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had been wholly written for us, and none other else besides us.
By saving faith we undoubtedly embrace Christ for ourselves, in the same sense as Jacob embraced Jehovah as his God. (Gen. xxviii. 21.) that is, to a rejecting of every idol that stands in competition with him. Christ is all-sufficient, and suited to save us as well as others; and it is for the forgiveness of our sins that we put our trust in him. But this is very different from a persuasion of our being in a state of salvation. My objections to this notion of faith are as follows. First, Nothing can be an object of faith except what God has revealed in his word: but the interest that any individual hath in Christ, and the blessings of the gospel more than another, is not revealed. God has no where declared concerning any one of us as individuals, that we shall be saved: all that he hath revealed on this subject respects us as characters. He hath abundantly promised that all who believe in him, love him, and obey him, shall be saved ; and a persuasion that if we sustain these characters we shall be saved, is doubtless an exercise of faith : but whether we do or not, is not an object of faith, but of consciousness. Hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. My. little children, let us not love in word and in tongue,
Downame's Guide to Godliness. Page 647.
but in deed and in truth: hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.* If any one imagine that God hath revealed to him his interest in his love, and this in a special, immediate, and extraordinary manner, and not by exciting in him the holy exercises of grace, and thereby begetting a consciousness of his being a subject of grace, let him beware lest he deceive his soul. The Jews were not wanting in what some would call the faith of assurance: we have one father, said they, even God: but Jesus answered, if God were your father, ye would love me.
Secondly, The scriptures always represent faith as terminating on something without us; namely, on Christ, and the truths concerning him; but if it consist in a persuasion of our being in a state of salvation, it must terminate principally on something within us; namely, the work of grace in our hearts: for to believe myself interested in Christ, is the same thing as to believe myself a subject of special grace. And hence, as was said, it is common for many who entertain this notion of faith, to consider its opposite, unbelief, as a doubting whether we have been really converted. But as it is the truth and excellence of the things to be interested in, and not his interest in them, that the sinner is apt to disbelieve; so it is these, and not that, on which the faith of the believer primarily terminates. Per- . haps what relates to personal interest, may, in gen
* 1 John ii. 3, 5. ii. 18, 19.
eral, more properly be called hope than faith, and its opposite fear than unbelief.
Thirdly, To believe ourselves in a state of salvation, however desirable, when grounded on evidence, is far inferior in its object to saving faith. The grand object on which faith fixes, is the glory of Christ, and not the happy condition we are in as interested in him. The latter doubtless affords great consolation, and the more we discover of his excellence, the more ardent shall we be after an interest in him, and the more disconsolate while it continues a matter of doubt. But if we be only concerned for our own security, our faith is vain, and we are yet in our sins.
As that repentance which fixes merely on the consequences of sin, as subjecting us to misery, is selfish and spurious ; so that faith which fixes merely on the consequences of Christ's mediation, as raising us to happiness, is equally selfish, and spurious. It is the peculiar property of true faith to endear Christ: Unto you that believe he is precious. And where, this is the case, if there be no impediments arising from constitutional dejection, or other accidental causes, we shall not be in doubt about an interest in him.Consolation will accompany the faith of the gospel: being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Fourthly, All those exercises of faith which our Lord so highly commends in the New Testament, as that of the centurion, the woman of Canaan,
and others, are represented as terminating on his all-sufficiency to heal them, and not as consisting in a persuasion that they were interested in his special favour, and therefore should succeed. Speak the word only, says the one, and my servant shall be healed: for I am a man under authority, having Sol diers under me; and I say to this man, go, and he goeth; and to another come, and he cometh; and to my servant do this, and he doth it. Such was the persuasion which the other entertained of his allsufficiency to help her, that she judged it enough if she might but partake of the crumbs of his table, the scatterings, as it were, of mercy.
Similar to this is the following language: If I may but touch the hem of his garment, I shall be made whole-Bea lieve
ye that I am ABLE to do this? They said unto him, yea Lord-Lord if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean-If thou CANST do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us : Jesus said, if thou cansT believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. I allow the case of these people, and that of a sinner applying for forgiveness, are not exactly the same. Christ had no where promised to heal all who came for healing: but he hath graciously bound himself not to cast out any who come to him
On this account there is a greater ground for faith in the willingness of Christ to save, than there was in his willingness to heal: and there was less unbelief in the saying of the leper, IF THOU WILT thou canst make me clean, than there would be in similar language by one, who, convinced of his own utter insufficiency, applied to him for salvation.
But a persuasion of Christ being both able and wil. ling to save all them that come unto God by him, and consequently to save us if we so apply, is very different from a persuasion that we are the children of God, and interested in the blessings of the gospel.
Mr. ANDERSON, an American writer, has lately published a pamphlet on The Scripture Doctrine of the Appropriation, which is in the nature of saving faith. The scheme which he attempts to defend, is that of Hervey, Marshall, &c.; or that which in Scotland is known by the name of the Marrow doctrine.* These divines write much about the gospel containing a gift or grant of Christ and spiritual blessings to sinners of mankind; and that it is the office of faith so to receive the gift as to claim it as our own; and thus they seem to have supposed that it becomes our own. But the gospel contains no gift or grant to mankind in general beyond that of an offer, or free invitation; and thus indeed Mr. Boston, in his notes on the Marrow of modern divinity, seems to explain it.
It warrants every sinner to believe in Christ for salvation ; but none to conclude himself interested in salvation till he has believed: consequently such a conclusion, even where it is well founded, cannot be faith, but that which follows it.
Alluding to a work published some years since, under the ti. tle of The Marrow of Modern Divinity.