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6 before the day of pentecost, to believe and acknow• ledge, that Jesus is the Messiah, tho' not fpiritual: ly come, is a greater. But to be a spiritual
CHRISTIAN, to have Christ, the exalted God-man ' revealed in us from heaven, and to be sealed with 'the Holy Spirit of promise unto the day of the re• demption of this vile body, is the last and most • perfect dispensation of grace. He that is feeble • here, shall be as David, and he that is strong. &c. ' shall be, &c. as the angel of the Lord, &c. For " it may be observed, that every difpenfation admits
of a growth therein; and moreover, that each of • them is in some fort and degree experienced by a • spiritual Christian, &c.
My second witness is the Rev. Mr. J. Wesley, who even in his first sermon on Salvation by faith, preached near forty years ago, clearly distinguishes Christian faith properly so called, cr faith in Chrift glorified, not only from the faith of an Heathen, but also from the faith of initial Christianity, i. e. " the faith which the apostles had while our Lord was
• And first, says he, it' (the faith that saves us into the great falvation described in the second part of the fermon] is not barely the faith of an Heathen. Now • God requires of an Heathen to believe, That God . is, that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him ' &c. by glorifying him as God, &c. and by a care
ful practice of moral virtue, &c. A Greek or Roman therefore, yea, a Scythian or Indian, was without excuse, if he did not believe thus much; the being and attributes of God, a future state of
reward and punishment, &c. For this is barely 6 the faith of a Heathen.'-Soon after he adds, ' And
herein does it [this faith in Chrift g'orihed] differ s from that faith, which the apostles themselves had • while our Lord was upon earth, that it acknow
ledges the necessity and merit of his death, and the power of his resurrection.' The doctrine of Christian perfeâion is entirely,
founded on the privileges of the Christian dispensation in its fulness: privileges these, which far exceed those of the Jewish æconomy, and the baptism of John. Accordingly Mr. Wesley in his fermon on Christian perfection makes the following just and scriptural diftin&ion between those dispensations, • It may be granted, (1) That David in the general 6 course of his life, was one of the holiest men among • the Jews. And, (2) That the holiest men among • the Jews did sometimes commit fin. But if you 6 would hence infer, that all Christians do, and must 6 commit sin, as long as they live: this consequence
we uiterly deny. It will never follow from those
premisses. Those who argue thus, seem never to « have considered that declaration of our Lord, Mat. • xi. 11, Verily I say unto you, among them that are • born of women, there hath not risen a greater than
John the Baptist. Notwithstanding, he that is leaft in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. I fear in• deed, there are some, who have imagined the king• dom of heaven here to mean the kingdom of glory : • As if the Son of God had just discovered to us, that • the least glorified saint in heaven is greater than any man upon earth! To mention this is sufficiently to refute it. There can therefore no doubt • be made, but the kingdom of heaven here (as in the following verse, where it is said to be taken by force) or the kingdom of God, as St. Luke expresses it, is that kingdom of God on earth, whereunto all true 6 believers in Christ, all real Christians, belong. In these words then our Lord declares two things.
(1) That before his coming in the flesh, among all o the children of men, there had not been one greater than John the Baptist: whence it evidently follows, that neither Abraham, David, nor any
Jew was greater than John. (2) That he who is • least in the kingdom of God (in that kingdom,
which he came to set up on earth, and which the • violent now began to take by force) is greater than he. Not a greater prophet (as some have interpreted the
word) for this is palpably false in fact : But great'er in the grace of God, and the knowledge of our
Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore we cannot measure " the privileges of real Christians by those formerly
given to the Jews. Their miniftration (or dispensfation) we allow was glorious; but ours exceeds in
glory. So that whosoever would bring down the • Christian dispensation to the Jewish standard, &c. • doth greatly err, neither knowing the firiptures, nor • the power of God.'—From these excellent quotations therefore, it appears, that you do me an honour al. together undeserved, if you fuppose, that I first fet forth the do&trine of the dispenfations.
OBJ. VII. " I cannot help thinking, that the “ do&trine of a faith proper to all those dispensations 6 is above the capacity of plain Chriftians, and should
never be mentioned, left it should puzzle, instead 66 of edifying the church."
If your fears are well-grounded, even the apostle's creed is above the capacity of plain Christians : for that creed, the fimplest of all those, which the primitive church has handed down to us, evidently diftinguishes three degrees of faith : (1) Faith in God the Father Almighty, who made heaven and earth, which is the faith of the Heathens : (2) Faith in the Messiah, or in Jesus Christ his only begotten Son our Lord; which is the faith of pious Jews, of John's disciples, and of imperfe& Chriftians, who, like the apostles before the day of pentecoft, are yet strangers to the + great outpouring of the spirit : And
+ I beg the reader would not mistake me. When I'say that pious Jews, and our Lord's disciples before the day of Pentecoft, were ftrangers to the great outpowering of the Spirit, do not incan that they were Itrangers to his directing, sanctifying, and enlivening influences, according to their dispensation. For Da. vid had prayed, Take not thy 'Holy Spirit from me: John the Baptist had been visited by his exhilarating power, even in his mother's
(8) Faith in the Holy Ghoft--Faith in the operation of God, by which Christians believe according to the working of. God's Almighty power, and are filled with righteoufness, peace, and joy in Tous believing.
That the distinction of the three degrees of saving faith omitted in the Athanasian creed, but expressed in the Apostles creed, and in the Nicene creedThat this distinction, I say, is neither chimerical nor enthusiastical, may be proved by a variety of arguments, two or three of which, I hope, will not intrude too long upon the reader's patience, (1) The first is taken from the doctrine expressly Q 2
laid womb : Our Lord had breathed upon his disciples, saying, Receive ye the Holy Ghost; and had imparted him to them as a Spirit of gráce and supplication to help them to wait in faith and unceasing prayer, till they were endued with power from on high : Besides, they hadcalled him Lord in truth; and no man can do this, but by the Spie rit of faith, which helps our unbelief and informities under all the divine dispensations. Nevertheless they were pot fully baptized. The Comforter, that visited them, did not properly dwell in them. Altho' they had already wrought miracles by his power, the Promise of the Father was not yet fulfilled to them. They had not yet been made perfect in one, by the aflemilating operation of the heavenly fire. They would have been puzzled by such queftions as these : Have je received the Holy Ghost since ye believed ? Acts xix. 2.--Is he fallen upon you ? Acts x. 44.- Is the love of God shed abroad in your heart by the Holy Ghost given unto you? Rom. v. 5 Is the fountain springing up into everlasting life opened in your breaft? John iv. 14. After that ye believed, were ye sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise ? Eph. i. 13.—That Spirit
, which forms those rivers of living water, that flow out of the belly, the inmost soul of believers
That spirit which was not given before Christ was glorified? John vii. 39.-That Comforter, which it is more expedient for us to re. ceive, than even to have Christ's bodily presence and constant infructions ? John xvi. 4o--If these, and the like questions would have perplexed the apostles before Christ had opened his spiritual baptism, and set up his kingdom with power in their hearts; we ought not to be surprized, that professors, who know only the baptism of John, should ingenuously confess, they never heard there was an Holy Ghost (to be received) since they believed, Acts xix. 2. Nor should we wonder if devout Jews, and easy Laodiceans did even mock and say, you would have us to be filled with new wine; but we are rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing. The water of our old cisterns is preferable to the new wine of your cnthusiastic doctrine, and our baptismal, ponds to your baptismal flames.
laid down in the New Testament. To what I have faid on this head, I add here what Christ said to his disciples, Ye believe in God, believe also in me. Here the most prejudiced, may see, that faith in the FaTher is clearly contradistinguished from faith in the Son. As for faith in the Holy Ghost, see in what manner our blessed Lord sowed the feed of it in the hearts of his disciples. When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, he shall testify of me. It is expedient for you that I go away : for if I go not away the Comforter will not come unto you: but if I depart I will send him unto you.---Behol. I send the Promise of my FATheR upon you : but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. Nor was this great promise made to the apostles alone ; for, In the laft day, that great day of the feaft, Ffus ftood and cried, saying, IF ANY MAN (not if an apostle] thirst, let him come to me and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath faid, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this he spake of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive : for the Holy Ghost was not yet, [given; his dispensation, which is the highest of all, was not yet opened] because that Jesus was not yet glorifet. And the opening of this dispensation in our hearts requires on our part, not only faith in Christ, but a peculiar faith in the promise of the Father; a promise this, which has the Holy Ghost for its great object.
(2) My second argument is taken from the experiences of those, who, by the Holy Ghost, were made partakers of Christ glorified, either on the day of Pentecost, or after it; and could feelingly confess Christ dying for us, and Christ living in us, the hope of glory. Acts ii. 5, we read of devout men out of every nation under heaven, who were come to worship at Jerusalem. But how could they have been devout men, if they had not believed in God? What could have brought them from the ends of the earth to keep a feast to the Lord, if they had been mere