Imatges de pàgina

and state. A change from death to life, from enmity to love, from bondage to liberty, from condemnation to justification. This being the case, the sinner cannot possibly be warranted to believe that he shall be saved in continuing such.

2dly. A sinner has no warrant to believe that he shall be admitted into heaven's happiness, without being sanctified in this life. That would be believing to obtain the end without the beginning; that he should reach the blessed city without walking in the road leading to it. It is a part of the testimony, that without holiness no man shall see the Lord, Heb. xü. 14. And therefore none can be warranted to believe the contrary.

3dly. We grant that the evidences of grace, though they do not strengthen the warrant to believe, yet they strengthen the act of believing. The man seeing that he has already got a part, can trust more strongly for the whole, than he who has only a word of promise. To have the first-fruits, the earnest, and seal of the Spirit, to have these sensibly, cannot but be a mighty encouragement to believe in him who has given us all these things, Rom. viii. 23. 2 Cor. i. 22.; to believe that he who hath begun the good work, will also finish it, Phil. i. 6.

4thly. We cheerfully grant that it is therefore our duty, our indispensable duty, to examine ourselves, whether we be in the faith, to prove our ownselves, to know our ownselves, if Christ be in us, 2 Cor. xiii. 5. To give all diligence to make our calling and election sure, 2 Pet. i. 10. Since it is our duty to increase in faith, and since the inward evidence of grace contributes not a little to its increase, surely we are bound to search for that evidence. And therefore,

5thly. If any man be habitually careless in searching after the evidences of his grace, this we grant is itself an evidence that he has no grace. Not a gracious person, but is generally solicitous to know his state. Such as pretend that they can live very happi. ly on pure trust, without the addition of pawns or

pledges, bewray themselves. For unfeigned trust, though not founded upon inward evidence, is productive of it. Though not the child, it is the fruitful mother.

6thly. We grant that none but the quickened sinner can truly believe that he shall be saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Believing being a spiritual act, necessarily presupposes spiritual life; as an animal or intellectual act implies a similar life. The dead sinner cannot believe. He is under a moral incapacity for such an act: just as he cannot love God till his enmity be taken away. Meanwhile his inability to believe, does not at all affect his warrant to believe. Great is the difference betwixt what I may do, in point of right, and what I can do in point of fact. Though none but the quickened sinner can take Christ, it will not follow that none but he may, or ought to take him. At that rate we must bid none believe, but such as have got the spirit of faith. Nor will it follow that it is unjust in God to command those to believe who cannot; or mockery, to offer Christ to such as cannot take him. Sinners cannot take Christ, because their enmity will not allow them: just as Joseph's brethren, could not speak peaceably to him, because they hated him, Gen. xxxvii. 4. Neither will it follow that because none but such as have spiritual life can believe in Christ, therefore none should attempt to beliere lill they know that they have that life. This inference is unjust, because we cannot know our spiritual life, before its operation, but only by it. We cannot dis- . cern our spiritual life in itself, but only by its acts, operations, and defects. If we will not attempt spiritual actions, till first we know that we have spiritual life, we never will: that life being discernible by its actions only. When Christ bade the man with the withered hand stretch it out, Mark iii. 5. it would have been arrogance in him to have answered, I know not if I can. This he could not know before, but in,

, attempting to stretch it forth).

These things premised, we assert that sinners have a warrant to believe that they shall be saved by Christ, before they see the evidences of grace in themselves. And this assertion we support with the following arguments.

1st. The first argument we take from our text itself. In it we see two apostles preaching to one sinner, the jailor, who so lately had fastened their feet in the stocks, and a few minutes ago designed to plunge his sword in his own bowels. Such an atrocious sin. ner they immediately bid believe in Christ for salvation. And they said, “ Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” Here the jailor is warranted to believe prior to his seeing any evidences of

grace in himself. Guilt, great guilt he saw in him. self, but no grace. I grant he was a convinced sinner, and hence desirous to hear of the way of salvation. But that he was any thing more than convinced, that he had got spiritual life, does not appear. It cannot be said that the apostles exhorted him to believe, because they saw he had the spirit of faith, and therefore would believe. They had not always the discernment of spirits, as they could not always work miracles. And they preached Christ to many who instead of believing the doctrine, blasphemed the Saviour, and persecuted the preachers.

2dly. Sinners have a warrant to believe the gospel history prior to, and independent of, the inward evidences of grace; and if so, then also to believe the gospel promise. That every man, without exception, is bound to believe the gospel history, will be readily believed by all Christians. But that the obligation to believe the promise is as extensive, is denied by some.

For our part we are satisfied that in both cases the obligation is the same. And by this we must a. bide, till it be proved that there is one warrant authorizing all men to believe the gospel history, and another authorizing some men only to believe the gospel promise. It cannot be denied that history and promise come to us in one and the selfsame sacred

scripture, that both are the word of the living and true God, that the one gives evidence of things that are not seen, and the other promiseth things hoped for. Hence they constitute not two different objects, of two different kinds of faith, but both together are one object of one and the selfsame faith. It will be said, perhaps, that many believe the truth of the gospel history, who yet do not believe its promise, or that they shall be saved. We grant that many do in a certain sense believe the one, who do not trust in the other. They believe that there was such a person as Jesus of Nazareth, that he died, that he rose again, and ascended up into heaven. But how do they believe these things? No otherwise than that there were such men as Alexander the Great, Cæsar, Pompey, and others. They give a human faith to the divine testimony. They credit the gospel history, just as they do any other, bearing strong marks of credibility. They believe it, not because God has said it: if they did, they would also trust to the promise, expecting eternal life through Christ Jesus. Whosoever believes one word because God has said it, must for that very reason believe all. He who can pick and choose; taking some and leaving others, has not the faith of God's elect. Though the history be of things past, and the promise concerning things to come; that makes no difference to faith, inasmuch as both are the words of the one God. Hence we fear not to say, that he who believes that Christ is the Son of God, because God has told him so, will certainly trust in · Christ for salvation. If, on the authority of the divine testimony, I believe that Christ is the Son of God, I cannot but believe that he will be a Saviour to me, as appears in the case of the Ethiopian eunuch asking to be baptized. Philip answered him, “ If thou believe est with all thine heart, thou mayest.” To which he answered, “ I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God,” Acts viii. 37. Hence it fairly follows, that his believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, implied that he believed on him with all his heart. If it did able our case! Unwise sons like Ephraim, we must stay long at the place of the breaking forth of children. The rock must be removed, the order of grace inverted, for us. How shall we see grace, till we believe in Christ for it? The greatest saint on earth, was he not once in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity? Was he not once without any evidences of grace? What encouragement had he, when

? such, to believe in Christ? What foundation had he to build upon? No other than what we have; the word of the Lord that abideth for ever.

6thly. That a sinner is warranted to believe something, cannot be denied. Now let us see what it is. Is he bound to believe nothing at first but the gospel history? That will not be said ; if it be, let it be also proven. Is he warranted to believe any thing with respect to his own salvation? He surely is. For says our text, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, i. e. believe on him for salvation. Is not this to trust in him for the accomplishment of the promise? And is not that the same thing with believing the promise? Is it enough to believe his salvation is possible? No; that is not coming up to the promise. Is it sufficient to believe that his salvation is probable, that it is very likely he shall be saved? No; that is only opinion, not faith. Is it sufficient to be. lieve that he shall be saved if he believe? No; that is still a step short of faith. It is not believing in the promise, it is only believing that he shall be saved, if he believe in it. And he can believe this of any other sinner, as well as of himself. I can easily believe that this or that man shall be saved if he believe. But this does not set him in the way of salvation, it does not put him within the compass of the promise. As little will believing the same thing concerning myself

. So the woman's believing that she should be whole if she touched, . was very different from touching, Matt. ix. 21. To use the words of the famous eleven",

• Messrs. Erskine, and the other Dissenting Brethren, who gave in Answers to the Queries puc by the Commission of the General Assergblya

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