainments ? Can you pay ten thousand talents, with lefs than nothing ? Can you pleafe God by offending him, as you do by the obliquity of all your duties, the defests of your beft devotions, and the finfułaffećtions from whence they all flow ? Or can you have those unworthy thoughts of ani infinite, unchangeable God, as to hope you can make fuch impressions upon his affestions, by acknowledging your offences, and imploring his mercy, as to excite his compaí ion-and fympathy; and to make your impure and unholy nature agreeable to his infinite purity and holinefs ? Can your infincere, and hypocritical duties (for fuch they are all at best, while they proceed from au unfanćtified heart), bring the glorious God to take

complacency in what is dire&ly contrary to his own nature ? You cannot but fee, that thefe propofals are most unreafonable and abfurd. One of thele things muft certainly be true ; either first, that you have naturally, whilft in an unrenewed ftate, a principle of holinefs and love to God: or fecondly, that works flowing from an impure fountain, and from a principle of opposition and aliemation to God, are yet pleafing to God, will fervė to appeafe him, and will entitle you to hís favour : or thirdly, that you cannot, by any thing vou do, have a claim to God’s favour, until your nature is renewed, and you can aćł from a principle of holinefs and love to God. I think every man’s experience will confute the first of thefe, who gives any attention at all to the natural difpofitions of his own foul: the fecond is altogether inconfiftent both with the nature of things and with the na. ture of an infinitely pure and holy God : and therefore the third is necessarily true. It won’t atall help the cafe, to alledge in bar of what is here faid, that Christ Jefus has made an atonement for us. For what is that to you, while you remain without an intereft in him ? Did Chrift purchafe for you a capacity to make an atonement for yourfelf? Did he die, that God might be pleaffed with what is contrary to his own nature; and pacified with fuch duties as can be no better than impure ítreams from a corrupt fountain ? Let reafon fit judge in the cafe before us; and you must allow your cafe to be as I have defcribed it. Ánd it is equally evident, that you have no power to change your own heart, and to produce in yourself a new principle of love to God and conformity to him, by any endeavours of your own. It is vifible from what has been already faid, that our hearts and affections must be renewed and fanćtified, before either our perfons or fervices can be acceptable in the fight of God. And which way can this be compasted ? If you take up refolutions, thefe will no longer stand you in stead than the principle of fear, from which they proceed, is kept in aĉtion. If you execute these refolutions in fome external reformations, this is but lopping off the branches, while the stock and the root of the tree are stillalive; the affećtions id dispositions of the foul being still the fame: If by

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fear, or other felfish motives, you fomething reftrain the present more fenfible exercife of your finful appetites or paffions, 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 things of the

world, the objećts of his fenfual appetites; and loves his

lufts and idols, more than God: and it is equally ceftain, that whatever restraints he may fometimes put upon thefe difpofitions, an omnifcient eye beholds the fame principle in him notwithstanding: and confequently he can never pleafe God, till there be in this respećt a real and thorough ehange wrought in all the powers of his foul ; fuch a change as the scriptures defcribe : 2

ife,

tran/latian from darkne/ unto light, from death to

and from the power of Satan unto God. And to fuppofea that any but he who first gave being to our fouls, can give them a new being in all spiritual and moral refpećłs; and make their difpofitions, appetites, paffions, contemplations, defires, and delights, not only differing from, but direćtly and laftingly contrary to what they

were, is to afcribe 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 find, after all your endeavours, that the violation of your promifes and refolutions, the deadness and hypocrify of your du: ties, the prevalence of your fins, and the continued ef. trangement of your affećtions from God and godliness, will give you more fenfible convićtion, than any methods of reafoning can do, that there is a greater power

needful than your own, to make you a new creature.

It must therefore necessarily follow, that there is nothing you are able to do, can give you a claim to the renewing influences of the Holy Spirit. If any thing you cando, can give you a claim to the renewing and fanctifying influences of the divine grace, your claim muft be cither from merit or promife.—Not óf merit ; when you can’t of yourself fo much as leave off finning, and thereby running further into debt to the justice of God; and this, even in and by the best of your duties. Your highest attainments theręfore can merit nothing but the

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feech you, has God promifed to reward your infincerity, with his faving mercy ? and how vain are all pretences to ferve God fincerely, where there is not one grain of true holiness in the heart? whatever moral honesty men in a state of nature may boaft of, ’tis all but fpiritual hypocrify in the fight of a heart-fearching God : and can bring none under the promife ; which is made to faith unfeigned, the only fimplicity and godly fincerity, in the account of the gospel. But I return to confider your objećtion more distin&ly. * The fcriptures (you tell : promife, that he who , * feeks /ball find.” But, Sir, do not the fcriptures also inform us, that manyJball/eek to enter in at the firait gate, and/ball not be able: that fome af:, and receive not, because they a/b ami/. : And that he who does not af in faith, nothing wavering, muff not think he/ball re- . ceive any thing of the Lord ? There is indeed a promife to him who feeks in faith and fincerity: but what claim can he have to that promife, who has neither true faith nor fincerity ? Will mocking God, and flattering him with your lips, while your heart is estranged from him, intitle you to the promife ? But you fay, “ All our divines tell us, that the most * finful and unworthy may have access to God through * Christ ; and this is the purport of all my reafoning * with you.” True, by faith in Chrift they may: but God is a confuming fire to unbelievers. He that believetb not, is condemnedalready. What claim therefore canthey have to the favour of God upon Christ’s account, who have never received him by faith ; and confequently have no intereft in him, nor in any of his faving benefits ? Can they claim the benefits of the covenant of grace, who are themfelves under the covenant of works, which curfes them, for their not continuing in all things written in the book of the law to do them ? I entreat you, Sir, to confider this cafe ; it is of vaft importance to you. If you have not good evidence of an intereft in Christ, how can you pretend to the privileges purchafed with his precious blood ? How can you pretend to access to God through him ; and a claim to the blefied influences of his holy Spirit ? How can unbelievers have a claim

against feveral Exceptions. 7 1 to the favour of God by Chrift, when he himself affures us, that the wrath of God abideth on them ? But · Will not God have compaffion on his creatures, * when they do what they can to ferve him?” What anfwer would a prince make to a condemned rebel in his fhackles and dungeon, that should make this plea for pardon ? Would the criminal’s doing what he can to ferve his prince (which in his prefent state, is nothin at all to any good purpofe) atone for his paft rebellion : Or would this qualify him for his prince's favour, while he yet retains the fame enmity in his heart against him, and wont fo much as fubmit to his fovereign good pleafure and meer mercy ? The application is easy. And it belongs to you, Sir, to confider feriously, whether a finner who is dead in trefpaffes and fins, who is in a state of rebellion against God, and therefore under the condemning fentence of the law, can any more atone for his fins, or make a reafonable plea forgrace and pardon, than the traitor aforefaid ? But were your reafoning ever fo just, it would afford you no grounds of comfort. For there never was, nor ever shall be any man, that can fairly make this plea in his own favour ; and truly fay, . he has done all he can, in the mortifying his lufts, :::i in his endeavours to ferve God. There will, after all his attempts, remain enough neglećted, even of the external part of his duty, that was most in his own power, to condemn both his perfon and his fervices. You complain, that * the arguments in the book I * fent you, don’t give you fatisfaċtion.’ Well, I have here added fome further evidence, to what was there offered ; and would now call upon you to confider, whether all thefe things put together don’t make it evident, that you lie at mercy, and convince you of thofe fcripture truths, that it is not in him that willeth, ner in him that runneth, but in God that /beweth mercy. God giveth his faving grace only because it hath/o feemed good ia his fight. Confider, whether you can atone for paft fins by present duties, by duties that are fo polluted by the Principle from which they flow ; and which have fo much camality, felfishnefs, hypocrify, and finful defeéts cleaving to them, that if the iniquity of yourmoft holy thingfbcimputed, it must greatly increase the mo

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