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Perhaps alfo, there are fome who abufe this doctrine to floth and negligence. At least they may pretend this, as an excufe or palliation of their contempt of religion. But is it not an inference directly contrary to what the fcripture teaches us much more justly to draw from the fame truth, viz. "Work out your own falva"tion with fear and trembling; for it is God "that worketh in you to will and to do of
his good pleasure *." The former inference would be juft in the cafe of devils, who, having received their fentence, can only now "be"lieve and tremble:" but it would be altogether unjust, and a dreadful contempt of mercy in thofe, to whom the offer of falvation by grace is addreffed. What is now tranfacting in the miniftry of the gofpel, fhall contribute at laft to ftop every mouth, and put this criminal excufe to eternal filence. Suppofe the finner at the judgment-feat to offer this defence for himfelf: "I was altogether under the power of cor"ruption; it was impoffible for me to do any thing of myself." Is it not natural to reply, "Where learned you this?" From the holy fcriptures. And did not the fame fcriptures "alfo tell you, Him that cometh to me, I "will in no wife caft out. Wherefore he is "able to fave to the uttermoft all that come Phil, ii. 13, 14.
"to God through him.-Believe in the Lord "Jefus Chrift, and thou fhalt be faved." But I could not reconcile one fcripture to another. "And was that any way wonderful? or can it "poffibly justify your rebellion against the plain- . "eft commands, that you was not able fully to "comprehend what is faid of the abfoluté "dominion and fovereignty of God?"
Let us therefore fettle it in our minds, that, though we are of ourselves utterly unable to produce a change in our hearts, "nothing is impoffible with GOD." He fiift made them, and he is able to reform them. On a conviction of our own inability, one would think we fhould but the more humbly and the more earnestly apply to him who is all-fufficient in power and grace. The deplorable, and naturally helpless ftate of finners, doth not hinder exhortations to them in fcripture; and therefore, takes not away their obligation to duty. See an addrefs, where the ftrongest metaphors are retained, the exhortation given in these very terms, and the foundation of the duty plainly pointed out. "Where"fore he faith, awake thou that fleepeft, and "arife from the dead, and Chrift shall give "thee light." From which it is very plain, that the moral inability, under which finners now lie, as a confequence of the fall, is not of * Eph. v. 14.
fuch a nature, as to take away the guilt of fin, the propriety of exhortations to duty, or the neceffity of endeavours after recovery.
But what shall we fay? Alas! the very fubject we are now speaking of, affords a new proof of the blindness, prejudice, and obftinacy of finners. They are felf-condemned; for they do not act the fame part in fimilar cafes. The affairs of the prefent life are not managed in fo prepofterous a manner. He that ploughs his ground, and throws in his feed, cannot fo much as unite one grain to the clod; nay, he is not able to conceive how it is done. He cannot carry on, nay, he cannot fo much as begin one fingle ftep of this wonderful procefs toward the fubfequent crop; the mortification of the feed, the refurrection of the blade, and gradual inereafe, till it come to perfect maturity. Is it, therefore, reasonable that he should say, I for my part can do nothing. It is, first and laft, an effect of divine power and energy. And God can as easily raise a crop without fowing as with it, in a fingle inftant, and in any place,. as in a long time, by the mutual influence of foil and feafon; I will therefore fpare myself the hardship of toil and labour, and wait with patience, till I fee what he will be pleased to fend. Would this be madness? Would it be univer
fally reputed fo? And would it not be equal madness to turn the grace of God into licentioufnefs? Believe it, the warning is equally reafonable and equally necessary, in spiritual as in temporal things: "Be not deceived, God is not "mocked, for whatsoever a man foweth, that "fhall he alfo reap: for he that soweth to his "flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he "that foweth to the Spirit, fhall of the Spirit "reap life everlasting *."
* Gal. vi. 7, 8.
CHA P. II.
In which is fhewn wherein this change doth properly and dircally confift, and what are its principal evidences and fruits.
Wherein the change in regeneration doth properly and directly confift.
Have hitherto, by general remarks, ́endeavoured to caution the reader against taking up with erroneous and defective views of the nature of religion. We now proceed a step farther: and I would willingly point out, in as diftinct a manner as I am able, what is the change which is wrought in all, without exception, who are the real children of God, by whatever means it is brought about what it is in the temper and difpofition, in the life and practice, which conftitutes the difference between one who " is," and one who is "not born again." The different fteps by which this change may be effected in the fovereign providence of God, and the different, degrees of perfection at which it may arrive, I purposely omit here, and reserve as the subject of a diftinct head of difcourfe.