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"irresistible." So that, in the Acts, "the Holy Ghost" must, according to your interpretation, signify the outward ministry, and that must be the only thing resisted; but, in St. Luke, the outward ministry shall signify "the inward working of the HOLY GHOST," and that shall be irresistible.
EFFICAX.-The Apostle saith, "It is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure." (Phil. ii, 13.) TIL.-The Apostle doth not say, that "God doth this immediately and irresistibly;" for if he did, that would evacuate the force of his exhortation, (which is both a mean and suasion,) to the duty of " 'working out our salvation," &c.; for the enforcing whereof that is rendered as the reason, which is "the cord of a man." He speaks not of the means or manner of God's working. * And that he works the ability, I grant; but not the very act itself of our duty, (which if he did, it would be his act, not ours, and so not obedience, for he hath no superior,) much less doth he work it immediately and irresistibly.
EFFICAX.-The Prophet acknowledgeth, that the Lord "worketh all our works in us." (Isai. xxvi, 12.)
TIL.-If the text were to be read "in us," there were some small colour for your pretension; but in the original, it is "for us;" and, therefore, rejecting the sense which you would put upon the words, some understand "all the benefits, which God nad bestowed upon them," answerable to the former part of the verse, Lord, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou hast wrought," &c. Others understand it of "their afflictions and distresses," in opposition to that former branch of the verse, and agreeable to the verse following, "Other Lords.have had dominion over us." But if you would have the meaning of that (or any other place of scripture,) to be this, "that God doth immediately and irresistibly produce all our spiritual works," (which are works as well of DUTY as of GRACE in us,) and "that he hath tied himself by covenant and promise so to do," (as is affirmed by some,) then it will undeniably follow, that God himself, being so engaged, ought to believe, and repent, and pray, and do all other necessary good in us: As Servetus said, "The fire burns "not, the sun shines not, bread nourishes not: but that God "alone doth immediately all these things in his creatures, with"out having given them such properties." And then, sure, it were
* 1 Pet. i, 22.-1 Cor. xv, 10..
fitter for the preacher to direct his admonitions to God alone, that he would perform his undertaken work in men's hearts, by his omnipotency, unto which they may never find ability to make resistance. But the truth is, it standeth not with God's wisdom, neither doth he ever use to work upon the will of man after this manner, and that for three reasons.
DR. DUBIOUS.-I pray, let us hear them clearly from you. TIL. FIRST, then, Though (speaking of his absolute power,) God can compel and necessitate the will of man, (and so we do not make him stronger than God, as is very weakly concluded by some,) yet he will not; because he will not violate that order which he hath set in our creation. He made man after his own image, invested him with a reasonable soul, having the use of understanding and the freedom of will. He endowed him with a power to consider and deliberate, to consult and choose; and so, by consequence, he gave him dominion over himself and his own actions; that, having made him lord of the whole world, he might not be a slave to himself, but imprimis animi sui possesione regnaret, "might first exercise his sovereignty in the free possession of his own mind," saith Tertullian. To force his will, were to destroy the nature of his creature, (which grace is not designed to do, but only to heal and assist it,) and therefore God deals with man as a free agent; by instructions and commands, by promises and threatenings, by allurements and reproofs, by rewards and punishments. So true is the
saying of that father, Nemo invitus fit bonus.* With this accords the Son of Syrach: "God made man from the beginning, and left him in the hand of his counsel. If thou wilt keep the commandments, and perform acceptable faithfulness, He hath set fire and water before thee: stretch forth thy hand unto whether thou wilt. Before man is life and death, and whether him liketh shall be given him." (Ecclus. xv, 14-17.)
KNOWLITTLE. That text is Apocryphal, and therefore will not serve your turn, if you produce it to confirm a point of faith.
TIL-MY SECOND REASON shall confirm it out of the authentic canon, and it shall be this: viz., because God will have our faith and our repentance, and his whole service wherein we engage ourselves, to be a work of our own choice,—as it is
"No man is made good in opposition to his own inclination."
said of Mary, "she had chosen the good part;" and hereupon our Saviour propounds the query, " Wilt thou be made whole?" (John v, 6.) And so the Prophet Jeremiah before him, “O Jerusalem, wilt thou not be made clean? when shall it once be?" (xiii, 27.)-God doth not necessitate nor irresistibly determine his people's will, but only directs, and conjures, and assists them to make the best choice. "Behold I set before you this day a blessing and a curse;" (Deut. xi, 26.) and more fully, "See, I have set before thee, this day, life and good, death and evil;” (xxx, 15.) and, "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life." (verse 19.) And this is rendered as the reason of man's rejection, "Because ye did not choose the fear of the Lord." (Prov. i, 29.)
NARROWGRACE.By this reason you make man to have FREE
TIL.-Under favour, Sir, it is not I, but it was God that made him to have it: and he that denies all freedom of will to man, deserves no other argument than a whip or a cudgel to confute him. Sure, the smart would quickly make him find liberty enough to run from it. Our woful experience tells us, we have too much free-will to do evil; and Scripture teacheth us plainly, that we have liberty in moral things;* and for the service of God and things spiritual, our Saviour Christ saith, "If the Son shall make you free," (John viii, 36,) (and he doth so by the ministry of his gospel,) "ye shall be free indeed;" (verse 32.) and "sin shall have no more dominion over you,”—unless ye yield yourselves up to the power of it. (Rom. vi, 14, 16.) Joshua was so well assured hereof, that he puts it to the people's choice, † (which implies their liberty,) to serve the Lord or other gods. Yourself acknowledged even now, out of the Philippians, that "God worketh in us to will and to do," which signifies a liberty, else it could not signify an ability; whereupon St. Paul saith, Ioxvw, "I am able to do, or suffer, all things." (Phil. iv, 13.)
NARROWGRACE.-The Apostle addeth in that place, "through Christ strengthening me;" for "without Christ we can do nothing." (John xv.)
† Jos. xxiv, 15.
* Nunb. xxx, 13.-1 Cor. vii, 36, 37.
TIL.-Nothing spiritual, that puts us into possession of heaven, or accompanies salvation. But, observe, it is not "through Christ FORCING," but "through Christ STRENGTHENING me." The grace and the ability are from Christ; but it is our part and duty to actuate that ability, and co-operate with that grace: And therefore it will be worth your notice to observe, that what God promiseth to do himself in one place, He commands the very same things to be done by us in another; to intimate, that, although the power of acting be derived from his assistance, yet the act itself, as it is a duty, depends upon our co-operation. Thus, "Circumcision of the heart" is promised, as from God, in Deut. xxx, 6; but commanded, as to be done by us, in Deut. x, 16, and in Jer. iv, 4.-" A new heart and spirit" promised in Ezek. xxxvi, 26; but commanded in Ezek. xviii, 31. *—“ I will be your God," promised in Jerem. xxxii, 38; but commanded Exod. xx. 3; and "if ye forsake him, he will cast you off for ever." (1 Chron. xxviii, 9.) "One heart and one way," promised in Jer. xxxii, 39; yet commanded, Ephes. iv, 3, 4. 1 Cor. i, 10. So in Jer. xxxii, 40, it is promised, "I will put my fear in their hearts;" yet in Prov. i, 29, [it is said, "because they did not choose the fear of the Lord," and 1 Pet. ii, 17. -So it is promised, "I will write my laws in their inward parts, and they shall be all taught of God." (Jer. xxxi, 33, Isai. liv, 13.) Yet, in other places, it is commanded, "Be swift to hear; take heed how you hear; as new-born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word." (1 Pet. ii, 1, 2. See Prov. vii, 1, 3 ; and Rom. x, 8, 17.)-So it is promised in Isai. i, 25, “I will purge;" yet, in 2 Tim. ii, 21, "He that purgeth himself."So it is promised in Jer. xxxiii, 8, "I will cleanse them from all their iniquity;" yet in James iv, 8, Isai. i, 16, 18, it is commanded, "Wash ye, make ye clean."-And it is evident, that God many times fulfilleth his promise and performeth his part, when man altogether neglecteth his part and duty. "I have purged thee and THOU WAST NOT PURGED." (Ezek. xxiv, 13.) -See Matt. xi, 21, Luke vii, 30.
DR. DUBIOUS.-Enough of this! You promised us a THIRD REASON, why God doth not (as you pretend,) work man's conversion and his faith, by a power grace irresistible: I let us hear that also.
TIL.-Sir, you shall have it in a few words, and it is this: Because he will not save us, (I speak of the adult, who have the use of their faculties,) but in a way of duty. "If thou do well, shalt thou not be accepted?" (Gen. iv, 7.) "To them who by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory and honour, and immortality," (Rom. ii, 6, 7,) to them, and to them. only, will he render "eternal life;" and therefore He is said to be "the Author of eternal salvation, only to them that obey him." (Heb. v, 9.) Now, observe, that which is not wrought by the omnipotent impulse and irresistible motion and operation of God, that cannot be the duty of a poor frail creature. Or thus, what is a work of Almightiness in God, cannot be a work of obedience in us; if it were, it would conclude us to be omnipotent. Besides, the act could not be an act of duty; Christ could do nothing, that was duty for us, till he had submitted himself to the condition of our nature;* because God, supposed to be the doer of it, is not under obedience. But repentance and amendment of life, &c., are required, as a duty, of us, and as part of our obedience. "Amend your ways," (Jer. vii, 3, 5,) “and make you a new heart and a new spirit." (Ezek. xviii, 31.)
KNOWLITTLE. By this doctrine, you seem to make a man his own saviour.
TIL.-If I should, not only seem to do so, but do so in good earnest, (so it be in a way of subordination to Christ,) I see no harm in it. St. Paul saith, "Work out your salvation." Yea, St. Peter, exhorting to repentance, saith expressly, "Save yourselves." (Acts ii, 40.) To our safety our own sedulity is required, according to that trite saying, "He that made thee without thyself, will never save thee without thyself."
DR. ABSOLUTE.-Methinks, this doth hardly sound like that doctrine which the Apostle labours so earnestly to establish, to shut the creature for ever out of all ground and occasion of boasting. Rom. iii, 27.
TIL. For a man to boast himself in his riches is VANITY,in his wickedness is IMPIETY,-in his works, performed in obedience to the law of Moses, or out of the strength of nature, (as if they could justify and save him,) is ARROGANCY:-But to glory in the Lord, and rejoice in his salvation, is not only allow
* Phil. ii, 7.