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Rachel. And this being supposed, awakened sinners may, from natural principles, long and most earnestly desire to “discover" this new character of God which is exhibited in the gospel ; and seek after this discovery with proper, direct desires after it, for itself. And these desires he therefore considers as being in nature, kind, and tendency, the same with what he calls the gracious desire of those whom he esteems regenerate. These seekings and strivings he therefore supposes to be required in the same sense, and for the same purpose, as the seekings and strivings of the true saint. To establish these sentiments, is one chief design of his book. And thus far I fully agree with him, that there is no difference in kind between the religious exercises of the unregenerate and the religious exercises of his regenerate man. And in this view, I wonder not at his zeal against this fundamental sentiment of a specific difference, as clearly held forth in President Edwards's Treatise concerning Religious Affections; for his regenerate man has professedly no new principle of grace; and accordingly he appears in fact to have no more grace than his unregenerate man has; for he is as great an enemy to God's law, and to the holy nature of God, therein exhibited, as the unregenerate. And the God he loves is professedly of a different character, even of a character so different, that the unregenerate will naturally love it, as soon as they discover it and its favorable aspect towards them, without any new principle of grace. And this is the true reason ninety-nine in a hundred of his regenerate men are so at a loss about their good estate, that they cannot see their way clear to make a profession of godliness; which renders his external covenant as necessary for them as for the unregenerate ; for if the door is not opened wide enough to take in the unregenerate, as such, his regenerate man cannot with a good conscience eome into the visible church. For, as Mr. Stoddard, in order to prove the doctrine of the specific difference between common and saving grace, rightly observes,* “ If the difference between saving grace and common lay in the degree, no man could judge that his grace is saving." And thus he goes on to reason: “Men may know that they have saving grace, (1 John ii. 14. 2 Cor. vii

. 10); but if the difference lay in the degree, how should men go about to determine that their grace was saving? The man may know that he has a greater degree of confidence, sorrow, and zeal, than formerly he had; he may have reason to think that he goeth beyond some other professors in these things; but upon what foundation can be

• Nature of Saving Conversion, p. 8.

determine that he hath them in such a degree as to secure his salvation ? Where has God revealed what degree is saving, and what is not saving? What warrant has any man to judge himself in a safe condition, if there be several degrees of grace that are not saving? What rule can any minister lay down to guide men in this matter? Men must needs be left in a perpetual uncertainty, and remain in the dark about their eternal state.” Thus far Mr. Stoddard. But of these things more hereafter, when we come to consider the new scheme of religion which Mr. M. has advanced, in order to support his external covenant.

SECTION IV.

Isai. xlv. 19. I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain.
Matt. vii. 7. Ask, and it shall be given you : seek, and ye shall find.

A VIEW OF THE EXHORTATIONS AND PROMISES OF THE GOSPEL;

AND THE TRUE REASON POINTED OUT WHY THE DOINGS OF THE UNREGENERATE DO NOT ENTITLE TO THE BLESSINGS PROMISED.

OUR author says, “If it should be asked, whether there are any promises of salvation to these endeavors of the unregenerate, I readily answer, there are none. The absolute authority of God is not such a limited thing, that he can lay no commands upon his creatures, without adding a promise to the performance ; divine sovereignty is not encumbered with such a tether.” These words have led me to take a view of the divine exhortations and promises through the Old and New Testament, a few of which may be transcribed :

PROMISES ANNEXED.

EXHORTATIONS TO SINNERS. Lev. vi. 2–6. If a soul sin, he shall Lev. vi. 7. And it shall be forgiven restore, he shall bring his trespass-offer- him. ing into the Lord; the priest shall make an atonement for him, etc.,

Lev. xxvi. 40, 41. If they shall cou Lev. xxvi. 42. Then will I rememfess their iniquity; if then their uncir- ber my covenant with Jacob, and also cumcised hearts be humbled, and they my covenant with Isaac, and also my then accept of the punishment of their covenant with Abraham will I rememiniquity;

ber; and I will remember the land. 1 Kings viü. 47, 48. If they shall be 1 Kings viii. 49. Then hear thou think themselves, and repent, and make their prayer in heaven thy dwellingsupplication unto thee; and so return place; and forgive thy people, etc. unto thee with all their heart; and pray unto thee toward the house which i have built for thy name;

EXHORTATIONS TO SINNERS.

PROMISES ANNEXED.

Prov. i. 23. Turn you at my re Prov. i. 23. Behold, I will pour out proof :

my Spirit unto you. Prov. ii. 3, 4. If thou criest after Prov. ii. 6. Then shalt thou underknowledge, and liftest up thy voice for stand the fear of the Lord; and find understanding; if thou seekest her as the knowledge of God. silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures ;

Prov. xxvii. 13. Whoso confesseth Prov. xxviii. 13. Shall find mercy. and forsaketh them, (that is, his sins,)

Isai. lv. 5. Seek ye the Lord while Isai. xlv. 19. I said not to the house he may be found, call ye upon him of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain. while he is near.

Ver. 7. Let the wicked forsake his Isai. lv. 7. And he will have mercy way, and the unrighteous man his on him, and to our God, and he will thoughts, and let him return unto the abundantly pardon. Lord, Matt. vii. 7. Ask,

Matt. vii. 7. And it shall be given

you. Seek,

And

ye

shall find. Knock,

And it shall be opened

unto you.

Matt. vii. 8. Receiveth.

Matt. vii. 8. For every one that asketh

And he that seeketh

And to him that knocketh, Luke xviii. 14. He that humblech himself

Mark xvi. 16. He that believeth and is baptized

Acts iii. 19. Repent and be converted,

Findeth.

It shall be opened. Luke xviii. 14. Shall be exalted

Mark xvi. 16. Shall be saved.

Acts iii. 19. That your sins may be blotted out.

These texts are a true specimen of the whole tenor of the sacred writings on this subject; and let the candid reader stop, and look over them two or three times, and consider and think for himself; and these and such like remarks will rise in his mind of themselves; or, at the least, the truth of them will appear plain as soon as mentioned.

1. There are directions given to sinners, in the Holy Scrip tures, in and by which a full answer is given to that question, “ What shall we do to be saved ?and beyond dispute, it is their duty and interest to follow God's directions, immediately and without the least delay.*

* Question. If a full answer is given to that question by God himself, why do awakened sinners continue to repeat it? Why do they still say, "What shall we do to be saved ?" If God has answered the question, why are they at a loss?

Answer. God's answer does not suit their hearts, and so they are deaf to it. God speaks, and speaks plain enough, but they do not hear. God cries, “Hear, and your soul shall live." They have ears, but they are uncircumcised, pagan ears; and so in hearing, “they hear not, neither do they understand." For every good and honest heart hears the word, understands it, and brings forth fruit. Their deafness and blindness are wholly of a criminal nature. Thus, when the famine came, the prodigal son cried, What shall I do? The right answer was plain and easy to a good and honest heart; but he hated to go home; for as yet his heart was opposite to it. Therefore he said, "I will go and join myself to

2. There are promises made to sinners, without exception, entitling them to all the blessings of the gospel, upon their complying with God's directions.

3. Thèse promises are not of the nature of general encouragements, rendering it hopeful, yet leaving it uncertain, whether sinners should obtain, if they comply with the directions given them by God; but they are as plain, full, and express promises, as any in the Bible, and do establish a certain and universal connection - thus, “ Whoso confesseth and forsaketh his sins shall find mercy.” This promise extends universally to all who confess and forsake their sins; and establishes

certain connection, “they shall find mercy.But that there never was one who failed, and never will be one who will fail, who complies with God's directions, is evident from the testimony of Him who came from the Father's bosom, and knew the mind of God, and came into this world to reveal it unto us; for he says, not only, “ Ask, and it shall be given you ; but he adds,

- For every one that asketh receiveth." From which we have as full evidence, as we have that Jesus is the Son of God, that there never was, and never will be, one single instance among mankind, who, according to this direction, ever did ask, or ever will ask, for the blessings of the gospel, and fail of receiving ; " for every one that asketh receiveth.” So again, “Hear, and your soul shall live;"

“ Look unto me, and be ye saved, all ye ends of the earth;

the earth; " " Whosoever will, let him come; “ Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out,” etc., all prove the same point. Besides all this, and that which confirms the point still further, is, that destruction is threatened only to those who refuse to hearken to God's directions. (Prov. i. 24, 25.) " Because I have called, and ye refused, I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof. I also will laugh at your calamity." But on the other hand, (ver. 23,) “ Turn at my reproof; behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you."

4. These promises do establish a certain connection between the first act of compliance with these directions and the blessings of the gospel. Indeed, where one act of compliance takes place, sinners will continue in a course of compliance ; as for example: When the prodigal son returned home to his father, he was upon the first act, upon his first return, received

a citizen of that country, and feed his swine." But when he came to himself, he instantly felt it through and through his heart, that it was his present duty and interest, immediately, to arise and go to his father. And nothing but the vicious state of his heart prevented him knowing this before. VOL. II.

48

as a child, and entitled to all the privileges of such. But then it is equally true, he never left his father's house, and turned prodigal again, as he had done before ; but, on the contrary, he brought forth fruit meet for repentance. And as he was thus received on his first return, so it is in all instances; for, “Whoso confesseth and forsaketh his sins, shall have mercy; again, “Ask, and it shall be given you ; for every one that asketh receiveth.” If the first act of compliance with these directions should not entitle to the blessings promised, by parity of reason, the second act of compliance might not entitle; and so it might come to pass that some who comply with God's directions, might fail of the blessings promised, contrary to the plain tenor of all the promises. (See John iv. 14; v. 24. Matt. X. 42. Acts ii. 38; xvi. 31. Eph. i. 13,

Eph. i. 13, 14. Phil. i. 6.) 5. These promises make it certain, that among all the unpardoned sinners in the world, whatever pains they have any of them taken in religion, yet there is not one, who ever, in any one single act, did comply with God's directions ; for had they complied, they would have been pardoned ; for God himself has said it. “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon." And our blessed Savior, in his Sermon on the Mount, directs us to pray for pardon.

• When ye pray, say, Forgive us our debts ;” and then soon declares, “ Ask, and it shall be given you.” And then, to put his meaning forever beyond dispute, he adds, “For every one that asketh receiveth." He, therefore, whose sins are not pardoned, never yet, in the whole course of his life, did so much as once confess and forsake them, and ask God to forgive him, according to divine direction ; no, not once. To disbelieve this point, is, in effect, to disbelieve the whole of divine revelation ; for he that believeth not this, hath made God a liar.

Now, if these things are true, we may hence learn,

1. That Mr. Sandeman's scheme, relative to directions to be given to sinners, is not agreeable to the word of God. For he says, “Let all the prophets and apostles be consulted upon the question, What is required of us in order to acceptance with God ? we shall find their unanimous reply to be, every thing, or nothing ;" for, according to Mr. Sandeman, the sinner is pardoned before repentance, and faith is not an act, but a mere passive thing. So, therefore, “ nothing" is to be done by the sinner, in order to pardon and justification; for no volition, act, or exercise of mind whatever, is needful in order to it; and so no direction at all is to be given. For Mr. Sandeman, speaking

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