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Of Faith in Jefus Chrift,
JOHN i. 12.
But as many as received him, to them gave be power ta become the fons of God, even to them that believe on
AITH in Jefus Chrift being the main thing
required for one's efcaping the wrath and curfe of God, we come now to speak of it particularly, from these words. In which we have, (r.) The nature, (2.) The fruit of faith, viz, the privilege and dignity of adoption into God's family. Paffing the latter, [See vol. ii. p. 239.-281.]
We may take notice of the former, viz. the nature of faith, As many as received, &c. Wherein confider,
1. What it is in the general: It is a faving grace, for by it one becomes a child of God, and fo an heir of heaven.
2. What it is in particular. (1.) The object of it is Chrift, he, his name, his perfon, with his benefits. The acts of it, faving the finner, are,  Receiving him; this is explained to be believing. Now receiving implies an offer of him made to the receiver, which is done in the gofpel, [2.] Refting on him; for it is not a mere believing him, by an hiftorical affent to his word, but a believing on his name, which imports a fiducial recumbency or relying him, as one who believes another is faid to reft on his word. (3.) The fubjects of it are many; not all, but fome, namely, the elect of God, quickened by the Spirit of regeneration; compare ver. 13. Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. Thefe receive Chrift for falvation; for he offers himself as a Saviour, and the fruit of it in the text is faving, The doctrine founded on the text is,
DOCT."Faith in Jefus Chrift is a faving grace, "whereby we receive, and rest upon him alone for "falvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel." Here we will confider,
I. How faith in Chrift is a faving grace.
III. The fubject of faith.
IV. The object of it.
V. The faving and juftifying acts of it.
I. I fhall fhew how faith in Chrift is a faving grace. There are four forts of faith fpoken of in fcripture. (1.) Hiftorical faith, which is a bare affent to the truths of God, Jam. ii. 19. Thou believeft that there is one God; thou doft well. The devils alfo believe and tremble. (2.) A temporary faith, which is fuch an affent joined with fome affection to the truths of God, though unfanctified, like that of the flony-ground hearers, Luke viii. 13. Who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; but these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. (3) The faith of miracles, which is a belief of the Lord's working fome miraculous effect by us or in us, upon fome intimation of his word concerning it, I Cor. xiii. 2.- Though I have all faith, so that I could remove moutains. All of thefe may be in reprobates, and none of them are faving. (4) Saving faith, already described from the text.
It is called faving faith, because all that have it fhall certainly be faved for ever, from fin and God's wrath; yea, as foon as one has it, falvation is his, it is in his poffeffion as to the beginnings of it, Acts xvi. 31. Believe on the Lord Jefus Chrift, and thou fhalt be faved,
It faves us, not as an act or work, fulfilling the condition of a new law; for fo it is excluded with all other works from the caufing of our falvation, Rom. iii. 27. 28. Where is boafting then? it is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude, that a man is juftified by faith without the deeds of the law. But it fayes us as an inftrument apprehending Chrift and his falvation, Rom. iii. 22. Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jefus Chrift unto all, and upon all them that believe; for there is no difference. It is as the looking to the brazen ferpent, which faved the ftung Ifraelites; or as the hyffop dipt in blood and sprinkling the leper, that cleanfed him.
II. I come to fhew whence this faith proceeds. 1. It is not from our natural powers, the power of man's free-will. No man can come to me, fays Chrift, except the Father which hath fent me, draw him, John vi. 44. It is not a flower of nature's garden; otherwise one should make himself to differ from others.
2. It is a special gift of God. Hence fays the apoftle to the Philippians, chap. i. 29. Unto it is given in the behalf of Chrift,--to believe on him. It is wrought in the heart by his divine power, thro' the faith of the operation of God, Col. ii. 12. lefs power can produce it, Eph. i. 19. It is afcribed, as to the working of it, to the Father, John vi. 44. forecited. To the Son, Cant. i. 4. Draw But in a special manner to the Spirit, Gal. v. 22. The fruit of the Spirit is-faith; therefore he is called the Spirit of faith, 2 Cor. iv. 13.
The outward means which the Lord ufually` makes ufe of to beget faith in one's heart, is the word, the word of the gospel, preached, heard, or read, Rom. x. 17. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. This is the incorruptible
feed which the new creature is framed of, 1 Pet. i. 23. the vehicle of faving influences, Gal. iii. 2.
III. I proceed to confider the subject of faith. It is not all men, 2 Theff. iii. 2. For all men have not faith. They are rare ones who get it, Luke xviii. 8. When the Son of man cometh, fhall he find faith on the earth? But they are,
1. Elect finners; they only obtain it, Tit. i. 1. And they all do obtain it fooner or later, before they go off the world, Acts xiii. 48. As many as were ordained to eternal life believed. The fubjects of it are thofe of the Old Teftament as well as those under the New. Hence the apoftle to the Hebrews, fpeaking of the former, fays, chap. xi. 13. Thefe all died in faith. The fubjects of it alfo are elect infants dying in infancy, though they have not actual faith; who, though they know nothing of the matter, like the Ifraelitish infants, Deut. i. 29. have the feed or spirit of faith. This is the general character of the fubject. But,
2. More particularly, elect convinced finners are the fubjects of it, John xvi. 8. 9. When he is come, he will reprove the world of fin, and of righteousness, and of judgement: Of fin, because they believe not on The plough of the law goes through the heart, in fome measure, before this feed be cast into it, Gal. iii. 23. 24. Before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith, which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Chrift, that we might be justified by faith. So that an unconvinced, infenfible finner, is an unbeliever. But,
3. Yet more particularly, elect, convinced, quickened finners are the fubject thereof, as appears from the text, and the following verfe. Regeneration in the order of nature goes before believing, and faith is the firft vital motion of the regenerated foul. There is firft a paffive reception of Chrift in
to the foul, whereby Chrift comes into the dead foul, and quickens it, and then actual believing or active receiving of Chrift, is the first motion of the new créature. But moft particularly,
4. Lastly, Not only the understanding, but the heart and will of fuch a one, is the fubject of faith, where it has its feat; the understanding knowing and affenting, and the will embracing and confenting, If. liii. 11. By his knowledge shall my righteous fervant justify many. Rom. x. 10. With the heart man believeth unto righteousness.
IV. I proceed to confider the object of faith.
1. The real object in general is the whole word of God, and therefore no falfehood can be under faith, Tit. i. 2. But the fpecial real object of it is the promise of the gospel, Acts xvi. 31. Believe in the Lord Jefus Chrift, &c. fortherein Ch rft the Saviour is held forth to a poor finner. Faith looks to the whole word; it is perfuaded of a divine authority in the commands, and an immoveable truth in the threatenings and promifes. Every promife of the word it looks to, and comes wrong to none, while the believer lives in this world, and it tafts; it is a bee that roves through all these flowers in the garden of God's word. But as it is faving and juftifying, it fettles on the promise or offer of Christ in the gofpel. And,
(1.) The teftimony of the word, concerning Chrift's ability to fave, is a fpecial object of faith in this cafe, Mark ix. 33. If thou canst believe, all things are poffible to him that believeth. Sin is a dead weight which the foul findeth itself unable utterly to hoift up; but the gofpel holds out Chrift to be able to remove it, Heb. vii. 25. He is able to fave unto the uttermoft. Faith affents to this too, Pfal. lxv. 3. Iniquities prevail against me: as for our tranfgreffions, thou shalt purge them away.
This affent in both cafes may be mixed with