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Rari quippe boni, numero vix sunt totidem quot
Thebarum porta, vel divitis ostia Nili :
The good lie scatter'd in this barren soil,

Few as the gates of Tbebes, or mouths of Nile. They þad also among them some faint account of the cause of that overflowing corruption. So Horace, immediately after he had asserted the faot,

Audax omnia perpeti
Gena humana ruit per vetitum nefas :
Lawless, and unrestrain'd, the buman race,

Rushes through all the paths of daring wickedness :
Glances at the cause of it, in their fabulous manner,

Audax Japeti genus
Ignem fraude mala gentibus intulit :

Post ignem ætherea domo
Subductum, macies, et nova febrium

Terris incubuit cohors :
Semotique prius tarda necessitas

Lethi corripuil gradum.
Prometheus first provok'd the heavenly sire,
Purloining Jupiter's authentic fire:
Evil, from bence deriv'd, and brooding pain,
And strange disease with all the ghastly train,
Pour'd in upon the wretched sons of men :
While hasty Fate quicken'd the ling’ring pace
or distant death, unveil'd the monster's face,

And gave into his hands our whole devoted race. I observe, 3. It was neither needful nor proper, for an Apostle in his first sermon to a congregation wholly unawakened, to descant upon original sin. No man of common sense would do it now. Were I to preach to a certain congregation at Norwich, I should not say one word of Adam, but endeavour to show them, that their lives, and, therefore, their hearts, were corrupt and abominable before God.

You conclude this head, “Guilt imputed, is imaginary guilt, and so no object of redemption.” I dare not say so as to my own particular. I pray God, of his tender mercy, to free me from this and all other guilt, through the redemption which is in Jesus Christ !'

II. REGENERATION.

"Why must we be born again ?" (p. 245.) (You subjoin the cominon, but, as you suppose, absurd answer ;) " because we are born in sin : nature is averse to all good and inclined to all evil. Therefore we must be born again, before we can please God.”

In order to confute this, you assert, " Then it cannot be our duty, to be born again ; nor consequently our fault, if we are not: because it is not in our power.” · It is, by grace, though not by nature. By this we may all be born again. Therefore it is our duty: and if we tall short herein, it is our own fault.

" But being born again does really signify, the gaining those habits of virtue, which make us children of God.” (p. 246.) . Then St. Paul ought to have said, Not •ye are all the children of God, by taith in Christ Jesus:' but ye are all the children of God, by gain. ing habits of virtue!'

Nay, but according to the whole tenor of Scripture, the being born again does really signify the being inwardly changed by the Almighty operation of the Spirit of God; changed from sin to holiness: renewed in the image of him that created us. And why must we be so changed? Because without holiness no man shall see the Lord :' and because without this change, all our endeavours after holiness are ineffectual. God hath indeed

God hath indeed "endowed us with understanding, and given us abundant means." But our understanding is as insufficient for that end, as are the outward means, if not attended with inward power.

You proceed to explain yourself at large. “ Christ informs us, That 'except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God;' and thereby teaches us, I. " That God hath erected a kingdom, united in and under him, for his glory, and men's mutual happiness.” (p. 247.) II. “He will finally admit none into it, who are not disposed to relish and promote the happiness of it.” (p. 248.) (Both these propositions I willingly allow.) III.“ All wickedness is quite contrary to the nature and end of this kingdom. Therefore no wicked men can be fit members of it, unless there be a full

persuasion, that reverence, love, and obedience, are due to God :" (I add, and unless it be actually paid him : otherwise that persuasion but increases our condemnation : "Unless his favour is preferred before all other enjoyments whatsoever: unless there be a delight in the wor. ship of God, and in converse with him : unless every appetite be brought into subjection to reason," (add, and reason to the word of God:) " How can any man be fit to dwell with God, or to do him service in his kingdom ?"

IV. “It is one thing to be born into God's creation, another to be born into his peculiar kingdom. In order to an admittance into his peculiar kingdom, it is not enough for an intelligent being to exist." (p. 250, 251.) I do not know that. Perhaps it is not possible, for God to create an intelligent being, without creating it duly subject to himself, that is, a subject of his peculiar kingdom. It is bighly probable, the holy angels were subjects of his peculiar kingdom, from the first moment of their existence. Therefore the following peremptory assertion, and all of the like kind, are wholly groundless. “It is absolutely necessary, before any creature can be a subject of this, that it learn to employ and exercise its powers, suitably to the nature of them.” It is not necessary at all. In this sense surely, God 'may do what he will with his own.' He may bestow his own blessings as he pleases. “Is thine eye evil, because he is good ?'

The premises then being gone, what becomes of the conclusion? “So that the being born into God's peculiar kingdom, depends upon a right use and application of our life and being : and is the privilege only of those wise men whose spirits attain to a habit of true holiness."

This stands without any proof at all. At best, therefore, it is extremely doubtful. But it must appear extremely absurd to those, who believe God can create spirits, both wise and holy: that he can stamp any creature with what measure of holiness he sees good, at the first moment of its existence.

The occasion of your running into this absurdity seems to be, that you stumbled at the

very threshold. In the text under consideration our Lord mentions two things, the new-birth and the kingdom of God. These two your imagination blended into one : in consequence of which you run on with " born into his kingdom,” (a phrase never used by our Lord, nor any of his Apostles,) and a heap of other crude expressions of the same kind: all betraying that confusedness of thought, which alone could prevent your usual clearness of language.

Just in the same manner you go on. “Our first parents in Paradise were to form their minds to an habitual subjection to the law of God, without which they could not be received into his spiritual kingdom.” (p. 252, 253.) This runs upon the same mistaken supposition, that God could not create them holy. Certainly he could and did : and from the very moment that they were created, their minds were in subjection to the law of God, and they were members of his spiritual kingdom.

* But if Adam was originally perfect in holiness," (say, perfectly holy, made in the moral image of God) “what occasion was there for any farther trial ?” That there might

That there might be room for farther holiness and happiness : entire holiness does not exclude growth : nor did the right state of all his faculties entitle him to that full reward, which would have followed the right use of them.

Upon the whole, regeneration, or gaining habits of holiness, takes in no part of the doctrine of original sin.” (p. 254.) But regeneration is not "gaining habits of holiness :" it is quite a different thing. It is not a natural, but a supernatural change; and is just as different from the gradual “gaining habits," as a child's being born into the world is, from his growing up into a man.

The new-birth is not, (as you suppose) the progress, or the whole of sanctification, but the beginning of it; as the natural birth is not the whole of life, but only the entrance upon it. He that is born of a woman, then begins to live a natural life; he that is born of God, then begins to live a spiritual. And if every man born of a woman had spiritual lite already, he would not need to be born of God.

" However. I allow the Spirit of God assists our endeavours. But this does not suppose any natural pravity of our minds.” (p. 255.) Does not his quickening then suppose we were dead ? His opening our eyes, suppose we were blind And his creating us anew, imply something more than the assisting our endeavours? How very slender a part in sanctification will you allow to the Spirit of God? You seem very fearful of doing him too much honour, of taking from man the glory due to his name!

Accordingly you say, “His aids are so far from supposing the previous inaptitude of our minds,” (to the being born again.) that our previous desire of the Spirit's assistance, is the condition of our receiving it.” But who gave us that desire? Is it not God that worketh in us to will,' to desire, as well as to do? His.

does accompany and follow our desires: but does it not also prevent, go before them? After this, we may, ask and seek farther assistance : and if we do, not otherwise, it is given.

grace

I cannot but add a few words from Dr. Jennings. (Vind. p. 125.) " Dr. Taylor believes the influence of the Spirit of God to assist our sincere endeavours, is spoken of in the gospel, but never as supposing any natural pravity of our minds.' But certain it is, that Christ opposeth our being born of the Spirit,' to our being born of the flesh: that which is born of the flesh, is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit, is spirit.” John iii. 6. Therefore the influence of the Spirit in regeneration, supposeth something that we are born with, which makes such an influence necessary to our being born again.' And if this be not some natural pravity, let our author tell us what it is. It is plain, it is not any ill habit afterward acquired; for it is something that we are born with. And if to be born of the flesh,' means only to have the parts and powers of a man: and if these parts and powers are all pare and uncorrupted, we have no need of any such influence of the Spirit, to be superadded to our natural powers. Without this, our own sincere endeavours will suffice, for attaining all habits of virtue."

I proceed to your conclusion, " Is it not highly injurious to the God of our nature, whose hands have formed and fashioned us, to believe our nature is originally corrupted ?" (p. 256.) It is: but the charge falls not on us, but you. We do not believe "our nature is originally corrupted.” It is you who believe this: who believe our nature to be in the same state, moral and intellectual, as it was originally. Highly injurious indeed is this supposition to the God of our nature. Did he originally give us such a nature as this? So like that of .a wild ass's colt? So stupid, so stubborn, so intractable ! So prone to evil! Averse to good! Did his hands form and fashion us thus ? No wiser or better than men at present are? If I believed this, that men were originally what they are now; if you could once convince me of this, I could not go so far as to be a De. ist: I must either be a Manichee, or an Atheist. I must either believe, there was an evil God, or that there was no God' at all.

“But to disparage our nature is to disparage the work and gifts of God.” (p. 257.) True : but to describe the corruption of our nature as it is, is not disparaging the work of God. For that corruption is not his work. On the other hand, to say it is, to say God created us as corrupt as we are now, with as weak an understanding and as perverse a will : this is disparaging the work of God, and God himself to some purpose!

" But doth not this doctrine teach you to transfer your wickedness and sin to a wrong cause? Whereas you ought to blame yourself alone, you lay the whole blame upon Adam.” (p. 258.) I do not. I know God is willing to save me from all sin, both original and actual. Therefore if I am not saved, I must lay the whole blame upon myself.

“ But what good end does this doctrine promote ?" The doctrine, that we are by nature, dead in sin,' and therefore children of wrath,' promotes repentance, a true knowledge of ourselves, and thereby leads to faith in Christ, to a true knowledge of Christ crucified. And faith worketh love ; and by love, all holiness both of heart and life. Consequently, this doctrine promotes (nay, and is absolutely, indispensably necessary to promote) the whole of that religion which the Son of God lived and died to establish.

* We are told indeed, that it promotes humility. But neither our Lord, nor his Apostles, when inculcating humility, say a word about natural corruption.” Supposing (not granting, that they did not, yet it cannot be, in the very nature of the thing, that any whose nature is corrupt should be humble, should know himself, without knowing that corruption.

* But what can be more destructive to virtue, than to represent sirr as altogether unavoidable ?" (p. 259.) This does not follow from the doctrine. Corrupt as we are, through Almighty grace we may avoid all sin.

But it is destructive of virtue. For “if we believe we are by nature worse than the brutes, what.wonder if we act worse than brutes ?" Yea, if we are so, what wonder if we act so! And this it is absolutely certain men do, whether they believe one way or the other. For they who do not believe this, live no better than those that do. Therefore if “ the generality of Christians have been the most wicked, lewd, bloody, and treacherous of all mankind," it is not owing to this belief. But in truth they have not been so; neither are they at this day. The generality of Christians, so called, are perhaps but little better, yet surely they are no worse, either in tempers or actions, than the rest of mankind. The generality of Jews, yea, of Turks and Pagans, are full as “ lewd, bloody, and treacherous" as they.

You go on, “ It is surprising, that Christians" (you mean, those of them who believe original sin) “ have lost even a sense of the beneficence of God, in giving them a rational nature.” (p. 260.) Nay, surely Christians have lost that rational nature itself, or they retain it to very little purpose, if " the generality of them are the most wicked, lewd, bloody, and treacherous, of all mankind!” They ought “ to be humbled," for yielding to those evil propensities, which through the grace of God they may conquer. And they who do conquer, ought to be continually "thanking God,” for this and all his benefits.

With great decency you proceed, “Who can believe that to be a revelation from God, which teacheth so absurd a doctrine? I make no doubt this with other like principles, have filled our land with Infidels." However, the gentlemen who disclaim these absurd principles, of original sin, redemption, and regeneration, may very easily convert those Infidels : since there is scarcely any room for contention left between them.

" Is not this doctrine hurtful to the power of godliness, as it diverts men from the heavenly and substantial truths of religion?" (p. 261.) Just the reverse. There is no possibility of the power of godliness without it. The power of godliness consists in the love of God and man: This is heavenly and substantial religion. But no man can possibly love his neighbour as himself,' till he loves God. And no man can possibly love God till be truly believes in Christ, till' he is deeply convinced of his own sinfulness, guiltiness, and helplessness.

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