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your discourse : how often the former is lost in tri-' « fles; and how often the latter evaporates in vanity. 5 Attend to the principle from which your actions flow, 6 whether from the steady, habitual love of God, of « from some rambling impulse and a customary pro“pensity to please yourself. Minute down your sins « of omission : how frequently you neglect to glorify
your Creator, to edify your fellow-creatures, and to “ improve yourself in knowledge and holiness. Ob
serve the frame of your spirit in religious duties ; 6 with what reluctance is a sinner brought to confess “ himself sinful in every duty, sinful in every capacity! « Strange perverseness ! But the charge is undeniable. “ However unwilling, I must plead guilty. Thou art " weighed in the balance and found wanting, is evidently “ written on all I am, all I have, all I do. And if I
am thus defective in my own estimation ; « utterly condemned at the bar of my own conscience, « what then shall I do, when God riseth up? And « when he visiteth, what shall I answer him? I now
the necessity of an imputed righteousness. “ Without some such object for my trust, I am un« done.” In the fifteenth Dialogue, Theron says to Aspasio ; My sins like an armed host are set in “ dreadful array, and surround me on every side. Jus“tice, like an injured and incensed foe, unsheaths the w sword and makes a loud demand for vengeance. No “ righteousness of my own presents itself, to which I
may fly for refuge. The method of salvation in “ which I formerly confided, is a bridge broken down, « and leaves me without any possibility of escape.” In another place, Theron cries out, “ O my Aspasio, "I cannot believe. I feel my impotence. My mind
& is like the withered arm. I am ashamed to recollect « what mistaken notions I once entertained concerning “ the easiness of believing, as though it were to be "performed like the act of rising from our seat, or step" ping into a coach, by our own strength and at our own
time. What a stranger was I then to the blindness " of my understanding and the hardness of my heart;
to my bondage under unbelief, and averseness to the way of salvation by grace through faith?”
From these quotations it is evident, that Mr. Hervey's Theron was the subject of a thorough work of conviction, whilst he was under the instruction of Aspasio : and therefore Mr. Bellamy cannot be vindicated, as a fair dealer, in representing the same Theron as an utter stranger to such a work, till he met with Paulinus. In the first of his Dialogues, Theron is made to give an account of his experience during his intercourse with Aspasio, without a single hint of the conviction so plainly represented in the passages just now quoted. When Mr. Bellamy makes Theron relate his conversion by means of the doctrine of Paulinus, all is new : Theron had never before discovered, “ that he W is liable by the righteous sentence of the law, to “ eternal damnation for every want of perfect obedience;
that he is absolutely without strength, dead in sin, “ lost, condemned by law, self-condemned, his mouth
stopt, guilty before God*.”. This could not be, that Theron, who, under Aspasio's dealing with him, had become a true believer; that is, according to Mr. Mars shal, one who is under a deep and abiding conviction, « that he is by nature a child of wrath, fallen from God
Bellamy's Letters and Dial. pages 112, 113, 114,
« by the sin of the first Adam, dead in trespasses
and « sins, subject to the curse of God's law, to the poweg “ of Satan, to insupportable misery through all eter“ nity, under an utter impossibility of procuring recon« ciliation with God or any spiritual life, by his own « endeavours in the way of the covenant of works; or “ of finding any way of escape from this sinful and « miserable condition by his natural reason or under“ standing. A true sense of our sin and of our con“ demnation by the law is necessary to make us fly to “ Christ: and for this, as one great end, was the law “ given, Gal. iii. 22, 23, 24. Matth. ix. 13. Acts is.
Without sense of sin, there will be no prizing « of Christ, or desire of holiness ; but rather abuse of “ Christ to carnal security and licentiousness. Those " that were stung with the fiery serpent, looked up to « the brazen serpent.”
The truth is, a thorough conviction of our sinfulness and misery is necessarily implied in the appropriating faith contended for by Mr. Marshal and Mr. Hervey : for, without such conviction, persons will not be brought to any serious dealing with God about the ground of their application of Christ to themselves in particular. Whereas the assent that persons give to the most important speculative truths, as such, may be, and too often is, without any serious concern about the condition of their souls.
In the third place, Mr. Bellamy represents Theron as under the power of delusion; because, in his supposed conversion, he is represented as having the testimony of the Spirit enabling him, in the direct act of faith to call God his Father ; according to the following passage of Mr. Marshal's Treatise in the explication of
his tenth direction.“ We judge” says he, « that the * Spirit beareth witness, that we are the children of “ God, by giving us saving faith itself, by the direct " act of which all true believers are enabled to trust as“suredly on Christ for the enjoyment of the adoption 66 of children and all his salvation according to the free “ promise of God; and to call God Father, without re“ flecting on any good qualifications in themselves.” “ The holy Spirit,” says another of these evangelical writers, “brings Christ, his righteousness and salva“tion nigh to us in the promise of the gospel ; clearing 66 at the same time our right and warrant to intermed6 dle with all, without fear of vicious intromission ; en« couraging and enabling us to a measure of confident * application to ourselves of all, as given freely, with56 out money and without price.”
On account of these passages Mr. Bellamy's PauJinus says to Theron : “ Thus, at last, you give up your “ warrant from the written word, as in fact there is no “ such thing contained in the Bible: and now your re“ course is to the Spirit. He cannot clear up a right or “ warrant where there is no such thing to be cleared up. .“ It is not the business of faith to make new unscriptu“ ral revelation. If you trust to the testimony of the “ Spirit, without any regard to the sincerity of your gra* ces, you have nothing but a Spirit, a naked Spirit to “ depend upon. And if your spirit should prove to be “ Satan transforming himself into an angel of light, you are deluded, your soul is lost-for ever lost."*
The censure, which Mr. Bellamy passes in these words upon the Divines whom he opposes, is very unjust in two respects : 1st, in regard that they are thereby
* Dial. p. 67, 98.
represented as directing men to rest on a naked Spirit without the word : 2dly, by insinuating, that the persuasion, which these divines speak of in the passages quoted is an opinion that persons entertain of themselves, that they are already in a state of adoption. If I were labouring under some dangerous disease, and a physician offered a medicine, affirming it to be an infallible remedy for that disease ; in the very act of accepting his offer, I would have an assurance of my recovery, proportioned to my esteem of the skill and honesty of the physician. Yet this assurance would be of a different sort from that which I would have upon any experience of an actual
Such is the difference between the assurance which a person has, in the direct act of faith, that God is God and Father in Christ, and the assurance that he has of the same thing by finding in himself the scriptural marks and character of a child of God. The consistency between these two sorts of assurance was shewn in a former letter.
That believers have assuring views of their relation to God as their own Father in the direct act of faith ;, and that, in these views, they have the testiniony of the Spirit, appears from what is ascribed to the Spirit as the worker both of faith and of prayer.
1. As the worker of faith, the Holy Spirit enables us to embrace the promise as yea and amen to us in Christ : among which promises are those of adoption : Jerem. iii. 13. But I said, How shall I put thee among the children, and give thee a pleasant land, a goodly heritage of the host of nations ? And I said, Thou shalt call me, My Father, and thou shalt not turn away from me. This work of the Holy Spirit lies in shewing us the free access and full warrant, which we have, as perishing sin