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for lim to“ give a reason of the hope that is in “him."--But if any one, allowing in general the truth of those things that have been stated concerning saving faith, should yet feel some hesitation about the use of the word holy in this connexion : the author will hold no controversy with him on this point. Provided the essential and unspeakably important distinction between living and dead faith were unreservedly allowed, and given its due prominence in the views and discourses of christians and ministers;
the rest would be in great measure a verbal controversy, from which every wise man would turn to moro pleasant and profitable employments.
Some Reasons assigned for insisting on the holy
Nature of saving Faith.
It may probably be enquired by the reader, why we bestow so much pains to prove the holy nature of saving faith; seeing we allow that the sinner makes no use of this holiness as an encouragement; and indeed seldom notices it, in his first applications to Christ for salvation? To this question I would answer,
1. It is in order to induce christians, and especially ministers, to use the scriptural method of preventing men from deceiving themselves. It will be found at the great decisive day, that nothing has more conduced to quiet nominal christians in impenitence and unbelief, than a groundless persuasion that they do indeed repent and believe. The laboured arguments therefore, of the preceding pages are not so much intended for the use of newly awakened persons, as for more established christians: and especially for those who, by office or in charity, instruct and converse frequently with persons thus circumstanced. Indeed discussions on such topicks cannot be fully understood, except by those “ who by reason of
use have their senses exercised to discern good “and evil:” and of course they are generally improper
for the new-born babe. But the instructions publickly or privately given to enquirers, will accord to the sentiments and judgment of real christians, and especially those of the pastors of the Lord's flock: whatever therefore tends to a sound understanding of Scripture, among those who already believe the gospel, will conduce to prevent self-deception in others, when first entering on a religious profession. And prevention is almost our only hope: for the most able and experienced ministers have agreed, that the undeceiving of one, whom Satan has soothed into a false peace by an unsound profession of the gospel, is a thing which very seldom occurs.
It is commonly indeed answered, that 'many will deceive themselves, however we state and explain the doctrine of faith :' but surely we should dread, as the most awful calamity, being in any degree accessory to the destructive delusion! And if we do not dread it on their account ;
we have proportionable need to be alarmed on our own, lest “their blood should be required at our hands.” Even when the good seed, unmingled with tares, is sown; the deceitfulness and wickedness of the heart, the wiles of the tempter, and the fascina.
tions of the world, will influence many to “speak
peace to themselves, when there is no peace:” but " while the servants slept the enemy sowed the
tares;" and all their subsequent vigilance could not eradicate them; for these "children of the " wicked one" must be left intermixed with true believers till the harvest. Some good men indeed, in their earnestness to gather up the tares, have endangered the wheat, and “ offended against “the generation of God's children:” but may not vigilance and caution be used by way of prevention, without the least danger of that kind ?
If we do not, in the most careful and explicit manner, explain what we mean by salvation, and by faith; Satan will prevail with men to catch at peace and comfort prematurely, and to use our words for this purpose: and thus we shall incur the charge of “ healing their hurt deceitfully," by "speaking peace when there is no peace.” Men are exceedingly apt to conclude, even when the utmost caution is used in stating the doctrines of the gospel, that exemption from punishment and a title to future happiness constitute the whole of salvation; and that confidence in Christ to save them from wrath and bring them to heaven, though they do not concur in other respects with the design of his incarnation and mediation, is faith in him. And if they once get so thoroughly possessed of these notions, through our inaccuracy and incautious language, as to quiet their con
sciences by them: whenever we afterwards insist on the fruits of faith, and its sanctifying effects in holy tempers and good works; they will (not altogether without reason,) charge us with inconsistency; and meet with numbers to encourage them in exclaiming against all these exhortations, as legal, and as tending to bring them into bondage.--So that while it is allowed that many, who give a very different description of faith from that which is here maintained, bestow much pains to guard their doctrine from abuse, and clearly shew that true faith always produces holiness: it is also asserted that in these attempts, they deviate from their own previous definition of faith, and substitute another idea' in its place. True believers are doubtless holy in proportion to the degree of their faith: and if their hope be scriptural, the more assured it is, the more “stedfast, un“ moveable, and earnestly abounding in the work “ of the Lord,” they will certainly be found. But we enquire, whether many do not “think " themselves something when they are nothing; and “ so deceive themselves ?” Whether many, who disclaim good works, do not satisfy their minds with visionary impulses, enthusiastical raptures, and a change of creed; though strangers to that holy calling of which the apostle spoke?' Whether there be not a dead faith as well as a living faith? Whether the former be not often more
1 2 Tim. i. 9.