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perfection in the service of God. What hope could you find from your duties; when after your best endeavours, you would see so much deadness, formality, and hypocrify, in your highest attainments? What hope from your reformations ; when you find so much fin and corruption gaining ground against all your good purposes and resolutions? What hope from your affections, when so much hardness of heart, worldly-mindedness, sensuality, and carnal dispositions are separating between God and you ? Can you quiet your soul by imposing upon an omniscient God, with your vain fhews and flattering pretences ? No, Sir, if you have any true discovery of your own heart, these considerations must continually perplex and distress your soul, with distracting fears and despondencies, as long as you are thus compasling yourself about with fparks of your own kindling. For these defects and imperfections will certainly accompany your best resolutions, endeavours and attainments. But then, on the other hand, if you lie at mercy, and submit to God as the sovereign disposer of his own favours, you. have good grounds of encouragement and hope. Are your fins great, and greatly aggravated ? The mercy of God exceeds them all. Have you no agreeable qualifi. cations, to recommend you to the favour of God? Mula titudes of others have found mercy, who had no better qualifications than you have. Have you no special promise to depend upon, as belonging to you, while in an unconverted ftate? Yet is it not sufficient, that you have gracious encouragement to leave all in the hands of that niercy, which infinitely exceeds your highest apprehenfions or imaginations ? Are you incapable to come up to the terms of graces proposed in the gospel ? There is yet hope in God's omnipotent mercy, that he will work in you both to will and to do, of his own good pleafure. He has done it for thousands of finners no better
Now, Sir, look around you ; and see what refuge you can possibly betake yourself to. You are in the hands of justice ; and which way can you make your escape ? If you attempt to fly from God, you perish ; but if you fly to him, there is hope. He is sovereign in the donation of his favours ; you have therefore as good a profa
pect of obtaining falvation (in the use of appointed means) as any unregenerate person in the world. Your defects and demerits need not be any discouragement : for his mercy triumphs over the guilt and unworthiness of the greatest sinners. Is it therefore not your greatest safety to lie at his foot, in the way of his appointments, where there is a bleffed hope fet before you ? In this way you have the infinite mercy of God, the gracious encouragements of the gospel, the glorious success of so many thousanıls who have tried this method, to animate your diligence and hope. And there is no other way in which you have any encouragement to expect renewing grace, and pardoning, saving mercy.
Since you wholly depend upon God's free fovereign mercy, you should use the more diligent and earnest application, in all the ways of his appointment, that you may obtain it. Since you must obtain mercy of God, or perish; O with what diligence and importunity, with what ardour of soul, should you addre the throne of
race, for deliverance from your guilt and danger ? Since in a way of sovereignty, God is pleased to bestow bis Special grace, with an interest in his Son and his great falvation, at what time and by what means it shall feem best in his fight, you should therefore at all times, and in the use of all the means of grace, be seeking the Lord while he may be found, and call upon hina while he is near.
Can it be thoughe just reasoning, that because you cannot help yourself, and there is none but God can help you, it's therefore in vain to apply to him for help? That because you have no claim to his favour, but lye at his mercy, you will not therefore seek mercy at his: hands? Does not this, at the first view, appear contrary to all the methods of reasoning we should use in any other case? Can you promise yourselfcomfort, from such reasonings, and such conclusions as these, in your last expiring
moments, when your soul is entering upon its eternal and unchangeable Itate?
But you object, If God in sovereignty designs mercy for us, we shall obtain it, whether we seek, or no : and
if not, it's in vain to strive. To this it's sufficient antwer, that God never does in sovereignty appoint falvation for any, in the final wilful neglect of Gospel
means. He is sovereign in the appointment of the means, as well as of the end. The fame glorious fovereign who affures us, it is not for our fakes that he beItows his special grace upon us, but for his own name's fake, does alfo let us know, that he will be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do this for them. Whence it fol. lows, that if we have not a heart to seek with earnest di. ligence, for the gracious influences of the Spirit of God, there is no prospect we shall ever obtain. For God will make us feel the want of his mercy, and will make us esteem his falvation worthy of our care and pains ; or leave us to the unhappy effects of our own madness and folly. But if we have hearts given us, to be humbly and carnestly attending upon the means of grace, it is an en. couraging sign, that he who has excited our diligence, intends to crown it with successo
You see, Sir, I have obeyed your commands ; and have addresfed you with as much plainness and familiasity as the case requires, and you yourself have demanded.
That God may effectually bring you to submit to the terms of his grace, and enable you so to run, as that your may obtain, is the prayer of,
LETTER VIII. Wherein the DIFFERENCS
between a true saving Faith, and a dead ten porary Faith, is distinctly considered.
OUR complaints do exactly answer my expecta.
tions. It is not your cafe alone, to have "un. • worthy apprehensions of God, vain trifling imagina* tions, and strange confusion of mind, accompanying * the exercises of religion. It is no new thing for those who are setting out in earnest in a religious course to find by experience, that their progress in religion. . bears no proportion to their purposes: And that their
good designs and resolutions, come to but little more than. outside appearances, and no way answer their
• hopes. It's matter of thankfulness, that you have a feeling sense of this. I hope, if no other arguments will convince you of the truth of what was insisted on in my last, you will at least be convinced by your own experience, that you lie at mercy,
You 'thank me for my plainnefs and faithfulness to a poor wretched infidel, who yet breathes, out of hell,
by the mere patience of an affronted Saviour. I had not only the warrant of your commands, but the vast importance of the concern before us, to embolden me to lay by all reserves : and even to tranfgrefs, the common rules of decorum and respect, in my former letters. And you need not conjure me to retain the same • freedom.' I am no courtier; nor am I at all acquainted with the fashionable methods of the Beau Monde. I shall therefore apply myself, according to my capacity, in my accustomed methods of address, to anfwer your desires.
You Observe, that I infinuate as if men may be • lieve the truth of the Gospel, without a saving faith in
Chrift, without an interest in him, or a claim to the benefits of his redemption. You therefore defire I would
give you the diftinguishing characters of a faving faith, ' and thew you wherein the difference lies, between a
true faith, and that which is common to hypocrites, ( as well as to Christians indeed.'
I do indeed infist upon it, that men may notionally and doctrinally believe the truth of the Gospel, without a faving faith in Christ, and without an intereft in him, or a claim to the benefits of his redemption. This is a truth clearly taught in the seriptures ; and abundantly evident from the reason and nature of things. If any therefore should expect falvation, from a mere doctrinal and historical faith in Chrift, they will in the conclusion find themselves disappointed, and ashamed of their hope.
We read (John xii. 42, 43.) of many of the chief rue lers who believed in Christ, but dared not confess him; for they loved the praise of men, more than the praise of God. And will any man imagine, that such believers who dare not confefs Christ before men, shall be confer: sed by him before his heavenly Father and his holy an. gels, in the great day of retribution ? Will any man ima.
gine, that our blessed Lord will own such for his fincere disciples and followers, who love the praise of men, more than the praise of God? Here then is a clear instance of a doctrinal and historical faith, which was not faving: and could give no claim to the promise made to true believers. We have this matter further illustrated and confirmed by the apostle James, in the second chapter of his epistle; where we are shewn, that such a faith is dend, being alone ; that it is but a carcase without breath. As the body without the spirit is dead, fo faith without works, is dead also. Of such a faith we may therefore fay with the fame apostle, what doth it profit, though a man say that he has faith? can faith fave him?
But I need not multiply fcripture quotations in this cafe. It is what is continually confirmed to us by our own observation.
every day, who acknowledge the truth of the gospel, and yet live worldly, fenfual, and vicious lives ; who profess. they know Chrift, but in works deny him ; who call themselves by his name, ar:d yet value their lufts and idols above all the hopes of his falvation; and even run the venture of eternal
per• dition, rather than deny themselves, take up their rrofs, and follow him ? Now there can be nothing more certain, than that thefe men are utterly unqualified for the kingdom of God; and that they can have no special interett in him, who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniyuity, and purify unto himself a peculiar peaple, zealous of good works.
As on the one hand, there is a gracious promise 06 final falvation, to all who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. He that believeth, and is baptizedi, fball be fav. ed: he that believeth on the Son, hath everlasting life. So on the other hand, there is a fort of believers, who can have no claim to this promife, nor any interest in the salvation by Chrift. It must therefore be of infinite confequence, that we have indeed the faith of God's ei left, that we may become the children of God by faith in Jefus Chrift; and therefore that our faith be diftinct, in its Rature and operations, from such an empty, lifeless, and fruitless belief, with which the formal, worldly, and fensual profeffor may deceive and destroy luis own soul. From whence it appears, that your question is moftim