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savour and usefulness to the souls of the Lord's people, to be overlooked. My sheep, says Christ, know my voice: a stranger will they not follow; but will flee from Mm ; for they know not the voice of strangers.
Such are the writings attacked by Mr. Bellamy itt his Dialogues and Letters. Considering how much his performance, reprinted of late, and highly recommended by many teachers in our Israel, tends to perplex and unsettle the minds of church-members with regard to several precious truths of the gospel, the writer of the following letters was led to believe, that an essay to illustrate these truths, and to vindicate them from the misrepresentations of Mr. Bellamy and others, would be seasonable, and, through the Divine blessing, useful,,
In a Postscript to Mr. Bellamy's Advertisement, we have the following words: "It will be an abuse "upon the publisher of this piece to suppose it in his "intention, to detract from the character of such wor"thy men as Mr. Hervey and Mr. Marshal, or to hin"der the perusal of their writings." One can hardly forbear remarking upon these words, that this pretended abuse seems unavoidable by a reader of Mr. Bellamy^ work. For the errors, with which he charges Mr. Marshal and Mr. Hervey, are not only some unguarded expressions or inadvertent mistakes; but a variety of doctrines, connected with one another, which manifestly run through their writings in general, and which it is the professed design of a great part of them to establish. Nor, according to Mr. Bellamy, are they trivial errors, but most pernicious. He represents the faith inculcated by these writers, as " the first-born of "delusion;" a faith, which, " having no support from f scripture, sense, or reason, is founded wholly in jk
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Cheated imagination." He tells us, that their doctrine teaches men to " hate the Divine law:" that it is " An"tinomian delusion, leading to infidelity and atheism."
If these charges be well founded, it must be a good work indeed to hinder the perusal of the writings of Messrs. Marshal and Hervey. On the other hand, if they be false, such horrid blasphemy ought to be rebuked; injured truth vindicated; and a just commendation given to those communications of the faithful servants of Jesus Christ which are good to the use of edifying, and which have often, through the Divine blessing, ministered grace to the readers and hearers.
On the appropriation which is in the nature of saving-faith.
< - 'Mr. Bellamy inveighs with great severity against Mr. Marshal, Mr. Hervey and others, for teaching, that the language of the direct act of faith is to this purpose, I believe, upon the footing of the gospel-promise, " that "the Lord Christ is my saviour, and that I shall have '' life through his name: that the Lord is my God in "Christ, my light and my salvation." Persons, according to him, cannot use such expressions, without 'presumption, till'they have found by self-examination the sincerity of their faith and repentance. Such, he .allows, was the language of assurance commonly used by the saints recorded in scripture. But then, says he* ''they had sufficient evidence of their good state by "their sanctification. This was their evidence: they knew no other."
Mr. Bellamy's opinon, then, on supposition that it is contradictory to that of Mr. Marshal and Mr. Hervey, (and to say that it is not so, is to charge Mr. Bellamy with gross calumny) must be, that no person, without reflection on his good qualifications or inherent righteousness, can have any well grounded belief, that Jesus Christ is his own saviour.
. In order to form a right judgment of this matter, we must attend carefully to the representation which the holy scripture gives of saving faith, as distinguished from the other graces of the spirit. In the first place, it may be observed, that the words by which faith is expressed in the languages, wherein the scripture was first written, are such as certainly imply persuasion. Mr. Bellamy ought to have taken notice of what is urged to this purpose by the authors whose doctrine he undertakes to confute. "This notion," says one of these. authors, "of assurance or persuasion in «' faith is so agreeable to the nature of the thing called "believing, and to the style of the holy scriptures, that "sometimes when the original text reads fkith-or be** lieving, we read in our translation assurance, accord"ing to the genuine sense of the original phrase; Acts "xvii. 31. Whereof he hath given assurance to all men u that he hath raised him from the dead; in the original "faith, as is noted in the margin of our Bibles. Deut. "xxviii. 66. Thou sha/t have none assurance of thy life; "in the original, Thou shale not believe in thy lifei This J' observation shews, that to believe, in the style of the ?' holy scriptures, as well as in the common usage of w mankind in all other matters, is to be assured or perV "suaded, namely, according to the measure of such "believing*." "Budoeus and Stephens," says Mr. Hervey, " derive the Greek word rendered faith from ano"ther word in that language, which signifies, He is per"suaded: and I think they do so very properly; for, * whatever we believe, of that we have a real persuaM sion. The interpretation which Stephens, one of the M most accurate critics in the Greek language, gives of M the word in the New Testament, rendered faiifi, is, "that it is a persuasion, which the holy spirit works in "us, of salvation promised in Christ, which a person "applies to himself in believing." George Pasor, in his Lexicon for the New Testament, observes, concerning the word rendered to believe, " That in profane au"thors, it is used for trusting, depending, placing con'.' fidence in a person or thing. He who believes in Jesus "Christ, holds him not only to be the saviour of the elect, "but his own saviour, placing all his hope and confidence "in him. Whosoever does not adhere to Jesus Christ "by faith and to God in him, remains in the kingdom "of Satan, and is spiritually dead."
In the second place, it may be observed, that a real persuasion of our warrant to rest on Jesus Christ as our own saviour, not only belongs to the nature of saving faith, but serves to distinguish it from the other graces of the spirit. Mr. Bellamy himself allows, "that there is in saving faith an entire dependance for "acceptance with God on the free grace of God "through Jesus Christ, as exhibited in the written "wordl." It is true, he, at the same time, sets this dependance in opposition to the confidence which Mr,
* Mr. Boston's notes on the Marrow of Modem Divinity, Qhap. ii. Sect. 3.. t Dialogue ii. page 80.
Marshal and others put in their definition of saving faith. But Mr. Bellamy had no warrant from the holy scriptures to represent these expressions as opposite to one another. On the contrary, believing and trusting* faith and confidence, are used indifferently for one another. Thus, confiding or trusting, in Ps. ii. 12. is parallel to believing in Mark xvi. 16. What wc are exhorted to in Prov. iii. 5. Confide or trust in the Lord 'with all thine heart; is parallel to that which is affirmed in Rom. x. 10. With the heart man believeth unto righteousness. In Ps. Ixxviii. 2. believing in God is explained by trusting in his salvation. Believing is expressed in other places by relying, staying, leaning on the Lord, 2 Chron. xiii. 18. and xvi. 7. Isai. i. 10. Song viii. 5. As fear and doubting are opposed to confidence, so they are to believing, Mark v. 36 Be not afraid, only believe*
Knowledge, or some competent understanding of the truths of the gospel, and a speculative assent to these truths, belong to historical and temporary faith, as well as to saving faith*. It requires, therefore, something
• The design of these letters is not to treat of every thing supposed or implied in saving faith; but chiefly to explain and vindicate the truth on this head so far as appears necessary to obviate Mr. Bellamy's objections. It may, however, be of use to observe, that, besides a deep and abiding conviction of our sinfulness, misery and inability to help ourselves, there is a spiritual illumination necessary to our believing in Christ, according to these remarkable words of the Lord Jesus, in John vi. 42. This is the will of him that sent me, that every one who seeth the Son and believeth on him, may have everlasting life. The evidence, on which saving faith proceeds, is called our seeing the Son; because it is most certain and infallible. The knowledge of Christ, which is supposed and implied in saving faith, is not the knowledge of an uncertain report; but of the testimony of God, who cannot lie. Nor is it an imaginary idea of Christ as man. To regard such an idea as a representation of the object of our faith is to take up with an idol instead of the true Christ; and' itisnot the holy spirit of God, but Satan, that leads any to id.