Imágenes de páginas

arise from a sense of having fled to and received Christ. The former is the act of faith, by which we fly to Christ as the only Saviour, cleave to him, apply, and appropriate him to ourselves for salvation. It is by the latter act that, flying to Christ and resting on him, we believe and trust that we have, and to eternity will have communion with him in his death and its benefits; and in him joy fully acquiesce, certainly persuaded that he died for us, and that by his death we are reconciled to God. Some divines have called the former faith on Christ, and the latter faith respecting Christ. This respects Christ as having died for us; not so the former; for no one can know that Christ has died for him, unless he has first believed on him. As Christ is promised to those only who believe and repent, I must first fly to him and embrace his merits with genuine repentance, before I can on good grounds decide, that the death of Christ belongs to me by the decree of God, and the intention of Christ. My faith however, does not cause that Christ died for me; for his death was antecedent to any regard had to faith as its meritorious cause, and the grace of faith is a fruit and effect of the death of Christ. But it is an evidence in all those who possess it, that Christ died for them. We infer the existence of the cause from the effect. And though I cannot yet assure myself that Christ has died for me, it does not follow that I must always remain in a state of doubt and anxiety, and that my faith must be weak and unstable. My faith may firmly rest upon those general promises of the gospel, which promise salvation to every believing and penitent sinner. Hence by certain consequence, when I find that I possess faith and repentance, I may assure myself that these pro. mises belong to me.

Another objection is offered to this effect, “ that, from our hypothesis, the foundation of the sinner's consolation is taken away, as we reason from a particular to a universal; thus, Christ died for some, therefore, he died for me. But by the rules of good reasoning, we should proceed from a universal to a particular;-Christ died for all men and and every man, therefore, he died for me." But this is gra.

tuitous, that is, every one knows that it is foolish and ab. surd to reason in this manner. We deny that we do so. We reason from a upiversal to a particular, but in a certain order. Christ died for all who believe and repent, but I believe and repent, therefore, he died for me. It is false that any ground of consolation can be drawn from the absolute universality of Christ's death; for that which is common to the godly and ungodly, to those who shall be saved, and the innun erable multitudes, who have been and shall be damned, can surely afford no solid comfort to any one. If it be supposed that Christ died for Judas and Pharaoh, who have perished notwithstanding, how will, how can this free me from the fear of damnativn? If you reply, that this fear may be taken away by faith, you recur to the same chain of reasoning upon which our consolation rests. You will say, all who believe and repent shall be saved; I believe, and therefore I shall be saved; " for whosoever believeth on the Son shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” This is our mode of reasoning. It does not elicit comfort from the universality of the atonement, but from faith's laying hold of the atonement by an act of appropriation. No solid peace can be extracted from that which is insufficient for salvation, from an atonement which avails not, and which of itself cannot prevent damnation. And such is that universal grace for which our opponents contend,-a grace which is never effectually applied to the sinner. What will it avail the sinder to know that Christ hath died for all, while it is certain, that, without faith, no one will ever become a partaker of the fruits of his death? Will he not be in a state of doubt and anxious hesitation, to know whether he belongs to the number of those to whom faith will be given. He knows it will not be given to all, and he will be anxious to know, whether he shall be made a partaker of it. May not the same difficulties and scruples which can be urged against special grace, and a special atonement, be also urged against a special decree of bestowing faith? If, therefore, solid peace of conscience can never be attained but by the mercy of God the Father towards all, and a universal atonement

by the Son, neither can this peace of conscience be attained, but by a universal calling, and a universal operation of the Sirit, effectually applying the universal salvation. If the sinner anxiously doubt and say, who knows whether Christ, since he has not died for all, has died for me; may he not also doubt and say, who knows and can tell me, whether Goil will give me faith, and whether I am of the number of the elector of the reprobate? Besides all such scruples originate from a desire to know what is not given to man to know, at least, not in the way in which these people seek to kvow it. It becomes no mortal to institute a scrutiny, a priori, into the secrets of the divine decree, relative to election and reprobation. In such enquiries as these into a man's present state, and future prospects, he should proceed a pos. teriori, by examining himself, in order to discover whether he has truly repented of his sins or not. If he has, he may, and ought to assure himself of the grace of God, and his own election. If he find that he has not repented, he ought, without delay, to apply himself to the use of the means which God has appointed;—he ought to hear and read the word, and pour out ardent prayers to God, to bestow upon him the gifts of faith and repentance; and in all those duties he should engage with profound meditation. Nor can any scruples occur on this subject, which our learned opponents are not as much bound to remove as we; except the Arminians, who maintain, that every man has, of himself, through the universal grace of God, sufficient power to believe and repent. But from this Pelagian dogma, those against whom we have reasoned in this chapter, have, through the grace of God, professed themselves free. The foundation of consolation therefore, is to be sought, not from the universality of the atont ment, but from the universality of the promises to all who believe and repent.

Although the reprobates who do not believe the gospel, will be deservedly condemned for their unbelief, yet it does not follow, that they were commanded to believe that Christ had died for them. There are various kinds of unbelief besides that of not believing that the atonement was made for

them, such as, not believing that Jesus is the Son of God, and the Messiah sent by God, but that he was a false prophet, and an impostor; or the not believing that faith is a condition necessary to salvation. All these are acts of unbelief, and that of a very criminal nature, though those who are guilty of them, may never have thought of Christ's dying for them. That faith which Christ so often demands, and for the want of which, he so severely reprehends the Jews, embraces in itself many things, many acts, which must have preceded their belief, that Christ was their Savi. our and Redeemer. This, indeed, was far from the first thing which the Jew was to believe: he could not have be. lieved it at first. He must first have believed that salvation was not to be obtained by the law, either in its ceremonies or legal works that it was to be sought in that Messiah alone, who is promised in the prophets--that Jesus of Nazareth is that Messiah-and that all will be saved who be. lieve in him. All these general acts of faith must have preceded the belief that Christ had died for him. Nor should it be replied, that all these acts are comprehended in the command to believe on Christ, and, above all, the special, appropriating act. As we have said above, though all these are commanded, yet it is in a certain order, and the latter are not commanded in any other way than as preceded by the former; and, on the supposition of the first acts not having been performed, it is impossible for the latter to exist.

Though God, by the preaching of the gospel, offers Christ to sinners, it does not follow, that he must have died for all those to whom he is thus offered, or otherwise, that the offer cannot be sincere. Because the offer is not absolute and completely unconditional, but it is made under the condition of faith and repentance. The gospel offer does narrate facts which are true, whether they are believed or not. I confine this to what the gospel says with respect to the sinner. It does not say to the sinner, Christ has died for you, and you shall be saved on account of this death, whether you believe or not. But, as Camerus speaks, it informs

the sinner, that salvation is procured by the death of Christ for all who believe that this salvation has been procured by the death of Christ-and that by embracing it in faith, the sinner will find this to be a consolatory truth. From which it is inferrible that there is an indissoluble connection between faith and salvation, that the hearers are bound to exercise faith, when called in the gospel, and that, if they wish to be saved through faith, this is the only way in which they can attain to it. But from this gospel call, we by no means rightly infer, that God, by his eternal and immutable decree, has destined Christ to be the Saviour of all who are called, or that he intended, that Christ, by his death, should ac. quire salvation for all men and every man, or even for all those who hear the gospel. The gospel which is preached to those who are called, does not declare that, in the eternal decree of God, it has been ordained, that in Christ, redemption has been procured for all men and every man. It rather announces to sinners a divine command, makes known their duty, and teaches that, through the medium of the performance of this duty, they shall be made partakers of salvation. We must not suppose hence, that such an offer as this is adverse to the divine decree. Because, though it does pot answer to the decree of election, yet it answers to the decree respecting the means of saving those who are elected. In the decree of election, God set apart Christ as the Saviour of those whom he elected, and ordained his death to be the price of their redemption; and determined to bestow upon them that faith which should enable them to embrace the salvation procured by this death. To this decree, the internal, saving operations of the Spirit answer-they are its fulllment and execution. In the decree respecting the means of salyation, God was pleased to connect Christ and faith together, and to offer Christ to the hearers of the gospel. The preaching of the gospel corresponds with, and is the execution of this decree. It is of this decree that Christ speaks, when he says,* " and this is the will of him that

* John vi. 40.

« AnteriorContinuar »