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tion in what I say about Joseph's brethren? I said, "There were many devices in the hearts of Joseph's brethren; one was to kill him ; but that did not stand: another was to leave him in the pit; but that did not stand." Does not the child understand me to say, that these devices, or projects were not executed? I am sure he cannot understand me to say, that they never had any such devices in their hearts; or that their having such devices in their hearts, was itself contrary to the counsel of the Lord.
I shall at present take notice of but one other objection which Mr. B. urges against the doctrine of decrees. He says, "Your doctrine destroys the immuta"bility of God." We should hardly have expected to hear those, who deny any divine plan, charge us with destroying the immutability of God, who hold that he governs all things, according to his own immutable counsel. Mr. B. says, "From the immutability of his counsel, we may suppose that he never alters any of his designs. In the account Moses has given of the creation of the world, it is said at the conclusion of the whole, And God saw every thing that he had made, and behold it was very good. Man at this time was holy-He afterwards became unholy-and if this change was an cffect purely of an act of God, which it must have been, if all things are brought to pass by him, then God changed his design-he first designed man should be holy, and afterwards that he should be unholy; unless you can make it appear that holiness and unholiness are one and the same, or that God designed that he should be holy and unholy at the same time, which is a contradiction." p. 30. It would be a contradiction for God to de-sign that man should exist a perfectly holy, and a totally sinful creature at the same time: But I do not see that it is any contradiction for God to design that he should be at one time a perfectly holy creature, and at another time a totally sinful creature. Man cannot be in this sense holy, and unholy at the same time; but God might at the same time lay his plan which should include both these states of man. Mr. B. intimates, that according to our doctrine, "God first designed man should be holy, and afterwards that he should be unholy.” It would be contradictory to suppose, that God first de
termined that man should be forever a holy creature, and that he afterwards determined that he should be. come an unholy creature. But it is no contradiction to suppose that he determined that he should be holy for such a period, and that after the expiration of this period he should become unholy. In the same divine counsel might also be included his recovery to holiness.Summer and winter, and day and night, are quite dif ferent from each other; but they are evidently parts of one and the same scheme of providence. "His steady counsels change the face of the declining year." I do not quote this as of divine authority; but its truth is so apparent when applied to the varying seasons, that none will dispute it. And is there any thing in itself contradictory, to apply it to the whole system of providence? In this system there are innumerable events, and events of all sorts and descriptions; but they are all working together as a great whole, to promote the glory of God, and the good of those who love him. The work of redeeming sinners by Jesus Christ, was no doubt all planned at once; that is, the whole is one plan. And this plan must have included such things as these; an infinite Redeemer-his holy life, his holy doctrine also a traitor, a cross, crucifiers, &c. These different, and, as to their character, opposite things, were the one counsel of that God, who is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever. The mount of transfiguration, and the mount of Calvary, both help fulfil the purpose of him, who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.
The doctrine of our opponents which denies any system of events, and only acknowledges a system of rules, is incompatible with immutability in the Supreme Being. According to their doctrine, innumerable events have taken place, which the Deity not only dislikes for their own sake, but which he dislikes on every other account, so that he would have prevented them if he had been able. They are not willing to say, it was a part of God's wise plan, that his Son should be crucified by wicked hands; they choose rather to say, that he could not have prevented it, without infringing upon the freedom of his creatures. This scheme of doctrine, if we do not misapprehend it, represents the
Divine Being as perpetually changing from his original designs, to accommodate himself to the exigency of the times, tho' all things considered, he wishes no such exigency had occurred. But the scheme of doctrine` which we advocate, does not impute the least shadow of turning to the Father of lights. It supposes him to be as absolute in the work of providence, as in the work of creating the world. This doctrine makes God appear great and glorious; yea, unchangeably great and glorious. It invites us to trust in him with all our heart, because he is God almighty, his counsel will stand, he will work, and none can hinder him.
A VINDICATION OF THE DOCTRINE OF TOTAL DEPRAVITY, CONTAINING A REPLY TO OBJECTIONS RAISED AGAINST THIS DOCTRINE IN MR. BANGS' SECOND LETTER.
MR. BANGS' Second Letter is intended to detect and refute the errors of my second Sermon. This Sermon was designed to prove the total depravity of unrenewed nature. The text chosen for this purpose was Rom. vii. 18. For I know that in me (that is in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing. It was my object, in explaining the text, to show that Paul meant to confess, that in him, until recovered by renewing grace, there was no holiness. I have these words; "It is a full acknowledgment, that in his nature, unchanged by grace, there dwelt nothing better than sin,-not the least particle of holiness." Sermons, p. 31. But Mr. B. could not but know, from what I said in my lengthy explication of the text, that I did not intend to represent the apostle as declaring that he was then, when he wrote his epistle, in a state of total depravity. The contrary of this is fully declared in the Sermons, p. 30. Was it proper then for my antagonist, in writing a book, which he had reason to think would be read by many, who would never see my Sermons, to make such a statement as the following? "For, if I mistake not, you think a man may be as pious as was the apostle Paul, and yet be totally sinful. The explanation of your text leads me to this conclusion. You hold that he was regenerated when he wrote his admirable epistle to the Romans; and yet you think he taught the doctrine of
total depravity in your text, I know that in me, (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing. This you suppose he spoke of himself as his then present state, and . therefore he must have been at that time both totally depraved, and regenerated!" p. 88. This supposed contradiction in my book, is made a point of much importance by the author of the Letters. Besides the quotation now made, he devotes nearly two pages more to the exposure of the glaring absurdity of a regenerated totally depraved sinner. But let me ask the candid of every creed and name; Is it any absurdity for a regenerated sinner, to tell what his character was before regeneration? If there is now an old, and a new man within him, is there any thing in itself contradictory, that he should now tell what the nature or character of the old man is, though he should not, at the same breath, say any thing about the nature or character of the new man ?.
The doctrine drawn from the text, was the total depravity of all unrenewed men. I shall here make a short quotation from the explanation which was given of the doctrine. In the 32d page of the Sermons it is stated; "By total depravity we do not mean, that men thus depraved cannot reason correctly, even on religious subjects; nor that they cannot be clearly convinced of of their duty; nor is it meant, that there is none of the external conduct of unrenewed men such as it ought to be. But by total depravity is meant, that the heart is wholly and continually under the power of sin." If this definition of depravity be kept in view, it will render it unnecessary for me to reply to what Mr. B. says about the light and conviction, of which unrenewed men are the subjects. If by their light, be meant their holiness, they are no longer sinners, but saints, that is, holy ones. But if by light,. in application to the unconverted, be meant such knowledge as does not imply holiness, then Calvinists do not pretend that the unconverted are totally destitute of light. Let their light of this kind be ever so great, what does that prove against the entire sinfulness of their hearts? Mr. B. quotes a sentence from the Sermons in which it is said, "A knowledge of this (namely, of our depravity) is forced upon us in that conviction which precedes a change of heart." To this he