« הקודםהמשך »
« them ; to believe that the things promised unto us « shall be accomplished, which is the mean of God's " appointment, whereby we shall be made partakers 6 of them. Such was the faith of Abraham so highly " celebrated by the apostle ; such was all the true and “ saving faith that ever was in the world from the a foundation of it."
On some Queries proposed by Mr. Bellamy.
WHEN a writer or speaker pretends to determine a controverted point by proposing queries, it is often the design of such queries to insinuate some prejudice, and to make us overlook the considerations which are most necessary to a right judgment of the matter in question. Hence, though Mr. Bellamy's queries be materially answered in the two preceding letters, yet it may be instructive to consider them particularly, as an example of the artifices, that are made use of, to preclude the most salutary truths from any candid hearing or impartial examination.
QUERY I. « Did God ever require any of the sons 6 of Adam to believe any proposition to be true; unless ( it was in fact true before he believed. We are re« quired to believe, that there is a God,
that Christ is 6 the Son of God, that he died for sinners--that he " that believeth shall be saved,--that he that believeth “ not shall be damned,--that without holiness no man 6 shall see the Lord. We are required to believe all “the truths taught in the Bible. But they are all true, « before we believe them, and whether we believe them s or not.”
ANSWER. The occasion of this query is the following words in the explication of the tenth direction in Mr. Marshal's Gospel-Mystery of Sanctification. « The reason," says he, “ why we are to assure our< selves in our faith, that God freely giveth Christ and 56 salvation to us particularly, is not, because it is a 6 truth before we believe it, but because it becometh a « certain truth when we believe it, and because it will
never be true, except we do, in some measure,
persuade and assure ourselves that it is so." In opposition to this passage Mr. Bellamy asserts, " that “ God never requires us to believe any thing but what 6 is true, before we believe it, and whether we believe $ it or not." And it is granted to Mr. Bellamy, that God never requires us to believe any speculative proposition, such as those recited in the query ; or any absolute prediction or historical fact, but what is true, whether we believe it, or not. But saving faith, as it is distinguished from other sorts of faith, is not merely a belief of such speculative truths : because there is no such truth but what may be known and assented to by wicked men and devils. When the apostle James says, Even the devils believe and tremble, he undoubtedly admits, that they may assent to all the truths or propositions contained in the scriptures. In this sense, it has been justly said, That true justifying faith is not simply the believing of any sentence that is written or can be thought upon. So the persuasion, that Christ is mine, which we consider as belonging to the nature of saving faith, is not properly speaking, a belief of this proposition, That Christ is mine, as if it were formally; or, in so many words, contained in scripture ; but it is the necessary import of that receiving or taking of Christ to myself, which is answerable to and warranted by the free grant of him in the gospel, directed to sinners of mankind indefinitely. In this believing, however, that Christ is my own Saviour, I am no more chargeable with believing a lie; than I am in believing, that, when a friend gives me a book or any other valuable article, I have a right by virtue of his gift, to consider it, to take and use it, as my own ; though it be certain, that, if I finally despise and reject his gift, it neither is, nor ever will be mine. Farther, if the gospel be considered as a free promise of Christ and his benefits; then this persuasion, that Christ is mine, is undoubtedly the import of my faith or belief of that promise as directed to me. And yet, though this promise be directed to all the hearers of the word, none of them, in the event, will find Christ to be theirs, excepting those that believe : because faith is the only way or mean by which God hath appointed them to attain a saving interest in, or the actual possession of, what he hath promised in the gospel. Hence the apostle warns those to whom this promise is left, of the danger of coming short of it, Heb. iv. I. It may be useful to add the words of some ministers of the gospel on this subject. “ There is a full warrant,” say they, “ to believe, or general right of access to “ Christ by faith, which all the hearers of the gospel “ have before they believe, and whether ever they be“ lieve or not; and, in this respect, the provision of " the New Covenant is their own mercy : which war“ rant or right, faith believes and improves. Yet faith « is not a mere believing of an interest which the per« son had before ;-but it is also a believing of a new
6 interest in Christ and his blood ; or a persuasion, by « which a person appropriates to himself what lies in " common upon the field of the gospel. All the privi“ liges and blessings of the New Covenant are gene“ rally and indefinitely set forth by the gospel, upon " this very design,-That each person who hears it may s take all to himself, in the way of believing; as there u cannot otherwise be any proper entertainment given « to the gospel. An indefinite declaration is made of “ God's name as the LORD our God, and of Christ's " name as THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS, and all “ covenant blessings are presented to us in absolute “ promises; all which is certainly for being believed. " But every person is to believe for himself, not for ano6 ther. It is a mock faith, if a person believes only “ that some others have a saving interest in God and “ Christ and the promises; as he hath no business about 66 making this particular application to others. So that “ he is still a rejecter of the whole, if he do not believe “ with an appropriation of the whole to himself; whilst o the revelation of grace is made to him for this purpose, or for none at all.”
« Such is the wonderful power and privilege which God bestows on true faith,--that he makes all to be “ personally and savingly a man's own : just as the “ man is taking all to himself, and making all his own, " by an appropriating persuasion of faith*."
QUERY II. Are not all these truths contained in the scriptures of the Old and New Testament, which it is necessary for us to know and believe in order to our salvation ?-But are they not all true, before we believe them, and whether we believe them or not?
Display of the Secession Testimony, vol. 2d p. 169, 170 ANSWER. Mr. Bellamy here insinuates, that Mr. Marshal, Mr. Hervey and others, when they call sinners to believe the grant and promise of Christ in the gospel with application to themselves, require them to believe something which is not contained in the scriptures. Now, that something must be either the sinner's application of the gospel-promise to himself, or his warrant to make that application. As to the former, that is, the sinner's application of the gospelpromise to himself; it is as absurd to speak of its being contained or not contained in the scriptures, as it would be to speak of his praying, of his reading or hearing the word, or any other of his transient actions being contained, or not contained therein. As to the latter, namely, the sinner's warrant to make an application of the gospel-promise to himself iminediately, or before he find in himself certain evidences of his vital union to Christ; Mr. Bellamy should not have taken it for granted, that there is no such warrant in scripture, after so many passages of scripture expressing that warrant had been produced and urged by his opponents. This warrant is, indeed, as clearly contained in the Scripture, as if the sinner's name and sirname had been mentioned. God says, The promise is to you ; the word of salvation is sent to you. The characters of those, to whom the promises and invitations of the gospel are directed, belong to you : for they are addressed to the sons of Adam, Prov. viii. 4. to those that are stout-hearted and far from righteousness, Is. xlvi. 12. to those who labour in vain, Is. Iv. 1, 2, 3. to every comer, John vi. 37. We hope this warrant is shewn satisfactorily in the preceding letter.