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formed embrio, or the parts of the oak in the germ of the acorn.
Faith in Christ is therefore, the sinner's believing obedient application to the Saviour: reliance on him, and his power, truth, and love; on what he did and suffered on earth, and is now doing in heaven; and on his promises, and covenant-engagements, for complete and everlasting salvation: cordial acceptance of him, according to the word of God, in all his characters and offices: and confidential entrusting the immortal soul with all its eternal interests into his hands, from a feeling sense that he needs this salvation; a perception in some degree of its suitableness and value, an approbation and desire of it above all things, and a dread of coming short of it more than any other evil.
Such is the idea of faith in Christ adhered to throughout this work: and they, who have formed other notions concerning faith, will of course object to many things contained in it. This should therefore in the first place be considered with peculiar attention; and some deliberate judgment formed on the general nature of faith in Christ, whether this be or be not a scriptural account of it: otherwise the truth of the propositions, and the conclusiveness of the arguments, contained in the subsequent pages, will not be clearly perceived; and the objections, which arise in the reader's mind, may probably result from an unobserved difference of sentiment on the subject before us.
Let this then be well weighed, and impartially compared with the sacred Scriptures.
These things being premised, it is here maintained, That the sinner wants no warrant of any kind for believing in Christ, except the word of God. No qualifications, (or qualities, endowments, or dispositions in himself,) are at all requisite to authorize his application, or encourage his hope of success; unless any one should choose, with manifest impropriety, to call his willingness to be saved in the Lord's way, a qualification. "Him "that cometh to Christ, he will in no wise cast "out" and they, who do not come when they hear the gospel, have as good a warrant as they that do; but they will not avail themselves of it, because they comparatively despise the proffered benefit. I shall first establish the position by scriptural proofs; and then assign some reasons for insisting on it.
Scriptural proofs, that the sinner wants no warrant for believing in Christ, except the word of God.
FIRST then, The commission and instructions which our Lord gave to his apostles, compared with their conduct and that of their fellow labourers, are conclusive on the subject. "Go ye "into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature: he that believeth and is baptized shall "be saved; but he that believeth not shall be "damned."" Nothing can be more evident, than that every human being, however vile, is warranted to believe in Christ, by this declaration of the gospel itself; and that nothing is or can be wanting, but a disposition to accept of the proposed salvation. The other instructions given to the apostles were, beyond all doubt, coincident with this commission; though on several accounts they were worded rather differently: but one direction, couched under a parable, particularly suits our purpose. "Go ye into the highways and "hedges, and compel them to come in, that my
Mark xvi. 15, 16.
Matt. xxviii. 19, 20. Luke xxiv. 47.
"house may be filled." Now what further warrant could a poor traveller or beggar stand in need of, who was desirous of admission to a feast; after the servants had been sent with express orders, to use the most urgent invitations, persuasions, intreaties, and assurances of a hearty welcome, in order to induce him to compliance?
The conduct of the apostles and evangelists shew how they understood their instructions. They always called on their hearers, without exception or limitation, to believe in Christ: knowing that all, who became willing, by the powert of he Holy' Spirit accompanying the word, would be thus encouraged without delay to embrace the gracious invitation, and that the rest would be left without excuse. Thus Peter speaks of his ministry, "God "made choice among us, that the gentiles by my "mouth should hear the word of the gospel and "believe." Nothing else, except the word of the gospel, was required to warrant the faith of the gentiles.
Paul addressing the Jews at Antioch in Pisidia, said, "Be it known to you men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins, and by him all that believe are justified from all things.-Beware, therefore, "lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in "the prophets, Behold ye despisers, and wonder "and perish." He was sensible, that there were Acts xii. 38—41.
'Luke xiv. 23. VOL. IV.
2 Acts xv. 7-9.
despisers in the company, whom he warned of the consequences of unbelief: yet he preached forgiveness of sins and justification by faith to all present, without exception; which he would not have done, if the gospel had not been a sufficient warrant to authorize every one of them to believe in Christ for salvation.
The same apostle calls his office, "The ministry "of reconciliation;" and says, "Now then we are "ambassadors for Christ, as though God did be"seech you by us; we pray you in Christ's stead, "be ye reconciled to God."" If one, who till then had been an enemy of God and Christ, had asked the apostle, how he might be reconciled? would he not have answered, "Believe in the "Lord Jesus Christ;" for "God hath made him "to be sin for us, who knew no sin,, that we might be made the righteousness of God in "him ?"
II. The invitations of Scripture evidently prove the point in question. The Lord, by his prophet, calls on those, who are spending " their money "for that which is not bread, and their labour for "that which satisfieth not," to come to him for all the blessings of his everlasting covenant. Such as seek happiness in worldly vanities, or aim to please God by empty forms and superstitions, or go about to establish their own righteousness, are 2 Cor. v. 18-20. a Is. Iv. 1-3.