4. You are to be fully persuaded of the truth of the general free promise, in your own particular case, that if you believe on Christ sincerely, you shall have everlasting life, as well as any other in the world, without performing any condition of works to procure an interest in Christ, for the promise is universal: “Whoever believes on Him, shall not be ashamed,” (Rom. 9:33), without exception. And, if God exclude you not, you must not exclude yourselves, but rather conclude peremptorily that, how vile, wicked and unworthy you are, yet, if you come, you shall be accepted as well as any others in the world. You are to believe that great article in the Creed, the remission of sins, in your own case, when you are principally concerned, or else it will little profit you to believe it in the case of others. This is that which hinders many broken wounded spirits from coming to the great Physician, when they are convinced of the abominable filthiness of their hearts, that they are dead in sin, without the least spark of true grace and holiness in them. They think that it is in vain for such as they are to trust on Christ for salvation, and that Christ will never save such as they are. Why so? They can be but lost creatures at worst, and Christ came to seek them that are lost. If they who are dead in sin cannot be saved, then all must despair and perish, for none have any spiritual life until they receive it by believing on Christ. Some think themselves to be worse than others, and that none have such wicked hearts as they, and though others be accepted, yet they shall be rejected. But they should know that “Christ came to save the chief of sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15); and that the design of God is to “show the exceeding riches of His grace in our salvation,” (Eph. 2:7), which is most glorified by pardoning the greatest sinners. And it is but our ignorance to think ourselves like nobody, for all others, as well as we, are naturally “dead in trespasses and sins;” their “mind is enmity to God, and is not subject to His law, nor indeed can be,” (Rom. 8:7); and “every imagination of the thoughts of their hearts are only evil,” and continually so (Gen. 6:5); they have all the same corrupt fountain of all abominations in their hearts, though we may have exceeded many others in several actual sins. Others think that they have out stayed their time, and therefore now they should find no pace for repentance, though they should seek it carefully with tears (Heb. 12:17). But, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation,” (2 Cor. 6:2), even as long as God calls on you by the gospel. And, although Esau was rejected, who sought rather the earthly than the spiritual blessings of the birthright, yet they shall not be rejected that seek the enjoyment of Christ and His salvation as their only happiness. If you come into Christ’s vineyard at the eleventh hour of the day, you shall have your penny, as well as those that came early in the morning, because the reward is of grace, and not of merit (Matt. 20:9, 10). And here you must be sure to believe steadfastly that Christ and all His salvation is bestowed as a free gift upon those that do not work to procure any right or title to Him, or meetness or worthiness to receive Him, but only “believe on Him that justifies the ungodly,” (Rom. 4:5). If you put any condition of works, or good qualifications between yourselves and Christ, it will be a partition-wall which you can never climb over.

5. You are to believe assuredly that it is the will of God you should believe in Christ, and have eternal life by Him, as well as any other; and that your believing is a duty very acceptable to God; and that He will help you, as well as any other, in this work, because He calls and commands you by the gospel to believe in Christ. This makes us to set cheerfully upon the work of believing, as when Jesus commanded the blind man to be called, they said unto Him, “Be of good comfort, rise; He calls you,” (Mark 10:49). A command of Christ made Peter walk on the water (Matt. 14:29). And here we are not to meddle with God’s secret of predestination; or the purpose of His will in His gracious invitations and commands, by which we are required to believe on Christ. This will of God is confirmed by His oath: As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way, and live; turn, turn from your evil ways; for, why will you die, O house of Israel?” (Ezek. 33:11.) Christ testifies that Hewould often have gathered the children of Jerusalem, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and they would not,” (Matt. 23:37 ). And the apostle Paul testifies thatGod will have all men to be saved”, etc. (1 Tim. 2:4). You are to reject and abandon all thoughts that are contrary to this persuasion. What if few be saved? Thy salvation will not make the number too great, for few will follow you in the duty of believing. What if the wrath of God be revealed from heaven against you in many terrible judgements, and the Word and your own conscience condemn you, and Christ seem to reckon you no better than a dog, as He did the woman of Canaan? (Matt. 15:26.) You are to make a good interpretation of all these things, that the end of them is to drive you to Christ, as this was the end of the curses of the law and all the terrible dispensations of them (Rom. 10:4). If a prophet or an angel from heaven were sent of God on purpose to declare that the sentence of everlasting damnation is declared against you, it would be your duty to believe that God sent him to give you timely warning for this very end, that you might believe and turn to God by faith and repentance. Jeremiah prophesied against the Jews that God would “pluck them up, pull them down, and destroy them for their sins;” yet he himself taught them, “if they turned from their evil ways, God would repent him of the evil,” (Jer. 18:7, 8, 11). Jonah preached nothing but certain destruction to Nineveh , to be executed upon them within forty days (Jonah 3:4); yet the intent of that terrible message was that those heathenish people might escape destruction by repentance. The most absolute and peremptory denunciations of divine vengeance against us, while we are in this world, must be always understood with a secret reserve of salvation for us, upon our faith and repentance. And we are to account that the reason why God so terribly denounces His judgments against us by His Word is that we may escape them by flying for refuge to His free mercy in Christ. Take heed of fostering any thoughts that God has absolutely decreed to show no saving mercy to you, or that you have already committed the unpardonable sin, or that it is in vain for you to attempt the work of believing, because God will not help you in it. If such thoughts prevail in your hearts, they will do you more hurt than the most blasphemous thoughts that terrify you, or any the grossest abominations that ever you were guilty of, because they obstruct your believing on Christ for salvation. “The Spirit and the Bride say, Come.” Christ says, “Whoever will, let him take the water of life freely,” (Rev. 22:17). Therefore, we are to abandon all thoughts that hinder our coming to Christ, as very sinful and pernicious, arising in us from our own corruptions and Satan’s delusions, and utterly opposite to the mind of Christ, and teachings of His Spirit. And what ground can we have to entertain such unbelieving thoughts? Has God made us of His privy council, that we should be able to know that God has decreed us to damnation, before it be manifest by our final unbelief and impenitence? As for the unpardonable sin, it consists “in renouncing the way of salvation by Christ with the whole heart, after we have attained to the knowledge of it, and are convinced of the truth of it by the gospel.” It is the sin that the Christian Hebrews would have been guilty of, if they had revolted from Christianity to the religion of the unbelieving Jews that accounted Christ to be an impostor, and were most rancorous persecutors of Him and His ways (Heb. 6:4, 5). They that have committed that sin continue implacable, malicious enemies to Christ and His ways to the end, without any repentance. Therefore, if you can but find that you desire seriously to get an interest in Christ, and to be better Christians than you are, if you be troubled and grieved that your hearts and lives are so wicked, and that you want faith, love and true obedience, yea, if your hearts are not maliciously bent to persecute the gospel, and prefer atheism, licentiousness or any false religion before it, you have no cause to suspect yourselves to be guilty of this unpardonable sin.

Walter Marshall, The Gospel-Mystery of Sanctification Opened in Sundry Practical Directions (London: Printed for T. Parkhurst, at the Bible and Three Crowns in Cheapside, near Mercers Chappel, 1692), 213-216. [Some spelling modernized; some reformatting; and underlining mine.

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