Page images

ners of Adam's family, to whom the gospel is preached, to make an immediate application of that gospel, and particularly of the promise of adoption in Christ, to ourselves. Nay, the Holy Spirit shuts us up to this immediate application by representing it as our indispensable duty and the neglect of it as the most henious sin, 1 John iii. 23. v. 10. The matter of this testimony of the Spirit is not, that we are already brought into a state of adoption, or that we have in our hearts the gracious dispositions of God's children ; but that the gospel promise is the word of God, and his word to us in particular ; a word to be depended upon as our security in Christ for every promised blessing. None will say, that this testimony of the Spirit is unnecessary, who duly consider what the scripture teaches, that faith is not of ourselves, being the supernatural gift of God ;-and, what each of us may feel, that our understandings are blind to the things of the Spirit of God, and our wills averse to the way of salvation by free grace through faith. Nor can this testimony be delusive ; since the matter of it is no other than what we have in the Holy Scripture, applied, according to its true meaning, to our case ; since this application of the word by the Holy Spirit is no other than that work of faith, whereby Christ is revealed in our hearts as the Lord our Righteousness. John xvi. 8, 9, 14. When the Comforter is come, he will reprove or convince the world (his own who are by nature of the world) not only of sin, but also of righteousness, of his own righteousness wrought out in their nature, being sufficient to satisfy all the demands of the Divine law. He shall receive of mine, says Christ, and shall shew it unto you. And surely the things of the gospel-promise are amongst the things that he will shew unto us.

This testimony of the Holy Spirit, clearing a person's warrant to intermeddle with the gospel promise and to believe it with application to himself, if not the whole, appears to be a principal part of what is meant by our being sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, Ephes. i. 13. It is true, that by the Ephesians being sealed with the Holy Spirit many valuable writers understand a work distinct from that which passed on them at their first believing. But this construction of the words does not seem necessary. For, though some gifts of the Spirit, such, for example, as were miraculous, were given to persons after their first believing ; yet it will not follow, that the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of promise and the earnest of the heavenly inheritance, was not given to persons at the first moment of their believing. The giving of the Holy Spirit, in our first believing answers such purposes as are analogous to those answered by sealing among men ; such as the purposes of distinguishing persons as the Lord's peculiar people, and of insuring to them the full enjoyment of eternal life. Though the words of the apostle in our translation be rendered, after that ye believed, ye were sealed, yet it is obvious to any one who reads the original, that the participle and the verb being in the same tense, may be rendered, believing ye were sealed. So words in the same construction are often rendered : Mark vii. 34. And looking up to heaven, he sighed. Luke xxiv. 18. One of them whose name was Cleohas, answering, said unto him. So that there is nothing in the form of the apostlc's expression against the following exposition of Mr. Hervey and some others.

In “ believing ye were partakers of this sealing sanctify. “ ing spirit, conformably to the expostulation of the 5 the apostle on another occasion; Received ye the « Spirit, by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith 2"

2. As our helper in prayer, the Holy Spirit enables us to call God our Father by the direct act of faith. When our Lord directs us to approach to God in prayer, saying, Our Father, he intimates, that some apprehension of God as our Father in Christ is necessary to acceptable prayer; and therefore if no well-grounded apprehension of God, as standing in that relation to us, can be attained in the direct act of faith; it will follow, that we cannot approach to God in prayer acceptably, but when we find in ourselves those good qualifications, from which we can certainly infer our sonship: and thus believers must be excluded from the throne of grace, when they walk in darkness and have no light ; that is, when they are under a peculiar necessity of applying to that throne. But this is quite contrary to the doctrine of the Bible, which assures us, that every prayer offered up in the faith of Christ's name is accepted. John xvi. 23. Mark. xi. 24. and if any poor sinner is enabled to come in the exercise of faith, even though as yet he can find no good qualifications in himself, he shall not be cast out, John vi. 37.

Thus, it appears, that there is a testimony which the Holy Spirit bears to the word of the gospel in the hearts of believers ; as well as a testimony which he bears to the work of grace in their hearts. Mr. Beliamy had no ground to set the one in opposition to the other. They agree well together. The testimony of the Spirit, setting home the gospel-promise on our hearts, first brings us to the direct act or exercise of faith, which is productive of the fruits of new obedience. And then the testimony which the Spirit bears to the sincerity of our faith, as manifested by the fruits of it,

encourageth us to go on in the exercise of that faith. They are inseparable : for the testimony of the Spirit, bringing a person to the direct act of faith, will be fol. lowed, in some measure, by the testimony of the Spirit to the work of grace in his heart. They who pretend to have the former, while they have no heart-felt concern to attain the latter, are self-deceivers, who take up with a feigned faith. They, on the other hand, who pretend to have the latter without or before the former, are legalists, who set up the idol of self-righte


In the fourth place, Mr. Bellamy charges Mr. Marshal, Mr. Hervey, Mr. Boston and others with propagating delusion under the notion of conversion; because, according to him, their converts are 66 blind « to the beauty of the Divine nature, and have no love « to the Divine law.” Thus Theron, after he becomes a disciple of Mr. Bellamy's Paulinus, acknowledges, that in the religion which he learned from Aspasio, " the infinite amiableness of the Deity was wholly left

out ;” and that Aspasio's doctrine led him “ to look upon law, obligation, duty, as disagreeable, dead and legal things*.”

Enough has been said in the ninth and tenth of the preceding letters to shew the falsehood of this charge against the doctrine of the writers now mentioned. Indeed one can hardly read a page of their excellent writings without being .convinced of the baseness of this calumny. At present it may be sufficient to refer to the explication of the first direction in Mr. Marshal's treatise on sanctification ; and to add the character of a real Christian as drawn by Mr. Boston. 66 A real

Bellamy's Dialogues and Letters, page 124, 127.

« Christian," says that judicious writer, " is one who “ loves God for himself as well as for his benefits with “a supreme love above all persons and all things. “ He approveth the holy law even in that very point, “ wherein it strikes against his most beloved lust. He * is spiritual in the principle, motives, aims and ends 6 of his service. After all, he sees nothing in himself “ to trust in before the Lord, Christ and his fulness * being the stay of his soul.”

The truth is, because these writers will not allow our love to God and the good works, that flow from it, to belong to the ground of the appropriation of Christ to ourselves, which is in the direct act of faith ; therefore they deny, according to Mr. Bellamy, that love to God and good works necessarily belong to the Christian ; a conclusion as absurd as it would be to infer from a person's denying the walls and roof to be the founda, tion of a house, that he denied them to be at all neces. sary to constitute the house.

In fine, a person is, no doubt, a self-deceiver, who thinks himself converted, without a supernatural change, without a thorough conviction of the sinfulness and misery of his natural state, without a scriptural ground of hope, without a spiritual discernment of the beauty of holiness. But none can be farther from representing such a person as a true convert than Mr. Marshal, Mr. Boston, Mr. Hervey and others who teach the same doctrine. Having considered some differences between Mr. Bellamy and his opponents on the head of saving conversion, which are only pretended; we may now proceed to point out some real differences between him and them on this subject.

« PreviousContinue »