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On justifying Faith.
delineation, little either can or need be !
ON JUSTIFYING FAITH. added to heighten the colouring, or to MR. EDITOR, exhibit it, in a more perspicuous light. In SIR,MA short time ago I received a letter another funeral sermon, preached on the from a religious friend, which contained same occasion, and on the same day with the following observation and request, the preceding, in Tottenham-court Chapel, “I should like to see the question disby the Rev. George Collison, the author cussed in the Imperial Magazine, —Whethus sums up the more prominent excellen ther justifying faith be the gift of God in cies of the deceased.
the most unlimited sense; or whether it “ Take him altogether, in his mental be merely an operation of the mind. energy, and christian endowments; in his If you would frame a question, or send capacity to arrange measures, and his an essay on that subject, I think it might promptness and skill in the detail of exe be of use in the church of God at cution; in his wisdom as a counsellor; present." in his kindness as a friend ; in his regards Perfectly agreeing with my friend both for the welfare and happiness of his bre-l on the importance of the subject, and on thren; and in his invincible, unbending, the peculiar eligibility of the Imperial as and incessant attachment to the cause of the medium of its elucidation, I shall be the Son of God, we shall not soon see his happy, as far as my very humble talents superior.”
may enable me, with your permission, to When ministers, such as Mr. Wilks attempt the opening of such a discussion was, distinguished for personal piety, as he calls for, (but which I presume extensive usefulness, unabating ardour in cannot be of a very extensive nature, the cause of Christ, and steady persever. with a view to satisfy, not his mind ance in the path of duty, are taken away | alone, but those of many others, who by death, we sometimes think that the have by no means either clear or coinChurch has sustained an irreparable loss. ciding apprehensions upon this most We must not, however, forget that its interesting and important subject. welfare is in the hands of God, who can It hath pleased God to constitute faith raise up instruments when and how he the instrument of a sinner's justification pleases, to supply the places of those with him, in opposition to the doctrine who are removed. He who permitted which would inculcate justification by the the martyrdom of Stephen, qualified a deeds of the law. But no man can avail Saul of Tarsus to fill the vacancy which his himself of this branch of the divine ecodeath had made. Knowing therefore that nomy, without an experimental knowledge, he is omnipotent, and assured by his and a practical exercise, of the principle promises that the cause of religion shall thus enacted as the medium of a sinner's ultimately prosper, we may safely leave reconciliation with an offended God. the formation and adoption of means at Hence the necessity of our ascertaining his disposal.
both the nature, and the source of justiTo his successors in the ministry, Mr. fying faith ;' that we may be satisfied that Wilks has bequeathed a bright example what we possess as the supposed fruits of of more than fifty years, a spirit of libe- that faith, is no delusion, but a genuine rality, which, when compared with his pledge and foretaste of that eternal life income, seems almost unexampled, and | which can flow (at least to a professed habits of self-denial, which in every | Christian,) only from the knowledge and respect appear worthy of the strictest imi- love of "the only true God, and of his tation. Through these, though dead, he Son Jesus Christ.” yet speaketh ; and this voice will be heard I know that some able divines have for years to come, not only in the church | distinguished the different branches of of which he was so long the faithful pastor, faith by various denominations, such as but in other churches also, where such justifying faith-saving faith—the true legacies are of more sterling worth than Christian faith,' &c. &c. but in as much silver and gold. Of this venerable minis- as all genuine faith has the same common ter, it is understood, that an enlarged ends in view, viz. the reception of the biographical account is preparing for the truth of God, as the medium of human press.... When it shall appear, the picture, salvation, I do not conceive it neces. now drawn in miniature, will be given in sary to observe those distinctions in the becoming amplitude; but a sufficiency present consideration of the subject. But has been stated in this epitome to place I would just remark, that all true faith, bis name and character in an amiable, when matured, includes belief, confidence, an auspicious, and a commanding light and assurance.
398 overrurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Let our first inquiry therefore be gene- | things not seen :" Heb. xi. 1. hence we rally, What is faith ?-Secondly, From discover, that 'saving faith is not merely what source does it spring ?-Thirdly, a belief of the awful and interesting truths How does it operate in procuring the jus of eternity, and of the religion of the Bible, tification of its possessor ?
but is in fact the substance and evidence In the first place, I apprehend faith, of those truths revealed to the human when the term is used in reference to the heart, upon which the belief of them is nature, the declarations, the laws, or acts | founded. of God, may be defined as, 1st, A full This is true in respect of faith in geconviction of their divine truth and authen- neral ; but more especially of that branch ticity; this takes place in the understand- of it which has been designated as jusing: 2ndly, A concurrent approbation of tifying faith; that is, that peculiar opetheir nature and operation ; this is found ration of faith, which sees and embraces in the judgment: and, 3rdly, A cordial the mercy of God through Jesus Christ; reception of them into the powers of the as both applicable, and applied also, to soul; this is the work of the affections, the case of the individual by whom that with the concurrence of the will. It is faith is exercised : it is the evidence certain that none of these effects can be (elenchos) of peace with God, the subproduced in the mind of man, but by sistence (hypostasis) of pardon through the the operations of adequate evidence upon its powers. That evidence reaches the | The exterior facts, upon the belief of the mind through the medium of either read | truth of which this faith is founded, are ing or hearing the word of God. But the propitiatory death, resurrection, and what does it meet with there ?-(I speak intercession of the Son of God. Hence of the mind of the natural man:) With St. Paul tells the converts at Rome, “This every possible kind and degree of oppo- is the word of faith which we preach; sition ! Unbelief stands ready to give the That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth lie to the whole; while the carnal mind, the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine which is enmity against God, rejects the heart that God hath raised him from the principles connected with the evidence, dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the with detestation and abhorrence. Hence, heart man believeth unto righteousness; it is evident that neither reading nor hear
and with the mouth confession is made ing, alone, can inspire belief; for thou unto salvation.” The belief of these facts sands both read and hear, and yet remain
gave the Ethiopian eunuch the privilege in the most inflexible unbelief.
of admission into the visible church of It will hardly be denied, except by | Christ by baptism ;-while it opened his absolute Pelagians, that the interposition heart to the influence of the Spirit and of a supernatural and divine agent is grace of God, whereby he became an necessary to counteract this opposition to adopted child of God, and a regenerated the truth and authority of God, in the heir of the kingdom of heaven; and rehuman mind; to carry conviction to the ceived that appropriating faith which conscience, and reveal both the truth brought righteousness, peace, and joy into itself, and the sinner's interest therein, his soul, through the knowledge of God to the powers of the soul. The scriptures as his reconciled Father, by the redempboth assure us of that necessity, and point tion that is in Christ Jesus. Thus was the out the agent, in the person of the Holy Eunuch justified by faith. Spirit of God,
Secondly: This brings us to our second * According to St. Paul, « Faith is the general proposition, viz. to inquire “ From substance,* or, as Mr. Wesley very pro. what source does genuine faith spring ?" perly renders it, the subsistence of things We have already seen that believing, hoped for; the evidence (elenchos) of in scriptural language, implies both apo
proving and receiving the truth of God;
now St. Paul asserts that, “ The natural The Greek word here translated substance, is man receiveth not (because he believeth UFOOTCOLS, the very same that is used by the not) the things of the Spirit of God; for apostle to denote the “substance" of the Al.
they are foolishness unto him; neither can mighty, as possessed and reflected by his Son : in chap. i. ver. 3. of the same epistle; which is a
he know them, because they are spiritually most important consideration in the present argu. discerned.;" but belief necessarily implies, ment: because it beautifully represents the coincidence between faith and the divine realities and presupposes knowledge, therefore which are its objects, as bearing a strong ana. neither can he believe them; because he logy to the ineffable union which subsists be.
hath no spiritual senses whereby he can tween the first and second persons of the Divine Trinity.
| either perceive or relish them. Faith in... 399
On justifying Faith.
the invisible things of God, hath not, of the soul, must also be a supernatural therefore, its source in the natural mind gift. Yet it is by no means irresistible. of man. Nay, there is not only nothing Obstinate unbelief may resist the clearest found in the human mind, in a state of evidence, as was the case with the Jews nature, congenial to the things of God, in reference to both the miracles of Christ, but every thing that is hostile to them. and the internal operations of the Holy The revelation, the evidence, the sub Spirit; but I believe it seldom does so, sistence, the reception, in short, the when the heart is in the ardent pursuit of FAITH which apprehends, believes, em the peace and love of God; it then gladly braces, and appropriates the atoning believes and embraces the truth as it is merits of the Son of God, and through in Jesus, and, being justified, by that faith, which a sense of the pardoning love of it thereby obtains peace with God. God is poured into the soul by the Holy | St. Paul certainly appears to consider Spirit, is therefore imparted by that Spirit, all saving faith, of which the first salutary and constitutes a part of the new nature, operation is justification, to be the gift of which every child of God receives at his God. Indeed he expressly says it is so; regeneration. This is evident from its “For by grace are ye saved, through faith; powerful and supernatural effects :- It and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of works by love," - the love of God and God," saith this apostle to the Ephesians. man; no power of nature does this : It I am aware that some respectable com"purifies the heart;” no power of naturementators refer the words, the gift of can do this: It “overcometh the world;" God," in this passage, to the salvation no power of nature can do this : It unites itself, and not to faith as its instrumental the soul to God in holy fellowship and medium; but this interpretation would sweet communion; and produces righte- make the apostle guilty of tautology: ousness, peace, and joy in the heart; | because he had already informed his effects these, which no power of nature readers, in the first clause of the verse, that can produce : and finally, It reinstates us it was by grace they were saved; and if in the favour and love of God, from by grace, it certainly was not of themwhich the depraved powers of our nature selves ; for the Ephesians could not dream had separated us.
that they were the authors of the grace Faith recognizes Jesus Christ, as the of God. St. Paul therefore had no need only begotten Son of God, and reposes to tell them that this grace, which brought confidence in him as the Saviour of the them salvation, did not flow from them. world; who also dwells in the believing selves; but there was occasion to inform heart by that faith, Ephes. iii. 17. Now them that even faith, as the instrument of if it be true, as St. Paul affirms, that that salvation, was not of themselves, but “No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, was the gift of God; that they might · but by the Holy Ghost;" so it is equally ascribe the whole of their salvation, as
certain, that no man can believe, in his | well as the means of securing it, to the heart, the divine mission, and almighty gracious influence of his Holy Spirit, and power of Jesus to save the human soul, the merits of their Redeemer. but by the agency of the same Spirit ; nor But the same apostle confirms this is this power ever given to any but true view of the question, in Heb. xii. 2, penitents, who both see and feel their want | where he expressly styles “ Jesus the of such a Saviour, and are anxious to ob- author and finisher of our faith ;" and in tain redemption in his blood, the forgive- Colos. ii. 12, where he speaks of the ness of sins.
resurrection from a death of sin, “ through Notwithstanding all this, however, I the faith of the operation of God;" and think it must be allowed, that the act of again, Rom. xii. 3.—"according as God believing, is an operation of the human hath dealt to every man the measure of mind, although the power may be of faith.” God. If faith did not come from God, I doubt not that it was upon the eviit would not lead us to him; yet if we dence of these passages of Scripture that reject its evidence, it cannot lead us to Mr. Wesley founded his opinion upon its author and source. The faculty of this subject, as expressed in the following believing any given fact upon adequate lines --and satisfactory evidence, 'is indeed a natural power of the human mind; but "Author of faith, eternal Word, the evidences of the things of God are all
Whose Spirit breathes the active flame:
Faith, like its finisher and Lord, of a supernatural character, and the
To-day as yesterday the same.", faculty of believing them to the salvation 1.
On Justifying Faith.
402 And again,
1 It is true, that faith is extremely “Faith to be heal'd thou know'st I have, pleasing, and highly acceptable, to God; For thou that faith hast given."
and it is also true, that “Abraham's faith To conclude this part of the subject : was counted to him for righteousness ;" there is a striking analogy between the but still, when we consider faith in the organs of the corporeal senses, and the promises and attributes of God, and in spiritual senses of the soul, when raised the efficacious atonement of the death of from a death of sin to a life of righteous Christ, as deriving all its value from its ness; of which the inspired writers fre- instrumentality in enbracing those intequently avail themselves, as admirable resting truths, I apprehend a medium is illustrations of the operations of the grace a more suitable designation than a conand Spirit of God." A slight allusion to dition for that instrumentality. But can, one of these instances may possibly throw or does, faith in the abstract justify its some additional light upon the subject possessor, by any intrinsic power, value, before us. The divine commission en- or merit it possesses? incline to trusted to St. Paul, gave him authority, think it cannot. Justification includes, by the agency of the Holy Spirit, “to if it does not terminate in, the pardon open the eyes of the Gentiles, and to of sin ; and the proper foundation of this turn them from darkness to light,---and blessing is the mercy of God, manifested from the power of Satan to God," &c. through the vicarious and expiatory death by faith, saith Jesus, “that is in me." of Christ. Does faith make that atoneActs xxvi. 18. Hence we discover that ment, or does it purchase, or even bestow, two operations, at least, are necessary, the pardon of sin ? Certainly not: for to enable sinners to believe on the Lord faith might exist, and operate also, to Jesus Christ to the salvation of their eternity, without any such beneficial results souls; viz. 1st, opening their eyes; and flowing to its possessor, if God had not 2ndly, turning those eyes from the dark- graciously attached the blessing of justiness of unbelief to the light of faith. fication to its exercise; and constituted it And I believe we may safely add a third, the medium of the conveyance of that viz. the revelation of Christ to their blessing to the human soul. hearts, as an all-sufficient Saviour, in The Scriptures expressly testify that it is whose sacrificial atonement, intercession, “God who justifieth” the believer in truth, and fidelity, they may safely put Jesus, Rom. viii. 33. and although this their trust for present remission of sins, is limited, under the gospel dispensation, and eternal salvation. For these pur- in adults, to the exercise of faith in Christ, poses, as Mr. Charles Wesley sublimely yet that faith is not necessary to the salsang,
vation of infants, even under that dispen" Faith lends its realizing light,
sation of grace; nor was it ever required The Monds disperse, the shadows fly : Th? Invisible appears in sight,
of the heathen nations of antiquity; nor, And God is seen by mortal eye!"
in fact, of the Jews, prior to the advent of Our third and last inquiry was to be, the Messiah. Hence it is evident that “ How does faith operate in procuring there is no inherent merit in faith; no, the justification of its possessor ?-Some nor even any original and inseparable persons are fond of representing faith as connexion between faith and salvation : the condition, upon which the salvation of that connexion indeed exists, and the a sinner, and his reconciliation with God, decree of God has irreversibly united are suspended. I confess I am not par- faith and salvation in the cases of adult tial to this view of the case : it has too | Christians; but salvation has been in much of the character of “a bargain and ages past the inheritance of heathens, and sale” in it, to comport with the free sal- now is that of dying infants, without the vation bestowed on penitent souls, as interposition of faith in the Redeemer of described in the gospel of Christ. If their souls; and hence, although faith is faith is the gift of God, and I think that the authorized medium of adult Christian point has been pretty clearly proved, then salvation, it is not the indispensable conit may be considered as the indispensable dition of all salvation : and consequently, medium of a sinner's acceptance with it cannot be the procuring cause of jusGod; but hardly as the condition, the tification in any case. performance of which, by stipulation, con- Upon the whole, therefore, I would stitutes the valuable consideration, or beg leave to reply to my friend's important equivalent, given for the blessing of jus- question, by saying, tification, which the term "condition' First;- Ít requires a divine, principle would appear to imply.
| in man, to believe and 'embrace a diving 125. – VOL. XI.
Final Perseverance disproved.
revelation; and that principle can come, should take some unexpected turn, to only from God. Secondly;--Faith is that trouble you with any further observations principle; but it can operate only upon, concerning it. or in conjunction with, adequate evidence, J. J. seems desirous to be explicit as and God alone can give that evidence. to his views on perseverance, and says, Thirdly ;-That evidence is general, as “That J. W. may not mistake me, it is contained in the scriptures; but it must but fair to state, that I most firmly believe be individual, special, and personal; and in the certain and eternal salvation of every it must also appear to be suitably adapted saint.” But really I am at a loss to de. to the particular case of the individual, termine the exact idea he intends these to enable him to see, embrace, and appro- words should convey : is it simply that priate the benefit thereof to himself; and every one leaving the world, being a saint the Holy Spirit must reveal all this to him, at the time, will be saved ? if so, none, as the ground of his confidence in the I apprehend, entertain a different opinion. mercy of God, or that confidence cannot Or is the meaning that, every one who exist. Hence, St. Paul ascribes his faith is once a saint will be certainly saved ? to the revelation of his Son, which God If this is what he intends, many do not wrought in him, in addition to both the agree with him. ocular and auricular evidence with which I shall not follow J. J. in all his obthe apostle was favoured of that Son's servations on my former communication ; existence and divine nature, on the road this would be tiresome to your readers, to Damascus, Gal. i. 15, 16. Fourthly; and perhaps bear but little on the point .-When that evidence is given, faith natu- | in debate between us. My reason for rally, perhaps I might almost say, neces. understanding the phrase "once enlightsarily springs up in the heart, and em- ened," is not siiaply, as your corresponbraces it. Just as if a blind man should dent supposes, because I find similar be suddenly restored to his sight, and the language made use of in the sacred mid-day sun beam upon his newly opened writings to express a saving acquaintance eyes, he cannot but behold its refulgent with the grace of God; but because I find light ;-so, when God takes the veil of the same word used by the same writer unbelief from the heart of man, and the in the same epistle to express that idea. resplendent glories of the Sun of righte- It has generally been regarded as a good ousness burst upon his ravished mind, rule in determining the meaning of an he sees, feels, and cordially believes, that author in any particular instance, to exGod was in Christ reconciling him, inamine how he uses the same expressions particular, to himself. I do not see how in other places. Now the only other any man can practically and experimen place in the epistle in which the same tally believe this, until he receives a divine expression occurs, is in chap. x. 32; conviction of its truth; but when that and here it plainly intends saving illumiconviction is given, he finds no difficulty nation. Have we not reason hence to in believing it.
infer that this is its import in the passage in These, sir, are my views of this important dispute ? I must have weightier reasons question; and if you think them worthy than any J. J. has yet furnished, before I of record in your columns, you will oblige am convinced it is not. me by their insertion, as soon as con- I have no wish to quibble,' nor am I venient, -I am, sir, yours, &c. . conscious of having in my former remarks
done so. I could not understand from Birmingham, March 2, 1829.
J. J.'s words in his reference to Judas, that he understood, by “tasting of the hea
venly gift," any thing besides partaking of FINAL PERSEVERANCE DISPROVED.
the Holy Ghost in his miraculous ope
rations. MR. EDITOR,
I must still think, that to taste the good SIR,-With your leave, I wish to take word of God,” intends a real experience some notice of J. J.'s remarks upon my of it. This is evidently the import of the former paper, inserted vol. x. col. 992, term taste in other places of scripture, though I am afraid our dispute may have when applied to spiritual things. “Taste the appearance, in some respects, of a strife and see that the Lord is good, blessed is about words to no profit. *This, however, the man that trusteth in him," that is, learn I will endeavour as much as I am able from actual experience that he is good. to avoid ; nor do I purpose, after this “ Jesus, by the grace of God, tasted death communication, unless indeed the subject for every man;" actually died for every