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itself Could NOT contain the books that should be written." This was not a natural impossibility.

It is said of the Saviour, on a certain occasion, that, in going into his own country, “Ile could there do no mighty work." No one will pretend that this was a natural inability—that the Saviour lacked energy or capacity; but such was the unbelief of the people, that it did not comport with the plan of God's gracious dealing with men, for him, under such circumstances, to exert his power. It was wholly a moral inability. He also prayed if it be possible, let this cup pass from me." The impossibility in the case was wholly of a moral nature; for another Evangelist quotes his language, in words that must prevent dispute; “if thou be willing, &c. remove this сир

Of the same description, is the inability under which God represents Himself to have laboured. “Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people.” The new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I CANNOT away with." And thus we say, an holy God cannot do an unholy thing; a just God cannot do an unjust thing. A faithful God CANNOT lie.

Of the same nature, also, is the inability to sin, which is predicated of those that are born again. “Whoever," says the apostle John, “is born of God, coth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." It is morally impossible, that the

7 believer should deliberately and wilfully, or habitually sin against God, and yet no one will pretend that he has not ABILITY to do so.


1. 3 John xxi, 25.
3. Mat. xxvi, 9.
5. Jer. xvi, 1.

2. Mark vii, 5.
4. Luke xxii, 42.

6. Isai. i. 13.
7. 1 Joho iii.9.

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Every one understands the distinction in all ordinary matters. There is no language more common, than that in which it is practically recognized; and it is very extraordinary, that men will be so blind, in reference only to the sinner's ability. We can in no way more charitably account for it, than on the supposition, that they do virtually suppose the energy to act, lies in the very faculties themselves, and that in the unrenewed, the natural faculty, the-capacity of nature, is impaired, debilitated, or lost; but that, in the renewed, it is conferred again, by an act of mere creative power on the part of God.

The distinction between the natural and moral ability of men, is by no means a norel one. It is as old as the Bible, and there are not wanting sound Theologians, who have recognized and taught it.

“It is true," says Fuller, “that many have affected to treat' the distinction between natural and moral inability, as more curious than solid. "If we be unable say they, we are unable. As to the nature of the inability, it is a matter of no account. Such distinctions are perplexing to plain christians, and beyond their capacity. But surely the plainest and weakest christian, in reading his Bible, if he pay any regard to what he reads, must perceive a manifest difference between the blindness of Bartimeus, who was ardently desirous that he might receive his sight, and that of the unbelieving Jews, who closed their eyes; lest they should see, and be converted and healed; and between the want of the natural sense of hearing, and the state of those who have ears, out hear not. So far as my observation extends, those persons who affect to treat this distinction as a matter of curious speculation, are as ready to make use of it as other people, when their own interest is concerned.“Now, if the subject be so clearly understood and acted upon, where interest is concerned, and never appears difficult

1. The Essay on the Inability of Sinners, already quoted, is a striking er imple of this


but in religion, it is but too manifest, where the difficulty lies. If, by fixing the guilt of our conduct upon our father Adam, we can sit comfortably in our nest; we shall be very averse to a sentiment that tends to distract our repose by planting a thorn in it.”

Dr. Howe, frequently recognizes it, in his appeals to the conscience, and in one place, particularly remarks: “Notwithstanding, the soul's natural capacities before asserted and inferred, its moral incapacity, I mean its wicked aversation from God, is such as none but God Himself can overcome. Nor is that aversation the less culpable, for that it is so hardly overcome, but the more.

'Tis an aversion of will; and who sees not, that every man is more wicked according as his will is more wickedly bent ? Hence, his impotency or inability to turn to God, is not such as THAT HE CANNOT TURN IF HE WOULD; but it consists in this, that he is not willing:"2 He quotes also, from Dr. Twisse, the following, which is very explicit:“The inability to do what is agreeable and acceptable to God, is not a natural but a moral inability.

For no natural faculty is wanting to us through original sin, according to that saying of Augustine, “It hath taken from none the faculty of knowing the truth. The power still remains by which we are able to do what we will. We


that the natural ability of doing what it pleases them, according to their will, is transmitted to all, but not the moral ability.



1. FULLER's Gospel worthy of all acceptation, pp. 122, 123. 2. Howe's Works, fol. ed. vol. i. p. 540.

3. Impotentia faciendi quod Deo gratum est et acceptum, non est impotentia naturæ, sed morum. Nulla etenim nobis deest facultas naturæ per peccatum originale, juxta illud Augustini. Nulli ognoscendæ veritatis abstulit facultatem. Adhuc remanet protentia qua facere possunius quæcunque volumus. Vind. I. 3. Errat. 9. Sec. 6. naturalem protentiam quidlibet agcu. di pro arbitrio ipsorum, dicimus ad omnes transmitti, non autem potentiam moralem. Vind. Criminat, 3. S. 1. dlig: 2. C.3.

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In the icteresting essay of Thomas Erskine, Esq. on faith, which has been so deservedly recommended in the Christian Advocate,' to the careful perusal of its readers "as admirably calculated, both to impart instruction, and to promote Godliness," the distinction is formally noticed. “Man, in his depravity," says the writer, “has all the facullies which a child of God has in this life. And he has a natural ability to use these faculties as he will. The inability, therefore, of a polluted creature to receive an impression of holy love, is not a natural inability. IF HE WOULD HE COULD; his inability is moral, it lies in the oppositon of his will and affections, and this is his crime.“No one is commanded to delay believing on Christ, until he is influenced by the Spirit; on the contrary, the command to repent and believe the gospel is universal ; which proves that it is in the NATURAL POWER of all men to do so, and that their inability is a moral, and therefore criminal inability.

Dr. Dwight, is very pointed in his remarks on this subject. “Indisposition to come to Christ,” says he, “is therefore the true and the only difficulty, which lies in our way. Those who cannot come, therefore, are those, and those only who will not. The words can and cannot are used in the scriptures just as they are used in the common intercourse of mankind, to express willingness or unwillingness. Thus, we say, we cannot lend or give, or assist or pay a debt, when we mean nothing more than that we are disinclined to these affairs.” After citing many examples from the Scriptures, some of which the reader will have already seen, he adds, “In all these and the like instances, there is plajnly nothing meant, but inability of disposition, or a strong disinclination to the thing proposed.

1. See Christian Advocate for Nov. 1828.

2. Erskine's Essay on Faith, pp. 170-214, Andorer édition.

This is both the natural and universal language of men; found, equally, in their conversation and writings. Children speak this language, almost as soon as they begin to speak at all; and, on every such occasion, utter it more naturally than any other language. If the Scriptures would be intelligible to the great body of mankind, they must speak in the same manner. In this manner, therefore, God has directed them to be written." And we may add,

" in like manner must every christian minister present and speak the truth, if he would reach the consciences of his hearers, and not soothe them in their wilful rebellion against God, by representing their depravity to be the dire result of some fatal calamity and necessity of their physical nature, propagated from Adam to all his progeny, through their natural descent from him.

There is no room for the sneers, and attempts at wit, with which many, in some parts, assail this very obvious and important distinction. The names already cited, -not to mention an host of others,-might induce those who do not understand the subject, to examine it a little more seriously and attentively. We do not mean to say, that these names are cited as a reason, why the distinction should be admitted. That is to be found in the word of God, and the truth of things, and there alone. But we do claim, that if men of lofty minds, from Augustine down, have seen and admitted the truth of such a distinction, there should be a little modesty on the part or those, who denounce its advo- . cates as tyros in divinity, mere sciolists, stripling theologians, and excite popular and political prejudices against them, by branding them as new lights, raising the cry of . New England Theology, and exciting suspicions as to Unitarianism. It is the Theology of the Bible, and there is not a single passage in it, when faithfully translated, and

1. Dwight's, Theol. v. iv, p. 25.

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