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Calvinism, and to the peculiar doctrines of Christianity, have tried in vain, by their own efforts and resolutions, to amend and recover themselves; and, after having been long baffled and foiled, have at length in despair given up the attempt as in their case impracticable, and sought refuge in a kind of practical infidelity : but, after a course of years, being again driven from this “refuge of lies,” and often tempted to the most desperate measures, by terrors and distresses which were almost intolerable ; they have at length been led to consider, with attention, the promises of effectual assistance contained in the scriptures, and, depending on these promises, and pleading them in daily and fervent prayers, in the name of Jesus Christ, have renewed their exertions, and become successful and happy. Whether many, through prejudiced and careless ignorance of this only way of correcting and recovering depraved human nature, and being led to think it might at any time be done, if not with a little exertion, yet by earnest exertions, have not perished in their sins: whether many, finding their exertions wholly unsuccessful, have not settled into a kind of infidel negligence and customary unresisted indulgence : and whether others have not been impelled to suicide, in the same way : these things the great day of discovery and retribution must reveal.
These remarks may serve to set a passage quoted from Calvin in a proper light. This course must be pursued, that man being assured that nothing
good is left within his power, and being every ' where surrounded by a most wretched necessity; ‘should nevertheless be instructed to good of which he is destitute, to aspire to liberty of 'which he is deprived, and should be roused from 'indolence with more earnestness, than if he were feigned (fingeretur) to be furnished with the
highest degree of virtue.'!. Calvin thought that all real virtue, or good, supposed to be in fallen man apart from the renewing grace of God, was a feigned thing, which had no real existence ;; that the imagination of its existence led to delays, vain confidence, carnal security, and the neglect of the remedy set before us in the gospel, and of the earnest persevering use of the means of grace : but that a deep conviction of his total inability, and of the incorrigibleness of his fallen nature, in any other way than by divine grace, combining with the belief that he must be recovered or be for ever miserable, would lead the soul to Christ, to the throne of grace, and to exertions in dependence on God the Holy Spirit, with redoubled ardour, hope, and success. “ Turn thou me and “ I shall be turned.”.“ Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me."
• If thou “ wilt thou canst make me clean.” Thus he would learn to say with the apostle, “ When I
am weak then am I strong, for the power of “ Christ resteth upon me.” “I can do all things
through Christ who strengtheneth me.” ?
We'may close this section, by offering a remark on a clause in our liturgy. The morning and evening services of our church, his Lordship says, ' scarcely allude to the corruption of man by
Ref. 528. ' 2 Cor. xii. 9, 10. Phil. iv. 13.
the fall of Adam.'1 Now the name, or sin, of Adam is not indeed mentioned in them: but the congregation, along with the minister, is taught, in the very entrance of the service, humbly kneeling before God, to confess to him ; ' We have followed too much the devices of our own heart
and there is no health in us. Why would it be evil to follow the devices and desires of our own hearts, if our own hearts were not evil? But did God create them evil ? Or does this evil originate from the sin of Adam? This question the ninth Article resolves. If then there be no health in ‘us,' we must be desperately diseased; incorrigibly and irrecoverably, except by the grace of God in Jesus Christ. “ The heart is deceitful “ above all things and desperately wicked”—228 incurabiliter æger, mortiferus, incurably sick, mortally sick. Robertson. It is just after this declaration of JEHOVAH, that the prophet exclaims, “Heal
me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me and “ I shall be saved! for thou art my praise."2
• When' (says Dr. Whitby,) ' a man is arrived "at that height of wickedness, that he not only
approves, but delights in seeing, the like things' (to what he does himself) done by others ; he • demonstrates such a strong affection for them as
is incurable.'3 Here the state of some Gentiles, at least, is roundly spoken of as incurable: without an exception made for the skill of the good Physician, and the efficacy of his new creating grace ! Yet what multitudes, who once bore this character,
"Ref. 66. · Jer. xvii. 9, 14.
have been recovered,“ redeemed from all iniquity, “ and purified” by the Lord Jesus, as his peculiar “ people, zealous of good works." All that we contend for then is this, that “the fault and cor
ruption of the nature of every man, that is na'turally engendered of the offspring of Adam,' is such that it can be cured in no other way,
than that by which“ sinners of the Gentiles” became
a peculiar people zealous of good works.”
The Case of approved Characters who lived before
* The progress of sin after the fall was very rapid and excessive; but we are informed that, amidst the general depravity, “ Enoch walked with
God;” and that “Noah was a just man, and per'fect in his generations, and walked with God.” « The former“ was translated that he should not < see death ;” and the latter was preserved with his ‘ family, when a flood of waters destroyed all other 'flesh upon the earth. Between the flood and the
promulgation of the law lived Abraham, who was 'called by God himself “ the friend of God;" Isaac, to whose prayer it pleased God to listen ; and Job, who “ was perfect and upright, and one that feared God and eschewed evil." ; 2
No doubt there were pious persons and accepted worshippers of God from the earliest days, and most divines have supposed Adam and Eve, as well as Abel, to have been of that number. The only question therefore which arises on the subject is this, whether they were such by natural generation, or by regeneration ; by law and works, or by grace and faith?
'Tit. ii. 11-14. iii. 3–7.
2 Ref, 5.
The apostle expressly states concerning Abel and Enoch, that it was " by faith that they pleased God;" and concerning Noah he adds, that he “ became heir of the righ“ teousness which is by faith.” 2 The instance of Abraham is more fully and frequently adduced : and it is said, “ They that be of faith are blessed “ with faithful Abraham :" “ that the blessing of “ Abraham might come on the Gentiles by faith.” “ If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, “ and heirs according to the promise." 3
" Abra“ ham believed God, and it was accounted to him “ for righteousness. “We say that faith was “ reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.” “ Не “ received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the
righteousness of the faith which he had yet being “ uncircumcised: that he might be the father of “ all them that believe, though they be not cir“ cumcised; that righteousness might be imputed " to them also : and the father of circumcision to “them who are not of the circumcision only, but “ who also walk in the steps of that faith of our fa“ther Abraham, which he had yet being uncircum“ cised. For the promise, that he should be the “ heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or his
seed, through the law, but through the righ“ teousness of faith.” “ It is of faith, that it might “ be by grace; to the end the promise might be
· Heb. xi. 3-7.
• Gal. ii. 9, 13, 29.