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pernatural revelation for their guidance. For if it was not, their relinquishment of the promise was no less apostacy from God in the revelation of himself in a way of grace, than the first sin was, as to the revelation of himself in the works of nature. Only the one revelation was by inbred principles, the other by external declaration, nor could it otherwise be. Or,
(3.) That there was some other way of the participation of the benefits of this promise, besides faith in it, or in him who was promised therein; seeing the apostle hath declared that no promise will profit them,' by whom it is not mixed with faith ;' Heb. iv. 2. Unless these things are plainly proved, which they will never be, whatever men declaim about universal objective grace in the documents of nature, it is but a vain imagination.
5. The declaration of this promise before the giving of the law with the nature and ends of it, as also the use of sacrifices whereby it was confirmed, was committed unto the ordinary ministry of our first parents and their godly posterity, and the extraordinary ministry of the prophets which God raised up among them. For God spake of our redemption by Christ, by the ‘mouth of his holy prophets from the beginning of the world;' Luke i. 70. No greater duty could be incumbent on them by the light of nature and the express revelation of the will of God, than that they should in their several capacities, communicate the knowledge of this promise unto all in whom they were concerned. To suppose that our first parents who received this promise, and those unto whom they first declared it, looking on it as the only foundation of their acceptance with God, and deliverance from the curse, were negligent in the declaration and preaching of it, is to render them brutish, and guilty of a second apostacy from God. And unto this principle which is founded in the light of nature, there is countenance given by revelation also. For Enoch did prophesy of the things which were to accompany the accomplishment of this promise ; Jude 15. and Noah was a preacher of the righteousness to be brought in by it; 2 Pet. ii. 5. as he was an heir of the righteousness which is by faith, in himself ; Heb. xi. 7.
6. All the promises that God gave afterward unto the
church under the Old Testament, before and after giving the law, all the covenants that he entered into with particular persons, or the whole congregation of believers, were all of them declarations and confirmations of this first promise, or the way of salvation by the mediation of his Son, becoming the seed of the woman to break the head of the serpent, and to work out the deliverance of mankind. As most of these promises were expressly concerning him, so all of them in the counsel of God were confirmed in him; 2 Cor. i. 20. And as there are depths in the Scripture of the Old Testament concerning him which we cannot fathom ; and things innumerable spoken of him or in his person which we conceive not; so the principal design of the whole is the declaration of him and his grace. And it is unprofitable unto them who are otherwise minded. Sundry promises concerning temporal things were on various occasions superadded unto this great spiritual promise of life and grace. And the enemies of the person and mediation of Christ, do contend that men are justified by their faith and obedience with respect unto those particular revelations, which were only concerning temporal things. But to suppose that all those revelations and promises were not built upon, and resolved into, did not include in them the grace and mercy of this first promise, is to make them curses instead of blessings, and deprivations of that grace which was infinitely better than what on this supposition was contained in them. The truth is, they were all additions unto it, and confirmations of it, nor had any thing of spiritual good in them, but upon a supposition of it. In some of them there was an ampliation of grace in the more full declaration of the nature of this
promise, as well as an application unto their persons unto whom they were made. Such was the promise made unto Abraham, which had a direct respect unto Christ as the apostle proveth, Gal. iii, 4.
7. Those who voluntarily through the contempt of God and divine grace fell off from the knowledge and faith of this promise, whether at once and by choice, or gradually through the love of sin, were in no better condition than those have been, or would be, who have so fallen off, or should so apostatize from Christian religion after its revelation and profession. And although this proved in process of time, both before and after the flood, to be the condition of the generality of mankind, yet is it in vain to seek after the means of salvation among them, who had voluntarily rejected the only way which God had revealed and provided for that end. God thereon suffered all nations to walk in their own ways ;' Acts xiv. 16. winking at the times of their ignorance, not calling them to repentance ; chap. xvii. 30. yea, he gave them up unto their own hearts' lusts, and they walked in their own counsels ;' Psal. lxxxi. 12. And nothing can be more derogatory unto the wisdom and holiness of God, than to imagine that he would grant other ways of salvation unto them, who had rejected that only one which he had provided, which was by faith in Christ, as revealed in that first promise.
8. From these considerations, which are all of them unquestionable principles of truth, two things are evident.
(1.) That there was no way of the justification and salvation of sinners, revealed and proposed from the foundation of the world, but only by Jesus Christ, as declared in the first promise.
(2.) That there was no way for the participation of the benefits of that promise, or of his work of mediation, but by faith in him as so promised. There was therefore faith in him required from the foundation of the world ; that is, from the entrance of sin. And how this faith respected his person hath been before declared. Now faith in him as promised for the works and ends of his mediation, and faith in him as actually exhibited, and as having accomplished his work, are essentially the same, and differ only with respect unto the economy of times which God disposed at his pleasure. Hence the efficacy of his mediation was the same unto them who then so believed, as it is now unto us after his actual exhibition in the flesh.
But yet it is acknowledged, that as unto the clearness and fulness of the revelation of the mystery of the wisdom and grace of God in him, as unto the constitution of his person in his incarnation, and therein the determination of the individual person promised from the beginning, through the actual accomplishment of the work which he was promised for. Faith in him as the foundation of that divine honour which it is our duty to give unto him, is far more evidently and
manifestly revealed and required in the gospel, or under the New Testament, than it was under the Old. See Eph. iii. 8–11. The respect of faith now unto Christ, is that which renders it truly evangelical. To belive in him, to believe on his name, is that signal especial duty which is now required
Wherefore the ground of the actual assignation of divine honour unto the person of Christ in both branches of it, adoration and invocation, is faith in him. So he said unto the blind man whose eyes he opened, ‘Believest thou on the Son of God?' John ix. 35. And he said, 'Lord, I believe, and he worshipped him ;' ver. 38. All divine worship or adoration, is a consequent effect and fruit of faith. So also is invocation; for •How shall they call on him in whom they have not believed ?' Rom. x. 14. Him, in whom we believe, we ought to adore and invocate. For these are the principal ways whereby divine faith doth act itself. And so to adore or invocate any, in whom we ought not to believe is idolatry.
This faith therefore on the person of Christ is our duty. Yea, such a duty it is, as that our eternal condition doth more peculiarly depend on the performance or nonperformance of it, than on any other duty whatever. For constantly under those terms is it prescribed unto us. • He that be. lieveth on the Son hath everlasting life ; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him ;' John iii. 36. Wherefore the nature and exercise of this faith must be inquired into.
[1.] There is a faith which is exercised towards those by whom the mind and will of God is revealed. So it is said of the Israelites,' they believed the Lord and Moses,' Exod. xiv. 33. that is, that he was sent of God, was no deceiver, that it was the word and will of God which he revealed unto them. So 2 Chron. xx. 20. Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.' It was not the persons of the prophets, but their message that was the object of the faith required. It was to believe what they said, as from God, not to believe in them as if they were God. So is it explained by the apostle, Acts xxvi. 27. 'King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets ? I know that thou believest.' He believed that they were sent of God, and that the word they spake was from him ; otherwise, there was no believing of them who were dead so many ages before.
And this is all the faith in Christ himself which some will allow. To believe in Christ, they say, is only to believe the doctrine of the gospel revealed by him. Hence they deny that any could believe in him, before his coming into the world, and the declaration of the mind of God in the gospel made by him. An assent unto the truth of the gospel as revealed by Christ, is with them the whole of that faith in Christ Jesus which is required of us.
Of all that poison which at this day is diffused in the minds of men corrupting them from the mystery of the gospel, there is no part that is more pernicious than this one perverse imagination, that to believe in Christ is nothing at all but to believe the doctrine of the gospel, which yet we grant is included therein. For as it allows the consideration of no office in him, but that of a prophet, and that not as vested and exercised in his divine person, so it utterly overthrows the whole foundation of the relation of the church unto him, and salvation by him.
That which suits my present design, is to evince that it is the person of Christ which is the first and principal object of that faith wherewith we are required to believe in him; and that so to do, is not only to assent unto the truth of the doctrine revealed by him, but also to place our trust and confidence in him, for mercy, relief, and protection; for righteousness, life, and salvation; for a blessed resurrection and eternal reward. This I shall first manifest from some few of those multiplied testimonies, wherein this truth is declared, and whereby it is confirmed, as also with some arguments taken from them, and then proceed to declare the ground, nature, and exercise of this faith itself.
1st. As unto the testimonies confirming this truth, it must be observed of them all in general, that wherever faith is required towards our Lord Jesus Christ, it is still called believing 'in him,' or 'on his name,' according as faith in God absolutely is every where expressed. If no more be intended but only the belief of the doctrine revealed by him; then whose doctrine soever we are obliged to believe, we may be rightly said to believe in them, or to believe on their