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" the work of faith with power." Nor will they feel disposed, or see the occasion they have, to " give unto “ God the glory, which is indeed due unto his name,” in their salvation. Accordingly, the depravity, blindness and deadness of mankind, in things of a spiritual nature, and their útter inability to comply with the gospel, as well as to obtain salvation by the deeds of the law, are much inculcated and inhifted on, in the sacred scriptures.
But then, there is a difficulty, in the minds of many, how to reconcile this total helplesness of finners, with the fincerity of the gospel offers, or with the justice of men's being condemned and punished, for their impenitence and unbelief. And indeed, it does seem as if men could not be to blame, før not doing impossibilities : Nor should we in other cases, think there was much kindness or sincerity, in offering a favour on conditions that were known to be impracticable.
There is scarce any one, I believe, that has ever tho't much about religion, but what has, at one time or other, felt himself pinched with this difficulty. And it is won't to have a most pernicious influence upon the minds of finners in general; but more especially, when they, come to be under awakenings, and begin to enquire, "what they shall do to be saved.” According to what they hear in fermons, yea, and according to what they read in their bibles, they are greatly at a loss to fee; how the ways of the Lord can be equal. “The carnal mind,” they are told, is
not subject to the law of God, nesat ther indeed can be."
And that, they that are in the at hiệîn cannot please God.” They are therefore under a necessity of linning, yea, of doing nothing else but fin.
every transgression and disobedience,” is to receive a iroft dreadful « recompence of reward,” the wrath of God being ** revealed from heaven, against all « ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. And no relief, no deliverence from wrath, is to be hoped for through the gospel, but upon impossible conditions : Suck
conditions as no natural man, no one who is dead in trespasses and fins, ever did, ever will, or can comply with. And yet a non-compliance with these conditions, expofes to an amazingly aggravated, additional condem. nation; insomuch that it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah, in the day of judgment, than for those who enjoy the light of the gospel, and do not emt brace the falvation it offers.
But how these things are consistent with reason; how '. they can ever be reconciled with the goodness, or the juftice of God, they are greatly at a loss. Such a view of the matter, seems to them to make the Most High indeed, what the nothful servant said, a hard master, “reaping “ where he has not fown, and gathering where he has not Itrewed.” Or; like
Or, like the cruel Egyptian task. masters, requiring the full tale of brick, without allowing the necessary ftraw; requiring that of his creatures which he knows exceeds their utmoft strength, and then they are beaten; yea, must be punished with everlasting destruction, for not doing, what they would do with all their hearts, but it is no more in their power, than it is to make a world: 2
Now, until this difficulty can be fairly got over in peo. ple's minds, it seems impossible they should, in their consciences, justify God, or condemn themselves as he condemns them. Or thac they should understand, either the justice of the divine law, or the grace of the golpel. It is therefore certainly highly necessary, that what the scripture says upon this subject, should be fer in a consistent light, so as to commend itself to every man's conscience, in the fight of God."
THERE are several ways, in which this has been attempted. Some account for God's suspending our salvation upon impossible conditions, and condemning men for not doing what it is not in their power to do, by obferving, that we lost our power by the fall. Our present weakness and blindness, was brought upon us as a righ
teous punishment, for the disobedience of Adam; and God, they say, has not lost his right to comniand, because man, by his own: folly and fin, has lost his ability to obey. That is, we ought, it is our present real' duty to exert, not oniy all the strength we actually have, but all we should have had, had it not been for the original apostacy.
. But to this it will be objected, that we never reason and judge in such a manner, in any other case. We do not think those who have lost their eyes, are still to blame for not feeing; or those who have lost their reason, for not understanding; or that it is the duty of those to labour with their hands, who have no hands to labour with. Not, though we suppose they were deprived of those faculties, in a righteous manner, for their fins. Or, suppose a servant, by his own folly and bad conduct, has brought a.fit of Gickness upon himself; do we think it reasonable for his master, still to require him to go out into the field every day, and do as much work as if he was well ? And is the servant to blame, in not obeying such commands? Does he daily commit new sin, in not working, when perhaps he now wilhes with all his heart he was able to do it; but has not strength enough to go a step, or bear his weight?
It must, I think, be granted, we do generally suppose, a man's present duty cannot exceed his present strength, even let his strength have been impared by what means it will. We never hear even a good man, pretend to repent or blame himself, that he has not seen the light of the sun all day, and resolve not to be guilty of the same fin to-morrow, when he has been stone blind for twenty years.
I shall not therefore, undertake the defence of this, as any folution of the difficulty, to the apprehension of reason and common sense. Nor can I think that any one was ever inwardly convinced of the sin of unbelief in
However well meant it might probably be, by the first inyenters of it, iç seems rather calculated to
ease the consciencies of men, by cafting all real blame, Back upon the first sin only.
OTHERS, (and those who would not be thought, and are not suspected, to leanin any measure towards arminianism) have supposed it neceffary to soften matters a little, as to the sovereignty of grace, and the helplesness of finners, if we would avoid the above inconsistency, or reflection upon the divine justice. They would have it maintained, indeed, that sinners are unable to do mueh, if any thing towards their selvation, merely of themselves. Nor do they suppose that any one is ever brought to true repentance and faith in Christ, without the special grace of God. But then they apprehend, it may, and must be admitted, that sinners are able, by the help of common grace, co do chose things which are connected with, and may be considered as a sort of preliminary conditions of salvation : conditions upon which regeneration, & an ability to come up to the actual terms of the gospel, is promised, or however, will undoubtedly be bestowed. That is, they suppose, if finners will seek and pray, use the means of grace, and do the best that persons under their circumstances, and having such hearts as they have, may do ; God will not be wanting on his part, or leave them to perish. That if they exert all the strength, and make a good improvement of all the affiftance they have, they shall have more, and more given them; till in the end they are enabled to obtain mercy, and to lay hold on eternal life. That if there are no absolute promises, to such earnest and sincere, though feeble, efforts of the unregenerate, yet certainly there are many very precious encouragements ; which may indeed, securely enough be relied on. So that, on the whloe, no sinner is under any real impossibility of obtaining falvati
For every one, let his impotence be as great as it will, can certainly do what he can. And if upon his doing this, God will not fail to help him, as to what he cannot do ; then every one may be saved, any weakness or depravity he labours under, notwithstansting. Nor de
they see how we can vindicate the divine justice, or fairly cast the blame of the sinners perdition on himself, without supposing such a universal sufficiency of grace, as this.
Now if this can be made out to be really the case, that all are actually and in every view, enabled to do those things which are connected with eternal life ; there will be no difficulty, I apprehend, with any one, to see that the ways of the Lord are equal, For according to this, there seems to be no respect of persons with God, even in the distribution of his freelt favours, any more than in his judicial proceedings. Tuc difference between him that is saved, and him that perisheth, not originating from any in equality in the bestowment of divine grace, but solely from the better improvement one finner makes of the same grace, than another does. Here then the way is clear on the side of natural' notions, reason, and common sense.
But, I am afraid, it will be as hard to reconcile this way of solving matters, with the scriptures, and with the truth of fact, as it is, the former one, with reason. Certainly, the scriptures seem to speak a language quite different from this. In them we are taught, “ That it is “ God that maketh one man to differ from an other, for " the better, and not he himself. That it is not of him " that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God " that she with mercy.” and “ that he hath mercy, on whom he will bave mercy ; and whom he will he hardeneth." And in our text, our Saviour accounts for the murmuring and opposition, of the unbeleiving jews, by making this observation to his disciples, upon it ; can come to me, except the father which hath sent me draw him.” By which he evidently ment to intimate, that the conduct of his opposers, considering what human nature was, was not to be wondered at. That they acted no otherways than all other men would; if left to themselves as they were.
That those who now followed and obeyed him, would never have come to him or become