Imatges de pÓgina

that, it itself is one, and the principal of them. Thy people, says the Father to Christ, shall be willing in the day of thy power. Here he makes a promise to him concerning them. But if promised, it cannot be the condition of that promise. That would be to make it the condition of itselt, which is absurd: Being to say in effect, They shall be willing, upon condition that they be willing; they shall believe, if they believe. Faith being the subject matter of a promise, cannot therefore be the condition of that promise too.

2dly. Faith being promised primarily to Christ, to be given his people; it must be promised on condition of something to be done by him, viz. that he should make his soul an offering for sin. It was on this condition only that he was to see his seed, Isa. liii. 10. see them come bending unto him. As faith is given for Christ's sake, Phil. i. 29. so was it also promised. It is given no other ways than as promised, and therefore being given us in his behalf, it was promised to us in the same manner. In this sense faith is as much promised as justification, adoption, or any privilege following faith.

3dly. Though faith be promised, and that on condition of Christ's righteousness, yet it may be, and it is, the condition to interest us in Christ, and in the promises made to us in the gospel-offer. Though not the condition of the promises made concerning us, it is the condition of these made to us. Not the condition of our common right to them, but of our pecu. liar and saving interest in them. The gospel gives us that; faith this. The gospel makes it warrantable for us to take; and by faith, and no otherwise, we do také and possess.

That brings salvation as to our hand; by this we stretch out the hand and take the salvation offered. If we do not thus stretch out the hand, we must perish, though as within arm's length of a Saviour: and if we do, we shall not perish.

Thus faith is in this sense a condition, has something conditional in it, inasmuch as our interest in, or possession of the promised benefits, turn upon it as the hinge. If we believe, we shall be saved; if not, we shall not: according to our faith, so shall we receive. The promise to us is not, ye shall be saved: but, if ye believe, ye shall be saved. Or as in our text,“ believe and thou shalt be saved." If faith be not a condition here, I know not what to call it. But,

4thly To drive this nail of the sanctuary as to the head, to put the matter out of doubt, that the promis. es directed to us in the gospel-offer, are conditional; let us look to the threatenings which accompany that offer, though they make no part it. Are these threatenings absolute or conditional? No man will say they are absolute. No man is threatened with damnation whether he believe or not. The threatening runs," He that believeth not shall be damned," Mark xvi. 16. Thus it is truly conditional. Now if the threatening be conditional on the one hand, so is the promise on the other: “ He that believeth, shall be saved.” For these are nothing else but the administration of the two covenants. The one thrcatens death, not abso. lutely, but if ye continue within its burning boundaries." The other promiseth life, not absolutely, but if ye come over to it. The covenant of works threatens none that go to the covenant of grace; and this promiseth nothing to such as continue rinder that. The one says, If ye stay here, ye shall perish. The other says, If ye come over hither, ye shall live. See the substance of both, together with the conditional ifš, Rom. viii. 12. “ If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: But if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body ye shall live.”

Though it be certain that some will believe by virtue of the spirit of faith communicated unto them. this does not take away the conditionality of the promise: no more than the certainty that others will not believe, takes away the conditionality of the threatening. It is as certain that the non-elect will not believe, as that the elect will. Now, if the corruption of human nature does not affect the condition. ality of the threatening, on the one side; how comes


it that the communication of saving grace should affect the conditionality of the promise, on the other? It will be allowed that the covenant promise of faitlı to the elect, does not free them from their obligation to believe. They are as much bound to believe as the non-elect are. As the offer of Christ to both, so the obligation on both to believe in him, is in all respects the same. The threatenings are not to the one as non-elect; nor the promises to the other as elect; but both are directed to both, as they believe, or do not believe. Hence they are fairly warned that if they do not believe, the wrath of God abideth on them, they must die in their sins, and shall never see life, John iii. 36. And at the same time they are told that if they do believe, they shall escape the wrath and curse of God, and have a life of communion with him for evermore, John iii. 36. Suppose a poor sinner trembling under a sense of guilt, should address me as the jailor did the apostles, What shall I do to be saved? I am authorised to say to him, If thou be. lieve on the Lord Jesus Christ thou shalt be saved; but if not, thou shalt not be saved. I neither know, nor can know, any thing of the man's clection, nor of the contrary, but I tell him the truth of God. And as it is a conditional proposition that if he do not believe, he shall perish; so is it, that if he do believe,he shall be saved. Both these are equally conditional, the promise as much as the threatening: with this difference only, that unbelief is the procuring cause of damnation; faith the instrument applying Christ and his righteousness*. Which suggests,

7thly, That faith is a condition consistent with, and subservient to the freedom of grace. When the poor jailor asks, What shall I do to be saved? The apostles do not bid him work and win, do and live. No; they point out the only way in which a sinner can be saved, and that is faith in Jesus Christ. Faith and works are set in opposition to one another in the matter of

Larger Catechism, Q. 73.

a sinner's justification and salvation. Therefore we conclude, that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law, Rom. ii. 28. A man is not justi. fied by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, Gal. ii. 16. By grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves : it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast, Eph. ii. 8, 9.

. Did faith justify as it is our act; were it accepted instead of works; had it the same place in the new covenant, that works had in the old; in a word, did it justify and save any other way than as an instrument receiving or resting upon Christ, instead of being subservient to grace, it would destroy it. Faith is not a condition giving a right or title, but taking possession of what is freely offered. It is not a doing some- . thing that we may have a right to Christ and his sal

. vation, but a simple taking of him and all his benefits in him and with him. It is not work and win, but take and have. And hence it is most consistent with grace, highly subservient to it, and tends greatly to illustrate its freedom. Therefore, says the apostle, the promise is of faith, that it might be by grace, Rom. iv. 16. And to the same purpose teacheth our Lar. ger Catechism Q. 32. “ The grace of God is mani. « fested in the second covenant, in that he freely proo videth and offereth to sinners a Mediator, and “ life and salvation by him; requiring faith as the " condition to interest them in him." From this it is manifest that these venerable divines judged, that requiring faith as a condition is so far from obscuring grace, that it manifests it. For as has been often said, it is not a condition whereby we work for Christ, but whereby we receive him to ourselves. And thus its very nature and office is to exclude boasting. Who in his senses would boast, that ready to die through nakedness, he accepted of raiment offered him? that at the gibbet foot he was so good as to accept of a pardon? The boasting here could not be of the man's own act of receiv. ing, but entirely of the donor's bounty and grace.

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And yet it is true, that if he had not accepted of the raiment or the pardon, he had died. His act was necessary to make them his in possession.

It is further to be observed, that faith itself is promised. Though necessary to interest us in other promise es, as in justification and adoption, it itself is the matter of a promise. I do not say that it is promised in one covenant, as that whereby we shall enter into another covenant with God. That would make three covenants, and faith the condition of the third. But I

say it is promised in the covenant to the elect, that they may actively take hold of that covenant. Thus it is a condition, not of the covenant, but of connection in it.

According to scripture there are but two covenants, Gal. iv. 24. whereof the covenant of works is one, and therefore that of grace must be the other. Meanwhile it must be observed, that the covenant of

grace otherwise one than Christ and his people are one. . These two unities are connected as cause and effect, the unity of the covenant giving rise to that of Christ and his people. As is the unity of the effect, so is that of the cause. Now, evident it is, that though Christ and his people be one, 1 Cor. xii, 12. yet in all things he hath the pre-eminence, Col. i, 18. he being the Head, they the members, and accordingly communicating righteousness and life unto them. As therefore the unity of Christ mystical bears no prejudice to the pre-eminence of Christ's person or office; neither doth that of the covenant of grace to the subordination of its one part unto the other, viz. that that part made with the members should rest upon that made with their Head, as the edifice on the foundation. In the covenant as made with him, promises were made to him, and obedience demanded of him. And accordingly in the covenant as made with them, promises are made to them, and duties demanded of them. The promises to them are grafted on those made to him; and the duties enjoined them, accepted on account of the obedience given by him. It is usually retorted by

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