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' or unspotted purity.' They indeed hope for it, and, if elect, will obtain it, at the same time when “the reprobate,' the rejected, shall be finally given up to incorrigible pollution and inevitable wicked'ness ;' even when it shall be said, “He that is
unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which “ is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is
righteous, let him be righteous still; and he " that is holy, let him be holy still.” 1
The Calvinists have indeed been charged with establishing rules of conduct, too lax as to things essentially good and excellent, but too precise and strict as to things which many plead for as harmless; and as in this respect becoming unsocial and morose: but this, even though considered as claiming something above others, cannot be considered as maintaining “sinless obedience and unspotted purity in the elect.' Where, indeed, an evident want of conscientiousness and holy obedience, in things undeniably excellent, is manifested, along with this strictness and austerity, and often censoriousness, in matters of a more doubtful nature; it has the semblance of spiritual pride, and a sort of evangelical Pharisaism, saying, “ Stand by thyself, I am holier than thou ; and it cannot be justified or excused. But the strictness of many is connected with, at least, equal exactness in all holy obedience ; is free from moroseness, self preference, and censoriousness; nay, connected with an habitual disposition to think “ others better than themselves :" and even to incur censures, as if over severe in judging their
Rev, xxii. 11.
own conduct, or even as affecting the language of humility: while yet they speak far less against themselves before men, than they humbly confess before God. The moroseness, and unsociableness of such persons is nothing more, than the incapacity of associating cheerfully and conscientiously with those who live in another element, who have no relish for those things in which they delight, and who delight in those things which are irksome and wearisome to them. Accordingly it disappears, when they join their own company.
If any reference to the doctrine of imputed righteousness, in the grand concern of justification, were intended; that will be considered in the remarks on the third chapter. Some Calvinists (and among them there have been humble, benevolent, and holy men,) have held the doctrine of imputed sanctification ; which doubtless is unscriptural: yet these form a very small proportion of modern Calvinists. But no one of these, in respect of his own personal character and attainment, ever thought himself possessed of sinless * obedience and unspotted purity. Indeed it is often the deep sense of their own remaining sinfulness, and the imperfection of sanctification in their own case, which renders them favourable to the idea. Something more perfect must be requisite to render them meet for heaven; and, instead of waiting on God to perfect their personal sanctification, they imagine an imputed sanctification would answer that purpose: but, however imputed righteousness may give a title to the inheritance, imputed holiness, which is the health of the soul, cannot enable us to enjoy it.
Scarcely a Calvinist can be found, who does not consider the latter part of the seventh chapter of Romans, as the language of the apostle himself, describing his own conflict and experience, and those of every confirmed believer: and it needs not to be said how far this is from the claim of
sinless obedience and unspotted purity.' Yet believers and the elect,' in an argument of this kind, are, according to our view, precisely the same persons.
The Gift of God irrespective.
The faith here spoken of 1 is the joint result ' of human exertion and divine grace. It is indeed
the gift of God, for without God's assistance no man can possess it. But it is a gift not bestowed arbitrarily, capriciously, or irrespectively.'3
The former part of this quotation has already been sufficiently noticed, but the concluding words require a little further consideration.—The word arbitrium (whence arbitrarily is derived,) might perhaps be shewn not improperly to denote that sovereign will of God, which, being perfectly holy, just, wise, and good, is without doubt the original cause of creation, and of the dispensations of providence. 4 But arbitrary and arbitrarily, in English, are so associated with the idea of absolute power and authority, exercised in any way,
| Art. x
· See Section on Supernatural.
but especially exercised in an iniquitous, oppressive and unreasonable manner; that Calvinists in general are willing that it, along with capriciously, should be excluded from all discourses, in which the purposes and counsels of the infinitely wise, holy, just, and good God are concerned. They are not however willing in the same manner to exclude the word irrespectively, or at least the idea conveyed by it.
It may be asked, To what hath God respect in fallen man, when, according to the Article on which his Lordship is commenting, he, ' by his
grace in Christ,' works in us that we may have 'a good will ?' (ut velimus :) for without this grace, man' cannot prepare himself-to faith and ' calling upon God.'' Has he respect to any thing previously good in those who receive this gift: Are not all holy desires,' as well as all 'good counsels, and all just works' from God? Are then any of our fallen race, previous to 'pre'venting grace,' (gratia præveniens,) so disposed to what is ' good in the sight of God,' as to merit that he should bestow it upon them? or to induce God for the sake of these good dispositions, or the effects of them, to confer this benefit on them rather than on others ? Or does God perceive that there is in some, independently of his preventing grace, so docile and tractable a disposition, that they will improve preventing grace, by concurrent nature, when others will not? Let those who would maintain this point choose their own ground, but let them inquire whether“ boasting”
| Art. x.
be thus “ excluded."- We find the same moderation observed in this Article that was taken notice of in the former: whence all disputes concerning the degree of that feebleness and ' corruption, under which we are fallen by * Adam's sin, are avoided ; and only the necessity
of a preventing and a co-operating grace is asserted against the Semi-pelagians and the Pela
gians.'— Those who were called Semi-pelagians * thought that an assisting inward grace was ne
cessary, to enable a man to go through all the harder steps of religion; but with that they
thought that the first turn or conversion of the (will to God was the effect of a man's free choice.'1
Bishop Burnet was no Calvinist, and in quoting him I do not mean to express approbation of the entire passage : but it appears difficult, or rather impossible, to exclude irrespectively in this point, without at least falling into Semi-pelagianism.
• The following passage' (from the Homilies) is sufficient to prove, that they do not represent our own care and exertions as fruitless and uno necessary; or the Spirit of God, as acting irrespectively and irresistibly.' 'Let the misery and ' short transitory joys, spied in the casualty of our days, move us while we have them in our hands, and seriously stir us to be wise, and to expend *the gracious good-will of God to usward, which * all the day long stretcheth out his hands, as the prophet saith, unto us, for the most part his mer