« ZurückWeiter »
9. Justifying faith supposes the way of salvation by free grace through Jesus Christ, is rightly understood, as it results herefrom. But a right understanding of the Gospelway of life is not needful to this belief; as it does not take its rise from the Gospel, but from a new revelation. Yea, a clear insight into the Gospel-way of life, would do more hurt than good; as it would tend to convince them of their delusion.
10. Justifying faith supposes, that we believe the Gospel to be true. But that belief a beretic may have. Yea, a professed infidel may bave it: a Turk, or a Jew, may as firmly believe that his sins are forgiven, as any Christian. And doubtless some of them do.
11. Justifying faith supposes that the Gospel is heartily approved of and loved. But this belief is consistent with an habitual enmity to the Gospel, as well as the law.
12. Justifying faith hath for its object, Jesus Christ. But this belief bas for its object no being; but only a supposed fact. viz. that my sins are forgiven.
13. Justifying faith is that by which we are justified. But this belief supposes the man was justified, that his sins were actually pardoned before he believed.-- Therefore,
14. As justifying faith is founded only on truth ; so this belief is founded only on falsehood. And,
15. As justifying faith is founded only on truths revealed in the written word; so this belief is only on a supposed fact, no where revealed in the written word. Yea, contrary to the written word, which teaches, that before faith our sins are not pardoned ; but the wrath of God abideth on us a.
16. Justifying faith is wrought by the spirit of God, enlightening our minds, spiritually to understand the truths of the Gospel already revealed in the written word. But this belief is begotten by an immediate revelation of a fact never revealed before. Yea, of a fact not true.
17. Justifying faith attaches the heart to that whole system of truths revealed in the Gospel. But this belief leaves the heart open to error, and inclines it to Antinomianism.
18. It is every sinner's duty, that hears the Gospel, to believe on Christ with a justifying faith. But it is not every sioner's duty to believe his sins are forgiven.
19. An aversion to the exercise of true faith in Christ, is a sin in all cases. But a backwardness to believe his sins are forgiven, is no sin, in one who is unpardoned.
20. Justifying faith, the stronger it is, so much the better always. But this belief, the stronger it is in a self-deceived hypocrite, so much the worse.
21. Justifying faith works by love to God, as glorious and amiable in himself. But this belief works only by self-love. As the Israelites, at the Red sea, were from self-love filled with joy, in a sense of their deliverance, without any true love to God in their hearts ; so a man may be filled with joy, in a firm belief that his sins are forgiven; and yet be as destitule of true grace, as were that ungodly generation to whom God sware in bis wrath, that they should never enter into his rest.
22. The true believer naturally makes holiness of heart and life his evidence of a good estate, as this is the natural fruit of true faith. But this belief naturally leads men to make, what they call the immediate witness of the Spirit, their only fundamental evidence; as all their faith, and all their religion arises from it, and is entirely dependent on it: and disposes them to think sanctification a very dark, unsteady, uncertain evidence; their own religious frames being such.
23. The first and fundamental article of a true believer's creed, and that on which all his religion and hopes are built, is, that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the word of God b. But the first and fundamental article of the other sort, and that on which ah their religion and hopes are built, is that the immediate discovery they have had of the love of God, and that their sins are pardoned, is from God. Shake them here, and you shake their very foundation. Destroy this belief, and you destroy all their religion and all their hopes, and leave them quite uncertain in every thing.
24. In justifying faith the believer is married to Christ, becomes one with him ; and so is interested in all his benefits.
6 Eph. ii. 20.
But in this belief, they are persuaded that the benefits of Christ are theirs, without being ever married to him. To render this perfectly familiar to the weakest capacity, let me add, that the Church, in Scripture, is called the bride, the Lamb's wife : and being thus united to Christ, is considered as being IN CHRIST, and so interested in all his benefits. Now there arises this question, What is the nature of that faith, whereby the soul is united to Christ? Wben a woman is married to a man, there is, 1. The transaction itself, in and by which they are married. 2. A consciousness of the transaction at that time. 3. A remembrance of it afterwards. 4. Duties and privileges flowing from it. So it is in true faith. But what if a woman should take it in her head without ever being married to believe, 1. Such a man is my husband. 2. He has paid all my debts and given me all his estate? Objection. No, but you are not married to him. Answer. Yes, I am. For marriage consists in believing he is my husband, and has paid all my debts. Might it not in this case be affirmed, Believing I am married, is not the whole essence of the marriage-covenant, nor any part of it? So it is equally plain and certain, that believing that Christ is mine, and that my sins are pardoned, is not the whole essence of justifying faith, nor any part of it. To proceed,
5. From what has been said, the following case of conscience may be easily and safely resolved. viz. greatly at a loss about the state of his soul. He has been awakened, and has been comforted, and has frequenıly had something like communion with God. He inakes conscience of all his ways. And yet for several reasons is at a great loss,
© Although it appears, so clear a case, that justifying faith, and a mere belief that my sins are pardoned, are two distinct, different things, in their whole nature and effects; so that it seems strange, how they should be taken for one and the same thing, unless where men are biassed by their own corrupt experiences : yet still I have charity for some divines, who seem to think, that justi. fying faith consists in such a belief, hoping they have a better faith in their hearts, than that which they describe in their books. But their being good men, does not make this notion of faith ever the better ; but on the contrary, the danger of its doing mischief in the world, is greatly increased, when it is espoused and recommended by men of great names. And therefore, there is the greater reason, anŮ the more need, so particularly to point out its difference
" A man is
from true faith
whether what he has experienced be a common, or saving work of the Spirit. He opens his case to his Christian friends; they are afraid to speak comfortably, lest it should settle him down on a false foundation, if all still be wrong. But they dare by no means speak discouraging; because, according to his account, his case is hopeful, although not clear. So they know not what to say. Now what is the best advice that can be given to a man in such a case ?"
Tell him, that although he is at a loss about his state, yet these three things he may be certain of : they are true, and may be depended upon, viz. he is a sinner; the Gospel is true; and it is his duty to comply with it. Thus tenderly address him :
“ Although you are conscientious in all your ways, yet you know you have been, and still are, a sinner. Your heart is not what it ought to be. Your temper towards God, Christ, and divine things, is not as it should be. Nor do you take that pains in the use of means, in prayer, meditation, keeping the heart, &c. as you might. You are to blame. You are wholly to blame. God is righteous in his present dealings with you. Yea, you deserve infinitely worse than all this, even to be sent immediately to hell. Wherefore, see it, own it, come down and lie in the dust at the foot of God, and learn habitually to understand, realize, and approve of God's law as holy, just, and good.
“ And as it is true that you are a sinner, and deserve hell ; so it is equally true that Christ has died for sinners, and God is ready, through him, to be reconciled to all that believe. And the truth of these glad tidings may be depended upon. And you cannot reasonably desire, that God should be reconciled to you, in any other way than this, which is so perfectly adapted and suited to honour God, discountenance sin, humble the sinner, and glorify grace.
“Now, whether you was ever savingly converted ro not, yet it is equally your duty in a sense that hell is your proper due, and that you are absolutely helpless and undone in yourself, and in a firın belief of the truth of the Gospel, to apply to the great atonement of Christ, and to look to the free grace of God through him, for mercy to pardon, and
grace to help, according to all your needs; and through Christ to devote and give up yourself to God, to love him, live to him, and to be for ever his. And in this way your state may be cleared up, and your doubts removed.”
Obs. But is there not danger, that all this may settle him down on a false hope ; if as yet he never was converted ?
Ans. 1. If he never was converted, then he never yet heartily approved of the law, or really believed the Gospel, or ever heartily complied with it. Therefore, putting him upon these things, will tend to convince him that he never did; for it will tend to show him that it is not in his heart to do it; and consequently that there is no seed of grace there : but that he is quite dead in sin : and that therefore unless he is born again, he shall never see the kingdom of God. I say, it will tend to convince him of all this; and if after all he remains unconvinced, the fault will be his own.
2. If he has been savingly converted, then this method of dealing with him will be like pointing out the way to one lost in a wilderness. He likes the directions ; he takes them, he hastens towards the road, he finds it, he remembers it; he rejoices, and takes better beed to keep the right path through the rest of his journey. For the true convert, although under great backslidings, has still the root of the matter in him; bas it in bis beart to justify the law, to be pleased with the Gospel-way of life, and to look to free grace through Jesus Christ for all things. Like Jonah in the belly of hell, when the weeds wrapt about his head, and he was ready to say, that he was cast out of God's sight; and his soul fainted witbin him. Then he remembered God, and looked again towards his holy temple, where God dwelt in the cloud of glory over the mercy-seat, under which the law was laid up in the ark, in the most holy place of the Holy Or HOLIEs, into which the high-priest entered once a year with the blood of atonement. He looked hither ; his former ideas of God revived : he remembered the Lord : and a sense of God, as there manifested, encouraged him to pray. He prayed, and God beard him, and delivered him out of all his distresses. And many a poor broken hearted backslider has done in like manner, and found it good to draw near to the