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This faith in the person of Christ is the spring and fountain of our spiritual life. We live by the faith of the Son of God. In and by the actings hereof is it preserved, increased, and strengthened. For he is our life ;' Col. ii. 4. and all supplies of it are derived from him by the actings of faith in him. We receive the forgiveness of sins, and an inheritance among them that are sanctified, by the faith that is in him;' Acts xxvi. 18. Hereby do we abide in him, without which we can do nothing; John xv. 5. Hereby is our peace with God maintained. For he is our peace;' Eph. ii. 14. And in him we have peace according to his promise, John xyi. 33. all strength for the mortification of sin, for the conquest of temptations, all our increase and growth in grace, depend on the constant actings of this faith in him.
The way and method of this faith is that which we have described. A due apprehension of the love of Christ, with the effects of it in his whole mediatory work on our behalf, especially in his giving himself for us, and our redemption, by his blood, is the great motive thereunto. They whose hearts are not deeply affected herewith, can never believe in him in a due manner. I live,' saith the apostle,' by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave
himself for me.' Unless a sense hereof be firmly implanted on our souls; unless we are deeply affected with it, our faith in him would be weak and wavering, or rather none at all. The due remembrance of what the blessed Lord Jesus hath done for us; of the ineffable love which was the spring, cause, and fountain of what he so did ; thoughts of the mercy, grace, peace, and glory which he hath procured thereby; are the great and unconquerable motives to fix our faith, hope, trust, and confidence in him.
His divine nature is the ground and warranty for our so doing. This is that from whence he is the due and proper object of all divine faith and worship. From the power and virtue thereof do we expect and receive all those things which in our believing on him we seek after ; for none but God can bestow them on us, or work them in us. There is in all the actings of our faith on him, the voice of the confession of Thomas, My Lord and my God.'
His divine person wherein he is God and man, wherein he hath that nature which is the formal object of divine worship, and wherein he wrought all those things which are the motives thereunto, is the object of this faith, which gives its difference and distinction from faith in God in general, and faith in the person of the Father, as the fountain of grace, love, and power.
(2dly.) Faith is acted on Christ under the formal notion of mediator between God and man. So it is expressed, 1 Pet. i. 21. ' Who by him do believe in God that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory, that your faith and hope might be in God. And this acting of faith towards Christ, is not contrary unto that before described, nor inconsistent with it, though it be distinct from it. To deny the person of Christ to fall under this double consideration, of a divine person absolutely, wherein he is 'over all, God blessed for ever,' and as manifested in the flesh, exercising the office of mediator between God and man, is to renounce the gospel. And, according unto the variety of these respects, so are the actings of faith various; some on him absolutely, on the motives of his mediation ; some on him as mediator only. And how necessary this variety is unto the life, supportment, and comfort of believers, they all know in some measure who are so. See our exposition on Heb. i. 1-3. Sometimes faith considers him as on the throne; sometimes as standing at the right hand of God; sometimes as the mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus. Sometimes his glorious power; sometimes his infinite condescension is their relief.
Wherefore, in the sense now intended, he is considered as the ordinance, as the servant of God 'who raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory.' So our faith respects not only his person, but all the acts of his office. It is faith in his blood;' Rom iii, 25. It is the will of God, that we should place our faith and trust in him and them, as the only means of our acceptance with him, of all grace and glory from him. This is the proper notion of a mediator. So is he not the ultimate object of our faith, wherein it rests, but God through him. "Through him have we an access by one Spirit unto the Father;' Eph. ii. 18. So he is the way whereby we go to God; John xiv. 6. See Heb. x. 19–21. And this also is faith in him, because he is the immediate, though not the ultimate object of it; Acts xxvi. 18.
This is that which renders our faith in God' evangelical. The especial nature of it ariseth from our respect unto God in Christ, and through him. And herein faith principally regards Christ in the discharge of his sacerdotal office. For although it is also the principle of all obedience unto him in his other offices, yet as unto fixing our faith in God through him, it is his sacerdotal office and the effects of it, that we rest upon and trust unto. It is through him as the high-priest over the house of God, as he who hath made for us a new and living way into the holy place, that we draw nigh to God; Heb. iv. 14–16. x. 19. 21, 22. 1 John i. 2.
No comfortable refreshing thoughts of God, no warrantable or acceptable boldness in an approach and access unto him, can any one entertain or receive, but in this exercise of faith on Christ as the mediator between God and man. And if in the practice of religion, this regard of faith unto him, this acting of faith on God through him, be not the principle whereby the whole is animated and guided, Christianity is renounced, and the vain cloud of natural religion embraced in the room of it. Not a verbal mention of him, but the real intention of heart to come unto God by him is required of us; and thereinto all expectation of acceptance with God, as unto our persons or duties is resolved.
We have had great endeavours of late by the Socinians to set forth and adorn a natural religion, as if it were sufficient unto all ends of our living unto God. But as most of its pretended ornaments are stolen from the gospel, or are framed in an emanation of light from it, such as nature of itself could not rise unto; so the whole proceeds from a dislike of the mediation of Christ, and even weariness of the profession of faith in him. So is it with the minds of men, who were never affected with supernatural revelations, with the mystery of the gospel, beyond the owning of some notions of truth, who never had experience of its power in the life of God.
But here lies the trial of faith truly -evangelical. Its steady beholding of the sun of righteousness proves it genuine and from above. And let them take heed who find their heart remiss or cold in this exercise of it. When men begin to satisfy themselves with general hopes of mercy in God without a continual respect unto the interposition and mediation of Christ, whereinto their hope and trust is resolved, there is a decay in their faith, and proportionably in all other evangelical graces also. Herein lies the mystery of Christian religion, which the world seems to be almost
Obedience unto Christ; the nature and causes of it.
All holy obedience both internal and external is that which we proposed as the second part of our religious regard unto the person of Christ. His great injunction unto his disciples is, “ That they keep his commandments,' without which, none are so.
Some say the Lord Christ is to be considered as a lawgiver, and the gospel as a new law given by him, whereby our obedience unto him is to be regulated. Some absolutely deny it, and will not grant the gospel in any sense to be a new law. And many dispute about these things, whilst obedience itself is on all hands generally neglected. But this is that wherein our principal concernment doth 'lie. I shall not therefore at present immix myself in any needless disputations. Those things wherein the nature and necessity of our obedience unto him is concerned, shall be briefly declared.
The law under the Old Testament taken generally had two parts. (1.) The moral preceptive part of it; and, (2.) The institutions of worship appointed for that season. These are jointly and distinctly called the law.
(1.) In respect unto the first of these, the Lord Christ gave no new law, nor was the old abrogated by him, which it must be if another were given in the room of it, unto the same ends. For the introduction of a new law in the place of, and unto the end of a former, is an actual abrogation of it. Neither did he add any new precepts unto it, nor give any counsels for the performance of duties in matter or manner beyond what it prescribed. Any such supposition is contrary to the wisdom and holiness of God in giving the law, and inconsistent with the nature of the law itself. For God never required less of us in the law than all that was due unto him. And his prescription of it, included all circumstances and causes that might render any duty at any time necessary in the nature or degrees of it. Whatever at any time may become the duty of any person towards God, in the substance or degrees of it, it is made so by the law. All is included in that summary of it, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbour as thyself.' Nothing can be the duty of men but what and when it is required by the love of God or our neighbour. Wherefore, no additions were made unto the preceptive part of the law by our Saviour, nor counsels given by him for the performance of more than it did require.
In this regard the gospel is no new law, only the duties of the moral and eternal law, are plainly declared in the doctrine of it, enforced in its motives, and directed as to their manner and end. Nor in this sense did the Lord Christ ever declare himself to be a new lawgiver; yea, he declares the contrary, that he came to confirm the old; Matt. v. 17.
(2.) The law may be considered, as containing the institutions of worship, which were given in Horeb by Moses, with other statutes and judgments. It was in this sense abolished by Christ. For the things themselves were appointed, but unto the time of reformation. And thereon as the supreme Lord and lawgiver of the gospel church, he gave a new law of worship, consisting in several institutions and ordinances of worship thereunto belonging. See Heb. iii. 3—6. and our exposition of that place. '. Obedience unto the Lord Christ may be considered with respect unto both these; the moral law which he confirmed, and the law of evangelical worship which he gave and appointed. And some few things may be added to clear the nature of it.
[1.] Obedience unto Christ doth not consist merely in doing the things which he requireth. So far the church under the Old Testament was obliged to yield obedience unto Moses ; and we are yet so unto the prophets and apostles. This is done, or may be so, with respect onto any subordinate directive cause of our obedience, when it is not