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receive Christ, but that it is his great sin if he receive him not.
II. EVERY MAN IS BOUND CORDIALLY TO RECEIVE AND APPROVE WHATEVER GOD REVEALS. It may be presumed that if God reveal any thing to men, it will be accompanied with such evidence of its being what it is, that no upright mind can continue to doubt of it. He that is of God heareth God's words.
It will be allowed by those with whom I am now reasoning, that no man is justifiable in disbelieving the truth of the gospel, or in positively rejecting it: but then it is supposed that a belief of the gospel is not saving faith, and that though a positive rejection of divine truth is sinful, yet a spiritual reception of it is not a duty. I hope it has been made to appear in the former part of this piece that a real belief of the doctrine of Christ is saying faith, and includes such a cordial acquiescence in the way of salvation as hath the promise of eternal life. But be this as it may, whether the belief of the gospel be allowed to include a cordial acquiescence in God's way of salvation, or not, such an acquiescence will be allowed to include saving faith. “ Acting faith, says Mr. BRINE, is no other than suitable thoughts of Christ, and a hearty choice of him as God's appointed way of salvation."* If therefore it can be proved that a cordial approbation of God's
* Johnson's Mistakes noted and rectified. page 34.
way of saving sinners is the duty of every one, it will amount to proving the same thing of saving faith.
I allow there is a difficulty in this part of the work; but it is that which attends the proof of a truth which is nearly self-evident. Who could suppose that Mr. Brine, after such an acknowledge ment concerning faith, could doubt of its being the duty of all mankind ? Ought we not, if we think of Christ at all, to think suitably of him; and are we justifiable in entertaining low and unsuitable thoughts of him? Is it not a matter of complaint that the ungodly Jews saw no form nor comeliness in him, nor beauty that they should desire him? And with respect to an hearty choice of him as God's appointed way of salvation, if it be not the duty of sinners to chuse him, is it their duty to refuse him, or to desire to be accepted of God by the works of their hands in preference to him? Mr. BRINE would censure men for this. So does Mr. WEYMAN. Speaking of self-righteous unbelievers, he says, “ They plainly declare that Christ “ is not all and in all to them, but that he comes in “but at second-hand, and their regard is more unto “themselves, and their dependence more upon “their own doings than upon the mighty One upon “whom God hath laid our help.”* But why thus complain of sinners for their not chusing Christ, if they be under no obligation to do so? Is there no
* Further Inquiry, page 160.
sin in the invention of the various false schemes of religion with which the christian world abounds, to the esclusion of Christ ? Why then are heresies reckoned among the works of the flesh ?* If we are not obliged to think suitably of Christ, and to chuse him whom the Lord and all good men have chosen, there can be no evil in these things: for where no law is there is no transgression.
"A hearty choice of God's appointed way of salvation,” is the same thing as falling in with its grand designs. Now the grand designs of the salvation of Christ, are, the glory of God, the abasement of the sinner, and the destruction of his sins. It is God's manifest purpose in saving sinners to save them in this way: and can any sinner be excused from cordially acquiescing in it? If any man properly regard the character of God, he must be willing that he should be glorified: if he knew his own unworthiness as he ought to know it, he must also be willing to occupy that place which the gospel way of salvation assigns him: and if he be not wickedly wedded to his lusts, he must be willing to sacrifice them at the foot of the cross. He may be averse to each of these, and while an unbeliever, is so: but he will not be able to acquit himself of guilt; and it is pity that any who sustain the character of Christian Ministers should be employed in labouring to acquit him.
* Gal. v. 20.
If a way of salvation were provided which did not provide for the glory of God, which did not abase, but flatter the sinner, and which did not require him to sacrifice his lusts, he would feel no. want of power to embrace it. Nominal Christians and mere professors in all ages have shown themselves able to believe any thing but the truth. Thus it was with the carnal Jews; and thus our Lord plainly told them :- I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: If another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive-Because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do you not believe me? He that is of God, heareth God's words: Ye therefore hear them not because ye are not of God.* This is the true source of the innumerable false schemes of religion in the world, and the true reason why the gospel is not universally embraced.
Unbelievers are described as disallowing of him who is chosen of God and preciousot To allow or disallow supposes a claim. Christ claims to be the whole foundation of a sinner's hope; and God claims on his behalf that he be treated as the head of the corner. But the heart of unbelievers cannot allow of the claim. The Jewish builders set him at nought; and every self-righteous heart follows their example. God to express his displeasure at this conduct, assures them that their unbelief shall
* John v. 43. viii. 45-47.
affect none but themselves; it shall not deprive the Saviour of his honours : for the stone which they refuse, notwithstanding their opposition, shall become the head of the corner. What can be made of all this, but that they ought to have allowed him the place which he so justly claimed, and to have chosen him whom the Lord had chosen? On no other ground could the scripture censure them as it does; and on no other principle could they be characterised as disobedient: for all disobedience consists in a breach of duty.
Believers on the other hand are described as thinking highly of Christ; reckoning themselves unworthy to unloose the latchet of his shoes, or that he should come under their roof; treating his gospel as worthy of all acceptation, and counting all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of him. They are of the same mind with the blessed above, who sing his praise, saying with a loud voice, WORTHY is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. In fine, they are of the same mind with God himself: he whom God hath chosen they chuse; and he that is precious in his sight is precious in theirs.* And do they over-estimate his character? Is he not worthy of all the honour they ascribe to him, of all the affection they exercise towards him, and that whether he actually receive
* Mark i. 7. 1 Tim. 1. 15. Phil. ii. 8. Rev. v. 12.
1 Pet. ii. 447.