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its suitableness and value, an approbation and desire of it, above all things, and a dread of coming short of it more than any other evil. Such is the idea of faith in Christ adhered to throughout this work: and they, who have formed other notions concerning faith, will of course object to many things contained in it. This should therefore in the first place be considered with peculiar attention; and some deliberate judgment formed on the general nature of faith in Christ, whether this be or be not a scriptural account of it: otherwise the truth of the propositions, and the conclusiveness of the arguments, contained in the subsequent pages, will not be clearly perceived; and the objections, which arise in the reader's mind, may probably result from an unobserved difference of sentiment on the subject before
Let this then be well weighed, and impartially compared with the sacred Scriptures.
These things being premised, it is here maintained, • That the sinner wants no warrant of any kind for believfing in Christ, except the word of God. No qualifications; (or qualities, endowments, or dispositions in himself,) are at all requisite to authorize his application, or encourage his hope of success; unless any one should choose, with manifest impropriety, to call his willingness to be saved in the Lord's way, a qualification. “Him " that cometh to Christ, he will in no wise cast out:” and they, who do not come when they hear the gospel, have as good a warrant as they that do; but they will not avail themselves of it, because they comparatively despise the proffered benefit.--I shall first establish the position by scriptural proofs; and then assign some reasons for insisting on it.
Scriptural proofs, that the sinner wants no warrant for
believing in Christ, except the word of God. FIRST then, The commission and instructions which our Lord gave to his apostles, compared with their con
duct and that of their fellow labourers, are conclusive on the subject. ye
into all the world, and preach “ the gospel to every creature: he that believeth and is
baptized shall be saved; b'it he that believeth not « shall be damned !.”. Nothing can be more evident, than that every human being, however vile, is warranted to believe in Christ, by this declaration of the gospel itself; and that nothing is or can be wanting, but a disposition to accept of the proposed salvation. The other instructions given to the apostles were, beyond all doubt, coincident with this commission; though on several accounts they were worded rather differently 2: but one direction, couched under a parable, particularly suits our purpose.
“ Go ye into the highways and hedges, “and compel them to come in, that my house may be “ filled 3." Now what further warrant could a poor traveller or beggar stand in need of, who was desirous of admission to a feast ; after the servants had been sent with express orders, to use the most urgent invitations, persuasions, intreaties, and assurances of a hearty welcome, in order to induce him to compliance ?
The conduct of the apostles and evangelists shew how they understood their instructions. They always called on their hearers, without exception or limitation, to believe in Christ: knowing that all, who became willing, by the power of the holy Spirit accompanying the word, would be thus encouraged without delay to embrace the gracious invitation, and that the rest would be left without excuse. Thus Peter speaks of his ministry, “ God “ made choice among us, that the gentiles by my mouth 6 should hear the word of the gospel and believe 4.” Nothing else, except the word of the gospel, was required to warrant the faith of the gentiles.
Paul addressing the Jews at Antioch in Pisidia, said, • Be it known to you men and brethren, that through “ this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins, “ and by him all that believe are justified from all " things. Beware, therefore, lest that come upon you, " which is spoken of in the prophets, Behold ye despis.
1 Mark xvi, 15, 16. Matt. xxviii. 19, 20. Luke xxiv. 47. 3 Luke xiv. 23.
4 Acts xv. 7-9.
ers, and wonder and perish.” He was sensible, that there were despisers in the company, whom he warned of the consequences of unbelief: yet he preached forgiveness of sins and justification by faith to all present, without exception; which he would not have done, if the gospel had not been a sufficient warrant to authorize every one of them to believe in Christ for salvation.
The same apostle calls his office, “ The ministry of " reconciliation ;” and says,
“ Now then we are ambas“ sadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by
us; we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to “ God 2." If one, who till then had been an enemy of God and Christ, had asked the apostle, how he might be reconciled? would he not have answered, “ Believe " in the Lord Jesus Christ;" for “ God hath made him “ to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be “ made the righteousness of God in him?".
II. The invitations of Scripture evidently prove the point in question. The Lord, by his prophet, calls on those, who s are spending their money
for that which is “not bread, and labouring for that which satisfieth not,” to come to him for all the blessings of his everlasting covenant 3. Such as seek happiness in worldly vanities, or aim to please God by empty forms and superstitions, or go about to establish their own righteousness, are alike described in the very terms of the invitation; nor are the most stupid worshippers of idols, or the vilest. workers of iniquity, excluded.-“On the great day of “ the feast, Jesus stood, and cried, If any man thirst, “ let him come to me and drink 4." No one in that large company, who thirsted for salvation, or for happiness, was excluded by the terms of this proclamation.But, lest any
that this only warrants the faith of such as are conscious that they thịrst in a spiritual manner; he afterwards, appearing in vision to his servant John, explains his meaning more fully; " Let
1 Acts xiii. 38-41,
3 Is, ly. 1-3.
2 2 Cor, y, 18-20, 4. John vii. 37.
" him that is athirst come, and whosoever will, let him “ take the water of life freely.” This is surely a sufficient warrant for every one that is willing; and, however unencumbered or universal the invitation may be, none but the willing can be expected to comply with it. But while the gospel is preached men become willing, who were not so before: nay a desire to be made willing may very properly be formed into a prayer; and then it falls under the general assurance, Ask, and it shall “ be given you ;--for every one that asketh receiveth.”
Wisdom calls to the sons of men, and thus expostulates with them; “ How long ye simple ones will ye “ love simplicity, and the scorners delight in their scorn“ing, and fools hate knowledge ? Turn ye at my reproof: “ I will pour out my Spirit unto you, I will make known
my words unto you.” Can any further warrant for faith in Christ, and for applying to him for his complete salvation, be required for the most careless, scornful, or profligate sinner on earth, whenever he comes with a sincere and willing mind ?
In the parable of the marriage-supper, many, by the king's express command, were urgently and repeatedly invited, who in the event never tasted of the feast. These were excluded merely because they would not come, but made light of the invitation, and went to their farms and merchandize. And whatever we understand by the wedding-garment, it must be considered as supplied by him who made the feast: for the servants were
" into the highways, and as many as they could “ find” they were 'ordered “ to bid to the marriage;" but how should poor beggars, or even travellers, be provided, on such an unexpected occasion, with raiment suited to a royal feast? The discovery therefore of the man, " who had not on the wedding garment,” represents the case of those professors, whose faith is dead and whose confidence is groundless; and consequently it has nothing to do with the warrant for a sinner to believe in Christ 2.
“ God so loved the world, that he gave his only-be
i Rev. xxii, 17.
2 Matt, xxii, 1–14.
many of the
gotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” But if the word of the gospel were not a sufficient warrant; a man might truly believe in Christ, and yet perish for want of such a warrant.-Christ said to the woman of Samaria, who was at that time living in habitual gross wickedness, “ If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that" saith unto thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldest have
asked, and he would have given thee living water." The asking, here mentioned, could be no other than a believing application to Christ for salvation : and a knowledge of Him, and of the mercy and grace of God in him, would have influenced the woman to make this application, for which she had already a sufficient warrant. Afterwards we are informed, that “ ". Samaritans believed on him, for the saying of the woman;" -“ and many more believed because of his
own word ":" so that they, who before, “ knew not “ what they worshipped,” wanted no other warrant for faith in Christ, except his word, or even the words of others concerning him.
Our Lord's address to the lukewarm self-sufficient Laodiceans shall close this argument.
*" Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have “ need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art
wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and “ naked : I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the
fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, “ that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of “ thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes “ with eye-salve, that thou mayest see 2.” Was not this counsel a sufficient warrant to any Laodicean, whatever his previous character had been, to apply to Christ for these blessings, as soon as he felt the least degree of desire to obtain them? Yet the word buy intimates, that none would thus apply, but those, who renounced false confidences and worldly idols for the sake of Him and his salvation.
III. Faith in Christ is an act of obedience to the com
John iv, 10. 39-42.
2 Rev. iii, 17, 18.