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When Minos proposed his two questions, he certainly forgot either the discrimination or the gravity which became A JUDGE. We rather fufpect the latter' to have been the case; but on neither supposition could we think of giving him a serious answer.
Any friend who wishes to send an answer to the question proposed in page 218, with a view to its infertion in our next number, is requested to send it on or before the 15th inft.
Tage 150, line 17, for profefs read profess.
SOLD H. COLBERT, 136, CAPEL-STREET,
AND BY J. JOHNSTONE, 20, CROWE-STREET.
A GENERAL VIEW OF VARIOUS NOTIONS AND DEFINITIONS OF FAITH
FAITH, in the Scripture account of it, is a
several other, obtained the following epithets, viz, historical faith, temporary faith, the faith -of reliance, the faith of affiance, the faith of application, the faith of approbation, the direct, the reflex, the recumbent, the courageous, the venturefome, and the triumphant, acts of faith. It is also represented by some as having, and putting into action, eyes, ears, mouth, arms, hands, fingers, legs, and feet. To describe these various kinds of faith, and to give direction when each of these acts should be put forth, or which of these members should be exerted, has served to employ the time, talents, and ingenuity of many, though, after all, few of them, if any, have condescended to make it appear, how their notion of faith is consistent, either with the Scripture definition thereof, or the use of the term in common life. Fearing, therefore, left we should get involved in a labyrinth of inextricable difficulties, should we attempt to explain the above terms, and indeed not seeing what use our labours would be of, had we talents to perform it, we shall leave that part of the work to those that have more time on their hands than we have, and whose reputation and interest
may lie more in the use of them, than our's happen to do. However, a few of the most intelligible definitions that have been given may be conlidered,
First: it has been used as a common axiom, for the use of the weak and wavering, who nevertheless wish to think well of themselves in religious concerns, that the desire of grace is grace; and so that the desire of faith is faith. “ So that if there be but a willing mind to this « service it is accepted.” Without doubt, where the true grace of God is known, there will be
an earnest defire after its increase, it being a living principle in the soul. But surely this is a very unwarrantable way of proceeding, either in defining faith, or leading those who wish to know whether they have believed or not to a fair trial. The human heart is deceitful above all things, and is ever ready to fancy what is most agreeable; and indeed there are but few under a religious profeffion, but are ready to think, that they fincerely defire and endeavour to believe, though they are not able to perform their defire. Surely then we are not allowed to say, that every defire of faith, is faith; this would be too vague.
The desire must be limited, and of course qualified. Without doubt it should be, in order to prove itself genuine, an humble, penitent, sincere, earnest, and affectionate desire. But there are some very material objections to this notion of faith ; First:-it leads those who think they have such a desire, to presume upon it. If a sense of guilt trouble the conscience, nothing but that which fairly atones for sin can effectually remove it. But finners are naturally disaffected to the gospel hope, and would rather catch at any thing for present relief, than give up every good thought of themselves, and be relieved by that which is equally free for the profligate, as for the morally decent. To lead Linners therefore to take peace, or encouragement from the workings of their own minds, (which, while in a state of nature, are nothing better than the working of pride,) is to establish them in their enmity to the gospel hope; and this cannot be done without confirming theni in presumption. Again : it tends to, and often actually does, involve those for whofe relief it is intended, in greater distress, since it is told them M2
that the desire must be qualified. The distressed person is led to seek within himself, for the approved qualities of this desire; but finding to much of the world there, so many interruptions in his devotion, so many instances of deceit in his heart, &c. either he comes to a conclusion that he has not such a desire, or has it not to that degree, which it is thought necessary, in order to constitute a right desire. This he sincerely laments; yet lives in sad suspense from day to day, waiting and praying, as he is encouraged, for this desire. Sometimes he thinks (especially under preaching) he has obtained it, and then hope, joy, and comfort, begin to arise. Anon all these pleafing fymptoms are cut down, dried up and withered! then his life hangs in doubt, and were it not that he were told by his miserable comforters, that to fincerely lament these things is a token for good, his foul would be driven into black despair, unless it could obtain some temporary ease, by mingling again with the world. It needs not be told, at least to those who have had accels to meetings for relating experiences, how common this method of comforting them that mourn, is in our day. But ah! how foreign to the hope fet before us in the gospel ! In fact it is neither law nor gospel. Neither works nor grace. But a mere device of Satan to blind the minds of them that believe not. For,
Further : the thing itfelf is contrary to Scripture and common sense. When a person says, “ I desire to believe,” nothing more pertinent can be replied than, Why then don't you believe? Does fome sovereign power, some fatal necessity, prevent you? Or have you a fincere desire to be. Lieve what God has said, only there is not suffi