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504 WE ARE JUSTIFIED
in him should not perish, but have everlasting life:" John iii, 16. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life:" vi, 47. "I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die:" xi, 25, 26.
Thus, it appears, that although the saving efficacy of a living faith by no means depends on the extent of the information imparted to the believer, and may even be experienced by persons who are acquainted only with natural religion, yet, with us to whom the Gospel is revealed, the faith which alone introduces to a participation in the favour of the Almighty—the faith which alone is justifying in the sight of God—is "faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ." It is a reliance of the soul, on the incarnate Son, who conducts the great scheme appointed for our salvation—who in every part of that scheme is prominently presented to our attention—who was himself " delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification." The "righteousness of God," is declared by the apostle Paul to be, " by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all and upon all them that believe" Rom. iii, 22. And, again, when he was rebuking his less faithful brother in the apostleship, he said, "We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, lhat we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law.:" Gal. ii, 15, 16; comp. Rom. x, 1—4.
Now, as Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, so it is only in the character of sinners that we are, in the nature of things, capable ofjustification;
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for "to be justified," in the language of Scripture, and particularly in that of the apostle Paul, usually signifies to be absolved—to be delivered by pardon from the penalty due to our past sins. "The free gift is of many offences unto justification:" Rom. v, 16. "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation, through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past" iii, 23—25. From these premises it follows, that, in the order of the grace of God, justification precedes sanctification, and that the faith in Jesus Christ, by which the ungodly are justified, has respect, in a very preeminent manner, to the atonement which he has made for the sins of the world. It is faith in a crucified Redeemer, or, to adopt the apostle's words, " faith in his blood;" and this doctrine corresponds with the declaration of our Lord himself—" As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, (on the cross,) that whosoever believeth in him, (that is, I conceive, whosoever places his reliance upon him as the atonement for sin) should not perish, but have eternal life:" John iii, 14, 15; comp. Rom. v, 1. 9. While, however, the justification of the sinner, through faith in a crucified Redeemer, precedes the work of sanctification, its close and inseparable connection with that work is evinced by the fact, that in the economy of God's spiritual government, this very faith is the constituted means, through which we obtain the gift of the Holy Spirit. In the preceding essay, I have endeavoured to prove from Scripture, that the channel through which the Spirit
506 THROUGH THIS FAITH
flows to man is Christ crucified; and I am now remarking, that it is through faith in Christ crucified, that we, on our parts, are enahled to receive the Spirit, and are brought under his regenerating and sanctifying influence. "Christ," says the apostle Paul, " hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us, that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles, through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith:" Gal. iii, 13, 14. "If any man thirst," cried Jesus himself, " let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water:" John vii, 37, 38; comp. ver. 39. Those only can truly be said to " eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood," whose whole reliance for salvation is placed upon him, as the sacrifice for sin; and these are they who receive the "Spirit that quickeneth"—who dwell in Christ and know Christ by his Spirit to dwell in them—who, through the Spirit, are made alive unto God in this world, and, therefore, live for ever in the world to come: John vi, 53—63.
Lastly, let it ever be remembered, that the faith in Christ, which is thus frequently declared to be the means of our salvation, and which procures for us the sanctifying effusions of the Holy Spirit, is not the mere conviction of our understanding that Jesus was the true Messiah, or that he made an atonement for the sins of the world. Such a conviction, although desirable and needful, is in itself a dead faith. The devils themselves could confess that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God; and we read, that " they also believe, and tremble:'" James ii, 19. Saving faith in
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Christ is a living and active principle, implanted by a divine hand in the soul, through which, as penitent sinners, we draw near to Jesus—accept him as our only Saviour—spiritually feed upon him as upon the bread of life—and cast ourselves, without reserve, on his merits and mercies. This is that faith which "worketh by love " and, while under the influence of that Christian grace, it fixes itself with humble confidence on Jesus as the great sacrifice for sin, it does not stop here, but embraces the Lord of glory in all his other gracious offices, as our Lawgiver, our Pattern, our Intercessor with the Father, our sympathizing High Priest, our omnipresent Helper, our Shepherd, and our King. Finally, the believer who has been enabled thus to accept the Gospel and its mighty Author, is led along by a gentle yet powerful hand, to walk by faith in the Son of God—to live as the devoted servant of the Lord Jesus Christ—to "follow the Lamb withersoever he goeth!"
Let us now briefly review the contents of the present dissertation.
The doctrine of Scripture, that belief or faith, considered as a principle of action, is indispensable to the religious life, and therefore to our eternal well-being, is in perfect analogy with the known course of God's government over the world; for faith has respect to those things which, though probable, are not absolutely known to us, and especially to the truth of testimony; and it is obvious, that in this point of view, all men are under the necessity of walking by faith.
The subjects of religious faith are various, but its only true and proper object is God.
In requiring of us faith in himself, God deals with us as with reasonable creatures, for he has imparted
to us, by the light of nature, ample evidences of his existence, his goodness, and his moral government.
To place a full reliance of the soul on that Being whom our reason has thus discovered, is a duty which the plainest principles of the same reason prove to be required of us, and which in the Bible is insisted on, as fundamental and essential.
Although this trust in God may be exercised by persons who possess no other information on divine subjects, than that which they derive from natural religion, yet the declarations of Scripture respecting faith, have been, in all ages, addressed to that part of mankind, who have enjoyed the light of an outward revelation. With such as these, a belief in revelation (i. e. in the word of the Lord) is an essential part, or necessary consequence, of an acceptable trust in God. Hence, the blessings promised by the Gospel of Christ, are offered only to believers in that Gospel. And here, also, God deals with us as with reasonable creatures; for he does not require of us faith in revelation, without, at the same time, bestowing upon us the signs of miracles and prophecy, together with internal moral evidences, in order to convince us that he is himself its Author.
Faith, when by no means extensive as to its subjects, may, nevertheless, be powerful in operation, as is evinced by the history of numerous patriarchs and prophets who lived before the Christian era.
Under the light of the Gospel dispensation, however, the faith of the consistent and well-instructed believer, apprehends the whole scheme of evangelical truth. It is directed to the Father, to the Son, and to the Spirit, as to its equal and inseparable objects: and since God was in Christ, reconciling the world to