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word of truth, and thro' the gospel, and are born again of incorruptible feed by the word of God; but then all this is by and thro' it, not as it comes in word only, or as it acts by moral fuafion, or as it is a mere moral inftrument, but as it comes in power and in the Holy Ghost, or with the demonftration the Spirit and of power. The Spirit of God is the efficient caufe of regeneration and converfion, the Word is only a means which he makes ufe of when he pleases; for tho' he, generally fpeaking, works upon men by and under the means, yet not always; the work of grace upon the foul is not fuch an effect as doth entirely depend upon these two caufes, fo that, without the concurrence of them both, it will not be produc'd: wherefore the argument will not hold, That he that hath it always in his power to refift, that is, to hinder the operation of the one upon him, muft alfo fruftrate the other, and confequently hinder the ef fect." For tho' the word unattended, with the spirit and power of God, may be refifted, fo as to be of no effect, yet neither the operations of the Spirit, nor the Word, as attended with them, can be refifted, fo as either of them fhould be ineffectual. And tho' the work of grace is wrought by an irrefiftible and unfruftrable operation, and
X Jam. i, 18. 1 Cor. iv. 15. 1 Pet. i, 23.
the Word without it is infufficient to produce it, yet it is not unneceffary, for it pleases God, by the foolishness of preaching, to fave them that believe; whereby he confounds the wisdom of the world, and, by making ufe of weak means, he magnifies his own grace and power, he puts the treasure of the gospel in earthen vesels, that the excellency of the power in converfion may appear to be of God, of his operation, and not of man's moral fuafion.
II. It is faid, "Hence it must also follow, that no motive can be offer'd fufficient tó induce the perfon who believes this doctrine, to enter upon a change of life, or a religi ous converfation, till he feel this irresistible impulfe come upon him." I reply, that internal converfion, and an external change of life, regeneration, and a religious converfation, are different things. Tho' no man can be regenerated and converted without the powerful and efficacious grace of God, yet they may, without that grace, enter upon an outward change of life, and a religious converfation with and before men, tho' no motive can be offer'd fufficient to induce any perfon, whether he believes or does not believe this doctrine, to regenerate and convert himself; which does not lie in his own power, but
I Cor. i. 21.
2 Cor. iv. 7.
is entirely owing to an unfruftrable operation of grace; yet many motives may be offer'd fufficient, without an irrefiftible impulfe of grace, to induce him to an external reformation and amendment of life, and a religious converfation. Tho' it must be own'd, that a change of life, and a religious converfation, when genuine, are the fruits and effects of regeneration and converfion, nor do men truly and rightly enter upon them, nor are these establish'd upon the best principles, until they are regenerated and converted by the fpirit and grace of God.
III. It is further urged, That "if man be purely paffive in the whole work of his converfion, and it can only be wrought in him by an irresistible act of God upon him, then can nothing be requir'd as a preparation, or a pre-requifite to converfion." I anfwer; for my own part, I must confefs, I know of no works preparatory to converfion. Works are either good or evil; evil works can't be thought to be preparatory to it, and good works, which are strictly and properly fo, fpring from a principle of grace implanted in regeneration, and fo follow upon it, and are not preparatory to it. And, indeed, what things preparatory to conver
fion can be thought to be in a natural man, that neither knows nor receives the things of the fpirit of God? or in a carnal heart, which only minds the things of the flesh? or in a dead man, in order to be made alive? There's no middle ftate between a regenerate and an unregenerate one; what preparatory works were there in a perfecuting, blafphemous, injurious Saul? i Tim. i. 13. or in those mention'd by the Apostle? 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10, 11. There are fome things, which fometimes precede converfion, and which the spirit of God makes ufe of for that purpofe; fuch as reading, hearing the word, &c. but then he does not always make ufe of thefe for converfion, nor does it always follow upon them. God's exhortations to men to confider and turn unto the Lord, are faid to demonftrate that this confideration is a pre-requifite to converfion; what exhortations are refer'd to, I know not, the fcriptures, which speak of mens confidering and turning from their evil ways, regard that confideration which is requifite to an outward reformation of life, the fruit of regeneration, and internal converfion, and fo not preparatory to it; and, indeed, there's want of fpiritual confideration and attention in every man, until God opens his heart, by his powerful grace, as he did Lydia's, to attend to the things which are spoken, or which regard his spiritual and eternal wel
fare. The parable of the feed fown, inftanced in, fhews, that the hearts of unregenerate men are unfit and unprepared to receive the word, and therefore it becomes unfruitful to them, and that it is only fruitful where it is received in an honest and good heart, made fo by the fpirit and grace of God in regeneration; whence it follows, that regeneration is rather a preparation for the right hearing of the word, than the hearing of the word is a preparation for regeneration. Faith, indeed, often comes by bearing, and hearing by the word of God, when that is attended with the spirit and power; and therefore it's no wonder, that the Devil comes and endeavours to take away the word out of mens hearts, their minds and memories, by diverting them to other objects, left they should believe and be faved; fince he knows not who will believe and be faved, nor to whom the word will be made effectual, and to whom it will not; nay, even where it is attended with an unfruftrable affiftance, he'll endeavour to hinder mens believing to falvation, tho' he knows his attempts are in vain; which at once discovers both his folly and his malice.
IV. It is faid, that the opinion (of God, working upon men and converting them in
e Luke viii. 12.
d' Rom. x. 17.