« 上一頁繼續 »
$ 80. One that is well acquainted with the gospel, and sees the beauties, the harmonies, the majesty, the power, and the glorious wisdom of it and the like, may, only by viewing it, be as certain that it is no human work, as a man that is well acquainted with mankind and their works, may, by contemplating the sun, know it is not a human work; or, when he goes upon an island, and sees the various trees, and the manner of their growing, and blossoming, and bearing fruit, may know that they are not the work of man.
§ 81. Faith is very often in the Scripture called trust, especially in the Old Testament. Now, trusting is something more than mere believing. Believing is the assent to any truth testified ; trusting, always respects truth that nearly concerns ourselves, in regard of some benefit of our own that it reveals to us, and some benefit that the revealer is the author of. It is the acquiescence of the mind in a belief of any person, that by his word reveals or represents himself to us as the author of some good that concerns us. If the benefit be a deliverance or preservation from misery, it is a being easy in a belief that he will do it.
So, if we say, a man trusts in a castle to save him from his enemies, we mean, his mind is easy, and rests in a persuasion that it will keep him safe. If the benefit be the bestowment of happiness, it is the mind's acquiescing in it, that he will accomplish it; that is, he is persuaded he will do it; he has such a persuasion, that he rejoices in confidence of it.
Thus, if a man has promised a child to make him his heir, if we say he trusts in him to make him his heir, we mean he has such a belief of what he promises, that his mind acquiesces and rejoices in it, so as not to be disturbed by doubts and questions whether he will perform it. These things all the world means by trust. The first fruit of trust is being willing to do and undergo in the expectation of some thing. He that does not expect the benefit, so much as to make him ready to do or undergo, dares not trust it: he dares not run the venture of it. Therefore, they may be said to trust in Christ, and they only, that are ready to do and undergo all that he desires, in expectation of his redemption. And the faith of those that dare not do so, is unsound. Therefore, such trials are called the trials of faith.
But this is to be considered, that Christ does not promise that he will be the author of our redemption, but upon condition; and we have not performed that condition, until we have believed. Therefore, we have no grounds, until we have once believed, to acquiesce in it that Christ will save us. Therefore the first act of faith is no more than this, the acquiescence of the mind in him in what he does declare absolutely. It is the soul's resting in him, and adhering to him, so for as his word does reveal him to all as a Saviour for sinners, as one that has wrought out redemption, as a sufficient Saviour, as a Saviour suited to their case, as a willing VOL. VII.
Saviour, as the author of an excellent salvation, &c., 60 as to be encouraged heartily to seek salvation of him, to come to him, to love, desire, and thirst after him as a Saviour, and fly for refuge to him. This is the very same thing in substance, as that trust we spoke of before, and is the very essence of it. This is all the difference, that it was attended with this additional belief, viz. that the subject had performed the condition, which does not belong to the essence of faith. That definition which we gave of trust before, holds, viz. the acquiescence of the mind in the word of any person who reveals himself to us as the author of some good that nearly concerns us. Trusting is not only believing that a person will accomplish the good he promises : the thing that he promises may be very good, and the person promising or offering may be believed, and yet not properly trusted in ; for the person to whom the offer is made, may not be sensible that the thing is good, and he may not desire it. If he offers to deliver him from something that is his misery, perhaps he is not sensible that it is his misery; or, he may offer to bestow that which is his happiness, but he may not be sensible that it is happiness. If so, though he believes him, he does not properly trust in him for it; for he does not seek or desire what he offers; and there can be no adherence or acquiescence of mind. If a man offers another to rescue him from captivity, and carry him to his own country; if the latter believes the former will do it, and yet does not desire it, he cappot be said to trust in him for it. And if the thing be accounted good, and be believed, yet if the person to whom it is offered does not like the person that does it, or the way of accomplishment of it, there cannot be an entire trust, because there is not a full adherence and acquiescence of mind.
$ 82. There are these two ways in which the mind may be said to be sensible that any thing is good or excellent: 1. When the mind judges that any thing is such as, by the agreement of mankind, is called good or excellent, viz. that which is most to general advantage, and that between which and reward there is a suitableness, or that which is agreeable to the law of the country or law of God. It is a being merely convinced in judgment, that a thing is according to the meaning of the word, good, as the word is generally applied. 2. The mind is sensible of good in another sense, when it is so sensible of the beauty and amiableness of the thing, that it is sensible of pleasure and delight in the presence of the idea of it. This kind of sensibleness of good, carries in it an act of the will, or inclination or spirit of the mind, as well as of the understanding.
$ 83. The conditions of justification are, repentance and faith; and the freedom of grace appears in the forgiving of sin upon repentance, or only for our being willing to part with it, after the same manner as the bestowment of eternal life, only for accepting of it. For to make us an offer of freedom from a thing, only for quitting of it, is equivalent to the offering the possession of a thing for the receiving of it. God makes us this offer, that if we will in our hearts quit sin, we shall be freed from it, and all the evil that belongs to it, and flows from it; which is the same thing as the offering us freedom only for accepting it. Accepting, in this case, is quitting and parting with, in our wills and inclination. So that repentance is implied in faith ; it is a part of our willing reception of the salvation of Jesus Christ; though faith, with respect to sin, implies something more in it, viz. a respect to Christ, as him by whom we have deliverance. Thus by faith we destroy sin, Gal. ii. 18.
$ 84. As to that question, Whether closing with Christ in his kingly office be of the essence of justifying faith? I would say, 1. That accepting Christ in his kingly office, is doubtless the proper condition of having an interest in Christ's kingly office, and so the condition of that salvation which he bestows in the execution of that office; as much as accepting theforgiveness of sins is the proper condition of the forgivness of sin. Christ, in his kingly office, bestows salvation ; and therefore, accepting him in his kingly office, by a disposition to sell all and suffer all in duty to Christ, and giving proper respect and honour to him, is the proper condition of salvation. This is manifest by Heb. v. 9. “ And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation' to all them that obey him ;" and by Rom. x. 10. « For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” The apostle speaks of such a confessing of Christ, or outward and open testifying our respect to him, and adhering to our duty to him as exposed to suffering, reproach, and persecution. And that such a disposition and practice is of the essence of saving faith, is manifest by John rii. 42, 43. “Nevertheless, among the chief rulers also, many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God;"—compared with John v. 44. “How can ye believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only ?”
2. Accepting Christ as a priest and king, cannot be separated. They not only cannot be separated, or be asunder in their subject, but they cannot be considered as separate things in their natures ; for they are implied one in another. Accepting Christ as a king, is implied in accepting him as a priest ; for, as a priest, he procures a title to the benefits of his kingly office; and therefore, to accept him as a priest, implies an accepting him in his kingly office: for we cannot accept the purchase of his priesthood, but by accepting the benefits purchased. If faith is supposed to contain no more immediately, than only an accepting of Christ as a Mediator for our justification; yet that justification implies a giving a title to the benefits of his kingly office, viz, salvation from sin, and conformity to his nature and will, and actual salvation by actual deliverance from our enemies, and the bestowment of glory.
$ 85. Faith divine, is a spiritual conviction of the truth of the things of religion. Some have objected against a spiritual sight of divine things in their glorious, excellent, and divine form, as being the foundation of a conviction of the truth or real existence of them, because, say they, the existence of things is in the order of nature before forms or qualities of them as excellent or odious; and so the knowledge of their existence must go before the sight of their form or quality; they must be known to be, before they are seen to be excellent. I answer, It is true things must be known to be, before they are known to be excellent, if by this proposition it be understood, that things must be known really to exist, before they can be known really to exist excellent, or really to exist with such and such beauty. And all the force of the objection depends on such a meaning of this assertion. But if thereby be intended, that a thing must be known to have a real existence, before the person has a clear understanding, idea, or apprehension of the thing proposed or objected to his view, as it is in its qualities either odious or beautiful, then the assertion is not true; for his having a clear idea of something proposed to his understanding or view, as very beautiful or very odious, as is proposed, does not suppose its reality; that is, it does not presuppose it, though its real existence may perhaps follow from it. But, in our way of understanding things in general of all kinds, we first have some understanding or view of the thing in its qualities, before we know its existence. Thus it is in things that we know by our external senses, by our bodily sight for instance. We first see them, or have a clear idea of them by sight, before we known their existence by our sight. We first see the sun, and have a strong, lively, and clear idea of it in its qualities, its shape, its brightness, &c., before we know there actually exists such a body.
§ 86. Faith in Christ is the condition of salvation, It is observable, that as trusting in God, hoping in him, waiting for him, &c., are abundantly insisted on in the Old Testament, as the main condition of God's
favour, protection, deliverance, and salvation, in the book of Psalms and elsewhere; so, in most of those places where these graces of trust and hope are so insisted upon, the subjects of them are represented as being in a state of trial, trouble, difficulty, danger, opposition, and oppression of enemies, and the like. And the clearer revelation, and more abundant light of the New Testament, bring into clearer view the state that all mankind are in with regard to those thiugs that are invisible, the invisible God, an invisible world, and invisible enemies, and so show men's lost, miserable, captivated, dangerous, and helpless state, and reveal the infinite mercy of God, and his glorious all-sufficiency to such wretched, helpless
creatures, and also exhibit Christ in the character of the Saviour of the miserable, the great Redeemer of captives, &c. Hence faith, trust, and hope, are most fitly insisted on as the duty and qualification peculiarly proper for all mankind, and the virtue proper to be exercised in their circumstances towards God and Christ, as they reveal themselves in the gospel, as belonging to them in their character and relation to us, and concern with us, in which they are there exhibited ; aud as the grand condition of our salvation, or our receiving those benefits, which we, as sinful, miserable, and helpless creatures, need from them, and which Christ, as a Redeemer, appears ready to bestow.
$ 87. Dr. Manton reconciles the Apostle James and the Apostle Paul in the following manner, in his 5th volume of Sermons, p. 374. “ Justification hath respect to some accusation; Now, as there is a twofold law, there is a twofold accusation and justification; the law of works, and the law of grace. Now, when we are accused as breakers of the law of works, that is, as sinners obnoxious to the wrath of God, we plead Christ's satisfaction as our righteousness, no works of our own. But when we are accused as non-performers of the conditions of the covenant of grace, as being neglectors and rejectors of Christ the Mediator, we are justified by producing our faith or sincere obedience; so that our righteousness by the new covenant is subordinate to our universal righteousness, with respect to the great law of God; and that we have only by Christ. If we are charged that we have broken the first covenant, the covenant of works, we allege Christ's satisfaction and merit. If charged not to have performed the conditions of the law of grace, we answer it by producing our faith, repentance, and new obedience, and so show it to be a false charge. Our first and supreme righteousness consists in the pardon of our sins, and our acceptance in the beloved, and our right to impunity and glory. Our second and subordinate righteousness, in having the true condition of pardon and life. In the first sense, Christ's righteousness alone is our justification and righteousness. Faith and repentance, or new obedience, is not the least part of it. But, in the second, believing, repenting, and obeying, is our righteousness in their several respective ways, viz. that the righteousness of Christ may be ours, and continue ours.”' See also Dr. Manton on James, p. 310, 311, 312, and p. 331, &c.
Faith is connected with obedience. The very acceptance of Christ in his priestly office, making atonement for sin by his blood, and fulfilling the law of God by his perfect obedience unto death; and so the very approbation of the attribute of God, as it is there exhibited, an infinitely holy mercy : I say, merely the soul's acceptance and approbation of these things, do thoroughly secure holiness of heart and life in the redeemed of Jesus Christ. They will seeure their conformity to