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sion of creature-boasting. But legalism makes the death of Christ a footstool for the advancement of self-righteousness. Christ died, says legalism, that our virtuous endeavours and devout exercises may be accepted with God, either as constituting our justifying. righteousness or as entitling us to it.
What renders this evil so peculiarly fatal is the subtilty of it, and the plausible appearances which it assumes. It is indeed a dictate of man's reason and conscience, that God will deal with him according to his works. But the delusion lies in supposing that this principle is sufficient to direct us, in our present sinful and miserable condition, to the attainment of the Divine favour. Men are led by the legal bias of their hearts to think, that there is no sufficient motive to a holy practice, without the consideration of it as the ground or condition of their justification before God: and they are often confirmed in this notion by the fair appearances of regular deportment and sometimes of devout exercises, that seem to be attained under the influence of legal principles: though no such attainments can exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, Matth. v. 20.
But the subtlety of this evil appears, especially in the dominion that it retains over many who, under an evangelical profession of an entire dependance on the righteousness of Christ, are living upon their duties* their convictions, their frames and feelings, as the ground of their hope, of their peace and comfort. Indeed, those who have never had any humbling sense of this legal disposition to rely on something which they feel or do. instead of relying singly on him whose name is the Lord our righteousness \ and who havenot found'themselves-under the necessity of applying to the throne of grace for deliverance from it; have reason to consider themselves as still uuder its accursed dominion. All that secure generation who are settled upon Jieir lees, having never been emptied from vessel tfS vessel, and who appear at this day to make up the bulk of the visible church, are of this class. In fine, the subtlety and strength of this evil appears in the case of believers themselves, who, though they are no more under its dominion as to their state, yet, in their exercise, often find it stealing upon them, and disposing them to builtl upon something in themselves, instead of building only Upon Christ exhibited in the gospel. Hence they are apt to doat oil lively frames and sensible manifestations, while they are continued, and to be unduly cast down, when they are withheld!
LEf TER VI.
Remarks upon a passage in a late publication. The doctrine of Mr. Marshal and Mr.-Hervey concerning the nature of trite Faith the same with that of our Old Reformers.
IT may be useful to observe how ill the ablest opposers of the doctrine of an appropriating faith have succeeded in their attempts to give such a definitionof saving faith as would exclude the notion of appropriation. Some have called it % consent of the hearty «
te be saved by Christ and to submit to his government. But this definition, understood as excluding appropriation, was found to be totally unauthorized by the scriptural acceptation of the word; and to confound faith with love and other graces. We have been told, that Mr. Baxter had given some such definition of faith; but that, in one of his later publications, he says, "I "formerly believed the formal nature of faith to lie in
* consent: but now I recant it: I believe it lies in "trust." Some have defined faith to be no more than an assent to some speculative propositions; such as, that Christ is the Son of God; that he suffered for the sins of the elect; that he makes intercession fop them. But such a faith may be found in devils and in many reprobates, and is manifestly inadequate to many of the phrases, by which saving faith is expressed in scripture; such as, receiving Christ himself, trusting in him, coming to him. When some of these writers have admitted the notion of trust into their definition of faith, they could not oppose the appropriation taught by Mr. Marshal, Mr. Boston and others, without inconsistency. The following passages of a •late publication* may serve to exemplify this remark.
"The belief of the truth revealed in the scriptures," says the author of that publication, " is saving faith: a for saving faith is represented as a real belief of the
* word of the gospel, a persuasion that Jesus is the "the Christ, the Son of God, or that God hath raised "him from the dead, on the ground of what is written
* The Gospel -worthy of all acceptation by Mr. Fuller. It is with no small regret, th.it the writer of these letters finds himself under the necessity of opposing an author who has done excellent service to the cause of truth by hit letters on the MsiPal tendency of the Calvinistici and Socinian Systems.
"of him in the scriptures, Mark xvi. 16. John xx. 31; "Luke viii. 12. Matth, xvi. 17. Rom. x. 9."
Answer. It is granted, that saving faith is a belief of the truth revealed in the scriptures concerning Christ Jesus; but it 'does not follow, that it is not a "belief of the promise of salvation through him as directed to us; because this promise is a great and essential part of that truth; Acts ii. 39. Rom. iv. U, Gal. iii. 18, 21. Heb. iv. 1, 2. When a belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that he rose from the dead, is spoken of as saving faith, h must be understood, not as excluding, but rather as including the belief of the gospelrpromise*. Thus, " the name "°f Christ," as Calvin observes on John xx. 31. and on 1 John v. 1. " comprehends all the offices which "the prophets ascribe to him; and to believe that Jesus "is the Christ is to hope for all the good things which "are promised as resulting from those offices. Jesus "cannot be received as the Christ without looking for "salvation from him; since for this end he was sent "by the Father and is now offered to us." "And," says another of our reformers in Marloute's collection, "Christ is proposed as the object of faith; for in him "it finds righteousness, life and every desirable bles"sing, even the whole Godhead." Farther, says the same writer on Rom.x. 9." when we believe, that Christ
* Th e terras, which the Scripture uses in speaking of saving faith, are sometimes such as signify knowledge, Isai. liii. 11. or assent, John, vii. 24. Sometimes such as signify confidence, Heb. iii. 6. According to the Hebrew idiom, words signifying knowledge are often to be taken as comprehending in their signification the affections of the heart; and therefore when faith is termed knowledge or assent, we are to consider confidence as included; as, on the other hand, when it is termed confidence, we are to understand knowledge and assent as included. Synopsis Purioris Theologix, Disput. xxxi. Sect. 17. » was raised from the dead, we believe that he made "satisfaction for our sins; and that he reigns in heaven "in order that he may form us to his own- image."
"In Heb. xi. 6." says tb.2 author of the above mentioned publication, " there are three different exercises "of the mind: first believing, that God is; secondly > "believing, that he is a rewarder of them that diligently "seek him; thirdly, coming to him; and the last is "represented as an effect of the former two. The "same may be applied to Christ. He that cometh to "Christ must believe the gospel-testimony, that he is "the Son of God and the Saviour of sinners: he must "also believe the gospel-promise, that he will bestow "eternal salvation on all them that obey him; and un"der the influence of this persuasion, he comes to him, "commits himself to him, or trusts the salvation of "his soul in his hands."
Answer. As to the truths mentioned in the first and second steps of this process, we allow that the belief of them is necessarily implied or included in every act of saving faith ; but for any to hold, that the belief of them constitutes that faith, while they are considered merely as speculative truths and as having no more relation to the person believing than what they have to any other intelligent being, would be a pernicious error. For such a belief is neither answerable.to the gospel, asincluding a free grant of the good which it reveals, netto the scripture representations of saving faith, as a receiving of Christ, as a confiding in him for all our salvation. As to the last particular of the process, this writer seems to consider it rather as " the immediate "effect of faith, than as faith itself." So that according. to him, therecis. nothing in the faith itself of tru*