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Arg. 4. From those words, in Mark. xi. 23, 24. “ Whosoever shall say unto this mountain, be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea, and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass, he shall have whoatsoever he saith. Therefore, I say unto you, what things soever ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. From these words it is plain,” says Mr. Wilson, “that men may have sufficient warrant to believe some things which cannot be said to be infallibly true, whether they believe them or not.” p. 27. To which I answer,
1. That the faith here spoken of, is the faith of miracles. And it was true before they believed it; that if they were at any time inspired by immediate revelation, to declare that such a particular miracle should be wrought, it should be done. When therefore the immediate suggestion of the divine spirit came into their minds, prompting them to declare that a particular miraculous event should happen, they had from that and from the promise of Christ, full evidence to believe that it would be done on their declaration. And on this ground Peter had a good warrant to say to the lame man, in Acts iii. Rise up and walk : and full evidence before he spake, to believe that on his speaking the man would be healed. And so again here was nothing like their “strange kind of assurance, without any evidence of the thing."
2. But if any are disposed to understand the promise in the 24th verse, in a larger latitude, to respect all the prayers of true saints; Whatsoever thing ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them ; yet even then the words will not prove that we ought to believe that to be true which is not true before we believe it. For it is true before we believe it, that whatsoever we ask the Father, in Christ's name, agreeable to God's will, shall be given to us, Mat. vij. 7, 8, 9, 10, 11. Johd xvi. 23, 24. When therefore any one desires, and is conscious to himself, that he has an heart to ask the offered blessings of the Gospel, in the name of Christ, he cannot but know, if he believes the Gospel to be true, that he shall have them. For he is “constrained to believe it, by the clearest evidence.” For he has the express promise of strange kind
Christ in the case. As if I should say to my child, “whenever you want bread, ask me for it, and you shall have it. I will never fail in any one instance to give it to you. You may therefore come in the full assurance of faith, nothing doubting but that you shall receive it. For this I establish as an invariable rule by which I will conduct towards you ; viz. Ask and ye shall receive ; seek and ye shall find. When therefore you want bread, and have a heart to ask it in the manner you know I would have you, you may know before you ask that you shall receive. And so you may ask, believing you shall rective, and you shall have it.” And now again, in all this, there is nothing like their “ of assurance;” nothing like believing without any evidence of the thing;" and believing" that to be true which is not true before we believe it." For it is true whether we believe it or not, that whatsoever we ask in Christ's name shall be given
And we have the highest evidence of the thing. What it is to ask in Christ's name, has been already shown. (Essay, Sect. IV. and V.)
3. In order to make this text serve the purpose of supporting their scheme, it must be understood thus: “O, Christless, impenitent, unconverted sinner, who art in an unpardoned state, under the wrath and curse of God, impenitent as thou art, believe thy sins are forgiven, and they shall be forgiven. I do not say as Peter did, repent and be converted, that thy sins may be blotted out. But I say, impenitent as thou art, and certain as thou art, of thine impenitency, without any evidence of the thing, from Scripture, sense, or reason, believe thy sins are blotted out, and it shall be unto thee according to thy faith. For although it is not true before thou believest it, in believing it to be true it shall become true. Believe therefore thy sins are forgiven, and they shall be forgiven.” This is the spirit and soul of that evangelical preaching in fashion with these men. See p. 102. 123. 175, &c.—But neither that text in Mark, nor any other in the bible, gives the least countenance to their scheme.
Thus we have taken a view of the arguments which Mr. Wilson uses to prove, that in justifying faith "we believe that to be true which is not true before we believe it.” And thus we have finished what was at first proposed.' And bis scheme, in contrast with that of the gross Antinomians, stands thus :
Gross Antinomianism, and refined Antinomianism, agree in asserting, that in justifying faith we believe that our sins are forgiven, and that God is reconciled to us.
Gross Antinomians assert, 1. That the elect are justified before faith. 2. That their justification is manifested to them by the spirit of God. 3. In consequence of which, they believe they are justified. 4. This belief pacifies their consciences, and is the source of every religious affection.
Refined Antinomians, assert, 1. That before faith, the elect as well as others, are under the wrath of God and curse of the law. 3. That yet in faith they believe God loves them, and they are delivered from the curse of the law. 3. And because this is not true before it is believed, therefore they believe it without any evidence of the thing. 4. This belief pacifies the conscience, and is the source of every religious affection. Now,
If the elect are not justified before faith, the gross Antinomian scheme is fundamentally false.---And,
If in justifying faith, we are not to believe that to be true which is not ture before we believe it, the refined Antinomian scheme is also fundamentally false.
The fact believed on both schemes is the same, viz. that an impenitent, unconverted, Christless sinner, is justified. And a belief of this fact on both schemes produces the saine effects, viz. pacifies the conscience, and is the source of all their religion. And both schemes grant that this fact is not revealed in the bible. But one vindicates his belief by saying, the elect are justified before faith, and have their justification immediately revealed to them by the spirit of God. And the other by saying, we are commanded by God to believe that to be true which is not true before we believe it, and to believe without any evidence of the thing, and God stands obliged that our faith shall not be disappointed.
We have heard how the celebrated Mr. Marshall explains his scheme; and we have considered what Mr. Wilson has to offer in its defence. And the controversy is brought into a
narrow compass, to one single point. viz. whether in justifying faith we believe that to be true which is not true before we believe it. And it is brought down out of the clouds, and made plain and easy to the weakest capacity, and every one is freely left to judge for himself.
If after all, any poor bewildered sinner is still at a loss, let him take his bible in his hand, enter into his closet, fall on his knees, look up to God who has given him the bible to be the only rule of his faith, and say, “ O Lord, thou hast given me thy holy word to be the only rule of my faith; and is it safe, great God, for me to venture my soul for eternity in the belief of that which all acknowledge is not revealed in thy holy word ? If every truth contained in that sacred book, all which are true before they are believed, join to declare me an unpardoned sinner, O leave me not to quiet my conscience by the belief of that which is not revealed there! O suffer me not to f from the unerring word of my final Judge, and take refuge in a lie! Rather let me have no peace than a false peace! O lead me out of this bewildered state, and give me an heart to understand and believe thy holy word, and make that the only rule of my faith, of thine infinite mercy through Jesus Christ." Then let him turn to read, and well consider the following texts. Mat. vii. 21–27. Acts iii. 19. Luke xiii. 3. 5. Isai. lv. 7. Prov. xxviii. 13. Acts xx. 21. John iii. 19, 20. ? Cor. xi. 13, 14. Luke iv. 9, 10, 11. 1 John ïi. 4.