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What is CHRIST to me, if he is not mine? OR, A seasonable Defence OF THE Old Protestant Doctrine OF Justifying FAITH; With a particular Answer to Mr. GILES FIRMIN's eight Arguments to the contrary.

By Andrew Croswell, Pastor of a Church at GROTON in CONNECTICUT.

MATTH. 9.2.

Be of good Cheer, thy Sins are forgiven thee.

ISAI. 45.24.

In the Lord have I Righteousness and Strength.

ISAI. 12.2.

Behold God is my Salvation: I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my Strength, and my Song, he also is become my Salvation.

Lord CROMWELL's Prayer, made at the Hour of his Death.

"THou merciful Lord wast born for MY Sake; Thou didst suffer both Hunger and Thirst for MY Sake; Thou didst Teach, Fast and Pray for MY Sake; Thou sufferedst most grievous Pains and Torments for MY Sake; All thy holy Actions and Works were wrought for MY Sake; Finally, Thou gavest thy most precious Blood to be shed on the Cross for MY Sake; Now, most merciful Saviour, let all these Things profit ME, which thou hast done freely for ME, which hast also given thy self for ME."

A true Protestant Prayer Fox

If all Things else were right in the Kingdom of the Pope, his Doctrine ofDoubting would be the greatest Monster of all Monsters —

LUTHER.

BOSTON, Printed and Sold by ROGERS and FOWLE in Queen street, next to the Prison. 1745.

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THE PREFACE.

Candid and Christian Reader,

I Here present you with a little Treatise, which I must expect will make the World angry with me, because it is contrary to the World's Religion

I am sensible I ought rather to die, than, for my own Will, to get the Displeasure of the meanest Person in the World: And Satan sometimes tells me, he can put me in to a fine Way, whereby I may do God much Service, and yet keep in with the World, sleep in a whole Skin, and go to Heaven in a Feather-bed. His Way which he would have me take, is to keep a Medium between those who have no Zeal, and those who are zealous: And when he hath flatter'd away my Zeal for the Lord of Hosts, he persuades me, (as he doth some others) that I have made a great Progress in Religion, and have now the Meekness and Gentleness of Christ: As if the Lion and the Lamb, could not lie down together in the same Soul.

But no sooner doth God give me to look into Eternity, and to realize, that the Things of this little World are not to be desired to make one happy; but I see that this sweet Reli­gion (as the World calls it, and which never poysons a Man's Soul, but when the World is sweet to him) is only Satan trans­form'd into an Angel of Light; the cloven Foot appears quite plain: And I can say, from the Bottom of my Heart, Get thee behind me Satan; thou art an Offence unto me; thou sa­vourest not the Things that be of God, but the Things that be of Men. Nay, I had rather be exercis'd with Pain, Sickness, Poverty, Reproach, and all other Evils God sees to be wholesom for me, than have my Soul languish under that fashionable Distemper.

[Page 4] For then, the worldly Mist being remov'd, I see plainly that the World hates Christ's Religion now, as mortally, as it ever hated him; that (as Luther saith) ‘'tis not the Gospel Men preach, if it is preach'd in Peace; and that whosoever will be a faithful Preacher of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ, must (as he hath foretold) have the World for an Enemy, and live in the Wars all the Days of his Life.’

Indeed, did I call that preaching the Gospel, which com­monly passeth for it, viz. Ministers telling poor Sinners they must believe Jesus Christ to be an all sufficient Saviour of Sinners in general, but not their Saviour in particular; I should be of another Sentiment: For the World doth not hate, but love this Religion; 'tis the Religion of Nature; at least Nature is not puzzled with it; all the Ministers Hearers have got something of it already; or, however it appears an easy Thing to get dark Religion at any Time: So that Ministers will be more likely to be deify'd than persecuted by the World for preached this Gospel.

But inasmuch as I have not so learned Christ; inasmuch as I believe this to be another Gospel; it is most clear to me that those who plainly and powerfully preach down this Faith, so agreeable to Nature, and in lieu of it preach that (as holy Tin­dall expresseth it) "every Sinner must believe Jesus Christ to be his Saviour and his Redeemer, will meet with Persecution, in some Degree, and that not only from the prophane and de­bauch'd Part of the World, but also and especially from many moral Persons without Grace: (For the Pharisees were the worst Enemies Christ had) and it may be, sometimes from tru­ly gracious Persons, who have been enticed over into the En­emy's Camp. The World's Enmity against this Gospel, a­gainst this Faith, springs directly from its Enmity against the Lord Jesus Christ: For the World hath such an high Opinion of its own Righteousness, and such a mean Opinion of Christ's Righteousness, that it will not bear Man to be so much deba­sed, and Christ to be so much exalted, as that a poor Sinner, who knows he deserves to be sent to Hell, should this Moment believe that God for Christ's Sake doth forgive his Sins, and that Christ and all his Benefits belong to him notwithstanding all his Vileness. This is the Root of Bitterness; Hence it is that the Doctrine of a particular and assured Faith is so run down, because it exalts the Lord Jesus Christ; because it makes [Page 5] Man and his Righteousness to be nothing, and Christ and his Righteousness to be all in all; it not being such Divinity as can be well digested, by those who have never seen the Glory of God in the Face of Jesus Christ, or, if they have seen it, are now groping in the Dark, and seeking to be justified as it were, by the Works of the Law.

This is the View in which the Thing appears to me: In Proportion therefore, as Jesus Christ appears to me to be a great Saviour, my Heart always burns within me, with Zeal against that Religion which makes him a little Saviour. Nay, some­times when I ascribe Glory to the Lamb in my Heart, and lift him up in my very Soul, it seems that if I had as many Lives as Hairs on my Head, I could willingly and chearfully part with them all, rather than come into their Secret, who are for banishing a particular Faith out of the World, and thereby pulling down the Lord Jesus Christ, and trampling him under their Feet.

And, 'tis because God who is rich in Mercy, for the great Love wherewith he loved me, when I was dead in Trespasses and in Sins, hath quickned me by making me to know that Christ is mighty to save, that I have undertaken, and, at Length fi­nished the ensuing Treatise; the great Design of which (he knows) is to speak a good Word for the Lord Jesus Christ, and to set the Crown upon his Head, when so many are going Traiterously to rob him of it, and to place it upon the Head of Rebellious Man.

And as I know that Jealousy for the Honour of Zion's King, hath made me bold in my God, to draw my Pen in his Cause, and to maintain his Right, notwithstanding a great Host of Terrors that were set in Array against me; so I am persuaded, my God who stood by me, and strengthened me to go through the Work, will bless it now it is done, to the praise of the Glory of his Grace: Nay, I can't doubt but it will redound more to his Glory than any Work I have been enabled to do by him, and for him, ever since I knew the Grace of God in Truth.

Here, I expect it will be said by some, ‘For their parts, they think I have been writing a Book that confutes no body; since all the Ministers they can find agree with me, that a meer General Faith is good for nothing, and that Believers should have a particular Application of the Blood of Christ to their own Souls.’ I answer; Ministers may agree to­gether [Page 6]in saying all this, and yet be no nearer together in the Matter of Justifying Faith than East and West.

Accordingly, Dr. Perkins observes, that both Papists and Protestants agree together in holding that Believers should have a particular Application of the Blood of Christ unto their own Souls: and yet, (saith he) the Agreement is only in Words: For we hold a particular Application by Faith; they only by Hope and Conjecture.

Just so it is with many Ministers at this Day: all the Ap­plication they hold is only by Hope and Conjecture: they teach that when Men see the Fruits of Faith in themselves, good Frames, and good Duties, they should thereby humbly hope and conjecture they have an Interest in the Blood of Christ; but they will not allow that one who is now an Hell-deserving Sin­ner, should directly, immediately, before he sees any good Thing in himself, believe that the Blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth him from all his Sins. In order to satisfy my self, whether these Men really held a particular Faith, notwithstanding all their Talk for a particular Application, I have often asked them, what was the first Thing a Man believes about Christ, when he be­lieves to Salvation? Whether he believes that he himself hath (not may have for accepting, or, if he will accept upon Gos­pel-Terms, as the Phrase is, but actually hath now) Redemp­tion through his Blood, even the Forgiveness of Sins, according to the Riches of God's Grace? And whether he will not have as much Assurance of the Forgiveness of his Sins, as he hath Faith? * And being try'd this Way, they are found wanting, and can say nothing but Sibboleth, Sibboleth.

[Page 7] I freely own I have had great Fears, lest Antinomians and Libertines who are always too plenty, and who shew them­selves after a Day of great Grace, should like vile Spiders (as Mr. Erskine calls them) suck Poison out of the Flower of the Gospel, and pervert what I have written to their own Destructi­on. But this I know, the Doctrine I advance is essentially dif­ferent from their's: (Tho' Luther and Calvin, and St. Paul were tho't Antinomians for holding it: perhaps never any one preached pure Gospel without being honour'd with the re­proachful Name of an Antinomian:) For their Faith is a Man's believing that he hath been forgiven, and was actually in a State of Favour with God, before Faith; whereas according to our Faith, a Man doth not (to use Wendeline's Words) ‘believe that his Sins are forgiven him already, before the Act of be­lieving; but that he shall have Forgiveness of Sins: In the very Act of Justification he believes his Sins are forgiven him, and so receives Forgiveness.

Besides, The Antinomians don't hold it material, that there should be a Work of Conviction before, and a Work of Sanc­tification after Faith; whereas we maintain that no Man can truly believe his Sins are freely forgiven, till he sees himself slain by the Law; and that whosoever believes that he is clean­sed in the Blood of Christ, will be constrained by the Love of Christ to cleanse himself from all Filthiness of Flesh and Spirit, and to perfect Holiness in the Fear of God: So that if our Faith is guarded (as it always should be) with a Work of Convicti­on before, and Work of Sanctification behind, Antinomians and Libertines have nothing to do with it; instead of speaking Comfort to such, it condemns them all to the Flames of Hell.

There is also one Thing more, which hath been Matter of much Concern to me, viz. An Apprehension lest those who are Antiministerial, and of a separating Spirit, should get any Advantage by my Writings, and strengthen themselves in a Way that is not good.

[Page 8] For my Part, thro' Grace, I have an universal Love towards Ministers; (more especially those who appear to have been inflamed with the Love of Christ, whoever they be, wherever they be, and however, in lesser Matters, opposite to me) and have felt my Heart wishing them well, and praying for them, even those who are most against me, a great Part of the Time that I have been writing this Book. But though I wish well to all, I don't think well of all: On the contrary, I make no Doubt but the Colleges pour forth Swarms of young Men, who have spent their Days in divers Lusts and Vanities, and have never had an effectual Law-work, so that the Light of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ hath shined into their Souls: And these unhappy Men (God pity them; my Heart almost bleeds for them; such an one was I) come forth to serve the Churches (but really to serve themselves) and after a Life spent in Pleasure, Pomp, and Worldlimindedness, they go down to the Dead, and to the Damned, and their People with them.— And 'tis observing too many of this Sort of Ministers (for one must be spiritually blind, and very much like them, not to find a Plenty of them in Town and Country) which Satan makes Use of, to prejudice some Persons against a learned Mi­nistry, causing them to separate from them, and to be Ministers themselves, or at least to heap up Teachers to themselves, some of whom had need be taught what are the first Principles of the Oracles of God: esteeming them highly for their Ignorance Sake, as if what came from the Mouths of such Men, must needs come immediately from the Spirit of God. *

[Page 9] I can truly say (my Conscience bearing me witness) I have been so far from aiming to do those Men a Pleasure, and to nourish in them a Prejudice against a standing learned Ministry, which is always joyned with a separating Spirit; that for their Sakes, I have sometimes trembled at the Thoughts of letting this Performance ever see the Light.

However, though in a discouraged Frame, I have been a­fraid of making it publick; so Satan sometimes makes me al­most afraid to sound forth free Grace, and the Glad Tidings of Salvation, lest some should turn the Grace of God into Wan­tonness) yet when I have truly considered the Matter, I have been fully convinced, that Light never did any Harm to the World, and that there could be no Danger in leaving God's Truth with God.

And accordingly I now leave the Work with him, praying that it may be his Blessing, accomplish the Good Design which he knows I had in undertaking it, and now have in sending it abroad into the World, viz. the exalting of Jesus Christ in the Hearts and Souls of Men.

Oh that what I have written upon free Grace, may cause the Reader's Heart to burn within him, and constrain him to sing Glory to the Lamb that was slain! Amen and Amen!

A Croswell.
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INTRODUCTION.

I Have oftentimes wonder'd, and believe I shall continue wondring as long as I live, how it should come to pass, that in so Protestant a Country as this, it should be a Dis­grace to any Man to be a true Protestant.

One must be a Stranger to the State of Religion in New-England, not to know that a general Faith is in Vogue, not only among Arminians, but among Calvinists also, especially of the Clergy; and that those who maintain a particular Faith, are look'd upon to be Enthasiasts and Antinomians &c. And yet these few Antinomians and Enthusiasts falsly so called, are the only thorough Protestants in the Land: All the rest, whosoever they be, do so far turn their Backs upon the Pro­testants, and say a Confederacy with the Papists.

Accordingly Mr. Ebenezer Erskine in a Sermon lately come among us, warns his Hearers against a general Faith, as what was renounced by their Forefathers as a BRANCH of POPERY. He refers to these Words in their national Covenant; ‘We detest and refuse the usurped Authority of that Roman Antichrist—His general and doubtsome Faith.’

Nay, the Meridian Sun never was plainer to one tolerably acquainted with ecclesiastical History, than that this Faith is the Faith of Papists, and that a particular and assured Faith is the Faith of Protestants.

That sanguine and undaunted Christian Hero, Luther, is well known to have been the first in the Reformation, who gave a Blow to that Man of Sin the Pope of Rome: And 'tis as well known to those who have read his Works, that the chief Blow which is gave him, and which set him a reeling, was by preaching down that general dark Faith, which then was, and now is held so sacred, and by preaching up a parti­cular and assured Faith in the Room of it.

Calvin also his Brother in the Reformation (par nobile fra­trum!) might be supposed to be like-minded meerly from his being a Reformer; for otherwise, instead of preaching People from Rome, he would have preach'd them to Rome again; [Page 11]but, besides he hath expresly over and over declared his Mind in his Institutions. ‘We shall have a perfect Definition of Faith (saith he) if we say that it is a stedfast and assured Knowledge of God's Kindness towards US, which being grounded upon the Truth of the Promise in Christ, is both revealed to our Minds, and sealed in our Hearts by the Holy Ghost.*

So also in his Catechism, he saith, it is not enough that we have an assured Knowledge that God is Almighty and perfect­ly good, but that every one of us must be fully assured in his Conscience that he is beloved of God, and that he will be both his Father and Saviour. And afterwards speaking of the right Faith; he saith ‘it is a sure Perswasion, and stedfast Knowledge of God's tender Love towards US according as he hath plainly uttered in his Gospel, that he will be both a Father and a Saviour unto US, through the Means of Jesus Christ.**

The Palatine Catechism also printed by public Authority for the Use of Scotland, and which is famous in most of the re­formed Churches, and used in public Schools, gives us the same Idea of justifying Faith; telling us, ‘that it is not only a Knowledge by which I do stedfastly assent to all Things, which God hath revealed to us in his Word, but also an as­sured Affiance kindled in my Heart by the Holy Ghost, by which I REST upon God, making SURE ACCOUNT that Forgiveness of Sins, everlasting Righteousness and Life is bestowed, not only upon others, but upon ME, and that freely by the Mercy of God, for the Merit and Desert of Christ alone.’

The Description of justifying Faith given by the Church of Holland is worthy also of particular Observation: It is, (say they) a sure Knowledge of God and his Promises revealed to us in the Gospel, and a hearty Confidence, that all my Sins are forgiven me. ††

Nay, Dr. William Perkins, who maintain'd this same Cause against the Papists, between one and two hundred Years ago, which I am now maintaining against Protestants, gives us the Definition of the Faith of Protestants in these Words,— [Page 12] ‘A justifying Faith is not only a general Belief of the Articles of Faith, that Christ was dead and rose again for them that believe; but it is an assured stedfast Confidence, whereby e­very Man particularly doth apply to himself the general Promises of God, for the Hope of Remission of his Sins in Christ, that Christ died, rose again, and did all the rest for him.

Mr. Fox the Martyrologist is so zealous that he thinks it Blasphemy to deny this Definition.

‘The Papists (saith he) blasphemously say, that Faith where­with a Man firmly believeth, and certainly assureth himself that for Christ's Sake his Sins are forgiven, and that he shall possess eternal Life, is not Faith, but Rashness, not the Perswasion of the Holy Ghost, but Presumption of a Man's Boldness.’

And that the Matter in Dispute between the Papists and Protestants was fairly represented, we are abundantly confirmed by the Papists themselves, who glory in their being Enemies to a particular and assured Faith.

Bellarmine, the Rhemists, and the Council of Trent, all determine that there is no Confidence or Assurance in saving Faith.

Bellarmine saith it is not the Property of Faith to apply to every Believer, the Promises of God in Christ: This he saith is Presumption. (The common Objection at this Day!)’

The Rhemists say, ‘That Faith by which we are justified, is a general or universal believing of the Articles of Christ's Death and Resurrection, not any fond special Faith, or Confidence of each Man's own Salvation. * And in another Place they stick not to affirm, ‘That the Apostles never knew that forged special Faith of the Protestants, whereby every one believes that their Sins are remitted, and that themselves shall be saved. Indeed, throughout the whole Performance, those Jesuits take every Opportunity to twit the Protestants for holding such a Faith, and spare no [Page 13]Pains to twist and turn all these Texts which support the Protestant Cause.

The Council of Trent declared, That justifying Faith is not that assured Belief, and Confidence of the Heart, whereby we are persuaded that our Sins are forgiven in Christ. **

And they have thunder'd out their Anathema's against all those who hold this in Opposition to their general and doubtsome Faith.

Saith the Council; If any shall say, that justifying Faith is nothing else but a Confidence of the Mercy of God, pardoning Sins for Christ's Sake: Or, that, that Confidence is it alone, by which they are justified, let him be accursed. And again; If any shall say, that a Man is absolved from Sin, and justified by that, he assuredly believes himself to be absolved and justified, let him be accursed. *

These Curses are to this Day in full Force and Virtue; so that we are all cursed and cursed again by the Papists, as well as reproach'd by Protestants, for the same Cause, even for our maintaining this heavenly Doctrine, viz. That a poor Sinner, in order to his being justified, must believe Christ to be his Saviour, and his Redeemer. But the Curse causeless shall not come; there is no cursing them whom the Lord blesseth: I desire to take these Curses, and these Reproaches, and bind them as a Crown to my Head, esteeming it the greatest Glory of my Life, that I have been counted worthy to suffer Shame in this glorious Cause.

That which stirs up the Enmity of the Papists, and causes them to oppose, curse and burn the Maintainers of this Doc­trine, is a Jealousie they have, lest it should one Day destroy Popery from the Face of the Earth: for they can foresee, without any Spirit of Prophesy, that if a particular and assured Faith should once gain Ground in the World, their Kingdom which is founded upon Darkness, Doubting and Uncertainty, must inevitably tumble to the Ground: they could no longer keep up a Market of Indulgences, Masses, and Pilgrimages, &c. and the Fire of Purgatory would be quite put out.

For which Reason it is astonishing to me, that the Doctrine of a general Faith, which as the Smoke of the bottomless Pit, [Page 14]darkens the Air and the Sun, should be so caress'd in a Coun­try as zealous for the general Protestant Cause as any in Christendom.

Nay, I make no Doubt but there are many People in the Land, and some Ministers, who have fallen in Love with this Antichristian Doctrine, who yet out of Allegience to King GEORGE, or rather to King JESUS, would die the Death, and be burnt to Ashes, rather than be reconciled to that Mother of Abominations, the Church of Rome. Why then have they gone so far backwards, as to symbolize with her, in this great Article of Christian Religion? All I can learn they have to say for themselves, is only this; viz. ‘That the Divines who came after, found out that Luther and the other Reformers had not rightly defin'd Faith by putting Assurance into the Nature of it.’

This Solution, if weigh'd in the Balance, will be found ligh­ter than nothing and Vanity: For, Luther and the other Refor­mers, were either quite right, or else quite wrong in putting As­surance into the Nature of Faith. If they were quite right then these Men are quite wrong in finding Fault with their Defi­nition of Faith: But if the Reformers were quite wrong (as these Men suppose) then these Things will follow, and must be maintained by them; viz.

1. That the Papists were in the Right, in condemning this Doctrine as Heresy, and warning against, and opposing the Protestants for preaching it up, provided they had kept within the Bounds of Moderation, and had not proceeded to cursing and burning.

2. That every one who died for a particular, and assured Faith, (for, as a certain learned Author observes, ‘it was seal­ed with the Blood of Protestants in Popish Flames:’ there is no Doubt but Tindal and Hamilton, were hurried to the Stake, and burnt, in a great Measure for their Zeal for this Doctrine) I say it follows that every one of these died as a Fool dieth, not as Witnesses to the Truth, but as Witnesses to a Falshood, of which the Devil was the Author; for he is the Author of all false Religion; so that they were all the Devil's Martyrs, and not Christ's.

3. That the Preaching of this false Divinity of which Sa­tan, the false Spirit was the Author, was the Means of carry­ing on that wonderful Work of Reformation which we have [Page 15]heard and read so much of, when Thousands and Thousands were suppos'd to flock unto Jesus Christ as a Cloud, and as Doves unto their Windows, and Nations were born in a Day. For, one must be very ignorant of those Times, not to know that People were taught no other Way to the Favour of God, than by a particular, and assured Faith, and that this Doctrine was forever sounding in their Ears. And Oh, how sweetly would such Talk as this for the Papists, and against the Pro­testants, sound in the Ears of the Pope, Cardinals, Friers, Monks, and the Rest of their religious Rabble, causing their very Hearts within them to leap for Joy! And did they think this was the common Talk; would they not together with their Thank-offerings to the Virgin Mary and other Saints, both good and bad for the hopeful Prospect, think it almost Time to send over another Reginald Poole, to forgive us in the Pope's Name, for what was past, and to reconcile us more perfectly to Holy Mother Church? And yet really this, is in Effect the Talk of every one who saith Luther and Calvin and those who first broke away from the Pope, ‘did not define Faith right by putting Assurance into the Nature of it.’ All that Popish Talk is wrapt up in this one Saying: So that hereby, they crock and besmear themselves so, that all the Water in the Sea will not wash off the Popish Smutt.

That some who came after those Christian Heroes, did see, or pretend to see that the Reformers ought not to have put any Assurance into the Definition of justifying Faith, I make no Doubt: But then it is clear from what hath been said, that their Eyes were anointed with Popish Eye-Salve which made them so quick-sighted.

And accordingly, when a Number of them in Scotland of Archbishop Laud's Faction, pretended to see the Falshood of that Faith, ‘declaring that there was no personal Confidence in it, and that personal Application was meer Presumption, and the Fiction of a crasy Brain. Mr. Robert Bailey, then Minister of Kilwinning, afterwards one of the Commissioners from Scotland to the Westminster Assembly, wrote against them, charg­ing them with Popery for that very Assertion.*

And if there was that Zeal for Protestantism in New-Eng­land, which there was then (An. Dom. 1640) in the Churches [Page 16]of Scotland such Popish Talk would be born Testimony against, and not be countenanc'd by whole Assemblies of Ministers.

But to return, How shall we account for this Thing which seems so unaccountable; viz. That there should be such a warping towards Rome in so Protestant a Country as this?

In general; this Phenomenon must be resolved into Darkness: 'Tis because Darkness covers the Earth, and gross Darkness the People.

This general Faith is a Doctrine of Darkness: It is a Weed that grows only in the Shade, and withers when the Sun looks upon it.

Accordingly in the Time of that glorious Reformation, of which I have been speaking, when God sent forth his Light, and his Truth, it shrunk up before the Sun of Righteousness: but when the heavenly Light was withdrawn, it flourished again, poor People grop'd in the dark, and blunder'd backwards to­wards Rome.

So it hath also been in this second Reformation; while the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ, shined into the Hearts of Mi­nisters, the Meeting Houses rang, and the Fields eccho'd with a particular Faith; (no Minister can feel Assurance of the Love of Christ in his own Soul, without preaching it) but now since the Lord hath departed, even the Glory of the Lord that was risen upon them; alas, how seldom do we hear the joyful Sound! When Ministers don't know that they have Christ for nothing, they can't find in their Hearts to believe that others may have him for nothing: and then buying and selling Christ comes in the Room of free Grace: their benighted Hearers also, love to have it so; a general Faith is what alone will go down with them; like Bellarmine, before mentioned, they think it Presumption for a poor Sinner to apply Christ and his Benefits to Himself, before he hath something to pay, i.e. before he finds in himself a Willingness to make him welcome.

By what hath been said, I trust it is evident what is the Faith of Protestants, and what is the Faith of Papists, and withal that 'tis seasonable to oppose the latter, and defend the former; which I shall endeavour to do by the following Arguments.

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PART I. Containing various Arguments against a general, and for a particular FAITH.

First ARGUMENT.

THE Devils believe Christ to be a Saviour, Mark i. 24. And if Men at Conversion only believe him to be a Saviour, wherein doth the Faith of Devils differ from the Faith of God's Elect?

I know it will be said, the Effects of their Faith are different: To which I answer, qualis causa, talis effectus; If the Effects are different, so are the Causes which produce them; and consequently Faith in those accursed Spirits must have another Difference than what lies in the Effects: which Difference can lie no where, but where I have plac'd it; viz. That the former only believe Christ to be a Saviour, while the latter believe him to be their Saviour.

For, as 'tis Men's taking God at his Word, that Jesus Christ is their Saviour, which makes them new Creatures; so, did God by his Spirit convince the Devils that there was in Christ Salvation for them (which he never will do) they could be Devils no more. The same Discovery from the Spirit of God, which makes the former cease to be wicked Men, would make the latter cease to be evil Angels.

However, if any one should think that the essential Dif­ference between the Faith of Devils, and of good Men lies here; that the former only believe him to be a Saviour, but not of any of their Race, while the latter believe him to be a Saviour of the humane Race. I answer, this Solution ra­ther hurts than helps their Cause: For if a little general Pro­bality of Salvation by Christ, is supposed the Means of ma­king a Man a new Creature, while the Devils who have no Hope remain Devils still notwithstanding their Faith; how much more likely is it that Men would be renewed in the Spirit [Page 18]of their Minds by a sure Persuasion that Christ and all his Benefits belonged to them in particular?

Wherefore, since the general Faith I am now opposing, can't be made out any Way to be essentially different from the Faith of Devils; the Faith of God's Elect must be a particular Faith, whereby a Man not only believes Jesus Christ to be the Saviour of Sinners in general, but the Saviour of himself, a most vile and miserable Sinner.

Second ARGUMENT.

Faith in Christ is in Scripture set forth by a Marriage. But what Woman ever gives her self in Marriage to a Man, without looking upon him as her Friend, as one that loves her, and gives himself to her? If all this were wanting, that which is essential to a Marriage would be wanting: And yet this is all wanting in the spiritual Marriage be­tween Christ and the Believer according to a general Faith.

The Soul gives her self to Christ, without looking upon him as her Friend, as one who loves her, or so much as ever intended Marriage with her.

Indeed if a Woman should marry a Man in the Dark, and give her self to him to be his lawful Wife, only because she thought him a likely Man, and had heard that he wanted a Wife; such a Marriage as this, would be well represented by a dark and general Faith. But was there ever such a Mar­riage as this? Or, if ever any Woman should be so much out of her Wits, as to marry her self to a Man in this Man­ner; all wise Men would look upon the Marriage to be a Nullity.

Wherefore, since the Holy Ghost represents Faith to us by a Marriage; and since a general Faith will admit of no­thing between Christ and the Soul like a Marriage; it must be in the Way of a particular Faith, that poor Sinners are married to the Lamb of God.

Third ARGUMENT.

Another Argument against a general Faith, is that it sup­poses Men to make God a Liar, at the very Time of their Conversion. Who is he that maketh God a Liar, but he that believeth not the Record which he hath given of his Son? And this is the Record (O glorious Record!) that God hath given to US eternal Life in his Son. 1 Joh. 5.10, 11.

[Page 19] If therefore at Conversion, we don't believe that God gives eternal Life to US, we make him a Liar.

It don't excuse us, let us believe never so firmly that God gives eternal Life to Sinners in general: No, we must put OUR SELVES into the Number, and believe that God gives eternal Life to US, or else we make him a Liar according to the very Words of St. John.

Some may think the Difficulty solv'd by saying that the Record means that God gives eternal Life to us Sinners, if we will believe. If we will believe! That is, if we will pay for it: for here believing stands for working; and working is the same Thing with paying. There must be no legal ifs; one if spoils all: For this only is properly and strictly Gospel, viz. That God gives Eternal Life to Sinners in Christ Jesus, not if they will believe, but whether they believe or no: tho' without their believing, or taking the unspeakable Gift will profit them nothing, but only be a Means of their receiving the greater Damnation. Nor is this a Doctrine of Licentious­ness, as Satan would perswade the World: On the contrary 'tis the only Cure for a licentious Life. Convictions will not do; though the Pains of Hell get hold of Sinners, yet they are liable afterwards to return like the Dog to his Vomit, and like the Sow that was washed to her wallowing in the Mire. But can a Man sin against a God giving eternal Life to him?— No verily, when once the Love and Kindness of God his Saviour hath appeared to him, all the Devils in Hell can't make him in Love with a wicked Life any longer.

Fourth ARGUMENT.

As the Doctrine of a general Faith reflects upon the ever-blessed God, so doth it upon Man too, by supposing him to be stupid and irrational at Conversion; when all Men accor­ding to the Scripture, come to themselves, though they were besides themselves before. Luke 15.17. It will be granted that what a convinced Sinner wants, is to see that he hath a Right to Christ: Well, by a divine and supernatural Light, he comes to see that whosoever will, hath a Right to Christ, and yet he don't see that he hath a Right to him! Was ever any Thing more absurd! Suppose one among a Com­pany of condemned Malefactors in Prison, expecting Exe­cution, should verily believe that the King hath sent Orders that whosoever will shall have his Liberty, and yet at the same Time should not see that he had his Liberty; would [Page 20]not every one sap that herein he was more like a Stock or a Stone, than a reasonable Man?

Thus doth this Doctrine suppose Men to exercise no more Reason at Conversion, I won't say than Brutes, (for Brutes are wiser: when they want Liberty, no sooner are the Bars let down, but every one sees Liberty for himself:) but than Stones and Stumps; and yet them all Men, however it was with them before, or may be afterwards, have the clearest Exercise of their Reason.

But where would be the Harm, if they should allow a ra­tional Creature transacting for Eternity, to be as wise as the Beasts that perish? When these see a general Privilege, they always see a particular Privilege for themselves. And why will they not allow that when a poor condemned Sinner sees Salvation for Sinners in general in Christ, he should at the same Time, see Salvation for himself in particular? Why, this would be to suppose too much Light in Conversion, and that they are dreadfully afraid of: If Conversion is all Darkness, (as to a Man's own Case) it is all good: there can't be too much Darkness; but the least Glimmering of Light would spoil all.

Fifth ARGUMENT.

A general Faith makes Men spiritual Thieves and Robbers. God gives Christ to the Children of Men according to the Scriptures. Accordingly Believing is said to be a Receiving of Christ. 1 John 1.12. Now a Man cannot honestly re­ceive a Gift, without seeing the Gift was made to him: If he doth, 'tis not properly receiving (for Giving and Receiving are Correlates; but only taking without Leave, or Stealing: And the Thing thus fraudulently taken is what he hath no Right to. If I should give a Crown to a poor Man, and he should take it, without seeing that I did really intend to give it to him, he would be a Thief and a Robber, and remain without any Right to the Money, which would have been his own, had he been convinced that I gave it to him.

Now the great and good God, hath given Jesus Christ to a poor perishing World; If any Man believes the Record, and takes Jesus Christ as given of God to him, Christ and all his Benefits, are his immediately: But whoever pretends to take Christ, without being perswaded that God gives Christ to [Page 21] him, only steals him, and hath no Lot, nor Inheritance in him: The old Proverb, no Good comes by stealing, must hold good in Things of a spiritual, as well as in Things of a temporal Nature.

This is certainly a parallel Case: The former is not more properly temporal, than the latter is spiritual thieving. — Wherefore, since a general Faith puts the whole World upon stealing Christ; since it teaches every Man to snatch at him in the dark, and to take him without seeing that Christ belongs to him, and consequently to dream that he possesses a Saviour when he doth not, to the infinite Hazzard of his Soul; it follows plainly that a general Faith, is not the Faith of God's Elect.

Sixth ARGUMENT.

What an absurd, and ineffectual Thing doth a general Faith make of the glorious and everlasting Gospel! The Gospel, like the Author of it, is not only the Wisdom of God, but it is also the Power of God unto Salvation: But that Gospel which is preached by the Generalists, is a mean absurd Thing, and of none Effect to the saving of Souls.

Suppose a King should publish an Act of Grace in Favour of Pirates, declaring that whosoever will, shall have the Be­nefit of it, and yet at the same Time embarass it with this Clause, viz. That he would have every Pirate understand it so that Pirates in general should be benefited by it, but that no Pirate should conclude that he in particular should ever be the better for it; what would every Man of Sense, say of such an Act of Grace! And what would be the Effect of it? Would the Pirates come sailing in? No, not one: they would choose to keep at a safe Distance: For no one could tell but that notwithstanding the King's Clemency to Pirates in general, he in particular might be hang'd.

And yet such an Act of Grace hath the King of Heaven made in Favour of us Sinners and Rebels of the humane Race, as 'tis explained by the Friends of a general Faith.— For, though it runs with an Ho every one that thirsteth, and a whosoever will, let him come and take of the Waters of Life freely; * yet, say they, God would have every Sinner, when he comes, believe only that there is Pardon and Happiness through Christ for Sinners in general, but that no one should [Page 22]believe that he shall ever be the better for Christ. But what Effect would such an Act of Grace have? Why, surely, it must be as unsuccessful as the other: Sinners would be afraid to come in: For no one could tell but that notwithstanding God's good Will to Sinners in general, he in particular might be damn'd. The Truth is, there must be a particular Appli­cation in both Cases: The Pirate grown sick of that Sort of Life, must see that the King meant him, as much as if his name had been mention'd in particular; and when he sees there is Safety for him, then he comes in immediately in his Heart. The Sinner also grown weary and heavy laden with his Sins, must see that God means him in the Call of the Gospel, as much as if he was call'd by Name; and when he sees the Love and Kindness of God his Saviour towards him, and that he is in no Danger, he returns in his Heart immedi­ately, with a Behold I come unto thee, for thou art the Lord my God.

The right Way of returning, for Prodigals and Pirates both, is for them to be melted down and overcome with the Love and Kindness of their God and Prince, towards them, such Rebels, and such Traitors as they have been! And if any pretend to return without being conquer'd by Goodness, meerly to save themselves, and for what they can get; they are meer Mercenaries, disloyal Subjects, Pirates and Prodigals in their Hearts as much as ever.

Seventh ARGUMENT

Believing in Christ, is explained to be trusting in him: but a Man can't trust in Christ, without a particular Faith that Christ is his Saviour. What saith David? I trusted in thee, O Lord: I said, thou art my God. Ps. 31.14. Vid. Isa. 12.2. If a Man don't see Christ to be his Saviour, he cannot see enough in him to trust his Soul with him. 'Tis of the Es­sence of trusting to be perswaded that the Person whom we trust, is a Friend and will do that for us which we trust him for. If one should try to trust another with an Affair of Importance, without being perswaded of his Friend­ship and Fidelity, he would find it an impossible Thing. So, let a Man try never so much to trust his Soul with Christ, with­out any Perswasion that Christ will save his Soul, and he will find he can as easily raise the Dead, as trust such a Saviour. But when the Lord Jesus unveils his Glory, and shews us that his Name is, the Lord OUR Righteousness, then we can't help [Page 23]committing our Souls and eternal Salvation to him, as to a faithful Redeemer: They that know his Name will trust in him. Psal. 9.10.

Eighth ARGUMENT.

True Faith brings true Peace into the Soul. Rom. 5.1. But all that Peace which a Person hath without seeing Christ to be his Saviour, and his Redeemer is irrational and ungroun­ded, and therefore cannot proceed from the God of Peace. St. Austin well said, Quid est Deus si non est meus? So a Man who hath his Eyes opened to look into Eternity, and to realize the Worth of his own Soul, will not, cannot be easy in his Mind by believing Christ to be a Saviour of Sinners in the general, but will say, What is Christ to me, if he is not mine? If any for his Comfort tell him that ‘the other ge­neral Faith must be true Faith, since most People, and e­specially Ministers are of this Mind; he will say misera­ble Comforters are ye all: When a reasonable Creature is in Danger, it is but reasonable to be afraid in Proportion to the Danger; a general Faith will not do for my Soul in particular; I must despise my own Soul, if I am comfor­ted without being able to say, My Lord and my God!— That general and dark Faith therefore which cannot quiet one who is deeply wounded with the Arrows of the Almighty, nor give a rational Peace to any, cannot be true and saving Faith.

Ninth ARGUMENT.

A general Faith cannot be right, because it don't work by love. We are told, that in Christ Jesus nothing avails, but Faith that worketh by Love. Gal. 5.6. But, how is it possible any one should exercise Love towards God, without a Per­swasion that God loves him?

[Page 24] Whoever considers the Matter attentively, will find it to be of the Nature of Love, to consider the Person beloved, as one who loves us. We can't love any one with a Love of Complacence, without apprehending him to be one who loves us, or at least, would love us upon sufficient Acquaintance with us, which amounts to the same. Wherefore, when we exercise Love towards God, we do, and must, in Proportion to our loving him, look upon him to be a God loving us. Not that we love him only for loving us (such Lovers are Haters of God) but yet the Idea of his loving us, is not excluded Nay, as the Apostle saith, We love Him because He loved us first. 1 Joh. 4.19. We see the Glory of God in the Face of Jesus Christ, not excluding any of his Perfections, but more parti­cularly, his glorious Goodness to Sinners, and to us the very chief of Sinners; and when we see Him as He is in Christ, we are ravished with his Beauty, the Fire of Love is inkindled in our Hearts, and we return Love for Love. Thus it is that poor Sinners begin to love that God who is Love: both Scripture and Reason testifie that it must be so: Wherefore, since a general Faith don't shew a Man God's Love to him, nor consequently kindle one Spark of divine Love in his Soul, it cannot be true Gospel Faith.

Tenth ARGUMENT.

And as a general Faith don't bring any Love into the Soul, so it is an utter and irreconcileable Enemy to true Humility. Indeed, a Man who hath only a general Faith, may hang down his Head like a Bulrush, and be very dejected, as if he had no Peace; (and indeed he could have none were it not for the Hardness of his Heart:) but this is only that legal Humility, which the legal World is in Love with. True Humility is loathing our selves before God: but we never loathe ourselves, but when we see God pacisied. When a Man sees God as he is, he always abhors himself: Job 42.5,6. but no Man can see God as he is, unless he sees him to be a God in Christ; i. e. a forgiving God, with a Pardon in his Hand for him, and the very chief of Sinners.

So far is the common Divinity from being true, viz. That 'tis Humility for Men to question the Favour of God to them! (Nay, many draw their Hopes out of their Fears; because they are so humble as to fear they shall not be forgiven, they have a secret Hope that God will forgive them.) But tho' [Page 25]this Humility is highly esteemed among Men, it is an Abomina­tion to the Lord. The Devil is the Author of all this Humi­lity: And he laughs in his Sleeve to see Papists and Protes­tants join together in preaching up his Humility. 'Tis blas­phemous Humility; it denies the God that is above; it is foun­ded upon a Denial of his Truth and Faithfulness. Let a Man but believe God to be true, and this Humility will vanish away like Darkness before the Sun: for when a Man believes God to be true, then he believes, that whosoever will is welcome to Pardon; and when he believes that whosoever will is wel­come, he can't help seeing that he is welcome; and then away goes all this Humility and Satan with it.

Eleventh ARGUMENT.

If a general Faith is true Faith, then it is a Sin for unconvert­ed Persons to pray; and Ministers should warn their Hearers, never to pretend to pray 'till they are converted.

I know that some of the Friends of a general Faith, are very zealous against this Error: but, let them look at home: 'tis certain that none need to hold it, but those who hold a general Faith; and there is a Necessity laid upon them: for this Faith and that Error, are so joined together, that no Man can put them asunder.

If any one thinks I bear too hard upon his Faith, I would clear my self by asking him a few Questions.—In the first Place, I would ask him, Whether an unconverted Man may not use the Lord's Prayer, and pray God, for Instance, to forgive his Trespasses? To this, he must say, Yes. I would also ask him, Whether he should not ask in Faith: Jam. 1.6. and 1 Tim. 2.8. To this also he must say, Yes. I would then ask him, Whether asking in Faith, is not believing that we receive what we ask for? Mark 11.24. This also must be answered in the Affirmative. And from these Concessions, it will follow, as from his own Mouth, that when an un­converted Man prays God to forgive his Trespasses, he should have a particular Faith that God for Christ's Sake doth forgive his Trespasses. So that be himself, by owning the Scriptures to be true, bears so hard upon his own Faith, as to make it tumble to the Ground. Nor can he possibly hold it up, and be self-consistent, without telling his Hearers (if a Minister) that they must all wait 'till they are converted before they pre­sume to make one Prayer; or, at least, that whatever Prayers poor Sinners make, they must see to it, that they never pray in Faith; which Advice is full bad enough for the Devil him­self [Page 26]to give; and yet every one may and must give this Advice, who would be an hearty Friend to a general Faith, and stand by it at all Adventures. I say he both may, and must: for letting People pray in Faith, is letting them have a particular Faith; and letting them have a particular Faith, is letting them, with his Consent commit Murder upon a ge­neral Faith: So that if he is tender of the Life of it, he must solemnly warn against that Sort of praying, which will be the Death of his Faith, and never fails to murder it wherever it comes.

'Tis possible some one may think that he can save the Life of a general Faith, and yet permit unconverted Persons to pray, and to pray in Faith too.— He may insist; ‘a Man may ask in Faith according to the forecited Passage of St. James, though he hath no Assurance that he shall receive what he asks for; and that 'tis enough if he doth not doubt of God's Power and Goodness, but only doubts whe­ther he is a fit Object of God's Mercy.’ There can be nothing said but this to keep Life in their Faith: And if there is no Virtue in this, it must die the Death. And really there is no Virtue in it; it is a miserable Invention, a poor Shift which the Papists made Use of, near two hundred Years ago, to keep alive the same dying Cause.

The Jesuits call'd Rhemists, say in their Exposition upon this Passage, to this Effect, ‘That the Protestants would prove by this Text, that a Man ought to pray with Assurance, that he shall receive the good Things he prays for.’ And they would ward off the deadly Blow which St. James strikes at a general Faith by this very Shift, viz. by saying ‘that a Man may ask in Faith, &c. when he don't doubt of God's Power and Goodness, but all his Doubt is in his own Fit­ness.’ The very godly, and very learned Mr. Cartwright's Answer to those Papists then, will do for our Protestants now who are engag'd in the same Cause. 'Tis in Substance as follows, viz. ‘That if Protestants do prove by this Text that every one should ask with Assurance of receiving the good Things they ask for; they do it by the plain and express Words of Scripture: And that if they don't herein understand the Text right, St. James must be supposed to speak one Thing and to mean another.

And as to our doubting, not of God's Power and Good­ness, but of our own Fitness to receive what we ask of God; [Page 27]he saith, ‘We should not doubt of our Fitness, but that it should be out of all Doubt, that we are utterly unfit, and worthy of all those Evils, which are contrary to the good Things we ask: And yet that notwithstanding, we should assuredly believe that God will bestow them upon us because he hath promised them to us in Christ Jesus.’

And indeed, whoever believes in his Heart that Christ is worthy (which we should all do) sees that the Dogs are welcome, and can't be so popishly humble, as to doubt whether he shall receive the Mercies he asks for, because of his own Unworthiness: For then he will know that 'tis Worthiness enough in the Sight of God, to believe that worthy is the Lamb that was slain, and that faithful is he that hath promised; and he will accordingly lay hold on the Promise, and on God by the Promise, and not let him go till he blesseth him with the good Things he wants, and asks for in the Name of Christ. This brings to my Mind another Argument against a general Faith, viz.

Twelfth ARGUMENT.

That it makes Christ but a little Saviour. Every one who hath only a general Faith, believes Christ to be only a little Saviour; and the Preachers of this new Gospel, do in Effect, what in them lies, to make their Hearers believe that Jesus Christ is not a great but a little Saviour.

I don't say that in Words, they affirm Christ to be a little Saviour; this would be open Blasphemy: They may, both Ministers and others, in their Talk, set forth the Perfections of Christ, and declare that he is mighty to save, able to save even to the very uttermost.

But whatever any of us may say about Christ, every one regards him just so much (and no more) as he regards him in his Heart. And he that don't in his Heart believe him to be [Page 28] his Saviour, let him say what he will, don't believe him to be a great Saviour; and consequently the Ministers who tell poor Sinners that they must not believe Christ to be their Sa­viour in particular, do, in Effect, tell them they must not be­lieve Christ to be a great, but only a little Saviour. But it will be said, it is no Consequence, that if a Man don't be­lieve Christ to be his Saviour, he don't believe him to be a great Saviour.—I reply; a Man can't see Christ to be a great Saviour, without seeing him to be a Saviour great enough to save him: He therefore that never saw Christ to be his Saviour, never yet saw him to be a great Saviour. Here it will be said; Every one who sees Christ to be a great Sa­viour, sees him to be a Saviour great enough to save him, if he was but qualified to be sav'd by this great Saviour. If he was qualified! Away with these legal ifs to Rome! When a Man sees Christ to be a great Saviour, the Wall of Parti­tion is broken down, and he sees Christ to be his Saviour, bad as he is, without one if in the Way. 'Tis Qualification en­ough to see Christ qualified: When therefore he sees Christ qualified he can't help seeing himself qualified. How is it possi­ble that any one should by Faith realize that Christ is quali­fied to save the Chief of Sinners, in all their Blood and Filth, as black as Hell with Sin and Lust and Unbelief, and yet have any Scruple, whether he is qualified to be sav'd by such a Saviour?

'Tis the greatest Absurdity in the World to suppose this: And if it is an Absurdity; then it is plain, that all I have said against a general Faith in this Argument, is sound Speech that cannot be condemned; viz. That it makes Christ to be a little Saviour; that those who have only a general Faith, ne­ver yet saw him to be a great Saviour; and that the Preach­ers of this new Gospel teach People only, in Effect, that they must believe Christ to be a little, and not a great Saviour.

Thirteenth ARGUMENT.

Another Argument against this general Faith is, That it is an Enemy, i. e. it makes Men Enemies to that glorious and Soul-ravishing Doctrine of Assurance, of which we read so much in the Scriptures of Truth.

Time would fail to enumerate all those Passages which ei­ther assert, or else plainly suppose, the Assurance of Faith to be what Believers commonly attain to. Very many to this Purpose may be seen in St. John's I. Epistle: Nay, St. Peter [Page 29]in his I. Epist. 1. Chap. Ver. 1, 8. takes it for granted, that all the Believers who were scattered throughout Pontus, Ga­latia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bythinia, knew something of As­surance by their own Experience. For which Reason, I have often thought with my self, what dreadful Antinomians Peter and John, and other Apostles would be looked upon were they to live at this Day; and how fast most Pulpit-doors in Town and Country would be shut against them! For the Generali­ty of Ministers are so far from being of the same Mind with them, that they don't seem to think that scarce one in a thou­sand ever arrives to Assurance; when they speak of it, they run it down as a Thing that People are better without than with. 'Tis represented by them as a Thing that would make Persons lazy and proud; Nay, one of Note declared it to be so dangerous a Thing, that he said ‘an assured Believer, would be in great Danger of murdering himself, that he might go to Heaven the sooner.’

Now, to what can it be owing that the Apostles and these Ministers agree no better in the Article of Assurance? The Root of Bitterness is the above-mention'd dark and general Faith: Take away that and the Contention ceases: Whereas that being held fast there can be no Reconciliation. Nay, I have sometimes wonder'd how it comes to pass, that the Men of this Device, agree with the Apostles as far as they do, in owning Assurance to be so much as a possible Attain­ment: For even this is more than their Principle will admit of. Let us make the Trial—Suppose some one hath actual­ly attain'd to Assurance; I would ask, How did he come by it?

Now, if the Faith by which he was justified, was, as they say, only a Belief of Jesus Christ's being a sufficient Saviour for Sinners in general; every one may see that this Faith, though strain'd to the highest Pitch, will not come up to Assu­rance. For there can be nothing in the Superlative, of which there was not something in the Positive. If therefore there was no Assurance in the positive Degree, 'tis impossible there should be any in the Superlative. Since therefore the Man's Faith (let him be never so strong in the Faith) don't help him at all to Assurance, it follows that his Assurance if he hath any, can be only the Assurance of Works. Now that there can be no such Thing as the Assurance of Works, or Assurance ri­sing only from the Observation of our good Frames, and [Page 30]good Duties, is evident enough from this single Considera­tion, viz. That every Believer knows how unlike a Child of God he is sometimes: And if he asks himself whether he who is sometimes like a Child of God, and oftentimes unlike one, be really a true Child of God, or else only a reformed Hy­pocrite; the most he can arrive to this Way will be a Pro­bability that his State may be good. This Thing must needs be so: And if it is so, then it will follow, that though a Man hath never so much of their Faith, and withal abounds in good Works, he can't hereby come to any Assurance: And if Faith and Works together will not bring Assurance, I know not what will; all Men must live and die without it. The small Agreement therefore which there is between these Men and the Apostles, is too much for their Principles to bear: to be consistent with themselves, they must deny even the Possibility of Assurance. The Papists have gone this length: [Page 31]They were resolved to follow their general Faith as far as it would carry them; and since it led them to contradict the Apostles entirely, and to deny all genuine Assurance, they have done it with great Boldness. Nor, can I see how these Calvinists, (for Calvinists they will be called, though against Calvin in the main Point of a justifying Faith, as well as in other important Articles, as may be shewn in the Sequel) can rationally stop 'till they come to the same Conclusion.

Is not this therefore enough to spoil the Credit of a ge­neral Faith (if only this could be said against it) that it con­strains Men by necessary Consequence to deny the Doctrine of Assurance, which the Bible is every where bespangled with? And, is it not clear from hence, that true Faith is of a particular Nature, whereby every one believes Christ to be his Saviour, and hath just so much Assurance as he hath Faith?

Nor, doth this Account of justifying Faith at all derogate from the Honour which the Scriptures put upon good Works, in making them evidential of a Man's good Estate. Indeed when a poor Sinner believes to Salvation, he looks upon God in Christ to be his Friend (according to his Word) without seeing any good Thing in himself; for before Faith there can be none: But a Man can never determine that he hath believ'd, and is passed from Death to Life, without seeing the Fruits of Faith in himself; because if any Man is in Christ Jesus, he is a new Creature. 2 Cor. 5.17. Observing this Change in our selves, is what the Apostle, in Rom. 8.16, calls the Witness of our own Spirits; and our looking upon God in Christ, to be our Friend, which we are enabled to by his Spirit, is in the same Verse, called the Witness of his Spirit: So that in Order to our being quite sure, that our State is good, there must be two Witnesses, and God must be one of them: By his Spirit witnessing with our Spirits, that we are his Children, we can be sure, but no other Way. And this Assurance, is what I suppose all the Children of God expe­rience more, or less of: Besides the Alteration they see in themselves, and all rational Arguments they can bring to prove their Adoption, God sometimes more especially, shines into their Hearts, by the Spirit of Adoption; they see God as a reconciled God and Father, and hear him saying to them, Son, Daughter, be of good Cheer, your Sins are forgiven you, I have loved you with an everlasting Lovingkindness; I will [Page 32]never leave you, nor forsake you. Nor can I think all those who are against me in this Argument, are utter Strangers to these heavenly Irradiations. O blessed God, pour out the Spirit of Adoption upon them! Oh that all my Antagonists may have the full Assurance of Faith! Dispute out thy Cause with them, by filling their Hearts brim-full of the Love of Christ: Let Assurance of thy Love quite spoil them for dis­puting any more against Assurance.— But to return—This Witness of the Spirit, of which I have been speaking, or Knowledge of our good Estate, partly, and principally by the Spirit of Adoption shining immediately into our Hearts, is what is called Enthusiasm by almost all the Friends of a ge­neral Faith: And all these, whosoever they be, are with the Papists utter Enemies to any genuine Assurance: If they talk for it, it must be, because they don't understand their own Principles, or, which is worse, because by this Craft they have their Wealth, and keep up their Reputation among the People.

And as for here and there one of the Generalists, who suppose one in a Thousand are favour'd with the Witness of God's Spirit; if they are right in owning there is such a Thing, they must be wrong in supposing it to be so rare a Thing: Or, in other Words, they must deny entirely the Wit­ness of God's Spirit, (as the Bishop of Litchfield and Coventry with his Clergy, have lately done) or else own that every one hath this Witness of the Spirit in some Measure, when he ex­ercises saving Faith, and consequently bid Adieu to that ge­neral and dark Faith which is so dear to them. For, not to insist upon the Apostle's making it the common Privilege of Believers, to have the Spirit of God witnessing with their Spi­rits, that they are the Children of God: (Though this is an Argument which I think it impossible for them to get over) Nor yet to dwell upon this, that otherwise Christ would leave Believers comfortless, it having been shewn that there is no rational Comfort without it: (which also is a Difficulty on their Side insuperable:) I say, waving these Arguments; this Consideration is of great Weight, viz. That by owning that any have this Witness assuring them of their Adoption, they are forced to invent two Sorts of true Faith, essentially dif­ferent from each other; for which they have no Ground in Scripture. Indeed the Scripture speaks of a Faith unfeigned, [...] Tim. 1. 5. and supposes there is a Faith that is only feign­ed: [Page 33]But as to there being two Sorts of unfeigned Faith, essen­tially different, as they must be, if the one hath Assurance in it, and the other hath no Degree of Assurance: This, I say looks like Man's Invention to support a Cause; and if other­wise their Cause must drop, they ought rather to let it drop, than to shore it up by any Divinity not found in the Bible.

Fourteenth ARGUMENT.

A general Faith is an Enemy to true Repentance. That true Faith always produceth true Repentance, will be grant­ed by all. Now true Repentance is Men's returning to God, as their God. Jer. 3.22. Behold we come unto thee for thou art the Lord OUR GOD. And if this is true Repentance, a ge­neral Faith cannot be true Faith, for it will never produce this Repentance; because when a Man hath only a general Faith, he never sees God to be HIS GOD.

What will a Generalist say here? He can't deny this to be true Repentance; and by owning this to be true Repen­tance, he doth really own his Faith to be false Faith. To save it, he must be forced to create a new Thing ; He must say ‘there are two Sorts of true Repentance; and that tho' a Man truly repents when he sees God to be his God, yet he may repent truly without any such Discovery, and always doth so at first.

My Bible don't teach me this Divinity; it asserts, there is a Repentance unto Life, and supposeth there is a Repentance not unto Life: But as to there being two Sorts of Repentance unto Life, essentially different, as they must be, if the one is produced by a Man's seeing God to be his God, and the other without any such Discovery: This Divinity, I say, is what I never could find in my Bible; nor could they find it in theirs were it not that they want it, and can't possibly do without it.

But if they will insist upon it that it is in their Bibles: I would ask them what becomes of their Calvinism all the while? Calvin's Bible was the same with mine: He never was quick-sighted enough to find any such Repentance in his Bible: On the contrary, he saith boldly, * that a Man cannot [Page 34]earnestly apply himself to Repentance, unless he knows him­self to be of God. And hereby also they overthrow that scriptural Distinction of Repentance into that which is legal and that which is evangelical, which in Words they are so zealous for. If, as they say (and are forc'd to say, or else to let a general Faith breath its last) a Man may repent evangelically without being led to it by the Goodness of God to him, or, which is the same Thing, without seeing God to be his God; I would fain know of them what is legal, and wherein lies the essential Difference between legal and evangelical Repentance.

Those I have discours'd with, make no tolerable Answer to the Question.—The Task must needs be hard: For they first, in Effect, say there is no such Thing, and then undertake to account for the Existence of it upon that Principle.

Fifteenth ARGUMENT.

A general Faith makes a Man an Opposer of the Power of Godliness and experimental Religion in the Place where he lives, and as far as he hath any Influence.

If a Man preacheth this Faith, his People are likely to re­main easy and unmov'd; for almost every one hath gotten this Faith; Or however it appears so easy a Thing to get it, that no one is likely to be much concern'd about it.

Or, if People should by any Means be under strong Con­victions; let them but believe what the Minister preaches to be true, and their Convictions will soon die away.

For, when a Man is under strong Convictions, he don't doubt but Christ is a general Saviour: what he wants is, to see Christ to be his Saviour: And if the Minister can per­swade him there is no Need of this, the Man grows easy and hath Peace, though God hath no Peace for him.

Or, if any of a Minister's Hearers should get a particular and assured Faith, notwithstanding all the Warnings they had heard against it; If in the Midst of their Distress and Despair of helping themselves, the All-sufficiency of Jesus Christ should be discover'd to them by the Spirit of God, making them cry out, at least in their Hearts, My Lord, and my God! the Minister must tell them (and others too) that they are deluded. And accordingly, it is observable, that in a late Declaration of Ministers, such Converts are supposed to be deluded; they give Thanks only for the Conversions of those who had no such particular Faith, i. e. in my real Judgment, only for the Conversions of those who never were converted.

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PART II. Containing an Answer to Mr. Giles Firmin's eight Arguments against the present Truth, in his Real Christian, Pag. 186, &c.

Mr. Firmin's I. ARGUMENT.

‘THAT is not the Essence of saving Faith, which Gos­pel-Ministers cannot press all Men to, but they must press most to believe a Lie.’

‘But to press all Men to a particular Persuasion, or Assu­rance, that Christ is theirs, Forgiveness theirs, is to press most Men to believe a Lie.’

Ergo, ‘Particular Persuasion, or Assurance, that Christ is mine, Forgiveness mine, is not the Essence of saving Faith.’

This is what leads the Van in Mr. Firmin's invincible Ar­mada, and in which those who are likeminded seem most to glory: but to glory in this, is to glory in a Thing of nought; for it only confutes an Opinion which we hold not, but ab­hor, viz. that all Men should be pressed to believe Christ and Forgiveness are theirs, i. e. in Possession: What we hold is that all Men should be pressed to believe that Christ and For­giveness are theirs, not in Possession , but in Right or Grant only: These two Propositions are essentially different; and [Page 36]'tis the not attending to this just Distinction, which gives Mr. Firmin's Argument all the Credit it hath in the World.

To press all Men to believe that Christ and Forgiveness are theirs, i. e. in Right and by God's Grant, is so far from pressing them to believe a Lie, that it is pressing them to be­lieve a great Gospel-Truth, or rather the Truth of the Gospel. For, What saith the Scripture? Why, that God sent his Son to be the Saviour of the World; (Joh. 4.14.) that he gave him for a Covenant of the People, and for a Light to the Gentiles; (Isa.42.6.) that whosoever will may come, and take of the Waters of Life freely, (Rev. 22.17.) Nay, Christ saith, Look unto me, and be ye saved all the Ends of the Earth, Isai. 45.22.

Now all these and such like Declarations shew us that Christ is by Office, whatever he is in the Event, the Saviour of every Man: that one Man hath as much Right as another to lay hold on eternal Life, and that all Men are warranted and commanded so to do in the Word of God. The Matter may be illustrated in the following Manner. — Suppose a King, in Consideration of his Son's Mediation in behalf of certain condemned Traitors, obliges himself to bestow his Pardon and Favour upon those who will come to him, and receive such Kindness at his Hands, — Have not all those Traitors a Right, and one just as good a Right as another to the King's Pardon and Favour? And would it be absurd in any one to press them to believe they had such a Right, and to make use of it? And if any stood out, while it was too late and miss'd of it, would not their Blood be upon their own Heads? most cer­tainly. Ye will not come unto me that ye might have Life, saith our Saviour, John 5.40. i. e. Eternal Life is yours, by God's Grant, but ye will not accept of it, and so must perish!

Tho' there is a secret Decree of God, yet this Matter should be consider'd abstractly, as if there were none at all: I mean, we should not limit God's Grant by any Decree. Accordingly it is observable, that tho' the Apostle fully believed the De­crees of God, yet they preached Christ and Salvation by him as freely as if they knew every one of their Hearers to be e­lected. Thus have I fairly dismiss'd this Argument by shew­ing that it confutes not what we maintain, but only what we abhor as well as they.

However, if the Objecters are not quite weaned from it, I would mention one thing more which will spoil it forever for their Use; and that is, it concludes as strongly against their [Page 37]Faith as it doth against ours: Nay, it concludes against all Faith but the Faith of Devils and those who are in Despair, whose Faith is that Jesus Christ is really the Saviour of Sinners, but they have no Lot nor Inheritance in him. I say this Dreadful Faith, is what alone can stand the Force of this Argument: for, as we press all Men to a particular Faith that Christ and his Be­nefits are theirs, they press all Men to a general Belief of the same Thing: Neither we nor they are free from pressing them to expect some Benefit by Christ, whereas most Men not being elected will receive no Benefit by him: So that even they themselves, by their own Argument, press most Men to believe a Lie.

Mr. Firmin's II. ARGUMENT.

"That which makes the Essence of saving Faith, to lye, or subsist only in an Act of the Understanding, that is not the Essence of saving Faith.

But to make the Essence of saving Faith to lye in a particu­lar Persuasion, or Assurance that Christ is mine, Forgiveness mine, is to make the Essence of saving Faith to lye, or sub­sist only in an Act of the Understanding.

Ergo,— The particular Persuasion or Assurance Christ is mine, &c.— is not the Essence of saving Faith.

It would be worth while for those who think there is any Force in this Argument, against our particular Faith, to try the Force of it against that general Faith which is maintain­ed by them. They make a general Persuasion of For­giveness of Sins thro' Christ, to be of the Essence of saving Faith, just as much as we do a particular Persuasion; and therefore if we are hereby guilty of making the Essence of sa­ving Faith to lie, or subsist only in an Act of the Understand­ing, they themselves are verily guilty in this Matter.

If they say in their Defence, that tho' they make a general Persuasion of Forgiveness of Sins thro' Christ to be of the Essence of saving Faith, they don't mean that this is all that is essential to it, it being essential to true Faith to purify the Heart, and reform the Life: This is the very same Thing we have to say in our Defence; so that the same sort of Rea­soning which will clear them from the Force of their own Argument, will clear us too.

The Truth is, Mr. Firmin's second Argument, (like his first) is a meer Sophism; it confutes only this Opinion, viz. That all that is essential to saving Faith is to believe Christ and [Page 38]Forgiveness to be ours. But did Mr. Shepard, Mr. Perkins, and other holy Men he is disputing against, maintain this? Those Divines would have owned this a Damnable Error, instead of saying one Word for it. 'Tis one Thing to say that 'tis essential to saving Faith for a Man to believe Christ and Forgiveness to be his; Another to say that this is [...] that is essential to saving Faith: Tho' the Propositions don't differ so much in Sound, they differ in Sense, as far as the East is from the West: And had Mr. Firmin observed this, he would never have troubled himself to have written down his second Argument.

Mr. Firmin's III. ARGUMENT.

"That which is not cross to the corrupt Heart of Man; nor doth directly empty a Man of himself, that cannot be the Essence of saving Faith.

But the particular Perswasion that Christ is mine, the Assurance my Sins are forgiven, is not cross to the corrupt Heart of Man, nor doth directly empty a Man of himself. Ergo, the particular Perswasion and Assurance that Christ is mine, is not the Essence of saving Faith."

What did Mr. Firmin mean by this Argument? His minor Proposition, the Support of all, is so far from being true, that the contrary Proposition is an infallible Truth, viz. That the only Reason why all that have heard the joyful Sound, don't believe assuredly that Christ and Forgiveness are theirs, is because this is contrary to their corrupt Hearts, and they are not emptied of themselves. God gives Christ, and all his Benefits to every Sinner, to whom the Gospel comes, for nothing at all; he justifies the Ungodly; the very Chief of Sinners are welcome to the Waters of Life: Why then don't they believe Christ and his Benefits are really theirs, according to God's Grant made to them? This must be re­solved into their Carnality and Selfishness; or, as Mr. Firmin expresseth it, the evil Self, and good Self which reign in them. Were it not for these all Christendom would fly to Christ in A Moment, in the twinkling of an Eye, with a MY LORD AND MY GOD. But alas! far the greater Part are carnal, and sold under Sin; they are whole, and don't need the Phy­sician; let who will take Christ and his Benefits for them; especially since one main Benefit is to save People from those very Sins they are resolved not to part with.

And as for those who are pricked at the Heart, and enquiring [Page 39] what they shall do to be saved; they stumble at this Stumbling-Stone, that Salvation should be quite free, that Christ and his Benefits should be theirs without any Money, and without any Price. The Law being written on our Hearts, we naturally think this is good Divinity that God will not clear the Guilty, nor justify any but the Godly: (here is the Foundation of Arminianism!) Wherefore when such Persons are told from the Word of God, that he doth clear the Guilty for the Sake of another only, and that those who now are Ungodly, may be received immediately into God's everlasting Embraces; it seems to them a Thing incredible, and they make God a Liar by not believing the Report: Nor, can they believe this Pa­radox to be a real Truth, any more than they can believe that two and two make five, 'till God by his Spirit shews them that their own Righteousness, is but as filthy Rags in his Sight.

But, being convinc'd of this, the Scales fall from their Eyes, the glorious Gospel shines into their Souls, and they see the Truth of such Declarations of free Grace, and conse­quently, that though they are so bad, Christ is nevertheless theirs, and Forgiveness theirs. I say, Consequently: For 'tis impossible any one should receive the free Declarations of the Gospel as the Word of God, and yet be in the Dark about his own Soul: For he that believes the Chief of Sinners are welcome, can't help seeing that he is welcome: He that hear­tily believes God justifieth the Ungodly, can't question God's Favour to him though ungodly: In a Word, Sin being the only Thing which makes any jealous of the Love of God; when they see this Wall of Partition broken down, so that Sin is no Impediment at all, but Sinners are in as good a Case as if they had never sin'd, having such an High Priest; I say, when Men see this (and they always see this, only when the Gospel is hid from them) they can't be jealous of the Love of God towards them.

This, I think is fair, evangelical Reasoning: And if it is, then Mr. Firmin's third Argument may be made Use of to establish that very Faith, which he intended to overthrow by it: And we may conclude it to be true, saving Faith, because it is so contrary to Carnality and Self-Righteousness, that it can't be, where these prevail, and can't but be, where these are subdu'd.

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Mr. Firmin's IV. ARGUMENT.

"This is not the Essence of saving Faith, which is not found in all sound Believers.

But the particular Persuasion or Assurance, that Christ is mine, is not found in all Believers;

Ergo, It is not the Essence of saving Faith.

Mr. Firmin proves nothing by this Argument, because he doth not prove his minor Proposition. Indeed, 'tis incapable of Proof, unless Men had, (which they have not) an infalli­ble Knowledge of the Hearts of others.

As to the Case of Infants, which he mentions, any one may see that they may as easily be supposed to have a par­ticular Faith in Christ as a general one: So that this Objec­tion is no stronger against our Faith, than it is against his And as to adult Persons; tho' there be but few, that have a particular and assured Faith, that Christ is their Saviour; we know there are but few that shall be saved. However, there is no Doubt but there are thousands and thousands of Persons, who, tho' they have not a full and unshaken Assu­rance, do yet more weakly and interruptedly, believe Christ to be their Saviour, and that all his Benefits belong to them. These last are true Believers; and whether there are any true Believers, who are quite Strangers to such Assurance, is the Matter in Dispute; Mr. Firmin supposes there are some such; I suppose there are none; one Supposition is just as good as another; so that this fourth Argument is good for nothing at all.

Mr. Firmin's V. ARGUMENT.

"That cannot be the Essence of saving Faith, which must have another Act of saving Faith to [...] it, before it can exist.

But this particular Persuasion, or Assurence that Christ is mine, must have another Act of saving Faith to antecede it before it can exist. Ergo, It is not the Essence of saving Faith.

Here Mr. Firmin confutes the Faith of them he is disput­ing against, only by taking it for granted that there is no such Thing: An easy Way [...] confuting any thing whatsoever! Any one who can see the Force of an Argument, will think enough has been said upon this.

Mr. Firmin's VI. ARGUMENT.

"That cannot be the Essence of saving Faith, which is not always constant and abiding so long as a Man is a Believer.

But the particular Persuasion and Assurance that Christ is mine, [Page 41]is not always constant and abiding so long as I am a Believer. Ergo, It is not the Essence of saving Faith."

If Mr. Firmin meant that that cannot be the Essence of saving Faith, which is not always constant and abiding so long as a Man is a Believer, at least, in Habit; his major Proposition is an undoubted Truth: To suppose orherwise, would be to suppose a Man might be a true Believer, and an Unbeliever too at the same Time. But then, what will become of his minor? viz. That the particular Perswasion and Assurance that Christ is mine, is not always abiding so much as in Habit as long as I am a Believer. For a Cessation of Acts will by no Means prove there is no Habit remaining.

The Men with whom I have to do, will grant that a Man may be said to have been a true Lover of God for many Years together, tho' a great Part of his Time God was not in his Thoughts, and when he did think of him, he generally look'd upon, and fear'd him as an Enemy; be­cause all that Time, there was the Habit of Love which would have been drawn forth into delightful Acts, had the Lets and Hindrances been taken away. I say those who are for a general Faith, and yet are any Thing like Cal­vinists will grant this: And this is, in Effect, to grant there may be the Habit of Assurance in a Man, tho' by Reason of Lets and Hindrances from the World, the Flesh, and the Devil, this Habit may be very seldom drawn forth into Acts, especially continued and strong Acts from which all doubting is remov'd.

But, if Mr. Firmin should be understood as asserting that the Essence of saving Faith is always lasting and abiding as long as a Man is a Believer, not in Habit only, but in Act and Exercise; then he destroys his own Faith, as well as that he intended to destroy: Nay, all saving Faith is at this Rate a meer Nonentity, and Chimera, since there is none which will agree to his Definition. For, let the Essence of saving Faith, lie in what it will; in believing Christ to be a general, or a particular Saviour, good Men when exer­cised with Atheistical Thoughts (not to mention other Impediments) don't believe him to be any Saviour at all. This Thing is either so, or not: At such Times the Ex­ercise of Faith is interrupted, or it is not: It belongs to those who value this Argument to own, or deny. If they own it is interrupted, they give up their Cause: If they [Page 42]deny it, they join with the Quakers, and run headlong into the Doctrine of Perfection.

Mr. Firmin's VII. ARGUMENT.

"That cannot be the Essence of saving Faith, which is not pure Faith, but at best a mixed Act of Faith, and Sense. But the particular Perswasion and Assurance that Christ is mine, is not pure Faith, but a mixed Act of Faith and Sense. Ergo, it is not the Essence of saving Faith."

This is one of Mr. Firmin's most plausible Arguments. The major Proposition is most certainly true: 'Tis all one with saying nothing can be Faith which is not Faith. The minor also is true in a Sense; so that there is a see­mingly fair Conclusion against a particular Faith, and yet really no Conclusion at all. The Force of it is all put by, by distinguishing Assurance into that which is fiducial, and that which is evidential. Fiducial Assurance, is my trust­ing in Christ as mine; evidential Assurance is my seeing that I have trusted in him. This latter Assurance, is not pure Faith, but a mixed Act of Faith and Sense: And if we had held this to be justifying Faith, we must have been speechless; our Faith would have been fairly disputed out of the World: but since we don't hold this, (nor doth any one else hold it) this Argument is nothing to the Purpose.

Mr. Firmin's VIII. ARGUMENT.

"That cannot be the Essence of saving Faith, which lea­veth a true Believer sinking under the Sense of his Sin, and Misery, without Support.

But this particular Perswasion and Assurance, Christ is mine (affirmed to be saving Faith) leaves a true Believer under the Sense of his Sin and Misery, without Support. Ergo, &c."

We own the Charge Mr. Firmin brings against a parti­cular Faith, and glory in it too: Nay we should not think it worth having, if we could not say the same Thing in Favour of it, which he saith against it, viz. That it leaves all Sorts of Persons, sinking under a Sense of their Sin and Misery, without any Support, i. e. without any Support of [Page 43]their own Righteousness to lean upon. Nor do we fear their sinking, since they will only sink into the Arms of Christ, into which if they are kept from sinking by such Supports, they must one Day sink into Hell.

That all convinced Sinners would immediately be sure that Christ and Forgiveness are theirs, were it not for their own Righteousness, which they lean upon, I think is evi­dent from what hath been said upon the IIId Argument. However, if any are not satisfied with what is written there; I would ask them whether every Man who be­lieves there is a God, doth not always believe there is some Way into his Favour, either by Works, or without Works: To this they must say Yes; and this is, in Ef­fect, giving up the Point: For when a Sinner is hear­tily convinc'd that the Way into God's Favour is not by Works, then he sees it is without Works; and when he sees it is without Works, he cannot help seeing that he is welcome to the Favour of God, just as he is, without any Alteration in him. This must be [...] to be fair Reasoning: And if it is, then it is plain that all the Support which any have without seeing Christ to be their Saviour, and Forgiveness theirs, is only a Support of their own Righteousness; and consequently that this Argument of Mr. Firmin's also, establishes the Faith he in­tended to destroy by it; and we may conclude it to be true Faith, because it doth not, like theirs, speak any Comfort to Men while they lean upon their own Righteousness.

Before I dismiss this Argument, I would observe that 'tis calculated, as much against Calvin, as if Mr. Firmin had had Calvin in his Eye, and intended a Confutation of him.—Calvin saith, that ‘the Consciences of the faithful when the Affiance of their Justification before God is to be sought, should raise themselves above the Law, and forget the whole Righteousness of the Law, and lay aside all thinking upon Works. But this Divinity Mr. Firmin in this Argument, and what he saith upon it, makes to be Heresy: He would have distressed Souls keep close to the Law, and not forget the Righteousness of it: He would have others comfort them with Marks and Signs (by which Means they are often comforted into Hell) though the poor Souls don't see that Jesus Christ is their Saviour, and that all his Benefits belong to them. And yet Mr. Firmin was a Calvinist! Nay, the Generality so [Page 44] Calvinists at this Day (as well as all the Arminians) are of one Heart and Soul with him in this Matter! I call them Calvinists (though at best, they are no more than Semi-Calvinists who are against Calvin in so many great Articles of Religion) because they will not part with the Name. Would to God they lov'd the Thing, as well as they do the Name! This would make happy Times for New-England.

Thus have we fairly try'd a general Faith at the Bar of Scripture and Reason, having examin'd many Evidences for it, and against it; and upon the whole, it appears, that it is so far from justifying, that 'tis only Christ-despi­sing, Man-exalting, and Soul-condemning Faith; for which Reason it ought itself to be condemned, and sentenced to die the Death. And would to God that the Sentence might speedily be executed! O that Believers would join their Forces together, and pray it to Death: May we all with one Heart, and one Soul, besiege the Throne of Grace, and give God no Rest, 'till he destroy. it out of the World, by the Breath of his Mouth, and the Brightness of his Appearing.

The CONCLUSION.

The Conclusion of the whole Matter, shall be to exhort every one into whose Hands this little Book may come, not to be so cruel to his own Soul, as to venture it any longer upon a general Faith; But to see to it, that he hath a particular and assured Faith, that Christ is his Saviour, and that all his Benefits do really belong to him.

I know the World hates the Doctrine of Assurance (per­haps all the Errors and Imprudences that have been in the Land these few Years past, have not vext the World so much as this one glorious Doctrine of Assurance, which they have heard so often ringing in their Ears:) Because it con­demns the World; because this Light being held up against their Religion, discovers it to be Darkness: And hence it is that many who love the Name of Protestant Ministers, are full as bad as the Papists and Jesuits themselves, in prejudi­cing their Hearers against the full Assurance of Faith. But [Page 45]let me intreat you, not to give Heed to any of their Words; The Poyson of Asps is under their Lips; Destruction and Mi­sery are in their Ways: If they can be brisk and chearful, though every Time they shut their Eyes to sleep, they do not know but that they may awake in Hell; do you have Pity upon your immortal Souls, and give your selves no Rest, 'till you have made sure of the one Thing needful.

Methinks I hear some poor Souls saying: ‘If we had a Thousand Worlds, we would part with them all, for this Assurance of which you are speaking.’ I answer; I wish you were willing to have it for Nothing: Do but let go your own Righteousness, and I dare pawn my Soul, that you shall have it before I have done speaking with you. Come now, let us reason together: What is the Difficulty, what is the Wall of Partition that lies in the Way to your having Assurance? Is it that you are old Sinners, great Sinners, Sinners against God exceedingly? Why, my dear Friends, Sin is no Impediment at all; you have no more Reason to doubt of God's good Will towards you, than if you had never sinn'd, you are in as good a Case as if you had never offended him, in Thought, in Word, or in Deed, having such an High-Priest: Though your Sins have abounded, the Grace of God hath a­bounded much more; though your Sins have reached unto the very Heavens, the Mercy of God in Christ is above the Hea­vens. Indeed, was Jesus Christ but a little Saviour, there would be good Reason for great Sinners to be afraid; nay, I my self should not have one Thought of being saved by him. But he is a great Saviour, able to save unto the uttermost, I know him to be such a Saviour, and therefore, I, though a great Sinner, though the Chief of Sinners, am not afraid to venture my Soul upon him: And if I had all your Souls to take Care of, I would this Moment venture them all upon him, without one Doubt of his being willing to save them.

And every Doubt you have of Christ's Willingness, is only doubting whether he is a great Saviour, and whether the Re­cord [Page 46]of God is true, which saith that he hath in Christ given eternal Life to you: 1 Joh. 5.11. So that hereby, you make God a Liar and Jesus Christ but a little Saviour, and conse­quently deserve to be sent to Hell for every Doubt you have. ‘Don't think to excuse your selves, by saying you don't doubt of God's Faithfulness, nor of Christ's Ability to save Sinners, but that all the Difficulty lies in believing that such Sinners as you, are really qualified to be sav'd by him.’ This is only deceiving your own Hearts, or rather, not ob­serving the Deceitfulness of your own Hearts: For instead of doubting whether you are qualified to be sav'd by Christ, you are only doubting whether Christ is qualified to save you: Did you but see him qualified, you could not help seeing yourselves qualified; it being impossible that any one should question whether he is qualified to be sav'd by a Saviour who is willing as well as able, to save the very Chief of Sinners, just as they are, before there is any Alteration in them. Your Want of Assurance therefore is founded upon this very Thing, viz. Your having a mean Opinion of him whom Man despiseth, and the Nations abhor; you dare not stand before God, in his Name as Sinners, but only as Saints: Whereas did you be­lieve in your Hearts, that he was able to save to the utter­most, you could not help seeing in him a Saviour for your­selves: And though you knew you deserved to be sent to Hell, you could not have one Doubt, of the Mercy and Lovingkindness of God towards you. And O that God would anoint your Eyes with Eye-salve, that the glorious Go­spel which shines round about you; might shine into your Souls: That you might see Jesus Christ to be your Saviour, and by the Sight be transformed into his Likeness. I say transformed into his Likeness: For one can't see the Glory of God in the Face of Jesus Christ, without being like him, when the Love and Kindness of God our Saviour appears to us, it always renews us in the Spirit of our Minds, making us as Jesus Christ was holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from Sinners: Which precious Faith, God of his infinite Mercy, grant may be vouchsafed to every one of my Readers for Jesus Christ his Sake. Amen.

FINIS.
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Lately Re-printed, And to be Sold by J. EDWARDS in Cornhill, and J. BLANCHARD at the Bible and Crown in Dock-Square,

THe REAL CHRISTIAN, or a Treatise of EFFECTUAL CALLING. Wherein the Work of GOD in drawing the Soul to CHRIST being opened according to the Scriptures, some Things required by our late Divines as necessary to a right Preparation for CHRIST, and true closing with CHRIST, which have caused, and do still cause much Trouble to some serious Christians, are with due Respects to those worthy Men, brought to the Ballance of the Sanctuary, there weighed, and accordingly judged. To which is added, in the Epistle to the Reader, a few Words concerning Socinianism, upon Occasion of the Person of CHRIST, which is touched in the Discourse. By GILES FIRMIN, some time Minister of the Gospel in Shalford in Essex.

[Page]

Just Published, And to be Sold by Rogers and Fowle in Queen-Street, next to the Prison, and J. Blanchard at the Bible and Crown in Dock-Square near the Market.

FAMILIAR LETTERS To a Gentleman, UPON A Variety of seasonable and important Subjects in RELIGION. VIZ.
  • LETTER 1. The DANGE of INFIDELITY.
  • —2. The EVIDENCES of CHRISTIANITY.
  • —3. The HISTORY of our SAVIOUR collected from the Prophecies of the Old Testament.
  • —4. The CERTAINTY of the FACTS reported in the Gospel.
  • —5. The INTERNAL Evidences of Christianity.
  • —6. OBJECTIONS against the internal Evidences, answer'd.
  • —7. GOD's SOVEREIGN GRACE vindicated against several Exceptions.
  • —8. A true and false FAITH distinguish'd.
  • —9. A legal and an evangelical REPENTANCE distinguish'd.
  • —10. The CHARACTERS in ROM. vii. distinctly illustrated.
  • —11. MORAVIAN and ANTINOMIAN Justification consider'd and refuted.
  • —12. IMPUTED Righteousness explain'd and vindicated.
  • —13. The NEW LAW of Grace examin'd and disprov'd.
  • —14. FIRST and SECONDARY Justification, a groundless Distinction.
  • —15. Justification by WORKS in JAM. ii. consider'd and explain'd.
  • —16. Our OBLIGATIONS to GOOD WORKS distinctly stated and urg'd.
  • —17. The Nature and Necessity of our UNION to CHRIST.
  • —18. Antinomian PLEAS for LICENTIOUSNESS consider'd and obviated.
  • —19. DIRECTIONS for a close and comfortable WALK with GOD.

By JONATHAN DICKINSON, A. M. Minister of the Gospel at Elisabeth-Town, New Jersey

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