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suppose faith, than to say, that faith supposes them. Faith goes to God in Christ for love, pleading such a promise, as that in Deuteron. xxx. 6. The Lord thy God will circumcise thy heart to love the Lord thy God. --For repentance, pleading such a promise as that in Zechar. xii. 10. They shall mourn for him :-for new obedience, pleading such a promise as that in Zechar. X. 12. I will strengthen then in the Lord, and they shall walk up and down in his name, saith the Lord. Thus, faith may be considered as receiver general for all the other graces. By this property faith is distinguished from all the other graces of the Spirit. For, while they bring some offering to God; love, for example, brings gracious desires; repentance, a broken and contrite heart; zeal, a holy courage to wrestle against all our spiritual enemies ; faith comes empty-handed to receive out of the fulness of Christ what is necessary for the preservation, exercise and increase of itself and.. of all the other graces.
. In the third place, Mr. Bellamy's doctrine in oppoa sition to that of Mr. Marshal and Mr. Hervey in relation to the ground of saving faith, is favourable to the legal bias of man's heart. For though a person be brought to some acknowledgment of the insufficiency of his own righteousness and of the necessity of the righteousness of Christ for the purpose of justification before God; yet, under the influence of this corrupt principle, that the person's inherent righteousness or good qualifications are his only warrant for any appli. cation of Christ's righteousness to his own case, the legal pride of the heart will continue in its full strength : because his own righteousness is hereby still allowed to be the ground of his hope of acceptance with God through the righteousness of Christ ; and he is still
departing from the gospel plan of justification by free grace through faith ; a plan, which will not allow us to consider our personal holiness otherwise than as an effect of justification.
Mr. Bellamy's opinion about saving faith has led him to give the following representation of legalism. * The chief difficulty," says he, “ in the way of true * faith, is for the sinner, distressed with the fears of * eternal damnation, to yield the point, not only that " the law does in fact require sinless perfection on pain w of eternal damnation, and that he is under the curse " of the law; but that this law is holy, just and good ;
and so he is justly condemned ; and, in fact, in the *6 hands and at the disposal of a sovereign God. This $ -tnis-a proud self-righteous spirit is diametrically
opposite unto*.” He has a great deal to the same purpose in the ninth section of his essay. And it is undoubtedly true, that whilst persons are under the reigning power of a legal or self-righteous spirit, they will by no means be reconciled to the purity and spirituality of the precepts or to the inflexible justice of the threatenings of the law, especially as applied to their own case ; and that they will set themselves to excuse and ex: enuate their sins. Legalism, we allow, is attended, with the evil which Mr, Bellamy here describes, but is not formally constituted y it. Legalism is men's na. tural disposition to depend on their inherent righteous, ness or personal conformity to the law, as the ground of their justification before God; or to seek life in the way of the covenant of works. This disposition was not culpable in man, whilst he continued apright; bccause it was then the revealed will of God, that man
* Dialogue 2d. page 77.
should live by doing or his personal obedience. But, in fallen men, this disposition argues ignorance both of God and of themselves ; and, in those who enjoy the gospel-dispensation, it implies unbelief and con= tempt of Christ and his righteousness. In scripture; legalism is represented as men's desire to be under the law* ; as the bent of their heart to establish their own righteousnesst; as their seeking righteousness by the works of the law, in opposition to their seeking it by faitht.
How great is the malignity of this corruption! It is the principal cause of men's enmity against the gospel plan of salvation. For so ignorant are they of God's holy nature and perfect law; so insensible of their guilt and spiritual impotence; and so elated with an opinion of the moral goodness which, they think, they either have attained or are capable of attaining, that nothing is more offensive to them, than the doctrine which directs them to come to Christ as iniserable sinners. Nor can a greater affront be offered to them than to tell them, that, with regard to the right of access to Christ, or the ground of dependance on him for salvation, they must account all their duties and good qualifications but loss and dung, and allow themselves to be on a level with the greatest criminals. Legalism attempts to frustrate the Lord's design both in the giving of the law and in the preaching of the gospel. The law was given to humble the sinner and to destroy the conceit of his own righteousness. But legalism abuses the law to the fostering of that proud conceit. The gospel is preached, that the free grace of God in Christ may reign in our justification and in every other part of our salvation, to the utter exclus
• Gal. iv. 21. † Rom. x. 3. Rom. ix. 32.
sion of creature-boasting. But legalism makes the death of Christ a footstool for the advancement of self-righteousness. Christ died, says legalism, that our virtuous endeavours and devout exercises may be accepted with God, either as constituting our justifying, righteousness or as entitling us to it.
What renders this evil so peculiarly fatal is the • subtilty of it, and the plausible appearances which it
assumes. It is indeed a dictate of man's reason and conscience, that God will deal with him according to his works. But the delusion lies in supposing that this principle is sufficient to direct us, in our present sinful and miserable condition, to the attainment of the Divine favour. Men are led by the legal bias of their hearts to think, that there is no sufficient motive to a holy practice, without the consideration of it as the ground or condition of their justification before God: and they are often confirmed in this notion by the fair appearances of regular deportment and sometimes of devout exercises, that seem to be attained under the influence of legal principles : though no such attainments can exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, Matth. v. 20.
But the subtlety of this evil appears, especially in the dominion that it retains over many who, under an evangelical profession of an entire dependance on the righteousness of Christ, are living upon their duties, their convictions, their frames and feelings, as the ground of their hope, of their peace and comfort. Indeed, those who have never had any humbling sense of this legal disposition to rely on something which' they feel or do, instead of relying singly on him whose name is the Lord our righteousness; and who have
not found themselves under the necessity of applying to the throne of grace for deliverance from it; have reason to consider themselves as still under its accursed dominion. All that secure generation who are setiled upon iheir lees, having never been emptied from vessel to vessel, and who appear at this day to make up the bulk of the visible church, are of this class. In fine, the subtlety and strength of this evil appears in the case of believers themselves, who, though they are no more under its dominion as to their state, yet, in their exercise, often ind it stealing upon them, and disposing them to build upon something in themselves, instead of building only upon Christ exhibited in the gospel. Hence they are apt to doat on lively frames and sensible manifestations, while they are continued, and to be unduly' cast down, when they are withheld.
Remarks upon a passage in a late public
cation. The doctrine of Mr. Marshal
IT may be useful to observe how, ill the ablest opposers of the doctrine of an appropriating faith have succeeded in their attempts to give such a definition of saving faith as would exclude the notion of appropriation. Some have called it a consent of the heart