Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

“ The Hebrew words, which, in the Old Testament, “ imply trust and dependance, are represented often “ by miseuw in the New Testament, as well as those 6 which signify belief or assent. And therefore David, “ in the Psalms, where he expresses the inward actings “ of his soul towards God, is ever using the words trust « and hope; and the translators of the New Testament « should have much oftener used them to express the “ true meaning of the words misis and mifeuw in the “ sacred writers. As John, xiv. 1, “Ye trust in God, trust also in me.' Acts, xvi. 31, Trust in the Lord 6 Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.' Mark, vi. 22,

. Have trust in God.' Acts, xx. 21, · Repentance 6 towards God, and trust in our Lord Jesus Christ;' " and many other places. This is the constant senti" ment of our Protestant divines in their opposition to 6 the Papists, that fides est fiducia.” (i)

Fully accordant with this is the language of the principal divines who adorned the purest ages of British theology, as the authors of the Homilies, of the Westminster Confession, &c. The latter, for example, say, “ By this faith, a Christian believeth to be true, what66 soever is revealed in the word, for the authority of “ God himself speaking therein, and acteth differently “6 upon that which each particular passage thereof con“ taineth; yielding obedience to the commands, trem“bling at the threatenings, and embracing the pro“ mises of God for this life and that which is to come. “ But the principal acts of saving faith are accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone, for justifi

(i) Watts's Harmony of all Religions, ch. viii.

“ cation, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the “ covenant of grace.”

In the same spirit, Manton treats the subject, in his Commentary. “ Thou believest, that is, assentest to “ this truth; the lowest act of faith is invested with " the name of believing. Bare assent to the articles “ of religion doth not infer true faith. True faith 6 uniteth to Christ, ’tis conversant about his person ; “ ?tis not only assensus axiomati, an assent to a “ gospel maxim, or proposition ; you are not justified 6 by that, but by being one with Christ. 'Twas the “ mistake of the former age to make the promise rather “ than the person of Christ, to be the formal object of “ faith; the promise is the warrant, Christ the object : “ therefore the work of faith is terminated on him in “ the expressions of Scripture. We read of coming to “ him, receiving him, &c. We cannot close with 6 Christ without a promise ; and we must not close “ with a promise without Christ. In short, there is “ not only an assent in faith, but consent; not only an assent to the truth of the word, but a consent to " take Christ. Well, then, do not mistake a naked

illumination or some general acknowledgment of the “ articles of religion for faith ; a man may be right in “ opinion and judgment, but of vile affections; and “ a carnal Christian is in as great danger as a pagan, “ or idolator, or heretic; for though his judgment be “ sound, yet his manners are heterodox and heretical. “ True believing is not an act of the understanding, but a work of all the heart..

Lastly, with respect to true faith, it may be remarked that, though good works are distinct from it, so distinct indeed that they are frequently opposed : though they do not give value to it, but it renders them acceptable; yet they always accompany it as its peculiar fruit and genuine effect: proceeding as naturally from it as water flows from a fountain, or light emanates from the sun. (k) They are also the touchstone of faith, its evidence and measure. Faith itself is unseen, being seated in the heart; but holiness and good works, where life is continued, bring it forth to public view, and make it tend to public benefit. Where there is much faith, much will be produced; where there is but little faith, there will be proportionally little holiness; and where there is no faith, no “ fruit” is to be expected. Hence, hypocrites and men of spurious faith' are described as “ clouds without water, carried aside by « winds: trees whose fruit withereth, barren, twice “ dead, plucked up by the roots.” (1)

III. Let us now proceed to inquire what is the evangelical interpretation of Justification by faith? How, according to the scheme developed in the Christtian dispensation, is a man to obtain the blessing of justification, when he seeks it at first, or when, through his frailty or unfaithfulness, he needs a renewal of it ? The correct answer, I apprehend, is, that he is to seek

(k) “ The fruits of faith (says Bishop Hall) are good works ; whether 6 inward, within the roof of the heart, as love, awe, sorrow, piety, zeal, “ joy, and the rest ; or outward towards God, or our brethren ; obedi. cence and service to the one ; to the other, relief and beneficence; these " he bears in his time ; sometimes all, but always some.” See also Baxter's Paraphrase on Luke, xxiii. 43.

(1) Jude 12.

it with sole recourse to God in Christ through the medium of faith, and to look entirely off himself to the fountain of grace for mercy. This is not the meritorious but the appointed condition, by reason of which, through the riches of Divine mercy, “a mutual trans66 fer is made of the sins of men to Christ, and of 6 Christ's righteousness to men.” (m) But man needs a righteousness imparted as well as a righteousness imputed ; he therefore goes to God that he may possess à “ meetness” as well as a title for heaven; he goes that he may be “ quickened,” and when so quickened he will be another man in God's reckoning (who cannot be supposed not duly to estimate his creatures according to what he has made them to be), and generally, though not always, in his own conscious feeling. God, as. I have seen it somewhere admirably expressed,

will admit him into spiritual life wholly for Christ's sake ;--but he will esteem him spiritually alive only « in consequence of his own gift of living faith. And

he makes this living faith the exclusive test, because . this alone is the vitalizing tie; every thing else lives - by this,--but this lives through God alone.'

The inspired writers of the New Testament consider man as he really is, that is, both as guilty and depraved; . and they make us acquainted with the remedies God has graciously provided both for our guilt and our depravity. They assure us that on the exercise of a . lively faith we are justified from former sins, and brought into a state of acceptance with God, by virtue

(m) This is the language of Dr. Tomline. In reference to which, however, the distinction in note (d) p. 68, must be cautiously applied.

of the atonement : “ the blood of Christ cleanseth from “ all sin ;” and to meet our wants in the second case, or, as theological writers frequently designate it, to “preserve us in a state of justification,' we are promised the aids of the Spirit to renew the heart, and effectually lead us on to the performance of duty; this also being promised as a consequence of true faith. “ Being justified by faith we have peace with God; “ because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts “ by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us.” (n)

Now, he must have eagle-eyes that, in all this, can detect any thing like a tendency to licentiousness. For, while faith is inculcated as a medium of justification, good works are equally enforced as the necessary concomitants, and only genuine evidence (to men) of true faith. Besides, it must not be forgotten, that though by justification we are freed from punishment, and brought into a state of acceptance, yet, as the justification described by Paul is a state without degrees, it does not, nor ever was intended to, furnish the measure of the degrees of future happiness. Though we are brought into a state of justification independently of good works; yet the degrees of future happiness will be graciously apportioned to our works of faith and “ labours of love," performed subsequently to 6 the “ renewal of our minds” by Divine influences: while even in the present life, the more faith a man hath, the more true enjoyment of surrounding blessings, the more patience to sustain evils, the more certain and numerous his victories over spiritual enemies, the more

(n) Rom. v. 1, 5.

« EdellinenJatka »