Графични страници
PDF файл

therefore is a means of salvation, as charity and faith are means of regeneration. It is a vanity of vanities to suppose that regeneration follows as a necessary consequence of the faith now prevalent in the church, which excludes the co-operation of man. Action and co-operation, such as were described above, are apparent in every thing that hath any activity and power of motion: the action and co-operation of the heart and the whole of its arterial system, are of this kind; the heart acts, and the artery, by its coverings and coats, co-operates, in this manner producing the circulation of the blood. The case is similar with respect to the lungs and the air; the air acts by its weight according to the height of its atmosphere, and at first the ribs with the lungs co-operate, and presently afterwards the lungs with the ribs; hence the action of respiration is communicated to every membrane of the body: it is thus that the meninges of the brain, the pleura, the peritonæum, the diaphragm, and the other membranes which cover the viscera, and those which inwardly compose them, act and are acted upon, and so co-operate, for they are in their natures elastic, deriving hence their existence and subsistence. The case is the same in every fibre and nerve, in every muscle, and even in every cartilage, in each, of which as is well known, there are action and co-operation. Such co-operation exists too in all the senses, for the sensories, like the bodily organs of motion, consist of fibres, membranes, and muscles; but to describe the particular co-operation of each would be needless; for it is well known that light acts on the eye, sound on the ear, odour on the nostril, and flavour on the tongue, and that the organs adapt themselves to such action, and thence derive sensation. How plain is it to perceive from hence, that unless there were in the spiritual organism of the brain such action and co-operation with the influent life, it would be impossible for thought and will to exist! for life from the Lord entereth by influx

into that organism, and as this on its part co-operates, all that is thought, weighed, concluded, and determined to be done, is made perceptible. Supposing life alone to act, and man not to co-operate as of himself, he would be no more capable of thinking than a stock or a stone, or than a church is, whilst the minister is preaching in it, which may indeed, by the repercussion of the voice from its doors, repeat the words like an echo, but can never be made sensible of the matter of the discourse: in such a state would man be, in respect to charity and faith, unless he co-operated with the Lord.

578. The state and condition of man, supposing him not to co-operate with the Lord, may also be illustrated by the following comparisons: the spiritual things of heaven and the church would in such a case excite in him the same perceptions and sensations, as some discordant or disagreeable object, affecting him for instance as a stench does his nose, dissonance his ear, deformity his eye, and a nasty taste his tongue: supposing the delight of charity and the pleasantness of faith to enter by influx into the spiritual organism of their minds who are in the delight of evil and the false, they would be tortured and tormented by the intrusion, and at length would fall into a swoon; for the organism of the mind of such persons, by reason of the continual spiral foldings and windings of which it consisteth, would twist and writhe itself during the heavenly influx, and would be tortured like a serpent on a bed of ants. That this is really the case, hath been proved to me by abundant experience in the spiritual world.



579. To understand this proposition more clearly, it may be expedient to premise something on the subject of redemption. The Lord came into the world principally for these

two purposes, to remove hell from angels and men, and to glorify His humanity; for before the Lord's coming, hell had encreased from beneath to such a height, as to infest the angels of heaven, and also by its interposition between heaven and the world, to intercept the Lord's communication with men on earth, in consequence of which no divine truth or good could pass from the Lord to mankind. Hence a. total destruction and damnation threatened the whole human race, nor could the angels of heaven have subsisted long in their integrity. To remove hell therefore, and so to avert the impending damnation, the Lord came into the world, and did remove it, and subdued it, and thus opened heaven, so that He might afterwards be present with men on earth, and save such as live according to His commandments, consequently regenerate them, for they are saved who are regenerated. Thus the truth of the proposition is intelligible, that all have a capacity of being regenerated, because all are redeemed: and as regeneration and salvation are one thing, it is alike true, that all have a capacity of being saved. The doctrine therefore which the church maintains, that unless the Lord had come into the world no one could have been saved, is to be understood in this sense, that unless the Lord had come into the world no one could have been regenerated. With respect to the other end for which the Lord came into the world, namely, to glorify His humanity, it was grounded in this circumstance, that He was thus made a Redeemer, Regenerator, and Saviour to eternity; for it is not to be supposed, that by the redemption once wrought in the world, all from that time were redeemed, but that He is continually redeeming those who believe on Him, and practise His precepts. More however may be seen on these subjects in the chapter on redemption.

580. The reason why it is said that every one hath a capacity of being regenerated according to his state, is,

because a difference of persons and circumstances causes a difference in respect to regeneration: the learned and the unlearned, for instance, are regenerated in a different manner, and by different processes; the same is true of persons engaged in different studies and employments; and of such also as confine their researches to the externals of the Word, and such as extend them to its internals: there is a difference between those who receive from their parents good natural dispositions, and those who receive bad; and likewise in respect to those who from their infancy have plunged themselves into the vanities of the world, and those who have sooner or later separated themselves from them in short there is a difference between such as constitute the external church of the Lord, and those who constitute the internal: the variety is infinite, like that of the faces and dispositions of mankind; but still every one hath a capacity of being regenerated and saved according to his state. That this is the case, may appear evident from this circumstance, that the heavens, into which all the regenerate are received, are three in number, the highest, the middle, and the last; into the highest they are received who by regeneration are become receptive of love to the Lord; into the middle, they who are receptive of love towards their neighbour; and into the last, they who live only in the practice of external charity, and at the same time acknowledge the Lord as God the Redeemer and Saviour. All these different descriptions of men are saved, but yet after a different manner, and according to a different process. The reason why all have a capacity of being regenerated, and thus saved, is, because the Lord, with His divine good and truth, is present with every man ; from this presence is the life of each, and hence also the faculty of understanding and willing, together with freedom of determination in spiritual concerns: these gifts are denied to no one: there are also means supplied, leading to the right use of these gifts; among Christians this supply of means is to be found in

the Word, and among gentiles in the particular religion of each country, which teaches the being of a God, and enforceth precepts respecting good and evil. From what hath been said, it plainly follows, that every one has a capacity of being saved, so that if he is not saved, man, and not the Lord, is in fault, and his fault consists in this, that he does not co-operate.

581. That redemption and the passion of the cross are two distinct things, which ought by no means to be confounded together, and that the Lord, by both, assumed the power of regenerating and saving mankind, was shewn in the chapter on REDEMPTION. From the prevailing faith of the present church, that the passion of the cross constitutes the sum and substance of redemption, have arisen legions of horrible falsities respecting God, faith, charity and other subjects connected in a regular chain with those three, and dependent on them; as for instance respecting God, that he passed sentence of condemnation on all the human race, and was willing to be brought back to mercy, in consequence of that condemnation being laid on His Son, or taken by the Son upon Himself, and that they alone are saved who are gifted with the merit of Christ either by the divine fore-knowledge, or predestination: this fallacy has given birth also to another tenet belonging to that faith, that all such as are gifted with that faith are instantly regenerated without any regard to their own co-operation, nay, that they are thus delivered from the curse of the law, being no longer under the law, but under grace; and this notwithstanding the Lord's declaration, "that he would not take away one jot or tittle of the law," Matt. v. 18, 19, Luke xvi. 17, and His command to His disciples to preach repentance, for the remission of sins, Luke xxiv. 47, Mark vi. 12; and His express words" The kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye and believe the Gospel," Mark 1. 15: by the Gospel is meant, that they had the power to be regenerated, and thus saved, which power they could not have had

« ПредишнаНапред »