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what is infallibly true whether they believe it or not."-To which, I answer,
1. It is written, He is able to save to the uttermost all who come to God by him. I hear the report, I understand it, I believe it with all my heart; and in the belief of it, I come to God by Christ for salvation. I am conscious to myself I do SO. And so I believe I shall be saved. But what I believe is true before I believe it, and whether I believe it or not. For he who comes to God by Christ, shall be saved, whatever doubts he may have of his good estate. And here is nothing believed but upon good evidence. And nothing like their "strange kind of assurance," which is worked up " without any evidence of the thing." As Mr. Marshall honestly states the case. -For,
2. On their scheme they believe they shall be saved without any consciousness of their coming to God by Christ, as Mr. Wilson declares over and over again. p. 102. 123. They believe their sins are forgiven, without any consciousness of repentance, conversion, or faith in the blood of Christ. They believe they shall have a safe passage over the lake, without any consciousness of venturing or walking on it. And so they believe something to be true, which in fact is not true; and which at the day of judgment will be found to be a lie.
Come, candid reader, come go with me, to the side of a frozen lake view the ice with your own eyes, and behold and see it is full ten feet thick. And will not this bear the weight of a single man? Yea, will it not bear the weight of a thousand men? You therefore cannot doubt of the safety of venturing upon it," without rebelling against the light of your reason, senses, and conscience." And if you venture upon it, it is equally evident you will be safe. "You are constrained to believe it by the clearest evidence." It is true before you believe it. believe it. You are certain it is true from "the clearest evidence." You are then at the furthest distance from any thing like their faith, nor have you the least occasion. to work up yourself to believe any thing "which is not true before you believe it, without any evidence of the thing." So,
Come, O enlightened sinner, whose eyes are opened to see the whole Gospel plan in its glory: Come, view this way of
salvation with your own eyes. See God the Father, the infinitely glorious Majesty of heaven and earth, to magnify his law which this revolted world all join to hate, and to condemn sin, which this apostate world all join to justify; even see him set forth his own Son, of equal glory with himself, to be a propitiation, to declare his righteousness, that consistently with the honour of his government he may pardon the penitent sinner that comes to him in the name of Christ, and looks only to free grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus. View the infinite dignity of the Mediator; view his mediatorial character, office, and work; see how he has, in his life and death, magnified the law and made it honourable; see the eternal Father, how infinitely well pleased he is, in what his Son has done. He raises him from the dead; sets him at his own right hand; repentance and remission of sins are proclaimed to a guilty world in his name; and the cry is, repent and he converted that your sins may be blotted out. Can there be a doubt now whether it is safe to venture your all opon this Mediator, and return to God in his name? Infinitely hateful, odious, and ill-deserving as you are! impossible! So sure as Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah h; so sure as he died on the cross, and now reigns at his Father's right hand; even so sure and certain it is, that it is safe for a sinner, for the greatest sinner, for any sinner, to repent and come to God in his NAME. "Are you not constrained to believe this, by the clearest evidence?" And is it not equally certain, that if you repent, and come to God in the name of Christ, venturing your all for eternity wholly and entirely upon his atonement, righteousness, and merits, and the infinitely free grace of God through him, as revealed in the Gospel; that you shall be safe, eternally safe? And therefore, in exact proportion as you are conscious of these things, you may be certain of your own safety in particular. Nor have you any need, or any manner of occasion, to believe any thing to be true which is not true; or to believe without evidence. Nay, you are set at the greatest distance from this kind of blind faith. But on the other hand,
What course for comfort, can an impenitent, unconverted, Christless sinner, while such, blind to the glory of God, to
the beauty of his law, and to the glory and all-sufficiency of Christ, take? If he will believe his sins are forgiven, when in fact they are not forgiven; and he knows in his conscience they are not; he must "believe without any evidence of the thing." And to call this faith in Christ; to call this trusting wholly in the righteousness of Christ, is to put darkness for light; and to substitute in the room of Christ, a lie, and nothing but a lie, as the sole object of their faith.
Arg. 3. From the nature of that faith which was required of the Israelites; and for the want of which they could not enter into the land of Canaan. "When God gave the children of Israel a promise of entering into the land of Canaan," says Mr. Wilson, I presume “it will not be denied, that they had not only a warrant, but that it was their indispensable duty to believe that he would bring them to the possession of it, notwithstanding the difficulties they might have to encounter by the way; yet it cannot be said it was infallibly true that they should enter into the promised land whether they believed or not; for the event proved the contrary. It is evident then, that they were called to believe something that was not infallibly true, whether they believed it or not." p. 18, 19. "This is equally true of the promise of the Gospel made to sinners, of mankind indefinitely." p. 23. For " God hath given to all who hear the Gospel, a promise of entering into his rest of heaven; which gives every one of them sufficient warrant to believe that he shall be saved." p. 23, 24. “This promise is the first and immediate foundation of faith. It is only by an appropriating and fiducial persuasion thereof, that any one can commence a true believer of the Gospel, or attain to any certain knowledge of his eternal election." p. 25. However, the thing to be believed is not true before they believe it, and never will be true unless they do believe it. p. 18-26. And therefore he concludes, that in justifying faith we believe that to be true which is not true before we believe it. To this I answer,
1. The promise which God made to Abraham, and confirmed by an oath, in Gen. xxii. 16. referred to Num. xiv. 30. (for God never did confirm by an oath his promise to that congregation who came out of Egypt; there is no such
thing on Scripture record. Therefore Num. xiv. 30, has reference to Gen. xxii. 16.) I say, the promise which God made to Abraham, and confirmed by an oath, in Gen. xxii. 16. to give the land of Canaan to his seed, was unconditional and absolute. And by it God obliged himself to give Abraham a seed, and in due time, in spite of all obstacles, whether from their own temper or the opposition of others, to bring them to, and put them in possession of the land of Canaan. And had God by any means eventually failed of doing this thing, he would have been chargeable with the breach of that promise which he made to Abraham.
Now this absolute promise to Abraham, was a shadow of that absolute promise which God the Father made to his Son, on his undertaking to offer up himself a sacrifice for the sins. of men; that he should see his seed and prolong his days; that he should see the travail of his soul, and be satisfied. Isai. liii. By which promise the Father absolutely obliged himself, that all Christ's seed should finally be brought to the heavenly Canaan, notwithstanding all opposition from their own hearts, and from every other quarter. And if by any means any one of Christ's seed should finally perish, God would be chargeable with a breach of that promise made to
But as St. Paul reasons, Rom. ix. 6. All are not Israel which are of Israel; so not all the seed of Abraham, according to the flesh, had an interest in the absolute promise of the earthly Canaan, in the sense in which God originally intended it, and in the sense in which he afterwards explained it. For Ishmael, who was a child of Abraham, was first cast off. And afterwards Esau was rejected. And afterwards six hundred thousand were cast off at once. And all in perfect consistence with the divine promise to Abraham. Nor was there, as Mr. Wilson insinuates, the least show or appearance of any breach of promise. This was merely the impious and blasphemous construction the wicked Israelites put upon the divine conduct. For by an appropriating act of faith, exactly of the same nature with that Mr. Wilson pleads for, they had been fully persuaded, that they in particular should come to the land of Canaan. And therefore,
on their disappointment, were ready to charge God with a breach of promise. Num. xiv. 3. To which God, in great wrath, says, and ye shall know my breach of promise. As if he had said, "This is what you impiously charge me with. But, unmoved to alter my determination by your impious charge, in the wilderness you shall die: and if you call this a breach of promise, you shall know I will break it thus; for assuredly your carcasses shall fall in the wilderness. And this is a lively type of the final doom which will be passed at the great day, on all impenitent sinners, who by an appropriating act of faith, have taken all the promises to themselves, while in fact not one of them ever belonged to them in the sense in which they imagined. So they shall know God's breach of promise, just as the wicked Israelites did.
2. The absolute promise of the land of Canaan made to Abraham, had no respect to any who were not of the seed of Abraham according to the flesh. And therefore, unless a man could produce his genealogy, and prove himself a descendant of Abraham, he could by that promise, claim no right or share in the land of Canaan: for without this, all the good qualifications in the world would be no weight to give a man a right to an inheritance in that land.
So the absolute promise of the heavenly Canaan made to Christ, has no respect to any but those who are Christ's seed: those who are in Christ. And therefore, unless a professed Christian can produce good proof that he is in Christ, he can claim no title to heaven by virtue of that absolute promise. Our own righteousness, in this case, can give no title at all. But if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. Gal. iii. 29.
When, therefore, any man who is unconscious that he is united to Christ by faith, is bold to put in a claim to the heavenly Canaan, he is guilty of the grossest presumption, and has no evidence to support his claim" from Scripture, sense,
3. God's promise in Exod. iii. 17. made to that congregation which died in the wilderness, of bringing them to the land of Canaan, was not an absolute, but a conditional promise, as is plain beyond all dispute from Numb. xxxii. 6—15.