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A. We dare not say, There are not.
A. We conceive not. But we allow there may be infinite degrees in seeing God: “even as many as there are between him who sees the sun, when it shines on his eyelids closed, and him who stands with his eyes wide open
in the full blaze of its beams. Q. 4. Does a man believe any longer than he loves God? A. In no wise. For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision availeth, without faith working by love.'
Q. 5. Have we duly considered the case of Cornelius? Was not he in the favour of God, ó when his prayers and alms came up for a memorial before God?' i.e. Before he believed in Christ?
A. It does seem that he was, in some degree. But we speak not of those who have not heard the Gospel.
Q. 6. Is a believer constrained to obey God? A. At first he often is. • The love of Christ constraineth him.' After this, he may obey, or he may not; no constraint being laid upon
him. Q. 7. Can faith be lost, but through disobedience?
A. It cannot. A believer first inwardly disobeys, inclines to sin with his heart: then his intercourse with God is cut off, i.e. his faith is lost. And after this, he may fall into outward sin, being now weak, and like another man.
Q. 8. How can such a one recover faith?
Q. 9. Do we ordinarily repr ent a justified state so great and happy as it is ?
A. Perhaps not. A believer, walking in the light, is inexpressibly great and happy.
Q. 10. Should we not have a care of depreciating justification, in order to exalt the state of full sanctification ?
A. Undoubtedly we should beware of this : for one may insensibly slide into it.
Q. 11. How shall we effectually avoid it?
A When we are going to speak of entire sanctification, let us first describe the blessings of a justified state as strongly as possible.
Q. 12. Does not the truth of the Gospel lie very near both to Cala vinism and Antinomianism?
A. Indeed it does : as it were within a hair's breadth.* So that it is altogether foolish and sinful, because we do not quite agree either with one or the other, to run from them as far as ever we can.
Q. 13. Wherein may we come to the very edge of Calvinism ?
A. 1. In ascribing all good to the free grace of God. 2. In denying all natural free-will, and all power antecedent to grace. And 3. In excluding all merit from man ; even for what he has or does by the
grace of God.
Q. 14. Wherein may we come to the edge of Antinomianism?
* So near does the road of truth lie to the ditch of error! But a believer, who abides in the faith, sees and abhors it, 1 John i, 5-7.
Q. 15. Does faith supersede (set aside the necessity of) holiness or good works?
A. In no wise. So far from it, that it implies both, as a cause does its effects.
CONVERSATION IV. Q. 1. What is sincerity ?
A. Willingness to know and do the whole will of God. The lowest species thereof seems to be faithfulness in that which is little.
Q. 2. Has God any regard to man's sincerity ?
A. So far, that no man in any state can possibly please God without it : nor indeed in any moment wherein he is not sincere.
Q. 3. But can it be conceived, that God has any regard to the sincerity of an unbeliever ?
A. Yes, so much, that if he persevere therein, God will infallibly give him faith.
Q. 4. What regard may we conceive him to have, to the sincerity of a believer?
A. So much, that in every sincere believer he fulfils all the great and precious promises.
Q. 5. Whom do you term a sincere believer ?
A. All will follow persevering sincerity. God gives every thing with it; nothing without it.
Q. 7. Are not then sincerity and faith equivalent terms?
A. By no means. It is at least as nearly related to works as it is to faith. For example : Who is sincere before he believes ? 'He that, according to the power he has received, brings forth 'fruits meet for repentance.' Who is sincere after he believes ? He that, from a sense of God's love, is zealous of all good works.
Q. 8. But do you consider, That we are under the covenant of grace? And that the covenant of works is now abolished ? A. All mankind were under the covenant of grace, from the
hour that the original promise was made. If by the covenant of works you mean, that of unsinning obedience made with Adam before the fall, no man, but Adam, was ever under that covenant.
Q. 1. Is not the whole dispute of salvation by faith, or by works, a mere strife of words ?
A. In asserting salvation by faith, we mean this : 1. That pardon (salvation begun) is received by faith, producing works. 2. That holiness (salvation continued) is faith working by love. 3. That heaven (salvation finished) is the reward of this faith.
If those who assert salvation by works, or by faith and works, mean the same thing, (understanding by faith, the revelation of Christ in us; by salvation, pardon, holiness, glory,) we will not strive with them at all
. If they do not, this is not strif of words : but the very vitals, the essence of Christianity is the thing in question.
Q. 2. May not some degree of the love of God go before a distinct sense of justification ?
A. We believe it may. [That is, the drawings of love, John vi, 44.]
The doctrine of sanctification was considered : with regard to which the questions asked and the substance of the answers given, were as follow.
Q. 1. What is it to be sanctified ?
A. To be renewed in the image of God in righteousness and true holiness.
Q. 2. Is faith the condition, or the instrument of sanctification ?
A. It is both the condition and instrument of it. When we begin to believe, then sanctification begins. And as faith increases, holiness increases, till we are created anew.
Q. 3. What is implied in being a perfect Christian?
A. The loving the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our mind, and soul, and strength, Deut. vi, 5; xxx, 6; Ezek. xxxvi, 25—29.
Q. 4. Does this imply, That all inward sin is taken away?
A. Without doubt : or how could he be said to be saved from all his uncleannesses? Ezek. xxxvi, 29.
Q.5. Can we know one who is thus saved? What is a reasonable proof of it?
A. We cannot, without the miraculous discernment of spirits, be infallibly certain of those who are thus saved. But we apprehend, these would be the best proofs, which the nature of the thing admits : 1. If we had sufficient evidence of their unblamable behaviour preceding. 2. If they gave a distinct account of the time and manner wherein they were saved from sin; and of the circumstances thereof, with such sound speech as could not be reproved. And 3. If upon a strict inquiry afterwards from time to time, it appeared that all their tempers and words and actions were holy and unreprovable.
Q. 6. How should we treat those who think they have attained this?
A. Exhort them to forget the things that are behind, and to watch and pray always, that God may search the ground of their hearts.
Q. 1. How much is allowed by our brethren who differ from us, with regard to entire sanctification ?
A. They grant; 1. That every one must be entirely sanctified, in the article of death. 2. That, till then, a believer daily grows in grace, comes nearer and nearer to perfection. 3. That we ought to be continually pressing after this, and to exhort all others so to do.
Q. 2. What do we allow them?
A. We grant; 1. That many of those who have died in the faith, yea the greater part of those we have known, were not sanctified throughout, not made perfect in love, till a little before death. 2. That the term "sanctified” is continually applied by St. Paul, to all that were justified, were true believers. 3. That by this term alone, he rarely (if ever) means, saved from all sin. 4. That, consequently, it is not proper to use it in this sense, without adding the word “ wholly, entirely," or the like. 5. That the inspired writers almost continually speak of or to those who were justified; but very rarely, either of, or to
those, who were wholly sanctified. 6. That, consequently, it behoves us to speak in public almost continually of the state of justification; but more rarely, in full and explicit terms, concerning entire sanctification.*
Q 3. What then is the point wherein we divide ?
A. It is this : Whether we should expect to be saved from all sin, before the article of death?
Q. 4. Is there any clear Scripture promise of this ? that God will save us from all sin ?
A. There is. Psalm cxxx, 8: · He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.'
This is more largely expressed in the prophecy of Ezekiel : • Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean ; from ALL your filthiness and from all your idols I will cleanse you— I will also save you from all your uncleannesses,' Ch. xxxvi, 25—29. No promise can be more clear. And to this the Apostle plainly refers in that exhortation, Having these promises, let us cleanse ourselves from all
filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God;' 2 Cor. vii, 1.-Equally clear and express is that ancient promise, The Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, Deut,
6. Q. 5. But does any assertion, answerable to this, occur in the New Testament?
A. There does, and that laid down in the plainest terms. So, 1 John iii, 8: For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil ; ' _"the works of the devil,” without any limitation or restriction : But all sin is the work of the devil. Parallel to which is that assertion of St. Paul; Eph. v, 25, 27: Christ loved the Church, and gave himself
for it—that he might present it to himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish.'
And to the same effect is his assertion in Rom. viii, 3, 4: · God sent his Son—THAT THE righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.'
Q. 6. Does the New Testament afford any farther ground for expecting to be saved from all sin ?
A. Undoubtedly it does, both in those prayers and commands, which are equivalent to the strongest assertions.
Q. 7. What prayers A. Prayers for entire sanctification ; which, were there no such thing, would be mere mockery of God. Such, in particular, are, 1. • Deliver us from evil;' or rather, amo te wownps, " from the evil one. Now, when this is done, when we are delivered from all evil, there can be no sin remaining.–2. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word: That they all may
опе, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us : I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one,' John xvii, 20, 21, 23.-3. • I bow my knees unto the Father of our
* At that time our congregations in general • needed to be taught the first principles of the oracles of God.' It is not so now. They need now to be urged to leave these principles of the doctrine of Christ,' and to go on to perfection:' and not a few have lost their first love,' and turned back to the world, for want of being thus urged.
Lord Jesus Christ that he would grant you—that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God, Eph. iii, 14, 16–19.-4. The very God of peace sanctify you wholly. And I pray God, your whole spirit, and soul, and body, be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,' 1 Thess. v, 23.
Q. 8. What commands are there to the same effect ? A. 1. . Be ye perfect as your Father which is in heaven is perfect, Matt. v, ult.—2. • Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind,' Matt. xxii, 37. But if the love of God fill all the heart, there can be no sin there.
Q. 9. But how does it appear, that this is to be done before the article of death?
A. First. From the very nature of a command, which is not given to the dead, but to the living. Therefore, Thou shalt love God with all thy heart, cannot mean, " Thou shalt do this when thou diest,” but 66 while thou livest."
SECONDLY. From express texts of Scripture :-1. The grace of God that bringeth salvation, hath appeared to all men ; teaching us, that having renounced (apuno ausvoi) ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world : Looking for the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity; and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works, Tit. ii, 11-14.-2. · He hath raised up a horn of salvation for us—to perform the mercy promised to our fathers : the oath which he sware to our father Abraham, that he would grant unto us, that we, being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life,' Luke i, 69, &c.
Q. 10. Is there any example in Scripture of persons who had attained to this?
A. Yes ; St. John, and all those of whom he says in his First Epistle, iv, 17, • Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world.'
Q. 11. Does not the preaching perfection with harshness, tend to bring believers into a kind of bondage, slavish fear?
A. It does. Therefore we should always place it in the most amiable . light, so that it may excite only hope, joy, and desire.
Q. 12. Why may we not continue in the joy of faith even till we are made perfect ?
A. Why, indeed? Since holy grief does not quench this joy; since, even while we are under the cross, while we deeply partake of the sufferings of Christ, we may rejoice with joy unspeakable.
Q. 13. Do we not discourage believers from rejoicing evermore?
A. We ought not so to do. Let them, all their life long, rejoice unto God, so it be with reverence. And even if lightness or pride should mix with their joy, let us not strike at the joy itself, (this is the gift of God,) but at that lightness or pride, that the evil may cease and the good remain.
Q. 14. But ought. we not to be troubled, on account of the sinful nature which still remains in us?