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truth of what God had said." This remark appeared to carry in it its own evidence.
From this time his thoughts upon the subject began to enlarge. He preached upon it more than once. From hence, he was led to think on its opposite, faith, and to consider it as a persuasion of the truth of what God hath said; and of course, to suspect his former views concerning its not being the duty of unconverted sinners.
He was aware that the generality of Christians with whom he was acquainted, viewed the belief of the gospel as something presupposed in faith, rather than as being of the essence of it; and considered the contrary as the opinion of Mr. Sandeman, which they were agreed in rejecting, as favourable to a dead or inoperative kind of faith. He thought, however, that what they meant by a belief of the gospel, was nothing more than a general assent to the doctrines of revelation, unaccompanied with love to them, or a dependance on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. He had no doubt but that such a notion of the subject ought to be rejected : and if this be the notion of Mr. Sandeman, (which by the way he does not know, having never read any
of his works) he has no scruple in saying, it is far from any thing which he intends to advance.*
It appeared to him, that we had taken unconverted sinners too much upon their word, when they told us that they believed the gospel. . He did not doubt but that they might believe many things concerning Jesus Christ, and his salvation : but being blind to the glory of God, as it is displayed in the face of Jesus Christ, their belief of the gospel must be very superficial, extending only to a few facts, without any sense of their real intrinsic excellency; which, strictly speaking, is not faith. Those who see no form, nor comeliness, in the Mes. siah, nor beauty, that they should desire him, are described as not believing the report concerning him.t
* Since the First Edition of this piece made its appearance, the author has seen Mr. Sandeman's writings, and those of Mr. A. M‘Lean, who, on this subject, seems to agree with Mr. Sande. man. Justice requires him to say, that these writers do not appear to plead for a kind of faith, which is not followed with love, or by a dependance on Christ alone for salvation ; but their idea of faith itself goes to exclude every thing cordial from it. Though he accords with them in considering the belief of the gospel as saving faith, yet there is an important difference in the ideas which they attach to believing. This difference, with some other things, may be examined in an Appendix at the end of this edition.
+ Isaiah liii. 1, 2.
He had also read and considered, as well as he was able, President Edward's Inquiry into the Freedom of the Will, with some other performances on the difference between natural and moral inability. He found much satisfaction in this distinction, as it appeared to him to carry with it its own evidence, to be clearly and fully contained in the scriptures, and calculated to disburden the Calvinistic system of a number of calumnies, with which its enemies have loaded it; as well as to afford clear and honourable conceptions of the divine government. If it were not the duty of unconverted sinners to believe in Christ, and that because of their inability, he supposed this inability must be natural, or something which did not arise from an evil disposition : but the more he examined the scriptures, the more he was convinced that all the inability ascribed to man, with respect to believing, arises from the aversion of his heart. They will not come to Christ, that they may have life—will not hearken to the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely—will not seek after God-and desire not the knowledge of his ways.
He wishes to avoid the spirit, into which we are apt to be betrayed when engaged in controversy,--that of magnifying the import
ance of the subject beyond its proper bounds : yet he seriously thinks the subject treated of in the following pages is of no small import
To him it appears to be the same controversy, for substance, as that which in all ages has subsisted between God and an apostate world. God hath ever maintained these two principles: All that is evil is of the creature, and to him belongs the blame of it; and all that is good is of himself, and to him belongs the praise of it. To acquiesce in both these positions, is too much for the carnal heart. The advocates for free will would seem to yield the former, acknowledging themselves blameworthy for the evil : but they cannot admit the latter. Whatever honour they may allow to the general grace of God, they are for ascribing the preponderance in favour of virtue and eternal life, to their own good improvement of it. Others, who profess to be advocates for free grace, appear to be willing that God should have all the honour of their salvation, in case they should be saved; but they discover the strongest aversion to take to themselves the blame of their destruction, in case they should be lost. To yield both these points to God, is to fall under in the grand controversy with him, and to acquiesce in his revealed will, which acquiescence includes
Repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Fesus Christ.-Indeed it were not very difficult to prove, that each in rejecting one of these truths, does not in reality embrace the other. The Arminian, though he professes to take the blame of the evil upon himself, yet feels no guilt for being a sinner, any farther than he imagines he could by the help of divine grace given to him and all mankind, have avoided it. If he admit the native depravity of his heart, it is his misfortune, not his fault: his fault lies not in being in a state of alienation, and aversion to God; but in not making the best use of the grace of God to get out of it. And the Antinomian, though he ascribes salvation to free grace, yet feels no obligation for the pardon of his impenitence, his unbelief, or his constant aversion to God, during his supposed unregeneracy. Thus, as in many other cases, opposite extremes are known to meet. Where no grace is given, they are united in supposing that no duty can be required; which if true, grace is no more grace.
The following particulars are premised for the sake of a clear understanding of the subject :