« PreviousContinue »
his understanding is thus enlightened, and his will influenced, he may, and often does, resist its operations, agreeably to the pointed saying of Stephen to the stubborn Jews,-Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost; as your fathers did, so do ye. From the preceding arguments it appears plain, that a sinner has grace to enlighten his understanding, to awaken him to a sense of his sinfulness, to work in him a godly sorrow for sin, to enable him to repent of it, and to enable him to believe in Jesus Christ, before he is justified---and this is the point contended for in the debate.
II. 1. It is unnecessary to make any remarks upon the texts of scripture you have quoted, to prove that mankind are depraved previous to regeneration, because this is a truth we never denied. And as to their proving that they remain so until they are justified, they are all foreign to the point. But I cannot avoid noticing your remarks upon Rom. v. 18, page 42. Even so by the righteousness of one, the free gift is come upon all men unto justification of life. After some remarks which do not touch the question in debate, you observe, “ Perhaps all men in this verse, means all those of whom the apostle had spoken in the preceding verse, which receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, who shall reign in life.”
You seem to express yourself, as though you were doubtful of your own interpretation. And indeed how any man could give such an one with the Bible before him,
would be unaccountable, did we not know the powerful influence of prejudice. To favour your “per. haps” explanation, you have left out the counter part of the text, Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all unto condemnation.
If the all in the latter clause of the text be restricted to those who receive abundance of grace, then the all in the former clause must be limited to them also. By this absurd interpretation you exempt the reprobates from condemnation, and fix it on the elect only ; for it is presumed you will not assert that the reprobates have received abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness. It is too evident to be successfully controverted, from the reasoning of the apostle in these passages, he inferred, that the free gift came upon just so many, as did the condemnation. If then all were condemned in Adam, all were justified by Christ. You are mis. taken also in supposing this text is cited to disprove human depravity, according to the explanation you have given of it, and which we admit, (viz.) That corrupt nature which we bring into the world: but it is brought to prove a point which you have not had the boldness to deny in your book, namely, that infants are not condemned merely on account of Adam's sin, but that they, in consequence of the obedience of Christ unto death, are justified but why? because they are born into the world holy? No; but because Christ has freed them from the penalty of the Adamic law, by bearing that penalty in their stead. True, they inherit a corrupt and depraved nature from Adam; but this is not so imputed to them, as to constitute them guilty, and condemnable. According to your doctrine, , however, the infant of a day old is equally involved in guilt and condemnation, with the sinner an hundred years old. This horrid idea has become so odious in the eye of justice and goodness, and so abhorrent to the feelings of humanity, that you have thought proper to keep it out of sight in your crippled defence of irrespective decrees, and your unscriptural doctrine of total depravity.
2. You go on : “ But this would not disprove the total depravity of those who are out of Christ."This is a very vague sentence. From it your readers might infer, that we undertook to prove, that all those out of Christ, even devils, and those sinners who have reprobated themselves by a long abuse of divine grace, are not totally depraved.-Indeed, the principal part of your sermon on total depravity, is entirely foreign to the point. For we know that mankind are wicked enough, and that their depravity is sufficiently manifest in their determined opposition to God. But it is also certain that their quantum of depravity is accumulated in consequence of their wilful abuse of the mercies of God.
3. You seem to suppose that, because regeneration is a radical change, a sinner must remain totally depraved, “ up to the moment of his regeneration.” And yet in page 50, you admit that, “ by 87 awakening and conviction, things are preparing in divine providence, for him to see himself entirely sinful and ill-deserving." Pray sir, what things are preparing? Is the Lord now only preparing the atonement, or the work of redemption? Is it the foundation of his justification which is now adjusting? Or is it the illumination of the Spirit upon his mind ? It is presumed you will not say that God is now laying the foundation, for other foundation can no man lay than that which is (already) laid. As to redemption and the atonement, the first you think was made in eternity between the Father and Son ; and the latter you will not deny was completed, at least before the day of Pentecost. And as to the illumination of the Spirit upon the heart, so far as it has any thing to do with the point in debate, your whole sermon is an unavailing effort to prove there is no such thing, previous to justification.How then, conformably to your sentiment, can things be preparing by “awakening and conviction before justification ? To be totally depraved is to be totally blind ; and you assert that a sinner remains in this melancholy state until justified; but here you
assert he is awakened" to see himself entirely sinful,” &c. Can a man totally blind see himself? The blazing light of truth will lead you sometimes to contradict your errors. O that it might carry such light into the darkened corners of your babel of confusion, as to exhibit its native deformity to your pious soul. For it is possible,
For it is possible, I believe, for a man to have some piety, although surrounded with
take not, you
many errors. Do not, dear sir, think me too charitable—you have set the example. For, if I mis
think a man may be as pious as was the apostle Paul, and yet be totally sinful. The explanation of your text leads me to this conclusion. You hold he was regenerated when he wrote his admirable epistle to the Romans ; and yet you think he taught the doctrine of total depravity in your text, I know that in me, (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing, Rom. vii. 18. This, you suppose he spoke of himself, as his then present state, and therefore, he must have been at that time both totally depraved, and regenerated !
4. But, sir, in page 53, you make a more explicit concession in favour of the truth contended for in these sheets. There you assert, that, “ A knowledge of this (namely, our depravity) is forced upon us in that conviction which precedes a change of heart."
I have put the words, “knowledge," “ conviction," and "precedes” in italics, that the reader's attention might be arrested in its progress, to note the pointed manner in which you contradict yourself; for in page 39, you assert that sinners remain totally depraved even up to the moment of their regeneration ; yet here in page 53, you affirm that a knowledge of this depravity is forced upon us in that conviction which precedes a change of heart. Here you give up the point for which I contend. It is not however, supposed you designed to
, do so. But a ray of truth providentially intercepted the mists of error, which your heterogenious system