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John i. 12.
power ta become the fons of God, even to them that believe on
AITH in Jesus Christ being the main thing
of God, we come now to speak of it particularly, from these words. In which we have, (1.) The nature, (2.) The fruit of faith, viz, the privilege and dignity of adoption into God's family. Passing the latter, [See vol. ii. p. 239.-281.]
We may take notice of the former, viz. the na. ture of faith, As many as received, &c. Wherein consider,
1. What it is in the general : It is a faving grace, for by it one becomes a child of God, and to an heir of heaven.
2. What it is in particular. (1.) The object of it is Chrift, he, his name, his person, with his bene. fits. The acts of it, saving the singer, 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 gospel, [2.] Resting on him ; for it is not a mere believing him, by an hi. storical aflent to his word, but a believing on his name, which imports a fiducial recumbency or relying on him, as one who bélieves another is faid to rest on his word. (3.) The subjects 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 fiesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. These ' receive Christ for salvation; for he offers himself as a Saviour, and the fruit of it in the text is laving,
The doctrine founded on the text is,
Doct. 6 Faith in Jesus Christ is a faving grace, " whereby we receive, and rest upon him alone for • salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel.” Here we will consider,
1. How faith in Christ is a faving grace.
I. I shall fhew how faith in Christ is a saving grace. There are four forts of faith spoken of in fcripture. (1.) Historical faith, which is a bare assent to the truths of God, Jam. ii. 19. Thou believest that there is one God; thou dost well. The devils also believe and tremble. (2.) A temporary faith, which is such an afsent joined with some affection to the truths of God, though unsanctified, like that of the stony.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 some 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 these may be in reprobates, and none of them are saving. (4.) Saving faith, already described from the text.
It is called saving faith, because all that have it shall certainly be saved for ever, from sin and God's wrath; yea, as soon as one has it, salvation is his, it is in his possession as to the beginnings of it, Acts xvi. 31. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou Jhalt be saved,
İt faves us, not as an act or work, fulfilling the condition of a new law; for so it is excluded with all other works from the causing of our salvation, Rom. iii. 27. 28. Where is boasting then? it is excluded. By what law ? of works? Nay, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude, that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. But it saves us as an instrument apprehending Christ and his falvation, Rom. iii. 22. Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all, and upon all them that believe ; for there is no difference. It is as the looking to the brazen serpent, which saved the stung Israelites; or as the hyssop dipt in blood and sprinkling the leper, that cleansed him. II. I come to thew 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, says Christ, except the Father which hath sent me, draw him, John vi. 44. It is not a flower of nature's garden ; otherwise one should make himself to difter from others.
2. It is a special gift of God. Hence says the apostle to the Philippians, chap. i. 29. Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ,--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. No less 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. 1 3.
The outward means which the Lord usually makes use 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 saving influences, Gal. iii. 2.
III. I proceed to consider the subject of faith. It is not all men, 2 Theff. iij. 2. For all men have not faith They are rare ones who get it, Luke xviii. 8. When the Son of man cometh, shall be find faith on the earth? But they are,
1. Elect finners; they only obtain it, Tit. i. 1. And they all do obtain it sooner or later, before they go off the world, Acts xiii. 48. As many as were ordained to eternal life believed. The subjects of it are those of the Old Testament as well as those under the New. Hence the apostle to the Hebrews, speaking of the former, says, chap. xi. 13. These all died in faith. The subjects of it also are elect infants dying in infancy, though they have not actual faith; who, though they know nothing of the matter, like the Israelitish infants, Deut. i. 29. have the feed or spirit of faith. This is the general character of the subject. But,
2. More particularly, elect convinced sinners are the subjects of it, John xvi. 8. 9. When he is come, he will reprove the world of Jin, and of righteousness, and of judgement : Of fin; because they believe not on me. The plough of the law goes through the heart, in some 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 Christ, that we might be justified by faith. So that an unconvinced, insensible finner, is an unbeliever. But,
3. Yet more particularly, elect, convinced, quickened sinners are the subject thereof, as appears from the test, and the following verse. Regeneration in the order of nature goes before believing; and faith is the first vital motion of the regenerated foul. There is first a pafive reception of Christ in.
to the foul, whereby Christ comes into the dead foul, and quickens it, and then actual believing or active receiving of Christ, is the first motion of the new creature. But most particularly,
4. Lastly, Not only the understanding, but the heart and will of such a one, is the subject of faith, where it has its seat; the understanding knowing and affenting, and the will embracing and consenting, Ir. liii. 11. By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many. Rom. x. 10. With the heart man believeth unto righteousness,
IV. I proceed to consider the object of faith.
1. The real object in general is the whole word of God, and therefore no falsehood can be under faith, Tit. i. 2. But the special real object of it is the promise of the gospel, Acts xvi. 31. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, &c. fortherein Ch rst the Saviour is held forth to a poor finner. Faith looks to the whole word; it is persuaded of a divine autho. rity in the commands, and an immoveable truth in the threatenings and promises. Every promise of the word it looks to, and comes wrong to none, while the believer lives in this world, and it lasts; it is a bee that roves through all thefe flowers in the garden of God's word. But as it is faving and justifying, it settles on the promise or offer of Christ in the gospel. And,
(1.) The testimony of the word, concerning Christ's ability to save, is a special object of faith in this case, Mark ix. 33. If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. Sin is a dead weight which the foul findeth itself unable utterly to hoist up; but the gospel holds out Christ to be able to remove it, Heb. vii. 25. He is able to save unto the uttermost. Faith afsents to this too, Pfal. lxv. 3. Iniquities prevail against me: as for our tranfgressions, thou shalt purge them away.
This aflent in both cases may be mixed with Vol. III.