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government, we must be in a condition either to observe or to break his laws. A power to do the one necessarily supposes a power to do the other; and without this power we should not be the proper subjects of religion ; as, in that cafe, it would be in vain to propose to us either rewards for obedier.ce or punishments for difobedience.
Nor is the supposition of a power in man to do the will of God any foundation for pride. For we must still say with the apostle, What have we that we have not received? and how then can we glory, as if we had not received it ? Every good and every perfect gift comes from God; and, knowing this, the more we receive of his bounty, the more thankful and the more humble we should be. I shall, certainly, be more solicitous to exert myself in doing the will of God, when I believe that I have a talent to improve, than if I believe that I have no talent intrusted with me at all; so that I cannot do even so much as the wicked and Rothful servant, who hid his talent in a napkin.. · Some of those persons who believe that all mankind are absolutely incapable of doing good, are sometimes heard to invite finners of all kinds to come to Christ, as they are, and to say, that the viler they are, the more welcome they will be to him ; as if he was, after this, to cleanle them by some miraculous power. But, my brethren, the invitation of the gospel runs in very different terms. It is, Repent and bring forth fruits meet for repentance. Matt.iii. 8. Repent and be converted that your fins may be blotted out. Aets iïi, 19. And none are invited to come to Christ, but those who labour and are heavy-laden ; nor can they find rest for their fouls,'till they have actually learned of him to be meek and Lowly in heart. Matt. xi. 28. . : III, OF ORIGINAL SIN.
What can be more contrary to the maxims above mentioned, than the whole tenor of that serious expoftulation with the children of Israel in the prophet Isaiah, part of which I quoted above? W'ash you, make jou clean,, put away. the evil of. your doings from before mine eyes. Cease to do evil, .learn to do well. Seek judge ment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now (and not before) and let us. reason together, faith the Lord. Though your fins be as scarlet, they shall be white as. snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. Ifa. i. 16, &c..
Others, who entertain the same opinion of the utter inability of man to do the will of God, act more consistently with those sentiments, but far more inconsistently with the scriptures, in never preaching to fir.ners at all ; though to call finners to repentance was the chief end of Christ's coming into the world. Matt. ix. 13:
Whatever represents a state of acceptance with God, as a thing that inay be brought about without any efforts of our own, and cfpecially if it may be done in a moment, or in a very short space of time, is sure to be a popular do Irine. Mankind in general
care not how little is expected of them, or how little they themselves have to do, in order to get to heaven. But true religion, that alone which affords folid ground of hope towards God, consists in a change of heart, affections, and habits; which can only be brought about by serious resolution, and a vigorous and constant exertion of our powers. Nay, unless a course of virtue be begun, and good habits formed early in life, there is very great danger that the thorns, briers, or bad foil, will prevent the good feed from ever coming to maturity..
To believe, as the same persons do, that faith and repentance are nothing that we ourselves are capable of, but altogether the miraculous operation of the Spirit of God in us and upon us, supposes that this great and sudden change may as well take place at the loft hour of life, as at any other: which certainly encourages the most unwarrantable and most dangerous presumption, and is far from having any countenance in the scriptures. The word of God always represents a safe and happy death as the consequence of nothing but a good and well-spent life. Some, indeed, are faid to have been called at the eleventh hour, but none at the twelfth, when the time for- labouring in the vineyard was quite over; and not one of the foolish virgins, who had neglected to provide themselves with oil, was admitted to the marriage-lupper.
As a foundation for this strange doctrine, of the utter inability of men to do what God requires of them, a doctrine so injurious both to our maker and ourselves, it is said that by his first offence our first parent Adam, and all his posterity, lost all power of doing any thing acceptable to God for the future; that he was the representative of all his posterity, fo that when he finned, we all sinned; and every sin being an offence against an infinite God, we all becarne, from that moment, liable to an infinite punilh ment, even the everlasting wrath and curfe of our maker. And they say, that, on this account only, it would have been just in God to have made us al fuffer the most exquisite and endless torments in hell, even though we had never finned in our own persons.
But, my brethren, you find nothing like any part of this in your bibles. For there you read, the foul that sinneth, it prall die. Ezek. xviii. 4. And long after the transgression of Adam, and to this very day, God is continually calling upon men to cease to do evil, and learn to do well; which certainly supposes that men always have had, and that we now have, a power to do so. It is allowed that we suffer by the fin of Adam, as any child may suffer in consequence of the wickedness of his ancestor ; but it is not possible that we should have sinned in him. Wherever there is sin, there is guilt; that is, something that may be the
foundation of remorse of conscience; something that. a man may be forry for, and repent of; something thac he may wish he had not done ; all which clearly implies, that sin is something that a man has given his consent to, and therefore must be convinced of the reasonableness of his being punished for. But how can any man repent of the fin of Adam, or feel any thing like remorse of conscience for it; when he cannot but know that he never gave his consent to it, and could not possibly have been, in the least degree, accessary to it? Good and bad conduct are, in their own natuře, personal, and cannot posibly be transferred from one to another. Whatever fome divines pretend, nothing of this kind can be imputed in this sense of the word. We may receive harm by means of one person, and benefit by means of another ; but no fin of the former, or righteousness of the latter, can be considered as ours, in the eye of an equitable and juft God. The contrary is as much the language and the plain meaning of the scriptures throughout, as it is agreeable to the common sense and reason that God has given us.
IV. OF ELECTION AND REPROBATION. SUPPOSING that all mankind became liable to the everlasting wrath and curse of God for the fin of one man, some divines say, that it was mercy in God to fave any, though by an arbitrary decree, which left all the rest of the human race under an inevitable