« PreviousContinue »
WARRANT AND NATURE
FAITH IN CHRIST
WITH SOME REFERENCE TO THE VARIOUS CONTROVERSIES
ON THAT SUBJECT.
BELIEVE IN THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, AND THOUSHALT BE SAVED.
ACTS xvi. 31.
WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH THAT JESUS IS THE CHRIST IS BORN OF GOD.
I JOHN v. 1.
I SPEAK AS UNTO WISE MEN : JUDGE YE WHAT I SAY.
I COR. X. 15.
The first edition of this work was published in the year 1797 : the second, “ carefully revised,” in 1801 : and it has been thrice reprinted since, exclusively of the present edition.---J. S.
WARRANT AND NATURE
FAITH IN CHRIST.
To those who are convinced that all men are lost sinners, in absolute need of a Saviour, and that all things are ready in Jesus Christ for the complete salvation of every believer; a more important question can scarcely be proposed, than that which relates to the warrant and nature of saving faith. At first sight indeed the subject appears very easy: and a reflecting person, conversant with the holy scriptures, and unacquainted with controversy, will seldom be much perplexed with difficulties respecting it. But men have so bewildered themselves and each other by speculations, and controversies have been so multiplied and managed ; that the simple testimony of scripture is frequently disregarded, or even wrested from its obvious meaning to establish preconceived opinions : while the authority of men is appealed to, in support of evident deviations from the plain meaning of the inspired writers.
These are obvious sources of mistake and perplexity; and another may also be properly noticed.
Pious men, who never intended to form a party, have been so grieved by witnessing the fatal effects of prevailing errors, and so haunted with the dread of more extensive mischief; that they have been driven into the opposite extreme, as the only effectual remedy. Thus able and valuable persons, in their zeal for or against certain opinions, write more like special pleaders, than calm inquirers after important truth. Their arguments are consequently often inconclusive : their opponents readily discover where they are most vulnerable : and then, by acting the same part, they lay themselves open to similar retorts.
to similar retorts. In the meantime, the minds of numbers are perplexed instead of satisfied : and much disputation, about matters stated in scripture with great simplicity and perspicuity, serves to cherish a sceptical spirit among the more unconcerned witnesses of the contest.
In the early part of the present century, the doctrine of justification by faith in the Son of God was comparatively little attended to in this country; and the honoured instruments, whom God employed to revive a more general knowledge of it, were naturally led to insist on the important subject with peculiar earnestness, and in the most energetic language. Some of them were so fully engaged in active services, as to have little leisure for study: and, if they sometimes dropped an expression, in the vehemence of an honest zeal, which was capable of misconstruction, every candid man must acquit them of intending any thing unfavourable to practical godliness, which they eminently promoted and exemplified. But men arose . afterwards, who attempted to establish unscriptu