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rily follows the dictates of the understanding, so that the grace of God takes its first rise from thence? that which I would say in answer thereunto is, That the understanding, indeed, represents things spiritual and heavenly to us, as good and desirable, and worthy of all acceptation; and gives us an undeniable conviction, that all the motives used in scripture, to choose and embrace them, are highly probable ; but yet it does not follow from hence, that the will of man is always overcome thereby ;* and the reason is, because of that strong propensity and inclination that there is in corrupt nature to sin, which bids defiance to all those arguments and persuasions that are used to the contrary, till we are brought under the influence of a supernatural principle, implanted in the soul in effectual calling
And this leads us farther to enquire: Whether, supposing a man has this principle implanted in effectual calling, he then acts freely; or, what is the liberty of man's will, when internally moved and influenced by divine grace? In answer to which, we must consider, that special grace does not destroy, but improve the liberty of man's will : when there is a new nature implanted in him, it discovers its energy, and makes a change in all the powers and faculties of the soul; there is a new light shining in the understanding, vastly different from, and superior to that which it had before ; and it may truly be called, The light of life, John viii. 12. not only as it leads to eternal life ; but as it proceeds from a principle of spiritual life: and this is what we generally call saving knowledge; as it is said, This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent, chap. xvii. 13. Now this light in the understanding, being attended with power in the will, it is hereby induced to comply with its dictates, not barely as being prevailed on by rational arguments, but as there is a divine power accompanying them ; it is not indeed prevailed on without arguments; for the Spirit makes use of the word to persuade, as well as to direct; though we do not, with the Pelagians, say, that the will is overcome only by arguments,
* The question between us and the Pelagians, is not whether the will sometimes follows the dictates of the understanding, but, wliether it either always dues 80 ? or, if it be otherwise, whether that which hinders it does not arise from a defect in these dictates of the understanding ? Rccordingly they speak of the dictates of the under. standing as practical, and not barely speculative, and with a particular application to ourselves. They also consider the will as haring been before in some suspense; but that dictate of the understanding which it follows, is the last, after mature delibera. tion ; and it is supposed to have compared things together; and therefore presents a thing, not only as good, but more eligible than any thing else, which they call a comparute dictale of the inderstunding; and by this means the will is persuaded to a compliance. But though this may be true in many instances that are natural; yet daily experience proves, i! at it does not hold good with respect to things divine ard wmperatura!
as though the victory was owing to our power of reasoning; yet we freely own, that we act with judgment, and see the highest reason for what we do: we are enabled to use our reasoning powers indeed; but these are sanctified by the Spirit, as well as the will renewed ; and both concur together, in order to our receiving and improving the doctrines contained in the gospel ; and the Spirit of God also removes those rooted prejudices which we had entertained against the way of salvation by Christ: so that upon the whole, the gospel has its use, as it directs and excites our faith : our reasoning powers and faculties have their use also, as we take in, and are convinced, by what is therein contained; all this would be to no purpose, if there were not a superior power determining the will to a thorough compliance therewith. We do not deny that moral suasion oftentimes has a tendency to incline a man to the performance of moral duties; but it is what I rather choose to call evangelical persuasion, or the Spirit of God setting home upon the heart and conscience, what is contained in the gospel, that makes it effectual to salvation. (a) Thus concerning the na
(a) The manners and maxims of the world accord with the inclinations of the human mind, because they spring from them: the dispositions and the pursuits of men are at variance with the laws of God, the doctrines of the gospel, and the practice of the saints, this will appear by comparing them. That the human mind should be brought to submit to the self-denial requisite to the character of a true christian, its bias or bent must be changed. Because men are moral agents, various motives are addressed to them to induce such change, when not attended to, they aggravate their guilt: when they are followed by the change, which they have a tendency to produce, those who yield are said to be “ born of the word.” Were it not for the information we derive from the scriptures we should probably look no further than the proximate cause, and give man the glory; but these teach us, that the Spirit of God is always in such change, if it be real, the efficient cause :
“God sanctifies by the truth,” he “opens the heart to attend” to the word, and when any have learned from and been taught or drawn by the Father they come unto Christ; they are therefore also in a higher sense born of the Spirit.
This work of God inimediately upon the mind, is possible to him, who forned, sustains, and knows the secrets of the heart; if we are unconscious of our creation, support in existence, and the access of the Searcher of hearts to our minds, we may be unconscious of his influence to change them. If this were sensible, it might be a motive incompatible with the safety and moral government of beings, who at best, whilst here, are imperfectly holy.
The communication of the knowledge of saving truths immediately is unnecessary: we have the sacred scriptures, which are competent to make us wise unto salvation. The inspiration anciently given, is distinct from the change of bias, or disposition necessary to a preparation for heaven, might exist without, and is therefore inferior to it.
It is not the sole effect of moral suasion, it is a work of the spirit not the letter, of power not the word: it is a birth, not by “ blood, nor by the will of the flesh, nor by the will of man, but of God," and those only“ who are of God, bear," believe, and obey his word.
This influence is sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, riches to the poor, health to the sick, and life to the dead. It is not incompatible with moral agency, for the holy disposition is as free in its operation, as the former sinful inclinations had been in theirs. The necessity of it to salvation, is no excuse for the impeni
ture and extent of human liberty; but inasmuch as this is not to be assigned as that which renders the gospel-call effectual, let it be farther considered,
III. That this is brought about by the almighty power of God, as it is observed in this answer, that it is a work of God's almighty power and grace: this is that which enhances the excellency and glory of it, above all the works of common providence: however, when we say that it is a divine work, this is hardly sufficient to distinguish it from what the Pelagians often call it, by which they intend nothing more, than the powerful work of God, as the God of nature and providence; therefore we must farther consider it as a work of divine power, exerting itself in a supernatural way and not only excluding the agency of creatures, as bearing a part therein, but as opposed to those works which are brought about by the moral influence of persuasive arguments, without any change wrought in the will of man; in this sense we understand effectual calling to be a work of God's almighty power.
And that this may appear, let it be premised, that it is not inconsistent with God's dealing with men as intelligent creatures, endowed with liberty of will, for him to exert this power, since special providence, or efficacious grace, does no more destroy man's natural powers, by its internal influence, enabling and exciting them to do what is supernaturally good, than common providence's being conversant about the free actions of men, makes them cease to be free; only the former exerts itself in a different and superior way, producing effects much more glorious and excellent.
This being supposed, we shall, without pretending fully to explain the manner of the divine agency, which is principally known by its effects, endeavour to shew,
1. That effectual calling is, in a way of eminency, the work of divine power as distinguished froin other works, which are, in their kind, the effects of power in a natural way.
2. We shall also observe what effects are produced thereby, and in what order.
3. Consider it, as it is, in a peculiar manner, attributed to the Spirit of God; and also shew, that it is a wonderful instance of his grace.
tent; grace is not necessary to the vindication of Divine justice: the preponderancy of inclinations to evil is the essence of, not an apology for sin. It is very strange if, because a man is so intent upon sinning that nothing can change hiin but the almighty power of the Divine Spirit, he is on this very account innocent. --It does not render the preaching of the word unnecessary, for besides that it is commanded, and important to call men to repentance and faith, when the grace has been given, God also usually accompanies his ordinances with his Spirit's inAuences, and seems in most cases, to direct in his providence the blessings of dis instructions to those whom de makes the subjects of his grace.
4. We shall consider this divine power as irresistible, and consequently such as cannot but be effectual to produce what is designed to be brought about thereby. And,
5. Speak something concerning the season in which this is done, which is called God's accepted time.
1. Effectual calling is eminently a work of divine power; for the proof hereof, we have not only many express texts of scripture that sufficiently establish it, but we may appeal to the experience of those who are made partakers of this grace. If they compare their former and present state together, they may casily perceive in themselves, that there is such a change wrought in them, as is contrary to the inclinations of corrupt nature ; whereby the stubbornness and obstinacy of their wills have been subdued, and such effects produced in them, as they never experienced before; and the manner of their production, as well as the consequences thereof, give them a proof of the agency of God herein, and the glory of his power exerted, so that they who deny it must be unacquainted with themselves, or not duly observe that which carries its own evidence with it. (a)
(a) “ I have seen it objected, that to suppose a change effected in the heart of man, otherwise than by the power of moral means, is palpably absurd; as implying an evident impossibility in the nature of things. It has been said, by a divine of advanced age, and good sense ; " The moral change of the mind in regeneration, is of an essentially different kind from the mechanical change of the body, when that is raised from the dead ; and must be effected by the exertion of a dif. ferent kind of power, Each effect requires a power suited to its nature: and the power proper for one can never produce the other. To argue from one to the other of these effects, as the apostle has been misunderstood to do, in Eph. i. 20, is therefore idle and impertinent.--The Spirit of God is possessed of these two kinds of power, and exerts the one or the other, accordingly as he wills to produce a change of the moral or physical kind, in moral beings or inanimate mat. ter.”
But to this philosophical objection, however plausible and unanswerable it may appear, I think the reply of our Saviour to the difficulty started by the Sadu ducees, respecting the resurrection and a future state, is neither idle nor impertinent: “ Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God." Tbe Almighty is not limited, as men are, to these two modes of operation, by more! and mechanical means. The Spirit of God is possessed of a power of working ja a manner different from either of these; that is, supernaturally. The means by which effects are brought to pass in a natural way, must indeed be different ; according to the nature of those effects, and of the subjects on which the operations are performed: but when once we admit the idea of a work properly supernatural-an effect produced not by the power of any means at all, we instantly lose sight of all distinctions in the kind of power, or manner of working, adapted to things of different natures. When God, by his omnipotent word alone", called all nature into being at first, are we to suppose that he exerted different powers, according to the natures of the things designed to be created; and that the pow. e proper to create inanimate matter, could never create a thinking mind! Are we to conceive that angels and the souls of men were persuaded into being, by arguments and motives; and that the material world was forced out of nothing, by the power of attraction! So, in regard to quickening the dead, are we to imagine that God can give new life to a soul deal in sin, only by moral suasion; and that, if he will reanimate bodies which have slepé thousands of years in the dust
But we shall principally take our proofs from scripture, in which we have an account of the beginning of this work, which is styled the new birth; wherein we are said to be made partakers of the divine nature, 2 Pet. i. 4. that is, a nature that is produced by divine power: and we are said to be born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God, John i. 13. And the gospel, which is the instrument that he makes use of in calling effectually, is styled, The rod of his strength, Psal. cx. 2. the effect thereof, ascribed to the revelation of his arm, Isa. liii. 1. the season in which this is done, is called, The day of his power, Psal. cx. 3. and it is, by a metonymy, called, His power, 1 Cor. i. 18. Rom. i. 16. The cross of Christ is also, when preached, and made effectual for the answering this valuable end, styled, The power of God, 1 Cor. 4. 24. Moreover,
the progress of this work is ascribed to the power of God, 1 Thess. i. 5. it is this that keeps those who are effectually called through faith unto salvation, 1 Pet. i. 5. And that this power may appear to be extraordinary, the apostle uses an uncommon emphasis of expression, when he calls it,
The exceeding greatness of his power, and, the working of his nighty power, Eph. i. 19, 20. which words * can hardly be translated without losing something of their force and beauty, and, indeed, there is not an expression used in scripture, to signify the efficacy of divine power, that exceeds, or, I may say, that cquals them. And that it may appear more strong, the apostle, in the following words, represents it as being no less than that power which wrought in Christ, when God raised him from the dead.
And to all this let me add, that something to the same purpose may be inferred from those metaphorical expressions, by which it is set forth, as it is called a creation : thus, when we are made partakers of this privilege, we are said to be created in righteousness and true holiness, Eph. iv, 24. And the apostle seems to compare this with the creation of man at first, after the image of God, which consisted principally in righteous.
* Υπερβαλλον μεγεθος της δυναμεως αυλα-κατα την ενεργείαν τα κραίους της ισχυος αυλου.
of the earth, he has no other way to do it than by a physical operation! The body of Christ was raised to life, I should suppose, not by any mechanical power, but supernaturally. In this manner God always works, when he quickeneth the dead, and calleth things that are not, as though they were. And what absurdity can there be in supposing flim able to give a new principle of action, as well as to give existence to any thing else, in this immediate manner?
Some sound and sensible divines, it must be granted, in order to guard against the notion of regeneration's being effected by moral suasion, have called it a physical work, and a physical change; but very needlessly, I apprehend, and with very evident impropriety. The change is moral: the work producing it, in either moral nor physical; but supernatural."
DR. SMALLEY VOL. II.