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nigh to us in the promise and offer of the gospel ; clearing at the same time our right and warrant to intermeddle with all, without fear of vitious intromission, encouraging and enabling to a measure of confident application, and taking home of all to ourselves freely, without money and without price.
This confidence, persuasion, or whatever other name it may be called by, we take to be the very same with what our Confession and Catechisms call accepting, receiving, and resting on Christ offered in the gospel for salvation ; and with what polemic and practical divines call “ Fiducia specialis misericordiæ," " fiducial application," “ fidu. cial apprehension,” “ fiducial adherence," recumbence, ," "affiance,” “ fiducial acquiescence, appropriating persuasion,” &c. All which, if duly explained, would issue in a measure of this confidence or persuasion we have been speaking of. However, we are fully satisfied that this is what our fathers and the body of Protestant divines, speaking with the Scriptures, called the assurance of faith."
That once burning and shining light of the church, Mr. John Davidson, though in his Catechism he defines faith by a “hearty assurance” that our sins are freely forgiven us in Christ; or, a sure persuasion of the heart that Christ by his death and resurrection hath taken away our sins, and clothing us with his own perfect righteousness, has thoroughly restored us to the favour of God; which he reckoned all one with a “hearty receiving of Christ offered in the gospel for the remission of sins ;" yet in a former part of the same Catechism he gives us to understand what sort of assurance and persuasion it was he meant, as follows—" And certain it is," he says, "that both the enlightening of the mind to acknowledge the truth of the promise of salvation to us in Christ, and the sealing up of the certainty thereof in our hearts and minds (of the which two parts, as it were, faith consists,) are the works and effects of the Spirit of God." In like manner, in our first Confession of Faith, (art. 3, 12,) it is called, "An assured faith in the promise of God, revealed to us in his word; by which faith we apprehend Christ Jesus with the graces and benefits promised in him." “This faith, and the as. surance of the same, proceeds not from flesh and blood.” And in our first Catechism, commonly called Calvin's Catechim, faith is defined by a sure persuasion” and sted. fast knowledge of God's tender love towards us, according as he has plalnly uttered in his gospel, that he will be a Father and Saviour to us, through the means of Jesus Christ. And again, faith which God's Spirit worketh in our hearts, assuring of God's promises made to us in his holy gospel. In the Summula Catechismi, or Rudimenta Pietatis, to the question, “ Quid est fides ?" the answer is, “ Cum mihi persuadio deum me omnesque sanctos amare, nobisque Christum cum omnibus suis bonis gratis donare ;" and in the margin, “ Nam in fide duplex persuasio, 1. De amare Dei erga, nos ; 2. De Dei beneficiis quæ examore fiuunt, Christo nimirum, cum omnibus sui bonis," 8c. And to that question, “ Quomodo fide percipimus, el nobis applicamus corpus Christi crucifixi ?" the answer is, “ Dum nobis persuademus Christi mortem et crucifixionem non minus ad nos pertinere quam si ipsi nos pro pecatis nostris crucifixi essemus. Persuasio autem hæc est veræ fidei.” From all which it is evident, they held, that a belief of the promises of the gospel, with application to oneself, or a confidence in a crucified Saviour, for a man's own salvation, is the very essence of justifying faith ; or, that we become actually possessed of Christ, remission of sins, &c. in and by the act of believing, or confidence in him, as above explained. And this with them was the assurance of faith, which widely differs from the Antinomian sense of the assurance ur persusion of faith, which is, that Christ, and pardon of sin, are ours, no less before believing than after ; a sense which we heartily disclaim.
Whether these words in the query, viz. “Or, is that knowledge a persuasion included in the very essence of that justifyfng act of faith ;” be exegetic of the former
part of it, or a new branch of the query ; we answer, that we have already explained the persuasion of faith by us held, and do think, that in the language of faith, though not in the language of philosophy, knowledge and persusion, relating to the same ob. ject, go band in hand in the same measure and degree.
It is evident that the confidence or persuasion of faith for which we plead, includes, or necessarily and infallibly infers consent and resting, together with all the blessed fruits and effects of faith, in proportion to the measure of it. And that we have mentioned consent, we cannot but be the more confirmed in this matter, when we consider, that such a noted person as Mr. Baxter, though he had made the marriage con. sent to Christ, as King and Lord, the formal act of justifying faith, as being an epitome of all gospel obedience, including and binding to all the duties of the married state, and so giving right to all the privileges ; and had thereby, as well as by his other dangerous notions about justification, and other points connected therewith, scattered through bis works, corrupted the fountain, and endangered the faith of many; yet, after all, came to be of another mind, and had the humility to tell the world so much ; for Mr. Croes informs us (Serm. on Rom.iv. 2. p. 148.) that Mr. Baxter, in his little book against Dr. Crisp’s errors, says, “ I formerly believed the formal nature of faith to lie in consent; but now I recant it. I believe,” says he, “it lies in trust: this makes the right to lie in the object; for it is,–1 depend on Christ as the matter or merit of my pardon, my life, my crown, my glory."
There are two things further, concerning this persuasion of faith, that would be adverted to : One is, that it is not axiomatical, but real ; that is, the sinner has not always, at his first closing with Christ, nor afterwards, such a clear, steady, and full persuasion that Christ is his,—that his sius are forgiven,—and he eventually shall be saved, as that he dare profess the same to others, or even positively assert it within himself; yet, upon the first saving manifestation of Christ to him, such a persuasion and bumble confidence is begotten, as is real and relieving, and particular as to him. self and his own salvation, and which works a proportionable hope as to the issue ; though, through the humbling impressions he has of himself and his own guilt at the time, the awe of God's majesty, justice, and holiness on his spirit, and his indistinct knowledge of the doctrine of the Gospel, with the grounds and warrants of believing therein contained, he fears to express it directly and particularly of himself. The other is, that whatever is said of the babit, actings, strength, weakness, and intermittings of the exercise of saving faith, the same is to be said of this persuasion in all points. From all which it is evident, the doubts, fears, and darkness, so frequently to be found in true believers, can very well consist with this persuasion in the same subject; for though these may be, and often are in the believer, yet they are not of his faith, which in its nature and exercise is as opposite to them as light is to darkness, the flesh to the Spirit; which though they be in the same subject, yet are contrary the one to the other, Gal. v. 17. And therefore faith wrestles against them, though with various success, it being sometimes so far overcome and brought under by the main force and much superior strength of prevailing unbelief, that it cannot be discerned more than the fire is when covered with ashes, or the sun when wrapt up in thick clouds. The confidence and persuasion of faith being in many, at first especially, but as the grain of mustard-seed cast into the ground, or like a spark amidst the troubled sea of all manner of corruption and lusts, where the rolling waves of unbelieving doubts and fears, hellish temptations and suggestions, and the like, moving on the face of that depth, are every now and then going over it; and, were there not a Divine hand and care engaged for its preservation, would effectually extinguish and bury it. What wonder that in such a case it many times cannot be dis
cerned ! yet will it still bold so much of the exercise of justifying faith, so much of persuasion. Yea, not only may a believer have this persuasion and not know of it for the time, (as say Collins, Roberts, Amesius, and others, who distinguish the persuasion from the sense of it,) but he, being under the power of temptation and confusion of mind, may resolutely deny he has any such persuasion or conscience; while it is evident to others at the same time, by its effects, that he really has it: for which, one may, among others, see the holy and learned Haliburton, in his “ Inquiry into the Nature of God's Act of Justification," p. 27. And if one would see the consistence of faith's persuasion with doubting, well discoursed and illustrated, he may consult Downham's "Christian Warfare,"_But we
Answer, 3dly, There is a full persuasion and assurance, by reflection, spiritual argumentation, or inward sensation, which we are far from holding to be of the essence of faith ; but this last, being mediate, and collected by inference, as we gather the cause from such signs and effects as give evidence of it, is very different from that confidence or persuasion, by divines called the assurance of faith. “ Sanctification," says Rutherford, “ does not evidence justification, as faith doth evidence it, with such a sort of clearness, as light evidenceth colours, though it be no sign or evident mark of them ; but as smoke evinces fire, and as the morning star in the east evinces the sun will shortly rise, or as the streams prove there is a head-spring whence they issue, though none of these make what they evidence visible to the eye; so doth sanctification give evidence of justification, only as marks, signs, effects give evidence to the cause." He calls it a light of arguing and of heavenly logic, by which we know that we know God, by the light of faith, because we keep his commandments. In effect, (says he,) we know rather the person must be justified, in whom these gracious evidences are, by hearsay report or consequence, than that we know or see justification, or faith itself, in abstracto ; but the light of faith, the testimony of the Spirit by the operation of free grace, will cause us, as it were, with our eyes, see justification and faith, not by report, but as we see the sun-light." Again he says, never had a question with Antinomians touching the first assurance of justification, such as is proper to the light of faith. He (Cornwall) might have spared all his arguments to prove that we are first assured of our justification by faith, not by good works, for we grant the arguments of one sort of assurance, wbich is proper to faith, and they prove nothing against another sort of assurance, by signs and effects, which is also divine.” Further, as to the difference between these two kinds of assurance: the assurance of faith has its object and foundation without the man, but that of sease has them within him. The assurance of faith looks to Christ, the promise and covenant of God, and says, “ This is all my salvation ; God has spoken in bis holiness, I will rejoice :" but the assurance of sense looks inward at the works of God, such as the person's own graces, attainments, experiences, and the like. The assurance of faith giving an evidence to things not seen, cao claim an interest in, and plead a saving relation to a hiding, withdrawing God. Zion said, “ My Lord hath forgotten me;" and the spouse, I opened to my beloved, but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone." So he may be a forgetting and withdrawing God to my feeling, “and yet to my faith, my God and my Lord still," says holy Rutherford; "even as the wife may believe the angry and forsaking husband is still ber husband." But, on the other hand, the assurance of sense is the evidence of things seen and felt.
“ I take him for mine;" the other says, “ I feel he is mine." The one says with the Church, “ My God, though he cover himself with a cloud, that my prayer cannot pass through, yet will hear me ;" the other, “ My God has heard me."
“ He will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righte
The one says,
The one says,
ousness; the other, “ He bas brought me forth to the light, and I do behold his righteousness," The one says, Though he should kill me, yet will I trust in him ;" the other, “ He smiles and shines on me, therefore will I love him and trust in him."
Upon the whole, we bumbly conceive, were the nature and grounds of faith's persuasion more narrowly and impartially under the guidance of the Spirit of truth searched into and laid open, it would, instead of discouraging weak Christians, exceedingly tend to the strengthening and increase of faith, and consequently have a mighty influence on spiritual comfort, and true gospel-holiness, which will always be found to bear proportion to faith, as effects do to the efficacy and influence of their
Query IX.—What is that act of faith, by which a sinner appropriates Christ and his saving benefits to himself ?
Ans. This question being plainly and fully answered in what is said on the immediately foregoing, we refer thereto, and proceed to the tenth.
QUERY X.- Whether the revelation of the Divine will in the word, affording a warrant to offer Christ unto all, and a warrant to all to receive him, can be said to be the Father's makiny a deed of gift and grant of Christ unto all mankind? 18 this grant made to all mankind by sovereign grace? And whether is it absolute or conditional ?
Ans.—Here we are directed to that part of our representation where we complain that the following passage is condemned, viz. “ The Father hath made a deed of gift or grant unto all mankind, that whosoever of them shall believe in his Son, shall not perish ;” and where we say,
“ That this treatment of the said passage seems to encroach on the warrants aforesaid, and also upon sovereign grace, which bath made this grant, not to devils, but to men, in terms than which none can be imagined more extensive ;” agreeable to what we bave already said in our representation. We answer to the first part of the question, that by the “deed of gift or grant unto all mankind,” we uoderstand no more that the revelation of the Divine will in the word, affording warrant to offer Christ to all, and a warrant to all to receive him; for although we believe the purchase and application of redemption to be peculiar to the elect, who were given by the Father to Christ in the coupsel of peace, yet the warrant to receive him is common to all. Ministers, by virtue of the commission they have received from their great Lord and Master, are authorized and instructed to go preach the gospel to every creature, i. e. to make a full, free, and unbampered offer of him, his grace, righteousness, and salvation, to every rational soul to whom they may in providence have access to speak. And though we had a voice like a trumpet, that could reach all the corners of the earth, we think we would be bound, by virtue of our commission, to lift it up, and say, “ To you, O men, do we call, and our voice is to the sons of men. God hath so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” And though this "deed of gift and grant, that whosoever believeth in Christ shall not perish," &c. is, neither in our representation, nor in the passages of the book condemned on that head, called a “deed of gift, and grant of Christ,” yet, being required to give our judgment in this point, we think, that agreeable to the Holy Scripture, it may be so called, as particularly appears from the text last cited, John iii. 16. where, by the giving of Christ, we understand not only his eternal destination by the Father to be the Redeemer of an elect world, and his giving him unto the
death for them, in the fulness of time, but more especially a giving of him in the word unto all, to be received and believed in. The giving here cannot be a giving in possession, which is peculiar only upto them who actually believe, but it must be such a giving, granting, or offering, as warrants a man to believe or receive the gift, and must therefore be anterior to actual believing. This is evident enough from the text itself: he gave him, " that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish,” &c. The context also, to us, puts it beyond controversy : the brazen serpent was given, and lifted up as a common good to the whole camp of Israel, that whosoever in all the camp, being stung by the fiery serpents, looked thereunto, might not die, but live. So here Christ is given to a lost world, in the word, " that whosoever believes in him should not perish," &c. And in this respect, we think, Christ is a common Saviour, and his salvation is a common salvation; and it is " glad tidings of great joy unto all people,” that unto us (not to angels that fell,) this Son is given, and this Child is born, whose name is called Wonderful, &c. Isa. ix. 6.
We have a scripture also to this purpose, John vi. 32, where Christ speaking to a promiscuous multitude, makes a comparison between himself and the manna that fell about the tents of Israel in the wilderness, says, " My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.” As the simple raining of the manna about their camp is called a giving of it, (ver. 31,) before it was tasted, or fed upon ; so the very revelation and offer of Christ is called (according to the judicious Calvin on the place) a giving of him, ere he be received and believed on.
Of this giving of Christ to mankind lost, we read also, I John v. 11, “And this is the record that God hath given unto us eternal life, and this life is in his Son." This giving in the text is not, we conceive, a giving in possession, in greater or lesser measure, but a giving by way of grant and offer, whereupon one may warrantably take possession, and the party to whom is not the election only, but lost mankind ; for the record of God bere must be such a thing as warrants all to believe on the Son of God. But it can be no such warrant to tell, “ that God hath given eternal life to the elect;" for the inaking of a gift to a certain select company of persons, can never be a warrant for all men to receive or take possession of it. This will be further evident, if we consider that the great sin of unbelief lies in not believing this record of God, “ He that believes not hath made God a liar," says the apostle, ver. 10, " because he believes pot the record that God gave of bis Son;" and then it followeth, ver. 11, “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life," &c. Now, are we to think that the rejecting of the record of God is a bare disbelieving of this proposition, that God hath given eternal life unto the elect ?" No, eurely: for the most desperate unbelievers, such as Judas and others, believe this; and their belief of it adds to their anguish and torment. Or do they, by believing this, set to their seal that God is true? No; they still continue, notwithstanding of all this, to make him a liar, in “ not believing this record of God," that to lost mankind, and to themselves in particular, God hath given eternal life by way of grant, so as they as well as others, are warranted and welcome ; and every one to whom it comes, on their peril, required by faith to receive or take possession of it. By not receiving this gifted and offered remedy, with application and appropriation, they fly in the face of God's record and testimony; and therefore do justly and deservedly perish, seeing the righteousness, salvation, and kingdom of God, was brought so near to them, in the free offer of the gospel, and yet they would not take it. The great pinch and strait, we think, of an awakened conscience, does not lie in believing that God hath given eternal life to the elect, but in believing or receiving Christ offered to us in the gospel, with particular application to the man himself, in Scripture called "an eating the flesh, and