תמונות בעמוד

act the contrary, with respect to those things in which he acts, like himself, as a God of infinite perfection ; and accordingly, if he loves or delights in himself freely, or designs his own glory, as the highest end of all that he does, and uses means to bring about those ends which are most conducive there. unto; wherein his holiness, wisdom, justice, and faithfulness appear, I say, it will follow from their scheme, and I cannot but tremble to mention it, that he might do the contrary; and what is this but to say, that he might cease to be God.

The arguments which they who attempt to support this notion of liberty, insist on, are taken from the ideas which we generally have of a person's acting freely; as for instance, if a man performs any of the common actions of life, such as walking, sitting, standing, reading, writing, &c. freely, he may do the contrary.

But to this I answer, That there is a vast difference between asserting, that many of the actions of life are arbitrary or indifferent, so that we might do the contrary; and saying that indifferency is essential to liberty; for that which is essential to an action must belong to every individual action of the same kind.* Thus concerning their notion of liberty, whom we oppose.

But on the other hand, that which we acquiesce in, is, that its essential property or nature, consists in a person's doing a thing without being laid under a natural necessity to do it;t or doing it of his own accord, without any force laid on him.I Others express it by a person's doing a thing out of choice, as having the highest reason to determine him so to do. * This is that notion of liberty which we cannot but approve of; and we are now to shew,

(2.) How far the power of man's free-will may be extended, with a particular view to the matter under our present consideration. Here let it be observed,

1st, That the power of man's will extends itself to things within its own sphere, and not above it; all actions and powers of acting, are contained within certain limits, agreeable to the nature and capacity of the agent. Creatures below man,

+ IVe generally say, that whatever is essential to a thing, belongs to it as such. And there is a known rule in logic, A quatenus ad omne valet consequentia ; and the then absurd consequences, above mentioned, would necessarily follow from it.

t In this respect divines generally consider liberty as opposed to co-action ; but here we must distinguish between a natural co-action and a moral one, Liberty is not opposed to a moral co-action, tohich is very consistent with it. Thus an hones: man cannot allow himself in a vile action; he is under a moral constraint to the contrary; and yet he abstains from sin freely. A believer loves Christ freely, as the apostle Puui certainly did; and yet, at the same time, he wus under the constraint of the love of Christ ; ns he himself expresses it, 2 Cor. v. 14.

# This divines generally call spontaneity. . Thus some ouli lubentia rationalis.

cannot put forth rational actions : and man cannot put forth supernatural actions, if he be not made partaker of a divine or spiritual nature, as being endowed with a supernatural principle, such as that which is implanted in regeneration. Consider him as an intelligent creature, and it is agreeable to his nature to put forth free actions, under the conduct and direction of the understanding; but if we consider him as renewed, converted, or effectually called, and acting agreeably thereunto, then he is under the influence of an higher principle, which I call a divine nature, according to the phrase which the apostle uses, 2 Pet. i. 4. The former of these supposes no more than the concourse of common providence, which at first gave, and then maintains our reasoning faculties; whereas the latter supposes, that we are under the influence of the Spirit; whereby we are enabled to act in a supernatural way, our natures being renewed and disposed thereunto, in which we are not divested of the liberty of our wills; but they are improved and enabled to do what before they were averse and disinclined to,

That man acts freely in those things which are agreeable to his nature, as an intelligent creature, all will allow. Moreover, we consider the understanding and will, as both concurring in actions that are free, and that one of these is subservient to the other; as for instance, we cannot be said to desire, delight in, choose, or refuse a thing unless we have some idea of it, as an object, which we apprehend meet to be desired or rejected.

And if it be farther enquired, Whether the will has, in itself, a power to follow the dictates of the understanding, in things that are agreeable to our nature, and be generally disposed to do it, unless biassed by the passions, inclining and determining it another way? This, I think, is not to be denied; but in our present argument, we are to consider the will of man as conversant about things supernatural, and accordingly, must give a different account of Christian liberty, from that which is merely human, as before described. The Pelagians will allow what has been said concerning the nature of liberty in general; but the difference between us and them is, that we confine it within its own sphere; whereas they extend it farther, and ap. ply it to regeneration, effectual calling, and conversion ; in which respect it discoyers itself no otherwise than as enslaved to, or a servant of sin ; * and the powers and faculties of the soul, with relation hereunto, are weakened by the prevalency of corruption, so that we are not able to put forth those actions which proceed from, and determine a person to be renewed in the spirit of his mind; or to have put on the new man, which ofter God is created in righteousness and truc holiness. Again, if it be farther enquired; whether the will necessa

* This some divines call voluntas serva.

rily follows the dictates of the understanding, so that the grace of God takes its first rise from thence that which I would say in answer thereunto is, That the understanding, indeed, represents things spiritual and heavenly to us, as good and desirable, and worthy of all acceptation; and gives us an undeniable conviction, that all the motives used in scripture, to choose and embrace them, are highly probable ; but yet it does not follow from hence, that the will of man is always overcome thereby;* and the reason is, because of that strong propensity and inclination that there is in corrupt nature to sin, which bids defiance to all those arguments and persuasions that are used to the contrary, till we are brought under the influence of a supernatural principle, implanted in the soul in effectual calling.

And this leads us farther to enquire: Whether, supposing a man has this principle implanted in effectual calling, he then acts freely; or, what is the liberty of man's will, when internally moved and influenced by divine grace? In answer to which, we must consider, that special grace does not destroy, but improve the liberty of man's will: when there is a new nature implanted in him, it discovers its energy, and makes a change in all the powers and faculties of the soul; there is a new light shining in the understanding, vastly different from, and superior to that which it had before; and it may truly be called,

The light of life, John viii. 12. not only as it leads to eternal life ; but as it proceeds from a principle of spiritual life: and this is what we generally call saving knowledge; as it is said,

This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent, chap. xvii. 13. Now this light in the understanding, being attended with power in the will, it is hereby induced to comply with its dictates, not barely as being prevailed on by rational arguments, but as there ; is a divine power accompanying them; it is not indeed prevail. ed on without arguments; for the Spirit makes use of the word to persuade, as well as to direct; though we do not, with the Pelagians, say, that the will is overcome only by arguments,

The question between us and the Pelagians, is not rohether the will sometimes follows the dictates of the understanding, but, whether it either always dues so? or, if it be otherwise, whether that which hindere it does not arise from a defect in these dictates of the understanding? Accordingly they speak of the dictates of the understanding as practical, and not barely speculative, and with a particular application to ourselves. They also consider the will as having been before in some suspense ; but that dictate of the understanding which it follows, is the last, after mature delibera. tion; and it is supposed to have compared things together; and therefore presente a thang, not only as good, but more eligible than any thing else, which they call a comparate dictate of the understanding; and by this means the will is persuaded to a compliance. But though this may be true in many instances that are natural; yet daily experience frozes, that it does not hold good with respect to things dizine and supernatural

as though the victory was owing to our power of reasoning; yet we freely own, that we act with judgment, and see the highest reason for what we do: we are enabled to use our reasoning powers indeed; but these are sanctified by the Spirit, as well as the will renewed; and both coucur together, in order to our receiving and improving the doctrines contained in the gospel; and the Spirit of God also removes those rooted prejudices which we had entertained against the way of salvation by Christ: so that upon the whole, the gospel has its use, as it directs and excites our faith: our reasoning powers and faculties have their use also, as we take in, and are convinced, by what is therein contained, all this would be to no purpose, if there were not a superior power determining the will to a thorough compliance therewith. We do not deny that moral suasion oftentimes has a tendency to incline a man to the performance of moral duties; but it is what I rather choose to call evangelical persuasion, or the Spirit of God setting home upon the heart and conscience, what is contained in the gospel, that makes it effectual to salvation. (a) Thus concerning the na

(a) The manners and m:xims of the world accord with the inclinations of the human mind, because they spring from them: the dispositions and the pursuite of men are at variance with the laws of God, the doctrines of the gospel, and the practice of the saints, this will appear by comparing them. That the human mind should be brought to submit to the seli denial requisite to the cbaracter of a true christian, its bus or bent must be changed. Because men are moral agents, va rious motives are addressed to them to induce such change, when not attended to, they aggravate their guilt: when they are followed by tlie change, which they have a terdency to produce, those who yield are said to be “ born of the word." Were it not for the information we derive from the scriptures we should probably look no further than the proximate calise, and give man the glory; but these teach us, that the Spirit of God is always in such change, if it be real, the efficient cause : “God sanctifies by the truth,” he opens the beart to attend” to the word, and when any bave learned from and been taught or draron by the Father they come unto Christ; they are therefore also in a higher sense born of the Spirit.

This work of God inimediately upon the mind, is possible to him, who formed, sustains, and knows the secrets of the heart; if we are unconscious of our creation, support in existence, and the access of the Searcher of hearts to our minds, we may be unconscious of his influence to change them. If this were sensible, it might be a motive incompatible with the safety and moral government of beings, who at best, whilst here, are imperfectly holy.

The communication of the knowledge of saving truths immediately is unnecessary: we have the sacred scriptures, which are competent to make us wise unto salvation. The inspiration anciently given, is distinct from the change of bias, or disposition necessary to a preparation for heaven, might exist without, and is therefore inferior to it.

It is not the sole effect of moral suasion, it is a work of the spirit not the let. ter, of power not the word: it is a birth, not by “ blood, nor by the will of the flesh, nor by the will of man, but of God,” and those only " who are of God, hear,” believe, and obey his word.

This influence is sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, riches to the poor, health to the sick, and life to the dead. It is not incompatible with moral agency, for the holy disposition is as free in its operation, as the former sinful inclinations had been in theirs. The necessity of it to salvation, is no excuse for the impeni

ture and extent of human liberty; but inasmuch as this is not to be assigned as that which renders the gospel-call effectual, let it be farther considered,

III. That this is brought about by the almighty power of God, as it is observed in this angwer, that it is a work of God's almighty power and grace: this is that which enhances the excellency and glory of it, above all the works of common providence : however, when we say that it is a divine work, this is hardly sufficient to distinguish it from what the Pelagiairs often call it, by which they intend nothing more, than the powerful work of God, as the God of nature and providence ; therefore we must farther consider it as a work of divine power, exerting itself in a supernatural way and not only excluding the agency of creatures, as bearing a part therein, but as opposed to those works which are brought about by the moral influence of persuasive arguments, without any change wrought in the will of man; in this sense we understand effectual calling to be a work of God's almighty power.

And that this may appear, let it be premised, that it is not inconsistent with God's dealing with men as intelligent creatures, endowed with liberty of will, for him to exert this power, since special providence, or efficacious grace, does no more destroy man's natural powers, by its internal influence, enabling and exciting them to do what is supernaturally good, than common providence's being conversant about the free actions of men, makes them cease to be free; only the former exerts itself in a different and superior way, producing effects much more glorious and excellent.

This being supposed, we shall, without pretending fully to explain the manner of the divine agency, which is principally known by its effects, endeavour to shew,

1. That effectual calling is, in a way of eminency, the work of divine power as distinguished froin other works, which are, in their kind, the effects of power in a natural way.

2. We shall also observe what effects are produced thereby, and in what order.

3. Consider it, as it is, in a peculiar manner, attributed to the Spirit of God; and also shew, that it is a wonderful instance of his grace.

tent; grace is not necessary to the vindication of Divine justice: the prepondefancy of inclinations to evil is the essence of, not an apology for sin. It is very strange if, because a man is so intent upon sinning that nothing can change him but the almighty power of the Divine Spirit, he is on this very account innocent

-It does not render the preaching of the word unnecessary, for besides that it is commanded, and important to call men to repentance and faith, when the grace has been given, God also usually accompanies his ordinances with his Spirit's in. Guences, and scems in most cases, to direct in his providence the blessings of à 3 junctions to those whom he makes the subjects of his grace.

« הקודםהמשך »