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Eph. i. 18—20, is to be taken in connexion with the words which follow in the beginning of the next chapter; which is a continuation of the same discourse, where the apostle abundantly explains himself. In those words, there is an explanation of what had before been more figuratively represented. He here observes, that those that believe, are the subjects of a like exceeding greatness of power that Christ was, when he was raised from the dead, and set at God's own right hand in heavenly places. And then in the prosecution of this discourse he shows how, viz. in our being raised from the dead, being dead ourselves in trespasses and sins, and raised as Christ was, and made to sit together with him in heavenly places; and this he speaks of, not only as the fruit of the exceeding greatness of his power, but of the riches of his mercy, and exceeding riches of his grace; by grace in opposition to works; that it is by faith which is the gift of God. The apostle repeats it over and over, that it is by grace, and then explains how; not of works; and that our faith itself, by which it is, is not of ourselves, but is God's gift; and that we are wholly God's workmanship; and that all is owing to God's foreordaining that we should walk in good works. I know not what the apostle could have said more. See Eph. ii. 1-10.
$ 59. In Eph. iii. it is spoken of as a glorious mystery of God's will, contrived of old, and determined from the foundation of the world, and his eternal purpose, &c., that God would bring in the Gentiles as fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel. Which confirms the promises of the Old Testament; shows that they were not foretold only as foreseen, but foredetermined, as what God would bring to pass. This is also spoken of elsewhere, as the fruit of God's eternal purpose, his election, &c., as our adversaries acknowledge.
$ 60. Sincerity itself is spoken of as coming from God. Phil. i. 10. “That ye may approve the things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence in the day of Christ.” And elsewhere God is represented as “creating a clean heart, renewing a right spirit, giving a heart of flesh,” &c. The apostle “gives thanks for the faith and Jove of the Colossians, their being delivered from the power of darkness, &c. and prays that they may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and might, agreeable to their knowledge, being fruitful in every good work; and for their perseverance, and that they might be made meet for the reward of the saints.” Col. i. 3, 4, 9—13. This argues
all to flow from God as the giver. Their first faith, and their love that their faith was attended with, and their knowledge and spiritual wisdom and prudence, and walking worthy of the Lord, and universal obedience, and doing every good work, and increasing in grace, and being strengthened in it, and their perseverance and cheerfulness in their obedience, and being made meet for their reward, all are from God. They are from God as the determining cause; else, why does the apostle pray that God would bestow or effect these things, if they be not at his determination whether they shall have them or not? He speaks of God's glorious power as manifested in the bestowment of these things.
Col. ii. 13. “And you being dead in your sins and the uncir. cumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him."
Col. iii. 10. “ Have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him."
See how many things the apostle gives thanks to God for in the Thessalonians, and prays for them. 2 Thess. i. 3, 4. 11, 12, and ii. 17, 18, and iïi. 3, 4, 5. 1 Thess. i. verse 2, to the end, and chap. ii. verses 13, 14, and chap. iii. 9, 10. 12, 13, chap. v. 23, 24. 1 Thess. iii. 12. “ The Lord make you to increase and abound in love," &c. 1 Thess. iv. 10. “But as touching brotherly love, ye need not that I should write unto you; for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. And indeed ye do it towards all the brethren.” 1 Thess. v. 23, 24. “ And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly ; and I pray God your whole spirit, and soul, and body, be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that hath called you, who also will do it."
2 Thess. i. 3, 4. “We are bound to thank God always for you, because your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of
you all toward each other aboundeth ; so that we glory in you, for your faith and patience in all your persecutions and tribulations."
The apostle thanks God for his own prayers, and for others; 2 2 Tim. i. 3. If they are from God, then doubtless also our prayers for ourselves, our very prayers for the Spirit, are from him.
The prophet ascribes persons' prayers to their having the spirit of grace and supplication. True acceptable prayer is spoken of, Rom. viii. as being the language of the Spirit; not that I suppose that the very words are indited, but the disposition is given. 2 Tim. i. 7. “God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love, and of a sound mind.”
2 Tim. ii. 9. “Who bath saved us and called us with a boly calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.
Heb. xiii. 20, 21. “Now the God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work, and to do is will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever, amen.” See Eph. i. 19, 20, and 1 Cor. i. Jatter end. Heb. xii. 2. “ Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith,” compared with Philip. i. 5. James i. 5—8. “If any man lack wisdom, let him ask it of God, that giveth to
, every one of
all liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering; for he that wavereth, is Itke a wave of the sea, driven of the wind and tossed. For let not that man think he shall obtain any thing of the Lord. A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.” So that, in order to a man's having any reason to expect to be heard, he must first have faith, and a sincere, single heart. And what that is which the apostle calls wisdom, may be learnt from chap. iii. 17, 18. - The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” In chap. i. 5, &c., above cited, God is spoken of as the giver of this wisdom; and in the following part of the chapter, he is spoken of as the giver of this and every benefit of that kind; every thing that contains any thing of the nature of light or wisdom, or moral good ; and this is represented as the fruit of his mere will and pleasure. Verses 16, 17, 18. “Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gist, and every perfect gift, is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness nor shadow of turning.
Of his own will begat he us by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures. See John í. 13, and iii. 8.
The scope of the apostle, and connexion of his discourse, plainly show that the apostle means to assert that all moral good is from God. In the preceding verses, he was warning those he wrote to, not to lay their sins, or pride, or lusts to the charge of God, and on that occasion he would have them be sensible that every good gift is from God, and no evil; that God is the Father of light, and only of light; and that no darkness is from him, because there is no darkness in him ; no change from light to darkness; no, not the least shadow. What he says is plainly parallel to what the apostle John says, when he would signify God's perfect holiness without any sin ; 1 John i. 5, 6. “ This then, is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with bim, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.” But if all moral good is from God, cometh down from him, and is bis gist; then the very first good determination of the will, and every good improvement of assistance is so.
1 Pet. i. 2—5. “ Elect according to the foreknowledge of God, through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto a lively hope,” (or a living hope, i. e. from the dead; to be begotten froin the dead, in the phrase of the New Testament, is the same as to be raised from the dead. See Coloss. i. 18, Rev. i. 5,) “by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance
incorruptible and undefiled, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.” See Eph. i. 18—20, and ii. at the beginning.
Philip. ii. 13. “It is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” The plain meaning of this text is, that it is God by his operation and efficiency who gives the will, and also enables us to put that will in execution; or that he by his efficiency gives both the will and the deed. And this will remain the plain meaning of this text, after this sort of gentlemen have worked upon it a thousand years longer, if any of them shall remain on earth so long. It will be the indisputable meaning of it, notwithstanding their criticisms on the word Evegywv, &c. I question whether any word can be found, in all the Greek language, more expressive and significant of an effectual operation. Wherever the words effectual and effectually are used in our translation of the Bible, this is the word used in the original. See the English Concordance.
$ 61. By the disposing or determining cause of a benefit I mean, a cause that disposes, orders, or determines, whether we shall be actually possessed of the benefit or not: and the same cause may be said to be an efficacious or effectual cause. That cause only can be said to be an efficacious cause, whose efficiency determines, reaches, and produces the effect.
A being may be the determiner and disposer of an event, and not properly an efficient or efficacious cause. Because, though he determines the futurity of the event, yet there is no positive efficiency or power of the cause that reaches and produces the effect; but merely a withholding or withdrawing of efficiency or power.
Concerning the giver's being a disposer or determiner, let us consider that objection, that when a man gives to a beggar, he does but offer, and leaves it with the determination of the beggar's will, whether he will be possessed of the thing offered. In answer to this I observe, that in the instance before us, the very thing given is the fruit of the bounty of the giver. The thing given is virtue, and this consists in the determination of the inclination and will. Therefore the determination of the will is the gift of God; otherwise virtue is not his gift, and it is an inconsistence to pray to God to give it to us. Why should we pray to God to give us such a determination of will, when that proceeds not from him but ourselves ?
$ 62. Every thing in the Christian scheme argues, that mau's title to, and fitness for, heaven, depends on some great divine influence, at once causing a vast change, and not any such gradual change as is supposed to be brought to pass by men themselves in the exercise of their own power. The exceeding diversity of the states of men in another world argues it.
$ 63. Arminians make a great ado about the phrase irresistible grace. But the grand point of controversy really is, what is it that determines, disposes, and decides the matter, whether there shall be saving virrtue in the heart or not; and much more properly, whether the grace of God in the affair be determining grace, whether it be irresistible.
Our case is indeed extremely unhappy, if we have such a book to be our grand and only rule, our light and directory, that is so exceeding perplexed, dark, paradoxical, and hidden every where in the manner of expression, as the scriptures must be, to make them consistent with Arminian opinions, by whatever means this has come to pass, whether through the distance of ages, diversity of customs, or by any other cause. It is to be considered that this is given for the rule of all ages; and not only of the most learned, and accurate, and penetrating critics, and men of vast inquiry and skill in antiquity, but for all sorts of persons, of every age and nation, learned and unlearued. If this be true, how unequal and unfit is the provision that is made! How improper to answer the end designed! If men will take subterfuge in pretences of a vast alteration of phrase, through diversity of ages and nations, what may not men hide themselves from under such a pretence! No words will hold and secure them. It is not in the nature of words to do it. At this rate, language in its nature has no sufficiency to communicate ideas.
$ 64. In efficacious grace we are not merely passive, nor yet does God do some, and we do the rest. But God does all, and we do all. God produces all, and we act all. For that is what
, he produces, viz. our own acts. God is the only proper author and fountain; we only are the proper actors. We are, in different respects, wholly passive and wholly active.
In the scriptures the same things are represented as from God and from us. God is said to convert, and men are said to convert and turn. God makes a new heart, and we are commanded to make us a new heart. God circumcises the heart, and we are commanded to circumcise our own hearts; not merely because we must use the means in order to the effect, but the effect itself is our act and our duty. These things are agreeable to that text, “God worketh in you both to will and to do."
$ 65. Christ says, that no other than those whom “ the Father draws, will come to him;" and Stebbing supposes none but those whom the Father draws in this sense, viz. by first giving them a teachable spirit, &c. But this was false in fact in the apostle Paul and others; at least he did not give it in answer to prayer, as their scheme supposes, and must suppose; else efficacious grace is established, and the liberty of the will, in their sense of it, is overthrown.
$ 66. When Christ says, John X. “Other sheep have I which are not of this fold;" it is unreasonable to suppose he meant all VOL. VII.