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JOHN i. 12.
he 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 nature 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 Christ, he, his name, his person, with his benefits. The acts of it, saving the singer, are, [1 ] 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. ftorical afsent to his word, but a believing on his name, which imports a fiducial recumbency or relying on him, as one who bilieves another is faid to rest on his word. (3.) The subjects of it are many; not all, but fome, namely, the elect of Go:l, quickened by the Spirit of regeneration ; compare ver. 13. Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. These receive Chrift for falvation; for he offers himfcif 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 saving grace, ss whereby we receive, and rest upon him alone for “ falvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel.” Here we will consider,
1. How faith in Christ is a faving grace.
1. I shall shew how faith in Christ is a faving grace. There are four forts of faith spoken of in fcripture. : (1.) Historical faith, which is a bare afsent to the truths of God, Jam. j. 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 affent joined with some affection to the truths of God, though unfanctified, like that of the ftony-ground hearers, Luke viii. 13. Whe, 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 some 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 faving (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, falvation is his, it is in his poffefsion as to the beginnings of it, Acts xvi. 31. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou Shalt be saved,
it 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 exa cluded. 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 sayes 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 ftung Israelites; or as the hyffop dipt in blood and sprinkling the leper, that cleansed him.
II. I come to fhew 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 Chriit, 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 differ 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. 13.
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 bearing, and bearing by the word of God. This is the incorruptible
feed which the new creature is framed of, i Pet. i.
the vehicle of saving influences, Gal. iii. 2.
III. I proceed to consider the subject of faith. It is not all men, 2 Theff. iii. 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 sinners; they only obtain it, Tit. i. 1. And they all do obtain it fooner 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, fays, chap. xi. 13. These all died in faith., . The subjects of it also are elect in. fants dying in infancy, though they have not ac
' matter, like the Israelitish infants, Deut. i. 29. have the seed or fpirit of faith. This is the general character of the subject. But,
2. More particularly, elect convinced finners are the subjects of it, John xvi. 8. 9. When he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, 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 caft 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, infenfible sinner, is an unbeliever. But,
3. Yet more particularly, elect, convinced, quickened finners are the subject thereof, as appears from the text, and the following verse. Regeneration in the order of nature goes before believinga and faith is the first vital motion of the regenerated foul. There is first a palive 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 créature. 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 feat; the understanding knowing and affenting, and the will embracing and consenta ing, If. liii. ii. By his knowledge shall my righteous fervant 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
S; it is a bee that roves through all these flowers in the garden of God's word. But as it is saving 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 posible 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.
3. Iniquities prevail against me: as for our transgressions, thou shalt purge them away.
This assent in both cases may be mixed with Vol. III.