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supplied; and at some times the testimony of our consciences, aided by that of the Spirit of adoption, inspires peculiar confidence in pleading the Lord's promises. But there are times also, when we feel such darkness, sinfulness, and perplexity, that we can only come on the ground of a general invitation; and when the whole of our first experience must be again passed through, as the best, or the only way of finding rest to our souls. Nor are those humiliating seasons uncommon to most of us; when, "God be merciful to me a sinner," is of all other prayers most suited to our feelings; and when we come, to our own apprehension, as "poor, and miserable, and wretched, and blind, and naked," as when we first "fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us." The degree and order of these experiences, desires, and affections vary; but the nature of them is precisely the same, whether that be holy or unholy. It is all along, an ignorant helpless child, a criminal, a diseased perishing wretch, applying to an all-merciful and all-powerful Saviour, to be taught, pardoned, cleansed, assisted, protected, relieved, enriched, and completely rescued and blessed, by free unmerited grace, through the redemption of his blood, the gift of his righteousness, the prevalence of his intercession, and the supply of his Spirit. The more simply and humbly this is done, the stronger is the faith exercised; and likewise the greater is the measure of a holy disposition which is manifested, though the person himself may not be conscious of it. The sinner, thus exercising faith in Christ, and applying to him continually for the supply of all his numerous wants, deliverance from merited destruction, and the free gift of eternal life, judges and feels concerning himself, his past conduct, his present duties, and his own heart, as he ought to judge and feel. He thinks soberly of himself, and as he ought to think; and in proportion, the state of his judgment and affections, respecting the perfections, law, and government of God; respecting sin and holiness, this world and the next, Christ and his gospel, and almost every other subject, is rectified, and rendered what it ought to be. This is implied in the very idea of living by faith in the Son of God, and is inseparable from it, from the first feeble trembling cry, "Lord save me, I perish," till the believer, in full assurance of hope, breathes his last, saying, “Lord Jesus receive my spirit."

If some of those who maintain that there is no holiness in saving faith, (at least when first exercised by the convinced sinner,) should be called to converse with a man, whom they had intimately known when a stout-hearted self-confident Pharisee, and should find him deploring the wickedness of his past life, the hypocrisy of his proud duties, the worthlessness of his present endeavours to repent and seek mercy, and the exceeding deceitfulness of his own heart; should they hear him own that God might justly leave him to perish, and express many trembling apprehensions, lest the Saviour whom he had so long rejected should now reject him, and disregard his feeble defiled prayers: should they, I say, witness this scene, would they not be convinced that an alteration for the better had taken place in his mind, and that, in proportion as he had more lowly thoughts concerning himself? Would they not be ready to say, "What hath God wrought ?" And could they deny that the change was from a wrong to a right state of the heart and affections or in other words, from unholiness to holiness? They would feel, that they ought not to inquire what the man thought of himself; but in what light that God, "whose judgment is according to truth," viewed his former and his present disposition; and what the Scripture has determined concerning it.


The sacred Scriptures distinguish between a living faith, and a dead faith; but not between à legal and an evangelical faith, as many persons now do: and on this ground alone, we may fairly conclude that this unscriptural distinction was devised to support an unscriptural system. Dead faith credits the doctrines of the gospel, as readily as other parts of revealed truth; and living faith as simply believes the testimony of God concerning the demands and curse of the law, a future judgment, and the wrath to come, as it does


the doctrines and promises of the gospel. But, as it hath before been observed, dead faith is merely an assent to certain opinions as true, without a cordial approbation of them as holy, just, good, suitable, and valuable, with reference to a man's own character, conduct, and situation. It is therefore either wholly inefficacious, (for being destitute of spiritual life it has no efficacy to excite spiritual affections, much less to produce them; and can only work by natural principles,) or it gives rise to slavish terrors connected with enmity, and sometimes terminating in blasphemous despair ; (as “the devils also believe and tremble :") or it abuses divine truth by presumptuous confidence, and excites selfish affections without repentance, love, and holy obedience, like those of the Israelites when they saw the Egyptians dead on the sea-shore, as they are described by the Psalmist : “ Then believed they his word and sang his praise. They soon forgat his works, and would not abide his counsel ; but lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert.”. Ps. cvi. 12–14. According to our Lord's word's, converts of this description “ have no root in themselves, but for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away." And he teaches us how to address unproved professors of the gospel, by his own example as recorded by the Evangelist : ** As he spake these words, many believed on him. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed ; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free, John viii. 30-32.

But living faith is an active principle in a soul alive to God: it receives the truth in love, and is permanently and spiritually operative upon the understanding, will, and affections. A dead corpse may have every limb, organ, and vessel, in exact order and proportion; while a living man may want an eye, a leg, or a hand, or be otherwise mutilated, defective, or ill proportioned. True faith, therefore, cannot be known by the doctrines believed, as the distinction between legal and evangelical faith seems to suppose, but by the manner in which they are believed. Many who, in a certain way, credit the whole gospel, are hypocrites, and dead in sin ; while others, whose creed is

; very defective, disproportioned, and in some respects erroneous, are sincere Christians, and partakers of divine life. Perhaps they are out of the way of systematical, or even solid instruction; or they are not yet freed from prejudices, through which they cannot receive some parts of divine truth; or they are babes in Christ, who feed on milk, and being unskilful in the word of righteousness cannot digest strong meat; yet their faith is living, and effectually influences their conduct; their imperfect views of truth are humbling, sanctifying, and transforming; and they are gradually, by searching the Scriptures and praying for divine illumination, “growing in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”

When the apostle had said, Without faith it is impossible to please God;" he added, “ for he that cometh unto God, must believe that he is, and that he is the rewarder of them that dilligently seek him.” Heb. xi. 6. I apprehend, the reason he assigned for his universal proposition, is not very satisfactory to many persons, who very steadily maintain the proposition itself: but it accords well to the views given in this publication. A general belief concerning the existence and perfections of the one living and true God, and his merciful readiness to accept, and even “reward, those that diligently seek him," notwithstanding past offences and present sinfulness, has been and is essentially necessary, under every dispensation, and in all possible cir. cumstances, to encourage and incline men to come unto God; and it forms the lowest degree and exercise of faith that can be conceived. But many, we may warrantably conclude, have pleased God, in seeking him as just and mer. ciful, on the ground of revelation, written or handed to them by oral tradition, without erplicit faith in Christ, or a clear knowledge of the plan of salvation.

Faith, even in that indistinct and incipient exercise which has been described, receives with cordial approbation many of those truths, against which


the proud and carnal heart rises with disgust and indignation, or which it perverts to the vilest purposes. It consents to them on the ground of divine revelation, though they are contrary to man's vain imaginations and proud reasonings; and it practically uses them in various instances which run counter to worldly interest, reputation, indulgence, and natural inclination.Even this must require a state of the heart far above the propensities of fallen man, and contrary to his alienation from God, and whatever bears the stamp of his holiness. But when further illumination has led the believer to a more explicit knowledge of Christ, and to receive him for all the purposes of salvation; his faith is an exercise of the soul peculiarly humble, submissive, obedient, and expressive of unreserved reconciliation to God; and it contains almost as much genuine holiness in its nature, as any thing we are capable of in this state of imperfection.

It is generally and justly agreed, that all the graces of the Spirit have a near agreement, and intimate co-existence, a mutual subserviency, and an inseparable connexion: like the several colours of the sun-beams, which, though seen distinct in the prism and rainbow, yet so coalesce and blend together, as to form a pure and beautiful whiteness. Thus the love of God cannot subsist in that heart which is totally destitute of faith; or faith in the heart, which is at enmity with God.-True repentance is believing repentance; true faith is penitent faith; reverential fear cannot exist without love; holy love of God implies reverence, and fear of dishonouring and offending him and an earnest desire that the Lord should be reconciled to us, and receive us into his favour according to the gospel, implies an incipient disposition to be reconciled to him, to his character, government, commandments, and service. And hence it is, that the approved character is described in Scripture, sometimes by one and sometimes by another of these holy dispositions; but we must not on that ground conclude that they exist separately, but, on the contrary, that where one is, there all are found.

It has before been observed, that by faith in Christ is not here meant, confidence that Christ and his salvation belong to me in particular, without any regard to the state of my heart, or my real character at present in the sight of God." Such a confidence may indeed be altogether unholy; and it is generally the selfish presumption of an unhumbled carnal heart, aided by an unfeeling or erroneous conscience, and acquired by the belief of an unscriptural representation of the gospel.

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Divine faith must be grounded on the word of God; but no man's name is inserted in Scripture, as names are in grants and wills; to which the engagements and promises of the new covenant are sometimes compared. In order therefore to be assured that I am the person to whom the promised blessings belong, I must inquire whether my case and character accord with those described in the promises. Now these are not made to sinners as such, but to saints, to those that fear the Lord, and tremble at his word; to the contrite, the broken-hearted, the mourners; to those who trust in the Lord, call upon him, follow after righteousness, know the Lord, love God, do his will, and hearken to the voice of his servants; to the meek, the merciful, the pure in heart, those that hunger and thirst after righteousness, and such as are persecuted for righteousness sake. In short, the promises are made to those who truly believe; for faith is the radical principle of all holy dispositions. As far, therefore, as we are conscious that our experience, desires, pursuits, habitual aim and character correspond to these dispositions and affections, we may be sure that the covenanted blessings belong to us: yet in exactness of language this is not faith, but hope; the full assurance of hope. This should be sought after and preserved by holy diligence: and as the humble believer, however diligent, will commonly be unable of himself to obtain full satisfaction in this matter, it is one part of the office of the Holy Spirit to shine on his own work, to show us the sacred impression, by "which he hath sealed us to the day of redemption," and thus" to witness with our spirits, that we are the children and heirs of God." The least degree indeed of these holy dispositions,

according to the gracious tenor of the new covenant, characterizes the possessor as a real Christian, and proves his interest in the promises : but in general he cannot make out his title, with habitual satisfaction, except as he is growing in grace, fruitful in good works, and careful not to grieve the Holy Spirit by negligence, or improper conduct.

If any man doubt whether the promises be thus restricted to characters, and desire to give the subject an impartial investigation ; let him collect for himself from the Scriptures all the promises he can find, and compare them diligently with the context : and this will convince him, that they all either expressly mention some branch of holiness, as marking out the persons to whom the promise is made ; or relate to such blessings, as no man, destitute of holiness, can sincerely desire and long to obtain.

The invitations indeed, and such promises as imply exhortations, counsels, warnings, or expostulations are addressed to the vilest of sinners without exception : but they alone become interested in the annexed or implied promise, who embrace the invitation, attend to the exhortation, and through grace obey the call.” For it is folly, not faith, for a man to imagine the feast, the treasure, the kingdom to be his own, merely because he has been invited, or instructed how to apply, exhorted to the diligent use of certain means, warned of the consequences of neglecting such unmerited kindness, and assured that nothing but this neglect can deprive him of the benefit ; while all the time he absolutely refuses to comply with the end and design of the gracious message!

There is a sense in which Christ may properly be said to have died for all; and the infinite sufficiency of his merits and atonement, with the general proposals made in the Scripture, authorise and require the ministers of Christ, to call on all that hear them without exception, to repent and believe the gospel. But sober Christians, even if they hesitate as to some deep points of doctrine, will scarcely contend, that Christ died with an express intention of saving all men ; yet this express intention alone could warrant a sinner, while an entire stranger to “ the things which accompany salvation," confidently to believe, that Christ died for him, and will assuredly save him. Such a confidence, therefore, is entirely destitute of any scriptural foundation, and is a most unwarrantable presumption.

Some persons indeed seem to think, that the proposition, Christ is mine and will save me, would never be true, if I should never believe it : but that, if I believe it confidently, with or without reason or evidence, it will certainly prove true: But surely it is very extraordinary, not to say absurd, that ben lieving what before was not true should convert it into truth !—The doctrines of Scripture are eternal truths, whether we believe them or not; and God abideth faithful to his promises, though we prove faithless. When a sinner truly believes in Christ, he is interested in all the promises and securities of the new covenant, even while his fears and doubts harass him incessantly: and when, on scriptural grounds, he obtains the full assurance of hope, he merely discovers what, though true in itself, he had not before been able to perceive.-One thing indeed is now true which once was not, namely, he is now born of God, a true penitent, a real convert, a believer, a living member of Christ's body, a child of God, a temple of the Holy Spirit, and an heir of heaven; whereas he was (not before his assured hope, but before his regeneration) dead in sin, a slave of Satan, and under the wrath of God, notwithstanding the secret purposes of electing love respecting him.

The words of St. Peter are peculiarly worthy of our attention in this argument, “ Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you.” Now the well-instruct Christian, and he alone, is capable of doing this. He can assign his reasons for believing the Scriptures to be the word of God; he can state the warrant and encouragement given in them to the chief of sinners to believe in Jesus Christ; and he can show from his own experience, character, and pursuits, compared with the declarations and examples of the word of God, the grounds co which

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he concludes himself a true believer, and an heir of immortal glory. But what reason can be given for an assured hope of everlasting life, as the gift of God in Christ, by that man who has no consciousness of having fled to him for refuge, and no experience of a new creation unto holiness ? - Indeed it would exceedingly perplex one, to find words more suitable to describe an irrational, unscriptural, and enthusiastical presumption, than those which some men have employed on this subject; while they have exhorted and counselled their readers, to “ work themselves, by the assistance of the Holy Spirit, into an assurance that Christ, grace, and heaven are theirs, without any evidence from reason, sense, or Scripture ;” and then they have gravely told them, that all holiness will certainly result from this kind of confidence ! * What reason can a man who follows this counsel give, either of his faith, or hope, or of his religion in general ?

The amount of this assured persuasion (call it by what name you will,) is no more than, I believe that I am a believer. But if this is true faith, and if the full assurance of faith is our duty, (and doubtless we ought to believe the testimony of God without wavering,) it follows of course, that we cannot deceive ourselves ; for the more firmly a man believes that he is a believer, the stronger must his faith he! Thus all exhortations to self-examination, and all warnings against self-deception, with which the Scriptures abound, are at once vacated and set aside ; and that man is actually the safest, who most confidently thinks himself safe!

Far be it from me to charge all who favour, or seem to favour, this notion of faith, with perceiving or allowing these consequences ; for many of them bestow much laudable pains to inculcate a contrary spirit and conduct, and imagine they can show that their doctrine has no such tendency. But after all, the inference fairly and undeniably follows from the premises ; and more consistent men, who have none of their piety, will deduce it, and practise accordingly.

If the reader has imbibed the sentiment, that this high confidence of salvation by Christ, even without conscious humiliation and change of heart, is the strong faith spoken of in Scripture ; let him very seriously ask himself, (and ask the Lord too in earnest prayer for his teaching) whether this is not the very character delineated under the similitude of the stony-ground hearers? Whether this is not the vain confidence of all those evangelical hypocrites, who deceive themselves without expressly designing to deceive others ? And whether James does not most directly address such professors when he says, “ Know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead !”-These are questions which should not be cursorily passed over by him who would know “ the truth as it is in Jesus;" for in fact they comprise the substance of the whole controversy;

It is not generally and expressly denied, by those who feel themselves interested in these inquiries, that the gospel was intended to honour the holy law of God; to display in perfect harmony the infinite justice, purity, wisdom, goodness, mercy, and truth of his all-glorious character ; to lay a foundation for the hope of the vilest transgressors connected with the most effectual provision for their humiliation and renewal to the divine image ; to excite in the hearts of the redeemed the most fervent exercises of admiring, adoring, zealous, joyful, and thankful love to the God of their salvation ; and finally to exhibit the divine glory, in the most awful and affecting light that possibly could be, to the whole intelligent creation through eternal ages. But if another gospel be introduced, which merely provides for the encouragement of sinners at any rate, while the other ends of infinite importance, are overlooked, or at least greatly kept out of sight; then the justice and holiness of God, and his strict and spiritual law, appear terrible rather than glorious and lovely; the odiousness and desert of transgression are concealed or palliated; salvation from punishment is detached from “the sanc

* Marshall on Sanctification.

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