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purpose, is constantly spoken of in the Scriptures concerning all true christians without exception. Properly speaking, this confident persuasion of a personal interest in Christ, if well grounded, is hope, or the full assurance of hope ; and is opposed to presumption, or a groundless confidence of salvation : nor can it be obtained or preserved except by walking in all the commandments and ordinances of God with persevering diligence.—Again, if faith in Christ be considered as "A reliance on him for salvation
from future punishment, without heartily seek
ing to him for deliverance from sin and from 6 this present evil world, or falling in with the “whole design of his coming in the flesh;' no man is or can be warranted thus to believe on him : for this is a mere selfish desire and presumptuous confidence of escaping misery and obtaining happiness, without the least real understanding of the nature, or value for the blessings, of that holy salvation which the Scriptures propose to us. For in fact, it is nothing better than the cry of the evil spirits, when they besought Christ not to torment them; except as these too well knew God's purposes to expect final impunity.
A few other remarks may tend to elucidate the subject. We are told that “ Faith is the “ evidence of things not seen,” as it credits the whole of God's sure testimony, concerning things invisible and future: and 66 the substance of “ things hoped for,” as it realizes the substantial and eternal blessings which are brought to light by the gospel. It is not then a new faculty of the soul: but the exercise of our original faculties in a manner new to us as sinners. To believe testimony, to rely on promises, and to expect the performance of them from the faithfulness of him who made them, are as natural to us as any other act of the rational soul; and indeed almost all the business of life is conducted by this very principle: but the things, which the Lord testifies, proposes, and promises, are so foreign to our apprehensions, so contrary to our prejudices, so humiliating to our pride, so disquieting to our consciences, and opposite to our carnal passions and pursuits; that we have no disposition cordially and obediently to believe them, till a change has taken place in our hearts. When, however, a man is properly disposed to believe divine truth in general; either speedily or gradually, he will be led to consider and credit the testimony of God concerning his Son, and so to believe in Christ for salvation. But this faith must imply some perception and understanding of the nature of salvation, some conviction that we need it, and some desire after it : unless any one be supposed to seek an object, of which he knows nothing, of which he feels no want, and about which he has not the least concern! It must also imply a virtual renouncing of all other confidences to depend on Christ alone, a willingness to use the appointed means, and a disposition rather to part with every thing, than fall short of an interest in him. For « The kingdom of heaven 66 is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which " when a man hath found, he hideth, and for “ joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, 66 and buyeth that, field. Again, the kingdom 66 of heaven is like unto a merchant-man, seek« ing goodly pearls; who, when he had found “ one pearl of great price, went and sold all " that he had, and bought it*.” This language of our Lord is so decided; and the difference between him 6. who went away sorrowful, be
's cause he had great possessions," and those s6 who left all and followed him," is so strongly marked, that we cannot on scriptural grounds allow that any man truly believes, if he is inwardly determined to renounce Christ, rather than part with some worldly object. It may indeed be urged, that these things are the effects of faith, and not implied in its nature : but assuredly the least exercise of true faith in Christ constitutes a man his disciple; yet he expressly says, “ Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh s6 not all that he hath, he cannot be my dis66.ciple*.” If therefore these are effects of faith, they spring immediately and invariably from its essential nature.- Awakened sinners often hesitate long, before they can be induced thus unreservedly to renounce all selfish confidences and worldly idols, for the sake of Christ and his salvation : -some shrinking back on one account, and some on another, as carnal lusts, self-wise or self-righteous pride, fear of man, or other corrupt propensities preponderate. Even - they, who really believe the testimony of God, and are convinced that the gospel is true, are frequently seduced into very criminal delays, before they decidedly.“count all things but loss " that they may win Christ.” But every genuine exercise of faith implies these things : though in many cases, they are only discernible, as the members of the body in the halfformed embrio, or the parts of the oak in the germ of the acorn.
Faith in Christ is, therefore, the sinner's believing obedient application to the Saviour: reliance on him, and his power, truth, and love; on what he did and suffered on earth, and is now doing in heaven; and on his pro
* Luke xiv, 25.-27.
mises, and covenant-engagements, for complete and everlasting salvation : cordial acceptance of him, according to the word of God, in all his characters and offices : and confidential entrusting the immortal soul with all its 'eternal interests into his hands, from a feeling sense that he needs this salvation; a perception in some degree of its suitableness and value, an approbation and desire of it above all things, and a dread of coming short of it more than any other evil. Such is the idea of faith in Christ adhered to throughout this work : and they, who have formed other notions concerning faith, will of course object to many things contained in it. This should therefore in the first place be considered with peculiar attention; and some deliberate judgment formed on the general nature of faith in Christ, whether this be or be not a scriptural account of it: otherwise the truth of the propositions, and the conclusiveness of the arguments, contained in the subsequent pages, will not be clearly perceived; and the objections, which arise in the reader's mind, may probably result from an unobserved difference of sentiment on the subject before us. Let this then be well weighed, and impartially compared with the sacred Scriptures.
These things being premised, it is here maintained, "That the sinner wants no warrant of • any kind for believing in Christ, except the
word of God. No qualifications; (or qualities, endowments, or dispositions in himself,) are at all requisite to authorize his application, or encourage his hope of success ; unless any one should choose, with manifest impropriety, to call his willingness to be saved in the Lord's way. a qualification. “ Him that cometh to “ Christ, he will in no wise cast out:" and they, who do not come when they hear the gospel,
have as good a warrant as they that do; but they will not avail themselves of it, because they comparatively despise the proffered benefit. - I shall first establish ihe position by scriptural proofs; and then assign some reasons for insisting on it.
SECTION II. Scriptural proofs, that the sinner wants no wars
rant for believing in Christ, except the word of God.
First then, The commission and instructions which our Lord gave to his apostles,, compared with their conduct and that of their fellow labourers, are conclusive on the subject. “Go “ ye into all the world, and preach the gospel us to every creature : he that believeth and is 66 baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth “6 not shall be damned*.” Nothing can be more evident, than that every human being, however vile, is warranted to believe in Christ, by this declaration of the gospel itself; and that nothing is or can be wanting, but a disposition to accept of the proposed salvation. The other instructions given to the apostles were, beyond all doubt, coincident with this commission; though on several accounts they were worded rather differentlyt: but one direction, couched under a parable, particularly suits our purpose. “Go ye into the highways and « hedges, and compel them to come in, that 66 my house may be filled f.” Now what further warrant could a poor traveller or beggar stand in need of, who was desirous of admission to a
* Mark xvi. 15, 16.
I Luke xiv. 23.