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who is possessed of justifying faith, mụst undoubtedly be justified; but a general belief of the Gospel, or a general assent to the truth of the facts recorded in the New Testament, is to be found with many who were never justified : therefore a general faith, or assent to the truths of the Gospel, and history of the facts recorded in the New Testament, is not justifying faith.” p. 72. This argument he asserts to be conclusive. But it is equally strong against himself. For every one who is possessed of justifying faith, must be undoubtedly justified; but a belief of the remission of sins, with application to a man's self, which is his own definition of justifying faith, p. 145, is to be fouad with many who were never justified ; as he himself owns, p. 102. Therefore this belief is not justifying faith.”
Should he say, that self-deceived sinners do not believe their sins to be forgiven, upon the testimony of God in his word; the same is true on his scheme, by his own acknowledgment, for it was not true before he believed it. But the testimony of God is true before we believe it, and whether we ever believe it or not ; as he himself owns. Therefore his faith is not built on the divine testimony ; but rather, as Mr. Marshall says, “is without any evidence from
, Scripture, sense, or reason."
Or should he say, that the faith of deluded sinners is not productive of evangelical graces, the same may be said of his faith. For no religious affections can be called evangelical graces, which do not result from the knowledge and belief of some truth, revealed in the Gospel. But the supposed truth which is the source of all their religious affections, is not contained in the Gospel, as they themselves own.
Or should he say, that deceived sinners are prompted to believe their sins forgiven, from a self-righteous spirit : just this is the case on the scheme of these men. As I have proved at large, Essay, Sect. IX. There is no possible way then for him to get rid of the force of his own argument. It is equally conclusive against bis scheme, and Mr. Sandeman's; and does indeed confute them both at once.
Thus we see, that the faith of these gentleinen, in which
they profess to believe that to be true which is not true before we believe it, implies a contradiction in its own nature; is the belief of a lie; is no Gospel faith ; is nothing more than deluded sinners may have : it is therefore very far from being that precious faith which is peculiar to God's elect, and which is infallibly connected with eternal life. Nothing therefore now remains, but to attend carefully to Mr. Wilson's arguments in its vindication, which may be summed up in these four.
Mr. Wilson's arguments to prove, that in justifying faith,
we believe that to be true which is not true before we be
lieve it. Arg. 1. From the offers and promises of the Gospel. His notion is, that the declaration of the Gospel amounts to this : 0, impenitent, unconverted, Christless sinner, belicve and thou shalt be saved ; i. e. believe thy sins are forgiven, and they shall be forgiven. Believe thou shalt be saved, and it shall be to thee according to thy faith. It is not true before we believe; but in believing it to be true, it becomes true, According to thy faith so shall it be to thee, p. 14. But this declaration is not made in the Gospel : but is a lie; and he that believes it, believes a lie ; as has been already proved.
Mr. Wilson has laboured the point, in vindication of Mr. Marshall's words, p. 28, 29, 30, 31; and this is the sum and substance of his plea: "an offered gift is not mine before I receive it.”—“ But the offer gives me a right to receive it." “ To believe it mine is to receive it.” Therefore, in justifying faith, we believe that to be true which is not true before we believe it; a mere fallacy. To believe a thing mine, is different from, and a consequence of, receiving it.- For instance, a man offers me a guinea ; the guinea suits my heart, I receive it, I know I receive it, and so I know and believe it is mine. But here is nothing like believing a thing to be true, which is not true before I believe it.
The Pharisees firmly believed, that the God of Abraham was their God, and father, and friend, and would make them happy for ever. This none can deny. But did they receive the God of Abraham for their God and portion, as he was offered to them in the Old Testament? No, far from it. They hated and rejected him with all their hearts, and murdered his very image, his only begotten Son. Just so a deluded sinner may be ravished in a belief that Christ, pardon, and heaven, are his own; and yet in the mean time may hate and reject with the utnost abhorrence, that Christ, that pardon, and that heaven, which are offered in the Gospel ; as I have shown at large in the forementioned Essay.
“We agree, that the Gospel proposes nothing to be believed by us,” says Mr. Wilson, " but what is infallibly true, whether we believe it or not. But if any one should from hence infer, that the Gospel does not afford sufficient warrant, or lay a foundation for believing any thing but what is infallibly true whether we believe it or not ; this we beg leave to deny. For as God in the Gospel freely promises, or makes an offer of life and salvation to sinners through Jesus Christ, it is evident, the promise cannot be believed but in the way of appropriating the gift, or believing they shall be saved through his blood : wbich certainly cannot be said to be a truth, whether we believe it or not; for if it was, all who hear the Gospel would infallibly be saved.
« The matter is plainly this: the Gospel no where proposes it as a truth to be believed, that men shall be saved through Christ, whether they believe or not; but it every where testifies, that he that believeth shall be saved. Now this very declaration, published, and frequently repeated in the Gospel for the encouragement of signers, makes it warrantable, for every one of them to believe his own particular salvation through Christ. And the truth is, till he believes this upon the footing of the divine promise, faithfulness, or veracity, he in effect, really, and in the sense of Scripture, disbelieves and calls in question the truth of the divine testimony made known in the proposition aforementioned. That he does so, evidently appears by his not crediting it, so as to rest his hope of salvation wholly upon the promise of God, and the record which he has given of bis Son, in the Gospel.” p. 14, 15.
Stop now, candid reader, and critically examine these words : " He disbelieves the divine testimony,” says he. But why? because “ he does not rest his hope of salvation whol
ly upon the promise of God.” But pray, what promise ? Why this, " he that believeth shall be saved.” Which is so “ frequently repeated in the Gospel.” He that believeth ! that believeth what! pray, what is the sinner to believe ? he is to believe “ his own particular salvation;" to " believe that he shall be saved.” But is this the meaning of the text ? Indeed no. That proposition is not once used in this sense in the bible. The Gospel no where declares, that he that believeth he shall be saved, shall be saved: but very many times expressly to the contrary. The thing believed is a lie. But to believe a lie, is not to believe in Christ ; unless they make this lie, that very Christ on which they venture their all for eternity. Read the bible through, O impenitent, unconverted, Christless sinner, and you may find enough such declaraLions as these : repent and be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus for the remission of sins ; repent and be converted that thy sins may be blotted out ; except ye repent ye shall perish; repent, and believe the Gospel ; believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shall be saved; and these declarations are all true before you believe them, and whether you believe them or not. But you can no where find any thing like this, beliete thy sins are forgiven, and they shall be forgiven ; beliere thou shalt be saved, and thou shalt be saved. In this case, what you believe is not true before you believe it, as they themselves grant. And believing a lie, though it may make it seem true to you, yet it will not make it in fact true.
Pray, who is he that believes the divine testimony ? He that believes the very thing God means to say ; or he that puts a new meaning to God's words, which God never intended, and which never came into his heart? May we not say of these men, as our Saviour did of the Pharisees; by your truditions you make the command of God of none effect? So by their faith they make the declarations of the Gospel a lie. The Gospel declares, except ye repent, ye shall all perish : repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out. But these men teach, that if an impenitent unconverted sinner, while such, believes his sins are blotted out, they are blotted out. That is, if he believes a thing to be true, which is directly contrary to the declaration of the Gospel, it shall become true. And so his faith shall cause the declaration of the Gospel to become a lie.
Besides, O Christless sinner, what warrant have you to believe that your sins are forgiven? Is it already true ? No. But does “ the Gospel propose any thing to be believed by us, but what is infallibly true, whether we believe it or not?” Mr. Wilson himself is obliged to say, No. But then says," the Gospel warrants you to believe, what it does not propose to you to be believed.” But is not this an express contradiction? No, says Mr. Wilson. For the promise of the Gospel cannot be believed, but iu believing that they shall be saved through his blood.” As if he had said, the promise cannot be believed, but in believing what the promise does not say.For the promise does not say that you in particular shall be saved ; or that you shall be saved, if you believe you shall be saved. So that here is another self-contradiction ; viz. A promise cannot be believed, but in believing what is not contained in the promise.
But, says Mr. Wilson, “ if a man offers me a gift freely, I have certainly a warrant to receive it, and in receiving it, to believe it mine." p. 18. That is, conscious to myself that I do receive it, I have good evidence to believe it is mine. And in this case, it is mine, in order of nature, before I believe it mine. And so what I believe, is true before I believe it. And so this similitude is nothing to the purpose, nor does it at all help to reconcile to common sense, their “ strange kind of assurance, which is far different from other ordinary kinds.” For they believe Christ is theirs without any consciousness that they receive him. p. 123. And constantly affirın, that that assurance of an interest in Christ, which results merely from a consciousness of any inberent grace, is altogether popish..
But no map can believe the Gospel, who does not believe his sins are pardoned, in Mr. Wilson's judgment. p. 14. 133, &c. &c. And yet he knows, and he owns, that this fact is not revealed in the Gospel. Yea, he says, " it is not proposed in the Gospel to be believed by us." p. 14. And yet no man, he says, can believe the Gospel, who does not believe it. An express contradiction again. Mr. Wilson grants a man may have saving faith, and yet not know that it is saving. p. 123.