Part 1

Section 33—Acts 7:51.

Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.

Though these words are not once cited or referred to by Dr. Whitby, as I remember, yet, inasmuch as the Remonstrants[1] have never failed to urge them in favor of the irresistibility of God's grace in conversion, and to prove that that work is not wrought by an irresistible power; and that men may have sufficient grace for conversion who are not converted, it will be proper not to omit them; their argument from them stands thus. If the Holy Spirit may be resisted when, he acts in man with a purpose and will to convert him, then he does not work conversion by an irresistible power; but the Holy Spirit may be resisted when he acts in man with a purpose and will to convert him: therefore, etc. But,

1. That the Spirit of God in the operations of his grace upon the heart in conversion, may be resisted, that is, opposed, is allowed; but that he may be so resisted as to be overcome, or be hindered in, or obliged to cease from the work of conversion, so as that it comes to nothing, where he acts with purpose and will to convert, must be denied, for who hath resisted his will?who, in this sense, can resist it? No one instance of this kind can ever be produced.

2. It should be proved that the Spirit of God was in these persons, and was acting in them with a design to convert them, and that they had sufficient grace for conversion given them, and that that grace was the same with that which is given to persona who are only converted; whereas it does not appear that they had any grace at all, since they are said to be stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears.

3. Supposing the Spirit of God was acting in them with a purpose and will to convert them, it will be difficult to prove that they so resisted, and continued to resist him, as that they were not hereafter converted by him; we are sure that one of these persons, namely Saul, was afterwards really and truly converted; and how many more were so, we know not.

4. The resistance made by these persons was not to the Spirit of God in them, of which they were destitute, but to the Spirit of God in his ministers, in his apostles, and particularly Stephen; not to any internal operation of his grace, which does not appear to have been in them, but to the external ministry of the word, and to all that objective light, knowledge, evidence, and conviction, that it gave of Jesus being the Messiah; in which sense they are said to reject the counsel of God against themselves (Luke 7:30); and to put from them the word of God (Acts 13:46). Such who resist Christ's ministers resist him; and such who resist him may be said to resist his Holy Spirit. Once more, The word anipiptete, signifies a rushing against, and falling upon, in a rude and hostile manner; and fitly expresses their ill-treatment of Christ and his ministers, by falling upon them and putting them to death, which is the resistance here particularly designed, as is manifest from the following words (v. 52).


[1] In Coll. Hag. art. 3. 4. p. 215, Acta Synod. p. 70, etc.; Limborch, 50:4,c. 13, sect. 14, p. 373.

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