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weigh what is advanced in the spirit of prayer; that the giver of all wisdom may enlighten his mind, and prepare his heart to receive the truth in love; and to rectify every mistake into which he may have been betrayed, as far as it impedes his comfort, fruitfulness, and usefulness in the world.
The Sinner's Warrant for believing in Christ. •
THE word warrant, though common in the writings of modern divines, is not once found in Scripture which uniformly represents faith in Christ as the duty of all who hear the gospel ; and no warrant is required for obedience to a plain commandment. As however an inestimable privilege is connected with the performance of this duty; it may properly be enquired what reason a sinner has for 'expecting such a benefit from his offended God? In this sense the warrant of faith signifies that, which authorizes 6 any person to believe in the Lord Jesus; and 6 gives him a ground of confidence, that he shall thus obtain eternal salvation.'
But it is necessary to enquire what is meant by faith in Christ : as without precision in this particular, the discussion might be involved in great perplexity ; because the terms faith, believing, and believing in Christ, are used in different senses, frequently by the same authors; and still more by those who are engaged on opposite sides. · Faith, in its more general acceptation, is the 66 belief of the truth;” or “a cordial consent « to the testimony of God in his holy word, 6 with reference to our own concern in it.' Faith in Christ implies · A cordial consent to • the testimony of God respecting his Son; con6 nected with a humble and earnest application
to the divine Redeemer for salvation ; and a 6 willing and unreserved acceptance of him, in his 6 whole character and his several distinct offices,
according to the method revealed, and the di6 rections given, in the holy Scriptures. Not that I would exclude the idea of reliance, but I thus state the nature of faith, merely to prevent mistakes in an argumentative discussion. The language of believers, as recorded in the old testament, when they speak of “ hoping in 66 God,” “ trusting under the shadow of his 66 wings,” or making “ his name their strong “ tower;" and when they call him their Rock, their Refuge, their Habitation, and their Portion, always implies this earnest application to him for protection, salvation, and comfort, and never an indolent dependence of expectation. This is evident from other expressions, which they frequently subjoin ; such as “ I lift up my • soul unto thee;" “ I cry unto thee daily." « Qut of the depths have I cried unto thee, O “ Lord;" “ My soul followeth hard after thee, 6 thy right hand upholdeth me;" “ I pour out 66 my soul unto thee;” and many others. The description of faith in Christ, given in this treatise, is not therefore at all inconsistent with the souls thus resting itself on God, hanging upon him, and always expecting help from him: and if that idea do not appear sufficiently prominent ; this arises from the nature of the subject, which relates to one important topick in divinity, and not to every part of a believer's experience.
When the doctrines of the gospel aré assented to, and men are convinced by argument that
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there is no salvation, except by faith in Christ; they may more readily imagine that they rely on him, or confide in him to save them, than that they are daily and earnestly applying to him for salvation. I apprehend numbers think that they rely on Christ, even while they habitually neglect the means of grace, especially secret prayer ; or while they attend to it formally, as an irksome duty, without importunity, fervency, or entering into the particularities of their case. But the idea of believing application to Christ precludes this way of self-deception, without discouraging any upright enquirer : as it represents sinners by faith seeking help for their souls from an invisible Saviour, according to their feeling sense of sin and misery; as the blind and lame, the lepers and paralyticks, did for their bodies, when he was visibly present on earth.- As án instance how much the idea of reliance, considered as an adequate definition of faith in Christ, may be abused, I once heard a poor prostitute, when avowedly determined on pursuing her infamous course of life, ward off the conviction that she was in the road to eternal destruction, by expressing a firm reliance on God's mercy, and on the love of Christ who shed his blood to save poor sinners !
Having premised these particulars concerning the general nature of faith, I would observe, that if any persons mean by faith in Christ, a
confident persuasion, that Christ died for them ,' in particular, that they are in a justified state, " and shall certainly inherit everlasting life :' it is not only granted, but strenuously maintained, that no man is warranted thus to believe concerning himself, except as he has clear proof that he is “ in Christ a new creature," and “ has crucified the flesh with its affections and 6 lusts;" for this, and vastly more to the same