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Agree with the Word of God. 185
* Ignor. I will never believe that my heart is thus bad. Chr. Therefore thou never hadst one good thought concerning thyself in thy life.—But let me go on. As the word passeth a judgment upon our heart, so it passeth a judgment upon our ways; and when our thoughts of our hearts and ways agree with the judgment which the word giveth of both, then are both good, because agreeing thereto. Ignor. Make out your meaning. Chr. Why, the word of God saith that man's ways are crooked ways, not good but perverse: it saith they are naturally out of the good way, that they have not known it.” Now when a man thus thinketh of his ways, I say, when he doth, sensibly and with heart-humiliation, thus think, then hath he good thoughts of his own ways, because his thoughts now agree with the judgment of the word of God. Ignor. What are good thoughts concerning God P Chr. Even, as I have said concerning ourselves, when our thoughts of God do agree with what the word saith of him ; and that is, when we think of his being and attributes as the word hath taught; of which I cannot now discourse at large. But to speak of him with reference to us; then we have right thoughts of God when we think that he knows us better than we know ourselves, and can see sin in us when and where we can see none in ourselves ; when we think he knows our inmost thoughts, and that our heart, with all its depths, is always open unto his eyes ; also when we think that all our righteousness stinks in his nostrils, and that therefore he cannot abide to see us stand before him in any confidence even of all our best performances. (u) Ignor. Do you think that I am such a fool as to think God can see no further than I ? or that I would come to God in the best of my performances : Chr. Why, how dost thou think in this matter 2
(u) The external services, performed by unregenerate prrions from sellish motives, being scanty and partial, and made the ground of self-complacency, gild self-right, ous pride, “are abomination in the sight of God,” however “highly steemed among men:" I or men look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh at the heart.” Even the oldience of . true believer. though it springs from right principlos, and has some spiritual excellen.cy in it, is yet so defective and defiled by sin; that if it were not accepted as the fruit of the Spirit through the mediation of Christ, it must be condemned by the holy law, and reject d with abhorrence by a God of infinite purity. Men may allow this in words, and yet not know what it is to come as condemned sinners, for a free justification and salvation, by suit" or Christ.
186 Ignorance declares his Faith. .
Ignor. Why, to be short, I think I must believe in Christ for justification. Chr. How P think thou must believe in Christ when thou seest not thy need of him Thou neither seest thy original nor actual infirmities; but hast such an opinion of thyself, and of what thou doest, as plainly renders thee to be one that did never see a necessity of Christ's personal righteousness to justify thee before God. How then dost thou say, I believe in Christ P - s: Ignor. I believe well enough for all that. ...' Chr. How dost thou believe P * ..Ignor. I believe that Christ died for sinners; and tha I shall be justified before God from the curse, through his gracious acceptance of my obedience to his law. Or thus, Christ makes my duties, that are religious, acceptable to his Father by virtue of his merits, and so shall I be justified. . . . Chr. Let me give an answer to this confession of thy faith. 1. Thou believest with a fantastical faith; for this faith is no where described in the word. 2. Thou believest with a false faith : because it taketh justification from the personal righteousness of Christ, and applies it to thy own. 3. This faith maketh not Christ a justifier of thy person, but of thy actions; and of thy person for the actions' sake, which is false. (w 4. Therefore this faith is deceitful, even such as will leave thee under wrath in the day of God Almighty : for true justifying faith puts the soul, as sensible of its lost condition by the law, upon fleeing for refuge unto Christ's righteousness; (which ri !. of his is not an act of grace, by which he maketh, for justification, thy obedience accepted with God, but his personal obedience to the law, in doing and suffering for us what that required at our hands :) this righteousness, I say, true faith accepteth ; under the skirt of which the soul being shrouded, and by it presented as spotless before God, it is accepted, and acquit from condemnation. Ignor. What, would you have us trust to what Christin his own person hath done without us? this conceit will loosen the reins of our lust, and tolerate us to live as we list; for &v) The way of being justified by faith, for which Ignorance pleads, may well be called :Fantastical, as well as 'false; for it is no where laid down in Scripture: and it not only changes the way of acceptance, but it takes away the rule and standard of righteousness,
and substitutes a vague notion, called sincerity, in its place, which never was or can be defined with precision. -
Ignorance's Objections answered. 187
what matter how we hive, if we may be justified by Christ's personal righteousness from all, when we believe it. Chr. Ignorance is thy name, and as thy name is so art thou; even this thy answer demonstrateth what I say. Igmorant thou art of what justifying righteousness is, and as ignorant how to secure thy soul, through the faith of it, from the heavy wrath of God. Yea, thou also art ignorant of the true effects of saving faith in this righteousness of Christ, which is to bow and win over the heart to God in Christ, to love his name, his word, ways and people, and not as thou ignorantly imaginest. Hope. Ask him if ever he had Christ revealed to him from heaven P Ignor. What! you are a man for revelations P I believe that what both you, and all the rest of you, say about that matter, is but the fruit of distracted brains. Hope. Why man Christ is so hid in God from the natural apprehensions of all flesh, that he cannot by any man be savingly known, unless God the Father reveals him to them. (a. #: That is your faith, but not mine : yet mine, I doubt not, is as good as yours, though I have not in my head so many whimsies as you. Chr. Give me leave to put in a word —you ought not so slightly to speak of this matter : for this I will boldly affirm, (even as my good Companion hath done) that no man can know Jesus Christ but by the revelation of the Father ; yea, and faith too, by which the soul layeth hold upon Christ, (if it be right) must be wrought by the exceeding greatness of his mighty power;” the working of which faith, I perceive, poor Ignorance, thou art ignorant of. Be awakened then, see thine own wretchedness, and flee to the Lord Jesus; and by his righteousness, which is the righteousness of God, (for he himself is God,) thou shalt be delivered from condemnation. Ignor. You go so fast I cannot keep pace with you : do you go on before ; I must stay awhile behind. Then they said—
* Matt xi. 27. 1 Cor. xii. 3. Eph. i. 18, 19.
(a) Pride, unbelief, and carnal prejudices or affections, so close the nuind of a sinner against the spiritual glory of the Person and redemption of Christ, that nothing but the illumination of the Spirit removing this veil can enable him to understand and receive the revelation of the sacred Oracles on these important subjects.
188 The Advantages of holy Fear."
*Well, Ignorance, wilt thou yet foolish be To slight good counsel, ten times given thee! And if thou yet refuse it, thou shalt know, Ere long, the evil of thy doing so. Remember, man, in time; stop, do not fear: Good counsel taken well saves; therefore hear. But if thou yet shall slight it, thou wilt be The loser, Ignorance, I'll warrant thee." Then Christian addressed thus himself to his fellow : * * Well, come, my good Hopeful, I perceive that thou and I must walk by ourselves again. So I saw in my dream, that they went on apace before, and Ignorance, he came hobbling after. Then said Christian to his companion, it pities me much for this poor man ; it will certainly go ill with him at last. Hope. Alas! there are abundance in our Town in his condition, whole families, yea, whole streets, and that of Pilgrims too ; and if there be so many in our parts, how many, think you, must there be in the place where he was born ? (y) Chr. Indeed the word saith, “He hath blinded their eyes, lest they should see,” &c. But, now we are by ourselves, what do you think of such men have they at no time, think you, convictions of sin, and so consequently, fears that their state is dangerous P Hope. Nay, do you answer that question yourself, for you are the elder man. Chr. Then I say, sometimes (as I think) they may ; but they, being naturally ignorant, understand not that such convictions tend to their good ; and therefore they do desperately seek to stifle them, and presumptuously continue to flatter themselves in the way of their own hearts. Hope. I do believe, as you say, that fear tends much to men’s good, and to make them right at their beginning to go on pilgrimage. Chr. Without all doubt it doth, if it be right: for so says the word, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” *
Hope. How will you describe right fear P Chr. True or right fear is discovered by three things— 1. By its rise: it is caused by saving convictions for sin. –2. It driveth the soul to lay fast hold of Christ for salva*Job xxviii. 28. Psa. cxi. 10. Prov. i. 7. ix. 10.
(9) If numbers of ignorant persons may be found among the apparently religious, what
must be the case of those, who are left without instruction to their native pride and self
*onceit * * ****
The Ignorant endeavour to stifle holy Fear. 189
tion.—3. It begetteth and continueth in the soul a great
(z) Fears of wrath are too generally ascribed to unbelief, and deemed prejudicial; but this arises from ignorance and mistake : for belief of God's testimony must excite fears in every heart, till it is clearly perceived how that wrath may be escaped ; and doubts mingled with hopes must arise from faith, till a man is conscious of having experienced a saving change. These fears and doubts excite men to self-examination, watchfulness, and diligence; and thus tend to the believer's establishment, and “the full assurance of hope unto the end :" while the want of them often results from unbelief and stupidity of conscience, and terminates in carnal security and abuse of the gospel. Fears may indeed be excessive and unreasonable, and the effect of unbelief: but it is better to mark the extreme, and caution men against it, than by declaiming indiscriminaetly against all doubts and fars, to help sinners to deceive themselves, and discourage weak believers from earnestly using the scriptural means of “making their calling and election sure.”
(a) The expression pitiful old self-holiness, deuotes the opinion that ignorant persons entertain of their hearts as good and holy; while the term, self-righteousness, relates to their supposed good lives : but nothing can be further from our author's moaning, than to speak against “sanctification by the Spirit unto obedience,” as cvidential of our univa with Christ, and acceptance in his righteousness.