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risen to the highest degree of malignity, it issues in a total rejection of Christ, and a resolution to perish a thousand times, rather than trust to Christ for salvation.
In an unregenerate heart, unbelief is the predominant principle, and carries the heart entirely one way. In a regenerate man, the two principles are in the same heart: these two principles of Faith and Unbelief influence the same faculties, and prevail alternately over the man. Thus it did in Abraham; when he denied his wife, unbelief prevailed; when he offered up his son Isaac, faith prevailed. Thus it worked in Jacob; faith wrought powerfully in his heart, when he said, "I will not let thee go:" which was very different from that peevish frame, when he said "all these things are against me." Faith worked powerfully in Moses, when he feared not the wrath of the king; but unbelief produced a passionate expression at the rock.
We have a striking instance of the power of unbelief in David, when he cried out, "I shall one day perish by the hand of Saul." And we have as noble an instance of faith, when at the burning of Ziklag, his own people talked of stoning him, but he encouraged himself in the Lord his God.
But the largest account of the battle between faith and unbelief, we have in the case of Asaph, Psalm lxxvii. Here you have unbelief asking six peevish questions; and in other parts of scripture, God our Saviour hath furnished faith with six powerful answers.
1. Unbelief says, " Will the Lord cast off for ever?" Faith boldly answers, " No." "Hath God cast away his people? God forbid; for I am an Israelite." " God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew," Rom. xi. 1,2. "For the Lord will not cast off for ever," Lam. iii. 31. "He will not always chide," Ps. ciii. 9. "For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth," Isaiah lvii. 16. "He retaineth not his anger for eve»» because he delighteth in mercy," Micah vii. 19.
2. Unbelief says, " Will he be favourable no more?" Faith replies, " Yes, he will." "For the time to favour her, yea, the set time is come," Ps. cii. 13. "Lord, thou hast been favourable; thou hast brought back the captivity of Jacob, Ps. lxxxv. 1. He delivered me, because he delighted in me, Ps. xviii. 19. Because thou hadst a favour to them, Ps. xliv. 3. Thou art a shield for me, my glory, and the lifter up of my head, Ps. iii. 3. Remember me, O Lord, with the favour that thou bearest thy people," Ps. cvi. 4. "Pray unto God, and he will be favourable, and he shall see his face with joy," Job xxx. iii. 26.
3. Unbelief says," Is his mercy clean gone for ever?" Faith replies, "No;" and asserts twenty-six times over, that " his mercy endureth for ever," Ps. cxxxvi. "The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting," Ps. ciii. 17. "But my mercy shall not depart from him," 2 Sam. vii. 15. "Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life," Ps. xxiii. 6.
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4. Unbelief says, " Doth his promise fail for evermore?" Faith replies, " No." In the language of Balaam the wizard, "God is not a man, that he should lie, neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?" Numb, xxiii. 19.
Faith answers out of the mouth of an hero, " Ye know in all your hearts, and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake," Joshua xxiii. 14. To which we add another word of Joshua, " there failed not ought of any good thing which the Lord had spoken, all came to pass," Josh. xxi. 45.
Faith replies out of the mouth of a wise king, "There hath not failed one word of all his good promise," 1 Kings viii. 56. "Nor will I suffer my faithfulness to fail," Psalm lxxxix. 33. "I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not," Luke xxii. 32.
5. Unbelief peevishly asks, " Hath God forgotten to be gracious?" Faith boldly replies, " No." "O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me," Isaiah xliv. 21. If unbelief, says my Lord, hath forgotten me. Faith answers, "Can a woman forget her sucking child; yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee," Isaiah xlix. 14, 15. He forgetteth not the cry of the humble, Psalm ix. 12. God is not unrighteous to forget, Heb. vi. 10. A book of remembrance was written before him for those that thought on his name, Mai. iii. ] 6.
6. Unbelief saith, " Hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Faith replies, " No;" for God says, " my bowels are troubled (or sound) for him: I will surely have mercy upon him, Jer. xxxi. 20. How shall I give thee up Ephraim ? How shall I set thee as Zeboim? My heart is turned within me; my repentings are kindled together, Hosea xi. 8. He retaineth not his anger for ever," Micah vii. 18. At these answers of faith, base unbelief becomes like the queen of Sheba, when she had heard the consummate wisdom, and seen the illustrious glory of king Solomon, " there remained no more spirit in her." So unbelief drooped, staggered, and fell. "Thus let all thine enemies perish, O Lord, but let them that love him, be as the sun when he goeth forth in his strength," Judges v. 31.
N. B. Faith is a resolute claimer, a bold beggar, a nervous reasoner, and a powerful wrestler; for as a prince, it hath power with God, and prevails, Gen. xxxii. 28. and Hosea xii. 3, 4.
A FRAGMENT. It is no wonder that the world care not for saints, for the saint is a man of another world in this; were he of the world, the world would love its own: and it is no wonder that the saints care not for this world, for what should strangers, sojourners, and pilgrims load themselves with bag and baggage for? No, they declare plainly that they seek a country, and would not always slay in the world, for all the world. The world is crucified to them, and they unto the world.
An Antidote against a spreading Antinomian Principle. By the late Rev. John Brine. Palmer.
This is a most acceptable and needful reprint of a valuable treatise by the renowned John Brine. The Author's design can be expressed in no better terms than his own, with which the subject is commenced:—
"All, who acknowledge that man is a lapsed creature, confess, that it is not possible to obtain life, if a sinless and unerring obedience to the will of our Maker, is required of us to that end. But it is the opinion of many, that men are to acquire a right to life and happiness, by yielding obedience to a law less rigorous in its commands, than the law of innocency is, viz. the gospel. That is not, in the apprehension of multitudes, a gracious discovery of a right to impunity, and a title to life, by the blood and righteousness of Christ; but is only a proposal of lower terms of life, by a compliance with which we are to obtain for ourselves a right to both: and these terms are faith, repentance, and sincere obedience. Thi3 i3 the opinion of the Socinians. This is also the persuasion of the Arminians. And the Baxteriang assert the same. It is not the inseparable connection of faith and salvation which they intend, but they maintain that it is a proper condition of pardon and salvation; or, that faith, with its fruits, is the matter of our justifying righteousness before God, according to the gospel; and that is it, from which our right to eternal blessedness results; that, as Adam's right to a continual enjoyment of happiness would have arisen from his obedience to the old law, so our right to life arises from our obedience to this new, and (as it is called) remedial law."
He proceeds to consider a variety of arguments for and against the opinion here clearly stated; among those of the latter class are the following :—I. If the gospel is a law by which men are justified or condemned, it is very far from requiring a perfect obedience in order to acceptance. II. God cannot be the author of an imperfect law. III. Men are not meet subjects of a law in order to acceptance by the observation of it. IV. God is the author of all that is good and pleasing to him in men; and therefore the gospel cannot be a law. V. The gospel cannot be a law, because that would enervate the satisfaction of Christ, &c. &c.
Whatever impression the title may have made on the reader, previously unacquainted with the nature of the treatise, we have already proceeded with our analysis far enough to give a correct outline of his groundwork and object, and scarcely need observe that it is intended to expose the Baxterian error, which has so grievously abounded since the days of the eminent writer under consideration. While we are here presented with so excellent an opportunity of condensing our views on that point, we should be inexcusable in enlarging; and, probably, it will be required of us to go fully into the question very soon.
We give the following as a mere rough draft of the incomparable description by our excellent Author.
"The unregenerate mind is enmity against God; and it is impossible to cause it to love God, and become subject to his law. Every regenerate person hath within himself sad and full evidence of the truth of this. That which constantly lusteth against the Spirit, by reason of the contrariety of its nature, by no influence whatever can be brought to act as the Spirit does, even in spiritual persons, much less is this possible in minds wholly carnal. Until, therefore, it is proved, that grace as a principle, is not necessarily pre-requisite to gracious, spiritual acts, which yet has not been done, (and I am bold to say never will be) it must be concluded, that men are not meet subjects of a law, requiring faith, repentance, and holy obedience, as conditions of justification and everlasting salvation. If this is the fact, nothing Is more certain than their eternal ruin. The reason is, no helps and influences, which do not communicate a gracious principle, will ever be effectual to the production of spiritual acts in men, whether elect or non-elect; and, consequently, the salvation of no man is possible according to this scheme. Baxtenans, indeed, assert the certainty of the salvation of the elect; but, as they allow not of the infusion of gracious habits, they leave even the elect in a state of certain damnation. Men may talk, while they please, about grace sufficient as afforded to all, and of grace effectual being given to some; but, if grace doth not really produce a new principle of action, it is sufficient for no man, nor will ever be effectual m any man. They who are in the flesh, that is, in an unregenerate state, cannot please God. No assistance can enable them so to do. Nor can the natural man be enabled to know the things of the Spirit of God. He may by divine grace be made a spiritual man; but no influence upon him, while he is a natural man, will render him capable of understanding spiritual things. A man that is blind may have a visive power given him; but he cannot be made to see without such a power. And a man who is dead may be inspired with a principle of life; but it is impossible by any operation upon him to cause him to act while he is dead. Omnipotence can give being to intelligence where it is not; but infinite power cannot produce reasonable acts, withont a rational nature, for that implies a contradiction. And God can, and of his sovereign mercy doth, produce a principle of love in minds which are enmity against him; but he cannot cause enmity to love him and delight in his law."
"Once more I ask, is it to the glory of God and the honour of Christ, to leave our salvation to rest on conditions impossible to be fulfilled? I suppose all will conclude it is not, and that supposition of it is most absurd. But some will say, why is this strange enquiry made? What foundation is there for it? I answer, however surprising and causeless this question may seem to many, there is sufficient ground for my putting it. For it is supposed, first, that the salvation of all depends on the performance of certain conditions, viz. faith, repentance, and persevering obedience. Farther, it is supposed that God does not give the grace of faith, &c. to any man; but only affords to men some help, whereby they may acquire it, which it is impossible for any man to do; because, without a principle of life and action, which gracious habits are to the soul of a poor sinner, no acts of faith, hope, and love, can possibly be produced in him. This must be granted, until it i3 proved that men are not dead in sin; which yet has not been proved, nor ever will be.
"Upon the whole, this conditional scheme is not calculated to bring glory to God, as it is far from securing salvation to men. On the contrary, an unconditional scheme of salvation enhances the glory of Father, Son, and Spirit. The grace of the Father illustriously shines in the free and sovereign election of men to eternal salvation. The compassion of the Son is incomparably displayed in the redemption of their persons by the invaluable price of his own blood. And the kindness of the Spirit, with amazing lustre, discovers itself in the regeneration, conversion, sanctification, and preservation of men. Farther, all the divine perfections in their full glory shine forth with an amazing and delightful refulgency in that scheme. Infinite wisdom hath eternal honours accruing to it, which contrived the happy method, so becoming God and so secure for men. Justice sparkles in its brightest rays, in our remission through the sacrifice of Christ. The riches of divine grace are opened to the transporting view of angels and men, in the gift of Christ to us and for us, in the donation of the Holy Spirit, and in the bestowment of grace upon us here, and of eternal glory hereafter. This pleasing view fills the minds of the saints with holy wonder, joy, and adoration now; and the clearer prospects thereof, in heaven, will eternally fill them with raptures unknown to us at present."
The Saints' Emancipation ; or, Believers exonerated from the Charge of Antinomianism: being a reply toE. G.'s Censures and Strictures on Christian Conduct, recently set forth in the Spiritual Magazine, for March, 1827. By Scrutator.
It is with considerable pleasure, in bringing out of obscurity this "Reply" and its anonymous writer, that we have an opportunity of appearing before our readers in defence of a long-tried and well known correspondent, whose communications to the Spiritual Magazine have without exception been approved by ourselves, and admired by all in connexion with this work for whose opinions we have any respect. But it will not suffice to inform those who may not read the pamphlet, that it consists of a mean and inefficient attempt to establish ' the great argument,' of which its unhappy author childishly prates, we therefore, in few words, come to the proof.
E. G.'s piece, " On the connexion of the doctrines with the precepts of the gospel," inserted p. 295, 9—vol. 3. contained many seasonable and scriptural reproofs of certain characters who, as some did in the apostle's days, preach the doctrines of the gospel, but neglect and despise its holy precepts,—who profess to be in the liberty of the gospel, and are not loosed from the bonds of their own corruptions. This writer's * great argument' goes to prove that there are no ,such characters now infesting the church. From our hearts we exclaim, would to God there were not! We are not so foolish as to gratify our anonymous opponent's wishes, by exposing such persons by name; but again and again we warn him and our readers of " wolves in sheep's clothing." "Try the spirits," says an apostle: and try the characters, say we, of all who assume the name of ministers of the gospel;—and let every man be persuaded in his own mind.
"In reading the account given us by E. G." says this sagacious penman, " one would be led to think that the characters held up to