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OF COMMON GRACE CONSIDERED.

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found them,-or to their better improvement of a donation and privilege common to all ;-an improvement in which they have no additional assistance from the Spirit of God, for that would involve in it a special operation, and a special purpose, or, in other words, the doctrine of eternal and personal election. But to affirm that the salvation of the saved is to be ascribed to their own unassisted and better improvement of the means of salvation, is, in effect, to ascribe the salvation of man to himself, and to contradict the testimony of the Holy Spirit, that it is “God that worketh in us both to will and to do, of his good pleasure.”

Or, the argument may be stated in a somewhat different manner. Since some men believe the gospel, and others reject it, the faith of the former must be ascribed to themselves or to God. If Pelagians ascribe it to the former, they rescue themselves, indeed, from any difficulty which may be supposed to be involved in the opinion, that faith is the gift of God; but they leave an occasion of boasting to the believer. If, on the contrary, they ascribe it to God, then it must be the result of an influence common to all, or special to some. The latter supposition draws after it the doctrine of eternal and personal election. They seem, therefore, driven to the necessity of resorting to the former supposition. But, if a common and equal operation, or gift of the Spirit, leads to the existence of faith in the case of some, and not in the case of others, it must surely be because the former are less averse to believe, or more disposed to improve the means of grace than the latter; i. e., they are less depraved, and so require less assistance from the Spirit of God to work out their own salvation. And yet, by supposition, they receive as much assistance as those who are more depraved; i. e., those who stand in the greatest need of moral help, receive no more than those who have the least need of it; in opposition to the axiom of Bishop Tomline, that “ God has equally enabled every man to work out his own salvation." There is an ambiguity in this assertion which, it is probable, never struck the mind of his Lordship. An equal measure of aid in working out our salvation (which we are assured all men possess) may

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mean a measure equal in itself; i. e., equal in all cases, in degree ;—or a measure equally proportioned to the need of those who receive it. His Lordship appears to me, therefore, to be involved in the following inextricable dilemma: Either that gift of the Spirit which-to preserve even the appearance of ascribing the praise of man's salvation to God—he is constrained to acknowledge is vouchsafed to all men, is bestowed in the first sense of the term equal, i. e., in an equal degree upon all men :-in which case those who, being more obdurate, reject the gospel, are less favourably dealt with than others, inasmuch as the aid they receive is not equally adapted to meet their moral wants, (a supposition which would cause all the arrows shot by the Arminian to recoil upon

himself.).-Or the supposed gift is bestowed in a degree which renders it equally proportioned to the moral need of those who receive it ;-in which case it must effect the salvation of all, or the salvation of none. It is impossible to conceive that a measure of influence, equally adapted to subdue the depravity of two human beings, should succeed in the case of one, and fail in the case of the other. A power equal to a hundred would as certainly remove an obstruction amounting only to eighty, as a power of fifty would remove an obstruction of forty.

That both should succeed is perfectly possible, and, indeed, absolutely certain ; but that the hundred should fail while the fifty succeeds, or vice versá, is utterly incredible and inconceivable.

LECTURE IV.

ELECTION.

THE PROOF OF THE DOCTRINE.

We have shown in the preceding lecture, that the Arminian notion of a dispensation of the Spirit to all men, or of common grace

conferred

upon all men, to enable them to secure their salvation, does really involve in it the doctrine of election; and, further, that it does not sufficiently guard the doctrine of salvation by grace. I now proceed,

Thirdly, to observe, that this notion of common or universal grace is, as held by them, and as far as they have explained it, a self-contradictory, not to say an absurd notion. It restores to man the ability (such is the view they give of it) to obey God's law, to believe the gospel, and so to work out his own salvation. “Man,” says Bishop Tomline, “cannot, by his natural faculties and unassisted exertions, so counteract and correct the imperfection and corruption derived from the fall of Adam, as to be able of himself to acquire that true and lively faith which would secure his salvation." He proceeds to state, in substance, that, as it would not be just in God to do more with a view to effect the salvation of one man than another, this ability to acquire true and lively faith is actually communicated to all men,-to those who believe not the gospel, and never will believe it, as well as to those who cordially receive it. In short, though his Lordship is not a proficient in the art of presenting an idea in a few unambiguous words, he evidently means that man has lost by the fall, not merely his disposition to do what God commands, and to believe what God reveals; but, in the true, and proper, and literal sense of the term, his power also. This is much more fully and distinctly stated by

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DISTINCTION BETWEEN PHYSICAL

Mr. Watson, who, in perspicacity, infinitely surpasses the bishop, though I fear not in candour, especially when Calvinism rises upon his view, which almost invariably produces misrepresentations so gross, that, if the “Theological Institutes" have exalted my estimate of the intellect of the writer, I am constrained to add-and I do it with deep and unaffected sorrow—they have diminished my previous conceptions of the moral dignity of his character.

I have hinted at an ambiguity which lurks in the words, power, ability, &c., when used in reference to man, and to what God requires of him. It may be expedient briefly to illustrate this point, before I lay before the reader the statements of Mr. Watson, as that illustration is adapted to show the inconsistent nature of those statements. A man then, let it be observed, may be destitute of power to perform a certain action in two radically different senses ;-in the sense of being destitute of the physical capacity of performing the action; and in the sense of wanting the disposition to perform it. A man who has not money, cannot give it to the destitute; a man who has not the present disposition to be liberal, cannot give it either, but the cannot in the two cases is radically different. No entreaties, or promises, are in the slightest degree adapted to remove the former, but they are eminently fitted to remove the latter, cannot; and may, accordingly, be consistently employed. Every one recognises and acts upon this distinction in the every day occurrences of life; we require, therefore, that it should be recognised in religious subjects. The generality of Calvinistic divines make this distinction. They maintain that the power to obey God's laws, of which unconverted men are destitute, is not physical capacity, but disposition. They affirm that the Scriptures address no command to the human family at large, with which any man, unless he be an idiot or a madman, would be unable to comply, provided he had the disposition to comply. They hold that all that Adam lost, for himself and his posterity, was the disposition, and not the physical capacity, i. e., power, in the proper sense of the word, to do what God commands : and, on the affirmed fact, that the human race, after the fall, retain

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their physical power to obey God's law, if they choose to obey, they found their belief in the great doctrine of human accountability.

Mr. Watson, on the other hand, supposes that the race lost more than disposition—that they lost power, in the proper sense of the term, to obey; that this power is re-communicated to them by what we have designated common grace; and that this imparted grace is the foundation of accountability. I refer to the following passages in proof of these statements. “All men, in their simply natural state, are dead in trespasses and sins, and have neither the will nor the power to turn to God.” (Vol. iii., p. 193.) In an attempt to show that absolute and unconditional reprobation (which doctrine I reprobate as strongly as does Mr. Watson) is contrary to the justice of God, he takes the ground, that“ the reprobates must have been destroyed for a pure reason of sovereigntyor for the sin of Adam-or for personal faults, resulting from a corruption of nature, which they brought into the world with them, and which they have no power to correct.” (Vol. iii., p. 69.) “ All except Adam and Eve have come into the world with a nature which, left to itself, could not but sin." (Vol. iii., p. 67.) Again, he tells us that the promise of the Spirit finds man“ without the inclination, or the strength, to avail himself of proclaimed clemency.” (Vol. i., p. 242.) Further, we are assured, (Vol. ii., p. 261,)“ That a power of consideration, prayer, and turning to God, are the gifts of the Spirit; of course it does not exist in the simply natural state of man.” Now let it not be said that these statements of Mr. Watson contain no more than we every day assert, when we say that man has lost his power to obey God's law; because every reflecting Calvinist, at least, understands the term power in a sense different from that in which it is used by Mr. Watson. With the latter, the loss of power means, if not the loss of physical capacity, (I use this phraseology for a reason which will appear presently,) at least more than the loss of disposition. With the former, it is the loss of disposition, and the loss of disposition only. Yet power to obey God's law must be possessed by man, even in the opinion of Mr. Watson, for

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