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possessed a disposition to believe, their conversion would have been certain. But It is acknowledged,
that man has not the disposition, and consequently ‘not the ability, to do what in the sight of God is 'good, till he is influenced by the Spirit of God." Now this is the only thing, which renders any man's conversion impossible, except he be influenced by the Spirit of God: and why might not the divine decree respect this very point, namely, the producing, or the not producing, this disposition, in one who had it not, and could not have it, 'till influenced by the Spirit of God?'
P. cxcii. I. 3. • It was possible, therefore, for every one of the Jews, to abandon his wickedness, 6 and be converted and saved.' Nothing was wanting, but the disposition before spoken' of.
P. cxcii. l. 10. * The rejection therefore of the 'gospel, by the Jews, was their own voluntary act, ' and not in consequence of any decree of God.'- It was certainly their own voluntary act; and so was the act of Judas, in betraying Christ. None of them did wickedly, as compelled by a divine decree, but as instigated by their own sinful passions; nor as induced by a divine decree, of which they neither knew nor thought any thing: but this does not prove, that God did not decree to " give them up to their “ own heart's lusts,” and “to send them a strong de“lusion,” as a punishment for the preceding crimes,
• this cannot be reconciled with the doctrine of a divine decree, rendering their conversion impossible.' 1. Refutation, p. 61.
of which he foresaw they would be guilty. The same answer suffices for several other instances ada duced. It is that want of disposition, before acknowledged by his Lordship; (that is, a moral inability, and not a want of physical power,) which renders the conversion of sinners impossible, except by special grace,
working in them to will, and “to do, of his good pleasure."--Instead of eager disputation, therefore, it behoves us to pray for ourselves, and for each other, in the words of Solomon, “ May the Lord incline our hearts unto him, to “walk in all his ways, and to keep his command"ments, and his statutes, and his judgments.'
P. cxciii. l. 14. • Faith, &c.' The condition here mentioned is so far practicable, that nothing but that want of the disposition, and consequently 'the ability, of doing what in the sight of God is 'good, could prevent any one from performing it: but as this want of disposition remains, till a man is influenced by the Spirit of God; without that in
' 1 Kings viii. 58.
: 'Faith, being the condition upon which salvation was offered 'both to Jews and Gentiles, and it being inconceivable that a just and merciful God would propose any but a practicable condition, it follows, that all to whom the gospel has been made known since its first promulgation, have had it in their power to
obtain eternal life through the precious blood of Christ Those ' who deny this conclusion, must maintain that God offered salva.”
tion to men upon a condition which it was impossible for them to perform ; and that he inflicts punishment for the violation of a command, which they were absolutely unable to obey. Would not this be to attribute to God a species of mockery and injustice, which would be severely reprobated in the conduct of ' one man towards another?' VOL. II.
fluence, he may be morally unable, that is, wholly disinclined to comply with it; and be justly punished, (and he certainly will be punished, and “ Shall not " the Judge of all the earth do right?")' for the viola• tion of a command which he was absolutely indis'posed and disinclined to obey.' If men will confound this disinclination, with natural inability; and so make excuse for all the wickedness of devils, (whose incorrigible disinclination to love God, and whose obstinate enmity against him, is their only inability,) the determination of the question must be referred to God alone. But let it be observed, that Calvinists, (at least all those, for whom I would plead,) allow no other, than moral inability, or total disinclination to good; which his Lordship has expressly allowed, concerning men in general. Hence it is, that repentance, faith, and obedience, are the gifts of God, and “ the fruits of the Spirit :" because, however active we may be in what is good, (and very active and indefatigably diligent we ought to be in every good work,) “it is God that worketh in us, “ to will and to do of his good pleasure." It is in respect of the same kind of inability, that God “can
not deny himself;" not for want of power, but from his infinite perfection in holiness. However well grounded the concluding enquiry might be, the language in which it is expressed, is not sufficiently reverential, in speaking of the infinitely wise, just, and holy God. But this will require a more particular consideration, in another place. Let a man be found, earnestly desirous of complying with the requirements of the gospel, diligently using every appolnited means, submitting to every needful privation and self. denial, exceedingly afraid of coming short of salvation from sin, and all its consequences; who yet is excluded, through some impossibility; independent of his own disposition and conduct, and which nothing he might do, however willing or earnest, could at all remove: then the objection would be valid. But adduce a proud, ambitious, covetous, sensual, ungodly man, who has nothing to prevent his
repentance, faith, and salvation, except his own wicked heart and bad habits, with the temptations of the devil, and the allurements of worldly objects; yet, who is totally averse to the humbling holy salvation of the gospel, in itself; and wholly disinclined to use the appointed means of grace, with diligence, earnestness, and perseverance; who cleaves to his idols, and refuses to forsake them; who shtinks from self-denial; and whose enmity of heart against God is irritated by the very denunciations and requirements of his word, and the declarations of his justice and holiness; in short, who “ loves darkness " rather than light, because his deeds are evil:” and then let it be enquired, whether God is bound in justice, to give that special efficacious grace to this rebel, without which he must continue a proud rebel and enemy for ever. This is the statement, whether well-founded or not, which we make of the subject: and we conclude, that we ought “ to speak evil' of
no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing "all meekness unto all men : for we ourselves were . "sometime disobedient, deceived, serving diverse 1 lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy,
“ hateful, and hating one another :" and should have lived, died, and perished most justly, as “ vessels of « wrath fitted for destruction;" “ But that after the
loving kindness of God our Saviour towards man “ appeared ; not by works of righteousness, which “ we had done, but according to his mercy he saved
us, &c."?—Let it also be understood, that we do not suppose, the influence, or special grace, of the Holy Spirit, to be vouchsafed to us, either to incline, or enable, us to do any thing, which was not previously our duty; but which we were wholly disinclined to perform
P. cxcv. l. 10. . But if, &c." Certainly, it would be so, if all were truly inclined, or willing to accept of it, in the use of proper means, and in the appointed way ; but, if they want the disposition, consequently they want the ability.'
P. xcy. l. 20. * And surely, &c.'! Let the following proposition, without any of the Calvinistick terms, be substituted :- Surely these texts are in
consistent with God's saving a part of mankind, and his leaving the rest to perish everlastingly. The decree is indeed excluded, but the final event is preeisely the same: and nothing, but universal salvation
1 Tit. iii. 2–7.
2 " But if all men were required to believe, that they might be * saved, we again infer that salvation was attainable by all.'
3. And surely these texts are irreconcilable with the idea, of • God's selecting out of mankind a certain number whom he
ordained to save, and of his leaving the rest of mankind to • perish everlastingly. How can God be said to love those to * whom he denies the means of salvation; whom he destines, by an iscevocable decree, to eternal misery?'