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prophet Jeremiah cries, "Turn thou us unto thee, O Lord, and we shall be turned." But God expressly requires sinners to return unto him, of their own accord. By Isaiah he says, "Let the wicked forsake his ways and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon." And by Ezekiel he urges the same duty upon sinners. "Turn ye, turn ye: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?"
Love, the first and noblest of all the christian graces, is required as a duty, and yet placed among the gifts of the Spirit. David calls upon good men to love God. "O love the Lord all ye his saints." And he resolves to exercise the same affection. "I will love thee, O Lord, my strength." But the Apostle tells us, that love is of God, and the production of his Spirit. Because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us." Repentance, another holy exercise, is represented as the gift of God and the act of the penitent. Timothy is directed, "in meekness to instruct those who oppose themselves; if God peradventure, will give them repentance, to the acknowledging of the truth." Yet the Apostle tells us, "God now commandeth all men every where to repent." Christ declares, "He came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Notwithstanding this we are told, "Him hath God exalted to give repentance and remission of sins." Though faith in Christ be required, yet it is repre sented as the effect of a divine operation. When the Jews demanded of Christ, "What shall we do that we may work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." But the Apostle
tells believers, "By grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God." And suggests the same idea, by reminding them, that "they were risen with Christ, through the faith of the operation of God." Coming to Christ, which is indeed the same as believing in him, is represented as the ex ercise of the sinner, while under the influence of a divine operation. "No man can come unto me, except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him." Thus saints are represented as actually loving, repenting, believing, and coming to Christ, under the agency of the divine Spirit.
And we must further observe, that they are represented as exercising not only these, but all other graces and virtues, in the same manner. It is said, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness." Nevertheless, we find these fruits of the Spirit required as christian duties. "Giving all diligence," says the Apostle Peter, "add to your faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance pa tience, and to patience godliness, and to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity." And the Apostle Paul gives a similar exhortation to christians. "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." In a word, good men are represented as turning from sin unto God; as making themselves a new heart; as raising themselves from spiritual death; as exercising love, repentance, faith, submission, and every other christian grace; as persevering in holiness, enduring unto the end, and being faithful unto death: and yet they
are represented as doing all those things, by virtue of a divine influence upon their minds. God is represented as beginning the good work in them; as carrying it on until the day of Jesus Christ; and as keeping them by his mighty power through faith unto salvation. All this is fully comprised in the text. "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure."
Finally, the doctrine under consideration is confirined, by all the commands in the Bible, and by the prayers of all good men. Every command, which God has given to men, plainly supposes, that they are moral agents, who are capable of acting freely in` the view of motives; because a command could have no more influence, or lay no more obligation upon men, than upon stocks or stones, were men incapable of seeing the nature, and of acting under the power, of motives. As all the commands in the Bible, therefore, require men to put forth some motion, some exercise, some exertion either of body, or of mind, or of both; so they necessarily suppose, that men are, in the strictest sense of the word, moral agents, and capable of yielding active, voluntary, rational obedience to the will of God. But yet the prayers of all good men equally suppose, that they must be acted upon by a divine operation, in all their virtuous exercises and actions. For when they pray for themselves, that God would give them joy, peace, love, faith, submission, or strengthen and increase these and all other christian graces; their prayers presuppose the necessity of a divine operation upon their hearts, in all their gracious exercises and exertions. And when they pray for the world in general, that God would suppress vice and irreligion every where, convince and convert sinners,
comfort and edify saints, and spread the Redeemer's kingdom through the earth; their prayers are founded in the belief, that God must work in men both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Such clear and abundant evidence the Bible gives us, that saints both act and are acted upon by a divine operation, in all their holy and virtuous exercises.
But still we find many, who consider this scripture doctrine as a gross absurdity, or at least, as the Gordian knot in divinity, which, instead of untying, they violently cut asunder; and so make a sacrifice either of activity, or of dependence. Some give up activity for the sake of dependence; some give up dependence for the sake of activity; and some first give up one and then the other, for the sake of maintaining both. The Fatalists give up activity for the sake of dependence. They suppose men are totally dependent and constantly acted upon as mere machines; and of consequence are not free agents. The Arminians, on the other hand, give up dependence for the sake of activity. They suppose men have a self-determining power, or a power to originate their own volitions, and are capable of acting independently of any divine operation upon their hearts. But many of the Calvinists endeavor to steer a middle course between these two extremes, and first give up activity and then dependence, in order to maintain both. They hold, that men are active both before and after regeneration, but passive in regeneration itself. These three classes of men, however they may differ in other respects, seem to agree in this, that no man can act freely and virtuously, while he is acted upon by a divine operation; and accordingly unite in pronouncing the doctrine, which we have been laboring to establish, inconsistent and absurd. This naturally leads us to inquire,
In the second place, why activity and dependence are so generally supposed to be inconsistent with each other.
If saints do indeed work out their own salvation with fear and trembling under a divine operation, as has been perhaps sufficiently proved; then this doctrine cannot be supposed to be inconsistent and ab. surd, because it is so in its own nature. If it be true, it must be consistent, whether we can discover its con sistency or not.
Nor, in the next place, can any suppose this doc trine is inconsistent and absurd, because it is more difficult to apprehend and explain, than many other doctrines of natural and revealed religion. Who can conceive or explain how the Supreme Being exists of himself? or how he supports the universe? or how he fills all places, and surveys all objects, at one and the same time? But who, except Atheists and skeptics, will presume to deny these truths, or venture to call them inconsistent and absurd? Why, then, should any suppose there is the least absurdity in men's working out their own salvation with fear and trembling, while God, at the same time, works in them both to will and to do of his good pleasure? It is as easy to conceive of this, as to conceive of the divine existence, omnipresence, or universal providence. In all cases of this nature, the facts are plain and intelligible, but the manner of their existence or production is truly mysterious. Our own existence is self-evident; but how we were formed is to us a profound mystery. Our constant dependence on the Deity for the continuation of existence, is capable of strict demonstration; but how God upholds us every moment, we are utterly unable to explain. So our dependence on the Deity to work in us both to will and to do, is equal