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believing that he shall actually possess it, he must believe what was not revealed at the time, except conditionally, and what would not have been true, but for his believing it.
The above similitude may serve to illustrate Mr. A.'s scheme; but I know of nothing like it, either in the concerns of men, or the oracles of God. I will venture to say, there never was a gift or grant made upon any such terms; and the man that should make it would expose himself to ridicule. The Scriptures furnish us with an illustration of another kind. The gospel is a feast, freely provided; and sinners of mankind are freely invited to partake of it. There is no mention of any gift or grant distinct from this; but this itself is a ground sufficient. It affords a complete warrant for any sinner, not indeed to believe the provisions to be his own, whether he accept the invitation or not; but that, relinquishing every thing that stands in competition with them, and receiving them as a free gift, they shall be his own. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins---To us it shall be imputed if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead. Those who were persuaded to embrace the invitation are not described as coming to make a claim of it as their property; but as gratefully accepting it: and those who refused are not represented as doubting whether the feast was provided for them; but as making light of it, and preferring their farms and merchandize before it.
In short, If this writer can prove it to be true that justification and eternal life are absolutely given, granted, and promised to all who hear the gospel, there can be no dispute whether saving faith includes the belief of it with respect to ourselves, nor whether it be a duty: but if the thing be false, it can be no part of the faith of the gospel, nor of the duty of a sinner to give credit to it.
But to return. That the belief of the truth which God hath revealed in the scriptures concerning Christ, is saving faith, is evident from the following passages :-Go preach the gospel to every creature; he that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved. Believing here manifestly refers to the gospel to be preached, and the rejection of which would subject the unbeliever to certain damnation-These things are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through his name. Believing unto life is here described as a persuasion of Jesus being the Christ, the Son of God, and that on the ground of what was written of him in the scriptures-Those by the way side are they that hear: then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. This language plainly denotes that a real belief of the word is conpected with salvation-Peter confessed, Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus answered, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven. Here it is plainly intimated that a belief
of Jesus being the Christ, the Son of the living God, is saving faith; and that no man can be strictly said to do this, unless he be the subject of a spiritual illumination from above-To the same purpose are those express declarations of Paul and John: If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved-Whoso believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God— Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?-Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God-He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true-No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost-Again, While ye have the light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. The light they then had was that of the gospel, which if they had believed, they would be the children of light, or true Christians-Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth-These things I say that ye might be saved. Our Lord could not mean less by this language than that if they believed those things which John testified, and which he himself confirmed, they would be saved; which is the same thing as declaring it to be saving faith-Christ shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe, (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. The words in a parenthesis are evidently intended to give the reason of the phrase, them that believe, and intimate that it was the belief of the gospel testimony that
denominated them believers-God hath chosen us to salvation, through sanctification of the spirit, and belief of the truth. It cannot be doubted that by the belief of the truth is here meant faith in Christ, and being connected with sanctification of the spirit, and eternal salvation, proves it to be saving.*
If the foregoing passages be admitted to prove the point, (and if they do not, we may despair of learning any thing from the scriptures,) the duty of unconverted sinners to believe in Christ cannot fairly be called in question: for as before said, it is admitted on all hands that it is the duty of every man to believe what God reveals.
But to this statement it is objected, that Christi-. anity having at that time great opposition made to it, and its professors being consequently exposed to great persecution and reproach, the belief and acknowledgment of the gospel was more of a test of sincerity than it now is: men are now taught the principles of the Christian religion from their youth, and believe them, and are not ashamed to acknowledge them, while yet they give no evidence of their being born of God, but of the contrary.There is some force in this objection, so far as it respects a confession of Christ's name; but I do not perceive that it affects the belief of the gospel.
* Mark xvi. 16. John xx. 31. Luke viii. 12. Rom. x. 9. 1 John vi. 5. iv. 15. John iii. 33. John xii. 36. v. 33, 34. 2 Thess. i. 10. ii. 13.
Matt. xvi. 17.
1 Cor. xii. 3.
It was no more difficult to believe the truth at that time than at this, though it might be much more so to avow it. With respect to that traditional assent which is given to Christianity in some nations, it is of the same nature as that which is given to Mahommedanism and Paganism in others. It is no more than that of the Jewish nation in the time of our Lord towards the Mosaic scriptures. They declared themselves to be Moses' disciples, and had no doubt but they believed him: yet our Lord did not allow them to believe his writings. Had ye believed Moses, says he, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.* The same is doubtless true of all others who assent to his gospel merely from having been educated in it. Did they believe it, they would be consistent, and embrace those things which are connected with it. It is worthy of remark that those professors of Christianity who received not the love of the truth that they might be saved, are represented as not believing the truth, and as having pleasure in unrighteousness.† To admit the existence of a few facts, without possess ing any sense of their humiliating implication, their holy nature, their vast importance, or the practical consequences that attach to them, is to admit the body without the spirit. Paul, notwithstanding his knowledge of the law, and great zeal on its behalf, while blind to its spirituality, reckoned himself to be without the law: And such are those professing Christians, with respect to the gospel, who receive not the love of the truth that they may be saved.
* John v. 46. † 2 Thess. ii. 10, 12. ‡ Rom. vii. 9.