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him a sufficient warrant and a most abundant encouragement to come to Christ that he may “ have life.”
11. Even such persons as have been long accustomed to live by faith in the Son of God," who have frequently known“ peace and joy in
believing, and have abounded in hope by the
power of the Holy Ghost,” are sometimes overcome by temptation, or called to pass through sharp, conflicts, and great darkness and distress of soul. In these circumstances they are often led to question whether all their past experiences have not been a delusion; whether they were ever “ called with an holy calling;” whether they ever truly loved the Lord or not. Should they then keep away from the throne of grace, and stand at an awful distance from the compassionate Physician of their souls, till they have determined these questions? Alas, they can determine nothing in this dark and doleful state! Every thing in themselves appears polluted and vile: the recollection of their past profession, advantages, and comforts aggravates their distress, and adds weight to the burden of their guilt; so that they are often tempted to draw the most desperate conclusions concerning their state, and the Lord's intentions respecting them. But in this manner they commonly begin to emerge from their distress.
• If all,' say they, has hitherto been self-deception, still the Lord is infinitely merciful; all things are ready; the invitations except none; and the Saviour says,
66 Him that cometh unto me, I will in no “ wise cast out.”' Encouraged by such thoughts, 66 Out of the depths they cry earnestly unto the “ Lord :” they confess their guilt with all its aggravating circumstances, and plead his merciful forgiveness, and his plenteous redemption*
* Ps. CXXX.
“ Out of the belly of hell, they look towards “ his holy temple," and seek his gracious deliverance *; and while they beseech the Lord to glorify his infinite mercy in saving them, the vilest of sinners; he “ brings them out of the “ horrible pit, and out of the miry clay; he “ sets their feet upon a rock and orders their “ goings; and he puts a new song into their “ mouths, even thanksgivings unto their God” and Saviour. Then indeed a brighter light shining upon their experiences, they can discern some actings of holy fear, humility, desire, faith, hope, and love, amidst the perplexities of their souls: yet they could ascertain nothing of this kind in the time of distress and dismay, when they stood most in need of encouragement.
III. But indeed the believer, who best esta blished in judgment and experience, and most assured in hope, does not consider his consciousness of sanctifying grace, or his upright walk and conversation,
as in any sense his warrant for faith in Christ, or in applying to him and relying on him, for renewed pardon, and fresh supplies of wisdom, strength, grace, and consolation answerable to his daily needs. He may, and will, on some occasions, appeal to the Lord for his integrity: and as “ his own “ heart does not condemn him," of hypocrisy, or allowed sin, “ he has that confidence to66 wards God,” which he could not otherwise enjoyt. He will consider his conscious love to Christ and christians, his hatred of sin, and his delight in God's commandments, as a full proof that his faith is living, and his salvation sure : he may plead these things, as a reason why the Lord should defend him against the tongue of
+ 1 John iii. 19-22.
slander, maintain his cause against those that injure him, and prosper his endeavours to do good: and in various ways he may “ rejoice in “ the testimony of his conscience, that in sim“ plicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly “ wisdom, but by the grace of God, he has "6 had his conversation in the world." This is evident from numberless passages in the sacred Scriptures; and even from the prayers of the most eminent saints. But so long as a man needs forgiveness, and blessings innumerable and inestimable, which he hath not in the smallest degree merited by his best services; and so long as he is continually making unsuitable returns for former mercies : he cannot, properly speaking, have any warrant for his faith, except the word of the gospel; however his hope may be encouraged and assured by the seal and witness of the sanctifying Spirit. Nor will the poor publican's prayer be ever laid aside, as unsuitable to his case, by the greatest saint on this side the perfection of heaven: though selfdeceivers, of various descriptions, may think themselves too holy to employ such self-abasing language.
It is commonly urged on this subject, that if any thing be considered as the warrant of faith, except the word of the gospel, boasting will be introduced, and self-confidence encouraged. This is true in general, and the sentiment has a powerful tendency that way: yet many, who are charged with representing holy dispositions as a necessary warrant to faith in Christ, look on those dispositions to be as entirely a free gift of the Saviour, as any of the blessings they afterwards receive: and (whether consistently or not I pretend not to determine,) they enter as fully as their opponents into the spirit of the apostle's words, " By grace ye are saved, through faith; and that
“ not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; “ not of works, lest any man should boast: for
we are his workmanship, created in Christ “ Jesus unto good works.” 66 Who made thee 66 to differ from another?” or 66 what hast thou 66 that thou hast not received?”- “ Being justi“ fied freely by his grace, through the redemp66 tion that is in Christ Jesus.” The fact seems to be this : Some pious men, in guarding against abuses, have unwarily thrown impediments in the
way of discouraged souls; others by attachment to system have moreover furnished excuses to proud and prejudiced unbelievers; and many have expressed themselves in a manner, which may be perverted to encourage a degree and kind of self-preference inconsistent with the pure gospel of Christ. On the other hand, same have incautiously used language on the subject, which may be understood to render even the preaching of regeneration, sanctification, and holiness of life, dangerous; by representing all holy dispositions and good works, as tending to boasting and self-confidence: and the charge of giving countenance to self-righteousness, has been so indiscriminately advanced, as to involve many persons and opinions, that by no means deserve it. But if we adhere simply to the word of God, we shall keep at a distance from these extremes: and none will pervert our doctrine, except those “ who stum6 ble at the word, being disobedient,” and who “ wrest the Scriptures themselves to their own - destruction.”
Saving Faith in Christ essentially holy in its
The Terms defined and explained.
THE holy nature of saving faith, at least in its first exercises, has been expressly denied by several persons, who have maintained the doctrine insisted on in the former part of this work ; and others have used language capable of this construction: thus the subject has been enveloped in obscurity, and the truth exposed to unmerited objections.
That we may the better understand the subsequent discussion, we should previously obtain precise ideas of the meaning in which the words, holy, holiness, sanctifying, and sanctification are here used. Holy or holiness is opposed to unholy or unholiness; and not to unrighteous or unrighteousness
. An unrighteous man, in the language of argumentative theology, signifies a man under condemnation for his sins, and not brought into a state of justification ; an unholy man is one unrenewed by the Spirit of God, and under the dominion of sin. Holy and holiness therefore relate to the dispositions and affections of his heart, and not to his state as justified before God: nor is this distinction of trivial consequence, but essential to a