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holy !! Besides, when I was arrested by the power of God with that conviction which never left me until I was born again, I was pursuing a of sin and rebellion against God, with renewed and increased vigour. The reason evidently was this :My heart was fully set in me to do evil. I hated God, and rejected salvation, which was offered to me in the gospel-and this, too, I did freely and voluntarily, with all my heart. Well; now the question occurshow came I to turn to God and believe the gospel when I did ? Now the way which Arminians evade this question, (which, if properly and fairly answered would at once overthrow their system) is generally below the character of fair reasoning. They will say I was then willing to accept salvation. This we all admit. I have no idea that any person has religion before he is willing. But how came I to be willing then, or what was the cause or reason of my being more willing then, than I was six months before ? I ask the reader to forget his own particular creed, prepossessions and prejudices, and tell me if this was not the sole and only reason, viz. God dealt differently with me from what he ever did before. Why was it that those who were pricked in the heart on the day of Pentecost obtained religion then, and not before? Might they not have come before, if they would ? Most certainly--for undoubtedly Christ himself before his crucifixion personally preached to many of them. And was he not as good and as powerful a preacher as Peter was ? Yea; he spake as never man spake; but they would not hear him. He worked miracles but still they would not believe. But now what is the matter ? Peter, an unlearned and illiterate fisherman, preached a few minutes and about three thousand were suddenly converted to God, and were filled with faith and the Holy Ghost. Now what was the cause of their being willing to obey Christ now, under this short discourse of Peter, when they had been resisting Christ's own testimony, or per
secuting him, some of them probably unto death before ? Had their hearts grown any better by nailing the Son of God to the accursed tree!!
Let us compare the experiences of God's people with the Arminian notion that man turns the point of his own salvation by nourishing and fostering that grace in him, until by his labours it is raised to a holy flame, and he becomes a good Christian, I ask you, reader, if you are a Christian, to review your own exercises, and see how this argument will stand. How came you to have a hope in Christ, when thousands born under the same dispensation, enjoying the same privileges, reject salvation, and wilfully and constantly urge their passage down to hell ? Is it because you were naturally any better than they? This I presume you will not assert.But if you should, who made you better? So this will not remove the difficulty. Were you wiser, or did you . possess stronger natural and intellectual powers than they? This will not be urged by you as a reason for a moment. But you, that is, yourself improved the grace given you better than they did; so you have turned the point of your own salvation. This perhaps you will give me for an answer. Well ; in what did the good improvement of yours consist, which so much exceeded theirs ? In the exercise of a better memory or judgment than theirs? You will answer, No. It must consist then in a heart exercise. Well, was there some little spot in your heart (to use a metaphorical expression) abstract from the grace of God, where the grace of God, or the Holy Spirit, when it was given to you, found a ready reception and a quiet resting place, and so was “ nourished and cherished" and improved ? If so, you certainly had some goodness or holiness before you had the grace of God imparted to you !!!. And if so, did not your fellow sinner have the sameAnd if he did possess the same, why did not the grace of God find that good spot in his heart ? And why did not he nourish it and improve it as well as you ?
But you say, perhaps, you abhor such a thought : you never had any goodness in you, until it was produced in you or imparted to you by the Holy Spirit. Well; did not your fellow sinner have the same imparted to him, and why did not the same consequences ensue, and he become a Christian ? Was it because the bad part of you made a better improvement of the grace of God, than the bad part of him!!! Perhaps you will say you have done nothing of yourself; but all which you have done has been done by the assistance of divine grace.This is well enough, if rightly understood. But I desire to know if you ever look into this subject ? What do you mean by the assistance which you have from God? Do you mean that God assists you like one person assisting another in performing a piece of labour-you do a part and God does the rest ? Or like one person trying to raise a certain weight from the ground. He can raise it all, saving a few pounds; some one assists him, and they two together raise the weight. So you carry part of the burden, and God takes the rest. If so, he must exercise a power short of omnipotent power. And does God ever exert any power short of omnipotent power ? It would be well to consider this before we make assertions. Or do you mean that God pours his grace in among your unsanctified affections, and so reduces them down, like pouring water in among ardent spirits, thus adulterating them ? Is this your idea of the grace of God assisting you ? Then I would ask what state are your affections or heart in at this time before you experience religion ? According to this idea, they are neither good nor bad, holy nor unholy; you neither love God nor hate him; you neither sin nor let it alone!!! O what a system-surely men of sense would never have embraced it, if they had looked at its absurdifiezad they not hated the bible doctrine that sinners lie wholly at the discretion of God, whether to save them or not—that he has a perfect right, as sovçreign of the universe, to do either; and that if he
does save any, it will be of his mere mercy and
grace alone, without any works of righteousness of the creature mingled therewith.
The plain truth is, men before regeneration are entirely corrupt in heart, opposed to God, and have not the least particle of holiness in them. God certainly strives with them and calls upon them to repent :• Behold I stand at the door and knock." But holiness, grace, or the Spirit of God, is no more in the sinner's heart before regeneration, than the man is in the house while the door is shut and he stands without knocking. Sinners are not like the inanimate creation, neither-they are not like stocks and stones.. They are as active as saints--but all their action is against God. They freely and voluntarily oppose his government with all their hearts, continually, and as freely refuse to accept' salvation on the humiliating terms of the gospel. And this every one of them, without a single exception, will continue to do until forever lost, if God does not interpose with his almighty power and all conquering grace, and change their hearts, and cause them to be willing to be sav.ed in his own appointed way. This is the true state of the case-it is agreeably with the experience of all truly converted souls, and abundantly testified to. by scripture. This is the only plan that makes the salvation of those who are saved entirely of grace, and the condemnation of those who are lost to rest on their own heads. For as I before observed, the Arminian sentiment puts the turning point of salvation with the creature; and this turning point must be abstract or independently of the grace of God; for observe, the creature himself improves that grace communicated to him, they say,
* and so makes his salvation certain. So that he of himself differs from another, and of course the reason why he is saved is, because he has worked a work that some of his fellow sinners, who were just as good as himself, have not
* See Fletcher, as transeribed in the Frọę Will Baptist Magazine.
worked; and I ask the candid reader if this is not maintaining salvation to be of our work? I should be as willing to preach salvation by works, as salvation by a work. Now we affirm, that if a man shall keep the law, he shall live-but we cannot find the man. We also affirm that sinners ought to love God; they ought to repent without delay, it is their duty, and they may if they will. --But we affirm they will notsay the turning point of salvation lies with God. And this, as I before observed, is not only agreeable to scripture, and the experience of the saints, but with the prayers of Arminians themselves. I never heard any who were spiritual pray, but what they prayed in this very strain, and bore witness to this doctrine.They pray to God to change the hearts of sinnersto arrest them by his mighty power, and to cause them to submit—to bring them down, and that too this moment; and call for the power of God to be displayed in killing and making alive, in slaying sinners and creating them anew in Christ Jesus; and after all, if any one uses the very same ideas in argument with them, as they express in prayer to God, they think it horrible, and presume to confound him without ceremony, by calling him a Calvinist ! But let us examine God's word, and review our experiences in the dealangs of God with our souls, and embrace truth, let it be called by what name it will. Perhaps the reader, if he be an Arminian, will come forward with declamation that this makes God a partial being, in representing him as dealing differently with men. I beg of him not to be forward in digging this pit, lest he fall into it himself. I do not purpose to attend to this objection here, but will refer the reader to Chapter IX, where I conceive it to be fully answered, and where, I trust, it will appear beyond controversy, that if this system of religion makes God a partial being, Arminjanism does the same; so that if we throw away ono on this account, we must the other.
2. In reflecting on my experience at the time just alluded to, I have satisfactory and good evidence, that