The

CAUSE OF GOD AND TRUTH.

Part 2
Chapter 4—Of Efficacious Grace

Section 13—Ezekiel 11:36:26.

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.


These words, with those Ezekiel 11:19,20, prove that conversion is the work of God, and not of man; that man is passive in and cannot contribute to his regeneration and renovation, his heart being like a stone, hard and inflexible, on which no impressions are made until this hardness is removed; which man is incapable of, and is done by God, when he gives a heart of flesh, a soft and sensible one, or a new heart, and a new spirit, in which are new principles, affections, and resolutions; and which can be ascribed to nothing less than the omnipotent and unfrustrable grace of God. Now it is said[1] that the arguments, taken from both these places, have two of the general faults which render all arguments of this nature null. As,

1st. "That they speak of all the whole house of Israel (Ezek. 11:15; 36:21, 22), to all that were gathered out of all countries, and brought to their own land (v. 24), and so belong not to the elect only." But it should be observed, that all the whole house of Israel, and every individual thereof, were not gathered out of all countries, upon the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, which seems to be here designed; nor are the whole house of Israel here spoken of, neither is it here promised, nor in Ezekiel 11:19, to the whole house of Israel, that God would give to them all a new heart, and a new spirit, only to some who are distinguished from them (v. 21), whose heart walked after the hart of their detestable things, and their abominations: and therefore the Lord threatens to recompense their ways upon their own heads. It remains then, that these promises were made to and fulfilled in the spiritual Israel, the elect of God among them, the people whom he foreknew. Farther,

1. It is said,[2] if it "respects their return from the Babylonish captivity, it must be conditional, the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, and especially the complaints of the prophet Malachi, showing that they were never fulfilled in many of them, and from Ezekiel 11:21." To which I answer, that these promises were not made to all the people of Israel, as has been observed; therefore there needed no condition to he either understood or expressed either in this or in the parallel text, to suit them to these people and times; for, though the people was wicked who returned from captivity, yet there was not only an external reformation made among them, but an inward sense of things was given to a large number of them, as appeared at the reading of the law to them by Ezra. And it may be observed, that the people was never so addicted to idolatry after their return from their captivity as before; so that the promises in this and the preceding verse had a considerable accomplishment at this time.

2. Moreover, it is also objected,[3] that "according to this exposition it must follow, that not one good man came out of the captivity, not one of them with a new or a clean heart; but all of them with a heart of stone, which was to be taken away." I reply as before, that these promises were not made to them all; and therefore the consequence does not follow. Besides, some good men might, as no doubt did, come out of the captivity; though the majority might be wicked, who stood in need of the things promised. Moreover, good men stand daily in need of being renewed in the spirit of their minds, and often of having clean hearts created, and right spirits renewed in them.

3. It is also suggested,[4] that this promise "relates to the conversion of the Jewish nation yet to come, and to them alone; and therefore all Christians may as well expect to be exempted from famine (v. 30), and to have increase of corn (v. 27), and their waste places and fenced cities built (vv. 33,35); as the other blessings promised here." To which I answer, that though the temporal blessings here promised were peculiar to the Jews, yet the spiritual ones are such as all real Christians not only may expect, but have; and therefore, admitting that the words refer to the time of the conversion of the Jews, inasmuch as Gentile believers are made partakers of the same spiritual blessings and promises, are called in the same hope of their calling, and saved by the same grace of the Lord Jesus, as the Jews will be; there is all the reason imaginable to conclude, that they are regenerated and converted by the same grace and power; God not making use of two different methods of conversion, one among the Jews, and another among the Gentiles.

2ndly. It is observed,[5] I that "God doth expressly command these persons, by the same prophet, to make themselves a new heart and a new spirit, Ezekiel 18:31, which assures us that something was required, on their parts, towards the completion of this promise." But these cannot be the same persons whom God, by the prophet, commands to make them a new heart, to whom he here promises to give one, if this promise relates, as it is said to do, to the conversion of the Jewish nation yet to come; seeing the persons God commands to make themselves a new heart were the house of Israel, then in being of Ezekiel's time; the meaning of which exhortation, and its consistence with man's passiveness, and the efficacious and unfrustrable grace of God in conversion, have been shown in the first part of this work.[6]


ENDNOTES:

[1] Whitby, p. 292; ed. 2.284.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Whitby, p. 292, 293; ed. 2.285.

[6] Sect. 21.


Gill Index