Page images

but the thing conveyed. Nevertheless, those things must have a conveyance, ere they can be believed in. The person, blood, and righteousness of Christ, for instance, are often said to be objects of faith; and this they doubtless are, as they are objects held forth to us by the language of scripture: but they could not meet our faith, unless something were affirmed concerning them in letters and syllables, or vocal sounds, or by some means or other of conveyance. To say, therefore, that these are objects of faith, is to say the truth, but not the whole truth; the person, blood, and righteousness of Christ, revealed in the scriptures as the way of a sinner's acceptance with God, are, properly speaking, the objects of our faith: for without such a revelation, it were impossible to believe in them.

Mr. Booth, and various other writers, have considered faith in Christ as a dependence on him, a receiving him, a coming to him, and trusting in him for salvation. There is no doubt but these terms are frequently used, in the New Testament, to express believing. As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. He that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth in me shall never thirst.-That we should be to the praise of his glory who first trusted in Christ.-I know whom I have trusted, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day.* Whether these terms, however, strictly speaking, convey the same idea as believing, may admit of a question. They seem, rather, to be the immediate effects of faith, than faith itself. The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews describes the order of these things, in what he says of the faith of Enoch : He that cometh to God, must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Here are three different exercises of mind: First, believing that God is; Secondly, believing that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him; Thirdly, coming to him: and the last is represented as the effect of the former two. The same may be applied to Christ. He that cometh to Christ, must believe the gospel-testimony, that he is the Son of God, and the Saviour

* John i. 12. vi. 35. Eph. i. 12. 2 Tim. i. 12.

of sinners; the only name given under heaven, and among men, by which we must be saved: he must also believe the gospel-promise, that he will bestow eternal salvation on all them that obey him; and, under the influence of this persuasion, he comes to him, commits himself to him, or trusts the salvation of his soul in his hands. This process may be so quick as not to admit of the mind being conscious of it; and especially as, at such a time, it is otherwise employed than in speculating upon its own operations. So far as it is able to recollect, the whole may appear to be one complex exercise of the soul. In this large sense also, as comprehending not only the credit of the gospel testimony, but the soul's dependence on Christ alone for acceptance with God; it is allowed, that believing is necessary, not only to saivation, but to justification. We must come to Jesus, that we may have life. Those who attain the blessing of justification, must seek it by faith, and not by the works of the law: submitting themselves to the righteousness of God. This blessing is constantly represent ed as following our union with Christ: and he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit *

Let it but be granted, that a real belief of the gospel is not merely a matter presupposed in saving faith, but that it enters into the essence of it; and the writer of these pages will be far from contending for the exclusion of trust, or dependence. He certainly has no such objection to it, as is alleged by Mr. M'Lean; that "to include, in the nature of faith, any holy exercise of the heart, affects the doctrine of justification by grace alone, without the works of the law." If he supposed, with that author, however, that, in order to justification being wholly of grace, no holiness must precede it; or, that the party must, at the time, be in a state of enmity to God, he must, to be consistent, unite with him also in excluding trust, (which, undoubtedly, is a holy exercise,) from having any place in justifying faith; but, persuaded, as he is, that the freeness of justification rests upon no such ground, he is not under this necessity.

The term trust appears to be most appropriate, or best

* John v. 40. Rom. ix. 31, 32. x, 3. 1 Cor. vi. 17.

On the Commission, p. 83,

adapted of any, to express the confidence which the soul reposes in Christ for the fulfilment of his promises. We may credit a report of evil tidings as well as one of good; but we cannot be said to trust it. We may also credit a report, the truth or falsehood of which does not at all concern us; but that in which we place trust must be something in which our well-being is involved. The relinquishment of false confidences which the gospel requires, and the risk which is made in embracing it, are likewise better expressed by this term, than by any other. A true belief of the record which God has given of his Son, is accompanied with all this: but the term belief does not, of itself, necessarily convey it. When Jacob's sons brought the coat of many colours to him, he credited their story; he believed Joseph to be torn in pieces: but he could not be said to trust that he was. When the same persons, on their return from Egypt, declared that Joseph was yet alive, Jacob, at first, believed them not: but, on seeing the wagons, he was satisfied of the truth of their deelaration, and trusted in it too; leaving all behind him, on the ground of it.

But, whatever difference there may be between credit and trust, they agree in those particulars which affect the point at issue: the one, no less than the other, has relation to revealed truth as its foundation. In some cases, it directly refers to the divine veracity; as in Psa. cxix. 42. I trust in thy word. And where the immediate reference is to the power, the wisdom, or the mercy of God, or to the righteousness of Christ; there is a remote relation to veracity: for neither the one nor the other would be objects of trust, were they not revealed in a way of promise. And, from hence, it will follow, that trusting in Christ, no less than crediting his testimony, is the duty of every sinner to whom the revelation is made.

If it be asked, what ground could a sinner, who shall, at last, prove to have no interest in the salvation of Christ, ever possess for trusting in him? Let it be considered what it was, for which he was warranted, or obliged, to trust. Was it that Christ would save him, whether he believed in him, or not? No: there is no such promise; but an explicit declaration of the contrary. To trust in this, therefore, would be to trust in a falsehood. That for which he ought to have trusted in him VOL. I. E

was the obtaining of mercy, in case he applied for it. For this there was a complete warrant in the gospel-declarations, as Mr. Booth, in his Glad Tidings to Perishing Sinners, has fully evinced. There are principles, in that performance, which the writer of these pages, highly as he respects the author, cannot approve The principal subjects of his disapprobation have been pointed out, and, he thinks, scripturally refuted, by Mr. Scott:* but, with respect to the warrant which every sinner has to trust in Christ for salvation, Mr. B. has clearly and fully established it. I may add, if any man distrust either the power or willingness of Christ to save those that come to him, and so continue to stand at a distance, relying upon his own righteousness, or some false ground of confidence, to the rejection of him; it is criminal and inexcusable unbelief.

Mr. Booth has (to all appearance, designedly) avoided the question, whether faith in Christ be the duty of the ungodly? The leading principle of the former part of his work, however, cannot stand upon any other ground. He contends, that the gospel affords a complete warrant for the ungodly to believe in Jesus; and surely he will not affirm, that sinners are at liberty either to embrace the warrant afforded them, or to reject it? He defines believing in Jesus Christ, "receiving him as he is exhibited in the doctrine of grace, or depending upon him only." But, if the ungodly be not obliged, as well as warranted, to do this, they are at liberty to do as the Jew, ish nation did, to receive him not, and to go on depending upon the works of the law for acceptance with God. In the course of his work, he describes the gospel-message as full of kind invitations, winning persuasions, and importunate entreaties; and the messengers as commissioned to persuade and entreat sinners to be reconciled to God, and to regard the vicarious work of Jesus as the only ground of their justification." But how, if they should remain unreconciled, and continue to disregard the work of Christ? How, if they should, after all, make light of this "royal banquet," and prefer their farms and their merchandises to these "plentiful

See his Warrant and Nature of Faith.

Pages 36, 37, second edition...

provisions of divine grace?" Are they guiltless in so doing, and free from all breach of duty? I am persuaded, whatever was Mr. Booth's reason for being silent on this subject, he will not say they are.



WHAT has been already advanced, on the nature of faith in Christ, may contribute to the deciding of the question, whether faith be the duty of the ungodly: but, in addition to this, the scriptures furnish abundance of positive evidence. The principal part of that which has occurred to me may be comprehended under the following propositions :


It is here taken for granted, that whatever God commands, exhorts, or invites us to comply with, is the duty of those to whom such language is addressed. If, therefore, saving faith be not the duty of the unconverted, we may expect never to find any addresses of this nature directed to them in the holy scriptures. We may expect that God will as soon require them to become angels, as Christians, if the one be no more their duty than the other.

There is a phraseology suited to different periods of time. Previously to the coming of Christ, and the preaching of the gospel, we read but little of believing: but other terms, fully expressive of the thing, are found in abundance. I shall select a few examples, and accompany them with such remarks as may show them to be applicable to the subject.

Psalm ii. 11, 12.-Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling: kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little; blessed are all they that put their trust in him. The Psalm

« PreviousContinue »