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unspeakably vile and God-provoking, and for which they deserved utter ruin ; and for which, indeed, God did afterwards, according to his declared design, bring utter ruin upon them: But all those advantages were outward; nor is the inward as. sistance of the holy spirit any where brought into the account, whenever the greatness of their advantages is set forth, on purpose to show how aggravated their wickedness was : but this is constantly the charge, as in II. Chron. xxxvi. 15, 16, 17.... And the Lord God of their fathers sent unto them by his messengers, rising up betimes and sending ; but they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of God arose against his people, till there was no remedy: Therefore, he brought upon them the King of the Chaldees ; not because they did not improve the inward assistances of the holy spirit, but because they did not improve their outward advantages....did not hearken to God's messengers : And in this strain their confessions ran, when God, by his grace, had brought them to see what they had done ;-as in Dan. ix. 5, 6, &c....We have sinned, and committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts, and from thy judgments : Neither have we HEARKENED UNTO THY SERVANTS, THE PROPHETS, which spake in thy name. The not hearkening to them is mentioned as the great aggravation ; but their not improving the inward assistance of the spirit is not brought into the account.... See Neh. ix. 30.
It is evident that the children of Israel, considered as a nation, had not special grace, or the renewing, sanctifying influences of the holy spirit, as one of their advantages, from Jer. xxxi. 31, 32, 33....Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah, not according to the covenant I made with their fathers, in the day I took them by the hand, to bring them out of the land of Egypt ; (which my [national] covenant they brake, although I was as an husband unto them, saith the Lord ;) But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel : After those days, suith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward
parts, and write it in their hearts, and will be their God, and they shall be my people ;-where the renewing, sanctifying influences of the holy spirit are mentioned as a peculiar privilege the Jewish people were not entitled unto as a nation, by that national covenant which God entered into with them, as such, at Mount Sinai, (Exod. xix.-Deut. v.) and which afterwards, at the end of forty years, was renewed at the borders of Canaan .... Deut. xxix : Nor indeed were there any inward influences of the holy spirit, at all, promised in that national covenant, as a common privilege, to be by them in common enjoyed : And if they were not entitled to this privilege, as a nation, by their national covenant, then there is no evidence that they, as a nation, did enjoy it ; and, therefore, when God speaks as if he had done all for that nation that could be done, he plainly has respect only to outrvard means, which were all that they, as a nation, enjoyed : And, as to them, he evidently had good ground so to say ; since he had done such great things for them, and sent such prophets among them, and been continually taking all pains, from age to age, to make them a holy people : even as we are ready to say concerning the people of a particular parish, where there is a learned, godly, plain, searching, powerful, enlightening, faithful minister, such as Mr. SHEPARD was in his day, IVhat more could be done for such a people, that is nos done ? And, therefore, when Stephen charged the Jews, that they always resisted the Holy Ghost, as their fathers had done, (in Acts vii. 51,) he means, that they had always resisted the Holy Ghost, as speaking in and by their prophets, as now they did the same spirit that spake in and by him
as is plain from verse 52, and as is also evident from Neh. ix. 30. And besides, there is not the least intimation, that those Jews, to whom Stephen spoke, were under any of the inward influences of the holy spirit, but they seem rather to act like creatures wholly left of God. And this hint may help us to understand that phrase in Neh. ix. 20. compared with Num. xi, 17 : So that, from the whole, it is evident, that the children of Israel, as a nation, were, in Isaiah's time, looked upon as enjoying advan
tages much more than suficient for their being a holy and fruitful people, had they been of a right temper and not so wickedly obstinate and perverse in their bad disposition ; and yet their advantages were only outward, and the inward influences of the koly spirit are not taken into the account,
And well might their advantages be thus esteemed, upon the forementioned hypothesis : Yea, ifall mankind are able, in respect to their natural capacities, to yield perfect obedience, and if the advantages of the very heathen were sufficient, had it not been for the want of a right temper in them, and for their very bad disposition, it is no wonder that God speaks here concerning his peculiar people, whose outward advantages were exceed. ingly great, as if he had had very raised expectations of their being a holy people :
-herefore, when I looked it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes ? Q.D.“ I have done • all, as to outward means, that could be done, to make you a
holy people-enough, and more than enough ; and I looked « and expected that you should have been so : and whence is it " that you are not? How unaccountable is it? And how great ut is your wickedness! And how great your guilt ! For it is God's
way, in the holy scriptures, to speak to men after the man, of men, who are wont to have their expectations of fruitfulness raised, when they sow or plant in a fertile soil, well manu. red and cultivated.... (See Mat. xxi, 33–41.) Just so a master is wont to speak to his servant, who is strong, and able for bu. siness-" I looked that you should have done such a piece of "work, wherefore is it not done ? You had time enough, and
strength enough ;" and that although he knew, in all reason, beforehand, that his servant would not do it, because of his lazy, unfaithful temper--the design of such speeches being to represent the great unreasonableness and inexcusableness of such a conduct.
And finally, upon the same hypothesis, it is no wonder that Jesus Christ represents the people of Chorazin, and Bethsaida, and Capernaum, as enjoying advantages sufficient to have brought even Tyre, and Sidon, and Sodom to repentance, which,
in scripture account, are some of the most wicked cities in the world ; and so, consequently, more than barely sufficient to have brought them to repentance, who were, by profession, the people of God; for they had enjoyed the ministry of Christ himself, and seen very many of his mighty works... Mat, xi, 20–24. If the advantages of the heathen world are sufficient, well might Christ, speaking after the manner of men, seem to be so confident that Tyre, and Sidon, and Sodom would have repented, if they had seen his mighty works; and well might he speak as if the people of Chorazin, &c. had enjoyed advantages more than barely sufficient, and lay all the blame of their impenitency upon them-yea, and look upon them as under an aggravated guilt, and give them so heavy a doom : And yet nothing can be plainer than that the advantages which they enjoyed were only outward, for no other are brought into the account, as aggravations of their guilt :-Woe unto thee, for if the mighty works which were done in you, &c. He does not in the least, intimate as if they had any inward help from the holy spirit, but only says he has done mighty works among them ; yea, in the 25th verse, he plainly declares that they were left destitute of special grace.
And thus, while, with St. Paul, we look upon the advantages even of the heathen world as sufficient to lead them to the true knowledge of God, and a perfect conformity to his law, but for their want of a good temper, and their voluntary avcrsion to God and love to sin, we easily see whence it is that the external advantages of those who enjoy the benefit of a divine revelation, together with other outward means of grace, are represented as being much more than barely sufficient and consequently their guiit, in remaining impenitent and unholy, as being doubly ago gravated.
And before I leave this point, I must make one remark more, namely, that if the advantages of the heathen world were suts. cient, but for their want of a good temper, their voluntary aversion to God and love to sin, to lead them to the true knowledge of God, and a perfect conformity to his law, as has been proved, then God was not under any natural obligations to grant to any
of mankind any supernatural advantages, but still might justly have required sinless perfection of all, and threatened eternal damnation for the least defect;-I say, God was under Do natural obligations, i. e. any obligations arising from his nature and perfections : for he might, consistent with his holiness, justice, and goodness, have left all mankind to themselves, without any supernatural advantages, since their natural advantages were sufficient, and they were obstinate in their ignorance, blindness, and wickedness. Most certainly God was not bound to have sent his Son.... his spirit....his word....his messengers, and entreat and beseech those who perfectly hated him, and hated to hear from him, and were disposed to crucify his Son-resist his spirit-pervert his word, and kill his messengers, to turn and love him, and serve him ; but might, even consistent with infinite goodness itself, have let them take their course, and go on in the way they were set in, and have damned them all at last.
All that the great and glorious Governor of the world requires of mankind, in the law of nature, is, that they love him with all their hearts and souls, and live as brethren together in his world; which is infinitely reasonable in itself, and which they have sufficient natural powers to do. And he has stretched abroad the heavens as a curtain over their heads, which declare the glory of the Lord ; and in the earth, and in all his works, his perfections are clearly to be seen-so that all are under sufficient advantages for the knowledge of him ; but mankind hate God, and say unto the Almighty, Depart from us, for we do not desire the knowledge of thy ways : and hence they still remain ignorant of God, averse to him, and in love with sin : And now, I say, it is as evident as the sun at noon day, that God might fairly have damned such creatures, without using any more means with them. His law being thus upon a perfect level with their natural powers and natural advantages, he was not obliged, as he was the righteous and good Governor of the world, to grant them any supernatural assistance, either outward, by an external revelation, or inward, by the internal influences of his holy spirit : and therefore it is, that the great Ruler of the world has always