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merely, but what may perhaps be called subjective light. That is, the understanding itself must be strengthened, or enlarged, or brightened, or somehow made better; otherwise the external light, however clear, will shine in darkness, and cannot be comprehended.

Now if this is the supernatural work of the Spirit which persons are the subjects of when they are born again, it is of the same nature as if a natural fool should, by a miracle, have reason given him.* But is this the way to advance the grace of God most in our salvation? Is it the most wonderful instance of rich grace, to give an intelligent mind to one whose heart was so good, that he only wanted to have reason enough to understand the gospel, and he would embrace it most cordially as soon as ever it was proposed to him? Does the grace appear so great in this, as in changing the heart of one who was an enemy to the true God? One that might have had light enough, only he hated the light and would not come to it? Or one that had had the light of conviction forced upon him, and had both seen and hated, both the Father and the Son, both the law and the gospel?

* It is apprehended this representation of the matter will be thought unfair, if not quite ridiculous. Men do not mean to be made natural fools of neither. The weakness, and blindness, and want of abilities so much complained of, is nothing of this kind. They would be thought to have as much wit, as much reason and good sense, as the best, notwithstanding all their darkness of understanding. Nay, they may exceed even a Locke, or a Sir Isaac Newton, in clearness and strength of mind, and yet have such weak intellects as to be incapable of understanding truly, the plainest principles of the oracles of God. Thus the reputation of the head and the heart are equally taken care of; while the poor defect, which must bear the blame of all the sin in the world, is crowded into a corner of the soul, which no soul has, and therefore, which no one cares how much is said against.

Let any one think how he would address himself to God, with a view to magnify the riches of his grace in saving him. Would he think, that lessening his former natural abilities as much as possible, was the way to do this most effectually? Would he acknowledge that man by the fall had lost his rational powers, and was become no wiser than the beasts of the field, and of no more understanding than the fowls of heaven; and therefore that he had been utterly incapable of knowing what a kind of being God was, or what his law required, or getting any just notions concerning Christ and the way of salvation? That no one, whose mental powers were so weak, or so much disordered as his had been, could ever possibly get a true under. standing of any of these things? And if God had not been graciously pleased to give him a better head, he must inevitably have been lost for ever? Is this, I say, the acknowledgment one would make with a view to glorify sovereign grace, in bringing him out of darkness into marvellous light? Or would he not rather acknowledge the goodness of God, in giving him rational powers in his first formation, and so rendering him capable of acting a higher and happier part than the mere sensitive creation; capable of serving and enjoy-. ing God as a rational creature? Would he not acknowledge that, though God might justly have deprived him of all the peculiar dignities and advantages of the rational nature, for his own, and not merely for Adam's abuse of them, yet he had not done it? That he had not been denied the use of reason, or the opportunity and means of knowing God as many had been? But that under all these advantages to know God, he had: not glorified him as God, nor been thankful. That he had shut his eyes against the clearest light, turned a deaf ear to the most gracious calls, and hated the best

of Beings; hated him, not for what he is not, but for what he is; for his righteousness, for his holiness; for those very things for which angels and saints, so much admire and love him. And that the more he knew of God and Christ, the more he hated them; and should for ever have done so, had not divine grace most aston, ishingly interposed in favour of so vile a wretch, and changed his nature, given him quite another spirit.

It is strange if any should seriously think, that displaying abroad their natural weaknesses and infirmi ties, and alledging these as the only causes why they have not known, or done better than they have, is the way to humble themselves most before God, and to do the most honour to his grace in their salvation.

Those who hold to natural inability, and suppose all that sinners want, is to have their understandings rectified, thereby virtually and really, though I suppose not designedly deny moral depravity altogether. Should we however suppose sinners are depraved, and even totally depraved, in the temper of their minds; but that they are so impaired in their natural powers too, as to be incapable of understanding and complying with the gospel, if their hearts were good: this natural inability in addition to the moral, would not lay a foundation for a larger and fuller display of divine grace in their salvation, but the contrary. Suppose mankind, when they lost the moral image of God, had lost their reason too, and become fools in the natural sense; and that when their understandings were restored, they were renewed in the temper of their minds also; then it is easy to see, they would never have had opportunity to discover their moral depravity, as when they had understandings good enough, and have known God, but in works have denied him, being abominable, and disobedient, and to every good work reprobate. It would

not appear to themselves, or to any but the Searcher of hearts, what an evil disposition they had been of, and what a moral change had been wrought in them. And consequently, the divine grace toward them, if it was in reality as great, would not be manifested so much. But, indeed, the grace of God in the salvation of men, on that supposition, would not in reality be so great. The better understandings any have, and abuse, the greater is their guilt; and consequently the greater the grace that saves them.

All that now remains is the improvement


1. From what has been said, I think it follows, that there is no foundation for conceiving of sinners as being to blame and inexcusable for part of their neglect of the great salvation, and not for the whole of it; or that they may reasonably be exhorted to do part of what is implied in coming to Christ, but not the whole. Some seem to suppose that unregenerate sinners are not to blame for not doing things, which imply real holiness, and which cannot be done without it, as repenting truly of their sins, believing in Christ, loving God, &c. But that for not doing other things which may be done without any holiness of heart, as reforming externally, praying, &c. they are altogether inexcusable. But is not this evidently a distinction without any just foundation? Either the natural abilities of men must be the measure of their duty, and whatever is short of this, is sin; or else their duty is to be measured by their moral ability, and they are to blame no farther than they fall short of doing what they have a heart to do. Now if we are under obligation to do well to the utmost of our natural power, and no abatement of duty ought to be made, on account of an evil heart, or the want of a good one; then sinners are to blame and altogether inexcusable, in not forsaking

sin heartily, as well as externally; in not believing in Christ, loving God, and being cordially obedient to his will. For none of these things are impossible to such as are well disposed. But if moral power is the measure of duty; if want of a disposition to do other ways than a man does, renders him excusable and not to blame; then all are excusable, none are to blame. The thoughtless and secure, the prayerless and profane, the most profligate and abandoned, are as excusable, as little to blame as any others. For the inclinations of the worst of men, it may, without any great stretch of charity, be supposed, are as bad as their actions are. They are none of them any more wicked than they are disposed to be; nor have any of them a moral power to be any better. The dissolute and immoral might reform, it is true, if they were so inclined. The careless sinner might become serious and thoughtful about his salvation, might read and hear, meditate and pray, if he were so disposed. But it is as true, that sinners might come to the saving knowledge of the way of life, might repent and believe the gospel, were they so disposed; nothing but a heart is wanting in both cases. "The vile person will speak villainy, and his heart will work iniquity, to practice hypocrisy, to utter error, &c." We are told that, "the heart of the sons of men is full of evil." And what they will do, if left to themselves, we are also told, see Rom. i. 27, 31. "God gave them

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over to a reprobate mind;" that is, left them to act their own minds without restraint; and what was the consequence? They were filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, full of envy, murder, &c." The scandalous sinner will not become externally reformed without restraining grace; nor will the secure sinner seek and pray, and use the means of grace, unless he is awaken

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