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tion; they would either reject all religion and commence Deifts, or renounce the vain jangling of the profeffing world, and become Chriftians indeed, by receiving that truth which is able to fave their fouls. It remains therefore, that there is no confiftent medium between antient apoftolic chriftianity, and downright infidelity;-and accordingly, in ftrict truth, in his fight who fearches the heart, there are but two forts of men in Christendom; and at the day of judgment it will appear fo to all the world. Now we are divided into a great variety of fects and parties, but then of all these fects and parties, there fhall appear but two forts of men; believers, and unbelievers. And then that most remarkable saying of Jefus Chrift, will take effect, and be fulfilled, He that believeth and is baptifed fhall be faved; but he that believeth not fhall be damned. See Bellamy's Effay on the Gospel, p. 252.

SECTION I.

A general VIEW of the various NOTIONS and DEFINITIONS of FAITH.

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AITH, in the Scripture account of it, is a very fimple intelligible thing. But as it is retailed out in the profeffing world, it is fometimes fo cut and trimmed, fo changed and metamorphofed, that it is hard to fay, after all the definitions and directions that have been given, what it is, wherein it confifts, or how it is to be performed! Some notice, however, may be taken of the names which have been given it, in fome of its tranfmutations, though fully to explain their genuine import, our fkill would fail us in attempting, 1. Tim. i, 6-7. Faith then, as it appears in human writings, has among feveral others, obtained the following epithets, viz. hiftorical faith, temporary faith, the faith of reliance, the faith of affiance, the faith of applica

tion, the faith of approbation, the direct, the reflex, the recumbent, the courageous, the venturefome, and the triumphant acts of faith. It is alfo reprefented by fome as having, and putting into action eyes, ears, mouth, arms, hands, fingers, legs, and feet. To defcribe these various kinds of faith, and to give direction when each of these acts fhould be put forth, or which of these members fhould be exerted, has ferved to employ the time, talents, and ingenuity of many, though, after all, few of them, if any, have condefcended to make it appear, how their notion of faith is confiftent, either with the Scripture definition thereof, or the use of the term in common life. Fearing, therefore, left I should get involved in a labyrinth of inextricable difficulties, fhould I attempt to explain the above terms, and indeed, not feeing what ufe my labors would be of had I talents to perform it, I fhall leave that part of the work to thofe that have more time on their hands than I have, and whofe reputation and intereft may lie more in the use of them, than mine happens to do. However, a few of the moft intelligent definitions that have been given may be confidered.

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First it has been received as a common axiom, for the use of the weak and wavering, who nevertheless wish to think well of themfelves in religious concerns, that the defire of grace, is grace; and fo, that the defire of faith, is faith. "So if there be but a willing mind to this fervice it is accepted."— Without doubt, where the true grace of God is known, there will be an earneft defire after its increase, it being a living principle in the foul. But furely this is a very unwarrantable way of proceed-' ing, either in defining faith, or leading those who wish to know whether they have believed or not, to a fair trial. The human heart is deceitful above all things, and is ever ready to fancy what is most agreeable; and indeed there are but few under a re

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ligious profeffion, but are ready to think, that they fincerely defire and endeavor to believe, though they are not able to perform their defire. Surely then we are not allowed to fay, that every defire of faith is faith; this would be too vague. The defire then must be limited, and of courfe qualified. Without doubt it should be, in order to prove itself genuine, an humble, penitent, fincere, earneft, and affectionate defire. But there are fome very material objections to this notion of faith; Firft: it leads thofe who think they have fuch a defire, to prefume upon it. If a fenfe of guilt trouble the confcience, nothing but that which fairly atones for fin can effectually remove it. But finners are naturally dif affected to the gospel hope, and would rather catch at any thing for prefent relief, than give up every good thought of themfelves, and be relieved by that which is equally free for the profligate, as for the morally decent. To lead finners therefore to take peace, or encouragement, from the workings of their own minds (which while in a state of nature, are nothing better than the working of pride) is to eftablifh them in their enmity to the gofpel hope; and this cannot be done without confirming them in prefumption. Again: it tends to, and often actually does, involve thofe for whofe relief it is intended, in greater diftrefs, fince it is told them that the defire must be qualified. The diftrefled foul is led to feek within himfelf, for the approved qualities of this defire; but finding fo much of the world there, fo many interruptions in his devotion, fo many inftances of deceit in his heart, &c. either he comes to a conclufion that he has not fuch a defire, or has it not to that degree, which it is thoughtneceffary to have it, in order to conftitute a right defire. This he fincerely laments; yet lives in fad fufpenfe from day to day, waiting and praying, as he is encouraged, for this defire. Sometimes he thinks (efpecially under preaching) he has obtained

it, and then hope, joy, and comfort, begin to arifc. Anon all thefe pleafing symptoms are cut down, dried up, and withered! then his life hangs in doubt, and were it not that he is told by his miferable comforters, that to fincerely lament these things is a token for good, his foul would be driven into black difpair, unless it could obtain fome temporary cafe, by mingling again with the world. It needs not be told, at least to those who have had accefs to clafs-meetings, and meetings for relating experiences, how common this method of comforting them that mourn, is in our day. But ah! how foreign to the hope fet before us in the gofpel! In fact it is neither law nor gospel. Neither works nor grace. But a mere device of fatan to blind the minds of them that believe not, 2. Cor. x. 12. For

Further the thing itself is contrary to scripture and common fenfe. When a person says "I defire to believe," "nothing more pertinent can be replied than,

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*What is here fuppofed, is a great mistake, and gross abfurdity; even that men may fincerely chufe and defire those fpiritual duties of love, acceptance, choice, rejection, &c. confifting in the exercife of the will itfelf, or in the difpofition and inclination of the heart; and yet not be able to perform or exert them. This is abfurd, because it fuppofes, that a man directly, properly and fincerely inclines to have an inclination, which at the fame time is contrary to his inclination, and that is to fuppofe him not to be inclined to that, which he is inclined to. If a man, in the disposition and acts of his will and inclination does properly and direly fall in with those duties, he therein virtually performs then; for the duties themfelves confift in that very thing, they confift in the state and acts of the will being fo formed and directed. If the foul properly and fincerely falls in with a certain propofed act of will or choice, the foul therein makes that choice its own. Even as when a moving body falls in with a propofed direction of its motion, that is the fame thing as to move in that direction.-That which is called a defire and willingness for thofe inward duties, in fuch as do not perform them, has refpect to thefe duties only indirectly and remotely, and is improperly reprefented as a willingness for them; nct only because it refpects thofe good volitions only in a distant view, and with respect to future time; but also because evermore, not thefe things themfelves, but fomething elfe, that is alien and foreign, is the object that terminates thefe volitions and defires.See Edwards on free will, p. 238.

than, why then don't you believe? Does fome fovereign power, fome fatal neceffity prevent you? Or have you a fincere defire to believe what God has faid, only there is not fufficient evidence thereof; the falvation is defirable; but not fufficiently proved to be true? Rather, does not your unbelief proceed from ignorance, and a confequent difinclination to believe? Without doubt it does. But to convince of this is a work, which he only whofe name is the ALMIGHTY can perform. Therefore is it faid, by way of apology, that fuch defire to know the gofpel. Then furely the nature, defign and evidence of the gofpel falvation should be laid before them, instead of putting them to pore upon their own hearts, in order to extract fome kind of comfort from their fuppofed defires.

But, as before hinted, the plain fact is, the gofpel hope is thought to be too weak to support them; and therefore this humble, fincere, earneft, and affectionate defire, is to believe, not in Chrift alone, but that they are the children of the moft High, the peculiar favorites of heaven. This defire therefore may be confidered as an important ftruggle, between confcience, which bears witnefs that they are not the children of God, and which the holy Spirit in the word confirms-and the aspirations of their pride, under the influence of that ancient doctrine, Ye shall be as gods. Now as the former prevails, conviction, fear, fhame and torment are the painful confequences. But when the latter gains the afcendency, and fo the confcience becomes blinded or feared thereby, then fome kind of peace, joy and comfort are its attendants. But if fuch perfons are, through divine teaching, mercifully brought to obtain peace by the blood of the Redeemer's cross; they will then perceive, that all their previous defires, prayers, refolutions and endeavors were not in reality after God's falvation; but aimed at doing or feeling fomething from which, or through which, their peace and hope might be derived.

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