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on him, a receiving him, coming to him, and trusting to him for salvation. There is no doubt but these terms are frequently used in the New Testament to express believing. Whether these terms, however strictly speaking, convey the same idea as believing, may admit a question. They seem rather to be the immediate effects of faith, than faith itself." Afterwards, however, he says, "Let it but be granted that a real belief of the gospel, is, not merely a matter pre-supposed in saving faith, but that it enters into the essence of it, and the writer of these pages will be far from contending for the exclusion of trust or dependence." Again,-" The term trust appears to be the most appropriate, or best adapted of any, to express the confidence which the soul reposes in Christ for the fulfilment of his promises." We may credit a report of evil tidings, as well as one of good; but we cannot be said to trust it. We may also credit a report, the truth or falsehood of which
does not at all concern us; but that in which we place trust must be something in which our well-being is involved."
This uncertainty respecting the nature of faith, as might be expected, insinuates itself into every topic in which faith has any place: and these not merely speculative topics, but the most important points of practice. The first fruits of it is an uncertainty with regard to the nature and causes of defects in faith, and the means of detecting and correcting them. Thus, the object of Mr. Erskine's essay, is to show that, as true faith is belief of a true thing, we are to look for defects in faith, not to the mode or manner of believing, but to the things believed, and to correct those defects by correcting our views of revealed truth. Directly in opposition to this, Scott, one of the soundest divines and most experienced Christians of modern times, says, in his 'Warrant and Nature of Faith," "True Faith, therefore, cannot be known by
the doctrines believed; but by the manner in which they are believed. Many who, in a certain way, credit the whole gospel, are hypocrites, and dead in sin; while others whose creed is very defective, disproportioned, and in some respects erroneous, are sincere Christians, and partakers of Divine Life." From the same source have flowed doubts and disputes, whether there be any thing of a moral or holy character in faith; whether it be the duty of sinners to believe whether faith ought to be urged upon them as a duty; in what sense we are said to be justified and sanctified through faith. And inferences the most revolting to Christian feeling, and, as I conceive, most contradictory of the plainest declarations and precepts of scripture, have been drawn from the different opinions which have been formed on all of these different topics.
It occurred to the writer of these sheets, in surveying this field of contention, that these doubts and conflicting
opinions might arise from that most fruitful source of disputation, the want of a patient examination of the facts of the case. The words of scripture are so many phenomena to be accounted for: and if, instead of patiently examining the phenomena, men proceed to dispute about inferences drawn from them, they may contend for ever without coming to any certain conclusion. His suspicion that this was the true source of the uncertainty, was confirmed by his not having met with any careful critical examination of the original words used to express the idea of faith, or the various applications of them in the sacred scriptures. Most writers have indeed adverted to this point; but he did not find it taken up with that systematic persevering spirit of research which its importance so much deserved. While the words rendered church, bishop, baptize, &c. and even the Greek article, had met with suitable attention, the meaning of the all important words ren
dered faith, and to believe, had very much been taken for granted, or roundly asserted without evidence. It seemed to him a singular mode of procedure, to infer the nature of faith from its office in justification; instead of directly ascertaining what faith is, by an examination of the words used to express it, and then observing how it enters into justification: and equally singular to dispute whether faith be a holy principle or not, while any doubt remains as to what it is. He therefore proposed to himself to institute an examination of the meaning and application of the words, hoping that he might find a key to all the intricacies of the subject.
The view of faith which forced itself upon him in the course of his investigation (for up till this time he had held the same opinion respecting it which is expressed by Mr. Erskine and his reviewers) was that trust, or reliance, or confidence, enters into the very essence of faith;—that belief of a statement is