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Containing, (1) Arguments to prove, that all men univera fally, in the day of their visitation, have some gracious power to believe some faving truth. And (2) An answer to objections.
and guarded, in writing upon so important, and delicate a subject, I once attempt to explain, strengthen, and guard the doctrine that it contains.
1. I have said that Faith (considered in general] is believing heartily ; I add, and sometimes it may fignify a power to believe heartily. For as God gives to all the Heathens in the day of their visitation, a power to believe heartily that God is, indulging them with gracious calls and opportunites to use that power; we may say, that he gives them the faith of their dispensation. Nevertheless all the Heathens have not that faith: For many obstinately bury their talent, till at at last it is taken from them.
As this doctrine of faith entirely subverts the doctrine of finished damnation, which is so closely connected with the doctrines of absolute ele&lion, and finished salvation : I bega leave to add the following arguments to those which I have produced to prove, that faith is not the work of God in the sense of our adversaries, and that in the day of salvation, thro' the free gift which is come upon all men, we have all fome gracious power to believe some saving truth.
* (1) Iffaith is the work of God in the same sense in which the creation is his performance, when Christ marvelled at the Centurion's faith, he marvelled, that God should be able to do what he pleases, or that a man should do what he can no more help doing, than he can hinder the world from existing : That is, he marvelled at what was not at all marvellous ; and he might as well have wondered that a tun should outweigh an ounce.
(2) When God invites Every creature in all the world to believe, (Mark xvi: 15.] if he denies most of them power so to do, he insults over their wretched impotence, and acts a part which can hardly be reconciled with sincerity. What would the world think of the king, if he perpetually invited all the Irish poor over to England to partake of his royal charity, and took care that most of them should never meet with any vessels to bring them over, but such as would be sure to founder in the passage.
(3) When our Lord endeavoured to name the pharisees for their unbelief, he said, John came to you and ye believed him not, but the publicans and harlots believed him : and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not after. wards, that ye might believe. But if faith is the work of God in the sense of our adversaries, was it any shame to the pharisees, that God would not do his own work ? Had they any more reason to blush at it, than we have to redden, because God does not give us wings and fins as he does to birds and fishes ?
* (4) To suppose that Christ asiduously preached the gospel to the inhabitants of Capernaum, whilst all the time he withheld from them power to believe it, and that afterwards he appointed them a more intolerable damnation for not believing : -To suppose this I say, is to cast the most horrible reflection upon the lamb of God. But if it is allowed, that those obftinate unbelievers will justly be sent into a more dreadful hell, for having buried to the end their talent of power to believe in their stronger P2
light ; is it not reasonable to suppose, that those who Call go to a less intolerable hell, will also be sent there for having finally refused to use their talent of power to believe in their weaker light?
(5) Altho' Christ positively says, that men shall be damned for their unbeliek: (See John iii. 18. Mark xvi. 16.] yet some of our adversaries deny it; being deservedly-afhamed of representing our Lord as damning myriads of men for not doing what is absolutely impoffible. Hence they tell us, that reprobates shall be damned only for their sins. But inis contrivance does not mend the matter : for bad works, or fins, necessarily flow from unbelief. Now, unbelief being nothing, but the absence of faith : God, by absolutely withholding all saving faith neceffarily causes all unbelief; and unbelief, by neceffarily causing all fin, necessarily causes also damnation. For he that absolutely withholds all light neceffarily causes ail darkness, and of course a'l the works of darkness.
Thus“ the doctrines of grace" [so called] that seem to sear their graceful head to heaven, end in the lefs venomous tail of finished damnation. “ Definit in pifcem mulier formofa fuperne.
(6) The design of the gospel, with regard to God is evidently to extol his grace, and clear his justice, Now, if an absolute decree of preterition, or limited redemption, hinders a vast majority of mankind from believing to falvation, both those ends of the golpel are entirely defeated in all that perish : For God by passing by the reprobated culprits thousands of years before they were born, and by withholding every dram of faving grace from them, shows himself a merciless Creator to them all. Nor does this opinion lels horribly impeach God's justice than his grace ; for it represents him as judicially sentencing men to eternal torments, merely for the fin of a man whom most of them never heard of; or which is all one, for the necessary, unavoidable, pre-ordained consequences of that sin.
(7) St. Paul, in his epistles to the Romans, takes
particular care to clear God's justice with respect to the condemnation of the wicked, that every mouth may be stopped-and that they may be without excufe. But the scheme which I oppose, instead of leaving men with out excufe, opens their mouths, and fills them with the best apology in the world. “ Absolute neceffity and complete impofñbility, caused by another before we were born:" An apology this, which no candid person can ever object to.
* (8) Agreeably to St. Paul's doctrine our Lord observes, that the man sentenced to be cast into ouler darkness for not having on a wedding garment, was Speechless. But if the Crispian doctrines of grace are true, might not that man, with the greatest pro. priety, have said to the master of the feast, while the executioners bound him hand and foot ; all eternity I shall impeach thy justice, Othou partial judge. Thou appointeft me the hell of hypocrites, merely because I have not on a wedding garment, which thou hast from all eternity purposedly kept from me, under the strong lock and key of thy irreversible decrees. Is this the manner in which thou judgest the world in righteoufness ?"
(9) If salvation depends upon faith, and if God never gives reprobates power to believe in the light that enlightens every man, and a sufficiency of means so to do; it follows, that he never gives them any perfonal ability to escape damnation ; but only to recure and increase their damnation ; and thus he
deals far harder with them than he did with devils, · For Satan and his angels were all personally put in a ftate of initial salvation, and endued with a personal ability to do that, on which their eternal salvation depended. To fuppose therefore, that a majority of the children of Adam, who are born finful without any personal fault of their own, and who can say to the incarnate Son of God, Thou art flesh of our flesh, and bone of our tone to suppose, I say, that a vast majority of these favoured creatures have far less favour shown ihem, than Beelzebub himself
had, is so graciless, so evangelical a do&rine, that one might be tempted to think, it is ironically called the diftrine of grace; and to suspect, that its defenders are filed “ cuangelical ministers” by way of burkque.
* From the preceding arguments I conclude, that when it is said in the scriptures, people COULD NOT believe, this is to be understood, either of persons, whose day of grace was over, and who of course were justly given up to a reprobate mind, as the men mentioned, Rom. i. 21, 28 : Or of persons, who by not using their one talent of power to believe the obvious truths belonging to a lower dispensation, absolutely incapacitated themselves to believe the deep truths belonging to Christianity:
II. Altho' I flatter myself, that the preceding arguments guard the doctrine of free-grace against the attacks of those, who contend for free-wrath ; I dare no! yet conclude. Still fearful left some difficulty unremoved should prejudice the candid reader against the truth,'I beg leave to answer three more plausible objections to the doctrine of this Essay.
OBJ. V. “ If faith is the gift of the God of GRACE « 10 us, as fighe is the gift of the God of NATURE, does “ it not follow, that as we may see when we will, 6 so we may believe in Chrift believe the for“ giveness of our sins; and, by that means, fill our. “ Jelves with peace and joy in the Holy Ghost when we 6. have a mind ? But is not this contrary to experi• ence? Do not the best Christians remember a “ time, when they could no more believe than
they could make a world, tho' they prayed for 66 faith with all the ardor they were capable of ?”.
Ans. (1) You still seem to take it for granted, that there is no true faith, but an explicit faith IN Christ: and no explicit faith in Christ, but the fouth of full assurance. But I hope, that I have al