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much as one talent of faving grace, in flat oppofition to that claufe of the parable, begave TO EVERY ONE, one or two TRUE taknts at least: Ifay true, because whatever dreadful hints Zelotes may throw out to the contrary, I dare not allow the thought, that the true God deals in falfe coin; or that, because he is the God of ALL grace, he deals also in damning grace ::-Damning grace I call it; for in the very nature of things, all grace beftowed upon an abfolute reprobate-upon a man hated of God with an everlasting hate, and given up from his mother's womb unavoidably to fin and be damned—all grace, I fay, flowing from fuch a reprobating God to fuch a reprobated man, is no better than a ferpent, whofe head is Calvin's abfolute reprobation, and it's tail Zelotes's finished damnation.
Zelotes, I fear, objects to the fovereign, free, diftinguishing grace which I contend for, chiefly because it has no connexion with the bound will, and distinguishing free-wrath, which characterize his opinions. Accordingly he foon takes his leave of me and the parable of the talents, the middle part of which illuftrates what he calls my heresy, that is, the doctrine of FREE-WILL; (1) The doctrine of OBEDIENT Free-will, which our Lord fecures thus: Then he that had received five talents, went and traded with the fame, and made them other five talents, &c. And (2) The ftoctrine of PERVERSE free-will, down in thefe words: But he that lent, went and digged in the ea th, money. Here Chrift, for brevity's fake, points out unfaithful free-will in the lowest difpenfation only: floth and unfaithfulness being by no means neceffary confequences of the least number of talents: For whilst fome Christians bury their five, and fome Jews their tavo talents, fome Heathens fo improve their one talent, as to verify our Lord's doctrine, The laft fhall be firft.
which Chrift lays had received one taand bid bis Lord's
The third part of the parable illustrates the doctrine of rewarding grace: or of CONDITIONAL election to, and reprobation from the rewards, with which divine
grace crowns human faithfulness. I call this election and this reprobation conditional, because they are entirely fufpended upon the good or bad ufe, which our faithful, or unfaithful free will makes of the talent or talents bestowed upon us by free-grace; as appears by the rest of the parable: After a long time the Lord of thofe fervants cometh, and reckoneth with them, proceeding first to the election of REWARDING grace. He that had received five talents, came and brought other five talents, faying, Lord, thon delivered unto me five talents: behold I have gained befides them five talents more. Here you fee in an exemplifying glafs the doctrine, which Zelotes abhors, and which St. John recommends thus : Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence towards God. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of reckoning, or of judgment, John iii. 21. iv. 17. His Lord [instead of driving him to hell as a poor, blind, unawakened creature, who never knew himfelf; or as a proud, felf-righteous Pharifee, who was never convinced of fin] faid unto him, Well-done, thou GOOD and FAITHFUL fervant [Thou veffel of mercy] Thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things, enter THOU into the joy of thy Lord thro' my merciful gofpel-charter, and the paffport of thy fincere, blood-befprinkled obedience.
The fervant, who through free grace and faithfulnefs had gained two talents, befides the two, which diftinguishing grace had given him, came next: and when he had been elected into the joy of his Lord in the fame gracious manner, the trial of the faithlefs Heathen came on. His plea would almoft make one think, that Zelotes had inftilled into him his hard doctrine of reprobation. He is not ashamed to preach it to Chrift himself. Lord, fays he, I knew thee, that thou art an hard man, who didft contrive my reprobation from the beginning of the world, and gaveft me only one talent of common grace, twenty of which would not amount to one dram of faving grace. I knew thee, Ifay, that thou art an auftere matter; reaping, or
wanting to reap, where thou haft not fown the feed of effectual grace; and gathering, or wanting to gather, where thou haft not ftrawed one grain of TRUE grace: and I was afraid, and went, and hid thy talent, thy ineffectual, falfe, common grace in the earth: to, there thou haft that is thine. His Lord answered and faid unto bim, Thou wicked and slothful fervant, &c. thou oughteft to have put my money to the exchangers, who fometimes exchange to fuch advantage for the poor, that their little one becomes a thousand. Hadft thou made this proper use of my common grace," as thou callest it, at my coming, I should have received mine own with ufury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it to him that hath ten talents: for every one that hath to purpofe, fhall have abundance: but from him that hath not to purpose, shall be taken away even that which he hath :
his unimproved, hidden talent. And caft ye the unprofitable fervant into outer darkness: i. e. into hell : there fhall be weeping and gnashing of tecth. Mat. xxv. 14, 31. Hence it appears, that a man may be freely ELECTED to receive one, two, or five talents freely CHOSEN to trade with them, and afterwards be juftly REPROBATED OF CAST AWAY into outer darkness, for not improving his talent, that is, for not making his calling and election fure.
Zelotes, indeed, as if he were confcious, that the parable of the talents overthrows all his doctrinal peculiarities, endeavours to explain it away by faying, that it does not reprefent God's conduct towards his people, with respect to grace and falvation; but only with regard to parts and natural gifts. To this I anfwer: (1) The fcriptures no where mention a day of account, in which God will reward and punish his fervants according to their natural parts, exclufively of their moral actions. -(2) The fervants had all the fame master. Luke xix. 13, they are all reprefented as receiving one pound each, to occupy or trade till their mafter came: He that did not improve his pound, or talent, is called wicked on that account: now the nonimprovement of a natural talent, fuppofe for poetry
or hufbandry, can never conftitute a man wicked; nothing can do this, but the non-improvement of a talent of grace.-(3) We have as much reafon to affirm, that the oil of the virgins, mentioned in the beginning of the chapter, and the good works of the godly, mentioned at the end of it, were not of a gracious nature;" as to affert it of the improvement of the pound, which conftituted fome of the fervants good and faithful.-(4) It is abfurd to fuppofe, that Chrift will never take fome men into his joy, and will command others to be caft into outer darkness, for improving or not improving the natural talent of fpeaking, writing, or finging in a masterly manner.-(5) The defcription of the day of judgment, that clofes the chapter, is a key to the two preceding parables. On the one hand the door is hut against the FOOLISH VIRGINS, merely FOR their apoftacy :-for having burned our all their oil of faith working by love, fo that their lamps went out. The SLOTHFUL, SERVANT is caft into outer darkness, merely FOR not improving his talent of opportunity and power to believe, and to work righteoufnefs according to the light of his difpenfation-And the COATS are fent into hell, merely FOR not having done the works of faith. On the other hand [confidering falvation according to its fecond caufes] the WISE VIRGINS go in with the bridegroom, BECAUSE their lamps are not gone out, and they have oil in their veffels; the FAITHFUL SERVANTS enter into the joy of their Lord, BECAUSE they have improved their talents; and the SHEEP go into life eternal, BECAUSE they have done the works of faith. The three parts of that plain chapter make a three-fold cord, which, I apprehend, Zelotes cannot break, without breaking all the rules of morality, criticifm, and common fenfe.
I fhall close my parabolic illuftration of the fcripture-doctrine of unconditional and conditional election, by prefenting Zelotes and Honeftus with a fhort view of our election in Chrift; that is, of our election to rereive freely, and to ufe faithfully the five talents of
the christian difpenfation, that we may reap all the benefits annexed to making that high calling and election fure.
1. Bleffed be the God and Father of our Lord Jefus Chirst, who hath bleffed us with all fpiritual bleffings in heavenly things IN [the perjon and difpenfation of] CHRIST according as he hath * CHOSEN us [to believe] IN HIM, before the foundation of the world; that [in making our high calling and clection fure] we should be holy and without blame before him in love. Eph.
i. 3, 4
[If Zelotes is offended at my infinuating that St. Paul's phrafe IN CHRIST, is fome times an ellipfis a fhort way of fpeaking,
2. Hearken, my beloved brethren, hath not God CHOSEN the poor of this world? [Yes, but not abfolutely: for Zelotes knows, that ALL the poor are not elected in his way; and St. James infinuates, that their election to the kingdom of heaven is fufpended on faith and love; for he adds, that] God hath chosen the poor RICH IN FAITH and [of confequence] HEIRS OF THE KINGDOM, which he hath promifed to THEM THAT LOVE him, [i. c. to them that are rich in the faith which works by love. ] James ii. 5. -Know this alfo, that the Lord hath
This paffage will be explained in the next Section. In the mean time I defire the reader to take notice, that the election of which St. Paul writes, is not of the antinomian kind: I mean, it is not Calvinian clection, which enfures eternal falvation to all fallen believers. That the apoftle was an utter stranger to fuch a doctrine appears from his own words to thofe ele Ephefians. Putting away lying fpeak 'truth---Let him that ftole fteal no more--- Be not drunk---Let not ⚫ fornication or uncleanness be once named among you, &c. for this ye know, that no unclean perfon, &c. bath any inheritance in the kingdom of Chrift. Let no man deceive you with vain words, for be'cause of these things the wrath of God cometh upon the children of 'difobedience,' i. e. upon the difobedient children, who, by their bad works, lose their inheritance in the kingdom of God. Is it not furprizing, that, when St. Paul has thus warned the Ephefians against antinomian deceptions, he should be represented as deceiving those very Ephefians firft, by teaching them a doctrine, which implies, that no crimes, be they ever fo atrocious, can deprive fallen believers · of their inheritance in the kingdom of Christ?