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And in the next verse to that in question, my sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. All those who looked for redemption in Israel, readily embraced Christ as the messiah, as soon as they heard of him--they knew his voice as soon as they heard it, and followed him; but others, though thev were of the house of Israel, yet not being the real people of God, rejected him as the messiah, the great shepherd of the sheep. He that is of God, heareth God's words; ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.* There appears to me a great probability of this being the meaning of the passage.
But suppose a being not of Christ's sheep, here to mean the same as not being of the number of his elect; this can be no otherwise assigned as the cause of their not believing, than as we assign the absence of the sun as the cause of Darkness. BECAUSE of God's forbearing to execute vengeance, the hearts of the sons of men are fully set in them to do evil; but no one, it is hoped, will think evil on that account excusable. See Dr. Gill's Cause of God and Truth, Part II. p. 100, 222. Part III. p. 77. First edition.
Mr. B. assigns man's natural incapacity as anothers reason of his not believing; and says, “ sacred scripture every where abounds with passages to this purpose.” (55.) Well, if this assertion can be made good, something will be effected to purpose. In proof of it, however, no more than two passages are produced,
John viii. 47.
viz. John vi. 44.—No man can come unto me, &c. and 1 Cor. ii. 14.-The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, neither can he know them, &c. 'Tis true, if these two will prove the point, they are equal to two hundred; but it were as well not to speak of such great numbers, unless more were produced. To what Mr. B. says on both these passages, it is replied, if the term cannot will prove this, their inability, to be natural, and innocent, it will prove the same of the inability of those who are in the flesh, and cannot please God; and of those whose eyes are full of adultery, and who cannot cease from šin. Mr. B. takes no notice of what was said before on these modes of speaking, but, instead of that, puts us off with barely informing us, that “this is sufficient for him, and with asking his reader, “Does not this seem to strike you at once, that our Lord is here representing man's natural inability?” (56, 57.)
Mr. B. thinks I am strangely inconsistent in maintaining man's inability to consist wholly in the evil state of his heart, or will, and yet allowing it to be total. (56.) And elsewhere seems to wonder greatly at the same thing. (93.) I also might wonder, that one who professes to believe in the total depravity of human nature, should object in such a manner. Must not that inability be total, which proceeds from, or rather consists in, total depravity?
If by total, Mr. B. means, unable in every respect, I grant I do not think man is, in that sense, totally unable to believe in Christ. But an inability, in one
respect, maybe so great in degree as to become total. * It is thus in things which relate merely to a natural inability. A man may have books, and learning, and leisure, and so may not, in every respect, be unable to read; and yet, being utterly blind, he is totally unable notwithstanding. In respect of the inability in question, those that are in the flesh, are totally unable to please God; and yet, their inability lies wholly in the evil state of their hearts towards God; and not in his being so difficult to be pleased, that if his creatures were to do all they ought to do, it would be to no purpose. Men, by nature, are totally unable to love God with their heart, soul, mind, and strength; and yet, as Mr. B. allows this to be their duty, he cannot say their incapacity for so doing is natural and innocent. We consider men as spiritually dead; and we consider spiritual death as a total privation of all real
* When we say the depravity of man is total, we do not mean that it is incapable of augmentation; but that it amounts to a total privation of all real good. The depravity of the fallen angels is total, and yet they are capable of adding iniquity to ini. quity.
I would wish Mr. B. to remember that a moral inability, whether virtuous or vicious, may be as total as a natural inability. And also, I would beg him to examine whether he can form a clear idea of a person being under a moral inability to perform any action which he is, and always was, naturally unable to per. form. For instance, can he conceive of a man born blind as hay. ing a violent and invincible aversion to light? I own it appears to me, inconceivable, and it seems equally absurd to suppose that sinners should be capable of aversion to a plan of salvation, which was utterly unsuited to their natural powers,
good; and this we may do without considering them as destitute of such faculties, as if the state of their hearts were but what it ought to be, would infallibly discern and embrace things of a spiritual nature.
REPLY TO MR. B.'s ix. LETTER, ON PUNISHMENTS
BEING THREATENED, AND INFLICTED FOR THE WANT OF FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST.
IN proof of this point, reference was had to Mark xvi. 16.—He that believeth not, shall be damned. This passage had been explained by Mr. Brine, as only given the descriptive characters of the saved, and the lost. To prove the contrary, I produced a number of threatenings in the word of God, delivered against sin, in the same mode of speaking as the above påssage is directed against unbelief. Mr. B. thinks that these also are mere descriptive characters; and that if the scriptures used no other modes of speaking, we could not justly infer that the punishments therein threatened were on account of the crimes therein specified. (62.) This is very extraordinary indeed. As though from such a threatening as God shall destroy thee, O thou false tongu were not warranted to conclude that falsehood is a crime, and the procuring cause of the punishment
threatened! If this reasoning be just, it cannot be inferred from the laws of England declaring that a murderer shall be put to death, that it is on account of his being a murderer. Neither could our first parents justly infer, from its being told them, the day ye eat of the fruit, ye shall surely die, that it should be on account of their so eating!
John iii. 18. He that believeth not, is condemned already, because he hath not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God. In urging this passage, I had grounded pretty much on the term because. But, Mr. B. produces another text of scripture where that term is used, and cannot, he thinks, denote a procuring cause. (63, 64.) The passage to which he refers, is John xvi. 27-The Father himself loveth
you, because ye have loved me. To this it is replied, supa pose a word in one instance be understood in a peculiar sense, is this sense to be urged as a rule of interpreting that word in other places? If it is, Mr. B. would be puzzled, notwithstanding what he said in page 62, to prove that sin is the procuring cause of damnation. This is the method taken by the adversaries to the proper Deity and satisfaction of Christ.
But farther, I apprehend the term bec:use, even in this passage,
is to be taken in its proper sense, as denoting the ground or reason of a thing. The love of God has, I think, with great propriety been distinguished into natural and sovereign: the former is God's necessary approbation of every intelligent ereature, in proportion as it bears his holy likeness; the latter is his free favour fixed upon his elect, with