תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

“ thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest: “ and he answered and said, I believe that Jesus “ Christ is the Son of God.”] Now nothing can be more clear than that, if his profession was sincere, (as no doubt it was,) he was “ justified by

faith,before he was baptized : and that his baptism was a profession of his faith, “and a seal of “ the righteousness of the faith, which he had yet “ being unbaptized.”? But, if he had not truly believed, would his baptism have conveyed justification? The unbaptized true believer, therefore, is “justified by faith,” before he is baptized; and his baptism is the profession of his faith, the recognition of that profession, his admission into the church of Christ, and a pledge to assure him of the blessing. Saul was earnest in prayer, but not about baptism; for he needed urging by Ananias to arise and be baptized. The centurion and his friends were eager to hear the word of salvation from Peter; not to be baptized : and, after their faith had been attested by the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon them, the apostle proposed that they should be baptized, without any request on their parts.The earnestness of the gaoler to learn “ what he must do to be saved,” and to hear “ the “ word of the Lord,” is strongly marked; but nothing is said of his eagerness to be baptized. 3 The eagerness to be baptized,' among those increasing numbers in this land who are taught that infant-baptism is a nullity, is in many places pro

1

Acts viii. 3638

? Rom. iv. 11. • Acts ii. 38. viii. 36-38. X. 44–48. xvi. 29–34. xxii. 16.

ducing effects more dangerous to the established church, to say no more, than almost any of those things which our alarmists insist on.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

'Faith therefore, including repentance for former offences, was, as far as the person himself was concerned, the sole requisite for justification. No previous work was enjoined; but baptism was ' invariably the instrument, or external form, by which justification was conveyed.''

True faith is always attended by repentance; but does not, I apprehend, include it; for then we might as properly be said to be justified by repentance as by faith :--but where is 'baptism' said to be' invariably the instrument, or external form,

by which justification was conveyed? Or what proof can be brought in support of this assertion?

[ocr errors]

* It is plain that these men were justified by faith, and by faith only. Here arises the impor' tant question, whether a person thus converted,

baptized, and justified, must necessarily continue ‘in a state of justification ? Certainly not. Upon

what then did his continuance depend? Upon his 'belief of the doctrines, and obedience to the pre

cepts of the gospel : that is, upon the perform(ance of the conditions of the covenant into which

he had entered by the holy rite of baptism, and · which he had engaged to observe. If he really ‘ performed these conditions, he continued in a

state of justification ; and, if he persevered to the ' end of his life, his salvation was secured. But,

6

Ref. 132, 133.

[ocr errors]

• if he did not perform these conditions, he was ‘no longer in a state of justification, but again

became liable to God's wrath : and, if he died in ' his sins, his apostacy from the truth would be an ' aggravation of his guilt and punishment.'!

All who had true faith were justified by faith alone ; but if any man had not true faith, no profession, either at baptism or in any other way, could justify him. The term ' necessarily' is not expressive of our ideas; which are simply, that God has promised, through Christ's intercession, and according to his everlasting covenant, to preserve the true believer from finally losing his justified state.-It must here be observed, that wherever his Lordship speaks of justification by faith alone, he evidently means true and living faith ; but, when he comes to speak of continuance in a justified state, he as uniformly, by some inadvertency, substitutes dead faith, which none of us think will either continue a man in a justified state, or bring him into it. We only hold that the same faith, which justifies, will continue the person in a justified state; unless it fails, or degenerates into a dead faith ; which we suppose (whether truly or erroneously) that it never does. Even the highest supralapsarian Calvinist never supposes that a dead faith will continue a man in a justified state, or ensure his perseverance: for in fact he has nothing in which to persevere, except formality and hypocrisy. And few maintain any other perseverance than that of a patient con“ tinuance in well doing ;” of “ bringing forth

"Ref. 133-136.

“ fruit with patience;” or of being brought back from every deviation by rebukes and stripes, with deep repentance, weeping, and supplication.-The evangelical clergy, it may confidently be said, have in general as deep an abhorrence, as any of their opponents can have, of the detestable sentiment, that a justified person may, without danger, live according to the inclinations of the carnal mind. No doubt, a few extravagant enthusiasts have spoken this language, and even language more shocking than I should choose to transcribe : but why are all Calvinists to be answerable for the tenets of a few individuals, whom they with all earnestness protest against ? So far indeed are the 'evangelical clergy from countenancing this sentiment, that a large proportion of them do not so much as hold the doctrine of final perseverance, even when stated in the most guarded manner. I should deem it an important end answered by this publication, if I might be admitted, (as one by years, experience, and observation, in some measure competent,) to explain to our 'accusers and opponents what we do, and what we do not maintain: for misapprehensions of the most serious nature give occasion to accusations and censures, which we by no means merit That we believe and avow some, and many things, which numbers do not, is true, and we do not wish to shrink from the fair investigation of our sentiments : but those charges, or clamours, by which we are chiefly rendered obnoxious in the eyes of the public, are wholly ungrounded; as all will find who bestow the pains to read our publications. They, whose cause I am concerned to plead, maintain that none can possess scriptural proof, or assurance, of his justification, except as his faith produces holy fruits : that none can preserve this assurance, except by “ patient continu“ ance in well doing :” that none, having by sin lost this assurance, can regain it, except by renewed and deep“ repentance, and works meet for “ repentance:” that, in order to possess and preserve assured hope, we must, after the apostle's example,“ keep under the body, and bring it into

subjection,” “ crucify the flesh with its affections “ and lusts,” and press forward in our Christian course : and that God, who appoints the end, appoints also the means, by which alone it can be attained. Exhortations, instructions, warnings are to be used by ministers; watching, prayer, selfdenial, and, in many cases, fasting, by the Christian himself. The ministers, who neglect the means which they ought to use, have no reason to expect that their supposed converts will persevere: nor have any professed believers, who neglect the means appointed for them, the least right to expect that they shall be “ kept by the

power of God, through faith, unto salvation." Thus God knows concerning every individual how long he will live ; yet this implies the knowledge also, that each person will use, or neglect, certain means for the continuance of life. If a man's death come on him by his wilfully refusing sustenance, or by taking poison ; God foreknew this also, and took it into the account. Our Lord certainly knew the time appointed for his crucifixion : yet he used various precautions to defeat the machinations of his enemies, till his time was

66

« הקודםהמשך »