he assists an adulterer or pirate in their actions, is, that ise up holds the laws of nature, the laws of the nature of the human soul, whereby it is able to perform such and such acts in such order and dependence; and the laws of the union of soul and body; and moves the body in such a stated manner in consequence of such acts of the soul, and upholds the laws of mo tion, and causes that there shall be such and such effects in corporeal things, and, also, of men's minds in consequence of such motions. All the difference is, it seems, that the assistance which he grants in the duties of religion, is according to a newer establishment than the other, according to a method established a little later; and, also, that the method of assistance, in the one case, is written and revealed by way of promise, or covenant, and not in the other.

But if it be said, that though God has promised assistance, yet he has not promised the exact degree, as, notwithstanding his promise, he has left himself at liberty to assist some, much more than others, in consequence of the very same endeavour : I answer, that this will prove a giving up of their whole scheme, and will infallibly bring in the Calvinistical notion of sovereign and arbitrary grace; whereby some, with the very same sincerity of endeavour, with the same degree of endeavour, and the same use of means, nay, although all things are exactly equal in both cases, both as to their persons and behaviour; yet one has that success by sovereign grace and God's arbitrary pleasure, that is not given to another. If God has left himself no liberty of sovereign grace in giving success to man's endeavours, but his consequent assistance be always tied to such endeavours precisely, then man's success is just as much in his own power, and is in the same way the fruit of his own doings, as the effect and fulfilment of his endeavours to commit adul. tery or murder; and indeed, much more. For his success in those endeavours may be providentially disappointed. Al. though particular motions follow such and such acts of will, in such a state of body, exactly according to certain laws of nature; yet a man's success in such wickedness, is not at all tied to his endeavours by any divine establishment, as the Arminians suppose success is to man's endeavours after conver. sion. For the Spirit of God, by assisting in the alleged man. ner, becomes not the efficient cause of those things, as the scriptures do certainly represent him. If God be not the proper bestower, author, and efficient cause of virtue, then the greatest benefits flow not from him; are not owing to his goodness; nor have we him to thank for them.

$ 18. Dr. Whitby's inconsistence appears in that one while, when he is disputing against the decree of election, he maintains that the cpistles, where the apostle speaks to the elect, are not written to the converted only; because then it suits his turn, that the persons addressed should not be converted, But, afterward, when disputing against efficacious grace, he maintains, that where the apostle says, “God worketh in you both to will and to do," &c. Philip. ir. 13. he speaks only to them that are converted, p. 288. Again, when it suits the doctor's turn, when writing about perseverance, then all whom the apostles write to are true saints. As particularly those the apostle Peter writes to, that had precious faith, p. 399. And the Galatians addressed in Paul's epistle, p. 401, 402.

§ 19. Arminians argue, that God has obliged himself to bestow a holy and saving disposition, on certain conditions, and that what is given in regeneration, is given either for natural men's asking, or for the diligent improvement of common grace; because, otherwise, it would not be our fault that we are without it, nor our virtue that we have it. But if this reasoning is just, the holy qualities obtained by the regenerate, are only the fruits of virtue, not virtues themselves. All the virtue lies in asking, and in the diligent improvement of common grace!

620. Prov. xxi. 1. “ The heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water; he turneth it whithersoever he will." This shows, that the Arminian notion of liberty of will, is inconsistent with the scripture notion of God's providence and government of the world. See, also, Jer. xxxi. 18. “ Turn me, and I shall be turned.” Matt. vii. 18. tree cannot bring forth evil fruit ; neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit." Let us understand this how we will, it destroys the Arminian notion of liberty, and virtue and vice. For, if it means only a great difficulty, then so much the less liberty, and, therefore, so much the less virtue or vice. And the preceding verse would be false, which says, “every good tree bringeth forth good fruit,” &c. Rom. viij. 6,7,8,9. "For


“ to be carnally minded, is death; but to be spiritually minded, is life and peace : because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed

So, then, they that are in the flesh, cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now, if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." The design of the apostle, in this place, overthrows Arminian notions of liberty, virtue, and vice. It appears, from scripture, that God gives such assistance to virtue and virtuous acts, as to be properly a determining assistance, so as to determine the effect; which is inconsistent with the Arminian notion of liberty. The scripture shows, that God's influence in the case is such, that he is the cause of the effect: he causes it to be ; which shows that his influence determines the matter, whether it shall be or

“A good

can be.

not. Otherwise, innumerable expressions of scripture are exceedingly improper, and altogether without a meaning.

$21. Dr. Whitby's notion of the assistance of the Spirit, is of the same sort with inspiration. Whereas, that which I suppose is the true notion, is entirely different. Consequently, their notion is much more enthusiastical, does much better agree with, and much more expose to pernicious enthusiasm, than ours. Hence we find, that the grossest enthusiasts are generally Arminians in the doctrines of free will, &c.

$ 22. Scripture expressions are every where contrary to the Arminian scheme, according to all use of language in the world in these days. But then they have their refuge here. They say, the ancient figures of speech are exceedingly diverse from ours; and that we, in this distant age, cannot judge at all of the true sense of expressions used so long ago, but by a skill in antiquity, and being versed in ancient history, and cri. tically skilled in the ancient languages; not considering that scriptures were written for us in these ages on whom the ends of the world are come; vea, were designed chiefly for the latter age of the world, in which they shall have their chief, and, comparatively, almost all their effect. They were written for God's people in those ages, of whom, at least ninety-nine in an hundred must be supposed incapable of such knowledge, by their circumstances and education ; and nine hundred and ninety-nine in a thousand of God's people, that hitherto have been saved by the scriptures. It is easy, by certain methods of interpretation, to refine and criticise any book to a sense most foreign to the mind of the author.

$ 23. The vast pretences of Arminians to an accurate and clear view of the scope and design of the sacred penmen, and a critical knowledge of the original, will prove for ever vain and insufficient to help them against such clear evidence as the scripture exhibits concerning efficacious grace. I desire it may be shown, if it can be, that ever any terms fuller and stronger, are used more frequently, or in greater variety, to signify God's being the author, efficient and bestower of any kind of benefit, than as to the bestowment of true virtue or goodness of heart, the giving the means of grace and salvation ; the giving Christ, and providing means of salvation in him? Yea, I know of no one thing in scripture wherein such significant, strong expressions are used, in so great variety, or one half so often, as the bestowment of this benefit of true goodness and piety of heart. But, after all, we must be faced down in it with vast confidence, that the scriptures do not imply any more than only exhibiting means of instruction, leaving the determining and proper causing of the effect wholly with man, as the only proper efficient and determining cause; and that the current of scripture is all against us; and that it is be

Cause we do not understand language, and are bigots and fools for imagining any such thing as that the scriptures say any thing of that nature; and because the divines on our side do not understand Greek, and do not lay the scripture before them, nor mind the scope of scripture, nor consider the connexion, &c. &c. Perhaps it will be said, that every one of those scriptures, which are brought to prove efficacious grace, may have another interpretation, found out by careful and critical examination. But, alas! is that the way of the Most High's instructing mankind, to use such a multitude of expressions in different languages and various different ages, all which, in their natural and most common acceptation, in all languages, nations and ages, must undoubtedly be understood in a particular sense ; yea, that the whole thread and current of all that God says according to the use of speech among mankind, tends to lead to such an understanding, and so unavoidably leads his people in all ages into such an understanding; but yet, that he means no such thing ; intending only that the true meaning should not be found out, but by the means of acute criticism, which might possibly hit upon the strange, unusual, and surprising meaning?

§ 24. Instead of persons being the determining and efficient causes of their own virtue and piety, after all the moral means God uses with man: Let us suppose some third person be

. tween God and the subject of this gift of virtue, to be in the very same manner the sovereignly determining cause and efficient of virtue; that he had power to bestow it on us, or cause us to be the subjects of it, just in the same manner as the Arminians suppose we ourselves have power to be the causes of our being the subjects of virtue; and that it depended on this third person's free-will, just in the same manner as now they suppose our having virtue depends on our own free-will; and that God used moral means with that third person to be. stow virtue on us, just in the same manner that he uses moral means to persuade us to cause virtue in ourselves, and the moral means had the like tendency to operate on his will as on ours ; but finally, it was left entirely to his free-will to be the sole determining cause whether we should have virtue, without any such influence on his will as in the least to insure his sovereignty, and arbitrary disposal, and perfectly free self-determination; and it should be left contingent, whether he would bestow it or not; and, in these circumstances, this third person should happen to determine in our favour, and bestow virtue: Now, I ask, would it be proper to ascribe the matter so wholly to God, in such strong terms, and in such a great variety ; to ascribe it so entirely to him as his gift ; to pray to him beforehand for it ; to give him thanks, to give him all the glory, &c.? On the contrary, would not this determining cause, whose are

bitrary, self-determined, self-possessed sovereign will, decides the matter, be properly looked upon as the main cause, vastly the most proper cause, the truest author and bestower of the benefit ? would not he be, as it were, all in the cause? would not the glory properly belong to him, on whose pleasure the determination of the matter properly depended ?

§ 25. By regeneration, being new creatures, raised from death in sin, in the New Testament, is now meant according to Dr. Taylor, merely persons being brought into the state and privileges of professing Christians. When Christ says unto Nicodemus, John iii. 3. " Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except

I a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God;" he does not mean merely, that unless a man be brought to a participation of the new state and privileges of the Christian church, he cannot enter on the possession and privileges of the Christian church; for that would be nonsense, and only to say, unless a man be born again, he cannot be born again; or, unless a man enter into the new state of things as erected by the Mes. siah, he cannot enter on the new state of things as erected by the Messiah. Nor can he mean, that unless a man be a professing Christian, he cannot see the future and eternal privileges of the kingdom of heaven ; for he supposes many heathens will see the kingdom of God in that sense. And how unreasonable would it be to suppose that Christ would teach this doctrine of the necessity of being instated in his new-modelled church, as such a great, important, and main doctrine of his! See how evidently being born of God signifies something else than a being brought into the state of professing Christians ; 1 John ii. 29. “If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doth righteousness is born of him." Chap. iii, 9. “ Whosoever is born of God, doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." Chap. iv. 7. “ Every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.” Chap. v. 4.

" Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world.” Verse 18. 6 We know that whosoever is born of God, sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God, keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.”

So it is exceeding apparent, that knowing God, and being of God, and in God, having this hope in him, &c. mean something beside our Christian profession, and principles and privileges. 1 John ii. 3, &c. “Hereby do we know that we know him, if

" we keep his commandments. Whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected. Hereby know we that we are in him." Chap. m. 3. “ Every one that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself, even as he is pure." Chap. ii. 14. “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." Chap. iv, 12. “If we love one another, God dwelleth in us."

« VorigeDoorgaan »