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ly upon the promise of God." But pray, what promise? Why this," he that believeth shall be saved.” Which is so "frequently repeated in the Gospel." He that believeth! that believeth what! pray, what is the sinner to believe? he is to believe “his own particular salvation;" to " believe that he shall be saved." But is this the meaning of the text? Indeed no. That proposition is not once used in this sense in the bible. The Gospel no where declares, that he that believeth he shall be saved, shall be saved: but very many times expressly to the contrary. The thing believed is a lie. But to believe a lie, is not to believe in Christ; unless they make this lie, that very Christ on which they venture their all for eternity. Read the bible through, O impenitent, unconverted, Christless sinner, and you may find enough such declarations as these repent and be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus for the remission of sins; repent and be converted that thy sins may be blotted out; except ye repent ye shall perish ; repent, and believe the Gospel; believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shall be saved; and these declarations are all true before you believe them, and whether you believe them or not. But you can no where find any thing like this, believe thy sins are forgiven, and they shall be forgiven; believe thou shalt be saved, and thou shalt be saved. In this case, what you believe is not true before you believe it, as they themselves grant. And believing a lie, though it may make it seem true to you, yet it will not make it in fact true.
Pray, who is he that believes the divine testimony? He that believes the very thing God means to say; or he that puts a new meaning to God's words, which God never intended, and which never came into his heart? May we not say of these men, as our Saviour did of the Pharisees; by your traditions you make the command of God of none effect? So by their faith they make the declarations of the Gospel a lie. The Gospel declares, except ye repent, ye shall all perish: repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out. But these men teach, that if an impenitent unconverted sinner, while such, believes his sins are blotted out, they are blotted out. That is, if he believes a thing to be true, which is directly contrary to the declaration of the Gospel, it shall be
come true. And so his faith shall cause the declaration of the Gospel to become a lie.
Besides, O Christless sinner, what warrant have you to believe that your sins are forgiven? Is it already true? No. But does "the Gospel propose any thing to be believed by us, but what is infallibly true, whether we believe it or not?" Mr. Wilson himself is obliged to say, No. But then says," the Gospel warrants you to believe, what it does not propose to you to be believed." But is not this an express contradiction? No, says Mr. Wilson. For " the promise of the Gospel cannot be believed, but in believing that they shall be saved through his blood." As if he had said, the promise cannot be believed, but in believing what the promise does not say.→→ For the promise does not say that you in particular shall be saved; or that you shall be saved, if you believe you shall be saved. So that here is another self-contradiction; viz. A promise cannot be believed, but in believing what is not contained in the promise.
But, says Mr. Wilson," if a man offers me a gift freely, I have certainly a warrant to receive it, and in receiving it, to believe it mine." p. 18. That is, conscious to myself that I do receive it, I have good evidence to believe it is mine. And in this case, it is mine, in order of nature, before I believe it mine. And so what I believe, is true before I believe it. And so this similitude is nothing to the purpose, nor does it at all help to reconcile to common sense, their "strange kind of assurance, which is far different from other ordinary kinds.” For they believe Christ is theirs without any consciousness that they receive him. p. 123. And constantly affirm, that that assurance of an interest in Christ, which results merely from a consciousness of any inherent grace, is altogether popish.
But no man can believe the Gospel, who does not believe his sins are pardoned, in Mr. Wilson's judgment. p. 14. 133, &c. &c. And yet he knows, and he owns, that this fact is not revealed in the Gospel. Yea, he says, "it is not proposed in the Gospel to be believed by us." p. 14. And yet no man, he says, can believe the Gospel, who does not believe it. An express contradiction again. Mr. Wilson grants a man may have saving faith, and yet not know that it is saving. p. 123.
Marg. But he would have a sinner believe his sins are pardoned, previous to one single thought that he has saving faith. P. 123. But in this case it must be " without any evidence of the thing." However, he disbelieves the Gospel if he does not believe it, although there is no such thing in the Gospel. "A strange kind of assurance!"
But, says Mr. Wilson," the stung Israelites, inlooking to the brazen serpent, had every one of them good reason to believe, and fully assure himself, that he in particular should be healed." And why? plainly because every Israelite, while conscious to himself that he is looking, must be certain of a cure. And just thus any sinner, who is conscious to himself that he looks to Christ as he is invited to do,, may be as certain of a cure. But in Mr. Wilson's "strange kind of assurance," we must be certain of a cure without any such consciousness. p. 123. It is popish, he constantly cries, to get assurance from this consciousness. But had a stung Israelite looked to the brazen serpent, without being at the same time conscious to himself that he did look, he could not have been assured of a cure, notwithstanding his belief of the divine declaration, that whosoever looks shall be healed.
But Mr. Wilson will again say, "had not the Israelites a good warrant to take and eat the manna which lay around their tents? and has not every sinner as good a right to take Christ, the bread of life, and eat and live for ever?" p. 31. Had the Israelites loathed the manna so perfectly, as absolutely to refuse to gather and eat it ; and in their hunger, set themselves to work up a belief that their bellies were full, without any consciousness of the thing, it might have been to Mr. Wilson's purpose. But what was there in all their conduct, at all resembling Mr. Wilson's faith? They gathered the manna, they made cakes of it, they eat, they were refreshed, and they were conscious to themselves of all that passed. Here was no assurance worked up "without any evidence from Scripture, sense, or reason." Here was no believing any thing to be true, but what was true before it was believed. Here was nothing but what was perfectly rational. In short, here was nothing like these men's notion of faith, not the least shadow of a resemblance. Nor indeed
there is in all nature any thing to resemble their faith, unless among those who are delirious, who very often believe strongly things to be true which would have no truth in them if they did not believe them. But then even the most delirious man alive, never attempted to act so distractedly as to try to believe that to be true, which he knew as yet was not true. This is peculiar to these men, and there is nothing like it in the universe. For, as honest Mr. Marshall says, "this is a strange kind of assurance, far different from other ordinary kinds." To hunt about therefore for similitudes to represent it, is quite out of character. But the men are shocked to see their scheme stark naked; and therefore these similitudes, like fig-leaves, are gathered to hide its nakedness; but all in vain.
Thus we have a specimen of Mr. Wilson's manner of reasoning, to vindicate our believing that to be true which is not true, from the declarations, offers, and promises of the Gospel. He repeats much the same things perhaps 200 times over in his two volumes. And when all is said and done, it comes to this :-"God has, in fact, no where in his word declared that my sins are forgiven; however, I must believe they are forgiven, or I do not believe the word of God. It is not true before I believe it, but absolutely false; yet I have a good warrant to believe it is true, although I have no evidence of the thing from Scripture, sense, or reason. In receiving a gift, I know it is mine; but if this knowledge arises from a consciousness that I receive it, I am a papist." So absurd, so self-contradictory is his whole course of reasoning. And yet he pretends to have all the bible, and all the protestant world on his side. And no man can be saved, who is destitute of this unscriptural, irrational, inconsistent, self-contradictory thing, which he calls by the sacred name of faith in Christ. But let us proceed to another argument, which, like the former, is repeated over and over again, and scattered along through his whole performance.
Arg. 2. From the nature of reliance on Christ's righteousness. Perhaps this argument is stated and urged no where to so good advantage, as in p. 15, 16, 17. It will not be denied, that the Gospel declares Christ to be an all-sufficient
Saviour, and bears testimony to his righteousness as every way sufficient for the justification of the most guilty sinner. If one approaching to a frozen lake or river, over which he has occasion to pass, tells me that he has been assured by good information, that the ice was sufficiently strong to support him; and yet, after all proves timorous and adverse to make trial by venturing his person freely upon it: I plainly perceive he has no faith in the report he heard; because he does not trust in it; or, which is the same thing, he cannot trust, rely, confide in, or venture himself on the ice.--None can be said to believe the report of the Gospel concerning the righteousness of Christ, but those who, without being conscious of any personal merit or good qualification about themselves, rely firmly and wholly upon that righteousness for justification and salvation. And it is equally certain, that such a firm reliance, or fiducial recumbancy upon the righteousness of Christ revealed in the Gospel, must in the very nature of the thing, imply the faith of one's own justification and salvation through this righteousness. For a man to venture himself, and all his most valuable interests, upon a bottom that he doubts is weak and insufficient to support him, would be the greatest folly imaginable; yet this he must do, who pretends to rely wholly upon Christ and his righteousness for justification and salvation, and yet hath not the faith of his own salvation.-If a man has been assured by good information, that the ice of any frozen lake or river he has occasion to pass over, is sufficiently strong to support him ; and yet is timorous, and doubts whether he will be safe if he should venture upon it; it is plain he does not confide in, or give credit to the report he heard; for if he did, he would be as much assured of his own safety, as of the truth of the report, or the veracity of him that made it. The application is easy. Upon the whole, it is evident, that till a man believes, and is in some measure assured of his own justification and salvation through the righteousness and blood of Christ, he never truly believes the report of the Gospel, or the divine testimony concerning the same. Let the reader then judge whether there is any truth or sense in asserting, that the hearers of the Gospel, have no warrant to believe any thing but