Page images
PDF
EPUB

of the creature is he made to act against his will. His willingness, though produced by God, is as much his own willingness as though he had produced it himself. Will you say that the infant does not himself live, because he did not produce his own life? or that he does not himself see, because he did not create his own eyes ? or that a man is not himself willing, and therefore free, because he was made willing in the day of God's power? What then should hinder God from making His people willing in every instance in which He under. takes? In other words, what should hinder Him from destroying all resistance, and making the soul a willing captive, in every case where He attempts to produce this identical effect? This is the only thing that He ever attempts to do when He exerts His sanctifying influence. In all cases then where this influence, (improperly called irresistible, for it merely prevents resistance,) is exerted, the effect will certainly follow. Of course wherever this effect does not follow the influence is not exerted. Therefore,

(2.) God exerts this influence upon some and not upon others; and that, not because the favoured ones have better improved His grace, not because they have done any thing to aid or induce Him, but because He will have mercy on whom" He 6 will have mercy.” “ So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy. Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He

hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth He yet find fault? for who hath resisted His will? Nay but O man, who art thou that repliest against God ? Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus ? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?" 66 What saith the answer of God? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal. Even so then at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then it is no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace ; otherwise work is no more work. What then ? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.” “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight.” “Who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive ? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it?"* Does the Arminian hear this? Do a gainsaying world hear this? Be every mouth then stopped, and the whole world prostrate and submissive before God. Amen.

* Mat. xi. 25, 26, Rom. 9.15--21. and xi, 4.-7. 1 Cor. iy. ..

LECTURE VII.

MEANS OF GRACE.

ISAIAH LV. 11.

SO SHALL MY WORD BE THAT GOETH FORTH OUT OF MY MOUTH ; IT SHALL

NOT RETURN UNTO ME VOID, BUT IT SHALL ACCOMPLISH THAT WHICH I PLEASE, AND IT SHALL PROSPER IN THE THING WHERETO I SENT IT.

In former Lectures it has appeared, that during all the convictions and exertions of the unregenerate, they experience no diminution of depravity, no approximation towards holiness, no feelings which are otherwise than sinful or indifferent; that none of their actions in the sight of God are good, that none of their prayers are answered; that no influence of the Spirit is exerted upon them further than to enlighten their minds, and leave truth to produce its natural effect; and that Regeneration, viewed distinct from the convictions which go before and the exercises which follow, is wrought by immediate power without an instrument.

It might be expected in this place that something should be said about the Means of Grace; and for this purpose I have chosen a text which will lead

1

me to speak of the Word of God : for excepting two things in the exertions of Christians which I shall presently mention, all the Means of Grace consist in the truths of that Word, and the various ways of conveying them to the mind. What are Bibles, sermons, and sacraments, but instruments to carry truth to the understanding and heart ? What are all the expostulations of others, but efforts to press the motives contained in truth upon the sensibilities of the soul? What are the passions which the ministers of Christ address, but channels through which truth is carried to the quick, or instruments to rouse the soul to view it with at. tention? What does providence, more than illustrate and enforce revealed truth ? Sabbaths are not means of grace, so much as opportunities to attend on ordinances and exercises that are. All the ex: ertions of men for their own salvation, (except motions of the body, and two things in the efforts of Christians before alluded to,) may be summed up in the single word ATTENTION,-attention to truth, and to the ordinances which convey it to the mind. If their attention is set to watch their own corruptions, it is only to see the illustrations of a revealed truth. If they strive to regulate their passions, the only effort, (besides shunning motives which excite the passions,—in other words, avoiding temptation,) the only effort made upon the mind, is to fix its eye steadily on motives, drawn, if the motives are right, from the Word of God. Every other exertion to subdue the passions or improve

« PreviousContinue »