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ready proved the contrary: There are tremes in the do&rine of faith, which should be carefully avoided by every Christian : The one is that of the author of P. O. who thinks, that an adulterous murderer'may have true, saving faith in the height of his complicated crimes: And ihe other is that of Mr. Jonathan Ketlow, who asserts, there is no saving faith but that which has actually cleansed us from all inbred sin, and opened a present heaven in our breaft. The path of truth lies between the opposite mistakes of those two good men ; and that path I endeavour to point out.
As on the one hand it never came into my mind, that an impenitent murderer can have even the faving faith of a Heathen : so on the other hand it never entered my thoughts, that a penitent can believe with the faith of full assurance when he will: For this faith depends not only upon our general belief of the truth revealed to us, but also upon a peculiar operation of God, or revelation of his powerful
It is always attended with a manifestation of the spirit of adoption witnesling with our fpirit, that we are the children of God: And such a manifestation, God in general grants to none but them, that groan deeply under the Spirit of bondage unto fear, as Paul did while he remained blind at Damascus; them that are peculiarly faithful to the grace of their inferior dispensation, and pray as earnestly for power from on high, as the apostles did after our Lord's ascension.
Therefore, from my asserting, that " So long as " the day of salvation continues, all finners, who have 6 not yet finally harviened themselves, may day or
night (thro the help and power of the general light of Christ's GRACE mentioned John i. 9, and l'it. ii. 11."]
some truth belonging to the everlasling sospel, which takes in the dispensation of THE HEATHENS ; from my asserting this, I say, you have no reason to infer, that I maintain, any man may day or night believe the forgiveness of his fins, and the deep
truths of the gospel of CHRIST;, especially since I mention immediately what truth it is, which all may believe, if they improve their talent, namely this: “ There is a God, who will call us to an account “ for our fins, and who spares us that we may break them off by repentance.
(2) It would be absurd to suppose, that you can believe with the luminous faith of affurance, when God is casting your soul into the dark prison of your own guilt, to bring down your pharisaic looks, and make you feel the chains of your
fins. But even then, may you not " believe, that God is" just, holy, and patient? May you not acknowledge, that you deserve your spiritual imprisonment far more than Joseph's brethren deserved to be put all together inte ward three days by their loving, forgiving brother ? May you not believe that, altho' heaviness may endure for a night, yet joy cometh in the morning And when you have humbly groaned with David, I am so fast in prison that I cannot get forth; may you not pray in faith, Bring my foul out of prison, that I may praise thy name : Let the bones which thou haft broken rejoice: Give me the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness: Convince me as powerfully of righteousness
, as thou hast of fn: And let thy spirit, which now acts upon me as a spirit of bondage unto fear, act as a spirit of adoption, and liberty ; of rightecufness, peace, and joy? -May you not even add, o God, I believe thy promise o concerning the coming of the Comforter; help • thou my unbelief, and grant me such a faith as thou • wilt vouchsafe to seal with that holy Spirit of promife.
Thou shakest before me the rod of infernal ven.
geance: I deserve it a thousand times; but, o • Father of mercies, O my Father, if for the sake of . thine only begotten Son, thou wilt yet permit fuch
a wretch as I am to call thee Father, give me the • spirit of adoption; and witness to my spirit, that I
am a child of thine. But if thou wilt ftill bide • thy face from me, never suffer me to entertain
dishonourable thought of thee; never let me
o think thee a Moloch. Thothy jufiice slay me, 5 let me still trust in thee, and believe, that for ' Christ's sake thy mercy will revive my soul?' Is it scriptural to rank among abfoluie unbelievers, a penitent who thus humbly waits for the faith of full assurance--the faith of Christianity? If our Lord
pronounces such mourners blefled, does it become us to pronounce them accurfed ? But I return to your objection.
* (3) The latter part of it confirms, instead of overturning my doctrine ; it being evident, that if the persons you speak of, prayed with ardor for the faith of assurance, they had aiready foine dezree faith; for praying is calling upon the Lord, and St. . Paul speaks the words of Goberness
, where he says, How shall they call upon him, in whom they have not BELIEVED ?
(4) I am so far from thinking, our power to believe is absolute, that I have afferted,'" it is imporfble” heartily to believe the truths, which do not suit our present state :- And I bave observed, that we savingly believe the “ truth fuilable to our “ present circumstance, when it is kindly presented by
FREE GRACE, and affectionately embraced by PRE“VENTED free-will;" adding that, when we believe
faith is more or less operative," not only cording to the EAR Nestness with which we,” (i. e. our prevented free-will) 6 welcome the truth to our inmost
fouls ;" but alsó, “ according to the power with which the fpirit of grace impresses it upon our hearts."Nay, I have ascribed so inuch to the power of free grace, by which saving faith is " instantaneoufly formed,” as to allow that sometimes [as at St. Paul's conversion] this power for a while bears all down before it. This was my meaning, when I said p. 147, “ We may IN GENERAL suspend the a&t of faith, ESPECIALLY when the glaring light" [i. e. the luminous power] "that fometimes accompanies the revelatim 56 of truth, is abated.” Consider the force of the words, " in general," and " especially:" advert
will? Can you
the exceptions for which they make room; and you will 'see, I allow that free-grace, AT TIMES, acts with almost as much irrefstibility, as some mouerate boundwillers contend for.
* (5) With respect to my comparison between our power to believe, and our power to fee, far from showing that all men may any
time believe the gospel or Christ, it intimates, nay, it proves the very reverse. Can you see when you will, and what you
see in a dark night without a light ? Can you see in a bright day, when a thick veil covers your face? Can you see, if you place an opa. que body full in your light? Can you see what is out of the reach of your eyes? Can you see the rising fun, when you look full west, or the stars when you pore upon a dunghill ? Can you see when you obstinately shut your eyes ? Or when you have let a wicked man put them out, lest you should not live in idleness ? Apply to faith these queries about fight; recollect the preceding observalion : and you will perceive: (1) That our power to believe is various ways circumscribed; it being impossible, that he who has but one talent, perhaps unimproved, should carry on as extensive a trade as the man who diligently improves his five or ten talents : (2) That nevertheless supposing we have still a ray of the light of truth, and have not yet been given up to judicial blindness, or to final hardness, we may day and night [if we do not still bury our talent] believe, by the above-mentioned helps fome obvious truth belonging to the lowest dispensation of divine grace, and begin to follow our Lord's direction; While ye have the light believe in the light that ye may be the children of the light : And (3) That if we oppose this doctrine, we begin to sneak after our Calvinist brethren into Crispianity and are just ready to bow at the shrine of the great Diana of the day, and to kiss her iron-clay feet, Finished falvation and Finished damnation..
OBJ. VI. 6 Your doctrine concerning the school 66 of faith, and its several forms-concerning the “ temple of faith and its partitions, is entirely founded
upon the do&rine of the dispensations of divine
grace; a do&trine this, which many people will 66 rank with what they call, The novel chimeras of
I have proved what I have advanced concerning the dispensations, by arguments founded upon scripture, reason, and conscience. However, that the idea of novelty may not stand in the way
of my readers, out of fifty authors, whom I might quote in support of this important doctrine, I shall produce two, a calvinist and an anti-calvinist ; not doubting but their consentaneous teitimony will fufficiently break the force of your objection. The first is the Rev. Mr. Green, late curate of Thurnscoe in Yorkshire, and once an assistant to Mr, Whitefield. In his book, called Grace and Truth vindicated, p. 116, you will find the following just remarks;
• It appears to me from fcripture, as well as expe
rience, that there are divers dispensations, but the : fame spirit. The kingdom of heaven confifts of various
degrees, and different mansons. This is true, who. 6.ther by the kingdom of heaven we understand the o outward professors of religion and their privileges, " the inward kingdom of grace, or the kingdom of
glory: (in all which senses the words in scripture are frequently used.) -- As face answers to face in a
glass, so do these respectively answer each other, -Thus the outward. privileges of religion from 6 Adam to Moses were
least ; from Moses to 6 Christ greater, and from Christ to the restitution • of all things, greatest.-Again, to be a spiritual or
enlightened HEATHEN, as Socrates, Plato, or Coro nelius before he heard Peter, is one degree or * ditpensation of grace. To be a spiritual or enlightened J EW; and with Peter and the other disciples