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Perhaps also, there are some who abufe this doctrine to floth and negligence. At least they may pretend this, as an excuse or palliation of their contempt of religion. But is it not an inference directly contrary to what the scripture teaches us much more justly to draw from the same truth, viz. “Work out your own salva“ tion with fear and trembling; for it is God of that worketh in you to will and to do of “ his good pleasure *.” The former inference would be just in the case of devils, who, having received their sentence, can only now “ be“ lieve and tremble :'' but it would be altogether unjust, and a dreadful contempt of mercy in those, to whom the offer of salvation by grace is addressed. What is now transacting in the ministry of the gospel, shall contribute at last to stop every mouth, and put this criminal ex-. cuse to eternal filence. Suppose the finner at the judgment-seat to offer this defence for him. felf: “I was altogether under the power of cor“ ruption; it was impossible 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 same scriptures " allo, tell you, Him that cometh to me, I. " will in no wise cast out. Wherefore he is 6 able to save to the uttermost all that come Phil, ii. 13, 14.
" to God through him.- Believe in the Lord - Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” But I could not reconcile one fcripture to another. " And was that any way wonderful? or can it of possibly justify your rebellion against the plain-, « eft commands, that you was not able fully tỏ 66 comprehend what is said of the absolute “ dominion and sovereignty of God?”
Let us therefore settle it in our minds, that, though we are of ourselves utterly unable to produce a change in our hearts, " nothing is impossible with GOD." He first made them, and he is able to reform them. On a conviction of our own inability, one would think we should but the more humbly and the more earnestly apply to him who is all-fufficient in power and grace. The deplorable, and naturally helpless state of sinners, doth not hinder exhortations to them in scripture; and therefore, takes not away their obligation to duty. - See an address, where the strongest 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 seepest, and « arise from the dead, and Christ shall give “ thee light*.” From which it is very plain, that the moral inability, under which finners now lie, as a consequence of the fall, is not of
. * Eph. V. 34.
fuch a nature, as to take away the guilt of fin, the propriety of exhortations to duty, or the neceflity of endeavours after recovery.
But what shall we say? Alas! the very subject we are now speaking of, affords a new proof of the blindness, prejudice, and obftinacy of sinners. They are self-condemned; for they do not act the same part in similar cases. The affairs of the present life are not managed in so 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 so much as begin one single Atep of this wonderful process toward the fubsequent crop; the mortification of the feed, the resurrection of the blade, and gradual inerease, till it come to perfect maturity. Is ity therefore, reasonable that he should say, I for my part can do nothing. It is, first and last, an effect of divine power and energy. And God can as easily raise a crop without sowing as with it, in a single instant, and in any place, as in a long time, by the mutual influence of foil and season; I will therefore spare myself the hardship of toil and labour, and wait with patience, till I see 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 licentiourness ? Believe it, the warning is equally reasonable and equally necessary, in spiritual as in temporal things : " Be not deceived, God is not “ mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth, that 66 Thall he also reap : for he that soweth to his “ flesh, shall of the Aesh reap corruption; but he so that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit “ reap life everlasting *.”
CHA P. II. In which is mewn wherein this change doth properly
and dircally consif, and what are its principal evidences and fruits.
SECT. I. Wherein the change in regeneration doth properly and
directly confift. I Have hitherto, by general remarks, endea
voured 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 distinct 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 disposition, in the life and practice, which conftitutes the difference between one who " is," and one who is “ not born again.” The different steps 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 distinct head of discourse.