Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

imply an habitual aim to conform to it. Such language is properly applied to the righteous, the best of whom fall short of the mark; but the life of wicked men is, in one shape or other, an uninterrupted course of evil.

Secondly, If your views be just, they seem to afford a presumptive, if not more than a presumptive proof of OUR NEED OF A SAVIOR; and not of a Savior only, but of A GREAT ONE! I do not know, whether I can exactly trace the operation of these principles, or their opposites, in the human mind; but this I know, it is a fact sufficiently notorious, that those professors of Christianity, who reject the proper deity and atonement of Christ, at the same time entertain very diminutive notions of their own depravity. I have known many persons, who, as soon as they have begun to lean towards the Socinian, Arian, or Arminian systems, have discovered an inclination to trent this doctring with contempt. T:09

en Wiiu have preaching as hath led them to entertain, low thoughts of Christ, and the grace of the Gospel, if at some period of their life, they have been convinced of their guilty and perishing state as sinners against God, have soon given up their other notions, and embraced the deity and atonement of Christ with all their hearts, and that with but little if any persuasion on the part of their friends. Nor does this appear very difficult to be accounted for: as the whole need no physician, but those that are sick; so it is natural to suppose that in proportion as a person feels the depth and danger of his malady, he will estimate the necessity, the value, and the efficacy of the remedy,

[ocr errors]

Thirdly, If your views be just, I perceive that the work of turning a sinner's heart must be altogether of God, and of free grace. If a sinner could return to God of his own accord, or even by Divine influence helping or assisting him, it must be upon the supposition of his having some will, wish, or desire to set about it. But if men are totally alienated from God, all desire after him might be extinct; and all the warnings, invitations, or expostulations of the word, will be ineffectual:

yea,

Divine influence itself will be insufficient if it falls short of renewing the heart. We have heard much of late concerning political regeneration: it has been warmly contended by many in behalf of the change which has taken place in a neighboring nation, that things were too bad for a mere reformation; that therefore regeneration was necessary. Is it not on similar principles that we are told, Ye must be born again? Old things must pass away, and all things must become new If men be so depraved as you suppose, the necessity of a divine and entire change must be indubitably evident.

Fourthly, If your views be just, the doctrine of free or unconditional election may be clearly demonstrated, and proved to be a dictate of right reason. If men be utterly depraved, they lie entirely at the discretion of God, either to save or not to save them: If any are saved, it must be by an act of free grace: if some are brought to believe in Christ, whilst others continue in unbelief (which accords with continued fact, the difference between them must be altogether of grace. But if God make a difference in time, he must have determined to do so from eternity: for to suppose God to

are

act without a purpose is depriving him of wisdom; and to suppose any new purpose to arise in his mind, would be to accuse him of mutability. Here, therefore, we are landed upon election, sovereign, unconditional election! And all this seems to accord with the Holy Scriptures: You hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins: wherein, in time past, ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience. Among whom, also, we all had our conversation in times past, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ. By grace we saved! I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy; and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion! He hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling; not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began. Ephes. ii. 1-5. Rom. ix. 15. 2 Tim. i. 9.

Fifthly, If your view be just; the justification of sinners by the work of their hands utterly falls to the ground. The foundation on which sinners in general build their hopes is something like this: they have more virtue than vice, more good works than evil ones; that, as none are without fault, (and which they conceive affords a good excuse for them) God will not be strict to mark iniquity, but will weigh the good against the evil, and so balance the account. But if all the works of unregenerate sinners be of the nature of sin, there is

VOL. III.

[ocr errors]

an end to all hope of being accepted of God on their account. When ministers have endeavored to dissuade sinners from a reliance on their own righteousness, I have heard them reason to this effect: “your good deeds are all mixed with evil, and therefore cannot be acceptable to God.”. But methinks, if they could have alleged that they were essentially and entirely evil, their arguments must have been more effectual. And such a doctrine would leave no room for the supposition of Christ dying, to render our imperfect but sincere obedience acceptable to God, instead of that which is perfect; for, in this case, the idea of imperfect, sincere endeavors in unregenerate men is inadmissible: there are no such endeavors in existence.

These things I have been used to believe in time past; but if the principle in question be admitted, I find such solid grounds on which to rest them as I never felt before. I shall leave you to conclude this subject, and remain affectionately, Yours, CRISPUS.

CONSEQUENCES RESULTING FROM THE DOCTRINE OF

HUMAN DE PRAVITY.

LETTER V.

From GAIUS to CRISPUS.

Km, April 9, 1795. MY DEAR FRIEND, IF any thing I have advanced in the course of our correspondence has been of use to you, I anı satisfied. The inferences which you have drawn from the doctrine of total depravity, as far as they go, appear to me to be just. I shall offer a few others in addition to them; and as I have some other necessary employments, which require my attention, you will excuse me, if I propose, with these, to close for the present, our correspondence.

Your inferences go to an examination of the bearings of the doctrine of total depravity on the Socinian and Arminian schemes; mine shall concern what I should call the Pseudo-Calvinistic scheme, or that view of the doctrines, commonly called Calvinistical, which induces many of the present age, to disapprove of all exhortations to sinners, except to merely external obedience, or things which contain in them nothing truly or spiritually good. If the foregoing principles be just, three things at least will follow; namely....that the distinction between moral virtue and true religion, has less foundation in truth than is commonly supposed

that men in general are either obliged to perform spiritual actions, or allowed to live in sin, and perform sinful actionsand that we ought not, as ministers, so to compromise matters with God's enemies, as to exhort them to merely external services. Let us particularly examine these consequences; they will be found to be more than a little interesting.

First, Let us inquire, whether the distinction between moral virtue and true religion be founded in truth. It is true, the term religion includes more than that of morality, as it is applied to doctrine as well as practice, and to the performance of things positive as well as morals; but if morality be supposed to exist without true religion, such a supposition I conceive to be unfounded. It is further allowed, that what is commonly called morality, is very different from true religion, because much that goes by this name is not morality, nor

« AnteriorContinuar »