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So that by sincerity here, is not meant any holy freedom or virtuous disposition or desire; but it signifies no more than reality of disposition and will to endeavour for some end, only provided the end be subservient to self-preservation. But the thing that truly in this case denominates the endeavour sincere, is the reality of the will or disposition of heart to endeavour, and not the goodness of the will or disposition. Now if this be the sincerity of endeavour which is meant, when men talk of its being the condition of peremptory and decisive promises of saving grace, then it never has (as I know of) yet been told, and I suppose, never will or can be told, what the condition of the promise is.

The thing that needs to be determined, in order to know this condition, is, how great a degree of this sort of sincerity, or real willingness of heart to endeavour, a man must have, to be entitled to the promise. For there can be no question, but that multitudes that live in gross wickedness, and are men of a very debauched, flagitious behaviour, have some degree of it; and there are none, even of those that are the most strict and painful in their endeavour, but have it in a very imperfect degree, and, in many things, fail of this sincerity of endeavour. For it must be kept in mind, that the sincerity of heart we are speaking of, attending religious duties, is only a reality of willingness to use endeavours. And every man whatsoever, that uses any endeavour at all for his salvation, or ever performs any religious duty, to the end that he may go to heaven and not to hell, has this sincerity. For whatever men do voluntarily for this end, they do from a real willingness and disposition of heart to do it; for if they were not willing to do it, they would not do it. There surely arg po voluntary actions performed without men's being willing to perform them. And is there any man that will assert that God has absolutely or peremptorily promised his saving grace to any man that ever stirs hand or foot, or thinks one thought in order to his salvation ?

And on the other hand, as to those that go farthest in their endeavours, still they fail, in numberless instances, of exercising this kind of sincerity, consisting in reality of will. For such are guilty of innumerable sins; and every man that commits sin, by so doing, instead of being sincerely willing to do his duty, sincerely wills the contrary. For so far as any actions of his are his sin, so far bis will is in what he does. No action is imputed to us any farther than it is voluntary, and involves the real disposition of the heart. The man, in this painful endeavour, fails continually of his duty, or (which is the same thing) of perfect obedience. And so far as he does so, he fails of sincerity of endeavour. No man is any farther defective in bis obedience, than as be is defective in sincerity; for there the defect lies, viz. in his will, and the disposition of his heart. If men were perfect in these, that would be the same thing as to be perfect in obedience,

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or complete in holiness. Nothing, either of omission or commission, is sin, any farther than it includes the real disposition and will; and therefore, no men are any farther sinful, than as they are sincere in sinning; and so far as they are sincere in sinning, so far they are deficient of sincerely endeavouring their duty. Now, therefore, where are the bounds to which men must come in order to be entitled to the promise ? Some have a faint sincerity of endeavour, who none do suppose are entitled to the promise. And those that have most sincerity, of endeavour, do greatly fail of that degree of sincerity that they ought to have, or fall short of that which God requires. And there are infinite degrees between these two classes. And if every degree of strength of endeavour is not sufficient, and yet some certain degree of it, greatly short of that which God requires, is sufficient, then let it be determined what that degree is.

Some have determined thus, that if men sincerely endeavour to do what they can, God has promised to help them to do more, &c. But this question remains to be resolved, whether the condition of the promise be, that he shall sincerely endeavour to do what he can, constantly, or only sometimes. For there is no man that sincerely endeavours to do his duty to the utmost constantly, with this sort of sincerity consisting in reality of will so to do. If he did, he would perfectly do his duty at all times. For, as was observed before, nothing else is required but the will; and men never fail of their duty, or commit sin, but when their. real will is to sin.

But if the condition of the promise, be sincerely doing what they can sometimes, then it should be declared how often, or how great a part of the time of man's life, he must exercise this sincerity. It is manifest that men fail of their duty every day, yea continually; and therefore, that there is a continual defect of sincerity of endeavour in the practice of duty.

If it should be said that the condition of the promise of saving grace is, that, take one time with another, and one duty with another, the sincerity of their will should be chiefly in favour of their duty; or, in other words, that they should be sincere in endeavours to do more than half their duty, though they sincerely neglect the rest; I would inquire, where they find such promises as these in the Bible? Besides, I think it can be demonstrated, that there is not a man on earth, that ever comes up half way to what the law of God requires of him ; and consequently, that there is in all more want of sincerity, than any actual possession of it. But whether it be so or no, how does it appear, that if men are sincere in endeavours with respect to more than half their duty, God has promised them saving mercy and grace, though, through a defect of their sincerity, the rest be neglected ?

But if we suppose the sincerity to which divine promises are made, implies a true freedom of the heart in religious endeayours


and performances, consisting in love to God and holiness, inclining our hearts to our duty for its own sake, here is something determinate and precise; as a title to the benefit promised does not depend on any particular degree of sincerity to be found out by difficult and unsearchable rules of mathematical calculation, but on the nature of it; this sincerity being a thing of an entirely distinct nature and kind from any thing that is to be found in those men who have no interest in the promises. If men know they have this sincerity, they may know the promises are theirs, though they may be sensible they have very much of a contrary principle in their hearts, the operations of which are as real as of this. This is the only sincerity in religion that the scripture makes any account of. According to the word of God, then, and then only, is there a sincere, universal obedience, when persons love all God's commands, and love all those things wherein holiness consists, and endeavour after obedience to every divine precept, from love and of free choice. Otherwise, in scripture account, there is nothing but sincere disobedience and rebellion, without any sincerity of the contrary. For their disobedience is of free choice, from sincere love to sin, and delight in wickedness. But their refraining from some sins, and performing some external duties, is without the least degree of free choice or sincere love.

If here it should be said, that men who have no piety of heart in a saving degree, yet may have some degree of love to virtue; and it should be insisted that mankind are born with a moral sense, which implies a natural approbation of, and love to virtue; and therefore, men that have not the principle of love to God and virtue established to that degree as to be truly pious men, and entitled to heaven, yet may have such degrees of them as to engage them, with a degree of ingenuous sincerity and free inclination, to seek after farther degrees of virtue, and so with a sincerity above that which has been mentioned, viz. a real willingness to use endeavours from fear and self-interest.-It may be replied, If this be allowed, it will not at all help the matter. For still the same question returns, viz. what degree of this sincerity is it that constitutes the precise condition of the promise? It is supposed that all mankind have this moral sense; but yet it is not supposed that all mankind are entitled to the promises of saving mercy.

Therefore the promises depend, as above noticed, on the degree of sincerity, under the same difficulties, and with the same intricacies, and all the forementioned unfixedness and uncertainty. And other things concerning this sincerity, besides the degree of it, are undetermined, viz. how constant this degree of sincerity of endeavour must be; how long it must be continued ; and how early it must be begun.

Thus, it appears that, on the supposition of God's having made any promises of saying grace to the sincere endeavours of ungodly VOL. VII.


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men, it will follow, that such promises are made to an undetermined condition.

But a supposed promise to an undetermined condition, is truly no promise at all. It is absurd to talk of positive determinate promises made to something not determined, or to a condition that is not fixed in the promise. If the condition be not decided, there is nothing decisive in the affair.

If the master of a family should give forth such a pretended promise as this to his servants, “I promise, that if any of you will do something, though I tell you not what, that I will surely give him an inheritance among my children :" Would this be truly any promise at all ?

I proceed now to observe,

II. On the supposition, that the promises of saving grace are made to some other sincerity of endeavour, than that which implies truly pious sincerity, the sovereign grace and will of God must determine the existence of the condition of the promises; and so the whole must still depend on God's determining grace; and that, of whatever kind this sincerity, short of truly pious and saving sincerity, is supposed to be; whether it consists only in a reality of will, arising from foreign motives, for a certain degree of endeavours or use of means; or whether it be a certain sincerity or reality of willingness to use endeavours, arising from a natural love of virtue. For all suppose the sincerity, to which the promises are made, to be that in which some are distinguished from others; none supposing that all mankind, without exception, have this sincerity which is the condition of the promises. Therefore, this sincerity must be a distinguishing attainment. And how is it that some attain to it, and not others? It must be in one of these two ways; either by the sovereign gift of God's will, or by their endeavours. To say the former, is to give up the point, and to own that the sovereign grace and will of God determines the existence of the condition of the promises. But if it be said, that this distinguishing sincerity of endeavour is obtained by men's own endeavour, then I ask, what sort of endeavour is it attained by? Sincere endeavour, or insincere? None will be so absurd, as to say, that this great condition of saving promises is attained to by insincere endeavours. For what tendency, either natural or moral, can the exercise of insincerity have, to produce, or attain to sincerity? But if it be said, that distinguishing sincerity of endeavour, is attained to by distinguishing sincere endeavour, this is to run round in a ridiculous circle; and still the difficulty remains, and the question returns, how the distinguishing sincerity that first of all took place in the affair came to have existence, otherwise than by the determining grace of God?

And if it be said, that there is no need of supposing any such thing as any previous, habitual sincerity, or any such sincerity going before, as shall be an established principle, but that it is sufficient that the free will does sincerely determine itself to en


deavour after holiness—I answer, whether we suppose the sincerity that first entitles to the promises, to be a settled habit, or established principle or not, it does not in the least remove the difficulty, as long as it is something, in which some men are distinguished from others, that precedes the distinguishing endeavour which entitles to the promises, and is the source and spring of those endeavours. This first distinguishing sincerity, which is the spring of the whole affair, must have existence by some means or other; and it must proceed either from some previous sincere endeavour of the man's own, which is a contradiction; or from God, which is the point required; or it must be the effect of chance, in other words, of nothing.

If we suppose that distinguishing sincerity of endeavour by which some men are interested in the promises of saving grace, and not others, to be some certain degree of love to virtue, or any thing else in the disposition or exercise of the heart; yet it must be owned, that all men either are alike by nature, as to love to virtue, or they are not. If they are not, but some have naturally a greater love to virtue than others, and this determines some, rather than others, to the requisite sincerity of endeavour after saving grace; then God determines the affair by his sovereign will; for he, and not men themselves, determines all distinguishing qualifications or advantages that men are born with. Or if there be no difference naturally, but one man is born with the same love to virtue as another; then, how do some men first attain to more of this love to virtue than others, and so possess that distinguishing sincerity of endeavour which consists in it? To say it arises from a previous, distinguishing sincerity of endeavour, attempt, desire, or will, is a contradiction. Therefore, it must proceed from the determining grace of God; which being allowed, the great point in dispute is allowed.

$15. Ephesians ii. “By grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves: It is the gift of God." Mr. Beach observes, "this text does not mean that their faith is so God's gist, as not to be of themselves, as is most evident to any who reads the original.” This is certainly a great mistake. What I suppose he means, is, that the relative that, being of the neuter gender, and the word misis of the feminine, they do not agree together. But if he would translate the Greek relative that thing, viz. the thing last spoken of, all the difficulty vanishes. Vid. Beza in loc. Such scriptures as these, 1 Cor. xv. 10. “Not I, but the grace of God that was with me;" Gal. ii. 20. “ Not I, but Christ liveth in me;" prove efficacious

The virtuous actions of men that are rewardable, are not left to men's indifference, without divine ordering and efficacy, so as to be possible to fail. They are often in the scripture the matter of God's promises. How often does God promise reformations ? How often does God promise that great revival of religion in the latter days ? Dr. Whitby


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