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they have not received it of another. With regard to this great thing, they, and they only, make themselves to differ from others; and this difference proceeds not at all from the power or grace of God.
§ 59. Virtue is not only the most honourable attainment, but it is that which men, on the supposition of their being possessed of it, are more apt to glory in, than in any thing else whatsoever. For what are men so apt to glory in as their own supposed excellency, as in their supposed virtue? And what sort of glorying is that, which, it is evident in fact, the Scriptures do chiefly guard against? It is glorying in their own righteousness, their own holiness, their own good works. It is manifest, that in the apostle's account, it is a proper consideration to prevent our boasting, that our distinc tion from others is not of ourselves, not only in being distinguished by better gifts and better principles, but in our being made partakers of the great privileges of Christians, such as being ingrafted into Christ, and partaking of the fatness of that olive-tree. Rom. xi. 17. 18. "And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive-tree, wert grafted in amongst them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive-tree; boast not against the branches."
Here it is manifest, that the distinction between some and others, is the thing insisted on; and the apostle, verse 22. calls upon them to consider this great distinction, and to ascribe it only to the distinguishing goodness of God. "Behold, therefore, the goodness and severity of God; on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness." And its being owing not to them, but to God and his distinguishing goodness, is the thing the apostle urges as a reason why they should not boast, but magnify God's grace or distinguishing goodness. And if it be a good reason, and the scheme of our salvation be every way so contrived (as the apostle elsewhere signifies) that all occasion of boasting should be precluded, and all reasons given to ascribe all to God's grace; then it is doubtless so ordered, that the greatest privileges, excellency, honour, and happiness of Christians, should be that wherein they do not distinguish themselves, but the difference is owing to God's distinguishing goodness.-Yet, Stebbing strongly asserts, God is not the author of that difference that is between some and others, that some are good, and others bad! The Arminians differ among themselves. Dr. Whitby supposes that what God does, is only proposing moral motives; but that in attending, adverting, and considering, we exercise our liberty. But Stebbing supposes, that the attention and consideration is itself owing to the Spirit of God; (page 217.) and then changes the question (pages 223, 224.) he was
considering, who has the chief glory of our conversion, or of our virtue? and endeavours to prove the affirmative of another question, viz. whether God is the author of that pardon and salvation, of which conversion and virtue are the condition? He supposes, that one thing wherein the assistance of the Spirit consists, is the giving of a meek, teachable, disinterested temper of mind, to prepare men for faith in Christ; (pages 217, 259.) and that herein consists the drawing of the Father, John vi. 44. viz. in giving such a temper of mindThis he calls the preventing grace of God, that goes before conversion. He often speaks of a part that we do, and a part that God does. And he speaks of this as that part which God does. Therefore this, in distinction from the part which we do, (for so he speaks of it,) is wholly done by God. And consequently, here is virtue wholly from God, and not at all from the exercise of our own free-will: which is inconsistent with his own, and all other Arminian principles.
§ 60. The Arminian scheme naturally, and by necessary consequence, leads men to take all the glory of all spiritual good (which is immensely the chief, most important and excellent thing in the whole creation) to ourselves; as much as if we, with regard to those effects, were the supreme, the self-existent and independent, and absolutely sovereign disposers. We leave the glory of only the meaner part of creation to God, and take to ourselves all the glory of that which is properly the life, beauty, and glory of the creation, and without which it is all worse than nothing. So that there is nothing left for the great First and Last; no glory for either the Father, Son, or Holy Ghost, in the affair. This is not carrying things too far, but is a consequence truly and certainly to be ascribed to their scheme of things. He may be said to be the giver of money that offers it to us, without being the proper determiner of our acceptance. But it is in the acceptance of offers, and the proper improvement of opportunities, wherein consists virtue. He may be said to be the giver of money or goods, that does not determine the wise choice; but if the wise and good choice itself be said to be the thing given, it supposes that the giver determines the existence of such a wise choice. But now, this is the thing of which God is represented as the giver, when he is spoken of as the giver of virtue, holiness, &c.; for virtue and holiness (as all our opponents in these controversies allow and maintain) is the thing wherein a wise and good choice consists.
§ 61. It is the common way of the Arminians, in their discourses and doctrines, which they pretend are so much more consistent with reason and common sense, than the doc
trines of the Calvinists, to give no account at all, and make no proper answer to the inquiries made; and they do as Mr. Locke says of the Indian philosopher, who, when asked what the world stood upon, answered, it stood upon an elephant; and when asked, what the elephant stood upon, he replied, on a broad backed turtle, &c. None of their accounts will bear to be traced; the first link of the chain, and the fountain of the whole stream, must not be inquired after, If it be, it brings all to a gross absurdity and self-contradiction, And yet, when they have done, they look upon others as stupid bigots, and void of common sense, or at least going directly counter to common sense, and worthy of con tempt and indignation, because they will not agree with them, I suppose it will not be denied by any party of Christians, that the happiness of the saints in the other world consists much in perfect holiness and the exalted exercises of it; that the souls of the saints shall enter upon it at once at death; or (if any deny that) at least at the resurrection; that the saint is made perfectly holy as soon as ever he enters into heaven. I suppose none will say, that perfection is obtained by repeated acts of holiness; but all will grant, that it is wrought in the saint immediately by the power of God; and yet that it is virtue notwithstanding. And why are not the beginnings of holiness wrought in the same manner? Why should not the beginnings of an holy nature be wrought immediately by God in a soul that is wholly of a contrary nature, as well as holiness be perfected in a soul that has already a prevailing holiness? And if it be so, why is not the beginning, thus wrought, as much virtue as the perfection thus wrought?
§ 62. Saving grace differs not only in degree, but in nature and kind, from common grace, or any thing that is ever found in natural men. This seems evident, because conversion is a work that is done at once, and not gradually. If saving grace differed only in degree from what went before, then the making a man a good man would be a gradual work; it would be the increasing of the grace that he has, till it comes to such a degree as to be saving, at least it would be frequently so. But that the conversion of the heart is not a work thus gradually wrought, but at once, appears by Christ's Converting the soul being represented as his calling of it; Rom. viii. 28, 29, 30. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son: that he might be the first-born among many brethren. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he
justified, them he also glorified." Heb. ix. 15. "That they which are called might receive the promise of the eternal inheritance." 1 Thess. v. 23, 24. "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly: and I pray God, your whole spirit, soul and body, be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it." Nothing else can be meant in these places, by calling, but what Christ does in a sinner's saving conversion; by which it seems evident, that this is done at once, and not gradually. Hereby Christ shews his great power. He does but speak the powerful word, and it is done.He does but call, and the heart of the sinner immediately cometh, as was represented by his calling his disciples, and their immediately following him. So, when he called Peter and Andrew, James and John, they were minding other things, and had no thought of following Christ. There is something immediately put into their hearts, at that call, which makes them so immediately act in a manner altogether new, and so alien from what they were before,
§ 63. That the work of conversion is wrought at once, is further evident, by its being compared to a work of creation. When God created the world, he did what he did immediately; he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast. He said, Let there be light, and there was light. Also by its being compared to a raising from the dead, Raising from the dead is not a gradual work, but it is done at once. God calls, and the dead come forth immediately. When God creates, he does not merely establish and perfect the things that were made before, but makes them wholly and immediately. The things that are seen, are not made of things that do appear. Saving grace in the heart is said to be the new man, a new creature; and corruption the old man. If virtue in the heart of a holy man, be not different in its nature and kind, then the man might possibly have had the same seventy years before, and from the beginning of his life, and has it no otherwise now, but only in a greater degree; and how then is he a new creature?
§ 64. Again, it is evident also from its being compared to a resurrection. Natural men are said to be dead: But when they are converted, they are by God's mighty and effectual power raised from the dead. Now, there is no medium between being dead and alive. has no degree of life. life in him, is alive. dead, life is not only in
He that is dead He that has the least degree of When a man is raised from the a greater degree, but it is all new.
And this is further evident by that representation that is made of Christ's converting sinners, in John v. 25. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall liye." This shews conversion to be an immediate and instantaneous work, like to the change made in Lazarus when Christ called him from the grave; there went life with the call, and Lazarus was immediately alive. That before the call they are dead, and therefore wholly destitute of any life, is evident by that expression, "the dead shall hear the voice;" and immediately after the call, they are alive; yea, there goes life with the voice, as is evident, not only because it is said they shall live, but also because it is said, they shall hear his voice. It is evident, that the first moment they have any life, is the moment when Christ calls; and when Christ calls, or as soon as they are called, they are converted; as is evident from what is said in the first argument, wherein it is shewn, that to be called, and converted, is the same thing.
§ 65. A wicked man has not that principle of nature which a godly man has, as is evident by 1 John iii. 9, "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin: for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." The natural import of the metaphor shews, that by seed, is meant a principle of action: it may be small as a grain of mustard seed. A seed is a small thing: it may be buried up and lie hid, as the seed sown in the earth: it may seem to be dead, as seeds for a while do, till quickened by the sun and rain. But any degree of such a principle, or principle of such a nature, is what is called the seed: it need not be to such a degree, or have such a prevalency, in order to be called a seed. And it is further evident that this seed, or this inward principle of nature, is peculiar to the saints: for he that has it, cannot sin; and therefore he that sins, or is a wicked man, has it not.
§ 66. Natural men, or those that are not savingly converted, have no degree of that principle from whence all gracious actings flow, viz. the Spirit of God or of Christ; as is evident, because it is asserted both ways in scripture, that those who have not the Spirit of Christ, are not his, Rom. viii. 9; and also, that those who have the Spirit of Christ, are his; 1 John iii. 24. "Hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us." And the Spirit of God is called the earnest of the future inheritance, 2 Cor. i. 22. and v.5; Eph. i. 14. Yea, that a natural man has nothing of the Spirit in him, no part nor portion in it, is still more