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'not able to do these things of thyself, nor to * walk in the commandments of God, and to serve 'him, without his special grace; which thou 'must learn at all times to call for by diligent 'prayer.'l
'" That on the good ground," says Christ, "are 'they which in an honest and good heart, having 'heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit 'with patience:" here we have again our Saviour's 'anthority for saying, that there is some honesty, 'some goodness of heart in the human race; 'and that different men possess these virtuous 'qualities in different degrees, since of the seed 'which fell upon good ground, some brought 'forth "a hundred fold, some sixty, some 'thirty.'"2
Is then " the honest and good heart," in which "the good seed of the word of God takes root, "and brings forth fruit," uniformly the effect of 'some goodness and honesty in the human race.?' "No man can (Suvalai) come to me, except the "Father who hath sent me draw him. It is "written in the prophets. They shall all be taught "of God: Every man therefore that hath heard "and learned of the Father cometh unto me."— "Therefore said I unto you, that no man can "come unto me, except it were given unto him "of my Father."3 But this subject will come under consideration in a subsequent part of our argument. "Do not err, my beloved brethren:
1 Catechism, Quest, before Lord's Prayer. * Ref. 14. 'John vi. 44, 45,65.
"every good gift, and every perfect gift cometh "down from above, from the Father of lights:" of "his own will begat he us'with the word of truth."1 'Our Saviour represents the " man travelling 'into a far country, who called his own servants, 'and delivered unto them his goods," as saying, 'upon his return, to each of those servants who by 'trading had gained other talents besides those 'which were entrusted to them, " Well done, thou 'good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful * over a few things, I will make thee ruler over 'many things; enter thou into the joy of thy 'Lord." Does not this part of the parable show 'the power of exertion, and the certainty of re'ward? And does not the casting of the unpro'fitable servant, who had hidden his talent in the 'earth, into outer darkness, where shall be weeping 'and gnashing of teeth, prove, that those who are 'slothful and inactive, who do not by their own 'diligence improve the gifts which they receive in 'this life, will be severely punished in the world to 'come?'2 ,
All the persons spoken of in this parable were the professed servants of Christ: they were intrusted by him with different talents, as his stewards. Wealth, ability, authority, influence, learning, eloquence, reputation for learning or eloquence, the office of a minister; even time, health, the limbs and senses of our bodies, the faculties of our souls, the smallest portion of property or of authority and influence, as those of masters, parents, relations, employers: all these arc talents; with all or any of them good may be done, or evil may be done, or they may be buried in sloth and inactivity. The willing servant of Christ, who loves him and his cause, and relies on his mercy and grace, will " prove the sincerity of "his love,"1 by improving these talents: but, while the open enemies of truth and holiness dishonour God and do mischief to mankind, beyond calculation, by perverting, as unjust stewards, these things to bad purposes -, many of the professed servants of Christ show their insincerity, and their hard thoughts of their Lord, and the pride and alienation of their hearts, by a kind of negative religion; without bringing forth good fruit, or even attempting it. They are slothful and unfruitful in the knowledge of Christ. But what was that, which distinguished the "good and faithful servants" from "the wicked and unprofitable servant?" Was it not "faith working by love?" Was not the improvement of their talents shown " by the fruits of the "Spirit?" Pid any.one ever improve natural amiable dispositions,till they became holiness? or do 'things 'good in the sight of God, before he is influenced 'by the Spirit of God ?'2 'The indolent Christian 'will receive no reward from his heavenly Lord.'3
'Jam. i. 17, 18. s Ref. 16.VOL. VII. F
'In appealing to our public formularies, I shall 'first notice the Article upon original sin, in which 'it is said, 'that man is very far gone from original 'righteousness :' this expression implies, that ori'ginal righteousness is not entirely lost, that all 'the good qualities and principles, with which 'man was at first created, are not absolutely de'stroyed.'1
1 2 Cor. viii. 8,9. 'Ret, 61. 'Ref. 65.
The words in the Latin Article, of which the English Article is a translation of co-ordinate authority, stand thus: Ab originali justitid quum longissime distet. Quam longissime, according to the dictionaries, and the constant use of the best Latin writers, signifies as far off as possible. 'Very 'far gone from original righteousness,' is superlative and expressive, but not so decided as the Latin. If in ' original righteousness' things ' good 'only in the sight of men' be included, it 'is not 'entirely lost:' if ' things good in the sight of 'God' be exclusively meant, it is entirely lost. This his Lordship elsewhere seems to concede.2 It appears to me, that our Article intends exclusively ' things ' good in the sight of God;' and the Latin Article confirms this opinion.
'That this is the plain and obvious sense of the 'passage, is evident from the following circum- 'stance: When the assembly of divines, in the 'reign of Charles the First, undertook to reform, 'as they called it, our Articles according to the 'Calvinistic creed, they proposed to omit the 'words, 'Man is very far gone from original righ'teousness,' and to substitute for them, ' Man is 'wholly deprived of original righteousness.' It 'was admitted by both parties, that the two sen'tences conveyed ideas extremely different.'3
Whatever either party, in the turbulent times of Charles the first, admitted concerning the clause in question, and that proposed to be substituted in its place; few readers in our quiet times, will readily perceive the extreme difference in the meaning of the two sentences; especially if the Latin Article be considered as fixing the sense of the English Article. I apprehend the most decided Calvinists in the establishment are at present fully satisfied with the Article as it now stands; and only desire that it may be cordially subscribed, and steadily adhered to by all who subscribe it, and require subscription to it; and by them made known distinctly and fully to all the laity, in its practical tendency, in all their public and private instruction.
1 Ref. 50. 'Ref. 59, 61, 67. 68. 'Ref. 60.
'Celsus, arguing according to his own prin'ciples, asserts, that it is very difficult to make a 'perfect change in nature: but we, (knowing that 'there is one and the same nature in every rational 'soul, and maintaining that not a single one is 'formed wicked by the Creator of all things, but 'that many men become wicked by education, by 'example, and by influence, so that wickedness is 'as it were naturalized in some,) are persuaded 'that it is not only not impossible, but not very dif'ficult, by the divine word, to change wickedness 'naturalized, (wadav tpvo-uio-aoav,1) provided any one
1 This word seems used in a sense wholly unknown to the compilers of lexicons: at least my opportunities do not enable me to find any trace of it.