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V honoured, according to his character, as the pro-» "mised Messiah.—Is he compared to the brazen seiv "pent? We are not to believe that we are healed; but "to look to him for healing. Is he compared to a city "of refuge? We are not to believe ourselves safe; "but to fly to him for safety. Is he compared to bread ',', and water? We are not to believe, that our hunger "and thirst are assuaged; but to eat the living bread, "and to drink the living water that they may be so."
In this reply we observe, first, that Mr. Bellamy misrepresents the sentiments of his opponents. For they are so far from saying, that faith is a belief, that we are healed; or that we are already in a safe state, or that our hunger and thirst are assuaged; that they will not allow, that faith, properly speaking, believes any thing concerning the state we are already in, excepting that we are miserable sinners of Adam's family to whom the gospel is preached. And while they tell sinners, that the gospel is directed to them, in such a manner as to warrant their immediate reception of Christ as therein exhibited; they at the same time, declare, that the gospel, without that reception of Christ, will be unprofitable to them. In the next place, it is to be observed, that, in Mr. Bellamy's remark, there is no notice taken of Mr. Hervey's argument; the force of which lies in two things. One is, that it is only true and saving faith which is meant by these metaphorical expressions. The other thing is, that each of them includes the notion of a person's application of something to his own use or for the benefit of himself in particular. If these two things hold true, (and Mr. Bellamy says nothing against either of them,) it will necessarily follow, that there is such an application of Christ to ourselves in the nature of saving faith.
Another argument which Mr. Hervey offers i'n. support of this doctrine, is, that our Saviour calls the act of Thomas which he expressed by saying, My Lord and my God, believing, John xx. 28, 29. To this Mr. Bellamy answers in the following words, "The thing, that Thomas was so faithless about, was "not his particular interest in Christ; nor was this "the thing he believed, that Christ died for him in "particular. But the resurrection of Christ was the "thing, the only thing in question with him. Over"joyed to see him, feel him, hear him, know him; "in the language of fervent love, he cries out, My "Lord and my God. Thus then stands the argument "—because Thomas believed, that Christ was risen "from the dead on the clearest evidence; therefore "justifying faith consists in believing, that pardon is "mine, grace is mine, Christ and all his spiritual bles"sings are mine without any evidence at all from scrip* ture, sense or reason."
Here it is necessary to observe, as before, that the force of Mr. Hervey's argument lies in two things. The first is, that what Thomas expressed on this occasion was true and saving faith. That it was so, is evident from our Lord's declaration of the blessedness of those who should believe, as Thomas had done, without having the opportunity, which he had, of seeing Christ with the bodily eye. The other thing on which Mr. Hervey's argument stands is, that what our Lord calls Thomas's faith or believing included the appropriating persuasion, that Jesus Christ was his own Lord and God. This, indeed, Mr. Bellamy seems to deny, because, says he, the resurrection of Christ was the thing, the only thing in question with him; and therefore the snly thing that our Lord represented Thomas as believihg on this occasion. But when Mr. Bellamy supposes that Thomas might have doubted of Christ's resurrection without doubting of his being his Lord and his God; he supposes a gross absurdity, namely, that Christ might have been Thomas's Lord and God, though he had continued in the state of the dead. Surely, as the apostle declares, 1 Corinth. xv. 17, if Christ be not raised, our faith is vain; we are yet in our sins. Besides, the believing, which our Lord here ascribes to Thomas, cannot be limited to the historical fact, that Christ rose from the dead: because our Lord pronounces them all blessed who attain such believing. But they are not all blessed who believe that historical fact. For wicked men may believe it, and devils believe it, and tremble. After all, can any thing be plainer, than this, that our Lord, when he says to Thomas, Thou hast believed, refers to the declaration which Thomas had made immediately before of his faith in these words, My Lord and my God; or that the faith declared in these words is an appropriating faith ?—We may add a judicious observation of Dr. Guise on this passage: "Though the see"ing and the handling of the risen body of our Lord," says that expositor, " were strong inducements or mo"tives to this divine appropriating faith; yet it was the "word of Christ set home upon his heart with power, "which begat it in him; for it was immediately upon "Christ's saying, Be not faithless but believing, that "he cried out, My Lord and my God."
We conclude this letter with a caution, which may be of use to remove a common prejudice against our doctrine concerning the nature of saving faith. When we say, that a real persuasion, that Christ is mine, and that I shall have eternal salvation through his name, belongs to the essence of faith, it is not meant, that -a person never acts faith, but when he is sensible of such a persuasion. There are various degrees of faith; and its language is sometimes more, sometimes less distinct and explicit. The confidence of feith is, in many, Jiloe a grain of mustard seed; or like a spark of. heavenly fire amidst the troubled sea of all manner of corruptions and temptations; which, were not this faith secretly supported by the power of God according to his promise, would soon extinguish it. Hence this real persuasion may be rooted in many a hearty in which for a time it cannot be distinctly discerned; yet it in some measure discovers itself by secret wrestling against unbelief, slavish fear and all other corruptions.
Of the grounds of that appropriation which is in the nature of saving faith.
Mr. MARSHAL and others, whom Mr. Bellamy opposes, teach, that the evil of unbelief does not lie merely in a person's disbelief of such speculative propositions as these; That Christ is the son of God; that he died; rose again and ascended to heaven; or that every true believer shall be saved;—but rather in a person's practical disbelief of this truth, that there is in the gospel-dispensation such a grant and promise of Christ, directed to sinners of mankind, as affords each of them, and particularly the person himself, a sufficient ground to rely on Christ, immediately upon hearing the gospel, for his own salvation. When we say, that soul-ruining unbelief lies in a practical disbelief of this truth, we mean, that it does not lie merely in the want of an assent to this doctrinal proposition (for some sort of assen^ to it may be given by such as continue under the dominion of sin)—but in the want of such a cordial reception of this truth, as carries in it the actual, exercise of that fiducial reliance; by which the person takes Christ and eternal life in him to himself in particular. That every sinner of mankind, to whom the gospel of the grace of God is preached, has a sufficient ground for such an immediate reliance on Jesus Christ for his own salvation, is the doctrine of Mr. Bellamy's opponents and of the Bible. To lay before you, Christian Brethren, the grounds of this appropriating faith, as we find them in the Bible, is the design of the present letter.
First, the promise of Christ and his salvation, directed to all the hearers of the word, is a sufficient ground for this appropriating faith. What was the first gospel heard by fallen man? It was a promise of Christ as the seed of the woman who was to bruise the head of the serpent. How did Peter preach the gospel to his hearers? He said to them, The promise is to you and to your children, and to all that are afar off, and to as many as the Lord our God shall call.^ That is, as if he had said, " The promise is so directed to you and "to your children, that each of you has a sufficient "warrant for an immediate dependance upon it, as a "promise to him in particular; and, on the profession * of this faith, he and his children are entitled to bap"«' tism; just as when Abraham received the promise,-:
£ Acts ii. 39>