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was their sin not to be baptized, while they continued enemies to Christ; and, probably, very few, if any, serious Pædobaptists would contend for its being the duty of adults to be bap. tized in Christ's name, without first embracing his word. How, then, can this passage be understood, but by supposing that they ought to have repented of their sins, embraced the Messiah, and submitted to his ordinances ? Nor can the force of the argument be evaded, by distinguishing between different kinds of repentance and faith : for a profession of true repentance, and of faith unfeigned, was required in order to baptism.
Finally: Unbelief is expressly declared to be a sin of which the Spirit of truth has to convince the world.* But unbelief cannot be a sin, if faith were not a duty. I know of no answer to this argument, but what must be drawn from a distinction between believing the report of the gospel, and saving faith ; allowing the want of the one to be sinful, but not of the other. But it is not of gross unbelief only, or of an open rejection of Jesus as the Messiah, that the Holy Spirit has to convince the world; nor is it to a bare conviction of this truth, like what prevails in all Christian countries, that men are brought by his teaching. When he, the Spirit of truth, cometh, his operations are deeper than this amounts to: it is of an opposition of heart to the way of salvation that he convinces the sinner, and to a cordial acquiescence with it that he brings him. Those who are born in a Christian land, and who never were the subjects of gross infidelity, stand in no less need of being thus convinced, than others. Nay, in some respects they need it more. Their unbelieving opposition to Christ is more subtile, refined, and out of sight, than that of open infidels : they are less apt, therefore, to suspect themselves of it; and, consequently, stand in greater need of the Holy Spirit to search them out, and show them to themselves. Amongst those who constantly sit under the gospel, and who remain in an unconverted state, there are few who think themselves the enemies of Christ. On the contrary, they flatter themselves that they are willing, at any time, to be converted, if God would but convert them; considering themselves
* John xvi. 8, 9.
as lying at the pool for the moving of the waters. But when he the Spirit of truth cometh, these coverings will be stripped from off the face, and these refuges of lies will fail*
V. GOD HAS THREATENED AND INFLICTED THE MOST AWFUL PUNISHMENTS ON SINNERS, FOR THEIR NOT BELIEVING ON THL LORD Jesus CHRIST.
It is here taken for granted, that nothing but sin can be the cause of God's inflieting punishment : and nothing can be sin, which is not a breach of duty.
Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved; BUT HE THAT BELIEVETH NOT, SHALL BE DAMNED.T This awful passage appears to be a kind of ultimatum, or last resolve. It is as if our Lord had said, “This is your message go and proclaim it to all nations: whosoever receives it, and submits to my authority, assure him, from me, that eternal salvation awaits him : but whosoever rejects it, let him see to it .... damnation shall be his portion!' Believing and not believing, in this passage, serve to explain each other. It is saving faith to which salvation is promised; and to the want of this it is that damnation is threatened.
It has been alleged, that, « as it is not inferrible, from that declaration, that the faith of believers is the procuring cause of their salvation ; so it is not to be inferred, from thence, that the want of that special faith in unbelievers is the procuring cause of their damnation. That declaration contains in it the descriptive characters of those who are saved, and of those who are damned; but it assigns not special faith to be the procuring cause of the salvation of the former, nor the want of it to be the procuring cause of the damnation of the latter.”!
But, if this mode of reasoning were admitted, we should find it very difficult, if not impossible, to prove any thing to be evil, from the threatenings of God against it. A muk titude of plain texts of scripture, wherein sin, as any com
* See Charnock's excellent discourse, on Unbelief the Greatest Sin, from the above passage, Vol. II. of his Works. † Mark xvi. 15, 16.
Mr. Brine's Motives to Love and Unity, pp. 31, 32:
Prop. 5.] mon reader would suppose, is threatened with punishment, might, in this manner, be made to teach nothing with regard to its being the procuring cause of it. For example, Psalm xxxvii. 18. 20. The Lord knoweth the days of the upright ; and their inheritance shall be for ever. But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the Lord shall be as the fat of lambs : they shall consume ; into smoke shall they consume away. But it might be said, as the uprightness of the upright is not the procuring cause of his enjoying an everlasting inheritance; so neither will this prove that the wickedness of the wicked, or the enmity of the Lord's enemies, is the procuring cause of their being consumed. Again, Psalm cxlvii. 6. The Lord lifteth up the meek: he casteth the wicked down to the ground. But it might be alleged, that, as the meekness of the former is not the procuring cause of his being lifted up; so it cannot be, from hence, inferred, that the wickedness of the latter is the procuring cause of his being cast down. Again, Psalm cxlv. 20. The Lord preserva eth all them that love him : but all the wicked will he destroy. But it might be said, as the love of the one is not the procuring cause of his preservation ; so it cannot be proved, from hence, that the wickedness of the other is the procuring cause of his destruction; and that these declarations contain only the descriptive characters of those who are saved, and of those who perish.
In this manner, almost all the threatenings in the book of God might be made to say nothing as threatenings ; for the mode in which they are delivered is the same as that in the passage in question. For example, What shall be given unio thee? or what shall be done unto thee, thou false tongue ?" Sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of juniper. He that showeth no mercy, shall have judgment without mercy.Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.Be not deceived : neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, not effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetou8, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. Behold, the day cometh that shall burn like an oven, and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble.-Bring hither those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, and slay them before me. The fearful, and unbelieving, and abom. inable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their portion in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone : which is the second death. But none of these awful threatenings declare that the respective crimes which are mentioned are the procuring cause of the evils denounced. Though it is said, concerning the false tongue, that sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of juniper, shall be given him ; yet it does not say that these shall be given him because of his falsehood : and so on, of the rest. And thus they may be only descriptive characters of those who shall be damned ; and all these things may, for aught these denunciations prove, be blameless. If this reasoning be just, it cannot be inferred, from the laws of England declaring that a murderer shall be put to death, that it is on account of his being a murderer. Neither could our first parents justly infer, from its being told them, The day ye eat thereof ye shall surely die, that it should be on that account.
The truth is, though eternal life be the gift of God, yet eternal death is the proper wages of sin: and, though faith is not represented, in the above passage, as the procuring cause of salvation, yet unbelief is of damnation.
It is common for the scriptures to describe those that shall be saved, by something which is pleasing to God, and by which they are made meet for glory; and those that shall be lost, by something which is displeasing to God, and by which they are fitted for destruction.
John iii. 18. He that believeth on him, is not condemned : but he that believeth not, is condemned already, BECAUSE he hath not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God. Two things are here observable. First : Believing is expressive of saving faith, seeing it exempts from condemnation. Secondly: The want of this faith is a sin, on account of which the unbeliever stands condemned. It is true, that unbelief is an evidence of our being under the condemnation of God's righteous law for all our other sins ; but this is not all : unbelief is itself a sin, which greatly aggravates our guilt, and which, if persisted in, gives the finishing stroke to our destruction. That this idea is taught by the Evangelist appears, partly from his dwelling upon the dignity of the Character offended, the only-begotten Son of God; and partly from his expressly adding, this is THE CONDEMNATION, thao light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
Luke xix. 27. But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me. If Christ, as wearing his mediatorial crown, has not a right to unreserved submission and hearty obedience, he has no right to be angry; and still less to punish men as his enemies, for not being willing that he should reign over them. He has no right to reign over them, at least not over their hearts, if it be not their duty to obey him from their hearts. The whole controversy, indeed, might be reduced to an issue on this argument. Every sinner ought to be Christ's friend, or his enemy, or to stand by as neutral. To say he ought to be his enemy, is too gross to be defended. To plead for his being neutral, is pleading for what our Lord declares to be impossible: he that is not with me, is against me. There is, therefore, no room for any other position, than that he ought to be his cordial friend; and this is the plain implication of the passage.
2 Thes. ii. 10-12. Whose coming is with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish ; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie : that they all might be damned, who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. From hence, we may remark two things : First : That faith is here called a receiving the love of the truth : and that it means saving faith, is manifest, seeing it is added, that they might be saved. Secondly: That their not receiving the love of the truth, or, which is the same thing, not believing with such a faith as that to which salvation is promised, was the cause of their being given up of God, and carried away with all deceivableness of unrighteousness. The loose and coldhearted manner in which merely nominal Christians held the truth, would occasion the introduction of the grand Papal apostacy, by which great numbers of them would be swept away. And this, assuredly, ought to afford a lesson to nominal Christians of the present day, who, owing to the same. VOL. I.