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Marg. But he would have a sinner believe his sins are pardoned, previous to one single thought that he has saving faith. p. 123. But in this case it must be “ without any evidence of the thing." However, he disbelieves the Gospel if he does not believe it, although there is no such thing in the Gospel. “ A strange kind of assurance !"
But, says Mr. Wilson, “ the stung Israelites, inlooking to the brazen serpent, had every one of them good reason to believe, and fully assure himself, that he io particular should be healed.” And why? plainly because every Israelite, while conscious to himself that he is looking, must be certain of a cure. And just thus any sinner, who is conscious to himself that he looks to Christ as he is invited to do, may be as certain of a cure. But in Mr. Wilson's " strange kind of assurance," we must be certain of a cure without any such consciousness. p. 123. It is popish, he constantly cries, to get assurance from this consciousness. But had a stung Israelite looked to the brazen serpent, without being at the same time conscious to hunself that he did look, he could not bave been assured of a cure, notwithstanding his belief of the divine declaration, that whosoever looks shall be healed.
But Mr. Wilson will again say, “ had not the Israelites a good warrant to take and eat the manna which lay around their tents ? and has not every sinner as good a right to take Christ, the bread of life, and eat and live for ever ?" p. 31. Had the Israelites loathed the manna so perfectly, as absoJutely to refuse to gather and eat it ; and in their hunger, set themselves to work up a belief that their bellies were full, without any consciousness of the thing, it might have been to Mr. Wilson's purpose. But what was there in all their conduct, at all reseinbling Mr. Wilson's faith? They gathered the manna, they made cakes of it, they eat, they were refreshed, and they were conscious to themselves of all that passed. Here was no assurance worked up without dence from Scripture, sense, or reason." Here was no believing any thing to be true, but what was true before it was believed. Here was nothing but what was perfectly ration
In short, here was nothing like these men's notion of faith, not the least shadow of a resemblance. Nor indeed VOL. III.
there is in all nature any thing to resemble their faith, un. less among those who are delirious, who very often believe strongly things to be true which would have no truth in them if they did not believe them. But then even the most delirious man alive, never attempted to act so distractedly as to try to believe that to be true, which he knew as yet was not true. This is peculiar to these men, and there is nothing like it in the universe. For, as honest Mr. Marshall says, “this is a strange kind of assurance, far different from other ordinary kinds." To hunt about therefore for similitudes to represent it, is quite out of character. But the men are shocked to see their scheme stark naked; and therefore these siinilitudes, like fig-leaves, are gathered to bide its nakedness ; but all in vain.
Thus we have a specimen of Mr. Wilson's manner of reasoning, to vindicate our believing that to be true wbieb is not true, from the declarations, offers, and promises of the Gospel. He repeats much the same things perhaps 200 times over in his two volumes. And when all is said and done, it comes to this :-"God has, in fact, no where in his word declared that my sins are forgiven; however, I must believe they are forgiven, or I do not believe the word of God. It is not true before I believe it, but absolutely false ; yet I have a good warrant to believe it is true, although I have no evidence of the thing froin Scripture, sense, or reason. In receiving a gift, I know it is mine; but if this knowledge arises from a consciousness that I receive it, I am a papist.” So absurd, so self-contradictory is his whole course of reasoning. And yet be pretends to have all the bible, and all the protestant world on his side. And no man can be saved, who is destitute of this upscriptural, irrational, inconsistent, self-con tradictory thing, which he calls by the sacred name of faith in Christ. But let us proceed to another argument, which, like the former, is repeated over and over again, and scattered along through his whole performance.
Arg. 2. From the nature of reliance on Christ's righteousness. Perbaps this argument is stated and urged no where to so good advantage, as io p. 15, 16, 17. It will not be dezied, that the Gospel declares Christ to be an all-sufficient
Saviour, and bears testimony to his righteousness as every way sufficient for the justification of the most guilty sinner. If one approaching to a frozen lake or river, over which he has occasion to pass, tells me that he has been assured by good information, that the ice was sufficiently strong to support him; and yet, after all proves timorous and adverse to make trial by venturing his person freely upon it: I plainly perceive he has no faith in the report he heard ; because he does not trust in it; or, which is the same thing, he cannot trust, rely, confide in, or venture himself on the ice.--None can be said to believe the report of the Gospel concerning the righteousness of Christ, but those who, without being conscious of any personal merit or good qualification about themselves, rely firmly and wholly upou that righteousness for justification and salvation. And it is equally certain, that such a firm reliance, or fiducial recumbancy upon the righteousness of Christ revealed in the Gospel, must in the very nature of the thing, imply the faith of one's own justification and salvation through this righteousness. For a man to venture himself, and all his most valuable interests, upon a bottom that he doubts is weak and insufficient to support him, would be the greatest folly imaginable; yet this he must do, who pretends to rely wholly upon Christ and his righteousness for justification and salvation, and yet hath not the faith of his own salvation.- If a man has been assured by good information, that the ioe of any frozen lake or river he has occasion to pass over, is sufficiently strong to support him ; and yet is timorous, and doubts whether he will be safe if he should venture upon it; it is plain he does not confide in, or give credit to the report he heard ; for if he did, he would be as much assured of his own safety, as of the truth of the report, or the veracity of him that made it. The application is · easy. Upon the whole, it is evident, that till a man believes, and is in some measure assured of his own justification and salvation through the righteousness and blood of Christ, he never truly believes the report of the Gospel, or the divine testimony concerning the same. Let the reader then judge whether there is any truth or sense in asserting, that the hearers of the Gospel, have no warrant to believe any thing but
what is infallibly true whether they believe it or not.”—Tó which, I answer,
1. It is written, He is able to save to the uttermost all who come to God by him. I hear the report, I understand it, I believe it with all my heart; and in the belief of it, I come to God by Christ for salvation. I am conscious to myself I do
And so I believe I shall be saved. But what I believe is true before I believe it, and whether I believe it or not. For he who comes to God by Christ, shall be saved, whatever doubts he may have of his good estate. And here is nothing believed but upon good evidence. And nothing like their “ strange kind of assurance,” which is worked up “ without any evidence of the thing.” As Mr. Marshall honestly states the case. For,
2. On their scheme they believe they shall be saved with out any consciousness of their coming to God by Christ, as Mr. Wilson declares over and over again. p. 102. 123. They believe their sins are forgiven, without any consciousness of repentance, conversion, or faith in the blood of Christ. They believe they shall have a safe passage over the lake, without any consciousness of venturing or walking on it. And so they believe something to be true, which in fact is not true; and which at the day of judgment will be found to be a lie.
Come, candid reader, come go with me, to the side of a frozen lake: view the ice with your own eyes, and behold and see it is full ten feet thick. And will not this bear the weight of a single man? Yea, will it not bear the weight of a thousand men ? You therefore cannot doubt of the safety of venturing upon it," without rebelling against the light of your reason, senses, and conscience.” And if you venture upon it, it is equally, evident you will be safe. “ You are constrained to believe it by the clearest evidence.” It is true before you believe it. You are certain it is true from the
“ clearest evidence." You are then at the furthest distance from any thing like their faith, nor have you the least occasion to work up yourself to believe any thing " which is not true before you believe it, without any evidence of the thing." So,
Come, O enlightened sinner, whose eyes are opened to see the whole Gospel plan in its glory: Come, view this way of
salvation with your own eyes. See God the Farber, the infi- . nitely glorious Majesty of heaven and earth, to magnify his law which this revolted world all join to hate, and to condemn sin, which this apostate world all join to justify; even see him set forth his own Son, of equal glory with himself, to be a propitiation, to declare his righteousness, that consistently with the bonour of his government he may pardon the penitent sinner that comes to him in the name of Christ, and looks only to free grace, through the redeinption that is in Jesus. View the infinite dignity of the Mediator ; view his mediatorial character, office, and work ; see how he has, in his life and death, magnified the law and made it honourable ; see the eternal Father, how infinitely well pleased he is, in what his Son bas done. He raises bim from the dead
; setệ him at his own right hand; repentance and remission of sins are proclaimed to a guilty world in his name; and the cry is, repent and he converted that your sins may be blotted out. Can there be a doubt now whether it is safe to venture your all opon this Mediator, and return to God in his name? Infinitely hateful, odious, and ill-deserving as you are ! impossible ! So sure as Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah ; so sure as he died on the cross, and now reigos at his Father's right hand ; even so sure and certain it is, that it is safe for a sinner, for the greatest sinner, for any sinner, to repent and come to God in his NAME. “Are you not constrained to believe this, by the clearest evidence ?" And is it not equally certain, that if you repent, and come to God in the name of Christ, venturing your all for eternity wholly and entirely upon his atonement, righteousness, and merits, and the infinitely free grace of God through him, as revealed in the Gospel; that you shall be safe, eternally safe? And therefore, in exact proportion as you are conscious of these things, you may be certain of your own safety in particular. Nor have you any need, or any manner of occasion, to believe any thing 10 be true which is not true; or to believe without evidence. Nay, you are set at the greatest distance from this kind of blind faith. But on the other hand,
What course for comfort, can an impenitent, upconverted, Christless sinner, while such, blind to the glory of God, 10