« VorigeDoorgaan »
before they condemned it. And what law is that which will condemn a man before it hears him?
I am accused (p. 103.) of seeming to avail myself of the numbers I have on my side; but whoever reads p. 178. of my treatise will perceive, that I there found my argument, not upon the number of those who have been on my side, but upon the great works which God hath wrought by them. These all went forth in the use of “precepts, prohibitions, and promises,” which, the author of the Further Enquiry, whom I was there opposing, represents as irreconcileable with the covenant of grace.
Truth obliges me to repeat what I asserted, p. 109, that the main objections against us originated with Arminius or his followers. But I do not thereby insinuate, as Mr. B. says I do (75.) “ that all who oppose my ideas of faith are Arminians.”
I speak with the greatest sincerity when I say I have a high esteem for Mr. B. and many others of his sentiments. I do not account them as adversaries, but as brethren in Christ, as fellow-labourers in the gospel; and “ could rejoice, as was said before, to spend my days in cordial friendship with them.” The most cordial friendship, however, does not require us to suppress what we believe to be a part of our sacred commission, but rather to endeavour to speak the truth, in love.
Having said thus much in my own defence, I shall now proceed to make a few general remarks upon Mr. B.'s publication.
In the first place, I think it cannot fairly be called
an answer to my treatise, were there no other reason, than that, although something is said concerning most of the leading topics in dispute, yet the main arguments-under those topics are frequently left unnoticed. This will appear to any person, who will inspect the contents of both performances, and com. pare what each has advanced under every topic.
Farther, Mr. B. has taken great pains to prove a number of things which I never thought of denying. Thus he labours to convince us that faith is the gift of God—the effect of spiritual illumination that the apostle, in 2 Thess. ii. 13. meant such a faith as is connected with sanctification of the spirit (12.) that God has decreed only to punish for sin, for the breach of his commands (88.)—that Christ's obedience was gloriously superior to that of Adam (78.) |
that human depravity shall not prove an absolute bar to an elect soul's believing (60.)—that supreme love to God would not lead a heathen to embrace Christ in any sense, because Christ is not revealed even in an external manner. (85.) Since my sentiments are the same as Mr. B.'s respecting these things, his labour in proving them seems to me to be lost.
The far greater part of Mr. B.'s quotations I heartily approve. They are in no wise contradictory to what I have advanced. Many others, particularly from Dr. Owen, which seem to be contrary, would be found otherwise, if the connexion and scope were consulted. But it is easy to foresee, that a particular discussion of this kind would lead off from the
point in hand, and spin out the controversy to an unnecessary length. I shall, therefore, treat all that is said as if it were Mr. B.'s own; and no farther attend to any quotations, than as they contain argument which requires to be considered. *
* I ought to observe that although Calvin, Perkins, Goodwin, Owen, Charnock, Bunyan, Maclaurin, and others are amongst the *number of Mr. B.'s authorities, they'are, all decided against 'him in the main point in debate. Indeed I believe no writer of eminence can be named before the present century, who denied it to be the duty of men in general to believe in the Lord -Jesus Christ for the salvation of their souls.
I think Mr. Hussey was the first person, who by the general tenor of his writings laid the foundation for this sentiment. And "yet even Mr. Hussey did not, that I recollect, expressly avow it. On the contrary, he'allowed it to be " the duty of those who were not effectually called, to hear spiritually, and open their Hearts to Christ; though, as he justly asserted, the preaching of this as their duty would not effect a cure.” Operations of Grace,
Mr. Hussey was doubtless a man of considerable eminence in some respects. Mr. Beart, in his Eternal Law and Everlasting Gospel, I think bas given as fair and as candid an account of his writings as could well be given. But Mr. Hussey, though in some respects a great man, was nevertheless possessed of that warm turn of mind, which frequently misleads even the greate rest of men, especially in defending a favourite sentiment.
Mr. Brine is the only writer of eminence who has expressly defended the sentiment. Dr. Gill took no active part in the controversy. It is allowed that the negative side of the question was his avowed sentiment, and this appears to be implied in the general tenor of his writings. At the same time it cannot be denied, that when engaged in other controversies, he frequently argued in a manner favourable to our side; and his writings contain various concessions on this subject, which if any one
It seems to me that Mr. B. very frequently confounds the thing with the cause which produces it, and hereby loses himself and the argument in a maze of obscurity. This seems especially to be the case when he enters upon the subject of that spiritual life which we derive from Christ. * If Mr. B. means that spiritual dispositions are not duties, considered as under the idea of blessings, that is what I have all along asserted. But if he mean that nothing can be our duty which is derived from Christ, and is a new-covenant blessing, then he not only asserts that which is irreconcileable with the prayers of the godly in all ages, who have ever prayed for grace to perform what they acknowledged to be their duty; but also contradicts his own sentiments. He allows that the principle of grace in believers is a conformity to the law, though not to the law only. (68.) Be it 50; so far then as it is a conformity to the law, so far
else had made them, would not be much to the satisfaction of our opposing brethren. However they may be inclined to represent us as verging toward Arminianism, it is certain that Dr. Gill in his answer to Dr. Whitby, the noted Arminian, frequently makes use of our arguments, nor could he easily have gone through that work without them. (See his Cause of God and Truth, part I. p. 63, 69, 118, 159, 160, 165. Part II. p. 88, 211, 215, 222, 226. First edition.) And the very title of Mr. Brine's chief pamphlet against our sentiment, which he called, Motives to Love and Unity among Calvinists differing in Opinion, as well as the most explicit acknowledgments therein contained, might teach those who pay any deference to his judgment, not to claim to themselves the title of Calvinists, exclusively.
* See pages 12, 28, 70, 91.
it was always incumbent upon us; and yet I hope Mr. B. will not deny that our conformity to the law is derived from Christ, is a new-covenant blessing, and is wrought in the believer's heart by the agency of the Holy Spirit.
Whether I have been so unhappy as at times to express myself in a manner not sufficiently explicit, or whether Mr. B. has been wanting in calm and close attention; so it is, that he sometimes proceeds upon a total misunderstanding of the argument. This will appear to an attentive reader, if he please to compare pages 10, 11, of mine, with 12, 13, of his remarks and 59, 60, with 54-also 131, with 89, concerning Adam.
The places are too numerous to recite, wherein principles appear to me to be assumed instead of being proved, and conclusions to be drawn from premises which are themselves the very subject in debate. Thus we are told, “ Pharaoh had an express command to let the people go," therefore it was his duty to have compliedm(88.) Very well; what then? Mr. B.'s meaning must be to add, “but there is no express command to believe in Christ," therefore, &c. I answer, that this is begging the question. I suppose there is such a command; but whether there is or no, the contrary ought not to be taken for granted.
Mr. B. does not fail to make, his own reasonings, and observations, in one place, the data of his conclusions in another. Thus we are told, “ There is no command for special faith, AS WE HAVE ENDEA