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$73. The scripture speaks of this as the reason that good men have virtue, that God hath given it to them; and the reason why bad men have it not, that God hath not given it to them. These two together clearly prove that God is the determining or disposing cause of virtue or goodness in men.
$ 74. Dr. Stebbing insists upon it, that conversion is the effect of God's word; and supposes that therefore it is demonstratively evident, that it must needs be the effect of men's free will, and not the necessary effect of the Spirit of God. But I say, that by their doctrine of self-determination it cannot be the effect of the word of God in any proper sense at all. That it should be the effect of the word, is as inconsistent with their scheme, as they suppose it to be with ours. Self-determination is utterly inconsistent with conversion's being at all the effect of either the word or Spirit.
$75. They say that commands, threatenings, promises, invitations, counsels, &c., are to no purpose in our scheme. But indeed they can have no place in their scheme: For their scheme excludes all motives. 76. In many particulars their scheme contradicts common
It is contrary to common sense, that a being should continually meet with millions of millions ot' real, proper disappointments and crosses to his proper desires, and not continually lead a distressed and unhappy life. It is contrary to common sense, that God should know that an event will certainly come to pass, whose non-existence he at the same time knows is not impossible. It is contrary to common sense that a thing should be the cause of itself; and that a thing not necessary in its own nature should come to pass without any cause: That the more indifferent a man is in any moral action, the more virtuoas he is, &c.
§ 77. If the grace of God is not diposing and determining, then a gracious man's differing in this respect from another, is not owing to the goodness of God. He owes no thanks to God for it; and so owes no thanks to God, that he is saved, and not others. But how contrary is this to scripture!
scripture! Seeing the scripture speaks of the gift of virtue, and of the possession of it, as a fruit of God's bounty.
§ 78. A man's conformity to the rule of duty, is partly owing to assistance or motive; if his conformity be to ten degrees, and it is in some measure, v.g. to the amount of five degrees, owing to sovereign assistance; then only the remaining five degrees are to be ascribed to the man himself, and therefore there are but five degrees of virtue.
$ 79. Dr. Stebbing says, “that a man is indeed both passive and active in his own conversion," and be represents God as partly the cause of man's conversion, and man himself as partly the cause, p. 208.
Again, Stebbing says, p. 254, “ Faith and regeneration are our works, as well as his gifts, i. e. they arise partly from God and partly from ourselves.” But if so, on this scheme, they imply virtue so far only as they are our works.
Men's salvation is attributed wholly and entirely to men in their scheme, and none of the praise of it is due to God, as will most evidently appear, if the matter be considered with a little attention. For, 1. They hold that man's salvation is given as a reward of man's virtue, so is pardon of sin, deliverance from hell, and eternal life and glory in heaven ; all is for man's virtue. 2. Rewardable virtue wholly consists in the exercise of a man's own free will. They hold that a man's actions are no farther virtuous nor rewardable, than as they are from man himself. If they are partly from some foreign cause, so far they are not rewardable. It being so, that that virtue which is rewardable in man, is entirely from man himself; hence it is to himself wholly that he is to ascribe his obtaining the reward. If the virtue, which is that thing, and that thing only, which obtains the reward, be wholly from man himself, then it will surely follow, that his obtaining the reward is wholly from himself.
All their arguments suppose, that men's actions are no farther virtuous and rewardable, than as they are from themselves, the fruits of their own free will and self-determination. And men's own virtue, they say, is the only condition of salvation, and so must be the only thing by which salvation is obtained. And this being of themselves only, it surely follows, that their obtaining salvation is of themselves only.
They say, their scheme gives almost all the glory to God. That matter, I suppose, may easily be determined, and it may be made to appear beyond all contest, how much they do ascribe to the man, and how much they do not.
By them, salvation is so far from God, that it is God that gives opportunity to obtain salvation; it is God that gives the offer and makes the promise: but the obtaining of the thing promised is of men. The being of the promise is of God; but their interest in it is wholly of themselves, of their own free will. And furthermore, it is to be observed, that even God's making the offer, and giving the opportunity to obtain salvation, at least that which consists in salvation from eternal misery, is not of God, so as to be owing to any proper grace or goodness of his. For they suppose he was obliged to make the offer, and it would have been a reproach to his justice, if he had not given an opportunity to obtain salvation. For they hold, it is unjust for God to
, make men miserable for Adam's sin; and that it is unjust to punish them for that sin that they cannot avoid; and that, therefore, it is unjust for God not to preserve or save all men that do what they can, or use their sincere endeavours to do their duty; and therefore it certainly follows, that it is unjust in God not to
give all opportunity to be saved or preserved from misery; and consequently, it is no fruit at all of any grace or kindness in him to give such opportunity, or to make the offer of it. So that, all that is the fruit of God's kindness in man's salvation, is the positive happiness that belongs to salvation. But neither of these two things are in any respect whatsoever the fruit of God's kindness, neither bis deliverance from sin, nor from misery in his virtue and boliness; and when hereafter he shall see the misery of the damned, he will bave it to consider, that it is owing in no respect to God that he is delivered from that misery. And that good men differ from others that shall burn in hell to all eternity, is wholly owing to themselves. When they, at the day of judgment, shall behold some set on the left hand of the Judge, while they are on his right hand, and shall see how they differ, they may, and, as they would act according to truth, they ought to take all the glory of it unto themselves; and therefore the glory of their salvation belongs to them. For it is evident that a man's making himself to differ with regard to any great spiritual benefit, and his not receiving it from another, but his having it in distinction from others, being from himself, is ground of a man's boasting and glorying in himself
, with respect to that benefit, and of boasting of it: I say, it is evident by the apostle's words, “ Who maketh thee to differ? Why boastest thou, as though thou hadst not received it?” These words plainly imply it.
It is evident, that it is God's design to exclude man's boasting in the affair of his salvation. Now, let us consider what does give ground for boasting in the apostle's account, and what it is that in his account excludes boasting, or cuts off occasion for it. It is evident by what the apostle says, 1 Cor. i. latter end, that the entireness and universality of our dependence on God, is that which cuts off occasion of boasting; as, our receiving our wisdom, our holiness, and redemption through Christ, and not through ourselves; that Christ is made to us wisdom, justification, holiness, and redemption; and not only so, but that it is of God that we have any part in Christ; Of him are ye in Christ Jesus: Nay, further, that it is from God we receive those benefits of wisdom, holiness, &c., through the Saviour that we are interested in.
The import of all these things, if may trust to scripture representations, is, that God has contrived to exclude our glorying ; that we should be wholly and every way dependent on God, for the moral and natural good that belongs to salvation; and that we have all from the hand of God, by his power and grace. And certainly this is wholly inconsistent with the idea that our holiness is wholly from ourselves; and that we are interested in the benefits of Christ rather than others, is wholly of our own decision. And that such a universal dependence is what takes away occasion of taking glory to ourselves, and is a proper ground of an ascripVOL. VII.
tion of all the glory of the things belonging to man's salvation to God, is manisest from Rom. xi. 35, 36. “ Or who hath first given unto him, and it shall be recompensed to him again? For of him, and to him, and through him, are all things; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."
The words are remarkable, and very significant. If we look into all the foregoing discourse, from the beginning of chapter ix. of which this is the conclusion, by not giving to God, bat having all this wholly from, through, and in God, is intended that these things, these great benefits forementioned, are thus from God, without being from or through ourselves. That some of the Jews were distinguished from others in enjoying the privileges of Christians, was not of themselves; not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy. It is of him who has mercy on whom he will have mercy. It is of God who makes of the same lump, a vessel of honour and a vessel unto dishonour. It is not of us, nor our works, but of the calling of God, or of him that calleth, chap. ix. 11, and 23, 24. Not first of our own choice, but of election, chap. ix. 11-27, and chap. xi. 5. It is all of the grace of God in such a manner, as not to be of our works at all; yea, and so as to be utterly inconsistent with its being of our works; chap. xi. 5, 6, 7. In such a manner as not first to be of their seeking ; their seeking does not determine, but God's election; chap. xi. 7. It is of God, and not of man, that some were grafted in, that were wild olive branches in themselves, and were more unlikely as to any thing in themselves to be branches, than others, verse 17. Their being grafted in, is owing to God's distinguishing goodness, while he was pleased to use severity towards others, v. 22. Yea, God has so ordered it, on purpose that all should be shut up in unbelief; be left to be so sinful, that he might have mercy on all ; so as more visibly to show the salvation of all to be merely dependent on mercy. Then the apostle fitly concludes all this discourse, Rom. xi. 35, 36. “Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed to him again? For of him, and to him, and through him, are all things; to whom be glory for ever. Amen."
Again, in the apostle's account, a benefit's being of our works, gives occasion for boasting, and therefore God has contrived that our salvation shall not be of our works, but of mere grace, Rom. iii. 27. Eph. ii. 9. And that neither the salvation, nor the condition of it, shall be of our works, but that, with regard to all, we are God's workmanship and his creation antecedently to our works ; and his grace and power in producing this workmanship, and his determination or purpose with regard to them, are all prior to our works, and the cause of them. See also Rom. xi. 4, 5, 6.
And it is evident, that man's having virtue from himself, and not receiving it from another, and making himself to differ with regard to great spiritual benefits, does give ground for boasting, by the words of the apostle in Rom. iii. 27. And this is allowed by those men in spiritual gifts. And if so in them, more so in greater things; more so in that which in itself is a thousand times more excellent, and of ten thousand times greater importance and benefit.
By the Arminian scheme, that which is infinitely the most excellent thing, viz. virtue and holiness, which the apostle sets forth as being infinitely the most honourable, and will bring the subjects of it to infinitely the greatest and highest honour, that which is infinitely the highest dignity of man's nature of all things that belong to man's salvation; in comparison of which, all things belonging to that salvation are nothing; that wbich does infinitely more than any thing else constitute the difference between them and others, as more excellent, more worthy, more honourable and happy; this is from themselves. With regard to this, they bave not received of another. With regard to this great thing, they, and they only, make themselves to differ from others; and this difference proceeds not at all from the power or grace of God.
Again, in the apostle's account, this scheme will give occasion to have a great benefit, that appertains to salvation, not of grace, but of works.
Virtue is not only the most honourable attainment, but it is that which men, on the supposition of their being possessed of it, are more apt to glory in, than in any thing else whatsoever. For what are men so apt to glory in as their own supposed excellency, as in their supposed virtue? And what sort of glorying is that, which, it is evident in fact, the scriptures do chiefly guard against? It is glorying in their own righteousness, their own holiness, their own good works.
It is manifest, that in the apostle account, it is a proper consideration to prevent our boasting, that our distinction from others is not of ourselves, not only in being distinguished in having better gifts and better principles, but in our being made partakers of the great privileges of Christians, such as being engrafted into Christ, and partaking of the fatness of that olive tree. Rom. xi. 17, 18. * And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in amongst them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree, boast not against the branches."
Here it is manifest, it is the distinction that was made between some and others, that is the thing insisted on; and the apostle, verse 22, calls upon them to consider this great distinction, and to ascribe it to the distinguishing goodness of God only. hold therefore the goodness and severity of God; on them which