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hold forth a preliminary human one, as some way expedient, or rather necessary, to our enjoying the comfort and benefit of it!

Dear: Sır, Having thus far opened my heart to you, it is necessary that I should now set before you the

passages

that compelled me, with regret, to speak as I have just now done. But before I proceed, I would first beg leave to consider you, rather as the author of that first-rate sermon I mentioned above, than as a speaker in these dialogues, and to address you accordingly, while I lay before you my complaint against Aspasio. This liberty I beg on two accounts ; first, for my ease in quoting from dialogues; and then for my pleasure in writing, that I may, as much as possible shun the disagreeable office of using the style of an opponent directly, to one who has afforded me much pleasure, and never intended me any provocation.

Then let me add, that as I have the pleasure of agreeing with you in your just disregard of those terms, hatched in the schools, on pretence indeed of methodizing, but which have, in effect, served to obscure and confound the plain truths of the gospel; so do I likewise judge, that it would be very impertinent to abuse your patience, by animadverting upon words or forms of expression, where things of moment are not at stake. So that, however short I make my quotations, to avoid being tedious, my only aim is, to point at what I take to be the real meaning and tendeney of the places from whence they are drawn.

Lastly, let it all along be remembered, that no man professing the Christian truth, can hold any error about that truth, without, at the same time, holding some double meaning of the words wherein that truth is delivered, whether he himself be aware of it or not.

In the small first edition, vol. 3, p. 278. Theron, repeating a definition of faith formerly given by Aspasio, says,

Faith, you say, is a real persuasion, that the blessed Jesus has shed his blood for me, fulfilled all righteousness in my stead," &c. Again, in p. 286, Aspasio says, "-I would only maintain, that an appropriation of Christ is essential to faith ; that none have the proper scriptural faith, but those who are taught by the enlightening Spirit to say, He shed his blood for me.

Page 272—278. Theron, after agreeing with Aspasio about the all-sufficiency of Christ's righteousness makes, this complaint: "But it seems to be quite out of my reach.”

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To obviate this complaint, Aspasio inquires, “ Are you sensible that you need this immaculate and perfect righteousness of our Saviour ?" This, being answered in the affirmative, is followed by another question, "Do you earnestly desire this righteousness ?" which also receives the like answer; but still a tacit complaint remains couched in these words, “ And that would be a blessed day, a day greatly to be distinguished, which should bring it near to my view, and home to my soul.” Aspasio, in his reply, after putting the case of Theron being overtaken by a dark and tempestuous night, and arriving late at the house of some valued friend, addresses him thus: “Was you not willing to gain admittance? &c.The adored Immanuel professes himself equally willing to come unto you who hearken to his voice, and consent to his overtures ; equally willing to make his abode with you, to manifest his glories in you, and communicate his merits to you. • Ther. I cannot open my

heart.”

Asp. Christ has the key of David, &c. Since you hunger after the righteousness, and thirst for the Spirit of the crucified holy Jesus, he himself has pronounced you blessed." Ther. Ah!

my

Aspasio ! I cannot believe; I feel my impotency. My mind is, as you formerly hinted, like the withered arm.” “Asp. It is no small advantage, Theron, to be convinced of our inability in this respect. This is, if not the beginning of faith, the sign of its approach; and shows it to be, if not in the soul, yet at the very door.Fear not, my friend; he that bids you stretch out, will strengthen the withered arm. He first makes us sensible of our weakness, and then fulfils all the good pleasure of his will, and the work of faith with power.

"Can you doubt of his willingness ?Since you are sensible of your impotence, beware of the contrary extreme. Because you cannot

, by your own strength, exercise faith, let not this occasion a tame resignation of yourself to infideli ty. You must endeavour, diligently endeavour, to believe; and wait and pray for the divine Spirit

. Though it is his office to testify of Christ, and bring near the Redeemer's righteousness ; yet his influences are not to supersede, but to encourage our own efforts. Work out your oron salva tion with fear and trembling; here is our duty: for it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do: here is our encouragement.

"You was once, Theron, a zealous advocate for good works. Now, you seem to have abandoned your clients.

Remember, my dear friend, what our Lord Jesus Christ says, This is the work of God, of all works most acceptable, and most honourable to the divine Majesty, that you believe. on him whom he hath sent.''

"Ther. The true belief, according to your notion, Aspasio, is so refined and exalted a virtue, that I very much question whether I shall ever be able to attain it."

" Asp. If you are unable to attain it, is the Lord unable to give it? Our sufficiency for this, and every good work, is not in ourselves, but in God.”Page 284. "

Ther. To trust in Christ, as an all-susfcient Saviour, and rely on him for whole salvation, is not this real faith ?? Asp. If you trust in the all-sufficiency of his will, as well as of his power, you practice what I recommend.”

Pag. 297. “ Ther. If we feel an aversion to sin, and prize the blessed Jesus above all things; if the prevailing bias of our affections be to the divine Redeemer, and the habitual breathing of our souls after a conformity to his image, may we not suppose ourselves possessed of the truth and reality, though we have not the confidence and rejoicing of faith ? I say we, because I apprehend this is not my peculiar case, but common to myself and many others. I ask, therefore, in their name and in my own, may we not suppose our condition -safe, though we dare not presume to use the language of the spouse, My beloved is mine, and I am his ?” “Asp.- Let these persons know, whatever their names or their circumstances are, that they have as good a right to adopt the words you mention, as Philenor has to call these gardens his own. Yet they will do well to remember, that these qualifications, however amiable, are by no means the ground of their right. They are to advance their claim, and hold fast the blessing, not as men ornamented with fine endowments, but as poor, indigent, guilty sinners. For such the Saviour is provided, to such his benefits are proposed, on such his grace will be magnified."

Page 301. On occasion of Theron and Aspasio taking shelter, in the summer-house, from a violent storm, Christ being fitly represented as a covert from the storm and from rain, Aspasio proceeds thus: “If this is a proper emblem of Christ, to what shall we liken faith? To a persuasion, that the shelter of the summer-house is free for our use ? that we are welcome to avail ourselves of the commodious retreat ? Would this defend us from the inclemencies of the weather? would this keep us dry amidst the descending deluge ?

would this bare persuasion, unless reduced to practice, be any manner of advantage to our persons ? No, surely. We must actually fly to the shelter, and we must actually apply to the Saviour: otherwise, I see not what comfort or benefit can be derived from either.

Ther. May I, then, from this instance, look upon Christ, his glorious person, his perfect righteousness, and his precious death, as my certain inheritance? May I firmly believe, that, through this grand and immensely meritorious cause, I shall have pardon and acceptance, true holiness, and endless salvation ?"' Asp. Why should you not believe all this firmly? You have the same reason to believe with a steady confidence, as to believe with any degree of affiance. It is the free promise of the gospel addressed to sinners, that warrants the latter : and the very same promise authorizes the former."

Having now quoted enough at present, I shall here make a stand. And before I proceed to a more particular notice of the several passages, I cannot help reflecting, with regret, on the many artifices that have been devised by some, and unwarily adopted and propagated by others, serving to throw mist betwixt the eyes of men, and the glory of that righteousness which delivers from death; serving to confound and perplex their minds about the way of enjoying the unspeakable comfort therein laid open to the guiltiest of mankind, in their most desperate circumstances; serving, in short, to ren: der of none effect the gospel of our salvation. I speak not of those who have employed their weapons against the person and work of Christ, endeavouring to make us lose sight of him as a divine

person, and of his acting as the substitute andi representative of sinners in the whole of his obedience unto death; such as have got any taste of the good word of God, are not in the greatest danger of being subverted by these : but I speak of those teachers, who, having largely insisted on the corruption of human nature, concluded the whole world guilty before God, eloquently set forth the necessity of an atonement, zealously maintained the scriptural doctrine con: cerning the person and work of Christ; yet, after all, leave us as much in the dark as to our comfort, as if Jesus Christ had never appeared; and mark out as insuperable a task for us, as if he had not finished his work; while, with great assiduity and earnestness, they are busied in describing to us, animating us with various encouragements, and furnishing us with manifold instruetions, how to perform that strange

something which is to make out our connection with Christ, and bring his righteousness home to us; that something which has got many names, and includes divers considerations; all which have been supposed to be comprehended under the scriptural expression FAITH; as to which, after all they have told us about it, we are at as great a loss to tell distinctly what it is, or what we are doing when we perform it, if not greater, than when they began.

Though, by all who believe the Scriptures, the power and cunning of the prime enemy of mankind, whose work stands in direct opposition to the Spirit of truth, must be acknowledged to be very active in promoting and enforcing the influence of all those glosses on the Scriptures, by which the minds of men have been darkened about that blessed truth, which contains the only ground of hope for them, and by which they have been furnished with directions setting them to work to do something, under whatever name, to make up their peace with God; yet, at the same time, it must be owned, that all this sort of doctrine draws its origin from a very broad and deep root in depraved human nature, from a principle firmly settled in the heart of every fool and of every philosopher. Hence it is that Christianity can never become popular in any nation, unless it be taught in such a manner as to leave room for the gratification of this common principle; and hence it is that philosophers will always have a copious fund of arguments against it, and will always despise it as unsuitable to nature; though the wisest and best of them, according to the history of human nature given us by its author, possess it only in its depraved condition, and can have no opportunity of observing it in others, but in that same con. dition.

In order to have a proper view of this common principle, we must trace it to its source, and consider man in his first condition. The Scripture then gives us to understand, that when man was created, and Paradise fitted up for him, he was framed to live, or enjoy the divine favour, by his own righteousness. He was not made like other animals, to live by his food alone: he was framed to know his dependence on his Creator, to hear his voice, and obey it; and thus to be conscious of his favour, so long as he was conscious of having done nothing to deserve the loss of it. So we find he received his food by a formal grant from the voice of God, and included in that grant a command to be a text of his loyalty and dependence; and his obedience was to be the security of

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