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The following appears to provoke a peculiar response from some people. I have mentioned some of these thoughts to several and was very surprised by some of their responses.

Question: Can a sinner obey God?

There is a doctrine that says a sinner cannot repent. According to that doctrine we are not able to come to God unless He particularly chooses us and then specifically enables us to repent. Even then it is said that we may not repent, but we then do have the ability to do so. They say this is being born again from above. Yet, they say that you are not saved even then until you repent and go on to follow God. In contrast to this - it is my understanding that the call to repent is universal.

Acts 17:26 " ** (God) ** has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 "so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 "for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His offspring.' 29 "Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man's devising. 30 "Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, (NKJ)

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, (NKJ)

Again, the questions: Can a sinner repent? Must a sinner be given a special call and empowerment above that of his fellows before He can obey God by repenting of his sins?

It is erroneously said that we cannot do anything in the way of turning to God until after we have been born from above.

In Saint John three Jesus made it clear that we all must be born from above.

He put the onus for doing so on our shoulders. For He said -

"except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." (KJV)

On down he added -

"Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."

Then he made it clear, to the point of making sure it was known as being a necessity or a commandment, by saying -

"ye must be born again."

Now notice what Nicodemous said and Christ's reply.

John 3:9-10 "Nicodemous answered and said unto him, How can these things be? 10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? " (KJV)

Christ's question to Nicodemous here connects this born again situation with the Old Testament teachings. It is apparent that Jesus ties Nicodemous position in with his knowing about a fundamental that he as a teacher should have been knowledgeable about. So let us compare this with the passage where God is dealing with Cain.

Here we have God asking Cain some questions.

Gen 4:6 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?

7 "If you do well, will not {your countenance} be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it." (NAS)

Notice that God makes no reference to Cain having been born in sin. Also notice that though Abel is Cain's brother and that though both were born after their parents disobeyed God, Abel still is declared to have been a righteous person and we have no record of his conversion. It seems rather obvious that Abel did do what was right and so was accepted.

We know that Abraham lived during an age of grace and this period extended all the way back to the time of Eden. This means that the same instructions that Jesus gave Nicodemous also applied to Cain and Abel, for Grace and truth accompanied Christ's ministry.

John 1:16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. (KJV)

We can also say that the instructions given to Cain were very similar to those Christ gave to Nicodemous.

Now let us take into consideration what Peter said to Cornelius -

Acts 10:30 And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, 31 And said, ****** 32 Send *** to Joppa, and call ***** Peter; **** 32 who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee. **** 34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. (KJV)

Then let us look at statements made by Paul -

Romans 2:5, 6 ... (God) *** "will render to each one according to his deeds": 7 eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; 8 but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness-- indignation and wrath, 9 tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; 10 but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11 For there is no partiality with God. (NKJ)

The born again situation is inseparable from repentance and obedience.

It is to turn away from sin toward God's righteousness. It is inseparable from hearing the Gospel and the commandments and accepting them, by faith.

Paul also said some things that are often misunderstood, but he continually clarifies his thoughts if we will only check the context. He teaches us that we cannot save ourselves through our obedience. Our works are meaningless relative to salvation, in the sense of ever earning it. However, no works of righteousness is a cause for fear.

Romans 3:31 Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law. (NKJ)

1 Cor 7:19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters. (NKJ)

Now let us go back to the Old Testament and consider the spots on a Leopard.

Jeremiah 13:23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil. (KJV)

Is this statement to be taken out of context? Obviously a leopard cannot change it's spots, but in the context Jeremiah is actually calling Israel to repent. So, to interpret this statement as meaning that a sinner cannot change his ways is to terribly portray the book of Jeremiah as a useless endeavor.

Jeremiah was given a terrible warning for Israel, yet in it there was still a call for them to repent. God tells them of their terrible sins then adds a call to repentance -

Jer 2:9 Wherefore I will yet plead with you, saith the LORD, and with your children's children will I plead. (KJV)

3:4 Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My father, thou art the guide of my youth?

3:12 Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the LORD; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the LORD, and I will not keep anger for ever.

3:22 Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings. Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the LORD our God. (KJV)

It is obvious that the reference to the Leopards spots was still inseparable from God's call for them to repent. It was a warning for those who would hear. It was not to be taken literally

The following article is an except from a book that was written over one hundred and fifty years ago. It contains a message very much like this one.

The above was written/compiled for your consideration by your friend Vern Manson

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Copied from www.truthinheart.com and then edited.

A portion of -



By John Morgan, Professor of the Literature of the New Testament, Oberlin C. Institute. February 1846.


7.) The Bible declares of saints that they have actually rendered full obedience.

It is said of Caleb, Num. 14: 24,

"My servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereunto he went." Deut. 1: 36, "To him will I give the land that he hath trodden upon and to his children, because he hath wholly followed the Lord."

Of Joshua and Caleb, (Num. 32: 12,) it is said,

"They have wholly followed the Lord."

The same language is employed, 1 Kings 11: 6, with respect to David. God sentences the Israelites in the wilderness, Num. 32: 11,

"Surely none of the men that came up out of Egypt from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac and unto Jacob; because they have not wholly followed me."

Solomon is sentenced (1 Kings, 11: 11, compare verse 11) to lose his kingdom because "he went not after the Lord fully as did David his father," and thus failed "to keep the Lord's covenant."

The original Hebrew phrase in all these places is the same, though translated into somewhat different English. Gesenius, surpassed by no one in Hebrew lexicography, explains the phrase to mean "to yield God full obedience." Leopold in his lexicon renders it "integra obedientian Jovam sequi," that is to follow Jehovah with entire obedience. In reference to David God says to Jeroboam, 1 Kings 14: 8,

"Thou hast not been as my servant David, who kept my commandments, and who followed me with all his heart, to do that only which was right in mine eyes."

It is recorded of Jehoshaphat, 2 Chron. 22: 9, that "he sought the Lord with all his heart." Of Josiah the inspired record is, 2 Kings 23: 25,

"And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses, neither after him arose there any like him."

On this remarkable passage we observe,

[1.] Its language is manifestly copied from Deut. 6: 5, where the mode of expression is the most emphatic known to the writers of the Old Testament in proclaiming the law of the Lord, and therefore the design of the writer of this book is to declare that Josiah "turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might" according to the requisition of that emphatic passage.

[2.] The expressions, "like unto him was there no king before him, neither after him arose there any like him," are to be understood, not of his turning to the Lord with all his heart, but of the comprehensive reformation he effected, extending to all the institutiones of Moses. As Matthew henry has well expressed it, "he was a none-such as a reformer:" he had the abilities and influence which qualified him for that work. But Hezekiah (2 Kings 18: 5,) received the praise of a none-such in faith, as the same venerable commentator says.

"He trusted in the Lord God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him."

In the fearful invasion of Sennecherib, he was placed in circumstances to call for the manifestation of an exalted faith such as the circumstances of no other pious king demanded. The piety of every saint will have its type and direction determined by the original cast of his constitution, and the influences and emergencies among which he is situated. If he meets the particular responsibilities which God has imposed on him, he is accepted; but if he fails to meet them, he sins and falls under condemnation.

With reference to the covenant entered into by Judah in the time of king Asa, it is recorded, 2 Chron. 15: 15,

"And all Judah rejoiced at the oath; for they had sworn with all their heart and sought [the Lord] with their whole desire."

We have seen that all the people stood with Josiah to the covenant to walk after the Lord with all their heart and with all their soul. In 2 Chron. 34: 32, in immediate connexion with this transaction, it is declared,

"that the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers."

Now we have seen that this covenant was not merely an engagement to serve the Lord in some degree, but to do it with their whole heart.

(8.) Bible saints professed this entire obedience. Thus Caleb says to Joshua, Josh. 14: 8,

"my brethren that went up with me, made the heart of the people melt; but I wholly followed the Lord my God."

"I beseech thee O Lord," says Hezekiah 2 Kings 20: 3,

"remember how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart."

It is remarkable that the lexicographers Gesenius, Leopold, and Gibbs in explaining the word shauem, give both the general signification, perfect, entire, consummate, and in reference to the relation of men to God make it signify at peace or on good terms with him. Ps. 119: 10, 58, 145, the Psalmist professes,

"With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. -- I entreated thy favor with my whole heart: be merciful unto me according to thy word.--I cried with my whole heart; hear me: I will keep thy statutes."

It may be thought that historians or poets in describing the characters or conduct of others would resort to the language of hyperbole, but do the modest, humble saints employ hyperbolical expressions in telling of their own conduct and exercise? Do they magnify their own earnestness and faithfulness--or use the words of simple truth?--Two remarks we will make on the passage from the Psalmist:

1. He founds on his whole-hearted seeking and prayers a covenant claim to be heard, to be made a subject of mercy and grace.

2. His belief of his own whole-heartedness did not make him self-confident or presumptuous.

"O let me not wander from thy commandments"

is any thing rather than the language of a self-confident spirit.

  In the times of Samuel the prophet, when the ark had long been absent from its place, the sacred historian tells, us, 1 Sam. 7: 2,

"that all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord." "And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord and serve him only; and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines."

The prophet seems to take it for granted that if they looked for divine favor, they professed to return to the Lord with all their hearts, and he expects them to bring forth the appropriate fruits, by casting away idols, and preparing or rather establishing their hearts to the Lord so as in future to serve Him only, and promises that then they shall experience deliverance form their enemies.

(9.) Those who did not yield full obedience are either branched as hypocrites or spoken of as the objects of divine displeasure. "Surely," says God, Num. 32: 11, "none of the men that came up out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land which I sware unto Abraham and unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, because they have not wholly followed me."

It is of these men that the Psalmist speaks, Ps. 78: 34-37,

"When He slew them, then they sought Him; and they returned, and inquired early after God. And they remembered that God was their rock and the High God their Redeemer. Nevertheless they did flatter Him with their mouth, and they lied unto Him with their tongues; for their heart was not right with Him, neither were they steadfast [or true] in his covenant."

It is true that as the next verse tells us, God "being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity and destroyed them not: immediately."

He forgave them in the same sense in which he might forgive the murderers of Christ, that is, he did not at once and forever shut the door of mercy on them; but he did not forgive them or show mercy in the same sense in which he "keeps covenant and mercy with his servants who walk before him with all their heart," (1 Kings 8: 23,) . God finally swore in his wrath that they should not enter into his rest; and the epistle to the Hebrews holds them up as the great warning example of unbelief and consequent subjection to divine wrath.--Heb. 3: 7--19; 4: 1-7.

God had said to Solomon, (1 Kings 9: 4, 5,)

"If thou wilt walk before me as David thy father walked, in integrity [tom--entireness] of heart and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee * * * * then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom for ever."

But by and by through the influence of his foreign wives, Solomon's

"heart was not perfect, [shaulem] with the Lord his God as was the heart of David his father. * * * * And Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and went not fully after the Lord as did David his father. * * * And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel" 1 Kings 11: 1, 6, 9.

The external conduct of the renowned king was abominable, and it was traced to the swerving of his heart from "entireness and uprightness." And it was with this inward defection that the Holy One was displeased.

Then Hezekiah who could, when he was sick, appeal to God "that he had walked before him with a perfect heart," fell into pride, and ostentatiously displayed his treasures to the Babylonish ambassadors, "there was wrath upon him and upon Judah and Jerusalem. Nevertheless Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, (both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem) so that the wrath of the Lord came not upon them in the days of Hezekiah." 2 Chron. 32: 25, 26. In like manner God dealt with David when he sinned in the matter of Uriah, and in numbering the people. His heart was no more "perfect with the Lord" when he was perpetrating those crimes than Solomon's was when he was worshipping the abominations of the Sidonians. Nor did the heart of Hezekiah remain a perfect one when "it was lifted up with pride." The Bible knows nothing of a "perfect heart" which retires in its perfection, somewhere into the recesses of the inward being and goes to sleep, while the members of the body are employed in adultery or murder, and the thoughts are full of pride. Nor does the Bible make the ways of God so unequal that every sin in one man who has never experienced the grace of God, shall incur the danger of eternal damnation, and that no sin, not even murder, in another whose sins are aggravated by the rupture of all the endearing ties of intimate filial communion and glorious discoveries never made to his sinning brother, shall incur the danger of no severer penalty than God's fatherly displeasure and the withdrawal of the light of his continence.

If "Christ in the gospel does not dissolve, but much strengthen the obligation" of the law to all men, much more so does he do this with respect to those who have received the richest blessings.

If other sinners incur the danger of damnation by their sins, then when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity--since "there is no sin so small but it deserves damnation" and which iniquity is crimsoned with the deepest hues of guilt,--what peril short of exclusion from mercy or repentance, shall not such a sinner incur? If he incurs not the peril of death, then with respect to him, the law, as to its penalty, is utterly abrogated, and when he is forgiven, he is not released from the danger of perdition, but merely from further manifestations of God's paternal displeasure.

It is sometimes argued that the sins of persons who have been converted, do not bring them into a state of condemnation or forfeit their justification, because the discipline of the Lord is to bring them to repentance. But the true question which determines the relation of the sins of such persons to the divine wrath is, what would they incur if the perpetrators were to persist in them--or were their probation at once closed? The fact that they are brought to repentance by divine chastisements and are then forgiven, no more proves that their sins did not expose them to damnation, than the same fact proves that the unconverted who will yet be saved, have not hanging over their guilty heads the poised thunderbolts of divine indignation.

"When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die." Ezek. 18: 26.

"The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression--neither shall the righteous be able to live for his righteousness in the day that he sinneth."

Ezek. 33: 12. And if a wicked man would save his soul alive, he must "turn from his sin and walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity." Ezek. 33: 14, 15.

In the day that he commits iniquity--the least degree of it for ought the scriptures any where say--his righteousness shall not deliver him from death. If he is spared and space is allowed him for repentance, it is not because he had the least personal covenant claim on favor, but because God pleases in his own sovereign goodness to spare him, not willing that he should perish, just as he spares the countless hosts of sinners who crowd the broad road. After him He cries as after them, Turn, turn, for why wilt thou die?

3. The text which we have hitherto quoted have been almost exclusively from the Old Testament. We have chosen to present its testimony chiefly by itself, in order that our readers may be enabled, with less effort, to see the harmony of both parts of divine revelation. On some points we shall have occasion to bring forward a number of other texts.

We wished also to expose the falsity of a notion entertained by some believers in the doctrine of Christian perfection, namely, that to those who live under the new dispensation, entire sanctification is attainable, but that Old Testament saints were generally, throughout the whole life, sinfully imperfect. The many texts already adduced appear to us to show very clearly, that under the ancient dispensation, the standard of acceptable piety was nothing lower than entire conformity to the divine law. The covenant blessings belonged to none others than those who "kept God's testimonies and sought him with the whole heart."--Ps. 119: 2, 3.

But if under the Old Testament saints could be accepted on no less condition than present sinless holiness, much more must this be true under the new dispensation. For it would be most preposterous to suppose that the gospel, with its higher and fuller communications of the Spirit, has lowered the conditions of mercy.

We might safely conclude, then, without further inquiry, that the New Testament standard is at least as high as that of the Old. But for the sake of exhibiting the harmony of the two Testaments, and of further impressing the views already presented, and for other reasons which will appear in the progress of the discussion, we shall take into consideration some classes of texts, which we believe support our position.


(1.) We commence with the Sermon on the Mount.

"Think not," says Christ, "that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets. I am not come to destroy but to fulfill. * * Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."

The Savior then proceeds to give his exposition of some of the most important of the ten commandments, freeing them from the pernicious glosses of the Jewish scribes. Indeed it is the general opinion of Christian commentators, that whatever other objects the Son of God had in view in the delivery of this sermon, it was one of his main objects to show forth the spirituality of the divine law. Among the precepts he utters are such as these,

"Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them, for this is the law and the prophets." "Be ye perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect."

But does he represent, that obedience to his instructions in the sermon uncompromising as they are, is a condition of eternal salvation? The solemn conclusion is the best reply we can give:

"Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him to a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded on a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them not, shall be likened to a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it."

Nor is there an intimation that any degree of iniquity, unforsaken, would escape the awful ruin. [Ed. note: see 7: 23]


(2.) We invite particular attention to Luke 10: 25-28.

"And behold a certain lawyer stood up and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, what is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering, said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou has answered right: this do, and thou shalt live."


The lawyer--that is, a Jewish divine or theologian--to try the theological skill of the great teacher of Galilee, and to determine whether he taught a different doctrine from Moses and the prophets, asks him what are the conditions of salvation. The Savior refers him to the law; and when the lawyer quotes its most emphatic moral precepts, the two which comprehended the whole law in their sweeping import, as containing those conditions, the Savior declares that his answer is correct, and these are in truth the conditions of eternal life, and that if he would live, he must comply with them.


On this passage we remark:

(1.) The fact that the Savior refers him to the Mosaic writings for an answer to his question, evinces that He taught, himself, the same conditions of life that Moses did.

(2.) His remark on the lawyer's quotations, shows, that in Christ's view, the lawyer had not selected erroneously the two all-comprehensive commands of the law.

(3.) The parable of the good Samaritan, told in reply to the lawyer's question about the word neighbor, in which Christ gives us a practical embodiment of the fulfillment of the second command, demonstrates that Christ meant in truth to lay down obedience to the law as an indispensable condition of mercy. His closing injunction on the lawyer, "Go thou and do likewise," is a further proof of the same thing. We know of none who do not admit that we must do as the good Samaritan did in order to be saved. Not an intimation is given in this whole passage or its context, that less would do than full compliance with the holy rule.


(3.) We request our readers to consider attentively such passages as declare, that we cannot serve God and Mammon (a-Mat. 6: 24;)--that we must hate (love less), our nearest friends and forsake all that we have in order to be Christ's disciples (b-Lu. 14: 26, 43;)--that we must sell all that we have in order to buy the field with the treasure hid in it, or to obtain the pearl of great price, (c-Mat. 13: 44, 45;) that the violator of one commandment is guilty of all (d-Ja. 2:10;)--that the accepted Christian is free from sin, dead and buried to sin--that he is risen to righteousness, (e-Rom. 6: 2, 4, 7, 18, 22;) that to him that is in Christ Jesus old things are passed away and all things become new. (f-2 Cor. 5: 17.)

Let these passages be examined with their context, and it will be seen that they entirely harmonize with the numerous texts quoted from the Old Testament.  

On Mat. 6: 24, we quote form the Commentary of Calvin, one of the ablest and most spiritual of expositors, and on the whole, decidedly our own favorite. The extracts are instructive, both as showing the force with which such passages strike pious minds, in theory opposed to their teachings, and as giving a specimen of the best shifts by which they try to dispose of their natural import.

"Christ denies that it can be that any one should obey God and his flesh at the same time. * * Since God every where commends sincerity, while a double heart is abominable, all those are deceived who think he will be contented with half of their heart. All, indeed, confess with the mouth, that God is not truly worshipped except with entire affection, but they deny it in reality, while they study to reconcile things contrary to each other. I will not cease, says the ambitious man, to serve God, although I apply a good part of my mind to the chase of honors. * * It is true, indeed, that believers themselves never are so entirely given to obedience to God, but that they are displeased with themselves, and do not serve the flesh otherwise than unwilling and reluctant (inviti et reluctantes)--they are not said to serve two masters, because their purposes and efforts are approved by the Lord, just as if they rendered him an entire obedience. But here the hypocrisy of these persons is exposed, who flatter themselves in vices, as if they could conjoin light with darkness." We ask, where, in the whole compass of the Bible, are saints said to be thus distinguishable from sinners? Where are they said to sin "unwilling and reluctant"--while none of the ungodly are reluctant about it? We know of no text which can under any pretense be cited to sustain such a view, except the contested passages in Rom. 7th and Gal. 5th--with respect to the first of which we cannot but concur with Tholuck in the remark that "if the least attention is paid to the connection of this section of ch. 7th with that which precedes and that which follows, it is not possible to explain it of any other than a person standing under the law." More on this passage by and by. Of Gal. 5: 17, we shall, in the sequel, have a word or two to say. If every man is a saint who sins reluctantly, Julius Caesar must have been a good saint, when, about to annihilate the liberties of his country, he reluctantly crossed the Rubicon; and Macbeth, when he reluctantly murdered his benefactor and king. With great reluctance did the last named villain drag himself to the deed of blood--with quite as much reluctance, according to the great poet, as David debauched his neighbor's wife, and then murdered her generous and heroic husband. The plea of reluctance on any other ground than that on which a Macbeth might plead it, resembles a little too much the defense of an ingenious poltroon, that his heart was as bold as a lion's, but his cowardly legs would run away.

President Edwards (on the Will, Pt. III, Sec. V,) remarks most justly, "that it is a great mistake and gross absurdity, that men may sincerely choose and desire those spiritual duties of love, acceptance, choice, rejection, &c., consisting in the exercise of the will itself, in the disposition and inclination of the heart, and yet not be able to perform or exert them.

This is absurd, because it is absurd to suppose that a man should directly, properly and sincerely incline to have an inclination, which at the same time is contrary to his inclination: for that is to suppose him not to be inclined to that which he is inclined to.

If a man, in the state and acts of his will and inclination, does properly and directly fall in with those duties, he therein performs them; for the duties themselves consist in that very thing; they consist in the state and acts of the will being so formed and directed. * * That which is called a desire and willingness for these inward duties in such as do not perform, has respect to those duties only indirectly and remotely, and is improperly represented as a willingness for them."


Can We hear? V. M.

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Israel trusts in fate.

Excerpts form Josephus.

9. At this time there were three sects among the Jews, who had different opinions concerning human actions; the one was called the sect of the Pharisees, another the sect of the Sadducees, and the other the sect of the Essens. Now for the Pharisees, *(11) they say that some actions, but not all, are the work of fate, and some of them are in our own power, and that they are liable to fate, but are not caused by fate. But the sect of the Essens affirm, that fate governs all things, and that nothing befalls men but what is according to its determination. And for the Sadducees, they take away fate, and say there is no such thing, and that the events of human affairs are not at its disposal; but they suppose that all our actions are in our own power, so that we are ourselves the causes of what is good, and receive what is evil from our own folly. However, I have given a more exact account of these opinions in the second book of the Jewish War.

*(11) Those that suppose Josephus to contradict himself in his three several accounts of the notions of the Pharisees, this here, and that earlier one, which is the largest, Of the War B. II. ch. 8. sect. 14, and that later, Antiq. B. XVIII. ch. 1. sect. 3, as if he sometimes said they introduced an absolute fatality, and denied all freedom of human actions, is almost wholly groundless if he ever, as the very learned Casaubon here truly observes, asserting, that the Pharisees were between the Essens and Sadducees, and did so far ascribe all to fate or Divine Providence as was consistent with the freedom of human actions. However, their perplexed way of talking about fate, or Providence, as overruling all things, made it commonly thought they were willing to excuse their sins by ascribing them to fate, as in the Apostolical Constitutions, B. VI. ch. 6. Perhaps under the same general name some difference of opinions in this point might be propagated, as is very common in all parties, especially in points of metaphysical subtilty. However, our Josephus, who in his heart was a great admirer of the piety of the Essens, was yet in practice a Pharisee, as he himself informs us, in his own Life, sect. 2. And his account of this doctrine of the Pharisees is for certain agreeable to his own opinion, who ever both fully allowed the freedom of human actions, and yet strongly believed the powerful interposition of Divine Providence. See concerning this matter a remarkable clause, Antiq. B. XVI. ch. 11. sect. 7.

Moreover, the chief of all their gods, and their first father himself, overlooks those goddesses whom he hath deluded and begotten with child, and suffers them to be kept in prison, or drowned in the sea. He is also so bound up by fate, that he cannot save his own offspring, nor can he bear their deaths without shedding of tears.

14. But then as to the two other orders at first mentioned, the Pharisees are those who are esteemed most skillful in the exact explication of their laws, and introduce the first sect. These ascribe all to fate [or providence], and to God, and yet allow, that to act what is right, or the contrary, is principally in the power of men, although fate does cooperate in every action. They say that all souls are incorruptible, but that the souls of good men only are removed into other bodies, - but that the souls of bad men are subject to eternal punishment.

Josephus uses the word fate repeatedly, as if many future situations were cast in stone. Check the explanation of Romans 9 link below.

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Rom 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. 29 Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:
30 Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. 31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law. KJV


Moral government files

Explanation of Romans 9: 19—24.

New on line list of links to old time holiness views  "Victory over sin."