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purity, honouring the Law more highly by his perfect observance of it than it was ever dishonoured by the transgressions of the whole race of man, our Lord closed his ministerial labours by offering himself up, a voluntary self-devoted sacrifice, for the sins of the world. The benefits of his death and passion extended as widely as the baneful effects of the fall had done1 and we are repeatedly told by the inspired writers, that he suffered for the sins of all men2. None are excluded from being partakers of these blessings. Every contrite sinner, every soul that wishes for salvation, is freely invited to approach to the throne of mercy, assured of a welcome reception through the all-sufficient merits of the Redeemer. Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy milk and wine without money and without price3!
But, although the redemption of mankind
11 Corin. xv. 22.
2 Heb. ii. 9. Coloss. i. 20. 1 Tim. ii. 4. 6.
3 Isaiah lv. 1.
be thus unlimited and universal; and although God willeth not the death of any sinner, but rather that all should turn unto him and repent: yet, by reason of the obstinate folly of the wicked, the gracious purposes of the Almighty fail to produce universal salvation. All day long, saith the Lord, have I stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people1. Enter ye in, saith our Saviour, at the strait gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it2. Hence it is evident, that many unhappy persons, whom the god of this world hath blinded, will either expressly reject, or carelessly neglect to avail themselves of, the benefits of Christ's death and passion. All those, who are infatuated with the pride of infidelity and who madly defy the living God, exclude themselves with a high hand from the pale of the
1 Rom. x. 21.
2 Matt. vii. 13.
Church: and all those, who, like the devils, believe and tremble; who acknowledge the divine authority of the Gospel, but are strangers to its influence; who live, to use the emphatic words of Scripture, without God in the world, dead in trespasses and sins; all these, if there be any truth in the plain declarations of our Lord and his Apostles, have no lot nor portion in the Son of God.
1. How happens it, then, that some receive the word with joy and bring forth fruit meet for repentance: while others either sullenly reject it, or remain alike uninfluenced by its threats and its promises? No man, saith our blessed Lord, can come unto me, except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him1. But in what manner doth the Father draw mankind unto himself, in order that they may not perish, but receive everlasting life? The Apostle informs us, that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost”.
1. It is, therefore, the peculiar office of
1 John vi. 44.
21 Corin. xii. 3.
the third person of the Trinity, to bring us unto Christ, and to induce us to accept the pardon which is freely offered unto all.
Here we see, that none can come unto Christ without being drawn by the gracious influence of the Spirit.
2. But many resist that influence to their own destruction: in a manner compelling God to declare, that his Spirit shall not always strive with man'; and forcing the merciful Saviour himself to complain, ye will not come unto me that ye may have life'.
Here we learn the true reason, why so many perish in their sins: they will not accept the salvation, which is offered to them in common with all mankind. God the Spirit draweth them indeed: but they obstinately refuse to follow him3.
1 Gen. vi. 3.
2 John v. 40.
3 I have endeavoured to state this difficult point in that manner, which to myself, at least, appears the most agreeable to Scripture. With the Calvinistic view of the subject I am by no means satisfied: but the Pelagian view of it is yet more exceptionable. [I. It
II. A considerable degree of prudence and caution is necessary in treating of the operations of the Holy Ghost; and the two ex
I. It is certain, that the free-will (that is, of course the moral, and the natural, free-will) which Adam possessed in his state of purity, was biassed or perverted at the fall, when he and all his posterity became inclined to evil; hence, as we are instructed by the Church, the condition of man after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself by his own natural strength and good works to faith and calling upon God: nevertheless it is no-where asserted in Scripture, that freedom of will is not equally repaired in all men by the preaching of the Gospel. Every expostulation of God with the wicked necessarily supposes, that he freely gives them an opportunity of repentance; and that their eternal condemnation is the result, not of an arbitrary decree, but of their deliberately choosing evil rather than good, and their obstinately refusing the assistance of the Holy Ghost, which is equally offered unto all men.
II. I am aware, that in reply a Calvinist will argue; If ALL have free-will equally repaired in them by the Spirit, if ALL are equally drawn by the Father; ALL must equally come unto Christ.
This, however, by no means follows, as we may sufficiently learn from the fall of our first parent. Adam possessed freewill by nature; and, without having the slightest bias to evil, was strongly drawn or inclined by the Spirit of God to that