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many and great sins, hath he any warrant to come unto Christ by believing, till he has done so ?
Evan. I tell you truly, that whatsoever a man is, or whatsoever he hath done or not done, he hath warrant enough to come unto Christ by believing, if he can; h for Christ makes a general proclamation, saying, “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come, buy and eat; yea, come bay wine and milk without money, and without price." This, you see, is the condition, buy wine and milk,” that is, grace and salvation, “without money,” that is, without any sufficiency of your
h It is not io vain added, “if he can;" for there is, in this matter, a great difference betwixt what a sinner may do, in point of warrant, and what he will or can do, in point of the event. “ If
man, the physician is ready to heal you ; before you will be healed, you must have a sense of your sickness: this sense is not required by the physician, (for the physician is ready to heal him); but if he be not sick, and have a sense of it, he will not come to the physician.”—Preston on Faith, p. 12. I make no question, but before a sinner will come to Christ by believing, he must be an awakened, convinced, sensible sinner; pricked in his heart with a sepse of his sio and misery; made to groan under his buiden, to despair of relief from the law himself, or any other creature, and to desire and thirst after Christ and his righteousness; and this our author teaches afterwards on this subject. (These things also are required of the sinner in point of duty.) And therefore the law must be preached by all those who would preach Christ aright. But that these, or any other things in the singer, are required to warrant him, that he may come to Christ by believing, is what I conceive the Scripture teaches not; but the general offer of the gospel, of which before, warrants every man that he may come. Aod in practice, it will be found, that requiring of such and such qualificativos in sinners, to warrant them to believe in Christ, is no great help to them in their way towards him; forasmuch as it engages them ic a doubtful disputation, as to the being, kind, measure, and degree of their qualifications for coming to Christ; the time spent in which might be better improved in their going forward to Christ for all, by believing. And since no man can ever believe in Christ, without knowing that he bas a warrant for believing in him, otherwise he can but act presumptuously: to tell sinners, that none may come to Christ, or have warrant to believe, but such as have a true repentance, must needs, in a special manner, entangle distressed consciences, so as they dare not believe, until they know their repentance to be true repentance. This must inevitably be the issue in that case ; unless they do either reject that principle, or else venture to believe without seeing their warrant. For, howbeit they hear of Christ and his salvation offered in the gospel, these will be to them as forbidden fruit, which they are not allowed to touch, till once they are persuaded, that they have true repentance. And before they can attain to this, it must be made out to their consciences, that their repentance is not legal but evangelical, having such characters as distinguish it from the repentance of the Ninevites, Judas, and many reprobates. So that, one would think, the suggesting of this principle is but a bad office done to a soul brought to "the place of the breaking forth of children." Let no man say, that, arguing at this rate, one must know also the truth of his faith, before he can come to Christ; for faith is not a qualification for coming to Christ, but the coming itself, which will have its saving effects on the sinner, whether he knows the truth of it or not.
own; i only "incline your ear and hear, and your souls shall live ;" yea, live by hearing that “Christ will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.”
§ 4. Nom. But yet, sir, you, soe that Christ requires a thirsting, before a man come unto him, the which, I conceive, cannot be without true repentance.
Evan. In the last chapter of the Revelations, verse 17, Christ makes the same general proclamation, saying, “ Let him that is athirst come;" and as if the Holy Ghost had so long since answered the same objection that yours is, it follows in the next words, “And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely," even without thirsting, if he will; for " him that cometh unto me, I will in nowise cast out,”; Jobn vi. 37. But because it seems you conceive he ought to repent before he believe, I pray tell me what you do conceive repentance to be, or wherein does it consist?
Nom. Why, I conceive that repentance consists in a man's humbling himself before God, and sorrowing and grieving for offending him by his sins, and in turning from them all to the Lord.
Evan. And would you have a man to do all this truly k before he come to Christ by believing ?
i Take them freely, and possess them; which every one sees to be no proper condition.
j That gospel-offer, Isa. lv. 1. is the most solemn one to be found in all the Old Testament: and that recorded, Rev. xxii. 17, is the parting offer made to singers by Jesus Christ, at the closing of the canon of the Scripture, and manifestly looks to the former ; in the which I can see po ground to think, that the thirsting therein mentioned does any way restrict the offer; or that the thirsty there invited, are convinced, sensible sinners, who are thirsting after Christ and his righteousness; the which would leave without the compass of this solemn invitation, not only the far greater part of mankiod, but even of the visible church. The context seems decisive in this point; for the thirsting ones invited, are such as are "spending money for that which is not bread, and their labour for that which satisfieth not,” (verses 1, 2;) but convinced, sensible sinners who are thirsting after Christ and his righteousness, are not spending their labour and money at that rate ; but on the contrary, for that which is bread and satisfieth, namely, for Christ. Wherefore the thirsting there mentioned, must be more extensive, comprehending, yea, and principally aiming at that thirst after happiness and satisfaction, which, being natural, is common to all mankind. Men pained with this thirst (or hunger) are naturally running, for quenching thereof to the empty creation, and their fulsome lusts ; “ so spending money for that wbich is not bread, and their labour for that which satisfieth not,” their hungry souls find nu food, but what is meagre and lean, bad and unwholesome, and cannot satisfy their appetite. Compare Luke xv. 16. In this wretched case Adam left all mankind, and Christ finds them. Wbereupon the gospel-proclamation is issued forth, inviting them to come away from the broken cisterns, filtby puddles, to the waters of life, even to Jesus Christ, where they may have bread, fatness, what is good, and will satisfy that their painful thirst, John iv. 14, and vi. 35.
k That is, in such a manner as it shall be true evangelical repentance, a gracious
Nom. Yea, indeed, I think it is very meet he should.
Evan. Why, then, I tell you truly, you would have him to do that which is impossible. I
For, first of all, godly humiliation, in true penitents, proceeds from the love of God their good Father, and so from the hatred of that sin which has displeased him; and this cannot be without
2dly, Sorrow and grief for displeasing God by sin, necessarily argue the love of God; and it is impossible we should ever love God, till by faith we know ourselves loved of God. n
humiliation, sorrow, and turning, acceptable in the sight of God. This question (grounded on Nomista's pretending that Neophitus had no warrant to believe, unless he had truly repented) supposes that there is a kind of repentance, humiliation, sorrow for sin, and turning from it, which goes before faith, but that they are not after a godly sort," as the apostle's phrase is, 2 Cor. viii. 11.
"I think it nothing strange to fiod the author so very peremptory in this point, which is of greater weight than many are aware of True repentance is a turning unto God, a coming back to him again ; a returning even unto the Lord, according to an usual Old Testament phrase, found, Hos. xiv. I, and rightly so translated, lsa. xix. 22. But no man can come unto God “but by Christ,” Heb. vii. 25. “He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God BY HIM,” Jobo xiv. 6. "No man cometh unto the Father but by me.” We must take Christ in our way to the Father, else it is impossible that we guilty creatures can reach unto him. And no man can come unto Christ, but by believing in him, (John vi. 35.) therefore it is impossible that a man can truly repent before he believe in Christ. " Him hath God exalted with bis right hand, to be a Prince (or Leader) and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins," Acts v. 31. One would think this to be a suffi. cient intimation, that sinners not only may, but ought to go to him for true repentance; and not stand off from him until they get it to bring along with them; especially since repentance, as well as remission of sin, is a part of that salvation, wbich be as a Saviour is exalted to give, and consequently, which sinners are to receive and rest upon him for ; and likewise that it is that by which he, as a leader, doth lead back sinDers even unto God, from whom they were lead away in the first Adam, the bead of the apostacy. And if one inquires anent the way of his giving repentance to Israel, the prophet Zechariah showed it before to be by faith. Zech. xii. 10. " And they shall look upon me whom they have have pierced, and they shall mouro."
m This the Scripture teacheth, determining in the general, that without faith one can do nothing acceptable in the sight of God, Jobo xv. 5. “ Without me," i, e. separate from me, “ye can do nothing." Heb. xi. 6. “ Without faith it is impossible to please him :" and particularly with respect to this case, Luke vii. 37–47. “ And behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat, stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet—And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon,-Her sins which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much ; but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little." “ It is an argument gathered of the effect following, whereby any thing is proved by signs ensuing." - Calvin. Inst. lib. 3 cap. 4, sect. 37. n There is a knowledge in faith, as our divines teach against the Papists, and the 3dly, No man can turn to God, except be be first turned of God; and after he is turned, he repents; so Ephraim says, “ After I was converted, I repented," o Jer. xxxi. 19. The truth is, a repentant singer first believes that God will do that which he promiseth, namely, pardon his sin, and take away his iniquity; then he rests in the hope of it; and from that, and for it, he leaves sin, and will forsake his old course, p because it is displeasing to God; and will do that which is pleasing and acceptable to him. So that first of all, God's favour is apprehended, and remission of sins believed; r
Scripture maketh manifest. Isa. lii. 11, “By his knowledge shall my righteous Servant justify many." Heb. xi. 3, “ Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God.” Now, saving faith, being a persuasion that we shall have life and salvation by Christ, or a receiving and resting on him for salvation, includes in it a knowledge of our being beloved of God: the former cannot be without the latter. In the meantime, such as the strength or weakness of that persuasion is, the steadiness or unsteadiness of that receiving and resting, just so is this knowledge, clear, or unclear, free of, or accompanied with doubtings. They are still of the same measure and decree. So that this is no more in effect, but that faith in Christ is the spring of true love to God; the which, how it is attained by a guilty soul, men will the better know, if they consider well what it is. The true love of God is not a love to bim only for his benefits, and for our own sake, but a love to him for him. self, for his own sake; a liking of, and complacency in, bis glorious attributes and perfections, his infinite, eternal, and unchangeable being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. If a convinced sinner is void of any of the least measure of persuasion of life and salvation by Christ, and of the love of this God to him ; but apprebends, as he cannot miss to do in this case, that he hates him, is the enemy, and will prove so at last; this cannot fail of filling his whole soul with slavish fear of God; and how then shall this love of God spring up in one's heart, in such a case for slavish fear and true love are so opposite the one to the other, that, according to the measure in which the one prevails, the other cannot bave access. 2 Tim. i. 7, “God hath not given us the Spirit of fear, but of power, of love and of a sound mind.” 1 John iv. 18, “ There is no fear in love, but perfect love casteth out fear; because fear hath torment.” But when once life and salvation, and remission of sin, is with application believed by the convinced sinner, and thereby the love of God towards him is known ; then according to the measure of that faith and knowledge, slavish fear of God is expelled, and the heart is kindly drawn to love him, not only for his benefits, but for himself, having a complacency in his glorious perfections. love him, because he first loved us," 1 John iv. 19, The love of God to us is the inducement of our love to him: but love utterly unknown to the party beloved can never be an inducement to him to love again. Now, in consequence hereof, the sinner's bands are loosed, and his heart, which before was still hard as a stone, though broken in pieces by legal terrors, is broken in another mapper, softened and kindly melted in sorrow for displeasing this gracious God.
a God's turning a sinner first brings him to Christ. John vi. 44, 45, “No man can come unto me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him." And then he comes to God by Christ : John. xiv. 26, “No man cometh unto the Father but by
p In a right manner, in the manner immediately after mentioned.
that cometh alteration of life and conversation. s
q Faith cometh of the word of God; bope cometh of faith ; and charity springeth of them both. Faith believes that word ; hope trusteth after that which is promised by the word; and charity doth good unto her neighbour.--Mr. Patrick Hamilton's Articles in Knox's Hist. p. 11.
r Not as that they are pardoned already ; but that one must so apprehend the favour of God, as to believe that God will pardon—bis sin, as the author speaks expressly in the premises from whence this conclusion is drawn; or that God doth pardon his sin in the present time. See note, chap. 3. sec. 6. Now, remission of sin is a part of that salvation which faith receives and rests on Christ for. See the note on the Definition of faith. As for the phrase the author uses to express this, it is most agreeable to the Scripture phrase, “ Remission of sios preached,” Luke xxiv. 47; Acts xiii. 38.
s Namely, such an alteration as is pleasing and acceptable in the sight or God, the which he has described in the preceding sentence. Otherwise, he has already taught us, that there are notable alterations of life and conversation which do not proceed from faith; and therefore are not accepted of God. And of these we shall hear more
It will not be amiss here to observe how our author, in his account of the relation betwixt faith and repentance, treads in the ancient paths, according to his manner,
“ It ought to be out of question,” says Calvin, “ that repentance doth not only immediately follow faith, but also spring out of it.-As for them that think that repentance doth rather go before faith, than flow or spring forth of it, as a fruit out of a tree, they never knew the force thereof, and are moved with too weak an argument, to think so.
Christ and John, (say they) in their preachings, first exhort the people to repentance, &c.—A man cannot earnestly apply himself to repentance, unless he know himself to be of God: but no man is truly persuaded that he is of God but he that bath first received his grace.—No man sball ever reverently fear God, but he that trusteth that God is merciful to him : no man will willingly prepare himself to the keeping of the law, but he that is persuaded that his services please bim.”—Instit. b. 3. chap. 3. sec. 1, 2.
“ How soon that ever the Spirit of the Lord Jesus, which God's elect children receive by true faith, takes possession in the heart of any man, so soon doth he regenerate and renew the same man. So that he begins to hate that which before he loved, and begins to love that which before he hated; and from thence comes that continual battle which is betwixt the flesh and the spirit.”-Old Confess. art. 13.
Being in Christ, we must be new creatures—so that we must hate and flee that which before we loved and embraced, and we must love and follow that which before we hated aud abhorred.—All which is impossible to them that bave no faith, and bave but a dead faith."- Mr. John Davidson's Cat. p. 29.
“ Quest. When I shall ask you then what is craved of us, after that we are joined to Christ by faith, and made truly righteous in him? ye
A. We must repent and become new persons, that we may show forth the virtues of bim that hath called ue."-Ibid. p. 35.
“ What is thy repentance? The effect of this faith, working a sorrow for my sins by-past, and purpose to amend in time to come."--Mr. James Melvil's Cat, in his Propine, &c. p. 44.