« FöregåendeFortsätt »
If any supplement had been necessary, the word men, as it is in the text of Ch. V. 11, might have better conveyed the apostle's meaning. The other is the division of the fifth and sixth chapters in the midst of the argument.*
IV. THE WANT OF FAITH
CHRIST IS ASCRIBED IN THE SCRIPTURES TO MEN'S DEPRAVITY, AND IS ITSELF REPRESENTED AS A HEINOUS SIN.-It is taken for granted that whatever is not a sinner's duty, the omission of it cannot be charged on him as a sin, nor imputed to any depravity in him. If faith were no more a duty than election or redemption, which are acts peculiar to God, the want of the one would be no more ascribed to the evil dispositions of the heart than of the other. Or if the inability of sinners to believe in Christ were of the same nature as that of a dead body in a grave to rise up and walk, it were absurd to suppose that they would on this account fall under the divine censure. No man is reproved for not doing that which is naturally impossible: but sinners are reproved for not believing, and given to understand that it is solely owing to their criminal ignorance, pride, dishonesty of heart, and aversion to God.
Voluntary ignorance is represented as a reason why sinners believe not. Being IGNORANT of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own
* See Dr. Guyse on the place.
righteousness, THEY HAVE NOT SUBMITTED THEMSELVES UNTO THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD.*-If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost : In whom the God of this world hath BLINDED THE MINDS OF THEM THAT BELIEVE NOT, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.t To the same purpose we are taught by our Lord in the parable of the sower, when any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and UNDERSTANDETH IT NOT, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart, and this, as Luke expresses it, lest they should BELIEVE AND BE SAVED.
If men, even though they were possessed of the same principles as our first father in paradise, would nevertheless be blind to the glory of the gospel, with what propriety is their blindness attributed to the God of this world? Is he ever represented as employing himself in hindering that which is naturally impossible, or in promoting that which is innocent?
Pride is another cause to which the want of sa. ving faith is ascribed. The wicked through the pride of his countenance will not seek. God is not in all his thoughts.s We have seen already that seeking God is a spiritual exercise, which implies faith in the mediator : and the reason why ungodly men are strangers to it is the haughtiness of their spirits,
* Rom. . 3.
+ 2 Cor. iv. 3, 4. * Matt. xüi. 19. Luke viii. 12.
S Psalm x. 4.
which makes them scorn to take the place of a supplicant before their offended Creator, and labour to put far from their minds every thought of him. How can ye BELIEVE, said our Lord to the Jews, who receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only ? |
If believing were here to be taken for any other faith than that which is spiritual, or saving, the suggestion would not hold good: for we are told of some who could and did believe in Christ in some sense, but who did not confess him; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God:t It was pride that blinded the minds of the wise and prudent of this world to the doctrines of Christ; and what is it but this same proud spirit working in a way of self-conceit, and self-righteousness, that still forms the grand objection to the doctrine of salvation by mere grace?
Dishonesty of heart is that on account of which men receive not the word of God so as to bring forth fruit. This is fully implied in the parable of the sower, recorded in the eighth chapter of Luke. The reason why those hearers represented by the good ground, received the word and brought forth fruit, rather than the others, was, they had good and honest hearts : plainly intimating that the reasơn why the others did not so receive it, was, their hearts were not upright before God. Indeed
such is the nature of divine truth, that every heart which is honest towards God must receive it. An honest heart must needs approve of God's holy law, which requires us to love him with all our powers; and this because it is no more than giving him the glory due to his name. An honest heart will approve of being justified wholly for Christ's sake, and not on account of any of its own works, whether legal or evangelical; for it is no more than relinquishing a claim which is justly forfeited, and accepting as a free gift that which God was under no obligation to bestow. Farther, An honest heart must rejoice in the way of salvation as soon as he understands it; because it provides a way in which mercy can be exercised consistent with righteousness. A right spirit would revolt at the idea of receiving mercy itself in a way that should leave a blot upon the divine character. It is to the glory of Christ that he has not an honest man for an enemy. The upright love him.
We are not ignorant who it is that must now give men honest hearts, and what is the source of every thing in a fallen creature that is truly good; but this does not affect the argument. However far sinners are from it, and whatever divine agency it may require to produce it, no man who is not disposed to deny the accountableness of creatures to the God that made them, will deny that it is their duty: for if we are not obliged to be upright towards God, we are obliged to nothing; and if obliged to nothing, we must be guiltless, and so stand in no need of salvation.
Finally, Aversion of heart is assigned as a reason why sinners do not believe.
This truth is strongly expressed in that complaint of our Lord, in John v. 40. Ye will not, or YE ARE NOT WILLING to come unto me, that ye might have life. Proudly attached to their own righteousness, when Jesus exhibited himself as the way, the truth, and the life, they were stumbled at it; and thousands in the religious world are the same to this day. They are willing to escape God's wrath, and to gain his favour; yea, and to relinquish many an outward vice in order to it: but to come to Jesus among
the chief of sinners, and be indebted wholly to his sacrifice for life, they are not willing. man plead that this their unwillingness is innocent ?
Yet can any
Mr. Hussey understands the foregoing passage of barely owning Christ to be the Messiah, which, he says,
would have saved them as a nation from temporal ruin, and death; or, as he in another place expresses it, “from having their brains dashed out by the battering rams of Titus” the Roman General.* But it ought to be observed, that the life for which they were not willing to come to him, was the same as that which they thought they had in the scriptures, and this was eternal life. Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of me: and ye will not come unto me that ye might have life. This was the same as saying, “These very scriptures in
Glory of Christ Revealed; pp. 527, 615.