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another is said to rest on his word. (2.) The subjects of it are many ; not all, but some, namely, the elect of God, quickened by the spirit of regeneration; compare ver. 13. " Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." These receive Christ for salvation; for he offers himself as a Saviour, and the fruit of it in the text is faving.
The doctrine founded on the text is, Doct. « Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace whereby we
receive, and rest upon him alone for salvation, as he is of. fered to us in the gospel.”
Here we will consider,
1. I shall shew, how faith in Christ is a saving grace. There are four sorts of faith spoken of in scripture. (1.) Historical faith, which is a bare assent to the truths of God, Jam. ü. 19, “ Thou believest that there is one God; thou dost well. The devils also believe and tremble.” (2.) A temporary faith, which is such an assent, joined with some affection to the truths of God, though unsanctified, like that of the stony ground hearers, Luke viii. 13. “ who when they hear, receive the word with joy; but these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away."
(3.) The faith of miracles, which is a belief of the Lord's working some miraculous effect by us, or in us, upon some intimation of his word concerning it, 1 Cor. xiii. 2.-" Tho' I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains." All of these may
be in reprobates, and none of them are saving. (4.) Saving faith, already described from the text.
It is called saving faith, because all that have it shall certainly be saved for ever, from sin and God's wrath; yea, as foon as one has it, salvation is his, it is in his pofseflion as to the beginnings of it, Acts xvi. 31. “ Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”
It faves us, not as an act or work, fulfilling the condition of a new law; for so it is excluded, with all other works, from the caufing of our salvation, Rom. iii. 27, 28. “ Where is boasting then it is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude, that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” But it saves us as an instrument, apprehending Christ and his salvation, Rom. iii. 22. “ Even the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all, and upon all them that believe ; for there is no difference.” It is as the looking to the brazen serpent, which saved the stung Israelites; or as the hyssop dipped in blood, and sprinkling the leper, that cleansed him.
II. I come to shew, whence this faith proceeds.
1. It is not from our natural powers, the power of man's free-will. “No man can come to me,” says Christ " except the Father which hath sent me, draw him," John vi. 44. It is not a flower of nature's garden; otherwise one should make himself to differ from others.
2. It is a special gift of God. Hence says the apostle to the Philippians, chap. i. 29. “ Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ to believe on him.” It is wrought in the heart by his divine power," through the faith of the operation of God, Col. ii. 12. No less power can produce it, Eph. i. 19. It is ascribed, as to the working of it, to the Father, John vi. 44. forecited; to the Son, Cant. i. 4. “ Draw me; but in a special manner to the Spirit, Gal. v. 22. “ The fruit of the Spirit is—faith ;" therefore he is called “the Spirit of faith," 2 Cor. iv. 13.
The outward means which the Lord usually makes use of to beget faith in one's heart, is the word, the word of the gospel, preached, heard, or read, Rom. x. 17. “ Faith com. eth by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” This is the incorruptible feed which the new creature is framed of, 1 Pet. i. 23. ; the vehicle of saving influences, Gal. iii. 2.
III. I proceed to consider the subject of faith. It is not all men, 2 Theff. iii. 2. “ For all men have not faith.” They are rare ones who get it, Luke xviii. 8. “ When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? But they are,
1. Ele& finners; they only obtain it, Tit. i. 1. And they all do obtain it sooner or later, before they go off the world, Acts xiž. 48. “ As many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” The subjects of it are those of the Old Teftament, as well as those under the New. Hence the apostle to the Hebrews, speaking of the former, says, chap. xi. 13. “ These all died in faith.” The subjects of it also are elect infants dying in infancy, though they have not actual faith ; who, though they know nothing of the matter, like the Ilraelitish infants, Deut. i. 29. have the seed or spirit of faith. This is the general character of the subject. But,
2. More particularly, elect convinced finners are the subjects of it, John xvi. 8, 9. “ When he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement: Of fin, because they believe not on me.” The plough of the law goes through the heart, in some measure, before this feed be cast into it, Gal. iii. 23, 24. “ Before faith came, we were kept under the law, fhut up unto the faith, which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” So that an unconvinced, insensible sinner, is an unbeliever. But,
3. Yet more particularly, elect, convinced, quickened finners, are the subject thereof, as appears from the text and the following verse. Regeneration in the order of nature goes before believing, and faith is the first vital motion of the re generated foul. There is first a passive reception of Christ into the soul, whereby Christ comes into the dead soul, and quickens it, and then actual believing, or active receiving of Christ, is the first motion of the new creature. But most particularly,
4. Lastly, Not only the understanding, but the heart and will of such a one, is the subject of faith, where it has its feat; the understanding knowing and assenting, and the will embracing and consenting, If. lü. 11. “ By his knowledge fhall my righteous servant justify many." Rom. x. 10:
With the heart man believeth unto righteousness."
IV. I proceed to consider the object of faith.
1. The real obje& in general is the whole word of God, and therefore no falsehood can be under faith, Tit. i. 2. But the special real object of it is the promise of the gospel, Acts VOL. III. No. 26,
xvi. 31. 6 Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ,” &c. for therein Christ the Saviour is held forth to a poor finner. Faith looks to the whole word; it is persuaded of a divine authority in the commands, and an immoveable truth in the threatenings and promises. Every promise of the word it looks to, and comes wrong to none, while the believer lives in this world, and it lasts : it is a bee that roves through all these flowers in the garden of God's word. But as it is saving and justifying, it settles on the promise or offer of Christ in the gospel. And,
(1.) The testimony of the word, concerning Christ's ability to fave, is a special object of faith in this case, Mark ix. 33. “ If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” Sin is a dead weight, which the soul findeth itself unable utterly to hoist up; but the gospel holds out Christ to be able to remove it, Heb. vii. 25. i He is able to save unto the uttermoft."
Faith assents to this too, Pfal. lxv. 3. Iniquities prevail against me: as for our transgressions, thou shalt purge them away.'
This assent in both cases may be mixed with doubting, yet true, Mark ix. 24. “ I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” If the foul have as much faith of both, as to venture itself on Christ, though the bride sign the contract with a trembling heart, though the doubting will never be commended, the subscription will be sustained.
2. The personal object of faith is,
(1.) General : God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as we profess in the creed, John xiv. 1. 6 Ye believe in God, believe also in me."
(2.) Special ; Jesus Christ; as in the text. He is the object of faith, as it saves and justifies the sinner, typified by the brazen ferpent in the wilderness, to which the wounded Ifraelites were to look, and the look was healing, John iii. 14, 15. And Christ's person is the primary object of justifying faith, If. xlv. 22. “ Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.” And his benefits, merits, righteousness, &c. are the secondary objects thereof, Phil. iii. 8, 9. “ Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith."
V. I proceed to consider the saving and justifying acts of faith. These are,
1. Receiving him as he is offered in the gospel, as in the text; cordially closing with him, and heartily consenting to take him as he is offered. Hereby the spiritual marriage-tie betwixt Christ and the soul is made. Christ gives his consent in the gospel-offer, and the finner gives his by faith closing with the offer. Now, he is offered in the gospel in all his offices. So faith is a receiving of Christ,
(1.) As a Prophet to be our Teacher, Guide, and Leader, renouncing our own wisdom, Matth. xvii. 5.
(2.) As a Priest, renouncing all merit and confidence in one's self, duties, and sufferings, and betaking one's self to Christ, his obedience and death, for all, If. xlv. 24. “ Surely shall one say, In the Lord have I righteousness and strength.”
(3.) As a King, renouncing all strange lords, and receiving him for absolute Governor in the soul, and over the whole man, yielding to bear the yoke of his commands, and the yoke of his cross. Il. xxvi. 13. “ O Lord our God, (says the church), other lords besides thee have had dominion over us : but by thee only will we make mention of thy name.'
2. Resting on him as he is offered in all his offices too, If. xxvi. 3, 4. “ Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trufteth in thee. Trust ye
in the Lord for ever; for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.” 2 Chron. xvi. 8. “ Thou didst rely on the Lord.” The soul has a burden of weakness and ignorance, and therefore rests on him as a Prophet; a burden of guilt, but rests on him as a Priest, laying the weight on his blood; a burden of strong lusts and temptations, but rests on him as a King.
This receiving and resting has a most special eye to the priestly office of Christ, faith in his blood. It is a looking to him as lifted up on the cross, If. xlv. 22. ; eating of his flesh, and drinking of his blood, John vi. 53. ; and submitting