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clear view the heart and soul of their whole scheme, these eight things may be observed.
1. In general: that “this is a STRANGE kind of assurance, PAR DIFFERENT from other ordinary kinds.” In all other kinds of assurance, he observes, there are these two things. 1. What we believe “ is true betore we believe it, and whether we believe it or no." 2. “We are constrained to believe, on the clear evidence we have that they are true.” But “this is a strange kind of assurance, far different from other ordinary kinds,” in these two respects : 1. As we believe “ that to be true, which is not true before we believe it; and never would be true, if we did not believe it.” 2. As we believe “ without any evidence of the thing."-" Any evidence from Scripture, sense, or reason.” Herein the strangeness consists, and its difference from all other kinds of assurance in the universe.
A true convert gets assurance thus : the word of God teaches, John i. 12, That be who receives Christ and believes in his name, is a child of God; but I receive Christ and believe in his name, therefore I am a child of God. Again, the word of God teaches, Acts ïii. 19. that he who repents and is converted, shall have bis sins blotted out; but I repent and am converted; therefore my sins are blotted out. Once more, the word of God teaches, Acts xvi. 31. that he who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved ; but I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ; therefore I shall be saved. This is the “ordinary" way of getting assurance. And the things believed are true before we believe them: and we believe only in exact proportion to our evidence.
But in “ this strange kind of assurance," a sinner who as yet is impenitent, unconverted, bas not received Christ, nor believed in his name, but is “under the wrath and curse of God,” believes bis sins are forgiven ; not because they are, for they are not; not because he has evidence they are, for he has none; but full evidence to the contrary : but, say they, because God has commanded him to believe that they are forgiven, and promised that if he believes they are forgiven, they shall be forgiven. That is, God has commanded bim to believe what is not true, and proinised that if he believes
that which is not true, it shall become a truth. According to our faith so sball it be to us." Not that that text in Mat. ix. 29. speaks a word about" this strange kind of assurance :" for it does not. The thing the two blind men believed was true before they believed it: and they were constrained to believe by clear evidence ; viz. That Christ was able to open
See ver. 27, 28. No. This kind of assurance is so strange, that it is not so much as once required, commanded, exhorted to, or recommended in the bible; nor any thing like it. Nor indeed is there any thing like it in the universe. For it is in truth " a strange kind of assurance, far different from other ordinary kinds.” But to be more particular; and that even those who are of the weakest capacity may not only think, but be quite certain, that we do not misunderstand this author, so very highly celebrated by gentlemen of the first rank on that side of the question, observe,
2. The thing to be believed is a supposed fact, which has no existence, viz. “ that God freely giveth Christ and his salvation to us in particular.” Which he says, " is not true before we believe it.” But pray, what does he mean by God's giving Christ and his salvation to us in particular ?" We often read in the bible of the gift of Christ, but every thing taught in the bible relating to that grand and glorious affair, is true before we believe, and whether we believe or no. For instance; is it not true, whether we believe it or not, that God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life? John iii. 16. And are not those words true, whether we believe them or not, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son? i John v. 11. And again, were not those words true, whether the Jews believed them or not, mny Father giveth you the true bread from heaven? John vi. 32. Yes ; beyond all doubt all these things are true, and every single sentiment implied in them is true, has been true above these thousand years, and will remain true, whether we believe them or not. And indeed this is the case with all the truths contained in the bible; yea, with every single truth in the universe. They are true before we believe them, and whether we believe them or not.
What then does Mr. Marshall mean, by God's “ giving Christ and bis salvation to us in particular?” Which, he says, “ iš not true before we believe it." Not that giving of Christ we read of in the bible; but something essentially different. He plainly means giving us in particular u saving interest in Christ and his salvation : granting us pardon, justification, and a title to eternal life, while impenitent and unconverted. This is plain from what he considers as opposite thereto. “ Yea, we are without Christ's salvation at present, in a state of sin and misery, under the wrath and curse of God.” Which words determine his meaning with the utmost certainty. So that the fact to be believed to be true, is this, that we have a saving interest in Christ, are delivered from “ the wrath and curse of God," are pardoned and entitled 10 eternal life: and indeed this is no more than Mr. Wilson, and all others in his scheme, hold that we do believe, in the first direct act of justifying faith ; and without which they all affirm our faith is not saving. Mr. Wilson affirms this over and over again, perhaps an hundred times, through both his volumes. Particularly, p. 145, he defines justifying faith in these words : “ Justifying faith is a believing the remission of sios with special application to a man's self.Now observe,
3. Mr. Marshall says, “ this is not true before we believe it.” But had it been declared, expressly or implicitly, in the word of God, it had been true before we believe it, and whether we believe it or no: for this is the case with every declaration in the bible. But Mr. Marshall is so open, frank, and honest, as to own that it is not taught in the word of God. “ We have no absolute promise or declaration in Scripture, that God doth or will give Christ and his salvation to any one of us in particular. Yea, we are without Christ's salvation at present, under the wrath of God.”—Therefore,
4. The thing to be believed to be true, instead of being true before we believe it, is false. Yea, is known to be false, is owned to be false, is publicly declared before the world to be false. Instead of our having a saving interest in Christ, we “are under the wrath and curse of God.” And therefore this honest inan, in perfect consistence with himself, declares,
5. Neither do we know it to be true already by Scripture, or sense, or reason :" our assnrance is not“ impressed on our thoughts by any evidence of the thing". And indeed, nothing could be more absurd and self-contradictory, than to pretend, (as some of the party seem to do,) to have any evidence of the truth of a fact, which is known and acknowledged yot to be true. For if we not only think, but know that it is not true, we know that there is evidence of its untruth. Not siinply no evidence of its truth ; but full demonstration of its falsehood. But how a man, not given up to delusion, can believe that to be true, which he certainly knows is false, may puzzle a Locke or Newton to say. However, Mr. Marshall goes on to declare,
6. That herein lies the great difficulty of believing, not as it is with divine truths, because the thing to be believed is contrary to our vicious biasses; (John iii. 19.) but merely because we have no evidence of its truth, but full demonstration that it is false. “ This is a strange kind of assurance, far different from other ordinary kinds; and therefore no wonder if it be found weak and imperfect, and difficult to be obtained, and assaulted with many doubtings.” But pray, wherein does it differ from all other kinds of assurance ? and why is it so difficult to be obtained ? He goes on to say,
f Mr. Marshalls meaning is so plain, that it seems impossible it should be any plainer. And these words did not drop from his pen inadvertently ; but the plain truth of the case drew them from him. For he has said nothing but what is absolutely essential to their scheme. He knew it was so ; and he had honesty enough to own it. True, Mr. Cudworth was sensible he could not vindicate the scheme, set in this open honest light : therefore he, (absolutely without any grounds,) pretends I misrepresent their scheme; and then buries up himself in a heap of ambiguous words ; without attempting to answer my queries upon the point. But I appeal to all men of common sense, into whose hands this shall come, whether I do not understand Mr. Marshall's words in the sense, the very sense, the only sense they can possibly bear. It is plain Leyond dispute, that Mr. Wilson understands them in the very sense I do. For, as we shall see presently, he maintains that in justifying faith, “ we believe that to be true which is not true before we believe it." Well! if it is not true, it is false. And if it is bot true, it implies a contradiction to say, that there is “any evidence from Scripture, sense, or reason,” of its truth. And therefore if it be believed at all, it must be,“ without any evidence from Scripture, sense, or reason," as Mr. Marshall honestly owns.
" we are constrained to believe other things on the clear evidence that we have, that they are true, and would remain true, whether we believe them or no; so that we cannot deny our assent without rebellion against the light of our senses, reason, or conscience : but here our assurance is not impressed on our thoughts BY ANY Evidence of THE THING.” And on this account, and merely on this account, is it difficult to believe this fact. For there is no man but that would be glad to believe, that instead of going to hell after death, he shall be for ever happy in heaven. Balaam said, let me die the death of the righteous, and let my latter end be like his. So that wicked men would be glad to get this faith; and if they cannot get it, it is not because they are not willing to have it, as was the case with the wicked Jews, whom Christ up-, braided, John v. 40. YE WILL NOT come to me that we might have life ; but merely because they have not "any evidence of the thing.” So then they are not to blaine for their unbelief; for it is no crime. Rather they are to be pitied; for it can be considered only as a calamity. And accordingly, several writers have of late appeared in Great-Britain, zealous to prove, that faith is no duty, and unbelief no sin.
Thus far then Mr. Marshall's words are plain, and we cannot mistake his meaning: but the next particular is not without some difficulty. For,
7. He says, that the fact not being true, but rather known to be false, and so there being no evidence of any kind, or from any quarter to build our faith upon; we must therefore "work it out in ourselves by the assistance of the spirit of God.” But how can a man in bis right senses, go about to work
himself to believe that to be true which he knows is not true, but absolutely false ? and which way does a man go to work in this case? He does not look for evidence; for he knows there is none from Scripture, sense, or reason. Nay, he does not try to believe it to be true, as supposing it true ; for he knows it is not true. But he tries to believe it is true, that it may become true by his believing it to be true. Surprising, shocking affair!
And all this “ by the assistance of the spirit of God.” But pray, how can the spirit of God grant any assistance in such