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tural strength and good works, to faith, and calling upon God: Wherefore we have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us, that we may have a good will, and working with us, when we have that good will.
God originally created man with all those powers and faculties which were necessary to his obedience and to his happiness. By his rebellion, his understanding lost the capacity of discerning, in a just point of view, spiritual truths. His will became corrupted and depraved, and his passions and appetites became enslaved to sin. Even his natural powers have probably lost much of that vigorous tone they originally possessed, through the seeds of disease and death they have disseminated themselves through every organ, by which his knowledge is collected, and his ideas formed. But this is not the want of power which the Article mentions. The want of power to which it points, is not the natural weakness, but the corruption of his faculties. It is what the Scripture calls, being dead in trespasses and sins. It is that carnality of mind which the Scripture pronounces to be “ enmity against God," and which cannot be subject to his law. A natural debility might, in the language of the world, be called our misfortune, but could not be considered as our crime. It would only be with respect to the mind in a general, what a palsied arm or limb is with respect to the body in a particular, sense—a want of vigour. It would be only such an universal affection of the mind as we sometimes see takes place in particular instances, when by the pressure of some particular calamity, its powers are broken; or when by the weight of years its faculties appear to be worn out, by its sympathy with the body, and sink with it into a state of feebleness and inaction. A condition of
mind to be deplored, but to which no criminality can be attached. But this want of power being a moral incapacity, is the disease of the heart, circulated through all the other faculties. The understanding retains its pow. ers to distinguish and to determine, on every subject but the things of God; the will has a capacity of choosing and refusing, without the constraint of external force; but from its internal bias or corruption it chooses what it ought to refuse, and refuses what it ought to choose, and even when its selections are just, the motives by which it is influenced proceeding from self-love, as the supreme principle, are not only essentially defective, but in direct opposition to the supreme law of God, and those springs of action which ought to govern and invigorate its motions. The affections, those gales that waft the soul, and by filling its sails carry it to its desired port, 'are powerful to impel its motion toward sensual gratifications, but blow directly opposite to the love of God and the rest that is to be found in his favour and loving kind. ness. The imagination can rove with wing udtired, and flight unbroken, in the vast and unbounded regions of conjecture and vanity. But when she is taught to soar on pinions strong and vigorous toward Heaven, she falls to the ground, baffled and feeble, her propensities cleaving to the dust. The memory, rich in triffes, has stores immense deposited and digested of things futile and fleeting; but of the promises of God, of the treasures of Dirine Grace, of the things that are laid up for them that love God, its powers are treacherous. These, like the baseless fabric of a vision, pass through the gate of forgetfulness, and scarcely leave a wreck behind them. " The other part of the Article stands in opposition to the Pelagians who teach, and the Socinians are of the same sentiments) that the liberty of man is such that he wants no other grace than pardon; and that when the doctrines of religion are proposed to him, he possesses powers sufficient for every purpose of his own sanctification. The SemiPelagians admit the necessity of Divine Influences, to assist men .in carrying their religious character to perfection. But they contend that in the conversion of men to God, the first step must be taken by our own will uninfluenced, and that, in consequence of this progress, our future labours are assisted by God's Holy Spirit. Against these positions, subversive of all Evangelical Religion, the Article asserts both a preventing, and an assisting grace. First, a preventing grace.-How deficient soever men were in the vigour of intellect, did that weakness proceed from no corruption of the will or heart, opportunities of instruction, and other things which are in the train of means, might disabuse it of its prejudices, and, by removing the obstruction, open every avenue to the approach of truth and goodness. The higher powers of the soul being thus recovered to the empire of religion, the faculties which dwell in the lower regions, and which form the link that joins our intellectual, to our sensitive faculties, our affections might soon participate of the healing virtue. By, the renovating energies of a soul restored to health and soundness, they might be taught to rise from earth to beaven, and to assume that sublimated tone of feeling, which would at once dignify and purify them. The whole spirit, soul, and body, might thus by the resuscitation of some latent energies, rise more glorious than from no fall. But the state of fallen man,; as the Scripture describes it, admits not of any such hopes. The corruption of the will being the corruption of the heart, there is no principle of soundness whence regenerating influence can proceed to re-invigorate the other powers. Enmity to God will never produce love to him ; nor will rebellion reduce itself to obedience; nor will carnality ever lead to to spirituality of mind; nor death in trespasses and sins, ever awaken to righteousness. It is the universal law of the world in which we dwell, that a bad tree will nerer rectify itself; nor a poisonous serpent lay aside its renom; nor a tiger his ferocity ; nor a man of a bad heart ever effect his own cure. From what we know of Angels, those sons of light who lost their innocence, of whom not one has been able to escape from the ruins of their fall; and from what we know of a Redeemer, and of the doctrine of Divine Influence provided for the recovery of man to the image of God, we are taught to infer, that it is a law of the universe that po rational being who revolts from the government of God, can ever find his way back to holiness or happiness, without a Mediator and a new creation to the image of God.
“ None can come by faith to God the Son," says the venerable Bishop Beveridge, “but he that is drawn by the grace of God the Father. Though God dotb not drive us to Christ, yet he draws us to him : He doth not drive us against our wills, but he draws us with our wills, making us a willing people in the day of his power (Psalm, C. 3); and until we be thus made willing by the Father, we can never come unto the Son, for no man can come unto. me except the Father draw him. And certainly this was St. Paul's opinion also, when he said, Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God.--2 Cor. 3, 5. If we be nat sufficient of ourselves to think a good thought, how can we be able without God, to act with true faith ? .. Our sup. ficiency, saith he, is of God; if we be able to do any
thing, it is he that makes us able; if we have any sufficiency, it is he that gives it. And therefore also it is that our Saviour saith, He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit, for without me you can do nothing.—John, xv. 5. He doth not say, there are some things you cannot do without me, or there are many things you cannot do without me, but, noithout me you can do nothing, nothing good, nothing pleasing and acceptable unto God: whereas if we could either prepare ourselves to turn, or turn ourselves when prepared, without him,--we should do much.
And to put it out of doubt, the same Spirit tells us elsewhere, For it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.-- Phil. ii. 13. It is he that first enables us to will what we ought to do, and then to do what we will. Both the grace we desire, and our desire of grace proceed from him. Without him we could not have any grace if we would, and without him we could not will to have any grace at all. So that I am not only bound to thank him for his bestowing grace upon me, but also for my desiring grace of him. For it is he that worketh in me, both to will and to do, both to will and desire, and also to act, and exercise grace: or, as it is expressed in this Article, it is he that preven's us that we may have a good will, and it is he that worketh with us when we have that good will. And therefore, certainly, without him we can neither prepare ourselves for conversion, nor convert ourselves after preparation, unless we can prepare ourselves without having a good will, or convert ourselves without acting of it. For it is he only that giveth this good will to us, and it is he that acteth this good will in us, without whom we could not desire