Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

Note x. The following, &c.'? To this quotation from Bp. Hooper, the blessed Reformer and Martyr, no sober-minded Calvinist will hesitate to give his full and cordial consent. · P. xviii. I. 5. "There is not &c.'' The meaning annexed to the word supernatural is the only point to be settled in this passage. If it mean miras culous, in the common acceptation of the word; the assertion may be admitted : if it signify compulsory, so as to exclude free agency, and voluntary concurřence, it is certainly true. But supernatural properly means what is above nature, and to which nature, left to its unassisted powers, could not attain : and, in this sense of the word, we boldly maintain, that no man, in any age or nation, ever believed the gospel, with a living and saving faith, working by love, without a supernatural power exerted on his mind. Is there nothing above, or beyond man's fallen nature, in the drawing and teaching of God before

" The following is the comment of Bishop Hooper, one of our • Reformers and Martyrs, upon this text :' “ No man cometh unto “ me, except my Father draw him.” “Many understand these “words in a wrong sense, as if God required no more in a reason4 able man, than in a dead post, and mark not the words which “ follow: • Every man that heareth, and learneth of my Father,

cometh unto me.' " God draweth with his word and the Holy “ Ghost, but man's duty is to hear and learn; that is to say, to "receive the grace offered, consent to the promise, and not to “impugn the God that calleth."

2 " There is not a single passage in the New Testament, which • leads us to suppose, that any supernatural power was exerted over • the minds of ordinary hearers; and therefore we are authorized to

attribute their faith to the voluntary exercise of their reason.'

[ocr errors]

inentioned? Is there nothing of this implied, when it is said, “ The hand of the Lord was with them, ot and a great number believed, and was turned to 6 the Lord ?” Or when it is said of Lydia, “ Whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended “ unto the things which were spoken of Paul ?” Or in the words of the apostle, “I have planted, " Apollos watered; but God gave the increase?”3 Or in those of St. James, “ Of his own will begat “ he us by the word of truth, &c?"

Indeed, every time the apostle thanked God for the success of the gospel, in the conversion of his hearers, he evidently ascribed that event to a supernatural power giving efficacy to the word of truth: unless he used this language in the same formal and unmeaning manner, as the Pharisee at the temple said, “ God I thank thee, that I am not as other “men are, &c."4 But let the reader compare with this, the passages referred to.

When St. Paul says, We “ were by nature chil. “ dren of wrath even as others: but God, who is “ rich in mercy, for his great love, wherewith he “ loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath “ quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised « us up together:" does this imply nothing supernatural do He had before said, “ What is the ex-, “ ceeding greatness of his power to usward who “ believe, according to the working of his mighty

02.

.: Acts xi. 21. 2 Acts xvi. 14. '3 1 Cor. iii. 6. 4 Luke xviii. 11. s Eph. i. 15, 16. 1 Thes, i. 2-5. iii. 9. 2 Thes., i. 3. Eph. ii. 3—6.

< power, which he wrought in Christ, when he “ raised him from the dead :"! and he, in the passage above quoted, returns to the illustration of the divine power, exerted in his conversion, and in that of the Ephesians. But probably his Lordship only meant, compulsory, by supernatural : and faith is certainly a voluntary exercise of our rational faculties: yet a power far beyond nature, must be employed, to render proud, worldly, ungodly men, willing to use their faculties in this manner. .

P. xviii. 1. 18. . Why should they not be competent, by the use of their natural faculties, to understand, that Jesus was the promised Messiah?' Because their minds were blinded by prejudices, and corrupt passions. “ How can ye believe, who re“ ceive honour one of another, and seek not the " honour that cometh from God only?"2 Indeed, if merely understanding that Jesus was the promised Messiah, were the living and saving faith, which the gospel requires ; numbers, in the days of our Lord, and in every subsequent age, have thus believed without special grace. But his Lordship elsewhere repeatedly allows the distinction, between this dead faith, and that living faith which “worketh “ by love.” The miracles and discourses of our Lord were the means, used in bringing men to believe in him; but the drawing and teaching of God were in every case the efficacious cause of true faith, as he himself hath expressly testified: “ No

3 John ii. 22–25. vi.

* Eph, i. 19, 20. . 2 John v. 44. 14, 15. 65, 66. xii. 41, 42.

man can come unto me, except the Father which " hath sent me draw him, and I'will raise him up at 6 the last day. It is written in the prophets, and they 6 shall be all taught of God, every man therefore “ who hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, « cometh unto me."-" Therefore said I unto you, " that no man can come unto me, except it were “ given unto him of my Father.”

P. xx. l. 1. 'A sincere, &c.'? This is the undoubted import of the words of our Lord :3 but it determines nothing concerning the source of this • sincere disposition,' whether from fallen nature, or from the special grace of God.

P. xx. 1.7. No labour of research, &c. "A sincere disposition to obey the divine will' must include a sincere desire of becoming acquainted with it: and how can this be manifested except by the slabour of research?' If a Calvinist had incautiously dropped such a word, from his lips or pen : many would have said, that he expected the knowledge of the doctrine, without the labour of searching the scriptures, and diligently using the proper means of obtaining that knowledge; supposing that he should receive it, in consequence of a divine decree, by some vision or new revelation, according to the presumptuous hopes of enthusiasts. But we re

· John vi. 44, 45. 65. 2 'A sincere disposition to obey the Divine will was therefore

all that was necessary, to enable a person to judge whether the .. doctrine preached by Christ was the invention of man or a reye. "lation from God.

3 John vii. 17.

. member, that he, who said, “ He shall know of “ the doctrine, &c;" said also, “ Search the scrip“ tures ; for in them ye think ye have eternal life, “ and they are they which testify of me:" and also the instructions of Solomon : “My son, if thou “ wilt receive my words, and hide my command“ ments with thee į so that thou incline thine ear “ unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understand« ing: yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and “ liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou “ seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for * hid treasures : then shall thou understand the feaf, “ of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God, for “ the LORD giveth wisdom."2 We do not expect to know the will, or truth of God, without the • labour of research or without fervent constant prayer, to be enabled to understand, believe, and obey the word of God. Thus the Bereans “received * the word with all readiness of mind, and searched in “ the scriptures daily, whether those things were so ; “ therefore many of them believed."*3

P. xx. 1. 16. "These men;4 however reluctantly, believed that Jesus was the Messiah, although their ' faith did not produce a suitable conduct.'-The sufficiency even of our fallen nature, to yield to unanswerable evidence, and reluctantly to believe, without loving or obeying, few Calvinists would deny. But this dead and worthless faith, of which even devils are capable, is distant, toto cælo, from the

3 Acts xvii. 11, 12

"John v. 39. ? Prov. ii. 16. 4 John xii. 42, 43.

« PoprzedniaDalej »