by John Brown of Haddington
The general benefit which Christ, by his humiliation, procures and bestows in his exaltation, is our redemption or salvation, which includes the whole of our deliverance from the broken law, from sin, Satan, the world, death, and hell,—our full title to, and possession of grace and glory, to all eternity: Or, it includes the change of our spiritual state, in union to Christ, justification through his blood, and adoption into his family, which is perfected in the very first instant; and the change of our nature and condition in regeneration, sanctification, consolation, and eternal glory, which is perfected by degrees, Rom 8:30.
Christ's purchase of redemption for us doth not profit us, but by its effectual application to us. 1. Its typical representations manifest this.—The water of purification did not remove legal pollution, unless it was sprinkled; nor did the mixture of blood and water purify the leper, unless it was applied to his flesh, Num 19; Lev 11; Lev 15-16; Lev 14; 1 Pet 1:3; Heb 10:22; Heb 12:24. 2. The emblematical representations of Christ and his benefits by a garment, Rom 13:14; Isa 61:10; by food, John 6:53; Isa 25:6; and by medicine, Isa 53:5; Rev 22:2, which do not profit unless they be applied, prove this. All the promises of the gospel represent God as making over himself and his blessings to men, Gen 17:7-8; Isa 25:6; Isa 55:2-3; Acts 13:34; Ezek 36:25-27. 4. If this application were not absolutely necessary, the eternal happiness of all men must be equal, as the price of our redemption is infinite in value, and equally suitable to all men, contrary to John 13:18; Acts 8:21,23; Matt 7:13-14. 5. Christ's word, sacraments, and other instituted means of salvation, plainly mark the necessity of a spiritual application of it, 2 Cor 5:18-21; Luke 10:21; Gal 3:27; 1 Cor 10:16-17.
The Holy Ghost is the effectual applier of redemption to us, in and by whom Christ and his Father work in us. And he applies it, either mediately, through the word and sacraments, to adult persons, or immediately, to infants, and in the heavenly state, Isa 44:3-5; John 16:7-14; Ezek 36:27; Isa 59:21. And Christ being the Surety, Trustee, Administrator, Source, and Sum of all the blessings of the new covenant, union with him must be a remarkable benefit in itself, and the immediate foundation of all the rest, which are lodged in his person.—There is an apparent union between Christ and all the members of the visible church, which is formed by their receiving common gifts and influences from him, and their making an open profession of his truths and service;—and which is easily broken, John 15:2,6; Matt 8:12. And there is a moral union of mutual affection between him and believers, which is more properly communion, John 14:21.—But that union with him, upon which our enjoyment of his benefits depends, includes, 1. A legal union between us as guilty and self-ruined debtors and criminals, and him as our surety. This was formed from all eternity, when we were chosen in him. The everlasting love of God and the covenant of grace are the bonds of it;—and the placing our sins to Christ's account, that his satisfaction for them might be placed to ours in law-reckoning, is the effect of it, Heb 7:22; Eph 1:4; 2 Cor 5:21; Rom 5:19. 2. His personal union with our nature, formed in the fulness of time, in order to his fulfilling the requirements which his legal union with us drew upon him, Heb 2:11-16; John 1:14; Isa 7:14; Rom 8:3-4; Gal 4:4-5. 3. A spiritual or mystical union, formed in the moment of our regeneration,—in which we, as Christ's purchased Bride, are, by his Spirit entering into our hearts, and by our receiving him by faith, united to him as our Husband and Head of influence, 1 Cor 1:30; 1 Cor 6:17; John 17:26; Eph 2:21-22; Eph 3:17.—In attesting the reality of this union between Christ and believers, the Scripture represents him as in them, and them as in him, John 14:20; John 6:56; John 15:4-5,7; John 17:21,26; Col 1:27; 1 John 5:20; 2 Cor 5:21; Isa 45:17; and having him for their life, 1 John 5:11-12; Gal 2:20; Col 3:3-4; and being partakers of him, Heb 3:14.
This spiritual union between Christ and believers being exceedingly mysterious in itself, is in Scripture illustrated to us by many similitudes, some of which transcend, and others are transcended by it, 1. It is likened to that union which is between the persons of the Godhead, John 17:21; John 14:20; John 6:57. But here it falls infinitely short,—not being absolutely necessary, or self-existent; nor doth it constitute Christ and believers one individual substance. 2. It is likened to the union
of Christ's two natures in his person:—for, as his manhood was conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, we are born of the Spirit, Matt 1:20; Luke 1:35; John 3:5-6,8; 1 Pet 1:3,23; 1 John 3:9; 1 John 5:18. As Christ, by a sovereign act, assumed our nature,—he by another apprehends our person, Heb 2:14,16; Phil 3:12. As, in his manhood dwells all the fulness of Godhead, we, being in him, are filled with all the fulness of God, Col 2:9-10; Eph 3:19. He, being made flesh, tabernacled with us,—and we, being united to him, God dwells with us in him, John 1:14; Rev 2:13; Eph 2:21-22; Eph 3:17.—In him, as God-man, there is the grace of union, unction, and headship; and in us, as united to him, there is a gracious union, unction, and membership, John 1:14,16; Col 2:19; Col 1:18.—Nevertheless, our spiritual union with him falls far short of the union of his two natures,—as it doth not render him and us one person,—nor, for a time, incapable of sin, Gal 5:17; Rom 7:14-25; Rom 8:13. But it is indeed by that new nature which his self-uniting act forms in us, that he holds fellowship with our soul, 2 Pet 1:4; 2 Cor 5:17: Gal 6:15; and which, by his gracious influence, mortifies our inward corruption, till it be utterly abolished, Rom 8:2,13; Gal 5:17,24; Rom 7:14-25. 3. It is likened to the union between a king and his subjects, because he, as our Brother, hath power over, cares for, rules, and protects us; and we are voluntarily subject to him, and have our eternal happiness dependent on his infinite wisdom, power, mercy, and honour, Rev 15:3; Matt 25:34-40. But it is much more spiritual, close, and permanent. 4. As it imports mutual knowledge, chusing, solemn self-dedication, and issues in mutual love, delight, and interest, it is likened to the marriage-union betwixt husband and wife, Eph 5:30,32; Isa 54:5; Ezek 16:8-14; Song 2:16; Song 6:3. But here also it much transcends, as it renders Christ and believers one spirit, and can never be dissolved, 1 Cor 6:16-17; Phil 2:5; 2 Pet 1:4; Col 3:3; Hos 2:19-20. 5. To mark that their happy connections, support, and glory, depend on him, it is likened to the union of a building with its foundation or cornerstone, Isa 28:16; 1 Cor 3:9,11,17; Ps 118:22; 1 Pet 2:4-5; Eph 2:20-22. But here also it far transcends, as Christ is equally near, and communicates life to every believer, 1 Pet 2:5; Gal 2:20; John 14:19; John 11:25. 6. Because through it we receive all our supporting, quickening, beautifying, and fructifying influences, it is likened to the union between the root of a tree and its branches, John 15:1-7; Col 2:7. But here also it far transcends, as Christ, our root, is equally near to all his branches, and not one of them can become altogether withered, barren, or broken off, Rom 7:4; Rom 6:14; Rom 8:35-39; John 10:28-29. 7. As we are enlightened, governed,honoured, and receive our spiritual nourishment and breath through Christ, it is likened to the union between our head and other members of our body, Eph 4:15-16; 1 Cor 1:12; Col 1:18; Col 2:18-19. But it far transcends this, as Christ is equally near to every member, and none can be separated from him, or become utterly benumbed or mortified, John 14:16,19; Col 3:3-4; Gal 2:20; Isa 26:19. 8. As Christ enters into our soul, and is the very life of it, our spiritual union with him is likened to that of our soul, or of our food with our body, John 6:56-57; Col 3:4. But it is much more close, as Christ can never be separated from us, or cease to actuate us, Eph 4:16; Col 2:19; Gal 2:28.
Our spiritual union with Christ may be further illustrated from our connection with Adam. In consequence of our legal union with him, formed in the covenant of works, his Fall under the curse drew, that very moment, all his posterity along with him; and lying in threatenings of the broken law, it is ready to pour its vials of wrath upon us, whenever we exist; and hath a baleful influence in drawing us into actual existence; but never, till we become united with him as our natural root or parent, hath it any hold by which it can fix upon us:—so, in consequence of Jesus's fulfilling all righteousness for us, he, as our legal Head and Husband, received a full justification for us, which lies ready for us in the promises of the gospel; but till we be united to him, as our Head of influence, in whom all the promises are yea and amen, we have no actual share in his righteousness and grace.—It may also be further illustrated, from the personal union of Christ's two natures. 1. In the constitution of the legal union between Christ and us, a precise moment was fixed for the union of our nature to his divine person, that the debt charged upon him, as our Surety, might be demanded and obtained from him, Gal 4:4; Rom 8:3-4. In like manner, a precise moment was fixed in the purpose of God for the spiritual union of our persons to him, that his righteousness fulfilled in our stead might be imputed to us, and the effects of it imparted to us, Ezek 16:8; Ps 110:3. 2. Notwithstanding Christ's engagement from all eternity to pay our debt to the broken law, he remained in his Father's bosom, without having it demanded, till he assumed our nature in the fulness of time: and, notwithstanding the translation of our debt upon him, and his satisfaction for it long ago, we, though chosen in him, continue under the broken law, children of wrath, till in the time of love we be spiritually united to Christ, Eph 2:2-3; Ezek 16:5-8. 3. From the creation of the world till the fulness of time, God was constantly preparing to demand his undertaken satisfaction from his Son, and his Son repeatedly appeared as in our nature, before he actually assumed it: And, while elect men continue unborn, or in a state of wrath, God is always making preparations for uniting them to Christ in their time of love,—and, by common operations of his Spirit, produces apparent unions of many of them to him, Rev 3:20; Matt 13:20; Heb 6:4-5. 4. Though the translation of our debt to the broken law upon Christ by his legal union with us as our Surety, was the spring of his actual assumption of our nature, yet the demand of satisfaction, in order of nature, not of time, commenced posterior to that assumption. And, though Christ's righteousness—really ours, as fulfilled by our Surety legally united to us, be the foundation or meritorious cause of God's spiritual union of our persons to his, yet his formal, actual, and judicial accounting that righteousness to our persons, to constitute us righteous in law-reckoning, is in order of nature, not of time, consequential to our spiritual union to Christ, 2 Cor 5:21; Rom 8:1; Rom 7:4; Isa 45:24-25.
In infants this mystical union with Christ is formed by the Holy Ghost's application of him, or Christ's spiritual application of himself, as made of God to them wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, and thus forming in them a new nature, including faith, love, repentance, and every other saving grace, all which, in answerableness to the natural powers of their soul, are ready to act in due time, as God gives opportunity, John 3:5-6,8; Mark 10:14. But, in persons having the actual use of their reason, this union is formed in the work of effectual calling, in which Christ, by his word and Spirit, invites, drives, and draws them to himself; and, in his powerfully applied declarations, and offers of the gospel, conveys himself and his grace into their hearts. This effectual calling is the work of God, Rom 9:24; Rom 8:30; Rom 11:29; 1 Thess 4:7; and is ascribed to the Father, 1 Cor 1:9; 2 Tim 1:9; and to the Son, Rom 1:6; 2 Pet 1:3; but, in a peculiar manner, to the Holy Ghost, as sent by the Father and Son to apply redemption to us, Rom 8:2; 2 Cor 3:6; Rev 2:7; John 16:7-13; Ezek 36:26-27; Isa 44:3-5.—Effectual calling being a benefit of the covenant of grace, Jer 31:33; Jer 32:40; Ezek 36:26-27; Hos 2:14,18-20; 2 Tim 1:9; purchased by the blood of Christ as a Surety, Titus 2:14; Gal 3:13-14; 1 Pet 1:18-21; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Pet 3:18; Rev 5:9, all the elect, and they only, partake of it, Rom 8:28-30; 2 Tim 1:9; 1 Pet 1:2; 2 Pet 1:10; and that in different periods of their life on earth, Matt 20:1,5-6; 2 Tim 3:15; 1 Cor 15:8; Luke 7:37; Luke 23:42-43.—This effectual work of God is named a calling, as it supposes men at a distance from Christ by nature, and implies his dealing with them as reasonable creatures, by convictions, illuminations, and persuasions,
in bringing them to him: and by it they are brought from a state of sin, wrath, darkness, and worldliness, to a state of fellowship with Christ and his Father and the blessed Spirit,—to the kingdom of God, to marvellous light, love, liberty, holiness, and eternal happiness in Christ, Rom 8:30; Rom 8:1-2; Eph 2:1-13,19-22; Eph 5:8; 1 Pet 2:9; John 15:9; 1 John 1:3,7; 2 Cor 13:14; 1 Cor 7:22-23; John 8:32,36; 1 Thess 2:12-13; 1 Tim 6:11-12; 1 Pet 1:16; 1 Pet 5:10; 2 Pet 1:3-10.
The manifestations of God's perfections, in the works of creation and providence, may make men more capable of a rational attention to the invitations of his word, if enjoyed; and afflictions may awaken to a seriousness in this attention. But multitudes of mankind have no outward call to the fellowship of Christ. 1. Multitudes of them are destitute of his statutes, and ignorant of his judgments, Ps 147:19-20; are not his people in an external manner, Hos 1:9; Hos 2:23; Rom 9:25-26; Rom 10:19; are strangers to the covenants of promise, without God, and without Christ, and without all hopes of future happiness, Eph 2:12; are perishing for want of vision, Prov 29:18; are permitted to walk in their own ruinous ways, Acts 14:16; Acts 17:30; Isa 53:6; Isa 55:7; and are by wisdom ignorant of God, 1 Cor 1:20; Rom 1:21-23. 2. The doctrine of salvation is hidden from the heathen world, Eph 3:8-9; Col 1:26; Rom 16:25. 3. God forbade preaching of the gospel to many men, Matt 10:5; Acts 16:6-7. 4. An extensive knowledge of the world experimentally demonstrates, that the bulk of mankind are ignorant of the method of salvation through Christ.
Objection I. "The call of the gospel reaches all men, Titus 2:11; 1 Tim 2:4; Col 1:6; Mark 16:15; Luke 2:10." Answer. It is extended to men of all sorts, Jews and Gentiles, and of all ranks, poor or rich, but not to every particular person, Rev 5:9; Rev 7:9. A warrant to preach it every where will not prove that it is every where preached.
Objection II. "The voice of nature, which extends to every man, calls all to repentance and virtue, Ps 19:1-5; Rom 1:18-21; Rom 2:14-15; Acts 14:17; Acts 17:27." Answer. It calls them to God as a Creator and Preserver, but affords no hints of him as a Redeemer.
Objection III. "All men have had a double revelation of the gospel of Christ, in the first promise to Adam and Eve, and in God's covenant with Noah, Gen 3:15; Gen 9." Answer. Were all men that have, do, or shall live on earth, present to hear these declarations, or capable to understand them? Why not as well maintain that all mankind, in their own persons, lived perfectly happy in Eden, or are just come out of the ark into a scarce dried world?
Objection IV. "Many heathens were endowed with eminent goodness and virtue." Answer 1. They had received many remarkable gifts from God as their Creator and preserving Governor, but no appearances of saving graces. Nay, their pride, selfishness, or indulgence of some particular wickedness, plainly manifested the naughtiness of their apparent virtues. 2. Let them have what goodness they will, there is no salvation without Christ, Acts 4:12; no saving connection between adult persons and Christ, without knowledge of, and faith in him, John 17:3; Eph 3:17; John 3:18,36; and no knowledge of, or faith in him, without hearing the gospel, Rom 10:14,17; Prov 29:18; Eph 2:12.
Objection V. "Melchizedek, Job, and his friends, the centurion, whose faith Christ admired, the Syrophenician woman, Cornelius, and many other heathens, had true and saving faith. All that in any place call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. All that fear God and work righteousness are accepted by him. No more is necessary to our coming to our God, than a believing that he is, and is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him, Gen 14:18; Job 1-42; Matt 8:5-13; Matt 15:22-28; Acts 10; Rom 10:12; Acts 10:34-35; Heb 11:6." Answer 1. None of the persons mentioned appear to have wanted divine revelations. Melchizedek, Job, and his friends had access to them by tradition from Noah, or immediately from God, as well as Abraham and his immediate descendants.—The two centurions and Syrophenician woman had access to the Jewish revelations and worship. 2. The works of unregenerate men, which are materially good, are regarded and rewarded in this life by God, 1 Kings 21:29; Jon 3; Mark 10:21. 3. Under the gospel men are accepted by God, without any regard to their family, nation, or outward circumstances: but men never truly fear God or work righteousness, without believing in Christ; or have any true faith in him, but as connected with Christ, 2 Pet 1:1; Phil 1:29; Eph 3:17; Luke 17:5; John 14:1; John 6:35,44-45, Eph 2:18; Eph 3:12. Nor is acceptance or any other new-covenant blessing promised but in Christ, 2 Cor 1:20; Ps 72:17.
Objection VI. "It is inconsistent with the infinite mercy of God to leave multitudes of mankind destitute of the necessary means of salvation." Answer 1. We have long ago proved against Deists, that he hath done so in full consistency with all his perfections. 2. God's infinite mercy no more binds him to bestow the means of salvation upon all men, than it binds him to bestow them on all devils, who are his more excellent creatures by nature, Jude 6; 2 Pet 2:4; Matt 25:41. 3. Scripture never hints that God bestows any saving mercy, but through Christ, 2 Cor 5:19; Eph 1:3; Ps 103:17; Ps 31:19; Ps 25:10; Ps 72:17.
Objection VII. "All the heathens must have sufficient means of salvation. If God require them to worship him, he must afford them the proper laws and motives of acceptable worship. If he hath given them immortal souls, he must put them into a proper way of obtaining everlasting happiness. He cannot, in a consistence with his own infinite wisdom and goodness, require that as the condition of their salvation, concerning which he doth not inform them: in distributing eternal rewards or punishments, he must deal with men according to the opportunities, manifestations, abilities, and motives which he bestowed upon them.—The faithful improvement of the smallest talents, shall be rewarded with everlasting life, John 20:29; Luke 12:47-48; Matt 25:14-29." Answer 1. God hath afforded heathens some knowledge of the object of worship, but not of the way of salvation, Rom 1:19-20; Eph 2:12; Rom 10:10-17; Acts 4:12; John 14:6; John 10:7,9. 2. God made devils immortal spirits, and yet, never since their fall, put them into any way of salvation, Jude 6; 2 Pet 2:4; Matt 25:41. 3. Sins against the light of nature are sufficiently criminal to render men eternally miserable, Ezek 18:4; Rom 6:23; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:4-10; Rom 3:9-20,23. And, though they be not so heinous, as like sins committed against gospel-light, yet ignorance of God and spiritual things being a sin in itself, can never make that which is sinful innocent or virtuous. 4. Though God, for the encouragement of order and virtue, reward the apparently good works of heathens with temporal benefits, they, when examined by his spiritual and exceeding broad law, appear very unfit to be rewarded by him with eternal happiness, Prov 15:8; Prov 21:4,27; Prov 28:9; Ps 14:2-4; Rom 3:9-20.
All men who read and hear the gospel contained in the Scriptures, are called to the fellowship of Christ, and to receive a full salvation in him, as the free gift of God to themselves. The law, which manifests our sinfulness and danger, and warns us to flee from the wrath to come, and which, upon a revelation of Christ, binds us to believe in him, is binding upon all men, Ezek 33:11; Rom 3:10-20; Gal 3:10,24; John 6:29; 1 John 3:23. And the gospel, which exhibits and offers Christ and his salvation, invites every man that hears it to receive him in it, as given to himself, without regarding whether he be well or ill qualified, elect or reprobate. 1. Christ's righteousness being infinitely valuable in itself, and fulfilled in manhood, is equally answerable to the demands of the broken law on every man; and all his purchased blessings relative to their change of state, nature, or condition, are equally sufficient for and suited to them all, Acts 20:28; Gal 4:4-5; 1 Cor 1:30; Ezek 36:25-27; Titus 2:14; Heb 9:12,14. 2. In the gospel, Jesus Christ is indefinitely presented and offered to all men that hear it, as the absolutely free gift of God, and the official Saviour of mankind, Ps 68:18; Rom 11:26-27; 1 John 4:14; John 3:14-17; John 4:42; John 6:32,39-40; 1 Tim 1:15; Heb 7:25; Isa 42:6-7; Isa 49:6,8. 3. In the gospel men are, in the most general and unlimited manner, called to receive the blessings of salvation, Isa 45:22-25; Isa 55:1-7; Prov 8:4; Matt 11:28; John 7:37-39; John 6:37; Rev 22:17. 4. Such men as appear most likely to be excluded, are expressly invited to receive Christ and his salvation,—as the lost,—the stupid,—foolish,—haters of knowledge,—scorners,—notorious transgressors,—stouthearted, and far from righteousness,—rebellious,—who have sinned to their uttermost,—self-conceited,—insensible of their sinfulness and misery, etc. Matt 18:11; Luke 19:10; Hos 13:9; Prov 1:21-23; Prov 9:4-5; Isa 1:18; Isa 46:12-13; Isa 55:7; Isa 65:2; Jer 3:1,4-5,14,22; Matt 9:13; 1 Tim 1:15-16; Rev 3:17-18. 5. The moral law, which requires men to receive and obey God as the only true God, and their God, is precisely of the same extent in its object as his offers of himself to be their God. And it is observable, that, in that moral law, there is a fivefold grant of God by himself to men, as their God, Exod 20:2-17; Deut 5:6-21 comp. Deut 30. 6. Unless the gospel offers and calls were directed to all men in general that hear it, none durst embrace them, till they were certain of their having the required qualifications.—Nevertheless, it is certain, that the more fully a man is acquainted with himself, he will see the more of his own pride, naughtiness, sloth, insincerity, enmity against God, unworthiness of Christ, and unfitness to receive him;—and that no thoroughly convinced person, especially if tempted by Satan, will be able to see in himself enough of sincerity, sensibility, and willingness, to receive Christ as offered in the gospel.
Objection I. "Only the thirsty, the willing, the heavy laden labourers, are invited to receive Christ and his salvation, Isa 55:1; John 7:37; Rev 22:17; Matt 11:28." Answer. The thirsty in Isa 55:1, cannot mean only those who earnestly desire Christ and his righteousness and blessings; for, in Isa 55:2, they are said to be spending money for that which is not bread, and labouring for that which satisfieth not; but must mean such as desire happiness in any form. Whosoever will, in Rev 22:17, denotes the universality of the invitation, not the qualification of the persons invited, John 6:37; John 7:37. The heavy laden labourers in Matt 11:28, includes such as have fatigued themselves in sinful courses, and are laden with the guilt and enslaving power of sin, Isa 57:10; Heb 2:15; 2 Tim 3:6.
Objection II. "It would be infinitely unbecoming men, who had just been wallowing in their wickedness, to approach to, or receive the holy Jesus, before some change be made upon them." Answer 1. God must indeed make them new creatures, before they be able to receive him; but it is not as new men, but as sinful men, that they are warranted and required to receive him for their salvation, Matt 9:13; Matt 18:11; 1 Tim 1:15. 2. How is it unbecoming the dangerously diseased to approach to, or admit the all-skilful physician, before they be almost cured?—the unclean to apply the purifying water, before they be partially cleansed?—the starving to take any wholesome provision till they be almost satisfied? Exod 15:26; Hos 14:4; Ezek 36:25; Zech 13:1; Isa 1:18; Acts 3:26; Rom 11:26-27; Prov 9:5; Isa 55:1-3,7; Rev 22:17. How is it unbecoming ignorant men to come directly to the only-effectual Teacher?—unbecoming guilty men to receive the Lord their righteousness, who is made of God unto them righteousness?—unbecoming lost men to come to the only, the divinely appointed Saviour of men? Isa 48:17; Isa 45:17,22,24; Luke 19:10; Hos 13:9. 3. It is impossible for men to attain to any true sincerity, humility, or reformation of heart, before they receive Christ, Job 14:4; Prov 20:9; Ps 51:5; Eph 2:1-3,10; Rom 8:7-8, Rom 8:2; John 15:5; Jer 17:9; Jer 13:23; Titus 1:15; Titus 3:3-7. 4. In receiving Jesus Christ, as made of God unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, we cannot continue cleaving to our sin, as we receive him in order to purge away and destroy it.
Objection 3. "God could not be candid, if he called all men that hear the gospel to receive Christ and his salvation, since he knows many of them to be reprobates." Answer 1. If God intend to cut off one by death, will that justify the man's withholding proper food, medicine, or warmth from himself, or his plunging a knife into his own throat? Answer 2. God, by his gospel, calls no man to believe anything but what is important truth, nor to do anything but what his law requires.
Objection 4. "It is altogether absurd and unprofitable to call reprobates to believe on Christ, since they cannot believe." Answer 1. Indeed they cannot, and what is worse, they will not, believe on him, John 10:26; John 5:40; Isa 65:2; Matt 23:37. 2. Ministers, being utterly uncertain who are elected, and who not, must invite men in general to Christ, and leave it to the Holy Ghost, who knows all things, to determine such as are elected to believe, to the saving of their soul. 3. By the general invitations of the gospel, many reprobates obtain common gifts and graces,—have many sins prevented,—obtain much temporal happiness,—and are rendered remarkably useful to the elect.
Before their mystical union to Jesus Christ, men, and especially gospel-hearers, may perform that which is naturally or civilly good,—and even the matter of religious duties; and, under common operations of the Holy Ghost, may perform that which resembles spiritual goodness. But they can never heartily comply with the gospel-call, believe in Christ, or perform anything in a truly holy and spiritual manner. 1. We have formerly proved, that all men by nature are under the curse of the broken law, which is the strength of sin. And as, in their conception, that curse keeps them destitute of original righteousness, so it retains them in that condition, while it lies on them. 2. Scripture declares all men unclean, which being universal, must be understood of sinful pollution, Job 14:4; that David, a child of pious parents, and one of the best of men, was shapen and conceived in sin, Ps 51:5; that the Jewish people of God were wicked transgressors from the womb, Ps 58:3; Isa 48:8; and that all men, by nature, are so enslaved by their indwelling corruptions, that they can do nothing spiritually good, Gen 6:5; Gen 8:21; Ps 14:2-4; Ps 53:2-3; Prov 20:9; Jer 17:9; John 3:6; John 15:5; Rom 5:6; Rom 8:7-8; Eph 2:1-3,12; Titus 1:15; Titus 3:3; 2 Cor 3:5; 1 Cor 4:7; Matt 15:19. 3. If men had any natural inclination or ability to do that which is spiritually good, why, amidst so many thousand powerful motives to virtue, and none at all to vice, are men, every where, so remarkably wicked in their thoughts, their words, and their deeds?—Why do all attentive, and especially the most sanctified men, find such inclinations toward vice, and such difficulty in doing any thing spiritually good? Ps 14:1-4; Ps 53:1-4; Rom 1:21-32; Rom 3:9-19; Mark 7:21-23; Rom 7:5-25; James 3:2; 1 John 1:8,10.
Objection I. "Without freedom of will, and ability to perform that which is spiritually good, men can be in no proper state of trial for everlasting happiness or misery; but must be either in the state of devils, or of established angels." Answer 1. Believers, while on earth, are not as established angels, being imperfect in their nature, work, and condition: Nor are wicked men as devils, being under a dispensation of God's mercy, which hath and will issue in the eternal salvation of many, Rom 7:14-25; 1 Tim 1:13-16; John 4; Luke 7:36-50; 1 Cor 6:9-11; Titus 3:3-7; Eph 2:1-22; Eph 3:8-9; Acts 26:17-18. 2. Since Adam's fall, no man hath, or ever will be, in a proper state of trial for everlasting happiness. 1. All believers are fixed in a state of everlasting salvation in Christ. Without this, they could have no solid hope of their perseverance or eternal glory, Rom 8:28-39; Jer 32:39-40; Isa 54:8-10; Isa 45:17, John 10:27-29; John 14:19; Col 3:3-4. 2. If all men were
in a state of trial for everlasting happiness, they ought all to have equal means and opportunities of grace afforded them, which it is certain they have not, Eph 2:12; Prov 29:18; Ps 147:19-20; Acts 14:16; Acts 17:30. 3. Such a state of trial would suspend men's eternal happiness upon their own inclinations and behaviour, not upon the free grace of God, contrary to 1 Cor 4:7; Matt 11:25-26; Rom 9:16,18; Rom 11:6. 4. The Israelites then stood in a state of trial for their temporal happiness in Canaan, but in none for their eternal happiness, Isa 1:19-20; Deut 8:2; Deut 13:5; Judg 2:21-22; Judg 3:1,4; Exod 16:4; Exod 20:20. 5. For promoting the exercise and evidence of their graces, believers are, in their condition, much tried with temptations, hard services, and sufferings, 1 Cor 3:13; 2 Cor 8:2; 1 Pet 1:7; 1 Pet 4:12; James 1:3,12; Rev 2:10; Rev 3:10,19; Ps 66:10; Dan 11:35; Dan 12:10; Zech 13:9. But their eternal salvation being secured in Christ, is in no wise suspended on their good behaviour, Col 3:3-4; John 14:19; John 10:27-29. 6. Many warnings, exhortations, promises, and threatenings are directed to sinners in Scripture, not to put them to the trial whether they will, of themselves, do that which is truly acceptable to God, but to awaken their concern to have their state changed by an union to Christ, Acts 26:17-18; Col 1:13; Eph 2:1-6; or directed to believers, to cause them to walk worthy of that state of salvation in which they are fixed in Christ, Col 2:6-7; 1 Cor 15:58; Jer 32:39-40; Heb 12:28-29; Phil 1:27; Col 1:10; Luke 1:74-75; 2 Cor 7:1; Eph 4-6; Col 3-4.
Objection II. "If men have not a freedom of will indifferently to choose good or evil, and power to act accordingly, their qualities and works, not being of free choice, cannot be either virtuous or vicious, deserving praise and reward, or blame and punishment." Answer 1. Hath God then no freedom of choice, no liberty? Are all his attributes and works unworthy of praise, because his infinite and unchangeable perfection of nature cannot admit his doing any thing base or sinful? Are the acts of holy angels and glorified saints, and especially of the man Christ, in no wise virtuous or praiseworthy, because their wills were, and are divinely determined towards good only? Are the acts of devils no sins, because their inclination is fixed on mischief? May not all these acts be voluntary, though their will be unalterably bended to that which is good, or to that which is evil? 2. It is highly absurd to pretend, that the more inward holiness one has inclining him to that which is good, the less virtuous and praiseworthy are his good actions;—and the more fixed and propense malice he has determining him to evil, the less bad his
evil actions are:—that the better the root be, the less valuable the fruit; and the worse the root, the better the fruit, Matt 7:16-18; Matt 12:33-35. 3. Man's will never was, nor ever will be, placed in an equal bent towards good and evil. In his state of innocence it was inclined only to good, though changeable towards evil, Eccles 7:9; Gen 1:27; Gen 5:1. In his fallen state it is inclined only to evil, Gen 6:5; Gen 8:21; Jer 17:9; Rom 8:7-8; Titus 3:3.—In men's state of begun recovery, their new nature is inclined only to good, and their unrenewed, or old man, only to evil, Rom 7:14-25; Gal 5:17,19-24. In the heavenly state, it will be inclined only to good, 1 John 3:2; Eph 5:27.
Objection III. "To suppose men by nature without this freedom of will to choose, and ability to perform that which is spiritually good, is inconsistent with the whole tenor of the covenant of grace, and all the promises and calls of the gospel, in which men are supposed capable to believe and repent." Answer 1. The promises of the new covenant plainly suppose men to have hard and stony hearts, and to stand in absolute need of God's Spirit being put into them to change their heart, and enable them to choose and perform that which is spiritually good, Ezek 11:19-20; Ezek 36:26-27; Jer 31:33. Answer 2. The calls of the gospel do not suppose men's natural ability to perform any thing spiritually good, but are calculated to convince them of their weakness and wickedness, and to bring them to Christ, in whom alone spiritual strength is to be had, John 6:37,44-45,63,65; John 7:38-39; Phil 4:19; Zech 10:12.
Objection 4. "Without an equal bent of their will to good and evil, men cannot be subjected to any moral law." Answer. Was then Christ,—and are holy angels, glorified saints,—or even devils and damned men,—under no moral law, because their will is not equally inclined towards good and evil? If so, the blasphemy and murderous malice of the latter are as pleasing to God as the love and lively services of the former, Rom 4:15; Rom 5:13; 1 John 3:4.
Objection 5. "Scripture attests, that if heathens had enjoyed proper means of grace, they would have repented and been saved, Ezek 3:6; Matt 11:20-23." Answer. It is not affirmed, that they would have turned to the Lord in a truly hearty and evangelical manner, and been eternally saved; but they would have so turned as to prevent their temporal destructions, which, it is granted, may be done without special grace, Jon 3; 1 Kings 21:29.
Objection VI. "To deny the equal bent of men's will to good and evil, or their natural ability to do that which is spiritually good, is a plain adopting the tenets of atheistical Hobbes, and of the ancient heathen stoics." Answer 1. We may safely and honourably adopt the truth, though Satan, and all his emissaries, should, for wicked purposes, do the same, James 2:19; Matt 8:29; Matt 16:16; Mark 1:24; 1 John 5:5; Acts 16:17; 1 Cor 4:1. Answer 2. Hobbes pretended that God, by his grace, cannot determine men's will; that he hath no more hand in their best actions, than in their worst; that infants have no original sin; and being under no law, are capable of no fault; that the first motions of men's minds are not sinful; that no good thoughts are inspired by God, or bad ones by Satan; that men may sufficiently understand their Bible without any assistance of God's Spirit; that the mere belief of Christ's being the true Messiah is sufficient for men's salvation; that saving faith is not the gift of God, but the production of men's own mind; that our faith and obedience justify us before God, he accepting the will for the deed.—Many heathen stoics taught, that human nature is not corrupted with any original sin; that the following right reason is sufficient to render men happy in the highest degree; that men have it in their power to do little or no evil, and to conform themselves perfectly to God in moral goodness; that virtuous men are, in some respect, superior to the gods, as they are perfect by their own choice and care, not by any necessity of nature; and that truly virtuous dispositions once gained, may be totally and finally lost.—Let our opponents, therefore, claim them as their fathers and brethren in sentiment.
If men's eternal happiness do not depend on their own freewill, an effectual calling of any of them to a state of fellowship with Christ, must be entirely of God's free grace. 1. Scripture attributes it wholly to God's free grace, James 1:17-18; Eph 1:3-8; Eph 2:1-10; Rom 5:16-21; Rom 9:16,18; Rom 11:6; Rom 3:24; Rom 6:14; Titus 3:3-7; Titus 2:11-12; 2 Tim 1:9; 1 Tim 1:13,15-16. 2. This call finds men in a most dreadful state of sin and misery, Titus 3:3; Rom 1:21-32; Rom 3:10-20,23; Rom 8:7-8; Eph 2:1-3,12; 1 Cor 6:9-11; Job 14:4; Job 15:14,16; Gen 6:5; Gen 8:21; Jer 3:1-5; Ps 14:1-4. 3. God often effectually calls those that are most outrageously wicked, as Manasseh, Mary Magdalene, the harlot of Samaria, the dying thief, the murderers of Christ, Saul the persecutor, 2 Chron 33:11-13; Luke 7:36-50; John 4; Luke 23:42-43; Acts 2; Acts 6; Acts 9; 1 Tim 1:13-16. 4. Immediately before his call of them be rendered effectual, men's heart is at the very worst, under the sin-irritating power of his law, Rom 7:5,8-13. 5. Though God, to honour his own ordinances, frequently may bestow his grace upon men while they are attending them, yet he has never promised to reward natural men's most serious attendance with special and saving grace; and when they receive it, it is not as the reward of their attendance, but as the issue of their using God's appointed means of bestowing it. Thus, while Moses stretched out his rod towards it, the Red Sea was divided. In his sevenfold washing in Jordan, Naaman was healed. Such as got first into the troubled pool of Bethesda, were effectually cured.—In attempting to stretch out his withered arm, the impotent man had it perfectly restored to vigour; and in washing his eyes in the pool of Siloam, the blind man had his eyes opened; not as the rewards of their work, but as the issue of their using God's appointed means of effecting these things, Exod 14:16-22; 2 Kings 5:10,14; John 5:4; John 9:7; Mark 3:5.
Objection 1. "Then men, by the most outrageous sinning, put themselves as much in the way of effectual calling, as by the most serious prayer, reading, hearing, or meditating, on God's word." Answer 1. None but the most abandoned men will sin because grace does abound, Rom 6:1-2; Rom 2:4-5; Jude 4. 2. Though men by their attendance on God's ordinances, do not prepare themselves for Christ and his grace, yet thereby they give him his usual and beloved opportunities of converting them to himself, even as beggars, who, at the king's command, place themselves on the way which he often passes, that they may receive his charity, Prov 8:34-36; Isa 55:1-3.
Objection II. "Many conditional promises are made to the good endeavours of unregenerate men, James 4:8; Rev 3:20; Matt 7:7-8." Answer. These texts are addressed to professed saints. And it cannot be proved, that the drawing nigh to God, opening to Christ, asking, seeking, and knocking there mentioned, mean nothing more than may be found in unregenerate men.
An almighty, invincible, or as others term it, irresistible, influence of the Holy Ghost, is therefore absolutely necessary, in and with the outward call of the gospel, in order to apply it to men's heart, so as to translate them from their state of sin and misery into a state of union to, and fellowship with Christ. 1. Men's natural weakness to that which is good, and their deep-rooted enmity against it, require such an almighty influence, 2 Cor 3:5; John 15:5; Rom 5:6; Rom 8:7-8; Jer 17:9; Titus 3:3. Nay, besides their natural corruptions, they are generally under the influence of many additional hindrances from Christ and salvation.—They never seriously consider the certainty, awfulness, and infinitely interesting consequences of their death and last judgment, Deut 32:29; Ps 10:13; Eccles 11:9; Eccles 12:14;—nor the nature, number, and aggravations of their sins, Jer 2:35; Jer 8:6-7,12.—Nor the dreadful nature, certainty, and eternal duration of hell torments, and their own connections with them, Matt 10:28; Matt 16:26; Matt 22:13; Luke 10:22-26; nor the necessity, spirituality, extent, excellency, suitableness, and eternity of that salvation which Christ hath purchased for them. They indulge a vain conceit of their easily obtaining salvation; or improve their contrary apprehensions, as an excitement to sloth and despair, 1 Pet 4:18; Jer 2:25; Ezek 37:11. They are inclined to defer their concern about eternal things to some future time, perhaps their dying moments, Acts 24:25; Prov 24:33-34; Prov 6:9-11; Prov 1:22-28. They are closely connected with wicked men, as their patterns and companions, Ps 49:11-20; Prov 13:20; Prov 9:6. They are enslaved and inflamed by a love of this world, in its diversified contents, appearances, and lusts; and perhaps entangled in an hurry of worldly business, James 4:4; Luke 10:41-42; Luke 12:16-20; Eph 4:18-19; Rom 1:21. They prefer the care and gratifications of their body to the salvation of their soul, Matt 16:26; Rom 13:14; Eph 4:18-19. They entertain manifold errors, and persuade themselves that an infinitely merciful God will put up with very little religion, at least in those who are not in any ecclesiastical office. 2. Many passages of Scripture plainly affirm, that an almighty influence is necessary in the effectual calling of sinners; and represent it as an exceeding greatness of God's power; a creation work; a raising of the dead, etc. Eph 1:18-19; Gal 6:15; 2 Cor 5:17; Isa 65:17,19; Isa 66:19; Eph 2:5,9-10; Eph 4:24; Col 3:10; John 1:13; John 3:5-6; John 5:25; 1 Cor 2:12,14; 2 Cor 3:5; 2 Cor 4:6; Jer 31:18,33; John 6:37,44-45,63,65; John 15:5; Phil 2:13; Jer 32:40; Ezek 36:26-27; Ezek 11:19-20; Ezek 37:1-14; Ps 51:12; Deut 30:6; Song 1:4; Acts 11:18; Acts 5:31; Acts 16:14; Acts 26:17-18; 1 Pet 1:2-3,23; Col 1:13; Col 3:1; Rom 4:17; Rom 8:2 Heb 13:20-21; 1 Cor 1:26-31; 2 Pet 1:4. And hence the gospel, through which this powerful influence is exerted, is called the rod of Christ's strength, arm of the Lord, and the power of God, Ps 110:2-3; Isa 53:1; Rom 1:16; 1 Cor 1:24. 3. Unless the influence of the Holy Ghost, in this work, were invincible, men's faith, repentance, and good works must be ascribed to their own free will, as rendering effectual the influence of God,—contrary to Eph 2:8; 1 Cor 4:7; Isa 26:12; Phil 2:13; Rom 9:6,16,18; Titus 3:3,5. 4. Unless God, in this work, could, and did, more than afford men such means, opportunities, and influences; as their free will may rightly improve or not, as it pleases,—these second causes must act independently of God, but dependently on men's free will,—contrary to 1 Cor 3:5-7; 1 Thess 1:5; John 6:63. 5. If God's influence in changing men's state and nature, be not almighty and invincible, but dependent on their free will for its efficacy and success,—glorified saints in heaven have no more ground to thank God for their eternal salvation than the damned in hell have to thank him for theirs, as not he, but their own free will, was the proper cause of it,—contrary to Rev 5; Rev 9; Rev 7:10,12. 6. Unless this heart-changing influence be almighty and invincible, we can have no comfortable certainty of our eternal happiness, no not in heaven, as even there the free will of many millions of angels gave them a damning slip, 2 Pet 2:4; Jude 6; Matt 25:41; 1 Tim 3:6. God may choose us in Christ, and prepare heaven for us before the foundation of the world, Eph 1:4; Matt 25:34. Christ may become man, obey, suffer, and die for us, rise again for our justification, and do all that he can by his intercession, be able to save to the uttermost, Gal 4:4-5; Rom 3:25; Rom 4:25; Rom 8:3,33-34; Heb 7:25-26; the gospel may be preached to us, in every advantageous circumstance, Heb 2:3-4; 1 Pet 1:11-12; 1 Thess 1:5; Rom 1:16-17; Titus 2:11-14; the Holy Ghost may do all that he can to bring us into, and keep us in, a state of grace, and yet all be to no purpose, unless our free will, which is enmity against God, convert itself to him, and, by its influence, more promote our salvation than all the Omnipotent Three, by love, by wisdom, by power, by blood, by prayer, are capable to do.
Objection I. "These scriptures which represent men's conversion to God as an effect of divine power, mean no more than that the miracles, which they saw or heard of, determined or excited them to believe the gospel-doctrines thereby confirmed, 1 Cor 4:19; 1 Thess 1:6; Rom 1:16." Answer. In none of these texts doth power mean miracles. Miracles are not Christ crucified, 1 Cor 1:24. Nor did Paul demand knowledge of the miracles of his opposers. Nor are miracles a proof of men's election, as this power was, 1 Thess 1; 1 Thess 4:5; Matt 7:22-23.
Objection II. "Multitudes of inspired promises, exhortations, etc. represent God as unsuccessfully exerting himself to his uttermost, for the conversion of men, Isa 5:4 (which words might be rendered, What shall be hereafter done to my vineyard,) John 1:7,9; John 5:34,40; John 12:32-40;—and as wishing that they would comply with his calls, and bewailing that they did not;—and represent the efficacy of his ordinances as dependent on their choice, diligence, and care, Deut 32:29; Deut 4:29; Deut 8:2; Deut 30:19; Deut 10:16; Ps 81:10-14; Prov 1:22-30; Matt 33:37 (which means that the Jewish rulers and parents hindered their subjects and children from attending or improving Christ's instructions,) Luke 19:41-44; Isa 1:16-20; Isa 30:15; Isa 55:1-7; Isa 45:22; Isa 46:12-13; Gen 4:7; Jer 4:4,14; Jer 6:8; Ezek 18:30-32; Ezek 24:13; Ezek 33:11; Joel 2:13; Zech 9:12; Matt 3:2; Matt 4:17; Matt 7:7-8; Luke 13:24; Acts 2:38; Acts 3:19; Phil 2:12; Titus 2:11-12; Eph 5:14; James 4:8; Rev 3:19-20; Matt 25:14-29; Luke 19:12-27," etc. Answer 1. Though men, in their unregenerate state, can do nothing spiritually good, yet they can do many things which are materially good, as to pray, read, hear, or meditate on the Scripture,—which the Holy Ghost may make the means of his regenerating and quickening influences. And though God cannot accept their labour as coming from their accursed person and corrupt heart, he may, from regard to his own ordinances, meet with them in the use thereof. Nay, perhaps, he never fails graciously to meet with such as, with natural earnestness, persevere in seeking after salvation. 2. God's demands of dutiful obedience do not necessarily suppose men's sufficiency of strength to fulfil them; but for their conviction of their inability, and to drive them to Christ for righteousness and strength,—represent what they owe to God, to themselves, and to their neighbours, under pain of eternal damnation. 3. God may do all that is possible or proper in the bestowal of outward means of salvation upon men, without success, Isa 5:1-4; but not all that he can do, in the exertion of his spiritual influence, 1 Cor 2:4-5; Rom 1:16; 1 Thess 1:5; 1 Thess 2:13. 4. Many of the texts mentioned in the objection, merely represent God, as in a friendly manner declaring his law; and some of them denote Christ's human sympathy towards his self-ruined Jewish countrymen. Others of them represent what the Israelites were bound to, and capable of performing, as the means of their temporal happiness in Canaan. 5. While some of these texts respect elect persons, whom Christ effectually enlightens, and draws to himself and his heavenly throne,—others of them, particularly these last quoted, relate to regenerated persons, in whom the Holy Ghost dwells, and causes them to walk in his statutes.—At least, the one talent and pound in the parables, mean common gifts and opportunities of doing good granted to church-officers or others, not real grace.
Observation III. "Men are represented as grieving, vexing, rebelling against, quenching, resisting, outstriving, and doing despite to the Spirit of grace, Eph 4:30; Isa 63:10; 1 Thess 5:19; Gen 6:3; Acts 7:51; Heb 10:29; Amos 2:13; Ezek 16:43." Answer. All indulgence of sin in heart and life by those in whom the Holy Ghost dwells, or with whom he deals, is a resisting, grieving, and vexing, etc. him. But opposition doth not necessarily infer actual prevalence over his strongest efforts. His influences and evidences in the declarations of the prophets and apostles, and his common operations may be effectually resisted, quenched, and despitefully used;—but his special and saving influences cannot, Ps 110:3; 2 Cor 10:4-5; 1 Thess 1:5-10; 1 Thess 2:13; 1 Cor 6:11. 2. Believers vex, grieve, rebel against, and in some measure quench the Holy Ghost, when, instead of cherishing his influences, they hearken to the temptations of Satan and the world.
Objection IV. "An almighty and invincible influence of the Holy Ghost in men's conversion to Christ, excludes all instrumentality of his word in it, which can only work by moral suasion." Answer 1. Did then the word of God, in the creation of all things, work by mere moral suasion? Gen 1; Ps 33:6,9; Heb 11:3. Answer 2. The almighty influence of which we speak, is perfectly answerable to the nature of men's soul, and so is truly and morally, though infinitely powerful to persuade; and so may well be conveyed through the word of God. And, though men may be able to withstand the influence of the word, when spoken by men, they cannot withstand it when savingly applied by the Holy Ghost.
Objection V. "If men believe the necessity of an almighty influence of God's Spirit to convert them, they will never be persuaded to endeavour any reformation in their heart and practice, till they certainly feel this almighty influence, and can continue no longer in sin." Answer 1. Men may reform their outward practice, without any experience of this almighty influence, Phil 3:6; 1 Kings 21:27-29; Mark 6:20; Isa 58:2; 2 Pet 2:20. Answer 2. It is not men's feelings, but the law of God that is the rule of their duty, Isa 8:20; Deut 4:2; Deut 5:32; Deut 12:32; Matt 28:20. Answer 3. No man acts agreeably to the gospel, who doth not, under convictions of his own sinfulness, apply to Jesus Christ for reformation of heart and life, without making any prior attempts to reform them himself, Prov 23:26; Ezek 36:26-27; Jer 31:3,18,33; Titus 3:3-7; Acts 26:17-18; John 3:14-18,36; Isa 45:22; Isa 55:1-7.
Objection VI. "The effectual calling, regeneration, or conversion of men to Christ by mere moral suasion, exceedingly glorifies all the perfections of God. He thus, in infinite wisdom, deals with reasonable men by precepts, promises, and threatenings suited to their rational powers. With unblemished candour, he calls all men to repent and be saved, if they will. In infinite equity, he punishes men only for the sins which they could have avoided. Thus the glory of all that is good redounds to God, and all the guilt and shame of that which is evil, falls only on the sinners themselves." Answer. How is it for the glory of God, to be represented as if his almighty hands were so tied up, that he can do nothing effectually for the eternal salvation of men, unless their free will, which is enmity against him, deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, assist and succeed his labours in his regenerating and sanctifying work? How hath he the honour and praise of all that is good in men, when their free will alone must determine whether despiteful blasphemy and redoubled damnation, or faith in Christ and eternal salvation, shall be the effect of all that he can do for and with them? 2. Men's conversion by the almighty and invincible influences of God's Spirit, is truly and highly honourable to God. His ordinances, as intended, issue in the eternal salvation of his elect, and render multitudes useful to them on earth, Isa 55:10-11. It encourages men who are convinced of their weakness and wickedness, to seek and expect a thorough change of their nature from the almighty power and grace of God.—While God, in the most affectionate manner, deals with men by his word, his attendant almighty influences enlighten, renew, and draw their hearts to himself, Ps 110:2-3; Phil 3:12; Gal 1:15-16; 1 Thess 1:5; 1 Thess 2:13.—Thus all the conditional declarations of the gospel, and the salvation of the elect only, are harmoniously accomplished, Acts 10:43; Acts 5:31; Isa 53:10-12.—And reprobates are left with all their power of free will, and so are as salvable as our opponents allow any of mankind to be, if not much more so, as we allow that one, even the weakest act of faith in Jesus Christ, infallibly secures eternal salvation, John 3:16,18; John 6:39-40; Mark 16:16.—Nothing but disobedience to the law of God, in which the formal nature of sin consists, is punished, and wilfulness in sinning, rendering crimes more heinous, draws on further punishment. No refuser of Christ is punished for any inability to believe or repent, but what he justified himself in—not doing as well as he might have done.
The Holy Ghost, by his convincing and alluring, but resistible influence, deals with those that enjoy the gospel,—and especially with elect men before their union to Christ. But, in the time of love, appointed in the purpose and covenant of God, He, by his almighty and invincible influences, in the declarations of his law applied to their consciences, effectually convinces his elect of the divine authority, indispensable obligation, spirituality, holiness, righteousness, goodness, and inconceivable extent of its precepts, and of the import, equity, and faithfulness of its threatenings,—and by this means convinces them of their sins in heart and life, and of the equity, certainty, dreadful nature, and eternal duration of their deserved punishment,—so as to fill them with shame and fear, and cut off all their hopes of happiness by their own good works; and fixing upon them the infamous characters by which men are invited to Christ in the gospel promises and declarations, Isa 55:2,7; Isa 46:12; Prov 1:22; Prov 9:4; Luke 19:10; Matt 9:13; 1 Tim 1:15. Hos 13:9; Ezek 36:25-27, charges and urges them to believe on him as their offered Saviour, John 16:9-12; Rom 7:7-13; Rom 3:19-22; Gal 3:24; Acts 2:37-38; Acts 16:30-31; 1 John 3:23.—And, by this same almighty invincible influence, in the declarations, promises, and invitations of the gospel, applied to, or impressed on their hearts, he manifests Christ, in his person, offices, relations, righteousness, and purchased redemption,—as infinitely excellent, all-sufficient, and exactly suited to their case, and by God appointed, presented, and offered unto them, under those very infamous characters which the law had fixed upon them; and in this manifestation of Christ, he conveys him and all his fulness in the promise into their heart, that, as a prophet, and made of God to them wisdom, he may fill their understanding with spiritual light and knowledge,—as a priest, and made of God unto them righteousness, he may purify and quiet their awakened conscience,—and as a king, and made of God unto them sanctification and redemption, he may deliver them from sinful slavery, subdue, renew, and rule in their will;—and that as an infinitely lovely, gracious, necessary, and suitable Husband and Saviour, he may change, conquer, captivate, and for ever bind their affections to himself, Gal 1:15-16; John 6:39-40. Thus they are made partakers of Christ, apprehended by, and united to him, Heb 3:14; Rom 7:4; Hos 2:19-20; Isa 54:5; Phil 3:12. This act of the Holy Ghost in thus manifesting and conveying Christ and his fulness into our soul, is at once an uniting, justifying, adopting, and regenerating act.—And the word of the gospel, in which he acts, is, as it were, Christ's marriage-vow, the sentence of justification, the adopting deed, and the seed of the new nature,—or mean by which it is conveyed into the soul,—which, in the whole, is a mere patient, experiencing the exceeding greatness of the power and grace of God, Eph 1:18-20; Eph 2:4-10; Ps 110:3; Titus 3:5-7; Matt 16:17; John 1:13; John 3:3,5-6,8; 1 John 3:1,9; 1 John 5:18; 1 Pet 1:3,23; Col 3:11-12; Ezek 11:19-20; Ezek 36:25-27; Jer 32:40.
Communion with Christ is the immediate effect of this uniting act of the Holy Ghost in our effectual calling, Heb 3:14; Song 2:16. This communion is either, 1. Of mutual interest in one another, and what belongs to each, Song 2:16; Isa 54:5; Zech 13:9; 1 Cor 3:22. 2. Of mutual communication one to another, John 1:14,16; Prov 23:16; Ps 55:22; 1 Pet 5:7. 3. Of mutual intercourse, Song 2:14; Song 8:13; Ps 50:15; Ps 91:15; Ps 85:8; Ps 118:28; Isa 58:9; Isa 65:24; Phil 4:6; Zech 13:9.—Thus, in virtue of union to, and communion with Christ, our relative and real state are completely changed in a moment. By his uniting himself to us as the Lord our righteousness, and the end of the law for righteousness, we obtain justification, and have our whole relation to the law as a broken covenant, binding on us, perfectly dissolved, Isa 45:24-25; Acts 13:38-39; Rom 3:21-22,24; Rom 6:14; Rom 7:4; Rom 8:1,4,33-34; Rom 10:4; Gal 4:4-5; Gal 3:13; Gal 2:16-20; 2 Cor 5:21. By his uniting himself to us as our everlasting Father and elder Brother, we obtain adoption, Isa 9:6; Heb 2:13; Gal 3:26; Rom 8:17; John 1:12; John 20:17; Jer 3:4,19. By his uniting himself, the only begotten Son of God made flesh, to us as a quickening Spirit, full of grace and truth, and made of God to us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, we obtain regeneration, new creation, spiritual resurrection, or renovation after the image of God, John 11:25; John 1:14,16; 1 Cor 15:45-49; 1 Cor 1:30; 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15; Eph 2:1,5,10; Col 2:11-13; Col 3:10-11.—In his whole work of convincing men's conscience, enlightening their mind, and renewing their will, the Holy Ghost forms men for receiving and resting upon Christ as offered in the gospel, in which he and his fulness are conveyed into their hearts, and hence they are no sooner apprehended and quickened by him, than their soul, upon God's own testimony and giving promise, believes God's report concerning him, receives him, and unites itself with him as offered in the gospel, John 16:9-12; Isa 55:1-7; John 6:37,44-45,63,65; John 7:37-38; 2 Cor 5:14-21; Acts 26:18; Jer 31:18; Phil 1:29; Phil 2:12-13.—By virtue of this union to, and communion with Christ, our spiritual condition is also gradually changed and perfected. By union to, and fellowship with him, as our quickening and sanctifying Head, we obtain our gradual sanctification of nature and life, 1 Cor 1:2; John 1:16; Acts 26:18; 2 Cor 3:18; Col 2:10,19; Eph 4:15-16.—By our union to, and fellowship with him, as the Lord our righteousness, mean of fellowship with the Father, and Treasury of all blessings, we obtain spiritual comfort, Heb 4:14-16; Heb 10:19-22; John 14-16; Isa 11:10; Isa 12:1-6; Phil 3:3; Phil 4:4; Rom 5:1-11. By union to, and fellowship with him, as the Conqueror of death, the risen and exalted Saviour, who hath all power in heaven and earth, we obtain our eternal glorification, Rev 1:18; Rev 14:13; Hos 13:14; Isa 25:8; Isa 60:19-20; Isa 26:19; John 14:2-3,19; John 17:24; Rom 8:1,11,17; Col 3:3-4; Rev 3:21.
Reflection. Have I indeed been called of God with this holy, this high and heavenly calling, and spiritually united to the all-precious Redeemer? Can I appeal to himself, that he is my Beloved, and I am his?—God forbid that I should profess, should preach a Jesus Christ, that is not my own. Let union with the Son of God, as effectually made unto me wisdom,righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption, be the root, the foundation of all my religion.—Am I indeed crucified with Christ, and yet live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me? And is the life which I live in the flesh, by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me?—O wonder! wonder! wonder!—an espousing God, and I the ugly, wicked, worthless bride!