« ZurückWeiter »
of the gospel concerning him, Eph. iii. 8. Heb. vii. 25. He is therein held forth, as an able Saviour, able to save men from their sins, and from the wrath of God. His merit is a sufficient sconce against the tempest of fiery wrath that incensed justice is ready to cause fly forth against transgressors, Isa. xxxii. 2. His spirit is sufficient to sanctify the most unholy, 1 Cor. vi. 11. The righteousness he fulfilled as the condition of the covenant is so valuable in itself, and in the eyes of his Father, that it is sufficient to procure justification, sanctification, and all other saving benefits to sinners, who in themselves deserve death and damnation. So that they are happy who are in him, and they shall never perish, but have everlasting life; and they shall be eternally secure under the covert of his righteousness, as a sufficient defence. Believest thou this?
This is the general faith of the gospel, which, being without particular application, doth not unite the sinner to Christ, nor enter him into the covenant; and may be found in reprobates and fallen angels, as being only an assent in general to the truth of the doctrine of the gospel, Matth. xiii. 20, 21. and viii. 29. But it is necessarily pre-requisite to a faith of particular application, by the nature of the thing; for I must first believe a saying to be true in itself, before I can trust to it for my part; and I must first believe a thing to be good in itself, before I can believe it is good for me. But where this faith is carried forward to uniting with Christ, it issues in an ardent desire of union and communion with Christ, an high esteem of him and his covenant, and a longing for his righteousness, as a hungry man for meat, or a thirsty man for drink.
Secondly, Ye must believe that Jesus Christ, with his righteousness and all his salvation, is by himself offered to sinners, and to you in particular. This is the plain voice of the gospel, Isa. lv. 1. Rev. xxii. 17. Prov. viii. 4. But, alas! few believe it; yea, none will believe it to purpose, till the Spirit of the Lord make it plain to them, and persuade them by an inward illumination. Many secure sinners hear the gospel, and are glad of the offer; but they discern not Christ's voice in it; they hear it not as the voice of Christ himself to them, but as the word of men; hence it hath no due authority upon their consciences, and so they pass it over lightly.
But where true faith is a-working, the word of the gospel-offer is by the Holy Spirit inwardly brought home and applied to the soul in particular, with power, as the word of the Lord himself, and not of men, whereby the man is assured that it is the voice of Christ, and to him in particular, 1 Thess. i. 5. and ii. 13. And so the man applies it to himself by believing. This is necessary; for without it there can be no receiving of Christ, and the soul can see no solid ground of faith: For it is evident, that there can be no receiving aright, where the sinner does not believe the offer to be made to him in particular. And here begin's the application of faith, an application tending to union with Christ.
Wherefore, if ye would unite with Christ, and so enter into the covenant of grace, sist yourselves before the Lord as condemned sinners under the curse of the law; and hear and believe the word of the gospel as made to you condemned and cursed sinners in particular. And so it will come to you as the offer of a pardon to one under sentence of death, as the rising sun to one sitting in darkness, and the shadow of death. And let not your heart misgive by unbelief, but believe the offer to be made to you, as it is indeed, (Isa. lv. 3.) by Christ himself.
Thirdly, Ye must believe that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the world, and your Saviour in particular, by the Father's appointment and his own offer; and that, by the same appointment and offer, his righteousness the condition of the covenant, and eternal life the promise of the covenant, are yours: Yours, I mean not in possession, but in right thereto, so far as ye may lawfully and warrantably take possession of, and use them as your own to all intents and pur poses of salvation. Think not this too much for you: it is no more than what is necessary to saving faith in Christ. If you believe only in the general that Christ is the Saviour of the world, and don't believe that he is your Saviour in particular, what do ye believe more than devil's do? They believe that he is Jesus a Saviour, Mark i. 24. Ye must needs believe that he is your Saviour, if ye would go beyond them, and consequently that his righteousness and salvation is yours, in the sense before opened; for where Christ is given, all is given with him, Rom. viii. 32. How can you take or receive him as your Saviour, if he is not yours in
deed? A man may take possession fraudulently indeed of what he does not believe to be his by right: but no man can fairly and honestly claim and take possession of what he does not believe to be his own. Certainly God must first give Christ to us, before we can receive him, John iii. 27. Giving on God's part, and receiving on ours, are corelates, and the former must needs go before the latter. Therefore believe firmly, that Christ is your Saviour in particular, his righteousness is yours, and eternal life is yours.
Fourthly, Ye must wholly trust in him as your own Saviour, and in his righteousness as made over to you, for his whole salvation to you in particular, upon the ground of God's faithfulness in his word. This is that saving faith, or believing on Christ Jesus, by which a sinner is united unto Christ, and personally entered within the covenant of grace, Acts xvi. 31. Isa. xxvi. 3, 4. Rom. i. 17. Phil. iii. 9. Gal. ii. 16. Acts xv. 11. 1 Thess. ii. 13. 1 Cor. ii. 5. This, according to the scripture, is a sinner's receiving and resting upon Christ for salvation, as saving faith is defined in our Catechism. And this is indeed believing, and nothing but believing, according to the scriptural use of that word.
1. I say, this is plainly believing in the scriptural use of that word. It is a trusting of or in a person, viz. Jesus Christ, and God in him, the personal object of saving faith, Acts xvi. 31;-a trusting in a thing, viz. the righteousness of Christ, the ultimate real object of faith, Rom. i. 17. therefore called faith in his blood, Rom. iii. 25.-and a trusting in a word, viz. in the record and testimony of God, the word of the promise of the gospel, John iii. 16. the proximate or nearest real object of faith. And all this for the great purpose and end of salvation.
2. This is the receiving of Christ alone for salvation, John i. 12. God has appointed Christ Saviour of the world, and your Saviour: you hear that published in the gospel, and you believe accordingly, that he is your Saviour, by his Father's appointment and his own offer: thereupon you trust on him, and on him alone, for salvation, and all you need for salvation. Is not this a receiving of him for your part in the character of a Saviour, wherein his Father sent him to you? a taking of him to yourself as he is offered to you? an using of him as your own Saviour by the divine appointment and offer, as trusting him for the ends for which that offer and
appointment was made? Thus your whole case is put in his hand, with heart and good-will; and you truly receive him as appointed for and offered to you.
3. This is resting on Christ alone for salvation, according to the scripture, Isa. xxvi. 3. Neither can one imagine what way a person can rest on a word, or a soul can rest upon à person, but by trusting them, or trusting in them. See 2 Chron. xxxii. 8. and xiv. 11. So I conclude, that this trust in Christ is that believing on him, by which the soul is united to Christ, and brought into the covenant in a saving manner. And for opening of it, consider the import of this trust.
(1.) It imports not only a willingness, but a sincere and earnest desire to be delivered from sin and wrath; a desire to be sanctified as well as to be justified; to be delivered from the reigning power, pollution, practice, and inbeing of sin, as well as from the guilt of it, Rom. vii. 24, 25. For it is a trusting on Christ, not for the half of his salvation, viz. salvation from wrath only, as many do who are by no means desirous to part with sin; but for the whole of it, even salvation from sin too, the principal part thereof, Matth. i. 21: Faith is a believing with the heart and affec tion of the soul: The whole salvation of Christ is the be liever's choice: it is the end he desires to compass, and the trust of faith is exerted as the means to compass that end.
(2.) A renouncing of all confidence in all that is not Christ or in Christ, as to that matter particularly. Faith overturns self-confidence, law-confidence, and creature-confidence, to build on a quite new ground, Phil. iii. 3. and Jer. xvi. 19. For it is a trusting in Christ and his righte ousness wholly, a trusting or believing with all the heart, Prov. iii. 5. and Acts viii. 37. The believer is carried off the works of the law, to the blood of Jesus, for his justification; and out of himself too, unto the Spirit of holiness, for sanctification; being persuaded that no doing or suffering of his own can procure to him the pardon of, or atone for the least piece of guilt; and that he is not able truly to mortify one lust, more than to purge away the guilt of one sin, Matth. v. 3. and Isa. xlv. 24. Thus is the sandy foundation overturned, that the soul may build on Christ the Rock.
(3.) A hearty approbation of the plan of salvation according to the covenant, manifested in the gospel, as suited to the divine perfections, and to the case of sinners, and their VOL. I. 3 F
own case in particular, Matth. xi. 6. and i Cor. i. 23, 34. Without this, no man that knows what God is, what sin is, and what is the worth of his own soul, will ever venture his salvation upon it. One's trusting his salvation to Christ and his righteousness, speaks him to be well pleased therewith, as what one may safely trust to, and that in the sight of a holy just God. And this is that rejoicing in Christ Jesus which makes an illustrious piece of the believer's character, Phil. iii. 3. It implies,
[1.] An eyeing of Jesus Christ in this matter as a crucified Saviour, having fulfilled all righteousness, according to the stated condition of the covenant, 1 Cor. ii. 2. This is the view that faith takes of Christ, while the sinner stands trembling before a holy God, beholding him as lifted up on the cross, as the brazen serpent was on the pole in the wil. derness, Isa. xlv. 22. So faith is called faith in his blood, Rom. iii. 25.; his righteousness whereof the shedding of his blood was the completing part, being the only spring of the believer's hope.
[2.] A real persuasion of the sufficiency of Christ's righteousness, to save sinners, and them in particular, from sin and wrath; to answer for them before a holy just God in the eye of his holy law, and procure for them eternal holiness and happiness, Phil. iii. 9. There is no saving faith without this; Christ's ability must be believed, and that with application to your own case, Matth. ix. 28. And in order to this, faith fixes its view on Christ's righteousness, as the righteousness of God, and so of infinite value and efficacy, Phil. iii. 9. 1 John i. 7. The reason why the gospel, and no other doctrine whatever, is the power of God to the salvation of sinners, is because therein is revealed the righteousness of God unto faith, Rom. i. 16, 17.; and that is the only righteousness suited to the divine perfections and the sinner's case.
[3.] An acquiescing in that way of salvation for themselves, Matth. xi. 6. The believer sees the sufficiency and safety of it, and he hath a cordial liking of it for the way of his salvation. The mystery of Christ is to him the power of God, and the wisdom of God, i Cor. i. 24. His soul pronounces them safe and blessed that are in it; he desires for his own part to be found in it, Phil. iii. 9. and is persuaded he would be well, saved from sin and wrath, if he were in it.