« PreviousContinue »
debate; but it is a matter entirely foreign to the present pur. pose.
$ 40. The blood of Christ washes away sin. So it is represented in the scripture. But although the blood of Christ washes away our guilt, it is the Spirit of Christ that washes away pollution and stain of sin. However the blood of Christ washes also from the filth of sin, as it purchases sanctification ; it makes way for it by satisfying, and purchases it by the merit of obedience implied in it. The sacrifices under the law, typi. fied Christ's sacrifice, not only as a satisfaction, but as meritorious obedience. They are called a sweet savour upon both these accounts. And therefore we find obedience compared with sacrifice, Psalm xl. 6, &c.
§ 41. Late philosophers seem ready enough to own the great importance of God's maintaining steady and inviolable the laws of the natural world. It may be worthy to be considered, whether it is not of as great, or greater importance, that the law of God, that great rule of righteousness between the supreme moral Governor and his subjects, should be maintained inviolable. As to any objection that may be made from the practice of human legislators, their dispensing with their own laws, and forbearing to execute them, and pardoning offenders, without any one being made to suffer in their stead; the case is vastly different in the supreme Lawgiver and subor. dinate lawgivers, and in the Supreme Judge and subordinate judges. The latter give rules only to a certain small part of the commonwealth of moral agents, and with relation only to some few of their concerns, and for a little while. Human lawgivers are weak and fallible, and very imperfect in the ex. ercises of a limited, subordinate, and infinitely inferior autho. rity. But God is the great, infinitely wise, omniscient, holy, and absolutely perfect, Rector of all; to whom it belongs to establish a rule for the regulation of the whole universe of beings through all eternity, in all that concerns them in the exercise of an infinitely strong right of supreme, absolute dominion and sovereignty. The laws of men may be dispensed with, who cannot foresee all cases that may happen; and, if they could, have not both the laws and the state of the subject perfectly at their own disposal, so as universally and perfectly to suit one to the other. But there is no wise and good law, but that care should be taken that it ordinarily be put in execution ; and the nearer any human law approaches to the supreme or divine law in perfection, and in extent of jurisdiction, the more care should be taken of its execution : the wisdom of nations teaches this. Besides, repentance may be proportionable and answerable, at least in some measure, to offences against men. And as to the public truth which is to be upheld in execution of the threatenings of human laws, there ought to
be great care to uphold it, according to the true intent and meaning of those threatenings. If ali that is meant, and all that, by the very nature of the public constitution, (the foundation on which all their laws stand,) is to be understood by those threatenings, is that the punishment shall be inflicted, excepting when the exigence of the public requires otherwise, or when the pleasure of the prince is otherwise; then the public truth obliges to no more; and this being done, the public truth is maintained.
Á 1. Faith is a belief of a testimony ; 2 Thess. i. 10. " When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.” 2 Thess. ii. 13." But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren, beloved of the Lord, because God ha'h from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth.” 1 John v. 10. “He that believeth on the Son of God, hath the witness in himself : he that believeth not God, hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave his Son."
§ 2. It is the proper act of the soul towards God as faithful. Rom. iii. 3, 4. “ For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid : yea, let God be true, but every man a liar ; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.” It includes a sense of glory and excellency, or at least it is with such a sense. Matt. ix. 21. “ She said within herself, if I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole." 1 Cor. xü. 3. - Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God, calleth Jesus accursed : and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” There is also in it a spiritual taste and relish of what is excllent and divine. Luke xii. 57. “Yea and why, even of yourselves, judge ye not what is right ?" Believers receive the truth in the love of it, and speak the truth in love. Eph. iv. 15 - But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.
5 3. The object of faith is the gospel, as well as Jesus Christ. Mark i. 15. * And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye, and believe the gospel." John xvii. 8. “ For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.” Rom. X. 16, 17. “ But they have not obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report ?-So then, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” It includes a knowledge of God and Christ. 2 Pet. i. 2, 3. “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue." John xvii. 3. “ And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." And a belief of promises and depending on them, is a great part of faith. Heb. xi. “ Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” &c. Gal. v. 5. “ For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.”
$ 4. Faith is a receiving of Christ. John'i. 12. “ But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” “ As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: rooted and built up in him ; established in the faith, as ye have been taught ; abounding therein with thanksgivings.” And it is receiving Christ into the heart. Rom. x. 6-10. “ But the righteousness which is of faith, speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above ;) or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart, (that is, the word of faith, which we preach ;) That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." True faith includes accepting the gospel. 1 Tim. i. 14, 15. “ And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief." 2 Cor. ii. 4. “ For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached; or if you receive another Spirit, which ye have not received; or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might bear with him.”
$5. It is something more than merely the assent of the unVol. VII.
derstanding, because it is called obeying the gospel. Rom. x. 16. “But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report ?" 1 Pet. iv, 17. " For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God ?” Rom. xv. 18. “ For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed.” It is obeying the doctrine from the heart; Rom. vi. 17, 18. “ But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin; but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness,” &c. This expression, " obeying the gospel," seems to denote the heart's yielding to the gospel in what it proposes to us in its calls: it is something more than believing the truth of the gospel. John xii. 42. “ Nevertheless, among the chief rulers also, many believed on him ; but because of the Pharisees, they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue.
$ 6. It is a trusting in Christ. Psal. ii. 12. “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little : blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” Eph. i. 12, 13. “That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ : in whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.” Many places in the Old Testament speak of trusting in God as the condition of his favour and salvation; especially Psal. Ixxviii. 21, 22. “ Therefore the Lord heard this, and was wroth : so a fire was kindled against Jacob, and anger also came up against Israel ; because they believed not in God, and trusted not in his salvation." Rom. xv. 12. “And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse; and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, in him shall the Gentiles trust." 1 Tim. iv. 10. “ For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, especially of those that believe,
§ 7. It is a committing ourselves to Christ; 2 Tim. i. 12. “ For the which cause I also suffer these things : nevertheless, I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day." This is a Scripture sense of the word believe, as is evident by John ii. 24. « Jesus did not commit himself to them.” In the original it is oux ESL5EUEV EDITO aurois.
$ 8. It is gladly receiving the gospel ; Acts ii. 41. “Then they that gladly received his word, were baptized : and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." It is what may be well understood by those expressions of coming to Christ, of looking to him, of opening the door to let him in. This is very evident by Scripture. It is taking the waters of life, eating and drinking his flesh and blood, hearing Christ's voice, and following him. John X. 26, 27. “ But ye believe not ; because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” Isaiah xlv. 22. “ Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth : for I am God and there is none else." It also consists in being persuaded of, and in embracing the promises ; Heb. xi. 13." These all died in faith, not having
. “ received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth."
9. There is contained in the nature of faith a sense of our own unworthiness. Matt. xv. 27. 28. “Truth, Lord, yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master's table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith.” See concerning the centurion, Luke vii. 6-9: the woman which was a sinner, ib. ver. 37, 38. and especially 50; the prodigal son, Luke xv.; the penitent thief, Luke xxiii. 41. Consult also Hab. ii. 4. “Behold his soul which is lifted up, is not upright in him ; but the just shall live by his faith.” Prov. xxviii, 25 ; Psal. xl. 4. and Psal. cxxxi. And love either arises from, or is included in faith, John iii. 18, 19. “ He that believeth not, is condemned already; and this is their condemnation, that men loved darkness rather than light.” 2 Thess. ii. 10, 12. * And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish ; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.—That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." Faith is being a-thirst for the waters of life. Rev. xxi. 6. It is a true cordial seeking of salvation by Christ; and heartily joining ourselves to Christ and to his party. It is to hearken to him as a prophet; to yield ourselves subject to him as a king: and to depend upon him as a priest. Desiring Christ, is an act of faith in him, because he is called the desire of all nations, Hag. ii. 7; that is, he that is to be the desire of all nations, when all nations shall believe in him and subject themselves to him according to the frequent promises and prophecies of God's word; though there are other things included in the sense, yet this seems to be principally intended. There belongs to faith a sense of the ability and sufficiency of Christ to save, and of his fitness for the work of salvation : Matt. ix. 2, 21, and 28. 29. "Rom. iv. 21. “ And being fully persuaded,