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salvation. The elect are no better by nature, than the non-elect; and were they left to themselves, they would finally refuse to be saved, and perish in their sins forever. But yet,
III, God is able, by an act of his power, to make them willing to accept of salvation. Since this is a point of great importance, in the present discourse, I shall endeavor to establish it, by a number of plain and conclusive arguments.
1. God has promised to make those willing to be saved, whom he.has given to Christ. “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.” The thing here promised is to be performed by the Father, though it seems to be ascribed to the Son. Any divine work may be ascribed to either person in the saered Trinity. Accordingly we find in Scripture, that the renovation of the heart is sometimes ascribed to the Father, sometimes to the Son, and sometimes to the Holy Ghost. In the text, the Father is speaking, and therefore he must be the person promising to make Christ's people willing, in the day of his power. And this further appears to be the meaning of the text, from the preceding words. “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” At another time, God the Father promised to subdue the hearts of sinners, among his own people. "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh, and cause you to walk in my statutes." Also by the Prophet Joel, God promised to pour out his spirit, in the last days, upon all flesh, and bring them to a cordial reception of the peculiar blessings of the gospel
. Now, can we suppose, that God would thus expressly promise to make men willing to be saved, unless he were able to bow their wills, by an act of his power? Would it be consistent with his holiness and truth, to promise to subdue the hearts of sinners, at a certain time and in a certain place, if he knew this to be an effect above his power to produce? Unless he had the supreme control over the hearts of men, we may presume, he would never have promised to make his own and his son's enemies willing to be saved, in the day of his power. Hence all his promises to renew the hearts of sinners, are so many proofs of his power to produce this saying change.
2. God has actually softened the hearts of the most hardened and obstinate sinners. As he promised to change the hearts of sinners in Babylon, so he punctually fulfilled his promise. He poured out his spirit upon them, and raised them from spiritual death to spiritual life. He took away their hard and stony hearts, and gave them hearts of flesh. Though they had long repined at the ways of his providence; yet he brought them to a cheerful submission to his soyereignty. Nor was he less faithful to fulfil the promise made to Christ in the text. At the time appoint. ed, which was the day of Pentecost, he laid three thousand of his enemies at his footstool. This the Apostle Peter declares to be a fulfilment of the promise contained in the text and context, which he quotes and explains, on that great occasion. “Therefore Je. sus being by the right hand of God exalted, and haying received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this which you now see and hear: For David is not ascended into the heayens: but saith himself, the Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy foot, stool.” When Peter preached to Cornelius and to those at his house, God poured out his spirit upon them, and gave them repentance unto life.” God opened the heart of Lydia, and made her willing to embrace the gospel preached by Paul. And before this, he made a still more signal display of irresistible grace, in the conversion of Paul himself. He was a blasphemer and persecutor. He determined to resist all means and motives to conversion. And he felt superior to any divine influence. But the King eternal, invisible, and omnipotent, was able to lay him prostrate at the feet of that Jesus, whom he had despised and persecuted. These, and many other instances of conversion, which are recorded in the Bible, demonstrate the power of God to make men willing to be saved.
3. The Scripture represents God, as not only making men willing to be saved, but as making them willing, by an act of his power. Paul speaking of himself and of other christians, who were prepared for heaven, says, "Now he that hath wrought us for the self same thing is God." He inculcates the same sentiment upon the minds of the saints of Ephesus. “That ye may know what is the hope of your calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power; which he wrought in Christ Jesus when he raised him from the dead.” And in the next chapter he goes on to say, “You hath be quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins. Even when we were dead in sins, hath he quickened us together with Christ. For we are as his work. manship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which he hath foreordained that we should walk in them." In one place he says, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed
away; behold all things are become new." This he explains, in the next words, to be God's making men willing to be saved. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ.” In another place he says, “In Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” Furthermore, he represents God as beginning and carrying on a work of grace, by a powerful operation on the minds of men. To the Philippians he says, “Being confident of this very thing, that he who hath begun a good work in you,
perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” And in the next chapter he says again, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” And for this gracious and powerful operation on the hearts of believers, he prays in the thirteenth of Hebrews: “Now the God of peace make you perfect to his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight.” According to these and many other passages of Scripture, God makes men willing to be saved by an act of his power. He not only addresses their eyes and ears, by external objects, and their understandings and consciences, by moral motives; but he actually operates upon their hearts, and there produces new feelings or affections, by the same almighty power, which he exerted in creating the world, and in raising Christ from the dead. Nothing short of this can be meant, by his raising men to spiritual life, making them new creatures, and working in them that which is well pleasing in his sight. To explain away such expressions, and make them mean moral suasion only, is to do vi. olence to Scripture, and wrest it in such a manner, as to destroy at once both its meaning and usefulness.
4. The Scripture represents God as making men tvilling to be saved, by an act of his power, in distinction from all other ways of producing this effect. To this purpose, is that noted passage in the first of John. “He came unto 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, even to them
that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." Here the renovation of the heart is ascribed to a divine operation, in distinction from all other means or second causes. A like representation we find in the ninth of Romans. “For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy." The Apostle's words, in his first epistle to the Corinthians, are still more expressive and definitive on this point. “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then, neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.” He adds, "Ye are God's husbandry, ye äre God's building." The inspired writers all speak the same language upon this subject. They totally exclude men and means in the conversion of sinners; and ascribe the production of this effect to the immediate power of the Deity. I may add,
5. It appears from universal observation and experience, that nothing short of a divine operation upon the hearts of sinners, is sufficient to draw them to Christ. Some suppose, there are various ways, in which God can make sinners willing to be saved, withbut any immediate operation upon their hearts. But it appears from fact, that this is the only way, in which