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Mr. B. thinks, it seems, that that declaration, « Whosoever will, let him come,” is not indefinite, but limited, and so is not a warrant for any
sinner tɔ come to Jesus Christ. “ All, says he, have not a will, therefore it is not a warrant for every man.” (46.) That multitudes of men are unwilling to forego self-will, self-conceit, and self-righteousnes, and to venture their souls wholly upon the Lord Jesus, is a melancholy fact; but to conclude from thence, that they have no warrant so to do, is a very extraordinary species of reasoning. If, “ whosoever will, let him come,” be not an indefinite mode of expression, Mr. B. should have pointed out what sort of language should have been used for such a purpose.
A generous benefactor in the hard season of the year, procures a quantity of provision to be distributed amongst the poor of a country village-He orders public notice to be given, that EVERY POOR MAN WHO IS WILLING TO RECEIVE IT, SHALL IN NO WISE MEET WITH A REFUSAL-A number of the inhabitants, however, are not only poor, but proud; and cannot find in their hearts to unite with the miserable throng in receiving an alms.-Query, Would it be just for such inhabitants to alledge, that they had no warrant to apply; or that the declaration was limited, seeing it extended only to such as were willing, and for their parts, they were unwilling? If it were expedient to give such objectors a serious answer, they might be asked, in what lan
guage could the donor have expressed himself to have rendered his declaration more indefinite ?
If it is insisted, that to make an invitation indefinite, it should be addressed to men simply as sinners; it is replied, if that would put the matter out of doubt, the scripture is not wanting in that mode of speaking any more than in the other.
« Hearken unto me, ye stout-hearted and far from righteousness. I bring near my righteousness; it shall not be far off; and my
salvation shall not tarry. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” For other passages to the same purpose, I ask leave to refer to page 84, and 85 of the former treatise.
RIPLY TO MR. B's VII. LETTER, CONCERNING THE
OBLIGATIONS OF MEN TO EMBRACE WHATEVER GOD REVEALS-HIS.CHARGE OF ILLIBERALITY, &c. &c.
It was observed in my former publication, that evezy man was bound cordially to receive, and heartily 1. approve, whatever God reveals. A definition of
faith was also quoted from Mr. Brine, wherein he says, “ Acting faith is no other than suitable thoughts of Christ, and a hearty choice of him as God's appointed way of salvation.”
of salvation.” And from thence it was argued, that if faith was not incumbent on men in general, then they were right in thinking unsuitably of Christ, &c.
Mr. B. here expresses his “ astonishment," and without hesitation charges me with “illiberality.” (48.) To this I answer, I apprehended this to be a consequence naturally arising from the sentiments I opposed; but never imagined that they who imbibed these sentiments held, or asserted this consequence: yet, as Paul urged the consequences of denying the resurrection, in order to shew the erroneousness of the premises from whence those consequences followed, I apprehended I might do the same. Such a mode of reasoning is universally practised by writers inspired and uninspired. The Corinthians might have charged the apostle with illiberality, and have had, for aught I see, as good reason for so doing as Mr. B. had for charging it upon me.
He had said, “ If the dead rise not, then Christ is not risen; and if Christ is not risen, then your faith is vain, and ye are yet in your sins.” They might have exclaimed against these consequences, and said of him who urged them, “He knows these are sentiments which we never asserted or even imagined.'
Mr. B. instead of exclaiming in this sort, should have invalidated those consequences; but this he has not attempted: and unless he will maintain it to be
men's duty to stand neuter, (which our Lord declared to be impossible) and neither think nor choose at all in the affair, I do not see how they can be fairly removed. The difficulty stands thus:-“ If true faith is no other than suitable thoughts of Christ, and a hearty choice of him as God's appointed way of salvation,” as Mr. Brine affirms; then, it is either men's duty to think suitably of Christ, or it is notto choose him as God's appointed way of salvation, or not.
If it is, the point is given up; if it is not, then it must be right in them, either to think unsuitably of Christ, or not to think at all-either to choose some other way of salvation, or not to choose at all,
It is not sufficient for Mr. B. to alledge, that he disclaims these sentiments-that he allows an opposition to God's way of salvation to be sinful; I know he does, and it is with pleasure I acknowledge it; but the question is, Is he herein consistent with himself? The Corinthians could have said the same in respect of Christ not being risen; none of them thought of asserting that, though they asserted what must necessarily infer it. If it is men's sin to oppose and reject the Lord Jesus Christ, it must be their duty to choose and accept him; or else to stand neuter, and so be neither for him nor against him.
Much the same might be said in reply to what Mr. B. frequently speaks of as due to the gospel, viz. “a veneration for it.” This veneration either amounts to a hearty choice of Christ as God's appointed way of salvation, to a being on his side, or
it does not. If it does, this implies special faith: for to choose that way is the same thing as to be willing to be saved in that way, which Mr. B. allows is the case with no unregenerate man; (46.) and to be on Christ's side, is the same thing as to be a real christian. If it does not, then I should be glad to know what sort of a veneration for the gospel that must be, which can consist with an unwillingness to fall in with its grand designs, and a reigning aversion to its great author and object?
What Mr. B. says (49) of "peace being made," and “ the work being done,” is a great and glorious truth, on which depends all my salvation, and all my desire. I rejoice with him in the doctrines of everlasting love, and the eternal settlements of grace. But as the covenant between the Father and the Son before time does not supercede a believer's actually covenanting with God in time;* so neither, as I apprehend, does peace being made by the blood of Christ's cross,supercede a peace taking place between God and us on our believing. God, as the law-giver of the world, is represented as angry with the wicked every day.--Every unbeliever is said to be under condemnation
he is under the law, as a covenant of works; and being of the works of the law, he is under the curse. On the contrary, those who believe in Christ, are not under the law, but under grace their sins are forgiven for Jesus' sake--there is no condemnation to them.--God is represented as being pacis
* See Jer. 1. 5. Isai, xliv. 5.