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is entirely owing to an unfruftrable operation of grace; yet many motives may be offer'd fufficient, without an irresistible 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." anfwer; for my own part, I must confess, 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? 1 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 use 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 exhoreations are refer'd to, I know not, the scriptures, 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 fpiritual 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 difcovers both his folly and his malice.
IV. It is faid, that the opinion (of God, working upon men and converting them in
d' Rom. x. 17.
a way of moral fuafion) tendeth much more to the glory of God than doth the contrary opinion:" and 'tis urged,
1. That "the wifdom of God is most glorified by that opinion which supposeth he acts with man in all his precepts, exhortations, invitations, promifes and threats, fuitably to thofe faculties he has given." I reply; according to our opinion, God does not act unfuitably to the rational powers and faculties he has given, when he clothes his word with omnipotence, makes it the power of God unto falvation, and attends it with an unfruftrable operation upon the understanding, will and affections; fince no coactive force or violence is offer'd to them, the understanding is wonderfully enlighten'd, the will is fweetly drawn, and the affections delightfully engaged and moved without any injury, yea, with an advantage to these natural faculties, and therefore can be no imputation upon the divine wisdom: nor does our opinion fuppofe, that God "ufes and appoints means for the recovery of mankind, which he knows cannot in the leaft degree be ferviceable to that end;" but, on the contrary, that whatever means he uses and appoints, he makes them powerful and effectual to the ends and purposes for which he appoints and ufes them, and does not leave them to the uncertain, precarious and impotent will of man: fo that our opinion Part III. L
is fo far from impeaching and depreciating the wisdom of God, that it magnifies and exalts it; nor, according to our hypothefis, as is fuggefted, might he as well fend mintfters to preach to ftones, and perfuade them to be converted into men, because his omnipotency can produce fuch a change in them. There's no doubt, but that God could convert ftones into men, and make them his children; but he has no where fignified, that he would do this upon mens preaching to them: whereas he has not only fignified it as his will, that the gofspel should be preached to every creature, but that it fhall be the power of God in the converfion of many fouls, both among Jews and Gentiles; wherefore there is not the fame reafon for fending his minifters, and for their preaching to the one as to the other, tho' equal power is neceffary for the converfion of the one as of the other. Not that unregenerate men are altogether like ftocks and ftones; for tho' they cannot contribute any thing to their regeneration or new birth, yet they are capable fubjects of having the grace of God implanted in them, which ftocks and ftones are not but nevertheless, if God did not make bare his holy arm, and exert his mighty power in the converfion of finners, minifters would preach with as much fuccels to ftones as to men; and confequently the wisdom of God, according to our fcheme,