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testimony in the word of God, as that such an individual person in such a town in Scotland or New England, believes. There is such a proposition in the scripture, as that Christ loves those that love him, and therefore, this every one is bound to believe, and affirm believing this on divine testimony is properly of the nature of faith, and for any one to doubt of it, is properly of the heinous sin of unbelief. But there is no such proposition in the scripture, nor is it any part of the gospel of Christ, that such an individual person in Northampton loves Christ. If I know that I have complacence in Christ, I know it the same way that I know I have complacence in my wife and children, viz. by the testimony of my own heart or inward consciousness. Evangelical faith has the gospel of Christ for its foundation; but that I love Christ is a proposition not contained in the gospel of Christ.

And therefore, that we may not dispute in the dark, it is necessary, that we should explain what we mean by a person's believing he is in a good estate. If thereby we mean only believing the minor of the foregoing syllogism, or such like syllogisms, I believe or I love God, it is not in the nature of faith. But if by a man's believing himself to be in a good estate, be understood his believing not only the minor, but the consequence, therefore I shall be saved, or therefore God will never leave me, nor forsake me; then a man's believing his good estate, partakes of the nature of faith; for these consequences depend on divine testimony in the word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Yea, I would observe farther, that a man's judging of the faith or love he finds in himself, whether they are that sort of faith and love which he finds to be saving, may depend on his reliance on scripture rules and marks, which are divine testimonies, which he may be tempted not to rely upon, from the considerarion of his great unworthiness. But his judging that he has those individual inward acts of understanding, and exercises of heart, depends on inward sensations, and not on any testimony of the word of God. The knowing present acts depends on immediate consciousness, and the knowing past acts depends on memory. And therefore the fulness of my satisfaction, that I now have such an inward act or exercise of mind, depends on the strength of sensation; and my satisfaction, that I have had them heretofore, depends on the clearness of my memory, and not on the strength of my reliance on any divine testimony; and so my doubting whether I have, or have had, such individual inward acts, is not of the nature of unbelief, though it may arise from unbelief indirectly; because, if I had had more faith, the actings of it would have been more sensible, and the memory of them more clear, and so I should have been better satisfied that I had them.

God seems to have given Abraham's servant, a revelation, that the damsel in whom he found such marks, viz. coming to draw water with a pitcher to that well, her readiness to give him and his camels drink, &c. should be Isaac's wife, and therefore his assenting to this was of the nature of faith, having divine testimony for its foundation. But his believing that Rebekah was the damsel that had these individual marks, bis knowing that she came to draw water, and that she let down her pitcher, &c. was not of the nature of faith. His knowing this was not from divine testimony, but from the testimony of his own senses. (Vide Gen. xxiv.)

You speak of "a saint's doubting of his good estate as a part of unbelief, and the opposite of faith, considered in its full compass and latitude, as one branch of unbelief, one ingredient in unbelief; and of assurance of a man's good estate, as one thing that belongs to the exercise of faith." I do not know whether I take your meaning in these expressions. If you mean, that a person's believing himself to be in a good estate is one thing that appertains to the essence of saving faith, or that saving faith, in all that belongs to its essence, yea its perfection, cannot be without implying it, I must humbly ask leave to differ from you. That a believing that I am in a good estate, is no part or ingredient in the essence of saving faith, is evident by this, that the essence of saving faith must be complete in me, before it can be true, that I am in a good estate. If I have not as yet acted faith, yea if there be any thing wanting in me to make up the essence of saving faith, then I am not as yet in a state of salvation, and therefore can have no ground to believe that I am so. Any thing that belongs to the essence of saving faith is prior, in the order of nature, to a man's being in a [believing] state of salvation, because it is saving faith that brings him into such a state. And therefore believing that he is in such a state cannot be one thing that is essential or necessary in order to his being in such a state; for that would imply a contradiction. It would be to suppose a man's believing that he is in a good estate to be prior, in the order of nature, to his being in a good estate. But a thing cannot be both prior and posterior, antecedent and consequent, with respect to the very same thing. The real truth of a proposition is in the order of nature first, before its being believed to be true. But till a man has already all that belongs to the essence of saving faith, that proposition, that he is in a good [believing] estate, is not as yet true. All the propositions contained in the gospel, all divine testimonies that we have in God's word, are true already, are already laid for a foundation for faith, and were laid long ago. But that proposition, I am in a good

estate, not being one of them, is not true till I have first believed; and therefore this proposition cannot be believed to be true, till saving faith be first complete. Therefore the completeness of the act of saving faith will not make it take in a belief of this proposition, nor will the strength or perfection of the act cause it to imply this. If a man, in his first act of faith, has ever so great a conviction of God's sufficiency and faithfulness, and let his reliance on the divine testimony be ever so strong and perfect, all will have no tendency to make him believe in this proposition, I am in a good estate, to be true, till it be true, which it is not till the first act of faith is complete, and has made it true. A belief of divine testimony in the first act of faith, may be to any assignable degree of strength and perfection, without believing that proposition, for there is no such divine testimony then extant, nor is there any such truth extant, but in consequence of the first act of faith. Therefore, (as I said) saving faith may be with all that belongs to its essence, and that in the highest perfection, without implying a belief of my own good estate. I do not say it can be without having this immediate effect. But it is rather the effect of faith, than a part branch or ingredient of faith. And so I do not dispute whether a man's doubting of his good state may be a consequence of unbelief, (I doubt not but it is in those who are in a good state); because, if men had the exercise of faith in such a degree as they ought to have, it could not but be very sensible and plain that they had it. But yet I think this doubting of a good state is entirely a different thing from the sin of unbelief itself, and has nothing of the nature of unbelief in it, i. e. if we take doubting one's good state in the sense in which I have before explained it, viz. for doubting whether I have such individual principles and acts in my soul. Take it in a complex sense, and it may have the sin of unbelief in it; e. g. If, although I doubt not that I have such and such qualifications, I yet doubt of those consequences, for which I have divine testimony or promise; as when a person doubts not that he loves Christ, yet doubts whether he shall receive a crown of life. The doubting of this consequence is properly the sin of unbelief.

You say, dear Sir, "The Holy Ghost requires us to believe the reality of his work in us in all its parts just as it is ;" and, a little before, "The believer's doubting whether or not he has faith, is sinful; because it is belying the Holy Ghost, denying his work in him, so there is no sin to which that doubting can so properly be reduced as unbelief."

Here I would ask leave thus to express my thoughts in a diversity from yours. I think, if it be allowed to be sinful for a believer to doubt whether he has faith, that this doubting is not the sin of unbelief on any such account as you mention, viz. as be43


lying or denying any testimony of the Holy Ghost. There is a difference between doubting of the being of some work of the Holy Ghost, and denying the testimony of the Holy Ghost, as there is a difference between doubting concerning some other works of God, and denying the testimony of God. It is the work of God to give a man great natural abilities; and if we suppose God requires such a man to believe the reality of his work in all its parts just as it is, and so that it is sinful for him at all to doubt of his natural abilities being just as good as they are, yet this is no belying any testimony of God, though it be doubting of a work of God, and so is diverse from the sin of unbelief. So, if we suppose a very eminent saint is to blame in doubting whether he has so much grace as he really has; he indeed does not believe the reality of God's work in him, in all its parts, just as it is, yet he is not therein guilty of the sin of unbelief, against any testimony of God, any more than the other.

I acknowledge, that for a true saint in a carnal and careless frame, to doubt of his good state, is sinful, more indirectly, as the cause of it is sinful, viz. the lowness and insensibility of the actings of grace in him, and the prevalence of carnality and stupidity. 'Tis sinful to be without assurance, or (as we say) it is his own fault, he sinfully deprives himself of it; or foregoes it, as a servant's being without his tools, is his sin, when he has carelessly lost them, or as it is his sin to be without strength of body, or without the sight of his eyes, when he has deprived himself of these by intemperance. Not that weakness or blindness of body, in their own nature, are sin, for they are qualities of the body, and not of mind, the subject in which sin is inherent. It is indirectly the duty of a true saint always to rejoice in the light of God's countenance, because sin is the cause of his being without this joy at any time, and therefore it was indirectly David's sin that he was not rejoicing in the light of God's countenance, at that very time when he was committing the great iniquities of adultery and murder. But yet it is not directly a believer's duty to rejoice in the light of God's countenance, when God hides his face. But it rather then becomes him to be troubled and to mourn. So there are perhaps many other privileges of saints that are their duty indirectly, and the want of them is sinful, not simply, but complexly considered. Of this kind I take the want of assurance of my good estate to be.

I think no words of mine, either in my book or letter, implied that a person's deliverance from a bad frame, does not begin with renewed acts of faith or trusting in God. If they did, they implied what I never intended. Doubtless if a saint comes out of an ill frame, wherein grace is asleep and inactive, it must be by renewed actings of grace. It is very plainly impossible, that grace

should begin to cease to be inactive, in any other way, than by its beginning to be active. It must begin with the renewed actings of some grace or other, and I know nothing that I have said to the contrary, but that the grace that shall first begin sensibly to revive shall be faith, and that this shall lead the way to the renewed acting of all other graces, and to the farther acting of faith itself. But a person's coming out of a carnal, careless, dead frame, by, or in the reviving of grace in his soul, is quite another thing from a saint's having a strong exercise of faith, or strong hope, or strong exercise of any other grace, while yet remaining in a carnal, careless, dead frame; or, in other words, in a frame wherein grace is so far from being in strong exercise, that it is asleep and in a great measure without exercise.

There is a holy hope, a truly Christian hope, that the scripture speaks of, that is reckoned among the graces of the Spirit and I think I should never desire or seek any other hope; for I believe no other hope has any holy or good tendency. Therefore this hope, this grace of hope alone, can properly be called a duty. But it is just as absurd to talk of the exercise of this holy hope, the strong exercise of this grace of the Spirit, in a carnal, stupid, careless frame, such a frame yet remaining, as it would be to talk of the strong exercises of love to God, or heavenly-mindedness, or any other grace, remaining in such a frame. It is doubtless proper, earnestly to exhort those who are in such a frame to come out of it, in and by the strong exercises of all grace; but I should not think it proper to press a man earnestly to maintain strong hope, notwithstanding the prevailing and continuance of great carnality and stupidity, (which is plainly the case of the people 1 opposed). For this is plainly to press people to an unholy hope, a strong hope that is no Christian grace, but strong and wicked presumption; and the promoting of this has most evidently been the effect of such a method of dealing with souls in innumerable multitudes of awful instances.

You seem, Sir, to suppose, that God's manner of dealing with his saints, while in a secure and careless frame, is first to give assurance of their good state while they remain in such a frame, and to make use of that assurance as a mean to bring them out of such a frame. Here, again, I must beg leave to differ from you, and to think, that none of the instances or texts you adduce from scripture, do at all prove the point. I think it is God's manner, first to awaken their consciences, and to bring them to reflect upon themselves, and to bring them to feel their own calamity which they have brought upon themselves by so departing from God, (by which an end is put to their carelessness and security), and again earnestly and carefully to seek God's face before they find him, and before God restores the comfortable and joyful

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