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faithfulness, and are only to be answered by God's faithfulness: and we must take this as an universal answer to thema all. All the pleas that the carnal unbelieving heart of a Christian can frame for the fencing himself in unbelief, are all to be broken upon the rock of God's unchangeable faithfulness. I will name some of their objections.
1. I do not know, if the promise be to me; if I were sure that the promise were to me, I would believe it better than I do. I answer, is the law to thee? is the command to thee? Does the law of God threaten thee in the first Adam ? and is not the gospel to thee also in the second Adam ? Is not the promise thine, if it be believed ? What is the meaning of the preaching of the gospel ? but only this, Preach the gospel to every creature, and tell them, He that believes, shall be saved. Whoever, they be that will venture their salvation upon the man slain at Jerusalem, and expect God's favour, and eternal life for his sake tendered to them, believe it that will, if they take it, it is theirs.
2. A second objection is, I am a vile, filthy, guilty crea. ture, how dare I believe ? Satan and unbelief will multiply things here, and make a hideous appearance to a poor creature; as indeed, if the devil get leave to draw a person's own picture, and to set it before his eyes, or to write the history of his life, this will be a very dreadful thing ; some have seen it, and felt the terror of it. But what is this to the faithfulness of God? Is God unfaithful in his promise, because I am a great sinner? No such thing; nay, Let God be true, and every man a lior. Is this' an argument, Because I am very sick, therefore Jesus Christ the Physician will take no care of me : I dare not employ him, because I am very sick ? Assure yourselves of this, Wherever sin is a man's disease, there Jesus Christ has been already the Physician, and will certainly cure it. I do not say, where sin is a man's delight, wherever sin is a man's truce; but wherever sin is a poor creature's sickness, and when they are groaning towards Christ, the Physician, our Lord Jesus, hath begun to cure them, and will perfect it infallibly.
3. Another objection that unbelieving believers make, is, I am a backsliding creature, I have been mighty unfaithful to
God. What then? It may be God will deal with you, as he
He is faithful that promised. The apostle tells us in Rom. x. 17. that faith cometh by heará ing, and hearing by the word of God. Faith both comes by hears ing, and grows by hearing. There is to part of divine truth that is more profitable for the growing in faith, than the doctrine of faith; it is therefore a great pity, and a great miscarriage, that when people hear much of faith, they do not practise much. Every thing that is spoken of faith, is spoken of it, that ye should be always doing; that as the ear takes in the report of the doctrine of faith, the heart may be exercised in the acting of it. With respect unto this, I have several times spoke already, upon this latter part of this verse, which is the apostle's argument, by which he enforceth the exhortation he gave in the preceding part; and from this argument I have observed three things.
1. That the Christian's God is a promising God. He is called here by the apostle, He that promises; and the apostle knew well God's names, and which it is that is fittest to be used on every occasion.
2. That this promising God is faithful in all his promises, which he hath promised from the beginning of the world to this day. There have been some in all ages, and a great many in some ages, that have trusted God upon, his pro . mises; but there hath not been one that could ever justly charge God with failing.
3. The third thing that I spoke to was, That the Christian's faith should answer God's faithfulness; that as our faith is fixed on God's promises, faith should some way be as firm as the promises. A Christian is called faithful, because he is a believer; God is called faithful, because he is a fulfiller; he keeps his word by doing it, believers are faithful in trusting it. Upon this note I shewed, (1.) Why the Christian's
faith should answer God's faithfulness. (2.) How it may and ought so to do. Some ways it cannot, some ways it must. 1. I concluded with a double reflection; one upon
the sinful miserable state of unbelievers. They have nothing to answer God's faithfulness; they must perish, because they have not faith; they dishonour God highly, because of their unbelief. The true state of the matter is this : Our first father and mother, Adam and Eve, if I may so speak, by their sin leapt over-board, they cast themselves under the wrath and curse of God. In this state all we their posterity are bom; the Lord, in great mercy through Christ Jesus, casts forth the rope of his promise ; now, what is an unbeliever, but like a poor drowning man? there is a rope cast out that may save him, the poor man has no hands to catch at it, therefore must perish; and to perish in the view of a promise, is a sad case; but to the believer, the Lord will stretch out his hand to help him.
2. I made a little reflection upon the unbelief of believers. Believers the mselves are wofully guilty sometimes in this matter, and their faith is far from answering the faithfulness of God. Compare his faithfulness with their faith, and you would think they do not relate to one another at all. Strong ground, strong foundation, but sorry building upon it! I named four of their common failings, which I shall have occasion to insist more upon on the other head. Sometimes they fear to believe, as if there were any sin in trusting God; when distrust is the greatest sin; they believe fearfully and weakly, as if the ground would not bear them: they believe and doubt, and recal their believing: they plead sometimes the cause of their unbelief in many of their ungodly objections
That which I would now do in the prosecuting this point, and with respect to all the three, shall be to give you, first, Some doctrinal inferences from this point; then, if the Lord will, we may come to make some practical exhortations unto duty therztreza
As a these inferences I shail speak to a few of them at this time.
First, Hence we see, what the strict and true nature of faith is. The doctrine is, That believers faith should answer God's faithfulness, We hence infer the strict and true nature of saving faith ; which is certainly this: It is a trusting of God's word for his own faithfulness in speaking it, a trusting God's promise for the faithfulness of the speaker; that is strictly the nature of faith. It is a pity, but a pity that you will have occasion to exercise as long as you live in the world, that faith is so mightily mistaken by so many people. People can talk of faith, can dispute of faith, and in the mean time they are in a cloud, in a maze about the thing itself, and know not what believing is.
1st, Believing is not doing, but trusting. It is opposed to doing and working, Rom. iv. 5. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. John vi. 26,—29. The just lives by faith, but the law is not of faith: the law requires doing, Gal. iii. 10, 11, 12. Faith is God's commandment, that is certain. The first precept in the decalogue is for faith, Thou shalt have no other gods but me; the positive part of it is, Thou shalt take me by faith to be the Lord thy God. Faith is never put forth as obedience; the strict nature of faith is trusting the speaker. The apostle speaks in Heb. vi. 18. of faith under a blessed similitude, as flying for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us. Now
consider what the state of the man that fled for refuge was. There was no other appointment of God left for him, but only the next city of refuge. The man that had shed innocent blood casually, for that was the case under the law, there was nothing else required in order to his safety, but running with speed to the next city of refuge. The man must not go to the temple, or altar, and pray, or offer sacrifice there for his life, he must not go home to his house, and mind his business and affairs; there was only one thing required of him, if he would be safe from the avenger of blood; to the city of refuge he must 'fly. A man must not go to save his life by doing some great act of valour for his country, against the enemies of it. Flying was the only shift, if I may so speak, that God fixed, and he must make