Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

that God was made manifest in the flesh; that he will tread all enemies under his feet, and that all scripture was given by inspiration of God. Thus far goeth the faith of a devil.

3. Thirdly, The faith through which we are saved, in that sense of the word which will hereafter be explained, is not barely that which the apostles themselves had while Christ was yet lipon earth ; though they so believed on him as to leave all and follow him; although they had then power to work miracles, to heal all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease ; yea, they had then power and authority over all devils : and which is beyond all this, were sent by their Master to preach the kingdom of God.

4. What faith is it then through which we are saved? It may be answered, first, in general, it is a faith in Christ; Christ, and God through Christ, are the proper objects of it. Herein, therefore, it is sufficiently, absolutely, distinguished from the faith either of ancient or modern Heathens, And from the faith of a devil, it is fully distinguished by this—it is not barely a speculative, rational thing; a cold, lifeless assent; a train of ideas in the head; but also a disposition of the heart. For thus saith the scripture, With the heart, man believeth unto righteousness, And, If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe with thy heart, that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

5. And herein does it differ from that faith which the apostles themselves hai while our Lord was on carth, that it acknowledges the necessity and merit of his death, and the power of his resurrection. It acknowledges his death as the only sufficient means of redeeming man from death eternal; and his resurrection as the restoration of us all to life and immortality : inasmuch as he was delivered for our sins, and rose again for our justification. Christian faith is then, not only an assent to the whole gospel of Christ, but also a full reliance on the blood of Christ, a trust in the merits of his life, death, and resurrection ; a recumbency upon him as our atonement and our life ; as given for us, and living in us; and in consequence hereof, a closing with bim, and cleaving to him, as our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.

B 2

II, What

II. What salvation it is, which is through this faith, is the second thing to be considered.

1. And first, Whatsoever else it imply, it is a present salvation. It is something attainable, yea, actually attained on earth, by those who are partakers of this faith. For thus saith the apostle to the believers at Ephesus, and in them to the believers of all ages, not ye shall be, (though that also is true) but ye are -saved through faith.

2. Þe are saved (to comprise all in one word) from sin. This is the salvation which is through faith. This is that great salvation foretold by the angel, before God brought his first begotten into the world, I bou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their şins. And neither here, nor in other parts of holy writ, is there any limitation or restriation. All his people, or, as it is elsewhere expressed, all that believe in him, he will save from all their sins; from original and actual, past and present sin, of the flesh and of the spirit. Through faith that is in him, they are saved both from the guilt and from the power of it.

3. First from the guilt of all past sin. For whereas all the world is guilty before God; insomuch that should he be extreme to mark what is done amiss, there is none that could abide it : and whereas by the law is only the knowledge of sin, but no deliverance from it; so that by fulfilling the deeds of the law, no flesh can be justified: now the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ, is inanifested unto all that believe. Now they are justified frecly by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ. Him God bath set forth to be a propiliation through faith in his Hood; to declare his righteousness for (or by) the reinission of the sins that are past. Now hath Christ taken away the curse of the law, being made a curse for us. He hath hloited out the banil-writing that was against us, taking it out of the way, nailing it to his cross. I bere is therefore no condemnation now, to the which believe in Christ Jesus.

4. And being saved from guilt, they are saved from fear. Not indced from a filial fear of offending ; but from all servile fear, from that fear which hath torment, from fear of punishment, from fear of the wrath of God; whom they no longer regard as a severe master, but as an indulgent father. They have not received again the spirit

of of bondage ; but the spirit of adoption, whereby they ery, Abba, Father : the spirit itself also bearing witness with their spirits that they are the children of God. They are also saved from the fear, though not from the possibility, of falling away from the grace of God, and coming short of the great and precious promises : thus have they peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ. They rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And the love of God is shed abroad in their hearts, through the Holy Ghost, which is given unto them. And hereby they are persuaded (though perhaps not at all times, nor with the same fulness of persuasion) that neither death nor life, nor things present, nor things to come, nor heighth nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate them from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

5. Again, through this faith they are saved from the power of sin, as well as from the guilt of it. So the apostle declares, Ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins, and in him is no sin. Whosoever ahideth in him sinneth not (chap. iii. 5, &c.) Again, Little children, let no man deceive you. He that committeth sin is of the devil.-Whosoever believeth is born of God. And whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin, for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. Once more, We know that whatsoever is born of God, sinneth not : but he that is begotten of God, keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not,chap. v. 18.

6. He that is by faith born of God, sinneth not, 1. By any habitual sin : for all habitual sin, is sin reigning. But sin cannot reign in any that believeth. Nor, 2. By any wilful sin : for his will, while he abideth in the faith, is utterly set against all sin, and abhorreth it as deadly poison. Nor, 3. By any sinful desire : for he continually desireth the holy and perfect will of God; and any unholy desire, he, by the grace of God, stifleth in the birth. Nor, 4. Doth he sin by infirmities, whether in act, word, or thought. For his infirmia ties have no concurrence of his will; and without this they are not properly sins. Thus, He that is born of God doth not commit sin. And though he cannot say, He hath not sinned, yet now, he sinneth not.

7. This is the salvation which is through faith, even in the present world : a salvation from sin, and the consequences of sin, both often expressed in the word justifi

cation,

cation ; which taken in the largest sense, implies a deliverance from guilt and punishment, by the atonement of Christ actually applied to the soul of the sinner now believing on him, and a deliverance from the power of sin ihrough Christ formed in his heart. So that he who is thus justified or saved by faith, is indeed born again, He is born ugain of the Spirit unto a new life, which is hid with Christ in God. And as a new-born babe he gladly receives the sincere milk of the word, and grows thereby : going on iz the might of the Lord his God, froin faith to faith, from grace Ciograce, until at legth he comes unto a perfeEt man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.

Ill. The first usual objection to this is,

1. That to preach salvation or justification by faith only, is to preach against holiness and good works. To which a short answer might be given : It would be so, if we shake as some do, of a faith which was separate from these. But we speak of a faith which is not so, but necessarily producive of all good works and all holiness.

2. But it may be of use to consider it more at large; Especially since it is no new objection, but as old as St. Paul's time; for even then it was asked, Do we not make void the late through faith? We answer, first, All who preach not faith, do manifestly make void the law; either directly and grosly by limitations and comments, that eat out all the spirit of the text: or indirectly, by not pointing out the only means whereby it is possible to perform it. Whereas, secondly, We establish the law, both by shewing its full extent, anu spiritual meaning: And by calling all to that living way, whereby the righteousness of the law may be fulilled in them. These, while they trust in the blood of Christ alone, use all the ordinances which he hath appointed, do all the good works which he had before prepared that they should walk therein, and enjoy and manifest all holy and heavenly tempers, even the same mind that was in Christ Jesus.

3. But does not preaching this faith lead men into pride? We answer, Accidentally it may. Therefore ought every believer to be earnestly cautioned, (in the words of the great apostle) Because of unbelief, the first branches were broken off ; and thou standest by faith. Be not

[merged small][ocr errors]

high-minded, but fear. If God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest be spare not thee. Behold, therefore, the goodness and severity of God! On them which fell, severity; but towards thee, goodness : If thou continue in his goodness ; otherwise thou also shalt be cut off

. And while he continues therein, he will remember those words of St Paul, foreseeing and answering this very objection, (Rom. iii. 27.) Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law ? Of works? Nay; but by the law of faith. If a man were justified by his works, he would have whereof to glory. But there is no glorying for him that worketh not, but believeth on bim that justifieth the ungodly, (Roin. iv.) To the same effect are the words both preceding and following the text, (Eph. ii. 4, &c.) God, who is rich in mercy,--even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ (hy grace ye are saved)—that he might shew the exceeding riches of bis grace,

in his kindness towards us through Christ Jesus. For hy grace ye are saved through faith. And that not of yourselves. Of yourselves cometh neither your faith nor your salvation. It is the gift of God; the free, undeserved gift, the faith through which ye are saved, as well as the salvation, which he of his own good pleasure, his mere favour, annexes thereto. That ye believe, is one instance of his grace ; that believing ye are saved, another.Not of works, lest any man should boast. For all our works, all our righteousness, which were before our believing, merited nothing, of God but condemnation. So far were they from deserving faith ; which, therefore, whenever given, is not of works. Neither is salvation of the works we do when we believe. For it is then God that worketh in us. And therefore, that he giveth us a reward for what he himself worketh, only commendeth the riches of his mercy, but leaveth us nothing whereof to glory.

4. However, may not the speaking thus of the mercy of God, as saving or justifying freely by faith only, encourage men in sin ? Indeed it may and will many will continue in sin that grace may ahound. But their blood is upon their own head. The goodness of God ouglit to lead them to repentance; and so it will those who are sincere of heart. When they know there is yet forgiveness with him, they will cry aloud, that he would blot out their sins also, through faith which is

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »