Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?—Proverbs 20.6

 

David Dickson's

Truth's Victory Over Error

Chapter. IX.

Of Free-will

"HATH man, by his fall into an estate of sin, wholly lost all ability of will, to any supernatural good, accompanying salvation: so as the natural man being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able by his own strength to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto?"

Yes; Rom. 5.5. John 15.5. Rom. 3.10,12. John 6.44,65.

Well then, do not the Pelagians and Socinians err, who maintain, That the natural man without supernatural and divine grace, is able to convert himself to God by his own strength?

Yes.

Do not likewise the Semipelagians, Papists, Arminians, and Lutherans err, who maintain, That fallen man, and corrupted with original sin, is partly able by his own strength, the grace of God assisting him, to prepare himself, and turn himself to God?

Yes.

By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, Because the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned, 1 Cor. 2.14. Rom. 8.7,9.

2d, Because all that the natural man doth, is sin, and cannot in any wise please God, because his works are not of faith, nor to the glory of God, as the law requires, Rom. 14.23. Heb. 11.6. Titus 1.15. Rom. 3.10-12. Psalm 14.3. Rom. 8.8.

3d, Because a man hath no good in himself, whereby he may be differenced from the most flagitious, nor any good thing which he hath not received, 1 Cor. 4.7.

4th, Because conversion, grace and salvation, are not of him that runneth or willeth, but of God that sheweth mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth, Rom. 9.15,16,18. Rom. 11.7,8. Mat. 11.21,22,25.

5th, Because the conversion of a natural man, is the quickening of one dead, Eph. 2.5. Col. 2.13. It is a regeneration, or bearing again, John 3.5,6. It is the creating of a new heart, Psalm 51.10. It is the taking away the heart of stone, and the giving of a heart of flesh, Ezek. 11.19. Ezek. 36.25. And therefore as God raised us from the grace of sin, by his own proper power, 1 Cor. 6.15. And,

6th, Because God converts and calls men, not by works of righteousness, which they have done, Titus 3.4,6,7. but according to his own purpose and grace which is given us in Christ Jesus, 2 Tim. 1.9.

Quest. II. "Doth a regenerate man, after his conversion, perfectly and only will that which is good?"

No; Gal. 5.17. Rom. 7.15,18,21,23.

Well then, do not the Puritans, (I do not mean the old Non-conformists) Antinomians, Anabaptists, and many Quakers err, who maintain, That all the saints of God are free from every spot and blemish of sin?

Yes.

Do not likewise some of the Popish church, and Socinians err, who maintain, That some Christians, that are more advanced, may come that length, to be without any spot blemish, and act of sin; nay, that some have really win that length?

Yes.

By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, Because in many things we offend all, James 3.2.

2d, Because Christ commands us to seek daily remissions of sins, Mat. 6.12. Luke 11.4.

3d, Because there is not one just man upon the earth, who doth not sin, 1 Kings 8.46. Eccl. 7.20.

4th, Because there is a continual war between the flesh and the Spirit; so that they namely, the regenerate, are not able to do that which they are willing, and ought to do, Gal. 5.17.

5th, Because the regenerate are not able to fulfill the first command, namely, to love God with all their heart, with all their soul, Mat. 22.37,38. For we know here but in part, and therefore we love but in part, 1 Cor. 13.9. Neither are the saints free of all those inordinate motions of concupiscence, forbidden in the tenth command, as is evident from Gal. 5.17. and from the experience of Paul, and of all the other saints.

6th, Because if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us, 1 John 1.8,9. But when that same apostle says, Whosoever is born of God, doth not commit sin, for his seed remains in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God; he must mean in the first text, of sin dwelling in the best of saints here-away, and therefore he expresses it by hamartian echein, peccatum habere, which signifies, to have sin. In the second text, he means of sin, not ony indwelling, but reigning in us, and made a trade of, and gone about with the full and hearty consent of the will, and is expressed by the words hamartian poiein, to work sin, and to make a trade of it, as men do in any employment they take delight in.

7th, We see it from the grievous falls of the most eminent saints, as Noah, Lot, Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon, Asa, Jehoshaphat, and the disciples of Christ.


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