« AnteriorContinuar »
bitrary, self-determined, self-possessed sovereign will, decides the matter, be properly looked upon as the main cause, vastly the most proper cause, the truest author and bestower of the benefit ? would not he be, as it were, all in the cause? would not the glory properly belong to him, on whose pleasure the determination of the matter properly depended ?
§ 25. By regeneration, being new creatures, raised from death in sin, in the New Testament, is now meant according to Dr. Taylor, merely persons being brought into the state and privileges of professing Christians. When Christ says unto Nicodemus, John n. 3. “ Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God;" he does not mean merely, that unless a man be brought to a participation of the new state and privileges of the Christian church, he cannot enter on the possession and privileges of the Christian church ; for that would be nonsense, and only to say, unless a man be born again, he cannot be born again; or, unless a man enter into the new state of things as erected by the Mes. siah, he cannot enter on the new state of things as erected by the Messiah. Nor can he mean, that unless a man be a professing Christian, he cannot see the future and eternal privileges of the kingdom of heaven; for he supposes many heathens will see the kingdom of God in that sense. And how unreasonable would it be to suppose that Christ would teach this doctrine of the necessity of being instated in his new modelled church, as such a great, important, and main doctrine of his! See how evidently being born of God signifies something else than a be. ing brought into the state of professing Christians; 1 John ii. 29. “If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doth righteousness is born of him." Chap. iii. 9. " Whosoever is born of God, doth not commit sin ; for his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." Chap. iv. 7. “ Every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God." Chap. v. 4. " Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world.” Verse 18. - We know that whosoever is born of God, sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God, keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.”
So it is exceeding apparent, that knowing God, and being of God, and in God, having this hope in him, &c. mean something beside our Christian profession, and principles and privileges. 1 John ii. 3, &c." Hereby do we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected. Hereby know we that we are in him." Chap. ii. 3. “Every one that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself, even as he is pure." Chap. iii. 14. - We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." Chap. iv. 12. “ If we love one another, God dwelleth in us."
$ 26. Why does the apostle say, concerning apostates, “ they were not of us : if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us; but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us :” if it be, as Dr. Taylor supposes, that professing Christians are indeed of the society of Christians to all intents and purposes, have all their privileges, are truly the children of God, members of Christ, of the household of God, saints, believers that have obtained like precious faith, are all one body, have one spirit, one faith, one inheritance, have their hearts purified and sanctified, are all the children of light, are all of the household of God, fellow-citizens with the saints, have all fellowship with Christ, &c.?
$ 27. It is true, the nation of the Jews are in the Old Testament said to be elected, called, created, made, formed, redeemed, delivered, saved, bought, purchased, begotten. But particular Jews are no where so spoken of, at least with reference to the same thing, viz. their national redemption when they were brought out of Egypt, &c.
David, in the book of Psalms, though he is so abundant there in giving thanks to God for his mercies, and is also so frequent in praising God for redeeming his people out of Egypt, and the salvation he wrought for the nation and Church of Israel at that time; yet he never once blesses God, (having respect to that salvation,) that God had chosen him and redeemed him, bought him, regenerated him ; never (having reference to that affair) speaks in the language of the apostle, “ He loved me, and gave himself for me;" though he often speaks of the blessedness of those men God had chosen, and caused to come nigh unto him, agreeably to the language of the New Testament, and often blesses God for redeeming and saving him in particular ; but never, in any of these things, has he respect to those national privileges ; nor indeed any other of the penmen of the Psalms ; which is very strange, if the privilege of being bought, made, created, &c. as applied to the nation of the Jews, be that which the apostle in the New Testament applies to himself in parti. cular, and which this and the other apostles applied to many other particular persons.
$28. That professing Christians are said to be sanctified, washed, &c. does not argue, that all professing Christians are so in fact. For Taylor himself says," it should be carefully observed, that it is very common in the sacred writings, to express not only our Christian privileges, but also the duty to which they oblige, in the present or preterperfect tense; or to speak of that as done, which only ought to be done, and which, in fact may possibly never be done: as in Matt. v. 13. “Ye are the salt of the earth," that is, ye ought to be. Rom. ii. 4. “The goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance ;" that is ought to lead thee: chap. vi. 2. chap. viii. 9. Col. iii. 3. this overthrows all his supposed proofs, that those which he calls antecedent blessings, do really belong to all professing Christians.
$ 29. The case was quite otherwise in the Christian church with regard to election, redemption, creation, &c., from what it was with the Jews. With the Jews, election, their redemption out of Egypt, their creation, was a national thing; it began with them as a nation, and descended, as it were, from the nation, to particular persons. Particular persons were first of the nation and church of the Jews; so, by that means, had an interest in their election, redemption, &c., that God wrought of old. The being of the nation and church of Israel, was the ground of a participation in these privileges. But it is evidently contrariwise in Christians. With regard to them, the election, redemption, creation, regeneration, &c., are personal things. They begin with particular persons, and ascend to public societies. Men are first redeemed, bought, created, regenerated, and, by that means, become members of the Christian church; and this is the ground of their membership. Paul's regeneration, and Christ's loving him, and giving himself for him, was the foundation of his being of the Christian church, that holy nation, peculiar people, &c.; whereas David being one of the nation of Israel, is the proper ground of his participation in Israel's redemption out of Egypt, and of that birth and formation of the people. It is apparent the case was thus. It cannot be otherwise. It is evident the new creation, regeneration, calling, and justification, are personal things, because they are by personal influences; influences of God's Spirit on particular persons, and personal qualifications.
$ 30. It will follow from Taylor's scheme, that Simon, the sorcerer, had an interest in all the antecedent blessings. Yet the apostle tells him, he was at that time in the gall of bitterness, and bond of iniquity. If he was really justified, washed, cleansed, sanctified ; how was he at that time in the bond of iniquity? Justification, forgiveness, &c., is a release from the bond of iniquity. If the heart be purified by faith, it does not remain in the gall of bitterness.
$ 31. Saving grace differs from common grace, in nature and kind. To suppose only a gradual difference, would not only be to suppose, that some, in a state of damnation, are, within an infinitely little, as good as some in a state of salvation, (which greatly disagrees with the Arminian notion of men's being saved by their own virtue and goodness ;) but this, taken with the Arminian notion of men's falling from grace, will naturally lead us to determine, that many that are once in a state of salvation, may be in such a state, and out of it, scores of times in a very short space. For though a person is in a state of salvation, he may be but just in it, and may be infinitely near the limits between a state of salvation and dam: nation; and, as the habits of grace are, according to that scheme, only contracted and raised by consideration and exercise, and the exertion of the strength of the mind, and are lost when a man falls from grace by the intermission or cessation of these, and by contrary acts and exercises; and, as the habits and principles of virtue are raised and sunk, brought into being and abolished by those things, and both their degree and their being wholly depend on them, the consequence will naturally be, that when a man is first raised to that degree of a virtuous disposition, as to be in a state of salvation, and the degree of virtue is almost infinitely near the dividing line, it will naturally be liable to be a little raised or sunk every hour, according as the thoughts and exercises of the mind are; as the mercury in the thermometer, or barometer, is never perfectly at rest, but is always rising or subsiding, according to the weight of the atmosphere, or the degree of heat.
§ 32. The dispute about grace being resistible or irresistible, is perfect nonsense.
For, if the effect of grace is upon the will, then it is nonsense; except it be proper to say, that a man with his will can resist his own will, or except it be possible for him to desire to resist his own will; that is, except it be possible for a man to will a thing, and not will it, at the same time, and so far as he does will it. Or, if you speak of enlightening grace, and say this grace is upon the understanding, it is nothing but the same nonsense in other words. For then the sense runs thus, that a man, after he has seen so plainly that a thing is best for him that he wills it, yet he can, at the same time, nill it. If you say he can will any thing he pleases, this is most certainly true; for who can deny, that a man can will any thing he doth already will? And so, with the same reason, we may say, there is another will to please; to please to will; and so on to a thousand. Wherefore, to say that the man could have willed otherwise, if he had pleased, is just all one as to say, that if he had willed otherwise, then we might be sure he could will otherwise.
$ 33. Those that deny infusion of grace by the Holy Spirit, must, of necessity, deny the Spirit to do any thing at all." By the Spirit's infusing, let be meant what it will, those who say there is no infusion, contradict themselves. For they say the Spirit doth something in the soul; that is, he causeth some motion, or affection, or apprehension, to arise in the soul, that, at the same time, would not be there without him. Now, God's Spirit doeth what he doeth; he doth as much as he doth; or he causeth in the soul as much as he causeth, let that be how little soever.
So much as is purely the effect of his immediate motion, that is the effect of his immediate motion, let that be what it will, and so much is infused, how little soever that be. This is self-evident. For, suppose the Spirit of Vol. VII,
God only to assist the natural powers, then there is something done betwixt thein. Men's own powers do something, and God's Spirit doth something; only they work together. Now, that part which the Spirit doth, how little soever it be, is infused. So that they who deny infused habits, own that part of the habit is infused. For they say, the Holy Spirit assists the man in acquiring the habit ; so that it is acquired rather sooner than it would be otherwise. So that part of the habit is owing to the Spirit; some of the strength of the habit was infused, and another part is owing to the natural powers of the man. Or, if you say, that it is all owing to the natural power assistcd, how do you mean assisted ? To act more lively and vigorously than otherwise? Then that liveliness and vigorousness must be infused; which is a habit, and, therefore, an infused habit. It is grace, and, therefore, infused grace. Grace consists very much in a principle that causes vigorousness and activity in action.
§ 34. Concerning what the Arminians say, that these are speculative points: I answer, all devotion greatly depends on a sense and acknowledgment of our dependence on God. But this is one of the very chief things belonging to our dependence on God: how much stress do the scriptures lay on our depen. dence on God? All assistance of the Spirit of God whatsoever, that is by any present influence or effect of the Spirit ; any thing at all that a person converted from sin to God is the sub. ject of, through any immediate influence of the Spirit of God upon him, or any thing done by the Spirit, since the completing and confirming the canon of the scriptures, must be done by a physical operation either on the soul or body. The Holy spirit of God does something to promote virtue in men's hearts, and to make them good, beyond what the angels can do. But the angels can present motives ; can excite ideas of the words of promises and threatenings, &c. and can persuade in this way by moral means; as is evident, because the devils in this way promote vice.
$ 35. There is no objection made to God's producing any effects, or causing any events, by any immediate interposition, producing effects arbitrarily, or by the immediate efforts of his will, but what lies equally against his ordering it so, that any effects should be produced by the immediate interposition of men's will, to produce effects otherwise than the established laws of nature would have produced without men's arbitrary interposition, Such arguments as are founded on the established laws of nature, if they are valid against any interposition at all, will prevail against all interposition of God or man, and against the interposition of God ever to bring the world to an end, or amend it; and prove that all shall be according to general laws. And they might as well argue that the making of the