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regeneration. 1 Pet. i. 22, 23. See also 1 Jobn ii. 29. and ii, 1, 3. And it appears that every man, in his first or natural state, is a sinner; for otherwise be would then need no repentance, no conversion, no turning from sin to God. And it appears that every man, in his original state, has a beart of stone; for thus the scripture calls that old heart which is taken away, when a new heart and a new spirit are given. Ezek. xi. 19. and xxxvi. 26. And it
appears that man's nature, as in his native state, is “ corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,” and of its own motion exerts itself in nothing but wicked deeds. For thus the scripture characterises the “ old man,” which is put off, when men are renewed in the spirit of their minds, and put on the new man. Eph. iv. 22–24. Col. iii. 8—10. In a word, it appears that man's nature, as in its native state, is a " body of sin,” which must be destroyed, must die, be buried, and never rise more. For thus the “old man" is represented, which is crucified, when men are the subjects of a spiritual resurrection; Rom. vi. 4–6. Such a nature, such a body of sin as this, is put off in the spiritual renovation, wherein we put on the “pew man,” and are the subjects of the spiritual circumcision. Eph.iv. 21–23.
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This will close our remarks upon the work or influence of the Holy Spirit, in Effectual Calling, Regeneration, and Conversion, and lead us to the fourth and last division of our Essay-pamely, to consider the part which man has to perform in his own salvation: for man is not a mere machine, he is a reasonable being, and be is also an accountable being; and bis Maker bas placed a monitor within, to teach him what is right.
I am aware that I am now about to tread upon disputed ground. The part that man bas to perform in his own salvation, has been a subject of controversy among meu of great learoing and piety in all ages of the Christian Church. Therefore, for me to bazard an opinion may be considered presumptuous; yet every man that can read his bible is entitled to think and judge for himself in all wat. ters that relate to the salvation of the soul,
Every man who reads his bible with attention must acknowledge that he finds in it seeming contradictions. Seeming contradictions there certainly are, and until the reader clearly understands the plan of salvation they will appear as contradictions; but when this is better understood, they will in a great measure disappear. Yet a mystery still remains: “ God manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” I Tim. iii. 16. This will remain mysterious, until we close our eyes on this world, and open them in eternity.
The question at issue appears to be, How far is man passive or active in bis own salvation ? and this clearly understood will explain the Scripture, and the Scripture understood will explain this point; which, to my apprebension, is somewhat as follows:
God is the first, and man the second cause, in this great work we are speaking of. These two do not exclude one another; for a first cause is not inconsistent with a secondary one; nay, it supposes it. God acts, and we act; he first, and tben we: and we cannot act or work, till we be set on work. The first grace, by which we are enabled to believe, and are converted, is from God alone; but afterwards, our wills being renewed and regenerated, they become a principle of action, and they co-operate with God's grace in our salvation. This is the meaning of Jer, xxxi. 18. “ Turn thou me, and 1 shall be turned;" and ver. 19. “ Surely, after I was turned I repested, and after I was instructed I smote upon my thigh." Whence it is manifest that ours is but a secondary power: the first belongs to God alone. This we are to understand by those words of the Church to Christ, Cant. i. 4. “ Draw me: we will run after thee." And John i. 44. “ No man can come unto me, except the Fatber, which bath sent me, draw him.” God draws first, and then we come. God's grace must excite and prevent us, and then we follow it. Man first receives a power from God to work, and then he worketh with God's grace. Which I apprehend is meant by that of the apostle, " Work out your own salvation," &c. which is spoken to the Philippians, who had been first wrought upon, avd had received and obeyed the Gospel; they being now quickened and acted
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by the Spirit, are able to act in concurrence with him; that is, they act in a secondary way, and with relation to the first mover: this is working out their salvation. In this sense we may interpret the scriptures before quoted, concerning God's acting and ours. His grace
and man's will are concurrent causes; the one as the immediate and first cause, the other only as the second and remote. Now we know that if God be the first cause, we, who are second
causes, cannot effect any thing before bim, or willout hiin. It is absurd and contradictory in the very terms to say, that the second cause hath place before the first cause. Wherefore, when we make ourselves the first causes and actors in our salvation, we talk irration. ally, and contradict ourselves.
We are to consider God as the original and independent cause, and man as acting from and by bim. This is a distinct consideration from the former; for before I looked upon these causes according to the order of time, and so God is first, and man second; but now I do not respect the priority of acting, but the dependance the latter bath upon the former. God himself is beholding to none; but man derives all his power and ability to act from him. We are perpetually ivfluenced by divive grace; the will ever stands in need of supernatural help and assistance. Whatever good proceeds from this faculty, is derived from the eternal source of all good. We can do nothing by our own dative strength; but being renewed and changed by the Holy Spirit, we can do all that is commanded us. And that which is thus done by divine aid, is our doing; for the asserting of a first and independent cause, doth not take away the operation of a second and dependant cause. A new life is put into us by God, which renders us active and vigorous; but this is our life, for what is freely given us is ours. The Spirit moves and excites us, and enables us to do our duty; and ibis doing our duty is our own act. Man cannot produce the effect without tbis cause, for his acting wholly depends on it. The sum is : We believe and repent, and perforin these things in religion, but not of ourselves. We act, but not without being acted ; our strength is derivative; we fetch all our power from divine grace, and we depend continually on God in our actings.
God and men are said to do the same things; the one as the principal cause, and the other as instrumental causes. It is said of the apostles, that immediately after our Saviour's ascension, they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them.” Mark xvi. 20. namely, by his Spirit, making their preaching of the word powerful unto conversion; for it is not meant of working miracles, because those are distinctly mentioned afterwards. So the ministers of the gospel are said to be labourers together with God, 1 Cor. iii. 9. and workers together with him, 2 Cor. vi. 1. Both God and they operate towards the conversion and salvation of men; but in a different way: the one as the principal efficient, the other only as instruments. Wbichi reconciles that seeming contradictiou:
“ | laboured more than they all; yet not I, but the grace of God which is in me." Now, if God makes use of other men for this great purpose, surely it is not difficult to think that be uses ourselves to the same end. We are instruments in his hands; be makes us subservient to our salvation. Thus the same spiritual actions are ascribed to God and to man, and that rightly, because they are from both; but in this different way: God is said to do these things, and we are said to do them; the former as the principal agent, the latter as the instrumental and auxiliary. With respect to the one, conversion is the sole work of God, for there is no principal agency and causality but his; and man contributes nothing towards this. But with respect to the other, that is, the bare instrumentality and subserviency, man is an agent and cause in that work. And though the instrumental cause be not so excellent and worthy as the chief efficient cause; yet it is as requisite in the way of an instrument, as the other is as to its peculiar causality. But we must remember this, that an instrument doth nothing towards producing the effect, but as it is moved and set on work by the principal cause.
This is a difficult point, and hath created many controversies, (as before stated) but I conceive the deciding of it depends on the distinguishing between the several sorts of causes. We can do all in the business of the salvation of our souls that we are capable of, and all that is required of us, as we are inferior, subordinate,
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