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link in the chain of creation, and that every one who would turn to that word might be saved. This begetting then, is only the sowing of the seed which we read of in the parable of the sower, and which may be frustrated by man's refusing to hear and understand. “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear (that word,) slow to speak, slow to wrath,” slow to take counsel of his own wisdom, or of his own passions; “for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God: wherefore lay apart all filthiness, and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, (the word put into your nature,) which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves."
It is quite clear that the suputos novos, “the word put into our nature,” spoken of in the 21st verse, is the same “word of truth," with which, in the 18th verse, God is said to have begotten us. And it is equally clear that the expression, fue muros, in the latter verse, describes that which was done for man by the begetting, spoken of in the former. But of this que Putos donos it is merely said, that it “is able to save the soul,” and we are exhorted
to receive it with meekness, in order that it may have its effect. The passage, then, cannot refer to any act of irresistible electing grace, but simply to the sowing of the seed in man, which, though “ able to save his soul," does not make his salvation a certain or necessary thing, but only possible, and which may be frustrated by his yielding himself to be drawn away by other voices, by his being swift to speak and swift to wrath, and by his being a hearer only, and not a doer, deceiving himself. I am persuaded that any one who will candidly compare these passages in Deuteronomy and James with each : other, and with Matt. xiii. and John i., will see, at least theoretically, that the word is the seed of the election sown in every man, and that this is indeed that mystery which Paul preached to the Colossians, “Christ in you the hope of glory." Col. i. 25.
There are some remarkable expressions of our Lord bearing on this subject, which ought not to be omitted here. They relate to his birth in the flesh, and to the relation in which his mother stood to him, and they indicate that that relation was typical of a higher relation, in which every human being
The mother of Jesus. Luke i. 34, 45, viii. 21, xi. 28. 139
may stand to him. Thus, once as he was teaching the people, a woman lifted up her voice and said unto him, “Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked; but he said, yea rather blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it.” Luke xi. 27, 28. The blessedness of Mary, in giving birth to Jesus, was an outward and typical thing ; but the true blessedness typified by it, belongs to those who cherish to maturity the seed of God which He hath sown in their hearts. And at another time, when he was told that his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him, “ He answered and said unto him that told Him, Who is my mother, and who are my brethren ? And He stretched forth his hands unto his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren, for whosoever shall do the will of my Father, which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” Matt. xii. 50. The Holy Ghost had come on Mary in physical power, and yet even in that case it would seem that her own faith, the consent of her own spirit, was needful to the accomplishment of God's purpose concerning her, for it was said to her by the
mouth of Elizabeth, « And blessed is she that believeth, for (or therefore) there shall be a performance to her of the things spoken by the Lord.” Luke i. 45. The Holy Ghost has come to men through Jesus Christ, and blessed are they who believe, for there shall be a performance to them of the purpose for which it was given. In our natural birth, we are altogether passive; in our regeneration, our own consent is necessary-we must yield ourselves to the quickening word -we must hear and understand.
Thus it appears that this class of passages does not belong to the secret things from which man is shut out, but to the revealed things, which he is called to understand. And most important, as well as most intelligible instruction do they contain. They teach how a man may turn to God, how an unconverted man may become converted; and they encourage him to the work, by assuring him that God will meet him in it, with fresh supplies of grace. I know that these passages have been generally cited as proofs that, in the communication of His converting grace, God acts as a Sovereign; that is, (according to the meaning of those who use the expression,) without any rule revealed to us, and
that He chooses the individuals to whom He will make such communications, without respect to any thing of fitness previously discerned in their characters; whereas, the distinct testimony borne in them to the dealings of God, is directly opposite to this meaning -being a declaration that He bestows His special grace on those who have already turned to Him, according to the rule, “whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundantly;" so that the special grace of God does not go before conversion, but follows it as its recompence. 6. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him, and He will show them His covenant;" (Ps. xxv. 14.) and Wisdom cries to the simple ones, “ Turn you at my reproof, behold I will pour out my Spirit unto you,
I will make known my words unto you." Prov. i. 23.
Let me not be misunderstood, as if I said either that man can, in his own strength, turn to God, or of his own origination would ever desire to do so,—but man, since the gift of Christ, need not do any thing in his own strength. The strength of God is communicated to him, in the seed of the word sown in his heart, so that he may take hold of it, and