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so it consists in the believing of a lie: unless they will contradict themselves, and say that justification is not a consequent of our union with Christ by faith. Or else affirm, that to believe a thing is when it is not, is not to believe a lie.-Besides,
The proposition believed to be true in their faith, is what they themselves must own to be a lie, on another account. For in their faith, the proposition believed to be true is, that an unbeliever is justified. For their faith does not consist in believing this proposition, viz. I, who am a believer, am jus tified. For this is true before it is believed, and whether it is believed or not. But their faith consists in believing this proposition, viz. 1, who am an unbeliever, am justified, which, as they say, is not true before it is believed, and for the truth of which we have no evidence from Scripture, sense, or reason. For they all maintain, that in the first act of justifying faith, prior to any reflection on my own act, I believe my sins are all forgiven, p. 102. 123. " without knowing any thing further about my state, than that I am by nature a child of wrath, and an heir of hell, under the curse of an angry and sin-revenging God.". p. 175. But if I believe, that I, teho, to my own apprehension, am an unbeliever, am justified; then I believe, that an unbeliever is justified; which they own not to be true. Indeed, they hold that in my believing it to be true, it becomes true. And so, though it was an untruth, yet now it becomes true. And so they keep themselves from seeing that which they believe continues to be a lie. However, it was a lie when first believed, according to their own scheme: for it becomes true, only in consequence of their believing it to be true. And if God has never said, as in fact he has not, that if we believe our sins are forgiven, they shall be forgiven ; what they believe is not only a lie, when they believe it, but also continues to be a lie, notwithstanding their faith; and will be found to be so at the day of judgment, according to the express declaration of our blessed Saviour. Mat. vii. 21-27.
But again, what they believe may be proved to be a lie. by another argument. Thus, according to Scripture, no impenitent sinner, while such, ever was, or ever will be forgiven.
But they believe themselves forgiven while impenitent: therefore what they believe is a lie. That no impenitent sinner, while such, ever was, or ever will be forgiven, is plain from Lev. xxvi. throughout. 1 Kings viii. throughout. Prov. xxviii. 13. Isai. lv. 7. Luke xiii. 5. Acts ii. 38. & iii. 19. &c. &c. as I have proved at large in another place. (Essay on the Nature of the Gospel. Sect. viii.) Nor can these men deny it, without expressly contradicting the Westminster confession of faith, which asserts, Chap. xv. That no sinner may expect pardon without repentance. And if they give up that confession of faith, as heterodox, what will become of their bold pretences, and confident affirmation, that "all the protestant world are on their side, except Arminians, Baxterians, and ranting Sectaries?" p. 95. But they believe themselves forgiven while impenitent. As is certain from this, that they all hold that a belief they are forgiven is the very thing which causes them to begin to repent. Therefore, their faith consists in believing a lie.-But,
3. Granting the fact believed to be indeed true, yet as it is acknowledged to be no truth revealed in the Gospel, their faith is not an evangelical faith, nor are those religious affections which flow from it, evangelical graces. For as the fact believed is not revealed in the Gospel, so it is no part of Gospel truth. And so their faith is not Gospel faith, nor their holiness Gospel holiness. For all evangelical and holy affections are excited in the mind by Gospel truths. Psalm xix. 7. John xvii. 17. Jam. i. 18. They may be called Antinomians; and they greatly resemble the ancient Manicheans; as I have shown in the forementioned essay: but they cannot with propriety, be cálied Christians; for that which is the foundation of their scheme, is no part of Christianity, is not once taught in Christ's Gospel; as they themselves acknowledge. For the whole Gospel, they own, is true before we believe it, and whether we believe it or not. But the first and fundamental article of their creed, and that from which all their religious affections flow, is not true before they believe it to be true; and so it is no part of the Gospel.
4. In order to prove Mr. Sandeman's faith not to be justifying faith, Mr. Wilson uses this argument: Every one
who is possessed of justifying faith, must undoubtedly be justified; but a general belief of the Gospel, or a general assent to the truth of the facts recorded in the New Testament, is to be found with many who were never justified: therefore a general faith, or assent to the truths of the Gospel, and history of the facts recorded in the New Testament, is not justifying faith." p. 72. This argument he asserts to be conclusive. But it is equally strong against himself. For every one who is possessed of justifying faith, must be undoubtedly justified; but a belief of the remission of sins, with application to a man's self, which is his own definition of justifying faith, p. 145, is to be found with many who were never justified; as he himself owns, p. 102. Therefore this belief is not justifying faith."
Should he say, that self-deceived sinners do not believe their sins to be forgiven, upon the testimony of God in his word; the same is true on his scheme, by his own acknowledgment, for it was not true before he believed it. But the testimony of God is true before we believe it, and whether we ever believe it or not: as he himself owns. Therefore his faith is not built on the divine testimony; but rather, as Mr. Marshall says, "is without any evidence from Scripture, sense, or reason.”
Or should he say, that the faith of deluded sinners is not productive of evangelical graces, the same may be said of his faith. For no religious affections can be called evangelical graces, which do not result from the knowledge and belief of some truth, revealed in the Gospel. But the supposed truth which is the source of all their religious affections, is not contained in the Gospel, as they themselves own.
Or should he say, that deceived sinners are prompted to believe their sins forgiven, from a self-righteous spirit: just this is the case on the scheme of these men. As I have proved at large, Essay, Sect. IX. There is no possible way then for him to get rid of the force of his own argument. It is equally conclusive against his scheme, and Mr. Sandeman's; and does indeed confute them both at once.
Thus we see, that the faith of these gentlemen, in which
they profess to believe that to be true which is not true before we believe it, implies a contradiction in its own nature; is the belief of a lie; is no Gospel faith; is nothing more than deluded sinners may have: it is therefore very far from being that precious faith which is peculiar to God's elect, and which is infallibly connected with eternal life. Nothing therefore now remains, but to attend carefully to Mr. Wilson's arguments in its vindication, which may be summed up in these four.
Mr. Wilson's arguments to prove, that in justifying faith, we believe that to be true which is not true before we believe it.
Arg. 1. From the offers and promises of the Gospel. His notion is, that the declaration of the Gospel amounts to this: O, mpenitent, unconverted, Christless sinner, believe and thou shalt be saved; i. e. believe thy sins are forgiven, and they shall be forgiven. Believe thou shalt be saved, and it shall be to thee according to thy faith. It is not true before we believe; but in believing it to be true, it becomes true. According to thy faith so shall it be to thee, p. 14. But this declaration is not made in the Gospel: but is a lie; and he that believes it, believes a lie; as has been already proved.
Mr. Wilson has laboured the point, in vindication of Mr. Marshall's words, p. 28, 29, 30, 31; and this is the sum and substance of his plea: "an offered gift is not mine before I receive it."—" But the offer gives me a right to receive it." "To believe it mine is to receive it." Therefore, in justifying faith, we believe that to be true which is not true before we believe it; a mere fallacy. To believe a thing mine, is different from, and a consequence of, receiving it. For instance, a man offers me a guinea; the guinea suits my heart, I receive it, I know I receive it, and so I know and believe it is mine. But here is nothing like believing a thing to be true, which is not true before I believe it.
The Pharisees firmly believed, that the God of Abraham was their God, and father, and friend, and would make them happy for ever. This none can deny. But did they receive the God of Abraham for their God and portion, as he was
offered to them in the Old Testament? No, far from it. They hated and rejected him with all their hearts, and murdered his very image, his only begotten Son. Just so a deJuded sinner may be ravished in a belief that Christ, pardon, and heaven, are his own; and yet in the mean time may hate and reject with the utmost abhorrence, that Christ, that pardon, and that heaven, which are offered in the Gospel; as I have shown at large in the forementioned Essay.
"We agree, that the Gospel proposes nothing to be believed by us," says Mr. Wilson, "but what is infallibly true, whether we believe it or not. But if any one should from hence infer, that the Gospel 'does not afford sufficient warrant, or lay a foundation for believing any thing but what is infallibly true whether we believe it or not; this we beg leave to deny. For as God in the Gospel freely promises, or makes an offer of life and salvation to sinners through Jesus Christ, it is evident, the promise cannot be believed but in the way of appropriating the gift, or believing they shall be saved through his blood: which certainly cannot be said to be a truth, whether we believe it or not; for if it was, all who hear the Gospel would infallibly be saved.
"The matter is plainly this: the Gospel no where proposes it as a truth to be believed, that men shall be saved throughChrist, whether they believe or not; but it every where testifies, that he that believeth shall be saved. Now this very declaration, published, and frequently repeated in the Gospel for the encouragement of sinners, makes it warrantable, for every one of them to believe his own particular salvation through Christ. And the truth is, till he believes this upon the footing of the divine promise, faithfulness, or veracity, he in effect, really, and in the sense of Scripture, disbelieves and calls in question the truth of the divine testimony made known in the proposition aforementioned. That he does so, evidently appears by his not crediting it, so as to rest his hope of salvation wholly upon the promise of God, and the record which he has given of his Son, in the Gospel." p. 14, 15.
Stop now, candid reader, and critically examine these words: "He disbelieves the divine testimony," says he. But why? because he does not rest his hope of salvation whol