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it. It is well known, that the same instructions and persuasives, which are means of producing the best effects on well-disposed minds, may be abused by people of the most perverse dispositions, to the worst purposes, Rom. vii.
If there may be a vast disparity in the effects of the same motives, or other means, on different dispositions, even where there is no immediate divine operation ; much more must this be the case where 'such operation is interposed. The same instructions and motives, which in the minds of some only produce the common good affections formerly described, may, by God's blessing, produce and strengthen in others the excellent dispositions and affections included in divine love. While they exeite in some only admiration, good general desires of escaping future punishment, and of obtaining future blessedness; they may, in the hearts of 0thers, produce the chief things wherein true holiness consists: they may, through the efficacy of divine grace, change the heart by sanctifying it; or through renewed supplies of the same grace, promote and advance so blessed a change.
The same truths may be considered as motives to different good affections and actions. The great doctrines of religion are motives to divine love and universal holiness. They are also motives to those other common good affections which come short of it. True holiness does not exclude these oiher affections. It includes, it directs, it purifies and strengthens them. It necessarily includes them ; it makes men earnestly desire future happiness, but not in a mere general and confused way; it makes men fix their chief desires on God, and place their ehief happiness in him. The natural efficacy of motives oft-times produces these common affections without divine love, and rests there without rising higher. The end of divine grace is, as it were, to complete the good influence of mo
tives ; to make them effectual for the chief purposes to which they are subservient; and to make them successful means of producing the divine image, and of promoting it. These things neces. sarily imply, the implanting of divine love in the soul, and the lively exercise of it.
From what is said, it appears, that a general resemblance, as to the means of exciting men's affections, does not disprove an essential disparity in the affections themselves that are produced or excited by these means. The sufficiency of natural causes to produce various other affections, does not prove their sufficiency to produce those included in love to God with the whole heart. There is so vast a disparity between these different effects, that there is no just arguing from the one to the other. The power of corruption and depravity shews our need of the power of divine grace to produce and promote sincere divine love. The sufficiency of means to produce other affections, does not disprove the power of depravity, but is rather a confirmation of it. It is a strong confirmation of its power, that it defeats so many promising good impressions. It shews, that the efficacy of inward perverseness is very considerable, when men may be so deeply affected, and so sensibly touched, with the chief persuasives and motives to their duty, without a cordial compliance with it. There is a great differ. ence between transient impressions of motives, and a thorough compliance with the true end of them. But these impressions are in themselves of a good tendency, and it is the power of depravity that makes them so transient and ineffectual as they are. These things shew, that the sufficiency of means for other purposes, and their subserviency to the good dispositions included in true holiness, cannot disprove our need of divine grace for producing such dispositions and affections, and for the suitable vigorous exercise of them.
Though whatever disproves the self-sufficiency of motives and other means, proves our need of di. vine grace; the efficacy of grace does not take away the necessity or usefulness of means. The principal means, as was observed above, of good dispositions, are the knowledge, the belief and consideration of proper motives. Divine love necessarily supposes the belief of those divine truths which are the chief motives to it. It implies, in its very nature, a prevalent propensity to the actu. al consideration of them; and such consideration is necessarily implied in the actual exercise of that good affection.
These things shew, that true holiness necessarily implies, a disposition to the active use of the means of it. And, as motives are the principal means of it, a suitable impression of them rooted in the soul, is a main thing wherein true holiness consists. This shews how unreasonable it is, in considering the efficacy of grace, and of motives or other means, to make those things clash and interfere, between which there is so evident a consistency and harmony. The groundless imagination of an inconsistency in these things, is a main source of the objections which embarrass the subject in view. What has been already said shews, on what principles the force of such objections must depend. Some of them are built upon this supposition, that if an all-seeing God, who knows our hearts, knows that the mere proposal and consideration of motives, and other means of holiness, will not of themselves be effectual; he will not make the use of such means, on our part, necessary for that end. This is manifestly a very unreasonable imagination. It is evidently agreeable to God's perfections, that the offers and operations of his grace should be suited to our necessities. It is necessary for us to be holy, and to be bebolden to the grace of God for that end. But this makes it no way necessary for us to be made holy without the use of means.
Some of the objections in view are built on this position, that, if the Spirit of God make men holy, he must do it without disposing them to the habitual consideration of the motives to holiness; at least, not in order to the exciting of the holy dispositions which are included in divine love, or which have a connection with it. This is a position that contradiets itself. It implies, that if the Spirit of God is the author of all boliness; he is not the author of some of the most essential parts of it. A sincere disposition to consider the motives to divine love, and to use all proper means of the lively exercise of it, is both an essential part of holiness, and has a powerful influence on all the other
parts of it.
These things shew, that the influence of means. is no just objection against the efficacy of grace. They shew, therefore, that though the use of the same means may excite the holy affections ineluded in divine love, and other affections of an inferior sort; this does not hinder a vast disparity, not on. ly in these affections themselves, but also in the manner of their production. The external means may be the same. Men's in ward meditations may be on the same moving subjects. But there is a difference between what is wholly the natural production of means themselves, and what is the ef. fect of divine grace operating by them. There is a difference between the natural and intrinsic ef. ficacy of means operating suitably to the previous dispositions of men's hearts; and the efficacy of means, when divine operation rectifies the inward dispositions of the heart, and gives to means and endeavours, that good success which inherent depravity or infirmity would otherwise hinder.
When people imagine, that the use of means, or
activity and diligence in the use of them, clashes with the reality of divine operation, they so far go in into one of the most unreasonable branches of what the body of Christians reckon the enthusias. tical scheme of religion, namely, that if God act on men's minds, men themselves must cease to act ; or that they must forbear the use of means till they find some previous impulse exciting them to it.
They who do not own the doctrine of grace, must own, that if divine grace were needful and real, it would not hinder, but excite activity and diligence in all good endeavours : and that it is suitable to the divine perfections, that if divine grace were bestowed, it should be bestowed in such a manner as to encourage diligence.
It is a main source of error in general, that men frequently confound things, between which there are the most substantial differences, because of some resemblances of less consequence. It is thus that some people strengthen their prepossessions against all piety, because of the resemblances of it that are found in hypocrites. It is evidently a delusion and self-deceit of the same kind, when men despise all devout affections in general, those included in divine love not excepted, because of some kind of resemblance between all the affections of human nature in general. The view that was taken before of the difference between true holiness, and false appearances of it, shews that that difference is tlie most important and the most essential difference in the world. The name and general notion of atfections are applicable to the best and to the worst things the heart of man is capable of. The best and the worst dispositions or emotions of the heart are called affections, as the most useful truths and the most hurtful practical errors in the judgment are called principles. Some general properties may be affirmed, of all sorts of principles, as