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GOSPEL OF CHRIST
WORTHY OF ALL ACCEPTATION.
WHEREIN THE SUBJECT IS SHEWN TO BE IM.
PORTANT, STATED, AND EXPLAINED.
GOD having blessed mankind with the glorious gospel of his Son, hath spoken much in his word, as it might be supposed he would, of the treatment which it should receive from those to whom it was addressed. A cordial reception of it is called in Scripture, receiving Christ, allowing him, believing in him, &c.; and the contrary, refusing, disallowing, and rejecting him; and those who thus reject him are in so doing said to judge themselves unworthy of everlasting life.* These are things on which the New Testament largely insists : great stress is there laid on the reception which the truth shall meet with. The same lips which commissioned the Apostles to go and preach
the gospel to every creature, added, He that BELIEVETH, AND IS BAPTIZED SHALL BE SAVED; BUT HE THAT BELIEVETH NOT SHALL BE DAMNED. To as many as RECEIVED HIM, to them gave
he power to become the sons of God; but to them who received him not, but refused him, and rejected his way of salvation, he became a stumblingstone, and a rock of offence, that they might stumble, and fall, and perish. Thus the gospel, according to the different reception it meets with, becomes a savour of life unto life, or of death unto death.*
The controversies which have arisen concerning faith in Jesus Christ are not so much an object of surprise, as the conduct of those, who, professing to be Christians, affect to run down the subject, as a matter of little or no importance. There is not any principle or exercise of the human mind of which the New Testament speaks so frequently, and on which so great a stress is laid. And with regard to the inquiry whether it be obligatory on all men who hear, or have opportunity to hear the word, it cannot be uninteresting. If it be not, to inculcate it would be unwarrantable and cruel to our fellow-sinners, as it subjects them to an addi. tional charge of abundance of guilt: but if it be, to explain it away is to undermine the Divine Prerogative, and as far as it goes, to subvert the very intent of the promulgation of the gospel, which is
* Mark xvi. 16. 1 Pet. ii. 8. 2 Cor. ii. 16.
that men “should believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and believing have life through his name.” *
This is doubtless a very serious thing, and ought to be seriously considered. Though some good men may be implicated in this matter, it becomes them to remember, that whosoever breaketh one of the least of Christ's Commandments, and teacheth men so, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. If believing be a commandment, it cannot be one of the least: the important relations which it sustains, as well as the dignity of its object, must prevent this : the knowledge of sin, repentance for it, and gratitude for pardoning mercy, all depend upon our admitting it. And if it be a great commandment, the breach of it must be a great sin; and whosoever teaches men other. wise, is a partaker of their guilt, and if they perish, will be found to have been accessory to their eternal ruin. Let it be considered, whether the Apos. tle to the Hebrews did not proceed upon such principles when he exclaimed, How shall we escape if we neglect so GREAT Salvation? And the Lord Jesus himself when he declared, HE THAT BELIEVETH NOT SHALL BE DAMNED!
In order to determine whether faith in Christ be the duty of all men who have opportunity to hear the gospel, it will be necessary to determine what it is, or wherein it consists. Some have maintained that it consists in a persuasion of our
* John xx. 31.
interest in Christ, and in all the benefits and blessings of his mediation. The author of The further Inquiry, Mr. L. WEYMAN, of Kimbolton, who wrote about sixty years ago upon the subject, questions Whether there be any act of special faith which hath not the nature of appropriation in it;* and by appropriation he appears to mean a persuasion of our interest in spiritual blessings. This is the ground upon which he rests the main body of his argument; to overturn it therefore, will be in effect to answer his book. Some who would not be thought to maintain a persuasion of interest in Christ, as essential to faith, for the sake of many Christians whom they cannot but observe upon this principle to be, generally speaking, unbelievers, yet maintain what fully implies it. Though they will allow for the comfort of such Christians, that assurance is not of the essence of faith, under- standing by assurance, an assured persuasion of our salvation, but that a reliance on Christ is sufficient; yet in almost all other things they speak as if they did not believe what at those times they say. It is common for such persons to call those fears which occupy the minds of Christians lest they should miss of salvation at last, by the name of unbelief, and to reprove them for being guilty of this God-dishonouring sin, exhorting them to be strong in faith, like Abraham giving glory to God; when all that is meant is that they should firmly believe the goodness of their own state without
* p. 13.
doubting. If this be saying faith, it must inevit. ably follow, that it is not the duty of unconverted sinners; for they are not interested in Christ, and it cannot possibly be their duty to believe a lie. But if it can be proved that the proper object of saving faith is not our being interested in Christ, but the glorious gospel of the ever blessed God, and which is true whether we believe it or not, a contrary inference must be drawn: for it is admitted on all hands, that it is the duty of every man to believe what God reveals.
I have no objection to allowing that true faith “ hath in it the nature of appropriation," if by this term he meant an application of the truths believed to our own particular cases.
" When the Scriptures teach,” says a pungent writer, “we are to receive instruction, for the enlightening of our own minds; when they admonish, we are to take warning; when they reprove, we are to be checko : ed; when they comfort, we are to be cheered and encouraged ; and when they recommend any grace, we are to desire and embrace it; when they command any duty, we are to hold ourselves enjoined to do it; when they promise, we are to hope ; when they threaten, we are to be terrified, as if the judgment were denounced against us; and when they forbid any sin, we are to think they forbid it unto
By which application we shall make all the rich treasures contained in the Scriptures wholly our own, and in such a powerful and peculiar manner enjoy the fruit and benefit of them, as if they