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wilful, but this is not the inability which is the subject of debate.
The substance of the second argument runs thus :-" The requirements of God, in their most perfect and extensive form, are limited to the ability of men.” This proposition contains an important truth, but does not prove that the ability by which we are enabled to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, might, mind and strength,' is a natural ability. So far from it, that this is impossible until the Lord writes his law in our hearts, and puts it in our minds by his holy Spirit. It is not contended that the sinner has no ability to do what God requires of him; but whether this ability is a natural, or a moral or gracious ability. The inference therefore which Mr. H. supposes his opponents would draw, viz. that we are required to love God with an ability which we do not possess, is not drawn by them, as they do not deny but that man possesses a moral or gracioas ability to como ply with the terms of salvation.
His third and fourth arguments are the same in substance, and will admit of the same answer ; yet there is one remark in the fourth, worthy of notice: it is this :- Can it be believed while we cherish proper feelings towards the Judge of all the earth, that he will command us to do that which is not within our power, and threaten us with everlasting punishment if we do not comply?" I answer, by no means.--But does not Mr. H. believe that the Judge of all the earth did from all eternity decree to damn a part of the human race ? Does he not also believe, that the same God has commanded all the ends of the earth to look unto him and be saved?and that he threatens them with everlasting punishment if they do not comply? What feelings then must our opponents cherish towards the Judge of all the earth? Instead however of being condemned for not doing what
is not within their power, or for not complying with the terms of life by mere natural ability, “ This is the condennation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”
I am happy to state, that Mr. H. does not contend, that sinners are able by natural ability, to make an atonement ! This he readily grants they cannot do. We shall therefore pass to consider the third & last question on this subject: it is this : “ If men have all the ability they need to comply with the divine commands, why are the influences of the Spirit necessary in order to their salvation ?"
To this question he answers, “ The agency of the Spirit is necessary to make them willing." But pray have they not natural ability to be willing? If not, the question is decided, men have not by nature power sufficient to comply with the terms of life. Again,
It is evident that no act whatever, which is of a moral character, can be performed without the consent of the will ; but if the concurrence of the will is absolutely necessary for the performance of moral action, one of two things is certain.-1. That men have natural ability to be willing, or- -2. They have not power by nature to comply with the terms of life. - If the former be true, Mr. H. has not accounted for the influences of the Spirit being 'necessary; but he does acknowledge that those influences are necessary: of course we cannot be willing without them. From his own concession then we draw the unavoidable conclusion, that without the special infuences of the holy Spirit we cannot comply with the terms of salvation.
From the question and answer of Mr. H. to it, it is evident that he does not mean by natural ability, the gracious help of the divine Spirit, with which sinners are favoured in order to their salvation. Yet his own concession, and espe
cially the word of God, proves incontestibly the real inability and utter helplessness of the sinner in himself. This sen, timent is well calculated to prostrate the pride of man as in the dust before the throne of divine mercy; whereas, if man possess natural strength sufficient, without the agency of the Spirit of God, to do what is required of him, he has whereof to glory, but not before God. On this principle, the utmost that the sinner will have to acknowledge, is his dependance on Christ for the atonement! But on the one for which we contend, he is bound to acknowledge not only the necessity of an atonement, but also the necessity of the special influen. ces of the holy Spirit, in order to his salvation.
Mr. H. acknowledges, to be sure, that " the agency of the Spirit is necessary” to salvation, and in this acknowledges the real inability of the sinner) yet he contends that we have ability by nature to be saved. But it is presumed that he means nothing more nor less by the unwillingness of the sinner, than what some of his coadjutors mean by “moral inability.”Hence although as we before observed, he has not professedJy discussed but one side of the question, yet it is evident from his answer to the last question, that he holds it in the same light, By this notion of our opponents, the human mind is represented like the beam of an even scale, with na. tural ability thrown into one side, and moral inability thrown into the other. The only difference in the weight is, that the moral inability is always a little the heaviest; which in. variably makes the scale preponderate in favour of the moral inability. Now who that possesses a common share of intellect but must see the utter absurdity of supposing, that man under such circumstances, has natural ability to comply with the commands of God? What absurdity, to talk of having ability to do a thing, and an inability at the same time! But our opponents may say, that the moral inability under
which sinners labour is their crime. Their crime !--Pray do not the articles of " Addison Consociation” declare, that mankind “ are by DIVINE constitution the subjects of total MORAL depravity ! !” Is it then their crime to be what God has constituted them ? Yes, according to Calvinism, God has designedly placed man in a state of total moral depravity, which invariably outweighs his natural ability, and then commands him to repent and be saved; and threatens him with future and everlasting punishment if he does not comply! How would a parent be viewed by the public, who should tie his child fast with cords which he could not break, and then command him under the penalty of severe correction, to run a race? A friend to humanity expostulates with him_“Sir, why do you exercise such unreasonable authori. ty over your child ?” But the tyrant answers, 'O sir, you do not understand it! for my child has all the natural ability which he ever had.—He has reason, understanding, will and memory, as good as ever; and the strength of his body is firm and good. And on this ground I intend to vindicate my justice in his punishment, if he does not comply.' pray sir, untie him, and let him have a chance to run; and then if he does not, his punishment will be just." "No, but I tell you, he has natural ability; and if he does not exercise it and obey, he shall be punished !'
This is but too true a picture of the system of our opponents; yet it is matter of rejoicing, that such a God as is therein represented, no where else txists but in their creed. That God whose tender mercies are over all his works, and who is loving to every man, has taught us a very different system of theology.
Finally, in the language of a distinguished gentleman of this state, (Vermont) who is a Congregationalist, I would observe, that the notion of a natural ability, and moral inabili
ity is without doubt the effect of human invention, and has no foundation in the truth.
As far as Mr. H. has kept to the Scripture account of this doctrine, it is very good; for the Scriptures do teach the doctrine of election; but a very different doctrine it is believed, from the one so called by our opponents.
This doctrine, as taught in the Bible, is every way calcu. lated to exhibit the great love of God our Saviour to a fallen world. Not however by representing the Deity as an arbitrary and capricious being, who chooses without reason or condition, a part of mankind to be the subjects of his mercy, and reprobates all the rest to the interminable flames of hell, and for no other reason than because he would !~But by representing him as so loving the world as to send his only begotten Son into the world, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
The doctrine of election, as taught by Calvinist divines in general, is believed by comparatively few people; and even many of the members of Calvinist churches hesitate to be. lieve their views of this subject. And Mr. H. himself kindly acknowledges, that a " formal assent to his views of this subject, is not necessary to salvation."
This indeed it was necessary to do, or he must have renounced fellowship not only for thousands of Christians of other denominations, but for many
of his own order The caution with which he has treated this sub ect, rather indicates a desire to keep the offensive parts of the Calvinistic system out of sight. Hence