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doctrine, therefore, that I shall insist upon from the words is this:

That none are able to comply with the gospel, but those who are the subjects of the special and effectual grace of God; or those who are made willing, and actually do comply with it.

What I have in view, in the following discourse, is not only to confirm this doctrine, but to endeavour to set it in such a light as to obviate the forementioned difficulty, of salvation's being offered on impossible conditions, and men's being condemned for not doing that which they are incapable of. And, after what has been said, I think there is no way of attempting to clear up this mystery left, but by showing that there are two essentially different senses, in which men are said to be incapable of doing things: or, by having recourse to the distinction of natural and moral inability. Accordingly, the method I propose, is,

1. As clearly as I can, to state and illustrate this distinction.

2. To show, that men certainly labour under one, or the other, of these kinds of inability to comply with the gospel, until they are made the subjects of effectual divine grace.

3. More particularly to consider and evince the moral impotence of sinners. And,

4. Endeavour to make it appear, that there is ordinarily no other incapacity in sinners, to comply with the gospel, but that which is of the moral kind.

1. Then, It is to be observed, for the clearing up this subject, that there are two very different kinds of inability; so different, that the one, however great, does not lessen moral obligation in the least; whereas the other, so far as it obtains, destroys obligation, and takes away all desert of blame and punishment entirely.

These two kinds of inability, as I hinted, have commonly been distinguished, by calling one a natural, the other a moral inability. Which distinction may be briefly stated thus. Moral inability consists only in the want of a heart, or disposition, or will, to do a thing. Natural inability, on the other hand, consists in, or arises from, want of understanding, bodily strength, opportunity, or whatever may prevent, our doing a thing, when we are willing, and strongly enough disposed and inclined to do it. Or, in fewer words, thus: Whatever a man could not do, if he would, in this, he is under a natural inability; but when all the reason why one cannot do a thing, is because he does not choose to do it, the inability is only of a moral nature.

This distinction takes place equally with regard to both evil and good actions. Thus, for instance, the divine Being cannot do evil; not because he wants opportunity, or understanding, or strength, to do, with infinite ease, whatever he pleases; but only because he is not, and it is impossible he ever should be, inclined to do iniquity. He is so infinitely and immutably holy, wise, just, and good, that it is impossible he should ever please to act otherwise, than in the most holy, righteous, and best manner. Hence though we read that "with God all things are possible," and that he can do every thing; yet elsewhere we are told, "he cannot deny himself;" and that it is impossible, "for God to lie."

On the other hand, satan is incapable of doing right, or of behaving virtuously, in any one instance, or in the least possible degree. But this is not because he wants natural abilities; for undoubtedly in that respect, he is far superior to many that are truly virtuous. His being incapable of any thing but infernal wickedness,

is altogether owing to his being of such an infernal disposition.

And it is not uncommon to speak of incapacity in mankind, both as to doing good and doing evil, in this two-fold signification. Some persons we say are incapable of doing a mean thing. Not that we think it is above their natural capacity; but it is beneath them; they abhor, or they would scorn to do it. Others are incapable of several sorts of villainy, not through any want of good will to do it: they only want a convenient opportunity, or sufficient ingenuity.-—And just so it is in regard to doing good. Some have it not in the power of their hands; others have no heart to do it. One is of a truly generous spirit, and nothing but his own poverty keeps him from being what Job was, a father to the poor, the fatherless, and him that has none to help him.Another is rich, and might be a great benefactor and blessing to all around him; but he has no heart to devise liberal things. He is deaf to the cries of the poor, blind to their wants, and dead to all the generous feelings of humanity and compassion.

Some are so feeble and infirm that they can do scarce any bodily labour; though they are extremely free and willing to lay themselves out to the utmost that their strength will bear, and often go beyond it. Others are strong and healthy enough, and might get a good living, and be useful members of society; but such is their invincible laziness, that their hands refuse to labour, and they can hardly get them out of their bosoms.Some are effectually kept from shining, or being very useful, in any public sphere in church or state, through the weakness of their heads: Others, as effectually, by the badness of their hearts. Some are incapable of being taught, by reason of natural dulness: others only because they are of an unteachable spirit, and full of


Some are blind for want of eyes; but it is an old proverb, that none are more blind than those who will not see.

These examples are sufficient to illustrate the distinction I am insisting on, and to make it evident, that by incapability, we often mean something very different from want of natural capacity. We may also perceive from these instances, that there is a real necessity for using such words as capable, incapable, cannot, &c. in this diversity of signification, in which we see they are used, in common speech, as well as in the scriptures. For whenever any thing, whether in ourselves or without us, is really absolutely inconsistent with our doing a thing, we have no way fully and strongly enough to express that inconsistence, but by saying we are unable, we cannot, it is impossible, or using some word of like import. And now it is certain that want of a heart, or inclination to do a thing, may be, and is, as inconsistent with our doing it as any thing else could be. Covetousness is as inconsitent with liberality as poverty, and may as effectually hinder a man from doing deeds of charity. Indolence is as inconsistent with industry, as bodily weakness and infirmity. The want of an upright heart and a public spirit, is as inconsistent with the character of a good ruler, as the want of wisdom and understanding. And the want of all principles of virtue must be as inconsitent with acting virtuously, as even the want of those intellectual faculties which are necessary to moral agency. And so on the other hand as to doing evil things. There is no possibility of doing them, that is, knowingly, designedly, and as moral agents, without an evil disposition. Our free and moral actions are, and must be, as invariably guided and dictated by our minds, as they are limited and bounded by our natural power. That is, every one must act

his own nature and choice; otherwise he does not act himself; he is not the agent. And if, when we would express this sort of necessity, we should not use the same phrases as are made use of in cases of natural necessity; but, for fear of a misunderstanding should carefully avoid saying a man cannot, whenever we mean only that he has not such a heart as is necessary, and only say that he will not, in all such cases; our language would often sound odd, being out of common custom, which governs the propriety of words; and not only so, but it would not be sufficiently expressive. Should we be afraid to say it is impossible for a man to love God, or come to Christ, while his heart is altogether wicked and full of enmity against God and Christ; people would be ready to think we imagined this might sometimes happen, and that there was no real impossibility in it of any kind. Whereas there is as real, and as absolute an impossibility in this case, as in any supposable case whatever. To be more guarded therefore, than the scripture is, in this matter, would be to be unguarded. The apostle demands, "can the fig-tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs?" And the prophet, "can the Ethiopian change his skin? or the leopard, his spots? Then may ye also do good, who are accustomed to do evil." And our Saviour says, "a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit ; neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things. And an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things." There is as certain and never-failing a connection in this case as in any natural connection whatever. Which ought by no means to be dissembled, but openly maintained. But then it is certainly of a quite different, and even a directly opposite nature, to all intents and purposes of

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