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MARK, xvi,-19. and sat down at the right hand of God.
Acts, i, 10. While they were gazing up towards heaven, during his ascension, behold, two men in white clothing stood near them; 11. who said, Galileans, why stand ye looking towards heaven? This Jesus, who hath been taken up from you to heaven, will come (again) in the same manner in which ye saw him go to heaven. LUKE, xxiv, 52—[On this,] after worshipping him,
COLLATED NARRATIVES. IL CONSOLIDATED TEXT.
Luke, xxiv, — 52- they re-52- they retarbed to 12-Then they returnJerusalem.
ed to Jerusalem.
tetarn- || turned to Jerusalem, LUKE, xxiv,–52. with great joy,-Acts, i,–12. from the hill called [the Mount) of Olives, which is no further from Jerusalem than a sabbath day's journey. 13. Having entered [the city,] they ascended to the upper chamber, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Pbilip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew , James (the son of Alpheus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas [the brother] of James. 14. All these with one accord applied [themselves) to prayer, with the women, with Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren ;-LUKE, xxiv, 53. end. and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God.Mark, xvi, 20. end. [After this,] they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them,] and confirming the word by the miracles with which it was attended.
ALTERATIONS, OMISSIONS, Notes, &c. Acts, i,-10-as he went.-14-applied [themselves] to prayer,--and supplication,-expunged by Griesbach, --with the women-perhaps--with (their) wives.-Mark, xvi,--20. by the ensuing miracles, - Amen.-expunged by Griesbach; as likewise at the end of Luke, xx, 53.
(To be continued.) London, January, 1840.
REMARKS ON FAITH.
No. II. Several objections, in addition to those stated in my last paper, appear to me to lie against Dr. Payne's notion of the faith that justifies. These I will in the first place state.
To view faith, then, as an act of mere intellect, confounds it, I think, with spiritual illumination, diminishes the importance attached in the Scriptures both to it and unbelief, and would require a great alteration in the current phraseology which has been adopted by all classes of evangelical divines in speaking on the subject.
He admits, p. 277, that an unconverted man may attain a correct knowledge of the doctrines of the gospel, of the Saviour's divinity, incarnation, atonement, intercession, &c. and that, so far as he
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understands, he may believe them; but such a man, he says, is not saved either by his knowledge or his faith, because it is not the gospel they have for their object. But what is the real difference between this man and another, whose knowledge and faith to save him? Is it not, according to Dr. Payne, that the mind of the one is divinely illuminated, and the mind of the other not? The faith in both cases is precisely the same, and so are the truths believed ; but those truths are seen, and consequently believed, by the one in a natural, by the other in a spiritual light. What is this but to say, that the illumination of the Spirit is the occasion on which the sinner is justified before God?
But in what way does Dr. Payne view that illumination of the Spirit by which the glory of the gospel is unveiled to the mind ? As disclosing any new truths? Certainly not. As affording additional evidence to the truths already admitted ? But if so, it is not, as we have already observed, evidence of a kind which the understanding can appreciate. I do not think, however, that it is as evidence that he regards it; and if not, I am at a loss to discover its connexion with the kind of faith for which he contends.
The sacred writers represent faith as a divinely produced, an entirely new, an ever active and productive principle. As an intellectual act, however, surely these are not correct descriptions of it. It is not a fruit of the Spirit; nor, so far as I can discern, is there any necessity for an operation of the Spirit in relation to it. But it may be said, that the disposition in which it originates, and by which the sinner is led to direct his belief to the GOSPEL, is the production of the Spirit; I reply, that this does not constitute the exercise of faith itself such, and I confess that I have been accustomed to regard it as an office of that divine Agent, not only to exhibit Christ, but to inspire faith, and accordingly to add to the prayer, “lighten my darkness,” the further request, “help me to believe.”
Again, when I observe the manner in which the sacred writers speak of faith as a new principle, as one which had no previous existence in the heart, I cannot think it sufficient to say, that it is new as to its object merely. Men are reproved, not only for the wrong direction of their faith, but for their no belief, and are addressed as destitute both of spiritual light and of the principle of faith itself; both as not believing the true gospel, and as not believing any gospel, as altogether without faith. It is by no means sufficient to say, that where the gospel is not understood, it cannot, as a matter of course, be believed. This is true; but the want of faith, as a matter of course, does not explain the phraseology of the Scriptures; and this will the more strikingly appear, if we inquire what is unbelief? the unbelief especially of the man who believes the theory of the gospel. Is it nothing but the non-direction of the mind to that gospel in its spiritual meaning ? or, which, as far as I can perceive, is nearly the same thing, the want of spiritual perception? Without doubt it supposes this; but is this all? Do the Scriptures speak of it as this passive and quiescent thing? Do they not represent it as a powerful and active principle of evil, evil
in itself, as well as in its influence? There are three states of mind, which include all others, on which they chiefly dwell—wilful ignorance of the gospel, enmity against it, and unbelief of it. They speak of the latter not less frequently than of the others, as one of the chief sins; as a primary evil; as eminently prolific of mischief. But if this be unbelief, it is not truly so ; it is a secondary evil only. It arises, as a natural consequence, out of a previous state, which first requires correction, and the correction of which may be all that is needed ; and to render themselves intelligible, they ought to direct their denunciations against the sinner's blindness and enmity, rather than against his unbelief. But instead of doing so, it is with unbelief that, in the first instance, they charge him; whilst it is faith that, in the first instance, they exhort him to exercise. Our phrascology, too, ought likewise to undergo a thorough change. We mislead the sinner by pressing him to believe. Instead of the expressions, weak and strong faith, we should say, small and large measures of illumination; and no longer use, as our most importunate request, the prayer, “ Lord, increase our faith.”
Again, the faith that saves is a productive principle; it works by love, and brings forth the fruits of righteousness and true holiness. So, would Dr. Payne say, does that of which I speak. But if it does, it is a purely arbitrary result; there is no natural connexion between it and its effect; there is nothing in itself to prevent its co-existence in the mind with enmity of the heart to the truth, and the love and practice of sin; and, if it is not seen to exist in such relations, the only reason which prevents it, is to be found in the purpose of God to sanctify every mind that his Spirit enlightens. Now, we are not questioning that purpose ; but we do affirm, that God is pleased to carry his purpose into effect by adapted means. And between saving faith and holiness, I apprehend, there is a connexion of cause and effect; there is an aptitude in it to this result; it is a holy act, and its influence is holy; the mind is sanctified by the truth, which the heart believes.
Finally, Dr. Payne appeals, p. 286, to the evidence of every man's consciousness, in proof that faith is an intellectual act. I reply, that my own consciousness, and I am persuaded, after many careful inquiries, the personal consciousness of the great majority of Christians, stands in opposition to his opinion. To offer any argument here is obviously vain. It is John versus James, and James versus John. Suffice it to say, that, admitting the writer's incompetency as a philosopher, his previous history has not been unfavourable to the formation of a just opinion on the subject. It has been his privilege, from infancy, to hear the gospel faithfully preached; he is not aware of having, at any time, entertained a doubt of the truth of any of its doctrines; his views of those doctrines have always been the views held by Dr. Payne ; he always admitted the great evil of sin, saw a moral necessity for the atonement, and a surpassing excellence in it; believed he must be born again; and was convinced that the rejection of the gospel must be followed by eternal death. But, up to the age of manhood, he rejected this gospel altogether, as saving and practical, and refused
submission to it. He hopes a change then took place. But, if consciousness is of any authority, his consciousness testifies to as great a change in his faith as in his perception. He is not aware that he now believes a single truth which he did not before as fully believe ;* but when a new element was introduced into his views, and they became spiritual, a new element entered into his faith, and he believed with the heart unto righteousness.
Dr. Payne says, that “the practical effect of faith is, in all cases, to be ascribed to the thing believed, not to the act of believing." “ In vision,” he says, “it is the thing seen, and not the act of seeing, which produces the effect on the mind.” p. 291. This analogy he has before employed, p. 286, where he says, that " as the act of seeing is not modified by the object we perceive, so neither is the act of believing.” Now I cannot help thinking that the analogy itself has greatly misled him. I admit fully, with him, the great importance of rightly understanding the gospel, the absolute necessity of apprehending its true and spiritual meaning: on this point he has not laid a jot or tittle too much of stress. But then, as in vision, though it may be the thing seen, yet it must be SEEN ; so the truth must be believed, as well as exhibited aright; and if the act of seeing is not modified by the object we perceive, it may be by disease or injury of the eye, or by defect in the medium of vision. The eye does not answer to the object presented to it, but in a certain state, nor does the soul of man to the gospel; it cannot believe it: or, to change the figure, it cannot take hold of it, it cannot grasp it; like the paralyzed hand, it cannot move towards it to seize it. Though the truth should be exhibited in all its moral excellence and glory, the sinner may refuse to believe: he cannot believe till true faith is excited and called into exercise by the same Spirit that shone on the sacred page and unveiled its meaning. And it is just as important that the eye or soul should be in a sound and healthy state, as that the object should be exhibited as it is.
The conception of different kinds of faith, Dr. P. ascribes to a desire to account for the different effects of faith in different individuals; and when a man's conduct is not regulated by the gospel, he tells us, the conclusion ought not to be, he believes in the wrong way, but he believes the wrong gospel. I confess, without by any means pledging myself, as the reviewers say, to all that has been written on the subject, or denying that, in a great number of instances, the substitution of another gospel is the cause of ruin ; still, I confess myself to have no objection to the old-fashioned doctrine of different kinds of faith. Here is a mathematical problem ; I follow the steps of the demonstration; they are satisfactory; I believe it. Here is a book, De moribus Germanorum; it is said to be written by Tacitus; I examine the evidence; it is conclusive; I believe it. I am in distress; I have a friend in London ; he once succoured me; he is as able now as then; I write to inform him of my condition; he replies, and says, on the first of next month my
* Taking the term in the sense of an intellectual act merely.
debt shall be discharged; I believe it. Is the state of mind in all these cases identical ?
Again; here are two drunkards; a friend meets them, and says, “You are both impairing yonr health, injuring your character, beggaring your family, and destroying your soul. Each admits it; believes it fully; has no doubt about it; feels himself sinking to the grave, and sees his children orphans, and his wife a widow. The one dashes from his lips the intoxicating cup for ever; the other goes straightway to repeat his crime. Is there no difference here? That the Apostle James speaks of a faith which is dead and unproductive, and gives no evidence of its vitality by its works, is unquestionable ; no expression is to be found which even intimates that it is in its object that it is defective, and the natural inference surely is, that the principle itself is imperfect, or spurious, or alloyed.
The remarks which have been already made, will render unnecessary any lengthened explanation of my own views of the nature of faith. I cannot define it: but let us look for a moment at the process which goes on in the mind of an inquiring sinner, until faith is produced. Now, faith necessarily presupposes the exercise of the understanding : it must have knowledge for its basis. The province of the thinking faculty is to examine the evidences and ascertain the divine authority of the Bible; to investigate the meaning of its statements, and ascertain the relation of its propositions to God, to each other, and to ourselves. But the Great Supreme of whom it testifies, is possessed of moral attributes; the truths it reveals are moral truths; and we, to whom they are addressed, are moral beings; the plan of salvation especially is addressed to us as such. But as moral beings we are depraved, and so blinded by sin, consequently we cannot discern their spiritual nature. To refer now only to the great truth which stands more immediately connected with justification, as stated by the apostle, Rom. iii. 19–28. Here the agency of the Spirit comes in. He changes not the intellect merely, but the mind and heart, and restores the power of spiritual perception : the blind-blind in their understanding, because evil in their heart-now see, because the heart is renewed; the deaf hear; the dead live. That Spirit places in a holy light before the mind of the man that he regenerates, the law of God which he had broken, and produces conviction of sin ; the infinitely glorious character of the Being against whom he has rebelled, and excites fear, remorse, sorrow, grief; so that his language is, “What must I do to be saved ?"—the unspeakably gracious provision which that Being has made to remove the guilt which burdens his spirit, and the destruction which he dreads ;-the excellency of the person of Christ, the wonders of his love, the virtue of his obedience unto death, and his power to save, even to the uttermost. But is he justified by this? His “judgment is convinced;" he clearly “perceives the harmony and recognizes the relations of the truth.” But a distinct, a positive, an important exercise is still wanting. “Be not afraid,” is the encouraging language