The true State and Character of the Unregenerate, stripped of all Misrepresentation and Disguise:

A REPLY, To Mr. Mills's Inquiry concerning the State of the Unregenerate under the Gospel: Containing Remarks on Mr. Hopkins's Section on the Use of Means.





THERE are many who have, by some means or other, such an aversion to all controversy and disputes about matters of religion, and look on them to be so dangerous and hurtful, that they take the utmost care to keep at the greatest distance from every thing of this kind; and are constantly cautioning others against it, and refusing to enter into any debate with them; unless perhaps they will dispute a little against disputing. These cannot hear of a public controversy, or, as many of them call it, a paper war, about any thing that relates to religion, without great disgust, and expressing their sorrow that there should be any such thing, especial [...]y between the ministers of the gospel. And doubtless many have expressed their displea­sure and grief at the controversy which has taken place between Mr. Mills and me; and have determined, for their part, not to concern themselves with it, so much as to read what is wrote.

Many of these are so modest as to say they do not pretend to be competent judges of such controverted points, which great and good men are not able to agree in, and settle. Besides, they have no time to spend upon these thorny dis­putes: They think they can be better employed in reading plain, practical divinity.

If any of these should venture so near so large a book of controversy as is the ensuing, as to look into the preface, they may be desired to consider the following things.

Whether they are not neglecting that attention, and free and earnest inquiry after the truth, without which they are like to live and die, in a great degree of ignorance. And whether they are not depriving themselves of the benefit of one special mean and advantage of improving in know­ledge. And whether, at bottom, this neglect does not [Page ii] proceed from a degree of self-sufficiency, and from an indifference concerning matters of high importance to be known.

Whether it is not the most likely, yea, the only way they can take to know o [...] how much importance any controverted point is to them, and to be able to judge on which side the truth lies, carefully to read the whole controversy.

If any persons are not competent judges in there things, is it not their own fault for which they have no reasonable excuse? And must they not be able to judge for them­selves concerning every truth, in order that it may be of any benefit to them? In this view, is there any real mo­desty and humility in their neglecting to take all possible pains to be able to judge for themselves, in matters in which none can judge for them, merely because others who have had a reputation for learning and wisdom have differed concerning them; especially since these things which are hid from the wise and prudent, are some times revealed unto babes?

Finally, whether the truth would not greatly suffer, and gross ignorance universally prevail, if every one should take the same care to avoid all disputes as they do?

When we consider of what advantage controversy has already been to truth, and what a tendency it has, in the issue to establish it, and make it shine more clearly than if no such controversy had arose; we shall have reason to conclude it is GOD'S design that every important truth shall be in this way canvassed, and disputed out, as the best way to have it established to the greatest advantage: And that this is one end He designs to answer by suffering heresies to arise, and almost every truth, in its turn, to be called in question and opposed. In this view, disputes are so far from being hurtful, and matter of grief, that when they rise high, and become very common, and gain atten­tion of all, there is ground of encouragement and comfort.

It is to be lamented indeed, that in many instances con­troversy has been so poorly managed, by which truth has appeared very much to suffer: But even in this case, the debate has often been not wholly useless.

[Page iii]The author is sorry that the side he has taken in the con­troversy before us, has not a more able advocate to defend it, as he doubts not it is capable of a much better defence than he has made. And he is particularly sensible there are many defects in his style, which will be discerned by the reader of a critical taste; and will call for his candor.

The author thinks he has a claim, on the part of justice, to the attention of all those who have read Mr. Mills: especially of those who in reading him have concluded the author has run into very great and hurtful errors. If they have so peremptorily prejudged, as not to be willing to hear the accused speak in his own vindication, he thinks he shall have reason to complain: Not to mention the injury such men hereby do to themselves, and to the cause of truth.

It is needless to tell with what very good views and designs, and from what excellent, noble motives the author has undertaken this reply; as this would be no great evi­dence in his favour, if any; and it is of very little impor­tance to the reader: his chief concern being to know whe­ther the author has well vindicated the cause he has under­taken, whatever were his motives.

If the author & the reader shall be found on the right side of the question, and to have taken the pains of writing and reading the ensuing reply, from love to Christ, and zeal in his cause; they will be richly rewarded for all their labour, and numbered among those who follow Christ when he rides forth conquering and to conquer: And will soon have a happy meeting, and stand before the throne, and before the LAMB, clothed it white robes, and palms in their hands; where perfect agreement in sentiment, and the most exalted friendship and union of hearts shall reign forever, to the praise of rich, sovereign grace, and honor of the divine, infinitely worthy Redeemer. To HIM be glory forever and ever. AMEN.

March 23, 1769.




IN which the following question is considered, viz. Whether the unregenerate, when under genuine, thorough awakenings and convictions, are more guilty and vile in God's sight, than they were in a state of ignorance and security?

SECT. I. The question particularly stated.

SECT. II. The true state and character of the unregenerate sinner under awakenings and convictions, considered and stated, in opposition to the character Mr. Mills gives of such.

SECT. III. Arguments for the affirmative of the question in dispute.

SECT. IV. The way Mr. Mills takes to evade several passages of scripture, which were referred to in support of what he opposes, examined.

SECT. V. In which several things which Mr. M. says in favour of the negative, are examined.

SECT. VI. In which Mr. Mills's four arguments to prove the ne­gative, are considered and refuted.

SECT. VII. In which what Mr. M. has said on several other pas­sages in the book he remarks upon, is examined.

SECT. VIII. In which it is considered, whether the doctrine that the awakened, convinced sinner is more guilty and vile in the constant and painful attendance on the means of grace, than when he was in a state of security and open profligacy, is an encouragement to sinners to abandon themselves to carelessness and vice; or any matter of dis­couragement to attend on means?


Wherein, it is inquired, Whether God has given any commands to unregenerate sinners, which they do truly comply with, and may per­fectly obey, while unregenerate?

SECT. I. The question particularly stated; and arguments offered to prove the negative

SECT. II. Mr. Mills's arguments for the affirmative examined.

SECT. III. In which several passages in Mr. Mills's book are at­tended to, which have not been particularly considered in the former sections.

SECT. IV. Mr. Mills's inconsistencies with himself.

SECT. V. Shewing the evil tendency of Mr. Mills's inquiry.

SECT. VI. In which Mr. Mills's speaking against metaphysical reasoning and arguments is briefly considered.



IN which the following question is considered, viz. Whether the unregenerate, when under genuine, thorough awakenings and convictions, are more guilty and vile in God's sight, than they were in a state of ignorance and security?


THE question particularly stated.

Mr. MILLS has expressed what he says I have asserted, and what he undertakes to oppose and confute; in the following proposition.

‘That on every rising degree of internal light, awakening, conviction and amendment of life, found in any of the unregenerate, while such, they are undoubtedly (on the whole) more vile, odious and abominable in God's sight, than they would have been, had they continued at ease, going on in their sins, under the same external means of light.*

I would observe, in the first place, that this proposition seems hardly intelligible. If by "every rising degree of amendment of life," he means every degree of reformation of life, I see not the connexion this has with "every rising degree of internal light, awakening and con­viction," as it stands in the proposition. Amendment of life may take place, and often does, without any internal light and conviction at all. It often does so by the alteration of a person's external circumstances; by the removal of the temptation which led to external wickedness; or by a perswasion that such a conduct is hurtful to his worldly interest, &c. And there may be a degree of awakening and conviction of con­science, without producing any reformation of life. And where amendment of life does take place in consequence of internal light, &c. [Page 2] the former does not always keep pace exactly with the latter. A small degree of internal light and conviction of conscience, will often produce a full amendment of life; and after this is effected, and the person is quite reformed in his external conduct, this internal light and convic­tion may yet increase, and rise immensely higher than that degree which was sufficient for the amendment of life.

Therefore I say, in the next place, the proposition is not a true re­presentation of what I have advanced in my section on means. Where I speak of the light and conviction of conscience which the awakened sinner, has preparatory to regeneration and conversion, I no where con­fine it to the lowest degree of this kind, which ever takes place in the mind of a sinner; nor to that degree which is barely sufficient for his external reformation. This is not the conviction of which I speak: I speak of an immensely higher and greater degree of knowledge and conviction than that which is sufficient for this. Mr. M. himself takes special notice of this, in the following words, which stand not six lines from the proposition I am considering. ‘Nor are the convictions of awakened sinners here spoken of under any restriction or limitation, but whatever be the degree, 'tho' under the greatest convictions of conscience, and the most concern about their souls,' &c. The au­thor indeed begins with what he calls instruction, explained by speculative knowledge, and then adds what he terms more than speculation, and finally rises to all that conviction that the unregenerate are capable of, while such. And he expresses this yet more fully in the following words. ‘The author having raised the unregenerate to the highest degree of an awakened sense of divine things, that their state, as such, is capable of; every thing, as himself expresses it, short of discerning the true beauty or moral excellency of divine things,' he proposes this query, viz. If it should be asked, what good ALL this instruction and knowledge will do the unregenerate, &c. Here it is to be noted, that it is fully conceded by the author, that the unregenerate under consideration, have ALL degrees of light and conviction of divine truth, that can, by a common work of the spirit, agree to an unregenerate state.* Here he appears to be sensible enough, that the sinners under consideration, have all degrees of light and conviction, &c. and takes pains to shew that such are the sinners which I have in view in what I say. This is indeed very easily proved. Had this been in his mind, when he was about forming the proposition I am, considering, it ought to have prevented its ever coming into existence, as it now stands.

In the paragraph from which Mr. M. quotes the most as containing the proposition he has formed, I represent the sinner of whom I am speaking, as having a much higher degree of knowledge and convicti­on, than is necessary barely to produce an external reformation; and as sinning against the light of his conscience in rejecting the gospel, whatever may be his external reformations. That the reader may have [Page 3] it before his eyes, I will transcribe my words. ‘The more clearly he sees his own wretched case as a sinner, and the dreadful conse­quence of dying in his sins; and the clearer conviction he has of his need of a Saviour, and of the truths of the gospel in general; the greater is the crime of his impenitence, and continuing to reject the salvation offered in the gospel. The awakened, convinced sinner, who has taken a great deal of pains in the use of means, and has hereby got a great degree of instruction and knowledge and yet con­tinues impenitent, is in this respect much more guilty and vile, and a greater criminal in God's sight, than if he had never attained to this conviction and knowledge: for now he is guilty of the abuse of, and opposition to, all this light and knowledge, which he could not be, while he had it not*

Had Mr. M. well attended to this, he must have been sensible that the light and conviction of which I speak, as rendering the impenitent sinner more guilty than when in a state of ignorance and security, is not the lowest degree of light and conviction, nor that degree which is only sufficient in some measure to reform a person's life; and that I affirm nothing particularly of such a low degree of conviction of conscience which may produce some degree of reformation, or even wholly reform a person's external conduct: And therefore that the proposition is not contained in any thing I say; but is a gross misrepresentation.

To set this matter in a yet clearer light, if possible, I would observe; that a person may be brought to an amendment of life by what is called; by some at least, internal light and conviction of conscience; and yet not have that light and conviction of which I speak. A person may have only some imaginary, confused notions of a future state of punish­ment, and be alarmed and affrighted by apprehensions of his exposed­ness to fall into hell, &c. so as hereby to be led to leave off his vicious courses: and yet have no just speculative notions of God, sin or hell. In this case, the reformation is not produced by true light and convic­tion of conscience: To be sure, this is not the conviction of which. I am speaking.—Another person may reform his life, only under a con­viction that the course of wickedness in which he has lived, leads to hell; without any further conviction with respect to his sin, his lost state, his duty, &c. and by such reformation may make his conscience easy.—Another, under a yet further conviction, that something must be done to obtain God's favor, not only reforms all known sins, but betakes himself to what he thinks duty; and by this gets ease to his conscience, not imagining [...] that his reformations and doings, will make up for his past sins, and render him acceptable to God. Whe­ther such an one; who from a course of sensuality and debauchery, or any other open wickedness in which he lived; and had little or no thought of God or a future state; but only sought the gratification of his reigning passions and appetites, becomes serious and regular in his behaviour, and goes into a course of strict external religion, with a view [Page 4] to make a righteousness of his own, and get to heaven this way: I say, whether such an one, by thus turning from one course of wicked­ness to another, does, on the whole, become less guilty and vile in God's sight, may be a question worthy to be attended to.* But be this [...] will, it is not a question that I am at present immediately concerned with, as nothing which I have said about sinners under awakenings and convictions of conscience, has any respect to such an one; or to any of the instances which I have now mentioned.

In a word, whatever internal light and conviction of conscience is necessary to bring a person to reform his external conduct, and goes no further than this, and rises no higher; this is not the light and con­viction of which I am speaking. A person under the influence of such light and conviction, by thus reforming, may be said, in a sense, to act up to the light he has, i. e. the light of his conscience, by obeying it and coming up to the dictates of it. As I have said nothing about such an instance, in which reformation rises in a just proportion to the light of conscience, and keeps pace with it, it appears that it is not true that I have asserted, "that on every rising degree of internal light, awakening, conviction and amendment of life, the unregenerate are undoubtedly (on the who [...]e) more vile, &c." I have a right therefore to disown the proposition Mr. M. has formed for me, as containing what I have not asserted; in which what I have said is kept quite out of sight, and entirely misrepresented.

Let it be also observed, that in this proposition, which is said to contain the sum of what I have advanced on this head, that which I mention as the ground of the greater guilt and criminalness of the awakened, convinced sinner, and that in which it really consists, is not mentioned, but kept entirely out of view; which renders it a very partial, unfair state of the case, and tends to give the reader, especially [Page 5] one who has never carefully attended to this matter, quite a wrong view of the thing in dispute. I place his greater guilt, not in his awakenings and internal light, nor in his amendment of life; but in his continuing entirely obstinate and impenitent, under all this light and conviction, and in his opposing and rejecting with his whole heart the free offers of pardon and salvation by Jesus Christ, in direct oppo­sition to the clear dictates of his judgment and conscience. This there­fore ought to have been expressed in a proposition formed with a pro­fessed design to express what I had asserted on this head. As it now stands, there is nothing expressed as the ground of their being more vile, odious and abominable in God's sight, but "rising degrees of internal light, awakening, conviction and amendment of life," which surely is not a fair state of the case.

Mr. M. makes the reformation of the convinced sinner to keep pace with his light and conviction of conscience. This he does in the pro­position in which he attempts to express what I have asserted, and every where else through his whole book. He makes him to be one who reforms all known evils, and comes up to all known duties. * By this he grossly misrepresents me, and the whole matter in dispute, and raises a dust to blind the eyes of the inattentive. It is easy to see that light and conviction does not aggravate the sins of him who im­mediately comp [...] with it, and comes up to all the dictates of it per­fectly. The sinner I speak of is supposed not to comply with the light and conviction he has, but to rebel against it (which is certainly the case of all the unregenerate under true convictions) and in this I placed his greater sinfulness. Mr. M. in his proposition leaves this wholly out; so, in effect, leaves all out that I had asserted; and in­troduces a character about which I had not said one word, and so makes me assert what I never did assert, nor meant to assert.

I pretend not to charge Mr. M. with thus stating my sentiment in a partial, unfair, and wrong light knowingly and upon design. All I am concerned to make out is, that this is in fact the case; which I trust manifestly appears to the impartial reader: And I leave it to him to assign what reason he pleases why Mr. M. has stated the matter as he has done. I am willing he himself should be believed when he says he has, "to the best of his understanding, fairly adjusted, stated, and sum'd up the sense of the author."

It may be observed that Mr. M. has not only here carefully kept the character which I give of the unregenerate sinner under true awak­enings and convictions of conscience, out of view; but has done it thro' his whole performance. And when he has occasion to quote me where I speak of "the sinner's continuing obstinately to reject and oppose the salvation offered in the gospel," lest the reader should be led by these expressions to look on the sinner in too bad a light, he carefully observes that I "mean no more than merely his continuing unregenerate," and nothing but what it consistent with his reforming [Page 6] every known sin; as if these expressions of mine naturally carried in them some thing more and worse than what is implied in being unre­generate, and therefore cannot be properly applied to the sinner on this account only.* And it is apparent to me, and I doubt not will be so to every discerning reader, that if Mr. M. had not viewed the unregenerate sinner in a better and more innocent light than I do (and, I trust, than the scripture represents him) and had he not looked on such as little or nothing to blame for unbelief and rejecting the gospel, the book he has wrote, would never have seen the light.—But of this matter I shall treat more largely hereafter.

Having shewn that Mr. M's proposition is so far from "comprizing the plain sense of the author," that it contains what he never asserted, and is a very gross misrepresentation of the sentiment he has espoused, & a very unfair state of the case, I will express it in my own words; and so as to give what I think is the "plain sense" of what I have said in my section on means; and which I yet think is the truth, and may be defended.

The unregenerate sinner, who is under genuine and thorough awa­kenings and convictions of conscience respecting his own state and cir­cumstances, and the truths of the gospel; particularly, respecting this truth, that salvation is freely offered to him through a Mediator, which he is obliged by the strongest ties of duty and interest immediately to accept and embrace; being at the same time wholly without any excuse for his neglect in not embracing it, and for the opposition of his heart to Christ, of which he is conscious; and who yet continues, under all this light, and contrary to the plain dictates and pressing, painful convictions of his own conscience, obstinately to oppose and reject Jesus Christ: such an one is, on the account of this his impe­nitence and obstinacy under this clear light and conviction of consci­ence, more guilty, vile and odious in God's sight, than he was before he had this light and conviction, and was in a state of security and ignorance; whatever alteration or reformation has taken place in him in other respects.

To prevent misunderstanding, it is needful to observe here, that in this proposition, and in all that I have said on this head in my section on means, nothing is affirmed of a sinner who has lost his convictions which he was under for a while, and has returned in a great degree to security and ease, and to the allowed commission of the gross external wickedness, which he had forsook under the influence of the light and conviction which he had: or to that which is more gross and vile: I say, nothing is affirmed of such an one, whether he is now more or less guilty and vile than he was when under conviction, and when external­ly reformed. All that is affirmed is, that the sinner under the awaken­ings and convictions described, is more guilty than he was in a state of ignorance and security antecedent to luck convictions, of which he never was the subject before. Mr. M. has made this mistake, and [Page 7] not distinguished between these two cases, as I shall have occasion to observe in the sequel. The sinner I describe may be much more guilty and vile under awakenings and convictions, than he was before; and yet may be more guilty still, on the whole, by oppos­ing and suppressing his convictions, and, as it were, doing violence to his conscience, by designedly taking those measures, and going into those ways of gross, outward wickedness, which by degrees wear off the conviction which gave him uneasiness. This is a case to which nothing I have said has any respect.

I would not be here understood, however, to intimate, that the awakened, convinced sinner does not always oppose his convictions; tho' not always in the same sense and degree as just now mentioned. Convictions may be opposed two ways, and in two senses. They are truly opposed when the truths of which the sinner is convinced are disagreeable to his heart, and he refuses cordially to submit to them, and comply with them. In this sense unregenerate sinners always resist all their convictions, and oppose them with their whole hearts, however desirous they may be to have their convictions continue, and whatever pains they may take in the use of means to maintain and cherish them, because they believe that they are necessary in order to escape hell, and be saved, and that it is most dangerous to lose their convictions, and return to ease and security. In this sense they may "nourish their convictions," agreeable to Mr. M's phrase, and yet oppose all the truths they are convinced of, with their whole hearts, and remain most obstinate enemies to Christ, and the way of salvation by him. But sinners may also resist convictions, and often do, by trying to get rid of them, and taking measures with a design to wear them off from their minds: And many times they in this way still their consciences, get ease, and return to their former courses, or to courses still worse. Of such nothing is affirmed or denied in the pro­position in dispute between Mr. M. and me.

Let it also be noted here, that if two persons have equal degrees of light and conviction of conscience; and one reforms his external con­duct, and attends on means under the influence of the conviction he has; and the other goes on in his allowed external wickedness, in neglect of all means; and this ever was, or can be the case; nothing is said of such a case in the proposition. Indeed, nothing is said of different persons, whether one is more guilty and vile than another [...] but what is affirmed is of the same person, who is now awakened from a state of ease and security, and has that light and conviction con­science which he never had before, and which is inconsistent with a state of security and open wickedness.

It will be observed that in this proposition it is asserted that this it true in all cases; however vicious and guilty the person was while ig­norant and stupid, and in a state of security and carnal ease; yet by continuing impenitent under the awakenings and convictions mention­ed he, becomes a greater criminal, is guilty of more aggravated wick­edness [Page 8] than he was before, whatever particular ways of sinning he has forsaken, in which he before lived.

This, I am sensible, will be thought by many to be carrying the matter to a great length, and even too far. If it had been only said, that many, if not most unregenerate sinners, who have not been guilty of any enormous crimes and uncommon wickedness in their lives, do become more guilty when their consciences are thoroughly awakened and convinced, than they were in a state of security; they perhaps think this is true, and may be easily proved. But to carry the matter so far, even to every instance without exception, they think is not safe, and perhaps is not true; and if it is true, it is a matter of no great importance, and it may be difficult to prove it. And it will give those who are disposed to oppose the real truth in this case, an advantage against it, and an opportunity greatly to prejudice others against in, who would probably have fallen in with it, had it not been asserted it such universal terms.

It is certain that Mr. M. has taken all the advantage he could of this (and as has been shewn, more than he could fairly do, by misrepresent­ing the matter, and carrying it further than I had done.) He has not failed to keep this in view every where, as if it was the only point of controversy between him and me. Whereas this is not true; for he through his whole book as much opposes the notion of sinners in ge­neral growing worse under awakenings and convictions of conscience, or that this is true in any instance, as he does that this is the case in every instance: And he has said nothing to prove the latter not true, which is not equally against the former. Therefore if I should now give up this point, that sinners under genuine, thorough convictions are in all cases more criminal and vile in God's sight, than they were in a state of ignorance and security, however criminal and vile they were then; and only assert that this is the case with unregenerate sin­ners in general who have lived pretty regular lives in a state of security, Mr. M. would have as real a controversy with me then, as he has now, as his whole book is as much against the latter as the former. This, I trust, will fully appear before I have done.

But as I yet think this proposition is true, as I have now stated it, and may be made evident beyond all doubt to those who will be im­partial, and will thoroughly consider the matter, I shall attempt to prove it, and leave it to the reader to judge for himself. But if, after all, any should think it is not proved beyond all controversy that the unregenerate in the case proposed are in all instances more vile, &c. tho' it be quite evident that this is true of sinners in general: and that it is of no importance that the proposition should be affirmed without any exception; let it be remembered that tho' I think the former to be both an evident and important truth; yet the latter is much more important. And if Mr. M. had not opposed the latter as much as the former, perhaps I should not have thought it worth while to make any reply.

[Page 9] But before I proceed to this argument, it will be necessary to con­sider what is the true state and character of the unregenerate sinner under awakenings and under the most clear convictions of conscience. This will therefore be attended to in the next section.


The true state and character of the unregenerate sinner under awakenings and convictions considered and stated, in opposition to the character which Mr. Mills gives of such.

THE unregenerate sinner is an enemy to God. The whole bent, and all the exercises of his heart, are in opposition to God's true character; and no influences on his mind, whether by the spirit of God, or any thing else, antecedent to regeneration, or any change whatsoever, do in the least degree remove this opposition and enmity. For he is still under the dominion of sin, having not the least degree of right disposition, and exercise of true love to God and man. And whatever awakenings of conscience & convictions of the truth take place in the sinners mind; and however distressed and anxious he is about his case, and whatever alteration there is in his conduct produced by fear or hope; still he is as real and as great an enemy to the divine character, to the law of God, to Jesus Christ and the gospel, as ever. Whatever are the influences of the spirit of God on the mind of an unregenerate sinner, in awakenings and convictions of conscience they make no alteration as to the prevailing temper and inclination of the heart. No new disposition and principles of heart are given, nor are the natural, corrupt principles of the heart in the least altered for the better, so as to be more friendly, or less opposite to God. Therefore all the exertions and exercises of the heart, under the greatest degree of this influence, by which the conscience is inlightened and awakened, are no more friendly to God, but as corrupt and as opposite to him as ever.

This must be so: for the corrupt principles of the heart exercised and acted out will always be the same, whatever light and conviction is in the judgment and conscience. The corrupt tree will bring forth cor­rupt fruit; and that which is born of the flesh is, and will be flesh. Every exercise of an entire enemy to God, will be of the nature of en­mity against him. And there is no other way to suppress and put an end to those corrupt, sinful exercises but either to change his heart, or to put an end to all his exercises, by casting him into a deep sleep, by turning him into a beast, tree or rock, or by annihiliation. Many have talked of the unregenerate sinner's forsaking sin and doing his duty, upon mere natural principles: But what do they mean? What natural [Page 10] principles are there, but corrupt principles? If they say natural con­science is a natural principle, and not corrupt, especially when inlight­ened by the spirit of God; I answer, Natural conscience, so far as it is distinguished from the heart, is no principle of action at all. The heart is the source and seat of all moral exercise and action; natural con­science therefore, as distinguished from this, is neither sinful nor virtuous. they shall say fear and hope are natural principles; I grant they are common to angels and men, saints and sinners; but in the unregenerate have no more real goodness in them, than the same principles in the devils themselves. Fear and hope are as much concerned in the worst of exercises and actions, and have as much influence in them, as in the best. And the exercises of fear and hope are just as corrupt and sinful, as is the heart in which they are exercised. If they say self love is a natural principle from which the unregenerate do avoid sin and in many cases perform their duty; I answer, If by self love is meant only a desire and love of happiness in general, and aversion to misery or evil; this is in itself neither more nor less sinful or virtuous, but may be considered as the principle of all exercises and actions, both good and bad, and has as much concern and influence in the worst, as in the best. But if by a principle of self love is meant selfishness, or a person's selfish regard and respect to himself, his own private, seperate interest and happiness, without any disinterested regard to any other being, always seeking and pursuing that which appears to him for his own good; being wholly influenced by this, and nothing else, in all his exercises and conduct; this is itself sinful, and is the principle and source of all the sin in the universe, being directly opposite to true benevolence, which it the sum of all that is truly good; this is in its own nature enmity to being in general; and is that by which man be­comes an enemy to God and man. So far therefore as men act from this principle, they sin; and they are sinful in proportion to the strength and vigor with which this principle is exerted. If a person is wholly under the government of this selfishness, loving and regarding himself supre [...]ly, and having no respect and regard to God or man, only from selfish ends, and as the fruit and exercise of this selfishness: I say if a person is wholly under the dominion of this selfishness, as all the unregene­rate are, all his actions are wrong and sinful, in whatever way he seeks his own happiness; whether in a worldly interest, in pursuing the profits, honors or pleasures of this world; or in the happiness of the future state, earnestly pursuing it, in crossing his sensual appetites, and in the painful exercise of what be calls devotion and religion. Opposition and enmity to God and his law, and so to Christ and the gospel, may be as really exercised in the latter way as the former, and in as high a degree; yea, much higher and more immediately and directly against God. But of this more particularly hereafter.

It hence appears that whatever influence there is on the natural prin­ciples of the soul by the spirit of God, in awakenings, conviction of conscience, &c. this does not at all abate the power of wickedness in the [Page 11] heart. Self-love, or selfishness, into whatever channel it is turned; whether it is exercised about present or future good, in fears of evil, or hopes of good in this world, or the world to come, and earnest at­tempts to obtain the good and escape the evil: I say this selfishness is still of the same nature, and it is in direct opposition to all true goodness. The greatest awakenings and convictions of conscience, and every thing that takes place in consequence of this in the minds of the unre­generate, do not in any degree abate the exercise of this grand prin­ciple of all sin and rebellion in the universe; so do not make the heart in any degree better; but may be the occasion of turning the selfish rebellious heart more directly and in a much stronger degree of exer­cise against God; and perhaps always has this effect. But this is to be considered in the next section.

I particularly observe this to shew the mistake which some make in this matter. Because awakenings and convictions of conscience are effected by the spirit of God, they think that something good, or less sinful in the heart must be the effect of this work of the spirit. There is no ground for such a consequence. There is nothing done in the inlightening and conviction of the consciences of the unregenerate, and awakening them to attend to the truth, &c. which will not be done in a much higher degree, tho' not just in the same way, in the minds of the wicked at the day of judgment, and forever afterwards. But who will say, the wicked then, under all their convictions, fears and horrors, will not be as rebellious, impenitent and hardened, as the secure sinner is, who neither knows nor fears any of these things?

If any should say, 'there is this grand difference, between an awa­kened, convinced sinner in this world, and the convictions and horrors of the wicked at the day of judgment, that the former is under hope, and has the offer of mercy and salvation; but the latter will be in absolute dispair: the hope of the former leads him to dread sin and seek deliverance in the use of means, &c.' It is granted this is true Self-love or selfishness will exercise itself in this way in these circum­stances; but still this is nothing but selfishness under the influence of fear of evil and hope of escape, and of obtaining happiness; the heart is no more truly pliable, obedient and penitent than ever, does not comply in the least degree, but obstinately opposes God and the gospel. And as he does most obstinately resist and trample under his feet the most astonishing mercy, which is freely offered to him, and reject the Son of God in all his amazing condescention and grace; in this view, his impenitence, hardness of heart and obstinacy, appear in a most striking, awful light, and much more aggravated and shocking than that of the latter.

The unregenerate sinner is therefore a hardned, impenitent rebel, who with his whole heart opposes and hates God, and his holy law, and hates and rejects Jesus Christ and the salvation offered by him, so far as these come into his view, and under his notice. He is so, under all the awakenings, convictions and reformations that he is the subject [Page 12] of. Whatever it done to him, and what changes soever he passes through, his character with respect to these things is not altered; he is yet as really under the dominion of sin, and a fixed, impenitent, ob­stinate enemy to God and Jesus Christ, as ever.

The awakened sinner under all his convictions, terrors and refor­mations, and most earnest attempts to escape the evil he sees himself in danger of, and obtain salvation, has no more love and respect to God than he ever had, and is really as much under the power of opposite principles as ever, as has been observed; does not hate sin, at all, but is as much in love with it as ever.

Many a profligate wretch, who has long indulged himself in un­cleanness and debauchery, when he has been brought into such cir­cumstances that his wickedness is like to be discovered, so as to bring disgrace and contempt upon him, and ruin him in all his worldly interests; has been filled with anxiety and distress, so that he could find no quiet, night nor day: he has been convinced of his folly, condemned himself, and reformed his vile practices, being afraid to indulge himself in the least degree, as he had done, and resolved that he would carefully avoid such conduct for time to come: and has used unwearied attempts to escape the evil he feared. And in this time of his fear and distress has made many prayers to God, hoping that he would interpose in his behalf, so that he might escape the evil he feared. But when his fears were over, and nothing was, in his view, in the way of his going into his former practices without danger of punishment or a discovery, he has returned to them with as much de­light and eagerness as ever. In this case every one will be sensible how little in his favor was his reformation, and that under all his fears and terrors, and earnest endeavours to avoid evil, his heart was really no better than it was before, and was as much in love with sin. This may in some measure illustrate the case of the awakened sinner, with respect to what I have just now been speaking. For there is no more virtue and goodness in fearing evil in the future world, even the punish­ment of hell, than worldly evil; and the reformation of any particular practices from such fear, is from no better principles, and no more an evidence of real opposition of heart to sin, than in the instance just mentioned.

The highway robber, who is apprehended and condemned to be hanged, and is hereby thrown into great distress of mind, and most earnestly petitions the king for mercy, and promises reformation and obedience to his laws for time to come, will, as soon as he is set at liberty, and has no fear of being again apprehended, dismiss all his fear, and return to the same course again. Will he who views him in this light, in the time of his fears, reformations and promises, look upon him to be really more penitent, or less an enemy to his king and country, than before he was apprehended? In no better light the un­regenerate sinner ought to be viewed, under all his awakenings, and convictions of conscience.

[Page 13] It hence appears that the awakened, convinced sinner does not, while unregenerate, really yield or give up one point of controversy between him and his Maker, but is as impenitent and obstinate as ever, being still as great a friend to sin, and enemy to God as he was before; the principles and exercises of his heart being not in the least abated with respect to this.

AND it is of great importance to be observed here, and well attended to, that the unregenerate sinner is wholly to blame for all that in which his unregeneracy consists, it being nothing but wickedness and rebel­lion of heart, for which the sinner has not the least imaginable excuse. He is under no kind or degree of impotency or difficulty, which is in the way of his repentance, loving God, and embracing the gospel, that [...] the least excuse for not doing it, or takes off the least degree of blame for his neglect. He is under no kind of inability or difficulty that is in the way of his turning to God immediately, which the open profligate is not under, as a bar in the way of his reforming his wicked conduct immediately. In the latter case all the difficulty lies in the corruption of his heart, and the opposition of his will to it: and this is all the difficulty in the former. And if it is more difficult for a sin­ner to turn to God thro' Jesus Christ with his whole heart, than it is for him to forsake all ways of known sin in external conduct, and he is under a greater inability to do the former than the latter, it is wholly because his will opposes the former more than it does the latter, or rather because the latter may be complied with consistent with the indulgence of the reigning wickedness of the heart, and enmity against God, whereas the former cannot. The reason why the open profligate does not reform his conduct immediately is because he is not willing, or his heart opposes this. And the only reason why the awakened, convinced sinner does not embrace the gospel immediately, but remains obstinately impenitent, is because his will, even his whole heart opposes it. All the difference is, that in the latter case the opposition of the heart to Jesus Christ is more fixed and strong, than it is in the former [...]ase to an external reformation, as an external reformation may be com­plied with, consistent with the exercise and gratification of the reigning lusts of the heart: but compliance with the gospel cannot. And is there need of saying any thing to prove that the sinner is perfectly in­excusable and to blame for not doing that in which there is no difficulty but what consists in the want of a will or heart, and the opposition of the will to it? This would be the same thing as to undertake to prove that wickedness of heart, and that in which all sin and blame do consist, is indeed wickedness, sinful and blameworthy. And if opposition of heart to that which is in itself right, is, in all cases, sinful, and perfectly inexcusable and blameworthy; then the greater is the degree of this opposition and the more strong, fixed and perfect it is, the further is the sinner from all excuse, and the more blameworthy. So that the diffi­culty and inability of loving God and embracing the gospel in the case before us, is so far from rendering the sinner in any degree blameless or excusable, that the more there is of this, the more blameworthy and criminal he is.

[Page 14] Hence it appears that the unregenerate sinner's reigning opposition and enmity of heart against God and the gospel, is perfectly criminal and most odious and abominable in his sight, notwithstanding all his awakenings, convictions and external reformations; the latter do not render the former a whit the less criminal, odious and abominable; any more than the cleansing and scouring the outside of a cup renders the most offensive, abominable corruption and filthiness, of which it is within full, less odious and abominable. Or (to use another compari­son) no more than the cryings of a stubborn child, in dread of the [...]od, which is held over him, and his strivings to get out of his father's hands and escape, serve to extenuate his crime, while he obstinately refuses to own his fault and submit to his father's will; and resolutely opposes him under all his threatnings.

THE unregenerate sinner has no sincere desires to repent and embrace the gospel, or of a new heart: It is the most glaring contradiction to suppose he has; as great a one as to suppose, that wickedness is friendly to holiness. These things are not the objects of the desires of the hearts of the unregenerates, but of their aversion and enmity. They desire deliverance from misery, and the enjoyment of happiness (tho' not true happiness and the salvation, which the gospel offers) under a conviction that they must repent and submit to Christ, in order to escape the one, and obtain the other: But their hearts are as far from desiring to re­pent and turn to God, as ever; for if they had a real desire to repent, &c. they would repent; for nothing is in the way of this, but oppositi­on of heart. And they make no sincere attempts to turn to God and embrace the gospel; for this would suppose their hearts did not wholly oppose these, which they do, as has been shewn; and the whole diffi­culty of their turning to God, and the only reason of their not doing it immediately, lies in this enmity and opposition.

If any are disposed to look on the awakened sinner, as less to blame for his enmity of heart against God, and fixed, obstinate opposition to Christ, because he is externally reformed, and greatly distressed, under fears that he shall be miserable forever; and if such appear in a great degree harmless and innocent in their sight, they certainly judge in this case according to the outward appearance, and not righteous judg­ment. In God's sight all that wickedness of heart in which their un­regeneracy consists, and in which they continue wholly impenitent, and enemies to the divine character and the gospel, is perfectly inex­cusable and criminal, and infinitely odious; there being no difficulty in their becoming friends to God, &c. but what lies in the voluntary wickedness of their hearts.

MANY have made a very great and hurtful mistake here. They represent the impotency of the unregenerate to turn to God and believe in Christ to be such as not to be altogether blameable, if criminal in any degree. They are to blame, wholly to blame, they allow, for not doing what they can do, as they are won [...] express it; but if they reform, and do what they can, and cry to God to change their hearts, [Page 15] &c. they are poor creatures, to be pitied that they are in such a sad case; but not much, if at all to blame, for remaining under the do­minion of sin, and not embracing the gospel, which they are desiring and honestly attempting, but have no power to do it: so that this is rather their calamity, than their sin.

THIS way of representing the matter has been infinitely mischievous.—By thus misrepresenting the doctrine of man's natural impotency, they have rendered it ridiculous to those, who have been disposed to oppose the real truth, and have prejudiced them against it. While they themselves have been unable to defend the doctrine in the light, in which they set it; and so have given occasion to the enemies of the truth to triumph.—On the other hand, it has proved an agreeable re­fuge and sweet resting place to multitudes. By this representation they have been "sewing pillows to all arm-holes,"* and comforting those, to whom God speaks no peace. The unregenerate sinner, who has reformed all ways of external sin, and allows himself in no known outward evil practices, and prays to God for a new heart, &c. which he thinks he sincerely desires, but that it is wholly out of his power to change his own heart: Such an one, I say, makes himself in a great measure easy in an unregenerate state, while he thinks he does all he can. Such a sinner is not under genuine, thorough convictions; and never will, nor possibly can be, while he believes this representation to be just.

AND this doctrine of man's inability, as consisting in something, which does in some measure excuse, and is consistent with a person's sincere desires of heart to have it removed, and to do what he cannot do: This doctrine, I say, is most sweet to many a corrupt heart. Many professing christians fly to this refuge to hide and rest themselves, by making it an excuse for their not living in constant and high exercises of christian holiness. They say, "We are poor creatures, we can do nothing of ourselves; if God does not assist us and give us strength, we can do nothing, we have no power of our own, &c." And if they are told the truth of the matter; that they are under no inability but what consists in their inexcusable, voluntary wickedness: that they are wholly to blame for all their defects, &c. they will oppose it with all their might, as what tends to take away their comfort, and rob them of their only refuge. For this doctrine of man's inability, as consisting in some difficulty in the way of holiness, which is independent of the will, and for which they are not wholly to blame, is as agreeable to the corrupt heart of man, as any Arminian or Pelagian doctrine whatsoever can be. How many of those who are called Calvinists have fled to this refuge of lies, and here are like to perish, God knows!—Be this as it will, it certainly becomes all the friends of truth, and of mankind to do all they can, effectually to expose this unscriptural, absurd, dan­gerous notion; and set the truth in a clear light.

[Page 16] Mr. MILLS has, I think, unhappily fallen into this sad and dangerous mistake; which is discovered through the whole of his performance, as that on which he grounds all his opposition to me.

He has not said one word, that I have observed, from beginning to end, of the convinced sinner's enmity against God, and obstinate rejec­tion of Christ and the gospel, being under the dominion of a hard, impenitent heart. All this is carefully kept out of sight; unless when he was obliged to mention something of it in his quotations from me. And in this case he always puts in a caveat, observing that I mean no more by these hard terms than merely continuing unregenerate. * Plainly intimating that he thinks such terms do not properly belong to the unregenerate as such, and that they represent them as worse and more criminal than they really are. He therefore every where speaks of the unawakened sinner as impenitent, hardened and stout-hearted, in op­position to one that is awakened, as if this was not true of the latter, and as if the latter was of an opposite character.

And he represents the unregenerate as not wholly to blame for their unregeneracy, their unbelief and not embracing the gospel; but as being under an impotence which does in some measure, if not wholly excuse. This representation runs through his whole book, as has been just now observed, and is laid as the foundation of all his opposition to me. This I conclude will be quite evident to every attentive reader, before I shall have done. I shall now cite only a few expressions of his, which seem to set the matter in this light, especially if considered in connection with others, which I am about to mention. He speaks of the awakened, convinced sinner as brought to "reformation and amendment of life, to the highest degree the unregenerate are capable of by the common influences of the holy Spirit." He says they "regard all duty and avoid all sin, that can agree to an unregenerate state." ‘Thus the poor, trembling, convinced, reformed sinner (I mean as much as an unregenerate sinner can be so)"§ He feels his guilt and moral disorder as a desperate, incurable disease, as to all created pow­er, and therefore cries to God for help.

But he goes much further than this, and represents unregenerate sin­ners in a much more favourable light still. He speaks of such as having great "tenderness of conscience," and ‘paying such reverence and obedience to the dictates of conscience, as hath nourished the greatest degree of tenderness,** ‘One who has nourished the internal light and tenderness of his conscience.‡‡ He is, ‘in a great degree convinced of the evil of sin;—trembles at the thoughts of his past sins, and in fear, left he should offend in thought, word, or deed; feels himself a lost, perishing creature, and that sovereign mercy only can be his remedy.—The poor trembling, convinced, reformed sin­ner, whose wickedness, as to the actions of it, is restrained.†† He is ‘a humble sinner; brought, tho' on the principles of nature, to humble himself before God, repent, reform known evils, and con­scientiously [Page 17] attend known duties.* He is ‘humbled and slain, by the law, and brought to the feet of divine sovereignty; and a sense of the justice of his condemnation by the law. He is not ‘utterly into, and "honestly attempts to do his duty."§ They ‘seek the Lord with trembling, and reform every known sin; and with great concern attend on all known duty. Yea, they "break off from all known sin," even "the secret pride of the heart." They cry to God for mercy, as their ONLY plea;—apply to the mercy of God, as the only hope that remains. They, on the whole, desire salvation,‖‖ and earnestly look to God for the bread of life, as a hun­gry man desires and seeks bread, when his life is at stake. They do all that which is represented by the prodigal's coming to himself, and see­ing that there was bread enough and to spare in his father's house, and resolving to arise and go, and confess his sins, and ask mercy; and his actually putting this in execution.*‖ So that, according to Mr. M. the unregenerate have their eyes opened to see the wonderful fulness there is in Christ for sinners; so are turned from darkness to marvel­lous light; and in this view do actually go to God for the mercy he offers in the gospel; and in a sense of their guilt and ill desert, cast themselves at the foot of sovereign grace, placing all their hope in this, heartily desiring to be saved in this way, and no other. They there­fore do all, and comply with every thing, that is necessary in order to share in God's saving mercy; yea, they do that which is connected with this mercy by Christ himself in this parable, and also through the whole bible, if there are any promises in the bible made to any exer­cises at all.

Moreover, Mr. M's unregenerate sinners ‘frame their doings to turn unto their God.‡‡ They seek salvation, as the greedy mer­chant seeks goodly pearls. They labour not for the meat which perish­eth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life. They follow on to know the Lord; and seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.*‡ In a word, they deny ungodliness and worldly lusts; and live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world.{inverted †}

This is the account Mr. M. gives of unregenerate sinners under awakening and convictions! And he has said not only this, but much more in their favour; too much to be transcribed here. Upon which I shall make the following remarks.

1. If this representation of the unregenerate sinner under convictions is agreeable to the truth; then all that I have said of such in my sec­tion on means, is wrong and groundless; and such an one is not only less vile than the profligate; but is in a great degree innocent and blameless. He does not sin against the light of his conscience, or abuse it in the least; for he reverences his conscience, and lives up to the dictates of it, avoiding every known sin and coming up to all known duty. He is not properly an impenitent sinner; for he does really [Page 18] repent and humble himself before God. Nor does he obstinately reject Jesus Christ and the gospel; for, on the whole, he desires the salvation which is offered in the gospel, and [...]es to sovereign mercy, there held out to him, as his only refuge. As I placed the great guilt and vileness of the unregenerate sinner in his sinning against the light and convictions of his own conscience, in obstinately refusing the offers of the gospel and rejecting Jesus Christ, which he is now convinced he is wholly to blame for, and is the greatest sin he ever was guilty of; I own my charge is quite groundless and very injurious if Mr. M. has given a just and true character of the unregenerate: and I must yield the point to him.

But if all he has said on this head, is a gross misrepresentation of the character of the unregenerate sinner, and he applies to them many things which are found in the regenerate only; and if most of his arguments, and the plausibleness of all he has said, are founded in this misrepresentation; then all is built on a very slender foundation, and really comes to nothing. And I think I have a right to call this a misrepresentation, as I cannot find that Mr. M. has attempted to prove these things; but has taken them for granted, and only asserted them. And I think what has been said in this section is sufficient to shew that Mr. M's account of the unregenerate is very grossly wrong. And this will more fully appear, I trust, before I have done.

2. If Mr. M. has given a just character of the unregenerate; then what I have said of these in my dispute with Dr. Mayhew, on which I founded all my opposition to him, is wholly wrong. For the whole dispute turned upon this question, Whether unregenerate sinners do, on the whole, really desire the salvation offered in the gospel? I as­serted that they do not, and undertook to prove it, and owned that if the Dr. would prove that they do, he would gain his point, and I was ready to yield it to him. Mr. M. has really taken the Dr's side in this controversy, and represented the unregenerate sinner in as blameless and fair a light as he did, and has raised him as high; yea, has said much more in his favour.

And is it not strange, that this same Mr. M. should give me his "hearty thanks" for what I had wrote against the Dr. and call it "a finished debate on the point!"* Surely Mr. M. is far from under­standing the debate between the Dr. and me; and so was very unfit to pronounce any thing about it: or he is very inconsistent with him­self. Both are perhaps true.

3. What is still more strange and inconsistent, if possible, is his ap­plying promises to the doings of the unregenerate, or representing them as coming up to that, to which promises are expressly made. This appears from what has been just quoted from him. He applies the following words to the unregenerate, "Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord" If the unregenerate follow on to know the Lord, then they perform the condition, to which there is an express promise, that they shall know the Lord. But the knowledge of God [Page 19] is peculiar to true saints, and connected with eternal life. And he represents the unregenerate as, on the whole, desiring salvation, and humbly applying to God for it, as did the prodigal; and hoping and trusting in the mere mercy of God, as exercised to sinners, and asking for it, as did the publican Now it is certain that promises of salvation are made to all who hope in God's mercy, and really desire the salvation offered in the gospel, and come to Christ for it. Is not this very strange, when he had not only formerly wrote a book to prove the contrary to all this; but in his preface to this, acknowledges I have proved the same beyond all controversy, and heartily thanks me for it!

4. The grand dispute between Mr. M. and me is about the true character of the unregenerate sinner; Whether he, under the greatest awakenings and convictions he ever is the subject of antecedent to re­generation, does not continue an impenitent, voluntary, inexcusable, obstinate enemy to God, and the Redeemer? If Mr. M. will grant this, he will grant the sum of what I contend for. But he has been so far from it, that all his book is really wrote against it.

On the whole, Mr. M. has really taken up Dr. Mayhew's cause, and represents the unregenerate sinner in much the same light in which he did, as the ground of most or his arguments to prove that promises are made to him. Mr. M. does not expressly say indeed that there are promises made to the unregenerate; but the contrary. But herein he is more inconsistent with himself, than was Dr. Mayhew: for if Mr. M. gives them a true character, the bible is full of promises to them. And he actually applies passages of scripture to them, which contain promises, as has been observed; and he might with as much propriety apply all those scriptures to them which Dr. Mayhew does; yea all the promises in the bible.


ARGUMENTS for the affirmative of the question in dispute.

IN order to determine who is the greatest sinner, or what way and manner of sinning is most criminal, or what particular sin is most aggravated, we must first consider and determine, wherein the guilt of criminalness of sin, of all sin, chiefly lies, or what is the greatest aggra­vation of all sin, which does above every thing else render it vile and criminal.

And in this I suppose all will be agreed, who have attended to this matter, and considered what reason and scripture dictate on this head. The vileness and guilt of sin does chiefly and principally consist in its being committed against GOD. GOD is so great and excellent a being the sum of all existence and perfection, that it is infinitely more criminal not to respect and love him, than it would be to have no love and regard for the whole creation. And it is in infinitely greater crime [Page 20] to oppose and hate GOD, in any way, or in the least degree, than it would be to hate and oppose all creatures, and turn an implacable, eternal enemy to them, if this might be, without hating and opposing God in any respect or degree.

If a person should turn enemy to the whole human race, and with relentless hatred, rage and thirst for blood, should murder his own parents, and all his relations and friends, in the most cruel manner imaginable; and should he have it in his power, and go on to murder and destroy a whole nation: and should he proceed and actually destroy every one of the human race on earth; yea, put an utter end to the whole creation; and then lay violent hands on himself, and put an end to his own life: and could this be done, and not imply any rebellion against GOD or opposition to him, but be consistent with perfect love no him; the crime he would be guilty of in all this would be nothing, in comparison with the least degree of opposition and disrespect to GOD: Yea, it would be infinitely less than the least motion of heart against GOD, or the least defect of perfect love to him for one mo­ment.—It is granted there can be no such thing as is here supposed; because all hatred and opposition exercised immediately towards our fellow creatures, is implicitly and really opposition to being in general, and so is against GOD; and it is also against GOD as 'tis a violation of his command: and therefore the crime of injustice, murder, &c. sum­marily consists in it's being against GOD; and not in the injury done to our fellow creatures. This I conclude all with whom I am concerned in this dispute, will readily grant. I therefore proceed to observe further,

THAT act of sin and rebellion against GOD has immensely more crime and guilt in it, which is exercised and committed directly and immediately against Him; than that which is done against him me­diately, and more remotely or indirectly. Or every sin is more or less aggravated and criminal, according as it is committed more directly and immediately against GOD or not, other circumstances being alike.

To illustrate this it may be observed, some sinful exercises and con­duct are directly and immediately against GOD; he is the immediate object against which they are committed, and he is in them directly injured and opposed. We have an instance of this in Pharaoh when he said "Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice?" And an­other in the people of Israel, when they said "The way of the LORD is not equal."

There are many sins against GOD more indirectly and remotely. Such are acts of injustice towards our fellow men. These are ulti­mately against GOD, as has been observed; but they are directly and immediately against our fellow creatures. Such are all those ways and exercises of sin, which have the creature for their direct and immediate object, these are more remotely against GOD, as they are not directly aimed against him but strike at him more indirectly, thro' the creature.

Now all acts of sin are more or less aggravated and criminal accor­ding as they are done more or less directly against GOD, as it has been [Page 21] now explained. An act of direct enmity against GOD, and a course of direct quarrelling and blasphemy against him is immensely more cri­minal, than hating and opposing a man; tho' this is implicitly and more remotely, and by fair construction against GOD.

If a man murders one of his fellow subjects, he hereby acts against his prince; he does him an injury and breaks his laws; but his crime would be immensely greater if he had murdered his prince. If a ser­vant quarrels with his fellow servants, and abuses them, tho' this is an injury to his lord, and a violation of his orders; yet this is an un­speakable less crime than that which he is guilty of, who rises up im­mediately against his lord in person, quarrels with him and strikes him. These instances may serve in some measure to illustrate the case before us: tho' it must be remembered there is an infinite odds: as in these instances, there is some proportion between the crime of murdering a fellow subject, or abusing a fellow servant, and that of the same acts done directly against the prince or lord; whereas in the case before us there is no proportion, the one being infinitely more criminal than the other.

LET it be still further observed, that those sins that are more imme­diately and directly against GOD as well as all others, may be many ways greatly aggravated, so as to be immensely more criminal, than the least supposable sin of this kind. A person's obligations to love God with all his heart, &c. may be vastly increased by GOD's good­ness to him, and the great and special favours he receives from him; by the advantages which he is put under to know GOD and serve him, and the light and instruction which he enjoys; the great and special motives, admonitions and reproofs set before him, and the variety of means used with him to reclaim him. And his sin in not loving GOD, but persisting in impenitence and rebellion against him, is criminal in proportion to the increase of his obligations by means of these things, and others of the same kind, that night be mentioned.

And it must be particularly observed here, that what GOD has done for the redemption of man by Jesus Christ; and the offers of free par­don and salvation through him, does aggravate the sinners guilt in sin­ning against GOD, above any thing else; and sinning against Christ and the gospel and rejecting and despising him, are immensely the biggest and most criminal acts of sin against GOD, that can be.

[...]d there been no redemption of lost man: had not the infinitely [...] worthy and glorious Son of GOD became incarnate, and by his obedience and sufferings obtained redemption and eternal life for man, who is sunk into an infinitely guilty and miserable state by sin, even for all who shall be willing to be saved by him: I say, had not this astonishing scene of mercy been opened by this infinitely worthy and excellent Mediator, mankind never could have had opportunity to sin as they do now; they could not have been in any measure guilty of such amazingly aggravated crimes as they now are. All other sins are small, compared with this of neglecting this great salvation with persevering obstinacy and contempt, and rejecting and despising the [Page 22] glorious Saviour, offering himself to sinners in the most kind and con­descending manner, and urging them to accept of him as their compleat redeemer, by the most powerful motives and arguments imaginable. The devils have never sinned, nor can they sin in such an aggravated manner; because they have no such offers, no such salvation to reject; no such Redeemer to despise. What are all the sins of the heathen world to this? They sink, as it were, into nothing, when compared with it. What are all the sins of Sodom to this? No wonder Christ tells the inhabitants of Capernaum, who had rejected him, when he offered himself to them, that it would be more tolerable in the day of judgment for the most abandoned profligates of Sodom, than for them; and tells the 70 when he sent them to preach the gospel that the city which should not receive them, should, for this sin only, let their con­duct otherwise be as it would, receive a heavier doom, than the Sodom­ites should for all their abominable, open debauchery and wickedness, which cried to heaven, and brought terrible vengeance on their heads.* And this view of the case gives a very natural and easy meaning to Christ's words, when he says "If I had not came and spoken unto them, they had not had sin" All the sins they could have committed, had not a Saviour appeared and instructed them and offered himself to them, would have been light, and as nothing, compared with the sin of hating and rejecting him, which they were now guilty of: And perfectly agreeable to this are the following words of his, "And when he (i. e. the Spirit) is come, he will reprove the world of sin,—because they believe not on me." Here not believing on Christ is represented as the greatest sin men can be guilty of, so that it does, in a sense swallow up all other sins, as not to be mentioned with this, this being the sum of all. This is the great sin for which the Spirit will reprove men, when he does his work effectually, and thoroughly convinces of sin. Hence we may certainly infer that they who submit to this reproof, and are truly convinced of sin, see this sin to be so great that all other sins are as nothing to it: Therefore that this is the great aggravation of all their sins, and that in which their guilt and vileness principally consists. All the sin men commit under the gospel; all the most abo­minable uncleanness and debauchery, all the murder, profaneness and blasphemy, that men are, or can be guilty of, under the gospel, have their chief aggravation in this, that they are against Jesus Christ, and carry in them unbelief and opposition to him; so that unbelief itself in all the actings and exercises of it, is unspeakably a greater crime, than all this wickedness, considered in itself and not as implying and expressing unbelief and rejection of Jesus Christ: and therefore un­speakable more criminal and vile than all the sins of Sodom, as they had no opportunity to sin against Christ, as gospel sinners do. Or, to express it in other words, all the sins of Sodom, and all the abominati­ons that have been committed by the worst of men, or that men can possibly commit, without being guilty of unbelief and rejecting Christ and the gospel, are incomparably less criminal and vile than this sin of [Page 23] unbelief, or not receiving, but rejecting Christ, when he is revealed and offered to men; so that when the former are put in the scale with latter, they are light and as nothing to this. Who can doubt of this, since it is so fully and necessarily implied, in what Christ himself has declared more than once? Especially when the reason of it is so appa­rent to every one who will seriously attend to the matter. It hence appears certain, even to a demonstration, that he is the most guilty, vile sinner who exercises the greatest degree of unbelief; or does most directly, and in the strongest and most obstinate manner, reject Jesus Christ. Whether the awakened, convinced sinner does this; or whe­ther his unbelief and opposition to Jesus Christ and the gospel is less in the strength and degree of its exercise, I shall more particularly con­sider presently.

It must be observed yet further, that unbelief, or an impenitent re­jecting Jesus Christ now, under the full blaze of gospel light, and clear convictions of conscience, is much more criminal and vile, than it was when Christ was on earth, because they then had not so much light, such a fullness of means and advantages, even under the preaching of Christ, and in sight of his miracles, as we now have. This might be easily proved, was there need; but I suppose none will dispute it. Therefore if unbelief and rejecting him, was so great a sin, and did so far out weigh all other sins in guilt, as to be, as it were, the only sin, and sum of all, in comparison with which all others were hardly to be mentioned; how amazingly great must be the guilt of this sin now; especially in them who have the greatest advantages, and the most light of every kind, and for whom the most is done, even all that can be done short of regenerating grace!

The scripture elsewhere sets the matter in this light, and represents the crime of disregarding Christ and rebelling against him, when he speaks directly and immediately unto them, as unspeakably greater, than disobedience to his word when spoken by others,—and so that he is not so fully and directly in view.

To this purpose are the following words, "For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience receiv­ed a just recompence of rewards; how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation, which at first began to be spoken by the LORD, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him!"* Here two things are observable,

1. The great crime spoken of, which will issue in the most awful condemnation and punishment, is a bare NEGLECT of the salvation offered by Christ.

2. The great and peculiar aggravation of this crime is spoken of as consisting in the direct rebellion against Jesus Christ, which this neglect carries in it, as he has himself, in his own person, revealed and offered this salvation to men. This being more direct and immediate rebellion against him, than was the disobedience to a revelation made by angels.

The same thing is set in a yet stronger light in the same epistle, "He [Page 24] that despised Moses's law, died without mercy.—Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath troden under foot the Son of God! &c"* Despising the law of Moses was despising God; but he who despises Jesus Christ, does more directly sin against him, and therefore sins in a higher and more aggravated manner.

This is again set in the same light, "See that ye refuse not him that speaketh: for if they escaped not who refused him that spoke on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven."

They who refused Moses, who spoke on earth (by whom are most probably meant Korah, Dathan and Abiram, and those who sinned with them) did rebel against Christ, but not immediately and directly: they had no thought of opposing Christ; but intended their opposition directly against Moses. They who reject the gospel [...]urn away from Christ, and directly oppose and reject him, who speaks to them from heaven. And this is here considered as an unspeakable aggravation of the sin of the latter above that of the former. And it is to be here observed that the sin here spoken of as the great sin, and so greatly ag­gravated by this circumstance, consists wholly in refusing, or turning away from Christ, of which, every unregenerate sinner is constantly guilty: but more especially awakened, convinced sinners, to whom Christ speaks in a degree and manner he does not to others, even to their consciences; and who knowingly, and under conviction of what they are doing turn away from him, and refuse to hear him.

From this view of things it will follow that the awakened, convinced sinner, who persists in unbelief and rejection of Jesus Christ, is more guilty and vile in the state and exercises of his mind than he was in a state of security, if he more directly and immediately opposes GOD and Jesus Christ, and with as great or greater strength of heart than he did before. And this, I think, will appear to be true beyond all con­tradiction or doubt, if the following things are well considered.—

THE secure, unawakened sinner, does not sin so directly and imme­diately against GOD, as does the awakened, convinced sinner. GOD is very little in his view and thoughts. It is with him in this respect very much as if there was no GOD, and no Saviour. His perfect selfishness, which carries in it opposition to GOD and Jesus Christ, is exercised not directly against GOD and the gospel; but in seeking what appears to him the greatest good, in the gratification of his selfish­ness and lusts; which lead him directly to oppose and injure his fellow creatures, in a greater or less degree. He may sin against the light of his conscience in a degree; but then this light and these dictates are supposed to be weak and in a low degree, else he would not be a secure, unawakened sinner; for so far as a person's conscience is enlightened to shew him his sin and real danger, it must give him uneasiness; be­cause selfishness itself is necessarily averse to misery, and he must be uneasy, so far as he sees himself exposed to it. This is the great dif­ference [Page 25] between the secure and awakened, convinced sinner; the for­mer is not convinced of his sin and danger, in any measure as it really is, and so as to give him any uneasiness about it; the latter is in a greater measure convinced of both; and the light and dictates of his conscience, shewing the connexion of his present state and conduct, i [...] persisted in, with eternal misery, are the sole ground of all the alteration of his conduct, his exercises and distress of mind. The secure sinner may indeed have a sort of conviction of conscience that what he allows himself in is wrong and contrary to God's commands, but has no clear apprehensions of his sinfulness, and does not reallize it that he is acting against God, or that God is angry with him, and will certainly destroy him, if he persist in his ways. He only wants to have clear and full conviction of conscience of this, in order to be an awakened, convinced sinner.—

On the other hand, the awakened, convinced sinner, sins more direct­ly and immediately against God and the Saviour, and in the face of the clear dictates of his own conscience. If a sinner's conscience is only awakened to see that the ways of allowed external wickedness in which he lives, lead to hell, so as to excite him to reform his life, and so comes up to the dictates of his conscience and makes himself easy; which has been the case with thousands; this is not the awakened, con­vinced sinner of which I am speaking. The conscience of the sinner I am now attending to is so enlightened, that he sees he must perish for­ever unless he willingly submits to Jesus Christ and trusts in him, to which he is invited, and urged by the strongest motives; and to which he is under indispensable obligations. And under this light and con­viction of conscience he feels himself going to a dreadful hell, for his impenitence and unbelief and continuing to reject Jesus Christ and the gospel, and yet persists in his obstinacy and most daring rebellion against God, and horrid abuse of the most worthy, and astonishingly merciful Redeemer; for which he is convinced he has no excuse.

He is now diverted from the pursuit of worldly pleasures in the gra­tification of those lusts which urged him on in a state of security; and his attention is turned more immediately and directly to GOD and the Redeemer; and his heart is exercised in direct opposition and enmity to the divine character, and the Saviour, and goes into an immediate quarrel with God. It appears therefore that in [...]his respect, his exer­cises of opposition to GOD are immensely aggravated.

And it is to be observed that his exercises of heart, now they are turned directly against God and the Saviour, are as strong and vigorous as ever; and he not only opposes God more directly, and against the clear light of his conscience; but more strongly, and exercises a greater degree of hatred and enmity against his character and ways, than he did before. He was an enemy to GOD before, and all his exercises and conduct were a mediate and implicit opposition to him; even while he had little or no idea of his character, and few thoughts of God. But now the divine character and conduct are in some measure brought into view, and the attention of his mind is held up to them; [Page 26] which necessarily occasions a greater degree of the exercise of oppositi­on, hatred and enmity, than when the hateful object was less in view, so long as he is no more reconciled to this character than he was, and the enmity of the heart is not at all abated or weakened. This is the case in all instances of opposition of heart, and fixed enmity to each other's persons and characters among men. These enemies, while they are out of each other's view, and think little or nothing of each other, will have no direct and possitive exertions of hatred and enmity: But let them be brought into each other's view, and come together, and their enmity will rise into direct and strong exercises, and ferment to a high degree. We find it so with regard to any thing at which we have a peculiar and fixed disgust and aversion, the nearer it is brought to us, and the more it is in our view, the more lively and strong is our aversion to it. And there can be no possible reason given why it should not be so in the case before us; yea it is absolutely impossible it should be otherwise. It also appears from another consideration that in this case the exercises of opposition and enmity to GOD and the Redeemer must be strong in proportion to the increase of light and conviction and the powerful motives which are opposed; for it requires a greater exertion of opposition to resist greater light and more powerful motives, than it does to resist less.

Thus we see the awakened, convinced sinner not only exerts himself more directly against God and the Redeemer than he did in a state of security; but does this in a much higher and stronger degree, on which account his wickedness is immensely increased.

It is also to be remembered that his sinfulness is not only increased in the greater strength and vigor of his opposition of heart to GOD and the Saviour; but these exercises are now more constant and nu­merous, as the mind is awakened up to the greatest attention to these things, and is more engaged in thoughts and exercises, perhaps, than ever it was in a state of security. And he thinks now a thousand times more about GOD and Christ, &c. than he did; and his exercises of heart are proportionably constant and numerous. But these exercises are all against GOD and the gospel; therefore the more constant and numerous they are, the more guilty and vile the sinner is.

Besides, the light and conviction of conscience the sinner has, not only occasions more direct acts of opposition to GOD, which are also more strong, constant and numerous, than they could be in a state of security; but the superior light they have in the awakening and con­viction of their conscience greatly aggravates all their impenitence and opposition to GOD. GOD has not only given them an external reve­lation, and put them, in common with all others under the gospel, under advantage to know the truth and obey the gospel: but has done much more for them. When they were going on stupid and inconsi­derate under this light, he has ordered a light to be forcibly let into their consciences, and given them a thousand times more light than they had in a state of security; and which they never would have had, if GOD had not interposed. This must be considered as a great favor [Page 27] and advantage in itself, by which they are unspeakably distinguished from sinners in a state of ignorance, security and ease: Which favour and advantage they sin against and abuse, by which all their rebellion and obstinacy in hating and opposing GOD and rejecting the gospel, is immensely aggravated. So that this distinguished light and conviction, being rebelled against and resisted, becomes the occasion of an amazing increase of guilt and vileness, instead of making it less.

If this will be the condemnation of men, that light is come into the world, and they have loved darkness, rather than light [...] have hated the light, opposed and sinner against it; surely they shall be thought worthy of the greatest condemnation, who have persisted in sin [...] and rebellion in opposition to the clearest light set into their consciences by God's special interposition, in an uncommon and extraordinary degree.

Let it be also observed, that the awakened, convinced sinner, under all his conviction and external reformation, persists in the neglect of all that God requires of him, and wholly and obstinately refuses to com­ply in the least degree, as he withholds his whole heart from GOD and Jesus Christ, and neglects and refuses to love GOD or his fellow men, or to hearken to Christ, whom he is commanded to hear and obey by all the authority of heaven. And this neglect of his whole duty is immensely aggravated by the light and conviction he now has, by which he sees what is his duty, and what is his interest a thousand times more fully and clearly than any secure, unawakened sinner does. Jesus Christ does now, by all this light and conviction let into his con­science, "Stand at the door and knock" in a manner and degree, in which he did not before. If this is justly considered, it will appear that the increase of guilt by this means only, is so great that no sup­posed reformation in external conduct will in any measure balance it, even on supposition there is as much negative goodness as any one is disposed to imagine. All the negative goodness that can be supposed in any external reformation, is immensely over balanced by the increase of positive guilt and vileness, which now takes place in the convinced sinner, in the way just now mentioned.

Let it be further observed, that this reformation in his external be­haviour and conduct, is not from the least degree of right principle and exercise; or because he is at heart more friendly to GOD, or in any degree a less enemy; but purely from self-love; even that very self love, in the exercise of which, he now sets himself directly against GOD, and goes into a course of more immediate opposition to him. GOD has ordered light and conviction to be given to his conscience, and has in this way taken him and shaken him over hell, and caused the fire of his wrath, as it were, to flash in his face. This has filled him with terror, and has deadened his heart to all his worldly pursuits, in which before he pleased and gratified himself. The fears of hell have put a stop to all his former courses, and turned all his attention to his future and eternal interest, in the exercise of the same selfishness, which in a state of security urged him into all his overt acts of open or secret wickedness. And this darling lust he will not give up, nor is it [Page 28] abated in the least degree, but he exercises it in as high a degree as ever, yea much more strongly, in direct opposition to GOD and the Saviour, in all his exercises and attempts with respect to the salvation he desires. He is restrained from the overt acts of allowed sin he lived in before by nothing but the fears of hell: Take this out of the way, and he will return to his old courses with more greediness than ever. And if he was not afraid of GOD, but really thought he could oppose him with impunity and success, all his fears and prayers would cease in a moment, and he would go right into allowed, overt acts of direct rebellion and blasphemy against him. This I observe, that we may judge more agreeable to the truth, of the reformation of the awakened sinner: and surely if we view this matter in a true light, we shall find nothing in the greatest reformation of this kind, that will in any degree counter-balance the immensely greater guilt and vileness which the awakening and conviction of conscience that he has fallen under, is the occasion of.

His heart is in no respect better, more friendly to GOD, or less an enemy to him. The principles and motives on which he reforms are really as bad as those, under the influence of which he before went on in open sin! Yea, they are the same, and now his wickedness is turned into another channel, and exercised more directly and in a higher degree against God.

No external conduct is better or worse, or has any thing of a mo­ral nature in it, any further than is connected with the heart, and is considered as the expression and effect of the voluntary exercises of that. And all the guilt and vileness of it lies in these exercises of the heart. So that every person is more or less guilty and vile accor­ding as the exercises of his heart are: and he whose heart is not mended, and made better or less vile than it has been, is not really reformed at all, whatever alteration there is in his external conduct. If then the heart is yet as unfriendly to God, and opposes him as much as ever, yea in a more direct and stronger manner, with what propriety can he, upon the whole, be called a reformed sinner? Mr. M. has made great use of this phrase, THE REFORMED SINNER, and he has constantly used it so that it tends to blind and deceive the reader, who is not dis­posed to look to the bottom of this matter.

IF these things are impartially considered, and we keep in view the high and glorious character of the Mediator, and the astonishing grace of the gospel, and the state and character of the sinner who continues voluntarily to hate, oppose and reject the Mediator with all his heart, under the greatest light and conviction of conscience, for which he has no more reason or excuse, than he would have for any overt acts of most gross wickedness: I say, if this matter is well and impartially considered, I believe it will appear most evident that the awakened, convinced sinner is much more guilty and vile in the exercises of his heart, than he could be, on any supposition in a state of security.

MANKIND do commonly judge quite wrong and contrary to truth in this matter. They over look the great malignity of sin, and are igno­rant [Page 29] of that wherein it's guilt and vileness chiefly consists, and so judge according to outward appearance, and not righteous judgment. It is common for persons to look upon the least degree of injustice towards men in dealing with them; especially if they themselves are directly injured by it in any degree, to be a greater crime than the highest acts of profaneness and taking GOD's name in vain a thousand times, and the former is unspeakably more odious and vile in their eyes, than the latter. The reason is because GOD is very much out of their sight and thoughts, and they have no real love and respect to him; so see not any real injury done by the latter, or any thing very bad or shameful in it; especially when it is very much the custom and fashion. But they are all sensibility to their own interest; therefore are ready to hate those who oppose and injure them, and look on them as very vile and criminal, even as deserving eternal damnation.

There are multitudes who are governed by the prejudices of educa­tion, or wholly by outward appearance, in their views and judgment of things of this kind: yea, this is very common, if not most generally the case. By the force of education, and the common sentiments and cus­toms where persons live, many practices appear most odious, shockingly vile and shameful, which are really unspeakably less criminal, than other things which appear to them to be innocent, and even commend­able. Instances of this are so common and apparent, that it is needless to illustrate it by examples.*

All persons that are unawakened are wont to judge of themselves with respect to their sinfulness, and the degree of their guilt and vile­ness, by their external conduct. Therefore their first convictions of conscience most commonly fix upon that, by which they first begin to learn their own sinfulness, God's anger with them, and the sad state they are in. This puts them upon reformation of their sins, omissions, [Page 30] and commissions, which now stare them in the face as provoking to God and leading to destruction. By this they hope to mend their case, and become in a great degree innocent, so as to remove the curse of GOD's displeasure. And if they receive no further light and convic­tion, they will rest in this, and think all is well. But if they go on to any good degree of thorough conviction, they will see things in quite a different sight, and find that in themselves which is unspeakably more criminal than any thing which they saw before; that this vileness lies in their heart, which is not at all mended by all their external refor­mations and duties.

I SAY not these things with a view to extenuate the guilt and vileness of the open profligate, and of these open sins which are justly shocking and terrible; or to lead any persons to look on them less vile and odi­ous than they now do. No, far be it! These sins are immensely more heinous and vile than the profligate thinks them to be, or than any one else can fully conceive. The secure, unconvinced sinner is guilty and vile beyond, far beyond, any thing he ever imagined; his guilt and vileness exceed all thought: But yet all this, viewed in a comparative light, may be little and as nothing, when compared with the immensely more aggravated guilt of a sinner, persisting in rebellion, impenitence and obstinacy in opposition to the clear light and dictates of his conscience. Our Saviour's representing the inhabitants of Capernaum as worse than those of Sodom, is nothing in favor of the open abominations that were practised by the latter, nor tends to extenuate their criminalness, or encourage such practices; but only sets the guilt of the former in a true and striking light.

WHAT has been said on this argument may be in some measure re­presented by the following similitude.

In the distant parts of the realm of a great and good prince there lived a man, who was brought up without any true apprehensions of the character of his prince, or any degree of true affection or regard to him, his government, or any of his subjects, but under the influence of directly opposite principles. When he grew up, and came to act for himself he appeared perfectly selfish, having no regard to any one, any further than he could answer his own ends by him: and therefore hating and opposing every one who in his view stood in the way of his good and interest, which he greedily pursued in the gratification of his vo­racious appetites and lusts. In the eager pursuit of sensual pleasures, riches and honors, he injured many of his fellow subjects many ways, and to a great degree. At length they opposed him so much in his pursuits, that he fell upon them, and killed some thousands, and took their goods as a booty to himself. He was often told that these prac­tices were a gross violation of the laws of his prince, and that he would one day call him to an account, and punish him for it. But he gave very little heed to this; he never entertained a serious thought about it, and did not really believe what was told him, tho' he assented to it as truth, and never disputed it in his own mind. Indeed, it was not [Page 31] often that he had a thought of his prince; tho' he was frequently spoken of in his hearing, and his laws were read to him, threatening such practices as he lived in, with the severest punishment: And when he did think of him, he could not realize it that he was angry with him, or would ever punish him, as he did not think he had ever done him any hurt, or was in the least unfriendly to him: and as he always took him to be a very kind and merciful prince. Thus he went on in ig­norance, security and ease for many years.

At length the prince sent a special officer with orders to apprehend him, confiscate all his goods and hang him in gibbets, as a monument of his displeasure and vengeance, unless he would become a hearty friend to him, repent of his rebellion, and submit to his laws and government as good and excellent, and accept of a free pardon which he was ready to grant thro' the interposition of his own son, who had interposed his own merit with his father in behalf of this rebel, and be­came an earnest intercessor for him, having himself undertaken to make good all the damages this wretch had done to him and his kingdom; which pardon was now freely offered to him without money or price, if he was willing to receive it thro' the interposition of this son of the prince, and ready to depend wholly upon his merit and worthiness for it; and give himself up to him, considered in this character, and be his friend and faithful servant to the end of his life.

Upon his being thus apprehended, and finding what orders were given, his mind was filled with anxiety and distress in a view of the evil case he had brought himself into; and forsook his former co [...]rses immediately, not because he was at heart any more friendly to his fel­low subjects, or any better disposed towards his prince, or less inclined to rebellion; but merely through the fears and terrors which had seized his mind in a view of the terrible punishment he was threatened with. He dreaded the punishment, and thought of it with horror. But when he considered the character and government of the prince, he found himself in no degree pleased with it, but the contrary. He found he was not willing to accept of a pardon on such terms, and was greatly displeased with the person, character and conduct of the son; for in all he had done to procure his pardon, he had justified his father, and con­demned the rebel to the highest possible degree. He therefore now went into a course of direct opposition to the prince and his son; and he was so far from being willing to accept of the pardon and deliver­ance offered, that he rejected the whole with great disgust and contempt. And the more he attended to the affair, and considered the character of the prince and his son, and their treatment of him, the more did his heart rise in opposition to them, and the offers made to him. The of­ficer in whose custody he was, often led him to the place of execution, where he saw numbers of rebels hanging and slowly expiring in the greatest tortures; and this sight filled his soul with the greatest distress and horror, not knowing but he should be executed immediately, and greatly fearing it: but this did not reconcile him in the least degree to his prince or his son, or dispose him to accept of the pardon offered. [Page 32] He had as great an aversion and opposition of heart to the latter as to the former, and this opposition was apparent, and exerted with a degree of strength and stubbornness in proportion to his dread of the evil threatened. And this was also the case, when he attended to the pro­mises made him upon his submission; the more he desired the deliver­ance offered, the more strongly did his heart oppose the condition.

At the same time his heart was really no more against his former practices than ever; he being yet as much as ever under the power of the same principles and lusts, which led him to them, in the circum­stances in which he was then. And this was apparent from fact: for the officer gave him his liberty for a few days, upon which all his fears and terrors ceased and he thinking the bitterness of death was past, returned to his former courses with as much greediness as ever; yea, vastly more.

When the officer seized him again, his former views and terrors and dread of the prince returned. He was all attention to his case, and im­ployed all his thoughts to find out some way to escape. Could he have found any way to deliver himself from the hand and power of the prince; or had it been in his power to dethrone him and his son, he would have done it with all his heart. But as he knew this was im­possible, he applied to his prince daily with earnest petitions that he would pity his case, and at least mitigate his punishment, offering to suffer any thing short of death. He made his great reformation, a plea for pardon and deliverance, and made great promises of what he would do, if he would release him from this punishment. But when he found all this availed nothing; but was esteemed by the prince and his son as real rebellion against them, it being in direct opposition to what they insisted on, and the fruit of enmity to their character and conduct; and that nothing would do or avail in his behalf but an hearty accept­ance of the pardon offered, with a heart friendly to the prince, and ready to justify him in all his conduct towards him; and a thankful acceptance of the mediation of his son, being heartily willing to be his servant for life, as the greatest priviledge he could think of: I say, when he found this to be true, his mind was filled with more dreadful apprehensions. Yet his heart did not relent and yield at all, and was so far from becoming any more friendly to the prince, that it swelled with the most horrid enmity against him; at the same time that he was told, and he was convinced in his conscience, that the prince and his son had acted a becoming part, and were amazingly kind to him, and that he was under the highest obligations immediately to submit to them, and perfectly without any excuse for not doing it. In this way of quarrelling directly with the prince and his son, and obstinately refusing their kindest offers, he spent many years; 'till the prince resolved to wait on him no longer, and ordered him to be executed.

Now, is it not easy to determine in which part of this man's life he was most guilty and vile? Was he not unspeakably more so in the lat­ter, than in the former, in which he had so much more done for him, by which he was brought to such light and conviction of conscience, and in consequence of which his heart turned more directly and strongly [Page 33] against his prince, and exerted itself against him in a much higher de­gree of opposition and malignity, directly in the face of all this light and conviction, and contrary to the strong and pressing motives set be­fore him to a friendly submission? Would not he be justly looked upon, as an enemy to the prince and his son, or at least to have low thoughts of their character, and to be a friend to the rebel, and take his part, who should so much as doubt of this? Much more so, if he should take a great deal of pains to represent the rebel, when apprehended by the officer, and in the circumstances and exercises that have been described, as greatly reformed, and much better in the state of his mind, and in a great degree innocent and blameless, compared with what he was before.

And if this is a plain case, I see not why that before us is not much more so.—The difference appears to me so great, and the awakened, convinced sinner to be so much more guilty and vile than he was, or could be in a state of security, that when the matter is justly stated, I see not how any can be at a loss about it. And I cannot but be confi­dent that it will be as manifest to the attentive, impartial reader that the former is immensely more guilty and vile than the latter, as i [...] is to any one that the whole earth is bigger than the least pebble, and vastly out weighs it: there being no more need of nice scales, and critical metaphysical distinctions to decide in the one case, than in the other.

However, if the unregenerate sinner, as to his absolute character, is viewed in a just light, which I suppose is that in which he is set in this and the foregoing sections, I have answered the great end I proposed, whether the consequence is thought to be just, or not, with respect to his comparative guilt and vileness. I said what I did on this head in my section on means, with a design to oppose that very notion of an awakened, convinced sinner which Mr. M. contends for, which is not much different, if at all, from that which Dr. Mayhew had: and which I knew was very common even among professed Calvinists; which I thought to be directly contrary to the truth, and of a very bad tendency. If therefore what I have said, fully and clearly exposes and confutes this notion of the sinner's absolute character, I have obtained what I chiefly had in view, even tho' it should not be thought to be made evident beyond all dispute that such an one is more guilty and vile than he could be, or than sinners generally are, in a state of ignorance and security. Tho' I confess, I know not how any one can have a just view of the character and exercises of the former, and no [...] pronounce him, beyond comparison, more guilty and vile than the latter.

I considered the matter in this comparative view on purpose to set the guilt and vileness of the awakened, convinced sinner, in a striking light. I find Christ took this method to represent the great guilt and vileness of the inhabitants of Capernaum, and convince them of it. He told them they were more guilty than the inhabitants of Sodom were. This was doubtless as shocking and offensive to thousands, as the comparison I have made, has been to Mr. M. or any one else. And it wo [...] be easy to shew that this shocking, offensive saying of [Page 34] our Saviour might be most successfully opposed, in the very way, and by the same arguments, which Mr. M. has made use of against me. This leads me to what is to be the subject of the next section.


THE way which Mr. M. takes to evade several passages of scripture, which were referred to in support of what he opposes, examined.

IN my section on means I entered into no laboured proof of what I advanced with respect to the increase of the guilt of the awakened, convinced sinner, I only stated the character of such in a few words here, having done it more largely in a former section,* and then refer­red to several texts of scripture, supposing they proved what I had as­serted beyond all controversy, the sinner's character being allowed to be justly stated. In all I say on this head, I keep in view the sinner's character, as one who does "continue obstinately to oppose light and truth, and reject the offers of the gospel." Mr. M. does not expressly deny this to be true of the awakened sinner. He indeed gives a quite different character of such, tho' he never once attempts to prove that mine is wrong, or that his is right. And as he builds all his oppositi­on to me on this mere supposition, without any proof, it appears to me a very sandy foundation, which is no way sufficient to support the su­perstructure. He ought in the first place to have excepted against the character I had given of the awakened sinner, and proved it not just, and then established his own; and this would have finished the con­troversy; for the whole debate between him and me, turns upon this, as it did in that between Dr. Mayhew and me, as has been before ob­served. It will appear, I trust, on examination, that what Mr. M. has said to shew that the scriptures I adduced to prove my point are not to the purpose is grounded on a supposition that the character I have given of the convinced sinner is not true; and therefore that the most he says here, as well as else where, is rather an unfair begging of the question, than a confutation of what I have advanced.

The passages of scripture I mentioned are the following, "And this is the condemnation, that light is is come into the world, and men have loved darkness rather than light." "If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin." And what Christ says of those cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, and who had the most light and instruction by his preaching, and yet continued im­penitent, viz. that they were on this account more guilty than the inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon, and even Sodom itself.§ And St. Paul says the gospel is "a favor of death unto death, in them that perish." ¶

[Page 35] The general answer Mr. M. gives to this, is, that these scriptures say nothing of an awakened, convinced sinner; nothing of that light which is let into the conscience, which he calls internal light: but have re­spect only to what he calls external, objective light; so are nothing to the purpose.

I thought these passages proved that opposing and rejecting the light of the gospel, and continuing impenitent, obstinate enemies to Christ, in the face of this light, and direct abuse of it, was unspeakably the greatest crime men can be guilty of; that this will be the principal ground of their condemnation, as that in which their guilt chiefly con­sists. And that the awakened convinced sinner had much more of this light than others let into his conscience, which he opposed and rejected more directly, and with greater strength and obstinacy, than he did the small degree of light which he had before; and much more against the dictates of his own conscience. From this state of the case, it ap­peared to me a plain and undeniable consequence, that the awakened convinced sinner is more guilty and vile in the state and exercises of his mind than when he was ignorant and secure. And it appears in the same light to me now. If sinning against and opposing the light of the gospel is the chief aggravation of all sin, and that in which persons guilt under the gospel summarily consists; then he who sins against the greatest and clearest light, and that most directly, and with the greatest degree of opposition of heart, must be the greatest sinner. I see not that the distinction which Mr. M. makes between external, objective light, and internal light, a light in the judgment and conscience, is any thing to his purpose. If two men are under the same external revela­tion; but one has special pains taken with him to inculcate the truth revealed, by which his judgment and conscience is convinced, while the other has really no more light in his judgment and conscience, than if no revelation had been made: if the chief of their guilt lies in oppo­sing and rejecting the light of this revelation, surely he who has so much the most light and advantage, must be unspeakably the greatest sinner; while he continues wholly to oppose and reject it all. The wickedness of the latter, his want of love to the truth and opposition of heart to it, keeps the light which is set before him wholly out of his mind and con­science, and this will be the chief matter of his condemnation. The other would have continued as blind and ignorant as he, had not light been forced into his conscience by some extraordinary means, which he now hates and opposes in a manner and degree, which the latter has no opportunity to do.

And now who can be at a loss which is the greatest sinner? Mr. M. represents the secure sinner as very criminal in sinning against the light of his conscience, and by this means, wasting his conscience, as he ex­presses it: and speaks of this as the great aggravation of all crimes.* This is as really internal light as that of the awakened, convinced sin­ner; it being of the same nature and kind, and all the difference is in the degree of light. And if sinning against the former is a great crime; [Page 36] yea, that in which the guilt of the secure sinner, who goes on in open wickedness, chiefly consists; then surely the latter is a greater sinner than the former in proportion to the greater degree of light of consci­ence which he sins against. It would be strange indeed, if sinning a­gainst, and opposing a small degree of light of conscience, should be very criminal, even the greatest of all crimes; but sinning against, and opposing an immensely greater degree of light of conscience, should be quite harmless and innocent. But so it must be, if there is any rea­son in this distinction which Mr. M. makes. In making this distinc­tion he has flatly contradicted himself, as has been observed: for he allows that opposition to this same internal light and conviction of con­science in the unawakened sinner is the chief aggravation of his crimes. To be consistent with himself on this head, he must hold that light and conviction of conscience does in no case aggravate the sins of men; but he is the greatest sinner who has the least knowledge and understand­ing; and whose judgment and conscience dictates nothing at all with respect to what is right or wrong: and he is the least guilty, or certain­ly not more, who has the most understanding and light of conscience, tho' he abuses and sins against it all.

Our Saviour says, "That servant which knew his Lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things wor­thy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes."* It would be a f [...]rced construction of these words indeed, to say that the meaning is not, that he who actually knows what God requires and neglects to do it in op­position to his judgment and conscience is most guilty, and shall be beaten with many stripes; but he who is under advantages to know, but does not really know any thing about his Lord's will, shall be bea­ten with few stripes. It is true that he who is under advantages to know the will of God, and yet knows it not, is more guilty and wor­thy of a greater punishment, if he acts contrary to his will, than he who was under no advantages, and had no opportunity to know. Yea, the latter is not guilty at all, so does not things worthy of any stripes; because in this case his ignorance is properly invincible. Therefore our Saviour has no reference to such a case. But by him that knew not his Lord's will and yet did things worthy of stripes, he must mean one who is under advantages to know at least in some degree and yet does not know. And by him that knew his Lords will, he means one that really and actually, knew it; that is, has internal light, conviction and sensibility of conscience. He then who sins against this light is the greatest criminal; and the greater is the degree of this light and knowledge, the more guilty and vile he is.

Mr. M's distinction therefore is not only contrary to all reason and comm [...]se; but directly contrary to these words of our Saviour. He who actually knows his Lord's will, let his light and knowledge come how it will, whether in a miraculous way, or by a standing ex­ternal revelation; and whether he was brought to understand this by some extraordinary providence which awakened his attention and roused [Page 37] his conscience, or by the influence of the holy Spirit: I say let his light and conviction of conscience come in either of these ways, or in any other, if he does not act according to his knowledge, but neglects to come up to the dictates of his conscience, this light and knowledge unspeakably aggravates his guilt.

BUT let us hear what Mr. M. has to say to vindicate his distinction, and shew that, tho' external light, does greatly aggravate the guilt of sinners under the gospel; yet internal light of an awakened conscience does not. He says, ‘They do essentially and specifically differ, the one is external, objectively set before the mind; the other is inter­nal and mental. The former is liable to be utterly rejected with contempt, without any influence upon the conscience or life. The latter is received into the mind, and allowed by the author in this debate, to have great influence on both, to raise conviction, and excite reformation and amendment of life, to the highest degree the unre­generate are capable of by the common influence of the holy Spirit. And therefore to argue from the one to the other, as if they were the same, the reasoning must needs be inconclusive.*

Here are two differences mentioned, which he calls "essential and specifical." The first is, "One is external—the other is internal and mental." How this difference should make any odds in favor of the latter I can not imagine. To suppose it does is contrary to all reason and common sense, and to the words of Christ just quoted; as well as di­rectly contrary to himself: for he allows that sins against the light and dictates of conscience, are above all others aggravated, as has been ob­served: but this light is as "internal and mental" as any can be.

As to the other difference, if by being "received into the mind," he means any thing inconsistent with rejecting and opposing the truth with contempt, and opposite to this, as it is plain that he does, in that he sets the one in opposition to the other; then instead of proving any thing, he only begs the question in dispute, and supposes that this light reforms the sinner, so that, on the whole, his character is really mended, and that the mind, or heart truly conforms and submits to it in its exercises. This is the only question in dispute; and if this must be taken for granted, the dispute is at an end. Mr. M. has really begged the question in dispute, thro' his whole book, by such representations as these, and those which are more grossly false, without ever attempting to prove that they are just. Let his book be stripped of this disguise, and most he says would appear in its true weakness. Let Mr. M. or any of his ad­herents prove, what he here and every where supposes and takes for granted, and the debate will be finished; for this is really the only thing in dispute. Mr. M. here says, I allow what he calls "internal light," to have great influence. It is true; but the influence I allow, is di­rectly contrary to that which he speaks of; viz. That it is the occasion of exciting direct opposition and enmity against God and Christ, and of a person's acting more against the light and dictates of his own consci­ence, in neglecting and obstinately refusing to do his Lord's will, of which he has a thousand times more clear and extensive knowledge, [Page 38] than the ignorant, secure sinner. What Mr. M. means, by internal light having "great influence on the conscience, I am at a loss. He does not mean that it inlightens the conscience; for this would be only saying that light in the conscience, is light in the conscience; for inter­nal light, is the conscience inlightened. This therefore would be only saying nothing; or if it is saying something, it is nothing to his pur­pose. If by "influence upon the conscience," he means any influence by which the heart, or will does in any degree become pliable and sub­mit to the truth, and obey it; I am sure I do not, nor ever did "allow" this. Nor had he any right to take it for granted.

From this difference which he makes, he infers, "that to argue from the one to the other, as if they were the same, the reasoning must needs be inconclusive." It is granted they are not the same: There is a dif­ference: I do not "argue from the one to the other, as if they were the same: But the argument is from the less to the greater If this is the condemnation, if this is the great crime for which persons under the gospel will be condemned, that light is come into the world in an ex­ternal revelation, and they have hated and opposed it; then they into whose minds and consciences this light is made to shine, so that they have a thousand times more knowledge of the revealed truth than o­thers; and hate and oppose it more in proportion; are sinners above all others; and their condemnation will be proportionably greater.*

HAVING considered his general answer to shew that these scriptures are not to my purpose, which he often repeats; I shall take notice of some other things which he says with respect to each of these passages, in order to evade the force of them.

He says of the first, "This is the condemnation, &c." ‘Not a word of an awakened, reformed sinner in the text and context, nothing of internal light, or sensibility of conscience, or any of the effects that might imply it. Nay, the character here given of those spoken of, is quite the reverse of an awakened, reformed sinner. They are said to practise evil, i. e. so as the reformed sinner does not, and to shun the light, lest their evil deed should be reproved, and they called to part with them.

I have just now shewn that the strength of my argument from this text does not depend upon its having a direct and immediate reference [Page 39] to an awakened sinner; but on supposition an unawakened sinner only is meant, the argument from such an one, to an awakened sinner, is very strong, if the latter hates and opposes the light he has, as much, and more than the former. That he does not Mr. M. here takes for granted; so that he begs the question again here, as he does from be­ginning to end.

But let us see how he proves that these words have no reference to an awakened sinner. He says "the character here given of those spoken of is quite the reverse of the awakened, reformed sinner, they are said to practise evil, i. e. so as the reformed sinner does not." But of this he has not given the least proof unless it be in the repetition of the words REFORMED SINNER, which is a very ambiguous phrase, as Mr. M. has used it here, and every where else. There is indeed no such reformed, unregenerate sinner as he here supposes, who cannot be said to do evil, and hate the light, and whose character is directly the re­verse of this. There is no such unregenerate sinner mentioned in the bible from beginning to end; such a character is the invention of Mr. M. and a thousand others, in direct contradiction to the whole of di­vine revelation. It is directly contrary to this passage now under con­sideration. Our Saviour speaks of two sorts of persons, of distinct and directly opposite characters, viz. They who do evil and hate the light; and they who love and practise the truth, whose deeds are wrought in God. And he so speaks of these, as to exclude any middle character between these two extremes; and his words strongly imply that there can be no such person. With what face then can Mr. M. dress up an awakened sinner, so as not to belong to either of these characters in which Christ evidently includes all mankind!

Besides, Christ is here speaking expressly of the condemnation that shall come on all unbelievers; so on all who do not know and love the truth; which appears from the foregoing words with which these are connected. "He that believeth not, is condemned already. And this is the condemnation." &c. Mr. M. it seems, has found a set of persons who, though they do not believe on Christ, yet are dressed in such fine colours, that they will not fall under this condemnation! They are certainly a sort of creatures which he who spoke these words knew no­thing of.—And it is most certain the bible knows nothing about these poor, harmless, penitent, reformed, humble, obedient, unregenerate sinners, who do not hate the truth, nor do evil. Nor do any such exist in nature, as such a character is the most perfect contradiction, and ne­cessarily destroys itself. They are the creatures of the imagination of a set of men in the christian world, with which they have done infinite mischief to the cause of truth and religion.—

I PROCEED to examine what he says on the next scripture mentioned; "If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin." I suppose our Saviour in these words represents the sin the Jews were guilty of in hating and rejecting him, when he had come and spoken to them, and exhibited his character and the evidence of his divine mis­sion in a clear and striking light, to be unspeakably greater than all [Page 40] their other sins could be, had he not thus come and spoken to them. This sin was so amazingly aggravated, that their other sins, however great in themselves, were light and as nothing, and not to be mentioned in comparison with this. I thought it hence followed with undeniable evidence that the awakened, convinced sinner, who, under the full blaze of light let into his mind and conscience, continued to hate and reject Jesus Christ, is unspeakably more guilty and vile than he was in a state of ignorance and blindness when he did not see, and so could not hate and oppose Christ as he does now.

To this Mr. M. objects two things. One is, that the light here spo­ken of as resisted is "merely external, and has no necessary relation to, or connexion with an awakened, reformed sinner."

This has been just now considered, as his general objection to all the passages of scripture now under consideration. And I hope it has been sufficiently shewn, how weak and groundless this is.

Another thing he says to shew this text is not to my purpose is, that according to our Saviour's own account, the Jews of whom these words are spoken, "were in a state and temper of their minds, previous to their rejecting the gospel, more wicked than the inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon, or even Sodom itself."* This he thinks is evident in that he says, the latter "would have repented by the same means, which the former rejected. Hence he infers that if they were more wicked than the inhabitants of Sodom, antecedent to their rejecting Christ, this their wickedness could not with any propriety be said to be little or nothing, compared with what they were now guilty of. Therefore that this cannot be the meaning of our Saviour.

To this I answer in the first place, that it is by no means evident that when Christ speaks of these cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, as more guilty than Sodom, he has respect to the sins they were guilty of antecedent to his coming and preaching to them, &c. but the contrary is most evident. Therefore his consequence, has no foundation; so comes to nothing. But of this I shall have occasion to speak more particularly presently.

In the next place, I say, if what he supposes were true, his conse­quence does by no means follow. Tho' the Jews were worse than So­dom, antecedent to Christ's coming and preaching to them, it does not follow that they were not immensely more guilty, in consequence of the visit Christ made them, than they were before, tho' very guilty then. Their guilt might be vastly greater than that of Sodom; and yet they might be put into such circumstances, and have so much greater light, &c. as to increase their guilt amazingly; so as that in the com­parison, their former guilt, sinks, as it were into nothing, as not to be mentioned with the latter. This is the very light in which this same thing is set in other passages of scripture. "For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation, which at first began to be spoken by the Lord!" Here we see the sin of rejecting Christ when he had come, is represented as be­yond [Page 41] expression greater than any disobedience under the Mosaic dispen­sation, or before Christ came. The words How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation! are very emphatical, and strongly express the unparallel guilt which they contract, above all others, who reject Christ, and the salvation offered by him: And are full as strong an expression as the words of Christ under consideration, taken in the sense I have put upon them. But this is expressed more strongly yet, if possible. "See that ye refuse not him that speaketh: for if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven."*

St. Paul, in order to set forth the excellence and glory of the gospel, as far exceeding the glory of the legal dispensation under Moses, says, "For even that which was made glorious, had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth." This expression is exactly parallel with the words of Christ under consideration, taken in the sense I put upon them. And it is to be observed, that if the dispensation opened by Christ so much exceeded the former dispensation in glory, that it may be said to have no glory, in comparison with this; then it may be with as great propriety affirmed of the sins under these different dispensations, that sins under the former, are no sins, have no guilt and criminalness, in comparison with sins under the latter. For despising and rebelling against the latter, is more criminal than despising the for­mer, in proportion to the greater glory of the latter.

The husbandmen to whom the housholder let out his vineyard, were very criminal in abusing the servants he sent to them to receive his due of the fruit; and proceeding to kill some of them. But how much more criminal and guilty were they in seizing and putting to death his only son, when he was sent to them! This as it were, swallowed up all their former crimes, so that they are hardly to be mentioned in compa­rison with this. In what words could the greatness of this crime be better represented, than by such an expression as this, "If he had not sent his only son, they had not had sin; their guilt would have been little or nothing compared with what it is now: For now they have seen, and murdered his only son." It is common to represent the greatness of a crime, by saying, Such or such a sin is nothing to this. Or all the wickedness he was guilty of before is nothing to this. And is not Christ's expression exactly parallel to this? How then can we be at a loss about the meaning of it?

This does indeed set Jesus Christ in a very grand light; that all the sins in the world should be nothing to that of rejecting and hating him, when he comes in person, and speaks and offers himself. It is impos­sible that they who have as low and mean notions of him, and as high ones of themselves as the Jews had, should understand them. No won­der then if all such join with Mr. M. and say, "Since this can't be the meaning, another must be sought."

When we consider the high and grand character of Jesus Christ the SON OF GOD; his amazing condescention and grace in becoming incarnate and living among the Jews—Their high expectations and [Page 42] desires of the coming of the Messiah—the excellence and amiableness of his character—how abundant, clear and plain his public instructions were—and what full, bright and awakening evidence he gave, by his stupendous works, that he was indeed the SON OF GOD: I say, when we well consider all this, and much more that might be men­tioned, the crime of hating and rejecting him, in those circumstances, will I am confident rise so high in our view, that there will appear no difficulty in understanding the words under consideration in the sense I have put upon them; and it will, I doubt not, appear that to say that this crime does not rise so high above all others, as to justify such an expression, thus understood; and on this ground to seek another mean­ing, is very dishonorable to Jesus Christ.

In this light therefore I think I have good ground to look on what Mr. M. has said here; especially if we consider, what is the meaning which he has "sought," and found. This I will give in his own words. ‘And since this can't be the meaning (i. e. the meaning I had put upon the words) another must be sought. Which is plainly this, viz. They had not had that sin of rejecting the clear light of the evidence of the divine mission of Christ, and so of the truth of the gospel. That is, if Christ had not come and given them opportunity to reject him, they would not have been guilty of rejecting him. This is much the same as if he had said, [...]if they had not been guilty of this sin, they would not in fact have been guilty of it. Who can think that our divine teacher, who never spoke a word but to some good purpose, took pains repeatedly to inculcate this, which every one knew, without his mentioning it; and if they did not, it is a matter of no importance; so that to assert it is but mere trifling: Who, I say, can imagine this? If Mr. M. will find another such instance in the whole bible, or in any author of tolerable sense, he may be excused. He was surely driven to a hard shift that when he sought a meaning to these words, he could find no better, if he rejected that which I had given.

BUT he goes on to say, ‘They indeed did it in their hearts; but it lay concealed, hid under the cloak of high pretensions to sanc [...]ity: But when they acted it out, the cloak fell off, and their wickedness appeared to all the world. This acting out the wickedness of their hearts, we readily grant, was an aggravation of their sin. But how comes it to pass, that all their sinfulness of heart and life’ (i. e. of the inhabitants of Chorazin, &c.) ‘whereby they were more vile than the idolatrous heathen, and most abominable Sodomites, is little or no­thing, compared with acting it out in this particular? Is the fountain nothing to the streams? The cause nothing to the effect? Is not this to invert the known and established rules of reasoning.’

Here he speaks of these Jews, as covering all their wickedness under the cloak of high pretensions to sanctity; and in the next breath speaks of their wickedness of life. So here are a set of men, who are guilty of great sinfulness of life, i. e. outward, open wickedness; and yet at the same time hide all their wickedness of heart under high pretensions to sanctity. A strange sort of people indeed! It is to be also remem­bered [Page 43] that he else where speaks of these very persons is "reformed sin­ners, who were awakened, brought to consider, and in a measure to amend their lives."* What then does he here mean by sinfulness of life? But if they were never so sinful in their lives, to what purpose is it men­tioned here, when he is speaking only of sinfulness of heart, of the "foun­tain" not of the "streams?" Is sinfulness of life the fountain, not the streams; the cause, and not the effect?

As to his two questions here, the first has been answered already. Let these be as sinful in heart and life as Mr. M. supposes, so that "they were more vile than the most abominable Sodomites, antecedent to their having opportunity to sin against, hate and reject Christ: Yet their acting out the wickedness of their hearts in this particular way, had unspeakably more guilt and vileness in it, than all their other sins put together. To say the contrary, is to speak dishonorably of Christ, and contrary to what he has said not only here, but elsewhere, and to other passages of scripture, as has been shewn.

As to the other question, "Is the fountain nothing to the streams," &c. I answer, I see not what relation this question has to that which is now in dispute. What Christ speaks of in the words before us are the ex­ercises and exertions of wickedness in hating and rejecting him; and these he says are so greatly aggravated, that all the exercises and acts of wickedness which they would, or could be guilty of, had he not come and spoken to them, had been light, and as nothing, compared with these: So that what it here said has no relation to wickedness of heart, considered as distinct from all exercises of every kind, and antecedent to such; if there is indeed any such wickedness of heart in nature. In a word, if by the "fountain," he means that sinfulness of heart and life whereby the Jews were more vile than the idolatrous heathen; then by fountain and streams, cause and effect he means the same thing; or rather has no meaning at all Their sinfulness of heart and life by which they hated and opposed Christ, was no more the streams from the fountain, than that wickedness of heart and life by which they were more vile than the idolatrous heathen; and the former was as much the fountain and cause as the latter. But if by fountain and cause here Mr. M. means the wickedness of the heart distinct from all exercises, and antecedent to them, his question is quite foreign to the matter under consideration; as the words of Christ have no relation to this; but to sinful exercises of heart in hating the Father and him. This he says was such a high degree of wickedness that all sins they could have been guilty of were as nothing to this.

His next words are, ‘But what increases my surprize is, that in the passages above quoted from the author, he seems to argue that the sin­ner's being restrained from acting out the wickedness of the heart in overt acts, is as nothing; but what he is in his heart, is all. Whatever particular ways of sin he has forsaken, &c. yet on the whole he is more vile, &c. And now, all the wickedness of the heart, whereby the sinner is disposed to the act, if occasion offers, is little [Page 44] or nothing, if the overt act is restrained. Does the tables being turn­ed, really change the nature of things?’

REPLY, Mr. M. here puts the charge upon himself, and is the sole cause of increasing his own surprize, and of the contradiction he would fasten upon me, by using the words overt acts, in an indeterminate, con­fused manner, and so as to mean one thing in one sentence, and quite another in the next I [...] by overt acts are meant external acts of sin, in distinction from the voluntary exercises of the heart, I have said that whatever overt acts the sinner is restrained from, he may notwithstand­ing be more guilty and vile in acting out the wickedness of his heart, in hating and opposing Christ, under great light and conviction of con­science, than he was when guilty of these overt acts, in a state of igno­rance and security. In this sense Mr. M. uses these words in the first sentence, unless he abuses me, and himself too. But where is the in­consistence with this, in representing the great sin of the Jews as con­sisting in hating and opposing Jesus Christ; so that all their overt acts of sin, that they had been guilty of, or could be, without this, were as nothing to it: Is not this perfectly consistent? Every reader who has sense and attention enough to read two plain sentences, must know it is. But Mr M. has used the words overt act in the last sentence, in quite another sense, as meaning all the exercises of the mind whatever, in distinction from the dormant principles of the heart, antecedent to all thought, motion or exercise, "whereby the sinner is disposed to act, if occasion offers." Now I have said nothing about this, thro' the whole section he is remarking upon. I speak of no wickedness of heart, but what consists in thought and voluntary exercise; or the neglect of pro­per exercise, when occasion offers: And therefore make no comparison between the one and the other. It is Mr. M. therefore that has "turn­ed the tables" and confused and surprized himself and his leader, with his own mistake and inaccuracy.

Before I leave this passage, I would observe that Mr. M. by represent­ing the streams as nothing to the fountain, meaning by streams overt acts of sin, has in a great measure spoiled his reformed sinner, about whom he says so much, laying a mighty stress upon his external reformation, as being sufficient to counterbalance all the greater guilt he contracts by his opposition of heart to immensely more light and conviction than he had. This external reformation now dwindles into little or nothing compared with the fountain of corruption that remains as great, and with as much strength as ever. If he had kept this in view every where, we should not have heard so much of his poor, trembling, re­formed sinner; nor so much said in his favor, how opposite soever is his heart to Jesus Christ and the gospel.

I COME now to consider the other passage of scripture, which I re­ferred to in support of what I had advanced. It is this, "Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not. Wo unto thee, Chorazin, Wo unto thee, Beth­saida; for if the mighty works which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth [Page 45] and ashes. But I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee."

Mr. M says, Christ has respect here only to the wickedness and hard­ness of heart th [...] inhabitants of these cities were found guilty of ante­cedent to his preaching and working miracles among them; by which they had rendered themselves harder and more unimpressible by these powerful means, than the inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon were. This he thinks to be certain from Christ's telling them, that, if the same means had been used with the latter, they would have repented. And he hence concludes also, that the repentance here spoken of, for the ne­glect of which he upbraids these cities, and which he says the Tyrians and Sidonians would have been brought to by these means, was not true repentance, or a repentance which implies any real love to God and hatred of sin, and turning of the heart from it; but what he calls "a legal repentance, or repentance on natural principles." He thinks this is certain, "seeing our blessed Saviour well knew, that neither these means, which they enjoyed, nor any other means, could ever bring them to a saving repentance, without an almighty power exerted in giving a new heart,"* He therefore gives the sense of this passage in the following words. ‘As if Christ had said, You have by your own wickedness wasted natural conscience, sinned away your moral sense, and rendered yourselves more unimpressible by the same motives and arguments to repentance, set in the same advantageous light, than the idolatrous Tyrians and Sidonians and therefore on that single account, your state is more wicked than theirs, and you are justly exposed to a more aggravated condemnation in the day of judgment than they.

Upon this, I take leave to observe the following things, 1 It is strange and unaccountable indeed, if Christ here sharply reproves tho inhabitants of these cities, for not repenting with a legal repentance, which implies in it no true regard to his character or opposition of heart to sin; and says not a word to them for their not coming to that re­pentance which John Baptist, his harbinger and he himself, from the beginning of his ministry, had been inculcating, and calling them to. John Baptist had sounded an alarm among them all, and loudly preach­ed "repentance for the remission of sins." This was certainly saving repentance. And when John was put in prison, "Jesus came into Galilee (to these very cities) preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfiled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe gospel." Christ had been calling and urging them to true repentance in all his teaching, and by all his mi­racles. And it is perfectly unaccountable and astonishing, if he now drops this demand, and says not a word to them by way of reproof for not hearkening to his calls and demands, and to what was the language [Page 46] of all his mighty works; but reproves and upbraids them severely for something else, which he never expressly mentioned before, or called them to, but only as it is implied in true repentance; and which im­plies in it no true regard and obedience to him, and leaves them as re­ally in a state of misery and ruin as ever.

2. The reason which Mr. M. gives why our Saviour cannot mean saving repentance, is really as much of a reason why he cannot mean legal repentance; for he holds that this is not effected merely by means, but the influences of the Spirit of God, are as necessary to bring men to legal repentance, as they are to bring them to saving repentance. And he represents that a very dangerous and hurtful doctrine, that teaches that legal repentance is not produced by the Spirit of God. Mr. M. must either espouse this new divinity, or his argument will prove that Christ did not mean legal repentance, for according to his own doctrine, "Our blessed Saviour infinitely well knew, that neither these means they enjoyed, nor any other means could ever bring them to" legal repentance, "without an almighty power exerted" by the com­mon influences of the Spirit of God, in a work of awakening and con­viction. His argument therefore is good for nothing, or rather much worse than nothing; because it proves too much: and he is guilty of gross self contradiction in using it as he does.

3. The whole of what he says here is in direct contradiction to the truth of the case, according to the history the evangelists give; and contrary to what he asserts elsewhere,* He speaking of what Christ says of the unclean spirit, which is cast out, and afterwards returns and finds the house swept and garnished, &c. observes, ‘By the house empty, swept and garnished, is represented the state of an awakened, reformed sinner, when wickedness as to the actings of it is restrain­ed, the unclean spirit gone out.—This is applied to the Jewish na­tion, Even so shall it be also with this wicked generation, i. e. they who were awakened, brought to consider, and in a measure amend their lives by the preaching of John Baptist, Christ and his apostles, and by the mighty works done among them.’ Here you see these very persons are awakened and reformed, and brought to a legal repen­tance by the preaching of John Baptist, Christ and his apostles, and by the mighty works done among them, who he says in the passage under consideration, were not awakened, and did not reform by all this preaching, and these mighty works: and that this is the very thing of which Christ upbraids them, as that in which they appeared to be worse than the inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon. What is now become of his argument to prove that the Jews were worse than the Sodomites "on this single account" that they were not brought to legal repentance by Christ's preaching, &c? He has quite confuted it himself, by declaring this was not true of them; but that they did in fact repent. And in this he is supported by the history the evangelists give of the matter.

He therefore has not hit on the true meaning of this passage; and "another must be sought."—But I proceed to observe,

[Page 47] 4. If the sense which he has put upon this passage should be allowed to be true, however inconsistent it is with the evangelists, and with him­self; yet it stands full to the purpose for which I quoted it, viz. to prove that they are the most guilty and vile who enjoy the most light, and rebel against it. For if these Jews were worse than Sodom ante­cedent to Christ coming among them, their greater guilt did not consist in their open profligacy and wickedness; for in this Sodom doubtless exceeded them: but in their abuse of greater light and advantages, and by this means bringing themselves into a more guilty, hardened state.

But as the case stands, and as Mr. M. says it in fact was, it is exactly to my purpose. Here is an instance of sinners "who were awakened, brought to consider and to amend their lives" who are declared by Christ himself to be more guilty and vile than the abandoned profli­gates of Sodom, purely because they remained impenitent and rejected him, under all their awakenings, convictions and external reformations.

The inhabitants of these cities had been for a long time thoroughly reformed from idolatry, to which their fathers were so much given; and were punctual and zealous in attending the instituted duties of worship and religion. They did not practise the abominable vices of Sodom. And they had been greatly alarmed and awakened and re­formed in their external conduct by the preaching of John. They flocked to him in crowds, and were baptized, confessing their sins, and earnestly asking the important question "What shall we do?" And when Christ came to preach among them, they flocked to him from all quarters, and heard with great attention, admiration and applause; "And Jesus returned in the [...]ver of the Spirit into Galilee, and there went [...] fame of him through all the region round about. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of ALL."*

[...] notwithstanding all this, they did with one consent reject the message that Christ brought to them, and refused to repent and believe the gospel. And for this impenitence and unbelief, persisted in, under all this light, awakening, conviction and reformation, and while these mighty works were wrought in their sight; for this, I say, Christ up­braids them, and tells them that "on this single account" notwith­standing all their convictions, fears and reformations, and attending on his preaching with affection, admiration and applause, they were worse, more guilty and vile than open gross idolaters, or even Sodom itself: And not ‘that they had by their own wickedness, wasted natural con­science, sinned away their moral sense, and rendered themselves more unimpressible by the same motives and arguments to repentance, set in the same advantageous light, than the idolatrous Tyrians and Sidonians.’

This saying of our Lord was doubtless very shocking, offensive and provoking to the inhabitants of these cities; nothing could be more so; especially to the Scribes and Pharisees, and to every one who had as favourable an opinion of the "awakened reformed sinner" who yet persists in impenitence, and obstinately rejects Jesus Christ, as Mr. M. has. And no wonder if on this occasion they mentioned all the dread­ful [Page 48] absurdities of this principle, and uttered all the exclamations, that are found in Mr. M's book, or something like them. "Strange absur­dity this! Strange divinity indeed! Nor is it in our power to doubt, that the grand enemy of the Messiah and precious souls, put his hearty AMEN to it. Thrice amazing"!!!

After all, I cannot think the inhabitants of Capernaum, &c. came up to the character of the awakened, convinced sinner of which I spake. They had not that degree of light, and were not so fully convinced in their consciences that Jesus was the Christ; nor did they so clearly see their inexcusableness in rejecting him, and the dreadful consequences to them, &c. as the awakened sinner does, of whom I speak. But as such a sinner is as really an impenitent, as they were, and does as fully re­ject Jesus Christ as they did; and that under immensely greater light and conviction of conscience than they had; how much more guilty is he than the Sodomites; or even than the inhabitants of Capernaum, who were themselves so much worse than those of Sodom!

WHEN our Saviour says to Chorazin and Bethsaida, "If the mighty works which have been done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes;" I suppose we are not to understand him as asserting that this would certainly have been the effect of such means being used with the inhabitants of these cities, as if he spake in the character of the omniscient God, as certain­ly knowing what in all cases would be. But he is here to be considered as speaking as a man, (and he was no more than a man in their view to whom he spake) and after the manner of men; viewing and judging of this matter according to human appearance and probability. As if he had said, "Who could have thought that you would not repent and believe the gospel, before whose eyes such mighty works have been done for your conviction. If such things had been done among men of the worst character, even the inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon, surely they would have repented immediately. It would be natural to expect, and be confident that this would be the effect." If the words are un­derstood in this sense, they will be very agreeable to some other passages in the bible "For he said, surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour."* Here God is represented as putting confidence in his people, that they would be faithful to him, according to their profession, vows and engagements; and so is repre­sented as speaking only after the manner of men; for as the omniscient God, he knew they did lie, and would break all their promises. The following passage, I think is exactly parallel to this under consideration.—"For thou art not sent to a people of a strange speech and of an hard language, but to the house of Israel: not to many people of a strange speech, and an hard language, whose words thou canst not un­derstand: surely, had I sent thee to them, they would have hearkened unto thee."

Christ's design was to represent to them their folly and obstinacy in a way that was suited to their conviction, and to stop their mouths. And what was better suited to do it, than to observe to them, the confidence [Page 49] any one would have, before the trial, that those, who in their view were the worst of men, and whom they held in the highest contempt and abhorrence, would have been brought to the deepest repentance, by the same means under which they had continued obstinately impenitent [...]

Before I leave this passage, I would observe, that our Saviour does not ground his assertion that it should be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for the inhabitants of these Jewish cities, upon this, that the former would have repented, had the mighty works been done in them, which were done among the latter. This Mr. M. takes for granted in all he says; but I think without any rea­son. If this had been the case, the word would have been "Therefore I say unto you it shall be more tolerable, &c." and not "But I say unto you, &c." Christ tells them that if the same means had been used with these wicked cities, which these Jews did most ab [...]minate and condemn, that had been used with them, any one would be confident they would have repented; as best suited to strike conviction into their minds, and make them reflect on their own amazing unreasonableness and obstina­cy. And then goes on to say, "But I say unto you, &c." As if he had said, "But, be this as it will, whether they would have repented or not. I have one thing to say to you which you may depend upon, as infal­libly certain, However abominably vile and wicked you think these cities to be, you are much more guilty than they, and they shall have a lighter punishment than you, when every thing shall be adjusted ac­cording to the truth.

But let it be remembered that whether I have given the true sense or not, it does not affect the matter in dispute between Mr. M. and me [...] for be this as it will, it is certain the sense he has given, in order to oppose me, cannot be the right, which I conclude has been sufficiently proved.

THE last text mentioned must now be attended to. "The gospel is a favour of death unto death, in them that perish"

I referred to this scripture to prove that all means used with sinners, all light and advantages they have had, and therefore, all light and conviction of conscience, if they continue impenitent and perish, will turn against them and aggravate their condemnation: and said, ‘con­sequently the more light and conviction men have, the more their attention is awakened to the things of the gospel, and the more means they attend upon, and are used with them, while they con­tinue obstinately to oppose light and truth and reject the offers of the gospel; the more guilty and vile, and the greater criminals are they in God's sight.’ Before I proceed, I beg leave to take notice, that Mr. M. when he quotes these words, having transcribed the fol­lowing, "While they continue obstinately to oppose light and truth, and reject the offers of the gospel," stops here, and adds "i. e. while they continue unregenerate, as the author explains himself." This he seems to add out of his great tenderness to the awakened, unregenerate sinner, to qualify my words, as if they set the sinner in too bad a light, and as if to be barely unregenerate, was a more innocent, harmless character [Page 50] than these words represented. He puts in this softening expression; as he seems to think it, whenever he has occasion to quote the words in which I represent the state and exercises of the unregenerate, even under the highest awakenings and convictions. A plain evidence this; among an hundred others, that he does not think the awakened, unre­generate sinner does obstinately reject the offers of the gospel. But why then did he not speak this out plainly, and expressly oppose me on this foot, which is really the turning point, and the only dispute between us? He might then perhaps have been more consistent with himself whether he had gained his point, or no.

But let us attend to what he observes upon this passage of scripture, to shew that it is not my purpose. This is in the following words, ‘Were it never so fully conceded, that those that perish from under the external light of the gospel, do thereby fall under a more aggra­vated condemnation; yet this would be nothing to the author's pur­pose; because this may be the case with multitudes, that they reject the external light of the evidence of the truth of the gospel with scorn and derision, without ever being awakened or reformed by it; so the gospel may be a savour of death unto death, unto thousands that never were one of them a proper subject of this debate: because never awakened to reformation and amendment of life.’

This passage is somewhat dark to me, I own: But if I have under­stood it, the meaning is this, Tho' it is granted that the gospel becomes a savour of death unto them that perish from under it, yet it does not follow that it is so to them who are awakened and reformed; because this may be true of thousands under the gospel, who do reject it with scorn. If any thing is proved by this, I think it is, that the awakened and reformed do not any of them perish, so these words have no relation to them; but only to those who reject the gospel with scorn. They, indeed perish, and the gospel is a means of aggravating their condem­nation. If any of the awakened and reformed perish, then the gospel is a savour of death unto death unto them; for it is so to all that perish, be they awakened and reformed or not.

Indeed I do not wonder if Mr. M. thinks the awakened, humbled, reformed, unregenerate sinner, who honestly attempts to be obedient, and lies at the foot of sovereign mercy as his only hope, does never perish; tho' he allows there are no promises made to such.—Our Sa­viour divides all under the gospel into those who do evil and hate the light; and consequently shall fall under an aggravated condemnation: and those who love and obey the truth; and so shall be saved. Mr. M. insists upon it that his awakened, reformed sinner does not belong to the former class, as has been observed; therefore will not be condemn­ed. What he says here is of the same tenor. St. Paul divides all into them that shall perish, and those who shall be saved, and Mr. M. says tho awakened, reformed sinner is not to be ranked among the former, therefore shall be saved.

I SHALL finish this section, when I have taken notice of one passage more under this head. Mr. M. says, "Another mistaken way is [Page 51] which the author argues his point, as it appears to me, is determining the degree of man's wickedness, meerly from the degree of light sinned against, without any regard had to the degree of the strength of his bias to sin."

I cannot say how this happened to appear to Mr. M. However, I think it did not "appear to him" from any thing that I have said. To illustrate this remark, he supposes two persons with different degrees of bias to sin, under the same degree of light; and concludes that he, who has the strongest bias, or inclination to sin, is the greatest sinner. This is granted: but I have said nothing that relates to such a case. I am speaking of the same sinner, having different degrees of light at diffe­rent times; in which there is no room for the supposition of different degrees of bias; unless we suppose that his bias to sin increases, as the light of his conscience does. And this supposition is so far from ren­dering my argument inconclusive, that it greatly strengthens it. And if I any where speak of two sinners, representing him as the greatest, who has the most light, it is supposed that their natural powers, ad­vantages, and bias to sin, are in all other respects equal.


IN which several things which Mr. Mills says in favor of the negative, are examined.

MR. MILLS has mentioned several things which he intends as ar­guments against what I have advanced, tho' they are not formal­ly, proposed as such; which as they are perhaps as weighty as any he has offered, and will probably have more influence on the minds of many of his readers to prejudice them against me and the doctrine I have advanced, than all he has said in his book besides; it seems ne­cessary in the first place to consider them.

ONE argument of this kind, which he holds up to view, and harps upon abundantly from the beginning to the end of his piece, is, that the doctrine I advance is NEW. He makes his first attack upon me with this weapon. In his first sentence, after he has in his own words stated the doctrine he means to oppose, he has these words.* ‘I must say the divinity here exhibited, appears to me strange and new; never before advanced in the christian world, by any divine of tolerable sense and reputation, so far as my acquaintance reacheth.’ And as he thus begins, he holds up the cry of NEW DIVINITY, to the end of his book.

This has indeed been often objected to doctrines that have been ad­vanced, and many are so weak and foolish, as to be ready to reject any thing that is proposed, which is to them strange and new; because NEW, erroneous and wrong, are with them synonymous words. This was ob­jected against Christ and his apostles. This was a grand objection a­gainst [Page 52] the reformation from popery. And it is now a sufficient objection against any doctrine advanced by any divine in the church of Rome, that it is NEW never before advanced, by any of the fathers. And this has always been the cry, whenever there has been any attempt to bring on a reformation in doctrine or manners; "These are new things, therefore wrong and not to be received." Mr. M. himself has not forgot, I conclude, that he has been often in a way of reproach, called a NEW light. And as he has had so much to teach him what influence this now has with too many, and must be sensible that it is quite suffici­ent to set them against a man and his doctrine, to tell them he has published strange and new divinity: his making use of it as he has done, is not only very weak, but is quite unjustifiable and wrong. For this is in a high degree imposing on such, and confirming them in a preju­dice, which every public teacher ought to guard against, and endeavour to eradicate to the utmost of his power; as it can never do any real good, and has proved infinitely mischievous in ten thousand instances; and will always be improved against the discovery of new truth, and the increase of light and knowledge in the church of Christ, which is so much predicted in scripture, and is so greatly to be desired. And Mr. M. is yet more inexcusable and culpable, if he has raised and kept up this cry of NEW DIVINITY, with a design to avail himself of this too common prejudice among mankind, the more effectually to run down and raise the popular cry against the man and the doctrine which he had undertaken to oppose.

Mr. M perhaps thinks he has given sufficient caution on this head, in that when he speaks of my doctrine as "quite new" he adds, ‘And therefore requires the greater caution, not to admit of other than clear and demonstrative scripture evidence and proof for the confirmation of it. But what he has asserted here is directly contrary to truth and all reason. We ought always to exercise so much caution as never to admit any doctrine as true, without good evidence: and all doctrines proposed to us as true, whether old or new, are to be carefully exami­ned and tried in the light of scripture, and not to be received unless we judge them supported by that unerring rule: and in this enquiry and examination, their being old or new, ought not to come into consi­deration, so as to have the least weight with us, on one side or the other. It is no argument at all that a doctrine is true, because it has been long received as such, nor is it the least evidence that a doctrine is not agree­able to scripture, that it is "quite new, and never before advanced." And therefore both old and new are to be examined with equal caution, and the latter to be as readily admitted as the former, if it be equally agreeable to scripture. And if any one uses greater caution in examin­ing and admitting one or the other, either because it is new, or be­cause it is old, he so far is governed by unseasonable prejudice. The word NEW ought not to be mentioned in such an enquiry. Therefore Mr. M. cannot be justified in any thing he has said on this head; but is, answerable for all the prejudice he has by this means excited in the minds of any against the author and doctrine he opposes, and for all the odium this outcry has raised.

[Page 53] The church has yet been in its infant state as to knowledge. The bible is in no measure understood, as it will be, when it shall be proper­ly and thoroughly attended to. Many things which have been held for truth by long prescription, will be exploded, and new truths will rise into view. "Many shall run to and fro [...] and knowledge shall be increased." "Every scribe which is instructed into the kingdom of heaven, is like a man that is an housholder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old." And shall any one of these professed scribes, raise a cry against another merely because he brings forth new divinity!

But this charge and out-cry will appear worse, and more injurious still, if the fact is not true, and the doctrine I have advanced is indeed not new divinity, but has been often taught, tho' not just in my words, or in so express and particular a manner as I have done, by many old and noted divines. They have all asserted it in effect, who have taught that the sum of all sin lies in the exercises of the heart, and that unbe­lief, or rejection of Jesus Christ is beyond comparison the greatest sin that men can be guilty of; and that the awakened convinced sinner does reject Christ with as great strength and obstinacy of heart, as ever, under all his light and conviction, which does amazingly aggravate his sin. Was it a matter of importance enough to call for it, a volume of collections to this purpose from many eminent divines, that have been long dead, might be published. But this would be labor in vain, as it would not be the least evidence that the doctrine I have published is true, or afford the least degree of reason why it should be received with less caution, than if it was in direct opposition to all the divines that ever lived. However, for Mr. M's satisfaction, and to calm his mind which has been so greatly agitated and troubled about this "strange, new divinity," which appeared to him "too strange to be true," I will make a quotation or two from one who, I trust he will own was a "divine of tolerable sense and reputation. It is no less or later a divine than Doct. Owen.

He, speaking of awakened, convinced, reformed sinners, under a work of the law, says, ‘The spring of sin is not dried up, only the streams of it are turned another way. It may be the man is fallen upon other more secret, or more spiritual sins; or if he be bea [...] off from them also, the whole strength of lust and sin will take up its residence in self-righteousness, and pour out thereby as filthy streams as in any other way whatever. Again, speaking of endeavours of the un­regenerate to mortify sin, by prayers, fasting, &c. he says, "sin is not mortified; no, nor the power of it weakened; but what it looseth in sensual, in carnal pleasures it takes up with great advantage, in blind­ness, darkness, superstition, self-righteousness, soul pride, contempt of the gospel, and the righteousness of it, and reigns no less, than in the most profligate sinners in the world."§

To this may be added the opinion of some later divines. President Edwards says, ‘Tis very manifest by scripture and reason, that for [Page 54] men to live in enmity against God and Christ, and in wilful unbelief and rejection of Christ (as the scriptures teach is the case with all unsanctified men under the gospel) is to live in some of the most hei­nous kinds of wickedness; as is allowed by all calvinistic divines in general, and by Mr. St [...]ddard in particular, who says, You cannot anger God more by any thing, than by continuing in the neglect of Christ. This is the great controversy God has with sinners; not that they have been guilty of these and those particular transgressi­ons, but that they abide in the rejection of the gospel. And again he says, ‘The great sin that God is angry with you for is unbelief. Despising the gospel is the great, provoking sin. President Ed­wards says moreover, ‘The truth is, that as long as men reject Christ, and don't savingly believe on him, however they may be awakened; and however strict, and conscientious, and laborious they may be in religion, they have the wrath of God abiding on them, and they are his enemies, and the children of the devil: And they are then ESPE­CIALLY PROVOKING TO GOD, under those terrors, that they stand it out against Christ, and won't accept of an offered Saviour; tho' they see so much need of him.{inverted †}

Here are not only two of the most noted divines in New-England, not against me, but expressly on my side of the question; but calvinis­tic divines in general, so far as President Edwards's judgment is to be relied upon with respect to this fact. I have transcribed this partly to enlarge Mr. M's acquaintance, that he may no longer be able to say, the divinity I have exhibited was ‘never before advanced in the chris­tian world by any divine of tolerable sense and reputation, so far as my acquaintance reacheth

After what I have said above, it will perhaps be needless to observe, that I do not make these quotations because I would not be thought to have published any thing NEW. I now declare I had much rather pub­lish NEW DIVINITY than any other. And the more of this, the better, if it be but true. Nor do I think any doctrine can be "too strange to be true." I should think it hardly worth while to write, if I had no thing new to say. And if I am so unhappy as to live in an age in which I must be condemned merely because I bring certain strange things to their ears, I will appeal from them, and from Mr. M. in particular, to the happy people who shall live in the last days, who will be thank­ful to everyone who has cast in his mite towards the overthrow of er­ror, however long established, and the discovery of truth, however new and overlooked by all generations before: And will look on him as an enemy to the church & to mankind, who has used his influence to stifle and suppress every or any new truth, because he had never heard or thought of it before.

ANOTHER argument against me is, that the doctrine I have advanced is not only new, but directly contrary to the opinion of many eminent fathers and divines; and among the rest, "the late president [Page 55] Edwards, who will," (says Mr. M.) "serve, I suppose, instead of many with our author."

ANSWER. This argument appears to me of no more weight than former. The opinion of no man or body of men, however great and renouned in their day, ought to have the least weight with us in our inqui [...]ies after the truths of the gospel. He who pays the least regard to this, or is in any degree influenced by it, gives himself up to a very uncertain, fallible guide. And if he is not lead wrong, but believes what is real truth, meerly upon the credit and testimony of others, it will be of no more saving advantage to him, than if it was not true: for such implicit faith is no better than no faith at all. Besides, it is a great abuse of any divine who is dead, to rely upon him, or quote him as an authority, who knew himself to be fallible, and would be very sorry to have his mistakes received as truth, meerly because he was so unhappy as to publish them.

He therefore may be justly censured who quotes any father, or num­ber of fathers, as an authority, or of the least weight to support what he holds, or run down what he opposes. It is much worse than child­ish trifling; it is an abuse of the public, and tends to uphold people in that which they are very prone to, and has proved pernicious to thou­sands, viz. Relying on the opinion of others, especially those who have had the character of sound and great divines, without examining for themselves. But,

2. It does not appear evident to me that the divines Mr. M. has quoted against me, do say any thing really contrary to what I have ad­vanced. If it is an abuse to quote an author, as an authority to sup­port or oppose any doctrine; it is yet much more injurious to misun­derstand them, and produce them to oppose a doctrine which they ne­ver meant to oppose. Therefore, tho' the matter in dispute between Mr. M. and me is not in the least degree to be determined by them, and it is really no matter, in this view, on which side of the question they are; yet it is but a piece of justice to them, to remove the misre­presentation, when their words are quoted in a sense which they never meant.

Mr. M's quotation from the Westminster and Savoy confessions, is in the following words, ‘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 an 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 man meet to receive grace from God. And yet their neglect of them is more sinful and displeasing to GOD.’

Mr. M. says, "This last clause, taken in a compound sense is denied by Mr. Hopkins." I confess I know not what sense that is which he here calls a compound sense, unless it be a sense compounded of the author's sense and Mr. M's. It does not appear, I think, that this clause, taken according to common sense, has ever been denied by me.

[Page 56] All they say is, that the practice of these things which are externally right, is less sinful than the neglect of them would be, other things being equal. And I say nothing contrary to this. They do not say that he is the least sinner, less guilty and vile in all cases, and in every instance, who attends on those external things, than he might be, in the neglect of them. Nor is this true. A person may put on all external sobriety and religion, out of enmity to christianity, and with a design to put himself under advantage thereby to overthrow it more effectually. In this case I suppose all will grant, he is as sinful and vile as if he had lived in the neglect of these things. If a person believes in his consci­ence it is wrong and very sinful for him to attend the externals of re­ligion, and that GOD forbids him to do it, his doing these things in this case, would be more sinful in him, than the neglect of them. The passage under consideration (Mr. M. will grant) has no respect to such instances as these; so affirms nothing about them. But it has as much respect to these, as to the case I have stated in my section on means. I state a particular case, in which I say the unregenerate sinner is more guilty and vile, even tho' he reforms all external ways of sin, and per­forms all external duty, than he was when he did not so; at the same time I expressly assert that his greater sinfulness does not consist in his reformation of external sins, &c. but in something else, quite in­dependent of this. Is this to assert attendance on these externals is not in itself considered, other things being equal, less sinful? surely no: nor any thing like it. Therefore I do not contradict what the assem­bly of divines here assert. I do not say that the awakened, convinced sinner, would not be more guilty in continuing in external wickedness, and the neglect of external religion than he is in his external refor­mations, &c. but that he is now more guilty and vile, all things con­sidered, than he was in a state of ignorance and security, whatever alte­ration there is in his external conduct. How Mr. M. came to think I had denied what is asserted in the passage quoted, I cannot tell. Per­haps he will unfold the matter, when he comes to explain his compound sense, until this shall be done, I must say, "no consequence, and wait for light."

Before I leave this passage, I would just observe, that tho' it contains nothing in opposition to what I have asserted, Mr. M. has advanced things in his book, which I think, are directly contrary to it. Here it is said, "They," (i. e. works done by unregenerate men) are sinful, and cannot please GOD. But Mr. M. speaking of Ahab, says the Lord took a favourable notice of his doings. And he speaks of GOD'S express approbation of Jehu, and the congregation of Israel in the wilderness, for what they did, while unregenerate. Surely to say that the doings and works of the unregenerate cannot please GOD, and to say that GOD takes a favourable notice of them, and approves of them, are as contrary and opposite propositions as any can be. To say that God approves of that, with which he is not, and cannot be pleased, is a flat contradiction; and is just the same as to say God cannot be pleased with that, with which he actually is pleased.

In this passage it is also said, that the works and attainments of the [Page 57] unregenerate, do not make a man meet to receive grace from GOD. Mr. M. in direct opposition to this, has laboured thro' several pages to prove that the unregenerate do by their exercises and works get nearer to true grace or holiness; or in the state of their mind nearer to that of good men.

I do not mention Mr. M's opposition to "the testimony of so many calvinistic divines," as any evidence that he is not right. That he has herein grossly erred from the truth, I trust will appear evident enough before I have done; tho' his contradicting these divines is no evidence against him at all. I observe this only to shew his self-contradiction, in that he with high approbation quotes a passage, as being directly a­gainst me, and then repeatedly contradicts it himself; so that when the matter comes to be examined, it stands not at all against me; but di­rectly against himself.

WE will now attend to what he has quoted from President Edwards. He says, "He is so express to the point as if he had wrote on purpose to confute the doctrine I am opposing." His words are, ‘The exercise of natural conscience is such and such degrees, wherein appears such a measure of awakening or sensibility of conscience, tho' it be not of the nature of real positive virtue, or true moral goodness, yet has a negative moral goodness; because in the present state of things, it is an evidence of the absence of that higher degree of wickedness, which causes great insensibility, or stupidity of conscience.’

That the author in these words has no respect to the doctrine Mr. M. is opposing; and much less says any thing on purpose to confute it, will be evident, if the following things are well considered.

1. He is not here speaking of that light and conviction of conscience, which the unregenerate sinner has in a work preparatory to regenerati­on and conversion; but of that sensibility, and those dictates of con­science which most men have in a greater or less degree, even heathen, as well as those that are under the light of the gospel, which suggest to them in general what they owe to GOD, and to their neighbours, and the reasonableness of GOD'S law, which may be called the law of na­ture. He is here dealing with those men who insist upon it that these dictates of natural conscience are true virtue, and hence infer that all men are naturally virtuous in some degree. He is here giving the reason why these dictates of conscience have been mistaken for true virtue. They with whom he is concerned here, never speak of that peculiar kind and degree of awakening & conviction of conscience which sinners under genuine conviction have. They are so far from mistaking such conviction for true virtue, that they rather look upon it to be gross delusion, grounded on quite wrong and false notions of things. President Edwards therefore has not this awakening and conviction in view, nor has any respect to it in these words. Therefore his words do not confute any thing which I have said concerning that, to which they have no reference.

2. President Edwards is here speaking of those dictates of conscience which are regarded and obeyed, in a great measure at least, in the view and apprehension of him who is the subject of them. Surely he does [Page 58] not mean to assert that however the dictates of conscience, are disre­garded, opposed and sinned against; yet this conviction is an evidence that he who has them is not so great a sinner, as he who commits the same sins in ignorance, and not against his conscience. If he does, these words are as much against Mr. M. and almost every body else, as they are against me. But I am speaking of an awakening and sensibili­ty of conscience, which is perfectly opposed and sinned against. It is therefore certain, that he has no reference to the convinced sinner of whom I speak. And what makes this more certain, if possible, is, that when he is expressly speaking of such an awakened, convinced sinner, he represents him as guilty of the most heinous kinds of wickedness, and ESPECIALLY provoking to God, as has been shewn.

In one word, he here speaks of different persons, under the same de­gree of light and advantages every way. This light makes impressions on one, and not on the other. In this case it is an evidence that the for­mer is not so much blinded and hardened by sin as the latter: so is an evidence of an higher degree of sin in the latter than in the former. But what is this to the awakening and convictions of conscience which are brought on not by the meer force of external means; but by ex­traordinary influences on the mind, counteracting & repelling the influ­ence of that wickedness of heart which had before held the mind in blindness and security? Not a word is said about such a case as this, therefore nothing to the purpose for which Mr. M. has made the quotation.

3. Let it be observed that the words here quoted, taken in the sense in which Mr. M. understands them, are directly against himself. He speaks of this awakening and sensibility of conscience as taking place in an ordinary and common way, and as common to all in whom it is not weakened and suppressed, by a course of opposition to it. There­fore it is not brought on the mind, and wrought in it, by any influ­ences of the spirit of GOD. If therefore he is here speaking of that a­wakening and conviction which is preparatory to conversion, he sup­poses no special agency of the spirit of God in this, and implicitly de­nies it; which Mr. M. repeatedly speaks of as a dangerous error. Mr. M. therefore by quoting these words, in the sense he puts upon them, and with approbation, is guilty of self-contradiction, as he was in the former instance.

I COME now to the last argument of this kind, which Mr. M. maker use of against me It is in one word this, That I have joined with SANDEMAN: so far at least, as to be on his side of the question, and favour what he has advanced, in what Mr. M. undertakes to oppose. Of this he takes care to remind the reader in the first sentence, after he has stated what he says I have asserted. ‘I must say the divinity here exhibited appears to me strange and new, never before advanced in the christian world by any divine of tolerable sense and reputation, so far as my acquaintance reacheth; unless something of a like complexion is to be sound in the letters on Theron and Aspasio, as­cribed to Sandeman, who has well nigh condemned all other divines; [Page 59] to establish himself and his party as the only true church of Christ upon earth, which, it is said, hath for many ages been concealed in the wilderness, but now lately hath appeared in them, agreeable to other enthusiastic visionaries.’

Sad indeed, to be guilty of saying that which looks like any thing "which has been published by such a man! He has endeavored to keep this in view to the end of his book; and in his concluding pa­ragraph says, ‘I have not been able to persuade myself, but that some things have by him (the author he is opposing) been carried too far in favor of what is commonly called the Sandemanean error.’ Thus I am ranked with Sandeman in front and rear. I cannot persuade my­self that Mr. M. thought this ought to have the weight of a feather in determining, whether what I have asserted is right or wrong. This argument, however will have more influence on the minds of many of his readers than all that he has said besides. Mr. M. could not be in­sensible of this; and if he has taken this method, and said these things with this view, and on purpose to raise an odium, and gain any advan­tage to his cause by this means, he cannot be excused. But of this the reader will judge.

I know not what foundation or good reason Mr. M. had to mention Sandeman's name in this controversy. Mr. S. says not one word, that I have observed, relating to this point, in any of his writings: Nor is there any reason to conclude that what I have asserted is more agree­able to him, than to Mr. M. I claim no alliance to him, nor he to me, that I know of. I have thought, and still think, that the faith and holiness which he teaches are not the faith and holiness which are in­culcated in the new testament; but essentially defective, and even op­posite to the whole of divine revelation: so quite subversive of true christianity. He has however, said many things very well, and some by which many public teachers stand justly corrected. And if he must be branded with holding the Sandemanean error, who agrees with San­deman in any point, or says any thing "of a like complexion" with something which he has wrote, who then shall escape?

By all I can learn, my section on means is no more agreeable to San­deman and his followers, than to Mr. M. Mr. M. approves of the nine first sections; but finds great fault with the tenth; and so does Mr. Sandeman. Herein they agree. And it would not be a difficult task to shew that Mr. M. agrees with him in many more points than I do; and there is evidence enough that he has a much better opinion of the man and the religion he teaches than I have: and that Mr. S. is much more friendly to him, than to me, and rather takes his side in the con­troversy between us. What reason then had Mr. M. to raise such an out-cry through all the country, and insinuate to the world that I held the Sandemanean error? Was it because he knew that this would make many stare at me, as some dreadful monster?

When I have attended to this method Mr. M. has taken in his dis­pute with me, and the way in which he has managed it, which seems almost peculiar to himself; and how he has not only tacked Sandeman [Page 60] upon my back, and took care to keep him fast there, and held him up in sight from beginning to end; but has also ranked me with Armi­nians* and Quakers, yea, with the Devil himself: I say, when I have attended to this, it has brought to my mind the method the Ro­man catholics have often taken with Protestant martyrs, who were con­demned to be put to death: That is to place a large cap on their head, on which are painted a number of hideous monsters and ugly devils, on purpose to raise the indignation of the croud against them. It is to be observed however, that they do this to those only who, they really think, deserve such treatment, they being in their view as bad, at least, as the devil himself: Whereas Mr. M. has done all this to his "DEAR BROTHER, and worthy author, and one whom he highly esteems."


IN which Mr. Mills's four arguments to prove the nega­tive, are considered and refuted.

MR. MILLS has reduced his arguments against what I have advanc­ed to four general heads; which I shall consider in the order in which he has placed them.

His first argument is founded on the absurdities which he says will fol­low from what I have asserted; three of which he particularly mentions.

The first he states in the following words, ‘If the principle advanc­ed be true, there is no possibility of the profligate sinner's becoming less vicious in the state of his mind, whatever be the wickedness he lives in the practice of, by any reformation of life while unrege­nerate; because reforming in any instance supposes the increase of internal light and sensibility of conscience; and then, according to this new principle, he is undoubtedly, on the whole, more vile, odi­ous and abominable in God's sight, than he would have been, had he continued secure and at ease, going on in his sins.

It appears from what I have said already that this is not a just conse­quence from that which I have asserted. For, every instance of refor­mation of life, does not suppose an increase of internal light. The profligate may reform his life from worldly motives, or by the removal of the temptation and opportunity, &c. without having any more light and conviction of conscience than he had before. Or he may have light and conviction of conscience enough to lead him to reform his life; and yet not be the convinced sinner of whom I speak, as has been observed before. This therefore is not an absurdity (if it is one) that is con­tained in the doctrine I have advanced but is wholly grounded in the misrepresentation he has made of it.

I have indeed asserted that the awakened, convinced sinner which I describe is more guilty and vile in the exercises of his mind, than he [Page 61] was in a state of ignorance and security, whatever is his external refor­mation. This is the principle itself which I hold. And what Mr. M. mentions as an absurdity no more follows from this proposition, than it does from any other that ever was thought of. If there is any ab­surdity in the case, it lies in the proposition itself: If there is no ab­surdity in this, no absurd consequence can be drawn from it; unless the absurdity consists in it's being a forced and unjust consequence. In this sense, I acknowledge, Mr. M. has made out a very strange and monstrous absurdity indeed. But as it is one entirely of his own make, I choose he should have all the credit of it.

Is there any absurdity in saying, that a profligate may reform his external conduct in such circumstances and with such views and exer­cises of heart, as on the whole to be more guilty and vile, than he was before? If not, then there is no absurdity in what I have advanced on this head. I assert that it is impossible for a sinner not to grow more guilty and vile than he was before, whatever alteration takes place in his external conduct, if he goes into a course of stronger and more direct acts of opposition to Jesus Christ, contrary to much higher degrees of light and conviction of conscience, than before. This, I think, has been fully proved: And am sure it leads to no absurdity whatsoever. If it is impossible that a profligate should reform in any instance, with­out bringing himself into these circumstances; then all persons unre­generate do become more guilty and vile in every instance of reformati­on. But where is the absurdity of this? Is there any absurdity in supposing that the abuse of light and sinning against it, is in all cases criminal in proportion to the degree of that light; and that the unre­generate do always abuse all the light they have; and that the awa­kened, convinced sinner is guilty of a much higher abuse of light than any other person can be?

But before I leave the passage now quoted I would particularly re­mark upon two expressions in it. He says, "there is no possibility of the profligate sinner's becoming less vicious in the state of his mind,—by any reformation of life." This supposes that reformation of life has some influence on the state of the mind to render the latter less vicious: the former preceeding as the cause, and the latter following as the effect. This is certainly an absurdity. All vice lies in the state or exercises of the mind; and no external conduct is virtuous or vicious, less or more, nor has any relation to the state of the mind, any further than it is the fruit and effect of that. But, passing this absurdity, what he asserts here is only this: The profligate is nor less vicious in the state of his mind by any reformations of life, so long as the state of his mind is not less vicious. "Strange absurdity this, indeed!

The other expression I would take notice of, is this, "sensibility of conscience." This is a very ambiguous expression. By it sometimes is meant tenderness of conscience, and so denotes something good and right in the heart. It sometimes means only conviction of conscience. This is consistent with the most perfect and highest degrees of wicked­ness of heart. It is never true of the unregenerate that they have any [Page 62] sensibility of conscience in the former sense; in which sense Mr. M. seems to use it; and the reader who is not well on his guard will take it in this sense, and so be insensibly led aside by it. This expression he often uses, and always so as tends to blind and mislead. Not with such a design I believe; for I conclude he first imposed on himself, by putting a sense on these words which is not compatible with the unre­generate, and then imposed on his reader.

I am inclined here to transcribe the following words, in which Mr. M. endeavours to represent the absurdity he fathers on me in a very striking light, especially as they are a specimen of much of the same kind scattered thro' his book.— "I appeal to the common sense of man­kind, Is not this strange divinity? What! is there no possibility ‘that the drunkard, the thief, the liar, the profane swearer, the adul­terer, the murderer and blasphemer should become, on the whole, less vicious in GOD'S sight while unregenerate, by reforming all this atrocious wickedness, tho' on no higher principle than that of na­tural conscience, awakened by the common influences of the spirit, than he would be, continuing in the practice of all this wickedness? Strange absurdity this!’

Here is a loud out-cry indeed! But is there any reason in it? Is it not rather only an application to the imagination, prejudices and pas­sions of the ignorant and unguarded; and the whole of it a gross mis­representation? It is an easy matter thus to harangue, and cry out, O strange! Strange absurdity this! He has pronounced this an absur­dity repeatedly in very strong terms: But if it really is one, he has not offered the least reason to prove it to be so, nor so much as attempted it. Mr. M. professes to remove as far as possible from all abstruse, metaphysical reasoning. * By this means, or some other, he seems to be got far enough from reasoning of every kind. I suppose I have said enough in the foregoing sections to shew that this is so far from being an absurdity with respect to the convinced, unregenerate sinner, that it is a most evident and important truth. Let the calm, thoughtful reader stop and judge.

THE next absurdity is expressed in the following words, ‘Another absurdity arising from this new principle is, that the more stupid, care­less and unconcerned men are, under the gospel, about what sins they commit, and what duties they neglect, the less vile, odious and abo­minable they are on the whole in GOD'S sight.’

If Mr. M. had said, that the more blind and ignorant men are under the gospel, about sin, and duty, the less vile they are in committing those sins, and omiting the duties; this would indeed not have been a consequence from what he is arguing against; but really the very principle itself. And this surely is so far from being an absurdity, that it is a self-evident proposition. Whatsoever is contained in the words now quoted more than this, is a misrepresentation. In these words, and what follows for the illustration of them, it is represented as if it followed from what I have advanced that the more conscientious men are, or the more inclined and disposed they are to act agreable to their con­sciences, [Page 63] and come up to them, the more vile and odious they are. But I have been so far from asserting this, or any thing from whence it will follow; that I place the greater guilt and vileness of the convinc­ed sinner in his opposing and acting against the clear light and dictates of his own conscience, however sensible he is of the dreadful conse­quence of this to him. The reader needs only to keep this in view to see how groundless all that Mr. M. says on this head, is, and that the whole is only a gross misrepresentation.

But what if sinners are in such a situation, that so long as they conti­nue perfect enemies to GOD, and the Saviour, and are disposed to abuse all light and advantages, and all means used with them to bring them to repentance, all means used with them, and all light and conviction of conscience, render their obstinacy and impenitence more vile and odious? What absurdity is there in this? Mr. M. has not attempted to shew where the absurdity lies. He has only dressed the matter up in such words and phrases as to keep the truth of the case out of view, and mislead the inattentive reader, and then cries out, "strange absur­dity this!"

I COME now to the last absurdity which Mr. M. mentions. ‘Ano­ther absurdity that arises from this principle is, that in an exact pro­portion as any [...] under the gospel is, in the language of the author, more likely to be saved, and in the phrase of our Saviour, 'near­er the kingdom of God,' he is on the whole more vile and odious in God's sight.*

But where is the absurdity of this? Mr. M. does not attempt to shew wherein the absurdity lies. It seems he thought his calling it an absur­dity was sufficient to make it pass for one. It may perhaps with the unthinkîng reader who takes Mr. M's advice, and follows his example, in "removing as far as possible from all abstruse, metaphysical reason­ing," that is, as I take it, from all that close, sound reasoning, which requires exactness of thought, and fixed attention of mind. It will also pass for the greatest absurdity with all those who think that GOD is more inclined to shew mercy to a less sinner than to a greater; and that the least guilty and vile are more likely to be saved than others; and are founding their hopes of their own salvation very much in this, that they are "not as other men," not so great sinners, so guilty and vile in God's sight as the ignorant, secure profligate. M. M's whole book is suited to please persons of this stamp as he not only goes on this supposition here, but every where else.

I particularly observed in my section on means, that there is no foundation for such a notion in scripture; to which Mr. M. has not said a word. He ought to have shewed that what I had asserted there was groundless and contrary to scripture, and not to have taken for granted, what I thought I had proved from scripture not to be true, and then to build so much upon it. Indeed it is a notion so shockingly dishonorable to the sovereign grace of God, and contrary to the whole gospel, and has such a direct tendency to exclude every one from all hope, and throw him into absolute dispair, who does not with the [Page 64] proud pharisee, think himself a less sinner than others in general area that I wonder not at all that Mr. M. chose rather to keep it, as it were, behind the curtain, than to bring it out to open view, and avow it expressly.

But to attend more particularly to this absurdity. If there is any in the case, it lies in this proposition, viz. That a greater sinner, one who is on the whole more vile and odious in God's sight than another, may be more likely to be saved, than that other, and then he himself was, when he was not so guilty and vile, as he now is: But this is so far from containing any absurdity in it, that all, and even Mr. M. himself, will grant it to be true beyond all dispute. For instance, those who live under the gospel are more likely to be saved, than those who live in heathenish darkness, as all allow. And yet it will be as readily granted that gospel sinners are, in general at least, much more guilty and odious in the sight of God, than the heathen.

As Mr. M. goes on to illustrate this absurdity by instancing in two persons, brought up under the same external light and advantages; one is a secure profligate, the other is under great awakenings and convictions of conscience. The latter he says, according to me, is most likely to be saved; and yet is by far the most guilty and odious of the two. Well, what then? There is nothing shocking or absurd in this, more than there is in the case just now mentioned; unless it be in what arises from his dressing up the latter in an innocent favourable light, and setting out the former in most monstrous colours; and then supposing him to be much more vile and odious than the other: yea, "the most vile, odious and abominable sinner on the face of the whole earth." He represents the lat­ter in the following words, ‘From early childhood he has constantly paid such reverence and obedience to the dictates of conscience, as hath nourished the greatest degrees of tenderness to regard all duty, and avoid all sin that can agree to an unregenerate state.’ In this way of stating the matter, Mr. M. has been guilty of two things.

1. He has entirely misrepresented the matter in dispute between us, by dressing up the awakened, convinced sinner unregenerate in such fine colours, as do not belong to him: for such an one instead of reve­rencing and obeying his conscience, lives in the greatest sin, in oppo­sition to the dictates of his conscience, and a thousand times as much light as others have; and instead of paying any "regard to all duty" he has no true regard to any duty at all, as such, but really refuses to do the whole that God commands. This misrepresentation, as has been observed, runs thro' the whole of Mr. M. books. I mention this as a specimen.

2. He has hereby really gone off from the point he was professedly attending to, viz. That they who are most likely to be saved, are pro­portionably more guilty and vile in God's sight than they were; and has lead the attention of his reader to quite another thing, viz. The ab­surdity of supposing the convinced sinner, so much more vile and odious than the other. I think this is indeed to "remove as far as possible from all REASONING, abstruse, metaphysical" or any other.

[Page 65] And thus having quite forgot the argument he was upon, he leads his reader a jaunt into the heathen world to shew him who is the vilest among them, upon my principles. I say, he quite forgot the argument he was upon; for among the heathen one is not more likely to be saved than another, which was the only point he was now professedly attend­ing to. But to pass this, if we particularly follow him in his ramble, we shall find him here guilty of a very gross absurdity (I leave it to the reader, whether it does not weigh down all that he attempted to fasten upon me) it is this, he finds a heathen, who "comes up nearest to the dictates of conscience," and yet "in failing to come up to his duty he sins against the greatest light." How he sins against the greatest light, in not coming up to his duty, who "comes up nearest to the dictates of his conscience" it is difficult to say.

In the close of this argument, Mr. M. adds, ‘It is needless to ob­serve here, that these things never did agree to the common sense of mankind; or of the christian world: and to my weak understand­ing, I must say, they sound too strange to be true.’ I agree with Mr. M. that this observation was quite needless, seeing all the appearance of absurdities is owing to his departing from the dictates of common sense, to raise a scare-crow to fright the unwary reader. And whether his taking such pains to frame such absurdities as these, is to be attribu­ted to his weak understanding, of which he so often boasts, or to a misimprovement of what he has, I leave the reader to judge.

Mr. MILL'S second argument is from two passages of scripture.

The first is in there words, "The men of Nineveh shall rise in judg­ment with this generation, and shall condemn it; because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and behold a greater than Jonas is here."

He forms an argument from these words in the following manner. The repentance of the Ninevites, upon the preaching of Jonas, shall condemn the Jews for not repenting as the Ninevites did, tho' they were under the preaching of Christ. Now the repentance of the Ni­nevites was only a legal repentance, by which they were brought to the state of awakened, convinced sinners. It hence follows that the awakened, convinced sinner is not more vile in God's sight than the unawakened, secure sinner: for then the Ninevites coming to this state, in which they on the whole become more vile, than they were before, even in a state of security and open wickedness, could not condemn the Jews for not repenting as the Ninevites did.

ANS. 1. The Ninevites were not awakened, convinced sinners in the sense in which I speak of such; so no argument can be formed from them in this case. Mr. M. himself says, in a marginal note under this argument, ‘They were in the depth of heathenish darkness, and for any thing we know, had not so much as the name of a mediator, to be believed on among them.’ If this was their case they were not capable of that sin, in which I constantly place the greater guilt and vileness of awakened, convinced sinners under the gospel, viz. in their persisting in an impenitent rejecting and hating of Jesus Christ, in op­position to the light of their own consciences. The Ninevites, accor­ding [Page 66] to Mr. M. had no degree of this light and conviction; therefore were not in a capacity to sin against it, and so become more guilty and vile, in consequence of their awakening and conviction. The Nine­vites, if Mr. M's account of them is right, acted fully up to the light and conviction of their consciences, and did all that they knew was re­quired of them, and that was necessary in order to their escaping the divine judgments threatened. Mr. M. was surely quite inattentive to the case before him, and wholly overlooked the character of the awa­kened, convinced, unregenerate sinner under the gospel, or he would have known that the case of the Ninevites was very far from being any thing to his purpose; and that the argument he has formed from them, is extremely weak, and altogether inconclusive.

ANS. 2d. All that Jonah said to the Ninevites was, "Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown." This was all the light and in­struction he gave them. They believed him, that they should be de­stroyed, unless they reformed these open sins, by which their consci­ences told them they had provoked God. These they reformed im­mediately: and thus they hearkened to Jonah, as they understood him; they believed his words, and they were influenced by them, according to the light and dictates of their consciences. Christ, a greater than Jonah, came to the Jews, with much greater and more striking evidence that he was sent of God, than Jonah had; but the Jews did not believe him and comply with his instructions, invitations and warnings. They did not come to that repentance which Christ called them to; but persisted in rejecting him. With great propriety then did Christ address the Jews in these words, "The men of Nine­veh shall rise in judgment with this generation and shall condemn it, &c. As if he had said, "The men of Nineveh shall be an instance by which this generation shall be condemned in the day of judgment; for they hearkened to Jonah and regarded him, when he was sent to them, as they understood him; but this generation refuse to hearken to me, and continue impenitent under all my instructions & warnings."

ANS. 3d. In these words our Saviour has no reference to the real, internal character of the men of Nineveh whether they were sinners in their repentance or not, whether they were, on the whole, more guilty and vile, or less than they were before Jonah came among them. All that was to his purpose is, that the men of Nineveh hearkened to the preaching of Jonah, and repented visibly; whereas the Jews did not hearken to Christ, but visibly opposed and rejected him. Christ speaks of nothing but their external appearance and conduct, without deter­mining what they were at heart. This is evident from the words im­mediately following with respect to the queen of the south. We can­not infer that she came to hear the wisdom of Solomon from any pious and good end, or that she was on the whole less vile than if she had not seen Solomon and heard his wisdom, because Christ says her coming to hear the wisdom of Solomon shall condemn the Jews, who despised and rejected one so much greater than Solomon. She in fact paid more regard to Solomon, than the Jews did to Christ, and this was fully to [Page 67] his purpose, let her act from what principles she would, and what ever was the consequence to her; he having regard only to that which was visible in her, from the history of her, and not to that of which we have no account. And in the same manner he speaks of the Ninevites.

THE other passage of scripture Mr. M. mentions under this argument▪ is what Christ says to the scribe in consequence of his answering the ques­tion which he was then attending to, "discreetly," i. e. understandingly, "Thou art not far from the kingdom of God." Mr. M. insists upon it, that these words must mean that tho' he was not a good man; yet he was less sinful in the state of his mind, and so nearer the state of a good man, on account of the attainments he had arrived to, than those who were destitute of these, or than he would have been in their absence. Hence he [...], "that all awakened, reformed sinners under the gospel a [...] no [...], on the whole, more vile in God's sight, than when secure and at [...], going on in their sins under the same external means of light.*

His argument to prove that by his being not far from the kingdom of God consisted in his being less sinful in the state of his mind, and in this respect, not far from the state of a good man, is, that he could not be said to be so in any other sense. He particularly says, by this cannot be meant, ‘That he was merely more likely to be converted, without re­spect had to any of those things, by which; considered in themselves, he was less sinful, since 'tis evident from the express letter of the sa­cred text, that in what is said of the scribe's being nigh or not far from the kingdom of God, respect is had to those things, and those only, by which, considered in themselves, he was less sinful.’

On this it may be observed in the first place, that in this he only begs the question, and proves nothing. The question is, in what sense the scribe was not far from the kingdom of God, and what Christ has respect to in these words? Mr. M. says, he had respect to those things, and those only, by which, considered in themselves, he was less sinful; and that "this is evident from the express letter of the sacred text." But this is the very thing in dispute. Christ has respect to the words of the scribe, in which he discovered his sentiments to be right with respect to a very important truth, and which, if followed in all its just consequences, would lead him to the most important doctrines of christianity. But that this orthodoxy in speculation implied any thing with respect to the state of his mind, as being more or less sinful, Mr. M. has not proved, but takes wholly for granted, and founds his argument upon it.

I had said that orthodoxy or right speculative knowledge brings a man nearer to the kingdom of God, or renders him more likely to be saved than if he had it not, let the state of his mind, his heart, be more or less sinful. And here is an instance to my purpose, if Mr. M. rightly understands the phrase, "thou art not far from the kingdom of God." Here is a person of whom Christ says this merely upon his appearing to be right in his speculations in an important point, and the text says not a word of any thing else. But Mr. M. must bring into the account something good in his heart, or at least less sinful, because he could not, upon his plan be nearer the kingdom of God than others without this. But this is to beg the question, as I have observed. Mr. M. had observ­ed, [Page 68] that to be in my language "more likely to be saved," was in the phrase of our Saviour, to be "nearer the kingdom of God." Had he kept this in view he might easily have seen in what sense the scribe might be nearer the kingdom of God, by the degree of speculative knowledge he appeared to have, without concerning himself with the state of his heart, and contriving to make that less sinful, from a text which says not a word about it. At least, he should have proved that he could not be nearer the kingdom of heaven in that sense, instead of passing it over in silence, as if there could be no such sense put upon the words.

But Mr. M. seems to take it for granted (for he has not said a word to prove it) that the speculative knowledge which the scribe appeared to have, implied something good, or less bad and sinful in the state and temper of his mind. But this is contrary to all reason, and to known fact. If he will prove this to be true, that mens hearts are less sinful and come nearer to the temper and exercises of good men, in proportion as their judgment and consciences are convinced, and they advance in right spe­culative notions of the truths of divine revelation: I say, if he will prove this, he will gain his point, and entirely overthrow what he has underta­ken to dispute against; Yea, he will confute what St. Paul himself has asserted. For if men unregenerate in all cases grow less sinful, as light and conviction of conscience increases, then certainly they are not more guilty and vile: Nor can any one "hold the truth in unrighteousness," as St. Paul says many did.

It appears therefore in every view that Mr. M. has here only begged the whole of the question in dispute between us.

And he has done more than this; he has grossly contradicted himself, and that two ways. He has said,* ‘It is evident and certain that every degree of knowledge, &c. attained by the unregenerate, that is necessary, in order to a state of grace and salvation, brings them in state one de­gree nearer to it.’ But here he takes it for granted a person cannot be said to be nearer the kingdom of heaven, on account of his knowledge. Again, he else where finds fault with me that I speak of speculative knowledge only, and not of any reformation of the sinner, as rendering him more likely to be saved; where he supposes there is no connexion between any speculative knowledge of the unregenerate, and any degree of reformation, and that the latter is no ways implied in the former: But here he takes it for granted that speculative knowledge, or light in the understanding does imply something good in heart, or a less degree of sinfulness, & that it necessarily brings a person to a state of mind, nearer to that of a good man. Yea, that this is one of those things, by which, con­sidered in itself, a man is less sinful; for he says Christ has respect to such things only. Men who will make such suppositions, and suppose and take for granted the whole matter in dispute, and ground an argument on that, and at the same time contradict themselves so many ways, as it were in the same [...]e [...]th, will, in their way prove any thing they please.

I observe, in the next place, upon the passage quoted, that he says, "'tis evident, that in what is said of the scribe's being nigh, or not far from the kingdom of God, respect is had to those things, and those things [Page 69] only, by which considered in themselves, he was less sinful." The scribe might appear to have many things which, considered in themselves, might be less sinful than something else, and yet, on the whole, be more sinful and vile than if he had them not. So that what Mr. M here takes for granted, if allowed him as he has expressed it, makes nothing to his pur­pose. The scribe might notwithstanding all this, be, on the whole, more sinful in the state of his mind, than others, who had not those things, by which, considered in themselves they would be less sinful. Suppose for in­stance, the speculative knowledge which the scribe had was one thing by which, considered in itself, he was less sinful; yet if he hated and re­jected Jesus Christ, with all this light and knowledge (which he did, if he was still an unregenerate man) he was, on the whole, a greater sinner than they who had not this knowledge. I therefore stand ready to prove that if the scribe was not really a good man, and did not love God, and believe in Jesus Christ, he was on the whole much more sinful and vile in the state and exercises of his mind, than those who were without this speculative knowledge. And I presume it is impossible that any one should find any thing in this text contrary to this.

Mr. M. in order to make these words of Christ answer his purpose, supposes the scribe to be unregenerate, and yet not prejudiced against Christ, but in an awakened reformed state; and that in this state his heart was less sinful, and not far from a state of grace; and concludes that the kingdom of God means a state of grace. All these things he lays as the foundation to build his conclusion upon. All of which have not the least evidence to support them. Surely that must be a very weak, flimsy argument which is built wholly on such a number of precarious, uncer­tain suppositions. And he must be at a great loss for scriptures to argue from, who can find none more to his purpose than this.

By the kingdom of God here may be meant the gospel dispensation; or the visible kingdom which Christ was setting up, as this is very com­monly the meaning of this phrase. And the scribe might be a man of true piety on the Jewish plan; but had not yet been under advantage to satisfy himself about the character of Christ and his doctrines. If it should be objected to this, that St. Matthew says this very scribe, asked Christ this question, tempting him. I answer, this may be understood not in a bad sense; it may only mean, that he asked this question to try him, and see what his opinion was on this point, that he might be the better able to form a judgment of him. If these words are not understood in this sense, they are not consistent with his being near the state of a good man, as Mr. M. supposes him to be. In short, there is as much evidence that he was quite a pious, good man, as there is that he was so near to this as Mr. M. says he was, and he has been perfectly arbitrary in bring­ing him so near the state of a good man, and yet not allowing him to be really good. If he was a good man, the meaning of Christ's words to him is, "I find you have so much light and knowledge, that you want only to be a little more acquainted with me and my doctrines, in order to be one of my disciples, a professed member of that kingdom, which the Messiah is now about to set up."

[Page 70] But, after all, it is my opinion, that as we know nothing of the cha­racter of this scribe but what appears in his putting a question to Christ, and approving of his answer, and making an observation upon it; and it is expressly said that the reply of our Lord was grounded entirely on his answer, Christ has reference to this only, and declares that this im­portant sentiment, in which he appeared to be so full and clear, compre­hended so much, and was in such a degree the foundation of all he taught; that he was hereby in a great measure prepared to understand all the doctrines necessary to be known and believed, in order to be a member of his kingdom; and in this respect was not far from the kingdom of God.

But if this is not the true meaning of these words, and they must in­tend a nearness to a state of grace and salvation, there is not the least e­vidence that this consisted in any good, or less sinful disposition of mind by which he was not far from the temper and exercises of a good man, and more disposed heartily to embrace the gospel, than any other unre­generate man, as has been observed.

Mr. M. and others have taken it for granted, that a person, in order to be more likely to be saved than others; or to be in any true sense not far from the kingdom of God, must be in some degree well disposed, or less inclined to sin, and less opposite to God and holiness, and so a much less sinner than others: Hence when they read this text, and find one pronounced not far from the kingdom of God, by Christ, they conclude he was a man of a good disposition, almost disposed to embrace the gos­pel, tho' not one word is said about it in the text.

On this plan he has the least ground to hope for salvation, who views himself to be a greater sinner than others: Yea he cannot reasonably have any hope until he has a better opinion of himself, and thinks himself bet­ter than any who shall finally perish. And every one who is under the government of the same spirit, which Christ points out in the Pharisee, who went up to the temple to pray, may have high hopes of salvation, and swell in his confidence that he is not so bad as other men. But this notion, so far as it is received, will strike death to all the hopes, of every person, who is of a different and opposite spirit.

And indeed, if the scribe by his speculations and the right notions which he appeared to have, was become less sinful and opposite to God and the gospel, and not far from a state of grace, or true holiness in the state and exercises of his heart, which must imply, at least, that he was got much above half way to it; no reason can be given why he might not soon arrive to the state and exercises of a good man, by making a little more progress in his present course and advancing in the same kind of light and knowledge, and disposition of mind, which he now had in such a considerable degree. If he had got so near to real holiness, as not to be far from it, the greatest difficulty was over, and a few steps more in the same course in which he had hitherto proceeded, would have brought him completely into the kingdom of God.

Mr. MILLS'S third argument, consists in stating the matter in dispute between us, as he says, "in a fair light," and then "appealing to the ju­dicious reader" to judge, who is on the right side of the question. This, [Page 71] I confess, appears to me to be somewhat of an odd argument, and to be expressed in a very round-about, intricate way: However we must make the best of it that we can.

I agree with him that the only point to be determined, as that on which the whole controversy turns, is, Whether the sin and guilt, which the awakened, convinced, unregenerate sinner exercises and contracts in con­sequence of the light and conviction that he has, and which he was not chargeable with in a state of ignorance and security, are so great as to over balance all his external reformations, be they as great as they will, so that on the whole he is now more guilty and vile, than he was before, even in the practice of all that external wickedness, which he has now forsaken? Mr. M. has not stated the point in these words; but I con­clude this is his meaning.

I have particularly and largely considered this matter in some of the foregoing sections: And I am willing to join issue with Mr. M. here, and appeal to the judicious reader, who has carefully attended to what has been said.

But I must beg leave to observe that what Mr. M. calls "setting this matter in a fair light," is really a gross misrepresentation of it. Of this the "judicious reader" will be sensible, without my saying a word upon it: but he who is not so, will be in danger of being deceived by it. For the sake of such therefore, I would say a few things, to prevent the influ­ence which it might otherwise have on them.

1. He has not set the aggravated sin and guilt of the awakened con­vinced sinner in a true light; or rather has not brought it into view at all, in the whole that he has said. He indeed speaks of "the additional sin, arising merely from that sensibility of conscience, whereby the awak­ened sinner reforms ALL known sin." But there can be no "additional sin" in this state of the case; for the sinner is supposed to act up to the sensibility and light of his conscience, in reforming all known sin. Such an one is either not an awakened convinced sinner, because he does not know that unbelief and rejecting, having and opposing Jesus Christ, is a sin, and by far the greatest of which he can be guilty; or he does em­brace the gospel, and so is not unregenerate. The awakened, convinced sinner is so far from reforming all known sin, that he is constantly guilty of a thousand times more known sin, than he was, or could be, before he was thus awakened and convinced, and the actual hardness and rebellion of his heart is immensely increased. This is kept wholly out of view by Mr. M. Yea, his representation is in direct opposition to this; and so most contrary to the truth. This he has done thro' his whole book, as has been before observed. And he here, and every where else, puts "sen­sibility of conscience" in opposition to "hardness of heart," and a "hard­ned state," which is contrary to the truth, and only tends to mislead the unwary reader; The awakened, convinced sinner has as much hardness of heart, and is as really in a hard [...]d state, as the secure sinner, if by hard heart is meant a rebellious, ob [...]te heart, which is the meaning of the word in scripture: yea, his heart [...] harder, than it was in a state of security, as much greater degrees of light and conviction are now let into his mind.

[Page 72] 2. He has not set the state of the unawakened, secure sinner in a just light. This appears in what has been just observed of his representing him, as having hardness of heart, and being in an hardened state, as differ­ing herein from the awakened, convinced sinner. The secure sinner is indeed in a hardened state, but not more so, nor so much, as the awaken­ed convinced sinner. The former would be as much awakened, and con­cerned about himself as the latter, had he as much light in his mind and conscience, but this would not remove the least degree of hardness of heart, but be the occasion of increasing it.

Again, he represents the secure sinner as committing all his open wick­edness "presumptuously, not only against the light of God's word, but against the clear dictates of natural conscience." It is doubtless true in general, of secure profligates, under the gospel, that they sin more or less against the dictates of their conscience. But the light and dictates of their consciences are very weak and faint; and they seldom attend to this matter, or think any thing about it, and are not convinced that there is really much harm in what they do. They have no reallizing ap­prehension, that they shall be called to an account for what they are doing, and be punished for it. This must be supposed; for in proportion as their consciences dictate this, they will be awakened and concerned. They cannot therefore be properly said to sin against the clear dictates of natural conscience. To be sure they cannot be said to do so in distincti­on from the convinced sinner: for, as has been observed, the latter sins a thousand times as much against his conscience as the former, and against immensely clearer light and dictates of conscience, both with respect to what is sin, and what are the just consequences of it.

As to what he says,* that he has "clearly shewed that the degree of wickedness in Chorazian and Bethsaida, above Tyre and Sidon, consisted in a greater degree of stupidity and hardness of heart in the former, where­by they were more unimpressible than the latter, the same external means and advantages to repent being supposed:" I trust the reader who has attended to what I have already said upon this case, will not think he has given the least evidence of it.

MR. MILLS'S fourth argument consists in shewing, ‘Of what account these characters are with the blessed God, and how he treats them in his word and providence, viz. That of the awakened sinner, brought, tho' on principles of nature, to humble himself before God, repent, reform known evils, and conscientiously attend known duties; and that of the stout hearted, bold, daring, hardened sinner, that obstinate­ly persists in all manner of vitious and immoral pactices, under the same external means of light, and against the clear dictates of his consci­ence.’

The reader will observe in what colours these different characters are set; and will be sensible, I trust, that there are no such different characters of the unregenerate; which I have endeavoured to shew heretofore. The awakened sinner never does humble himself before God, but is quite as far from this as the secure profligate: Yea, the pride and stubbornness of the former, is exercised in a higher degree, and more directly against [Page 73] God, than that of the latter. And he does not conscientiously attend known duties: for under true convictions, he knows that he really does no duty at all, has never done any thing that God commands, or paid the least obedience to him in one instance: And his conscience tells him of a thousand times more duty to God, which he with obstinacy, and knowingly refuses to do, than the secure sinner ever thought of. And the former appears to be a more stout-hearted, bold, daring, hardened sinner, than the latter, as he "obstinately persists" in the highest crimes, the most heaven daring sin that men can be guilty of; and voluntarily goes on in the way to destruction, with his eyes, as it were, wide open, and under all the awakenings and terrors of his conscience, in a view of the awful consequence of his rebellion, and in the sight of an angry God, and dreadful hell.

But let us attend to the argument. He goes on to say, ‘If we can find clearly of what account these characters are with the omniscient God, we shall find what they really are, and a more sure ground to form our judgment concerning them, than all our weak reasonings can otherwise furnish us with. I shall therefore touch on a few in­stances of each kind, as exhibited in the holy scriptures.’

I suppose I have already sufficiently shewed from the scripture, how these characters stand in God's sight. However we will attend to Mr. M's instances; for I doubt not we shall get some light hereby.

HE first undertakes to produce instances "of awakened, humbled, reformed sinners. He instances in Ahab, Jehu, the Ninevites, and the children of Israel at Mount-Sinai. Of Ahab he observes, that when he rent his cloaths, &c. in consequence of the terrible message delivered to him by the prophet; the Lord took this favourable notice of it, and de­ferred the evil threatned; "seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself be­fore me? Because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days."* He appeals to all, whether it can be supposed that Ahab was not less sinful and vile, when he thus humbled himself, since God takes such favourable notice of it, and out of respect to this, defers the evil threatned▪ He also observes concerning Jehu, that ‘it is evi­dent from God's express approbation, and the bestowment of so great, tho' outward favor, because he had done well, that in God's account, his obedience, tho' but the matter of duty, upon principles of nature, was less wicked than a total disregard to GOD'S command would have been.’ And his argument is to the same purpose from the case of the Ninevites, whom God spared, and granted them a great salvati­on, out of respect to their repentance, which he concludes was not a gracious repentance

Upon this the following things may be observed.

1. If God granted favors to Ahab and Jehu, and a great deliverance and salvation to the Ninevites purely out of respect to their repentance and good deeds, while they were impenitent, unbelievers, and enemies to God and his Son the Mediator; then he may and does shew favor to sinners out of respect to what they are in themselves, their exercises and doings, and without any relation and respect to Christ the Media­tor. [Page 74] Therefore if there was no such Mediator he might shew favors to sinners, take a favourable notice of their doings, and express and manifest his approbation of them, and purely out of respect to this sus­pend his punishments, and grant them pardon and salvation. For if he grants a less good, a less deliverance and salvation, out of respect to their character and doings, because they have done well, or have be­come less sinful, than they were; he may as well grant a greater good, even pardon of all sin and eternal salvation, out of respect to this; es­pecially if they should become really virtuous and obedient, from the highest and best principles. If Ahab, for instance, obtained the divine approbation, and God's favorable notice, so as to have the awful judg­ments threatned, suspended, and removed from him, only by becoming in some degree less sinful, in being filled with fears of temporal evil, while he remained yet an enemy to God; how much higher must he have risen in God's favor, had he truly repented and humbled himself before God and returned to obedience from the noblest principles, lov­ing God with all his heart and soul! Surely, if what he did, was suf­ficient to abate God's anger towards him, and obtain his approbation and favor so far as to remove the heavy judgment from him which was threatened; had he made advances in his goodness, so as to become perfectly friendly and obedient to God, it would have been sufficient; quite to remove God's anger, and atone for all his past sins, and pro­cure God's highest approbation and favor. The same observation is just when applied to Jehu and the Ninevites.

If Ahab abated the divine displeasure against him, and obtained God's approbation and favor in any degree, by the alteration of his character and conduct, and purely on this account; Then this did so far atone for his sins, and render his person, and character, the whole taken to­gether, less displeasing, and more acceptable to God. What need then did Ahab stand in of the atonement and merit of a Mediator, in order to obtain the acceptance of his person, and pardon of his sins, and the favour of God? He had obtained this in some degree purely by his own reformations and doings; and nothing could be in the way of his obtaining it in as high a degree as he needed, if he went on in his re­formation and obedience to higher degrees. Therefore no sinner wants any other atonement and righteousness in order to obtain pardon and stand compleat in God's favor, but what is contained in his own refor­mations and obedience.

Thus Mr M. in his zeal in the cause of his awakened, reformed, humbled sinner, has quite sapped the foundation of the doctrine of atonement by a mediator; and so has overthrown the whole gospel, and represented Christ as dying in vain! He has done this, I believe, without design, not really knowing what he was about, as many others have done before him: but he, and every one else, may be challenged to shew the need, the propriety and wisdom of the atonement which Christ has made, if sinners out of Christ, wholly unconnected with him and his enemies, may abate the divine displeasure, and obtain God's approbation and favor purely by their own reformations and doings and wholly out of respect to them.

[Page 75] This is what the awakened sinner is at heart desiring and seeking af­ter; nothing would please him better, than to obtain God's approbati­on and favour by his own reformation and doings. He always will be of this disposition as long as he views himself in the light Mr. M. sets Ahab, and till he despairs of becoming any better or less sinful in this way. And never was one reconciled to the way of salvation by Christ, till he was not only convinced in his judgment, and conscience, that what Mr: M. has here advanced is not true, but hates and detests such a notion, in his heart.

I therefore scruple not to say, that Mr. M. has in the passages I am considering, exalted the sinner, and espoused his cause, at the expence of the honor and glory of the Mediator and saviour of sinners. Yea, that if what he has here advanced is true, Christ is dead in vain, and sinners are in an infinitely less guilty, miserable state, than the preaching of the cross of Christ, and the atonement by him supposes them to be. Mr. M. having observed concerning the Ninevites, that tho' their repentance did not "proceed from a principle of saving grace, yet a great salvati­on is bestowed out of respect to it, and their repentance was made the only condition of their great salvation," adds the following words, ‘And can it agree to the purity of God's nature, to make a greater degree of wickedness, on the whole, the condition of bestowing a great sal­vation, tho' of an outward nature? Sure it cannot, since this would be to manifest some regard to sin, and encourage men to practice it with boldness.’ I think it may be also with as much propriety asked, can it agree to the purity of God's nature to make a less degree of wick­edness the condition, &c.? If wickedness is made the condition, it seems to be no great matter, whether it be greater or less. Surely to make any degree of wickedness the condition, "would be to manifest some re­gard to sin and so far encourage men to practice it." But, what is infinite­ly worse, to make the reformations and doings of the sinner the only con­dition, of any salvation, and to grant it out of respect to these, and with­out any respect to Christ, his merit and righteousness, is to set aside and destroy all law and moral government, and to manifest infinitely less hatred of sin, and to favour it and the sinner infinitely more, than becomes the majesty of heaven; and nothing could tend more to ‘en­courage men to practice it with boldness.’ I therefore proceed to observe,

2. A very natural and easy meaning can be put upon these passages, consistently with the doctrine of atonement, and the glory of the Media­tor, and as consistently with the principle, in opposition to which Mr. M. has attempted to set them. God in his conduct towards these per­sons, and in what he says of them, has respect only to what was visible, to their external appearance and conduct: So nothing can be inferred from this with respect to their hearts, whether they were more or less sinful.

Ahab humbled himself before God in his appearance and visible con­duct, and put on the external appearance and profession of a true peni­tent; and God who acted not as the searcher of hearts and final Judge, [Page 76] in his treatment of the church and people of Israel, out as their visible head and civil governor, and treated them according to their external appearance and profession: I say, God in this character, speaks of Ahab and treats him according to his external appearance and conduct, i. e. as if he had been a true penitent, whether he was really so or not, or whether he was sincere or only played the hypocrite. God treated A­hab in this case, as he did Josiah afterwards on the appearance and profession he made of repentance and reformation, and renouncing the sin of his fathers. God uses much the same language to him on this occasion, by Huldah the prophetess, as he does to Ahab; "Because thine heart was tender, and thou didst humble thyself before God, when thou heardst his words against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, and humbledst thyself before me, and didst rend thy clothes, and weep before me; I have heard the also, saith the Lord. Behold I will gather thee to thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered to thy grave in peace, neither shall thine eyes see all the evil that I will bring upon this place." God treated Ahab as he has obliged professing christians to treat one another. If one falls into gross external sin, and after­wards, upon their dealing faithfully with him, returns and says he re­pents, i. e. puts on this appearance and profession, they are to forgive him, and treat him as a true penitent, whatever his heart may be, and tho' he may wickedly dissemble in the whole, and his pretensions to repentance be really more criminal than the conduct of which he pro­fesses to repent.

Thus God dealt with the church and people of Israel. When they in profession and appearance gave themselves up to God, and solemnly promised, "all that the Lord hath said, we will do and be obedient." He is represented as relying on their promise, and treated them as if they were sincere and hearty in this profession and appearance. "He said, surely they are my people, children that will not lie: So he was their Saviour;" even when, as the omniscient God, he knew that ‘they did flatter him with their mouth, and lied unto him with their tongues.*

And thus he treated the Ninevites in his providence, according to their outward appearance and profession, agreeable to the general rule of his conduct towards nations and bodies of people, which he had re­vealed. "At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and con­cerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and destroy it: if that nation against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them."{inverted †}

And when God says to Jehu, "Because thou hast done well in exe­cuting that which is right in mine eyes," he has reference only to his external conduct, speaking to him, and treating him, as if he was as sincere and friendly to God in what he did, as he professed to be. These words are therefore consistent with his being the greatest sinner, in the nation at that very time; and most odious and abominable in [Page 77] God's sight, in all he did, it being all taken together, nothing but a piece of high-handed wickedness. This was doubtless the real truth of the case; for at bottom he was no more of a friend to Jehovah than to Baal: and while he was pulling down Baal, and destroying his wor­shippers, and executing vengeance on the house of Ahab, he was set­ting himself up, and regarding only himself, in opposition to Jehovah; and all his pretences of "zeal for the LORD" were nothing, but gross hypocrisy. Who then can think that Jehu was less sinful and vile in God's sight now, than before, as Mr. M. represents him to be? And when GOD says of the children of Israel at Mount-Siani, "They have well said all that they have spoken,"* he has reference to their words and profession only, and nothing is said about any thing else. They had indeed spoken well, they had promised obedience and said to Moses "Speak thou unto us all that the Lord our God shall speak unto thee, and we will hear it and do it." But they had no heart answerable to their words. In these good words "they did flatter him with their mouth, and lied unto him with their tongues." This is intimated in what God says to Moses on this occasion, "O that there were such an heart in them, that they would keep all my commandments always." It is therefore so far from being true, that the people of Israel were less vile and sinful in God's sight when they said these words; and that on this account they had his "express approbation, which Mr. M. asserts, that it is certain they were more vile and odious in God's sight, than if they had said nothing; if gross and solemn lying and hypocrisy is more sinful, than to make no profession, and tell no lie. These two last mentioned instances are therefore very ill chosen ones to answer Mr. M's purpose, whatever are the rest.

But if we set aside what has been said in the foregoing observations, and allow that the persons here mentioned were not so guilty and vile in God's sight as they had been, and that this is expressly asserted of them all; yet this does not afford the least shadow of an argument to prove that an awakened convinced sinner, such an one as I describe, is not more guilty and vile in God's sight, than when in a state of igno­rance and security. For, I have to observe,

3. It does not appear that any of these were the awakened, convinced sinners of which I speak, but the contrary is most evident. Let Mr. M. produce as many instances as he will of persons becoming less sinful, and growing so much better, as on this account to abate and remove God's anger towards them, and attain his approbation and favor; yet this will be nothing in favor of the cause he has espoused; unless these are instances of these awakened, convinced sinners, about whom is the dispute.

Jehu has not the least appearance of any awakening and conviction, or humiliation, or so much as external reformation. I therefore a little wonder how Mr. M. happened to think of him for an instance of an "awakened, humbled reformed sinner."

The case of the Ninevites has been before considered; and it appears by the account which Mr. M. gives of them, that they were very far [Page 78] from the conviction, of which I speak, being "in the depth of heathen­ish darkness, and not knowing so much as the name of a Mediator."

The Israelites were terrified and affected by the extraordinary, dread­ful appearances at Mount-Sinai; but that they had much light and conviction let into their consciences, there is no evidence; but the con­trary is most evident. They had no real conviction of conscience, of the sinfulness and perversness of their own hearts; but thought they were disposed and ready to do all that God commanded. Instead of having any true light and conviction of conscience, they were vastly ignorant and stupid in this respect, while they were only alarmed and frighted by the external appearances of Mount-Sinai. Just as many persons now are affrighted by some imaginary suggestions and apprehen­sions, and so imagine themselves to be under the awakenings and con­viction of sin, which are preparatory to conversion, and are thought to be so by many others; while they have really no true sight and con­viction of their sin and danger, and know not what is their real state and character. Indeed the Israelites were neither truly "awakened, convinced, humbled, nor reformed; for they directly upon this fell into the grossest acts of idolatry; they made and worshipped a golden calf, and in their idolatrous revel "they sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play."

Ahab put on the appearance of a true penitent: "He put sack­cloth upon his flesh, and fasted and lay in sackcloth, and went softly." And thus he did, in his external appearance, humble himself before God. But there is not the least evidence that he was under what is called legal conviction, or was in any degree troubled, or tho'tful about a future state; or that he had any right speculative notions of his guilty, lost, miserable state, as a sinner, and of the way in which he might ob­tain pardon and salvation. He believed the prophet, that God was angry with him for what he had done in the affair of Naboth's vineyard, and he was afraid of the temporal, worldly evils which were threatened, and put on this appearance of penitence in hopes that hereby the judgments might be averted. He is not therefore an instance of an awakened, convinced sinner: so is not in any degree applicable to the case before us, on sup­position it was certain that he, by what he did, became less sinful. But whether he was a convinced sinner or not, as it appears by his after conduct, that he was not a true penitent, we may be very sure that his heart was not answerable to the external appearance he put on, but was directy opposite thereto; and therefore that he was guilty of gross hypocrisy, and was more vile and hateful in God's sight, than he was before he had this special admonition, and put on this hypocri­tical appearance. How far then is this instance from being to Mr. M's purpose!

BUT Mr. M. has more instances under this head, to which I will now attend. He says the point he contends for is evident from the repre­sentation our Saviour makes of this matter in the following words. ‘When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through [Page 79] dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will re­turn to my house, from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they en­ter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. He observes upon these words, that, ‘by the house emp­ty swept and garnished, is represented the state of an awakened, re­formed sinner. By his return with seven other spirits more wicked than himself, entering in, and dwelling there, is represented the more desperate, wicked state, to which he is reduced on the abatement of his convictions, returning with further degrees of contracted hardness of heart, to the unrestrained practice of more desperate degrees of wickedness. Now it is expressly affirmed that the last state of that man is WORSE than the first.’ He then goes on to observe that this is applied to the Jewish nation, who had been awakened and reformed by the preaching of John, &c.*

It has been before observed, that in arguing from this instance, Mr. M. has expressly contradicted what he had advanced in a former argu­ment. Since therefore he has introduced this at such an expence, it would be very wrong not to allow it its full weight. The reader will judge for himself, when he has attended to the following particulars.

1. I allow that the going out of the unclean spirit intends external reformation of gross, open sins; which took place in a considerable de­gree among the Jews, upon the appearance and preaching of John Bap­tist, and continued for some time. But,

2. I think Mr. M. has mistaken the meaning of the 'house empty, swept and garnished.' This does not intend external reformation, or any reformation at all: But denotes a habitation suited and prepared for the reception of such a guest or inhabitant as is an evil spirit; every thing being ready for his admittance, and suited to invite him to dwell there, and give him all desirable advantage. In one word, it denotes a heart not made better or less sinful in any degree, but fit and prepared for the entrance and abode of a devil, only in a different shape; and that he might dwell there with greater power and advantage. This indeed re­presents the state of an awakened, convinced sinner. The unclean de­vil which reigned in him in a state of ignorance, security and external vice, now enters him in another shape, for which his heart is now pre­pared in a manner it was not before, and becomes seven [...]old more wicked and vile, in the exercises of a self-righteous, proud spirit, and in more direct and stronger opposition to Christ and the gospel. Mr. M. has therefore led me to a passage very much to my purpose, and di­rectly against himself.

This also represents the state of the Jews when they were in some measure awakened and externally reformed. They only forsook one way of wickedness for another, which was much greater, and every way worse. They trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and hated and rejected Jesus Christ. Instead of the unclean devil in obedi­ence to whom they had wallowed in external filthiness, a self-righ­teous, [Page 80] proud, unbelieving devil entered them: and they became seven fold more wicked and the children of hell, than the publicans and open sinners, in their hatred of Jesus Christ, and direct, and violent opposi­tion to him.

3. By first and last state are meant, not their reformed state, and ex­ternal wickedness afterwards returned to; but the state they were in, before the unclean spirit went out, and the state in which, under the influence of seven worse devils, they hated the divine character; and rejected and opposed Jesus Christ, by which they became worse, more guilty and vile than the unclean Sodomites, and the inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon, and were going on to a more dreadful damnation, not­withstanding all their external reformations & professions, in which they cleansed only the outside, while the most abominable wickedness reign­ed within, and were 'like whited sepulchres, which indeed appeared beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.

Thus, the true import of this parable being attended to, it appears to be so far from containing an argument in favor of what Mr. M. has espoused, that it is directly against him, and represents the Jews, not­withstanding all their awakenings and reformations, more than seven fold worse than they were before, while they hated the divine character clearly set before them in the incarnate Son of God, and obstinately rejected and opposed him.

But if this most natural and plain sense of the words is given up, and the interpretation Mr. M. has given is admitted, they will afford no argument in his favor; for,

4. According to him, the Jews became worse, more guilty and vile, because under all their awakenings, reformations, light and advantages, they did not embrace the gospel; ‘but hardened their hearts, and re­jected the clearest light and evidence of the truth, and thereby ripen­ed themselves for a more aggravated condemnation.’ It was then the abuse of the light and advantages they had, in their awakened, re­formed state, that ripened them for a more aggravated condemnation, which is the very thing which I assert, and which Mr. M. opposes. And if it is allowed, that they, ‘finally hardened their hearts, and re­jected the clearest light and evidence of the truth; and thereby ri­pened themselves for a more aggravated condemnation,’ not in their awakened, reformed state, under the preaching of John Baptist, Christ and his apostles: but, as Mr. M. supposes, after all this, by returning to their former or greater external wickedness; this instance will be nothing to the case before us: For tho' it be granted that if a person who has been under great awakenings and convictions, does not only abuse all his light and conviction by continuing to reject Christ and the gospel; but in opposition to all this goes into an allowed course of open wickedness, does hereby become more guilty and vile, and con­tracts greater hardness of heart, than while he was externally reformed under the influence of his convictions of conscience; yet it does not follow that he was so, when in a state of ignorance and security before [Page 81] he had this light and conviction: In this case the light and conviction he has had is the reason and ground of his greater sinfulness; which serves to shew how such light and conviction aggravates all his sins: and therefore that he could not have been so guilty and vile, had he never been the subject of them: and so is an argument in favor of what I have advanced: but if it was not, it is nothing against it; for it has no relation to the case of a sinner before he falls under awakenings and conviction; but only to those, who after awakenings and convictions fall into gross open wickedness; to which what I assert has no respect at all. In a word, in order to prove that a sinner is more guilty and vile before he falls under awakenings and convictions, than he is when thus awakened, Mr. M. brings an instance to prove that he who runs into open wickedness after he has these convictions, is on this account more guilty and vile; which surely is a very inconclusive way of arguing.

The next instance Mr. M. produces is that of "the young man, on whose declaration of his having observed the commandments from his youth, 'tis said, Christ beholding him, loved him."*

Mr. M. observes upon this, that "whatever dispute may be raised on the words," he supposes it will be allowed by all, ‘that he was a per­son of an externally moral and amiable conversation, and that on that account Christ shewed him respect, at least as being less vile than if he had under his religious advantages continued in greater degrees of stupidity, and lived in the open violation of all God's command­ments.

Here I take leave to observe the following things.

1. Mr. M. seems here quite to have forgot what he was about, or had undertaken to do; which was to produce instances of "awakened, humbled, reformed sinners: for surely he could not have the least tho't that this young man was such an instance. He was not reformed; for had never been guilty of any course of external sins. He was not a humbled sinner; for he did not charge himself with the least sin; and was stupid and proud enough to think of obtaining eternal life by do­ing some good thing. It hence appears also that he had not the least degree of true light and conviction of conscience. Mr. M. says, "Christ shewed him respect, as being less vile, than if he had continued in greater degrees of stupidity. I wonder that he mentioned this; for he manifested the most shocking degree of stupidity of conscience, by saying that he had kept all the commands, which Christ mentioned to him, from his youth. One would hope there was not another such ignorant, stupid wretch among all the Jews.

2. I do not allow, what Mr. M. supposes will be allowed by all "that Christ shewed him respect" and loved him, on the account of his good character, "at least as being less vile, &c."

If Christ loved him merely because he was less vile than he might have been, he had the same reason to love every one that he saw; for we have no reason to think that any one of them was as vile and sinful as he could possibly be, on any supposition. Besides, this would be a very odd sort of love indeed, which is wholly grounded on his being [Page 82] less sinful and odious than he might have been, or than others were. It is indeed a love which consists in not hating him so much, as if he had been more odious. In this sense we may be said to love all who are not so bad as the devil, or the most odious creatures in the universe.

Nor is there any reason to think that Christ loved him on account of any thing amiable and excellent in his character. His saying "all these have I observed from my youth," was much more of an expression of the most odious ignorance, stupidity and wickedness of mind, than of any thing else. He must have been destitute of all true benevolence, vastly proud, and a perfect enemy to God, else he could not have been so ignorant of himself, and the divine law: And Christ saw all this in the clearest light. He "beholding him," looking on him as a poor, ignorant, stupid, proud enemy to God, and in a most wretched condi­tion, this excited in him the love of pity and benevolence towards him; and under the influence of this he went on to use means suited to instruct and relieve him. This, I suppose is all that is meant by his loving him. We have no need to look for something amiable and ex­cellent in this young man, in order to account for Christ's loving him, with a love of pity and benevolence. Misery and wretchedness, with­out any thing amiable, is the proper object of this love. Thus God is said to love the world of mankind, when they were his enemies, and we are commanded to love our worst enemies, not with a love of com­placency, but of benevolence and kindness, how ever odious their cha­racter may justly be to us. But if it were granted, that Christ loved him out of respect to his decent, amiable, external behaviour, (as some have supposed) this is very consistent with his being the greatest sinner in the nation, his whole character being considered, as comprehending the state and exercises of his heart.—But more than enough has per­haps been said to shew with what little reason Mr. M. has produced this instance in support of his cause.

HE goes on to say, ‘Again, the same truth is clearly held forth by the apostle Peter, where he tells us, 'If after they have escaped the [Page 83] pollutions of the world, through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and over­come; the latter end is worse with them than the beginning’ Upon this he asks the following question, ‘Is it not plainly implied in these words, that while he is not again entangled, and overcome with the pollutions of the world, i. e. continues to escape them, he is less vile?’ Answer. If this is granted, it is nothing to the purpose: for according to this, there is reference only to their abuse of that light and knowledge, which they had, after they had been awakened and reform­ed. The point in controversy has no relation to such a case as this. The question between us is not, Whether a person that has reformed his external conduct under the influence of light and conviction of con­science, may not grow worse by returning to his former ways of sin­ning? But whether a convinced sinner, how much soever he is reform­ed in his external conduct, is not on the whole worse, more guilty and vile than he was before he had this light and conviction? But this has been repeatedly observed before. It seems a little strange and odd, that Mr. M. when he is hunting up arguments to support that side which he has taken of the question in debate, should so often quite forget the point in dispute, and argue against something else.

But I have here to observe Mr. M. has not given the true sense of the words. When St. Peter says, "the latter end is worse with them than the beginning," (or as the same words are rendered* the last state is worse with them, than the first) he means, that they who have once, under the influence of their knowledge and conviction of the truths of christianity, externally submitted to the laws of that holy religion; and after that turn apostates, and fall into their former ways of external sin, are in a worse state, than they were before they had the knowledge of christianity. Their beginning, or first state, is the state they were in before they had escaped the pollutions of the world, thro' the know­ledge of Christ. This is as evident as can be by the words immedi­ately following: "For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than after they had known it, to turn from the holy commandment." To prove that the latter end is worse with them than the beginning, he says it had been better for them, to have remained as they were in the beginning, i. e. in ignorance of the gos­pel, than to renounce it after they had known it Mr. M. has there­fore quite mistaken the force and meaning of this text. As it stands, it is rather a conformation of the point which he opposes: For their being in a worse state is wholly grounded, not in their greater external wickedness; for they are supposed only to return to their former ways in which they lived in the beginning: but on their returning to their old ways of sinning when they had so much knowledge and conviction of the truth. So that their sinning against the internal light and con­viction which they had, is represented as the chief aggravation of their sins: which is the very thing which I assert, and which Mr. M. opposes.

Mr. M. concludes his argument from these instances with the fol­lowing question. ‘Are not these as clear indications as can well be [Page 84] given by words, that the account the blessed God makes of these different characters of men, under the means of grace is in favor of the negative part of the question?’ I leave the reader now to answer this question himself.

MR. M. proceeds, ‘On the other hand to inquire, of what account with the blessed God the character of the secure, bold, presumptu­ous, hardened sinner is, who obstinately persists in vicious and im­moral practices.’ This he proposes to do by considering the threat­enings uttered by God against such in particular. And "the execution of his judgments and wrath, in the way of his providence, correspon­dent with the threatenings of his word," on those of this character, when this is expressly assigned as the ground of these judgments.*

The threatenings he mentions are contained in the scriptures referred to in the margin. The instances of God's judgments which he pro­duces, are the destruction of the old world—God's sending fire and brimstone on Sodom—The judgments executed on Pharaoh—and on the people of Israel, first and last.

Upon this I shall only make the following brief remarks.

1. Mr. M. suppose and allows that these are only threats and exe­cutions of "outward judgments," i. e. of temporal evils and calamities. And is it not easy to see why open, visible sins should be punished visibly and openly in this state, rather than those which are invisible and secret: and therefore why those sins should be threatened with these judgments? It cannot be hence inferred, that these are always most guilty and the greatest sinners in God's sight. God has no where in his word intimated that in his providence he treats men according to their true character, inflicting the greatest outward judgments on the greatest sinners, and shewing the greatest favors to the least guilty and vile: So far from this, that directly the contrary is abundantly reveal­ed. Therefore nothing can be determined about the question in dis­pute, who is on the whole the greatest sinner, by all the threatenings and executions of God's judgments in this world. Our Saviour ex­pressly opposes & censures such a conclusion as Mr. M. makes from these instances, in the followings words: (Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay." God's bringing outward temporal calamities on some for their visible open sins, as a manifestation of his displeasure and an­ger, [Page 85] is no evidence that their external wickedness is greater, and more provoking to God, than the outward wickedness of many others, whom the spares and smiles on in his providence; much less is it any evidence that they are in all respects, and on the whole, greater sinners than o­thers who escape these judgments.

It is enough that they, on whom these judgments are brought, de­serve them, and infinitely more, and that it is wife and proper, all things considered, for God in this way to manifest his displeasure at them, tho' at the same time others who escape these judgments, are more guilty and vile in God's fight; and will have a much more in­tollerable condemnation in the day of judgment. Of this we have an instance which cannot be disputed, in the inhabitants of Sodom, and those of Capernaum, &c. The former were burnt up in fire and brim­stone from heaven; the latter, the most of them, at least, we have all reason to think died a natural death, with no extraordinary marks of the divine vengeance: And yet the latter were more guilty and vile than the former, our Saviour being judge, and will appear so at the day of judgment. It might be also observed that most who had an actual hand in crucifying the Lord of glory, died quietly in their beds; and a peculiar vengeance fell on those, who came upon the stage after this; for the evils that come on the nation of the Jews, were suspend­ed till 40 years after this fact; in which time most of that generation, died off, and others rose up in their room. And I suppose all will al­low that the former were more guilty than the latter.

2. Some of the threats Mr. M. has here quoted have no particular reference to external sins of the unawakened secure sinner, or to any temporal, outward judgments; but are as applicable to the awakened, convinced sinner as to any other, and much more so. "He that being often reproved, herdeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy," is peculiarly applicable to an awakened, con­vinced sinner. Such an one is reproved by the light and convictions of his conscience much more and oftener than any other: and he harden­eth his neck, more than others in proportion as his reproofs are stronger and more constant. And his continuing to harden his neck will issue in sudden and remediless destruction.—And when it is said, "God shall wound the head of his enemies: and the hairy scalp of such an one as goeth on still in his tres­passes;" a secure profligate is no more pointed out, than an awakened, convinced sinner; for the latter is really as much an enemy to God, as the former, and "goeth on still in his trespasses." Mr. M. might as well have quoted any other text in the bible as these. And his mentioning these, only shews that he either little tho't what he was about, or quite misunderstood the character of the awa­kened, convinced sinner while unregenerate. The latter is doubtless the truth, since he appears to carry this mistake thro' the whole of his book, and builds all his opposition to me upon it, as has been before observed.

But be this as it may, whether the texts Mr. M. has quoted are all to his purpose, or not; let it be remembered that however many threats of outward judgments for open wickedness there are in the bible; and [Page 86] tho' there are many instances of God's bringing judgments on men for such sins; yet this affords not the least argument, that these were, all things considered, and on the whole, greater sinners than any others who have escaped these judgments, nor is any such thing implied or intimated in all this, as has been shewed in the first remark. This ar­gument therefore of Mr. M's comes to nothing, and may well be num­bered with all the rest, which have been considered.

AND now the reader is to judge of the weight of all Mr. M. has said in opposition to the point in debate, and whether he has overthrown, or so much as shaken, what I have advanced in my section on means; and have endeavoured to vindicate in the preceeding pages.


IN which what Mr. M. has said upon several other pas­sages in my enquiry, is examined.

AFTER Mr. M. has finished what he had to say upon the proposi­tion he set up to dispute against, he has filled up above two thirds of his book upon another point of doctrine, which he owns I have nei­ther expressly affirmed nor denied. He does not however, quite forget the former dispute, but often brings it into view under this head, and seems to think himself disputing against me. What I am more especi­ally concerned with here is what he says under his fifth general head, in which he proposes ‘to touch briefly on some particular passages, which to him appear liable to exception, as not being clear from the holy scriptures.’

THE first he mentions of this sort, is my construction of those words of Christ, "Strive to enter in at the strait gate." I had said that some by the strait gate here, understand "the entrance into heaven, or eternal life." And striving to enter in at this gate must then intend, ‘a keep­ing the commandments of God, or the holy exercises of true saints, by which they walk in the way to heaven; fight the good fight of faith, and so lay hold on eternal life. And proceeded to offer some things in favour of this interpretation, without expressly declaring my own opinion. Mr. M. has taken an alarm at this, as if all ortho­doxy, and even religion itself was given up by such an interpretation of these words. But let us consider what he has to say against it.

He first says, this is the Arminians sense of this text, ‘which some think is a short summary of their whole scheme. For this tends to deliver them from the invisible influences of the holy Spirit in grown persons, and sensible experiences and exercises in conversion, &c.’ And he goes on to ask, ‘Is not advancing this gloss on the text, the most effectual method that could be taken unobservedly to overthrow Calvinism in this point, and promote Arminianism?’

[Page 87] ANSWER. I am sorry if Calvinism, or any one peculiar doctrine of it, depends so much upon the meaning of this single text, that it must stand or fall, according as this is understood. I think such a suppositi­on is more favorable to Arminianism, than any interpretation that can be put upon this text. Calvinists are poorly off indeed, if they have no text but this to prove "the invincible influences of the holy Spirit, and sensible experiences and exercises in conversion;" which does indeed say nothing about them. Many Calvinists have greatly hurt themselves and their cause, by pressing into their service texts of scripture which have no relation to the point which they would support by them. And they need not be afraid of joining with Arminians, when they are so lucky as to give the right sense of a text. And they who think the sense of this text which I have mentioned "is a short summary of the whole Arminian scheme," or tends to support it in one article, a [...]e, I imagine, quite confused and in the dark with respect to any scheme of doctrines whatever.

Mr. M. goes on to say, ‘However, as this interpretation of the text made by Arminians, was to me obscure and unintelligible, as not holding forth the true sense of the text; so it equally is now, when made by a Calvinist. But whether this is owing to the misinterpre­tation of the text, or to my age and dullness, I shall not determine, but leave to the impartial public, when the following things are considered*

Let us then consider what he has said.

He observes that I ‘explain the strait gate as meaning the entrance into heaven or eternal life;’ and says ‘If I mean entering into hea­ven strictly without a metaphor, this is not till death; and then it should seem that striving to enter in by this gate would be endea­vouring to die, which makes a very uncouth sense.’ Uncouth indeed! But we must thank him for this sense: for I believe no mortal else would ever have thought of it. I should have thought that on my in­terpretation, striving to enter this gate, was striving to obtain eternal life, in going in the way that leads to it, the way of holiness; or to be of that character, which alone will be admitted into heaven: or that it was to fight the good fight of faith, so as to lay hold on eternal life. This is the sense I had given of striving. He therefore proceeds to say ‘But taking striving as he has explained it, yet it is still unintelligi­ble, how they can walk in the narrow way that leads to heaven, since they are supposed by his exposition, to have entered there by passing thro' the gate.’ I leave the reader to make the best he can of this.

He first says that according to my interpretation, striving to enter in at the strait gate, means striving to die. In the next sentence he says my exposition supposes they who strive to enter in at the strait gate, have entered into heaven already; and he cannot see how, after this, they can be said to walk the narrow way that leads to heaven. He then asks "If by the entrance into heaven, I mean the entering into a state of grace, or conversion, how I have opposed the sense of the text, which I endeavour to overthrow? But he presently forgets all this, and [Page 88] supposes that I make the gate and the way to mean one and the same thing: and that according to my construction, living a holy life and actually entering into heaven are the same.* And upon these supposi­tions, he argues against me, in his own imagination, very strongly, till he thinks he has "restored the true and genuine sense of the text." But in the midst of all this he takes notice that I ‘have not attempted to explain what is meant by the narrow way; nor shewed the pro­priety of our Lord's placing this gate before the way in his repres­entation; both which, I apprehend, (says he) necessary to be done, in order to set the sense of this important text in a true and consis­tent light.’

Answer. The words narrow way are not found in the text, nor is the gate placed before the way. And what need there was of explaining or saying any thing about that which is not found in the text, I cannot conceive. I did indeed say, that striving to enter in at the strait gate according to the sense I mentioned, did intend walking in the way of holiness; and this I supposed was the narrow way. Mr. M. repeated­ly tells of my speaking of the way, and what my exposition makes it to mean: but he has just at this instant forgot all this which was in his mind immediately before, and just after, and says, "He has not at­tempted to explain what is meant by the narrow way!"

And now the reader is to determine whether all this is owing to Mr. M's age and dullness, or to something else, For my part, I cannot help determining that he was quite confused and lost here, whatever was the cause of it; and that he has done nothing towards restoring any sense of the text at all.

I OBSERVED that the word in the original translated strive, in the text, when used in other places in the new-testament denoted not any exercises and doings before conversion, but the exertions and labours of true christians in their way to heaven, which might perhaps be a good reason for understanding it in the same sense in this place. To support this observation I produced a number of instances. Three of these Mr. M. examines, and thinks they turn out rather against, than for me. The two first are the words of St. Paul, spoken of himself, and of Ti­mothy. "I have fa [...]ght the good fight. Fight the good fight of faith." Mr. M. observes that ‘in both these instances, that which limits the word fight or strive to the exercises of true christians, is rather the good fight, with which it is connected. Whereas if Mr. Hopkins's sense of the word strive were certain, there had been no need at all for the apostle to have added, the good strife or fight, since it could mean nothing else, but a good and holy striving.’ It would have been a wild assertion indeed if I had said, this word always necessarily carried this sense and could not signify any thing else. Words, I know are in themselves quite arbitrary signs, and no more signify one thing than another, till some meaning is affixed to them. All I attempted was to shew in what sense the inspired writers used it, when applied to religious exercises. It was to Mr. M's purpose to shew that they [Page 89] did not use it in the sense which I had said they did: but this he has not attempted.

I know, and particularly observed, that the word was originally used among the Greeks, to denote, the strifes in the olympic and other pub­lic games. The apostle considers these strifes as an emblem of the christian race and strife, in which men run and fight for eternal life; and therefore takes the word they used for the former, and applies it to the latter. He calls the latter the good fight, to distinguish it from that fight or agony which the word originally signified, and to which he has reference; and not to distinguish it from the exercises and do­ings of the unregenerate, Mr. M. says, ‘This seems to imply there might be a fighting and striving, that was not thus strictly good and successful.’ I grant that it implies there was a striving in the olimpic games, in distinction from which the christian's labor and strife, is a good fight; but not that there was any other proper religious striving distinct from this.

The other instance I mentioned, which Mr. M. excepts against, is in the following words, ‘And every one that striveth for the mastery, is temperate in all things: Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible.’ Upon this he says, ‘Here the apostle speaks of striving for the mastery, and for a corruptible crown. Were these gracious exercises?’ Wonderful question!

Answer. These exercises are an emblem of the gracious exercises of true christians, in which they strive for an incorruptible crown, which is here asserted of them. The reader shall judge with how good a grace, and what propriety Mr. M. adds, ‘This text which he has pro­duced, seems to confute the interpretation he has advanced, instead of establishing it.’ He who can think this a confutation of the inter­pretation I have advanced, can easily confute every interpretation that ever was, or can be advanced on any text in the bible.

I quoted Dr. Doddridge, and Pool's Synopsis to prove that some suppose that by the strait gate is meant the entrance into heaven or eternal life. Mr. M. has been at some pains to shew that no such in­terpretation of this text is found in these authors. In order to this he jumbles together part of what Dr. Doddridge says upon this and ano­ther text, taking part of a sentence from one, and joining it to a piece of a sentence on the other; carefully leaving out the words, which are apparently contrary to the sense he tries to make him speak. The cri­tical reader who has Dr. Doddridge and Mr. M. before him, will, by examining and comparing, have a more clear and striking idea of what Mr. Mr. has done in this matter, than can be given any other way. And I am confident he will be convinced that my reference to the Dr. was on good grounds; especially if he observes, that in his note on this text, in order to shew the sense of the original word, here translated strive, he refers to those texts which have been mentioned, in which the exercises of christian faith and holiness are spoken of.

Mr. M. says, 'Such is my weakness, that I cannot devise why this [Page 90] author referred to Dr. Doddridge, as an authority for his new sense of this text. On this I would observe the following things.

I did not refer to the doctor as an authority for this sense of the text. I hope I never shall be guilty of referring to any uninspired man as an author [...] When I mentioned a sense which others put upon this text, I referred to the doctor as one of them, not as any evidence that this was right sense: but that it was in fact so understood by some, as I asserted.

Why does Mr. M. here call this a new sense of this text, when he had so often said it was a sense, which arminians put upon it; unless it be that he may add to the number of his many self contradictions!* Per­haps however, he means to set NEW, in opposition to orthodox. If so, this will account for his calling every thing he does not approve new divinity.

How far Mr. M's weakness appears in this, or in any thing else to be found in his book, is a matter of no great importance, and is left en­tirely to the judgment of the reader. All that I am concerned to make out is, the weakness of what he says in support of the cause he has es­poused.

He also endeavours to shew that I have made a mistake in refering to Pool's Synopsis for this sense of the text.

As this is a matter of no great importance, I will not trouble the reader with the defence of myself, which I think I am able to make, and a particular confutation of what Mr. M. has said; but I leave it entirely with the learned, who will be at the pains of consulting the synopsis. However, I will just mention three mistaks which Mr. M. has made, in what he has said on this head.

First, He takes whatever he finds in the synopsis to be Mr. Pool's, as his opinion, and what he asserts; whereas Mr. Pool was only the col­lector and transcriber of what former expositors had wrote. Therefore he produces the different and opposite sentiments of expositors and con­stantly refers to them in the margin. Mr. M's quotation in the margin is what Mr. Pool collected from two expositors, the latter of which has been reckoned in some sense the father of all Arminians. Mr. M. pre­tends to give a translation, or paraphrase of it, (tho' I think it is nei­ther) and represents it as what Mr. Pool asserts. Mr. Pool never tho't himself answerable for all the opinions of expositors he quotes in his synopsis.

[Page 91] Secondly. Mr. M. here again supposes I quote Pool's synopsis as an authority to support that sense of the text which I had mentioned. Whereas I referred to this only to support my assertion, that this sense has been put on the text; and not as the least evidence that it was the right one, as I have before observed. However, while Mr. M. runs into this mistake and that just mentioned, he is right, in rejecting all human authority in the following words, ‘But suppose Mr. Pool was of opinion, &c. as we are to call no man father on earth, I would enquire, &c.’

Thirdly. Mr. M. here supposes that whatever the unregenerate are di­rected or commanded to do, they are to do, or may do it, while unrege­nerate; and so that they are directions or commands to unregenerate do­ings. This is manifest in what he pretends to take from Pool's Synopsis, just mentioned, in the following words, ‘Christ invites or requires all, the unregenerate not excepted, to take in hand, or enter upon the way of holiness. And that they strive in this matter with all their powers.’ Tho' all the unregenerate are required immediately to enter upon the way of holiness, and to strive in this matter, &c. this does not certainly enjoin unregenerate strivings, unless whatever the unregenerate are com­manded to do, they are to do as such, or while unregenerate. But what Mr. M. here supposes is by no means true. The unregenerate are com­manded to love God, and to strive in this matter, and exert all their pow­ers. But it does not follow from this that unregenerate men do thus love God, or ever will while unregenerate. But this matter will be more particularly considered in another section.—I return to the text under consideration.

IT was my prevailing opinion, when I wrote my enquiry that the strait gate in this text does not mean the entrance on a religious life, or conver­sion from sin to God; but the entrance into eternal life, to which a life of holiness or the good fight of faith is the way; and therefore is the striv­ing here commanded, which includes the beginning in the first act of faith and repentance, &c. as well as progress in this way unto the end of life. And I have not been lead to alter my opinion, by any thing that Mr. M. has said, or that I have learned from any other quarter. Some­thing I then said in support of the interpretation in question. And I must now ask the patience of the reader, while I mention several other things which appear to me to be in favour of this sense of the text.

1. The words immediately following these seem to be in favor of this construction. 'When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us, &c.—There shall be weeping, &c. when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, &c." These words are evidently introduced with reference to what is said in the text, and to explain and enforce it. And we are hereby led to understand this same thing by the strait gate in the text, and the door in the next sentence. The way to eternal life, or the kingdom of God, the gate or door by which persons enter thither, and by which the patriarchs and prophets have gone into this kingdom, now [Page 92] stands open to all; and all are invited to enter in: and all that is nes­sary in order to this, is to strive to enter in, or to go in the way which leads to eternal life. And all are urged now so to run for eternal life, not as uncertainly; so to strive and fight the good fight of faith, as to lay hold on eternal life, from this awakening consideration, that many shall seek to enter in, shall cry for admittance when it is too late, and the door is forever shut. From this view of the matter, I think it is very evident, that the seeking to enter in, which is distinguished from striving, and is set in opposition to it, intends the crying for admittance in at the door, after it is shut, represented in the words immediately following. And if so, it will follow, that the strait gate, and the door mean the same thing: For Christ says, many shall seek to enter in, i. e. at the strait gate; and shall not be able, and then goes on to illustrate this, by telling how they shall knock and cry for admittance at this gate or door, after it is shut. And is it not equally evident, that by striving Christ means that which shall be effectual, and shall certainly bring a person to "enter in through the gates into heaven," since it is put in opposition to that which shall be ineffectual, and is consistent with being forever excluded? Thus I think, if we attend to Christ's own explanation of these words, I think we cannot be at a loss about their meaning.

2. The passage just now alluded to, seems to be in some measure parellel to this under consideration, 'Blessed are they that do his com­mandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the holy city." Here is a gate, or gates mentioned, as the entrance into heaven, and the way to enter is to do his commandments. This therefore striving to enter in at these gates. They therefore who do strive to enter in at this gate, do observe the commandment of Christ, and shall certainly be successfull. If striving is Christ's command, they who strive, do his commandment, and so shall enter into eternal life, thro' the gate. This leads me to observe further.

3. It seems to me very dishonorable to Christ, and contrary to his wisdom, faithfulness and goodness, to suppose that he has given any direction and command to sinners, in order to their salvation, which they may punctually observe and do, and yet miss of salvation. If they may do so; what safety is there in relying upon his advice and direc­tion: for according to this, he does not always advise and direct to the way that leads to heaven; but to that which a man may follow, and yet be going in the way to hell. Christ says, 'Blessed is the man that heareth me.'* He that strives to enter in at the strate gate, heareth Christ; for this is his counsel and advice to men; and therefore is safe and blessed. It is implied in these words, that he who striveth shall be able to enter in, or shall certainly enter in, in distinction from those who shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able. And who can now think, that men may faithfully and punctually take the advice, and follow the command of him who came to teach men the way to life, and yet not be able to enter in, but perish at last?

[Page 93]In this view, they who take the striving here commanded, to be the doings of the unregenerate, and at the same time hold that there are promises made to such strivings, are more consistent; and in this respect, do not, I think, reflect so much dishonor on Christ, as they who hold the former and deny the latter. And hence it is, perhaps; that it is so common for the latter to contradict themselves, and impli­citly hold that there are promises to the doings of the unregenerate, or which amounts to the same thing, while they are expressly denying it.

Mr. M. is an instance of this, not the least remarkable; for, as has been observed, he in the book under consideration, applies scriptures to the unregenerate, which carry a promise in them to those who com­ply with the direction and command. And when he had formerly wrote a book to prove there are no promises to the doings of the un­regenerate, he concludes the whole with the following declaration, ‘On the whole, I would just make this one remark, and be it remembered: though I deny any promise, by virtue of which the special grace of God can possibly become due to the prayers and endeavours of the unre­generate, while such; yet, however, I am persuaded, that it is the duty of sinners to be seeking and striving after it; and that not a single instance will be found of any sinner in the day of judgment, able to stand forth, and plead in truth, Lord, I did my best endeavour to the very last, that I might obtain the salvation which is by Jesus Christ, and looked diligently lest I should fail of the grace of God; but after all, was deny'd. How did Mr. M. come to be thus persuaded, unless it was from the nature and perfections of God? But if these, or any thing else, are the proper ground of such a persuasion, then they are as good a security to the sinner as ten thousand promises would be. And on the same ground we may be persuaded that he who strives to enter in at the strait gate, according to the advice of our kind Saviour, shall not miss of salvation, as this may be argued from the character & perfec­tion of Christ, whether he has made any express promise or not. And now, by the way, we may see the force of the following words, of Mr. M. when speaking of this performance, he says,* ‘Which, according to my weak ability, was attempted in such a manner as might guard against this its opposite extreme, by leaving proper, scriptural encou­ragement to a diligent attendance on means.’ I see not how there can be any thing worth disputing about between those who hold that there are promises made to the doings of the unregenerate, & those who hold to this encouragement. And it is worthy of particular remark here, that in these words he gives the unregenerate sinner a character, which never yet belonged to such, and sets him in a light, in which he is rather to be pitied than blamed, doing his best endeavour to the very last, and looking diligently lest he should fail of the grace of God. He that does his best, does unspeakably more than ever an unregenerate man did, or any other meer man in this world; for he is perfectly in­nocent and holy. And he who diligently seeks, shall find. He has a divine promise to rely upon, which is much better, than Mr. M's per­suasion. He who has so good an opinion of the unregenerate, can never [Page 94] consistently think they shall fail of salvation, upon their thus doing their best, and has no reason to quarrel with him who asserts that there are promises to such.

4. It appears to me that a person does never truly strive for that, which he opposes with all his heart, and to obtain which nothing is wanting but the least degree of inclination of heart towards it, and sin­cere desire of it. But this is true of unregenerate sinners, in the case before us. They have not the least inclination to enter the strait gate, or to embrace the gospel. Their want of this, and fixed opposition of heart to it, is the only thing in the way of their entering, or that keeps them out. And to suppose they do strive to enter in at this gate, while they remain so, is, I think, very absurd. They may strive indeed, and have great motions and strong exertions of mind, relating to their future state and eternal salvation: But this will be so far from striving to enter in at this gate, that all their striving, every exertion and voluntary ex­ercise of their heart will be a refusal to enter, and opposition to it. Now who can think Christ exhorted to such exercises as these, under the notion of their being strivings to enter in at the strait gate? This is to use language quite otherwise, and in a manner directly opposite to what mankind do in the common affairs of life.

This may be illustrated thus; The son of a certain and worthy fa­ther has stolen a thousand pounds from his father, and run off; and the father pursues and overtakes him, and kindly invites him to return home, and promises to forgive him, and to make him heir of all that he has, if he will turn about and resolutely see his face homeward be­ing willing to strive, to exert all his strength in overcoming the difficul­ties of the way to his father's house. But if he finds him obstinately set in his way, and without the least inclination to return, or so much as to turn his face about, he will not exhort him to strive to turn about, under the notion of his doing this, while his heart is wholly opposite to it; because this is a contradiction. And if he should say to him, "Strive to turn about and get into the road which leads home," it would be understood as an exhortation to exercise some inclination that way, at least; and not that he should strive for this, not only without any inclination to it, but in direct opposition to his whole will. And if it was taken in the latter sense, it would be thought the most absurd proposal that ever was made. Surely he must strive without any heart or will, who strives to do that which is in direct opposition to his whole heart and will, and the doing of which is nothing but willing and choosing it. And this is a strange sort of striving indeed! I am bold to say no man ever yet had an idea of it; because it is in itself a most perfect contradiction.—

For these reasons, and others that might be mentioned, I think this text is to be understood as it has been explained, and that by striving here Christ does not mean any thing which impenitent unbelievers ever do, while such. Nor do I see any bad consequences of understanding the text in this sense. Mr. M. observes this is the Arminian sense of the text; & contrary to that which Calvinists put upon it. And says, ‘It seems [Page 95] somewhat strange, that when this author undertook the cause of or­thodoxy, he should give up and reject their sense of the text, which was so greatly in dispute.’

Answer. It would seem as strange at least, if every one who undertakes in the cause of orthodoxy, should be obliged to understand every text of scripture exactly in the same sense in which it has been taken by those who have been on the same side of the question. This would be to renounce orthodoxy in many instances, I doubt not. And what point of orthodoxy is given up or the least weakened by the sense I have given of the text, I cannot imagine. Whereas by espousing the sense which I am opposing an important point of orthodoxy is, I think, implicitly given up (which indeed is given up by Mr. M. thro' his whole book;) viz. that unregenerate sinners do not with their whole hearts oppose Jesus Christ and the way of salvation by him. In this view, an attempt to restore this text to the true sense, is to espouse the cause of orthodoxy. And it does not fright me at all to be told that Arminians understand this text as I do. For who would not much rather join with the grossest Arminians so far as they are right, than with the most orthodox Cal­vinists, wherein they are wrong?

Mr. M. asks, ‘If this text does not respect the unconverted, and en­join duties upon them, where can there be any passage found in the bible that has any reference to them?’

Answer. If this is the only text in the bible that enjoins unregenerate duties and doings, I think the doctrine of duties enjoined on the unre­generate, to be done by them while such, which Mr. M. has so zeal­ously espoused, stands on a very weak and precarious foundation—But it seems Mr. M. is not in earnest here: but only makes this out-cry, and asks this question to answer a particular end: For before he has done, he thinks he finds scripture enough besides this, which enjoins duties upon the unconverted, to be done by them while such,* and says that "these performances of the sinner are encouraged by God thro'out the scriputres." But this will be more particularly considered hereafter.

Mr. M. as many others have, takes this text in Luke, to be parallel with that in Matthew, "Enter ye in at the strait gate; because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life."

There is perhaps no good reason for this. The former says nothing about the narrow way; but speaks of a gate only, which, as has been observed, is in the following words called the door which shall be shut, when this life is at an end. But if it is granted that these two texts are parallel, meaning the same thing, Mr. M. will gain nothing by it in favor of unregenerate strivings and doings: for upon this supposition striving to enter in, and actually entering in are the same thing. But to enter in at the strait gate is certainly not any thing that unregenerate men do.

Mr. M. has indeed attempted to prove that striving to enter the strait gate intends, something previous to actual entrance: and his argument is so remarkable, that I will transcribe every word of it. ‘Strive to enter in at the strait gate, i. e. strive to enter upon the christian life, [Page 96] as explained above. And is not this attempt to enter, previous to actual entrance, since the former sometimes exists without the latter? For many I say unto you will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. Here, in order to form his argument, he makes striving to enter, and seeking to enter to mean one and the same thing: for he proves the former is not connected with entering in, from Christ's declaring the latter is not. This makes the text to run thus, "Strive to enter in at the strait gate; for verily I say unto you, this striving shall in many instances be to no purpose, and you may strive as much as you will and yet never enter! This I believe is quite a new sense of the text, and is peculiar to Mr. M. and I hope and trust will remain so.

But let us hear "the true and genuine sense of the text" from Mr. M. in the following words. ‘Were I allowed to speak freely my humble sense of the text, to me it appears, that by entering the strait gate, is meant active conversion to God, or a compliance with the covenant of grace, in the way of faith, &c.—This is the gate we must enter upon pain of eternal damnation. What! And not required [...] strive in this matter! Thrice amazing!§

This is a violent discharge or fervent zeal by way of ex [...]mation, as all will perceive: but the humble sense as well as the argument seem to be quite lost by the means; at least, are not so easily perceived. Since Mr. M. has had so long a time to cool, calm down, and [...] at such a distance from him I will venture, to say, if entering the strait gate means active conversion, in the way of faith, then striving to enter is doing that by which men enter, or actually converting to God, and believing, or that which is done with a good will to this, which is the same. And all that striving which is in opposition to converting and believing, &c. (as are all the strivings of the unregenerate) is not striv­ing to enter the strait gate; but striving to do something else; or ra­ther striving in direct opposition to it.

ANOTHER sentence which Mr. M. finds great fault with is in the following words, ‘It has been observed that the end of using or atten­ding on the means of grace is instruction.’ He thinks it is very wrong indeed, and of a bad tendency to say the end of the use of means is instruction: And undertakes to shew "that the end of attending on the means of grace, is grace, the fruits of holiness."*

In order to see how groundless Mr. M's objection is, and how very wrong and injurious is his representation of this matter, nothing more is needful than to refer the reader to the whole passage from which he takes these words: Yea, all he says upon this is sufficiently refuted in the paragraph from which he takes them, which is contained in less than ten lines.

Having taken notice in the words which Mr. M. quotes, that it had been observed that the end of using or attending on the means of grace is instruction, I proceed to say, ‘The question now is, What end this instruction answers; Of what advantage is it to have the truth set before the mind, and to have the attention of the mind fixed upon it?’ From this it sufficiently appears, had I not said another word, [Page 97] that I did not consider instruction or knowledge as the ultimate end of means; because the very inquiry I am upon is, "What end this in­struction answers?" But Mr. M. goes on and harangues away for a page or two, against my making instruction the ultimate end of means; in distinction from grace or holiness and salvation. If Mr. M. did not read the whole of this passage, especially the whole paragraph and even sentence from which he quotes, he is doubtless very much to blame: but if he did, it will be difficult to conceive how he could ignorantly make such a gross mistake and very injurious misrepresentation. The first and immediate end which is answered by the use of means is in­struction, ‘or, (as I further express it) to lead the mind to the know­ledge of that truth, of which it was before ignorant, or to renew the attention to truth already known, and fix the mind upon it.’ And then I go on to tell what end this answers, and particularly shew that it prepares the mind in which there is a right taste, or whenever it shall be brought to this, to exercise holiness. And then go on to shew how important and necessary it is that the unregenerate should be all atten­tion in the constant use of means, as the only way in which they may hope for salvation. Mr. M. not only asserts from this, that I make the only end of the use of means to be instruction; but goes on to men­tion some dangerous consequences that will follow from it. But as they are consequences of his own inventing, and are taken from what I never asserted, and in direct contradiction to what I say, I shall not further trouble myself, or the reader with them.

BUT Mr. M. goes on, I think, from bad to worse, and suffers his imagination, or something else, to run quite away with him; for he proceeds to remark on another exceptionable passage of mine, which is in the following words. ‘If it should be asked, What good all this in­struction and knowledge will do the unregenerate, who are under the dominion of an hard and impenitent heart, and will continue so until a new heart is given in regeneration? If this knowledge will be of no service to them, and really do them no good, and they are yet as far from salvation as ever; then there is no encouragement for them to attend on the means of grace, in order to obtain it, and keep up a view and sense of the truths of christianity in their minds.’

I having shewn the necessity of instruction and knowledge, and the mind's attending to the truth, in order to the exercises of faith and re­pentance, &c. In these words proceed to propose a query and objection, which I supposed would naturally arise in the mind of the reader; that by answering these I might more fully clear up this matter, and shew what end instruction answers, and the good this will do the unre­generate; and in what sense they who thus attend are not so far from salvation as others. And this I proceed to do, as an Answer to this query and objection. Now Mr. M. takes this query and objection, which I introduce in order to answer, to be certain assertations of my own, viz. that this instruction and knowledge will in fact do no good, is of no service to the unregenerate; and leaves them as far from salvation as ever. And upon such a gross mistake and misrepresentation, he ha­rangues [Page 98] away for near seven pages. And what is not the least remarka­ble here is, that he makes use of what I had said in answer to this objection, and to shew that the suppositions made in it are not true, to confute me, and to prove the same thing, as he imagined, against me: I say, as he imagined, but it requires a great stretch of charity, I confess, to suppose him in earnest here; and not rather trying how much he could misrepresent me, and impose on his reader. But here we must call in for our assistance his old age, dullness and weakness, of which he so often reminds the reader.

In answer to this query and objection, I endeavour to shew what is not the end which is answered by the sinner's attendance on means, while impenitent; and what good the instruction and knowledge he gets does not do, while he opposes, and lives in the abuse of it. Under this head the passages are found, which have given the chief offence to Mr. M. and which have been particularly attended to in the foregoing sections. I then proceed to say what end and purpose this does answer, and what encouragement there is, in this view, to attend on means with engagedness and perseverance to which Mr. M. has made no objection.*

As all he says for so many pages is founded on the gross misrepre­sentations I have mentioned; nothing more need be said by way of an­swer. However, I will take leave briefly to remark upon several things contained in these pages, before I leave them.

Mr. M. here represents me as not including external reformation of open, gross sins in what is preparatory to conversion, or saying a word that implies it. Speaking of me and my tenth section, he says, ‘Thro' this whole section he has not so much as once mentioned the sinner's breaking off from his sins, as that whereby he is more in the way of God's mercy, than going on in them. All that belongs to the un­regenerate, as means, with the anthor, it seems, terminates in in­struction and speculative knowledge; as though it was not as much out of God's wonted way, to bestow saving grace on the sinner, a­bandoned to all kind of wickedness, while such, as on the grossly ignorant.’

In these words are three contradictions, viz. to truth and fact—to his own repeated declaration: And to the words themselves.

They are contrary to fact. I say, ‘To use or attend the means of grace, is to make use of all the means of instruction in the things that relate to God's moral kingdom; to go into that conduct and practice, and do all those things, which tend to lead us into the knowledge and the truths of divine revelation, and to keep up the attention of the mind to them; and carefully to avoid whatever has a contrary tendency. Here I speak of "the sinner's breaking off from his sin, as that whereby he is more in the way of mercy, if he who does so is in the way of using the best means of instruction, which I suppose [Page 99] none will question. And I expressly say that I mean that "knowledge which no openly vicious, or careless sinner ever obtains."* How then could Mr. M say, ‘He has not so much as once mentioned the sinner's breaking off from his sins, as that whereby he is more in the way of mercy, &c.?’

In this assertion he has contradicted himself, as he has repeatedly de­clared the contrary, and thro' his whole book supposes that I am speak­ing of the reformed sinner, and no other. Thus he says ‘Here let it be noted, that 'tis fully conceeded by the author, that the unrege­nerate, under consideration, have all degrees of light and conviction of divine truth, that can agree to an unregenerate state:—all that there is in a common work of the Spirit of God, preparatory to sav­ing faith, the inlightening of natural conscience, putting the sinner upon reformation of life, &c.’ It [...]eems that what he here desires may be noted, had entirely slipped his mind before he had got four pages; for he then utterly denies that the author had conceded, or so much as once mentioned any such thing!

But, to say no more of these contradictions, it is to be observed that the words I am considering are contradictory to themselves. His word are, ‘As tho' it was not as much out of God's wonted way, to bestow saving grace on the sinner, abandoned to all kind of wickedness, while such, as on the grossly ignorant. These words suppose that a sinner who is abandoned to all kind of wickedness, may not be grossly igno­rant and destitute of that knowledge, of which I speak in my tenth sec­tion; which is an absurdity and contradiction in itself. For security in sin, implies gross ignorance with respect to the knowledge of which I speak; even ignorance of the most essential and important things, necessary to be known, in order to exercise faith, repentance, &c: There is an absurdity in supposing such an one to have any tolerable degree of the instruction and knowledge of which I speak, this being peculiar to the awakened, convinced sinner of whom I am speaking, and is as inconsistent with a course of open profligacy and wickedness, as light is with darkness.

I would also remark upon the following words. ‘Upon this princi­ple, all the attainments of the unregenerate, such as awakening, con­viction, reformation, legal humiliation, and whatsoever is preparatory to a saving faith, are no grounds at all of thankfulness to God. If they are really such worthless things, what are of no service to the unregenerate, can do them no good, and on the account of which, considered in themselves, they are not less wicked than they would be without them, abandoning themselves to all manner of wickedness; in this case to give thanks to God for them, would be no less than to mock God, giving thanks for a thing of nought.

These words are predicated upon my saying, as Mr. M. has sagaci­ously understood me, that all this conviction, &c. of the unregenerate are of no service to them, and answer no end, because I introduced a querist asking, what good these things did, that the matter might be [Page 100] explained in my answer; which has been before observed. Put at Mr. M. goes further than all this here, and represents, that I had said, that on the account of these things, considered in themselves, the unregenerate are not less wicked, than they would be without them, abandoning themselves to all manner of wickedness. I am sure I have not said or in­timated any such thing. All I say of the convinced sinner's not being less wicked, but more so, is consistent with these things being less sinful considered in themselves; for I expressly place their greater sinfulness, not in these things, but in something else. Why then did Mr. M. put in these words, considered in themselves, unless it was on purpose to add to his other misrepresentations; or because he could not answer his purpose without them?

As for grounds of thankfulness for awakening, conviction, &c. where is the difficulty, on supposition they are attended not with less, but greater sinfulness? The greater sinfulness consists [...] the abuse of those things, which are considered in themselves, great advantages and favors. There is no ground of thankfulness indeed for this greater wickedness, of which these things are the occasion: But is there therefore no reason of thankfulness for a favor, because, by abusing it all the benefit of it is lost, and it by this means becomes the occasion of greater guilt and more dreadful ruin, than could have took place in any other way? This must be true, else what Mr. M. says here is less than nothing to his purpose; even directly contrary to an important truth.

ANOTHER passage of mine which Mr. M. has seen fit to remark upon, is the similitude of a father and two sons. The sons run off, de­termining to leave their father's house and service. The father calls after them, advises and commands them to return. One stops and at­tends to what his father has to say to him: the other pays no regard to what his father says, but runs on till he gets out of hearing. I ob­served upon this that he who stopped and attended to what his father had to say, cannot properly be said to obey his father's command, if, after all, he refuses to return; ‘and may by the light and conviction laid before him by his father, in consequence of his stopping and attending, be more guilty in refusing to submit to him, than the other that has been out of hearing.’

This last sentence Mr. M. chiefly objects against. And first he says "This similitude does by no means fully represent the state of the case."*

ANS. This similitude was not made with any particular reference to the general state of the case between Mr. M. and me; but to illustrate my answer to a particular objection which I was then considering. If it answers the particular case as it is put in the objection, which it was designed to illustrate; it answers the end proposed.

However, let us see wherein it fails. Mr. M. says, ‘Here is nothing of the awakened, reformed sinner, save only his making a pause, stopping his career, when running away, and attending to what his father had to say.’ I ask, What more takes place in such a sinner, that is not here represented? Mr. M. has not told. However, he pro­ceeds to "propose a query or two, lame and defective as it is."

[Page 101] He asks ‘What was the true cause why A (the son who run-off) stop­ped his ears, run off, &c.—when B (the other son) hearkened so far as to stop his wicked course, &c.?—What can be the true cause of this difference, but a more wicked state of mind in A?’

ANS. The true cause of this might be some suggestions made to B's mind, of the dreadful consequence of thus leaving his father, &c. which, were conveyed to him by or together with his father's words, and not to A. This, I own, must be supposed in order to make the case in this respect represent that of an awakened sinner. The awakened, reform­ed sinner, is brought to this state by influences on his mind and consci­ence, by which he is made to see, and, in a sense, feel the sad and dan­gerous state he is in, which will immediately stop him in his career of open wickedness: I say this is the effect of influences on his mind and conscience which A has not: Therefore it is not in the least owing to the less wicked state of mind of B, that there is this difference. I won­der Mr. M. should ask this question, since he so zealously holds to the influences of the Spirit of God in awakening the consciences of sinners. If I had asked such a question, Mr. M. would have had more reason to suspect and insinuate that I had ‘an inclination to favor the NEW DI­VINITY, that entirely denies any preparatory work, in order to saving faith, by the common influences of the Spirit,’ than he had from any thing that I have said.* Mr. M. surely does not suppose that in order to sinners being awakened by the Spirit of God, they must first become less sinful in the state of their minds than they were, or be less sinful than others. We see then the true reason why one sinner is awa­kened, and another is not, can easily be given, without supposing a more wicked state of mind in the latter. And it is a little strange Mr. M. could not think of it, in this case.

Mr. M. goes on to ask, ‘Will any one in this view of the case say, that B is more wicked than A? What! Because B is less bold, daring and fixed in his rebellion, and in casting the utmost contempt on his father's authority?’

ANS. It does not appear that "B is less bold, daring and fixed in his rebellion, &c." But the contrary appears to be true. B's conscience is awakened to see the dreadful ruin that is before him, if he does not return home to his father, and he trembles at the thought of it. He is convinced in his conscience it is his duty and highest interest to return home; that there is no other way to escape the evil he dreads; and that in this way he shall certainly escape, and be made compleatly hap­py. Yet under all this light and conviction of conscience, his heart rises against his father in a more direct and stronger manner than ever it did before, in the most horrid exercises of hatred, enmity, and fixed opposition to his father's person, character and government; while he has not the least inclination in his heart to submit, or take one step homeward, but persists in an obstinate refusal. A, it is true, is a rebel, and is wholly to blame for running off as he did; but he is not in those circumstances, in which he can be so "bold and daring, and appear so [Page 102] obstinately fixed in his rebellion as A. He has never had any realliz­ing apprehensions of the dreadful ruin which he is bringing on himself, but thinks all is well, and that he is pursuing his own happiness in leaving his father's house. And he has very few thoughts and exercises about his father's government and family. B knows a thousand times more about them, and about his duty and interest; and has ten thou­sand times more thoughts and exercises about this matter; and they are all in the most direct opposition to his father.

We are therefore now prepared to answer Mr. M's question. "Will any one in this view of the case say, that B is more wicked than A?" Yes, every one will say so, who will hearken to the dictates of common sense. And he who says the contrary justifies the wicked, even in the height of wickedness, and reproaches, and casts a high degree of con­tempt on the father.

Mr. M. goes on to say, ‘Should it be pleaded that B is more wicked than A, because B discovers a greater degree of tenderness and sensi­bility of conscience sinned against, than A in non-submission. I an­swer, that to argue thus, would be preposterous and absurd to the last degree. For, upon this principle, the most abandoned sinner under the gospel, having wasted his con­science, and sinned away his moral sense, so that he is past feeling, as the scripture expresseth it, may commit the most atrocious wickedness, and yet be innocent, because past feeling. Whereas the truth in this case is just the reverse; he, of the two under the same light and advantages, that can with the greatest boldness and freedom commit the most enormous wicked­ness, without remorse or feeling of conscience, is the more desperate­ly wicked.’

Here Mr. M. again forgets himself, and speaks of one who has by a course of sinning against his conscience got rid of his awakening and conviction; whereas A is not such an one; Nor am I speaking of such. But what he says here in the last sentence, I think cannot be true. The sinner who is most blind and ignorant with respect to his duty and true interest, and knows not that he is acting against either; so does not sin at all against his conscience, cannot be so great a sinner as he, who has the greatest light and conviction of conscience relating to his duty and interest, and yet goes on in sin, in direct opposition to this Yet this Mr. M. asserts here, but is it not most shockingly absurd! It is also directly, contrary to what he says elsewhere, as he often speaks of sins against the light and dictates of conscience as peculiarly aggravated. And this he supposes in this very paragraph; for he speaks of wasting conscience, as the great crime of the abandoned sinner. These two sentences therefore stand in direct contradiction one to the other. The first asserts him to be the greatest sinner, who has most opposed his con­science for his having wasted his conscience, and sinned away his moral sense, as that wherein his great sinfulness lies. The last asserts him to be the greatest sinner, who never had, and now has not any light and conviction of conscience; and so has never had opportunity to waste his conscience, or sin against it; for here his great sinfulness consists in [Page 103] sinning without remorse or feeling of conscience, i. e. without any light and conviction of conscience. I leave it to the reader, whether "to argue thus" is not more than "preposterous and absurd to the last degree."

Mr. M. adds, ‘But perhaps the grand plea in reserve, to evince that B is more faulty than A (if different from what has already been said) is, that B has a higher degree of internal light and conviction, that 'tis his duty to submit to his father, than A had, therefore more guilty.’

This I think is not really "different from what has already been said;" as tenderness and sensibility of conscience must be the same thing with light and conviction of conscience in the unregenerate. He has there­fore made no advance, the plea is exactly the same with that which he mentioned and answered before. But perhaps he has a better answer now. It is this: If A has not so much light and conviction as B, it is altogether A's fault that he has not. And ‘if it be entirely and merely A's fault, shall not A be dealt with, as if he had that light and con­viction in his conscience, which only, and merely his own fault, wil­fully stopping his ears, impeded his hearing?’

This answer is quite different from the former, and even in direct contradiction to that. Whether it is better, is now to be inquired. I say it is a contradiction to the foregoing, because there he places the great crime of the sinner, not in sinning against the light of his con­science; but in sinning without any light and conviction. But here he has shifted the crime, and places it in sinning against that light, which tho' the sinner has not actually, yet he has virtually, because it is wholly his own fault that he has it not: so is looked upon and treated by God as actually "sinning against all that light, which he wilfully refused."

It is granted that A is answerable for not having, and rejecting that light and conviction, which by his own fault he has not. But it will not be granted that he is answerable for actually sinning against that light which he never had; and that he will be looked upon and dealt with by God, as if he actually had this light, and actually sinned against it; for this would be to look upon him, and treat him contrary to the truth. There is a real and great difference between him, who actually has light and conviction in his conscience, and him, who has it not, whatever may be the cause of this difference. And to look upon them and treat them, as if there was no difference, is certainly to contradict the truth of fact.

If Mr. M's position is true, the most stupid, blind and ignorant per­son under the gospel is as guilty, as great a sinner, in not embracing the gospel, as he who has the greatest degree of light and conviction of conscience, and yet persists in the highest exercises of enmity against Christ, and opposition to all the light he has. And he who is guilty of stopping his ears, and putting himself out of the way and beyond the reach of all means of light and instruction, by one act, is as great a sin­ner as he who spends a whole life in the most horrid acts of rebellion and enmity against God, contrary to the clearest light of his conscience: [Page 104] so that one single act which occasions ignorance in refusing to admit the light that is offered, is as great a crime, and carries as much guilt in it, as all the actions of high rebellion and enmity against God, in op­position to the clearest light and conviction of conscience, thro' a whole eternity. This must be so, if A is accountable for sinning against all that light which he wilfully refused, and so had not; and is as guilty as B, who actually had it, and yet sinned against it. A heathen, for instance, who was once invited and had a fair opportunity to come into a christian country, and enjoy the light of the gospel, and refused; and so lives and dies in heathenish darkness, is as guilty as he who has liv­ed all his days under the light of the gospel, and had great and clear light and conviction of conscience and has constantly abused and re­belled against it all, in ten thousands acts of the most horrid enmity against God, which the heathen never was guilty of, it being impossible he should in his circumstances. And according to this, the most igno­rant creature under the gospel will be reckoned and dealt with by God as having abused all the light which he might have had, had he been perfectly holy from his childhood to the end of his life; and will be found as guilty, as if he actually had all this light, and had all his days abused, and sinned against it all. And Paul, who did many things against Christ and his church in ignorance and unbelief, was as guilty as if he had all the light and conviction that Peter, or any of the apos­tles had, and must have been dealt with accordingly, had he not ob­tained forgiveness.

I may here say in Mr. M's word?, "I appeal to the impartial reader, Whether these be not absurdities by no means to be admitted in divi­nity? And whether it is possible to avoid them, the principle advanced being admitted?"*

The only argument Mr. M. produces to support this contradictory assertion is, the words of Christ with respect to the Jews: "But now have they both seen, and hated, both me and my father." He says Christ treats them here as if they actually saw his divinity, tho' it does not appear that they actually saw it; but were blinded thro' the ex­ceeding wickedness and prejudices of their hearts, and were not, at least many of them, convinced that he was the Messiah. "And so were reckoned with by God, as if they had seen it; because nothing but their own meer faultiness prevented it."

ANS. The divine character was clearly set before them, in the person and character of Christ; and this they disapproved and hated; and that whether they were convinced in their judgment and consciences that this was indeed the divine character or not. In this sense they did see and hate both the Son and the Father; of this they were actually guilty, and were treated, and will be reckoned with accordingly. But it does not follow from this that they who were convinced in their con­sciences that he was the Christ, and yet rejected him; and they who verily thought he was an impostor, were equally guilty, and that the latter will be reckoned and dealt with, as if they actually had the light and conviction of the former, which they had not. Thanks be to God! [Page 105] No such absurdity is contained in this passage of scripture, or any other.

BUT Mr. M. has not done with A and B yet. He observes that I ‘have said nothing of the present state of B under conviction, as being more guilty than A, who stopped his ears, and run off.’ He does not "attribute it to any want of ingenuity in the author," that he avoid­ed this, being sensible that to assert B to be more guilty than A, at pre­sent, "would be even shocking to common sense. He then goes on to ask ‘What moment of future time may be fixed upon, when B, as re­presented in the similitude above, will be more guilty than A?*

ANS. It was not owing, I believe, to the want of ingeunity of the author, that he said nothing about this, as the matter to be illustrated did not require it. However, he is now ready to answer the knotty question. When B was in the circumstances which represent an awaken­ed, convinced sinner, he was more guilty than A. He was so, when he had shocking apprehensions of the dreadful consequence to him of slighting and disobeying his father, and was convinced of the safety and happiness he should enjoy by hearkening to his father, and returning home, and that this was his indispensable duty, without any delay, for which he had no excuse; and yet his whole heart rose against it and opposed it; and when the more his father discovered his goodness to him, in making him the highest offers, and urging him by all imagin­able motives to return and his mind was all attention to these matters, the more he hated him, and the stronger was the opposition of his heart to his taking one step towards his father's house: when B was in these circumstances, as the awakened, convinced is, then he was more guilty than. A.

MR. M. goes on to ask another question. But an answer to this will be made in the next section, as it will more properly come in there. I now proceed to examine his remarks on another passage.

IN answering the objection from the convinced sinner's growing worse, more sinful in the attendance on means, that this was matter of dis­couragement, and a good reason why they should not attend; I ob­served, that their greater sinfulness did not consist in their attendance on means, but in their impenitency, &c. and therefore this could be no reason, why they should neglect the proper means of salvation; And then proceeded to illustrate this in the following manner, ‘If the plow­ing of the wicked is sin, shall they therefore not plow? shall they not desire food for themselves and their families, and take the most likely method to obtain it? Their sin does not consist merely in their plowing, so that it would be a less sin not to plow, than to do it; but in the wrong views and exercises of mind with which they plow, and in the want of right ones.

Mr. M. quotes only this one sentence, "If the plowing of the wicked is sin, shall they therefore not plow?" And says "that a part only is here put for the whole state of the case and therefore can be no illustra­tion of the point." And then goes on to state it in his own way; and [Page 106] represents it as if the man's sin consisted in his plowing and providing for his family, so that his greater sinfulness consists in this, which gives all the plausibleness there is in his state of the case: whereas I had ex­pressly observed that the sinfulness did not consist in this, but some­thing else, and for this end brought this instance to illustrate this par­ticular truth, and not to illustrate the whole of my answer to the ob­jection which I was considering.

Mr. M. concludes what he says on this passage in the following words, ‘And now let the reader judge, the case being fairly stated, whe­ther he shall plow in this case; and whether the case only in part put, as at above, can at all serve to illustrate the author's point.’ The read­er is now to judge, whether the case as I put it, does not fully illustrate the point I was upon? And whether Mr. M. had any right to say he had fairly stated the case or had not rather grossly mis-stated it, and done violence to the passage which was then before his eyes?


IN which it is considered, whether the doctrine that the awakened, convinced sinner is more guilty and vile in the constant and painful attendance on the means of grace, than when he was in a state of security and open profligacy, is an encouragement to sinners to abandon themselves to carelesness and vice, or any matter of dis­couragement to an attendance on means?

MR. M. has represented the matter in this light, thro' his whole book. He supposes that awakened, convinced sinners grow­ing less sinful in the use of means, is matter of encouragement to attend; and that the contrary doctrine tends greatly to discourage them. And this he has particularly pressed in the following passage.* ‘These things, to the best of my small discernment, naturally tend either to quiet secure sinners in the careless neglect of means, going on in their sins; or to damp and retard those that are seriously inclined to exert themselves, in a painful attendance on means and amend­ment of life: Since every step they take this way, while unregene­rate, they are on the whole involved in greater guilt, than they would have been had they continued in the wilful, careless neglect of means, obstinately persisting in the grossest wickedness, as above, under the same gospel.’ And in the next page he says that to deny that the awakened, convinced sinner may be less sinful, than in a state of security and open wickedness, ‘is to lay a stumbling block in sin­ners way, and to rob them of a precious branch of encouragement allowed them from the word of God, to strive and run for eternal life, in all painful endeavours in the use of means,’ And again he [Page 107] says, ‘While we attempt to scare men from trusting in their duties, care must be had that we don't scare them from their duties, either by insinuating that they are more vile in that attendance they are ca­pable of, while unregenerate, than in the neglect of it; and he puts the following question to me; whether this way of reasoning in favour of A, as tho' he might expect some notable abatement of his guilt, by stopping his ears and going out of hearing, don't carry in it too much encouragement to the sinners A represents, who abandon themselves to wickedness, and neglect the means of grace: Since they are suffici­ently inclined in themselves, without the help of others, to devise pleas in their own favor.

Mr. M. has not mentioned this as one of his arguments against the doctrine he sets himself to oppose, where he undertakes to produce argu­ments against it; but as is evident, he designs it as an argument not of the least weight, and it will probably have more influence with some, than any thing else that he has offered. I therefore propose particularly to consider it in this section.

In order to determine whether there is any truth in this, we must con­sider what are the motives which will induce the unregenerate to act or forbear acting in any case; or what is the principle they act upon, or the end which they always have in view. If we can find what these are, we may easily determine what tends to discourage, or to encourage them in all cases; for this will be just according to the motives by which they are influenced. And here I suppose all will allow that the unregenerate are always influenced in all they do by what may be called selfish mo­tives. They are always seeking and pursuing that which is in their view, or seems to them to be for their own interest, and never act from any higher motive. The secure sinner, whether he is an open profligate, or not, is pusuing some good in this world as his happiness, because it seems to him his own highest good in this state. The sinner whose conscience is awakened in some measure to reallize a judgment to come, and future state, and the dreadful end to which the sinner is exposed to come every moment, at once loses his keen appetite for the pleasures of time and sense, and all his pleasing worldly prospects, and schemes drop and die, and he begins to feel that his whole interest lies in another world; and that he shall be happy or miserable forever, according as he escapes hell and obtains heaven, or not. This excites in him the grand and impor­tant inquiry," What must I do to be saved?" And he is willing to take any method, and use any means, consistent with his continuing a perfect enemy to God, and holiness, or his duty, which shall be prescribed to him, as the most likely way to escape the evil which he dreads, and obtain the good which he desires; or in other words, that shall appear most likely to promote his eternal interest.

He is by the supposition, no more a friend to God and holiness now, or an enemy to sin, than he was before. And really cares not how much God is dishonored, and whether he is a greater or less sinner, if he may but answer his own ends. He does not fear and dread sin, for its own sake, or in itself considered: but purely because of the consequence to [Page 108] him, which he now dreads. He is not afraid of sin, or desires to avoid it, from any true respect he has to God, and merely because it is against him, and dishonorable and offensive to him; but purely from his fear of eternal punishment. This being the case, it is easy to see it would be in vain to tell him that he will be less guilty and vile in God's sight, in consequence of his attending on means, &c. For this in itself would not be the least encouragement and motive to him to attend. And just as much in vain would it be to tell him, in order to dissuade him from at­tendance on means, that if he continued impenitent, he would be more guilty and vile, than the careless sinner; for this will not be the least dis­couragement to him, so long as he views this the most likely way to be saved.

If therefore the sinner can be persuaded, that the probability of his being saved or lost does not depend upon his being a greater sinner or a less; but he is the most likely to be saved, who attends most constantly and earnestly on the means of grace, in the clearest view and sense of the important truths revealed in the bible, and constant attention to them; and that this is the only hopeful way: I say, if he can be convinced of this, it will be a sufficient motive and encouragement to him to attend, and will influence him, in proportion to his belief, and sense of a future state, and of the sad and miserable case in which he now is. And no other motive can be thought of, that will have the least influence on him, to encourage him to attend on means, or as matter of discouragement. In a word, the unregenerate sinner dreads sin only as connected with mi­sery; therefore he dreads that sin most, which, in his view, most exposes him to destruction, and is most likely to ruin him forever; but these are the sins committed in a state of security, or in the neglect of means, and not those committed under awakenings and convictions, and in a constant attendance on means; however more heinous and vile the latter are than the former. Therefore the sinner only needs to be well instructed, in order to have all the encouragement he is capable of to attend on means. Let him be convinced that this is the most likely course he can take to be saved, and that there is no other likely way, however great may be the guilt he contracts while he continues impenitent, and it will be a strong and prevalent motive with him to take it, in proportion to his dread of eternal destruction, and desire of future happiness.

Mr. M. does therefore in the passages above cited go upon a suppo­sition, which is directly contrary to the truth, viz. That the unregene­rate do fear and dread sin on its own account, without any consideration of its consequence; and have some true respect to God and holiness; drop this supposition, and they appear to be without any foundation at all. If the sinner fears and hates sin, for its own sake, and from respect to God, why then does he go on in sin? Let him forsake it, and all is well. If therefore he does neglect means, and live in known ways of open sin, under a pretence that he is afraid of that greater sin he shall be guilty of, if he attends on means and becomes a convinced sinner; it is certain it is but pretence in which there is no truth: for if he is afraid of greater sinfulness, why not of less; why does he go on in known sin? If he hates [Page 109] sin; and hence sincerely desires to be delivered from it, why does he not leave off sinning and fly to Christ the only deliverer?

If a sinner objects against attempting to pray, and says he is afraid to do it, because the prayer of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord. He may be asked what he is afraid of? If he is indeed afraid of sin; and so avoids prayer that he may avoid sin, why is he not equally concerned to avoid all sin, or sin in any other way? If he is willing to do this, he may pray without sinning; and so the objection cease [...] But if he is not willing to leave off sinning, but is determined to go on, then there is no sincerity or weight in the objection, for he really cares not how much sin he commits, and he is indifferent whether he sins in one way or another. Besides, if he is afraid of sinning in prayer, left he should be damned for it; why does he not fear sinning in any other way, for the same reason; for the sins men commit in praying, are no more likely to prove fatal to them, than any other way of sinning: Yea this is the only likely way to escape destruction, and obtain salvation.

It will be laid, perhaps, tho' the attendance on means, &c. is the only likely way to obtain salvation, however guilty and vile the sinner may be in this way; yet, if he finally miscarries and fails of salvation, he will be more miserable than if he had neglected all means and abandoned himself to the sins of a state of security; and the secure sinner will be hence induced to continue in his old way, and it will be a discouragement with all in the way of attendance on means. I answer. If any one should neglect the means of grace on this pretence, he would be self-condemned. For there is no person who is not almost constantly run­ning ventures in hopes of obtaining his end, when he knows that if he fails of the end proposed, he shall lose all his pains and cost, and will be, on the whole, a great loser, so that he had better not have been at the pains and expence, than to do this, and yet fail of the end in view. And the more interesting and important the affair is, in a person's view, the greater venture will he run as a means to obtain it, and the greater will be his care and attention in the matter. While men are conducting thus in their temporal affairs, and are pretending the unreasonableness of doing so in concerns of infinitely greater moment, and hence refusing to run any venture in the latter case, we may be sure there is no sincerity, and that this is not the bottom of the matter. Besides, this objection may be as well made by a heathen, to whom it is proposed to go and live in a country where the gospel is preached, or by any others, against taking pains to put themselves under greater religious advantages than they now enjoy. For if they should enjoy these advantages, and abuse them, as the most do who have them, their condemnation will be greater, and they be more miserable forever, than if they had never enjoyed them.—If it should be said, that if they become awakened, convinced, reformed sinners, they will be less sinful, and not quilty, or miserable, tho' they perish, as if they had not enjoyed those superior advantages: I say, if this should be said, and granted; yet it must be observed that they are altogether uncertain that they ever shall be such: or that they shall not abuse all their advantages so as to become much more guilty and vile, than if they [Page 110] never had enjoyed them. Therefore they know not, but every step they take to obtain any religious advantage, will be worse than lost, and be­come the occasion of their greater guilt, and more awful condemnation.

In short, if the doctrine of awakened convinced sinners growing worse, more guilty and vile, is any just ground of discouragement, to take use of means, then there is just ground of discouragement: to take any pains to enjoy any religious means and advantages whatsoever, or to use any with others, by preaching the gospel to them, &c. For unless God pre­vents it by his sovereign grace, all this will be but the occasion of their greater sinfulness, and more aggravated destruction.

Mr. M and every one else may therefore be sure that the doctrine of the sinner's growing more vile in the use of means, if his eyes are fully opened, does not give the least encouragement to any, "to abandon them­selves to wickedness, and neglect the means of grace;" and never was, nor can be reasonably improved so by any. Nor does it tend in the least degree to "damp and retard those that are seriously inclined to exert themselves in a painful attendance on means and amendment of life." So far from this, that it is the only doctrine that can give proper and consistent encouragement to those who are under clear and genuine con­victions; and the contrary tends directly to drive such into discourage­ment and despair.

This I particularly observed, and endeavoured to make quite clear and evident in the conclusion of my section on means, in the following words,* ‘If sinners were to take their only encouragement to hope for salvation in the use of means, from their being less sinners than others, or not so bad as they once were, this would tend to take all encourage­ment from those, who are under genuine convictions, and have any true view of their own sinfulness, and leave them in absolute despair. For all such, as they have a more clear and full fight of their own sins than they can have of others, are naturally led to view themselves as the greatest sinners. And as by attendance on means, they get more and more acquainted with their own hearts, their own sinfulness in­creases in their view, they are so far from looking on themselves as less sinners than they were, that they naturally view themselves in a con­trary light.’

‘The only proper way therefore to encourage the sinner, who is un­der any great degree of genuine conviction of sin, and concern about his eternal interest, to attend on means with hope, is not to lead him to expect hereby to become less sinful; but to teach him the true end and design of means. He will then know that the great wickedness of his heart, exercised in all he does, and his appearing to himself to grow worse rather than better, which is commonly the chief ground of discouragement to such, is really no reason why he should neglect means; but rather an encouragement constantly to attend.’

Mr. M instead of taking any notice of my argument here, wholly o­verlooks what I had in view, viz. To shew that the doctrine I had ad­vanced could be no discouragement to the sinner under proper awaken­ings and convictions; because he always views himself in the very light [Page 111] in which this doctrine sets him, i. e. as constantly growing worse, more wicked and vile: and that the contrary doctrine, viz. That sinners under conviction grow less sinful than they were before, and must do so in or­der to be saved, was so far from giving encouragement to such, that it tended to drive them to despare: I say, Mr. M instead of taking notice of this, and attempting to oppose and refuse it, remarks only upon the last sentence, accusing me, with altering my expressions and lowering down from the point I had asserted, to something else, which he allows to be true, not choosing he concludes to close my discourse with that which would be so startling to a common reader, &c. His words are,—‘And in the close of his discourse he comes down wonderfully; in these words, 'His appearing to himself to grow wor [...]—as really no reason why he should neglect means; but rather an encouragement constant­ly to attend.' FULLY ORTHODOX THIS. But why this abatement? If the principle advanced in the former pages is true, why not thro' the whole? If it was of importance to be set up; why not to be kept up, especially in the close? Which if it had, would have stood thus, viz. The awakened sinner's really growing worse, on the whole, in attendance on means, as conviction of sin arises, whatever be his re­formation, amendment of life, &c than he would have been continu­ing secure, and going on in the practice of all manner of most enor­mous wickedness,—is really no reason why he should neglect means, &c.*

I am ready to ask here, what does Mr. M. mean! I do keep the prin­ciple I had advanced fully in view, and am shewing that upon this prin­ciple the sinner's appearing to himself to grow wor [...]e, is really no matter of discouragement; but the contrary: whereas it must be matter of the greatest discouragement on any other plan. And might I not, in this view, once mention the sinner's appearing to himself to grow worse, when the argument I was upon required it; and when instead of this to have spo­ken of the sinner's really growing worse, would have been quite nonsense, without being accused with going off from my point, coming down wonderfully, &c. as it I was afraid in the close to assert what I had be­fore advanced, and endeavoured to establish?

There are two leading principles that run thro' Mr. M's book, which I had in view, and endeavoured to confute in the three last pages of my section on means. One is, that the only way for a person to be more likely to be saved, or not far from the kingdom of God, is to become less sinful and so nearer the state of a good man, God being more ready and disposed to shew mercy to a less sinner, than to a greater. The whole he says on the sinner's being not far from the kingdom of God sets the matter in this light. And from this he infers in the following words, ‘There is such a thing among the unregenerate under the gospel, as be­ing in state nigh to or not far from the kingdom of God." And that their nearness in state to the kingdom of God, or which is the same, to that of a good man, consists in those attainments whereby they are, on the whole, in the state of their minds less vicious than either them­selves or others would be in the absence of those things. And again, [Page 112] he speaks of the attainments of the unregenerate, such as awakening, conviction, reformation, &c. as that ‘whereby they are less wicked, and, in a true sense of scripture, in state brought nearer to the king­dom of God, to a state of grace,’ &c.§ And in another place he represents the sinner who is less displeasing to God, to be more in the way of mercy, so more likely to be saved. Speaking of the awakened, convinced sinner, and the careless and secure, he says the scripture ‘gives a sort of preference to the former, at least, as less displeasing to God, and more in the way in which God's sovereign mercy is won't to be displayed.

The other principle I have reference to is grounded upon this, viz; That if a person grows, not less sinful, but more guilty and vile in the use of means, this is matter of great discouragement and that sinners cannot be encouraged to attend on means in any other view, but that they may hereby become less sinful and vil [...].

Had Mr. M. attended to these pages, and taken what I think is the plain meaning of them; instead of making the gross blunder and mis­representation he has done, he must have been sensible, that what I here said, was in opposition to these two principles, and found him­self concerned to answer it. But he has been so far from this, that he has, in effect, conceded to it all, and very emphatically pronounced it orthodox.

The reader will here particularly observe what he has pronounced orthodox. "His appearing to himself to grow worse, is really no rea­son why he should neglect means, but rather an encouragement constantly to attend. "Fully orthodox this!" And he allows that this generally or always is the case with sinners under deep and genuine conviction, in the beginning of his book, where he says, ‘Divines of the best cha­racter and greatest note, have allowed that sinners under deep and genuine convictions, conversing more sensibly with the wickedness of their own hearts and lives, have been ready to look on themselves as greater sinners than heretofore; yea, perhaps as growing daily worse, and more hard hearted.*

Upon this, the following things are observable.

1. If the sinner's appearing to himself to grow worse more guilty an1d vile, in the use of means, is no reason why he should neglect means; than his really growing worse is no matter of discouragement. For what appears to be true to the sinner, must have just as much influence as if it was really so, until the appearance is removed, and the sinner is convinced he was mistaken. Therefore if this appearance is no dis­couragement, or reason why he should neglect means; It's being really so is no discouragement. This is therefore at least implicitly asserted in these words: and consequently Mr. M. has asserted it in the strongest manner, by pronouncing them orthodox, in the terms he has. What then becomes of all that he has said, representing this as a discouraging doctrine, ‘tending to damp and retard those that are sincerely inclined to exert themselves,’ &c. ‘and laying a stumbling block in sinners way, and robbing them of a precious branch of encouragement, &c?’ [Page 113] He has here given all this up, as contrary to reason and truth; so has once more run into gross self-contradiction.

It hence appears also, how unreasonable Mr. M. is in representing me as not daring to bring this principle out, and says here, ‘The awa­kened sinner's really growing worse in attendance on means, &c—more vile than he would have been, continuing secure, &c.—is re­ally no reason why he should neglect means. For it is really brought out and asserted in the words I have used, as has been just observed: and Mr. M. has given his sanction to it also in the strongest terms, however "startling to the common reader" he may think it will be.

2. If the sinner under genuine and thorough convictions appears to himself to be much worse than he was in a state of security; then the doctrine that the sinner under true convictions does grow less sinful and vile, and that this is the only way in which he may hope to be saved, will do him no good; but will be the most discouraging doctrine that can be preached to him, and drive him to despair, if he believes it.

It cannot do him any good, or be any encouragement to him to be told that he is now less sinful and vile than he was; for by the suppo­sition he will not believe it, but is confident that the contrary is true. But if he is taught, and he believes it, that this must be true of him, in order to his being in a likely way to be saved; this will be so far from encouraging him to go on, that he will conclude himself to be in a very bad way indeed, that his attendance on means has done him hurt rather than good; and so will give out, concluding that there is no hope for him in this way. Mr. M. has therefore, I think, by his own acknowledgement, in effect given up the whole book he has wrote, as quite useless, and to no purpose. For the doctrine he contends for can never be inculcated on the unregenerate, so as to be of any service to them; but must be carefully kept out of their hearing, lest it prove very mischievous.

Let us see how the doctrine of Mr. M's book must be applied to the unregenerate. He will tell the secure profligate that he must reform, and earnestly attend on all means of grace: and for his encouragement will assure him, that in this way he will grow better, less sinful and vile; and so get into a more likely way to be saved, and more in the way of God's mercy; in which he has no reason to expect to share so long as he is so guilty and vile as he is at present. And the more he will reform, and the less sinful he shall become; the nearer he will come to saving conversion, and the more likely will he be to obtain it. If the sinner believes what he says, and from this encouragement re­forms all ways of known external sin; and begins to attend on means; he may go on with good courage, and in his own view have a great degree of tenderness of conscience, and carefully avoid all known sin, and come up to all known duty. And if he is not led into the know­ledge of his own heart, and has no genuine conviction of sin, and is not convinced of the great sin of not loving God and believing on Christ, he will have high hopes from his imagined comparative goodness, or his becoming less sinful than he was, by his reformations and duties, [Page 114] and be confident that God is not so angry with him now; but takes a favorable notice of his doings and looks on him with approbation. He will now drink in Mr. M's doctrine with greediness, and it will be sweet and comfortable to his soul. But alas! Whither will it lead him? To the same place, no doubt to which the proud pharisee went.

But if by the divine influences he falls under genuine, thorough con­victions, he will begin to appear to himself to be growing more guilty and vile than he was in a state of security, instead of becoming less sin­ful, as he was encouraged to expect. This sinks his heart, all his hopes fail him; and he runs to Mr. M. to know what he shall do. What will Mr. M. say to him? Will he tell him, this is no matter of discou­ragement; he has as much encouragement to go on as ever, altho' he continues to grow worse and worse? If he tells him this, which he has in effect declared to be fully orthodox; he will now retract and di­rectly contradict all he had preached to him before, and which is the fundamental doctrine of his whole book, as what he had better never have published; for it is not true, and has done no good, but hurt.

If he persists in his former doctrine, and tells the sinner that tho' he appears to himself to be more sinful; yet this is not his true state; if it was he would be in a bad and hopeless way indeed: But he is really growing much better, less sinful and vile than he was, so that God's anger is in a measure abated: He has reformed many gross sins, and done many duties, of all which God graciously approves, and takes a favorable no­tice: And if he holds on, he will undoubtedly become in this way so much less sinful than others, or than he once was, that God will bestow salvation upon him, rather than upon those who are more guilty and vile, having never reformed, and humbled themselves at the feet of sovereign mercy as he has done, nor nourished such tenderness of con­science, &c. I say, if he should preach this, or, which is much the same, read over his book to him; the sinner will either believe it, or he will not. If he believes it, and is brought to view himself not as growing worse, but less sinful, his convictions are at an end, he is no longer under genuine thorough convictions; for such appear to them­selves at least, to grow more sinful and vile. Therefore in order to be­lieve Mr. M's doctrine he must lose his convictions; and they never can take place again, until he gives this doctrine up, and so perseverance in the belief of this doctrine will infallibly carry him to hell, unless a sinner may be converted without a proper work of conviction.

If he does not believe it, and it is to be desired in mercy to his soul he way not; for we, and Mr. M. too are sure that he cannot as long at his convictions continue: I say, if he does not believe it, he will escape the mischief, and all the pains taken to inculcate it will be in vain.

If he believes it in part, viz. that sinners under genuine convictions do become less sinful, as the only hopeful way to be saved; and yet by the force of his own convictions appears to himself to be growing more sinful; this will have a very bad, discouraging tendency indeed, as has been observed, and drive him into despair, as being too great a sinner ever to hope for God's mercy. In order to relieve this sinner Mr. M. must give up his great doctrine, which he wrote his book to defend; [Page 115] he must do it for a while at least, as he has indeed done by the passage under consideration, and tell him, that he may grow worse, more wick­ed and vile, and yet be in a hopeful way, and have all possible encou­ragement to attend; for the end of the use of means to the unregene­rate is not to make them less sinful, but to lead them to that know­ledge and sense of their true state and character which the unregenerate may have. Thus the sinner must believe the doctrine which I have ad­vanced, as long as his convictions continue and increase, or fall into despair; and can receive no other encouragement, but what is consistent with this doctrine, of the sinners growing worse under convictions [...] and what is directly contrary to that of Mr. M.

Mr. M. concludes this general head in the following words, ‘Now if in the author's view, it appeared too startling to a common reader to close his discourse with this plain representation of the state of the case in debate; it had been a great favor, in my humble opinion, if he had been under the same restraint when he advanced it. To be sure it had prevented me these my poor labours on the subject. And I think I may say with good assurance, it had prevented grief to many worthy fathers in the ministry, whose praise is in the gospel thro' the churches; and who are not so far superannuated, but that with good old Eli, they tremble for fear of the ark, when they see it in danger of a wrong touch, from the vigor and sprightliness of younger years.’

It has been observed, and clearly shewed, I presume, that I am quite clear of the charge which Mr. M. has brought against me, upon which, the words now transcribed are grounded; that I could not have ex­pressed myself in the words which he prescribes for me, without for­getting the argument I was upon, and being guilty of as great an oversight nearly as he has in making this charge.—And that what he says I ought to have said, is implied in my words; and so implicitly as­serted. And that he has fully assented to it, and pronounced it ortho­dox, in the same breath, in which he attempts to represent it so gross and shocking an error, as to startle a common reader.

I confess I am not ashamed of this doctrine; nor am I afraid to assert it, in its full length and breadth on all proper occasions. Nor do I repent my publishing it; but think I have reason to bless God that I have been under no restraint that has prevented it, even although it has occasioned "These POOR labours of Mr. M on the subject:" Yea, what­ever else I may suffer by it. Whether he had any call thus to exert himself; and whether these labours ought to be called poor, or by a better, or a worse name, every reader will judge for himself. They have, however, I think, given me opportunity further to explain and vindicate an important truth, which tends to exalt the character of the adorable Jesus, and abase the sinner.

Who these worthy, aged, trembling fathers are I know not, and have no inclination to detract from their praise. But I think I have a right to say they fear, where no fear is; and if they tremble, and handle the ark as Mr. M. has done, no thanks are due to them, that it has not been compleatly overset long ago.

[Page 116]


WHEREIN it is enquired, Whether God has given any commands to unregenerate sinners, which they do truly comply with and may perfectly obey, while unre­generate?


THE question particularly stated; and arguments offered to prove the negative.

THE question is not, Whether any commands are given to the unregenerate? Or whether any thing is required of them, which it is their duty to comply with and perform? The unregenerate, it is granted, are under law, as much as the regenerate, and the former are required to be perfectly holy, as much as the latter, and are forbidden everything which is contrary to this. In a word, no duty is required of the regenerate, which the unregenerate are not also commanded to do. This may be true consistently with their doing no part of their duty, and living in perfect rebellion against every command, while un­regenerate. And indeed, they who take the positive side of this ques­tion, allow that the unregenerate never do in any degree comply with those commands which require holiness; for they grant there is no true holiness in any thing which they do. This Mr. M. constantly allows.

The question therefore is, Whether there are any commands given to the unregenerate, which do not require any thing truly holy; but only require such exercises and doings which they may and do comply with, and truly perform, according to the true meaning and intent of the commands, while they are perfect enemies to all true holiness?

Mr. M. has zealously espoused the affirmative side of this question; and great part of his book is taken up in attempting to prove that God requires duties of the unregenerate, which they are to do, and may and do perform while in an unregenerate state. He owns that I have not expressly denied that there are any such duties required of the unrege­nerate; but he has taken considerable pains to shew why there is rea­son to suspect and even conclude that I held to no such duties. I am ready to own the charge; and shall proceed to produce the arguments I have for the negative.

I. ACCORDING to our Saviour's account of the divine law or com­mandment, it requires nothing but love to God and our neighbour.* [Page 117] And he expressly says that "on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." That is, all that is required in the law and in the prophets, every injunction and command to be found in divine re­velation, really requires nothing but love to God and our neighbour; l [...]e exercised and expressed in all proper ways. No other natural and [...] sense can be put upon these words of Christ. But would they bear another sense, what St. Paul says on the same subject fixes the meaning; of them. He says "He that loveth another, hath fulfilled the law." And again, "Love is the fulfilling of the law." Love could not be the fulfilling of the law, if the law required any thing more than love, acted out to a perfect degree, and in a proper manner. Love is there­fore the whole duty of man. Nothing more nor less is required. God has not given one precept to man in the law or the prophets, in the old testament or new, but what requires love to God, or man, or both, and is to be obeyed in the exercise of love, and no other way, or by nothing else. There is therefore no obedience but what consists in love; and where there is nothing of this, there is no duty done; nothing that is required, and is due, is given. This, I conclude is a plain, incontes­tible truth, as demonstrably evident as any truth contained in divine revelation; and must approve itself to the reason of every one who will exercise his reason, and not confuse and bewilder himself with a set of words without a meaning. The unregenerate have no true love to God or their neighbour; for in this, and in the consequent exercises of en­mity, their unregeneracy consists. Therefore they do no duty, obey not one command in the law or the prophets, in the old testament or new.

IT will be said doubtless, they do obey and do duty in some sense, or at least some part of duty: They do external duties; or that which is the matter of duty. These things, such as prayer, reading the bible, acts of justice and mercy, &c. are commanded duties; and they who do these things, so far obey the command, and do their duty.

ANS. Nothing is either duty or sin, if considered without any respect to the heart, and as not implying any exercises of that: Therefore there is not really any external duty or sin, which is not considered in connexion with exercises of heart, and as the fruit and expression of these. If a statue is formed so as by the motion of certain springs to speak distinct words and pronounce a well composed prayer, none will imagine there is any duty done, or any part of duty, any more than in the noise of a cataract or in the whistling of the wind. Such a statue is not a subject of command, and is not capable of any part of duty. And man is not the subject of command, or capable of any duty or sin in any other view, but in that of a voluntary agent: and all the exter­nal motions, and effects produced by him, which are not in any degree voluntary, are no more duty nor sin, and no more any part of either, than if there was no such thing as duty or sin in nature. If a man kills another by a motion or stroke, in which he had no design, and is per­fectly involuntary, there is no more sin in this than there is in the fall­ing of a tree on a man that kills him. And in this case to say, that [Page 118] the man, or the tree is guilty of external sin, or has done the matter of sin, and so has really sinned, and done what was forbidden, would justly be reckoned a high degree of absurdity and nonsense. But this would be as proper language, as to speak of a person's doing external duty or the matter of his duty, as tho' some duty was really done with­out taking into view the exercises of his will in the affair, and not considering him as a voluntary agent. But if he is considered as a vo­luntary agent, and the whole of the duty lies in the exercises of the heart or will; then what is done is either duty or sin, according as these are. If one man kills another by a voluntary execution or motion, in which he had a prudent design & desire to save his life, the action is so far from being sin or murder, that it is an act of kindness and mercy. The man committed no sin, but did his duty. If a man pronounces the words of a prayer, without one thought or voluntary exercise about it, he does no more duty than the statue just mentioned, or the tree that bows before the moving air. But if he does this voluntarily, with tho't and design, and his will and design herein is perfectly bad, and the same with his, who curses and blasphemes the name of God, such vo­luntariness, such exercises and design surely do not render exter­nal action duty, which would not be so in itself considered. If the exter­nal action was neither duty nor sin, considered as unconnected with any design or will, it does not become duty by being considered in connection with sinful volitions, and as the fruit of them, but on the contrary, the whole taken together, is sin, and nothing but sin.

If it is well attended to, it will appear I conclude, that there is a great impropriety and gross absurdity in speaking of a man's doing any part of his duty in his external conduct, when this conduct is not considered as the fruit and expression of his heart, or any way connected with it; but more especially when it is considered as the fruit of wrong and sinful exercises of heart. And to use such language in this case, and talk of doing duty in part and some degree in external con­duct, by separating it from all views and exercises of the mind, is using words with at any consistent ideas, and only tends to blind and confuse the minds of those who suffer themselves to be imposed upon by such expressions. The externals of devotion and religion are the proper and appointed ways of our acting out and expressing our love to God: and in this view may be called the external part, or matter of duty; hence they have obtained the name of duties: But when there is really no love to God exercised and expressed in these externals, there is no duty in them; they cease to be any part of duty. And if these externals are attended upon in the exercise of perfect enmity against God, and as the fruit and expression of that, it is something far worse. But be­cause the former have obtained the name of duties, being the proper and appointed ways of acting out and expressing respect and love to God, many have bewildered themselves by the word duty, and have been led to think and speak of these externals as duties, considered in them­selves, and the attendance on them as doing duty, and have in this way imposed on themselves and others. These things are not required, [Page 119] for their own sakes, or in themselves considered, but only as proper ways of exercising and expressing love to God. Love to God is there­fore the thing required, the whole of the duty [...] in this, and where this is wanting the externals are as to duty an empty nothing, not the thing required; and in doing them, no duty is done.

In this view of the matter we may see the true meaning of what God says to the people or Israel, "When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand to tread my courts?"* These things were required, but not for their own sake, but only as an expression of their respect and love to God. Therefore when this ceased to be ex­ercised and expressed, and they appeared not to have the love of God, but the contrary, their attendance on these externals, was not doing any thing that was required of them. There things were not required of them, as they performed them: Therefore in their attendance on them they really did nothing that was required of them, and so did not the least part of their duty. To the same purpose is what God says by Jeremiah, "I spake not to your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices: But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice," Burnt offerings and sacrifices and all other externals were not required merely as such, or considered by themselves as mere externals; as such God did not command them; but as the expression of love and obedience. Therefore when these were attended upon, without the exercise of love and obedience, the thing which God re­spected in his command and even the whole that was commanded, was neglected, and no duty done.

None will suppose, I presume, that the devils did any duty when they cried out saying "Thou a [...]t Christ the Son of God." Or when the chief devil in the possessed man prayed to Christ in the name of the rest, in the most earnest manner, "I beseech thee torment me not."§ But the defect was not in externals, but in the want of love to Christ, and the exercise of enmity against him. And will any one imagine that men who have no more love or true respect to God than the devils, and are as real and entire enemies to him as they, which is the cha­racter of all the unregenerate; that such, I say, do any more duty in their external words and actions, than the devils did in the instances mentioned? What do such men do, which the devils did not? If the want of love to Christ and enmity against him in the latter rendered all they did in openly confessing Christ to be the Son of God, and praying to him, not duty, but sin; why is not this as true of the former?

If a man does justice in his dealings, without any design or desire to do justice he does no more duty than the just balance which gives to every one his due. And if one gives to the poor without design, and good will, he does no more of the duty of shewing mercy, than the fruitful tree from which the poor is fed. And whatever external acts of kindness and charity he does, if he means not so, and has not the least degree of love and good will to his fellow men in his heart, he [Page 120] certainly pays no true regard and obedience to the command to shew mercy, and does no part of this duty. And if, contrary to this, his heart it full of malevolence and ill-will to his neighbours, and he in­tends some evil to them by his external appearance of love and kind­ness, he is so far from doing any duty, that these external acts, consi­dered at his acts (and they are no acts at all in any other view) are as really a violation of his duty, and acts of melevolence and sin, as are stealing from his neighbour, and attempting to cut his throat.

To him, who will well consider these things, I think, it must appear, that to talk of doing the external and material part of duty, under the notion that this is really doing any duty and obeying God's commands, without any regard had to the mind, or while that is supp [...]ed to be directly contrary to all duty, is very absurd, and tends to confuse and deceive all those, who will be confused and deceived by a set of un­meaning words and phrases; and that where there is no love to God or men exercised, there is no duty done, whatever is the external ap­pearance and conduct.

IT is still said by some that tho' it is granted, as it must be, that ex­ternal words and actions cannot be considered as any part of duty, or as having any thing of the nature of duty, unless they are viewed as the voluntary exercises of a moral agent, by which he acts out and ex­presses his heart; and therefore if the principles and exercises of his heart are all wrong and sinful, no duty is done, but all is sin; yet it does not follow that the unregenerate do no duty: They may obey the divine command, from the natural principles which they have, such as natural conscience and self-love. These, tho' they are not the best principles, yet are good, or at least not sinful; and God requires the unregenerate to improve these, and act from such principles as they have; and when they do so, this is real obedience, and they do their duty, even what God commands.

ANS. 1. There is no love to God or our neighbour in the exercise of these natural principles, or while men act from them only: it there­fore follows from what has been already proved, that there is no obe­dience in this, because all obedience consists in love to God and our neighbour. At least it must be allowed to be proved, till it can be shewn wherein the argument fails.

ANS. 2. But if this argument is laid aside, and what is here advanc­ed is attended to, it may be proved to be groundless, and very absurd. These natural principles are not principles of obedience; nor is there any obedience meerly in acting from them. If the dictates of natural conscience are not according to the truth, but directly contrary to what is truth and duty, none will think, I conclude, that a man does his duty in acting according to such dictates: for this is the same as to say that a man does his duty in acting directly contrary to his duty. Will any one say, that Saul did his duty, and obeyed Christ in persecut­ing the church, because he acted according to the dictates of his con­science, and [...]ily thought he ought to do it? If so, the more stupid [Page 121] and blind men are to duty, and the more contrary their hearts are to it, as the ground and reason of their stupidity and blindness, the more obedient and dutiful they are. If the dictates of conscience are ac­cording to the truth, and point out what is duty, they declare that this consists in love to God and our neighbour: That this is their immedi­ate duty and all that is required. If therefore, they continue not to love God & their neighbour, they are so far from obeying the dictates of con­science, that they go in direct opposition to these, & so are very far from doing their duty. But, to say the truth, natural conscience it neither a principle of obedience, nor of disobedience, as has been before observed. There is but one principle of obedience, which is love, or disinterested respect or regard to God, & our neighbour. Whatever regard is paid to the dictates of conscience from any other principle, there is no obe­dience in it; and the greatest enemy to God and his neighbour, may exercise as much of this sort of obedience as any other man.

And as to self-love: If by it is meant only a love and desire of hap­piness; this is the principle of all actions in general, whether they be rebellion against God, or obedience. It is essential to all voluntary a­gents, and is the principle of all the sin in the universe, as much as of holiness and obedience. If by self-love is meant selfishness, or a per­son's having respect to himself only, and to nothing else, either God or his neighbour; placing his happiness in his own private interest, as distinct from all other beings, desiring and pursuing this happiness and nothing else; this is so far from being a principle of obedience, that it is the principle of all the disobedience and sin, that ever was, or will be in the creation; and in direct and most perfect opposition to love to God and our neighbour. How absurd then is it to talk of obeying God, and doing duty from a principle of self love!

OBJ. But a well regulated self-love is reasonable and right. Per­sons ought to seek their own happiness, if it be true happiness, and if they seek it where it is to had, and place it in right and proper objects, and with a proper subordination to the glory of God and the general good. How then can this be sin and rebellion? If it is right and reasonable, men ought to exercise it, and this is their duty, and the contrary is sin.

ANS. 1. There is no such thing as a well regulated self-love, if by self-love be meant, what has been just described. Selfishness ought not to take place in the least degree; it is in every degree unreasonable and rebellion against God. A well regulated self love is quite a dif­ferent thing from selfishness, and in direct opposition to it. It con­sists in placing our happiness in the glory of God and the good of our neighbour, and regarding our interest only as included in the interest of the whole, or the greatest good of being in general, and not some­thing distinct and separate from it; which is so far from selfishness, that, it is directly opposite to it, even disinterested benevolence to be­ing general.

ANS. 2. No person under the influence of that self-love which has respect to himself wholly, and to no other being, is seeking after true [Page 122] happiness, or places it where he ought. True happiness consists in the enjoyment of God in the exercise of love to being in general; but by the supposition the selfish man does not seek this happiness, for he has no true respect to God, or any other being but himself. And there is no more obedience in seeking future happiness in a selfish way, or without any respect and regard to the interest of any other being, than there is in seeking happiness in this present world, in any way, and in any objects whatever.

ANS. 3. It is most absurd and a gross contradiction, to talk of self love or selfishness subordinated to the glory of God, and the general good: for self-love has no regard to God or any other being but self; and is so far from being subordinated to the glory of God, and the ge­neral good, that it is an enemy to the general good; and in its own nature enmity itself against being in general. The man under the influence and dominion of self-love, regards and seeks himself only; and the language of his heart is, "I care not what becomes of the glory of God and the general good, if my own ends may be answered." And how can this principle be subordinated to the general good? Will it submit and subordinate itself to this? That is to suppose that it will change its own nature, and no longer seek self wholly, but the general good more than self, and as the highest and best end. And what can be more self-contradictory and absurd than this!

II. THO' the short and plain argument that has been considered, is quite sufficient, I think, to end the dispute, and prove that there are no commanded duties which the unregenerate fulfil, or comply with in the least degree; yet it may be proper to mention some other arguments, which prove the same thing, as they may serve to strengthen the former, with some at least, and set the a [...]d [...]ty of the contrary doctrine, if possible, in yet a clearer and more striking light.

Therefore I proceed to say,

All God's commands to his creatures are an expression of his will or heart, which is the same with their being a transcript of his moral per­fection, as the common phrase is. But God's moral perfection is his holiness: and his will is holy. Therefore whatever command is an expression of his will, must require holiness. That which requires any thing else, is no expression of his moral perfection; therefore cannot be the expression of the will of God, and so cannot be his command.

III. DUTY to God always supposes and implies something given to God, and done for him, out of regard and respect to him. But where there is no true love to God, there is no true respect paid to him; no­thing is offered to him or done for him in the intention and design of the doer. Therefore there is really no duty done. Nothing that is due to God is given; and so no command that he can give is obeyed.

IV. If God should command the unregenerate to do any thing, as such, and which they may do consistently with their having no love to him, and being under the power of perfect and reigning enmity against him; this is in some degree, if not wholly giving up his demands on [Page 123] them which require them to love him, to repent, and embrace the gos­pel. Such a notion seems to ca [...]y [...] it and suppose, that there higher demands are hard and severe, and not suitable to be made on the unre­generate, God therefore does not insist on them, but comes down, and conforms to their [...] and inclination, and tells then, if they are not inclined to respect and embrace the gospel, he will point out some­thing for them to do, which is agreeable to their hearts, and which they may be inclined to do while perfect enemies to him. And is not this coming down, and conforming to the will and perfectly wicked inclination of the sinner in a manner infinitely unbecoming the most high God?

Mr. M. very justly observes "that God don't make the d [...]pra [...]d will of the creature the rule of his duty."* This, I think is giving up the point entirely. If God does [...] accomodate his laws and com­mands to the depraved will of the creature, he has appointed no duties to be done, which imply no respect to him, because their wills [...] depraved, that they have no respect and love; but are perfect enemies to him. If mans will was perfectly right, there would certainly be no occasion or reason for any such commands. Therefore if God gives such it is purely out of regard to their depraved will, as the sole rule and reason of the command. Were they disposed to love God with all their heart, he would not give any command that could be obeyed without love to him: But since they have no love to him, he love's his demand, and appoints a rule of duty, suited to their hearts or wills, which have no love, but are perfectly opposite to him. And is not this to make the depraved will of the creature the rule of his duty? And is not such a notion very dishonorable to God; and in effect to give up all moral government, by making the will of the creature, and not the will and law of the creator, the guide and rule?

If a prince should treat his rebellious subjects so, who refused to lay down their arms and submit to him, and pay him any respect; would he not act a dishonorable part, and give up his own character & govern­ment, in a measure at least in favor of his avowed enemies and rebelli­ous subjects? Should he, for instance, when he came among them, and called upon them to return immediately to their allegiance and submit to him; and found that they were so far from obeying, that this de­mand roused them all to arms, and they stood with drawn swords point­ed directly at him, obstinately refusing to yield one point to him, or submit in the least degree: Should he, I say, instead of insisting on his former demand, tell them that he found they were obstinately fixed in rebellion against him; he would therefore propose something to them and require it of them, which they might do and yet continue rebels, and oppose and fight against him and his government as much as ever, viz. to draw up a petition to him th [...] he would pardon them and de­liver them from the misaries that their rebellion had brought upon them; which they might make and read over every day, consistently with continuing in a state of rebellion, and without making any pre­tences to the contrary; or if they did, they would be only pretence [Page 124] and profession directly contrary to the truth: And that if they would do this he would look upon them as in some measure loyal, dutiful sub­jects, or as doing some part of their duty: would not this be giving up his first demand, at least in some degree; and be implicitly granting that they were not wholly to blame for not immediately submitting to him?

If a prince should conduct so, all who were friends to his character and government would be grieved, and view him as injuring both; and in a degree giving them up in favor of rebels. I suppose this will be a clear case to all. And I see not why the case before us is not as clear; ye much more so, in proportion to the greater dignity and wor­thiness of the most high God, and the proportionable inexcusable wickedness of the sinner. And the only reason, I conceive, why any have run into this notion of God's appointing duties to the unregene­rate, to be done by them while such, and have not been rather shocked at it, is that they look on them as in some measure at least excusable for not loving God and embracing the gospel, this being above their power, and what they cannot do while unregenerate; altho' (poor crea­tures!) they are quite willing and desirous to do what they can.

V. IF God commands the unregenerate to do that which they may do in a state of rebellion, and while they are with all their hearts op­posing him, and in the exercise of perfect enmity against him, I see not why this is not commanding sin and rebellion, and making this their duty. It must be so, if all they do is sin and rebellion, which, I think is certain to a demonstration; for in the exercises of a moral agent there is, there can be, no medium between holiness and sin. It will be said here, that God doth not command the sin, but the duty. I answer, take away the sin, and separate it from every thing else, and there remains nothing in which there is any moral agency, and so no­thing in which there is either sin or duty; and therefore nothing which can be the subject of command. Consequently if the sin is not com­manded, nothing is commanded.

Mr. M. has made several attempts to answer this argument, which may most properly be considered here. He says, ‘The mistake on which this objection is founded, is a supposition that there is a na­tural connexion between requiring the unregenerate to pray, and requiring them to sin: Whereas the connexion is intirely of a moral nature, and arises merely from a moral cause, the creature's want of moral ability, or which is the same, his want of disposition of heart, and inclination of will sincerely to comply with the command, which is merely the creature's fault. And shall this fault of the creature be attributed to God's command, requiring what is strictly the crea­ture's duty?*

Upon this the following things may be observed.

l. There is indeed a natural connexion between requring the unre­generate to pray as such, as wholly wicked and opposite to God in all the exercises of their hearts that respect him, and requiring them to sin; for these are precisely one and the same thing, and the distinction be­tween [Page 125] moral and natural here, is quite unintelligible and to no purpose. If the prayers of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord, i. e. wholly sinful, then to require them to make such prayers, is for God to require them to do what is an abomination to him, and wholly sinful. And this is the same, I think, as to command them to sin. If God requires the wicked to pray, as such, in the exercise of their wicked inclination of heart, and without any other or better inclination, what he requires is sin; and its being wholly their own fault that they are thus inclined, and do sin, as they are commanded, is so far from rendering the thing commanded no sin, that it is the only reason why it is sin; for if it was not their fault, it would not be sin.

2. If Mr. M. had constantly kept this mind, that it is wholly man's fault that he is not holy, and really believed it in all its length and breadth, he would never have thought of their being commanded to do unholy duties: for if it is their immediate and indispensible duty to be holy and embrace the gospel, no reason can be given why this should not be required of them immediately; or why any thing less or lower than this, even unholy duties, should be required at all. Mr. M. thro' a great part of his book goes on the supposition that the un­regenerate are not wholly to blame for not embracing the gospel, and doing holy duties: had he not supposed this, we never should have heard of his unregenerate duties, and of their honest attempts, and do­ing their utmost in the exercise of such principles as they have, &c.

3. Mr. M. does fully yield the point to the objector in what he says here. According to his own concession, God's command has no re­spect to the fault of the creature; but requires what is strictly his duty. Surely then he requires holiness; for this is "strictly his duty;" and every thing short of this is the creature's fault. If God commands men to do duties, without any regard to their moral deficiency, which is wholly their own fault, or making any allowance for it; then in his commands he makes no allowance for their unregeneracy; for this is a moral defect, and wholly their own fault: and therefore does not re­quire unregenerate, unholy duties. It appears therefore that Mr. M. had no other way to answer the objection, but by giving up what was objected against, and granting that no unregenerate duties, nothing unholy and impure is required, but real holiness, which is in all cases "strictly the creature's duty."

But let us attend to the similitude he brings to illustrate this matter. ‘To make this mistake plain to the meanest capacity, suppose a father correcting his son for disobedient rebellious behaviour, should in the close, require him to bow his head, in token of reverence and sub­mission to his parental authority: the son, thro' unsubdued per­verseness of temper, bows in hypocrisy. Does the father by com­manding the duty, command the sin? Far be it. And much less in the present case.’

I think he has by this similitude "made it plain to the meanest capa­city" that he has entirely given up his cause, and expressly asserts the contrary, viz, that God does not require what sinners do while under [Page 126] the dominion of "unsubdued perverseness." If the father requires the son to bow his head, "in token of reverence and submission to his pa­rental authority," and in no other way; the son does not obey this command in the least degree; therefore does no duty, nothing that the father commands: but his bowing his head in hypocrisy in the exercise of unsubdued perverseness is so far from being an act of obedience, that it is an exercise and act of high rebellion, and only serves to offend and provoke the father; as it is a daring attempt to impose upon him and mock him. Does Mr M. think, and will he say, that acts of gross hypocrisy, in the exercise of "unsubdued perverseness," are the crea­tures duty, and acts of obedience, and that God commands these? And that these are less sinful and more acceptable in God's fight than the neglect of them? This is a very ill chosen similitude for Mr. M. and will, I doubt not, make it "plain to the meanest capacity," that his notion of unregenerate duties is very absurd, and that he here asserts that such are not required; but that God in all cases requires submis­sion to him, and proper tokens and expressions of this, and nothing else.

And by the way, I desire it may be considered, whether the son who under the father's correction and reproofs, continues in the exercise of "unsubdued perverseness," and bows his head in hypocrisy, is not more guilty and vile than he was before his father took him in hand. lf so, which I conclude Mr. M. himself will allow; then he has by bringing this instance to represent the case of the unregenerate, not only given up the point he brought it to support; but also must allow that they do not become less sinful; but more guilty and vile in the use of means, while they persist in their "unsubdued perverseness," under all the light and conviction they have: and so has here really given up the whole which he undertook to support. Had Mr. M. constantly viewed the unregenerate in the light in which he sets them here, my section on means. could not have given him such great offence.

BUT let us see if he has succeeded any better in his other attempt to answer this objection. He says the sin the unregenerate are guilty of in what they do, ‘is no part of the duty, as required by God, don't be­long to its essence; but arises from man's deficiency. God has a right to require of his people good duties. When he puts them under gospel advantages, &c. he requires gospel holiness. A prevalent indisposition of heart, and disinclination of will to do right, makes no abatement in God's demands of us: or in the duty we owe to God. Here again he expressly gives up the whole, and asserts that what God requires is good duties, gospel holiness; and not unrege­nerate duties. Thus he shifts, gives up his cause, and turns against himself. He labours abundantly, to prove that God requires of the unregenerate something which is not holiness but those doings which they may perform with "unsubdued perverseness" of heart. And when he is told that that is to require that which is sin; he turns about and says God requires nothing but "good duties, gospel holiness;" and so gets rid of the objection by unsaying all he had so often and zealously asserted before, against which the objection yet remains in its full force.

[Page 127]But he goes on, ‘Thus stands the case; God puts his covenant peo­ple under advantages to bring forth good fruits, and then he has a just right, expects and demands them. God requires good duties of his people; both the performance and the goodness or the duty is absolutely required: And therefore God will have the duties or per­formances, tho' thro' their badness they come mar'd out of their hands. Does God in requiring these duties, require their being mar'd? Far be it, since he absolutely required their being good.’ Here he is in the same strain yet: God requires nothing but "good fruits, good duties," and therefore not the marred, sinful duties of the unregenerate; exercises and fruits of "unsubdued perverseness;" they never do the du­ty which God' requires of them. When he says, ‘Both the performance and the goodness of the duty is absolutely required: And therefore God will have the duties or performances, tho' thro' their badness they come mar'd out of their hands,’ I think he is quite unintelligible, or at least supposes something which is very absurd and self-contradictory. The distinction between the performance of du­ty, and the goodness of it, is, I suppose, quite new, and so nice that I question whether it can be understood. There is no other duty that I can conceive of, but good duty: The goodness of the duty comes into performance, and is indeed one and the same thing; the perfor­mance is doing the good duty; and where there is no goodness exer­cised there is no performance of duty. Therefore when he says, "God will have the duties or performances tho' ma [...]'d by them," it is to me the same as if he had said, God will have the duties, whether he has them or not; or tho' they are wholly withheld.

If by the performance as distinguished from the goodness, he means only the external action, without any relation or regard to the exercises of the heart, I suppose enough has been said to shew the absurdity of such a way of talking.


Mr. MILLS'S Arguments for the Affirmative examined.

MR. MILLS'S arguments are quite miscellaneous; they are inter­spersed thro' near an hundred pages, without any particular order, in which he does not attend constantly to this subject, but often goes off to other matters, and then returns again to this, and repeats the things he had said before, over and over again. I shall pick them out as well as I can, as they lie scattered through this part of his per­formance.

1. Mr. M. attempts to prove this by a number of texts of scripture, which he thinks expressly enjoin duty on the unregenerate to be done by them while under the dominion of sin, being enemies to God, and to all holiness.§ He observes, ‘Our Saviour expressly enjoins sinners, to search the scripture, as a means in order to come to the know­ledge [Page 128] of him as Mediator. To seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.* To labour for the meat that endureth to ever­lasting life. And to strive to enter in at the strait gate.{inverted †}

ANS. 1. Our Saviour does not direct the Jews to search the scriptures with all their prejudices, and in the exercise of enmity against him; and with a desire and design to prove from them that he was an im­postor. This I trust neither Mr. M. nor any one else will assert, or allow. But there is just as much evidence that he directed them to search the scriptures thus, as there is that he directed them to do it, as enemies to his character and doctrines. They ought to have searched the scriptures with a heart ready to embrace and practice the truth, whatever they found it to be; and therefore our Saviour doubtless in­joins this on them; which he knew they would not do so long as they continued to hate both him and the Father that sent him. Christ told them that, "If any man will do his will (i. e. is disposed and inclined to do the will of God) he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself."§ And when he tells them to search the scripture in order to determine this, he directs them to do it with such an inclination; and not with a disposition directly opposite to that which was necessary in order to answer the end proposed.

Mr. M. observes that Christ directs them to search the scriptures, "as a means in order to come to the knowledge of him as Mediator." This is granted: but it does not follow that he enjoins them to do this with a wicked heart; but with a right temper and disposition of mind: for the latter was necessary in order to come to the true knowledge of Christ as Mediator. And, as has been observed, it was their indis­pensible duty, as well as interest to search the scriptures with such a disposition of mind.

ANS. 2. The word in the original, translated search, in the impera­tive mood, may be as well rendered ye do search. It is thus translated by most of the noted critics on the orginal. And this translation is thought to be confirmed by the following verse; the sense of the two verses being this, "Ye take much pains to search the scriptures, because ye think ye have eternal life in them. This is very true, and I am the life here revealed; and yet so perverse and blind are you, that while ye are paying such great regard to the scriptures, ye reject me, and will not come to me that ye may have the life there revealed."

ANS. 3. When Christ directs and commands to seek first the king­dom of God, &c. and labor for the meat that endures to everlasting life, he doubtless directs to that seeking and labor by which men will certainly obtain what they seek and labor after. There is certainly not the least evidence that he does not; or that by seeking and lobor­ing he means any exercises and doings of men unregenerate. I see not why Mr. M. might not with as much propriety and reason have quoted every direction and command of our Saviour that is recorded, as requiring unregenerate doings, and nothing but such.

[Page 129]And it is to be particularly observed that there is an express promise made to them who seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, "All these things shall be added unto you." This is beyond all ques­tion a promise of the covenant of grace, to that godliness which has the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.* As to the words, "strive to enter in at the strait gate;" these have been particularly considered before, and also the remarkable argument which Mr. M. here uses to prove that they mean the strivings of the unre­generate; to which the reader is referred.

Mr. M. proceeds, "And is not the sinner that finds the pearl, plain­ly represented as being a seeker, previous to his finding it?"

ANS. 1. If it is granted that the unregenerate sinner seeks after Christ and salvation, this is not to the purpose; for he may do this, and yet obey no command, nor do any duty. How then came Mr. M. to think that this was in the least to the point he was upon?

ANS. 2. The merchant seeking goodly pearls is not designed to re­present a man unregenerate but one who is as much prepared in the temper of his mind, as much disposed to embrace Jesus Christ as his only Savior and Portion, as the greedy merchant is to prize and purchase a precious pearl. And who can this be but a person re­generate? All that Christ means to represent by this similitude is, the temper and exercises with which men embrace him and become mem­bers of his kingdom, or, in his language, receive the kingdom of God. They love and prize him so as to forsake all for him. On the whole then, Mr. M. has proved nothing by producing this text, unless it be, that he looks on the unregenerate, not as enemies to Christ, but as being as much disposed to embrace Christ and part with all for him, as is the merchant, who is in pursuit of pearls, to part with his whole estate to purchase a pearl of great price: a notion which he has kept in view thro' his whole book, and on which it is in a measure all built, as has been observed, however contrary to the whole tenor of scripture.

THE next passage of scripture Mr. M. produces in the following words, ‘And does not God complain of his people, that they will not frame their doings to turn unto their God? Sure this must be some­thing previous to a saving repentance, and something that God re­quired; otherwise they had not been blamed for the neglect of it; for where there is no law, there is no transgression.’

ANS. 1. The Hebrew word here translated frame properly signifies to give or grant, and is often translated to suffer or permit. And these words may be rendered thus, Their pursuits, or their evil ways, will not suffer them to turn to the Lord. That is, the sins in which they live are in the way of their turning to the Lord, and do with the great­est strength and obstinacy oppose it. This sense agrees well with the following words; "For the spirit of whoredoms is in the midst of them, and they have not known the Lord." The words set forth their great degree of corruption, by which they were at the greatest distance from turning to the Lord.

[Page 130]ANS. 2d. The words as they stand in our translation, express much the same thing. The meaning or them is, that they were so far gone in wickedness, that they had not the least disposition or inclination to turn to the Lord, which is true of every unregenerate person. And the words do not suppose that while men continue perfectly wicked, and obstinate enemies to God, they in any true sense, from their doings to turn to the Lord; because this is a gross contradiction, which Mr. M. and all who join with him have run into, by putting such a sense upon them. Mr. M. therefore had no warrant to say, "Sure this must be something previous to a saving repentance." On this assertion all the weight of his argument from these words rests; which he has not said one word to support. And indeed it could not be supported by him, had he attempted it; for it surely rests on a sandy foundation.

Mr. M. goes on, ‘And does not St Paul clearly point out atten­dance on the word preached as a means in order to faith? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word preached,* (by the word of God it should be.)

ANS. All that is asserted here is, that it is impossible that men should believe that of which they never heard: that the truths to be believed by men in order to salvation are contained in divine revelation, and that none can believe these, unless he hears them. It follows from this that hearing or attending to the truths of divine revelation, is necessary in order to faith in Christ. But how are they to hear? Not with a disposition to hate Christ and all divine truth, as soon as it comes to their notice; but as Cornelius heard St. Peter, with a disposition and readiness of mind to receive the truth in love, and believe it. This is never done by the unregenerate. No unregenerate duties therefore can be inferred from these words.

Mr. M. adds, ‘And does not the apostle Peter expressly exhort Si­mon, being unregenerate to pray? Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray to God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.

Answer. Repentance is often spoken of in the new testament and old, and persons are often called upon to repent. And when spoken of as connected with forgiveness of sins, and the condition of this, it always has one determinate precise meaning, even a turning from sin to God through Jesus Christ. St. Peter received orders from his master at the last interview he had with him to preach repentance and remis­sion of sins in his name. And we find him obeying his orders and say­ing to a large auditory when waiting on him to know what they had to do, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins. And to another, 'Repent ye there­fore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out."§ And we have no account of his, or of any of the rest of the apostles directing any one to do any thing short of repentance and conversion; or speak­ing of forgiveness of sins in any other connexion but with true repentance and conversion. It would therefore be very strange and quite unac­countable [Page 131]if when St. Peter directs Simon to repent of his wickedness; and that with a view to obtain forgiveness, he uses the word repent in a different and opposite sense from that in which his Lord and master had expressly commanded him to use it, and different from that in which he had used it before on like occasions, and as it never is used in another instance in all the new testament. If therefore these words of St. Peter; can, without doing manifest violence to them, be understood consistent with the orders which he had received from Christ, and with his way of addressing men on such occasions in all other instances, we may be cer­tain we have the true sense of them; and may with confidence reject any other sense that any have devised.

I therefore observe, Simon is not directed to pray as an impenitent sin­ner, but as a penitent. "Repent of this thy wickedness, and pray to God." Is not the meaning of these words as plain, as these are when this same apostle says, "Repent and be converted; Repent, and be baptized"? These words have been long quoted as an incontestable proof that unre­generate men are commanded to pray as impenitent and unregenerate; and many have done it without ever observing that the word repent was to be found in the text. Whereas directly the contrary is most evidently true. As well might we overlook the word repent in the other passages mentioned, and say St. Peter commanded his hearers to be baptized: yea, to be converted as impenitent, unregenerate sinners; and hence in­fer that to be baptized and converted are duties that the unregenerate are to do while such. With good reason therefore, I think, Dr. Dod­dridge says, in his note on this text, ‘One would think that none could be so wild as to imagine faith in Christ was not included in that repen­tance and prayer, which an apostle preaches to a baptized person as the way of obtaining forgiveness.’

The only difficulty in the words is that St. Peter does not here speak of forgiveness of sin, as certainly connected with the repentance and prayer to which he exhorts Simon, which he does in the other instances mentioned: and it is certain that he who prays as a true penitent shall be forgiven: Whereas it is here said, "IF PERHAPS the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee." Mr. M. and others have insisted upon this as an argument that the prayer not of a true penitent, but of an impeni­tent, unregenerate sinner is here exhorted to.

Upon this it may be observed, that the words, if perhaps, are not de­signed to express the uncertainty of his obtaining forgiveness if he should repent of his wickedness and pray to God, as he was exhorted to do; but the doubtfulness and uncertainty whether there was forgiveness for this his sin; and so whether he would repent and pray. Simon had been guilty of a sin which it was to be feared was the sin against the Holy Ghost, for which there was no forgiveness, or at least was bordering upon it: and it is in this view that St. Peter puts in the words if perhaps. As if he had said "If there is room left for repentance and pardon in this case, which perhaps there is not." Thus the peculiar circumstances of Simon's case, rendering it doubtful whether there was any forgiveness for his sin, are the only reason why the apostle puts in these words if perhaps, which we find he did not in other cases.

[Page 132]Dr. Doddridge understands the words in this sense, and gives the reason of it in the following words. ‘The dubious manner in which he speaks of his being forgiven intimates, not that his sincere repentance might possibly fail of acceptance, for that is contrary to the whole tenor of the gospel, but that after the commission of a sin, so nearly approach­ing blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, there was little reason to hope he would ever be brought truly to repent.’ And tho' I do not quote the Dr. as an authority; yet I may be allowed perhaps to quote another author as such, at least as one of sufficient authority with Mr. M as it is no less an one than Mr. Mills himself. He says, ‘This perhaps, as here used, imports indeed only a suspicion of the truth of the man's repen­tance, and not any doubt of God's forgiveness in case his repentance were sincere.* This he wrote above twenty years ago, and I think it is a pity he has in his old age, given this up, and espoused a sense which is attended with insuperable difficulties.

But if this sense should not be satisfying to all, there is another which some have espoused, that I will mention. The words in the original translated if perhaps, do not appear to have this signification and denote doubtfulness or a perhaps, at least not always; but are used only as ex­pletives, without any particular meaning, taken by themselves; or else are used to make the assertion more strong and emphatical. According to this, the words should have been translated, "Repent, &c.—that the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee," or, "may indeed be forgiv­en." The same words in the original are used in the first v. of the pre­ceeding chap. by the high priest in his question to Stephen, translated "Are these things so?" Where it would at best make a poor sense, to translate them as they are here, If perhaps, are these things so?" And it is to be observed that these same particles are found in the septuagint in 58. Psal, 1. v. which in our translation stands thus, "Do ye indeed seek righteousness," &c.

And now I leave it to the reader, whether either of these senses is not much more easy and natural than that which Mr. M. has put upon the words, which involves us in the inextricable difficulties, which have been mentioned? I am confident that it will appear to all who well attend to this matter, that this text is by no means a sufficient foundation to build a doctrine upon, which has no shadow of support from any other passage of scripture; and which indeed is repugnant to the whole run of scrip­ture; and most apparently contrary to the express assertions of Christ and St. Paul, as has been shewn: especially, if what has been observed be kept in view, that to put this sense upon the text is to make the apostle speak a language which he never uses before or after, or any of the other apostles, and is directly contrary to the orders which Christ gave them; and that when another sense, free of all these difficulties, offers itself.

If they who now hold that the impenitent enemies of God and the gos­pel are commanded to do many impenitent unregenerate duties, would be as silent about it, as were the apostles, we should not hear much of this doctrine, if at all, and it would do very little hurt, and to be sure, as lit­tle good.

[Page 133]MR. M. says something else, which perhaps he intends as an argu­ment for the sense of the text which he contends for, and therefore must not be neglected. His words are, ‘It is evident therefore, that as the apostle knew he was a sinner, so he expected from him the prayer of a sinner.’ If there is any thing in this argument, it takes its force from this supposition, viz. that whatsoever is said to an impenitent, un­regenerate sinner by way of exhortation or command, can require or propose nothing but what he may do and yet continue impenitent and unregenerate. Therefore every exhortation and command in the bible directed to such, requires nothing but impenitent, unregenerate doings. And because this supposition is taken to be an undeniable maxim, and is built upon as such, not only by Mr. M. but others, I will take leave particularly to consider it here, and observe these following things.

I. If this maxim is true, then another is as true, viz. That it is not the duty of the impenitent, unregenerate to repent and believe the gospel: nothing is to be required of them but what they may do un­der the influence of the disposition and principles by which they are now governed. For if any thing more than this is their duty, more is certainly required of them, and they may and must be commanded and exhorted to do more, even to repent and embrace the gospel. Ac­cording to this therefore, the unregenerate, and impenitent are not to blame in the least for being so, or for not loving God and embracing the gospel, but only for neglecting to do unregenerate duties; or those which they may do consistent with being enemies to Christ and con­tinuing in impenitence and unbelief—If the unregenerate are com­manded to repent and love God, for instance; these commands, as they respect them, only require the attempts and endeavours to repent and love God, which the impenitent enemies of God may exert, and yet continue in their impenitence and enmity against God. Thus, if St. Peter's knowing that Simon was an impenitent sinner, was a good reason why he should not exhort him to repent and pray to God as an impenitent never does, it must be because it was not his duty thus repent and pray and so he could not be exhorted and commanded to do it.

II. It also follows from this, that sinners may not be exhorted and [Page 134] commanded to do any thing from higher and better views, dispositi­on or principles than those which they now actually have. The only reason why the impenitent enemies to God may not be exhorted to repent and love God, if there is any reason for this, is, that this requires higher principles than those which they now act from; or, in other words, they have no heart, disposition, or inclination to repent and love God, but their hearts are inclined to that which is directly the reverse of this, as what they choose and prefer. And for the same reason, no person may be exhorted and commanded to do any thing which his heart is now set against, and is not in the least inclined to do; which therefore he will not do till he has a different disposition and turn of mind, and views things in a different and better light than he now does. If it was not proper for St. Peter to exhort Simon tru­ly to repent and become a friend to Christ, and pray as such, because he knew he was an impenitent enemy of Christ; and if we may hence safely infer that he did not exhort him to this; we may for the same reason infer that he did not exhort him to repent and pray from any higher views and motives than merely worldly ones, for he had as much evidence that he was wholly under the influence of worldly mo­tives, as he had that he was an impenitent sinner.

And when Christ exhorted the Jews to labour for the meat which endureth unto everlasting life; if their being unholy and perfectly dis­inclined to any thing truly good, is any reason and evidence that he does not exhort them to any thing inconsistent, with this perverse, prevailing temper and disposition of their hearts (and such an argu­ment has been gravely offered to the public, by those who would not choose to have their talent at clear reasoning called in question;) I say, if this is so; then since they were so low & sordid in their views & aims, as to be influenced to follow him, purely that they might get their fill of bread, we may safely infer, that Christ did not in these words exhort them to any thing that they might not do under the influence of such low car­nal views and motives; and that he does not really exhort them to seek any other bread but that with which they might fill their bellies, however his words may seem, at first view, to imply something more.

III. Yea, it hence follows, that men are never to be commanded or exhorted to any thing which is contrary to their present prevailing will and inclination; for, if their prevailing inclination in one case, is a good reason why they may not be exhorted and commanded to that which is contrary to it, it is as good a reason in any other case of this kind whatsoever. Therefore, according to this principle, if we knew what were the precise inclinations of Simon's heart when St. Peter spoke those words to him, we may determine what he did, and what he did not exhort him to; as well as we can know that he did not exhort him to any thing contrary to the inclination and heart of an impenitent, unregenerate sinner. And we may be sure Simon was fully inclined to repent of his wickedness, and pray to God, in the sense in which the apostle directed him to do it, and actually complied with the exhortation, else he would not have exhorted him to it.

According to this, no man can be directed and commanded to do [Page 135] that which is contrary to his inclination and heart, or which he is not willing to do. Which is the same as to say, no man can be under any law at all but his own inclination and will, which in all cases must be the law and rule of his conduct; and so long as he does as he plea­ses, he transgresses no law, and so commits no sin. The consequence is there can be no such thing in nature as sin and blame; for all men always do as they please, or act according to the inclination of their own hearts. All these absurdities, I think, are evidently contained in the maxim under consideration. which Mr. M. and others seem to take for granted, and build much upon.

Mr. M. goes on to produce two other texts; but seems here to have shifted his point, and instead of attempting to prove by them that there are duties enjoined on the impenitent, to be done by them while they remain so, he seeks only to prove that there are encouragements to such to use means, &c. One of these is in the following words, "Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord.* He says, ‘How, as the body of the people, by far the greater number comprehended in the pronoun we, were undoubtedly sinners, destitute of the true know­ledge of God, as the words plainly hold forth; can any thing less be understood by these expressions, "if we follow on to know," than that the only encouragement sinners destitute of the saving knowledge of God have of attaining to it, is a persevering attendance on all God's appointed means, as sinners, until by grace they become suc­cessful? Upon this it may be observed,

I. This text rises much higher than encouragement; it contains an express promise to them that follow on to know. So that if follow­ing on to know means the doings of the unregenerate, as Mr. M. says it does, these are promises to the doings of the unregenerate. I won­der he did not observe this: Did he forget that he had wrote a book to prove the contrary: and had rendered his public thanks to me, for finishing this debate? He may now thank himself, for giving this point up; for he has certainly contradicted all this, by saying the unrege­nerate follow on to know the Lord, and that these words are spoken of such. He has now got on the other side of the question, and found an express promise to unregenerate doings, and might as well have ap­plied all the promises in the bible to them. What reason, what right had he to lower down this promise, and call it only an encouragement?

2. There is not the least evidence that the persons into whose mouths these words are put, have the character of impenitent, unregenerate sinners; but the contrary is most evident. The whole from the first verse to this is the language of God's people, submitting and returning to him, under his corrections, and represents that temper of mind, and those exercises, which ought to take place, and do actually take place in the truly penitent, and which are connected with deliverance and divine favor.

The other text which he mentions here is this, ‘I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel to do it for them. He quotes [Page 136] this here not as commanding a duty, but only as an encouragement to the unregenerate. He expressly says, ‘the words are spoken in the way of a prediction or prophecy, and shewed them what God had absolutely, not conditionally, determined to accomplish for his peo­ple.* What God does reveal as a promise of what he will do, can­not be considered as a command. Whether the enquiry here spoken of points out the prayers and seeking of the unregenerate, I particularly considered, in my remarks on Doct. Mayhew's sermons, and suppose I produced evidence that it does not. Mr. M. has a large note on this text to prove that I have misunderstood it, as well as the Doctor. But to this I shall have something to say in another place.

II. Mr. M. forms another argument from the encouragement which is given in the word of God to sinners to attend on means, &c. He ar­gues that ‘from the encouragement set before Simon to repent & pray, i. e. to attempt the performance of those duties, tho' on no higher principles than that of natural conscience—which encouragement stands good to all the unregenerate, under the external light and ad­vantages of the gospel, 'tis evident that God doth some way re­quire these essays of the unregenerate: otherwise he encourages them to that in his worship, which he no way, in any sense requires in his word. Would no: this be for the Almighty to encourage his crea­tures to practise will-worship, and the inventions of men; which God every where condemns in his word, as utterly sinful. And can [...] to the purity of his nature, to encourage his creatures to that which is utterly sinful? Sure it cannot. It must therefore hence clearly follow, that the unregenerate, under the light and advantages of the gospel, are someway required to make these essays, to repent, pray, &c.’ On these words I observe,

1. If the words of St. Peter to Simon are not a command to him to repent and pray in an unregenerate manner, or as an impenitent enemy to God, which Mr. M. has insisted they are; then they are not a com­mand to do any thing, as an impenitent. Mr. M. has remarkably low­ered down here, and considers these words not as an express command or exhortation to do any thing; but only as an encouragement set before Simon to attempt to repent and pray; not a command really to do them. He might just as reasonably construe away all the commands in the bi­ble, and represent them to be nothing but encouragements to attempt to do something.

2. The sinner who is utterly impenitent, never does truly attempt to repent, and pray as a penitent. He never has the least motion of heart or will this way: for his whole heart is, by the supposition, in direct opposition to this; therefore the more he exercises himself about it, or the more exercises he has, the more he opposes it. We may therefore be sure that the scripture no where says any thing to encou­rage such attempts to repent, &c. which are consistent with perfect im­penitence, and enmity against God; because there are not in nature any such attempts; [...] such a supposition involves the most gross con­tradiction; such a [...] never existed, except in the minds of those [Page 137] who suppose that the unregenerate are penitent and friendly to God and the gospel in a degree; or of those who are absurd enough to hold that the perfectly impenitent and enemies to God, are inclined to re­pent and disposed to be friendly to him. Mr. M. is to be ranked a­mong both these, for he supposes each of these in their turns.

3. It is difficult, I think, to know what Mr. M. means by "will worship, and the inventions of men," as applied to the case before us. If by this he means something external, ways of worship and conduct which men invent and practise, to express their devotion and respect to God, which I suppose is the sense in which these phrases are commonly used, they are not applicable to this case; for it is not pretended by any one that the unregenerate or any other are urged to any such thing. If he means any motions and exercises of the heart that are neither right nor wrong, in themselves, neither sinful nor holy, these are indeed "the inventions of men," of Mr. M. at least; for there are in reality no such, which are not holy, and yet not utterly sinful,"

All the seeming force and plausibleness in what Mr. M. says here, if there seems to be any, lies in the ambiguity of the word encouragement, which may be taken, in different senses, and is often used so.

To encourage, sometimes means to invite, urge, and exhort a person to something, urging him to it by good reasons and motives. In this sense God's encouragements and commands cannot be distin­guished; for where there is such encouragement, there is a command, implied or expressed.

Sometimes encouragement means that which gives a hope and pros­pect of success in any business and pursuit. And when we say a per­son has encouragement to do this or the other thing, we mean that this is the most likely way to obtain hi [...] end which he is pursuing. And to encourage him to any particular way of conduct, is to let him know that this is the most hopeful way to miss of the evil he dreads, and obtain what he sets up, as the object of his pursuit, be that what it will.

In the first sense of encouragement mentioned, God encourages men to holiness, and nothing else. In the last sense, he encourages men, let their hearts be as sinful and opposite to him as they will, to at­tend on the means of grace. He has so ordered things that this is the most likely way to escape the greatest evil, and be happy forever; so that when they come to view things in any measure as they are, and are above all things afraid of eternal destruction, and desirous of fu­ture happiness, they will be induced from a principle of self-love, or selfishness, even that very principle which sets their hearts against God, and leads them into all the wickedness they practise, with great care and anxiety to attend on these means. The whole encouragement, as laid before them, lies in its being the most hopeful and likely way to promote their interest, and answer the end which they are pursuing. God has so contrived and ordered things, that whenever the sinner's conscience is thoroughly awakened and convinced, and he comes to a sense of the wretchedness of his case, and attends to what is contained [Page 138] in divine revelation, and labours under no particular delusion; he will forsake those ways in which secure sinners live, and pursue the most likely way to obtain deliverance, and eternal salvation, however vile his heart is, and tho' he is a greater enemy to God, and all that is good now, than he was before. And thus there is encouragement to all this, and this is the encouragement God sets before the sinner. And a per­son may be "utterly sinful;" that is, inclined to nothing else but sin; yea may be growing more and more guilty and vile continually, and yet take this encouragement, and act upon it.

He who will consider these things, must be sensible, I think, that the encouragement sinners have to attend on means, &c. is consistent with their obeying no command, and doing no duty, while they act under the influence of this encouragement; and that God may, and does con­sistently with the purity of his nature, encourage his creatures to that, in doing which they are utterly sinful: And that Mr. M. has confu­sed himself by using the word encouragement in an indeterminate or wrong sense, as many others have done. Yea, I think it will be evi­dent to such a reader, that the passage I am considering is so far from proving any thing, that it is quite unintelligible, and contains in it, as many absurdities, at least, as there are sentences.

Before I leave this head about encouragement, I would observe, that when Mr. M. undertakes to shew what encoueagement there is to sin­ners, on his plan of commands to do unregenerate duties, he seems to have a right notion of encouragement; but finds no more than they do who teach the unregenerate that they do no duty while they continue so, and places it upon the same bottom they do, in the words follow­ing, ‘To all who with earnest concern, thus attend on God's appoint­ed means, the language scripture encouragement is, may be God will be gracious, who can tell, [...] perhaps sovereign grace may be displayed for your help, in this way. It implies in it that God is a God of infinite goodness, can exercise his mercy towards them thro' Christ in this way, consistent with the honor of all his other perfecti­ons; and that they are in some measure in the way in which he is wont to bestow mercy on perishing sinners whenever he does bestow it; the way in which millions have found mercy; and the way out of which he has determined, in the ordinary dispensation of his grace, not to bestow it.§ I have endeavoured particularly to shew that the sinner has all this encouragement in the use of means, in my tenth section.—And when he again undertakes to shew "the usefulness and importance" of the truth he contends for, he mentions nothing but what is consistent with the doctrine he is opposing.

III. ANOTHER of Mr. M's arguments is in the following words, ‘Again, it is further evident, that the unregenerate are otherwise re­quired to attend on the means of grace, than meerly by being cal­led upon to repent and believe, in a gospel sense: Because if they are not, then none of the unregenerate would be required to attend on the means of grace, until they had attained to a competency of speculative knowledge, in order to saving faith; since till then they [Page 139] are under a natural impossibility of believing; and so of being im­mediately required to believe. And since the gospel does not require any natural impossibility, as the condition of life, it must thence clearly follow upon this principle, they are not required to attend on means at all.*

ANSWER. The word of God requires sinners to be always so friendly to him at heart, as to be disposed and ready to believe every truth which he reveals and proposes to them, and to have exercises answerable to that truth; or to receive the love of the truth. They are under no natural impossibility of doing this. If they do this they will not attend on means, as do the impenitent and unregenerate; therefore they are not required to attend on means in any one instance as such, or with an impenitent unbelieving heart. Mr. M. says, very agreeable to truth, ‘God don't make the depraved will of the crea­ture the rule of his duty: but requires him to reach the appointed end. Make you a new heart and a new spirit, for why will ye die? Turn yourselves and live ye? And he allows that all under the gospel are required to pray, and do all other duties in a gracious manner; which, he will not deny, implies faith. How came he, just now, in direct contradiction to this, to say all are not immediate­ly required to believe? God does not require men to believe any truth which never has been proposed to them, and which they have had no opportunity to understand: but he requires them to attend to every truth set before them, and receive it with a penitent heart, and in the exercise of love to him.

It is true, there are many under the gospel who have not that spe­culative knowledge necessary in order to their exercising faith in Christ; but this is wholly their own fault, owing entirely to their depraved wills. Were their hearts as they ought to be, they would understand and receive every truth as soon as proposed to them: and this is re­quired of them, and nothing less. If they did so, they would in no instance attend on means as do impenitent unbelievers. Though God will not give them a new heart, and bring them to a right temper and disposition of mind, while they are inattentive and ignorant; yet he always requires that disposition of mind which is inconsistent with, their inattention and ignorance: for as he does not make the depraved will of sinners the rule of their duty; so he does not make the rule of [Page 140] their duty the rule of his conduct, in giving or not giving a new heart. Mr. M. says ‘If there be some under the gospel that are destitute of it’ (i. e. of a competency of speculative knowledge, in order to faith) ‘as not having opportunity and advantages for acquiring of it, they are not required to attend on means of grace at all.’ (that is, on my plan)§ I answer, there is no such instance. All under the gospel have this opportunity and advantage, and their ignorance, impenitence, and unbelief is their own fault. Were they, in any mea­sure, as God requires them to be, they would have understood the truth when first proposed, that is, as soon as they became moral agents, in the exercise of love, repentance and faith.

If persons under the gospel were not required to attend on means until, with all their depravity, stupidity and dullness, they had ob­tained a good degree of speculative knowledge; and could not be re­quired to repent and believe, till in a long course of the use of means they had attained to this, how can we account for our Saviour's call­ing upon men, when he first began to preach to them, to "repent and believe the gospel?" And why did the apostles direct men immedi­ately to repent and be converted, and believe on Jesus Christ? If they might preach so to persons who had much less opportunity and advantage to get speculative knowledge, than all under the gospel now have, surely this may be required of all now. And this is a pat­tern which all preachers of the gospel ought to follow, and not to de­vise another way of preaching and addressing sinners; calling upon them to do a set of duties short of repentance and faith, under the notion that the latter are not yet their duty. The truths of the gospel ought to be clearly preached and set before sinners, and one truth is, that they are required to repent and believe the gospel as soon as proposed; and that he that believeth not, shall be damned.

IV. MR. M. undertakes to prove that the unregenerate are required to do duty in an ungracious manner; or, as he expresses it, "though they fail and come short of a gracious manner," by asserting and at­tempting to prove that the regenerate, or children of God, are re­quired to do duties in this manner.

The argument stands thus. Duties are required of the regenerate, or true Christian, which they must, and often do conscientiously per­form, though they have no gracious or holy exercises, but come wholly short of the least degree of love to God or man. Therefore the same duties are required of the unregenerate, as they may do them without any grace, as well as the regenerate, & as no truly good and ho­ly exercises of heart are necessary or required in order to perform them.

I suppose this argument is quite new, and that Mr. M. in advanc­ing it, is perfectly an original. And therefore that I shall be the first that ever attempted to answer it. Indeed, it appears to me to want no great matter of an answer.

In this argument Mr. M. supposes, not only that a principle of grace may be perfectly dormant and unactive in the true Christian; so that in this respect he may not differ at all from him who is ignorant [Page 141] of Jesus Christ, and perfectly impenitent, and obstinately hates his whole character: but that such may and actually do conscientiously attend on the duties of the first and second table, and use conscienti­ous and painful endeavours, and their utmost efforts to do them in a gracious manner, or in the exercise of true love to God and man: and yet not have the least degree of such exercise, but fall wholly short of it in all they do, having nothing better in their heart, or more like true Christian holiness, than the impenitent unbeliever may have: and that when this is the case they do that duty, which God requires of them! Such suppositions as these, I conclude, will appear not only weak and absurd, but very whimsical and ridiculous to the judi­cious reader; and more so as they are represented in Mr. M's book than in this abridgement.

I have often heard them tell of dead Christians; by which I suppose they mean, Christians who have no exercises of grace at some seasons. But such must be very dead indeed; I should think "twice dead, and plucked up by the roots," who, when they strain so hard, conscien­tiously take so much pains, and exert their repeated and utmost en­deavour, to call up and put forth the exercise of grace, are not able to produce the least spark or motion of this kind. Mr. M. puts his Christian to as hard a task, as Elijah did the prophets of Baal: he may "cry aloud," be in the greatest earnest, and put forth his utmost en­deavours and efforts to wake up, or recall his grace; but it is either too fast asleep to be awaked, or is gone on a journey, & so cannot be recalled. However he gives him more consolation than those pro­phets had; for if the Christian utterly fails in his conscientious at­tempt, and remains as graceless as he who has no grace, he will not lose his pains: seeing he, after all, does his duty.

But what are these conscientious endeavours to exercise grace, or to perform duties in a gracious manner? Do they imply any incli­nation of heart towards holiness, or any actual idea, or liking of that in which holiness consists? No: for this is the exercise of grace. They must therefore consist in exercises of heart directly opposite to holiness, or in exercises and endeavours which are neutral, neither in­clined nor tending to the exercise of grace; nor to that which is un­friendly and contrary to it. The former cannot be meant I conclude. Nor can they consist in the latter, for two reasons. First, there are in nature no such exercises and conscientious endeavours, which are perfectly and equally indifferent towards holiness and sin, and imply no inclination to one or the other. Secondly, If there could be any such, they would be no more endeavours to do duty in a gracious man­ner, than in an ungracious and sinful manner; because, by the sup­position, there is no more of an inclination or tendency to the former than to the latter.

The scripture gives us a quite different idea of the Christian from this which Mr. M. has set before us. According to that, the Christian is wholly made up of flesh and spirit, two different and opposite prin­ciples, [Page 142] and the latter is as constantly exercised as the former, and is no more dead or asleep than the former, though it may be exercised in a weak and low degree. "The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary one to the other."*. The spirit is never said to be dead; but on the contrary the Christian has "crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts," and "the law of the spirit of life has made him free from the law of sin and death." And there is not one word said in the bible about these graceless duties of Christians; not one exhortation to them, or the least hint about them in all the New Testament, where there are such a number of letters wrote to Christians, and so many directions and pre­cepts given to them. I am confident, and every one else will be so, I trust, that Mr. M.'s regenerate, dead, graceless Christian, has no existence in the New Testament, nor in nature. The character he gives of such an one being quite unscriptural, and in itself a contra­diction.

Mr. M.'s representation of this matter, is not only unscriptural, but a fatal resting place for many nominal Christians; a refuge of lies, in which many have doubtless perished. They think they are not to blame for not acting, and doing duties in "a gracious man­ner." Grace is from God, and they can exercise no degree of this without the spirit of God, which is not at their disposal, but is given or withheld as God pleases. They therefore rest in their good de­sires and endeavours, and what they call conscientious performance of duty, as all that is required of them; not considering that they are commanded to be "filled with the spirit," and always to live and walk in the spirit, and bring forth the fruits of the spirit; and that not to do so, is to oppose and quench the spirit, and to live after the flesh. Mr. M. expressly says, that if Christians, as well as the un­regenerate, are not required to do duty not in "a gracious manner," or without the exercise of holiness, then ‘no christian duty is required of us, but as we are moved by the spirit, since this can't be done but as moved and assisted by the spirit.§ What can be the meaning of this, but that Christians are under no obligation to do duty, in a gracious manner, unless when actually moved and influenced thereto by the spirit of God; which not being always the case, they are not at all to blame for not acting in "a gracious manner;" but have only to wait till God shall move them by his spirit? Sweet doctrine to many graceless Christians, and tends to fix them on the fatal rock, on which multitudes are perishing!

THE reason Mr. M. gives why these graceless, unregenerate duties are equally required of the regenerate and unregenerate is remarkable, and worthy of particular notice here. He says ‘God don't require these things, because they have in them any positive virtue, or true moral goodness; but because of a negative moral goodness they have in them; i. e. the absence of a greater degree of true moral [Page 143] evil, than there would be in the careless neglect of them. And again he says, the reason of the requirement of these performances is ‘not because they are holy; but because they are less unholy. There is a less degree of true moral evil in the conscientious performance of them, than in the contemptuous neglect of them, and therefore are they required.* On this I have two things to observe.

1. Mr. M. has here reduced his commands to meer prohibitions in which God only forbids sin. And the duty he contends for is nothing but abstinence from sin, or not committing it: or rather committing a less sin instead of a greater. Undoubtedly God forbids all sin of every degree and kind, but this, I conceive, is quite different from commanding duty. Nor is every instance or degree of abstinence from sin, or of the non-commission of sin, doing duty, as Mr. M. here supposes. A tree or horse commits no sin; but none will say they do any duty. But a tree does as much duty as any man does in meerly not committing sin; and a rock has as much "negative moral good­ness" as the best man on earth, and much more; and so more of Mr. M.'s negative duty, as there is less moral evil; yea, the absence of every degree of moral evil.

I think Mr. M. has run into all this confusion and absurdity by con­founding prohibitions with commands, and not distinguishing doing duty, from meerly not committing sin.

2. If every instance of abstaining, from any sin, or greater degree of sin, that might be committed, is doing duty, as it is according to Mr. M. then all men do some duty, something that God requires; for none commit all the sin that in nature is possible, and the sins of most are much less than those of the greatest sinner that ever lived: all these have therefore a great degree of "negative moral goodness," or the absence of a great degree of true moral evil. And the greatest sinner of all, has a considerable degree of this sort of moral goodness; for it cannot be supposed that he is as great a sinner as is possible. Yea, will it not follow that most of mankind have much more moral good­ness, and do much more duty, than sin? No individual commits half the sin that in nature is possible; and there are millions of sins actually committed, of which he is not guilty. All his sins put together, are as nothing to the sins of the whole world of mankind, and of all the fal­len angels. Now if his not committing all this is negative moral good­ness, and duty, his sin hardly bears any proportion to his goodness and duty.

And according to Mr. M. every less sin, every sin except the greatest of all that ever was committed, or can be, is in some sense required of God, viz. as having a degree of negative moral goodness in it, or not being so bad and sinful as something else, which might take place in its room. Consequently God requires and commands every sin in the universe, except it be the greatest of all; and even that too, if there is less moral evil in it, than might have been, on any supposition. All these I say must be commanded for the same reason which Mr. M. gives for graceless duties being required; for "there is a less degree of true [Page 144] moral evil in them," than in the greatest possible sin, "and THEREFORE they are required." I leave it to the reader, whether these consequences are not fairly deduced from Mr. M's principles, and way of reasoning on this head.

V. MR. M. forms another argument thus. It is a sin to disobey and counteract the dictates of natural conscience; to be without natu­ral gratitude to God and our benefactors among men, from a principle of self-love: And to be without natural affection, such as the affection of parents to children, &c. All these appear from scripture and rea­son to be sinful, and even a high degree of wickedness. It hence fol­lows that, acting agreeable to the dictates of conscience; the exercise of gratitude merely from a principle of self-love, and natural affection between parents and children, &c. which are found with the unrege­nerate, as well as others, are duties and required of God: for if they are not required, "the absence of them would be no sin: Because "where there is no law, there is no transgression."

Mr. M. introduces this argument P. 101. And then resumes it again, and dwells long upon it from P. 109. to P. 113. I have not stated it exactly in his words, as this would take up too much room; but sup­pose it is here set in as strong and advantageous a light, as it stands in his book. The reader who has access to that may satisfy himself. And he will be ready to judge whether there is any weight in this ar­gument, when he has attended to the following particulars.

1. Acting contrary to the dictates of conscience is in all cases a sin; because this is acting contrary to love to God. It does not follow as a consequence, that acting agreeable to the dictates of conscience is vir­tue or duty; but only that love to God is so. In this case, the sin of acting contrary to the dictates of conscience does not stand in opposition to acting according to the dictates of it; but to obedience to God's law, which requires love to him. Both of the former may be sin. It is always contrary to God's law, and is sin to disregard the dictates of conscience, and that may be, and often is a sin, and directly contrary to God's law, which is agreeable to the dictates of conscience. These are, in this respect, not in opposition to each other, but both are in op­position to the divine law. The pharisee who went up to the temple to pray, had lived in obedience to his conscience, and acted up to the dictates of it; and did so in the address he made to God; Yet I sup­pose none will say he was doing his duty, and obeying God's com­mands; or that God required him to do as he did, when he stood praying. To be [...] Mr. M. will not; for he represents him as guilty of high-handed wickedness in making this prayer, and even one of the vilest sinners on earth. In obeying his conscience, he disobeyed God, instead of obeying him, or being friendly to him in the least degree. Acting against the dictates of conscience is sinful, because this is in all cases acting against God: Therefore acting agreeable to the dictates of conscience is sin, when persons doing thus act against God, which is the case always when they are enemies to him, as are all the unregenerate.

[Page 145]2. It does not appear that want of gratitude to benefactors, from a principle of self-love only, is any where spoken against or condemned in the bible. Christ represents the worst of men as acting from such a principle.* When St. Paul says of the Gentiles "Neither were they thankful;" it does not appear that he speaks of thankfulness, from natural principles as Mr. M. expresses it, or a principle of self-love; but of that thankfulness which God's law requires, and consists in true love to God. It is altogether without foundation, or the least evidence that Mr. M. supposes that when St. Paul speaks of the Gentiles not glorifying God as God, and not being thankful, he means glorifying God, and rendering gratitude to him upon natural principles, or from self-love. They were bound by the highest obligations to glorify God and express their gratitude to him from the highest and best principles even true love to him, and had no excuse for not doing it: and it would be perfectly unaccountable if St. Paul quite overlooked this the greatest of all their crimes, when he was setting forth the greatness of their wickedness, and speaks only of that which was immensely less criminal, and is really no crime, any further that it is contrary to true love to God. I can account for Mr. M's running into this notion no other way but by concluding he supposed that the Gentiles and all men unregenerate are not obliged to act from any higher principles, than those he calls natural; [...] notion which he seems to carry with him thro' his book, tho' he sometimes contradicts it.

What is called natural affection cannot be suppressed and rooted out but by the prevalence of a high degree of sinfulness. Therefore to be without natural affection is an argument and evidence of the pre­valence of a great degree of wickedness. It was therefore to the a­postle's purpose to mention this, in order to shew the bad character of the persons he was describing. This is consistent with there being no command requiring the mere exercise of natural affection, or prohi­bition, forbidding the want of it. The strong and confirmed exercise of pride and sensuality (to use president Edwards's words quoted by Mr. M.) "tend to overbear and greatly diminish the exercises of "those useful and necessary principles of nature." And nothing else will do it. Therefore where natural affection is overborn and dimi­nished, it is a certain evidence of a very bad, vile character. To be without natural affection, and to be monstrously wicked is the same thing. Yet natural affection is not a virtue, nor is it in any sense re­quired as a duty. They who exercise it in the highest degree, are herein no more obedient, and do no more duty than the brutes, is whom it takes place as well as in men; as Mr. M. observes, to be without natural affection, is ‘falling below even the brutal nature, that is wont to retain that instinct of fondness to their young.

4. By being without natural affection, is intended something more than what is meerly negative, or not being influenced by this princi­ple. It intends that exercise and conduct which is directly contrary to it, which shews that it is overborn and suppressed. Thus the Heathen, in many instances, were without natural affection, i. e. [Page 146] acted directly contrary to it, when they burnt their children to death, as a sacrifice to their Gods. The son is said to be without natural af­fection, when he puts an end to his aged father's life, that he may in­herit his estate. The father is said to be without natural affection when he acts a cruel part to his child, and sells it into the hands of barbarous men, to get money to enable him to pursue his intemperance and lewd­ness. In this case that wickedness, which leads a man to coun­teract natural affection, and suppress it, is censured and condem­ned; and not meerly the absence of natural affection. Therefore it does by no means follow from such an expression that the exercise of natural affection is required, and is a duty.

VI. Another argument which Mr. M. offers in favor of commands to the unregenerate duties is, that if there are no such commands & they have no duty to do while impenitent enemies to God, then nothing is required of them, they are left without any law or restraint, to indulge their lusts as they please, without any motive or encouragement to the contrary, and to attend on the means of grace. This leaves sinners at liberty, and they have nothing to do. He says, that upon the principle he is opposing, ‘the unregenerate while such, are not required to pray at all; and by parity of reason, not required to attend any other duty, since they can no more perform them in a gracious manner than they can prayer. And therefore, according to this principle, are in no sense re­quired to perform them.*

And again he says, it ‘takes off all restraint from the unregenerate, and opens a floodgate to all manner of iniquity.

I would observe here, that when he says, the unregenerate, while such, are not required to pray at all, and are in no sense required to per­form any duty, he cannot mean that they are not required to pray [...] impenitents, and do unregenerate duties; for this would be [...] no­thing at all. The principle he is opposing is, that nothing is required of men at duty which they do while unregenerate. And if this is all he means to assert in these words, they are no more than to say, ‘If unre­generate duties are not required, then unregenerate duties are not re­quired;’ which is to say nothing. What he here says, he infers as a consequence from the principle, that no unregenerate duties are required, as an argument against it. But the principle itself is no consequence from itself, or argument against it; for this is only to say, if the principle is true, it is indeed true. Just as if I should undertake to prove I am not now writing against Mr. M. in opposition to some one who had said I was, by saying, this cannot be true, for from this principle it will fol­low, that I am writing against Mr. M.—Besides, Mr. M. here says, that according to this principle they are in no sense required to do any duty; which denies that they are under any command to do any duty, if not required to do unregenerate duty.

Mr. M. says things to the same purpose in many other places of his book; I will mention but one; which is in the following words, ‘And if this perversion, which, is here given of this text, strive to enter, &c. should be received for truth, I cannot but think it would have a very bad [Page 147] tendency to increase security and negligence about religion, and open profaneness among the unregenerate. If this text does not respect the unconverted, and enjoin duties upon them, where can there be a­ny passage found in the bible that has any reference to them? Let this author produce some divine law, requiring the duties, endeavours and exercises of the unregenerate, or say plainly, there is nothing required of them in this state. Here we see he supposes that if any text does not require unregenerate duties, and enjoin something to be done by man while impenitent, it has no respect to the unconverted, nor enjoins any duty upon them: And that there is no medium with him between their being required to do unregenerate duties, and nothing being required of them: And that in this view to deny that unregenerate duties are required, ‘has a very bad tendency to increase security and negligence about religion, and open profaneness among the unregenerate.’ Here I would observe,

1. It is not true that if nothing is required of the unregenerate, which they will do while in that state, then nothing is required of them in any sense. It has been before observed, that they are as much under law as the regenerate, and required to practise godliness and humanity, in the exercise of love to God and their neighbour. They cannot be excused from this, and m [...]st be wholly to blame for every instance, and each de­gree of [...], and every thing in them that opposes it; unless a person's having no inclination to that which is most reasonable, and a strong, fixed opposition of bea [...] to it, removes all obligation, and takes off all blame in neglecting and opposing it. And if so, (then there is no such thing as blame in the universe; nor any such thing as law and moral government. For according to this, no person can be obliged to any thing which [...] not inclined to do. Therefore he can be under no law but his own inclination and will; nor in the least to blame while he follows this, which every one always does.

Mr. M. does repeatedly assert that the unregenerate are required to be holy, and to do duty in a right and holy manner. But he seems in these passages mentioned, and others, to forget all this, and take it for grant­ed that the contrary is true, else he never could have expressed himself as he has. And I appeal to the judicious reader to judge, whether his whole book does not owe its existence, to his latent maxim in favor of the unregenerate, viz. That they cannot be required to do any thing which they may not do in a state of unregeneracy, so are to blame only for the neglect of such duties, and for walking in those ways that are con­trary to them; this being the maxim he builds all upon, tho' he has sometimes asserted the contrary.

2. This being the case, every thing being required of the unregene­rate that is in itself desirable, good and excellent, and urged with pro­mises of the greatest good, even of eternal life, if they hearken and com­ply with the least degree of sincerity; and with the most awful threat­enings of eternal destruction, if they obstinately persist in impenitence and rebellion; nothing can be more suited to awaken and alarm them, to deter them from sin, and excite them to duty. Never did a person believe and realize this, and yet continue in open profaneness or secu­rity. [Page 148] And if these truths are kept out of view, nothing remains by which the sinner can be convinced of his true state, and thoroughly a­wakened. How then could Mr. M. imagine that to preach this to the unregenerate, with all that is implied in it, and nothing else, "would have a very bad tendency to increase security and negligence in religion, and open profaneness among the unregenerate?" It is most certain that if this is left out of view, and nothing but unregenerate duties are preached up, not one sinner will be awakened & convinced. And if they are preached up, as they often are, & as Mr. M. does, (at least in his book) as being that in which the duty of the unregenerate principally, if not wholly consists, and that their sin chiefly lies in the neglect of them, they being not much if at all to blame for not loving God and not embracing the gospel; it has the greatest tendency to keep sinners in ignorance, security ease; and if it does not make them negligent of all religion, it tends to lead them to neglect and oppose all true religion.

Mr. M. and they who join with him, are wiser than John the Bap­tist; & if he was wise and right in his way of preaching, they are not so. He said not a word of unregenerate duties, but preached and in­culcated nothing short of repentance, true repentance,—that repen­tance with which the remission of sin was connected, that repentance which implied a preparedness of heart to receive and believe on Christ, when he should be revealed. He required of all his hearers good fruit, fruits meet for repentance, on pain of eternal damnation,§ and said not a word to them of any doings short of this, even repentance and faith on him who should come after him. Indeed, when he was asked by persons what they should do in order to conduct as penitents [...] what fruits they ought to bring forth, which were meet for repentance, and a proper manifestation of it? he told them what external conduct they must go into, in order to this, But this was not directing them to impenitent unregenerate doings, but pointing out the exercise and fruits of that repentance, which he required.

And had this preaching any tendency to security and open profane­ness? Did this "take off all restraint from the unregenerate, and o­pen a flood-gate to all manner of iniquity?" No; quite the reverse. By such preaching a secure, wicked generation was awakened and ex­ternally reformed, and many of the children of Israel he turned to the Lord their God.*

IF Mr. M.'s servant should desert his service and run from him, and he should send a messenger after him to persuade him to return, with offers of pardon upon his submission, and threatenings of death if he refused: if when the person he sent should overtake him, and the servant should refuse to return one step back, and draw his sword upon him to oppose him; he should, instead of persisting in requiring him to return, direct and persuade him to do something agreeable to his incli­nation, and consistent with his hating his master and obstinately refu­sing to return: Would Mr. M. think he was faithful to his trust, or that [Page 149] this had more of a tendency to awaken the servant to a sense of the evil case he was in, or promote his return? Would it not be the most proper, and likeliest way to rouse the attention of the servant, and pre­vent his going off yet further, to keep up the master's demand, and shew the unreasonableness and crime of refusing to comply;—the hap­py consequences of his returning, and the dreadful evil that a refusal would bring upon him, &c.? Certainly the servant would have no heart to make himself merry in his supposed liberty, or be disposed to go out of the hearing of these things, so long as he had any realizing belief of them, and thought there was any hope in his case, while he attended, however unwilling he should be to obey his master's orders, and return.

3. If the sinner did his duty while he continued a perfectly impenitent enemy to God and the Saviour in attending on means, &c. and he is told that God commands him to do these things with such a heart as he has, seeing he is unwilling to repent and return to God, and obstinately opposes it; and he should be urged to do them from this consideration; it would not have the least influence upon him, or be any motive to him to comply. The sinner has no regard to duty, as such, and is not in­clined to do any thing merely because it is duty: this will never be a motive with him to take one step, or to exert himself so much as to lift up a finger. So far as he is influenced by this consideration, he is not an impenitent; but has true respect and love to God, and is disposed to return to him and embrace the gospel. He is, by the supposition, only seeking his own interest, and cares nothing about God or duty to him, in themselves considered, and for their own sake; if he does, the point is gained, and it will be enough to tell him, it is his duty to repent and believe on Christ, and there will be no need to devise a lower set of duties for him which he may do merely from a principle of self-love, and as an enemy to God, could there be any such duty: for this is at bot­tom to urge him to do duty, not because it is his duty, and without any regard to it as such. There is therefore a plain contradiction and ab­surdity, in the very proposal. The person is supposed, and known to have no regard to his duty, and to care nothing about it, as such; if he had, it would be enough to tell him, it is his indispensable duty to love God and embrace the gospel. But while he has no regard to this, he will be influenced and governed by some other motive in all he does, and not at all by this. Nothing but a principle of self-love can be applied to in this case, which has no regard to duty, as such; but his own in­terest. If he can be thoroughly and feelingly convinced that it is for his own interest to avoid one thing and do another, this will be a forcible and sufficient motive to induce him to do it. But if not, and it seems to him to be for his own interest to act contrary to duty, he will pay no regard at all to the command, how much soever it is urged upon him; it is quite equal with him whether he does his duty, or not. He can no more be influenced or bound by obligation and duty, than the man pos­sessed with devils could be restrained and confined with fetters and chains. He will break all these bands; however great and strong they are, he will esteem them as straw and rotten-wood.

[Page 150]As the unregenerate are wholly under the influence of self-love, and seek their own interest only, they regard duty only as it does, in their view, tend to their own interest. And in this view they may have a sort of desire to do their duty, as the most likely way to escape evil, and obtain the good they want. But however high their regard to duty in this sense rises, they yet have no regard to it for its own sake, or cons­idered meerly as duty; but purely for their own sakes, as they consider their own interest to be connected with it. If therefore it is for the high­est interest of the unregenerate to avoid all open vice, and diligently attend on the means of grace, it being the only likely way to escape eternal destruction, and attain endless happiness, and they can be tho­roughly convinced of this, it will be the greatest, and only motive that can be set before them to induce them to this, and will certainly and effectually influence them: And the consideration that this is their duty, if it was so, would not add the least grain to the motive. It is a matter of perfect indifference with them whether it is duty, or sin, if they may answer their own ends by it, and promote their own interest.

God knew this to be the state of the sinner, and has so contrived and suited things to this, in the revelation he has given, without saying a word to them of doing any duty while they continue impenitent, that as soon as their consciences are awakened, and they begin to see in what a state they are, they will forsake the courses of the secure profligate, and attend on the means of grace.

Mr. M. and others have in their great wisdom devised another me­thod of treating with sinners, by trying to persuade them to do their duty while perfect enemies to God, if they had a true regard for their duty, and desire to do it for its own sake; when their unregeneracy and all their sinfulness consists, in the want of such regard to duty, and oppositi­on of heart to it. In this they are therefore guilty of the absurdity of supposing sinners have some true respect to God, that is, some true love to him, and his law, while they are obstinate and perfect enemies to him, and have never had the least degree of repentance of any of their rebel­lion. And this way of treating sinners, is so far from having any ten­dency to their good, that it tends to keep them in ignorance and securi­ty, and always has this effect where there is nothing to prevent its genu­ine influence.

BEFORE I end this section, I would observe the phrase, conscientious per­formance of duty, which Mr. M. uses so often with respect to the unregene­rate, and the regenerate, when they have no grace, or are not in the ex­ercise of it, is very ambiguous, and tends to give a wrong idea of the case. I think the natural and proper import of the phrase is, a perform­ance of duty in sincerity and out of true respect to the duty as command­ed. If he who is only an eye servant, and has no true respect to his master, but hates him and his service, behaves obediently in his master's presence, merely because he is in his master's hands, and fears his dis­pleasure and the red; no one perhaps will think this may be properly called, a conscientious performance of duty. But this is as properly and as much so, as the best performances of the unregenerate, or of the regene­rate [Page 151] whose grace wholly fails them, if any such there are. If Mr. M. in­tends any more by this phrase, which I conclude he does, he has only im­posed on himself and his reader. Men may act agreeable to their conscien­ces, i.e. not know that what they do is contrary to the command, but think they are doing what is right, as Saul did when he persecuted the church; and yet not come up to the conscientious performance of duty, any more than the servant just mentioned, if they act from the same principles.


IN which several passages in Mr. M's book are attended to, which have not been particularly considered in the for­mer sections.

I TOOK some pains to prove in my remarks on Dr. Mayhew's sermons, that the words, "I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them," do not mean the prayers of the unregenerate for a new heart. And Mr. M. has taken as much or more pains to prove the contrary, in a long marginal note.§ I shall not trouble my­self or the reader so much as to take notice of all he says, on this argu­ment. It may suffice to say that he has not attempted to answer what I have said to establish my sense, unless it be grossly to misrepresent it; which he ought in all reason to have done, since he undertook to op­pose me. I shall therefore conclude I have a right to think my sense of the text, and arguments to support it stand good, notwithstanding all he has said, till Mr. M. or some one else, shall shew wherein their weakness lies. The misrepresentation I speak of is this, he represents my sense of the text in the following words, ‘I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, i. e. by the godly few; to do it for them, i. e. to bestow on these godly few a new heart. Or the construction must run thus, to do it for them, i. e. not for them, but for others that were unregenerate. Whereas I give no such sense of the text, or any thing like it. I undertook to prove, by many parallel places that the thing which God would be enquired of to do it for them, was delive­rance from their captivity, and resettlement in their own land in peace and prosperity; and said not a word of a new heart as the thing to be asked for. Nor do I say that by the house of Israel are meant "the godly few." It may mean the godly many, notwithstanding any thing I say. Mr. M. supposes that ‘a great number of Israelites were bro't to true repentance, and the body of that people were reformed.* He indeed seems to suppose this took place after their return to their own land. The truth of the case is, this took place in a degree, and in many instances before any of them returned. And after great numbers had returned, they were in their own land in a state of great affliction and distress for many years, in which time they humbled themselves before God, and earnestly sought [Page 152] deliverance, and confessed and put away the sins that had been found a­mong them, and entered into Solemn covenant to renounce all ways of sin, and cleave to God and serve him. They appeared to have a new heart, humble, penitent, obedient heart, while they confessed their sins and earnestly enquired and sought of God the deliverance they wanted. There were propably many, even great numbers of true penitents; these with the rest of the people, who were reformed and in profession true pe­nitents, were the house of Israel, who enquired of God, and earnestly and solemnly besought him (the godly with true sincerity, and the rest only in appearance) to return their captivity, deliver them from their distresses, &c. This leads me to observe another gross mistake Mr. M. has made here. He says I deny that by the house of Israel in the text are meant the same people who under this phrase are spoken of in the preceeding context. For this assertion he had not the least reason, as I am sure it is not true; as any one may be, who will read what I have wrote on that argument.

BEFORE I leave this long note, I shall remark upon a number of other passages in it: not pretending however, to mention every one that ap­pears to me very exceptionable.

He supposes the prayers and seeking of the unregenerate are spoken of in the following words, "I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus. Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke. Turn thou me, and I shall be turned." ‘He says, "Tis evident that while unconverted he thus bemoans him­self, confessing the justice of God's chastisement, his own stubbornness and un [...]eachableness, and under conviction of the necessity of this change of his own impotency, and the insufficiency of all means, he cries to God to work it in him.§

1. I observe Mr. M. here represents the unregenerate sinner as being converted already; he is became submissive, pliable and [...]eachable, so as truly to bemoan his own past stubbornness and un [...]eachableness, and ac­knowledge the justice of God in his eternal damnation. And being quite reconciled to turning to God, and having a very good will in the matter, he cries to God to do that for him, which he cannot do himself, how­ever well disposed he is towards it. This is the light in which many set the unregenerate who are awakened to a concern about their eternal in­terest, and in which multitudes view themselves, and imagine they are doing their utmost and crying to God, to do that for them, which they are quite willing, and would be glad with all their hearts to do, but it is utterly beyond their power. It is impossible that the sinner who has this notion of himself, should feel himself wholly to blame for not turning to God, and be sensible that not embracing the gospel is the greatest of all sins, or that he deserves to be damned for it

The unregenerate sinner is so far from being of this character, that he is properly represented by the foregoing words, "Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke." The un­regenerate sinner is always like a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke, [Page 153] who will not submit to the hand of his master, but is perfectly untoward and opposite, and only attempts to get out of his hands. But as soon as he comes to a better mind, and has a new heart, he condemns and be­moans himself, and sensible of his perverseness, and the opposition of his heart to God, he heartily cries, "Turn thou me, and I shall be turned." This is the prayer of a regenerate sinner, submitting to God, after a course of obstinate rebellion, and feeling his own perverseness, and de­pendence on God for all moral good, as no unregenerate sinner ever did.

If it should be said, the regenerate are turned already, why should they pray to God to turn them? I answer, they are turned in a low and imperfect degree, and now see unspeakably more of the perverseness and obstinacy of their hearts than ever an unregenerate person did. They need the continuance of the influence which has changed their hearts in some degree, and to be turned more and more. Thus David prays, long after he was a good man, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and re­new a right spirit within me."* The christian needs to be turned, as really as any other man, and sees his need of it more, and heartily de­sires it. Why then should he not pray for it? Would Mr. M. or any other man, think it improper and strange, if he should hear a number of professed christians use this expression in prayer, "Turn us, and we shall be turned"? Has he not used it, or expressions of the same import, times without number?

Mr. M. says, ‘He is represented as converted, while he stands praying for it, as is incontestibly clear from the following words, For thou art the Lord my God, surely after that I was turned I repented, and after I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh, &c.’ The whole that Ephraim is represented as saying here appears to be one continued address to God, which may be distinctly read over in less than half a minute. It is but two sentences; the petition "turn thou me" is urged by this argu­ment. "For thou art the Lord my God." Surely this is not the language of the unregenerate. He then proceeds to speak of the change that had passed upon him, since he was as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke, and was the ground of his coming to God with this humble petition as he now does, and is a representation of the temper of mind with which he now addressed God. He, crying to God with this temper of mind, as a friend to his character, and a penitent, returning sinner, is accepted and obtains favor: God immediately says, "I will surely have mercy upon him." Mr. M. in order to make it incontestibly clear that he was converted while he stood praying, takes part of the first sentence, which is the reason and argument with which the petition is urged, "For thou art the Lord my God," and adds it to the next sentence; because it would not do to put these words into the mouth of an unregenerate sin­ner: by which he has broken and spoiled the sense of the whole. If he "is represented as converted while he stands praying for it," he was converted in the middle of a sentence. He said "Turn thou me, and I shall be turned." And then stopped, because he could go no further while unconverted; and when he got converted, he finishes the sentence [Page 154] he had began, and urges the petition he had made in an unconverted state, by an argument be could not use while unconverted; which peti­tion was granted before he mentioned the argument. He therefore used the argument when there was no need of it or of so much as making the petition; for he had already got what he asked for. If he could not make this petition after he was converted, how could he after this back it up, and plead to have it granted, even immediately upon its being granted?—I was agoing to say what I think is incontestibly clear—But I forbear, and leave it to the reader.

I WOULD make a brief remark upon what he says on the prodigal. He supposes his coming to himself, and consequently seeing that there was bread enough and to spare in his father's house, and resolving to go and confess his sins to his father and ask admission into his house; and his actually doing this, is designed to represent the unregenerate under convictions. His words are, ‘He now began to be in want, felt himself in a famishing condition for want of bread: this put him in earnest upon thinking what he had done; and as all hope of relief that now remained was from his father; he earnestly looked out for help in this way, and found relief. All this is a lively representation of the sinner's being brought to a feeling sense of his perishing want of the bread of life, and that God only has it in his power to bestow: and therefore will grant earnestness to look to God for it, as one that seeks bread, when life is at stake.

Here he makes the unregenerate sinner, who is under the dominion of his lusts, an enemy to God and the Saviour, and so blind that the gospel is hid from him: he makes such an one, I say, to have his eyes opened to see the wonderful fullness there is in Christ for sinners, and to desire and long for a share in it, as a hungry man longs for bread; to look to God, and actually go to him for it; loathing himself for his sins, and earnestly longing to be God's servant, and dwell in his family. In short, he makes the unregenerate sinner come up to every thing which is ne­cessary in order to his finding mercy, according to Christ's representation of the matter by the prodigal; and all that to which the promises of God's favor are every where made in the gospel. And Mr. M. may be challenged to tell what more ever takes place in a sinner, in order to his finding mercy, than he here says the unregenerate come to. We there­fore here see again what little reason Mr. M. had to thank me for prov­ing that there are no promises to the doings of the unregenerate; and that all I said to prove this, is, as it consistent with his notion of the character and doings of such as it is with Dr. Mayhew's; and as is any thing contained in my section on means. No such thing can be proved consistently with what he says here, and in many other places: But the contrary is the undeniable consequence.

The prodigal in all he did alter he began to be in want, till he came to himself, represents an unregenerate sinner, under awakenings and con­victions of conscience. In this state he took methods to help himself, which were vain and wholly failed him: But had not the least inclinati­on [Page 155] of returning to his father's house. This blinded him to the fullness of it, and the desirableness of dwelling there. This is a short but true and striking representation of the state of the unregenerate, what­ever awakenings and convictions they are under. They begin to be in want; they feel themselves in a miserable, perishing state; and this is the sole ground of all their uneasiness and exercises. They arise and exert themselves, but spend their money for that which is not bread, and their labour for that which satisfieth not. They see not their true sinfulness and unworthiness; so do not confess. They have not the least inclination to return home to God, however pinched they may be on every side with a sense of their own want. But as soon as they have a new heart, their eyes are opened, and they come to themselves; they see what fools they have been: what guilty wretches they are; what full and rich provision is made for the most wretched and vile in Christ the Mediator, and in these views, return home to God, and as humble penitents fly for refuge to sovereign mercy.

It is plain therefore that our Saviour intended to represent the un­regenerate sinner by the prodigal, when he came to himself, &c. And we have reason to admire the precision and clearness of the representa­tion he here makes. None but a teacher sent from God could have spoken these words. But they never were understood nor can be, by those who differ from this divine teacher in their notions of the cha­racter of the unregenerate as much as Mr. M. appears to do. And, by the way, if Mr. M. had no better notion of the unregenerate, con­vinced sinner, than is given in this parable, by the prodigal before he came to himself, he would never have thought of his growing so much better, or less sinful; nor been so much offended at his being set in so bad a light in my section on means.

But Mr. M. has made more sad work yet, I think, in what he says on the parable of the pharisee and publican.* He says our Saviour in the publican meant to give the character of an awakened, convinced, unconverted sinner, in distinction from a proud, stupid, self-righteous sinner; and takes considerable pains to prove it.

Our divine teacher in this short parable exhibits two different and opposite characters, in which the exercises and character of the true Christian are in a very clear and striking manner expressed, in op­position to all other religious exercises and characters on earth. In the publican we have the character which is represented through the Old Testament, as the distinguishing character of the godly, to whom promises of the divine favour are constantly made. Confession of sin is represented as peculiar to those who find mercy. The true ser­vants of God, who share in his mercy, and are the objects of his pe­culiar favour, are the humble, those of a broken heart and contrite spirit.§ And promises are constantly made to them who hope and [Page 156] trust in God's mercy, and make that their only refuge: and this is re­presented as the character of God's people. All this is expressed in the publican's prayer, "God be merciful to me a sinner." It is not possible for a man to say these words, considered in their proper sense and latitude, understandingly and heartily, unless he is a true penitent, and in a true sense of what sin is, and what it deserves, with a humble, broken, contrite heart, flies to the sovereign mercy of God, as revealed and offered to sinners in divine revelation, and makes this his only hope and refuge. And in this are summarily compre­hended all the exercises of true Christian piety. What is expressed in these words "God be merciful to me, a sinner," is the very soul and spirit of the fifty-first Psalm, in which not an unregenerate sinner, but DAVID, an eminent saint, expresses the humble, penitent, pious sen­timents of his heart. This psalm is, as it were, epitomised, with so much judgment and precision, and the very spirit of true piety, as re­vealed through the whole of the Old Testament, is so comprehensive­ly summed up in this short sentence, which Christ puts into the mouth of the publican, that it is one standing evidence, among ten thousand others, that he was a divine teacher. No man, unless divinely in­spired, would ever have tho't of thus distinguishing all true piety from that which is not so.

But so great is the blindness of men, such are their prejudices, that when this is done to their hand by him who spake as never man spake, they overlook all the instruction that is given, and cannot see any part of the character of the godly, or the least expression of true piety in the words. But think they rather express the heart of a friend to sin, an enemy to God, and an obstinate opposer of his wonderful mercy of­fered to sinners in Jesus Christ. Who would expect to find Mr. M. among these, who has had so long a time, and been under so many advantages to find out what is the spirit of true Christian piety, and what are the exercises of the saint in his approaches to God?

But let us attend to the reasons he gives against the meaning and de­sign of this parable, which I have endeavoured briefly to establish, and in favour of his own.

1. He says "there does not appear any thing in the publican's prayer conclusive of his being a saint, no distinguishing character of a saint." I am sorry this did not appear to him, since I am sure nothing but prejudice or some worse cause could prevent it. But enough of this before.

2. He queries what instruction is here given worthy of a divine tea­cher, if the parable is understood in the sense he opposes? "Is it that the prayer of a saint, put up in faith, is more acceptable to God than the prayer of one of the vilest sinners upon earth?"

[Page 157] ANS The instruction given is very great, and most important and interesting. It does not teach us indeed, what prayer is most accept­able and pleasing to God for it's own sake, or considered in itself; for in this respect all sinners are perfectly on a level, and the holiest prayer is no more acceptable than any other. The holiest saint that ever was, is no more acceptable to God in his person or offerings, than the vilest sinner on earth, considered in any other view than as united to Christ, and trusting in his merit and righteousness alone to recommend his person and offerings; for both are, in any other view under the curse of God, and proper objects of the divine displeasure and abhorrence. But our divine teacher here tells us, in a very plain, familiar, striking way and manner, what is that character, and what are those exercises in which the sinner comes to God, so as to find ac­ceptance and obtain mercy through a Mediator, as distinguished from every character, and all the exercises which fail of this. Or with what temper and exercises the true Christian draws near to God, and lives by faith in Christ, from first to last; and in what true Christian humility and piety consists, as it is distinguished from every thing else, and points out the only way to heaven, in distinction from all by-paths. This I endeavoured briefly to illustrate just now. Wo to him who has not yet this instruction, either from this, or some other passage of scripture.

3. He asks "Is this the whole truth? Does it agree with the scripture account in general, of the difference between a saint and a sinner?" What has been said before is an answer to this. And it is not a little surprizing that such a question could be asked. But the next words are more shocking still. ‘Is it not the character of a saint to lift up his eyes with his heart to God in prayer; to draw near with full assurance of faith, and come boldly to a throne of grace? All which are directly the reverse to the character here given to the poor, dejected publican.’

[Page 158]ANS. The publican had a great degree of the assurance of faith' which consisted in trusting in the mercy of God, while his great sin­fulness was in full view. There is no true assurance of faith but this. And he was bold indeed to come to God for mercy, and make this his only refuge, bringing nothing in himself but sin, and a clear and affecting view of his amazing, infinite guilt & vileness. This is all the true Christian boldness that ever any one had or exercised in coming to the throne of grace. There is no other boldness but that of the pharisee, set in direct opposition to this of the publican. He who does not like, and exercise the boldness at the throne of grace, which is described in the character of the publican; but exercises another sort of boldness before God, has certainly nothing but a pharisaical boldness, whatever name he may call it by. I see not why Mr. M. should not, like the pharisee as a saint, had he not been called by so bad a name, and expressly condemned by our Saviour. I am confi­dent he had that very boldness which Mr. M. means by Christian boldness, so far as his idea of it differs from that which appears in the publican. And I know not why Mr. M. cannot well say and do just as the pharisee did; only call it humble boldness, instead of proud boasting. The publican is said not so much as to lift up his eyes to heaven, not to denote dejection, but humility and faith, in opposition to the pride and boldness of the pharisee; even that christian humility, without which, there is no true confidence and boldness at the throne of grace.

It is to be hoped that Mr. M. daily makes this prayer & comes to the throne of grace with that very faith and boldness, which is recommend­ed in the character of the publican, and that he has been advancing in this for many years, however unaccountably he has overlooked it on this occasion, and wrote in such a manner, that I know not how the humble christian can read it, and enter into the true spirit of it without being surprized and shocked in a manner that is not easily expressed.

4. He says, tho' "This man went down to his house justified," i. e. actually accepted and pardoned, it does not follow that he was so when he prayed; but he might be converted soon after, even before he got down to his house. This is therefore no evidence that he did not make an unconverted prayer; and is so far from be­ing against his sense of the parable, that it strongly supports it, and shews the efficacy and success of the prayers of the unconverted; so is an instance more to his purpose.

ANS. Christ here exhibits a character in the publican, and these words are predicated of this character, and nothing else, and are the most ex­press assertion, that they who have this character are accepted and justi­fied. And they who, because they like not this character, will ima­gine and form another, quite different one, about which, Christ says not one word, and apply these words to that, are very presumptuous, and set their own wisdom up above that of a divine Teacher. They who take this liberty will make wild steerage indeed!

The words immediately following, which Mr. M. has entirely neglected, [Page 159] are worthy of particular notice. "For every one that exalteth himself, shall be abased; and every one that humbleth himself shall be exalted." These words fix the sense of the parable, if nothing else did. The pharisee exalted himself; the publican humbled himself; therefore was justified, and exalted. Here Christ does in the most ex­press manner declare that all who are of the character exhibited in the publican, and do as he did, do humble themselves, and shall be exalt­ed. Here then Mr. M. has again found an absolute promise of salva­tion, to his humble, unregenerate sinner; and must according to his in­terpretation hold to such promises. We might from this, and other instances of the like kind, safely conclude he had renounced the book he formerly wrote to prove the contrary, had he not mentioned it in his preface to this with approbation, and thanked me for espousing the same cause, and finishing the debate. But as the case now stands, it is a glaring instance, among many others of the most gross inconsist­ence with himself.

Mr. M. thro' his whole book, and in the passage I am now upon, frequently speaks of his awakened sinner, as the humble sinner, and often as legally humbled. This is not a scripture expression, and it is difficult to know what he means by it, unless it be true humility, or else something directly contrary to it. The scripture every where speaks of the humble person, as one who by his humility is distinguished from the ungodly, and as one who is interested in God's favor, as our Saviour does in the words under consideration.

I PASS to another passage in this remarkable note. Mr. M under­takes to represent the state of an unregenerate sinner, with respect to his desires of the salvation offered in the gospel, by a person who has a mortification, so that it is necessary the limb should be cut off in order to save his life. In this case, from his love and desire of life, he on the whole, earnestly desires, and cheerfully submits to the operation. This, Mr. M. says, is "a plain simile." I answer, it is not so, nor at all to the purpose, unless the unregenerate do on the whole desire the salvation which the gospel offers: yea, desire it as a man, in danger of death, desires life, and do cheerfully submit to the terms of salvati­on, and actually choose and embrace Christ and his righteousness as offered in the gospel, in order to escape damnation.

MR. MILLS's notion of faith, is, I think, worthy of special remark. He does not undertake to describe faith, and particularly shew what it is: but he repeatedly suggests what may lead us to his notion of it. [Page 160] He, speaking of persons insisting that the unregenerate are required to pray in faith, adds, ‘A thing as impossible in nature, as for the same thing to be, and not to be at the same time; not only because faith implies regeneration, but also because there is no promise for the unre­generate to ground their faith upon, as the author has abundantly proved.§ And again, speaking of the same thing, he says, ‘Besides, what have the unregenerate, while such, to ground an act of faith in prayer upon? since, as the author hath well proved, they have no title to any of the promises.

What is faith, then, according to him? why plainly this, a peson's really believing that God has promised life & salvation to him, or that he has an interest in the divine promises: for if faith was any thing else but [...], a person might believe before he has any promise made to him, or is interested in any promise; which Mr. M. here says he cannot, and that it is as impossible as for the same thing to be, and not to be at the same time.

It follows from this that sinners must be interested in the promises, before it is possible for them to believe, or do any thing in faith. For if there is no promise made to any thing lower than faith, and short of that, so that the sinner may be interested in the promise, before he believes, he never can believe, because in order to his exercising faith, he must be intitled to the promise. But Mr. M. agrees, and has earnestly contended that there is no such promise. Therefore, accord­ing to him it is absolutely impossible, as impossible, as that the same thing should be and not be at the same time, that there ever should be any such thing as faith exercised by any in this world, whether re­generate or unregenerate: for none have a title to any promise before they believe.

It also hence follows that it is not the duty of the unregenerate to believe, and so not their duty to exercise any true holiness; nor are they in the least to blame for the neglect of all this; it being absolute­ly impossible to them. And if faith and repentance are not their du­ty, unbelief and impenitence are no sin. No wonder then Mr. M. has espoused the cause of the poor, innocent, unregenerate against me, who had charged them with great guilt and vileness in continuing im­penitent unbelievers, & had represented this as the greatest sin of which they could be guilty. This is perfectly wrong and abusive, if his account of faith is right. And no wonder he is zealous to find a­bundance of unregenerate duties to be done; for according to him nothing else is their duty; and if they have no unregenerate duty to do, they have nothing to do, and nothing is required of them; it being most unreasonable and absurd to call upon them to repent and believe.

But if faith is a cordial belief of the truths of divine revelation; or seeing them to be what they are with approbation of heart, so that no­thing is wanting in order to this but a right taste and temper of mind, or a wise and understanding heart; then this is the duty of all, for the neglect of which, none have the least excuse; and all may be most rea­sonably [Page 161] called upon to believe, and threatened with God's highest dis­pleasure and eternal damnation, if they neglect it. But if Mr. M.'s account of faith is right, none of these things are true. Who can at­tend to this, and many other things which Mr. M. has said agreeable to it, and not think that at bottom, he believes the unregenerate are not at all to blame for unbelief, or any thing in which unregeneracy consists, even tho' he has never expressly asserted it, and has more than once granted the contrary?—But I pass to another thing which is worthy of particular notice.

MR. MILLS, after he has said much to prove that the unregenerate are commanded to do unregenerate duty; at length desires it may be noted to prevent mistakes & objections ‘that in what has been, or may be said of the unregenerate's being required to pray, &c. he would be understood to mean such of the unregenerate as are visibly related to God in covenant; at least, admitted by baptism, and thereby be­ing trained up under the advantages of the gospel, laid under solemn vows to deny ungodliness, &c. These, all these, whether regene­rate, or unregenerate are required to pray and attend on all other religious and christian duties, as above. *

He keeps this in view, and reminds the reader near twenty times as a matter of great importance to be observed, that he is speaking of "God's covenant people." His "visible covenant people, visibly re­lated to God in covenant."

It is difficult, I think to know what he means by this. But let his meaning be what it will, it does not appear to what purpose he makes this observation, or what mistakes and objections it tends to prevent. Does he mean to exclude all others from any obligations to do duty, and as not being required to do any duty at all? It seems he does: But for what reason? If his arguments prove that there are unregenerate duties required of any, they equally prove they are required of all, whe­ther visibly in covenant or not. Has Mr. M. nothing to say to others; must not they be required to attend on means, pray and do other duties? must they be left to abandon themselves to all wickedness, and have nothing required of them? What does he mean by this distinction? Does he suppose that none are under any obligation to any duty, until they of their own accord enter into covenant with God, and solemn engagements and vows to do it? If there are any commands requiring something to be done by the unregenerate, while they continue such, being impenitent enemies to God, no reason can be given why all such, whether "visibly related to God in covenant" or not, are not requir­ed to do these duties.

But why does he say, "These are required to pray, and attend other religious and christian duties?" What he asserts, and attempts to prove is, that they are required to do unchristian duties: duties which persons are to do, not with a christian, but with a perfectly unchristi­an spirit; not as christians, but as enemies to Christ. And how can these be called christian duties?

By those who are "visibly related to God in covenant," he means, [Page 162] I conclude, if the words have any meaning, those who have entered into covenant with God, by professedly giving themselves up to him, as his friends and servants, to be obedient to him in all things, as his people and servants, & as the disciples of Jesus Christ. None but such are visibly related to God in covenant. None but such put on the profession and appearance of God's people, nor are in appearance (which I suppose is the same with being visibly so) in covenant with God. But such are in appearance and profession, or visibly, not unre­generate, but true christians. It is expe [...]ed of these that they will do the duties which Christ requires of his people, and attend on all his institutions and ordinances, and walk agreeably to their profession and vows. So far as they visibly fail of this, they come short of the cha­racter of those who are "visibly related to God in covenant." It is therefore impossible that he who is visibly unregenerate, can be of God's visible covenant people, as impossible as it is, that one should be a true christian in appearance and profession, who at the same time appears to be an open enemy to Christ. There is therefore the great­est absurdity, in addressing and teaching those who are "visibly related to God in covenant," as tho' they were unregenerate, and appeared to be so, or directing and exhorting them to unregenerate duties. Therefore if such directions and requirements are made to any, they must be made to the visibly unregenerate, and not to those who are God's visible covenant people, or the visible friends and servants of Christ. Mr. M. is therefore so far from "preventing mistakes and re­moving objections" in these words, that he has himself made as gross a mistake as he well could, and opened a door to the greatest objections, while he confines unregenerate duties to the visibly regenerate, and at the same time calls them christian duties; and excludes all the visibly unregenerate, to whom alone exhortations and commands to unrege­nerate duties can be made, if to any, as not being the proper subjects of such exhortations and commands. The covenant of grace, the christian covenant, by entering into which men become "visibly related to God in covenant," proposes and requires no duties to be done by them, as visibly unregenerate and enemies to God, but christian duties, which are incumbent on them as Christians. Their entering into this cove­nant therefore lays them under no obligations to act as the unregene­rate, and do duties as such; but the contrary. If they might before this, while visibly unregenerate, be exhorted and commanded to do unregenerate duties; they cannot now; upon their becoming visible saints, and visibly related to God in covenant, they are to be treated as saints, and not as unregenerate, and the duties of the christian cove­nant, which they are to do in the character of Christians, are to be in­dicated oh them, and no other.

Mr. M. however appears to be of a different opinion; he thinks the unregenerate may sincerely and heartily enter into covenant with God, and do christian duty with no better a heart than they have, and not pretend, profess or engage any thing more than an unregenerate person may heartily do, consistent with his being unregenerate and ap­pearing [Page 163] to be so. However inconsistent this is in itself, it is in a measure con­sistent with Mr. M.'s notion of the unregenerate, under awakenings and convictions of conscience. He considers them to be so humble, peni­tent and obedient; so well disposed towards their duty, and desirous and inclined to obey and serve God, and do all that they can; and as little or nothing to blame for not embracing the gospel or doing any thing that implies regeneration and saving conversion; that it is no wonder he thinks they may heartily give themselves to God with a desire to serve him, and do all their duty, waiting on God in this way, to do that for them, which they, (poor innocent creatures!) cannot, work in them­selves, which they would be glad with all their hearts to do, if it was in their power. All who have such notions of the unregenerate, natural­ly talk of their covenanting with God and being his visible covenant-people, while they are visibly unregenerate; and think the unconverted may sincerely and properly do and be all this, and heartily perform ma­ny duties which are required of them; with much more such like jargon.

But they who consider the unregenerate as impenitent and obstinate enemies to God and Jesus Christ, who with all their hearts oppose and reject the gospel, for which they have no excuse, but are as voluntary and as wholly blameable in this, as in any external acts of sin; and that these external acts, such as lying and profane swearing, derive all their odiousness and blame from this sinfulness of heart, and (as being fruits of it: and that unregeneracy itself, or that in which it consists, is a most odious, blamable, scandalous wickedness, and that no ex­ternal, overt act of sin is properly scandalous, in any other view than as an evidence and fruit of the former: I say, they who view things in this light, and have this notion of the unregenerate, which I have be­fore endeavoured to shew is the true one, will never talk in the language of Mr. M. which I am considering. They have no notion that cove­nanting with God, and being God's visible covenant people, is so consistent with the character of the unregenerate, that they have any right externally to enter into this covenant. They are sensible that such an appearance and profession, and visible covenant relation to God becomes none but the true Christian; and if the unregenerate take on them this appearance and profession, they lie to God and man, in a most aggravated and shocking manner; are guilty of mocking God, and of gross hypocrisy: and so do that which is much more vile and provoking in God's sight than no profession, or pretence to that which implies love to duty, and to God. And they know the unregenerate do not deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and live soberly and righteously in this world unless it be in appearance and pretence, which is most contrary to the truth, and the worst sort of lying.

I SMALL conclude this section with observing that Mr. M. has in the latter part of his book a great deal to say about "some that are, or have been public teachers." He charges those with holding several things which I should think did not concern me, was it not that I am some how blended with them, as if we were one and the same. I know not what right Mr. M. had to do this. I have no connexions with them that [Page 164] I know of, nor do I think I am obliged to answer for what they have said. It is enough if I can answer for myself.

I have heard there have been some religious jars and contentions of late years, in the county in which Mr. M. lives, and one or two mini­sters have been deposed in the tumult. These things he attributes to the "new divinity" which he often mentions; and to "some who are or have been publick teachers." These, it seems have raised disputes to the greatest height, divided towns, broke societies and churches, "ali­enated affection among dear brethren," &c. Mr. M. has himself been very zealous and active in these affairs; and it has been though, by many, that he, with some of his brethren who joined with him, have overacted their parts, and have been themselves very much the blam­able cause of these divisions and breaches, which might have been pre­vented or healed, in a great measure at least, had they conducted with that prudence and judgment, that brotherly tenderness and caution which became them.

But be this as it may, I see not what connexion these things have with any thing I have wrote. They took place chiefly before my sec­tion on means was published, and "those who are or have been public teachers," if I can guess who they are, have been as far from approving that section as Mr. M. himself. And I think his jumbling these things together as he has done, has no tendency to give light in the contro­versy between him and me; but is suited to lead those who have not been particularly acquainted with these matters, into a mistake.


Mr. Mills's INCONSISTENCIES with himself.

A NUMBER of these have been mentioned and particularly pointed out in the foregoing sections: I shall just mention them here, under the head of Inconsistencies, and point out others which have not been considered.

I. In P. 16, 17, he insists that internal light and conviction of con­science, does not aggravate the guilt of the sinner. And yet, in P. 30, he represents sinning against the light of conscience as the great and chief aggravation of the sinners guilt. And, in P. 68, say; "It is readily granted that he that sins against a greater degree of light, is in that re­spect a greater sinner."

II. Tho' he grants that he who sins against a greater degree of light, is in that respect a greater sinner; and that sins against the light of con­science are the greatest sins: yet. P. 63, he represents him to be the greatest sinner, whose conscience is perfectly blind and stupid.

III. He says the greater sinfulness of the inhabitants of Bethsaida, &c. by which they were worse than the Tyrians and Sidonians, consisted in their not being brought to legal repentance and external reformation, [Page 165] by the preaching of Christ and his mighty works; and yet he else­where says,§ these very persons did repent and reform under the preach­ing of John Baptist, Christ and his apostles, and by the mighty works done among them.

IV. He insists upon the necessity of the influences of the spirit of God, in order to bring men to an awakened, convinced state, or to what he calls legal repentance and humiliation. And yet he supposes the Tyrians and Sydonians would have been actually brought to this, without any such influence, and by the bare use of the external means which the Jews enjoyed, and that Christ himself asserts this.

V. He quotes the words of the Westminster and Savoy confessions with approbation, in which it is said "the works done by the unrege­nerate cannot please God. And yet he says of Ahab, Jehu, and the Is­raelites at Mount Sinai, who were unregenerate, that God took a fa­vourable notice of their works, and gave his express approbation of them.*

VI. In what he says concerning the scribe,[a] he supposes that a person cannot be said to be near, or not far from the kingdom of God, on account of his [...]ight speculative knowledge. In direct contradiction to this, he says elsewhere,[b] "It is evident and certain that every degree of knowledge, that is necessary in order to a state of grace and salvation brings them in state one degree nearer to it."

VII. He says, I have not so much as once mentioned the sinner's breaking off from his sins, as that whereby he is more in the way of mercy, than going on in them,[c] And yet he repeatedly says[d] that in my account of what renders a sinner more likely to be saved, reformation of life, to the highest degree the unregenerate are capable of, a diligent attendance on means, and all there is in a common work of the spirit of God, are implied.

VIII He calls my sense of Luke XIII. 24. a new sense,[e] and at the same time represents it as the Arminian sense. And it appears to have been his own sense, above twenty years ago, if he was then con­sistent with himself.

IX. He insists upon it, that the doctrine that impenitent unbelievers grow more guilty and vile in the use of means, under awakenings and convictions, has a very bad tendency, and is matter of great discourage­ment to a painful attendance on means, and encouragement to sinners to abandon themselves to carelessness and vice. Yet he says that their appearing to themselves to grow worse, which is commonly, if not al­ways the case with those under genuine convictions, is no matter of dis­couragement, but the contrary. The latter is in direct contradiction to the former; for if their looking on themselves as growing worse, is no matter of discouragement to them, then their really growing worse cannot be so.

X. Though he insists much upon it, that God requires duties of the unregenerate, which they are to do as such, and which are to be done without the exercise of any true holiness or goodness; yet, in the midst [Page 166] of all this, he turns right against himself, and says, God requires good duties, gospel holiness, and that God does not abate his demands of sinners by reason of their "prevalent indisposition of heart, and disin­clination of will to do right;"§ that "God don't make the depraved will of the creature, the rule of his duty; but, on the dreadful penalty of damnation, requires him to reach the appointed end. Make you a new heart and a new spirit, for why will ye die?" That God does not require these duties as they come marr'd out of their hands. And yet he says in the same page, God does require them as they come out of their hands, because they are less sinful than the omission of them would be.

XI. Mr. M. is a zealous asserter that there is not one promise in the whole Bible, to the doings of the unregenerate; yet, in direct contra­diction to this, he represents them as doing that to which express pro­mises are made, and applies such promises to them.*

XII. He speaks of denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, &c. as the fruit and exercise of holiness, which the unregenerate never attain to But, in contradiction to this, he elsewhere represents the unregenerate as doing all this.

XIII. He asserts that many under the gospel, are under a natural impossibility of believing, and therefore cannot be required to believe at present.[a] But, directly contrary to this, he elsewhere asserts, that all these are required to pray in faith; to make them a new heart, and turn to God, and believe, on pain of damnation.(b)

XIV. He represents the unregenerate as not required to do any thing, if they are not required to do unregenerate duties‖‖ Yet contra­ry to this, he repeatedly says the unregenerate are required to be holy, and to do duty in a right and holy manner, as has been just now ob­served.

XV. He says, "the utmost attainments of the unregenerate have nothing in them pleasing to God, nothing that can recommend them to his favour."§§ He also says, that these very attainments have some­thing in them of which God takes a favourable notice, and which have his express approbation.††

XVI. He insist upon it that they who have no light and conviction of conscience, have as much to answer for, and are as guilty in God's sight, as they who have this in the greatest degree:** yet, directly con­trary to this he says, "It is readily granted that he that sins against a greater degree of light, is in that respect a greater sinner."‡‡ And that light and conviction of conscience "is a great and precious favour from God, and endearing grounds of thankfulness;"{inverted †}{inverted †} consequently if abu­sed, renders a person more guilty than if he had it not.

XVII. He represents the awakened, convinced sinner as reforming all known sin, and as coming up to all known duty.¶¶

[Page 167] But he elsewhere represents such as seeing themselves guilty of more sin than they were sensible of before. The law comes and sin revives;§‡ and says, ‘The great impurity and sinfulness attending the sinner's best duties, after his utmost efforts, is the very means God is wont to make use of to humble them. How can they see the great sin­fulness of their best duties, when they avoid all known sin, and do all known duty!

XVIII. He represents one end of awakenings and convictions to be sinners being "fully convinced that in them dwells no good thing. §‖ But he else where says there is some sort and kind of goodness in these at­tainments of the unregenerate.†‖ How then can they be "fully con­vinced that there is no good thing in them?

XIX. He says the unregenerate are required to break off from all known sin, and every thing in the way of embracing Christ, even the secret pride of the heart.‖{inverted †} This is certainly to come out of a state of sin; which in the preceeding page, he says is not required to be done antecedent to faith in Christ, or "otherwise than by the medium of the gospel, in the way of faith."

XX. He represents the streams to be nothing to the fountain; the acting out of sin to be as nothing to the fountain of sin in the heart. This is directly contrary to what he says of the reformed sinner, as be­ing on this account only so much less guilty and vile than others, or than he was before; even so as to become in a great degree innocent. And he insists that such external reformations, or cutting off these streams of external sin, are of so great account as to over-balance, the aggravated guilt which such contract, by continuing in unbelief and rejection of the gospel, under all the greater light they now have.

XXI. Mr. M. blames me much for speaking of any end to be an­swered by the use of means, by the unregenerate, which is short of saving grace, or true holiness; and says that God requires them to at­tend on means to this end.[a] But when he comes to tell what end means answer, and to what end God commands sinners to attend, he gives a different and contrary account of the matter, and says the end the use of means answers to them, is to convince them of their sinful­ness and humble them, &c.[b] And that "they are not required to God's gracious acceptance, but to other wise and holy purposes worthy of God, such as the advancement of his declarative glory in the world, &c.[c]

XXII. Mr. M. is guilty of contradiction in representing the Pharisee who went up to the temple to pray, &c. as one of the vilest sinners on earth, merely because he trusted in himself that he was righteous, and thought himself better than others; while he himself insists upon it that such who refrain from all known sin, and do all known duty, as the Pharisee did, are in fact better than others, and that God takes a favourable notice of them, and has a peculiar respect to them on this account. And particularly represents the young man who came to [Page 168] Christ to learn what good thing he should do to inherit eternal life; and was to all appearance as self-righteous as the Pharisee. I say, represents him as of so lovely a character, as to attract Christ's respect and affecti­on. I believe Mr. M. will find it difficult to tell wherein the great dif­ference lies in these two characters, by which the former is the vilest sin­ner on earth; the latter very desireable and amiable.

To these inconsistencies I shall add several, in which Mr. M. has been guilty of contradicting in his inquiry, what he has asserted in his former treatise, called "A vindication of gospel truth," &c.

XXIII. In his vindication, he speaking of St. Peter's words to Si­mon, "Repent, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee," says, "This perhaps, as here used, imports in­deed only a suspicion of the truth of the man's repentance, and not any doubt of God's forgiveness, in case his repentance were sincere. But in his inquiry he asserts the contrary, and builds his argument from these words on this assertion.

XXIV. In his vindication, he says, ‘The scripture no where puts mankind upon seeking their everlasting happiness, in any other way than that of well doing, truly such in the account of God, i. e. doing his commandments; that is, as the unregenerate never do, as he ex­plains his meaning in the words which I shall quote directly. This is in direct contradiction to great part of his inquiry, in which he asserts and labours abundantly to prove, that God requires unregenerate doings, by which men are directed to seek their everlasting happiness, and strive to enter in at the st [...]it gate. &c.

XXV. He goes on to say in his vindication, § ‘certainly none will pre­tend that well doing in the account of God, or (which is the same thing) doing his commandments, is what agrees to the unregenerate, under the guilt and dominion of sin.’ He has contradicted this two ways in his inquiry. He has done it by insisting that the unregenerate do God's commandments, and may keep them perfectly and be in this re­spect perfectly obedient, while they are under the guilt and dominion of sin; even all the commands to unregenerate doings. He also contradicts this by representing Jehu as doing well in God's account, when all that he did is considered and spoken of as the doings a man unregenerate.

XXVI. In his vindication, * he denies that men are commanded or directed to ask any thing of God in unbelief; or to pray in any way short of faith. And to support what he asserts quotes the words of St. James; "But let him ask in faith, &c. But in his inquiry he insist up­on it as a very important doctrine that men are required to pray in un­belief, or as the unregenerate do. And he zealously asserts that these words of James are not in the least inconsistent with this doctrine, and by no means prove that "prayer short of a gracious manner of performance," and short of faith, "is in no sense required."{inverted †}

XXVII. In his Vindication, (z) he says, ‘since sin is the predomi­nant [Page 169] principle in the unrenewed man, from whence all his actions must take their principal denomination, and have their specification, how is it possible for the best doings of such a man, while under the do­minion of sin, to harmonize, in any degree, with the moral nature of God, so as to be approvable in his sight?’

This he contradicts in his INQUIRY two ways. First by saying that God takes a favourable notice of the doings of the unregenerate, and that they as such have had his express approbation.(y) Secondly by insisting upon it, that God commands those doings; which necessarily implies his approving of them, and is indeed the same thing; and by insisting upon it that though God commands these doings, he does not command that which is sin.

XXVIII. In his Vindication (x) he says the doings of the unrege­rate are displeasing and offensive to God; and are, "in their whole moral complexion, infinitely disagreeable, and therefore displeasing to the divine purity." Most he says about the doings of the unregenerate, in his Inquiry, is in direct contradiction to this.

XXIX. In his first book he asserts "there is infinite contrariety, be­tween the purity of the divine nature, and the polluted doings of the most refined creature under sin's dominion."(w) In his last book he undertakes to shew that it is consistent with the purity of the divine na­ture to command such doings; or, which is the same, approve of them.

XXX. In his Inquiry,[v] he speaks of obedience from self love, a requir­ed in the scriptures, and therefore a duty. But in his Vindication he speaks of selfishness or self-love, as in direct opposition to that which is right and good. In this view he says "their cries for mercy, and their very best devotions are, at bottom, but selfish, carnal and impure in God's sight. Here, according to him, selfishness, or self love, is the same with carnal, or the carnal mind, which is itself enmity against God. But in his last book this is a principle of obedience, which men are commanded to exercise.

XXXI. In his Vindication, he insists upon it, that to represent the doings of the unregenerate, who are under the dominion of sin, as plea­sing and acceptable to God, or any way tending to obtain his favour (while they do not come to Christ but reject him) is most contrary to God's character as moral governor of the world, and to the whole gos­pel of Christ, and dwells upon this as a matter of great importance. But in his Inquiry, he has got on the other side of the question, and takes pains to shew that the doings of such, even of Ahab, Jehu, and the Children of Israel at Mount Sinai, who were under the dominion of sin, and had no regard to a Mediator, had God's express approbation, and obtained his favourable notice, so far, as out of respect to these do­ings, to grant them a great salvation.

The reader will here observe how much more orthodox Mr. M. was in these important points, when he wrote his former book, than he is [Page 170] now. If he should go on in the way he is now going, and write ano­ther book, is it not to be feared that he will give up most of the impor­tant doctrines of Calvinism, and appear quite on the other side of the question, towards which he has made such large strides already? I am sure if he will be in any measure consistent with himself, he must either retract much he has said in his last book, or go fully into the Arminian scheme. It is to be hoped he will readily do the former.

I shall conclude this INCONSISTENT section with the words which Mr. M. uses, when he thought he had fastened a contradiction on his former antagonist. ‘so very difficult a thing is it, for any one, in the defence of error, consistently to speak the same things! And when this is the case, it must be equally difficult for the reader to fix upon the true meaning of an author; or indeed for his answerer to confute what is said in one page, and not at the same time confirm what is said in another.’


SHEWING the evil tendency of Mr. Mills's Inquiry.

IT is hoped that what has been said, is sufficient to shew that what Mr. M. has designed chiefly to oppose in his Inquiry, are important truths, and therefore that what he advances and attempts to support, are real and hurtful errors: And the [...] tendency of some things he has advanced has been mentioned and pointed out. But I suppose it will be proper and useful more particularly to attend to this matter, and consider what is the natural tendency of this book, all taken together, so far as it is received and has influence.

I. I THINK it fully appears, from the view we have had of Mr. M.'s book, that it tends greatly to the dishonour of Christ and his gos­pel. It does so in representing sinners more to blame for other sins, than for the sin of unbelief, and rejecting Christ and the gospel; yea [...] or if the sinner is little or nothing to blame for the latter, if he reforms all other known sins. This view of the matter Mr. M.'s book gives; no one will ever learn from this, that the sin of rejecting Christ and the gospel at heart, and that with direct acts of opposition and enmity a­gainst him, is a greater sin than injuries done to our neighbour: but he will find the contrary through the whole book implicitly or expressly asserted; and that he has often denied that there is any crime in the former. Thus he has justified the wicked in the greatest sin he is guilty of, and appear­ed on his side in the great and chief controversy between Jesus Christ and sinners.

Now what could be more dishonourable to Christ and the gospel than this, and what could set his character and the great salvation in a more unworthy, mean and contemptible light! It has been observed in what a different light divine revelation sets this matter; not only that men [Page 171] are without excuse and wholly to blame for not heartily embracing Christ and the gospel; but that this is immensely the greatest sin that men can be guilty of, in comparison with which any other sin, is not to be mentioned: and it is easy to see in what a grand and honorable light this sets Jesus Christ. And is it not as easy to see that the con­trary doctrine, which is Mr. M.'s, equally degrades and dishonors this glorious character?

In this Mr. M. has fallen in with the inclination and humour of a fallen world. Mankind are backward to be convinced of the sin of unbelief, and of not heartily receiving Christ, and embracing the gos­pel; they are inventing a thousand pleas and excuses in their favor, in opposition to such convictions. They will be convinced of any thing almost, rather than this. And when any are convinced in their judg­ment and conscience, that this is altogether their crime, and the great­est that they are guilty of, this truth is, beyond most others, opposite and galling to their hearts. All this is owing to their not having any love to Christ, nor a view and sense of his worthy and glorious cha­racter. Mr. M. has joined hands with them in this matter, and all he has said tends to prevent this conviction; to justify and quiet the sin­ner in the pleas and excuses he is making in his own favour. I there­fore think his book may be justly looked upon as an attempt to exalt, flatter and justify sinners, at the expence of the honor of the glorious Redeemer. I own I view the matter in this light; and this has been a supporting and animating consideration to me in the midst of all the opposition made to the doctrine I have advanced on this head, by means of Mr. M.'s book, or any other way; and in the pains I have taken to support this doctrine, in opposition to Mr. M.'s objec­tions: for I consider myself as pleading the cause of Christ and attempting to exalt and honor his character, in opposition to a self-justifying world; and to condemn and abase the sinner, however im­perfect and deficient the attempt may be.

II. MR. M.'s book tends to prevent sinners coming to any proper, true, and thorough conviction of their guilt and vileness, and the state they are in; and the whole drift and spirit of it is in direct opposition to this. This I have taken notice of in the foregoing sections, and it appears from what has been observed in the last particular. The sin­ners opposition and enmity of heart against Christ and the gospel is kept wholly out of sight, through the whole of Mr. M.'s book, and the most that he says, supposes that there is no such thing in the heart of an awakened, convinced sinner; and is in direct opposition to its being the greatest of all sins, if there is any such thing. Therefore wherever Mr. M.'s book is believed, and has influence, there will be no true genuine conviction of sin; and so there can be no conversion to God. And he who is brought to genuine, thorough conviction of sin will renounce and discard Mr. M.'s book, so far as he un­derstands it, as what is most directly contrary to the truth. There is no medium between this and losing his convictions. Mr. M.'s book is therefore just as mischievous and hurtful in its tendency; as i [...] an [Page 172] attempt to prevent sinners consciences being thoroughly awakened and convinced; or to remove such conviction wherever it takes place.

III. MR. M.'s book exactly coincides with the inclination of the sinner's heart, who is in some degree awakened and thoughful about his eternal interest, and has reformed external sins, and betook him­self to external duty; and tends to flatter such to their eternal destruc­tion, and give them that ease and resting place, which must be taken from them, or they will perish forever.

As soon as a sinner's conscience is awakened, he reforms his ex­ternal conduct, and betakes himself to external duty, with a view to distinguish himself from others, by his doings, to grow better, and do something to abase the divine anger and displeasure against him; and if he believes Mr. M.'s book, he will think he has obtained his end, and his conscience will be quieted, and he will rest in a great measure easy and secure; for now he has forsaken all known sin, and does all known duty, and God is less angry with him; yea, takes a fa­vourable notice of him; and on this account he is in a likely way to be saved. What can such an one have to disquiet his conscience? He has done his utmost, and waits at the foot of sovereign mercy for God to do the rest, he not being at all to blame for not having a new heart and embracing the gospel. In this resting place Mr. M.'s book fixes and secures him, where many thousands have perished eternally!

Mr. M. has therefore, by his poor [...]abor [...], only provided a refuge of lies for the sinner to fly to and rest in, which is perfectly agreeable to his heart, while an enemy to Christ, and the great salvation. Nor can he possibly be driven from this on his plan, and so long as he be­lieves what he has written. There are multitudes of secure sinners now in New-England, and elsewhere, who have had some awakenings of conscience, and serious thoughtfulness about their souls and eternal interest, and are in their view avoiding all known sin, by doing all duty; and are resting here, and in their own imagination waiting on God to do that for them which they cannot do of themselves, and which they think they are not at all to blame for not doing. And here they will perish, unless driven from this refuge of lies, which they are as fond of as is the open profligate of his way of sinning. For men will love that which gives them ease and comfort. Such will therefore be pleased with Mr. M's book, and love it just as much as they love their own [...]ase. And nothing will drive them from this fatal resting-place but a clear conviction of that which Mr. M. has kept wholly out of sight through his book, and has at least implicitly denied in all he has said in opposition to me, viz. that the sinner is wholly to blame for not embracing the gospel immediately; and that his want of a heart to do this, and the opposition of his heart to it, is by far the greatest crime he ever was guilty of, for which God is very angry with him, and his wrath abideth upon him, and he is every moment exposed to sink in­to an aggravated destruction. As soon as they are convinced of this, they will see there has been no sincerity in all their reformations and doings; but all the exercises of their hearts have been a direct and [Page 173] strong opposition to all that God requires of them; especially to the important, merciful declaration, which implies the whole he has to say to sinners "This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased: HEAR YE HIM" They will see that they have an amazingly hard and obstinate heart, for which they have no excuse; that their neck is an iron sinew, and their brow brass; which appears in a more clear and striking light now than ever, in that they persist in opposing and rejecting the most kind invitations of the gospel, under all the convic­tions of their consciences, and terrifying apprehensions of the wrath to come. It is needless to say that such a person will reject Mr. M.'s book, at the same instant that he is delivered from his former delusions, and is by these convictions driven from the fatal resting place just mentioned.

IV. MR. M.'s book tends to discourage and drive to despair every sinner who has any good degree of true, genuine conviction, if it should be believed by such, unless it drives away his convictions, and he returns to a degree of security and ease.

It has been observed before, that this must be the case, according to Mr. M.'s own concession: for he allows that ‘sinners, under deep and genuine convictions, have been ready to look upon them­selves as greater sinners than heretofore; yea, perhaps, as growing daily worse and more hard-hearted.’ This being the case, when such hear Mr. M.'s doctrine, that the design of the use of means is to render them less guilty and vile, and that this is the great encourage­ment to use means, that hereby they may be in the way of duty and o­bedience, and become less sinful, so as to obtain God's favourable notice and approbation, and on this account be more in the way of God's mercy, and, in the disposition and exercises of their minds, get nearer to the state of a good man, and so be more likely to be saved: I say, when he hears this doctrine, and still views himself in the light in which Mr. M. grants all such are ready to view themselves (and I add in which such always view themselves, as it is agreeable to the real truth, and not to see it, is to be greatly deluded; so not to be un­der genuine convictions) so far as he pays any regard to it, it will strike discouragement and despair through his heart. And the glori­ous gospel which offers salvation to the chief of sinners, as freely as to the least sinner in the world, which can be the only relief and remedy to such an one, will be wholly hid from his eyes, until he renounces the chief and leading doctrines of Mr. M.'s book, as gross and fatal delusions.

V. MR. M.'s book is suited very much to please Arminians and Semi-arminians, and to support and strengthen them in their opposition to the truths of the gospel.

It is certain that all these are, with no small degree of zeal on his side of the question in this controversy; and it is easy to see the rea­son why they are so. Mr M. has represented his awakened, reform­ed sinner in a light very agreeable to their notion of such. He is a humble sinner, who, with tenderness of conscience and trembling at [Page 174] God's word, reforms all known sin, and complies with all known duty. He does his utmost, and seeks the Lord with trembling, and trusts in his mercy, making this his only plea. All this the sinner comes to on principles of nature, and in this way obtains the divine approbation and favourable notice, and has nothing further to do, but thus to wait on God. And what reason has such a person for any distress and terror of conscience? He is prepared to be comforted, and told that all things are well, and he has nothing to do but to hold on in this way of duty. This is exactly agreeable to their no­tion, and sets human nature in its fallen state in the light in which they represent it. They indeed may think that such are good Chris­tians, and in the sure way to heaven, and have nothing to say about regeneration, and a new heart by the immediate influences of the spirit of God, in order to bring such persons to the exercise of what is called true grace after they have attained to all that has been mentioned. And tho' Mr. M. does not appear fully to agree with them in this, yet they have, many of them at least, sense and discerning enough to see that herein he is quite inconsistent with himself, and that if the things he chiefly insists upon, are allowed and established, the fundamentals of their scheme are established, and the rest will follow of course. They can therefore patiently bear with a number of Mr. M.'s inconsistent whims (as they think them) about regeneration, saving grace, &c. while they are only mentioned incidentally, and not much insisted up­on; and these things which are important articles in their scheme are earnestly contended for; seeing if the latter are established, the former cannot be maintained, but will of course be neglected, if they do not fall into general contempt.

I would particularly observe here, that the doctrine that they who are the least sinners and have done most duty, are on this account most likely to be saved, which runs thro' Mr. M.'s book, contains the sub­stance and soul of the Arminian scheme, and if followed in all its just consequences, will subvert every important doctrine of Calvinism. For according to this, God in shewing mercy to sinners has respect to their moral character, & by distinguishing themselves from others, & mending their moral character by becoming less sinful, and doing those things by which they obtain God's approbation, they recommend themselves to his mercy, as more fit and proper objects of it than others whose moral character is worse, and who are greater sinners in God's sight.—It is easy to see this turns every thing in this affair into the Arminian channel. It entirely shuts out the doctrine of God's sovereignty in the exercise of his saving mercy towards sinners, having mercy on whom he will have mercy, without respect to any thing in their moral character, as being better or worse. And it founds the determinations of God with respect to the salvation of one man rather than another, on something foreseen in his moral character, by which he has done something to distinguish himself from others. It introduces the Arminian notion of justification by works; for according to this, their own moral character, and those things by which they are loss sinful, do recommend them to God's special favor, and are the reason and ground of their obtaining mercy rather than [Page 175] others. But the sinner is certainly justifiable by that which recommends him, and is the ground and reason of his finding mercy rather than a­nother, tho' it be but a negative righteousness, and less sinfulness. And if this is of such avail with God, how much will positive virtue and goodness avail to recommend? And it follows from this that man is not in such a lost, helpless, depraved state as Calvinists have generally repre­sented him to be; but has those good principles, in the exercise of which he may do his duty, and distinguish himself, so as to become one towards whom God's mercy more readily flows out, than towards another.

Mr. M. has appeared greatly alarmed at my espousing what he says is the Arminian sense of a single text. He might reasonably be much more alarmed, if he should see his own performance in a true light, and find that the most that he had said, is in support of that cause. If he shall not be made sensible of this, we may not expect to hear from him much more of the peculiar doctrines of Calvinism.

VI MR. M. has by this performance pleased and strengthened all those who are fixed upon a self-righteous bottom, who have never seen their own true guilt and vileness, and are thinking themselves better than others, especially those whose external moral conduct is not so regu­lar and good as their own.

We have reason to think there are many such professing Christians. This may be the case, whatever sect or party they belong to; and let the principles they espouse, or profession they make be what they will. They do at bottom think themselves better than others, on some account or other, however insensible they may be of it themselves, and have ways to hide it from their own eyes, or from others. No wonder if such are well pleased with Mr M.'s book, and zealously espouse his cause; for what he has said is agreable to the disposition and feelings of their hearts, and to their experiences. But it is difficult to conceive how the true Christian, or the unregenerate under genuine convictions, can approve of the leading sentiments in this per­formance. Indeed Mr. M. has granted that the latter cannot, or is not like to do it; for he is ready to look on himself as a greater sinner than heretofore; and there is no other way for him to think himself to grow better, and less sinful, but to lose his convictions, and relapse into his former delusions; so no other way to reconcile him to Mr. M.'s book; unless it be by his becoming a true convert, and embracing the gospel. But will this do it? He now has his eyes opened, in a sense and degree in which they were not before under the deepest and most clear convicti­ons in an unregenerate state, to behold the astonishing worthiness and glory of Jesus Christ, who has practised the most amazing condescenti­on and goodness towards him, and always stood at his door and knock­ed, and freely offered himself to him; and he beholds with wonder and astonishment the wisdom and glory of the gospel, and the greatness and excellence of the salvation which is by Christ; all which he has oppo­posed, rejected and despised, under all the scene of awakening, con­victions and distress which he has passed through. And in this view now abhors himself, and repents in dust and ashes at the feet of Christ. [Page 176] And will he in these views look back on that horrid scene of quarrelling with God, and resolute, fixed opposition of heart to the person who now appears so glorious in his eyes, and astonishingly good and kind, in which he resisted and strove with all his might against the inlighten­ing, awaking influences of the spirit of God: I say, will he now think he was through all this growing less sinful, than he was in a state of se­curity, and doing his duty, tho' not from the highest principles, yet on the good principles of nature; and that by thus growing better, he ob­tained God's favourable notice and approbation, and made approaches to the state and temper of a good man; and so got more and more in to the way of mercy, until he arrived to thorough conversion! No surely. He will view himself in a light directly contrary to this, to a degree not easily expressed. How then can he approve of Mr. M's book?

I can easily see how such an one as our divine Teacher characterises in the Pharisee should think the awakened, convinced sinner is become less sinful than he was before, and that God is more ready and inclined to shew mercy to him on this account; and that he will look on him­self much better than any open profligate whatsoever, and swell in his own thought of himself, and in his confidence of acceptance with God on this account. But I am quite mistaken in my notion of a true Christian, if he is ready to look on an impenitent rejecter of Christ, un­der genuine convictions as growing better, or on himself as on the whole a less sinner than the most secure, deluded, and openly vicious sinner that he is acquainted with: Nor is it easy to prove that he is in fact so: Considering his superior light and advantages, and the great and dis­tinguishing obligations he is laid under by God's goodness to him; and considering the poor returns he makes, the weak and low degree of right exercises of heart; and the great and dreadful degree of opposite ex­ertions and exercises; and the unspeakable degree of sinful deficiency in all his right and holy exercises, in which he falls so vastly short of the perfect rule of his duty: I say, if we take into view all this, perhaps it will be by no means clear that he is on the whole less guilty and vile, than he was in a state of unregeneracy; but be this as it will, it is hard to conceive how he, in the affecting view of the dreadful degree and a­mazing aggravations of his own sins of omission and commission, should be ready to think himself a less sinner than others, or than he once was. Therefore he is in no danger of using the language which the Pharisee did before God. "God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are,—or even as this publican." At the same time I see not why all who understandingly approve of Mr. M.'s book should not use this very lan­guage; and why this must not be the language of their hearts, what­soever words they use.

If any professing Christian is disposed to look on himself a less sinner, less guilty and vile in God's sight, than he was in a state of security in his youth; and that he has been growing a less sinner ever since he was first awakened, and looks round on profligate sinners, as on the whole much more vile than himself; and approaches to God with this view of himself, as being on this account more in the way of God's mercy, [Page 177] and a more fit and proper object of it: I say, if he views himself in this light, and has answerable exercises of heart, (which is indeed agreeable to the spirit of Mr. M.'s whole book) he is, I think, a strange sort of Christian, even as strange a one as was the pharisee when he went up to the temple to pray.

VII. M. M.'s book is suited to please all those who think themselves good Christians, and are excusing themselves in their deficiencies, and want of the exercises of love to God, and every christian grace, from their utter inability, and want of power to exercise and perform these things: and tends greatly to support and strengthen them in this dan­gerous wicked way.

There are many, we have reason to think, of this sort. The doctrine of man's inability to do any thing spiritually good and holy of him­self they imbibe as a certain and important truth: And as they hold it, is very agreeable to their corrupt hearts; for they at bottom think they are under an inability, or want of power to be holy, which does really excuse them for not living in the constant exercise of faith, and love to God. So that the doctrine, as they hold it, is not true, and is as a­greeable to the corrupt heart of man, as any that was ever invented. Hence it undoubtedly is that many are such zealous defenders of it, and have it so much in their mouths, that man can do nothing of himself, &c. And when this doctrine is set in a true, scriptural light, and it is insisted upon that man is under no inability to any good exercise, but what consists in the perverseness and wickedness of his heart, for which he has no manner, no degree of excuse; that he has full power and a­bility to do every thing that God commands; to embrace the gospel, and be perfectly holy, were it not for his indisposition of heart and un­willingness to do it; and that the whole difficulty lies here, and is just the same as in any other case, where a person is backward and unwilling to do what is proposed to him; only as it may be greater in degree, more perfect and fixed; and therefore that this inability, and inexcusa­ble, voluntary, aggravated wickedness, are one and the same thing; and the more of this sort of inability there is, the more vile is the per­son; and so much more guilty and inexcusable: I say, when they hear this, they are greatly displeased and alarmed, and cry out of it as Ar­minianism, or a very bad and dangerous doctrine; because it deprives them of their sweet resting place and refuge to which they have been used to flee, and get ease to their consciences, and avail themselves of an excuse, so as not to feel themselves guilty for that which is indeed their greatest sin, and the chief of all their wickedness.

Such persons as these, instead of confessing their sins, are hiding them from their own eyes, and excusing themselves in that for which they ought to be greatly ashamed and blush before God; so have ne­ver been in any good measure convinced of sin, but are really justifying themselves before God in their greatest wickedness: And they are of a spirit and temper as contrary to true Christianity, as can well be ima­gined. [Page 178] And the doctrine of man's impotency, as they hold it, is really as contrary to the truth, and as agreeable and pleasing to corrupt na­ture, as are any of the Arminian doctrines which assert man's self-suffici­ency to all that is required of him; and more so in some respects.

All such will no doubt, like Mr. M's book, and be agreeably sup­ported and strengthened by it. But this is only to confirm them in a wicked course, highly dishonorable to Christ and the gospel; in a delu­sion which, if persisted in, will prove ruinous to them, whatever great experiences, and remarkable discoveries and comforts they may boast of.


IN which Mr. Mills's speaking against METAPHY­SICAL REASONING AND ARGUMENTS, is brief­ly considered.

MR. M. has not expressly asserted that any of my reasoning in support of what he opposes is metaphysical; much less has he at­tempted to point out any particular instances of metaphysical reasoning in any passage of mine, upon which he remarks. However, he often speaks of metaphysics, metaphysical subtelties, abstruse metaphysical reasoning, &c. with disapprobation, and in such a manner as will lead the reader to think he has to deal with an antagonist, who is very metaphysical. Now metaphysical reasoning is the same in his account, with abstruse, unintelligible, fallacious and deceitful reasoning, on which there is no dependance, and ought to be wholly disregarded and avoided. The most remarkable passages of his on this head are the following. ‘Here removing as far as possible from all abstruse metaphysical reasoning, and far fetched consequences, at least doubtful and uncertain; of which kind experience teacheth that what is called demonstration in one age, is rejected in another; and what is called so by one man is of no validity with another; and oft times with the same man at diffe­rent dates of his life: let us, I say, removing as far as possible from these things, &c.’ Again,§ ‘Another ground of this mistake, as it ap­pears to me, is too great a fondness for, and dependence upon conclusions come into, as the result of subtile metaphysical reasoning, as tho' they were certain, and might be depended on; while nothing is more common than mistakes in these cases, &c.’

It is to be observed here, that what he condemns, and professes to keep at the greatest distance from, under the name of metaphysical reason­ing, includes all reasoning that can be used by men; for it is common for men to make mistakes in reasoning, in whatever way they reason: [Page 179] And the best and clearest reasoning, which is real demonstration, is cal­led so in one age, and [...]cted in another: and the most strong and [...] reasoning [...] allowed to be so with one man, and yet be of no avail with another; and this may be the case with the some man at dif­ferent periods of his life. Therefore to keep at the greatest possible dis­tance from all reasoning of which these things may be predicated, is the same as to keep at the greatest possible distance from all reasoning whatever.

Besides, it is worthy to be considered perhaps, whether Mr. M. has helped himself, or his reader by all this caution; and whether he has not, after all, fallen into such a way of reasoning, whether [...] be called metaphysical or not, as is of no validity with himself in different dates of his life, and by which he has repeatedly reasoned himself into con­tradictions at the same time of life. Of this the reader who has at­tended to the foregoing sections will judge. If by abstruse metaphysical reasoning be meant nice distinctions where there is no difference, or using words without any distinct and clear ideas; affirming and denying the same thing at different times, and drawing opposite consequences from same premises; mistaking and misrepresenting the thing about which the question is perhaps Mr. M.'s Inquiry is as remarkable an in­stance of such metaphysics as any this age has produced.

But if by metaphysical reasoning and arguments, is meant making cri­tical and clear distinctions between those things which really differ, and carefully examining those subjects to the bottom which have been treated in a confused, intricate manner, or have been thought by many quite abstruse and unintelligible, there is no reason why any one should try to keep at a distance from this, or avoid it in any instance; for to do so, is only to confuse and bewilder himself, and to take a method to keep himself in ignorance with respect to the most important and in­teresting subjects. And it will be evident to any one who will allow himself to think, that the holy scriptures cannot be in any good measure understood, and the consistence of one passage with another discovered, if such reasoning as this is neglected. And this is, in effect, laying aside all clear reasoning on any subject, and to make reason itself a very useless thing, and to substitute something else in the stead of reason.

Many have conceived such an aversion to what they call metaphysics, and carefully keep at such a distance from every thing which to them is abstruse, uncertain and difficult to be understood, that they are never like to know any thing that requires close attention of thought, and any degree of accurate reasoning; or make any progress in the most useful knowledge. And, what is worse, they do what they can to prevent o­thers from entering into a free, critical and painful inquiry after truth, especially those who are in their youth, and are coming upon the stage, by gravely cautioning them against meddling with metaphysical subjects, and dark, abstruse matters; and directing them to attend only to the things that are plain and easy, and require no metaphysical arguments to investigate or support them. Unhappy is the young student in [Page 180] divinity who has this advice, and is influenced by it: For by acting up­on this maxim, and endeavouring to keep at the greatest possible dis­tance from metaphysics in this sense, he will have but little more know­ledge than what he has by tradition; and this too will chiefly consist in a set of orthodox words, without having any intelligible meaning to them. If close and accurate reasoning falls into discredit, and a care to make clear and nice distinctions, and the utmost pains to enter deep into important subjects, and search them to the bottom, are neglected; the mind must have very little true knowledge, and can come to no proper satisfaction and certainty about any thing, that re­quires reasoning; and is under a necessity of r [...]stl [...]g in indolence and ig­norance.

IT has been the way of almost all sects and parties when they have found themselves unable to support their cause by reason, and have been opposed and pressed with reasons and arguments, which they have not been able fairly to answer, to cry out against such reasoning, and to endeavour to bring it into disgrace, by calling it by some ill name. Thus the Quakers, and almost all enthusiasts when urged with most clear & demonstrative reasons against many of their absurd notions, which they have not been able to answer, have endeavoured to support themselves, by calling [...] reason, and representing it as something directly contrary to the bible, and all true religion.

And Pelagians and Arminians have been in too many instances treat­ed so by their opponents, the professed Calvinists. The former have gloried in their reasoning against the latter, as unanswerable demonstra­tion. The latter instead of detecting the weakness, fallacy and absurdi­ty of the reasoning of the former, and maintaining their cause on this ground, as well they might; have endeavoured to defend themselves from this weapon by bringing it into disgrace, and rejecting it under the name of carnal, unsanctified reason, &c. This has been so far from humbling or giving them the least conviction of their errors, that it has had a contrary effect to a very great and, sensible degree. And no wonder; for this was the direct tendency of it, as it is an implicit con­fession that they felt themselves worsted at reasoning.

Some of the latter, however, especially of late, have undertaken to reason with the former; and have defended the principal doctrines of Calvinism, and have been able to shew that they can be supported by the strictest reason and argument, and are agreeable to the reason and com­mon sense of mankind, as well as to the holy scriptures: and have detected the weakness and fallacy of much of the reasoning of the for­mer; and have made it appear that many of their principal tenets are contrary to all reason, and imply the greatest and most palpable absurdi­ties. Upon this the former unable to defend themselves any longer with their boasted reason, have affected to run down all reason and ar­guments used against them, only by calling them abstruse, metaphysical reasoning and notions.

And in this some professed Calvinists are joining with them to keep [Page 181] up the cry of metaphysics, either because they are too indolent and in­atentive to attend to close and accurate reasoning; or find some of their own tenets in which they are inconsistent with themselves, con­futed by arguments which they are by no means able to answer. And thus Sandeman and his followers, sensible that they cannot so well de­fend their scheme of religion by reason, and confute what is urged against them from this quarter, are well on their guard against any reasoning, especially that which they cannot answer, and endeavour to keep themselves in countenance by exploding it under the name of vain philosophy, and carnal reason.

It is allowed that reason maybe abused and perverted to bad pur­poses, as well as any thing else; and men may reason very plausibly, and with the pretence and appearance of great exactness and accu­racy, and clear demonstration, and yet their arguments be at bottom very weak, sophistical and absurd. In this case, it becomes the friends of truth to detect and shew the weakness, fallacy and absurdity of the reasoning, instead of rejecting it all only by calling it abstruse meta­physical reasoning, &c. For the best and clearest reasoning may be called by such names, as well as any thing else, and often has been. And when any one takes the latter method, he will not be wronged, I conclude, if we determine that he does it purely because he is not able to answer the argument, and finds himself worsted at reasoning.

The cry against metaphysics has of late been increasing; by which those who make it would condemn, and prejudice people against e­very thing in divinity which they either do not understand, or dislike, and yet are unable to shew it to be contrary to scripture or reason. Yea, some speak against teaching and vindicating those truths and doctrines, which they acknowledge to be agreeable to scripture, and contained in it, merely because they are, they say, metaphysical niceties, and so abstruse and difficult to be understood, that it is much best to say nothing about them; and not trouble people with things, which they never can understand.

It may be easily accounted for, if this out-cry is made by those who would prevent attention to doctrines which they dislike, but cannot con­fute; or by lazy, superficial thinkers, who are not willing to be at the pains to think closely upon any subject: and at the same time have such an opinion of their own knowledge & penetration, as to conclude that what they do not understand, no one else does, or ever can. But it is difficult to say why any others should join with them, and it is a pity that they should be influenced by them.

Every truth in the bible is dark and abstruse to all those who do not understand it. And tho' some doctrines are more easily understood than others; yet none can be well and clearly understood without thought and attention of mind: And some of the most important doctrines never will be understood by lazy, superficial, inaccurate thinkers. The bible was never designed to be understood by those who will not be all attention to it, and study it with that exact and [Page 182] accurate tho't and reasoning, by which they may distinguish the things that differ. He only who will thus "cry alter knowledge & lift up his voice for understanding; seek for her as for silver, & search for her as for hid treasures," shall understand what are the doctrines of Christianity, & find the knowledge of God. So far therefore as the cry of metaphysics prevails, & people are hereby held back from thinking for themselves, and are prejudiced against every thing which they now do not under­stand, and against all attempts to explain and vindicate any truth contained in the bible, because at first thought it is dark and abstruse to them, and they do not understand it; just so far the bible is locked up from them, as really as it is from the common people in the church of Rome. And it is perhaps worthy of particular notice, that the objections made by Papists against the bible's being read by common people, are nearly the same with those, which are urged by those who are for excluding all metaphysical reasoning from matters of religion, viz. That they will not understand it; being very incompetent judg­es of these things, they will only puzzle and confute their own minds; or they will reason themselves into error; think differently from one another, and so get into hurtful and endless disputes.


THE reader who has been at the pains carefully to peruse the whole of the foregoing treatise, will find the unregenerate sin­ner set in a dreadful and very shocking light. He is dead in tres­passes and sins. An entire enemy to God in his mind by wicked affections and works, and all he does is sin, even of the nature of opposition and enmity against God:* And he is wholly inexcusable and perfectly to blame for every minute's continuance in this state for every wrong exercise of heart, and for not repenting and believ­ing the gospel. And all means used with him: all the light and ad­vantages he has, & all his awakenings, and convictions of conscience, serve to aggravate and increase his guilt and vileness; and all his strivings and prayers, are very sinful and vile, provoking and a­bominable in God's sight. He is every hour sinking deeper into guilt, and after his hard and impenitent heart-treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath, and the revelation of the righteous judgment of God. And this is the scripture account of the matter.

[Page 183] Upon this view of the matter, the question will naturally arise. What shall he do? If one should be told that he may find this questi­on asked more than once in the bible, and immediately answered by inspired men, should we not expect he would eagerly search to find what the answer is, and rest satisfied in it? The answer is, "Repent and be baptized.§ Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ." This divinely inspired answer to this important question is plain and easy to be un­derstood. This is the awakened, convinced sinner's next and imme­diate duty: and not to do this immediately; but to do something else instead of it, is to rebel against Christ, which rebellion is aggravated and criminal in proportion to his degree of light and conviction.

It is his indispensable duty immediately to take all that blame to himself which belongs to him, and to justify God, and his law which condemns him, and heartily approve of it; entirely to give up all his old objections which his heart has made against God, and his ways, as wholly groundless and infinitely criminal; and heartily to renounce all his pleas in his own favor, whereby he has justified himself, and by which he has been opposing God and quarrelling with him; and on which he has really been placing his whole dependance; which, had they been right, would have wholly excused him, and cast all the blame on God, and his law. I say it is his immediate duty to give up all these objections and pleas, which his whole heart, as be­ing infinitely criminal, and to feel and acknowledge that he has done nothing but treasure up wrath, and that he is most justly condemned to eternal destruction.

And as there is no hope in the case of such a sinner, but what arises from the truth of the gospel, even the free and sovereign grace of God in Jesus Christ, therein revealed; and as the greatest sinner is as free­ly invited as the least to come to Christ, and receive pardon and salvation without money and without price; it is the sinner's duty without delay, to drop all his prejudices, and disaffection to Christ and the gospel, which have heretofore blinded his eyes, and hid the all-convincing evidence of it's truth and glory from his heart; and to admit the evidence of the truth and divinity of the gospel, and be­lieve with all his heart that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that God has raised him from the dead, with a hearty approbation of his character, and submission to him, and trust in him as his Lord and Saviour, his prophet, priest and king, being heartily devoted to his service, his interest and glory.

All this, I say is the sinner's immediate, indispensable duty, which is to "repent and believe the gospel." To this he is therefore to be exhorted and urged by all proper motives; and all the instruction given him ought to be with a view to this. And unless he complies with this, and repents and turns to God, all means and advantages, all light and conviction; all his exercises, strivings and exertions, will serve to sink him deeper into deserved perdition. So long as the sinner believes this, and has his attention kept up to it, in a view and sense of the dreadfulness of damnation, he will be pained at heart, [Page 184] in a view of his dreadful case, and will find no ease till his heart gives up every point of controversy between him and his Maker, and he heartily embraces the gospel. And to exhort him, and set him to do any thing short of this as his duty, in doing which he will become less sinful and abate the divine displeasure against him, and be waiting on God, &c. is to divert him from that truth which is of the highest importance to him to be attended to; and to give him that ease and rest, which must be taken from him, or he will perish forever.

If we will look into the bible and carefully examine that, we shall find that sinners are no where exhorted to any thing short of re­pentance and turning from sin to God, or to any thing which does not imply this. This is what Moses and the prophets exhort to; And Christ and his apostles inculcate this on sinners as their next and immediate duty, and exhort to nothing short of this. How then can any who have the bible in their hands, be at a loss how to address sinners, and not know what exhortations are to be given to them?

SOME perhaps may think that by dropping all exhortations to sin­ners to some doings and duty short of repentance and embracing the gospel, we condemn all the revivals of religion and supposed conver­sions that have taken place in former times in New-England, or else­where; as they suppose these have taken place under the preaching which has inculcated unregenerate duties, and this is the only preach­ing which has been successful.

ANS. If the matter is well examined into, it will doubtless be found that whenever there has been any remarkable revival of religion, which has been attended with such appearances and visible effects, as to give reason to believe it was in any measure genuine, it has been under the instruction and preaching which has principally insisted upon the guilty lost state of the sinner, his utter inexcusableness in rejecting Christ and the gospel; the great and aggravated wickedness of all his exercises and doings while he continues in impenitence and unbelief: the sufficiency and willingness of Christ to save all that come to him; and the exhortations which have been principally in­sisted upon have been to come to Christ, and embrace the gospel. And under such preaching, and in the view of these truths sinners have been awakened, and hopefully converted. Therefore at such times especially the complaint has been wont to be made, which is made by many now, viz. That sinners were called upon and most ear­nestly exhorted to repent and believe, but were not told how they should do this, by being directed to a set of duties short of faith, by which they should obtain it.

And if at such times there has been a mixture of preaching diffe­rent from this, and contrary to it, and there have been exhortations to unregenerate duties; there is not the least evidence that this has had a good tendency; but we have reason to conclude that it has done hurt rather than good, so far as it had any influence.



  • Page 4. line 9, from bottom, read perfectly
  • Page 14. line 18, r. unregenerate.
  • Page 22. line 18, r. come.
  • ib. 6, f. b. r. unspeakably.
  • Page 23. lines 2, 3, r. with the latter.
  • ib. 13, f. b. r. reward.
  • Page 27. line 10, r, sinned.
  • Page 30. line 12, r. [...]se.
  • Page 31. line 25, r. [...]e forsook.
  • Page 38. line 14, f. b. r. deeds.
  • Page 41. line 4, r. unparalleled.
  • Page 52. line 6, f. b. r. unreasonable.
  • Page 55. line 5, r. renowned.
  • Page 60. line 5, f. b. r. whom I describe.
  • Page 61. line 15, r. sinner.
  • Page 64. line 9, f. b. r. book.
  • Page 65. line 13, f. b. r. became.
  • Page 66. line 15, f. b. r. sincere in their, &c.
  • Page 83. line 16, f. b. r. have known.
  • Page 90. line 7, r. in fact.
  • ib. 26, r. mistakes.
  • Page 103. line 18, r. his having.
  • Page 106. line 15, f. b. r. expressed in, &c.
  • Page 107. line 20, f. b. r. pursuing some, &c:
  • Page 108. line 24, r. dreads sin.
  • ibid 13, f. b. r. desire of, &c.
  • Page 111. line 5, r. despair.
  • Page 113. line 4, r. and say here, &c.
  • ibid 6, r. secure.
  • Page 120. line 7, r. malevolence.
  • Page 123. line 14, r. accommodate.
  • Page 126. line 17, f. b. r. says the sin, &c.
  • Page 130. line 6, r. frame.
  • Page 135. line 20, f. b. r. there are promises:
  • Page 146. line 13, before unregenerate blot out the.
  • Page 152. line 30, r. he is become.
  • Page 153. line 16, f. b. r. since he was, &c.
  • Page 155. line 17, 18. for unregenerate r. rege­nerate.
  • Page 166. line 10, f. b. r. He insists.
  • Page 167. line 7, r. known duty.
  • Page 168. line 7, f. b. r. he insists
  • Page 170. line 14, f. b. r. as if, &c.
  • Page 172. line 10, f. b. r. sight.
  • Page 176. line 10, r. into the way.

N. B. The most material error that has been observed, is that in page 155, line 17, 18, where for unregenerate, must be read regenerate. The reader is desired to take particular notice, and make the proper correction.—Some less important errors are purposely omitted, and others may have escap­ed notice: with respect to both which the candour of the reader is requested.

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