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generate and fanctify them, Then will 1 Sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean : from all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you.
A new heart also will í give you, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your files, and I will give you an heart of flem. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. Now that which I would argue from hence, is this ; Those idolatrous Jews, to whom God promises that he will cleanse them, and give them a new heart, and a new spi. rit, and put his Spirit into them, were as yet unregenerate, and consequently, as the objedion suppofeth, could not pray for these blessings, nor ask thein of God in a righe manner; and yet he suspends these blessings upon the condition of their praying for them, as is evident, ver. 37. Thus saith the Lord God, I will yet be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them. From whence it is plain, that God would not bestow these blessings upon them, without their seeking to him for them. Now if these persons, because they were unregenerate, could not pray for these things, then these promises signified nothing; which is by no means to be imagined of the promises of God.' So that it is clear, that the Spirit. of God is here promised to the unregenerate, upon condition of their suing to God for it ; and if so, there can be no reason to restrain the promise in the text, which is of the same nature,
and inade upon the same condition, to the regenerate only.
The other text I shall mention, is Jam. i. 5. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men libérally, and upbraideth not ; and It shall be given him. In which words, St. James, under the notion of wisdom, (as I told you before) doth comprehend all the fruits of the Spirit, which are the effect of regeneration and fanctification. Now this promise being conceived in fo general terms, cannot without manifest force and violence be restrained only to the regenerate ; for then the promise should not have run chus, If any man lack wisdom ; but, If any man have this spiritual wildom already, let him ask more of God. You see then what reason there is, why this promise of God's Holy Spirit should be understood in the latitude wherein it is expressed, and not restrained to the regenerate only.
Thirdly, if by having the Spirit of God, be understood the general and common influence of God's Spirit upon the minds of men, whereby they are quickened and excited to their dury; I grant that no man that hath not the Spirit of God in this sense, can pray to God, or acceptably perform any other duty of religion : And this affertion is very agreeable to the phrase and language of the holy fcriptures, which attribute all good motions and actions to the Spirit of God working in us, and affifting us ; and in this sense unregenerate men are under the influence of God's Spirit, or else they could not be said to resist it : but they have not the Spirit of God dwelling in them, which is the most proper sense of having the Spirit of God; in which sense the Apostle says, if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his : but then it is specially to be noted, that the common and transient operation of God's Spirit, which is preparatory to conversion and regeneration, and whereby God works in men a sense of sin, and some inclination and disposition to goodness, is by our Saviour peculiarly attributed to the Father, as his proper work, in which sense our Saviour says, John vi. 44. No man can come to me, except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him. Verse 45. Every man therefore that hath beard, and learned of the Father, cometh unto me. are said to learn of the Father, and to be drawn by him, by those preparatory dispositions for the receiving of the Christian religion, which were wrought in men by that natural fense of good and evil, which they have by the law of nature, which is properly the dispensation of the Father, as being the immediate effect of God's creation, as a late judicious wri. ter hath very well observed, and more largely explained.
Fourthly, Fourthly, But if by having the Spirit of God, be meant the special effect of regeneration, and fan&tification, and the permanent influence and constant residence of God's Holy Spirit in good men, then I make no doubt to say, that those who have not the Spirit of God in this sense, may ask his Spirit of him ; that is, those who are not yet regenerate and fanatified,
may in an acceptable manner pray to God to give them his Holy Spirit, to the purposes of sanctification and perseverance in goodness; and they may ask this of God, fincerely, earnestly, and in faith, which are the qualifications of an acceptable prayer. And this I think may be evidently made appear, both from scripture, and by good consequence from the concessions of all sorts of Divines.
1. From scripture. It is plain that wicked and unregenerate men are commanded and required to pray to this purpose. Not to mention the general commands concerning prayer, which do certainly oblige unregenerate men, I will produce one plain and undeniable instance, Acts viii. 22, 23. where St. Peter directs Simon Magus, whom he expresly declares to be in an unregenerate state, to pray to God for the pardon of his great fin; which certainly he would not have done, had he thought an unregenerate man could not pray in an acceptable manner ; because his counsel would have been to no purpose: but it is plain that St. Peter was so far froin thinking that an unregenerate man could not pray acceptably to God, that he gives this as the reason why he should pray; because he was unregenerate : Pray * to God, if, perhaps the thought of thy heart may be forgiven thee : for 1 perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.
2. This will appear farther by clear consequence, from the concessions of all sorts of Divines, and principles granted on all hands.
1. It is universally granted, that it is a thing very pleasing, and acceptable to God, that men should pray to be regenerate and san&ified ; so that the mater of this prayer is unquestionably acceptable.
2. It is likewise granted on all hands, that before a man is regenerate and fanctified, he must be made sensible of his evil and sinful state, and of his great need of God's grace and Spirit, and that God's Spirit is able to work this change in him, and that it is the will of God that he thould be regenerate and fanctified.
3. It is likewise generally granted, that these preparatory works of regeneration, these beginnings of our repentance and turning to God, and all desires and endeavours to that purpose, are acceptable to God.
Now from these concessions it plainly follows, that an unregenerate man may pray to God acceptably for his Holy Spirit, to regenerate and fanctify him. For, 1. The matter of his
prayer is very acceptable to God, according to the first concession.
2. The manner of it may be acceptable, because an unregenerate man may pray for this fincerely, with earnestness, and in faith : sincerely, because he may put up this prayer to God, out of a true sense of his miserable and sinful state, and his great need of God's grace and Holy Spirit ; and he that is truly sensible of this, cannot dissemble with God, he can. not but be very real and sincere in this request; and this sense of his condition, and the need of what he asks, will make him earnest and importunate ; and he may pray in faith, that is, not doubting but that God is able and willing to grant him what he asks, because he may be convinced that the Spirit is able to work this change in him, and that this is the will of God, that he should be regenerate and sanctified, according to the second concellion.
3. There is no reason to think, that God will not accept fuch a prayer as this ; because these preparative works of regeneration, viz. a sense of our sinful state and of our need of God's grace and Spirit; and earnest desires and prayers for these, are acceptable to God, according to the third concession. So that now I hope this objection, which hath been fo troublesome to many, is fully satisfied. VOL, X.
As for those texts where it is said, that the prayer's and the sacrifices of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord, I shall briefly return this answer, That these texts are not to be understood of a wicked and unregenerate man, simply as such, but as resolved to continue such. And thus Solomon elsewhere in the Proverbs explains what he means by a wicked man, Prov. xxviii. 9. He that turneth away his ear from bearing the law, even his prayer, shall be an abomination. So that the wicked man, whose prayer is an abomination, is such an one as is obstinately and resolvedly disobedient, such an one as turneth away his ear from hearing the law. And David much to the fame purpose, Pial. I. 15, 16, 17. Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me. But unto the wicked God faith, what haft thou to do to deciare my statutes, or that thou shoulds take my covenant in thy mouth ; seeing thou hatest inAruction, and castest my words behind thee? Such wicked men as will not be reclaimed, what have they to do to pray, or perform any other act of religion? Nothing that they do, whilft such, can be acceptable to God. And to the same sense David says elsewhere, If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear my prayer. God will reject the prayers of the best men, if they retain a secret love to
if it be yet farther objected, That unregenerate men are out of Christ, in and through whom we are accepted : To this I answer, That those only who are in Chrift, are in a state of perfect acceptance with God : But the beginnings of this state, and all tendency towards it, such as is hearty and earnest pray, er to God for his Holy Spirit, to regenerate and fanctify us, have their degrees of acceptance from their relation to the perfect state whereof they are the beginnings, and toward which they tend for by the same reason that a regenerate state is acceptable to God, all the beginnings of it, and preparations to it are proportionably acceptable; the degrees of acceptance being proportionable to the dif