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fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness." And its being owing, not to them, but to God and his distinguishing goodness, is the thing the apostle urges as a reason why they should not boast, but magnify God's grace or distinguishing goodness. And if it be a good reason, and the scheme of our salvation be every way so contrived (as the apostle elsewhere signifies) that all occasion of boasting should be precluded, and all reasons given to ascribe all to God's grace; then it is doubtless so ordered, that the greatest privileges, excellency, honour, and happiness of Christians, should be that wherein they do not distinguish themselves, but the difference is owing to God's distinguishing goodness.
Stebbing strongly asserts, God is not the author of that difference that is between some and others, that some are good, and others bad.
80. The Arminians differ among themselves. Dr. Whitby supposes what God does, is only proposing moral motives; but that in attending, adverting, and considering, we exercise our liberty. But Stebbing supposes, that the attention and consideration is itself the thing owing to the Spirit of God; p. 217.
§ 81. Stebbing changes the question, pages 223, 224. He was considering who has the chief glory of our conversion, or of our virtue; and there, answering objections, endeavours to prove the affirmative of another question, viz. whether God is the author of that pardon and salvation, of which conversion and virtue are the condition.
§ 82. Stebbing supposes that one thing wherein the assistance of the Spirit consists, is the giving of a meek, teachable, disinterested temper of mind, to prepare men for faith in Christ; pages 217, 259, and that herein consists that drawing of the Father, John vi. 44, viz. in giving such a temper of mind.
This he calls the preventing grace of God, that goes before conversion. He often speaks of a part that we do, and a part that God does. And he speaks of this as that part which God does. Therefore this, if it be the part which God does, in distinction from the part which we do, (for so he speaks of it,) is wholly done by God. And consequently, here is virtue wholly from God, and not at all from the exercise of our own free will; which is inconsistent with his own, and all other Arminian principles. Stebbing speaks of these preparatory dispositions as virtue, p. 30, 31, 32, yea, as that wherein virtue does in a peculiar manner consist, p. 31. And he there also, viz. page 259, talks inconsistently with himself; for he supposes that this meek and teachable temper is given by God, by his preventing grace; and also supposes, that all that have this, shall surely come to the Father. He says, page 256, "It is certainly true of the meek, disinterested man, that as he will not reject the gospel at first, so he will not be prevailed on by any worldly considerations to forsake it afterwards."
"He who is under no evil bias of mind, by which he may be prejudiced against the truth, (which is the notion of a meek and disinterested man,) such a one, I say, cannot possibly fail of being wrought upon by the preaching of the word, which carries in it all that evidence of truth, which reason requires," &c., and his words, page 259, are, John vi. 37, 39. "All that the Father giveth me, shall come unto me;" for to be given of the Father signifies the same thing with being drawn of the Father, as has been already shown. And to be drawn of the Father, signifies to be prepared or fitted for the reception of the gospel, by the preventing grace of God, as has also been proved. Now, this preparedness consisting, as has likewise been shown, in being endued with a meek and disinterested temper of mind; those who are given of the Father, will be the same with Christ's sheep. And the sense of the place is the same with the preceding, where our Saviour says that his sheep hear his voice and follow him, i. e. become his obedient disciples. This text, therefore, being no more than a declaration of what will be certain, and (morally speaking) the necessary effect of that disposition, upon the account of which men are said to be given of the Father, (to wit, that it will lead them to embrace the gospel, when once proposed to them.) By these things, the preventing grace of God, the part that God does, in distinction from the part that we do, and that which prevents or goes before what we do, thoroughly decides and determines the case as to our conversion, or our faith and repentance and obedience, notwithstanding all the hand our free will is supposed to have in the case; and which he supposes is what determines man's conversion; and insists upon it most strenuously and magisterially through his whole book. Stebbing supposes the influence of the Spirit necessary to prepare men's hearts, pages 15-18. He (pages 17, 18) speaks of this as what the Spirit does, and as being his preventing grace; and speaks of it as always effectual; so that all such, and only such as have it, will believe. See also pages 28-30.
That these dispositions must be effectual; see pages 46-48. This teachable, humble, meek spirit, is what Stebbing speaks of every where as what the Spirit of God gives antecedent to obedience. He insists upon it, that God's assistance is necessary in order to obedience. In pages 20, 21, he plainly asserts that it is necessary in order to our obedience, and declares that our Saviour has asserted it in express terms in these words, John xv. 5. "Without me ye can do nothing;" i. e. as he says, no good thing. Hence it follows, that this teachable, humble, meek disposition, this good and honest heart, is not the fruit of any good thing we do in the exercise of our free will; but is merely the fruit of divine operation. Here observe well what Stebbing says concerning God's giving grace sufficient for obedience, in answer to prayer. Pages 103-106.
$83. No reason in the world can be given, why a meek, humble spirit, and sense of the importance of Christian things, should not be as requisite in order to acceptable prayer, as in order to acceptable hearing and believing the word. It is as much so spoken of. A praying without a good spirit in these and other respects, is represented as no prayer, as ineffectual, and what we have no reason to expect will be answered.
§84. If that meekness, &c., depends on some antecedent, selfdetermined act of theirs, and they be determined by that; then their being Christ's, being his sheep, and therein distinguished from others that are not his sheep, is not properly owing to the Father's gift, but to their own gift. The Father's pleasure is not the thing it is to be ascribed to at all; for the Father does nothing in the case decisively; he acts not at all freely in the case, but acts on an antecedent, firm obligation to the persons themselves; but their own pleasure, undetermined by God, is that which disposes and decides in the matter. How impertinent would it be to insist on the gift of the Father in this case, when the thing he speaks of is not from thence !
$85. He supposes that the assistance that God gives in order to obedience is giving this good and honest heart; see p. 46, 47, together with p. 40. 45; and therefore, this good and honest heart is not the fruit of our own obedience, but must be the fruit of assistance that precedes our good works, as he often calls it the preventing grace of God. And therefore, if this grace determines the matter, and will certainly be followed with faith and obedience, then all Arminianism, and his own scheme, comes to the ground.
$86. Stebbing interprets that passage, Luke xix. 16, 17, which speaks of our being little children, and receiving the kingdom of God as little children, of that meekness and humility, &c., that is antecedent to conversion, which it is apparent Christ elsewhere speaks of as consequent on conversion, as Matth. xviii.
87. It is manifest the power of God overcomes resistance, and great resistance of some sort; otherwise there would be no peculiar greatness of power, as distinguishing it from the power of creatures, manifested in bringing men to be willing to be virtuous; which it is appareut there is, by Matth. xix. 26. "But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
§88. The Arminian scheme naturally, and by necessary consequence, leads men to take all the glory of all spiritual good (which is immensely the chief, most important, and excellent thing in the whole creation) to ourselves; as much as if we, with regard to those effects, were the supreme, the first cause, self-existent, and independent, and absolutely sovereign disposers. We leave the glory of only the meaner part of creation to God, and take to ourselves all the glory of that which is properly the life,
beauty, and glory of the creation, and without which it is all worse than nothing. So that there is nothing left for the great First and Last; no glory for either the Father, Son, or Holy Ghost, in the affair. This is not carrying things too far, but in a consequence truly and certainly to be ascribed to their scheme of things.
§ 89. He may be said to be the giver of money that offers it to us, without being the proper determiner of our acceptance of it. But if the acceptance of an offer itself be the thing which is supposed to be given, he cannot, in any proper sense whatsoever, be properly said to be the giver of this, who is not the determiner of it. But it is the acceptance of offers, and the proper improvement of opportunities, wherein consists virtue. He may be said to be the giver of money or goods that does not determine the wise choice; but if the wise and good choice itself be said to be the thing given, it supposes that the giver determines the existing of such a wise choice. But now, this is the thing that God is represented as the giver of, when he is spoken of as the giver of virtue, holiness, &c., for virtue and holiness (as all our opponents in these controversies allow and maintain) is the thing wherein a wise and good choice consists.
90. It is the common way of the Arminians, in their discourses and doctrines, which they pretend are so much more consistent with reason and common sense, than the doctrines of the Calvinists, to give no account at all, and make no proper answer to the inquiries made; and they do as Mr. Locke says of the Indian philosopher, who, when asked what the world stood upon, answered, it stood upon an elephant; and, when asked what the elephant stood upon, he replied, on a broadbacked turtle, &c. None of their accounts will bear to be traced. The first link of the chain, and the fountain of the whole stream, must not be inquired after. If it be, it brings all to a gross absurdity and selfcontradiction. And yet, when they have done, they look upon others as stupid bigots, and void of common sense, or at least going directly counter to common sense, and worthy of contempt and indignation, because they will not agree with them.
$91. I suppose it will not be denied by any party of Christians, that the happiness of the saints in the other world consists much in perfect holiness and the exalted exercises of it; that the souls of the saints shall enter upon it at once at death; or (if any deny that) at least at the resurrection; that the saint is made perfectly holy as soon as ever he enters into heaven. I suppose none will say, that perfection is obtained by repeated acts of holiness; but all will grant, that it is wrought in the saint immediately by the power of God; and yet that it is virtue notwithstanding. And why are not the beginnings of holiness wrought in the same manner? Why should not the beginning of a holy nature be wrought immediately by God in a soul that is wholly of a contrary nature,
as well as holiness be perfected in a soul that has already a prevailing holiness? And if it be so, why is not the beginning, thus wrought, as much virtue as the perfection thus wrought?
§92. Saving grace differs, not only in degree, but in nature and kind, from common grace, or any thing that is ever found in natural men. This seems evident by the following things. 1. Because conversion is a work that is done at once, and not gradually. If saving grace differed only in degree from what went before, then the making a man a good man would be a gradual work; it would be the increasing of the grace that he has, till it comes to such a degree as to be saving, at least it would be frequently so. But that the conversion of the heart is not a work that is thus gradually wrought, but that it is wrought at once, appears by Christ's converting the soul being represented by his calling of it; Rom. viii. 28, 29, 30. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son; that he might be the first born among many brethren. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified." Acts ii. 37-39. "Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." Heb. ix. 15. "That they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance." 1 Thess. v. 23, 24. "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly: And I pray God, your whole spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it." Nothing else can be meant in these places by calling, but what Christ does in a sinner's saving conversion; by which it seems evident, that this is done at once, and not gradually. Hereby Christ shows his great power. He does but speak the powerful word, and it is done. He does but call, and the heart of the sinner immediately cometh, as was represented by his calling his disciples, and their immediately following him. So, when he called Peter and Andrew, James and John, they were minding other things, and had no thought of following Christ. But at his call they immediately followed him, Matth. iv. 18-22. Peter and Andrew were casting a net into the sea. Christ says unto them, as he passed by, Follow me; and it is said, they straightway left their nets and followed him. So James and John were in the ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets: And he called them; and immediately they left the ship and their father, and followed him. So when Matthew was called; Matth.