« ElőzőTovább »
"the new birth is effected by Almighty power." But how does this prove that men are passive? We are also taught that the same Almighty power, which raised Christ from the dead, produces faith in believers; yet no one has inferred from this, that believers are passive in their faith. By his Almighty power God directs the volitions of men, yet men are not passive, but active in those volitions. If regeneration were a physical change, there would be an addition to the natural powers. But no facts support this. There is no physical depravity, therefore no physical change is needed. What physical power had the dwellers of Eden, not equally enjoyed by their children? A moral depravity there is, dreadful in its nature; but a physical change to remedy a moral depravity would be as unnatural as to apply a balsam to remove the vices of the heart, or to address a moral argument to heal a broken bone. He who first suggested a physical change to relieve the moral evils of the heart might with the same propriety have written on the piety of a circle, and the vice of a triangle.
If it now be inquired how the Holy Spirit effects the work of regeneration, in what this operation is different from others, may it not be doubted whether any man can tell? « The wind bloweth where it listeth; ye hear the sound, but cannot tell whence it cometh or whither it goeth; so is every one, who is born of the Spirit."
Still may we not cautiously inquire, are not all hearts directed by God? Does he not turn every thought and inclination as rivers of water are turned? Did not he turn thẹ Egyptians' hearts "to hate his people?" Does not the Pslamist pray," incline not my heart to any evil thing?" Does this imply that men are passive when directed by divine power? Does any one doubt its consistency with free agency? Then may we not suppose that God ceases to "incline to evil," to lead men into temptation," to turn them to hate his people," to "harden their hearts;" when he "puts his fear in their hearts," when he gives them a spirit of prayer, then are they born of God. As they have been dependent, they now continue dependent in the exercise of a new heart. Neither grace nor holiness, neither the saint nor sinner, is independent. Both characters are equally dependent. The same power, for the same ultimate purpose, and with the same impartial benevolence, forms one vessel to honour and another to dishonour. The Spirit of God with the same wisdom raised up Pharaoh to destroy, and Paul to save immortal men. Nor need this alarm the reflecting mind. The pious readily grant that God gives them their gratitude, their love,
and their devotion, yet they believe themselves voluntary and active in those duties; they believe themselves the proper subjects of praise and reward. On the same ground, why may not the wicked be equally dependent and equally proper subjects of blame and punishment? In both cases they are dependent, and active, and accountable.
A plausible objection occurs. If all thoughts and exercises are produced by the Spirit of God, as really as regeneration, then why is this so repeatedly called the work of God?" Answer. It is congenial with the style of Scripture, and the feelings of man, more emphatically to ascribe to God events, which are singular and great, than those, which are common and less affecting. Thus Scripture says, "the voice of the Lord breaketh the cedars of Lebanon." But this does not prove, nor imply, but the voice of the Lord equally bends the pliant willow of the valley; it equally breathes in the gale, and thunders in the storm. It is the same Spirit, who divides the Jordan, and forms the silent ripple on its surface, that restrains Paul at one time from violating the cer, emonial law, and at another holds him back from persecuting Jesus Christ; yet the last event may be emphatically styled the work of God.
May we not then humbly inquire whether the distinction between common and special influences is founded in truth ? If by common influences be meant those, which are generally and usually enjoyed; if by special be meant those, which are great and singular, the distinetion is undoubtedly just; but if the distinction supposes a difference in the nature and tendency of the cause operating in the two cases, its propriety may be doubted. The nature of the cause is the same, which forms the humble willow of Spitzbergen, and the lofty pine of New-England; and is not the nature of the causal influence the same, which restrains the wicked man by the force of his conscience, and the sanctified man by the goodness of his heart?
One important doctrine, the universal dependence of men, is directly impressed on the mind by the above remarks. The subject shows us, that all men, at all times, and in all circumstances, are equally dependent on God. Adam in paradise was as dependent as Daniel in the den of lions. Belshazzar, surrounded by his military lords, was as dependent as the three children in the fiery furnace. Saul, breathing out slaughter on his way to Damascus, was as dependent as Peter loaded with irons. and guarded by soldiers. The sinner is as dependent for his restraints, as the Christian for his virtues. Every man is as dependent for strength
to walk, as for grace to pray; for power to get wealth, as for power to make him a new heart.
M. M. Mag.
The following Resolutions were written by the Rev. JONATHAN EDWARDS, President of New-Jersey College, in the 20th and 21st year of his age.
BEING sensible that I am unable to do any thing without God's help, I do humbly intreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ's sake.
Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.
1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God's glory, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many, and however great.
2. Resolved, never to lose one moment's time, but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.
3. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.
4. Resolved, never to do any thing, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.
5. Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.
6. Resolved, to be endeavoring to find out fit objects for charity and liberality.
7. Resolved, never to do any thing out of revenge.
8. Resolved, never to suffer the least motions of anger to irrational beings.
9. Resolved, I will live so, as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.
10. Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking.
11. Resolved to study the scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.
12. Resolved, to strive to my utmost every week to be brought higher in religion, and to a higher exercise of grace than I was the week before.
13. Resolved, to be strictly and firmly faithful to my trust, that that in Prov. xx. 6. A faithful man who can find? may not be partly fulfilled in me.
14. Resolved, in narrations never to speak any thing but the pure and simple verity.
15. Resolved, to enquire every night, as I am going to bed, wherein I have been negligent, what sin I have com
mitted, and wherein I have denied myself; also at the end of every week, month and year.
16. Resolved, never to speak any thing that is ridiculous, or matter of laughter on the LORD'S DAY.
17. Resolved, frequently to renew the dedication of myself to God, which was made at my baptism; which I solemnly renewed, when I was received into the communion of the church, and which I have solemnly made this day.
18. Resolved, never henceforward, till I die, to aet as if I were any way my own, but entirely, and altogether God's.
19. Resolved, never to allow the least measure of any fretting uneasiness at my father or mother; not to suffer the effects of it, so much as in the least alteration of speech, or motion of my eye; and to be especially careful of it, with respect to any of our family.
20. Resolved, constantly, with the utmost niceness and diligence, and the strictest scrutiny to be looking into the state of my soul, that I may know whether I have truly an interest in Christ, or not; that when I come to die, I may not have any negligence respecting this to repent of.
21. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to deny whatever is not most agreeable to a good, universally sweet, benevolent, quiet, peaceable, contented, easy, compassionate, generous, meek, humble, modest, submissive, obliging, diligent, industrious, charitable, even, patient, moderate, forgiving, sincere temper; and to do at all times what such a temper would lead me to. Examine frequently, and strictly whether I have so done.
22. Resolved, I will conduet so as I think I shall judge would have been best, and most prudent when I come inte the future world.
⚫ 23. I frequently hear persons in old age say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again; resolved, that I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age.
24. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to act as I can think I should do, If I had already seen the happiness of heaven, and hell torments.
25. Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.
26. Resolved, when I fear adversities, to examine whether I have done my duty, and resolve to do it; and let it be just as Providence orders it, I will be concerned about nothing but my duty and my sin.
27. Resolved, after afflictions to enquire, what I am the better for them. what good I have got by them, and what I might have got by them.
28. Resolved, to exercise myself in this all my life, viz. with the greatest openness I am capable of, to declare my ways to God, and lay open my soul to him; all my sins, temptations, difficulties, sorrows, fears, hopes, desires, every thing and every circumstance.
29. Resolved, to live so as at all times, as I think is best in my devout frames, and when I have the clearest views of the gospel, and the future world.
ON DIVINE SOVEREIGNTY.
Yesterday I heard you preach on the doctrine of divine Sovereignty. Generally I hear you with pleasure, but such discourses give me pain; they seem to represent God as the tyrant rather than the father of his great family. It would gratify me very much if you would give me your thoughts on the subject in a free and familiar style, without the pathos and awful solemnity of the pulpit, and perhaps profit Your affectionate Parishionor,
MY DEAR SIR,
I HAVE this moment received a line from you, desiring “a free and familiar” attention to the doctrine of divine sovereignty. I thank you: it is my happiness as well as duty, to serve my affectionate people.
Whether God governs the world in the best manner has always been doubted by a part of mankind. Some persons have constantly suggested that he was a hard master.' He as uniformly has insisted that he did " no wrong;" that his conduct was "just" and " equal." Indeed there are so many mysterious events, that knowledge and faith are necessary to quiet our apprehensions; yet without satisfaction respecting the divine conduct there cannot be permanent peace of mind.
That God governs the world seems to be granted; whether he governs in a sovereign manner is doubted by many.— But while they oppose it, do they understand what sovereignty is? If any one govern according to his own judg ment, his own wishes and pleasure, so far the government is sovereign. Whether God governs according to his