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ther God will graciously accept and save me, though
vile sinner, through Christ? and whether I am ale ready brought into a state of salvation? The forinen " of these questions is to be resolved affirmatively by al * confident faith in Christ, buț, the latter is to be eno “ quired into by: self-examination.".
It seems very plain, that it is one thing to believe, or trust in Christ, for our own salvation ; and another, thing to know that we have believed, and that our faith, is of a saving nature. The ground of the former is on , ly the word of the gospel; but the ground of the latter, is our having the marks and evidences of a gracious state laid down in scripture. Such marks and evidences will distinguish the true believer from the hypocritical professor, even when they shall stand before the judgment seat of Christ. : « Though the weight," says Mr. Boston, 4 of our acceptance with God lies not in "our good works; yet the weight of our evidence “ does. If you set not yourselves to do all the parts. " of Christ's will without reserve, ye do nothing Sound « believers fail in the degrees, but not in the parts of obes. <dience.” Such is the cloctrine uniformly taught in the writings and ministrations of Mr. Bellamy's opponents. Hence it must astonish a candid reader to find Mr.. Bellamy insinuating*; that his opponents do not real“ ly and verily believe, that none will at last be admite: « ted into heaven, but such as have the characters es “ sential to christians, that is, such as are humble, meek, "penitent, breathing after boliness, merciful, pure in, “ heart, peace-makers, willing to part with all for " Christ and to go through the greatest sufferings in “ his cause," Did ever his opponents say or insinuate
* Diak. iii. p. 87.
that persons, destitute of these qualities, would at last, be admitted into heaven? Far from it. Let us observe, for instance, how one of them, the judicious Mr. Bose ton, speaks to his hearers. “Sirs, according to the “ state of your souls now, so will it be with you through n eternity. Examine yourselves, therefore, now, whe. *ther ye be yet in the black state of nature, uncircum
cised spiritually; or whether ye be in the state of “ grace and of the true circumcision. Ye have heard *the characters, let conscience make the application ; « and judge yourselves, that ye may not be judged and « condemned with the world.” How strange is it, that Mr. Bellamy could represent ministers who preach and write in this strain, as having given up the way of look; ing for marks and evidences of grace ?*
What he chiefly grounds this charge upon is their teaching that there is an assurance of salvation in the direct act of faith ; as, in that act, a person, without rew flection
upon any previous acts or exercises, rests im mediately upon the grant or promise of the gospel, for his own everlasting salvation. This, according to the distinction just now taken notice of, is quite a different thing from the person's knowledge, of his being alrea dy in the faith or in a state of grace. When Mr. Bela lamy argues, that assurance of faith, as explained by the authors in question, makes meň careless about the assurance of sense; it is just as unreasonable, as it would be for one to say, An honest man has given me a promise of a little money, of which I stand in the most absolute need :"and therefore it is no matter of concern to me, whether I actually get it to answer my Reed, or not. Would not common sense, on the con
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Hary, tead one to say, I have a promise of money from such an honest man; and therefore I will not fail to seek, that I may have the use of it? This concern will be the greater, on the supposition, that the promise, like the gospel of Christ, secures to the accepter a variety of benefits to be obtained one after another, in such manner and order, that each previous benefit is a sure sign or pledge of more glorious benefits to follow. The apostle plainly intimates, that the appropriating belief of the promise of entering into God's rest, instead Qi leaving us to carelessness and security, excites fear and solicitude with regard to our actual attainment of that rest, Heb. iv. 1.- not a sļavish fear that makes a person let go the promise, as being doubtful either of the truth of it, or of his warrant to rely on it; but such a fear as makes him both embrace the promise with redoubled ardour, and look with earnest expectation for the begun accomplishment of it.
Here it may be proper to quote some passages in the writings of Mr. Hervey and Mr. Marshal, and to consider the censures passed upon them by Mr. Bele lamy.
The first passage we adduce is from the sixteenth Dialogue of Theron and Aspassio. “ Our good quali«°fications," says Aspasio, “ are sometimes like the
stars at noon day,'not easily, if at all, discernible; or, « they are like a glow worm in the night, glimmering & rather than shining. Instead therefore of poring on 5 our own hearts, to discover by inherent qualities our « interest in Christ, I should rather renew my applica.. tion to the free and faitliful promise of the Lord."
In this passage we may observe two things :" first; & case supposed ; and secondly, a particular course, recommended as the most proper in that case.;
With regard to the case supposed, wherein a be liever cannot discern his good qualitications to be sufficient evidences of a state of grace, Mr. Beilamy says, that, “ since it is the character of the saints to bring “ forth fruit, some an hundred fold, some sixty, 'some " thirty, it seems difficult to reconcile it with scripture, ” that a true saint (there being no extraordinary dis
ease, as the hypochondria, &c. nor other extraordi
nary circumstances that may account for it,) should « live in the dark, full of doubts and fears about his « state from year to year; I say more difficult to re* concile this with scripture, than it is to prove, that “ they may live so as to make their calling and eiec* tion sure.”
In answer to what Mr. Bellamy here insinuates, it may be observed, that, though this exhortation of the apostle Peter implies, that the assurance of sense is attainable, yet it also implies, that there are believers who have not yet attained it, and that it is their duty to be engaged in the sincere pursuit of it. It is true; that all the saints bring forth fruit ; but it is also true, that the evidences arising from that fruit, from grace received, from good dispositions or exercises, may, for a time, (how long seems not precisely determined in scripture) be found much out of sight. Where were Heman's evidences, wlien he complained, that he was a man of no strength, no; spiritual life or grace; free among the dead, Psal. Ixxxviii. 4, 5 ? Where were Je. remiah's evidences, when he cursed the day of his birth? or Peter's, when he said to Christ, Depart from me, for I am a sin ful man; O Lord ? or the Church's, when she said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my God hath forgotten mel: Our bones are dried, our hope is Port, and eve'are cut off for our part? We know, that
those who have true grace or holiness are liable to spiritual decays; owing to no other hypochondria or extraordinary circumstance, than some remarkable prevalence of indwelling sin, or negligence as to the discharge of some seasonable duty. Even the wise virgins may slumber and sleep. “ We know," says Beza, “ that it is a most false conclusion of satan, 6 that we have no true faith, because the effects of it “ do not appear for a time. A person might as well
say, that wherever there is no flame, there is no fire;
or that, because the trees, in winter, have neither " leaves nor fruit, they have therefore no vegetable ** life*." Those who fear the Lord, and who obey the voice of his servant, may, for a time, walk in darkness, and have no light of sensible comfort.
6 God,” says
Dr. Owen, .66 who in infinite wisdom, manageth 56 the new creature or the whole life of grace by his « Spirit, doth so turn the streams, and so renew and 6 change the special kinds of its operations, as that we 6 cannot easily trace his paths therein ; and therefore 66 we may often be at a loss about it, as not knowing 16 well what he is doing with us. For instance, it may " be, the work of grace, and holiness hath greatly put « forth and evidenced itself in the affections which are " renewed by it; causing persons to experience readiu ness unto, delight and chearfulness in holy duties, « especially those of immediate intercourse with God. 56 But, after a while, it may seem good to the Sovereign “ Disposer of this affair so to order his dispensations 4 towards them by afflictions, temptations, occasions of
life in the world, that they shall have new work to do do, and all the grace they have shall be turned into * Confession, chap. iv. art. 20: