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That nothing can prevent a sinner's salvation, who is sincerely willing to accept of Christ's whole salvation, cordially believe.
That sinners are under no inability to embrace the but what arises from their unwillingness to own their need of it, and to renounce both self-righteousness, and the love of sin, and of this present evil world, we freely acknowledge.
But such impediments as these would be sufficient to prevent sinners from coming to Christ for life, if God were not able to operate effectually on the human will, and thus turn sinners from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God.
We are fully persuaded, that God can awaken the most sordid and stupid, can humble the proudest, can convert the most profligate; yea, he is able to deliver from prejudice and delusion, the most ignorant Papist, Mahometan, or Pagan.
But of this moral power, which places salvation within the attainment of every man, I have no conception !
Does Mr. Gisborne mean every man in this country, who has been brought up among pickpockets and thieves ? who never has heard the gospel, nor attended public worship at all ?
Or, does he include every sort of ignorant, bigoted Papist, Mahometan, or Pagan; every American Indian, African Negro, New Hollander, or Arab?
Notice Dr. Dwight's System of Theology, Vol. I. Sermon xvi. p. 274–277.
Verily, if a reflecting mind cannot be satisfied with Calvinistic views of this subject; but can be satisfied with such hopes of the salvation of every man, as may be founded on this inert sort of moral power, possessed by the inhabitants of Nootkasound, Egypt, Arabia, Nubia, Abyssinia, Thibet, Bornou, Patagonia, &c. &c. &c.* I am amazed !
* Let Mr. G. read Dr. Holland's Travels in Greece, and apply his sentiment to Ali Pasha, and all his soldiery and subjects. pp. 490. 492.
Surely there is as little probability of one in a million of these
poor sinners becoming saints before death, without the gospel being sent to them, and being powerfully applied to their hearts by the Holy Spirit, as there can be of one boy in a hundred of our Sunday-scholars becoming an eminent philosopher or statesman! Yea, I think far less.
How can benevolence find rest for the sole of its foot, in such an hypothesis ?
God has not determined absolutely to save any man, by making him willing in the day of his power ; but he has given this moral power to all men, and if they will but use it, they may save themselves.'!
Then I despair of their salvation !
A SUPPOSED DIALOGUE BETWEEN NATHAN THE
PROPHET AND ABSALOM.
It may serve to illustrate some theological truths, if we were to imagine, (contrary, I allow, to fact,) that Joab, when he found Absalom suspended by his hair in the oak, instead of running three darts through his heart, had only taken him prisoner to Jerusalem, where he was put into close confinement; and that David sent Nathan the prophet, to converse with him in prison.
Let us suppose, that he found Absalom very sullen, unwilling to speak to Nathan, or even to look at him ; but that the prophet thus addressed him.
Nathan. O Absalom! your much injured father has sent me to converse with you, and to reason with you concerning the greatness of your crimes.
Absalom. I have nothing to say to you. I doubt not but my father intends to put me to a miserable death. I therefore hate to hear his name mentioned ; I cannot bear to think of him.
Nathan. Must you not allow that your conduct has been most ungrateful, most unnatural, and atrocious? You conspired against your rightful Sovereign, whom God had anointed to be king over his people Israel ; and who never gave you any cause for your disaffection. His only fault towards you was that of too great indulgence; and you have requited him evil for good.
Absalom. Of what avail is it to talk to me of his former kindness? Has he not cast me into prison ? and does he not intend to take away my life?
Nathan. I am not at present commissioned to say any thing respecting your father's intention. If he should punish you with the utmost severity, he will only deal with you according to your deserts. He has desired me to set before you the criminality of your conduct, and to endeavor to convince you of the greatness of your guilt.
Absalom. If you were first to assure me of his determination to pardon my offence, and reinstate me in my dignity as his son, I might perhaps give you the hearing ; but now I can only think of the severity of the punishment which he is likely to inflict upon me; and I consider his sending you to talk with me, on the subject of my rebellion, as an act of cruelty, intended to torture my mind, before I am stoned to death.
Nathan. I know not that your father could forgive you, with safety to himself, or to the peace and welfare of Israel ; especially in your present impenitent state of mind: but even if you were ever so deeply penitent, it would be perfectly just to deal with you according to the law of God. You are certainly worthy of death, for your traiterous rebellion against your father, and for occasioning the death of twenty thousand men of Israel ; from whose blood, he may well apprehend that the land cannot be cleansed, except by your punishment.
Absalom. Now, then, I plainly perceive, that my father has sent you only for the purpose of tormenting me before the time. I wish you would leave me alone, and quit the prison immediately.
Nathan. Your father sincerely pities you, and wishes you may
be brought to a deep sense of your sin, not only against him and all Israel, but against Jehovah, the God of Israel, and of the whole earth ; that so, if your life cannot be spared, yet your soul may escape the second death, or the anger of God in a future state.
Absalom. Let my father think of his own sins, and not send you to preach to me about the evil of my crimes. With all his zeal for Jehovah, what occasion has he given to the enemies of the God of Israel to blaspheme !
Nathan. You cannot doubt of your father's sincere and deep repentance. His sin has been ever before him. You
have heard how patiently he bore the slanderous reproaches of Shimei : though he knew himself perfectly guiltless of the blood of Saul and his house, yet he was deeply conscious how guilty he had been in other respects, and therefore he would not suffer your cousin Abishai to avenge him of the insolence of that spiteful Benjamite; but considered the revilings of the son of Gera, and all his other afflictions, in which you have had so great a hand, as intended by God to correct him and deepen his repentance. But it ill becomes you thus to reflect on your father, whose agonies of grief you could not but witness, even before his outward troubles began.
Absalom. Nay, his troubles commenced immediately after you were sent to reprove him. How did he weep, and fast, and pray, for the first-born of Bathsheba; when the Lord struck the child, and he was very sick!
Nathan. Yes, but how humbly did he submit, as soon as the divine will was made manifest! And though he felt much on that occasion, yet surely the death of the infant was as nothing, compared with the troubles which Amnon and you brought upon him.
Absalom. Well. Ought he not then to see the hand of God in these events also, and therefore to exonerate me from blame?
Nathan. He does see the hand of God, in all that has befallen him. But I am persuaded that you would not consider this as any excuse for your brother Amnon; and certainly it is no more an excuse for your own wickedness.
Absalom. I never heard that you, or any other prophet, predicted the injury which Amnon offered to my sister Tamar; but I have heard, since I violated my father's wives, that you yourself foretold that event, in the most express terms: how then could I do otherwise than I did ? and how am I to blame, for fulfilling the purposes of God ?
Nathan. I named neither you, nor any other person, as the agent of that atrocious deed. It was not your place to punish your father for seducing the wife of Uriah, by wickedly approaching his wives; nor had you the least intention of fulfilling my prediction, of which I believe you had no