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as are truly holy*) however plain it may appear to “me, should not be universally allowed, I may go “upon a more undisputed ground.' Mr. B. asks, .“ And what ground is this?”—He then answers him“ self, “why, says Mr. F. the criterion by which I “ shall all along judge of what are spiritual disposi
tions, will be their having the promise of spiritual “ blessings. Whether these dispositions be incum“ bent on carnal men let us now enquire.” (70.)
Thus far Mr. B. in his quotation from mine. Would not the reader now expect that he was about to enter upon a fair discussion of the subject, upon the forementioned criterion, to which he could have no reasonable objection? And yet, strange as it is, he never touches the subject upon that ground; but, though he had said, he “should add no more" upon the other, yet immediately returns, saying nothing but the same things over and over again.
When we come to Mr. B.'s remarks on the capacity of man in innocence for spiritual obedience, we shall take notice of what is here offered in support of a distinction of holiness into natural and spirituala ; At present I may reply to some other things included in this letter.
Spiritual dispositions were said to be such as were
I suppose it must be entirely by mistake that Mr. B. has represented me (in p. 70) as maintaining the distinction of “natural and spiritual huliness," and as informing my readers that this distinction « appears plain to me.” I have ventured, there. fore, to alter what he had inclosed in a parenthesis, to what I suppose he intended to have written,
TRULY HOLY. Mr. B. finds great fault with this, as it might be supposed he would. And
I see not wherein it differs from the apostle's account of the new man, that it is created after God, in righteousness, and TRUE HOLINESS;* to which the same objections might be made as to the above. That God is immutable in his nature, Mr. B. will allow; and that his image must be the same, is equally evident. That which is created after him, must ever be the same in one period as in another. If the image of God is not now what it was formerly, it must be owing to an alteration in the nature of his moral perfections. There cannot be two essentially different images of the same divine original.
Farther, it was said, ' whenever applied to the dispositions of the mind, spiritual stands opposed to carnal, and that in the criminal sense of the word.' Mr. B. remarks this as a mistake; for, says he, “spiritual, in 1 Cor. ii. 14. is opposed to natural. The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, &c.” (67.) But I apprehend that the word “natural” in this text is of the same import with carnal. To
that the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, is equal to saying that the carnal man receiveth them not; or he who, whatever be his acquisitions in science, is under the influence of that corrupt nature, which we all derive from Adam. Having nothing in him which is truly good, nothing correspondent with divine truths, all
his vain labour and toil about those truths is to as little purpose as that of the men of Sodom about Lot's door. This I take it is the purport of Mr. B.'s quotation from Calvin, (p. 58.)
Depravity, though it is, strictly speaking, no part of our nature; yet is become natural, as it were, to us; and hence it is common for us to call a carnal un.converted state, å state of nature; and the scripture speaks of our being by nature the children of wrath. A state of nature in this use of the term is evidently put, not for the state of man as created but as fallen. And respecting the text in question, it does not appear probable that the Holy Ghost would have here used a term to have expressed the nature of man in its purest state, which he every where else, when applying it to the dispositions of the mind, uses to express a state of abominable iniquity, *
Dr. Gill says of the law, that “it requireth spiritual service and obedience.” This I quoted before, supposing it expressive of my own sentiments; but Mr. B. assures me I am mistaken-that Dr. Gill meant no such thing. By spiritual service and obedience, it is said, he meant “a serving it with our minds; a worshipping God in spirit and in truth; a loving it with all our hearts and souls, as well as a performance of all, the outward acts of religion and duty.” (71.)-What was Dr. Gill's meaning I cannot tell; nor is it worth while to dispute about it, as
* See James iii. 15. Earthly, SENSUAL, devilish. Jude 19. SENSUAL, having not the Spirit.
the opinion of the greatest uninspired writer is not decisive; otherwise, I should think he had no such distinctions in his mind as Mr. B. imputes to him. But be his meaning what it might, there certainly is no difference between worshipping God in spirit and in truth, and the exercise of “spiritual principles and dispositions, such as flow from Christ Jesus." Suppose we follow Mr. B. in his distinction of holi. ness, into natural and spiritual; and of spirituality, into legal and evangelical; a worshipping of God in spirit and in truth must belong to the latter, and not to the former. It must be not only spiritual, but “ evangelically spiritual;" for Christ is speaking of true worshippers, under the gospel dispensation, and they are said to be such whom the Father seeketh to worship him. See John iv. 23, 24. The above distinctions appear to me to be more curious than just; but be they ever so just, they will not furnish us with an answer to the argument upon the fore-cited passage.
If I understand what Mr. B. means by a spirituality which is different in nature from that which is evangelical, it is what is so called, not on account of its nature, but of the subject over which it extends, viz. the spirit or mind of man. But he should have considered, that when the law is called spiritual (which it is only in one passage) it is not in opposition to corporeal, but to carnal; just as the principle of holiness in the hearts of believers, or as the spirit is opposed to the flesh. This was noticed before, to which Mr. B. has made no reply.
According to Mr. F. it is said, there is no alteration made in religion by the interposition of Christ to be incarnate, and his mediation: no change in the abolishing of the old covenant, and the establishment of the new; no alteration in the nature of our obedience.” (73.) I hope the inclosing of this passage in reversed commas, and ascribing it to me, was without design. The passage was taken by Mr. B. from Dr. Owen on The Spirit, p. 461. He has given us it at large in p. 68. of his remarks.
Dr. Owen delivered it as containing the sentiments of those against whom he was writing, who held the gospel to be only a sort of new edition of the law of nature.--I must do myself the justice, however, to deny their beingʻmy sentiments, any more than my words. I have acknowledged the contrary in p. 119. Nor are they so much as consequences deducible from any thing I have advanced. Mr. B. might with equal propriety, go about to prove a difference between the principles of the Old and New Testament saints, since the religion under the law is different from that under the gospel, though they agree, as Dr. Owen in the same passage observes, in their “author, object, and end.” No, Mr. B. will reply, these are doubtless the same. Then we might retort in his own mode of reasoning, if so, “there is no change made by abolishing the Mosaic dispensation, no difference between that and the gospel dispensation; and no alteration thereby made in religion."