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would be no more glad tidings to them, than to the fallen angels. But when persons hear Christ preached to them, as a Saviour, who came into the world, died, rose from the dead, and ascended to heaven for sinners of mankind, unjust, children of wrath, dead in sin*: in a word, when they hear Christ preached as having done all these things for persons of Adam's ruined family, bearing the same characters, which, they are conscious, belong to themselves; if the Holy Spirit, at the same time, open their understandings to apprehend the true import of what is preached to them; they cannot fail to discern therein a sure foundation to rest upon for their everlasting salvation: For, in that case, the hearers are brought to a spiritual apprehension of Christ in his person, as Immanuel, their kinsman Redeemer; and in his offices, as their enlightening Prophet, their atoning and interceding High Priest, and their sin-subduing King†.
Suppose, that a man of known integrity has ordered his servants to set provisions before a number of people ready to perish with hunger; and that the provisions are accordingly presented to them with high commendations of their value and suitableness. Should one of the servants, at the same time, say to the starving company : "You have no right to take any of "these provisions, or to use them for allaying your "hunger, as if they were already your own:" would not every considerate person allow his remark to be absurd, as well as a cruel sporting with human misery. No better is the doctrine of one who pretends to preach the gospel of Christ to sinners; and yet denies, that
* 1 Tim. i, 15. 1 Pet. iii. 18. Rom. v. 6, 8, 10.
Matth. i. 23. 1 Corinth. i. 30.
they have any present or immediate warrant in that gospel to take him to themselves for their own Saviour.
It may be useful to observe here, that this common relation of the person and offices of Christ, of his death, resurrection, ascension and intercession, to sinners of mankind, as offered to them and suitable to their case, is carefully to be distinguished from the peculiar relation thereof to the elect whose redemption Christ undertook to accomplish in the council of peace from eternity. The former common relation is that, which faith proceeds upon, and not the latter. For no person can know that Christ undertook for him, or, in other words, that he is one of God's elect, before he believe in Christ: And whilst any matter is unknown, it cannot be either an object or a ground of faithf.
It has been asserted, that the immediate duty of the hearer of the gospel is to believe, in the first place, his per sonal election to eternal life. It is indeed a precious article of gospel-truth, that God, of his mere good pleasure, hath elected a certain number of mankind to everlasting life; and that none but those, who are thus chosen from eternity, become believers and saints in time, Ephes. i. 4 Acts xiii. 48. xv. 18. As it is of his good pleasure, that he actually gives his saving grace to some and not to others, Matth. ix. 25, 26. So it is of the same good pleasure that he purposed to do so, Ephes. i. 5. This doctrine concerning God's choosing of some of fallen mankind, not because they were foreseen to be better than others, but only because it pleased God to choose them, ought, no doubt, to be believed by every hearer of the gospel. Nor has the belief of it, in itself, any tendency to discourage persons from the diligent use of the means of their salvation, or from essaying to come to Christ. On the contrary, the sovereign grace of God, which this doctrine represents as pitching upon some of the chief of sinners, and the connexion, which it establishes between the right use of the means of salvation and the attainment of salvation, should rather encourage the hope of that attainment by grace through faith in Jesus Christ; even in those who have the most distressing sense of guilt and depravity. But this belief of, the doctrine of election is quite different from a person's knowledge or belief, that he is himself one of the elect: just as it is one thing for a person to
In the fourth place, there is a solid ground for the appropriation of saving faith in this declaration which God makes of his name to every member of the visible church, I am the Lord thy God. By this declaration in a multitude of places of scripture, and particularly in the preface to ten commandments, God lays all who read or hear his word under an obligation to know and
know, that government has made a draught of some men out of the regiment of militia to which he belongs, to go upon a certain expedition and another thing for him to know, that he himself is one of that draught. The scripture teaches, that God hath chosen some particular persons to be believers in Christ; but by no means, that a hearer of the word may know himself to be one of these persons, otherwise than by his actual believing and the fruits of it. We are to know first our calling, and then our election. There are only two ways, by which a person can know what God hath decreed concerning his eternal state, or indeed concerning any other thing; namely, by his word and by his work. But in none of these ways can a person know, that he is one of the elect before his actual believing in Christ. It has been said, That our faith should begin, where God begins. But it is evident, that our faith must begin with the things that God hath revealed to us: for with secret things, or things not revealed, it has nothing to do. A person cannot begin to believe, that God hath elected him in particular to eternal life, till God reveal it to him. It has been said, that, in the appropriating faith of the gospel, a person believes his own election, as well as his salvation by Jesus Christ. But there is a manifest difference in various respects. 1. We have an offer or promise of salvation directed to all the hearers of the gospel, Acts ii. 39. xiii. 26. But there neither is, nor can be, in the nature of the thing, an offer or promise of election as such; because election, being an eternal immanent act of God, cannot be said, without the grossest absurdity to be either offered or received. 2. Salvation is justly considered as an end attainable by the use of appointed means. But nothing can be more absurd, than it would be to represent election, which is the original or first cause of our salvation, as something to be attained by the use of means. 3. The salvation, offered to sinners in the gospel, is apprehended by faith as a present salvation: whereas election is necessarily considered as something past, to which we are to look back. "Saving faith at first," as some divines have justly observed, “has no back look to "Divine purposes and intentions: it takes no consideration of "what may have been formerly true about the person, in any
acknowledge him as the Lord their God. Nay, the manifest connection of this declaration with each of the ten commandments shews, that none of them will be observed in an acceptable manner, without a spiritual, believing view of the Lord, as our God in Christ. Such is the faith which the Lord promises to work in his people, Zechar. xiii. 9. I will say, It is my people :
"counsels of the Father and the Son concerning him; it makes "no enquiry, whether any particular eye was had to the person, in the former appointment and offering up of Christ's "sacrifice. But it looks straight out to Christ as revealed in "the word, to his blood and righteousness as there set forth: "and on the ground of the free exhibition, it applies all to the person's self." Display of the Secession Testimony, p. 176. 4. It may be farther observed, that saving faith, if it were, in the first instance, a person's belief of his own election; would infer the present interest of the person in the salvation of Christ exhibited in the gospel from his eternal election. But the order in which faith proceeds is quite the reverse: it first apprehends the person's interest in the salvation of Christ as presently exhibited in the gospel; and, from the person's interest, thus apprehended, infers his eternal election. For, as the same divines have observed, "Jesus Christ is evidently set forth to sinners, before their eyes crucified among them, Gal. iii. 1. A present "revelation and offer is made of him as crucified or dead,— "for them to rest upon in the way of receiving him by faith: "and faith receives him with appropriation, saying, Christ is "mine, his satisfaction and righteousness are mine,-upon "the ground of that present offer which faith accepts. And "when it thus appropriates its object, it has a glorious "privilege, under the Holy Spirit's influence,-of going "farther out upon its object in the word: so that it looks "backward and forward through the wide field of grace, in "ascending the hill of God. It rises up to a view of election, "in the Lord's everlasting love; to a view of Christ's amazing "love, in laying down his life for the person; and to a view of "the soul's portion in the land afar off, which makes to rejoice "in hope of the glory of God. But still it is a present interest "in Christ by a present receiving of him, that sinners have "immediately ado with. And as it is the duty of all who hear "the gospel to take out or verify this saving interest to them"selves,-by the appropriation of faith; so these other blessed "interests (here spoken of) will always be found inseparably "connected therewith in the chain of free grace." Id. p. 179, 180.
and they shall say, The Lord is my God. Jerem. iii. 4, Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My Father, thou art the Guide of my youth? Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the Lord our God. Hosea ii. 16. And it shall be at that day, saith the Lord, that thou shalt call me Ishi, that is, my Husband. Jerem. xxiii. 6. This is the name whereby he shall be called, The Lord our Righteousness.
"If these passages," says Mr. Bellamy, " prove any thing to your purpose, they prove, that all the "Christless sinners in Christendom, how wicked soe- 66 ver, if they be baptized are, all of them, married "to Christ, children of God and heirs of heaven."
But Mr. Bellamy's consequence is justly denied. For though we maintain, that these and the like passages, rightly understood, afforded church-members, under the Old Testament dispensation, and still afford them, under the New, a sficient warrant to trust in Christ Jesus as their only justifying righteousness, and in God as their God and Father in Christ; assuring them likewise, that, in thus believing, they would be justified and received into the number of the children of God; yet it will not follow, that person's are partakers of these privileges, who, instead of trusting in these declarations, despise them, continuing under the reigning power of unbelief. All that such persons, according to the doctrine of Mr. Marshal, can justly infer from their outward privileges in being under the gospel-dispensation, in being baptized and so forth, is, that a spiritual marriage to Christ, and adoption into the family of God, and the heavenly inheritance, are exhibited and offered to them in the gospel-promise, to be received by faith in Christ; but, by no means, that