Page images
PDF
EPUB

ignorance of the quality of that change they have sensibly experienced, which keeps believers in darkness and doubts about their state.-The subjects of this work can therefore have no greater evidence that it is from God, than sensibly to feel that it every way answers the original description.-- What greater evidence can they have of the truth of the gospel, than a sensible experience of the reality of its doctrines, and the truth of its promises, by this wonderful work of grace in their own hearts, which so visibly carries the divine signature both in its o. peration and effects; and is fo manifestly distinguished from all false appearances and pretences ? --For my own part, I cannot but look upon the irregular heats you speak of, as affording some convincing evidence in favour of the cause I am pleading. These things are foretold in the Scriptures.-By these things Satan is endeavouring to support his own kingdom, as we may reasonably expect he would do. He knows, that he is most likely to play the surest game, when he transforms himself into an angel of light.-And these false appearances ferve for a foil to discover the greater lustre in a true and real work of divine grace.

The only objection against all this, which I can foresee, is that I am philosophising upon the golden tooth, and that the persons I am characterizing, exist no where, save in my descriptions of them. But I need add no more to what I have laid upon this already, than my attestation, that I have the comfort of an inward and intimate acquaintance with considerable numbers of such as those whose characters I have described.-And if you, Sir, would seek out such for your chosen companions, your objections would die of themselves; and the argument I have insisted upon would appear in its proper light and strength.

1

I know not what more can be needful to be ad. ded upon this subject, but my hearty prayers, that the Spirit of truth would lead us both into all truth; and that we may know, by sensible experience, what is the hope of Christ's calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints; which has been justly, though but weakly and very imperfectly represented, in these letters, from,

ŞIR,

Yours, &c.

LETTER VII. Wherein the Doctrine of

GOD's Sovereign Grace is vindicated; and some Exceptions against it considered and answered.

SIR,

Y have miniftered come by your last. I greatly

a

rejoice to hear, that “ the more strictly you exa“ mine the cause, the greater evidence you find of es the undoubted truth and certainty of the Chri. “ ftian religion :" But that you are filled with “ confusion, to think how long you have lived at

distance from that blessed Saviour, who has wrought out such a glorious redemption for us." And I am not at all surprised, to hear you com. plain, that "you cannot entertain clear apprehenis lions of my discourse of experimental religion :" That “though your last objections are filenced, " there are others, which fill your mind with

greater difficulty, and are of much greater im.

portance, if I have given you a just view of « the case." And that "

you cannot tell how

you “can ever be brought to a feeling sense of the

doctrines been mercy,

“ doctrines of sovereign grace, which I so much “ insist on, while they appear to you fo inconsistent “ with truth, and so unreasonable."--I am not, I say, surprised at this, for we are naturally preju. diced against these doctrines, and are not easily brought to receive them, by reason of the strong bias there is upon our minds to the contrary principles.--I shall therefore endeavour to consider your several objections; and, how strong and plausible soever they may appear, I do not despair of giving you fatisfaction.

You object, that “ if we are of ourselves capable " of no qualifying conditions of the divine favour,

or, (to use my own words), if we must feel that " we lie at mercy; and that all our own refuges, “6 and all our endeavours, in our own strength, to “ relieve our distressed fouls are fruitless and vain,

you cannot tell to what purpose any of our en. " deavours are, or what good it will do us to use any means at all for our salvation."

In order to a clear solution of this difficulty, it seems needful to convince you, that this loft, impotent, deplorable state, is the case in fact of every unrenewed sinner, whatever objections we may frame in our minds against it; and therefore it is necessary, that he should sensibly perceive the cafe to be as it truly is.—And then, it will be proper to fhew you, that the consequence you draw froin this doctrine is unjust, and even direly contrary to the improvement you ought to make of it.

I begin with the first of these, and shall endea. vour to convince you, that man is indeed in such a loft and helpless state, that he lies at mere mercy, and cannot bring himself into a claim to the divine favour, by any power or ability of his own. I shall not run into the scholastic controversies and fubtile distinctions, with which this doctrine has

[ocr errors]

been clouded by many of our wrangling disputers ; but shall endeavour to set it in the most plain, easy, and practical light, that I am able.

I think you must readily grant, that you cannot make an atonement for your sins, by any, performances within your power.-You are, Sir, to confi. der yourself as a sinner, as a criminal and delinquent in the light of God.-Your nature is corrupt and defiled.--Your actual transgressions of the law of God have been very numerous, and perhaps some of them attended with special aggravations.-All your fins are directly repugnánt to the perfections of the divine nature, and consequently offensive to a pure and holy God.-And what greatly increases the difficulty and danger of your case is, that you are still continuing to act contrary to God in all you do, while your nature is unrenewed ; and while you are without a principle of love to God. (I am sure you will pardon this freedom, for it is necessary you should know the disease, in order to the cure).-Judge then yourself, whether it can be fuppofed, that an omniscient, heart-searching God can be pleased with any, even the most devout of your overt actions, when he knows that yourheart is estranged from him, and your nature has no conformity to him, but your affections are glued to'your several idols.--How 'then can you be reconciled to God, by virtue of your own performances and attainments ? Can you pay ten thousand talents with less than nothing? -Can you please God by offending him, as you do by the obliquity of all your duties, the defects of your best devo. tions, and the finful affections from whence they all .flow?- -Or can you have those unworthy thoughts of an infinite unchangeable God, as to hope you can make such impressions upon his affections, by acknowledging your offences, and imploring his

mercy, as to excite his compassion and fympathy; and to make your impure and unholy nature agreeable to his infinite purity and holiness!--Can your insincere and hypocritical duties (for such they are all at best, while they proceed from an unsanctified heart) bring the glorious God to take complacency in what is directly contrary to his own nature ?-You cannot but fee, that these proposals are most unreasonable and absurd. One of these things must certainly be true ; either, first, that you have naturally, whilft in an unrenewed state, a principle of holiness and love to God : Or, secondly, that works flowing from an impure fountain, and from a principle of opposition and alienation to God, are yet pleasing to God, will serve to appease him, and will intitle you to his favour : Or, thirdly, that you cannot, by any thing you do, have a claim to God's favour, until your nature is renewed, and you can act from a principle of holiness and love to God. I think every man's experience will confute the first of these, who gives any attention at all to the natural difpofitions of his own soul : The second is altoge. ther inconsistent both with the nature of things, and with the nature of an infinitely pure and holy God: And therefore the third is necessarily true.-It will not at all help the case to allege, in bar of what is here said, that Christ Jesus has made an atonement for us. For what is that to you, while you remain without an interest in him ?--Did Christ purchase for you a capacity to make an atonement for your. felf-Did he die, that God might be pleased with what is contrary to his own nature, and pacified with such duties as can be no better than impure streams from a corrupt fountain ?

Let reason fit judge in the case before us, and you must alluw your cafe to be as I ha described

And it is equally evident, that you have no

power

« PreviousContinue »