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of faith is twofold. One of its operations consists in the assent which it gives to the word of God and the promises of the gospel, as true in relation to the giving of salvation to all who repent, and by a living faith fly to Christ and embrace him. Another operation of saving faith is its taking refuge and trusting in Christ, acknowledging him as the only sufficient saviour. It is by this we fly to him, rest in him, and from him obtain pardon of our sins and salvation. Now that faith which is commanded in the gospel is commanded as to the first and second acts which are direct, before it is commanded as to the third act which is the reflex, and which necessarily supposes the two former; as the latter cannot exist unless as preceded by the former. Hence we are enabled clearly to detect the fallacy of the above objection. When the objection speaks of the faith commanded, it refers to that act by which the sinner lays hold of Christ; but when it speaks of the thing believed, then it refers to the last, by which we believe from the evidence of the direct act in our souls, that Christ died for us. Christ is not revealed in the gospel as having died for me in particular; but only in general, as having died for those who believe and repent. Hence I reason, from that faith and repentance which I find actually to exist in my heart, that Christ has, indeed, died for me in particular. I know that he died for all who fly to him; I find that I have fled to him; hence I can and should infer, that he died for me. That the faith commanded in the gospel is not a direct and immediate belief that Christ died for me, appears from this consideration: that when it is enjoined, either by Christ or his apostles, no mention is made of its being applied to this or that man, in particular. Mention is made only of a general relation to duty, or to blessings promised to those who believe; as in Matt. xvi.. 16. Peter, in that celebrated declaration of his faith, professes no more than this: “ that he believes Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of the living God.” John vi. 69. “We believe and are sure, that thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Paul demands* no more of those who believe
* Rom. X. 9.
unto salvation, than “to confess with the mouth the Lord Jesus, and to believe with the heart that God raised him from the dead.” Thus when the saints are commanded to believe in the Son of God, they are bound indeed to believe that Christ is the true Messiah, and to fly to him as the sole and only author of salvation, as one, who through faith and repentance, will receive them to himself; and these acts must take place before they are bound to believe that Christ died for them.
Hence it appears, that the command to believe in Christ, embraces many things before we come to the last consolatory act, by which we believe that he died for us. First, we are to believe what the scripture reveals to us, relative to our miserable condition, by nature, and the utter inability to ef. fectuate our own salvation. Whence arise despair of salvation through our own exertions, and a knowledge of the ne. cessity of a remedy. Secondly, those who thus despair of themselves, are commanded to believe, that Christ the only Son of God, is the alone all-sufficient Saviour, given by God to men--that in him alone, they can obtain perfect salvation and remission of sin, and that all who led by right views, fly to him and repent with genuine repentance, will obtain sal. vation. Thirdly, those who are thus contrite and penitent, and despairing in themselves, are commanded to betake themselves by flight to Christ, as the rock of salvation, to his merits as all-sufficient, to repose in him their confidence, and sweetly rest in it; and through it alone expect to obtain remission of sin, righteousness and salvation. Fourthly, and finally, those who perceive that they have repented, do repent, fly to Christ by faith, and repose in him all their hopes of salvation, are bound to believe that Christ died for them, and that on account of his death their sins are pardoped. From all which, it is abundantly plain, that faith in Christ, presupposes an afflicting sense of misery and a desire of deliverance--and that the command to believe, does not respect all immediately, but only all who feel their misery and desire deliverance from it-all who hunger and thirst-all who labour and are heavy laden and who are broken in spirit,
and contrite in heart.* Further, it appears, that this gospel command, does not immediately, and in the first instance, demand of us that act of faith, by which we believe that Christ died for us, but that by which we fly to Christ, embrace him, and rest on him, which is nothing else but the motion by which the penitent sinner, dejected under a sense of his misery, all confidence and hope of remedy in himself being renounced, and awakened by the call of the gospel, flies to Christ as the rock of salvation, and with his whole heart desires and seeks the grace offered in the gospel. That I may express it in one word, the faith which the gospel demands of those who hear it is, the flying of the sinner for refuge to God as the fountain of grace, and to Christ as the ark of safety which is opened in the gospel. If I am conscious to myself that I have done this, which is the formal act of faith, then I can and ought to exercise the act of faith, by which I believe, that for me, who repent, and fly to him, Christ hath died. This is sometimes called the consequent act of faith, because it is consequent upon, or follows the di. rect act of faith, by which I believe in Christ, and fly to him as the only and perfect Saviour. It is also called the consolatory act, because it pours into the soul of the believer unspeakable joy and consolation. Since, therefore, no one can have this special reflex act of faith, unless repentance, and the other acts are presupposed as going before it; we infer, that all are not bound to believe that Christ died for them, but believers, penitents only, or all who, through the knowledge of sin, and a sense of the divine wrath, are contrite in heart, and fly to him, and from him seek pardon of sin, and rely on the merits of his intercession and atonement for grace and salvation.
In vain will any one reply, “ that the command to believe in Christ calls for a faith embracing all its acts, and among them the last, by which we believe that Christ died for us, for me; and that this is demanded of all who hear the pel, and are by it required to believe.” The nature and de
• Matt. xi. 28. and Isai. lxi. 1.
pendence of these acts upon one another, is such, that the last cannot exist without the former; the third cannot exist without the second, nor the second without the first. When therefore, the command to believe is announced, the first act is demanded of the sinner; not that he may halt there, but that having performed it, he may go on to the second. But in case he has not performed the first, he is by no means required to go on to the second. He cannot, nay he ought not to believe, that Christ is his Redeemer, who does not believe that Christ is the Son of God, and the Redeemer of men. This would bind a man to believe that Christ redeems him, while yet he does not believe that there is any Christ a Redeemer: but, when a man finds in himself the preceding acts, which are the foundation of the last, then, and not till then, let him go on to exercise that last consolatory act.
A second objection, equally unsubstantial, is, “that as many as are commanded to believe in Christ, are commanded to have justifying faith, as no other can be saving; but justifying faith necessarily imports a particular application, that we believe not only that Christ died in common for men, but for us in particular: that otherwise, this faith would not differ from the mere historical faith of reprobates, nay, it would not differ from the faith of devils who can believe the same thing.” To this I reply, that justifying faith which is commanded in the gospel, does indeed embrace the various acts of which we have spoken, but every one in its own or. der. First, the direct and formal act, which consists in the last judgment of the practical intellect, or that by which the will is immediately impelled to volition. The understanding, the will co-operating with it, decides concerning Christ, that he is the sole and only Redeemer of all those who believe, repent, and seriously fly to him. This is called justifying faith. In it the light let into the understanding, powerfully impels the will, and the whole soul flies for refuge to Christ and finds rest. The second and reflex act, spontaneously in some cases, and in others by serious examination, follows this first appropriating and justifying act. From the time that I feel myself powerfully persuaded by the gospel
sall and promises, seriously to fly to Christ, seek righteousness, and expect life from him alone, from that moment I can infer, and have a right to infer, that Christ has died for me; because, from the gospel I learn, that he has died for all who believe and repent. Hence the answer to the argument is easy. Whosoever is bound to have justifying faith, is bound to believe that Christ died for him. This is the argument. Now I deny that this is true of the first act of faith. In the second reflex act, I admit it to be true. Presuppose the first, then we are bound to believe that Christ died for exclude the first and direct act, then I deny that any man is so bound. After all, the faith of believers is entirely different from that of reprobates and devils. For although reprobates may believe theoretically, that Christ is the Son of God and Saviour of men, yet they are never so truly and really persuaded by a fiducial and cordial assent to the word of God, that they fly to him and rest upon him for salvation. If they were tru. ly and practically persuaded, that Christ is the only, and
perfect Saviour of all who believe and repent, and that out of him there is no salvation, it would be impossible for them not to fly to him and embrace him for salvation with their whole heart. This necessity arises from the will's always obeying the last practical dictate of the understanding, and from all creatures seeking their own happiness. Hence also it appears, that the faith of devils has nothing in common with that of the elect. Devils know that Christ is offered to men alone, and that they have no interest in him; and it is utterly impossible for them to place any fiducial reliance upon him.
Again, it is objected, “that no one can place his trust and reliance upon Christ, unless he knows that Christ has died for him, and is his Saviour. For man always hesitates, and is anxious about his salvation, until he knows the intentions of God and will of Christ; and that by the purpose of God the death of Christ was destined for him.” To this I reply, that there are two acts, or parts, in the fiducial reliance of the Christian. The one consists in his receiving and taking refuge in Christ; the other, in the rest and consolation which