« AnteriorContinua »
" It is certain a believer in the exercise of justifying “ faith, does believe something with reference to his “ own salvation, upon the ground of God's faithful“ ness in the promise, that no other person whatso.
ever does, or can believe; which if it be not to “ this purpose, that now Christ is, and will be, a Sa“ viour unto him, that he shall have life and salva. " tion by him, we are utterly at a loss to conceive " what it can be.” We are warranted to trust on Christ for salvation, but this we never do till we be. lieve that he will save us.
7thly. If it be only when we have seen the eviden. ces of grace in ourselves, that we are warranted to believe that Christ will save us, how shall we deal with persons of distressed consciences, especially in the agonies of death? There, indeed, lies the hardest part of the ministerial office, when the distressed person cries out, that he is a great sinner, when he sees nothing but iniquity, transgression and sin in himself; and cries aloud in the agonies of conscience, What, O what, shall I do to be saved? Shall we stave him off from trusting in Christ, till he see evidences of grace in himself. Shall we tell him, that we are not warranted to bid him believe that he shall be saved by Christ, unless he sees that he is a saint? I durst not for ten thousand worlds preach such doctrine at the beds of the dying. And I much doubt if those who differ from us would. But if their doctrine be true, it would lead them thus far. I know not what warrant Papists and others have to reserve some cordials for a death-bed, which they will not administer in pub, lic. What is truth at a death-bed cannot be error in the pulpit. The same doctrine cannot be balm at the one, and poison in the other. We have no au. thority to conceal the truth lest men abuse it. If that deter us from publishing it, we must not bring it forth, no not to the dying, never being absolutely certain but they may live, and abuse what we have given them. But enough of this. I shall never be ashamed, according to the good old way, to say to the distress.
ed, or the dying sinner, “ Place all thy confidence, and hope, and love, on Christ alone, and commit thyself to his passion and death*."
8thly and Lastly. I might produce some of the most respectable divines as being of the same judgment with us on this head. Marshall on Sanctification gives it as his seventh direction, “ We are not to imagine. " that our hearts and lives must be changed from sin " to holiness in any measure, before we may safely
venture to trust on Christ for the sure enjoyment 66 " of himself, and his salvation.” Boston teaches the same in effect in his Treatise on the Covenant of Grace, while he saith that we have a right to Christ, that all and every one who hear the gospel have a solid ground for trusting on Christ and his righteousness for their own salvation in particular t.
To shut up all, If any thing prior to, or different from believing the promise, be requisite to interest us in it, it is no more purely of faith, but partly by works. Having thus finished what we had to say concerning the nature of faith in Christ Jesus, we go on to the improvement of the subject,
1st. See the excellency of holy scripture, particularly of the free promise so often occurring therein. Without it there could be no true faith.' It, and pothing else, is the foundation of faith. The promises are scattered like stars in the firmament of scripture. And 0 how thick they shine, how warm they glow, since He came, in whom they are all yea, and amen! At first there was but one promise, and that not very clear. It was all, however, that our first parents had to set up house with. But now that gold is beat into leaf which runs through all the Bible. And none need be poor, who will be rich. Scripture is a vessel come froin afar, freighted with celestial stores: a Christ
Pictet. Comp p. 495.
+ Bost. Cov, of Grace, page 307 and 323.
and all his salvation. If the ship was honoured that carried Cæsar, O what must be the excellency of scripture! which carries Christ, so to speak, to the children of men. And what happy shores are these of ours, where the celestial vessel has landed! What a blessed wind that wafted it to us! Paul and Silas had the honour to be rowers, and to offer the precious cargo to whatever port they came. Hence, they said to the poor jailor, “ Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved.” This was offering him all at once: the richest offer indeed that ever was, or can be made to the sons of men. It was heaven come down to earth.
2dly. See the excellency of true faith. It is the reception of the celestial cargo. It is to receive Christ with all his fulness. It is a throwing open the doors of the soul, that the Son of God, the king of glory may enter in. And therefore, it is the most pleasing thing to God that a sinner can do. Who could be persuaded, did not the experience of every day attest it, that thousands and ten thousands shut their doors against heaven's highest Ambassador? Though he should not have where to lay his head, they will give him no ac
If this be the most heaven-daring offence, suretrue faith must be precious' indeed, 2 Pet. i. 1. It is that which gives the highest honour to the Son, and therefore must be pleasing to the Father. Numbers in their ignorance and enmity, can traduce it in such a way as we tremble to mention. They are not asham. ed to declare, that if ever they enter heaven, it will not be by faith. Their works, their faithless works, are their only hope and boast. Had they been to speak to the trembling jailor, their address would have been very different from that of the apostles. They would have mentioned morality, but not a word of faith in Christ Jesus. But the foolishness of God is wiser than men: and the weakness of God is stronger than men,
, i Cor. i. 25. That faith which he enjoins on all, and works in some, is not a mere fancy, or some groundless imagination. No:. It is the substance of things
hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, Heb. xi. 1. If the word of the living God be not a mere chimera, that faith which rests on it, cannot be an airy, an unsubstantial, or unmeaning thing. It stands related to the truth of God, and what so precious to him as his truth? It gives him the glory of his truth in believing what he has said, and that because he has said it. It opens a door in the sinner's heart to receive all the word. Hence, we read of the door of faith, Acts xiv. 27. It asks no more but a “ Thus saith the Lord," and having got that, it can go through the darkest labyrinths, and conquer the united powers of earth and hell. The believer having ascended the mount of re. velation, can see far and wide, can look backward and forward. He can see what was done before he existed, Hab. iii. 7. And what shall be done when he is laid in dust, John viii. 56. Heb. xi. 13. Like the eastern sages, he is led by the star of scripture-light to the babe of Bethlehem, lying in the manger. Nor does he leave him there. He follows him to Calvary and the cross, and turns aside to the grave to see where the Lord lay. He sees him risen, keeps his eye upon him as seated at God's right hand, and looks for his appear. ing the second time, without sin, unto salvation, Heb. ix. 28.
So eagle-eyed is true faith. According to holy scripture, by faith we are united unto Christ, Eph. iii. 17.; by faith we are justified, Rom. v. I.; by faith we are adopted, John i. 12. Gal. iii. 26.; by faith we are sanctified, Acts xv. 9. xxvi. 18.; by faith we stand, 2 Cor. i. 24.; by faith we walk, 2. Cor. v. 7.; by faith we fight, Eph. vi. 16. i Tim. vi. 11.; by faith we overcome, 1 John v. 4.; by faith we live, Gal. ii. 20.; and in faith we die, Heb. xi. 13. Thus faith is the first and the last, as an instrument, in the spiritual warfare. It begins, it ends, and it runs through the whole of the campaign.
3dly. We may see that the great object of faith is a person, a divine person. So our text intimates, “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Jehovah Jesus is he
to whom the believer cleaves, Acts xi. 23. It is true, that besides the person, there is also a word and a thing, which the empty but eager hand of faith, doth apprehend, Rom. x. 8. Eph. i. 13. Phil. iii. 9. The word brings the person near us, and the person brings the thing, viz. his surety-righteousness, Isa. iv. 6, 13. The person is in the word, and the thing in the person. By believing the promise we get him, and being interested in him, he spreads his skirt over us, and covers our nakedness, Ezek. xvi. 8. Thus these three, though distinct, are undivided. He who has one has all; and he who has not all, has none of them. But you will observe, Jesus the person is in the midst betwixt the word and the thing, the promise and the righteousness. And it is He, it is He alone, who gives dignity to both. The word is his, and the righteousness is his. Hence, that is the word of God, and this is the righteousness of God; that the word of his lips, and this
the work of his hands. That is, what he says to us; this, what he wrought for us. And therefore with the fullest confidence we can cast ourselves on both, as certain that they can bear our weight, as that he is a divine person. They derive all their value from him only. The one is, Thus saith the Lord, and therefore cannot but be true. The other, Thus did the Lord, and therefore cannot but be perfect. They are his rod and his staff, I may say, wherewith we are comforted, Psalm xxiii. 4. His, and hence all their efficacy. The one is the breath of his lips, the other the blood of his cross. That the word of God, this the blood of God, Acts xx. 28, 32. So true is it that the person gives all their dignity to both. To the word on this side, and to the righteousness on that. We rest on the word, because it is his; and on the righteousness, because it is his.
4thly. See a vast distinction betwixt the promises made concerning the elect, and these made to them as believers. Or, if ye will, betwixt the promises as made to Christ the elect's representative, and as made to us in the dispensation of the gospel. Not distin