Page images
[ocr errors]

a way of moral fuafion) tendeth much more to the glory of God than doth the contrary opinion:" and 'tis urged,

I. That "the wifdom of God is most glorified by that opinion which fuppofeth 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 thefe 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.



[ocr errors]

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 persuade 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 gospel 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 fuccefs to ftones as to men; and confequently the wifdom of God, according to our fcheme,

fcheme, is greatly difplay'd, in accompanying the word preached with a divine energy, and an unfruftrable operation; fo that all his gracious defigns towards his people are effectually anfwer'd, and not leaving it to the bare force of moral fuafion.

2. It is obferv'ds, That " whereas, according to our doctrine (of moral fuafion) the truth and faithfulness of God, and the fincerity of his dealings with men, is unquestionable; according to the other doctrine (of efficacious grace) God feems to promise pardon and falvation to all men fincerely, and yet in truth, intends it only to fome few perfons whom he defigns to convert by an irrefiftible power." To which may be replied, That whatever God promifes, he not only feems to promife fincerely, but he really does promife fincerely, and is as good as his word; he'll never suffer his truth and faithfulness to fail. But then, according to the doctrine of efficacious and irrefiftible grace in converfion, God neither feems to promife, nor has he promised pardon and falvation to all men: his promife S in Chrift runs thus "; To him give all the Prophets witness, that through his name whofoever believeth in him, shall receive remiffion of fins; and to all thefe is it given by Christ,

Whitby, p. 264. Ed. 2. 257.

h Acts x. 43.

L 2


the latter; and if fo, the glory of God's grace is more magnified by the one than by the other. And as this doctrine afcribes the praife of all the good that is done by men to the efficacious grace of God, which makes for his glory; fo it leaves the shame of evil doings to reft upon the authors of them, who are not partakers of the grace of God; even tho' it is not in their power to convert themselves, or ceafe to do evil, fince this is owing to the vitiofity and corruption of their nature, of which they have reafon to be afham'd; from whence all their evil doings fpring, which being voluntarily committed, are their faults, tho' converfionwork tranfcends all the power of man to perform. Our author thinks, that if this be the cafe, their evil actions may be their misfortunes; but how they fhould be their faults, it is not eafy to conceive: whereas let converfion be by moral fuafion, or by omnipotent power, it makes no alteration in the nature of evil actions; they are voluntary tranfgreffions of. God's law, and as fuch, faults in men, as well as misfortunes to them, whether men are turned from them to God by the force of moral fuafion, and the power of man's free will, or by the mighty power of God's grace.

I now proceed to mention fome arguments in favour of efficacious and irrefifti


[ocr errors]

punifheth men with the extremeft and the moft lafting torments, for not accepting those offers of grace tender'd by the gospel, which it was not poffible for them to comply with or embrace without that farther grace, which he purpofed abfolutely to deny them." I reply; for my own part, I don't think that any man will be punish'd for not accepting offer'd grace he could not comply with or embrace, for want of further grace; because I don't believe that grace was ever offer'd to them; but then they will be punish'd for their wilful contempt and neglect of the gofpel preach'd unto them, and for their manifold tranfgreffions of the righteous law of God, made known unto them; and furely this doctrine can never be derogatory to the glory of God's juftice.

4. It is asked'," Is it not for God's glory, that the praife of what good we do fhould be ascribed to his grace, and the shame of our evil doings fhould reft upon our felves? But what reafon can there be for this, unlefs we fuppofe it poffible for the wicked to have been converted, or to have ceased to do evil?" And let me afk, in my turn, which doctrine, that of free will or of free grace, does most ascribe the praise of either what good is in us, or is done by us, to the glory of God's grace? Not the former, furely, but


! Whitby, p. 265. Ed. 2. 258, 259.

L 3


« PreviousContinue »