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10. Not to mention all the arguments, by which the zealous Puritans defended the doctrine of Assurance in the last century, and those by which the Methodists prove its necessity in our days ; is not the first argument used in my address to the Anti-christian moralists, p. 544, sufficient, it it be properly managed, to euforce the absolute necessity of rising to higher dispensations, when God calls us to it? If queen Vashti lost her crown for refusing to come to the royal banquet, at 'the king's commandment:' — If those, who begged to be excused,' when they were invited to the gospel-feast, were at last dreadfully punished :—If St. Paul says to loitering believers, who are backward to go on to perfection, “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation, which at first began to be spoken by the Lord: '-Nay, if Christ himself threatens to 'spue lukewarm,' slothful Laodiceans
out of his mouth ;' do we want even terrifying arguments to lash the consciences of those carnal professors, who, hoping they are perfectly safe in their low attainments, despise higher dispensations, and
bury their talent' of grace, till it be taken from them, and given to’those who best improve their own? -To conclude.
II. You are afraid, that the doctrine of this Essay will make “ seekers rest in Laodicean lukewarmness;" but, permit me to observe, that the seekers you speak of, are either forward hypocrites, or sincere penitents :-If they are forward hypocrites, preaching to them the faith of assurance will never make them either humble or sincere. On the contrary, they will probably catch at an election, and then at an assurance, of their own making; and so they will profess to have the faith for which you contend, when in fact they have only the name and notion of it. The religious world swarms with instances of this kind.-If, on the other hand, the seekers for whom you seem concerned, are sincere penitents ; far from being hurt, they will be greatly benefited by our doctrine : For it will at once keep them from chilling, despairing fears; and from false, Crispian comforts; the two opposite extremes, into which upright, unwary mourners are most apt to run. Thus our doctrine, instead of being dangerous to sincere seekers, will prove a scriptural clue, in following which they will happily avoid the gloomy haunts of Pharisaic despair, and the enchantedi ground of Antinomian presumption.
1. T'en more Arguments to prove, that all men uni
versally, in the Day of their Visitation, have some
2. An Answer to Three more Objections.
No the imo
Being conscious that I cannot be too careful and guarded in writing upon so important and delicate a subject as that of the preceding Essay ; I once more take up the pen to explain, strengthen, and guard the doctrine that it contains.
I. I have said, p. 476, that “ Faith (considered in general] is believing heartily ;" I add, “ and sometimes it may signify a power to believe heartily.” For, as God gives to all the Heathens, in the day of their visitation, “ a power to believe heartily that God is," &c., indulging them with gracious calls and opportunities to use that power; we may say, that he gives them the faith of their dispensatiou. Nevertheless, all the Heathens have not that faith : For many obstinately bury their talent, till at last it is taken from them.
As this doctrine of faith entirely subverts the doctrine of finished damnation, which is so closely connected with the doctrines of absolute election, and finished salvation ; and as a Calvinist clergyman, who has seen part of this Essay, assures me, that it shall
be taken notice of; I beg leave to add the following arguments to those, which I have produced, Section 1st, to prove, that Faith is not the work of God in the sense of our adversaries, and that in the day of salvation, through the free gift which is come upon all. men,' we have all some gracious power to believe some saving truth.
1. If faith be the work of God in the same sense in which the creation is his performance, when Christ marvelled at the Centurion's faith,' he inarvelled, that God should be able to do what he pleases, or that a man should do what he can no more help doing, than he can hinder the world from existing : That is, he marvelled at what was not at all marvellous : And he might as well have wondered that a ton should outweigh an ounce.
2. When God invites every creature' in all the world' to believe, (Mark xvi. 15,) if he denies most of them power so to do, he insults over their wretched impotence, and acts a part which can hardly be reconciled with sincerity. What would the world think of the king, if he perpetually invited all the Irish poor over to England to partake of his royal charity, and took care that most of them should never meet with any vessels to bring them over, but such as would be sure to founder in the passage ?
3. When our Lord endeavoured to shame the Phari. sees for their unbelief, he said, “John came to you, &c., and ye believed him not, but the publicans and harlots believed him : And ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterwards, that ye might believe :' But if faith is the work of God in the sense of our adversaries, was it any shame to the Pharisees, that God would not do his own work ?
Had they any more reason tu blush at it, than we have to redden, because God does not give us wings and fins, as he does to birds and fishes ?
4. To suppose that Christ assiduously preached the gospel to the inhabitauts of Capernaum, whilst all the time be withheld from them power to believe it, and
that afterwards he appointed them a more intolerable damnation for not believing :-To suppose this, I say, is to cast the most horrible reflection upon the Lamb of God. But if it be allowed, that those obstinate unbelievers will justly be sent into a more dreadful hell, for having buried to the end their talent of power to believe in their stronger light; is it not reasonable to suppose, that those who shall go to a less intolerable hell, will also be sent there for having finally refused to use their talent of power to believe in their weaker light ?
5. Although Christ positively saye, that men shall be damned for their unbelief, (See John iii. 18 ; Mark xvi. 16,) yet some of our adversaries deny it ; being deservedly ashamed of representing our Lord as damn. ing myriads of men for not doing what is absolutely impossible. Hence they tell us, that reprobates shall be damned only for their sins. But this upscriptural contrivance does not mend the matter; for I have shewn, Section vii, that bad works, or sins, necessarily flow from unbelief. Now, unbelief beiug nothing bu the absence of faith ; God by absolutely withhulding all saving faith, necessarily causes all unbelief; and unbelief, by necessarily causing all sin, necessarily causes also all damnation. For he that absolutely withholds all light, necessarily causes all darkness, and of course all the works of darkness. Thus “ the doctrines of grace" (so called) that seem to rear their graceful head to heaven, end in the graceless, venomous tail of finished damnation :
" Desinet in piscem mulier formosa superne.”
6. The design of the gospel with regard to God, is evidently to extol his grace, and clear his justice. Now, if an absolute decree of preterition or limited redemption, hinders a vast majority of mankind from believing to salvation, both these ends of the gospel are entirely defeated in all that perish : For God, by passing by the reprobated culprits, thousauds of years before they were born, and by withholding every dram of saving grace from them, shews himself an absolutely