« السابقةمتابعة »
to him for help? That because you have no claim to his favour, but lie at his mercy, you will not therefore seek mercy at his hands ? - Does not this, at the first view, appear contrary to all the methods of reasoning we should use in any other case?- Can you promise yourself comfort from such reasonings, and fuch conclusions as these, in your last expiring moments, when your soul is entering upon its eternal and unchangeable state ?
But you object, “ If God in sovereignty de“ signs mercy for us, we shall obtain it, whether
we seek or no: and, if not, it is in vain to “ strive." -To this, it is sufficient answer, that God never does in sovereignty appoint salvation for any, in the final wilful neglect of gospel-means.
He is Sovereign in the appointment of the means, as well as of the end. The famie glorious Sovereign, who assures us it is not for our fakes that he bestows his special grace upon us, but for his own name's fake, does also let us know, that he will be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do this for them. Whence it follows, that if we have not a heart to seek with earnest diligence, for the gra. cious influences of the Spirit of God, there is no prospect we ihall ever obtain ; for God will make us feel the want of his mercy, and will make us esteem his falvation worthy of our care, and pains, or leave us to the unhappy effects of our own madness and folly.—But if we have hearts given us, to be humbly and earnestly attending upon the means of grace, it is an encouraging sign, that he who has excited our diligence, intends to crown it with success.
You see, Sir, I have obeyed your commands, and have addressed you with as much plainness and familiarity as the cause requires, and you yourself have demanded.
That God may effectually bring you to submit to the terms of his grace, and enable you go to run, as that you may obtain, is the prayer of,
LETTER VIII. Wherein the Difference
between a true faving Faith, and a dead
tations. It is not your case alone, to have "s unworthy apprehensions of God, vain, trifling “ imaginations, and strange confusion of mind, “ accompanying the exercises of religion.” It is
new thing for those who are setting out in earnest in a religious course, to find by experience, that their “ progress in religion bears no pro“ portion to their purposes ;” and that their good
designs and resolutions come to but little more " than outside appearances, and no way answer “ their hopes.”—It is matter of thankfulness, that you have a feeling sense of this.--I hope, if no other arguments will convince you of the truth of what was insisted on in my last, you will at least be convinced, by your own experience, that you
lie at mercy
You “ thank me for my plainness and faith. 6 fulness to a poor wretched infidel, who yet “ breathes out of hell, by the mere patience of
an affronted Saviour.". I had not only the warrant of your commands, but the vast importance of the concern before us, to embolden me to lay by all reserves; and even to transgress the
common rules of decorum and respect in my for. mer letters; and need
conjure me to " retain the same freedom." I am no courtier ; nor am I at all acquainted with the fashionable methods of the Beau Monde. I shall therefore apply myself, according to my capacity, in my accu. itomed methods of address, to answer your desires.
You observe, “ that I insinuate as if men may “ believe the truth of the gospel, without a sa“ ving faith in Christ, without an interest in him,
or a claim to the benefits of his redemption. “ You therefore desire I would give you the diftin" guishing characters of a saving faith, and hew you
wherein the difference lies, between a true “ faith, and that which is common to hypocrites,
as well as to Christians indeed."
I do indeed insist upon it, that men may notion. ally and doctrinally believe the truth of the gospel, without a saving faith in Christ, and without an in. terest in him, or a claim to the benefits of his redemption. This is a truth clearly taught in the Scriptures, and abundantly evident from the reafon and nature of things. If any therefore should expect salvation from a mere doctrinal and historical faith in Christ, they will, in the conclusion, find themselves disappointed and ashamed of their hope.
We ad (John xii. 42, 43.) of many of the chief rulers who believed in Chrift, but dared not confej's him ; for they loved the praise of men, more than the praise of God. And will any man imagine, that such believers who dare not confefs Christ before men, shall be confessed by him before his heavenly Father, and his holy angels, in the great day of retributionWill any man imagine, ihat our blessed Lord will own such for his fincere disciples and followers, who love the praise of men, more than the praise of God? Here then is a clear instance of a doctrinal and
historical faith, which was not saving, and could give no claim to the promise made to true believers. We have this matter further illustrated and confirmed by the Apostle James, in the second chapter of his epistle; where we are shewn, that such a faith is dead, being alone ; that it is but a carcafe without breath: As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works, is dead also. Of such a faith we may therefore fay with the same Apostie, What doth it profit, though a man say that he has faith? Can faith fave him?
But I need not multiply Scripture-quotations in this case. It is what is continually confirmed to us by our own observation.-How many do we see every day, who acknowledge the truth of the gospel, and yet live worldly, sensual and vicious lives; who profess they know Christ, but in works deny him ; who call themselves by his name, and yet value their lufts and idols above all the hopes of his fal. vation, and even run the venture of eternal per. dition, rather than deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow him ? -Now there can be nothing more certain, than that these men are utterly unqualified for the kingdom of God; and that they can have no special interest in him who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works,
As, on the one hand, there is a gracious promise of final salvation to all who believe on the Lord Je. sus Christ : He that believeth, and is baptized mall be saved: He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life :-So, on the other hand, there is a fort of believers, who can have no claim to this promise, nor any interest in the salvation by Christ. ---It must therefore be of infinite consequence, that we have indeed the faith of God's elect, that we may become K
the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ; and therefore that our faith be distinct, in its nature and operations, from such an empty, lifeless, and fruitless belief, with which the formal, worldly and sensual professor may deceive and destroy his own soul.-From whence it appears, that your question is moft inportant, and deserves a most careful and distinct answer; which I shall endeavour in the fol. lowing particulars.
1. A true and saving faith is a realizing and senfible impression of the truth of the gospel; whereas a dead faith is but a mere notional and speculative belief of it.-Faith is, by the Apostle, described the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen ; that which brings eternal things into a near view, and represents them into the foul as undoubted realities. Whence it is, that the true believer, when he has experienced the defect of his own purposes and endeatours, when he is wearied out of all his false refuges, emptied of all hope in himself, and is brought to see and feel the danger and misery of his state by nature, he is then brought in earneft to look 10 Felus, as the only re. fuge and safety of his soul. He then fees the incomparable excellency of a precious Saviour, breathes with ardent defire after him, repairs to him as the only foundation of his hope ; and, proportionably to the evidence of his interest in him, rejoices in Christ Jesus, having no confidence in the flesh. Now, the blessed Saviour and his glorious falvation is the subject of his serious, frequent, and delightful contemplation. Now, an interest in Christ is valued by him above all the world ; and he is in earnest to obtain and maintain good evidence, that his hope in Christ is well founded.Now, the favour of God, and the concerns of the unseen and eternal world, appear of greater importance than every thing else.