« ZurückWeiter »
a case? Were the fact true, and were there evidence of its truth, we should need no assistance in the case, A wicked man is as able, and as willing to believe such a fact, as any saint in the world. And since the fact is known not to be true, and it is known there is no evidence of its truth, but fall demonstration of its falsehood, what assistance can the spirit of God grant in the case? The Psalmist prays, open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law. And if our vicious biasses render us inattentive to, and prejudice us against, divine truths, so that we are slow of heart to believe them to be, what in fact they are, whether we believe or no; or if we hate the light because our detds are evil, if we hate the truth because it condemns us, we may need the influences of the divine spirit to remove our prejudices, to open our eyes, to make us attentive to, and give us a relisha for the truth, to cause us to savour the things which be of God; and so long as any corruption remains in our hearts, to blind our minds to the holy beauty and glory of divine truths, we may need the divine spirit to open our eyes, that we may behold wondrous things out of God's law. But in this case, there is no prejudice in the heart of the most wicked man in the world to be removed ; for the fact believed would have suited Balaam himself. And it can be of no advantage to have our eyes opened in the case; but rather a disadvantage. For the wider our eyes are opened, the more plainly and clearly shall we see, that it is not true, but absolutely false; that there is no evidence of its truth, but full demonstration of its falsehood. There is nothing in the case, therefore, to be done by any spirit for us, but to put out our eyes, and blind our minds, that so we may, by the mighty power of delusion, be led firinly to believe a lie. But surely, no spirit will do this for us, but that wicked spirit who is the fatber of lies, and a murderer from the beginning. He inay bring texts of Scripture to us, as once he did to our Saviour, and apply them to our souls, one after another, till ravished with joy, we cry out, “I know my sins are forgiven! I know God loves me! I know I shall be saved! I am as certain of it, as of my own existence ! and should all the world say I am deluded, I would not regard them !” I have beco par
ticularly acquainted with many instances of sinners thus deluded. Numbers of our converts in New England twenty years ago, were to all appearance converted thus.
Thus we have taken an impartial view of Mr. Marshall's doctrine, the very doctrine Mr. Wilson has undertaken to vindicate; and for a complete stating the question to be disputed, there is but one observation more to be made.
8. A fundamental maxim in Mr. Marshall's scheme, on which all the rest depends; I say, a fundamental maxim in Mr. Marshall's whole scheme is, that in justifying faith "we believe that to be true which is not true before we believe it." And this maxim is absolutely essential to his scheme.
The fact believed is, that “my sins are forgiven,” or in other words, “ that I have a saving interest in Christ and all the benefits purchased by him.” Now if they say that this is true before I believe it, they must, with the grossest sort of Antinomians, hold that we are justified before faith, in express contradiction to the whole Gospel. This they do not, they dare not say. They are therefore under an absolute necessity to say,
“ that we believe that to be true which is not true before we believe it.''
But if it is not true before we believe it, then every thing Mr. Marshall has said will inevitably follow. For if it is not true, it is false. If it is not true, there is, there can be, no “ evidence from Scripture, sense, or reason,” that it is true ; and therefore we must believe “ without any evidence of the thing." And so it is " a strange kind of assurance,” and “ difficult to be obtained,” and we must “ work it out in oure selves." And it being so contrary to cominon sense, even to the reason of all mankind, to believe that to be true which we know is not true, we evidently need the assistance of some spirit in the affair. Noi the spirit of God indeed, for he never helps men to believe any thing but what is true before we believe it.
If therefore it can be proved, that this fundamental maxim is false, down goes their whole scheme, and all who are settled upon it lie buried in its ruins.
1. It is self-evident, that in all instances, a thing must exist, at least in order of nature, before its existence can be
discerned by the human mind. To say otherwise, is an express contradiction. For to discern that a thing exists before it does exist, is to see that it is before it is : which is the same as to say that a thing inay be, and not be, at the same time. Which is an express contradiction.
Bat to believe my sins are forgiven, is to discern that this fact is really so, that ibis' thing does exist. Its existence then is in order of nature, before I discern its existence. For to say I can see a thing to be, which is not, is an express contradiction. So then they must say, we are justified before faith, or their faith is an inconsistent, self-contradictory thing.
I am well aware that this sort of converts, in their inward experiences, are wont to have the love of God and pardon of sin, to their apprehension, manifested to their souls before they believe. For this manifestation is the ground of their belief: and indeed it would be simply impossible they ever should believe, if they had not something of this nature. For no human inind can believe what appears to be not true. But it will not do to speak out this secret, and tell the world plainly how it is. For then it would appear that they are justified before faith, and all would join to condemu them as gross Antinomians. And therefore they are obliged to give such an account of their faith, as in its own nature evidently implies a contradiction. Nor can you get one of these men coolly and impartially to attend to this point, because they are conscious of an insuperable difficulty. Rather, they will bury themselves in obscurity, in a multitude of ambiguous words, not at all to the purpose. Witness Mr. Cudwortli's Further Defence, and Mr. Wilson's Review.
2. The thing believed to be true, is on their own scheme not true.- -For,
They all hold that we are not pardoned until after faith, at least in order of nature. To be sure, Mr. Wilson expresses this strongly. He says, p. 209, that " justification is a consequent of our union with Christ by faith." And to the same purpose, p. 194, 195, 205, &c. Now, if it be a consequent of our union with Christ by faith, then it does not exist till after faith. Faith is in order of nature before justification. But their faith consists in believing they are justificd. And
so it consists in the believing of a lie: unless they will contradict themselves, and say that justification is not a consequent of our union with Christ by faith. Or else affirm, that to believe a thing is when it is not, is not to believe a lie. Besides,
The proposition believed to be true in their faith, is what they themselves must own to be a lie, on another account. For in their faith, the proposition believed to be true is, that an unbeliever is justified. For their faith does not consist in believing this proposition, viz. I, who am a believer, am justified. For this is true before it is believed, and whether it is believed or not. But their faith consists in believing this proposition, viz. I, who am an unbeliever, am justified, which, as they say, is not true before it is believed, and for the truth of which we have no evidence from Scripture, sense, or reason. For they all maintain, that in the first act of justifying faith, prior to
any reflection on my own act, I believe my sins are all forgiven, p. 102. 123. “ without knowing any :hing further about my state, than that I am by nature a child of wrath, and an heir of hell, under the curse of an angry and sin-revenging God.” p. 175. But if I believe, that I, who, to my own apprehension, am an unbeliever, am justified; then I believe, that an unbeliever is justified; wbich they own not to be true. lodeed, they hold that in my believing it to be true, it becomes true. And so, though it was an untruth, yet now it becomes true. And so they keep themselves from seeing that which they believe continues to be a lie. However, it was a lie when first believed, according to their own scheme : for it becomes true, only in consequence of their believing it to be true.—And if God has never said, as in fact he has not, that if we believe our sins are forgiven, they shall be forgiven; what they believe is not only a lie, when they believe it, but also continues to be a lie, notwithstanding their faith ; and will be found to be so at the day of judgment, according to the express declaration of our blessed Saviour. Mat. vii. 2)-27.
But again, what they believe may be proved to be a lie by another argument. Thus, according to Scripture, no impenitent sinner, while such, ever was, or ever will be forgiven.
But they believe themselves forgiven while impenitent: therefore what they believe is a lie. That no impenitent sinner, while such, ever was, or ever will be forgiven, is plain from Lev. xxvi. throughout. 1 Kings viii. throughout. Prov. xxviii. 13. Isai. lv. 7. Luke xii. ó. Acts ji. 38. & iii. 19. &c. &c. as I have proved at large in another place. (Essay on the Nature of the Gospel. Sect. viii.) Nor can these men deny it, without expressly contradicting the Westminster confession of faith, which asserts, Chap. xv. That no sinner may expect purdon without repentance. And if they give up that confession of faith, as heterodox, what will become of their bold pretences, and confident affirmation, that“ all the protestant world are on their side, except Arminians, Baxterians, and ranting Sectaries ?" p. 95. But they believe themselves forgiven while impenitent. As is certain from this, that they all hold that a belief they are forgiven is the very thing which causes them to begin to repent. Therefore, their faith consists in believing a lie.-But,
3. Granting the fact believed to be indeed true, yet as it is acknowledged to be no truth revealed in the Gospel, their faith is not an evangelical faith, nor are those religious affections which flow from it, evangelical graces. For as the fact believed is not revealed in the Gospel, so it is no part of Gospel truth. And so their faith is not Gospel faith, nor their holiness Gospel holiness. For all evangelical and holy affections are excited in the mind by Gospel truths. Psalm xix. 7. John xvii. 17. Jam. i. 18. They may be called Antinomians ; and they greatly resemble the ancient Manicheans; as I have shown in the furementioned essay: but they cannot with propriety, be called Christians'; for that which is the foundation of their scheme, is no part of Christianity, is not once taught in Christ's Gospel; as they themselves acknowledge. For the whole Gospel, they own, is true before we believe it, and whether we believe it or not. But the first and fundamental article of their creed, and that from which all their religious affections flow, is not true before they believe it to be true; and so it is no part of the Gospel.
4. In order to prove Mr. Sandeman's faith not to be justifying faith, Mr. Wilson uses this argument : Every one