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of his willingness to pardon, and calls upon them to believe his professions and repent of their conduct. But none are inclined to do so. They disbeliere his prosessions. They reject his proffered kindness. They trifle with his forbearance. They defy him to do his utmost. For the benefit of society he lets the law take its course with some: but here is one and another whom he is determined to rescue. He is under no obligation to do so; but so he is inclined. Accordingly he accosts them with kindness, exposes to their view the evil of their conduct, and its dreadful and ruinous consequences-iells them of his concern for them--demonstrates it in many ways fore them-promises and presses on them his forgiveness-makes his strong appeals to the feelings of the heart, and assumes such a powerful influence over their conscience, and their instinctive feeling of self-love, as to gain their attention, and eventually, by means of the cogent exhibition of truth to their minds and hearts, persuades them to believe, and melts them in repentance. Who does not see that He is the author of this change in the feelings, and resolutions of their bearts! It is all grace! amazing grace! and but for such grace they had neither believed nor repented.
Had he not given them to believe--granted them the opportunity, and exerted the influence requisite to bring them to do so, they had not ceased from the feelings cherishcd and conduct pursued in reference to him. But in all this, there is no physical efficiency. Shall we suppose that God cannot do with sinners, in reference to Himself, what one man has done with an other? That a physical efficiency is necessary to make the sinner willing to confide in Him, and repent of his rebellion! To suppose so, is, in fact, to attribute a moral influence to man more potent than that, which, in such a case, it would be requisite God should exert! It would in effect be to say that man can subdue
his foe, and by an appropriate moral influence, convert him into a friend; but that God cannot convert His enemy, and bring him to believe, except He puts forth His physical power, and literally create him over again. Were the depravity of man a physical thing-a created substance"something'' having being in the soul anterior to all moral acts and exercises; or were holiness a physical attribute, then, indeed, there could be no other method of conversion than by an act of creative energy, to remove the tainted, vitiated“nature,” and implant another, having power to produce acts adapted to it. But the Lalsity of such an idea has been exposed: and, therefore, it is altogether improper to speak of the power of God exerted in the production of faith as possessing the same character with that which is employed in creating.
We use the term every day, in reference to a moral influence, and talk of the power which one man has over another; and none misunderstand is. Why must we supo pose the term is literally to be understood, when used to denote the moral influence of the Spirit of God? We know not why. And if we may and must reject the idea of physical efficiency, i.e.of the act of faith in the believer's mind being the simple product of God's creative power, then there is nothing of which we can predicate power, but the moral influence which the Almighty mind exerts on ours.
This influence is exerted in various ways and degrees, to induce the voluntary rational agent, man, to believe and repent. And it is successfully exerted in many cases.
The illustration, a short time since adduced, will, with a very slight variation, apply here. We have rebelled against the High and Mighty Ruler of the Universe. His justice and the cquity of His government,--the truth, honour, and stability of his character and law, require that we should be punished. God is under no obligations to refuse to punish, or to think of doing any thing else in relation to us. His benevolence prompts him to pardon. His eternal and coequal son, by suffering as though he had sinned, and obey. ing the divine commands, has satisfied the jusiice of God, and wrought out an everlasting Righteousness, through which He can be just, and yet justify the ungodly. His law being magnified and made honorable, so that He can consistently pardon--being proved, unanswerably, to be wise and righteous, and not tyrannical, He proclaims his mercy to a lost and guilty world. They, one and all, begin to make excuse, reject the offered mercy, and refuse forgiveness. llis professions are not believed. No sorrow for rebellion is erinced. To one and another He is pleased to make, by ilis Spirit, His solemm appeal. Object after object, truth efter truth, motive after motive, are presented Reiterated appeals are made to conscience and the heart, and, erentuially where he is pleased in sovereign mercy -- to subdue one and another believe, and are made willing to forsake their sios. They never would have done so, but for such a procedure of grace on the part of God. propriate, therefore, is it, to say of such, that to them it has been given to believe?-to them hath God granted repentance. We see, at once, how faith is the gift of God, without any act of physical efficiency on his part, and the same too of repentance, which both are voluntary exercises, on the part of man. Let us then beware, how, in the spirit of philosophy, we push the import of terms beyond that, which common sense shows to be their appropriate meaning.
And that such is the correct interpretation of the passage quoted, and of others of similar character, will be obvious to every unprejudiced reader, who will allow himself to consult the text, in its connection.
“Unto you it is given, in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but al80 to suffer for his sake.” No one will pretend, that God's g:ving the Phillippian christians to suffer for Christ's sake,
was His actually, by His own power, inflicting suffering on them; yet this suffering for Christ was as much the gift of God, as their believing on him. Every one sces, that it will not do to adopt the same rule of interpretation, in reference to the suffering, that Dr. Owen and others do in reference to believing. But what right has one to attach a meaning to the word give, differing in one case from the other? We know not; and, therefore, as we cannot, by any rule of interpretation whatever, say, that God, by any “physical work,” of his own, directly inflicts sufferings on believers, for Christ's sake; neither can we say, the apostle ltere teaches, that, in this way, he produces faith. The truth is, the passage does not contemplate so much the influence, or agency exerted to produce faith, as it does the great grace, or favor, which God displays, in allowing christians to believe on Christ, and suffer for his sake. Both are signal expressions of grace. That we should be permitted to confide in Him, and be reputed worthy to suffer for His sake, are favors truly wonderful! And when these things are secured, through the special influence of the Spirit, on? our minds, and the special ordering of His providence, the grace is exceedingly enhanced. “By grace are (we) saved, through faith, and that not of (ourselves); it is the gift of God."?1
1. Eph. ii, 8.
TIE MORAL SUASION OF THE SPIRIT.
The term power appropriately employed to denote a moral influence-Not
necessary to suppose it denotes physical efficiency when applied to the Spirit's converting influence-Not so to be understood when it is used in scripture in this connection--Psalm, cx. 8; Rom. xv. 13; 2 Thess. i. 11, 2 Cor. xii. 9; John, i. 12; Rom. i. 16; 1 Cor. i. 18; 1 Thess. i. 5; 1 Cor. ii. 5, 6; Mat. vii. 29; Acts, vi. 8, 10; Heb. iv. 12; Eph. iii. 7; Eph. vi. 10; Phil. iv. 13; Eph. vi. 11; Eph. i. 19, 20, explained-Inferences from the view of the Spirit's influence given in this and the preceding chapter-1. The impertinence and arrogance, &c. of the spirit of philosopby2. The character and danger of the sin of grieving the Spirit.
Having dwelt so long in the former chapter, on the first class of texts, and shewn the fallacy of their interpretation, by the advocates of physical efficiency, we hope the reader will not impatiently accompany us in noticing the second, which speak specifically of the power of God as the proper cause of faith and other gracious exercises, or at least as having some connection with them. We hare already shewn, that the term power is, very naturally and intelligibly, employed to denote the vigor, energy and successful issues of moral influence, where there is no physical efficiency. We are, therefore, under no necessity to suppose, that the success of the Spirit's agency is and must be attributable to a "physical work,” or literal creation, and to be determined, in the ideas which we attach to it, by such an assumption. It is by no means difficult to shew, that in none of the passages where it is used in connection