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that what he had promised, he is able to perform." And a sense of his readiness to save, Matt. xv. 22, &c. It is what may be well represented by fleeing for refuge, by the type of fleeing to the city of refuge. Heb. vi. 18. “ That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge, to lay hold upon the hope set before us." The heart must close with the new covenant by dependence upon it, and by love and desire. 2 Sam. xxiii. 5.“ Although my house be not so with God, yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, or. dered in all things, and sure. This is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow."
§ 10. Upon the whole, the best and clearest, and most perfect definition of justifying faith, and most according to the scripture, that I can think of, is this, faith is the soul's entirely embracing the relation of Jesus Christ as our Saviour. The word embrace is a metaphorical expression ; but I think it much clearer than any proper expression whatsoever : It is called believing ; because believing is the first act of the soul in embracing a narration or revelation ; and embracing, when conversant about à revelation or thing declared, is more properly called believing, than loving or choosing. If it were conversant about a person only, it would be more properly called loving. If it were only conversant about a gift, an inheritance or reward, it would more properly be called receiving or accepting, &c.
The definition might have been expressed in these words, faith is the soul's entirely adhering to, and acquiescing in the revelation of Jesus Christ as our Saviour.–Or thus, faith is the soul's embracing that truth of God, which reveals Jesus Christ as our Saviour.–Or thus, faith is the soul's entirely acquiescing in, and depending upon the truth of God, revealing Christ as our Saviour.
It is the whole soul assenting to the truth, and embracing of it. There is an entire yielding of the mind and heart to the revelation, and a closing with it, and adhering to it, with the be. lief, and with the inclination and affection. It is admitting and receiving it with entire credit and respect. The soul receives it as true, as worthy and excellent. It may be more perfectly described, than defined by a short definition, by reason of the penury of words : a great many words express it better than one or two. I here use the same metaphorical expressions ; but it is because they are much clearer than any proper expressions that I know of. It is the soul's entirely acquiescing in this revelation, from a sense of the sufficiency, dignity, glory and excellency of its Author. The whole soul's active agreeing, according and symphonizing with this truth ; all opposition in judgment and inclination, so far as he believes, being taken away. It is called believing, because fully believing this reve
lation, is the first and principal exercise and manifestation of this accordance and agreement of soul.
§ 11. Adhering to the truth and acquiescing in it with the judgment, is from a sense of the glory of the revealer, and the sufficiency and excellency of the performer of the facts. Ad. hering to it, and acquiescing in it with the inclination and affec. tion, is from the goodness and excellency of the thing revealed, and of the performer. If a person be pursued by an enemy, and commit himself to a king or a captain, to defend him, it implies his quitting other endeavours, applying to him for defence, putting himself under him, and hoping that he will defend him. If we consider it as a mere act of the mind, a transaction between spiritual beings, considered as abstracted from any external action, then it is the mind's quitting all other endeavours, and seeking and applying itself to the Saviour for salvation, fully choosing salvation by him, and delivering itself to him, or a being willing to be his, with a hope that he will save him. Therefore, for a person to commit himself to Christ as a Saviour, is quitting all other endeavours and hopes, and heartily applying himself to Christ for salvation, fully choosing salvation by him, and acquiescing in his way of salvation, and a hearty consent of the soul to be his entirely, hoping in his sufficiency and willingness to save.
From the excellency and sufficiency of the revealer and performer, we believe what is said is true, fully believe it; and from the glorious excellency of the Saviour and his salvation, all our inclination closes with the revelation. To depend upon the word of another person, imports two things: first, To be sensible how greatly it concerns us, and how much our interest and happiness really depend upon the truth of it; and secondly, To dare to act upon it, as if it were really true. that I think these words are the only true definition of faith. I have used words that most naturally express it, of any I could
I think of. There might have been other words used, much of the same sense.
$ 12. Though hope does not enter into the essential nature of faith, yet it is the natural and necessary, and next immediate fruit of true faith. In the first act of faith, the soul is enlightened with a sense of the merciful nature of God and of Christ, and believes the declarations that are made in God's word of it; and it humbly and heartily applies and seeks to Christ ; and it sees such a congruity between the declared inercy of God, and the disposition he then feels towards him, that he cannot but hope, that the declared mercy will be exercised towards him, Yea, he sees that it would be incongruous for God to give him such inclination and motions of heart towards Christ as a Sa. viour, if he were not to be saved by him.
I do not say,
§ 13. Any thing that may be called a receiving the revela. tion of the gospel is not faith, but such a sort of receiving it, as is suitable to the nature of the gospel, and the respect it has to us. The act of reception suitable to truth, is believing it. The suitable reception of that which is excellent, is choosing it and loving it. The proper act of reception of a revelation of deliverance from evil, and the conferring of happiness, is acquiescing in it and depending upon it. The proper reception of a Saviour, is committing ourselves to him and trusting in him. The proper act of reception of the favour of God, is, believing and esteeming it, and rejoicing in it. He that suitably receives forgiveness of his fault, does with an hum. ble sense of his fault rejoice in the pardon. Thus, for instance, he that reads a truth that no way concerns his interest, if he believes it, it is proper to say he receives it. But if there be a declaration of some glorious and excellent truth that nearly concerns him, he that only believes it cannot be said to receive it. And if a captain offers to deliver a distressed people, they that only believe what he says, without committing themselves to him, and putting themselves under him, cannot be said to receive him. So, if a prince offers one his favour, he that does not esteem his favour, cannot be said heartily to accept thereof. Again, if one offended offers pardon to another, he cannot be said to receive it, if he be not sensible of his fault, and does not care for the displeasure of the offended. The whole act of reception suitable to the nature of the gospel, and its relation to us, and our circumstances with respect to it, is best expressed, (if it be expressed in one word,) by the word Fisis or fides.
§ 14. The word Ti5is, faith, seems to be the most proper term to express the cordial reception of Christ and of the truth, for these reasons.
First, this revelation is of things spiritual, un. seen, strange and wonderful, exceedingly remote from all the objects of sense, and those things which we commonly converse with in this world, and also exceedingly alien from our fallen nature : so that it is the first and principal manifestation of the symphony between the soul and these divine things, that it believes them, and acquiesces in them as true. And, secondly, the Lord Jesus Christ, in the gospel, appears principally under the character of a Saviour, and not so much of a person absolutely excellent: and therefore, the proper act of reception of him, consists principally in the exercise of a sense of our need of him, and of his sufficiency, his ability, his mercy and love, his faithfulness, the sufficiency of his method of salvation, the sufficiency and completeness of the salvation itself, of the deliverance and of the happiness, and an answerable application of the soul to him for salvation; which can be expressed so well by no other word but faith, or affiance, or confidence, or
trust, and others of the same signification; of which, misis or faith, is much the best, and the most significant; because the rest, in their common significations imply something that is not of the absolute essence of faith. Thirdly, we have these things exhibited to us, to be received by us, only by a divine testimony. We have nothing else to hold them forth to us.
§ 15. Faith prepares the way for the removal of guilt of conscience. Guilt of conscience, is the sense of the connexion between the sin of the subject and punishment; Ist. by God's law; and 2d. by God's nature and the propriety of the thing. The mind is under the weight of guilt, as long as it has a sense of its being bound to punishment, according to the reason and nature of things, and the requirements of the divine government. Faith prepares the way for the removal of this. Therefore there must be in faith, 1. a belief that the law is answered and satisfied by Jesus Christ ; and 2. such a sense of the way
of salvation by Christ, that it shall appear proper, and be dutiful, and according to the reason of things, that sin should not be punished in us, but that we nevertheless should be accepted through Christ. When the mind sees a way in which this can be done, and there is nothing in the law, nor in the divine nature, nor nature of things, to hinder it ; that of itself lightens the burden and creates hope. It causes the mind to see that it is not for ever bound by the reason of things to suffer; though the mind does not know that it has performed the condition of pardon. This is to have a sense of the sufficiency of this way of salvation. When a man commits sin and is sensible of it, his soul has a natural sense of the propriety of punishment in such a case, a sense that punishment, according to the reason of things, belongs to him; for the same reasons as all nations have a sense of the propriety of punishing men for crimes. That easiness of mind which persons often have, before they have comfort from a sense of their being converted, arises from a sense they have of God's sovereignty. They see nothing either in the nature of God or of things, that will necessarily bind them to punishment; but that God may damn them, if he pleases; and may save them, if he pleases. When persons are brought to that, then they are fit to be comforted; then their comfort is like to have a true and immoveable foundation, when their dependence is no way upon themselves, but wholly upon God. In order to such a sense of the sufficiency of this way of salvation it must be seen, that God has no disposition, and no need, to punish us.
§ 16. Hence we learn, that our experience of the sufficiency of the gospel, to give peace of conscience, is a rational inward witness to the truth of the gospel. When the mind sees such a fitness in this way of salvation, that it takes off the burthenarising from the sense of its being necessarily bound to punishment, through proper desert, and from the demands of reason
and nature--it is a strong argument, that it is not a thing of mere human imagination. When we experience its fitness to answer its end, this is the third of the three that bear witness on earth. The Spirit bears witness, by discovering the divine glory, and those stamps of divinity that are in the gospel. The water bears witness ; that is, the experience of the power of the gospel to purify and sanctify the heart, witnesses the truth of it: and the blood bears witness by delivering the conscience from guilt. Any other sort of faith than this sense of the sufficiency of Christ's salvation, does not give such immediate glory and honour to Christ, and does not so necessarily and immediately infer the necessity of Christ's being known. Nothing besides makes all Christianity so to hang upon actual respect to Christ, and centre in him. Surely the more the sinner has an inward, an immediate, and sole dependence upon Christ, the more Christ has the glory of his salvation from him. In order to this sort of sense of the congruity of our sins being forgiven, and of punishments being removed, by the satisfaction of Christ, there must of necessity be a sense of our guiltiness. For it is impossible that any congruity should be seen, without comparison of the satisfaction with the guilt. And they cannot be compared, except there be a sense of them both. There must not only be such a sense of God's being angry, and his anger being very dreadful, without any sense of the reasonableness of that anger ; but there must be a proper sense of the desert of wrath, such as there is in repentance. Sinners, under conviction of their guilt, are generally afraid that God is so angry with them, that he never will give them faith in Christ. They think the majesty and jealousy of God will
. not allow of it. Therefore, there goes with a sense of the sufficiency of Christ, a sense of God's sovereignty with respect to mercy and judgment, that he will and may have mercy in Christ, on whom he will have mercy, and leave to hardness whom he will. This eases of that burden.
§ 17. For a man to trust in his own righteousness, is to conceive hopes of some favour of God, or some freedom from bis displeasure, from a false notion of his own goodness or excellency, and the proportion it bears to that favour; and of his own badness, and the relation it bears to his displeasure. It is to conceive hopes of some favour of God, from a false notion of the relation which our own goodness or excellency bears to that favour ; whether this mistaken relation be supposed to imply an obligation in natural justice, or propriety and decency, or an obligation in point of wisdom and honour. This excellency we speak of, is either real or supposed; either negative, in not being so bad as others and the like, or positive. Whether it be natural or moral excellency, is imma. terial: also, whether the sinner himself looks upon it as an ex