« ПредишнаНапред »
be deficient, the heart is straitway seized with palpitations,
V. THAT WITHOUT FREE-WILL IN SPIRITUAL THINGS
483. It is generally acknowledged throughout the Christian world that the Word, is, in an extensive sense, the law, or is a book of laws for the regulation of man's life, that he may attain eternal life; and what is more frequently insisted on therein, than that he should do good, and not evil, and that he should believe in God, and not in idols? Moreover, the Word abounds with injunctions and exhortations to obedience, and with blessings and promises of rewards for those who practise its precepts, and with curses and threatenings against those who do not practise them:
but to what purpose would all this be, unless man had freewill in spiritual things, that is, in whatever regards salvation and eternal life? Surely, in such case, every divine declaration would be vain and useless; and supposing man to entertain this idea, that he had no power and no liberty in spiritual things, and consequently no power of will in relation to them, could the Holy Scripture, in such case, possibly appear to him in any other light, than as so much white paper, without a syllable of writing in it, or as paper entirely blotted over with ink, or as so many dots and points without letters, thus as an idle unmeaning volume? It would have been needless to produce any passages from the Word in proof of this position, had not the several churches at this day immersed themselves deeply into a void of empty speculations upon spiritual subjects, and in confirmation of such speculations, quoted some passages from the Word, and interpreted them falsely; but this being the case, it may be expedient to adduce a few particular passages, which insist on man's doing and believing. Let us take the following: "The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof," Matt. xxi. 43: "Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance; even now the axe is laid unto the root of the trees; every tree therefore, which bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewn down and cast into the fire," Luke iii. 8, 9: "Jesus said, why call ye Me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to Me, and heareth My sayings, and doeth them, is like unto a man that built his house upon a rock; but he that heareth and doeth not, is like a man that built a house upon the ground without a foundation," Luke vi. 46 to 49: "Jesus said, My mother and My brethren are these, which hear the Word of God, and do it," Luke viii. 21: "We know that God heareth not sinners, but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth His will, him He
heareth," John ix. 31: "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them," John xiii. 17: "He that hath My commandments, and doeth them, he it is that loveth Me, and I will love him," John xiv. 21: "Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit," John xv. 8: "Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you: I have chosen you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain," John xv. 14, 16: "Make the tree good and his fruit good, for the tree is known by his fruit," Matt. xii. 33: "Bring forth fruits worthy of repentance," Matt. iii. 12: "He that receiveth seed into the good ground, is he that heareth the Word, and also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth," Matt. xiii. 23: "And he that reapeth, receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto eternal life," John iv. 36: "Wash ye, make you clean, put away the evil of your doings, learn to do well," Isaiah i. 16, 17: "The Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father, and then He shall reward every man according to his works," Matt. xvi. 27: "They that have done good, shall come forth unto the resurrection of life," John v. 29: "Their works do follow them; and they were judged every man according to their works," Rev. xx. 12, 13: "Behold, I come quickly, and My reward with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be," Rev. xxii. 12: "According to our ways, and according to our dealings, so hath Jehovah dealt with us," Zech. i. 6. The Lord teacheth the same thing in His parables, the doctrine implied in several of which is, that such as do good are accepted, and such as do evil are rejected; as in the parable concerning the husband-men and the vineyard, Matt. xxi. 33 to 44; and in those concerning the talents and pounds to trade with, Matt. xxv. 14 to 31, Luke xix. 13 to 25. FAITH is inculcated in like manner, respecting which it is said, "He that believeth in Me, though he were dead yet shall he live, and he that liveth and believeth in Me, shall not die to eternity," John xi. 25, 26: "This is the will of
Him that sent Me, that every one that believeth on the Son should have eternal life," John vi. 40: "He that believeth in the Son hath eternal life, but he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the anger of God abideth on him," John iii. 36: "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, to the end that all that believe in Him should not perish, but have eternal life," John iii. 15, 16. And to conclude with the following: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and thy neighbour as thyself; on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets," Matt. xxii. 35 to 38. But these are only a very few passages of the number which might be adduced to the same purpose, and are as a few cups of water taken out of the body of the ocean. 484. Who doth not see the emptiness, not to say the folly, of the passages above quoted from the canonical book entitled FORMULA CONCORDIE, whilst he reads these, and other similar declarations, in the Word? Supposing the doctrine asserted in that book to be true, that man hath no free-will in spiritual things, would not a man naturally ask, "What then is religion, which consisteth in doing good, but an empty sound? And what is the church without religion, but like the bark about a piece of wood, which is of no use but to burn? And supposing, as it would thus appear, that the church is a non-entity, because religion is so, what then are heaven and hell, but fabulous devices invented by priests and prelates, in order to catch the ears of the vulgar, and raise themselves to superior honours and emoluments?" Hence are suggested those shocking sayings, so common in many men's mouths, "Who can do good of himself? Or who can acquire faith of himself?" the consequence of which, is that they become regardless of both, and live like pagans.
But do you, my friend, flee from evil, and do good, and believe in the Lord with your whole heart and your whole
soul, and the Lord will love you, and will give you love as a principle of action, and faith as a principle of belief, and then you will do good from love, and will believe from faith amounting to trust and confidence; and if you persevere in this course, reciprocal conjunction will be effected between you and the Lord, which will be rendered perpetual; and this is the essence of salvation and of eternal life. Supposing man not to employ the powers with which he is endowed, in doing good, and believing in the Lord, what is he but a wilderness and a desert, being in fact altogether like dry parched ground, which doth not imbibe the rain which falls upon it, but shoots it off again; or like a sandy plain, where there are sheep, but no pasture for them; or like a fountain, whose spring is dried up; or like water stagnated from the obstruction of its current; or like a country to dwell in, where no corn groweth, and where there is no water, from which unless a man instantly remove, and seek an abode in a more propitious soil, he must necessarily die with hunger
VI. THAT WITHOUT FREE-WILL IN SPIRITUAL THINGS MAN WOULD HAVE NOTHING WHICH COULD ENABLE HIM TO CONJOIN HIMSELF BY RECIPROCATION WITH THE LORD; AND CONSEQUENTLY THERE WOULD BE NO IMPUTATION, BUT MERE PREDESTINATION, WHICH
IS SHOCKING AND DETESTABLE.
485. That without free-will in spiritual things man would be incapable of receiving either charity or faith, and still more incapable of becoming a subject of their conjunction, was fully shewn in the chapter concerning faith; hence it follows, that without free-will in spiritual things he would not have any thing by which the Lord might conjoin Himself to him, and yet without reciprocal conjunction there can be no reformation and regeneration, and consequently no salvation. That without the reciprocal conjunction of man with the Lord, and of the Lord with man, there could be no such