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“ treasure hid in a field ; the which when a man “ hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth “ and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like “ unto a merchant-man seeking goodly pearls ; “ who, when he had found one pearl of great
price, went and sold all that he had, and bought “ it.”* This language of our Lord is so decided, and the difference between him “ who went away “ sorrowful, because he had great possessions," and those “ who left all and followed him," is so strongly marked, that we cannot on scriptural grounds allow that any man truly believes, if he is inwardly determined to renounce Christ, rather than part with some worldly object. It may indeed be urged, that these things are the effects of faith, and not implied in its nature: but assuredly the least exercise of true faith in Christ constitutes a man his disciple ; yet he expressly says, “ Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not “ all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.”p If therefore these are effects of faith, they spring immediately and invariably from its essential nature. Awakened sinners often hesitate long, before they can be induced thus unreservedly to renounce all selfish confidences and worldly idols, for the sake of Christ and his salvation : some shrinking back on one account, and some on another, as carnal lusts, self-wise or self-righteous pride, fear of man, or other corrupt propensities preponderate. Even they, who really believe the testimony of God, and are convinced that the gospel is true, are frequently
Matt. xii. 44-46.
+ Luke xiv. 25-27.
seduced into very criminal delays, before they decidedly“ count all things but loss that they may “ win Christ.” But every genuine exercise of faith implies these things: though in many cases they are only discernible, as the members of the body in the half-formed embrio, or the parts of the oak in the germ of the acorn.
Faith in Christ is, therefore, the sinner's believing obedient application to the Saviour: reliance on him, and his power, truth, and love ; on what he did and suffered on earth, and is now doing in heaven; and on his promises, and covenant-engagement, for complete and everlasting salvation: cordial acceptance of him, according to the word of God, in all his characters and offices : and confidential entrusting of the immortal soul with all its eternal interests into his hands, from a feeling sense of the need of this salvation; a perception in some degree of its suitableness and value; an approbation and desire of it above all things; and a dread of coming short of it more than of any other evil. Such is the idea of faith in Christ adhered to throughout this work : and they, who have formed other notions concerning faith, will of course object to many things contained in it. This should therefore in the first place be considered with peculiar attention; and some deliberate judgment formed on the general nature of faith in Christ, whether this be or be not a scriptural account of it: otherwise the truth of the propositions, and the conclusiveness of the arguments, contained in the subsequent pages, will not be clearly perceived ; and the objections, which arise in the reader's mind, may probably
result from an unobserved difference of sentiment on the subject before us. Let this then be well weighed, and impartially compared with the sacred scriptures.
These things being premised, it is here maintained, That the sinner wants no warrant of any kind for believing in Christ, except the word of God. No qualifications (or qualities, endowments, or dispositions in himself,) are at all requisite to authorize his application, or encourage his hope of success ; unless any one should choose, with manifest impropriety, to call his willingness to be saved in the Lord's way, a qualification. “Him “ that cometh to Christ he will in no wise cast out:” and they, who do not come when they hear the gospel, have as good a warrant as they that do ; but they will not avail themselves of it, because they comparatively despise the proffered benefit. -I shall first establish the position by scriptural proofs ; and then assign some reasons for insisting on it.
First, then, the commission and instructions which our Lord gave to his apostles, compared with their conduct and that of their fellow labourers, are conclusive on the subject. “Go
into “ all the world, and preach the gospel to every “ creature: he hath believeth and is baptized shall “ be saved ; but he that believeth not shall be “ damned.”* Nothing can be more evident, than that every human being, however vile, is warranted to believe in Christ, by this declaration of the gospel itself; and that nothing is or can be wanting, but a disposition to accept of the proposed salvation. The other instructions given to the apostles were, beyond all doubt, coincident with this commission ; though on several accounts they were worded rather differently:but one direction, couched under a parable, particularly suits our purpose.
“ Go ye into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my “house may be filled.”+ Now what further warrant could a poor traveller or beggar stand in need of, who was desirous of admission to a feast, after the servants had been sent with express orders, to use the most urgent invitations, persuasions,
* Mark xvi. 15, 16.
Luke xiv. 23.
intreaties, and assurances of a hearty welcome, in order to induce him to compliance?
The conduct of the apostles and evangelists shews how they understood their instructions. They always called on their hearers, without exception or limitation, to believe in Christ : knowing that all, who became willing by the power of the holy Spirit accompanying the word, would be thus encouraged without delay to embrace the gracious invitation, and that the rest would be left without excuse. Thus Peter speaks of his ministry, “ God made choice among us, that the
gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of “ the gospel and believe."* Nothing beside “ the · “ word of the gospel” was required to warrant the faith of the gentiles.
Paul, addressing the Jews at Antioch in Pisidia, said, “ Be it known to you, men and bre“thren, that through this man is preached unto
you the forgiveness of sins: and by him all that “ believe are justified from all things. Beware,
therefore, lest that come upon you, which is
spoken of in the prophets, Behold, ye despisers, “ and wonder, and perish.” He was sensible, that there were “ despisers” in the company,
whom he warned of the consequences of unbelief: yet he preached forgiveness of sins and justification by faith to all present, without exception; which he would not have done, if the gospel had not been a sufficient warning to authorize every one of them to believe in Christ for salvation.
The same apostle calls his office, “ The minis
Acts xv. 7-9.
+ Acts xii. 38-41