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ing on this occasion. But when Mr. Bellamy supposes that Thomas might have doubted of Christ's resurrection without doubting of his being his Lord and his God; he supposes a gross absurdity, namely, that Christ might have been Thomas's Lord and God, though he had continued in the state of the dead. Surely, as the apostle declares, 1 Corinth. xv. 17, if Christ be not. raised, our faith is vain; we are yet in our sins. Besides, the believing, which our Lord here ascribes to Thomas, cannot be limited to the historical fact, that Christ rose from the dead : because our Lord pronounces them all blessed who attain such believing. But they are not all blessed who believe that historical fact. For wicked men may believe it, and devils believe it, and tremble. After all, can any thing be plainer, than this, that our Lord, when he says to Thomas, Thou hast believed, refers to the declaration which Thomas had made immediately before of his faith in these words, My Lord and my God; or that the faith declared in these words is an appropriating faith ?-We may add a judicious observation of Dr. Guise on this passage: “ Though the see“ ing and the handling of the risen body of our Lord,” says that expositor, “ were strong inducements or mo« tives to this divine appropriating faith; yet it was the
word of Christ set home upon his heart with power, “ which begat it in him; for it was immediately upon “ Christ's saying, Be not faithless but believing, that “ he cried out, My Lord and my God."
We conclude this letter with a caution, which may be of use to remove a common prejudice against our doctrine concerning the nature of saving faith. When we say, that a real persuasion, that Christ is mine, and that I shall have eternal salvation through his name, belongs to the essence of faith, it is not meant, that a
person never acts faith, but when he is sensible of such a persuasion. There are various degrees of faith; and its language is sometimes more, sometimes less distinct and explicit. The confidence of faith is, in many, like a grain of mustard seed; or like a spark of heavenly fire amidst the troubled sea of all manner of corruptions and temptations; which, were not this faith secretly supported by the power of God according to his promise, would soon 'extinguish it. Hence this real per. suasion may be rooted in many a heart; in which for a time it cannot be distinctly discerned; yet it in some measure discovers itself by secret wrestling against unbelief, slavish fear and all other corruptions.
of the grounds of that appropriation which
is in the nature of saving faith.
MR. MARSHAL and others, whom Mr. Bellamy opposes, teach, that the evil of unbelief does not lie merely in a person's disbelief of such speculative propositions as these; That Christ is the son of God; that he died; rose again and ascended to heaven; or that every true believer shall be saved ;—but rather in a person's practical disbelief of this truth, that there is in the gospel-dispensation such a grant and promise of Christ, directed to sinners of mankind, as affords each of them, and particularly the person himself, a sufficient ground to rely on Christ, immediately upon hearing
the gospel, for his own salvation. When we say, that soul-ruining unbelief lies in a practical disbelief of this truth, we mean, that it does not lie merely in the want of an assent to this doctrinal proposition (for some sort of assent to it may be given by such as continue under the dominion of sin)—but in the want of such a cordial reception of this truth, as carries in it the actual.exercise of that fiducial reliance; by which the person takes Christ and eternal life in him to himself in particular. That every sinner of mankind, to whom the gospel of the grace of God is preached, has a sufficient ground for such an immediate reliance on Jesus Christ for his own salvation, is the doctrine of Mr. Bellamy's opponents and of the Bible. To lay before you, Christian Brethren, the grounds of this appropriating faith, as we find them in the Bible, is the design of the present letter.
First, the promise of Christ and his salvation, directed to all the hearers of the word, is a sufficient ground for this appropriating faith. What was the first gospel heard by fallen man? It was a promise of Christ as the seed of the woman who was to bruise the head of the serpent. How did Peter preach the gospel to his hearers? He said to them, The promise is to you and to your children, and to all that are afar off, and to as many as the Lord our God shall call.t That is, as if he had said, “ The promise is so directed to you and “ to your children, that each of you has a sufficient « warrant for an immediate dependance upon it, as a “ promise to him in particular; and, on the profession
of this faith, he and his children are entitled to bap*6 tism; just as when Abraham received the promise,
# Acts ij. 39:
to he and his family were to be circumcised. Nor is “ the sense of your extreme guiltiness to hinder you « from receiving the promise as directed to you; for a this promise is no other than that gospel, which we, « the apostles and succeeding ministers of Christ, are 6 commissioned to preach to every creature, even to the « profligate Gentiles; to as many as God is pleased to « favour with the gospel-call.” The promise here meant was undoubtedly the promise of the remission of sins and of all other spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus. The apostle exhorts his hearers to be baptised for the remission of sins; and he adds this reason, For the promise is to you. But this promise could not have been a good reason for their receiving baptism as signifying and sealing the remission of sins, unless it was a pro- · mise of that comprehensive blessing. Paul, in like manner, represents the gospel, which was preached to sinners both under the Old and New Testament as consisting in a free promise, Gal. ii. 8. The scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel to Abraham. And what was that gospel? It was just this promise ; In thee shall all the nations be blessed. Heb. iv. 1, 2. Let us fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them. Some understand the expression, a promise being left, as signifying the promise being forsaken by us. Even thus understood, the words imply that the promise is so addressed to us, that we are warranted to apprehend it; otherwise how could we be said to forsake it? Put the sense in which the words are taken by our translators, seems preferable. The word left is used in this sense in 1 Pet. ii. 21. Leaving us an example. John xiv. 27. Peace I teave with you. And that it should be so taken here, is
most agreeable to the connexion; for the apostle had been shewing in the latter part of the preceding chapter, that God had given the Israelites a promise of a temporal rest in the land of Canaan; but that they were excluded from it through unbelief. Well, adds the apostle, Let us fear, lest as our case is like theirs in having a promise left us; so it should also be like theirs in our coming short of it. Here it is plainly supposed, that the gospel preached to us is a promise left us to be believed or trusted in; as the promise of the land of Canaan was given to the Israelites for that purpose.
This promise of eternal life through Jesus Christ admits of two considerations. First, considered as it was made to Christ from eternity in the covenant of grace and to all the elect, as his spiritual seed in him, it is, in this view, no other than God's unchangeable decree concerning their salvation. But, secondly, considered as it is proposed and directed to mankind sinners indefinitely in the gospel dispensation, it is the means which God is pleased to make use of for the execution of that unchangeable decree. In the former respect, the accomplishment of the promise to every one, to whom it was made, is infallibly sure: in the latter respect, the promise is proposed and directed to many, who shall in the event come short of it: because the accomplishment of it is not to be attained, but by means of true faith. They who have not fàith, are not, as yet, in the actual possession of any other saving or spiritual blessing. This appears to be what some orthodox divines meant, when they called faith the condition of our interest in such blessings. This is all that the expression, “ requiring faith as the condition to « interest sinners in Christ,”—as it is used in our Larger Catechism, can mean ; consistently with the general tenor of the evangelical doctrine taught in that