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act of his power to This appears in the
while, before he puts forth an make them willing to be saved. case of Manasseh, of Saul of Tarsus, and of many others, who have been converted late in life. The highest degree of common grace leaves men unwilling to be saved; but the lowest degree of special grace makes them willing. In this respect, common and special grace essentially differ. And so they do in another respect.
For, in the second place, common grace is granted to all, who enjoy the light of the gospel, while special grace is granted to none but the elect. God makes none willing to be saved but those whom he has given to Christ. He invites and commands others to embrace the gospel, and sometimes awakens them to a lively sense of their danger and guilt; but yet he never puts forth an act of his power, to subdue their hearts and reconcile them to Christ. Hence that act of his power, by which he makes men willing to be saved, is properly an act of special grace, and essentially different from any act of kindness, favor, or assistance, which he bestows upon any, who are finally lost.
2. If God's making men willing to be saved by an act of his power be an act of special grace; then special grace is always irresistible. It is the general representation of Scripture, that common grace may be resisted. God often complains of sinners, for resisting the calls and invitations of his common grace. "I have called and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof." Zechariah says, "They refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words
which the Lord of hosts hath sent in his Spirit by the former prophets." Christ reproves sinners, for resisting the power and influence of common grace. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not." And Stephen in his dying address to sinners in Jerusalem, plainly tells them, "Ye stiff-necked, and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye." Sinners are able to resist all the objective light afforded them, and all the external means used with them, to bring them to repentance. The reason is, all these means of light and conviction leave them in the full possession of their evil hearts of unbelief. And so long as the enmity of their hearts remains, they are able to resist all the force of moral suasion or common grace. But when God displays his special grace upon them, he takes away the enmity of their hearts, and removes the primary cause of resistance. In the day of his power, he makes them willing to come to Christ for life; and when they are willing to come, there is nothing to prevent their coming. No sinner ever was, or ever will be unwilling to be saved, in the day of God's power. Those, whom God calls by his special grace, are morally obliged to come in and partake of the gospel feast. Hence divines have usually termed this act of special grace, effectual calling.
3. If God can make men willing to be saved by an act of his power, and if this act of his power be special grace; then special grace is as consistent with free agency as common grace. The only reason, why common grace is universally supposed to be consistent with free agency is, because it leaves men free to choose and
refuse, or to act just as they please. While they are the subjects of common grace only, they feel them. selves at perfect liberty, to choose, or refuse obedience to the will of God. They can choose to read, or they can refuse to read; they can choose to pray, or they can refuse to pray; they can choose to attend public worship, or they can refuse to attend; they can choose to perform all the externals of religion, or they can refuse to perform any religious duty. But if men are perfectly free under the influence of common grace, because they are capable of choosing and refusing; then for the same reason, they must be equally free under the influence of special grace. For special 、 grace essentially consists in making men willing to do their duty. By special grace, God makes men choose to submit to Christ, and refuse to oppose him; choose to pray, and refuse to neglect it; choose to attend public worship, and refuse to neglect it; choose to walk in the ways of wisdom, and refuse to walk in the paths of the destroyer. If this be a just representation of the influence of special grace, then it is certainly as consistent with free agency as common grace. It is true, indeed, if special grace consisted, as some suppose, in giving men a new principle, faculty, or power, of choosing; then it would destroy their free agency, and make them entirely passive in regeneration and sanctification. But if, in every act of special grace, God does nothing more, than make men willing to do their duty, or to choose and refuse in a holy and virtuous manner; then it is hard to conceive how special grace does, in the least degree, infringe upon free agency. It is a dictate of common sense, that whatever makes men choose or refuse, is consistent with their liberty; and whatever obstructs or hinders them from choos ing and refusing, destroys their freedom. If, therefore,
either common or special grace deprived men of the power of choosing and refusing, it would destroy their free agency. But since neither common nor special grace does take away this power, it is evident, that neither common nor special grace is repugnant to the freedom of the will. Indeed, we do not hesitate to
say, that all, who have been the subjects of special grace, know by their own experience, that they have felt as entirely free and voluntary, in acting under the influence of special grace, as ever they did in acting under the influence of common grace.
4. If God can make men willing to be saved, by an act of his power; then there is a plain consistency running through the whole scheme of Calvinism. The fundamental doctrines of this system of divinity are election, total depravity, instantaneous regeneration, and the final perseverance of the saints. If the leading sentiment in this discourse be true, then all these doctrines are entirely consistent.
It is easy to see the consistency of God's choosing a certain number of mankind to eternal life; if he be able, by an act of his power, to make that certain number willing to be saved. Upon this, and upon no other ground, the doctrine of election appears to harmonize with the character of God and the freedom of the creature.
It is easy to see the consistency of God's determining the fall of man, and the total corruption of all his posterity; if he be able, by an act of his power, to remove their depravity. Though total depravity does not render men unyielding to the exhibition of truth, and all the influence of moral suasion; yet it does not put them beyond the reach of special grace, which is in its own nature irresistible. Hence God foresaw no hazard to his gracious design, from the total enmity of
the human heart, which he knew he was able to slay, by an act of his power, whenever he pleased..
It is easy to see the intimate connexion between the doctrine of total depravity, and that of instantaneous regeneration. If special grace consists in an act of God's power, by which he makes totally depraved sinners willing to be saved; then regeneration must be an instantaneous and not a gradual change. There is no medium between men's being unwilling and willing to be saved; they must remain, therefore, totally unwilling to be saved, until the moment they are made willing by an instantaneous act of divine power. In regeneration, conversion, or the new creation, God acts as instantaneously as he did, when he said, "Let there be light, and there was light." This must necessarily be the case, if men are totally depraved, and nothing short of an irresistible act of divine power can remove their total depravity.
It is furthermore easy to see, that the final perseverance of saints is a doctrine inseparably connected with the other doctrines of Calvinism. The same Almighty Agent, who from eternity determined to renew and sanctify the elect, can as easily carry on, as he could begin, a good work in their hearts. And, the same divine purpose, which required their regeneration, equally requires their continued sanctification, or final perseverance in holiness. Hence there is a moral impossibility of their finally falling away, or missing of the kingdom of heayen. Thus it is easy to see, in the light of this subject, that the essential and fundamental principles of the Calvinistic system, are not only consistent with each other, but perfectly harmonize with the character and perfections of the Deity, and with the character and nature of totally depraved creatures,