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gospel saves us. Using the means of grace, therefore, and waiting upon God, are spiritual exercises, and have salvation plentifully connected with them in the bible. Every one that asketh, receiveth; and ke that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened. Many of our brethren who scruple to exhort sinners to things of a spiritual nature, will yet counsel them to watch at wisdom's gates, and wait at the posts of her doors; but these are as much spiritual exercises as believing in Christ. Those who watch daily at wisdom's gates, waiting at the posts of her doors, are blessed. They shall find him whom they seek; and finding him, they find life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord.* The language of wisdom is, I love them that love me, and they that seek me early shall find me.
'Tis true, in some instances, persons are spoken of, not according to what they do, but according to what they profess to do; and after this manner of speaking, hypocrites are said to seek the Lord, and to delight to know his ways, as a nation that did righteousness.t That is, they did those things which are the usual expressions of a delight in God, and a desire to seek his face, as if they had been a righteous people: but as to the things themselves, they are, strictly speaking, spiritual exercises, and are constantly so to be understood throughout the bible. That manner of seeking God which is practised by hypocrites, will hardly be pretended to be the duty
* Luke xi. 10. Proy. viii. 34, 35.
+ Isai. lviii. 2.
of inen in general; and, except in those cases, neither seeking God's face, nor waiting upon him, I believe, are ever used in the scripture for such an attendance on God's worship as a man may practise and perish 'notwithstanding: it is certain, however, this cannot be said of a “ diligently waiting, and seeking of spie ritual blessings." To use our external hearing and sight that we may attain to a spiritual hearing and understanding of divine things, is not “ WITHIN THE COMPASS OF A NATURAL MAN."
The end of every action determines its nature; to read and hear, therefore, with a true desire that we may attain to a spiri. tual hearing and understanding, are themselves spiritual exercises. In this matter I entirely coincide with Mr. Brine, that “no unsanctified heart will ever pray to God for grace and holiness; but that this is men's dreadful sin, and justly exposes them unto direful vengeance."*
If to this should be objected the words of our Lord, that “many will seek to enter in, and shall not be able"-I answer, what is there spoken respects not the present state; but the period when the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door.t
The case of the man waiting at the pool of Bethesda has often been applied to that of an unconverted sinner attending the preaching of the gospel; but let it be closely considered whether such an application of the passage be warrantable from the tenor of
* Motives to Love and Unity, p. 36, 37, Luke xiii, 24, 25.
scripture; and whether the characters to whom it is thus applied are not hereby cherished in a thought with which they are too apt to flatter themselves, viz. that for their parts, their hearts are so good, that they would fain repent and be converted, but cannot, because God is not pleased to bestow these blessings
them. No one can imagine that I wish to discourage people from reading or hearing the word of God. God's ordinances are the means by which he ordinarily works; and whatever be their motives; I rejoice to see people give them an attendance. At the same time, I think we should be careful lest we cherish in them an opinion, that, when they have done this, they are under no farther obligations. By so doing, we shall furnish them with an unwarrantable consolation, and contribute to shield them against the arrows of conviction.
PARTICULAR REDEMPTION. I had said, “If it were essential to true saving faith to claim a personal interest in Christ's death, the objection would be unanswerable.' Mr. B. replies, “ But he who has faith, has a personal interest, whether he can claim it or not, therefore the objection is equally unanswerable on this ground; for it is making it the duty of all to have that which is an undoubted evidence of a personal interest, whether they have that interest or not, which appears to me very absurd and ridiculous." (90.) Perhaps so, but if the same spiritual dispositions which are bestowed by the gospel are required by the law, which Mr. B. hath scarcely attempted to
disprove, though he has said so much about it, there can be nothing absurd or ridiculous in it.
The matter entirely rests upon the solution of this question, Does THE SCRIPTURE REPRESENT ANY THING AS THE DUTY OF MANKIND IN GENERAL, WITH WHICH ETERNAL HAPPINESS IS CONNECTED? I only wish Mr. B. had fairly tried the matter by this criterion, and had been willing to be decided by the issue. There is scarcely a truth in the sacred scriptures capable of a clearer demonstration. This was the ground which Mr. B. declined in his Xth Letter, p. 70. In addition to what was said from p. 84 to 96 of my former treatise, I shall now only add as follows
I hope Mr. B. will allow that every man ought to love God's law-do his commandments-do righteouzness—be of a meek, lowly, pure, and merciful spiritand bear so much good will, surely, to Christ, as to give a disciple a cup of cold water for his sake-at least he must allow, he does allow, that men ought not to be offended in him; for he himself confesses, " they ought not to despise if they cannot embrace him.” (96.) And yet these are all evidences of an interest in Christ and eternal blessedness. *
Mr. B. farther objects that I“ make faith warrantable and incumbent where there is an impossibility." (90.) Well, whenever Mr. B. can find a man, or a. body of men, whose salvation he can be assured is
* Psal. cxix. 165. Rev. xxii. 14. 1 John ü. 29. Mark ix. 41. Matt. xi. 6.
Mat. v. 3.9.
impossible, he is welcome, from me, to assure them they have no warrant, and are under no obligation to believe in Christ. In some sense, the salvation of every sinner is possible: as no one knows what will be his own end, every man, while in the land of the living, is in the field of hope. And that is all I meant by possibility, in pages 133. 134. Mr. B. allows that " inasmuch at we know nut who are, and who are not the elect, it is the duty of every one, where the gospel of salvation comes, to be concerned, seek, enquire, &c.” (88.) But What solid reason can be given for the consistency of this, that will not equally apply to the other? If it be said, “ these are things expressly commanded;" I answer, this is allowing that if faith in Christ is expressly commanded, it may be consistent with the subject in question, which is giving up the point.
But farther, though I admit that the salvation of some men is impossible; it is certain that they will perish; yet I conceive it is not such a kind of impossibility as to render exhortations to believe in Christ inconsistent. It is no otherwise impossible for them to be saved, than it was for Sihon, king of the Amorites, to have enjoyed the blessings of a peace with Israel. If there is an infinite worth and fulness in the sufferings of Christ in themselves considered if the particularity of redemption does not consist in any want of sufficiency in the death of Christ; but in God's sovereign purpose to render it effectual to the salvation of some men, and not of others; and in Christ's being the covenant-head and representative