Page images
PDF
EPUB

so that though I may not have hit upon the precise sense of the writers, there may be no doubt, from other considerations, that the sense which I am combating is not the true one, which is quite sufficient for my purpose. It by no means follows that because I am wrong, my adversaries are right, In these cases there is the greatest room for cri. ticism, and diversity of opinion. I have given what at present appears to me to be the real sense of every text of scripture which I have taken into consideration, but I shall gladly avail myself of the new lights, which may be thrown upon any of them in future editions of this pamphlet.

In the mean time, with great diffidence of my own judgment, I recommend what I have now written to your most serious and candid considera. . tion; desiring that you would read it with yous: bibles at hand, turning to every passage to which I refer, and reading what goes before and after it; because I have no doubt but that, in this manner, you will see much more reason, if not to approve. of my interpretations, yet to reject those of my adversaries, than I have suggested in this treatise, in which I have made a point of being as concise as I possibly could, consistently with perspicuity.,

The rapid sale of the Appeal makes me hope that, inconfiderable as the performance is, it has been the instrument of some good, in the hands of that Being who works by small things as well as by great ones,

1. Of I. OF THE POWER OF MAN TO DO THE WILL OF

God. That the sacred writers consider all mankind as naturally possessed of sufficient power to do what God requires of them, is evident from their earnest remonftrances and expoftulations with persons of all ranks and conditions, and their severe censure of them when they refuse to comply with their exhortations. Nor was this the case with the jews and christians only, who were favoured with divine revelation. The apostle Paul evidently considers the gentiles also in the same light; though, much not being given to them, much was not required of them.

In the first chapter of the epistle to the Romans this apostle represents the gentile world, in general, as having grossly corrupted themselves; yet, in that very representation, he not only says, ver. 18, 19, that they had subjected themselves to the wrath of God, revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; because that which may be known of God is manifeft, for God hath jewed it unto them; but also ver. 32. that knowing the judgment of God (that they who commit such things are worthy of death) they not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. So that the degeneracy and depravity into which they were sunk were owing, not to want of ability, but to wilfulness, and a determined

opposition

[ocr errors]

opposition to the powers of conscience with which their Maker had endowed them, and which continued unceasing remonstrances within them. Reasoning with the jews, in the ad chapter, he gives the following representation of some of the gentiles, ver. 14, 15. For when the gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law to themselves. Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their reasonings between themselves, accufing or else defend. ing * : and he adds, in the 26 and 27 verses. Theres fore, if the uncircumcision, i. e, the uncircumcised gentile, keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? i. e. shall he not be equally accepted by God as a righteous jew ? and shall not uncircumcision, which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision, doft transgress the law ? I presume no one will think so meanly of St. Paul's reasoning as to suppose, that he here puts a case which either never was true in fact, or possible in nature; but if this case either ever was true in fact, or possible, those uncircumcised gentiles, who should answer his description, must certainly have received from their Maker capacities and powers to do the will of God acceptably. And if others did not act in like manner, it was not owing to their not having received like natural powers, but to their not making a like improvement of them.

not * See Taylor.

But let us attend to fome passages which have been produced in proof that man is not, by nature, able to do the will of God, or that his maker has not given him capacity, and ability to know and do his will acceptably, without the .fuperadded operations of special grace to remedy his natural inability. · I Cor. ii. 14. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him ; neither can he know them, because they are Spiritually discèrned. · Upon this text I would observe first, that the word, which is here translated natural, properly fignifies animal, or sensual. Thus i Cor. xv. 44, 46, the apostle uses the same word three times for that body which dies, and is buried, to distinguish it from that Spiritual body which shall rise again ; . where the word animal much better expresses the

apostle's meaning than natural. Again James uses it, ch. iii. 15. where our translators have rendered it sensual. This wifioin descendeth not from above,

but is eartkly, sensual, devilish. It is also used ver. 19. .. of Jude's epistle, and rendered sensual. These are

they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the spirit. These are all the passages of the New Tess tament where I find this word used. And it appears, that where it denotes the character of persons;

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

or the moral quality of things, our translators have . rendered it sensual. Consequently, in consistency with themselves, they should have rendered the text under confideration, But the sensual man (who has no higher aims than the gratification of his animal senses) receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, &c. This would have been readily, understood and acknowledged by all, and is perfectly consonant to what he says to the Romans, . viii. 7, The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not fubject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. . Secondly; in this chapter the apostle assures the Corinthians, that the doctrine which he had preached to them did not take its rise from worldly wisdom, or philosophy, but was that only which had been revealed to the apostles by the spirit of God, v. 10. That he had preached this doctrine in those terms only which the same spirit dictated, comparing the. several particulars of it one with another, and with those things which the same spirit had revealed to the patriarchs and prophets of old : That none of the wise or powerful men of this world had, or could possibly have discovered these counsels of God revealed by the spirit of God in the gospel, which spirit the apostles have received, that they might know, and instruct others in the things that are freely given us of God. But the sensual man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, revealed by it to the apostles, and preached by them to the

world,

« PreviousContinue »