« AnteriorContinuar »
Mr. Anderson is careful to distinguish the appropriation for which he contends, from “ the knowledge of our being believers, or already in a state of grace.” Page 61. He also acknowledges that the ground of saving faith is “ something that may be known before, and in order to the act of faith ;" that it is “among the things that are revealed, and which belong to us and to our chil. dren.” Page 60. Yet he makes it of the essence of faith to believe that Christ is ours.” Page 56. It must be true then that Christ is ours antecedent to our believing it, and whether we believe it or not. This, it seems, Mr. Anderson will admit: for he holds that “God hath made a gift or grant of Christ and spiritual blessings to sinners of mankind ;” and which denominates him ours“ before we believe it." Yet he does not admit the final salvation of all to whom Christ is thus supposed to be given. To what therefore does the gift amount more than to a free invitation, concerning which his opponents have no dispute with him? A free invitation, though it affords a warrant to apply for mercy,, and that with an assurance of success, yet gives no interest in its blessings, but on the supposition of its being accepted. Neither does the gift for which Mr. A. contends; nothing is conveyed by it that ensures any man's salvation. All the au. thor says, therefore, against what he calls conditions of salvation, is no less applicable to his own scheme, than to that of his opponents. His scheme is as really conditional as theirs. The condition which it prescribes for our becoming interested in the
blessings of eternal life, so interested however as to possess them, is, to believe them to be our own; and without this he supposes we shall never enjoy them.
He contends, indeed, that the belief of the promises cannot be called a condition of our right to claim an interest in them, because if such belief be a claiming interest in them, it would be making a thing the condition of itself, page 50, 51. But to this it is replied - First, Though Mr. A. considers saving faith as including appropriation, yet this is only one idea which he ascribes to it. He explains it as consisting of three things, a persuasion of divine truth wrought in the heart by the Holy Ghost—a sure persuasion, and an appropriating persuasion of Christ's being ours. Page 54-56. Now though it were allowed that the last branch of this definition is the same thing as claiming an interest in the promises, and therefore cannot be reckoned the condition of it; yet this is more than can be said of the former two, which are no less essential to saving faith than the other. Secondly, The sense in which the promise is taken by what is called appropriating faith, is not the same as that in which it is given in the promise itself. As given in the word, the promise- is general, applying equally to one sinner as to another; but as taken it is considered as particular, and as insuring Salvation. Thirdly, If an interest in the righteousness of Christ, were the immediate object of saving faith, how could it be said, that unto us it shall be imprited ij
If Christ's right this would be
imputed if we believe on him that raised up Jesus from the dead? If Christ's righteousness be ours, it must be so as imputed to us : but this would be making the apostle say, If we believe Christ's righteousness to be imputed to us, it shall be imputed to us.
I have no partiality for calling faith, or any thing done by us, the condition of Salvation ; and if by the term were meant a deed to be performed of which the promised good is the reward, it would be inadmissible. If I had used the term, it would have been merely to express the necessary connexion of things, or, that faith is that without which there is no Salvation; and in this sense it is no less a condition in Mr. A.'s scheme, than in that which he opposes. He thinks, however, that the promises of God are by his statement of things disencumbered of conditions : yet how he can prove that God has absolutely given Christ and spiritual blessings to multitudes who will never possess them, I am at a loss to conceive. I should have supposed that whatever God has absolutely promised would take effect. He says indeed that “the Lord may give an absolute promise to those who in the event never come to the actual enjoyment of the promised blessing, as in the case of the Israelites being brought to the good land; (Exodus iii. 17.) though the bulk of them that left Egypt perished in the wilderness through unbelief.” page 43. It is true, God absolutely promised to plant them “as a nation” in the good land ; and this he performed; but he did not absolutely promise that every indi. vidual who left Egypt should be amongst them. So far as it respected individuals (unless it were in reference to Caleb and Joshua) the promise was not absolute.
Upon the mere ground of Christ being exhibit ed in the gospel “ I am persuaded,” says Mr. A. " that he is my Saviour; nor can I without casting reproach upon the wisdom, faithfulness, and mercy of God in setting him forth, entertain any doubts about my justification, and salvation through his name.” Page 65. Has God promised justification and salvation then to every one to whom Christ is exhibited ? If he has, it doubtless belongs to faith to give him credit: but in this case we ought also to maintain that the promise will be performed, whatever be the state of our minds ; for though we believe not, he abideth faithful. On the other hand, if the blessing of justification, though freely offered to all, be only promised to believers, it is not faith, but presumption, to be persuaded of my justification any otherwise than as being conscious of my believing in Jesus for it.
Mr. A. illustrates his doctrine by a similitude. “ Suppose that a great and generous prince had “made a grant to a certain class of persons therein “ described of large estates, including all things “ suitable to their condition; and had publicly de" clared that whosoever of the persons so descri“ bed would believe such an estate, in virtue of the
“ grant now mentioned, to be his own, should “ not be disappointed, but should immediately en" ter upon the granted estate according to the or“ der specified in the grant. Suppose, too, that “the royal donor had given the grant in writing, “ and had added his seal, and his oath, and his “ gracious invitation, and his most earnest entrea" ty, and his authoritative command, to induce the “ persons described in the grant to accept of it. “ It is evident, that any one of these persons, have “ ing had access to read or hear the grant, must “ either be verily persuaded that the granted es“ tate is his own, or be chargeable with an at“ tempt to bring dishonour upon the goodness, the “ veracity, the power, and authority of the donor; “ on account of which attempt he is liable not only “ to be debarred for ever from the granted estate, “but to suffer a most exemplary, and tremendous 5 punishment.” Page 66.
I suppose the object of this similitude is expressed in the sentence, “ It is evident that any one of these persons having had access to read or hear the grant, must either be verily persuaded that the granted estate is his own; or be charge. able with dishonouring the donor.” In what sense then is it his own? He is freely invited to partake of it: that is all. It is not so his own, but that he may ultimately be debarred from possessing it: but in whatever sense it is his own, that is the only sense in which he is warranted to believe it to be so. If the condition of his actually possessing it be his