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ner, which the Scriptures most evidently exem
These things being so, we need not greatly wonder if they, who justly consider the gospel as glad tidings of free salvation to the chief of sin'ners' take the alarm: and if any of them, in the warmth of their zeal, drop incautious expressions, capable of misconstruction, and perversion to bad purposes, it is no more than has generally occurred in similar cases. And should a bystander, who has derived much instruction from the writings of several persons engaged on all sides in these controversies, endeavour, in the spirit of meekness, to state what he considers as the scriptural medium on the controverted points; he surely needs not be apprehensive lest such men should say, "Who "made thee a ruler and a judge over us?”
In the quiet recess of his study, the author of these pages has long and seriously examined the subject: and he has carefully noticed in situations favourable to these observations, the effects of
the several opinions, on the spirit and conduct of those who maintained them, and on the minds of such as were mere spectators of the contest. And several persons, who have favourably received his other publications, have expressed a wish for his explicit sentiments respecting it. He therefore feels himself in some respects required to give the result of his enquiries, and to assign his reasons for differing in a measure from those, who have written on both sides of the question. He is well aware, that great candour, caution, and impartiality are requisite so to state his views, as to give no just offence to any party. He has well considered, and may indirectly answer, the principal objections and arguments, which have on all sides been advanced against the doctrine which he maintains: but he purposes to decline all direct controversy. He means not to support his sentiments by any human authority, (though many of the writers of the last century would fully bear him out, perhaps in every particular;) but he would singly abide by the testimony of Scripture. The general subject will be divided into two questions, What is the sinner's warrant for believing in Christ? And Is saving faith an holy exercise of the heart, or no? These two questions are far from coincident; and the want of duly distinguishing them introduces much perplexity into men's reasonings and discourses on the subject.Many other sources of ambiguity and misappre
hension will be adverted to: and perspicuity will above all things be consulted; for the author greatly desires to be clearly understood, that the reader may be enabled to perceive whether or not his views be scriptural, and his arguments conclusive. He needs only add, that he most earnestly, recommends to every one, who feels difficulties on the subject, to weigh what is advanced in the spirit of prayer; that the Giver of all wisdom may enlighten his mind, and prepare his heart to receive the truth in love; and to rectify every mistake into which he may have been betrayed, as far as it impedes his comfort, fruitfulness, and usefulness in the world.
The Sinner's Warrant for believing in Christ.
THE SUBJECT OPENED.
THE word warrant, though common in the
writings of modern divines, is not once found in Scripture, which uniformly represents faith in Christ as the duty of all who hear the gospel; and no warrant is required for obedience to a plain commandment. As however an inestimable privilege is connected with the performance of this duty; it may properly be enquired what reason a sinner has to expect such a benefit from his offended God? In this sense the warrant of faith signifies That, which authorizes any person to 'believe in the Lord Jesus; and gives him a 'ground of confidence, that he shall thus obtain 'eternal salvation.'
But it is necessary to enquire what is meant by faith in Christ: as without precision in this párticular, the discussion might be involved in great perplexity; because the terms faith, believing, and believing in Christ, are used in different senses,
frequently by the same authors; and still more by those who are engaged on opposite sides,
Faith, in its more general acceptation, is "the "belief of the truth;" or a cordial consent to the testimony of God in his holy word, with reference to our own concern in it.' Faith in Christ implies A cordial consent to the testimony of God respecting his Son; connected with a humble and earnest application to the divine Redeemer for salvation; and a willing and unreserved acceptance of him, in his whole character and his several distinct offices, according to the method revealed, and the directions given, in the holy Scriptures.' Not that I would exclude the idea of reliance, but I thus state the nature of faith, merely to prevent mistakes in an argumentative discussion. The language of believers, as recorded in the old Testament, when they speak of "hoping in God," trusting under the shadow of his wings," or making "his name their strong tower ;" and when they call him their Rock, their Refuge, their Habitation, and their Portion, always implies this earnest application to him for protection, salvation, and comfort, and never an indolent dependence or expectation. This is evident from other expressions, which they frequently subjoin; such as" I lift up my soul unto thee," "I cry unto "thee daily," ""Out of the depths have I cried "unto thee, O LORD;" "My soul followeth hard "after thee, thy right hand upholdeth me;" "I