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“nestly unto the Lord :" they confess their guilt with all its aggravating circumstances, and plead his merciful forgiveness, and his plenteous redemption.' “Out of the belly of hell, they look “ towards his holy temple,” and seek his gracious deliverance;' and while they beseech the Lord to glorify his infinite mercy in saving them, the vilest of sinners; he“ brings them out of the hor“rible pit, and out of the miry clay; he sets their “ feet upon a rock and orders their goings; and “ he puts a new song into their mouths, even
thanksgivings unto their God” and Saviour. Then indeed a brighter light shining upon their experiences, they can discern some actings of holy fear, humility, desire, faith, hope, and love, amidst the perplexities of their souls; yet they could ascertain nothing of this kind in the time of distress and dismay, when they stood most in need of encouragement.
III. But indeed the believer, who is best established in judgment and experience, and most assured in hope, does not consider his consciousness of sanctifying grace, or his upright walk and conversation, as in any sense his warrant for faith in Christ, or in applying to him and relying on him, for renewed pardon, and fresh supplies of wisdom, strength, grace, and consolation answerable to his daily needs. He may,
and will, on
* Ps. CXXX.
: Jonah ii.
some occasions, appeal to the Lord for his inte. grity: and as “ his own heart does not condemn
him,” of hypocrisy, or allowed sin, “ he has “ that confidence towards God,” which he could not otherwise enjoy.' He will consider his conscious love to Christ and christians, his hatred of sin, and his delight in God's commandments, as a full proof that his faith is living, and his salvation sure: he may plead these things, as a reason why the Lord should defend him against the tongue of slander, maintain his cause against those that injure him, and prosper his endeavours to do good: and in various ways he may“ rejoice in the tes
timony of his conscience, that in simplicity " and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, "but by the grace of God, he has had his conver“ sation in the world." This is evident from numberless passages in the sacred Scriptures; and even from the prayers of the most eminent saints. But so long as a man needs forgiveness, and blessings innumerable and inestimable, which he hath not in the smallest degree merited by his best services; and so long as he is continually making unsuitable returns for former mercies : he cannot, properly speaking, have any warrant for his faith, except the word of the gospel; however his hope may be encouraged and assured by the seal and witness of the sanctifying Spirit. Nor will the poor publican's prayer be ever laid aside, as un
! John iii. 19-22.
unsuitable to his case, by the greatest saint on this side the perfection of heaven: though self-deceivers, of various descriptions, may think themselves too holy to employ such self-abasing language.
It is commonly urged on this subject, that if any thing be considered as the warrant of faith, except the word of the gospel, boasting will be introduced, and self-confidence encouraged. This is true in general, and the sentiment has a powerful tendency that way: yet many, who are charged with representing holy dispositions as a necessary warrant to faith in Christ, look on those dispositions to be as entirely a free gift of the Saviour, as any of the blessings they afterwards receive: and (whether consistently or not I pretend not to determine,) they enter as fully as their opponents into the spirit of the apostle's words, “ By grace ye are saved, through faith; " and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; s not of works, lest any man should boast: for
we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus " unto good works.”—“Who made thee to differ “ from another?” or what hast “ thou that thou " hast not received ?"_“ Being justified freely by “his grace, through the redemption that is in “ Christ Jesus." The fact seems to be this: Some pious men, in guarding against abuses, have unwarily thrown impediments in the way of discouraged souls: others by attachment to system
have moreover furnished excuses to proud and prejudiced unbelievers; and many have expressed themselves in a manner, which may be perverted to encourage a degree and kind of self-preference, inconsistent with the pure gospel of Christ. On the other hand, some have incautiously used language on the subject, which may be understood to render even the preaching of regeneration, sanctification, and holiness of life, dangerous; by representing all holy dispositions and good works, as tending to boasting and self-confidence: and the charge of giving countenance to self-righteousness, has been so indiscriminately advanced, as to involve
many persons and opinions, that by no means deserve it. But if we adhere simply to the word of God, we shall keep at a distance from these extremes: and none will pervert our doctrine, except those “ who stumble at the word, be“ing disobedient,” and who " wrest the Scriptures “ to their own destruction."
Saving Faith in Christ essentially holy in its
THE TERMS DEFINED AND EXPLAINED.
Tue holy nature of saving faith, at least in its first exercises, has been expressly denied by several persons, who have maintained the doctrine insisted on in the preceding pages; and others have used language capable of this construction.
That we may the better understand the subsequent arguments, we should previously obtain precise ideas of the meaning in which the words holy, holiness, sunctifying, and sanctification are here used. Holy or holiness is opposed to unholy or unholiness; and not to unrighteous or unrighteousness. An unrighteous man, in the language of argumentative theology, signifies a man under condemnation for his sins, and not brought into a state of justification: an unholy man is one unrenewed by the Spirit of God, and under the dominion of sin. Holy and holiness therefore relate to the dispositions and affections of his heart, and