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5. Obligation, Free-agency, and Accountability of Man.

The obligation of intelligent beings to obey God is founded on his rights as Creator; on his perfect character, worthy of all love; on the holiness, justice, and goodness of his law; and on the intellectual and moral faculties which he has given his subjects, commensurate with his requirements.

"God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty, that it is neither forced, nor by any absolute necessity of nature determined to good or evil."*

Man having been corrupted by the fall, sins voluntarily, not with reluctance or constraint; with the strongest propensity of disposition, not with violent co rcion; with the bias of his own passions, not with external compulsion.†

"By the fall, however, man does not cease to be man, endowed with intellect and will; neither hath sin, which has pervaded the whole human race, taken away the nature of the human species, but it hath depraved and spiritually stained it."‡ "The moral law doth forever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof.- -Neither doth Christ in the Gospel any way dissolve, but much strengthen this obligation."

6. Atonement.

An atonement for sin was indispensable to reconcile the exercise of mercy with the maintenance of law; and such an atonement was made by Christ's dying for us. "This death

of the Son of God is a single and most perfect sacrifice and satisfaction for sins; of infinite value and price; and abundantly sufficient to expiate the sins of the whole world." On the ground of this all-sufficient atonement, the universal offer of salvation is authorized and made, and the command to accept it given; and "the promise of the Gospel, that whosoever believeth in Christ crucified, shall not perish, but have everlasting life, ought to be announced and proposed promiscuously and indiscriminately, to all nations and men, to whom God in his good pleasure hath sent the gospel, with the command to repent and believe." "But as many who are called by the Gos

Confession of Faith, Chap. ix. Sec. 1.
Synod of Dort, Chap. iii. and iv. Sec. 16.
Confession of Faith, Chap. xix. Sec. 5.

† Calvin.

pel do not repent and believe in Christ, but perish in unbelief, this doth not arise from defect or insufficiency of the sacrifice offered by Christ, but from their own fault."*

7. Regeneration.

Regeneration is not to be regarded as the creation of any new natural faculty or capacity of the soul, without which obedience is a natural impossibility; but as a special act of the Spirit of God, whereby he "maketh the reading, but especially the preaching of the word, an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners;" or that "work of God's Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our will, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the Gospel." But this persuasion of the Holy Spirit in effectual calling is not that moral suasion of man's exerting, or sufficient grace of God's giving, whose efficacy turns on the will of the sinner, and not on the energetic and transforming influence of the Holy Spirit,-" as the Pelagians do vainly talk;" nor is it of a kind, which, when exerted, the sinner by his free will ever does resist; "but it is manifestly an operation supernatural, at the same time most powerful ‍and most sweet, wonderful, secret, and ineffable in its power, according to the Scripture not less than, or inferior to, creation, or the resurrection of the dead: so that all those, in whose hearts God works in this admirable manner, are certainly, infallibly, and efficaciously regenerated, and in fact believe. And thus their will, being now renewed, is not only influenced and moved by God, but being acted on by God, itself acts and moves. Wherefore the man himself, through this grace received, is rightly said to believe and repent."

"This divine grace in regeneration does not act upon men like stocks and trees, nor take away the properties of their will, or violently compel it while unwilling; but it spiritually quickens, heals, corrects, and sweetly, and at the same time powerfully inclines it so that whereas before it was wholly governed by the rebellion and resistance of the flesh, now prompt and sincere obedience of the spirit may begin to reign; in which

* Synod of Dort, Chap. ii. Sect. 3, 5, 6.

† Assembly's Shorter Catechism, Ans. 89.

Ibid. Ans. 31.

§ Articles of the Synod of Dort, Chap. iii. and iv. Sec. 12.

the renewal of our spiritual will and our liberty truly consist. And unless the admirable Author of all good should thus work in us, there could be no hope to man of rising from the fall by that free will, by which, when standing, he fell into ruin." "But in the same manner as the omnipotent operation of God, whereby he produces and supports our natural life, doth not exclude, but require the use of means, by which God, in his infinite wisdom and goodness, sees fit to exercise this his power; so this fore-mentioned supernatural power of God, by which he regenerates us, in no wise excludes, or sets aside the use of the Gospel, which the most wise God hath ordained as the seed of regeneration and the food of the soul. For grace is conferred through admonitions; and the more promptly we do our duty, the more illustrious the benefit of God who worketh in us, is wont to be, and the most rightly doth his work proceed. To whom alone, all the glory, both of the means, and their beneficial fruits and efficacy, is due for everlasting. Amen."*

The dependence of man, as a sinner, on the Holy Spirit, is so real, universal and absolute, that no human being ever was, or ever will be saved without special grace. The natural ability which avails to create obligation, and to bring on the disobedient a just condemnation, never avails, either alone, or by any power of truth, or help of man, to recover a sinner from alienation to evangelical obedience,-because of the inflexible bias of his will to evil. The necessity of the regenerating influence of the Spirit lies wholly in the sinfulness of man's heart, or the obstinate obliquity of his will, which overrules and perverts his free-agency only to purposes of evil. "We are oppressed with a yoke," says Calvin, "but no other than that of voluntary servitude. Therefore our servitude renders us miserable, and our will renders us inexcusable." It is the same impotency of the will to good, and slavery to evil, of which Luther speaks, and all who follow him. An obstinate will demands as really and certainly the interposition of special divine influence, as if the inability were natural, though the difference in respect to obligation and guilt and deserved punishment is infinite.

8. Election.

All the subjects of God's special renewing grace were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, that they should

* Synod of Dort, Chap. iii. and iv. Sec. 16, 17.

be holy and without blame before him in love, to the praise of the glory of his grace; not on principles of law as meriting this favor, and not on the ground of repentance, faith, or good works foreseen; and yet not without a wise reference to the effect of this discriminating grace to corroborate the law, to deter from sin, and promote evangelical obedience.

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9. Perseverance.

All who have been renewed by the Holy Spirit, and have truly accepted of Jesus Christ, as he is offered in the Gospel, will persevere in holiness to the end and be saved; not because the falling away of a saint, if left to himself, would be impossible; but because the unchangeable love, and purpose, and promise of God, the power and faithfulness of Christ, and the agency of the Spirit, all make it certain that he who believeth shall be saved." *

10. Justification.

Justification includes the forgiveness of sin, and the restoration of the offender to the protection and privileges of an obedient subject. The meritorious ground of justification is the atoning death and righteousness of Christ. And this, by God's appointment, is set to our account, and becomes available to our salvation, when it is received and relied upon by faith.

11. Good Works.

Good works can never be the meritorious cause of our justification, like the obedience and death of Christ; nor the instrumental cause, like faith; and yet they are a part of that obedience which is due to God, the unfailing effect of faith, and indispensable as the fruit and evidence of repentance, and as the means of adorning the profession of the Gospel, glorifying God, and stopping the mouths of gainsayers.

"Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands, and of good use both to themselves and others; yet because they proceed not from a heart purified by faith, nor are done in a right manner, according to the word, nor to a right end, the glory of God; they are therefore sinful, and cannot please God, or make

*See Synod of Dort.

a man meet to receive grace from God;" nor can they be lawfully proposed as a substitute for immediate repentance, or as a sort of minor obedience as good as the sinner can render, and as having a promise of special grace to help out their deficiency.

12. Future State.

"God hath appointed a day, wherein he will judge the world in righteousness by Jesus Christ, to whom all power and judgment is given of the Father; in which day, not only the apostate angels shall be judged, but likewise all persons, that have lived upon earth, shall appear before the tribunal of Christ, to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds; and to receive according to what they have done in the body, whether good or evil."+

On the basis of the preceding doctrines it is believed that biblical scholars generally, and the ministers of the different evangelical churches in our country, may agree to coöperate in the illustration and defence of the christian system. Such a cooperation, the editor is assured, is earnestly desired by many. To encourage an endeavor so worthy, and of so high promise of usefulness, a portion of the Repository will hereafter be devoted to discussions pertaining to these subjects.

Intimately connected with theological discussion, as interesting to the same classes of readers, is the consideration of the various forms of associated action for the spread of the gospel and the promotion of christian morals. The present is not only an age of light and knowledge, but of benevolent action. It is now generally conceded by Christians that all who are partakers of the gospel are bound to extend its blessings to others. The Scriptures are understood to impose upon the church, by which we mean the whole body of professing Christians, the solemn duty of communicating the means of salvation to the whole world. And each individual Christian is bound to sustain his share of the common responsibility. It becomes therefore an intensely interesting question, for each individual to decide for himself, in what manner he may best exert his agen

* Confession of Faith, Chap. xvi. Sec. 7.

Ibid. Chap. xxxiii. Sec. 1.

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