« PreviousContinue »
out the consideration of any thing in them, or done by them. The one is exercised towards an object while that object continues pure, and ceases when it becomes impure.
Thus God loved those angels when holy, who are now fallen under his most awful displeasure. The other not being founded on any thing in the creature, removes not from its object, but abideth for ever. The propriety of the above distinction may be argued from the doctrine of recons ciliation by the death of Christ. To be reconciled, is to be restored to favour. Now the sovereign favour of God was not forfeitable, we could not, therefore, be restored to that; but his necessary approbation, as the law-giver of the world, was; and to that we are restored by the death of Christ. *
The godly are the objects of God's natural love, as bearing his holy likeness. If any man love me, says Christ, he will keep uy words; and my Father will love him, and we will come and make our abode with him. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commande ments, and abide in his love. And thus, in the passage, referred to, The Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me. All this may be affirmed without making inherent qualities any part of our justifying righteousness, or in the least injuring the
* The reader will remember, I am reasoning with those who allow of the love of God to elect sinners being sovereign and unforfeitable,
doctrine of God's sovereign, eternal, and immutable love to his elect. *
Mr. B's. expositions of divers passages of scrip-. ture are founded upon the supposition that nothing more than an external acknowledgment of the messiah was required of the Jews. Thus he interprets Luke xix. 27. Those mine enemies, who would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me-(65.) and John v. 43. I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not. (85.), In reply to these interpretations, I might refer the reader to what was said before on the second psalm, viz. that if Christ had been a mere civil governor; or such a messiah as the Jews expected, then an external submission might have been sufficient, but not otherwise.
I seriously wish Mr. B. to consider the import of his own words, in p. 85. “Supreme love to God, he
says, would have led the Jews to have embraced Christ as the Son of God, and the Messiah;—but not to embrace him in a way of special faith.” What is special faith, unless it is to embrace Christ in his true character, AS REVEALED IN THE SCRIPTURES? Surely, it is not a receiving of him under some representation in which he is not THERE exhibited. To receive him as the Messiah, is to fall in with the ends and designs of his mission; and these were the glory of God, and the salvation of sinners, in a way that
* See Mr, R. Hall's Help to Zion's Travellers, p. 25–41.
should abase his pride, and destroy their idols. Nothing short of this can, with any propriety, be called a receiving him as the Messiah. I believe the scripture knows nothing, and makes nothing of any thing else. He came to his own, and his own received him not; but as many as received him; to them gave he power to become the sons of God.* No intimation is here given that there is a third class of people, who neither receive Christ spiritually, nor reject him. According to the new testament, they who received him were true christians; and they who heard the gospel, and were not true believers, received him not.
Mr. B’s remarks upon 2 Thes. ii. 10--12. conclude his ninth Letter. (65.) Notwithstanding what he has there said, I continue to think that sinners are culpable for not receiving the love of the truth. Mr. B. supposes that their not receiving the love of the truth, is only mentioned as an evidence of their being the non-elect; though he, at the same time, explains God's sending them strong delusions as giving them up to judicial blindness. But it ought to be remembered, that God does not give men up to judicial blindness because they are not elected, nor merely from the “ sovereignty of his will;" but as a purishment of former sins. I would therefore ask, what is the sin for which the persons in the text are thus punished? The apostle himself answers, because they received not the love of the truth.
* John i. 11, 12.
Farther, I cannot grant that a not receiving the love of the truth is an evidence of non-election, since it is true of the elect while unbelievers, as well as the non-elect.
In the punishing of sinners in this life, God frequently adapts the nature of the punishment, to that of the crime. Of this, the text in question, is an awful illustration. Because men believe not the truth, God sends them strong delusion that they may believe a lie; and because they have pleasure in unrighteousness, he suffers them to be deceived with all deceivableness of unrighteousness.
REPLY TO MR. B's X. LETTER, ON SPIRITUAL DIS
BEING about, in my former essay, to prove spiritual dispositions incumbent on men in general, I thought it best, at entering upon that subject, to express my own ideas of the term spiritual. It appeared to me, that when applied to the dispositions of the mind, it always signified TRULY HOLT, in opposition to carnal. At the same time I supposed my views on this subject might not be universally granted. I
never meant, therefore, to lay them down as the data of the argument, but proposed rather to proceed upon undisputed principles. On that account I passed over this part of the subject without dwelling upon it, which Mr. B. calls“ giving it up.” (70.) The criterion, as he acknowledges, by which it was proposed to judge of spiritual dispositions, was their having the promise of spiritual blessings. This was the ground on which I all along proceeded, from p. 82, to 97, trying the matter wholly by scripture evidence, endeavouring to prove, that those things are required of men in general, to which spiritual and eternal blessings are abundantly promised. But Mr. B. has passed all this over, and has only carried on what I should think an unnecessary dispute about what he calls “natural and spiritual holiness.” Surely he could have but very little concern with that on which I grounded no argument; his business was to attend to that upon which the whole was rested. But instead of fairly discussing the subject upon that ground, he has taken up the whole of his letter in finding fault with my definition of spiritual dispositions, though no other end is answered by it, that I can perceive, than to shew that he is of one opinion, and I of another.
In one part of his letter, Mr. B. gave us some reason to hope, that he would have left this manner of writing, and have come to the argument-“I shall “add no more, says, he, on this head, especially as “ Mr. F. soon gives it up, by saying, “ If this, (that “ is, the defining of spiritual dispositions to be such