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Of Mr. Bellamy's account of Saving
HAVING considered Mr. Bellamy's objections against the doctrine of Mr. Hervey, Mr. Marshal and others, who hold that there is an appropriation of Christ to ourselves in the nature of saving faith, we are now to enquire into Mr. Bellamy's own opinion concerning the nature of saving faith. From the unrelenting severity with which he condemns the labours of others on this subject, we are led to expect a satis» factory determination from himself. But his greatest admirers will hardly say, that there is any thing on this subject in all his letters, dialogues and essays, answerable to such an expectation. He says many things concerning true faith, such as, that it is an holy acti that it is wholly founded in that revelation which is made in the written word; that it is wrought in the heart by the Holy Spirit; that it is always attended with love to God arising from a sense of the amiable ness of his infinite perfections; that the believer is thereby united to Jesus Christ, as the branch to the vine; that men's backwardness to the exercise of true faith arises from a worldly and self-righteous spirit. These words, taken by themselves, are sound words that cannot be condemned; and had he proved any one of these unquestionable properties of saving faith to be inconsistent with the doctrine of his opponents, he would have justified his opposition to them. But
with candid and judicious readers the bare assertion of that inconsistency, without proof, will pass for nothing but calumny."
In the second of Mr. Bellamy's Dialogues we meet with the following passage.* "Let me tell you the inspired apostles," (he might have added, Mr. Hervey, Mr. Marshal, Mr. Boston, and others,)" verily be "lieved, that, in the written word, we have, not only "full evidence of the truth of the gospel itself, John ❝xx. 31. but also, the truth of the gospel being seen, ❝ sufficient encouragement to come unto God through Christ, in full assurance of being accepted through "him, Heb. x. 19, 22." Now these words, in the most natural construction of them, import nothing less than a real persuasion, that God is reconciled to us through Christ; for, unless we have this persuasion, we cannot have a full assurance of being accepted: and this persuasion is here represented as proceeding immediately upon "the truth of the gospel being seen. One should think, this expression plainly supposes, that any sinner of mankind has a sufficient warrant to believe or trust in the Lord Jesus for his present acceptance with God; and to do so immedi ately upon the "truth of the gospel being seen;" that is, upon no other ground than what the gospel offer or promise affords. This is exactly Mr. Marshal's doctrine.
But that Mr. Bellamy was far from resting in this simplicity, appears from his explanation of the encou ragement which the gospel affords us to come to God through Christ, in the three following particulars: "1. That God, of his own mere motion, has given his
Son to die for such an ill-deserving world as this, "2. That God can consistently with the honour of "himseif, his law and government, pardon those, who "are infinitely ill-deserving, through Jesus Christ his "Son. 3. That it is the revealed will of God, that even "the vilest and the worst should repent and be convert"ed; should return home to God through Jesus Christ. "A clear view and firm belief of these plain gospel "truths, gives him the fullest assurance, that he may "return home to God; that it is God's will, he should; "and that God stands ready to accept him through "Jesus Christ, if he does."* With regard to the propositions here stated by Mr. Bellamy, it may be observed, that the first two are allowed to be precious truths; but they are only such as many Arminians have admitted, who take the gospel offer to be a new covenant of works, proposing such terms or conditions of life, as they suppose to be more accommodated, than those of the old covenant, to the present weakness of human nature. As to the third, when it is stated as the ground of our faith of salvation through Jesus Christ, it appears to be highly exceptionable. For, in the first place, it is not properly and strictly speaking gospel at all: but only a proposal of a duty of the law. Secondly, it inverts the gospel order: for according to that order, pardon and acceptance with God, through the righteousness of Christ imputed to us and received by faith alone, are the means of our return to God: but, according to Mr. Bellamy's proposition, our return to God is the means of obtaining acceptance with him.
But some will say, the return to God, of which Mr. Bellamy speaks, is not a legal, but an evangelical work: *Dial. 2d. page 71, 727
a return home to God by Jesus Christ. We answer, that whatever Mr. Bellamy meant by this expression, he could not mean, that we are to believe our acceptance with God through Jesus Christ, in order to our return to God; for, according to him, our return is the previous condition, upon which God's acceptance of us is suspended. "God," says he, "stands ready to ac❝cept a sinner, if he return." But all our works, legal and evangelical, are, by the word of God, excluded from being conditions of our justification or acceptance with God. God imputeth righteousness without works. Thirdly, all the faith, which is warranted by the last of Mr. Bellamy's propositions just now recited, (being only a belief, that returning to God, through Jesus Christ, is a duty of God's law; and that whosoever performs this duty rightly, shall be accepted with God through Jesus Christ) is nothing* which requires the special and saving operation of the Holy Spirit to the production of it. There is no exercise, here, of a poor sinner, who finds himself naked and exposed to God's everlasting wrath, betaking himself to the law-magnifying and justice-satisfying righteousnes of our Lord Jesus Christ, as the only ground of pardon and acceptance with God; no exercise of a person, sensible of his utter inability to return unto God, looking to the Lord Jesus for heart-turning grace. The truth is, the account, which is here given by Mr. Bellamy of saving faith, is so lame, that it requires the addition of love, repentance or something else, to give it the appearance of a grace of the Holy Spirit. For nothing is more certain, than that the belief of such propositions as these three of Mr. Bellamy, is nothing more than what may be found in wicked men and even devils. Hence, in dispu
* In merely believing, that this proposition is true.
ting against the faith taught by Mr. Marshal and Mr. Hervy, he often introduces something about love to God on account of his infinite amiableness; as if he found fault with these authors for not mentioning the love of God in their definition of faith; or as if he agreed with the Papists in supposing that love, or a disposition to good works, is the form (as they used to speak) of faith, or that which makes it a living faith. But this leads to the erroneous opinion, that a living faith differs not, in its own nature, from a dead faith; but only as it is accompanied with love or repentance. While we firmly maintain that it is by no means true faith, which is not accompanied with a supreme love to God for his infinitely glorious excellencies, and with sincere love to men for his sake; and also with gospel repentance; yet we hold that love and repentance are graces of the Spirit, which, in their formal nature, are distinct from faith. They are enumerated as distinct things, 1 Corinth. xiii. 13. Now abideth these three, faith, hope, love. Acts xx. 21. Testifying-repentance towards God and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ. Love and repentance are represented as fruits of faith, 1 Timothy i. 5. The end of the commandment is love out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned. Zech. xii. 10. They shall look upon me whom they have pierced; and they shall mourn for him. We are said to receive Christ, and to be justified before God by faith, but not by love or by repentance. In a word, we hold, that saving faith, is, in itself and abstracting from all its concomitant and effects, what none can attain without the special supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in effectual calling.
What is farther proposed in this letter, is to shew more particularly, that we have too much reason to re