« PrécédentContinuer »
dience ; for he that sincerely asks this, is sincerely willing to obey, or sincerely desirous of obeying. Or, 2. If the Doctor, by that obedience that is indispensably required in order to salvation, means perseverance in sincere virtue, and this be promised to devoutly and sincerely asking it; then hereby must be meant, either devoutly and sincerely asking it once, or final perseverance in this sincere asking, or a certain limited continuance in that asking. If a final perseverance in asking be the condition of grace to lead us to persevere, saving virtue is, as said before, the condition of itself. For persevering sincerity is the condition of obtaining persevering sincerity. If it be only once asking, or asking a limited number of times, or a limited continuance in asking, this is contrary to the Arminian doctrine about perseverance. For it supposes a person in this life, on a past condition, to be already, before the end of the day of his probation, so confirmed iu obedience that it is impossible for him to fall away.
$ 26. One danger of these Arminian notions is, that they strongly tend to prevent conviction of sin.
§ 27. The vast pretences of Arminians to an accurate and clear view of the scope and design of the sacred penmen, and a critical knowledge of the original, will prove for ever vain and insufficient to help them against such clear evidence as the scripture exhibits concerning efficacious grace. I desire it may be shown, if it can be, that ever any terms, that are fuller and stronger, are used more frequently, or in greater variety, to signify God's being the author, efficient, and bestower of any kind of benefit, than as to the bestowment of true virtue or goodness of heart; whether concerning the deliverance out of Egypt, or the manna that was rained down from heaven, or the bestowment of the blessings of Canaan, or saving Noah and his family in the ark; or the raising any from the dead, or Christ's giving health to the sick, or sight to the blind, or bread to the hungry in the wilderness, or any thing else whatsoever; or the giving being to mankind in their creation; the giving reason to them, with their other natural faculties; the giving them life and breath; the giving them the beautiful form of their bodies ; the giving them life at the general resurrection; the giving them their glory and happiness in heaven; the prophets, and the word of God by the prophets and others; the giving the means of grace and salvation; the giving Christ, and providing means of salvation in him. Yea, I know of no one thing in scripture wherein such significant, strong expressions are used, in so great variety, or one half so often, as the bestowment of this benefit of true goodness and piety of heart.. But after all, we must be faced down in it with vast confidence, that the scriptures do not imply any more than only exhibiting means of instruction, leaving the determining and proper causing of the effect wholly with man, as the only proper, efficient, and determining cause; and that the current of scripture VOL. VII.
is all against us and that it is because we do not understand lariguage, and are bigots and fools for imagining any such thing as that the scriptures say any thing of that nature, and because the divines on our side do not understand Greek, and do not lay the scripture before them, nor mind the scope of scripture, nor consider the connexion, &c. &c. Perhaps it will be said, that every one of those scriptures, which are brought to prove efficacious grace, may have another interpretation, found out by careful and critical examination. But, alas! Is that the way of the Most High’s instructing mankind, to use such a multitude of expressions, in different languages, and various different ages, all which, in their natural and most common acceptation, in all languages, nations, and ages, must undoubtedly be understood in a particular sense ; yea, the whole thread and current of all that God says, according to the use of speech among mankind, tends to lead to such an understanding, and so unavoidably leads his people in all ages into such an understanding; but yet, that he means no such thing; intending only that the true meaning should not be found out, but by the means of acute criticism, which might possibly hit upon the strange, unusual, and surprising meaning ?
$28. Instead of persons being the determining and efficient causes of their own virtue and piety, after all the moral means God uses with man, let us suppose some third person between God and the subject of this gift of virtue, to be in the very same manner the sovereignly determining cause and efficient of virtue; that he had power to bestow it on us, or cause us to be the subjects of it, just in the same manner as the Arminians suppose we ourselves have power to be the causes of our being the subjects of virtue; and that it depended on this third person's free will, just in the same manner as now they suppose our having virtue depends on our own free will; and that God used moral means with that third person to bestow virtue on us, just in the same manner that he uses moral means to persuade us to cause virtue in ourselves, and the moral means had the like tendency to operate on his will as on ours; but finally, it was left entirely to his free will to be the sole determining cause whether we should have virtue, without any such influence on his will as in the least to ensure his sovereignty, and arbitrary disposal, and perfectly free self-determination; and it should be left contingent, whether he would bestow it or not; and, in these circumstances, this third person should happen to determine in our favour, and bestow virtue: Now I ask, would it be proper to ascribe the matter so wholly to God, in such strong terms, and in such a great variety; to ascribe it so entirely to him as his gift; to pray to him beforehand for it; to give him thanks, to give him all the glory, &c. ? On the contrary, would not this determining cause, whose arbitrary, self-determined, selfpossessed, sovereign will, decides the matter, be properly looked upon as the main cause, vastly the most proper cause, the truest
author and bestower of the benefit? Would not he be, as it were, all in the cause? Would not the glory properly belong to him, on whose pleasure the determination of the matter properly depended!
$29. By regeneration, being new creatures, raised from death in sin, in the New Testament, is not meant merely persons' being brought into the state and privileges of professing Christians, according to Dr. Taylor. When Christ says unto Nicodemus, John iii. 3, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God;" he does not mean merely, that unless a man be brought to a participation of the new state and privileges of the Christian church, he cannot enter on the possession and privileges of the Christian church; for that would be nonsense, and only to say, unless a man be born again, he cannot be born again; or, unless a man enter into the new state of things, as erected by the Messiah, he cannot enter on the new state of things as erected by the Messiah. Nor can he mean, that unless a man be a professing Christian, he cannot see the future and eternal privileges of the kingdom of heaven, for he supposes many heathens will see the kingdom of God in that sense.
And how unreasonable would it be to suppose that Christ would teach this doctrine of the necessity of being instated in his new modelled church, as such a great, important, and main doctrine of his!
Taylor, to make out his scheme, is forced to suppose, that by being born of God is meant two things in the New Testament, (see p. 127, of his Key and on Original Sin, p. 144, &c.) So he is forced to suppose, that by the kingdom of God is meant two things, (p. 125, marginal note, and other places,) and so he supposes two senses of our being of the truth, our being of, or in God, and knowing God, (see p. 127, marginal note.) He is forced to suppose that many of the expressions, signifying antecedent blessings, are to be taken in a double sense, (see p. 138, No. 243, &c.) See how evidently being born of God signifies something else than a being brought into the state of professing Christians, 1 John ii. 29. “If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doth righteousness is born of him.” Chap. iii. “Whatsoever is born of God, doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” Chap. iv. 8. “Every one that loveth, is born of God, and knoweth God." Chap. v. 4. “Whatsoever is born of God, overcometh the world." Verse 18. “ We know that whosoever is born of God, sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God, keepeth himself; and that wicked one toucheth him not."
So it is exceeding apparent, that knowing God, and being of God, and in God, having this inope in him, &c., mean something beside our Christian profession, and principles, and privileges.
1 John ii. 3, &c. " Hereby do we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected. Hereby know we that we are in him." Chap. iji. “Every one that hath this hope in him, purifieth bimself, even as he is pure." Chap. iii. 14. “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." Chap. iv. 12. “If we love one another, God dwelleth in us." Taylor supposes that this same apostle, by being born of God, means being received to the privileges of professing Christians. John i. 12. (p. 49.) 1 John v. 1, and v. 18. (p. 48.) i John iii. 1. (p. 49.)
$30. Why does the apostle say, concerning apostates, “they were not of us: If they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us; but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us;" if it be, as Dr. Taylor supposes, that professing Christians are indeed of the society of Christians to all intents and purposes, have all their privileges, are truly the children of God, members of Christ, of the household of God, saints, believers that have obtained like precious faith, are all one body, have one spirit, one faith, one inheritance, have their hearts purified and sanctified, are all the children of light, are all of the household of God, fellow-citizens with the saints, have all fellowship with Christ, &c.?
$31. It is true, the nation of the Jews are in the Old Testament said to be elected, called, created, made, formed, redeemed, delivered, saved, bought, purchased, begotten. But particular Jews are no where so spoken of, at least with reference to the same thing, viz. their national redemption, when they were brought out of Egypt, &c.
David, in the book of Psalms, though he is so abundant there in giving thanks to God for his mercies, and is also so frequent in praising God for God's redeeming his people out of Egypt, and the salvation God wrought for the nation and church of Israel at that time; yet he never once blesses God (having respect to that salvation) that God had chosen him and redeemed him, bought him, regenerated him; never (having reference to that affair) speaks in the language of the apostle, “ He loved me, and gave himself for me ;" though he often speaks of the blessedness of those men God had chose, and caused to come nigh unto him, agreeably to the language of the New Testament, and often blesses God for redeeming and saving him in particular; but never, in any of these things, has he respect to those national privileges, nor indeed any other of the penmen of the Psalms; which is very strange, if the privilege of being bought, made, created, &c., as applied to the nation of the Jews, be that which the apostle in the New Testament applies to himself in particular, and which this and the other apostles applied to many other particular persons.
$32. That professing Christians are said to be sanctified, washed, &c., does not argue, that all professing Christians are so in fact. For Taylor himself says," it should be carefully observed, that it is very common in the sacred writings, to express not only our Christian privileges, but also the duty to which they oblige, in the present or preterperfect tense; or to speak of that as done, which only ought to be done, and which, in fact, may possibly never be done: As in Matth. v. 13. “Ye are the salt of the earth,” that is, ye ought to be. Rom. ii. 4.
- The goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance;" that is, ought to lead thee: Chap. vi. 2. Chap. viii. 9. Col. iii. 3. i Pet. i. 6. “Wherein ye greatly rejoice;" i. e. ought to rejoice. 2 Cor. iii. 18. “We all with open face (enjoying the means of) beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are (ought to be, enjoy the means of being) changed into the same image from glory to glory.” 1 Cor. v. “ Ye are unleavened," i. e. obliged by the Christian profession to be. Heb. xiii. 14. “We seek (i. e. we ought to seek, or, according to our profession, we seek) a city to come.” 1 John ii. 12-15. jii. 9. v. 418, and in other places. See Taylor's Key, p. 139. No. 244, and p. 144. No. 246. This overthrows all his supposed proofs, that those which he calls antecedent blessings do really belong to all professing Christians.
$ 33. The case was quite otherwise in the Christian church with regard to election, redemption, creation, &c., from what it was with the Jews. With the Jews, election, their redemption out of Egypt, their creation, was a national thing; it began with them as a nation, and descended, as it were, from the nation, to particular persons. Particular persons were first of the nation and church of the Jews; so, by that means, had an interest in their election, redemption, &c., that God wrought of old. The being of the nation and church of Israel, was the ground of a participation in these privileges.* But it is evident, it is contrariwise in Christians. With regard to them, the election, redemption, creation, regeneration, &c., are personal things. They begin with particular persons, and ascend to public societies. Men are first redeemed, bought, created, regenerated, and by that means become members of the Christian church; and this is the ground of their membership. Paul's regeneration, and Christ's loving him, and giving himself for him, was the foundation of his being of the Christian church, that holy nation, peculiar people, &c., whereas, David's being one of the nation of Israel, is the proper ground of his participation in Israel's redemption out of Egypt, and of that birth
* It is much to be doubted whether our author is correct in the material distinction he here makes between the Jewish and Christian dispensations. The reader will consider whether privileges and blessings were not personal as much under the one as the other.