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less delusive and dangerous, because it must keep him from seeking the “ washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost.”
If our Saviour had merely declared, that with man it was impossible to enter into the kingdom of heaven, this would not have been “ good news nor glad tidings," but coupled with this he made the affirmation, “ with God all things are possible.” Hereby be taught that the work of renewing the soul was God's work, and that there is no sinner so sunk, so en. slaved, so hardened, and seared, and lost to all sense of what is pure, and lovely, and of good report, that God cannot create him again unto good works. It is miserable, pitiable, comfortless doctrine, to take away from man all help in regard to his own salvation, except what he can find in his own weak, unstable, and frail nature. How much more comfortable, as respects his safety, though humbling to his pride, to be able to look the sinner in the face and say, with you, indeed, it is impossible, you cannot raise yourself from the state of degradation into which the fall bas brought you, but your case is not hopeless, for though you have destroyed your. self, in God is your help, and“ with God all things are possible.” He is able to soften your heart although it were harder than adamant, and to warm it although it were colder than ice, and to purify and elevate it though it be an abode of all that is impure and unholy, of all that is sordid, and ignoble and base. It would be uncomfortable to the minister of the gospel to think that there was no special aid to be expected from on high, and that the conversion of these perishing immortals depended on bim alone; that he was left single-handed to contend against the two gigantic powers of sin and Satan. And what could be more disheartening to the sinner awakened to concern about his soul, than to tell him, as is done by the adherents of the New Theology, that there is no such thing as a special agency to be looked for, that he need expect no more assistance from God, in the working out of his own salvation, although he seek it, than be has enjoyed since the first day of his natural existence. Is this good news and glad tidings? Or is it not rather a message of darkness and dismay, which, if it were true, would make every man who knows his own heart to consider salvation to be hopeless ? That no special aid is to be expected from the grace of God is the gospel of Giant Despair, and not of Jesus Christ. God, be assured, is by such doctrine sadly misrepresented. He is too good, and too gracious, and too merciful, to dwell apart, like the gods of Epicurus, and give himself no concern about his creatures. He is too wise in counsel, and too much set upon the salvation of lost souls, ever to commit the management of that work into any hands but his own.
That the application of redemption is the work of God, is still farther evident from the following considerations. It is sought from God by the saints, it is promised by God in the New Covenant, it is claimed by God and it is ascribed to God. We find the saints praying unto God io enlighten, to convert, to renew their souls. “ Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law." “ Turn thou me and I shall be turned, for thou art the Lord my God.” Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Now there would be no need at all for men praying to God to open their eyes, to turn them, to create a new heart in them, if they could do all these things quite well for themselves without any more assistance than they possess. It is quite
evident, therefore, that all these saints were unacquainted with the doctrine of man's self-sufficiency as taught by some in our times. Nor let it be thought that these prayers were unwarranted; for every promise of God may be converted into a prayer, and God promises in the most distinct manner, to bestow a new heart upon His people. “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean from all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you: a new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you ; und I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my commandments, and do them." What can be more distinct than the promise of a new heart, in this passage, as a free gift of God's grace? How total the contrariety between this and the doctrine of the New Theology? A disciple of that school, who believed and acted on his belief in man's ability, must claim to himself, as his own work, all that God here promises to give. The language of his heart, formed upon his creed, would be, “ I will give a new heart to myself, and a new spirit will I put within me; and I will take away
the stony heart out of my flesh, and I will give unto myself an heart of flesh.” The giving of a new heart is one of the leading promises of the Covenant of Grace. Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah ; not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the band, to lead them out of the land of Egypt ; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after these days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their minds, and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.
For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." When God says he will put his “laws into their minds, and write them in their hearts, this can only mean, that he will bring his word home to them in power; that he will apply it to them in the way of a permanent impression upon their hearts. In short, these expressions mean, that he will renew and sanctify them through the truth; and since He promises to do this, just as much as he promises to be merciful to their onrighteousness, and to remember their sins and iniquities no more, persons may just as well pretend that they can pardon their own sins, as ibat they can renew their own nature. This article of the new covenant, translated into the language of the New Theology, would run thus—“When you put my laws into your minds, and write them in your hearts, then I will be to you a God, and ye shall be to me a people.” Thus is this system a turning of God's promises into precepts, and a converting of the covenant of grace into a covenant of works. Its apostles are endeavouring to lead men away from “ Mount Zion, the city of the living God," to the deserts of Arabia, to dig stones out of Sinai, wherewith to build up the fallen palaces of human pride.
This work is ascribed to God. “ After," says Ephraim, " that I was turned, I repented, after that I was instructed, I smote upon any thigh.” Concerning Lydia, it is said, “whose heart the Lord opened, that she
attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.”—“ By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” Faith is that by wbich the soul is united to the Saviour ; that without which there can be no salvation ; that by the possession of which salvation is secured. The merit of salvation, therefore, belongs to him by whom faith is produced; but here it is declared that faith is the gift of God. It is not a plant that springs up spontaneously in the soil of fallen nature; it is not a plant which man can rear himself; it is brought down from above, and planted by the hand of the Great Husbandman. “Ye are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves," —not of our own operation,—it is the gift of God. It is given by God, given freely, and must have been wholly his own production, otherwise it would not be a gift.
Whatever may be called the workmanship of a person, must have been made by him; but of believers it is said, “ Ye are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works." The renovation of the soul is as much the work of God's gracious power, as any article which he has made with his bands is the work of an artist. It has always been regarded as a glorious exhibition of Divine power, when, in the morning of creation, “God said, Let there be light, and there was light;" but the work of illuminating darkened souls is as much the work of God, as the lighting op of a darkened world. “ For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus.” The revelation of future events has always been regarded as a very signal manifestation of the Divine attributes; but the conveying of saving knowledge to the soul is as much the work of God, and is described by the very same word, as is the folding back of the curtains of futurity, and shewing to the beloved disciple, in the Isle of Patmos, the state of the Church and of the world from that period down to the end of time. “ And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” Here the blessedness of Simon is made to turn upon the fact, that the revelation had been made to him by the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and not by “flesh and blood.” Paul also ascribes his knowledge of Christ to supernatural and internal revelation : “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen.” Paul considered his natural and his spiritual birth as standing on a level, in regard to their author; he no more doubted that it was God who bad “revealed his Son in him," than he doubted that it was God who had separated him from his “mother's womb.”
We shall only quote another passage:—“ Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers ; tbat the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom, and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance
in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.”
In this passage, the apostle prays that “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, would give unto them the spirit of wisdom and knowledge in the revelation of his will.” This surely shows, that in his estimation, saving knowledge came from the special teaching of grace, and was to be sought in prayer. This is further apparent, from the reason which he assigns for seeking this in their behalf, · That the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” He wished the Ephesians to obtain an experimental acquaintance with the hopes and privileges of the gospel. This, however, could only be obtained by the “opening of the eyes of their understandings ;" but the eyes of their understanding could only be opened by " the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of his will,” for which reason, Paul prayed that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ would give them that spirit, and, therefore, a special working of the Spirit is necessary to the saving illumination of the soul. This is still more evident from what follows. The apostle prayed that the Ephesians "might know the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand.” From this it is evident that Paul believed and taught that there is a very wonderful working of divine power in the souls of those that believe. It is here not only called power, not only called great power, but it is called “the greatness of his power;" not only the greatness of his power, but “the exceeding greatness of his power.' Nay, to give us at once a more definite and a more exalted idea of this power, it is said to be “according to the working of his mighty power which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in heavenly places.” The power that is exercised in the soul of the believer is analogous to that which was put forth in raising the human nature of our Lord Jesus Christ from the grave, and conducting him to heaven. So far, therefore, is it from being the case that no special exertion of grace is required in the conversion of the soul ; so far is it from being the case th men are able to work all the work by their own unaided strength, that the same power is necessary to raise them from spiritual death and to prepare them for glory, which was exerted in raising our Redeemer from the grave, and exalting him to “the right hand of the majesty on high."
We might refer to the experience of all believers, whatever their sentiments are, whether orthodox or heterodox. When they examine their own hearts, or fall down before God in prayer, they all unite in ascribing the work to him. When they look into the heart do they not see it to be deceitful above all things and desperately wicked ? Do they not complain that they are carnal, sold under sin ? Do they not complain that in them dwelleth no good thing ? That to will is present, but to do they find not ? Do they not complain that there is a law in their members
warring against the law of their minds, and leading them into captivity to the law of sin in their members ? And when they fall down before God in prayer, do they not all confess their nothingness, emptiness, and insufficiency? Do they not pray to him to "create in them a clean heart;" to “work in them both to will and to do ;" to breathe on their dry bones and make them to live? Do they not ask him to draw them with the cords of love, and with the bands of a man? And do not all these imply that whatever they may maintain before men, in God's sight, they are mere petitioners, who must ask all from grace? And would not a prayer framed on the idea of man's ability be worse than ridiculous? If a man should say, I do not ask anything from thee, for I am able to come to thee of myself, without any assistance from thy grace more than that which is possessed by all men ; would not this be blasphemy and not prayer ? In religion, men's heads are in general better than their hearts ; but, we hope, that the hearts of many who proclaim the self-sufficiency of human nature, are better than their heads, and that before God they own and ask that grace which they deny ; otherwise, if they have such opinions of themselves before God, they leave no room to doubt that they know nothing about sin, nothing about themselves, and nothing about God, as they ought to know.
In the last place, we remark, that the consummation of salvation is of grace. Although man had never fallen, it would have been great and undeserved favour to have raised him, after a short period of probation, to dwell in a higher world and among a nobler order of creatures. How much more is it of grace to admit fallen men to fill these thrones from which the angels fell by transgression into hell! None can merit such an elevation, and all are unmeet for it: even up to the hour of his death, the very best man is most unmeet for the society of those high and glorified spirits which surround God's throne, and serve him day and night in his temple. In taking the soul to heaven at death, we have an act of great and wonderful grace. And though the body then is laid in the earth, and turns to corruption, it is that grace may be shown in its resurrection and reconstruction in a more glorious form. And at the resurrection morn, the topstone of salvation shall be put on, with shoutings of grace, grace unto it. Then man shall be a perfect spirit, dwelling in a glorious body. And will it not be grace, great and wonderful grace, to see the full and complete human nature in heaven-walking on the golden streets—conversing with angels—engaged in the most exalted contemplations and employments. Eighty years of heaven would be much, but their lease of it shall be for ever. They shall be made pillars in the temple of God, and go no more out." '-" Their path" in heaven, as it was on earth, “sball be like the shining light, which shineth more and more unto the persect day.”
Thus the purpose of salvation is of grace-the plan of salvation is of grace—the revelation of salvation is of grace-tbe offer of salvation is of grace—the application of salvation is of grace-the consummation of sal. vation is of grace.
Grace, therefore, is a characteristic of the whole of salvation; it is a divine woof that runs through the whole web. Hence see a test by which to try doctrine. That doctrine which does not glorify grace, which,