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APPENDIX.


THE OCCASION OF THE "MARROW" CONTROVERSY, STATED BY

THE LATE REV. JOHN BROWN, OF HADDINGTON.


While the Church of Scotland was clear and exact in her standards, and many of

her preachers truly evangelical, a flood of legal doctrine filled many pulpits about

the time of the Revolution.


The Arminian errors of Professor Simpson were also prevalent after this time; but

the Assembly used him with great tenderness. However, they were far from being

equally kind to such as earnestly endeavoured a clear illustration of the doctrines

of God's free grace reigning through the righteousness of Christ. Mr. Hamilton of

Airth having published a catechetical treatise concerning the covenant of works

and grace, and the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper, in a more

evangelical strain than some wished, the Assembly, 1710, prohibited all ministers

or members of this church to print, or disperse in writ, any catechism, without the

allowance of the Presbytery of the bounds, or the Commission. The Presbytery

of Auchterarder having begun to require candidates for licence, to acknowledge it

unsound to teach that men must forsake their sins in order to come to Christ,

the Assembly, 1717, on the same day they had dealt so gently with Professor

Simpson, declared their abhorrence of that proposition as unsound and most

detestable—as if men ought only to come to Christ, the alone Saviour from sins,

after they have got rid of them by repentance. Mr. James Hog, one of the holiest

ministers in the kingdom, having published or recommended a celebrated and

edifying tract of the Cromwellian age, called The Marrow Modern Divinity, the

Assembly, 1720, fell upon it with great fury, as if it had been replete with

Antinomian errors, though it is believed many of these zealots never read it, at

least had never perused it, in connection with the Second Part of it, which is

wholly taken up in the manifestation of the obligation, meaning, and advantage of

observing the law of God. They condemned the offering of Christ, as a Saviour to

all men, or to sinners as such, and the doctrine of believers' full deliverance from

under the law as a broken covenant of works. They asserted men's holiness to be

a federal or conditional mean of their obtaining eternal happiness. They

condemned these almost express declarations of Scripture, that believers are not

under the law,—that they do not commit sin,—that the Lord sees no sin in them,

and cannot be angry with them, as Antinomian paradoxes,—and condemned the

distinction of the moral law as a covenant of works, and as a binding rule of duty

in the hand of Christ. In order to explain these expressions, Messrs. James Hog,

Thomas Boston, Ebenezer and Ralph Erskines, Gabriel Watson, and seven

others, remonstrated to the next Assembly against these decisions as injurious to

the doctrine of God's grace. And in their answers to the Commission's Twelve

Queries, they illustrated these doctrines with no small clearness and evidence.

Perhaps influenced by this, as well as by the wide spread detestation of their acts

[1720] on that point, the Assembly, 1722, reconsidered the same, and made an

act explaining and confirming them. This was less gross and erroneous.

Nevertheless, the twelve representers protested against it as injurious to truth; but

this protest was not allowed to be marked. The Moderator, by the Assembly's

appointment, rebuked them for their reflections on the Assembly, 1720, in their

representation, and admonished them to beware of the like in all time coming;

against which they protested.


QUERIES AGREED UNTO BY THE COMMISSION OF THE GENERAL

ASSEMBLY, AND PUT TO THOSE MINISTERS WHO GAVE IN A

REPRESENTATION AND PETITION AGAINST THE 5TH AND 8TH

ACTS OF ASSEMBLY 1720, WITH THE ANSWERS GIVEN BY THESE

MINISTERS TO THE SAID QUERIES.381381   "A masterly production," says the judicious Mr. Fraser, of Kennoway, "which has undergone many impressions, and which discusses the points at issue with a perspicuity and energy that has commanded the esteem and admiration of Mr. James Hervey, and many others who had no immediate concern in the controversy."


Adhering to and holding, as here repeated, our subscribed Answer given in to the

Reverend Commission, when by them called to receive these Queries, we come

to adventure, under the conduct of the faithful and true Witness, who has

promised the Spirit of truth to lead his people into truth, to make answer to the

said Queries. To which, before we proceed, we crave leave to represent, that the

title thereto prefixed, viz: "Queries to be put to Mr. James Hog, and other

Ministers, who gave in a Representation in Favours of the Marrow, to the General

Assembly, 1721," as well as that prefixed to the Commission's overture anent this

affair, has a native tendency to divert and bemist the reader, to expose us, and to

turn the matter off its proper hinge, by giving a wrong colour to our

Representation, as if the chief design of it was to plead, not for the precious truths

of the gospel, which we conceive to be wounded by the condemnatory act, but

for "The Marrow of Modern Divinity," the which, though we value for a good

and useful book, and doubt not but the Church of God may be much edified by

it, as we ourselves have been, yet came it never into our minds to hold it, or any

other private writing, faultless, nor to put it on a level with our approved

standards of doctrine.


QUERY. I.—Whether are there any precepts in the gospel that were not

actually given before the gospel was revealed?


Answer.—The passages in our representation, marked out to us for the grounds

of this query, are these:—"The gospel doctrine, known only by a new revelation

after the fall. Of the same dismal tendency we apprehend to be the declaring of

that distinction of the law, as it is the law of works, and as it is the law of Christ,

as the author applies it, to be altogether groundless. The erroneous doctrine of

justification, for something wrought in, or done by the sinner, as his

righteousness, or keeping the new and gospel law." Now, leaving it to others to

judge if these passages gave any just occasion to this question, we answer,—


1st, In the gospel, taken strictly, and as contradistinct from the law, for a doctrine

of grace, or good news from heaven, or help in God through Jesus Christ, to lost

self-destroying creatures of Adam's race, or the glad tidings of a Saviour, with life

and salvation in him to the chief of sinners, there are no precepts; all these, the

command to believe, and repent, not excepted, belonging to, and flowing from the

law, which fastens the new duty on us, the same moment the gospel reveals the

new object.


That in the gospel, taken strictly, there are no precepts, to us seems evident from

the holy Scriptures. In the first revelation of it, made in theses words,—"The seed

of the woman shall bruise the head of the serpent," we find no precept, but a

promise containing glad tidings of a Saviour, with grace, mercy, life, and salvation

in him, to lost sinners of Adam's family. And the gospel preached unto Abraham,

namely, "In thee," i.e., in thy seed, which is in Christ, "shall all nations be

blessed," is of the same nature. The good tidings of great joy to all people of a

Saviour born in the city of David, who is Christ the Lord, brought and proclaimed

from heaven by the angels, we take to have been the gospel, strictly and properly

so called; yet is there no precept in these tidings. We find, likewise, the gospel of

peace and glad tidings of good things are in Scripture convertible terms; and the

word of the gospel, which Peter spoke to the Gentiles, that they might believe,

was no other than peace by Jesus Christ, crucified, risen, and exalted to be Judge

of quick and dead, with remission of sins through his name, to be received by

every one believing in him. Much more might be added on this head, which, that

we be not tedious, we pass. Of the same mind, as to this point, we find the body

of reformed divines, as to instance in a few, Calvin, Chamier, Pemble, Wendelin,

Alting, the professors of Leyden, Witsius, Maestrick, Maresius, Troughton,

Essenius.


That all precepts, [those of faith and repentance not excepted,] belong to, and are

of the law, is no less evident to us; for the law of creation, or of the ten

commandments, which was given to Adam in paradise, in the form of a covenant

of works, requiring us to believe whatever God should reveal or promise, and to

obey whatever he should command; all precepts whatsoever must be virtually and

really included in it. So that there never was, nor can be, an instance of duty

owing by the creature to God, not commanded in the moral law, if not directly

and expressly, yet indirectly, and by consequence. The same first commandment,

for instance, which requires us to take the Lord for our God, to acknowledge his

essential verity, and sovereign authority; to love, fear, and trust in Jehovah, after

what manner soever he shall be pleased to reveal himself to us, and likewise to

grieve and mourn for his dishonour or displeasure, requires believing in Jehovah,

our righteousness, as soon as ever he is revealed to us as such, and sorrowing

after a godly sort for the transgression of his holy law, whether by one's self or by

others. It is true, Adam was not actually obliged to believe in a Saviour, till, being

lost and undone, a Saviour was revealed to him; but the same commandment that

bound him to trust and depend on, and to believe the promises of God Creator,

no doubt obliged him to believe in God Redeemer, when revealed. Nor was Adam

obliged to sorrow for sin ere it was committed. But this same law that bound him

to have a sense of the evil of sin in its nature and effects, to hate, loathe, and flee

from sin, and to resolve against it, and for all holy obedience, and to have a due

apprehension of the goodness of God, obliged him also to mourn for it, whenever

it should fall out. And we cannot see how the contrary doctrine is consistent with

the perfection of the law; for if the law be a complete rule of all moral, internal

and spiritual, as well as external and ritual obedience, it must require faith and

repentance, as well as it does all other good works. And that it does indeed

require them, we can have no doubt of, when we consider, that without them all

other religious performances are, in God's account, as good as nothing; and that

sin being, as the Scripture and our own standard tell us, any want of conformity

to, or transgression of the law of God, unbelief and impenitency must be so too.

And if they be so, then must faith and repentance be obedience and conformity of

the same law, which the former are a transgression of, or an inconformity unto;

unbelief particularly being a departing from the living God, is, for certain,

forbidden in the first commandment, therefore faith must needs be required in the

same commandment, according to a known rule. But what need we more, after

our Lord has told us, that faith is one of the weightier matters of the law? and that

it is not a second table duty which is there meant, is evident to us, by comparing

the parallel place in Luke, where, in place of faith, we have the love of God. As

for repentance, in case of sin against God, it becomes naturally a duty; and

though neither the covenant of works nor of grace admitted of it, as any expiation

of sin, or federal condition giving right to life, it is a duty included in every

commandment, on the supposal of a transgression.


What moves us to be the more concerned for this point of doctrine is, that if the

law does not bind sinners to believe and repent, then we see not how faith and

repentance, considered as works, are excluded from our justification before God,

since in that case they are not works of the law, under which character all works

are in Scripture excluded from the use of justifying in the sight of God. And we

can call to mind that, on the contrary doctrine, Arminius laid the foundation of his

rotten principles, touching sufficient grace, or rather natural power. "Adam," says

he, "had not power to believe in Jesus Christ, because he needed him not; nor

was he bound to believe, because the law required it not. Therefore, since Adam

by his fall did not lose it, God is bound to give every man power to believe in

Jesus Christ." And Socinians, Arminians, Papists, and Baxterians, by holding the

gospel to be a new, proper, preceptive law, with sanction, and thereby turning it

into a real, though milder covenant of works, have confounded the law and the

gospel, and brought works into the matter and cause of a sinner's justification

before God. And, we reckon, we are the rather called to be on our guard here,

that the clause in our representation, making mention of the new, or gospel law, is

marked out to us, as one of the grounds of this query, which we own to be

somewhat alarming. Besides all this, the teaching that faith and repentance are

gospel commandments, may yet again open the door to Antinomianism, as it

sometimes did already, if we may believe Mr. Cross, who says, "History tells us

that it sprung from such a mistake, that faith and repentance were taught and

commanded by the gospel only, and that as they contained all necessary to

salvation, so the law was needless."


On this head also, namely, that all precepts belong to the law, we might likewise

adduce a cloud of witnesses beyond exception, such as Pemble, Essenius, Anth,

Burgess, Rutherford, Owen, Witsius, Dickson, Fergusson, Troughton, Larger

Catechism on the duties required, and sins forbidden in the first commandment.

But, without insisting further, we answer,—


2dly, In the gospel, taken largely for the whole doctrine of Christ and the apostles,

contained in the New Testament, or for a system of all the promises, precepts,

threatenings, doctrines, histories, that any way concern man's recovery and

salvation, in which respect, not only all the ten commandments, but the doctrine

of the covenant of works belong to it, but in this sense, the doctrine is not

contradistinct from the law;—in the gospel, taken thus at large, we say, there are

doubtless many precepts that were not actually given [that is, particularly and

expressly promulgated or required] before the gospel was revealed. Love to our

enemies, to instance in a few of many, mercy to the miserable, bearing of the

cross, hope and joy in tribulations, in prospect of their having a desired issue,

love, thankfulness, prayer, and obedience to a God Redeemer, zealous witnessing

against sin, and for truth, in case of defection from the faith or holiness of the

gospel, confessing our faults to and forgiving one another. All the ceremonial

precepts under the Old Testament together with the institutions of Christ under

the New, faith in Jesus Christ, repentance unto life, with many more, to say

nothing of personal and particular precepts, were not actually given before the

gospel was revealed; all which are nevertheless reducible to the law of the ten

commandments, many of them being plain duties of the law of nature, though

they had no due and proper objects, nor occasions of being exercised in an

innocent state. It is true, there are many of them we had never heard of, without

the gospel had been revealed; yet are they not, therefore, in any proper sense,

precepts of the gospel, but of the law, which is exceeding broad, extending to new

objects, occasions, and circumstances. The law says one thing to the person

unmarried, and another thing to the same person when married; one thing to him

as a child, another thing to him as a parent, &c., yet is it the same law still. The

law of God being perfect, and like unto its Author, must reach to every condition

of the creature; but if for every new duty or new object of faith there behoved to

be a new law, how strangely must laws be multiplied! The law itself [even as in

the case of a man] may meet with any changes, and yet remain the same as to its

essence. Now, as to faith and repentance, though ability to exercise them, and

acceptance of them, be by the gospel, yet it is evident they must be regulated by

the same law, the transgression of which made them necessary. The essence of

repentance, it is plain, lies in repeating and renewing, with a suitable frame of

spirit, the duties omitted, or in observing the law one had violated. For as the

divine perfections are the rule and pattern of God's image in man, as well in his

regeneration as in his creation, so the holy law of God is the rule of our

repentance, as well as of our primitive obedience. And why faith, when it has

God Mediator, or God Redeemer, for its object, may not be from the same law as

when it had God Creator, or God Preserver for its objects, we cannot see.


QUERY II.—Is not the believer now bound, by the authority of the Creator, to

personal obedience to the moral law, though not in order to justification?


Ans.—What is given us for the ground of this query, is the following clause of our

representation, viz:—"Since believers are not under it, to be thereby justified or

condemned, we cannot comprehend how it continues any longer a covenant of

works to them, or as such to have a commanding power over them, that covenant

form of it being done away in Christ with respect to believers." This clause of the

representation being so much one, even in words, with our Confession, we could

never have expected the Reverend Commission would have moved a query upon

it; but since they have been pleased to think otherwise, we answer

affirmatively:—


The believer, since he ceases not to be a creature by being made a new creature,

is, and must ever be bound to personal obedience to the law of the ten

commandments, by the authority of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, his Creator.

But his authority is, as to him, issued by and from the Lord Jesus Christ, at

whose mouth he receives the law, being as well his Lord God Creator, as his Lord

God Redeemer, and having all the fullness of the Godhead dwelling in him; nor

can nor will the sinful creature ever apply himself to obedience acceptable to God,

or comfortable to himself, without the Creator's authority come to him in that

channel.


We are clear and full of the same mind with our Confession, that the moral law of

the ten commandments does for ever bind all, as well justified persons as others,

to the obedience thereof, not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also

in respect of the authority of God the Creator who gave it, and that Christ does

not in the gospel any way dissolve, but much strengthen this obligation; for how

can it lose anything of its original authority, by being conveyed to the believer in

such a sweet and blessed channel as the hand of Christ, since both he himself is

the supreme God and Creator, and since the authority, majesty, and sovereignty

of the Father is in his Son, he being the same in substance, equal in power and

glory? "Beware of Him," says the Lord unto Israel, concerning Christ the angel of

the covenant, "and obey his voice, provoke him not: for my name is in him." That

is, as we understand it, my authority, sovereignty, and other adorable

excellencies, yea the whole fullness of the Godhead is in him, and in him only will

I be served and obeyed. And then it follows, "But if thou shalt indeed obey his

voice, and do all that I speak." The name of the Father is so in him; he is so of

the same nature with his Father, that his voice is the Father's voice: "If thou obey

his voice, and do all that I speak."


We desire to think and speak honourably of Him, whose name is "Wonderful,

Counselllor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace."

And it cannot but exceedingly grate our ears, and grieve our spirits, to find such

doctrines or positions vented in this Church, especially at a time when the Arian

heresy is so prevalent in our neighbour nations, as have an obvious tendency to

darken and disparage his divine glory and authority, as that, if a believer ought not

to receive the law of the ten commandments at the hand of God, as he is Creator

out of Christ, then he is not under its obligation, as it was delivered by God the

Creator, but is loosed from all obedience to it, as it was enacted by the authority

of the Lord Creator; and that it is injurious to the infinite majesty of the Sovereign

Lord Creator, and to the honour of his holy law, to restrict the believer to receive

the ten commandments only at the hand of Christ. What can be more injurious to

the infinite majesty of the sovereign Lord Redeemer; by whom all things were

created that are in heaven and in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be

thrones or dominions, principalities or powers, than to speak as if the Creator's

authority was not in him, or as if the receiving the Creator's law from Christ did

loose men from obedience to it, as enacted by the authority of the Father? Woe

unto us, if this doctrine be the truth, for so should we be brought back to

consuming fire indeed; for, out of Christ, "He that made us will have no mercy

upon us; nor will he that formed us show us any favour." We humbly conceive,

the Father does not reckon himself glorified, but contemned by Christians offering

obedience to him as Creator out of Christ. Nor does the offering to deal with him

after this sort, or to teach others so, discover a due regard to the mystery of

Christ revealed in the gospel; for it is the will of the Father, the Sovereign Lord

Creator, that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour himself; and

that at, or in the name of Jesus every knee should bow; and that every tongue

should confess Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father, who having in

these last days spoken unto us by his Son, by whom also he made the worlds,

and with an audible voice from heaven has said, "This is my beloved Son in

whom I am well pleased hear ye him." Were it not we would be thought tedious,

Perkins, Durham, Owen, and others, might have been heard on this head. But we

proceed to—


QUERY III.—Doth the annexing of a promise of life, and a threatening of

death to a precept, make it a covenant of works?


We answer, as in our representation, That the promise of life, and threatening of

death, superadded to the law of the Creator, made it a covenant of works to our

first parents, proposed; and their own consent, which sinless creatures could not

refuse, made it a covenant of works accepted. "A law," say the judicious

Durham, "doth necessarily imply no more than, first, to direct; secondly, to

command, enforcing that obedience by authority. A covenant doth further

necessarily imply promises made upon some conditions, or threatenings added if

such a condition be not performed. Now, says he, this law may be considered

without the consideration of a covenant; for it was free to God to have added or

not to have added promises; and the threatenings, upon supposition the law had

been kept, might never have taken effect." From whence it is plain, in the

judgment of this great divine, the law of nature was turned into a covenant by the

addition of a promise of life and threatening of death. Of the same mind is

Burgess and the London ministers, Vindicie Legis, page 61. "There are only two

things which go to the essence of a law, and that is—1st, direction; 2d, obligation.

First, direction: therefore a law is a rule: hence the law of God is compared to

light. Second, obligation; for therein lieth the essence of sin that it breaketh this

law, which supposes the obligatory force of it. In the next place, there are two

consequents of the law, which are ad bene esse, that the law may be the better

obeyed; and this indeed turneth the law into a covenant. First the sanction of it by

way of promise; that is a mere free thing: God, by reason of that dominion which

he had over man, might have commanded his obedience, and yet never made a

promise of eternal life unto him. And, secondly, as for the other consequent act of

the law, to curse and punish, this is but an accidental act, not necessary to a law,

for it comes in upon supposition of transgression. A law is a complete law,

obliging, though it do not actually curse; as in the confirmed angels it never laid

any more than obligatory and mandatory acts upon them; for that they were

under a law is plain, because otherwise they could not have sinned, for where

there is no law, there is no transgression."


Though there is no ground from our representation to add more on this head, yet

we may say, that a promise of life made to a precept of doing,—that is, in

consideration or upon condition of one's doing, be the doing more or less, it is all

one, the divine will in the precept being the rule in this case, is a covenant of

works. And as to believers in Christ, though in the gospel, largely taken, we own

there are promises of life, and threatenings of death, as well as precepts; and that

godliness hath the promise, not only of this life, but of that which is to come,

annexed to it, in the order of the covenant: yet we are clear no promise of life is

made to the performance of precepts, nor eternal death threatened in case of their

failings whatsoever in performing, else should their title to life be founded not

entirely on Christ and his righteousness imputed to them, but on something in or

done by themselves; and their after sins should again actually bring them under

vindictive wrath and the curse of the law; which, upon their union with Christ

who was made a curse for them, to redeem them from under it, they are,

according to Scripture and our Confession, for ever delivered from. Hence we

know of no sanction the law, standing in the covenant of grace hath with respect

to believers besides gracious rewards, all of them freely promised on Christ's

account for their encouragement in obedience, and fatherly chastisement and

displeasure, in case of their not walking in his commandments; which to a believer

are no less awful and much more powerful restraints from sin than the prospect

of the curse and hell itself would be. The Reverend Commission will not, we

hope, grudge to hear that eminent divine, Mr. Perkins, in a few words, on this

head, who having put the objection, "In the gospel there are promises of life upon

condition of our obedience, as Romans 8:13, 'If ye through the Spirit,'" &c.;

answers, "The promises of the gospel are not made to the work, but to the

worker; and to the worker, not for his work, but for Christ's sake according to his

work: e.g., The promise of life is not made to the work of mortification, but to

him that mortifies his flesh; and that not for his mortification, but because he is in

Christ, and his mortification is the token and evidence thereof." This, as it is the

Old Protestant doctrine, so we take it to be the truth. And as to the believer's total

and final freedom from the curse of the law upon his union with Christ,

Protestant divines, particularly Rutherford and Owen, throughout their writings,

are full and clear on this head.


QUERY IV.—If the moral law, antecedent to its receiving the form of a

covenant of works, had a threatening of hell annexed?


Ans.—Since the law of God never was, nor will ever in this world be the stated

rule, either of man's duty towards God, or of God's dealing with man, but as it

stands in one of the two covenants of works and grace, we are at a loss to

discover the real usefulness of this query, as well as what foundation it has in our

representation.



As to the intrinsical demerit of sin, we are clear, whether there had ever been any

covenant of works or not, it deserves hell, even all that an infinitely holy and just

God ever has or shall inflict for it; yet what behoved to have been the Creator's

disposal of the creature, in the supposed event of sin's entering, without a

covenant being made, we incline not here to dip into; but we reckon it is not

possible to prove a threatening of hell to be inseparable from the law of creation,

the obligation of which, because resulting from the nature of God, and of the

creature, is eternal and immutable: for confirmed angels, glorified saints, yea, and

the human nature of Christ, are all of them naturally, necessarily, and eternally

obliged to love, obey, depend on, and submit unto God, and to make him their

blessedness and ultimate end; but none, we conceive, will be peremptory in

saying, they have a threatening of hell annexed to the law they are under. And we

can by no means allow, that a believer, delivered by Christ from the covenant of

works, is still obnoxious, upon every new transgression, to the threatening of hell,

supposed to be inseparably annexed to the law of creation, or of the ten

commandments; which law every reasonable creature must for ever be under,

since this would, in effect, be no other than, after he is delivered from hell in one

respect, to bind him over to it in another. Whatever threatening one may suppose

belonged to the moral law of the ten commandments, antecedently to its receiving

a covenant form, all was, for certain, included in the sanction of the covenant of

works: so that Christ, in bearing the curse of it, redeemed believers from the hell,

vindictive wrath and curse, their sins in any sort deserved; the hand-writing that

was against them he cancelled, tore to pieces, and nailed to his cross. Hence the

threatening of hell and the curse are actually separated from the law of the ten

commandments, which believers are under as a rule of life; and to hold otherwise

is the leading error, yea, the very spring and fountain-head of Antinomianism; on

all which, Burgess, Rutherford, and others, may be heard.


QUERY V.—If it be peculiar to believers to be free of the commanding power

of the law, as a covenant of works?


Though our saying we cannot comprehend how the covenant of works, as such,

continues to have a commanding power over believers, that covenant form of it

being done away in Christ with respect to them, gives no sufficient foundation to

this query, since we affirm nothing concerning any but believers, whose freedom

from the commanding power of that covenant, the query seems, as much as we

do, to allow of; we answer affirmatively: for, since it is only to believers the Spirit

of God in Scripture says, "Ye are not under the law," the main import of which

phrase is, subjection to the commanding power of it, as a covenant,—"but under

grace"; and since they only are, by virtue of their union with Christ, actually freed

from being under the law, by Christ's being made under it, i.e., under its

command, as above, as well as under its curse for them; and since according to

our Confession, it is the peculiar privilege of believers, which, therefore, believers

have no interest in, not to be under the law as a covenant of works, to be justified

or condemned thereby, we can allow no other, besides believers, to be invested

with that immunity.


All unbelievers within, as well as without, the pale of the visible church, since

they seek righteousness only by the works of the law, and are strangers to the

covenant of grace, we always took to be debtors to the whole law, in their own

persons. And this their obligation, under the DO, or commanding power of that

covenant, we took to be inviolably firm, till such time as by faith they had

recourse to him who is "the end of the law for righteousness to every one that

believeth"; else we thought, and do still think, if their obligation to the command

of that covenant be dissolved, merely by their living under an external gospel

dispensation, they would be cast quite loose from being under any covenant at all,

contrary to the common received doctrine of the Protestant churches, namely,

that every person whatsoever is in and under one or other of the two covenants

of works and grace; nor could they, unless they be under the commanding power

of the covenant of works, be ever found transgressors of the law of that

covenant, by any actual sin of their own, nor be bound over anew under the

covenant-curse thereby.


The covenant of works, it is true, is, by the fall, weak and ineffectual, as a

covenant, to give us life, by reason of our weakness and disability to fulfil it,

being antecedently sinners, and obnoxious to its curse, which no person can be,

and yet at the same time have a right unto its promise. Hence, for any to seek life

and salvation by it now, is no other than to labour after an impossibility; yet does

it nevertheless continue in full force, as a law requiring of all sinners, while they

continue in their natural state, without taking hold, by faith, of Christ and the

grace of the new covenant; requiring of them, we say, personal and absolutely

perfect obedience, and threatening death upon every the least transgression. From

the commanding power of which law, requiring universal holiness in such rigour,

as that, on the least failure in substance, circumstance, or degree, all is rejected,

and we are determined transgressors of the whole law; believers, and they only,

are freed, as we said above. "But to suppose a person," says Dr. Owen, "by any

means freed from the curse due unto sin, and then to deny that, upon the

performance of the perfect sinless obedience which the law requires, he should

have right to the promise of life thereby, is to deny the truth of God, and to

reflect dishonour upon his justice. Our Lord himself was justified by the law; and

it is immutably true, that he who does the things of it, shall live in them." "It is

true," adds the same author, "that God did never formally and absolutely renew,

or give again this law, as a covenant of works, a second time; nor was there any

need that so he should do, unless it were declaratively only. And so it was

renewed at Sinai; for the whole of it being an emanation of eternal right and truth,

it abides, and must abide in full force for ever. Wherefore, it is only so far broken

as a covenant, that all mankind having sinned against the command of it, and so

by guilt, with the impotency to obedience, which ensued thereupon, defeated

themselves of any interest in its promise, and possibility of attaining any such

interest, they cannot have any benefit by it. But as to its power to oblige all

mankind unto obedience, and the unchangeable truths of its promises and

threatenings, it abides the same as it was from the beginning. The introducing of

another covenant, [adds he again on the same head,] inconsistent with, and

contrary to it, does not instantly free men from the law as a covenant; for, though

a new law abrogates a former law inconsistent with it, and frees all from

obedience, it is not so in a covenant, which operates not by sovereign authority,

but becomes a covenant by consent of them with whom it is made. So there is no

freedom from the old covenant, by the constitution of the new, till it be actually

complied with. In Adam's covenant we must abide under obligation to duty and

punishment, till by faith we be interested in the new."


From all which it appears to be no cogent reasoning to say, if the unbeliever be

under the commanding power of the covenant of works, then would he be under

two opposite commands at once, viz: to seek a perfect righteousness in his own

person, and to seek it also by faith in a surety; for, though the law requires of us

now, both active and passive righteousness in our own persons, and likewise,

upon the revelation of Jesus Christ in the gospel, as Jehovah our righteousness,

obliges us to believe in and submit to him as such, yet, as it is in many other cases

of duties, the law requires both these of us, not in sensu composito, as they say,

but in sensu diviso. The law is content to sustain and hold for good the payment

of a responsible surety, though itself provides none; and wills us, being insolvent

of ourselves, cheerfully, thankfully, and without delay, to accept of the non-such

favour offered unto us. But till the sinner, convinced of his undoneness otherwise,

accept of, use, and plead that benefit in his own behalf, the law will, and does go

on in its just demands and diligence against him. Having never had pleasure in the

sinful creature, by reason of our unfaithfulness, it can easily admit of the marriage

to another husband, upon a lawful divorce, after fair count and reckoning, and full

satisfaction and reparation made for all the invasions upon, and violations of the

first husband's honour; but, when the sinner, unwilling to hear of any such

motion, still cleaves to the law, its first husband, what wonder the law, in that

case, go on to use the sinner as he deserves? In short, this pretended absurdity, at

worst, amounts to no more than this,—Make full payment yourself, or find me

good and sufficient payment by a surety, till which time I will continue to proceed

against you, without mitigation or mercy. Wherefore, the unbeliever is justly

condemned by the law, both because he did not continue in all things written in

the book of the law to do them, and because he did not believe on the name of

the Son of God.


QUERY VI.—If a sinner, being justified, has all things at once that are

necessary for salvation? And if personal holiness, and progress in holy

obedience, is not necessary to a justified person's possession of glory, in case of

his continuing in life after his justification?


Ans.—The ground of this query, marked out to us, is, in these words of holy

Luther,—"For in Christ I have all things at once, neither need I anything more,

that is necessary unto salvation." And to us it is evident, that this is the believer's

plea, viz: Christ's most perfect obedience to the law, for him, in answer unto its

demand of good works for obtaining salvation, according to the tenor of the first

covenant, which plea the representation alleges to be cut off and condemned by

the Act of Assembly, But, without saying any thing of the old Popish reflection on

the doctrine of free justification by faith, without works, as it was taught by

Luther and other reformers, or the hardship of having this question put to us, as if

we had given ground of being suspected for enemies to gospel holiness, which our

consciences bear us witness, is our great desire to have advanced in ourselves and

others, as being fully persuaded, that without it neither they nor we shall see the

Lord; we answer to the first part of the query—


That, since a justified person, being passed from death to life, translated from the

power of darkness into the kingdom of God's dear Son, and blest with all the

spiritual blessings in Christ, is, by virtue of his union with him, brought into and

secured in a state of salvation; and therefore, in the language of the Holy Ghost,

actually, though not completely, saved already; and since, in him, he has

particularly a most perfect, law-binding, and law-magnifying righteousness,

redemption in his blood, even the forgiveness of sins, peace with God, access,

acceptance, wisdom, sanctification, everlasting strength, and, in one word, an

over-flowing, ever-flowing fullness, from which, according to the order of the

covenant, he does, and shall receive whatever he wants; hence, according to the

Scripture, in Christ all things are his and in him he is complete. Considering, we

say, these things, we think a justified person has in Christ at once all things

necessary to salvation, though of himself he has nothing.


To the second part of the query we answer, that personal holiness, and

justification, being inseparable in the believer, we are unwilling, so much as the

query does, to suppose their separation. Personal holiness we reckon so necessary

to the possession of glory, or to a state of perfect holiness and happiness, as is the

morning light to the noon- day warmth and brightness,—as is a reasonable soul to

a wise, healthy, strong, and full grown man,—as an antecedent is to its

consequent,—as a part is to the whole; for the difference betwixt a state of grace

and of glory, we take to be gradual only, according to the usual saying, "Grace is

glory begun, and glory grace in perfection." So necessary, again, as motion is to

evidence life, or in order to walking, not only habitual, but actual holiness and

progress in holy obedience, one continuing in life, we are clear, are so necessary,

that without the same none can see the Lord. And as it is not only the believer's

interest, but his necessary and indispensable duty, to be still going on "from

strength to strength, until he appear before the Lord in Zion"; so the righteous, we

believe, "will hold on his way, and he who is of clean hands will grow stronger

and stronger": for though the believer's progress in holy obedience, by reason of

the many stops, interruptions, and assaults he frequently meets with from Satan,

the world, and in-dwelling corruption, is far from being alike at all times, yet "the

path of the just," though he frequently fall, will be "as the shining light, that

shineth more and more unto the perfect day." Though he may, at times "become

weary and faint in his mind," yet shall he, by waiting on the Lord, "renew his

strength, and mount up as with eagles' wings," &c. But still the believer has all

this in and from Christ: for whence can our progress in holiness come, but from

the supply of his Spirit? Our walking in holy obedience, and every good motion of

ours, must be in him, and from him, who is the Way and the Life, who is our

head of influences, and the fountain of our strength, and who "works in us both

to will and to do." "Abide in me," says he, "and I in you. For without me ye can

do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is

withered."


But if the meaning of the query be, of such a necessity of holy obedience, in

order to the possession of glory, as imports any kind of causality, we dare not

answer in the affirmative; for we cannot look on personal holiness, or good

works, as properly federal and conditional means of obtaining the possession of

heaven, though we own they are necessary to make us meet for it.


QUERY VII.—Is preaching the necessity of a holy life, in order to the

obtaining of eternal happiness, of dangerous consequence to the doctrine of free

grace?


Ans.—The last of the two clauses of the eighth act of Assembly, being

complained of in the representation, is the first and main ground of this query.

And ere we make answer to it, we crave leave to explain ourselves more fully as

to the offence we conceive to be given by that act; namely, that, in opposition to,

and in place of the believer's plea of Christ's active righteousness, in answer to the

law, demanding good works, for obtaining salvation according to the tenor of the

first covenant, cut off, as we apprehend, by the fifth act; ministers are ordered, in

the eighth act, to preach the necessity of our own personal holiness, in order to

the obtaining of everlasting happiness. As also, that our inherent holiness seems to

be put too much on the same foot, in point of necessity, for obtaining everlasting

happiness, with justification by the Surety; which the frame of the words, being

as follows, will well admit, viz: "Of free justification through our blessed Surety,

the Lord Jesus Christ, received by faith alone; and of the necessity of an holy life,

in order to the obtaining of everlasting happiness." Moreover, that the great

fundamental of justification is laid down in such general terms, as adversaries will

easily agree to, without mention of the Surety's righteousness, active or passive,

or the imputation of either; especially since a motion in open Assembly for adding

the few, but momentous words,—imputed righteousness, was slighted. And,

finally, that that act is so little adapted to the end it is now given out to have been

designed for, viz:—a testimony to the supreme Godhead of our glorious God and

Saviour Jesus Christ, and against Arianism, especially since not the least

intimation or warning against that damnable heresy is to be found in the act itself,

nor was made to that Assembly, in passing of it.


To the query, we answer, that we cordially and sincerely own a holy life, or good

works, necessary, as an acknowledgment of God's sovereignty, and in obedience

to his command: for this is the will of God, even our sanctification; and, by a

special ordination, he has appointed believers to walk in them: necessary, for

glorifying God before the world, and showing the virtues of him who hath called

us out of darkness into his marvellous light: necessary, as being the end of our

election, our redemption, effectual calling, and regeneration; for "the Father chose

us in Christ, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy; the Son

gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify to

himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works"; and by the Holy Spirit are we

created in Christ Jesus unto them: necessary, as expressions of our gratitude to

our great Benefactor; for being bought with a price, we are no more our own, but

henceforth, in a most peculiar manner bound, in our bodies and in our spirits,

which are his, to glorify, and by all possible ways, to testify our thanksgiving to

our Lord Redeemer and Ransomer; to him "who spared not his own Son, but

gave him up to the death for us all"; to him "who humbled himself, and became

obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, for us": necessary, as being the

design, not only of the world, but of all ordinances and providences; even that as

he who has called us is holy, so we should be holy in all manner of conversation:

necessary, again, for evidencing and confirming our faith, good works being the

breath, the native offspring and issue of it: necessary, for making our calling and

election sure; for they are, though no plea, yet a good evidence for heaven, or an

argument confirming our assurance and hope of salvation: necessary, to the

maintaining of inward peace and comfort, though not as the ground and

foundation, yet as effects, fruits, and concomitants of faith: necessary, in order to

our entertaining communion with God even in this life; for, "if we say we have

fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth":

necessary, to the escaping of judgments, and to the enjoyment of many promised

blessings; particularly there is a necessity of order and method, that one be holy

before he can be admitted to see and enjoy God in heaven; that being a disposing

mean, preparing for the salvation of it, and the king's highway chalked out for the

redeemed to walk into the city: necessary, to adorn the gospel and grace our holy

calling and profession: necessary, further, for the edification, good, and comfort,

of fellow-believers: necessary, to prevent offence, and to stop the mouths of the

wicked; to win likewise the unbelieving, and to commend Christ and his ways to

the consciences: necessary, finally, for the establishment, security, and glory of

churches and nations. Though we firmly believe holiness necessary upon all these

and more accounts, and that the Christian ought to live in the continued exercise

of gospel repentance, which is one main constituent of gospel holiness, yet we

dare not say a holy life is necessary in order to the obtaining of eternal happiness;

for, to say nothing of the more gross sense of these words, [manifestly injurious

to the free grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, by faith in whose righteousness alone

we are appointed to obtain salvation, from first to last,] which yet is obvious

enough, though we are far from imputing it to the Assembly; we cannot, however

they may be explained into an orthodox meaning, look upon them as wholesome

words, since they have at least an appearance of evil, being such a way of

expression as Protestant churches and divines, knowing the strong natural bias in

all men towards seeking salvation, not by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, but by

works of righteousness done by themselves, and the danger of symbolizing with

Papists and other enemies of the grace of the gospel, have industriously shunned

to use on that head; they choosing rather to call holiness and good works

necessary duties of the persons justified and saved, than conditions of salvation;

consequents and effects of salvation already obtained, or antecedents, disposing

and preparing the subject for the salvation to be obtained, than any sort of causes,

or proper means of obtaining the possession of salvation; which last honour, the

Scripture, for the high praise and glory of sovereign grace, seems to have reserved

peculiarly unto faith; and rather to say, that holiness is necessary in them that

shall be saved, than necessary to salvation; that we are saved, not by good works,

but rather to them, as fruits and effects of saving grace; or that holiness is

necessary unto salvation, not so much as a mean to the end, as a part of the end

itself; which part of our salvation is necessary, to make us meet for the other that

is yet behind.


Wherefore, since this way of speaking of holiness with respect to salvation, is, we

conceive, without warrant in the holy Scripture, dissonant from the doctrinal

standards of our own and other reformed churches, as well as from the chosen

and deliberate speech of reformed divines treating on these heads; and since it

being at best but proposition male sonans, may easily be mistaken, and

afterwards improved, as a shade or vehicle, for conveying corrupt sentiments,

anent the influence of works upon salvation; we cannot but reckon preaching the

necessity of holiness in such terms to be of some dangerous consequence to the

doctrine of free grace. In which apprehension we are the more confirmed, that at

this day the doctrine of Christ, and his free grace, both as to the purity and

efficacy of the same, seems to be much on the wane, and Popery, with other

dangerous errors and heresies destructive of it, on the waxing; which certainly

calls aloud to the churches of Christ, and to his ministers in particular, for the

more zeal, watchfulness, and caution, with reference to the interests of truth; and

that especially at such a time, cum hereticis nec nomina habeamus communia, ne

eorum errori favere videamur.

If in any case, certainly in framing acts and standards of doctrine, there is great

need of delicacy in the choice of words; for the words of the Holy Ghost in

Scripture, under which we include such as in meaning and import are equivalent

to them, being an ordinance of divine institution, for preserving the truth of the

gospel, if these be once altered or varied, all the wisdom and vigilance of men will

be ineffectual to that end. And it is well known, by costly experience to the

churches of Christ, that their falling in with the language or phrase of corrupt

teachers, instead of serving the interest of truth, which never looks so well as in

its own native simplicity, does but grieve the stable and judicious, stagger the

weak, betray the ignorant, and, instead of gaining, harden and open the mouths of

adversaries. And that it is said in a text, "They do it to obtain a corruptible crown,

but we an incorruptible," will not warrant the manner of speech in the query; for

the word, in the original, signifies only to receive or apprehend, being accordingly

rendered in all Latin versions we have seen, and in our own translation in the

verse immediately preceding, viz: "One receiveth the prize"; and though the word

did signify to obtain, in the most strict and proper sense it could not make for the

purpose, unless it were meant of the believer's obtaining the incorruptible crown,

not by faith, but by works. And that an ill chosen word in a standard may prove

more dangerous to the truth, than one not so justly rendered in a translation, with

several other things on this head, might be made very evident, were it not that we

have been, we fear, tedious on it already.


QUERY VIII.—Is knowledge, belief, and persuasion, that Christ died for me,

and that he is mine, and that whatever he did and suffered, he did and suffered

for me, the direct act of faith, whereby a sinner is united to Christ, interested in

him, instated in God's covenant of grace? Or, is that knowledge a persuasion

included in the very essence of that justifying act of faith?


Ans. The query, it is evident, exceedingly narrows the import and design of the

Representation in the place referred to; for there we assert nothing positively

concerning the passages relating to faith, but remonstrate against condemning

them, as what to us seemed to hurt the appropriating act of faith, and to fix a blot

upon the Reformation, reformed churches, and divines, who had generally taught

concerning faith, as in the condemned passages; all which we might say, without

determining whether the persuasion spoke of in the query was the very direct and

formal act of justifying faith, yea or no. But now, since the query is put so close,

and since the matter in question is no other than the old Protestant doctrine on

that head, as we shall endeavour to make appear, the Reverend Commission, we

humbly conceive, cannot take it amiss, if we, in the first place, inquire into the

true sense and meaning of this way of speaking of faith, that we are now

questioned about.


The main of the condemned passages the query refers to, runs not in the order

therein set down, but as follows: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt

be saved"; that is, "Be verily persuaded in your heart that Christ Jesus is yours,

and that you shall have life and salvation by him; that whatever Christ did for the

redemption of mankind, he did it for you": being in matter the same with what has

been commonly taught in the Protestant churches, and, in words of the renowned

Mr. John Rogers, of Dodham, [a man so noted for orthodoxy, holiness, and the

Lord's countenancing of his ministry, that no sound Protestants in Britain or

Ireland, of what denomination soever, would, in the age wherein he lived, have

taken upon them to condemn as erroneous] his definition of faith, which we have

as follows: "A particular persuasion of my heart that Christ Jesus is mine, and that

I shall have life and salvation by his means; that whatsoever Christ did for the

redemption of mankind, he did it for me." Where one may see, though the

difference in words be almost none at all, yet it runs rather stronger with him than

in the Marrow.


In which account of saving faith, we have, first, the general nature of it; viz: a real

persuasion, agreeing to all sorts of faith whatsoever; for it is certain, whatever one

believes, he is verily persuaded of. More particularly, it is a persuasion in the

heart, whereby it is distinguished from a general, dead, and naked assent in the

head, which one gives to things that no way affect him, because he reckons they

do not concern him. But with the heart man believes here; "If thou believest with

all thine heart," says the Scripture. For as a man's believing in his heart the

dreadful tidings of the law, or its curse, imports not only an assent to them as

true, but a horror of them as evil; so here, the being persuaded in one's heart of

the glad tidings of the gospel, bears not only an assent unto them as true, but a

relish of them as good.


Then we have the most special nature of it, viz: an appropriating persuasion, or a

persuasion, with application to a person's self, that Christ is his, &c. The

particulars whereof are, first, that Christ is yours; the ground of which persuasion

is the offer and grant of Christ as a Saviour in the word, to be believed in for

salvation, by all to whom the gospel is made known. By which offer and setting

forth of Christ as a Saviour, though before we believe, we wanting union with

him, have no actual or saving interest in him, yet he is in some sense ours,

namely, so as it is lawful and warrantable for us, not for fallen angels, to take

possession of him and his salvation by faith; without which, our common interest

in him as a Saviour, by virtue of the offer and grant in the word, will avail us

nothing. But though the call and offer of the gospel, being really particular, every

one, both in point of duty and in point of interest, ought to appropriate, apply, or

make his own the thing offered, by believing, they having good and sufficient

ground and warrant in the word so to do; yet is it either neglected and despised,

or the truth and sincerity of it suspected and called in question, until the Holy

Spirit, by setting home the word of the gospel, with such a measure of evidence

and power as is effectual, satisfies the convinced sinner, that, with application to

himself in particular, "it is a faithful saying, worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus

Christ came to save sinners," and enables him to believe it. Thus the persuasion

of faith is begotten, which is always proportioned to the measure of evidence and

power from above that sovereign grace is pleased to put forth for working of it.


The next branch of the persuasion is, "that you shall have life and salvation by

him," namely, the life of holiness as well as of happiness; salvation from sin as

well as from wrath, not in heaven only, but begun, carried on here, and

completed hereafter;—the true notion of life and salvation, according to the

Scriptures, and as Protestant divines are wont to explain it. Wherefore this

persuasion of faith is inconsistent with an unwillingness to part with sin, a bent or

purpose of heart to continue in it. There can be little question, we apprehend,

whether this branch of the persuasion belongs to the nature of justifying faith; for

salvation being above all things in a sensible sinner's eye, he can never believe any

thing to his satisfaction, unless he sees ground to believe comfortably concerning

it. Few therefore will, we conceive, differ from Dr. Collins, laying it down as a

conclusion on this very head, namely, that "a Christian cannot have true, saving,

justifying faith, unless he doth [I do not say, unless he think he doth, or unless he

saith he doth, but, unless, he doth] believe, and is persuaded that God will pardon

his sins." Further this being a believing on the Son for life and salvation, is the

same with receiving of him, [as this last is explained by the Holy Spirit himself,

(John 1:12),] and likewise evidently bears the soul's resting on Christ for

salvation; for it is not possible to conceive a soul resting on Christ for salvation,

without a persuasion that it shall have life and salvation by him, namely, a

persuasion of the same measure and degree as resting is.


The third branch of the persuasion, "that whatsoever Christ did for the

redemption of mankind, he did it for you,"—being much the same, in other

words, with these of the apostle—"Who loved me, and gave himself for me"; and

coming in the last place, we think none will question but whosoever believes, in

the manner before explained, may and ought to believe this in the like measure

and in the same order. And it is certain, all who receive and rest on Christ for

salvation, believe it, if not explicitly, yet virtually and really.


Now, as this account of justifying faith runs in terms much less strong than those

of many eminent divines, who used to define it by a persuasion of God's love, of

his special mercy to one's self, of the remission of his sins, &c.; so it is the same

for substance and matter, though the words be not the same with that of our

Shorter Catechism, viz: "A receiving and resting upon Christ alone for salvation,

as he is offered to us in the gospel": where it is evident the offer of Christ to us,

though mentioned in the last place, is to be believed first; for till the soul be

persuaded that Christ crucified is in the gospel set forth, offered, and exhibited to

it as if expressed by name, there can be no believing on him. And when the offer

is brought home to a person by the Holy Ghost, there will be a measure of

persuasion that Christ is his, as above explained. And that receiving, or believing

in, and resting on him for salvation, cannot be without some measure of

persuasion that one shall have life and salvation by him, was said already. But

more directly to the query.


We answer, 1st, Since our reformers and their successors, such as Luther, Calvin,

Melancthon, Beza, Bullinger, Bucer, Knox, Craig, Melvil, Bruce, Davidson,

Forbes, &c.,—men eminently endowed with the spirit of truth and who fetch

their notions of it immediately from the fountain of the holy Scripture; the most

eminent doctors and professors of theology that have been in the Protestant

churches, such as Ursinus, Zanchius, Junius, Piscator, Rollock, Daneus,

Wendelinus, Chamierus, Sharpius, Bodius, Pareus, Altingius, Triglandii,

[Gisbertus and Jacobus] Arnoldus, Maresius; the four professors of Leyden, viz:

Walleus, Rivetus, Polyander, Thysius; Wollebius, Heideggerus, Essenius,

Turretinus, &c.; with many eminent British divines, such as Perkins, Pemble,

Willet, Gouge, Roberts, Burgess, Owen, &c.; the churches themselves of

Helvetia, the Palatinate, France, Holland, England, Ireland, Scotland, in their

standards of doctrine; all the Lutheran churches, who, in point of orthodoxy on

the head of justification and faith, are second to none; the renowned synod of

Dort, made up of eminent divines, called and commissionate from seven

reformed states and kingdoms, besides those of the several provinces of the

Netherlands; since these, we say, all of them stand for that special, fiducia,

confidence, or appropriating persuasion of faith spoken of in the condemned

passages of the Marrow, upon which this query is raised; the synod of Dort,

besides the minds of the several delegates on this head, in their several suffrages

anent the Five Articles, declaring themselves plainly both in their final decisions

concerning the said articles, and in their solemn and ample approbation of the

Palatine Catechism, as agreeable to the word of God in all things, and as

containing nothing that ought either to be altered or amended; which Catechism

being full and plain as to this persuasion of faith, has been commented upon by

many great divines, received by most of all the reformed churches, as a most

excellent commend of the orthodox Christian doctrine, and particularly by the

Church of Scotland, as the Rev. Mr. Robert Wodrow lately told his Majesty King

George, in the dedication of his history; and since we, with this whole church and

nation are, by virtue of the awful tie of the oath of God in our national covenant,

bound ever to abhor and detest the Popish general and doubtsome faith, with all

the erroneous decrees of Trent; among which, in opposition to the special fiducia

of faith therein condemned this is established; being by Protestants, so called,

mainly for their denying and opposing the confidence and persuasion of faith,

with application to one's self, now in question; by which renunciation our

forefathers, no doubt, pointed at, and asserted to be held and professed as God's

undoubted truth and verity, that particular and confident, or assured faith, then

commonly known and maintained in this church, as standing plain and express in

her standards, to the profession and defence of which they in the same covenant

promising and swearing by the great name of the Lord our God, bound

themselves and us: and since the same persuasion of faith, however the way of

speaking on that head is come to be somewhat altered, was never by any

judicatory of a reformed Church, until now, denied or condemned: considering all

these things, we say, and of what dangerous consequence such a judicial

alteration may be, we cannot, we dare not consent unto the condemnation of that

point of doctrine; for we cannot think of charging error and delusion in a matter

of such importance upon so many Protestant divines, eminent for holiness and

learning; upon the Protestant churches; and upon our own forefathers, so signally

owned of the Lord; and also on the standards of Protestant doctrine, in this

Church, for nigh an hundred years after her reformation: else, if we should thus

speak, we are persuaded we would offend against the generation of his children.

Nor can it ever enter into our minds, that the famous Assembly of Westminster

had it so much as once in their thought, to depart in this point from the doctrine

of their own, and of this church, which they were all of them by the strongest ties

bound to maintain; or to go off from the synod of Dort, which had but so lately

before them settled the Protestant principles as to doctrine; and by so doing yield

up to Socinians, Arminians, and Papists, what all of them have a mortal aversion

to, namely, the special fiducia or appropriating persuasion of faith, which

Protestant divines before and since that time contended for to their utmost, as

being not only a precious truth, but a point of vast consequence to religion. And

we are sure the Assemblies of this Church understood, and received their

confessions and catechisms larger and shorter, as entirely consistent with our

confessions and catechisms before that time, as we have already made evident in

our representation, from the acts of Assembly receiving and approving the

Westminster Confession and Catechisms.


Answer 2d, It is to be considered, that most of the words of the Holy Ghost,

made use of in the Old and New Testament, for expressing the nature of faith and

believing, do import the confidence or persuasion in question; and that confidence

and trust in the Old Testament are expounded by faith and believing in the New;

and the same things attributed to the latter, as were wont to be attributed to the

former; that diffidence and doubting are in their nature acts and effects contrary

to faith; that peace and joy are the native effects of believing; that the promises of

the gospel, and Christ in his priestly office therein held forth, are the proper

objects of justifying faith; that, faithfulness in God, and faith in the believer, being

relatives, and the former the ground of the latter, our faith should answer to his

faithfulness, by trusting his good word of promise for the sake of it; that it is

certain a believer in the exercise of justifying faith does believe something with

reference to his own salvation upon the ground of God's faithfulness in the

promise; that no other person whatsoever does or can believe; which if it be not

to this purpose, that now Christ is and will be a Saviour to him, that he shall have

life and salvation by him, we are utterly at a loss to conceive what it can be; that

persuasion, confidence, and assuredness, are so much attributed to faith in the

Scripture, and the saints in Scripture ordinarily express themselves in their

addresses to God in words of appropriation; and finally, that according to our

Larger Catechism, faith justifies a sinner in the sight of God, as an instrument,

receiving and applying Christ, and his righteousness held forth in the promise of

the gospel, and resteth thereupon for pardon of sin, and for the accepting and

accounting one's person righteous before God for salvation; the which, how faith

can do without some measure of the confidence, or appropriating persuasion we

are now upon, seems extremely hard to conceive. Upon these considerations, and

others too long to be here inserted, we cannot but think, that confidence, or trust

in Jesus Christ, as our Saviour, and the free grace and mercy of God in him as

crucified, offered to us in the gospel for salvation, [including justification,

sanctification, and future glory,] upon the ground and security of the divine

faithfulness plighted in the gospel promise; and upon the warrant of the divine call

and command to believe in the name of the Son of God; or, which is the same, in

other words, a persuasion of life and salvation, from the free love and mercy of

God, in and through Jesus Christ, a crucified Saviour offered to us, upon the

security and warrant aforesaid, is the very direct, uniting, justifying, and

appropriating act of faith, whereby the convinced sinner becomes possessed of

Christ and his saving benefits, instated in God's covenant and family; taking this

always along, as supposed, that all is set home and wrought by the Holy Spirit,

who brings Christ, his righteousness, salvation, and whole fullness, nigh to us in

the promise and offer of the gospel; clearing at the same time our right and

warrant to intermeddle with all, without fear of vicious intromission, encouraging

and enabling to a measure of confident application, and taking home of all to

ourselves freely, without money and without price.


This confidence, persuasion, or whatever other name it may be called by, we take

to be the very same with what our Confession and Catechisms call accepting,

receiving, and resting on Christ offered in the gospel for salvation; and with what

polemic and practical divines call "Fiducia specialis misericordia," Fiducial

application," "fiducial apprehension," "fiducial adherence," "recumbence,"

"affiance," "fiducial acquiescence," "appropriating persuasion," &c. All which, if

duly explained, would issue in a measure of this confidence or persuasion we

have been speaking of. However, we are fully satisfied this is what our fathers

and the body of Protestant divines, speaking with the Scriptures called "the

assurance of faith." That once burning and shining light of this church, Mr. John

Davidson, though in his Catechism he defines faith by a "hearty assurance" that

our sins are freely forgiven us in Christ; or, a sure persuasion of the heart that

Christ by his death and resurrection has taken away our sins, and clothing us with

his own perfect righteousness, has thoroughly restored us to the favour of God;

which he reckoned all one with a "Hearty receiving of Christ offered in the gospel

for the remission of sins"; yet in a former part of the same Catechism he gives us

to understand what sort of assurance and persuasion it was he meant, as follows:

"And certain it is," he says, "that both the enlightening of the mind to

acknowledge the truth of the promise of salvation to us in Christ, and the sealing

up of the certainty thereof in our hearts and minds, [of the which two parts, as it

were, faith consists,] are the works and effects of the Spirit of God." In like

manner, in our first Confession of Faith, Art. 3, 12, it is called, "An assured faith

in the promise of God revealed to us in his word; by which faith we apprehend

Christ Jesus, with the graces and benefits promised in him."—"This faith, and the

assurance of the same, proceeds not from flesh and blood." And in our first

Catechism, commonly called Calvin's Catechism, faith is defined by a "sure

persuasion" and "steadfast knowledge" of God's tender love towards us,

according as he has plainly uttered in his gospel, that he will be a Father and

Saviour to us, through the means of Jesus Christ; and again, "faith which God's

Spirit worketh in our hearts, assuring of God's promises made to us in his holy

Gospel." In the Summula Catechismi, or Rudimenta Pietatis, to the question,

"Quid est fides?" the answer is, "Cum mihi persuadeo Deum me omnesque

sanctos amare, nobisque Christum cum omnibus suis bonis gratis donare"; and in

the margin, "Nam in fide duplex persuasio, 1. De amore Dei erga nos; 2. De Dei

beneficiis que ex amore fluunt, Christo nimirum, cum omnibus suis bonis," &c.

And to that question, "Quomodo fide percipimus, et nobis applicamus corpus

Christi crucifixi?" the answer is, "Dum nobis persuademus Christi mortem et

crucifixionem non minus ad nos pertinere quam si ipsi nos pro peccatis nostris

crucifixi essemus. Persuasiio autem hec est vere fidei." From all which it is

evident, they held, that a belief of the promises of the gospel, with application to

oneself, or a confidence in a crucified Saviour, for a man's own salvation, is the

very essence of justifying faith; or, that we become actually possessed of Christ,


remission of sins, &c., in and by the act of believing, or confidence in him, as

above explained. And this with them was the assurance of faith, which widely

differs from the Antinomian sense of the assurance or persuasion of faith which

is, that Christ, and pardon of sin, are ours, no less before believing than after; a

sense which we heartily disclaim.


Whether these words in the query, viz: "Or, is that knowledge a persuasion

included in the very essence of that justifying act of faith"; be exegetic of the

former part of it, or a new branch of the query; we answer, that we have already

explained the persuasion of faith by us held, and do think, that in the language of

faith, though not in the language of philosophy, knowledge, and persuasion,

relating to the same object, go hand in hand in the same measure and degree.


It is evident that the confidence or persuasion of faith for which we plead,

includes, or necessarily and infallibly infers consent and resting, together with all

the blessed fruits and effects of faith, in proportion to the measure of it. And that

we have mentioned consent, we cannot but be the more confirmed in this matter,

when we consider, that such a noted person as Mr. Baxter, though he had made

the marriage consent to Christ, as King and Lord, the formal act of justifying

faith, as being an epitome of all gospel obedience, including and binding to all the

duties of the married state, and so giving right to all the privileges: and had

thereby, as well as by his other dangerous notions about justification, and other

points connected therewith, scattered through his works, corrupted the fountain,

and endangered the faith of many; yet after all, came to be of another mind, and

had the humility to tell the world so much; for Mr. Cross informs us [Serm. on

Romans 4:2, p. 148,] that Mr. Baxter, in his little book against Dr. Crisp's errors,

says, "I formerly believed the formal nature of faith to lie in consent; but now I

recant it. I believe," says he, "it lies in trust: this makes the right to lie in the

object; for it is, I depend on Christ as the matter or merit of my pardon, my life,

my crown, my glory."


There are two things further, concerning this persuasion of faith, that would be

adverted to: one is, that it is not axiomatical, but real; that is, the sinner has not

always, at his first closing with Christ, nor afterwards, such a clear, steady, and

full persuasion that Christ is his, that his sins are forgiven, and that he eventually

shall be saved, as that he dare profess the same to others, or even positively

assert it within himself; yet, upon the first saving manifestation of Christ to him,

such a persuasion and humble confidence is begotten, as is real and relieving, and

particular as to himself and his own salvation, and which works a proportionable

hope as to the issue; though, through the humbling impressions he has of himself

and his own guilt at the time, the awe of God's majesty, justice, and holiness on

his spirit, and his indistinct knowledge of the doctrine of the gospel, with the

grounds and warrants of believing therein contained, he fears to express it directly

and particularly of himself. The other is, that whatever is said of the habit,

actings, strength, weakness, and intermittings of the exercise of saving faith, the

same is to be said of this persuasion in all points. From all which it is evident, the

doubts, fears, and darkness, so frequently to be found in true believers, can very

well consist with this persuasion in the same subject; for though these may be,

and often are in the believer, yet they are not of his faith, which in its nature and

exercise is as opposite to them as light is to darkness, the flesh to the Spirit; which

though they be in the same subject, yet are contrary the one to the other, (Gal

5:17). And, therefore, faith wrestles against them, though with various success, it

being sometimes so far overcome and brought under by the main force and much

superior strength of prevailing unbelief, that it cannot be discerned more than the

fire is when covered with ashes, or the sun when wrapt up in thick clouds. The

confidence and persuasion of faith being in many, at first especially, but as the

grain of mustard-seed cast into the ground, or like a spark amidst the troubled sea

of all manner of corruption and lust, where the rolling waves of unbelieving

doubts and fears, hellish temptations and suggestions, and the like, moving on the

face of that depth, are every now and then going over it; and, were there not a

divine hand and care engaged for its preservation, would effectually extinguish

and bury it. What wonder that in such a case it many times cannot be discerned?

yet will it still hold so much of the exercise of justifying faith, so much persuasion.

Yea, not only may a believer have this persuasion and not know it for the time,

[as says Collins, Roberts, Amesius, and others, who distinguish the persuasion

from the sense of it,] but he, being under the power of temptation and confusion

of mind, may resolutely deny he has any such persuasion or conscience; while it

is evident to others at the same time, by its effects, that he really has it: for which,

one may, among others, see the holy and learned Haliburton, in his "Inquiry into

the Nature of God's Act of Justification," p. 27. And if one would see the

consistence of faith's persuasion with doubting, well discoursed and illustrated, he

may consult Downham's "Christian Warfare." But we—


Answer 3dly, There is a full persuasion and assurance, by reflection, spiritual

argumentation, or inward sensation, which we are far from holding to be of the

essence of faith; but this last, being mediate, and collected by inference, as we

gather the cause from such signs and effects as give evidence of it, is very

different from that confidence or persuasion, by divines called the assurance of

faith. "Sanctification," says Rutherford, "does not evidence justification, as faith

doth evidence it, with such a sort of clearness, as light evidenceth colours, though

it be no sign or evident mark of them; but as smoke evinces fire, and as the

morning star in the east evinces the sun will early rise, or as the streams prove

there is a head-spring whence they issue, though none of these make what they

evidence visible to the eye; so doth sanctification give evidence of justification,

only as marks, signs, effects, give evidence to the cause." He calls it a light of

arguing and of heavenly logic, by which we know that we know God, by the light

of faith, because we keep his commandments. "In effect," says he, "we know

rather the person must be justified, in whom these gracious evidences are, by

hearsay report or consequence, than that we know or see justification, or faith

itself, in abstracto; but the light of faith, the testimony of the Spirit by the

operation of free grace, will cause us, as it were, with our eyes, to see justification

and faith, not by report, but as we see the sun-light." Again he says, "We never

had a question with Antinomians touching the first assurance of justification, such

as is proper to the light of faith. He [Cornwall] might have spared all his

arguments to prove that we are first assured of our justification by faith, not by

good works, for we grant the arguments of one sort of assurance, which is proper

to faith, and they prove nothing against another sort of assurance, by signs and

effects, which is also divine." Further, as to the difference between these two

kinds of assurance: the assurance of faith has its object and foundation without

the man, but that of sense has them within him. The assurance of faith looks to

Christ, the promise and covenant of God, and says, "This is all my salvation; God

has spoken in his holiness, I will rejoice"; but the assurance of sense looks inward

at the works of God, such as the person's own graces, attainments, experiences,

and the like. The assurance of faith giving an evidence to things not seen, can

claim an interest in, and plead a saving relation to a hiding, withdrawing God.

Zion said, "My Lord hath forgotten me"; and the spouse, "I opened to my

beloved, but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone." So he may be a

forgetting and withdrawing God to my feeling, "and yet to my faith, my God and

my Lord still," says holy Rutherford; "even as the wife may believe the angry and

forsaking husband is still her husband." But on the other hand, the assurance of

sense is the evidence of things seen and felt. The one says, "I take him for mine";

the other says, "I feel he is mine." The one says with the church, "My God,

though he cover himself with a cloud, that my prayer cannot pass through, yet

will hear me"; the other, "My God has heard me." The one says, "He will bring

me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness"; the other, "He has

brought me forth to the light, and I do behold his righteousness." The one says,

"Though he should kill me, yet will I trust in him"; the other, "He smiles and

shines on me, therefore, will I love him and trust in him."


Upon the whole, we humbly conceive, were the nature and grounds of faith's

persuasion more narrowly and impartially under the guidance of the Spirit of

truth, searched into and laid open, it would, instead of discouraging weak

Christians, exceedingly tend to the strengthening and increase of faith, and

consequently have a mighty influence on spiritual comfort, and true gospel

holiness, which will always be found to bear proportion to faith, as effects do to

the efficacy and influence of their causes.


QUERY IX.—What is that act of faith, by which a sinner appropriates Christ

and his saving benefits to himself?


Ans.—This question being plainly and fully answered in what is said on the

immediately foregoing, we refer thereto, and proceed to the tenth.


QUERY X.—Whether the revelation of the divine will in the word, affording a

warrant to offer Christ unto all, and a warrant to all to receive him, can be said

to be the Father's making a deed of gift and grant of Christ unto all mankind? Is

this grant to all mankind by sovereign grace? And whether is it absolute or

conditional!


Ans.—Here we are directed to that part of our representation where we complain

that the following passage is condemned, viz: "The Father hath made a deed of

gift or grant unto all mankind, that whosoever of them shall believe in his Son,

shall not perish"; and where we say, "That this treatment of the said passage

seems to encroach on the warrants aforesaid, and also upon sovereign grace,

which hath made this grant, not to devils, but to men, in terms than which none

can be imagined more extensive"; agreeable to what we have already said in our

representation. We answer to the first part of the question, that by the "deed of

gift or grant unto all mankind," we understand no more than the revelation of the

divine will in the word, affording warrant to offer Christ to all, and a warrant to all

to receive him; for although we believe the purchase and application of

redemption to be peculiar to the elect, who were given by the Father to Christ in

the counsel of peace, yet the warrant to receive him is common to all. Ministers,

by virtues of the commission they have received from their great Lord and

Master, are authorized and instructed to go preach the gospel to every creature,

i.e., to make a full, free, and unhampered offer of him, his grace, righteousness,

and salvation, to every rational soul to whom they may in providence have access

to speak. And though we had a voice like a trumpet, that could reach all the

corners of the earth, we think we would be bound, by virtue of our commission,

to lift it up, and say, "To you, O men, do we call, and our voice is to the sons of

men. God hath so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that

whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." And

though this "deed of gift and grant, that whosoever believeth in Christ shall not

perish," &c. is, neither in our representation, nor in the passages of the book

condemned on that head, called a "deed of gift, and grant of Christ," yet, being

required to give our judgment in this point, we think, that agreeable to the Holy

Scripture, it may be so called, as particularly appears from the text last cited,

(John 3:16), where by the giving of Christ, we understand not only his eternal

destination by the Father to be the Redeemer of an elect world, and his giving him

unto the death for them, in the fullness of time, but more especially a giving of

him in the word unto all, to be received and believed in. The giving here cannot

be a giving in possession, which is peculiar only unto them who actually believe,

but it must be such a giving, granting, or offering, as warrants a man to believe or

receive the gift, and must therefore be anterior to actual believing. This is evident

enough from the text itself: he gave him, "that whosoever believeth in him should

not perish," &c. The context also, to us, puts it beyond controversy: the brazen

serpent was given, and lifted up as a common good to the whole camp of Israel,

that whosoever in all the camp, being stung by the fiery serpents, looked

thereunto, might not die, but live. So here Christ is given to a lost world, in the

word, "that whosoever believes in him should not perish," &c. And in this

respect, we think, Christ is a common Saviour, and his salvation is a common

salvation; and it is "glad tidings of great joy unto all people," that unto us [not to

angels that fell] this Son is given, and this Child is born, whose name is called

Wonderful, &c. (Isa 9:6).


We have a Scripture also to this purpose, (John 6:32), where Christ, speaking to a

promiscuous multitude, makes a comparison between himself and the manna that

fell about the tents of Israel in the wilderness, and says, "My Father giveth you

the true bread from heaven." As the simple raining of the manna about their camp

is called a giving of it, (verse 21), before it was tasted, or fed upon; so the very

revelation and offer of Christ is called [according to the judicious Calvin on the

place] a giving of him, ere he be received and believed on.


Of this giving of Christ to mankind lost, we read also, (1 John 5:11), "And this is

the record, that God hath given unto us eternal life, and this life is in his Son."

This giving in the text is not, we conceive, a giving in possession, in greater or

lesser measure, but a giving by way of grant and offer, whereupon one may

warrantably take possession, and the party to whom is not the election only, but

lost mankind; for the record of God here must be such a thing as warrants all to

believe on the Son of God. But it can be no such warrant to tell, "that God hath

given eternal life to the elect"; for the making of a gift to a certain select company

of persons, can never be a warrant for all men to receive or take possession of it.

This will be further evident, if we consider that the great sin of unbelief lies in not

believing this record of God,—"He that believes not hath made God a liar," says

the apostle, (verse 10), "because he believes not the record that God gave so his

Son"; and then it followeth, (verse 11), "And this is the record, that God hath

given to us eternal life," &c. Now, are we to think that the rejecting of the record

of God is a bare disbelieving of this proposition, "That God hath given eternal life

unto the elect?" No, surely; for the most desperate unbelievers, such as Judas and

others, believe this; and their belief of it adds to their anguish and torment. Or do

they, by believing this, set to their seal that God is true? No; they still continue,

notwithstanding of all this, to make him a liar, in "not believing this record of

God," that to lost mankind, and to themselves in particular, God hath given

eternal life, by way of grant, so as they, as well as others, are warranted and

welcome, and every one to whom it comes, on their peril, required by faith to

receive or take possession of it. By not receiving this gifted and offered remedy,

with application and appropriation, they fly in the face of God's record and

testimony; and therefore do justly and deservedly perish, seeing the righteousness,

salvation, and kingdom of God, was brought so near to them, in the free offer of

the gospel, and yet they would not take it. The great pinch and strait, we think, of

an awakened conscience, does not lie in believing that God hath given eternal life

to the elect, but in believing or receiving Christ, offered to us in the gospel, with

particular application to the man himself, in Scripture called "an eating the flesh,

and drinking the blood of the Son of man." And yet, till this difficulty be

surmounted, in greater or lesser measure, he can never be said to believe in

Christ, or receive and rest upon him for salvation. The very taking or receiving

must needs presuppose a giving of Christ; and this giving may be, and is, for the

most part, where there is no receiving; but there can be no receiving of Christ for

salvation where there is not revelation of Christ in the word of the gospel,

affording warrant to receive him, and then, by the effectual operation of the

Spirit, persuading and enabling the sinner to embrace him upon this warrant and

offer. "A man," says the Spirit of God, (John 3:27), "can receive nothing, except

it be given him from heaven." Hence Mr. Rutherford, in his "Christ Dying and

Drawing," &c., page 442, says that "reprobates have as fair a warrant to believe

as the elect have."


As to the second part of this question, i.e., "Is this grant made to all mankind by

sovereign grace? and, Whether is it absolute or conditional" we answer, that this

grant, made in common to lost mankind, is from sovereign grace only; and it

being ministers' warrant to offer Christ unto all, and people's warrant to receive

him, it cannot fail to be absolutely free; yet so as none can be possessed of Christ

and his benefits, till by faith they receive him.


QUERY XI.—Is the division of the law, as explained and applied in the

Marrow, to be justified, and which cannot be rejected without burying several

gospel truths?


Ans.—We humbly judge the tripartite division of the law, if rightly understood,

may be admitted as orthodox; yet, seeing that which we are concerned with, as

contained in our representation, is only the divisions of the law into the law of

works and the law of Christ, we say, that we are still of opinion, that this

distinction of the law is carefully to be maintained; in regard that by the law of

works we, according to the Scripture, understand the covenant of works, which

believers are wholly and altogether delivered from, although they are certainly

under the law of the ten commandments in the hand of a Mediator. And if this

distinction of the law, thus applied, be overthrown, and declared groundless,

several sweet gospel- truths must unavoidably fall in the ruins of it. For instance,

if there be no difference put between the law as a covenant, and the law as a rule

of life to believers, in the hand of Christ, it must needs follow, that the law still

retains its covenant-form with respect to believers, and that they are still under the

law in this formality, contrary to Scripture, (Rom 6:14, 7:1-3), and to the

Confession of Faith, chap. 19, sect. 6. It would also follow, that the sins of

believers are still to be looked upon as breaches of the covenant of works, and

consequently, that their sins not only deserve the wrath and curse of God, [which

is a most certain truth,] but also make them actually liable to the wrath of God,

and the pains of hell for ever, which is true only of them that are in a state of

black nature: Less. Cat. quest. 19, and contrary to Confess. of Faith, chap. 19,

sect. 1. It will likewise follow, that believers are still to eye God as a vindictive

and wrathful Judge, though his justice be fully satisfied in the death and blood of

their blessed Surety, apprehended by faith. These and many other sweet gospel

truths, we think, fall in the ruins of the foresaid distinction condemned as

groundless.


QUERY. XII.—Is the hope of heaven and fear of hell to be excluded from the

motives of the believer's obedience? And if not, how can the Marrow be

defended, that expressly excludes them, though it should allow of other motives?


Ans.—Here we are referred to the third particular head, wherein we think the

Marrow injured by the Assembly's act, which for brevity's sake we do not

transcribe: but agreeable both to our representation and the scope of the Marrow,

we answer, That taking heaven for a state of endless felicity in the enjoyment of

God in Christ, we are so far from thinking that this is to be excluded from being a

motive of the believer's obedience, that we think it the chief end of man, next to

the glory of God; (Psa 83:25), "Whom have I in heaven but thee?" &c. Heaven,

instead of being a reward to the believer, would be a desolate wilderness to him

without the enjoyment of a God in Christ. The Lord and the Lamb are the light of

that place. God himself is the portion of his people; he is their shield and

exceeding great reward. The very cope-stone of the happiness of heaven lies in

being "for ever with the Lord, and in beholding of his glory"; and this indeed the

believer is to have in his eye, as the recompense of reward, and a noble motive of

obedience. But to form conceptions of heaven as a place of pleasure and

happiness, without the former views of it, and to fancy that this heaven is to be

obtained by our own works and doings, is unworthy of a believer, a child of God,

in regard it is slavish, legal, mercenary, and carnal.


As for the fear of hell being a motive of the believer's obedience, we reckon it one

of the special branches of that glorious liberty wherewith Christ hath made his

people free, that they yield obedience to the Lord, not out of slavish fear of hell

and wrath, but out of a child-like love and willing mind, Confess, chap. 20, sect.

6. "Christ hath delivered us out of the hands of our enemies, that we might serve

him without fear, in holiness and righteousness, all the days of our lives," (Luke

1:74,75). A filial fear of God and of his fatherly displeasure, is worthy of the

believer, being a fruit of faith, and of the spirit of adoption; but a slavish fear of

hell and wrath, from which he is delivered by Christ, is not a fruit of faith, but of

unbelief. And in so far as a believer is not drawn with love, but driven on in his

obedience with a slavish fear of hell, we think him, in so far under a spirit of

bondage. And judging this to be the Marrow's sense of rewards and punishments

with respect to a believer, we think it may and ought to be defended.


And this doctrine, which we apprehend to be the truth, stands supported not only

by Scripture and our Confession of Faith, but also by the suffrages of some of

our soundest divines; for instance Mr. Rutherford:—"Believers," says he, "are to

be sad for their sins, as offensive to the authority of the Lawgiver and the love of

Christ, though they be not to fear the eternal punishment of them"; for sorrow for

sin, and fear for sin are most different to us. Again, says the same author, "Servile

obedience, under apprehension of legal terror, was never commanded in the

spiritual law of God to the Jews, more than to us." Durham, "The believer [says

he] being freed from the law as a covenant, his life depends not on the promise

annexed to the law, nor is he in danger by the threatenings adjoined to it, both

these to believers being made void through Christ." And to conclude, we are

clearly of Dr. Owen's mind anent the use of threatenings of everlasting wrath with

reference unto believers, who, though he owns them to be declarative of God's

hatred of sin, and his will to punish it, yet in regard the execution of them is

inconsistent with the covenant, and God's faithfulness therein, says, "The use of

them cannot be to beget in believers an anxious, doubting, solicitous fear about

the punishment threatened, grounded on a supposition that the person fearing

shall be overtaken with it, or a perplexing fear of hell-fire; which, though it

ofttimes be a consequence of some of God's dispensations toward us of our own

sins, or the weakness of our faith, is not any where prescribed unto us as a duty,

nor is the ingenerating of it in us the design of any of the threatenings of God."

His reasons, together with the nature of that fear, which the threatening of eternal

wrath ought to beget in believers, may be viewed among the rest of the

authorities.


These are some thoughts that have offered to us upon the queries, which we lay

before the Reverend Commission with all becoming deference, humbly craving,

that charity, which thinketh no evil, may procure a favourable construing of our

words, so as no sense may be put upon, nor inference drawn from, them which

we never intended. And in regard the tenor of our doctrine, and our aims in

conversation, have, though with a mixture of much sinful weakness, been

sincerely pointed at the honour of the Lord Jesus as our king as well as priest, as

our sanctification as well as our righteousness, we cannot but regret our being

aspersed, as turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and casting off the

obligation of the holy law of the ten commands; being persuaded that the

damnation of such as either do or teach so, is just and unavoidable, if mercy

prevent it not. But now if, after this plain and ingenuous declaration of our

principles, we must still lie under the same load of reproach, it is our comfort, that

we have the testimony of our conscience clearing us in that matter, and doubt not

the Lord will in due time bring forth our righteousness as the light, and our

judgment as the noon-day. We only add, that we adhere to our representation and

petition in all points; and so much the rather that we have already observed the

sad fruits, and bad improvement made of the Assembly's deed, therein

complained of.


These answers, contained in this and the preceding pages, [viz: of the manuscript

given in,] are subscribed at Edinburgh, March 12th, 1722, by us,


MESSRS. JAMES HOG, Carnock.

THOMAS BOSTON, Etterick.

JOHN WILLIAMSON, Inveresk.

JAMES KID, Queensferry.

GABRIEL WILSON, Maxton.

EBENEZR ERSKINE, Portmoack.

RALPH ERSKINE, Dunfermline.

JAMES WARDLAW, Dunfermline.

HENRY DAVIDSON, Galashiels.

JAMES BATHGATE, Orwel.

WILLIAM HUNTER, Lilliesleaf.


THE END.



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