And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward.—Isaiah 37.31.

 
David Dickson's

Truth's Victory Over Error

Chapter. XIV.

Of Saving Faith.

QUESTION I.

"IS the grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe, to the saving of their souls, the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts?"

Yes; Heb. 10.39. 1 Cor. 4.13. Eph. 1.17,18,19.

Well then, do not the Pelagians err, who maintain, Faith to be a thing natural; who attribute the being thereof to ourselves, and to the strength of our corrupt nature?

Yes.

Do not likewise the Arminians err, who tho' they grant faith to be the gift of God, yet they deny faith to be given according to the precise will of God, for the saving of some men?

Yes.

By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, I confute the Pelagians, for Christ says, No man can come to me, that is, believe, unless the Father that hath sent me draw him, John 6.44.

2d, Because the apostle says, For unto you it is given, in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for his sake, Phil. 1.29.

3d, Because that which is natural, is proper to all, but all men have not faith, 2 Thes. 3.2.

4th, Because faith is reckoned up among the fruits of the Spirit, Gal. 5.22.

5th, Because the very desire itself of believing is from God, and not from ourselves, Phil. 2.13.

6th, Because Christ is the author and finisher of our faith, Heb. 12.2.

By what reasons do you confute the Arminians?

1st, Because faith is given to the elect only, and to such as are ordained to life eternal, Titus 1.1. Acts 13.48.

2d, Because he that believes shall be saved, Mark 16.16. John 3.15,16,18,36.

3d, Because God wills precisely the glorifying of all those whom he justifies, Rom. 8.30. But they who have faith are justified, Rom. 5.1.

4th, Because God wills precisely the glorifying of all those, whom he inwardly and efficaciously calleth, Rom. 8.30. But all that believe in him, are powerfully called, 2 Thes. 2.13,14.

5th, Because all the children of God are heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ, Rom. 8.17. But how many soever believe in his name, to them he gave power to become the sons of God, John 1.12.

Quest. II. "Is faith the fruit of Christ's purchase?"

Yes; Titus 3.5,6. Titus 2.14. Ezek. 36.5,26.

Well then, do not the Arminians err, who deny, Faith and other saving graces to be Christ's purchase, or the fruits of his death?

Yes.

Do not likewise others of the same kind err, who granting the gift of believing, not to flow from man's free will, or from any sufficient grace bestowed upon all, maintain, That it flows from God's sovereign good will, thinking fit to bestow that gift upon some whom he hath elected, and not upon others, without respect to the merits of Christ's death?

Yes.

By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, Because if this be all that Christ hath purchased by his death, that God might save fallen man, upon condition he believe, then Christ might attain his end in dying, and yet not one soul be saved by his death.

2d, Because it makes Christ a titular Saviour only, purchasing salvation to all, without any full and certain intention of applying it to any.

3d, Because it is promised to Christ the Mediator, as a satisfaction to him for his sufferings, that not only many, through faith in him, shall be justified, but that certainly, he shall see his seed, and the fruit of his soul, Isa. 55.10.

4th, Because the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, under which all particular graces may be comprehended are said to be shed on us abundantly, through Jesus Christ, Titus 3.5,6.

5th, Because the Lord hath promised to remove from us the heart of stone, and to give us a new heart; to cleanse us from all our idols, and to wash us with clean water: but these promises are in one bundle with the promises of his pardoning our iniquity, and remembering our sins no more, Ezek. 36.25,26. Jer. 31.33,34.

6th, Because Christ is made unto us wisdom, sanctification, and redemption, no less than righteousness, under which faith, and all saving graces, needful to the working out of our salvation, are comprehended, 1 Cor. 1.30,31.

7th, Because we are said to be blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus, Eph. 1.3. which by his merit are communicated to us. And is not faith and saving grace to be accounted among the spiritual blessings?

8th, Because it is not a mere possibility of redemption, but actual redemption, that the saints in heaven praise and extol Christ for, Rev. 5.9,12. An Arminian cannot well sing a part of this song while he thinks in his heart, "He is [no] more beholden to the Lamb for his redemption, than Cain and Judas."

Quest. III. "Doth a Christian, by faith believe whatsoever is revealed in the word, for the authority of God speaking therein?"

Yes; John 4.42. 1 John 5.10. Acts 24.14. 1 Thes. 2.13.

Well then, do the Papists err, who commend and extol implicit faith, and who define faith, rather by ignorance than by knowledge?

Yes.

By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, Because faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God; and therefore there can be no faith without knowledge, Rom. 10.17.

2d, Because all believers are taught of God, Isa. 54.13. John 6.45.

3d, Because Christ says, This is life eternal to know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent, John 17.3.

4th, Because the prophet Isaiah says, By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many, chap. 53.11.

Quest. IV. "Are the principal acts of saving faith, accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone, for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace?

Yes; John 1.12. Acts 14.31. Gal. 2.20. Acts 15.11

Well then, do not the Papists err, who maintain, Faith to be nothing but a naked assent to the truth revealed in the word; it being placed by them in the understanding only?

Yes.

Do not likewise the Socinians err, who put no difference between faith and the obedience of works?

Yes.

By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, Because to believe is to receive Christ, which is an act of the will, John 1.12.

2d, Because faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Or faith is a firm ground, or a firm confidence; that is, which causeth to subsist, or stand firm, the things which are promised by God in Christ, and which therefore are expected by hope, which is not done only by an assent to God's promises in our understanding, but also by trusting to the same in our will. I say, faith is a firm ground of the things which are hoped for, and an argument of things not seen. Or a conviction, in Greek elengchos, for faith representing God's revelation and promise, convinceth and assureth the heart of man, more strongly of the truth of a thing, than any other argument brought from natural reason, can do, Heb. 11.1.

3d, Because we are justified before God by faith, Rom. 5.1. But we are not justified by a bare and naked assent to the truth, otherwise the devils should be justified, James 2.19. Neither are we justified by the Socinians faith, which is every where condemned in Scripture, Rom. 3.20,28. Gal. 2.16. Eph. 2.8,9. Phil. 3.9. Titus 3.4,5.