Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

can

The way is now prepared to in- can produce new and holy affecquire, whether there is any just tions in the hearts of saints, withground for this objection against out compulsion, what ground is the divine agency in hardening there to suppose that he must the hearts of sinners. Certainly

Certainly use compulsion in producing any there is not the least ground for moral affections in the hearts of it, if God does not use any com- sinners? If God can soften the pulsion in hardening their hearts. hearts of men without compulsion, And here the following things de- it must be supposed that he ca serve a serious, critical, and im- harden them without compulsion. partial consideration.

This is plain and intelligible to 1. It is generally allowed, that every capacity, and deserves great the divine agency, in softening the attention upon this subject. hearts of men, does not imply 2. God cannot compel men to compulsion. In statiog the objec- be sinful unless they all the while tion, the apostle seems to take it choose to be holy. It has been for granted, that there is no com- shown, that compulsion always impulsion in God's softening the plies either constraining, or rehearts of saints. Thou wilt say straining men, contrary to their then unto me, why doth he yet will. Where there is no confind fault? For who hath resisted straint, nor restraint, contrary to his will? He had just before said, the will of a person, there can be that “God hath mercy on whom no compulsion. If sinners do not he will have mercy.” That is, he choose to be holy, then they can softens the hearts of whom he will, never be restrained from being hoby taking away their stony hearts ly; and if they always choose to and giving them hearts of Aesh.—be sinful, then they can never be But he introduces no one as ob- constrained to be so. It would be jecting against this; because he absurd to say, that a man is consupposed it would be allowed by strained to do what he chooses; or all," that God may soften the that he is restrained from doing hearts of believers, without the what he does not choose. If sinleast degree of compulsion. And ners do not in any case choose it is now universally granted by holiness, then they cannot in any those, who acknowledge a special case be restrained from it: and if divine operation in the conversion in all cases they choose sin, then of sinners, that God uses no com- in no case can they be constrained pulsion in softening and chang- to it. But it clearly appears from ing their hearts. But if God uses scripture, that sinners always hate no compulsion in softening the holiness, and love sin; hence it hearts of saints, why should it be is utterly impossible that they supposed, that he uses any compul- should be constrained to love sion in hardening the hearts of sin, or restrained from loving holisinners? In softening the hearts ness. Was Hazael constrained of saints, he is represented as ma- to sin, when God told him by his king them new creatures, creating prophet, that he would destroy them anew in Christ Jesus, and the life of his prince, and reign in exerting the same mighty power, his stead? Or was it possible, that that he exerted in raising Christ God should compel him to that from the dead. These express- cruel and inhuman deed, so long ions plainly imply, that he actu- as he chose to do it? It is absurd, ally produces new and holy affec- therefore, for sinners to say tha: tions in their hearts. But if he they are restrained from holiness

or constrained to sin, while they 1 hardening the hearts of sinners, actually love sin and hate holiness. the effect produced was a free, If they would only keep in view voluntary choice. He made them the meaning of their own objection choose to act as they did, and as against God's hardening their there was no resistance on their hearts, they would be condeinned part, so there was no compulsion out of their own mouths, and si- on his. Compulsion always imlenced by their own feelings.- plies resistance on the part of the What can be more inconsistent person compelled. Joseph was than to complain, that they can compelled to go into Egypt, benot resist the will of God, when cause he did all he could to resist they do not desire to resist it? the overbearing power of his or to say that they are compelled brethren; but God did not compel to sin, when they love to sin, and them to turn a deaf ear to all his roll it as a sweet morsel under cries and entreaties, because they their tongue?

chose to gratify their malice and 3. The effect produced by the revenge.

So, sinners are never divine agency in hardening the compelled to sin by the divine ophearts of sinners, demonstrates eration upon their hearts, because that there is no compulsion in it. the divine operation makes them The effect produced is a free, vol- willing to sin. It implies a plain untary choice. God makes them contradiction to suppose, that sinchoose to act in the very manner

ners endeavour to resist that powin which they do in all cases act, er or will of God, by which they We have an account of many are made willing to do evil. It whom God actually hardened; and this were possible, then it would all appear to have acted freely be possible for God to compel them and voluntarily under the divine to sin: but it is not possible that agency. Joseph's brethren chose they should oppose the power to act in the most unfeeling and which makes them willing to act, cruel manner, when, according to and therefore it is not possible the divine prediction, and under that God should, in any case, the divine influence, they threw compel them to act. Hence they him into a pit, and sold him into have no cause or right to ask, Egypt. Pharaoh, whom God ac- " Why doth he yet find fault? for tually hardened, and whom the who hath resisted his will ?” Did apostle refers to in the passage they really desire and endeavour under consideration, chose to dis- to resist his will in hardening their believe the miracles of Moses, and hearts, they might indeed with disobey the express commands of great propriety make this demand; God. The heathen nations, whose but since they always cheerfully hearts were hardened, chose to come comply with his will in hardening out in battle array against Israel, their hearts, they have no ground by whom they were destroyed. to complain of him, though they Judas chose to betray Christ for have good reason to condemn thirty pieces of silver, though he themselves. Accordingly we find, was forewarned of his certain per that those who were hardened, did dition. And the Jews, whose eyes freelyacknowledge their own crimwere blinded and whose hearts inality. Joseph's brethren said were hardened, chose to crucify one to another, “ We are verily the Lord of glory, and reject the guilty concerning our brother, in counsel of God against themselves. that we saw the anguish of his In all these instances of God's ! soul, when he besought us ; and

we would not hear.” When Pha- | nor any voluntary opposition to it

. raoh had called for Moses and Whenever men are under compulAaron in haste, he said, “ I have sion, they feel the power that comsinned against the Lord your God, pels them, and their own desire and and against you.” And again he inability to overcome that power. said, I have sinned this time : Samson, after he had lost his the Lord is righteous, and I and locks, was compelled to be bound; my people are wicked.And Ju- and he felt the power of those who das the son of perdition freely ac

bound him, but found himself unaknowledged the criminality of ble to overcome it. This holds true what he had done under the in- in all cases of compulsion. The fluence of his hardened heart. person compelled, feels a power, “ Then Judas, who betrayed him, which he endeavours, but cannot when he saw that he was condemn

overcome. If sinners, therefore, ed, repented himself, and brought were compelled to be hardened by again the thirty pieces of silver to

the divine operation upon their the chief priests and elders, say: both the power that operates upon

hearts, they would necessarily feel ing, I have sinned, in that I have betrayed innocent blood." Thus them, and their own endeavour and the conscience of every hardened inability to oppose and overcome sinner, will sooner or later con

that power. But do they ever feel demn him for his own hardness of either of these things ? Did Judas heart. The reason is, he is willing heart, or any opposition to that in

feel the divine influence upon his to be hardened. If sinners really Auence ? All that he felt, was a to counteract the divine influence willingness to betray Christ for to counteract the divine influence thirty pieces of silver. Did Pha; by which they are hardened, then raoh feel the power that hardened the fault would fall upon God, and

his heart, or any desire to resist it! not upon themselves.

But this is all that he telt was a strong and never the case, and of conse- voluntary propensity to destroy the quence, they are as justly, to be people of God. And it is as true blamed and punished, as if they now as ever it was, that sinners do sinned independently of God. The not feel nor oppose that divine indivine influence on their hearts fuence, by which they are hardendoes nothing but make them wil- ed. They feel themselves entirely ling to act, and it is their willing free and voluntary as to all their ness to act, which alone constitutes internal affections and external contheir guilt. Their choice is their duct. But if God actually hardenfault, and this choice God charges ed their hearts by compulsion, they upon them, and they have no right would naturally feel a struggle and to charge it upon him. . Their sole opposition to his hardening influobjection against the divine agen- ence. They would be conscious of cy is, that God compels thein to his influence, and conscious of their sin, but this objection has no foun- own exertions to overcome his indation in nature, and therefore fluence. And since they never do they are altogether criminal for have this consciousness, they know the hardness of their hearts. This that there is no ground for their obwill further appear, if it be con- ljection, that he compels them to sin. sidered,

They know that they never felt his 4. That sinners are conscious to power operating upon their hearts, themselves, that God does not hard- and that they never felt any oppoen their hearts by compulsion, be- sition to a power they never felt, cause they neither feel his operation | They know, therefore, by their own

[ocr errors]

constant experience, which is the distinctions and mollifications? highest kind of knowledge, that Does he deny the fact? Does he in God never does compel them to sin, part only? Does he enter into any and that their only plausible objec- particulars ? Does he remove any tion against his hardening their equivocations in the words? Nothhearts is absolutely groundless. ing of all this. He only alleges

Now, if God can both soften and the sovereign power of God, and harden the hearts of men, without the supreme right which the Creacompulsion, or the least obstruction tor has to dispose of his creatures as to their moral agency; then there it seems good to him, Nay, but O is no room for the supposition of a man, who art thou that repliest aself-determining power in moral a- gainst God? Shall the thing formgents, which Arminians maintain, ed say to him that formed it, Why and upon which they build their hast thou made me thus ? AI whole system. This observation Christians ought to receive a definmay be illustrated and confirmed itive sentence here ; a judgment fiby the remarks of Monsieur Bayle, nal and without appeal, in the disone of the most ingenious and learn- pute about grace; or rather they ed men that France ever produced. ought to learn by this conduct of In his life of Arminius, speaking of St. Paul, never to dispute about his controversy with the Calvinists, predestination, and at the first mohe observes, It were to wished tion to oppose it in bar against all that he had ma:le a better use of his subtilties of human wit, whether knowleuge.To this he subjoins they offer of themselves, while they the following note, which is ex- are meditating on that great subtremely luminous.

ject, or whether another suggests “ I mean, that he had governed them. The best and shortest way himself by St Paul's rule. That is, to oppose this strong bank begreat apostle, inspired by God, and times against the inundations of arimmediately directed by the Holy guments, and consider the definite Ghost in all his writings, raised to sentence of St. Paul, as those imhinself the objection which natural moveable rocks, whose foundation light forms against the doctrine of is in the midst of the sea, against absolute predestination ; he appre- which the proudest billows cannot hended all the force of the objec- prevail, but turn to froth, and dash tion ; he proposes it without weak and break themselves upon them in ening it in the least. God hath vain. If ever it be safe, to give the mercy on whom he will have mercy, mind some exercise on points of and whom he will he hardeneth. this kind, at least we ought to This is St. Paul's doctrine, and see sound a retreat betimes and retire here the difficulty which he starts behind the bank I spoke of. Had

6. Thou wilt say then un- Arminius acted thus, as often as to me, Why doth he yet find fault? his reason suggested to him difficulFor who hath resisted his will?" ties against the hypothesis of the This objection cannot be pushed reformers, or at all times when he further. Twenty pages of the subt- found himself called to answer any ilest Molinist could add nothing to disputants, he would have taken a it. What could they infer from it perfectly wise and apostolick course, more than that in Calvin's hypothe- and made use of the lights of his sis, God will have men to sin? Now understanding just as he ought to this is what St. Paul knew could have done. Arminius was no way be objected against him. But what pressed to oppose the common doc does he answer? Does he seek for trine; he did not believe that an

upon it:

one run the hazard of salvation by begin with it, since he was doemes following the hypothesis of Calvin. to come to it soon or late ? He is Let us see another circumstance by mistaken who imagines, that after which he rendered himself inexcusa- having entered the lists with a great ble. To a system full of great dif- disputant, he will be allowed to trificulties, he substituted anothersys- umph only because he had gained tem, which, to speak truly, draws some advantage over him at beginafter it no less difficulties than the ning.. A wrestler, who should outformer. One may say of this doc- run his adversary three parts or trine, what I have said of the inno- more of the race, does not win the vations of Saumer. It is more ve- crown, unless he perseveres his adhement and less constrained, than vantage to the end of the course the opinion of Mr. Amyraut, but af- It is the same in controversies ; it ter all, it is no better than a pallia- is not sufficient to parry the first tive remedy ; for the Arminians thrusts. The replies and the rehave soon answered some objections joinders must all be satisfied, till which, as they pretend, cannot be every doubt is perfectly cleared. refuted on Calvin's system ; but Nor this is what the hypothesis of they find themselves exposed to Arminius, nor that of the Molinists, other difficulties, which they can- nor that of the Socinians, is able to not get clear of but by a sincere ac- do. The system of the Arminians knowledgment of the infirmity of is only fit to obtain some advantagthe human mind, and the considera- es in those preludes of the combat tion of the incomprehensible infinity in which the forlorn hope is detachof God. And was it worth while to ed to skirmish ; but when it comes contradict Calvin for this ? Ought to a general and decisive battle, it he to have been so very delicate in is forced to retire, as well as to rest the beginning, seeing in the end he behind the incomprehensible mysmust have recourse to such an asy- tery."

PHILONOUS. lum? Why might he not as well

FOR THE HOPKIRSIAN MAGAZIKE.

rect and scriptural. That · Adam, MR. EDITOR,

in his primitive state, was a publick In your number for August, p. 468, are person, the constituted head of the Extracts from a Sermon, sent you by A

whole race'-that by or through MODERATE CALVINIST, which he seems his one offence,' in transgressing to approve, but which he apprehends the positive law, under which he * some may think incorrect' I acknow. ledge myself to be of that cumber;

was placed, .all mankind were conand having waited, with some degree stituted sinners'--that death has of impatience, to see objections' to passed through unto all men, besome things advanced in the Extracts, cause all have sinned_that the from an abler pen, I at length, reluc

economy, under which Adam was tantly avail myself of the liberty, which

the plan of your work gives to free placed, was not to decide, ultiand candid discussion,' to send you the mately, the eternal state of man. following brief

kind, but only to determine the REMARKS

state in which they should come into being'—that “the benefit of the

Saviour's interposition, is not only There are several things in the the resurrection of all men from Extracts, which are viewed as cor- the grave, but the deliverance of

UPON THE EXTRACT FROM A SER

MON.

« PreviousContinue »