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important glorious reality, which has a divine stamp upon it. He believes, and rejoices in hope of the glory of God.
II. We hence learn, what encouragement the poor, lost, infinitely guilty, and miserable sinner, has to come to Christ, and trust in him for every thing he can want. Christ ensures salvation, and perfection in holiness, to every one who will come to him ; and promises he will in no wise cast them out, or forsake them. He will be their righteousness, wisdom and strength. He will furnish them with the whole armour of God, and teach their hands to war, and their fingers to fight successfully against sin and the devil, and lead them on to complete victory.
III. This doctrine affords sufficient encouragement to the trembling believer, who knows his own weakness, to make a public profession, and espouse the cause of Christ before the world, and engage, by his grace and assistance, to serve him, devoting himself to his interest and honour.
Some, who thought they were friends to Christ, have been afraid to make a public, christian profession, lest they should fall away and dishonour him by their sinful conduct
. This is owing to their not well attending to the promises of the covenant of grace. If they have a heart to devote themselves to the service of Christ sin. cerely, and choose a holy life, in obedience to him, as the greatest privilege and happiness, they may safely trust in him for that assistance by which they may live a holy life ; for he has promised never to leave nor forsake them, but that his grace shall be sufficient for them.
Concerning Belieders' Assurance of Salvation.
THEY who deny the certain perseverance of all true believers do, of course, not believe it is possible that any man should be sure of his own salvation : And it is certain, that the latter would not be possible, were the former not true. But if the covenant of grace contain a promise, that all who believe, shall persevere in faith unto salvation; so that there is a certain connection between the first act of faith and salvation; which has been proved in the preceding section ; then, if the believer can know that he does now believe, he may infer, with -certainty, that he shall be saved. He has just so much evidence, that he shall be saved, as he has, that he is a true believer, or is possessed of any thing which implies saving faith : And if he can be sure, that he has any exercises of this kind, he may be equally sure of final salvation.
This subject may be explained, and the truth vindicated, by attending to the following particulars :
1. Assurance of salvation, is not essential to saving faith; or a person may believe in Jesus Christ, and hereby be brought into a state of salvation ; and yet not know that he does believe in Christ, as they do who shall be saved.
Many have thought, that saving faith consists in believing that they shall be saved ; that God loves them, and designs to save them, and Christ died for them, &c. or that this is, at least, implied in faith ; that it is in this sense, an appropriating act, taking salvation as their own, knowing that it belongs to them, and that they shall be saved. But it has been shown, in the section on the nature of saving faith, that such a notion of faith is not agreeable to scripture. Saving faith is a direct act, believing the gospel to be true, approving of it, and receiving Christ as he is there offered. This may take place, and a man be a real believer in Christ, without any knowledge or consciousness, or even the least thought, that he does believe, or that his exercises are saving faith ; for the latter consists in reflex acts of the mind, in a view or consciousness of what does, or has taken place in his heart, or what are the direct acts of it towards Christ, &c. The knowledge or assurance that we do believe, is a reflex act of the mind, upon what has taken place in our hearts, by which we obtain a knowl. edge that we have believed, or do now believe : So that assurance of salvation, or that we have saving faith, is consequent on our believing ; and saving faith must exist in the mind, and every thing essential to it must take VOL. II.
place, before we can be conscious that we do believe, or have any knowledge of it, which consists in reflecting on those acts of our hearts, which are saving faith, or do imply it. These are, therefore, two distinct things in their nature, and are not necessarily connected. A person may have saving faith, and yet not reflect upon the acts of his own heart, so as to know or believe that they are those in which faith consists.
Saving faith is an appropriating act in this sense ; it is receiving Christ as our Saviour, taking salvation as it is offered, and laying hold of the covenant of grace, so as to ensure all the blessings of it to ourselves. But this may be done without knowing that we do it, or thinking that the exercises of our minds, in which this consists, are of the nature of saving faith. This knowledge is obtained by reflecting upon our own exercises, with discerning to see of what kind they are ; and the latter is not necessarily connected with the former, as has been now observed.
It is granted, that saving faith, even in the first acts of it, may be so strong and clear, that it may be attended with a consciousness and assurance, that the person does believe, and shall be saved ; so that believing and assurance of salvation, may be both together, and connect- . ed in this respect; but still they are two distinct things, and consist in distinct acts of the mind; and the latter is consequent on the former ; though the believer may not distinguish them, and not know that they are not one and the same act.
2. Assurance of salvation, therefore, consists in a per. son's consciousness of the acts of his own heart, that he does believe in Christ ; and knowing from intuition or reflection, that he has attained to those things which im. ply saving faith, and do accompany salvation, being infallibly connected with it, by the promise of God, in the covenant of grace.
3. It is certain, from fact and experience, that persons may know what the exercises of their own hearts are ; and it is reasonable to suppose this may be the case in the instance before us. We do know what we love, and what we hate, in many instances at least ; and what kind of exercises we have, respecting many objects
with which we are concerned, which are agreeable, and which are not so.
We know we love some persons, and that others are very disagreeable to us. And no rea. son can be given, why we may not believe and be sure that the gospel is true, and that Christ is the Son of God, and be so pleased with his character, and the way of salvation by him, and have such strong and fervert love to him, as that we may be conscious that we have these exercises, and be sure we do believe, and love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity and truth. Peter was so conscious and sure that he loved his Lord, from an intuitive view, and reflection on the feelings and exercises of his own heart, that he could say, with confidence, and great assurance, “Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee.” And it is very unreasonable to suppose, that no person can have such constant, strong love to Christ, as to be sure he does love him, and has all those exercises which are implied in faith and love. Nothing can prevent this, but the low degree and weakness of these exercises, and the strength and appearance of contrary exercises, or mistakes with regard to the nature and operation of true grace.
4. It appears from scripture, that many good men, were in fact assured of their salvation. Job says, “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. And though after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my Aesh shall I see God : Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another."* The Psalmist says, “Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. My flesh and my heart faileth : but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.”+ And it appears from the New Testament, that the apostles, and many, if not the most of the primi. tive christians were sure that they should be saved.The apostles speak in the language of assurance ; and represent this to be common to believers of that day, by using such language in their name. The apostle Paul says, “I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded (or confident) that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him, against that day. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course :
Job xix. 25, 26, 27. | Psalm lxxüi. 24, 26.
Henceforth, there is laid up for me, a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me, at that day.”* And he speaks of himself as sure of salvation, in his letter to the church at Philippi.
" I know that this shall turn to my salvation, through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better.”f And he uses this language of assurance, when he speaks in the name of others, as well as of himself. “We know, that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, &c."I The apostle John speaks the same language : “ We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. We know that we are of God. And we know, that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding that we may know him that is true : And we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.”
Thus it appears from scripture, that believers have been in fact assured of their salvation : And therefore that it is possible, that others, and even all believers, may attain to this, in the same way in which they obtain ed it, viz. by arriving to such a degree of faith and christian exercises, as to produce a consciousness, and certain knowledge, that they have faith, or christian holiness, which is connected with salvation,
This leads to another particular,
5. There is no other way of obtaining this assurance, but by having such high degrees of christian holiness, in actual exercise ; and accompanied with such spiritual discerning, as that it is seen and known by the person who has it, to be real gospel holiness, or true, saving faith. True grace, or holiness, is in the nature of it, clearly distinguishable from every thing which is not so: And if it be not distinguished by the believer, and seen and known to be what it is, it must be owing either to the small degree of it, so that it cannot be discerned, or * 2 Tim. i. 12. iy. 7, 8. 7 Chap. i. 19, 21, 23. * 2 Çor. v. 1-&.
$ 1 John iii. 14. v. 19, 20.