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CONCERNING EFTICACIOUS GRACE..
- Heal me,
§. 1. It is manifest that the scripture supposes, that if ever men are turned from sin, God must undertake it, and he must be the doer of it; that it is his doing that must determine the matter ; that all that others can do, will avail nothing, without his agency. This is manifest by such texts as these, Jer. xxxi. 18, 19. « Turn thou me, and I shall be turned ; Thou art the Lord my God. Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh,” &c. Lam. v. 21. « Turn thou us unto thee, O Lord, and we shall be turned.” Psalm lxxx. 3. “ Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine, and we shall be saved." The same in verse 7 and 19: Jer. xvii. 14.
and I shall be healed : save me, and I shall be saved; for Thou art my praise.”
§ 2. According to Dr. Whitby's notion of the assistance of the Spirit, the Spirit of God does nothing in the hearts or minds of men beyond the power of the devil ; nothing but what the devil can do; and nothing shewing any greater power in any respect, than the devil shews and exercises in his temptations. For he supposes, that all that the Spirit of God does, is to bring moral motives and inducements to mind, and set them before the understanding, &c. It is possible that God may infuse grace, in some instances, into the minds of such persons as are striving to obtain it in the other way, though they may not observe it, and may not know that it is not obtained by gradual acquisition. But if a man has indeed sought it only in that way, and with as much dependence on himself, and with as much neglect of God, in his endeavours and prayers, as such a doctrine naturally leads to, it is not very likely that he should obtain saving grace by the efficacious mighty power of God. It is most likely that God should bestow this gift, in a way of earnest attention to divine truth, and the use of the means of grace, with reflection on one's own sinfulness, and in a way of being more and more convinced of
sinfulness and total corruption, and need of the divine power to restore the heart, to infuse goodness, and of becoming more and more sensible of one's own impotence, and inability to obtain goodness by his own strength. And if a man bas obtained no other virtue, than what seems to bave been wholly in that gradual and insensible way that might be expected from use and custom, in the exercise of his own strength, he bas reason to think, however bright his attainments may seem to be, that he has no saving virtue.-Great part of the gospel is denied by those who deny pure efficacious grace. They deny that wherein actual salvation and the application of redemption mainly consists; and how unlikely are such to be successful in their endeavours after actual salvation.
§ 3. Concerning the supposition advanced by Bishop Butler, and by Turnbull in his Christian Philosophy, that all that God does, even miracles themselves, are wrought according to general laws, such as are called the laws of nature, though unknown to us; and the supposition of Turnbull, that all may be done by angels acting by general laws; I observe, this seems to be unreasonable. If angels effect these works, acting only by general laws, then they must do them without any immediate, special interposition at all, even without the smallest intimation of the divine mind, what to do, or upon what occasion God would have any thing to be done. And what will this doctrine bring inspiration to, which is one kind of miracle ? According to this, all significations of the divine mind, even to the prophets and apostles, must be according to general laws, without any special interposition at all of the
§ 4. Acts xii. 23. God was so angry with Herod for not giving him the glory of his eloquence, that the angel of the Lord smote him immediately, and he died a miserable death; he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost. But if it be very sinful for a man to take to himself the glory of such a qualificatiou as eloquence, how much more a man's taking to himself the glory of divine grace, God's own image, and that which is infinitely God's most excellent, precious and glorious gist, and man's highest honour, excellency and happiness, whereby he is partaker of the divine nature, and becomes a godlike creature? If God was so jealous for the glory of so small a gift, how much more for so high an endowment, this being that alone, of all other things, by which man becomes like God? If not giving God the glory of that which is least honourable, provokes God's jealousy; much more must not giving God the glory of that which is infinitely the most honourable? It is allowed, the apostle insists upon it, that the
primitive Christians should be sensible that the glory of their gifts b-longed to God, and that they made not themselves to differ. But how small a matter is this, if they make themselves to differ in that, which the apostle says is so much more excellent than all gifts ? How much more careful has God shewn bimself, that men should not be more proud of their virtue, than of any other gift? see Deut. ix. 4. Luke xviii. 9. and innumerable other places. And the apostle plainly teaches us to ascribe to God the glory, not only of our redemption, but of our wisdom, righteousness and sanctification; I Cor. i, 29, 30, 31. Again, the apostle plainly directs, that all that glory in their virtue, should glory in the Lord, 2 Cor. x. 17, It is glorying in virtue and virtuous deeds he is there speaking of; and it is plain, that the apostle uses the expression of glorying in the Lord, in such a sense, as to imply ascribing the glory of our virtue to God. The doctrine of men's being the determining causes of their own virtue, teaches them, not to do so much as even the proud Pharisee did, who thanked God for making him to differ from other men in virtue, Luke xvii. See Gen. xli. 15, 16; Job xi. 12; Dan. ii, 25.
$5. The Arminian doctrine, and the doctrine of our new philosophers, concerning the babits of virtue being only by custom, discipline, and gradual culture, joined with the other doctrine, that the obtaining of these babits in those that bave time for it is in every man's power, according to their doctrine of the freedom of will, tends exceedingly to cherish presumption in sinners, while in health and vigour, and tends to their utter despair, in sensible approaches of death by sickness or old age.
$ 6. The questions relating to efficacious grace, controverted between us and the Arminians, are two: 1. Whether the grace of God, in giving us saying virtue, be determining and decisive. 2. Whether saying virtue be decisively given by a supernatural and sovereign operation of the Spirit of God : or, whether it be only by such a divine influence or assistance, as is imparted in the course of common providence, either according to established laws of nature, or established laws of God's universal providence towards mankind : i.e. either, 1. Assistance which is given in all natural actions, wherein men do nierely exercise and improve the principles and laws of nature, and coine to such attainments as are connected with such exercises by the mere laws of nature. For there is an assistance in all such natural actions ; because it is by a divine influence that the laws of nature are upheld; and a constant concurrence of divine power is necessary in order to our living, moving, or having a being. This we may call a
natural assistance. Or, 2. That assistance which, though it be something besides the upholding of the laws of nature, (which take place in all affairs of life,) is yet, by a divine universal constitution in this particular affair of religion, so connected with those voluntary exercises which result from this mere natural assistance, that by this constitution it indiscriminately extends to all mankind, and is certainly connected with such exercises and improvements as those just mentioned, by a certain established known rule, as much as any of the laws of nature. This kind of assistance, though many Arminians call it a supernatural assistance, differs little or nothing from that natural assistance that is established by a law of nature. The law so established, is only a particular law of nature; as some of the laws of nature are more general, others more particular: But this establishment, which they suppose to be by divine promise, differs nothing at all from many other particular laws of nature, except only in this circunstance of the established constitutions being revealed in the word of God, while others are left to be discovered only by experience.
The Calvinists suppose otherwise ; they suppose that divine influence and operation, by which saving virtue is obtained, is entirely different from, and above common assistance, or that which is given in a course of ordinary providence, according to universally established laws of nature. They suppose å principle of saying virtue is immediately imparted and implanted by that operation, which is sovereign and efficacious in this respect, that its effect proceeds not from any established laws of nature. I mention this as an entirely different question from the other, viz. Whether the grace of God, by which we obtain saving virtue, is determining or decisive. For that it may be, if it be given wholly in a course of nature, or by such an operation as is limited and regulated perfectly according to established invariable laws. For none will dispute that many things are brought to pass by God in this manner, that are decisively ordered by him, and are brought to pass by his determining providence.
$7. The controversy, as it relates to efficacious grace in this sense, includes in it these four questions
1. Whether saving virtue differs from common virtuc, or such virtue as those have that are not in a state of salvation, in nature and kind, or only in degree and circumstances ?
2. Whether a holy disposition of heart, as an internal governing principle of life and practice, be immediately implanted or infused in the soul, or only be contracted
by repeated acts, and obtained by human culture and im provement ?
3. Whether conyersion, or the change of a person from being a vicious or wicked man, to a truly virtuous character, be instantaneous or gradual?
4. Whether the divine assistance or influence, by which men obtain true and saving virtue, be sovereign and arbitrary, or, whether God, in giving this assistance and its effects, limits himself to certain exact and stated rules revealed in bis word, and established by his promises ?
$ 8. Eph. i. 19, 20. «« What is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward, according to the working of his mighty power,” or the effectual working, as the word signifies. These words, according to the effectual working of his power, we shall find applicd to conversion, to growth in grace, and to raising us up at last. You have them applied to conversion, Eph. lii. 7.Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given to me, by the effectual working of his power.” So likewise to growth in grace, Eph. iv. 10. " The whole body increaseth with the increase of God, by the effectual working in the measure of every part.” And to the resurrection to glory at the last day, Philip. iii. 21. “ He will change our vile bodies, according to the effectual working of bis mighty power, whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself.” It was natural for the apostle to put them in mind of the power of God manifested in their conversion, as he would strengthen their faith in his power to raise them at the last day, and glorify them to eternity. Besides, what the apostle says in the continuation of bis discourse, explains his meaning, and puts the matter of bis intending to include the power of God manifested in their conversion, out of all doubt: as, in the very next sentence, “and you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;" and every word that follows to the end of the second chapter, confirms the same thing.
§ 9. Some pretend, that in this expression, (Col. ii. 15.) through the faith of the operation of God, there is no respect to God's operation as the efficient cause of faith; but only to the operation of God that raised Christ, as the object of faith, which believes that power and operation as it was manifested in raising Christ, and which is believed to be sufficient to raise us up also. But that the apostle means the operation of God in giving faith, appears by verse 11. which introduces these words, where the apostle says, “ In whom ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the