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whatever. When therefore the Westminster Divines did gravely assert, thaté no mere man is able • perfectly to keep the commandments of God,' they might as well have said, “ that no man can
perfectly perform any part of his daily labour;' since it is possible for the human mind to conceive that a more perfect mode of performing it might still be found. Yet though a work be not executed perfectly, it may be executed to every useful purpose, and in an acceptable manner. It may be performed to the profit of the doer or performer, and to the good pleasure of the employer. And this, in the instance now before us, is all that can be looked for.
Much is it therefore to be wished, that this popular doctrine of the “ impossibility of keeping God's • commandments' were less insisted on; or, if insisted on, that it were more securely fenced against misconstruction, than experience shews it to be; nay, that the inability of human nature, which I am far, very far, from resisting in the general application of the term, were not, as it for the most part is, restricted to' human inability to discharge the duties which chris
tianity requires. For this is the point, to which all reasoning on the subject in hand does naturally tend ; and thus tending, the inferénce is but too possible to be kept sight of, come of the premises what will. Human nature needs more a spur to duty, than a cloak for neglect. To be, from our infancy, taught that we are not able to do a thing, 2 A 2
is not the ready method to incite us to make the trial, or to excite our diligence and application, should we be induced to inake the trial. This our daily experience testifies; and, in the whole catalogue of apologies for transgression, there is none so common as that of the frailty and weakness of ftesh and blood, which are hourly pled in extenuation of every sin which besets us. True it is that nature is weak, but if his power be greater, who is for us, than all that can come against us'; if the grace
of God be, as it is pronounced to be, 'sufficient for us, • and his strength be made perfect in weakness', what must become of those who would thus excuse their sins, whether they be sins of commission, or sins of omission ? Improvement of every description is progressive. The learner can even discern the effects of his own industry and attention, in every art and science to which he betakes himself. To his comfort and delight he finds, that what at first appeared to him extremely hard, and in a great measure impossible to be either done or acquired, perseverance and studious application render not only easy, but in the end agreeable.
Were I to pursue this train of reasoning, I know well that, in the opinion of some, I should speedily subject myself to the attack of one or other of the parties, who have so long agitated the intricate, and as yet undecided controversy about Free-will. For, on the one side, Pelagius and his followers have
> 2 Cor. xii. 9.
not failed to estimate this faculty in man too highly; while Luther and his followers have, I freely own, carried their estimation of it to the contrary extreme. The controversy, however, is so subtle and perplexing ; it involves so many metaphysical speculations about liberty and necessity, under the inapplicable distinction of moral and physical, that my voice is for leaving it to be agitated (for determined, on this side the grave, it cannot be), in the schools of philosophy and vain deceit.' As these abound in this . age of reason, it is a subject of debate which is admirably suited to the enlightened votaries of modern philosophy, who afford them their patronage and support : whereas in the school of christianity, such jargon is wholly inadmissible. : To know Jesus Christ, and him crucified ; to know that he is the Lord, by whom we escape death-this is the acquirement, in comparison of which every other species of science is, by the christian divine, to be accounted loss. It is, on my part, therefore merely necessary to dismiss this controversy, by saying, that every man has assuredly a will, as implying, in the general sense of that faculty, a wish, or desire towards happiness, and towards obtaining happiness by some means or other ; however much he may be mistaken as to the proper means, and as to the true nature of happiness. But how far he is able to carry this his will into accomplishment, from whatever source he possesses it, is a separate question, to which revelation alone can give the answer. And revelation has given a full and satisfactory answer, on which the pious christian implicitly rests his faith, without vainly enquiring whether a man's will, in being actuated by motives, or influenced by grace, loses its freedom of action ? With many the irresistibility of grace is a standard branch of christian doctrine. I hesitate not to say that the expression is equivocal, if not a contradiction in terms. Before any power can become irresistible, it must have recourse to compulsion or force. Grace however, (xcepis in the Greek) implies a favour, or free gift, which, like every other gift, must be received freely and without compulsion, otherwise it loses the quality of a gift. Nay, it must be freely offered, and without any merit on the receiver's part, otherwise it becomes a debt, and, in that case, would cease to be the grace.'
This natural consequence produced the scholastic distinction between • common grace' and ' effica* cious grace,'' COMMON,' when it is, or may be resisted, and EFFICACIOUS,' when it is irresistible. You may have heard of the old sophism of idem * per idem, which, if ever appropriately applied, may with the utmost propriety be applied to this species of sophistical quibbling. But it is high time to unfold the sentiments which the church, to which we ourselves belong, entertains upon this subject of never-ending altercation. It is manifest to every one who has looked into the book of Common Prayer, that we both believe, and are required to
teach, that all who are duly baptized, whether they be
young or old, are by baptism made members of Christ. But, in virtue of this superinduced character, it is equally obvious, that they all receive something from Christ, of whom they have become members : something, by whatever name it! may be distinguished, which contributes to their nourishment and support, some principle of strength and vitality, similar to that which invigorates and supports the members of the body natural being confident,' as the apostie speaks, “that he who
hath begun a good work in them will perform it, un* til the day of Jesus Christ' ;' or, as the same apostle elsewhere expresses it, in terms of strict analogy to the body natural—' until we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the mea• sure of the stature of the fulness of Christ *' The regular christian, therefore, or in other words, the baptized member of Christ, is to be viewed in a light, pointing him out as superior to ' a mere man,' in the common acceptation of that term. He is to be regarded as one belonging to the body of Christ, as
one growing up unto him in all things, which is • the head, eyen Christ? ;' and, in virtue of that blessed connection, endued with power and ability unknown to the mere • natural man, who receiv. . eth not the things of the Spirit of God *.'
I Philip. i. 6.
2 Ephes. iv. 13,