« PreviousContinue »
keeping; nor does he know who are and who are not the elect of God, until this appears by the unfruftrable operation of God's grace on their hearts, and may be not even then: So that it is no wonder that he tempts, ftrives and endeavours to hinder the fuccefs of the gospel in their converfion, and to deftroy them; and when he does know who they are, endeavour to distress by his temptations, tho' he cannot destroy; and in ten thousand inftances will thew his malice when he cannot fhew his power. Befides, the text referred to in 1 Pet. v. 8. carries in the fenfe of it the doctrine of a fixed ftate, when it supposes that there are fome whom Satan may devour, and leaves a plain intimation that there are others whom he may not and cannot devour; who are the sheep of Christ, and being in his hands, neither man nor devil will ever be able to pluck from thence. This is the fum of the proof offered in favour of this notion, by a late celebrated writer, which how pertinent it is must be left to the confideration of others.
III. What reafon there is to conclude that the state of man in this world is not fuch a ftate?
1. Angels and man both, have been in a ftate of probation already, in which their free-will, and power to obey the commands. of God have been fufficiently tried; which
trial has issued in the fall and ruin of a large number of angels, and of the whole race of mankind; and therefore it is not reasonable to fuppofe that God would put man into fuch a state again; but rather provide in another way for the good of thofe he defigned to bring to everlasting happiness.
2. If men were in a ftate of probation, they ought to be on equal ground, enjoying equal privileges and advantages; whereas this is not the cafe; fome have only the dim light and weak law of nature, wit others enjoy the gospel revelation
thefe fome have larger, and eroer means of grace, lighting boy
have the grace 23
them, others Lave it not
men in fuck a ftate
whom he juftified, them he also glorified, Rom. ix. II. and viii. 29, 30.
4. This notion puts man's falvation on the foot of his obedience and works, contrary to the scriptures, to the merits of Chrift, and to the grace of God; it afcribes more to the free will of man than to the free grace of God, and lays a foundation for boasting in the creature.
5. Such a state of probation is contrary to all thofe fcriptures which represent the faints to be now in a faved ftate, and as having everlasting life; such as Eph. ii. 8. John v. 24. and vi. 47.
In a word, it deftroys the doctrine of affurance, and leaves the faints themselves in a most uncomfortable condition, because it leaves them in a moft precarious, unfettled, yea, dangerous one.
JUMз.. Deut. xxx.
I call hearten and earth to recora quint you that I save et bettre and leath, Heging ina curing: for cooole life, that pets thou ind :: nay ice.
therefore acts without controul, according to his will in the armies of the heavens, and among the inhabitants of the earth: Hence thofe great fwelling words of vanity, duleSolov, and Liberum Arbitrium, which carry in them the sense of felf-fufficiency, defpotic arbitrary liberty, are improperly given to the human will, though agreeable enough to the language of fome free-willers; fuch as Pharaoh, who faid, Who is the Lord that I fhould obey his voice, to let Ifrael go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Ifrael go: Others have faid, Our lips are our own; Who is lord over us ??
2. The liberty of the will does not confift in an indifference to good and evil, or in an indetermination to either; otherwife the will of no being would be free; for God, as he is effentially and naturally good, his will is determined only to that which is fo; nor does he, nor can he do any thing evil; and yet in all he does, acts with the utmost freedom and liberty of his will. The will of the good angels, though in their state of probation, was left mutable and liable to change; yet in their confirmed state, is impeccable, wholly turn'd unto, and bent upon that which is good; and yet all the fervices they perform to God and man, are done with the greatest readiness, chearful
• Exod. v. 2.
P Pfal. xii. 4.