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they had no prejudice against the truth, why should they not receive it at first hearing? And if they believed him, what could hinder their immediate return to God, unless they were at beart utterly disinclined to a reconciliation to him, let him be ever so willing on his part? And if they were utterly disinclined to a reconciliation to God in their hearts, none of their strivings could be considered as being of the nature of a compliance with that exhortation, be ye reconciled to God. But if they were so prejudiced against the truth as not to receive it, when clearly held forth before them by an inspired apostle, how could they be said to
strive to discover' it? For a man does not strive to discover what he shuts bis eyes against, when held up clearly before him. And so long as this disinclination to God and the truth remains total in a sinner, it is of the nature of a total Tejection of the divine exhortation, be ye reconciled to God. And as soon as the least degree of love to God takes place in the heart, the sinner can no longer be considered as upregenerate, if the unregenerate are ' totally depraved,' as Ms. M. says they are.
But Mr. M. supposes, p. 54. that Acts viii. 9. will be to his purpose. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing und seeing the miracles which he did. True, they did so, and what was the consequence? Our blessed Saviour, who knows all things, tells us, viz. that every one who with a good and honest heart heard the word, did understand it, and bring forth fruit, while stony and thorny ground hearers fell away. Luke viji. Now the question is this, was it not the duty of every one of them to bave a good and honest heart, and so to hear, with a good and honest heart the first time? Yes, says Mr. M. for 'I assert tbat whatever God commands to be done, he requires the performance to be in a perfect manner.' But what then are these texts to his purpose, and a thousand more such like ? For there are a thousand in the bible as much to his purpose as these.
* See the nature of spiritual blindness considered. Essay on the nature and glory of the Gospel, Sec. X.
3. But the bottom of the business with Mr. M. is this, that although in words he says that the unregenerate are 'totally depraved ;' yet he does not seem rightly to understand the Scripture doctrine of total depravity, as held forth in our confession of faith : but really to suppose, that unregenerate sinners are naturally inclined, while unregenerate, to love God, even God's true and real character, as revealed in the Gospel ; so that, as soon as ever they discover' what that character is, they will love it, even without any new principle of grace, even as nalurally as Jacob loved Rachel the first time he saw her. But as to that character of God which is revealed in the law, he supposes that sinners never can, and never will love it : because, 'to love it is the same thing as to love their own misery.' But as to the character of God which is revealed in the Gospel, they need no new principle of grace in order to love it, any more than Jacob needed a new principle, in order to love Rachel. p. 43-48. And this being supposed, awakened sinners may from natural principles, long and most earnestly desire to discover this new character of God which is exhibited in the Gospel ; and so seek after this discovery' with proper, direct desires after it, for itself. And these desires he therefore considers as being in nature, kind, and tendency, the same with what he calls the gracious desire of those whom he esteems regenerate. These seekings and strivings he therefore supposes to be required in the same sense, and for the same purpose, as the seekings and strivings of the true saint. p. 33, 34. To establish these sentiments, is one chief design of his book. And thus far 1 fully agree with him, that there is no difference in kind between the religious exercises of the unregenerate, and the religious exercises of his regenerate man. And in this view, I wonder not a: bis zeal against this fundamental sentiment of a specific difference, as clearly held forth in president Edwards' treatise concerning religious affections. p. 36, 37, S8, 39, 40. For his regenerate man has professedly no new principle of grace. And accordingly he appears in fact to have no more grace than his unregenerate man has. For he is as great an enemy to God's law, and to the holy nature of God, therein exhibited, as the unregenerate.
p. 41, 42, 43. And the God he loves is professedly of a different character, even of a character so different, that the unregenerate will naturally love it, as soon as they discover it, and its favourable aspect towards them, without any new principle of grace. p. 43, 44–43. And this is the true reason, ninety-nine in a hundred of his regenerate men are so at a loss about their good estate, that they çannot see their way clear to make a profession of godliness. p. 79, 80. Which renders his external covenant as necessary for them as for the unregenerate; for if the door is not opened wide enough to take in the unregenerate, as such, his regenerate man cannot with a good conscience come into the visible church. For, as Mr. Stoddard, in order to prove the doctrine of the specific difference between common and saring grace, rightly observes, in his Nature of saving conversion, (p. 8.) • If the difference between saving grace and common, lay in the degree, no man could judge that his grace is saving. And thus he goes on to reason ;
men may know that they have saving grace, 1 John jij. 14. 9. Cor. vii. 10. But if the difference lay in the degree, how should man go about to determine that their grace was saving? The man may know that he has a greater degree of confidence, sorrow, and zeal, than formerly he had ; he may have reason to think that he goeth beyond some other professors in these things; but upon what foundation can he determine that he hath them in such a degree as to secure his salvation? Where has God revealed what degree is saving, and what is not saving? What warrant has any man to judge himself in a safe condition, if there be several degrees of grace that are not saving? What rule can any minister lay down to guide men in this matter? Men must needs be left in a perpetual uncertainty, and remain in the dark about their eternal state.' Thus far Mr. Stoddard. But of these things more hereafter, when we come to consider the new scheme of religion which Mr. M. has advanced, in order to support his external covenant.
Isai. xlv. 19. I said not unto the seed of Jacob, seek ye me in vain.
Mat. vii. 7. Ask, and it shall be given you : Seek, and ye shull find. A view of the exhortations, and promises of the Gospel: and
the true reason pointed out why the doings of the unregenerate do not entitle to the blessings promised.
OUR author, (p. 34.) says, ' If it should be asked, whether there are any promises of salvation to these endeavours of the unregenerate; I readily answer, there are none. The absolute authority of God is not such a limited thing, that he can lay no commands upon his creatures, without adding a promise to the performance : divine sovereignty is not incumbered with such a tether. These words have led me to take a view of the divine exhortations and promises through the Old and New Testament, a few of which may be transcribed.
EXHORTATIONS TO SINNERS.
Lev. vi. 2–6. If a soul sin, he shall Lev. vi. 7. And it shall be forgivena restore, he shall bring his trespass-offer-him. ing unto the Lord ; the Priest shall make an atonement for him, &c.
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Lev xxvi. 40, 41. If they shall con- Lev. xxvi. 42. Then I will rememfess their iniquity ; if then their uncir- ber my covenant with Jacob, and alsa cumcised hearts be humbled, and they | my covenant with Isaac, and also my then accept the punishment of their in. covenant with Abraham will I rememiquity :
ber ; and I will remember the land. 1 Kings viji. 47, 48. If they shall be- 1 Kings viii. 49. Then hear thou think themselves, and repent, and make their prayer in heaven thy dwelling supplication unto thee ; and so return place; and forgive thy people, &c. unto thee with all their heart; and pray unto thee toward the house which I have built for thy name;
Prov. i. 23. Turn you at my reproof :
Prov. i. 23. Behold, I will pour out my Spirit unto you.
Prov. ii. 3, 4. If thou criest after Prov. ï. 5. Then shalt thou underknowledge and liftest up thy voice for stand the fear of the Lord ; and find understanding : if thou seekest her as the knowledge of God. silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures :
GXHORTATIONS TO SINNERS,
Prov. xxviii. 13. Shall find mercy.
Prov. xxviï. 13. Whoso confesseth and forsaketh them, i. e. his sins,
Isai. lv. 6. Seek ye the Lord while Isai. xlv. 19. I said not to the house he may be found, call ye upon him of Jacob, seek ye me in vain. while he is near.
Ver. 7. Let the wicked forsake his Isai. lv. 7. And he will have mercy way, and the unrighteous man his on him, and to our God, and he will thoughts, and let him return unto the abundantly pardon. Lord,
These texts are a true specimen of the whole tenour of the sacred writings on this subject; and let the candid reader stop, and look over them two or three times, and consider and think for himself; and these and such like remarks will rise in his mind of themselves; or at the least, the truth of them will appear plain as soon as mentioned.
1. There are directions given to sinners, in the holy Scriptures, in and by which, a full answer is given to that question, what shall we do to be saved ? and beyond dispute, it is their duty and interest to follow God's directions, immediately and without the least delay!
+ Q. If a full answer is given to that question by God himself, why do awak. ened sinners continue to repeat it? Why do they still say, what shall we do to be saved? If God has answered the question, why are they at a loss ?
A. God's answer does not suit their hearts, and so they are deaf to it. God speaks, and speaks plain enough, but they do not hear. God cries, hear, and VOL. III.