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But why, or for what, art thou persuaded that thou hast left all for God and heaven?
IGNOR. My heart tells me so.
Chr. The wise man says, “ He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool.”p
IGNOR. That is spoken of an evil heart; but mine is a good one.
Chr. But how dost thou prove that ?
Car. That may be through its deceitfulness; for a man's heart may minister comfort to him in the hopes of that thing, for which he has yet no ground to hope.
IGNOR. But my heart and life agree together; and therefore my hope is well grounded.
Chr. Who told thee that thy heart and life agree together?
IGNOR. My heart tells me so.
CHR. “ Ask my fellow if I be a thief." Thy heart tells thee so! Except the word of God beareth witness in this matter, other testimony is of no value.
IGNOR. But is it not a good heart that hath good thoughts? and is not that a good life that is according to God's commandments ?
Chr. Yes, that is a good heart that hath good thoughts, and that is a good life that is according to God's commandments; but it is one thing indeed to have these, and another thing only to think so.
IGNOR. Pray, what count you good thoughts, and a life according to God's commandments ?
Chr. There are good thoughts of divers kinds ;some respecting ourselves, some God, some Christ, and some other things. Ignor. What be good thoughts respecting ourselves ?
p Prov. xxviii. 26.
WHAT ARE GOOD
WHAT ARE GOOD Chr. Such as agree with the word of
God. IGNOR. When do our thoughts of ourselves agree with the word of God ?
Chr. When we pass the same judgment upon ourselves, which the word passes. To explain myself: the word of God saith of persons in a natural condition, “ There is none righteous, there is none that doeth good.” It saith also, that “ every imagination of the heart of man is only evil, and that continually."! And again, “ The imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth.” Now then, when we think thus of ourselves, having sense thereof, then are our thoughts good ones, because according to the word of God.
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 hearts, so it passeth a judgment upon our ways; and when the 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
q Gen. vi. 5. < Psalm cxxv.5. * No; no man naturally can. But this is a sure sign that the light from heaven hath not shined into the heart, and made it manifest how superlatively wicked the heart is; and consequently how it deceives ignorant professors with a notion of being good in themselves, and keeps them from wholly relying upon Christ's atonement for pardon, and trusting only to his righteousness for justification unto life.
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 ?
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 have we 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 in all our best performances.
IGNOR. Do you think that I am such a fool as to think that God can see no farther than I? or that I would come to God in the best of my performances ?
Chr. Why, how dost thou think in this matter?
IGNOR. Why, to be short, I think I must believe in Christ for justification.
Chr. How! 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 dost, as plainly renders thee to be one that did never see the necessity
s Prov. ii. 15. Rom. iii. 17
THE FAITH OF IGNORANCE,
of Christ's personal righteousness to justify thee before God.* How then dost thou say, I believe in Christ ?
Ignor. I believe well enough for all that.
op that I shall be justified before God from the
curse through his gracious acceptance of my obedience to his laws. 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 takes justification from the personal righteousness of Christ, and appliest it to thy own.
3. This faith maketh not Christ a justifier of thy person, but of thy actions; and of thy person for thy actions' sake, which is false.
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
* Here we see how naturally the notion of man's righteousness blinds his eyes to, and keeps his heart from, believing that Christ's personal righteousness alone justifies a sinner in the sight of God; and yet such talk bravely of believing, but their faith is only fancy. They do not believe unto righteousness, but imagine they have now, or shall get, a righteousness of their own, somehow or other. Awful delusion!
+ Here is the very essence of that delusion which works by a lie, and so much prevails, and keeps up an unscriptural hope in the hearts of so many professors. Do, reader, study this point well; for here seems to be a show of scriptural truth, while the rankest poison lies concealed in it: for it is utterly subversive of, and contrary to, the faith and hope of the gospel.
lost condition by the law, upon flying for refuge unto Christ's righteousness; (which righteousness 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 acquitted from condemnation.*
IGNOR. What! would you have us trust to what Christ in his own person hath done without us. This conceit would loosen the reins of our lusts, and tolerate us to live as we list: for what matter how we live, if we may be justified by Christ's personal righteousness from all, when we believe it ?t
Chr. Ignorance is thy name, and as thy name is, so art thou : even this thy answer demonstrateth what I say. Ignorant thou art of what justifying righteousness
* Under these four heads, we have a most excellent detection of a presumptive and most dangerous error which now greatly prevails ; as well as a scriptural view of the nature of true faith, and the object it fixes on wholly and solely for justification before God, and acceptance with God. Reader, for thy soul's sake look to thy foundation. See that you build upon nothing in self, but all upon that sure foundation which God hath laid, even his beloved Son, and his perfect righteousness.
† No sooner can you propose to an ignorant professor, Christ's righteousness alone for justification, but he instantly displays his ignorance of the power of the truth, and the influence of faith, by crying out, “ Antinominianism! Oh, you are for destroying holiness at the root, and for bringing in licentiousness like a flood.” Thus pride works by a lie, and is supported by self-righteousness, in opposition to God's grace, and submission to Christ's righteousness. Under this plausible pretence for holiness, Christ's righteousness is rejected, and men are hardened in sinful pride ; and they grow stout-hearted against the imputed righteousness of Christ, by establishing their own. This is a spreading heresy of the flesh, which most dreadfully prevails at this day. Be not deceived.