Page images

In a


to say,

that without' revelation man it is given is as conscious of could never have entertained' possessing it as the being to an idea of his existence. whom God gives life is of

2. With regard to faith in being alive; and therefore he Christ, and assurance of sal- entertains no doubt either of vation through his merits, they his faith or his consequent differ from other denomina- salvation through the merits tions. These they reckon in- of Christ, who died and rose separable, or rather the same; again for that purpose. because, they argue, God has word, they argue that the expressly declared, He that pel would not be what it is believeth shall be saved ; and held forth to be, (glad tidings therefore it is not only absurd, of great joy) if it did not bring but impious, and in a manner full personal assurance of etercalling God a liar, for a man nal salvation to the believer ;

“ I believe the gospel ; which assurance, they insist, but have doubts, nevertheless, “is the present infallible priof my own salvation." Withvilege and portion of every inregard to the various distinc- dividual believer of the gostions and definitions that have pel.”—These definitions of been given of different kinds faith, and its inseparable conof faith, they argue, that comitant assurance, they prove “ there is nothing incompre- by a variety of texts of scriphensible or obscure in the ture. meaning of the word, as used 3. Consistently with the in scripture; but that as faith, above definition of faith, they when applied to human testi- say that the sin against the. mony, signifies neither more holy Ghost is nothing else but. nor less than the mere simple unbelief; and that the expresbelief of that testimony as sion, It shall not be forgiven, true upon the authority of the neither in this world nor that testifier; so, when applied to which is to come, means only. the testimony of God, it sig- that a person dying in infidenifies precisely the belief of lity would not be forgiven, his testimony, and resting upon neither under the former disbis veracity alone, without any pensation by Moses (the then kind of collateral support from present dispensation, kingdom, the concurrence of any other or government of God) nor evidence or testimony what- under the gospel dispensation, ever.” And they insist, that as which, in respect of the Mosaic, this faith is the gift of God was a kind of future world, or alone, so the

person to whom kingdom to come.


4. The Bereans interpret a make him inferior to ourgreat part of the old-testament selves."* prophecies, and in particular With respect to the practice the whole of the Psalms, ex- of the Bereans as a christian cepting such as are merely society, they consider infanthistorical or laudatory, to be baptism as a divine ordinance typical or prophetical of Jesus instituted in the room of cirChrist; his sufferings, atone- cumcision; and they think it ment, mediation, and king- absurd to suppose that infants, dom: and they esteem it a gross who all agree are admissible perversion of these psalms and to the kingdom of God in prophecies, to apply them to heaven, should nevertheless be the experiences of private incapable of being admitted christians. In proof of this, into his visible church on they not only urge the words earth. They commemorate the of the apostle, that no pro- Lord's supper in general once phecy is of private interpreta- a month; but as the words of tion, but they insist that the the institution fix no particuwhole of the quotations from lar period, they sometimes the ancient prophecies in the celebrate it oftener, and somenew testament, and particu- times at more distant periods, larly those from the psalms, as may suit

their general con. are expressly applied to Christ. venience. Equal and univerIn this opinion many classes sal holiness in all manner of of protestants agree with them. conversation, they recommend

5. Of the absolute, all- at all times, as well as at the superintending sovereignty of table of the Lord. They meet the Almighty, the Bereans every Lord's day for the purentertain the highest ideas, as poses of preaching, praying, well as of the uninterrupted and exhortation to love and exertion thereof over all works good works. When any perin heaven, earth, or hell, how- son, after hearing the Berean ever unsearchable by his crea- doctrines, professes his belief tures. “ A God without elec- and assurance of the truths tion, (they argue) or choice in of the gospel, and desires to all his works, is a God with- be admitted into their comout existence; a mere idol, a munion, he is cheerfully renon-entity: and to deny God's ceived upon his profession, élection, purpose,

have been his will in all his works, is to former manner of life. But if such a one should after-' steady profession of the aposwards draw 'back from his tolic faith, and a suitable walk good profession or practice, and conversation. they first admonish him; and The doctrine of the Bereans if that have no eilect, they has found converts in various leave him to himself. They parts of Scotland, England, do not think they have any and America. They have conpower to deliver up a back- gregations in Edinburgh, Glassliding brother to satan. That gow, Paisley, Stirling, Duntext, and other similar pas- dee, Montrose, Fettercairn, sages, they consider as re- Aberdeen, and other towns in stricted to the apostles, and to Scotland, as well as in Lonthe inspired testimony alone; don, and various places in and not to be extended to any England; not to add Pennsylchurch on carth, or any num- vania, the Carolinas, and other ber of churches, or of chris states in America.* tians, whether deciding by a [This account of the Bemajority of votes, or by una- reans appears to have been nimous voices. Neither do drawn up by one of themthey think themselves autho- selves; and as there is no derived, as a christian church, to nomination particularly openquire into each others poli- posed to them, under whose tical principles, any more than name we might give the arguto examine into each others ments on the other side, it notions of philosophy. They will be proper here to add the both recommend and practise, following note on their docas christian duties, submis- trine of assurance by Mr. A. sion to lawful authority; but M‘Lean, in his “ Treatise on they do not think that a man the Commission,” first edition, by becoming a christian, or p. 88. joining their society, is under Mr. John Barclay asserts, any obligation, by the rules of that “the assurance of faith the gospel, to renounce his (by which he means the assurights of private judgment rance of a man's own justifiupon matters of public or cation) is established along private importance. Upon all with the resurrection of Jesus such subjects they allow each from the dead, upon



For further particulars respecting the Berean doctrines, the reader is referred to the works of Messrs. Barclay, Nicol, Brooksbank, &c,

the direct other to think and act as each. testimony of God, believed in may see it his duty; and they the heart.” Assurance of faith require nothing more of their vindicated, title page. members than a uniform and A direct testimony is that * Supplement to the Encyclopædia, vol, i, p. 102-104. Nicol's Essays.

which absolutely affirms in so the same precise evidence with
many express words the truth the resurrection of Jesus and
of the particular thing testi- the existence of God, the ad-
fied. He must therefore mean ditional words, believed in the
that God hath absolutely, pu- heart, aro altogether redun-
sitively, and expressly testified dant: for as Christ's resurrec-
in the gospel, that“ John Bar- tion, and the being of God, are
clay in particular is justified;" truths in themselves, whether
for such is the nature of the he believe or not, so must his
testimony given to the resur- justification be, if according to
rection of Jesus from the dead: him, it stand precisely upon
and he affirms it to be pre- the same ground.
cisely the same with that. This is so absurd, that it
“ Thus verily, before God, scarce needs any refutation.
(says he) by whatever evi- The resurrection of Jesus is a
dence I hold the resurrection foundation principle; a truth
of Jesus for a truth, by the which stands independent of
same precise evidence I must my believing, and is the sub-
hold it for a truth that I am ject of direct testimony, which
justified, else I do verily hold I am called to believe abso-
God for a liar; for God him- lutely. But my particular jus-
self hath equally asserted both tification is not declared to be
the one and the other, in a truth, until I believe the for-
words of inseparable connec- mer; nor is it directly asserted,
tion.” (p.66.) And in a letter but promised upon that pro-
on the assurance of faith, vol. vision. “ If thou shalt believe
iii. p. 208, he says, “ I see the in thine heart that God hath
same evidence precisely that the raised him from the dead, thou
law is fulfilled for me, even shalt be saved.” (Rom. x. 9.)
for me myself, by Jesus, as I cannot therefore know that
that there is a law at all; the I in particular am justified, by
same evidence that I am passed any thing openly and directly
from death unto life, as that testified, till I know that I be-
ever I was under a death, and lieve ; for it is only those who
needed a life; the same evi- believe that are declared to be
dence precisely that Christ is justified.
made to me of God wisdom, But after all that this author
righteousness, sanctification, has advanced, in order to esta-
and redemption, as that thereblish the assurance of his own
is a God at all." -As there- particular justification upon
fore the truth of his particu- the direct testimony of God, he
lar justification stands upon is obliged at last to depart en-

[ocr errors]

tirely from that principle, and holy Ghost is simple unbelief draw his justification as an &c. These sentiments are scatinference from his believing, tered throughout his works, thus : “ All who believe the and retailed by his adherents.] record are justified. I believe BERENGARIANS, a dethe record, therefore I believe nomination in the eleventh I am justified.” ( Assurance of century, which adhered to the Faith, p. 38.) Here the assu- opinions of Berengarius, who rance of his justification turns asserted that the bread and out to be the conclusion of wine in the Lord's supper are what logicians calla syllogism; not really and essentially, but in which the second proposi- figuratively changed into the tion (viz. “ I believe the re- body and blood of Christ. cord”) is not the direct testi- His followers were divided in mony of God, but that of his opinion as to the eucharist. own conscience,

They all agreed that the eleYet the professed design of ments are not essentiallychanghis whole pamphlet, is to esta- ed, though some allowed them blish the assurance of a man's to be changed in effect. Others own salvation


the direct admitted a change in part; and testimony of God. This is his others an entire change, with favourite and distinguishing this restriction, that to those point, in support of which he who communicated unwordenies that there are any na- thily, theelements were changtural notices of God or his ed back again.* law-any conviction of sin, BERYLLIANS. So called before the assurance of par- from Beryllus, an Arabian, don—any different degrees of bishop, of Bozrah, who foufaith—that sin can weaken rished in the third century. the assurance of our salvation He taught that Christ did not that the fruits of faith are exist before Mary; but that a any evidence to ourselves of spirit, issuing from God himour justification—that any self

, and therefore superior to should pray to God until they all human souls, as being a are assured of their being jus- portion of the divine nature, tified. He maintains that all was united to him at the timo the doubts and fears in the of his birth.t Psalms are Christ's—that self- BIDDELIANS. So called jealousy, and cautious fear of from John Biddle, who in the coming short, is making God year sixteen hundred and fora liar—that the sin against the ty-four erected an indepen

Dict: Arts, Scien, vol. i. p. 289. + Mosheim, vol, i. p. 248.

« PreviousContinue »