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world too was by general laws. If it be said, that it is of great importance and absolute necessity, that God should at last interpose and rectify the course of nature: I answer, this is yielding the point, that, in cases of great importance, it is reasonable to suppose there may be an interposition that may be arbi. trary, and not by general laws.
§ 36. The nature of virtue being a positive thing, can proceed from nothing but God's immediate influence, and must take its rise from creation or infusion by God. For it must be either from that, or from our own choice and production, either at once, or gradually, by diligent culture.
But it cannot begin, or take its rise from the latter, viz. our choice, or voluntary diligence, For if there exist nothing at all of the nature of virtue before, it cannot come from cultivation ; for by the supposition there is nothing of the nature of virtue to cultivate, it cannot be by repeated and multiplied acts of virtuous choice, till it becomes an habit. For there can be no one virtuous choice, unless God immediately gives it. The first virtuous choice, or a disposition to it, must be immediately given, or it must proceed from a preceding choice. If the first virtuous act of will or choice be from a preceding act of will or choice, that preceding act of choice must be a virtuous act of choice, which is contrary to the supposition. For then there would be a preceding act of choice before the first virtuous act of choice. And if it be said the first virtuous act of choice is from a preceding act of will, which is not virtuous, this is absurd For an act of will not virtuous, cannot produce another act of will of a nature entirely above itself, having something positive in it, any more than motion can produce thought or understanding; or the collision of two bodies can produce thought; or stones and lead can produce a spirit; or nothing can produce something
§ 37. As to man's inability to convert himself.--In them that are totally corrupt, there can be no tendency towards their making their hearts better, till they begin to repent of the badness of their hearts. For if they do not repent, they still approve of it; and that tends to maintain their badness and confirm it. But they cannot begin sincerely to repent of the badness of their hearts till their hearts begin to be better ; for repentance consists in a change of the mind and heart. So that it is not men's repentance that first gives rise to their having a better heart; and therefore it cannot be any tendency in them to make their hearts better. The heart can have no tendency to make itself better, till it begins to have a better tendency; for therein consists its badness, viz. its having no good tendency or inclination. And to begin to have a good tendency, or, which is the same thing, a tendency and inclination to be better, is the same thing as to begin already to be
better. And therefore the heart's inclination to be good, cannot be the thing that first gives rise to its being made good. For its inclination to be better, is the same thing with its becoming better. If there be any immediate influence or action of the Spirit of God at all on any created beings, in any part of the universe, since the days of the apostles, it is physical. If it be in exciting ideas of motives, or in any respect assisting or promoting any effect, still it is physical ;
every whit as much so, as if we suppose the temper and nature of the heart is immediately changed. And it is as near akin to a miracle. If the latter be miraculous, so is the former.
§ 38. Who ever supposed, that the term irresistible was properly used with respect to that power by which an infant is brought into being; meaning irresistible by the infant ? Or who ever speaks of a man's waking out of a sound sleep irresistibly ; meaning, that he cannot resist awaking? Or who says, that Adam was formed out of the dust of the earth irresistibly? See what I have said of the use of such terms as irresistible, unfrustrable, &c. in my inquiry about liberty.The opponents of efficacious grace and physical operation, may be challenged to show that it is possible that any creature should become righteous without a physical operation, either a being created with the habit of righteousness, or its being immediately infused. See what I have written in my book of original sin, in those sections wherein I vindicate the doctrine of original righteousness, and argue, that if Adam was not created righteous, no way can be invented, how he could ever become righteous.
§ 39. Reason shows, that the first existence of a principle of virtue cannot be from man himself, nor in any created being whatsoever ; but must be immediately given from God; or that otherwise it never can be obtained, whatever this principle be, whether love to God, or love to men. It must either be from God, or be an habit contracted by repeated acts. But it is most absurd to supposé, that the first existence of the principle of holy action, should be preceded by a course of holy actions. Because there can be no holy action without a principle, or holy inclination. There can be no act done from love, that shall be the cause of first introducing the very existence of love.
$ 40. There are no sort of benefits that are so much the subject of the promises of scripture, as the bestowment of virtue, or benefits which imply it. How often is the faith of the Gentiles, or their coming into the Christian church, promised to Christ in the Old Testament; Isaiah xlix. 6. and many other places; and he has promised it to his church, chap. xlix. 18–21. and innumerable other places. See Rom. xv. 12, 13. What a promise have we, Isaiah lx. 21. “Thy people also shall be all righteous, they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hand, that I may be glorified,”— compared with the next chapter, 3d verse, “ That they may be called the trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.” See also verse 8. of the same chapter. Likewise chapter lx. 17, 18. " I will make thy officers peace, and thy exactors righteousness; violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy border, but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise." Here it is promised, that the rulers shall be righteous; and then, in the 21st verse following, it is promised that the people shall be so. The change of men to be of a peaceable disposition is promised, as in places innumerable, so in Isaiah xi. 6 11. “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid," &c. Isa. lv. 5. Behold thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee, because of the Lord thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified thee." Jer. iii. 15. " And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.” This implies a promise that there should be such pastors in being, and that they should be faithful to feed the people with knowledge and understanding. Jer. x. 23. “ The way of man is not in himself.”. Stebbing owns, that on Arminian principles, conversion depending on the determination of free will, it is possible, in its own nature, that none should ever be converted, (p. 235.) Then all the promises of virtue, of the revival of religion, &c. are nothing. Jer. xxxi. 18. “ Turn thou me, and I shall be turned,”—compared with Jer. xvii. 14. “ Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for thou art my praise.” Which shows the force and meaning of such a phraseology to be, that God alone can be the doer of it; and that if he undertakes it, it will be effectually done. Jer. xxxi. 32–35. “ Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand, to bring them out of the land of Egypt, (which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord ;) But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel. After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord : for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord : for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Jer. xxxii. 39, 40. “ And I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them and their children after them: and I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good. But I will put my fear in their hearts, and they shall not depart from me.” Jer. xxxiii. 8. “And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me." Ezek. xi. 18-20. “And they shall come thither, and they shall take away all the detestable things thereof, and all the abomination thereof from thence. And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you : and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and I will give them a heart of flesh : that they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God."
Ezek. xxxvi. 25–33. “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give unto you, and a new spirit will I put within you ; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh; and I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes; and ye shall keep my judg. ments, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land which I gave your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God: and I will also save you from all your uncleannesses ; and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you.
And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, and ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen. Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall loathe yourselves in your own sight, for your iniquities, and for your abominations. Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord God, be it known unto you; be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel. Thus saith the Lord God, In the day that I shall have cleansed you from all your iniquities, I will also cause you to dwell in the cities, and the wastes shall be builded." And ver. 36. the whole is concluded with “I the Lord have spoken it, and I will do it." Zech. xii. 10. to the end : “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications; and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced,” &c.
§ 41. We are told, Job xxviii. 28. that “the fear of the Lord is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding." The same is also abundantly declared in other places. But it is equally declared, that God is the author and giver of wisdom, and that he is the author wholly and only; which is denied of other things. It is, also, abundantly declared in this 28th chapter of Job, that it cannot be obtained of any creature by
any means; and it is implied in the end of the chapter, that it is God that gives wisdom, as is asserted Prov. ii. 6. “For the Lord giveth wisdom; out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding."
$ 42. That expression, Rom. i. 7. and 1 Cor. i. 2. and elsewhere, called to be saints, implies, that God makes the distinction. Compare this with what Christ says, John x. 27: “My sheep hear my voice." Verse 16. “Other sheep have I, which are not of this fold; them, also, must I bring; and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd.” 1 Cor. 1. 26, 27, 28. to the end : “ For ye sce your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called : but God hath chosen the foolish things of, &c. That no flesh should glory in his presence, But of him are ye in Christ Jesus,” &c. According to the Arminian scheme, it ought to have been,-1 have planted, and Apollos watered, and God hath planted and watered more especially. For we have done it only as his servants. But you, yourselves, have given the increase; the fruit has been left to your free will: Agreeably to what the Arminians insist on, in what they say upon the parable of the vineyard which God planted in a fruitful hill, &c., and looked that it should bring forth grapes, and says, what could I have done more unto my vineyard ?
§ 43. Sincerity, itself, is spoken of as coming from God. Phil. i. 10. " That ye may approve the things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence in the day of Christ." And elsewhere God is represented as “creating a clean heart, renewing a right spirit, giving an heart of flesh," &c. The apostle“ gives thanks for the faith and love of the Colossians, their being delivered from the power of darkness, &c.; and prays that they may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and might, agreeable to their knowledge, being fruitful in every good work, and for their perseverance, and that they might be made meet for the reward of the saints." Col. i. 3, 4, 9-13. This argues all to flow from God as the giver. Their first faith, and their love that their faith was attended with, and their knowledge and spiritual wisdom and prudence, and walking worthy of the Lord, and universal obedience, and doing every good work, and increasing their grace, and being strengthened in it, and their perseverance and cheerfulness in their obedience, and being made meet for their reward, all are from God. They are from God as the determining cause ; else, why does the apostle pray that God would bestow or effect these things, if they be not at his determination, whether they shall have them or not? He speaks of God's glorious power as manifested in the bestowment of these things. Col. ii. 13. “ And you being dead in your sins, and