Imatges de pàgina

guishing duty between these, has occasioned great confusion of ideas, and no little wrangling amongst the godly. The promises concerning us were made to Christ before the world began, Tit. i. 2. These to us are revealed in the word, and suppose our personal existence. In the one there is a promise of faith, but in the other the promise is to faith. In those we are spoken of, the promise being directed to our representative. “I will put my laws in their minds, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people. I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their ini. quities will I remember no more,” Heb. viii. 10, 12. In these we are spoken to in our own persons, “ Ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.” The new heart and faith itself are included in the promises made concerning us, Jer. xxxii. 39. Psalm xxii. 30, 31. cx. 3. but not in these made to us in our own persons. Though we find these promises running as in the second person, Ezek. xxxvi. 25-28.“ A new heart also will I give you;” yet these cannot be extended unto all, but to the elect only. Neither do they constitute a part of the gospel-offer. No man before conversion can have any warrant to say that the new heart is promised to him in particular. For if so, then he would be warranted to trust or believe in the promise for the new heart: which is absurd. To believe is an act of the new heart, and therefore cannot properly speaking, be a trusting for it. We get faith from Christ, but not by faith. We are purely passive in the reception of power to believe. Christ, by uniting himself unto us, gives us faith, that thereby we may join ourselves unto him. He gives 1:3 one gift, that thereby we may be enabled actively to receive many. He gives faith, that thereby we may receive himselt:

We must be passive in the reception of the first grace. Active we cannot be, till God make us so. Our existence and activity in grace, as well as in nature, are entirely owing to hiin. As we cannot actively receive animal food, without a previous principle of animal life; no more can

we be active in receiving Christ, without a previous principle of spiritual life. But can we be active in receiving either of these lives? No. It would be a con. tradiction to say so. For if active, then living. If active in receiving life (of whatever kind) we should have life before we had it: which is a manifest absurdity. But say, for argument's sake, that we are active in re. ceiving spiritual life. Whence had we that activity? From some previous life surely. And whence had we that life? If we were passive in receiving it, the ques. tion is in effect given up. If active, the question still recurs, whence got we that activity and so on in an endless chain. Therefore it must either be confessed that we are passive somewhere, or we must in effect deny a First Cause. As we cannot be, so we cannot be active, till God the first cause make us so. Self-active is as great an absurdity as self created.

The new heart is a part of the absolute promise made concerning us to Christ. Christ himself toge. ther with justification, sanctification, and eternal glory are offered to us. Now though every offer be a promise, yet every promise is not an offer. Whatever is offered to us, must be actively received by us. But none will say that we can be active in receiving the new heart, no more than the body can be active in receiving the soul. Corrupt nature cannot actively receive supernatural grace, nor the old and stony heart give welcome to the new.

In that we are nothing but mere recipients. But though nature cannot be active in receiving grace, yet grace can be, and is, active in receiving more and more. grace. Thus the man with the new heart gives ten thousand welcomes to the Christ of God and all his fulness, whereby his life is nourished, and carried on to perfection. The new heart is promised not to all, but primarily to Christ in behalf of his elect. Salvation through Christ is promised to all that believe. That therefore, is abe solute: this conditional. That is a secret: this open unto all without exception. Neither will it follow from this, that sinners are not warranted to believe the

promises made to them, till they see that there were promises made concerning them to Christ before the world began. For none can know whether there were promises made concerning them, but by embracing the promises made to them. We are not called at first hand to look back to what passed betwixt the Father and the Son, but only to embrace what is held forth to us in the gospel-offer. Having done this, then and then only, can we know that there was a promise concerning us from eternity: being certain that it is in virtue of it, that we have believed the promise made to us. For had not God fulfilled the one in us, the other had not been accepted by us. The one is, If ye be willing; If ye believe: but the other runs in a very different tenour, Thy people shall be willing; they shall believe. In testimony of this distinction respecting the promises, we see the apostles speak nothing to the jailor concerning the one class; they insist only on the other: “ Believe, and thou shalt be saved.” Here was a promise made to him, this was his warrant; and nothing else was. The one kind of promises belong to the making of the covenant, the other to its admini. stration. And therefore those are not so extensive as these. It is promised to all, If ye believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, ye shall be saved. But it is promised concerning some only, That they shall believe, Acts xiü. 48. Rom. xi. 7. Nor can the justice of the Holy One be taxed in this manner of procedure. What? though many will not believe, their unbelief, and therefore their destruction, is of themselves. And while some do believe, herein they are debtors to free, free grace. It is owing to one promise that they believe another. Even so, O Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight, Matt. xi. 26.

5thly. Faith as terminating in Jesus Christ is but one simple act. We grant, indeed, that faith “ acteth ditferently upon that which each particular passage of the word containeth, yielding obedience to the commands, trembling at the threatenings, and embracing the promises of God for this life and that which is in

come *."

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It exerciseth various acts according to the variety of objects. But not all its acts on any one of these objects. Not on the threatenings considered in themselves: because they do not propose a good to be received by us. Not on the precepts simply considered: because they shew a good to be done, not to be received! Not on mere predictions: because, unless they have promises joined with them, they do not promise a good to us. It is perfected in the pro- . mises only, because in them a good is proposed to be embraced t. What we think is, that believing in Christ Jesus for salvation is one act, a simple act, not a compound of many: that that act of faith, whereby we are united unto Christ, is one only. It is true that he is held forth in the word under a variety of metaphors, corresponding to which, faith is variously described. Thus if he be lifted up as on the gospelpole, faith is called looking unto him. If he be a hid. ing place, faith runs to him. If a gift, it receives him. If a foundation, a rock, it rests upon him. If white

a raiment, it puts him on. If living bread, it eats. If living water, it drinks. But as the object, a crucified Christ, is still one and the same, though represented under various views; so the act, terminating on that object, must be one and the same too. This must be acknowledged, otherwise we should make looking to Christ one act; running to him, another; entering in, a third; receiving, a fourth; resting, á fifth; putting him on, a sixth; eating his flesh, and drinking his blood, a seventh: and so on, which would be strange divinity. Therefore I cannot think, with some, that receiving Christ, and resting upon hiin alone for salvation, (the description of faith in the Shorter Catechism,) are two distinct acts: that receiv. ing Christ is one, and resting upon him another. To adinit this, would lead to the absurdity just now men tioned. I rather think that the compilers of the Cate

• Westminster Confession, ch. xiv. 11.

Wend. Christ. Theol. p. 573.

chism, singled out these two expressions, receiving and resting, as among the plainest. According to the Catechism, we receive Christ alone for salvation, and what is that, but to rest upon him alone for salvation? We receive him, and we rest upon him, as he is offered to us in the gospel. Now, for what end is he offered unto us? for no other than salvation, surely. So a shining light defined faith, “ The hearty receiving of Christ offered for the remission of sins *." To receive a word, is to rest upon it as true, Matt. xi. 14. Thess. ii. 13. And therefore to receive a person for any thing, is the same with resting upon him for that thing. He who would go to distinguish between re. ceiving Christ for salvation, and resting upon him for it, would soon find himself greatly entangled. He behoved to prove that in receiving we do not rest: that this is something more than that, though necessarily following it.

6thly. From what was said we may see that faith in Jesus Christ is the condition to interest us in him. Our text is a compend of duty and privilege. Of duty, - Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.” Of privilege, 6 And thou shalt be saved.” As faith is that whereby we are united to him, so also that whereby we are interested in him. Prior to faith there is no vital union to his person, and therefore no saving interest in his benefits. Unless we believe, we perish, we unavoidably perish. I am not ignorant that to speak of faith as a condition, is displeasing to many, who raise no disputes as to its necessity. But I know too, that almost all the best divines of the last age made no scruple to call it a condition: witness the famous Assembly at Westminster. Pity it is that there should be different views of the truth among

its fastest friends. I shall give you my thoughts of the matter as clearly and shortly as I can,

We grant,

Ist. That faith is not the condition of the promises made concerning the elect from eternity; so far from

Johu. Davidson's Cat. Marrow, p. 168.

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