Justification is by Faith: what this Faith is, and how it
††††††††† Having thus spoken unto, and labored to clear up the nature and some causes of this life of justification; we come, in the next place to speak to the following part of the text. Where the way, how this life of justification is brought about and attained, is pointed forth, when it is said, The just shall live by faith. Faith, we see, is here mentioned, as that which interesses us in this privilege of life. Whence we see
††††††††† 1. That no man is made partaker of the life of justification, before faith; or that until souls exercise faith, they are without this life of justification. Some talk of a justification from eternity; and thus confound justification with Godís love of election; or with Godís decree and purpose to justify. Some speak of justification of all, in the death of Christ; but neither is this to be admitted, if we speak of actual justification; It is true, Christ did, when he laid down the full price of Redemption, conform to the eternal compact betwixt Jehovah and Him, make an absolute and actual purchase of all those, that were given to him to be saved, and did buy and purchase all the favors, blessings and privileges for them, which were afterward to be actually bestowed, in time, and after the way and method, condescended upon by Jehovah and the Mediator (I am here speaking of such as came to have a being, in the world, after Christ had in the fullness of time, come and laid down the price; and not of those, who lived before, when Christís death and satisfaction had only a moral being, and yet full efficacy to produce the same saving effects on believers:) and though in this respect, all the elect may be said to have been virually justified, when Christ laid down the actual price, and was justified from all the charge of their debt, that was laid upon him (as in some sense, it may be said, that all the elect were virtually justified in Him, when he undertook to make satisfaction for their debt) yet there is no actual justification before faith; according to the Scriptures that speak of justification, of adoption, and of sanctification by faith, showing that these benefits and privileges follow faith, as to their actual being, though they were from eternity decreed, as was also glorification, and were actually procured by Christís death: in which respect, as also in respect of Christís undertaking or substituting himself in the room of sinners, they may be said to have been virtually, sanctified and glorified, even then. It is true, that before faith the justification actual of the elect is every way secured, and all things tending thereunto are concluded and firmly laid, and all other anteceding causes are existent, before faith, for Christ is appointed and substitute Mediator; Christ hath accepted and undertaken the work of Mediation; He is come in the fulness of time, and hath laid down the full price. The Father is satisfied with the price paid. The Father laid upon him the iniquity of all the elect, and He hath born it and made full satisfaction, therefore he is accepted of the Father, as Head of the elect justified and possesed of glory, so as they may be said to be risen with him in heavenly places, to wit virtually, and meritoriously; and all this before faith. Thus God was in Christ, reconciling the elect world unto himself, not imputing trespasses unto them, because he imputed them to Christ and made him sin, who knew no sin, and this before the word of reconciliation, ministered by the ambassadors of Christ, hath wrought them up unto God by faith, II Corinthians 5: 18 Ė 20. And this I think was more, than what Mr. Baxter says, Confession page 225, 226, to wit, that he was providing a sufficient remedy for the pardon of it, if they would accept of it freely given: for the world here spoken of is the world of the elect, though he think otherwise, and the Lordís not imputing their sin unto them, was more than his not dealing with them, according to the desert of their sin, but in mercy, for as
yet many of them had not a being, and so were not capable of being dealt with, according to the desert of their sin; but it imports, what is more emphatically expressed thereafter inverse 21, to wit, that God was laying their sins on Christ, and making him sin, as to its demerit, or guilt, for them, that they might in due time be made the righteousness of God in him.
††††††††† Yet notwithstanding of all this, actual justification and reconciliation is not before faith, as is clear from many passages of Scripture, asserting our justification and life to be by faith, Romans 1: 17; 3: 28; 5: 1; Ephesians 2: 8; Galatians 2: 16, 20. And it cannot be said, to evade the force of these and the like Scriptures, that this is to be understood only of justification, as to our feeling, sense and apprehension: for the case, which the Apostle proves all to be into before justification, in his epistle to the Romans, chapters 1, 2 and 3, is such as cannot consist with a justified state, as to be under sin, Romans 3: 9, to have their mouth stopped, and be guilty before God, verse 19. But it is manifest, that many, who are now not under the Law, nor under sin, but delivered from under both yet may and do want the sense and feeling of their justification, and doubt thereof. And besides this crosses the whole scope of the Apostle, in proving justification by faith, which is to evince, that justification is not by the works of the law, or the works of righteousness which we do; so that justification, whereof the Apostle speaks, cannot be by works, but by faith alone; but the manifestation of justification to our sense and consciences, can well be by works, as James shows and proves chapter 2. Works can contribute unto this, but not unto that justification, whereof the Apostle speaks in his epistles to the Romans and Galatians, which is justification in the sight of God.
††††††††† That justification is not before faith, is manifest from the condition, which the Scripture tells us, such are into, who have not yet believed; for if that condition be such, as is inconsistent with a state of justification and reconciliation, then there can be no justification before faith. Now the Scripture tells us that such as believe not are condemned, John 3: 18, dead in trespasses and sins, children of wrath, Ephesians 2: 1 Ė 3, without Christ, and without God in the world, and strangers from the covenants of promise, Ephesians 2: 12, and have made God a liar I John 5: 10, cannot please God, Hebrews 11: 6. By all which, and many like passages that might be cited, it is manifest, that before faith, there is no real justification. Faith is required in order to adoption, and remission of sins, and therefore must be before justification, John 1: 12, Acts 10: 43, Galatians 3: 26, Acts 13: 38, 39; 26: 18. But enough of this, seeing Mr. Baxter hath abundantly confuted it, in his Confession page 229 &c.
††††††††† Some move this objection: If we are justified by faith, then faith is in order before justification; and consequently the act is before the object, whereas on the contrary, the act depends upon the object, and not the object upon the act. Thus Bellarmine de justif. lib. I. c. 10, disputes against this assertion, that makes the special mercy of God to be the object of justifying faith; and whatever mistake may be, at least as to expression, in the assertion, which
Bellarmine opposes, yet Bellarmineís opinion can no way be owned, who doth so defend the object of faith, as that he makes justifying faith to be nothing but historical faith. Learned and grave Mr. Norton, in his Orthodox Evangelist, chapter 14, page 314, in answering this objection, distinguishes betwixt the being of justification and our being justified; or betwixt justification in abstracto i.e. without the receiving subject thereof, and in concerto i.e. together with the believer. The first, which signifies the remission of sins and righteousness to acceptation prepared, though not yet conferred upon the elect, he says, hath a being before faith, and so the object is before the act: though the other be after faith. But I conceive there is no great necessity of this, for answering of the argument, if any should propose it, to evince justification before faith; and Bellarmine adduces it not, to this end, as we saw; for I see no ground to assert justification to be the object of justifying faith, as if in order to justification, we were called to believe, that we are justified, and that our sins are pardoned, (as was said above.) And as for this justification, considered in the abstract, which is said to have a being not only in the purpose of God, but also in the Covenant, between the Father and the Mediator, and in the purchase of Christ; not only is it not called justification in Scripture, but also, in so far, as it is the object of faith (as all other revealed truths are) it is of the elect in general, and not of this, or that particular person: so that though justifying faith may believe that God purposed† and Christ purchased, and the Covenant of Redemption did expressly contain the justifying of the elect; yet it doth not believe, in order to the manís justification, that he in particular so was justified, either in the purpose of God, or in the purchase of Christ, or in the Covenant betwixt Jehovah and the Mediator; nor is this faith called for, because this object is not a revealed truth: Yet this same justifying faith, is of that nature, as to produce afterward reflecting acts, whereby the man may see his own justification and be persuaded of it, in truth, and hence also be persuaded, that the Lord purposed to justify him in particular; that Christ purchased his justification, in particular, and that it was an article of the Covenant of Redemption, that he in particular should be justified.
††††††††† 2. While it is said, That the just liveth by faith, we see that faith is the way, whereby persons come actually to live the life of justification; and hence it cannot itself be the matter of their life. What interest properly faith hath in this affair, must be debated afterward; to wit, whether it be properly imputed as the matter of our righteousness; or only be to be considered as an instrument: or as a condition, and how so?
††††††††† 3. We see, that this living by faith proves that there is no justification by works, in the sight of God; whence it is manifest, that faith here cannot be considered as a work of the law, or as a duty enjoined by the Law or under any such consideration. (2.) That works have no interest as a cause, or condition, with faith in justification. (3.) That the life of justification, as to its continuation is by faith, and by faith as opposite to works; for the just, (or the man already justified) liveth by faith: This being also questioned, we will have occasion to speak more to it afterward.
††††††††† 4. While it is said, the just liveth by faith, it is considerable, that this faith in its kind, and not in such, or such measure, is here said to be the mean, whereby persons come to live the life of justification. So that this true faith, how weak soever, is the only mean of interessing a soul in this privilege of justification. This will give occasion to speak of the object of this justifying faith, which will help to clear the nature of it.
††††††††† Our larger catechism, question 72, gives us such a definition or description of justifying faith that may satisfy us as to most of these difficulties. The answer is this [justifying Faith is a saving grace (Hebrews 10: 39,) wrought in the heart of a sinner, by the Spirit (II Corinthians 4: 13, Ephesians 1: 17 Ė 19) and the word of God (Romans 10: 14, 17) whereby he being convinced of his sin and misery, and of the disability in himself and all other creatures to recover him out of his lost condition (Acts 2: 37; 16: 30; John 16: 8, 9; Romans 5: 6; Ephesians 2: 1; Acts 4: 12,) not only assents to the truth of the promise of the Gospel (Ephesians 1: 13) but receives and rests upon Christ and his righteousness therein held forth, for pardon of sin (John 1: 12, Acts 16: 31, 10: 43) and for the accepting and accounting of his person righteous in the sight of God, for salvation (Philemon 3: 9, Acts 15: 11)] And this question is none of these particulars, wherein Mr. Baxter in his Confession desires to differ from the said catechism, as the next question is; as we shall hear.
††††††††† We may hence take notice of these particulars, concerning this faith, whereby it may be known, and distinguished from what some may mistake for it.
††††††††† 1. As to its nature, and kind, it is saving: for all such, as have this grace of justifying faith, are in the sure way of salvation; and whatever faith persons may have, if they have not this, they are not in the sure path of life. There is a faith of miracles, both active and passive, as we may say, that is a faith to do miracles, and a faith to receive miracles wrought upon them. The first was that which the Apostles had and others, who wrought miracles, and is to be understood Matthew 17: 20, 21; Luke 17: 6. The other is that, which some of those had, who received miraculous cures, as the woman Matthew 9: 21, 22, and that man who cried out, I believe, help mine unbelief, Mark 9: 24, and the man of Lystra, Acts 14: 9, and others. This in itself considered is not a saving grace. Judas had this faith, whereby he cast out devils, and had commission to work miracles with the rest, Matthew 10: 8, Luke 9: 1, 6, 10. So also the seventy disciples, Luke 10: 9, 17, 19. And how great a privilege soever this was, yet Christ told them, verse 20, that it was a far greater matter, and much greater ground of joy, to have their names written in heaven, whereby he gives us also to understand, that these are distinct and different from each other, and also separable. Many (says Christ,) will say to me, in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name cast out devils? and in thy name have done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you, depart from me, ye that work iniquity. And it is of this faith, that Paul speaks I Corinthians 13: 2, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and
have no charity, I am nothing, importing that this faith may be, where there is no saving Christian love. There is a Historical faith, that is a believing not only of the histories recorded in the word of God; but of the whole revelation of Godís mind there, yet only as things historically recorded, working up the man, in whom it is, unto a voluntary profession of that truth. This, though true in its kind, yet is not saving, seeing many may have this, who are strangers to true saving faith. Simon Magus believed thus, Acts 8: 13, who yet was but in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity, verse 23. Many believed in the name of Christ, when they saw the miracles which he did, to whom notwithstanding Christ did not commit himself, John 2: 23, 24. Christ had many disciples, who professed the truth and yet went back, and walked no more with him, John 6: 66. This faith, when it comes no further, is but such a faith, as devils have, who believe there is a God and tremble, James 2: 14. This is the fruitless, workless faith, that James speaks of, James 2: 14, that cannot save, and which he calls a dead faith, verse 17, 20, a faith that cannot work with works, verse 22. There is a Temporary faith, which (whether we look upon, as distinct from the preceding historical faith, or as a higher measure and degree thereof, the matter is not much) is also different from and far short of this saving faith, whereby a man comes to live the life of justification, though it hath some effect wrought upon the affections; this is the stony ground that receives the sown seed, Matthew 13: 20, 21. These are they, who hear the word, and anon with joy receive it, yet have no root in themselves, but endure for a while only; for when tribulation or persecution arise, because of the word, by and by they are offended.
††††††††† 2. Every act of saving faith, is not the justifying act of faith, or that act thereof, whereby we are justified before God. Saving faith hath many several acts, as we may see in Hebrews 11. Though wherever there are any of the real acts of saving faith, that man hath also acted justifying faith: yet we may look on justifying faith, or on the act of faith whereby the soul becomes justified, as some way distinct from other acts of saving faith. Though by saving faith we come to understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, Hebrews 11: 3, not in a mere historical manner, but savingly; yet, that act of saving faith, is not the justifying act thereof, so to speak. Though the same faith by which the ancients subdued kingdoms, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, &c. was that by which they were justified, yet these were not justifying acts of that faith; that is, in order to justification, faith acted in another peculiar manner: though it be one and the same saving faith, whereby a believer is united unto Christ, in order to answer the challenges and accusations of the law, and to free him from guilt and condemnation, and makes use of Christís right, strength, support, &c in times of darkness, temptations and difficulties: yet these acts of the same faith are not the same, but may be looked upon as distinct: Faith acted one way on Christ in order to justification, and another way in order to sanctification: Faith acted one way, when it received in, and another way, when it gives out, as it were. Faith acted one way on
Christ as Priest, and it acted another way upon him, as Prophet and as King: yet we would know, that in all these actings of faith, whole Christ is laid hold upon, though more expressly and explicitly, in the uniting act, whereby the soul is married unto Jesus, and thereby becomes one spirit with him. There can be no use making of Christ for any end whatsoever, until the soul be united with himself, and in every act of faith, whereby Christ is made use of, for whatever particular mercy the believer would have, be it pardon, light, strength, comfort, or such-like, Christ himself is gripped to, and laid hold on; for there is no separating of Him and his favors: yet the believer, while gripping and laying hold on whole Christ, takes him up under that relation, and eyes that office, that most nearly answers to and corresponds with his present necessity, and points forth that good, which he is now desirous of, and so acts faith suitably or puts forth faith in suitable acts: as for example, when the believer is troubled with conscience of guilt, he runs to Christ, yet in a special manner he goes to him as Priest, and eyes that blood that only can purge consciences from dead works, Hebrews 9: 14. When he is troubled with raging corruptions, and would have them subdued, or would have his hard rebellious heart made more soft and pliable to Godís will, he goes to Christ; yet in special manner, he eyes Christ as a King and acts faith upon him accordingly; So when he is troubled with ignorance, doubts, and darkness, he goes to Christ; yet he eyes him then especially as a Prophet and accordingly acts faith upon him. Yet we would know, that when the believer acts thus, in this different manner upon Christ, whether as a Prophet, or as a Priest, or as a King, there is no exclusion, far less any denial of the other offices; which cannot be, because Christ himself, and consequently whole Christ, is always He, to whom the believer goes, though with a more express, explicit and special application to and use-making of that office and work of Christ, which most suits the believers present necessity. Now, though all these acts of faith, be acts of saving faith; yet they are not all that act of faith which is or may be (for distinctionís sake) called, the justifying act of faith; for this is that act of faith only, which the soul exerts, in order to justification, and absolution from the curse of the Law.
††††††††† 3. This faith is no product of the power of nature, accompanied with all its advantages, and elevated to its highest pitch, and to the highest measure of accomplishments: Nature, as now corrupted and depraved, not only will not willingly comply with the design of grace in the Gospel, but it cannot, being nothing but pure enmity to the holy ways and counsels of God; all its mindings are of the flesh, and all the minding of the flesh, or the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be, Romans 8: 7. Persons, deluded by Satan, may imagine and suppose with themselves, that it is so wholly in their power to believe, that they can exert that faith, at what time soever they will: But, howbeit, out of their own mouths such unbelievers stand convinced and condemned for their not believing; yet the mighty power of Godís
Spirit must be exerted, ere they be brought unto a believing frame, or their souls be made to look towards Jesus in earnest, so as to lay hold on him by faith. Therefore is faith called the gift of God, Ephesians 2: 8. There is the working of the might of Godís power requisite unto believing, Ephesians 1: 19. Such then, as have not the workings of the Spirit of God, inclining, drawing, persuading and causing the heart to believe, are real strangers to this grace, whatever great enduements and gifts, or ordinary effects of the Spirit they may be possessed of.
††††††††† The author of a Discourse of the two Covenants (a book recommended to us by Mr. Baxter, in his preface, prefixed thereunto, as a treatise, which will give us much light, into the nature of the Gospel) page 24 tells us, that man himself, is not wholly passive, in this change, or what goes to the making of it; but is so far active in it, as to denominate what he does by Godís assistance to be his own act. Whereby he sufficiently discovers as Arminian design; yet so qualifies his expressions, as may abundantly show, he intends to evade. For he will not say, that man is not at all passive, in this change, but only that he is not wholly passive; and yet he dare not say this confidently, but must add, or what goes to the making of it: and how much he may comprehend under this, who can tell? But if man be not passive, he must be active. How far then is he active? So far, says he, as to denominate what he does by Godís assistance, to be his own act. That the act of faith is manís act, is most certain, for it is he that believes; but the question is, what change is wrought in the soul, by the Spirit of God, before the act of faith be exerted? and what hand manís labors and endeavors have in the infusion of the new principle, the Divine nature? Is not the man purely passive, in the receiving of the effect of that creating act, or in the work of regeneration? That the Lord prescribes the use of ordinary means, wherein the man is to wait for the free and gracious working of the Spirit is true; but there is no connection made by the Lord, by any law or constitution, betwixt the use of these means, and the gracious work of faith, nor betwixt ordinary light and conviction, and the like common effects of these means, and saving grace. Yet he tells us afterward, that if man do but what he can do, through the assistance of Godís common providence (in whom we live, and move, and have our being) God is most ready, through his good pleasure, or out of the goodness of his will and pleasure, to work in him, both to will and to do savingly, to carry the work quite through. But what Scripture teaches us this? I am sure that Philippians 2: 12, 13 with which he ushers in this discourse, gives no ground for this; for that is spoken to such, in whom the work of salvation is already begun, and who are commanded to work it out, and to say that the case is the same, is to overturn the whole Gospel, and present us with pure Pelagianism; is there as sure and certain a connection betwixt manís work of nature and Godís gracious works of grace, as is betwixt the work of grace begun and carried on? His adducing afterward, page 25, the commands to make ourselves a new heart, and to repent &c. to enforce this, is but the old Pelagian argument brought again upon the stage, to which I have said what I hope will be found consonant to the Scripture, in my book
against the Quakers. But this man discovers himself more plainly afterward on page 28, where after mentioning some acts of men, which cannot be called acts of super-natural grace, he tells us, if men will but go thus far (as they can) out of a real desire to be happy, I should make no question, but that the Spirit of God would yield them his assistance to carry them quite through, in the work of conversion. Besides that connection, whereof he makes no question, though the orthodox have hithertill denied it, writing against Pelagians, Jesuits, and Arminians, we may observe this here, that nature can carry the work of conversion quite through, having only the assistance of the Spirit of God; and what difference is there then betwixt nature and begun grace: for begun grace needs the assistance of the Spirit of God, to work salvation quite through; and nature needs no more? Where then are the infused habits? Is regeneration only brought about by assistance? Need they, who are dead, no more than assistance? If this author help us to clearness in the doctrine of the Gospel, it must be the Gospel that only Pelagians, Jesuits, Arminians and Quakers own; but not the Gospel of the grace of God revealed to us, in the Word; which tells us of something more requisite unto the conversion of a sinner, and to the bringing of him to believe and repent, than the cooperation of Godís assistance (as he speak on page 25) and manís endeavors. He tells us, page 26, that there is a promise of divine assistance to man, using his endeavors in doing what he may, and can do towards the performing of the condition of the Covenant: But he shows us not, where that promise is to be found: and on page 17 he talks of an implicit promise; and this he very wonderfully infers from the Gospel that was preached unto Abraham: for thus he speaks, for God in promising blessedness to the nations through Abrahamís seed, therein promised all that was absolutely necessary for him to vouchsafe to make them blessed, and without which they could not be blessed. And if so, then he therein implicitly promised to assist the endeavors of men to perform the condition of the promise, without the assistance of whose grace, they cannot savingly believe, repent and obey. Whence it would seem (1.) That all men, are comprehended within this promise; and (2.) That no more is promised in reference to the elect, than to the reprobate. (3.) That the promise of faith and repentance, is but a promise of assistance. (4.) And this promise of assistance, is not to assist grace, but to assist nature. (5.) That the promise of faith and repentance was but an implicit promise. This is a sufficient taste of this authorís Pelagian Gospel.
††††††††† We proceed. This work of the Spirit upon the soul, whereby the man is brought to a closing with, and to a resting upon Christ, is ordinarily wrought by the word, for faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God, Romans 10: 17. The Lord hath established that great ordinance of preaching for this end; and for this end, he blesses it unto his chosen ones, we mean not this exclusively, as if the Word could no other way be blessed; for he blesses, as he sees good, for this end, the reading of, and meditation on the word also; though the grand and special mean be the preaching; as we see in Acts 2: 37, 41; 8: 26 Ė 30; 26: 18. The Lord, it is true, may send wakenings by his judgments and by other like occasions; and
may bless the private endeavors of parents and friends, by their private instructions and admonitions: yet all these are no way prejudicial unto, but rather contribute to the confirming of the privilege of the word, as the principal mean and ordinance, both as leading thereunto, and as receiving strength thereby: for whatever real beginnings the Lord may work so, they have this effect to commend the word more unto these persons, and, in special, the public administration thereof by his authorized ambassadors: so that whatever saving work be wrought, as it is not altogether without the word, some way or other made known; so it tends to the further use-making of the word publicly administered, where it may be had, as Saul, when under that terrible work of God, Acts 9, was directed to go to Ananias in Damascus, to understand what he should do, and Cornelius was ordered, Acts 10, to send for Peter, to get instruction in the ways of God. And whatever work of light, conviction, or terror, be wrought upon any occasion that is attended with a contrary effect, is to be suspected, as not of God, nor saving. How dreadful then their condition is, who have not the word, but are without the pale of the Church, where this word is preached; and their condition also, who, though living within the Church, have this word as a sealed book, needs not be said.
††††††††† 5. The condition of soul, unto which the man is brought by the Spirit, accompanying the administration of the word, in order to his actual believing, is considerable here; for thereby we will be helped to understand better the nature and actings of faith, whereby only as a mean, relief is brought unto the soul; and to know what that relief is, and wherein it lies, that the distressed man is pursuing after, and seeking with earnestness. In order to which, we would know:
††††††††† (1.) That the Spirit by the Word bears home convictions of sin and misery, discovers to the man, how he stands guilty of the breach of the law of God, and so charges sin home upon him, both original and actual, and thereby fixes guilt upon the conscience, showing how he hath forfeited all right to blessedness and life, and how moreover he is under the curse, threatened to the breakers of the law, and hath the wrath and malediction of God hanging over him: He is made to see the sins he never saw before, both of omission and commission, and the sad consequences thereof, to wit, how he is obnoxious to the penalty, the insupportable wrath of the living God. Thus the Spirit convinces of sin, John 16: 8, 9, thus he opens their eyes, and turns them from darkness to light, in so far Acts 26: 18, thus the secrets of the heart are made manifest I Corinthians 14: 24, 25, and they become lost in themselves, like a lost sheep, the lost piece of money, and the lost son Luke 15: 6, 9, 24, and like one of those whom Christ came to seek and to save, Matthew 18: 11, Luke 19: 10. These are the sinners mentioned in Matthew 9: 13. that is, such as are now brought by the work of the Spirit, to see and feel their sinful condition, to know that they are sinners, and that they are in a lost condition.
††††††††† (2.) There is a discovery made of their inability to relieve and help themselves out of this woeful condition of sin and misery. They are made to see,
that nothing in them, or in any other creature, can make satisfaction unto the justice of God and thereby redeem them from the curse of the law, and from the wrath of God, that is lying upon them, the sense and apprehension whereof doth now press and pinch them sore. Which makes them cry out, with these pricked in their hearts, Acts 2: 37 and 16: 30, What shall we do to be saved? They see, they cannot keep the Law: and though they could, it would not avail, as a compensation and satisfaction to the Justice of God, for the by-gone innumerable transgressions, whereof they stand guilty.
††††††††† Whereby we see, that the troubled wakened soul, in this case, is brought to a despairing in himself. He is under the sentence, and he sees nothing under heaven that can command peace to his soul; nothing within him, nor without him, besides God, that can bring him out of this prison, and relieve him from this dreadful sentence, under which he is lying, as a condemned malefactor: And we see, what is properly the relief, that he would be at, and that he only desires: to wit, to be freed and delivered from the sentence of the law, and from the curse of God; and to be brought into a state of favor and reconciliation with God, that his sins may be pardoned, he may be accepted of God, as righteous, and so brought into a state of peace and salvation. This is the plaster that his soul is longing for; this is the only remedy that can relieve him; this is the only good that he can be satisfied with: all the pleasures, honors, and riches of the world will bring no relief or ease to his distressed soul: and when he finds that this is not to be found in himself, nor in any other creature, he must look for it elsewhere. And therefore ó
††††††††† (3.) When the Spirit of the Lord is carrying on this work, he, by the preaching of the Gospel, convinces the man of the reality and truth thereof, and discovers the suitableness, fullness, satisfactoriness, glory and excellency of the remedy, that is held forth in that Gospel, that hath brought life and immortality to light, even in the Gospel of the grace of God, wherein is revealed, what Christ God-man hath done and suffered, to satisfy the justice of God: therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: There he sees that the Father is well pleased with him, and with the sacrifice which he offered up for sins, whence the poor wakened sinner sees, that his case is not utterly desperate, and that there is hope for him, through Jesus; or at least that it is possible, he may be saved from the wrath to come; and a may be of relief is a great relief: and he sees that if that righteousness and satisfaction of Christ were made over to him, or he interessed therein, he were well; for that would sufficiently guard him from the wrath of God, and secure him, as to future blessedness. Thus the Spirit, by the word, reveals the Gospel of Salvation to the end the wakened sinner may see his relief there, and betake himself to the only relief that is held forth there.
6. Hence we see, that while the wakened sinner is in this condition, his main and only work will be how he may be interessed in that all sufficient redemption, and purchase of Christ, to the end he may be partaker of the benefits that flow there from, and so be freed from the state of sin,
wrath and enmity, wherein he is now plunged. And when the Gospel calls for faith, in order to this, and he finds that it is not in his power to believe, but that it is the pure gift of God, who must give the new heart, and the heart of flesh, and must regenerate and beget him of new, and so create a new principle of grace in his soul, to the end he may be brought o act faith on the offered Mediator and Mediation, and accept thereof, as his only cure and remedy.
††††††††† 7. So that, when the Spirit works up the soul to believe, he causes him to sweetly acquiesce, in the way of redemption, revealed in the Gospel, and to count it a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners I Timothy 1: 15, and to comply sweetly with the design thereof, in all points: and for that end to close with Christ, and to accept of him upon his offer, and particularly to rest upon him, and his righteousness, revealed in the Gospel, as the only ground of their hope and peace: This being the thing that their soul longs after, to wit, how shall they get guilt taken away and they be clothed with a righteousness, wherein they may with confidence appear before God, the Spirit of God, when working the soul up to a compliance with the remedy, held forth in the Gospel, causes them to accept of Christ, as made of God unto them, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, and every such soul to say, In the Lord our righteousness, have I righteousness. In him alone will I look for pardon, acceptance, reconciliation and life, and on him alone will I roll my debt, and there will I rest, in hope.
8. Therefore, this faith, though it bring the soul unto Christ, as the only Redeemer, and is the manís clasping his arms about him, and embracing him, as all his salvation, and rolling all his weight upon him, yet it looks to and in a special manner, eyes the satisfaction, merits and righteousness of Christ; for that is it, which the man mainly now stands in need of. Justice must be satisfied, says he, my sins must be pardoned, I must be accepted in favor with God, I must have a righteousness wherewith my sins may be covered, and the mouth of justice, of the law, and of my challenging conscience, may be stopped, and whereby I may have a right to life. And this being held forth in the Gospel, faith bringing the soul to a resting on this righteousness of Christ, that he may be found in Christ, not having his own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith in Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith, Philippians 3: 9. This is to believe on Christ, John 3: 16, Acts 16: 31, and faith in his blood, Romans 3: 25. Thus the soul takes refuge from the storm of wrath, under the wings of Christ, and hides itself, as it were, in him from the avenger of blood, the wrath of an angry God, pursuing for a broken law. And here, the man abides hid in Christ, and cleaves to him, as being glued to him, and utterly unwilling to be separate from him, or to appear without his garment of righteousness, which faith fastens on the soul; and the man by faith trusts to this way, and rests upon it with full confidence, nothing doubting of his safety thereby.
9. By this we see, how the way of justification by Gospel-faith serves both
for setting forth the glory of God, the riches of free grace, and for abasing of man, as also for securing of life unto the believer: for (1.) Hereby the man is convinced of his guilt and declares himself to be guilty; for he is guilty before God u9po/dikoj tw|~ Qew|~ Romans 3: 19. He is made speechless knowing nothing to speak in his own defense, nor no apology to give in. His mouth is stopped, and he can say nothing, but cry out, guilty, I am a child of death, the Lord is righteous, should he damn me forever, I must justify him, when he speaks, and clear him when he judges, Psalm 51: 4. (2.) Hereby the man pronounces and swears himself poor and bare; he forsakes all, and renounces all, that formerly he had any eye upon, or confidence in, counting them loss and dung, as Paul did Philippians 3. He proclaims himself empty, lost, and naked, and declares he hath nothing that he can lean to, within himself. He accounts all his former righteousness to be nothing but rotten rags, and filthy rags, and professes that he knows nothing within himself, wherefore, or whereupon he can expect reconciliation with the Lord, and to be accepted of him. (3.) Thus all ground, or occasion of boasting, or of glorying before men, is taken away from the believer, Romans 3: 27 and 4: 1. (4.) Thus the glorious beauty of free grace shines forth. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be of grace, Romans 4: 16. Grace here appears in its won glory, when free grace without us, and contrary to our demerits, does all, provides the sacrifice, accepts of the same, in their behalf for whom it was offered up, brings them to the actual participation of the fruits and effects thereof by working up their hearts to a satisfaction in it and to a resting upon it, and all this freely, out of free love. It is corruptly said by the fore mentioned author of that Discourse of the two Covenants page 42, that grace appears, in the Lordís making faith the condition of the promise, in that great things are promised upon such a possible practicable easy condition, as faith is, considering the means and assistance promised by God to work it: for this spoils grace of its glory, when Man is looked upon, and said to be the principal author of faith, as he is, upon the matter, said to be, when all that God does, is but called assistance, and at least the man may challenge, as his own, no small share of the glory of acting faith, and of going so great a length in the way to faith, without anymore assistance, than he hath need of, to eat his meat when hungry, and of going on his own feet to the very place, where God stood ready to lend him a hand to help him forward. Not to mention, how this alters the whole nature of the Covenant of Grace, making it nothing but a new edition of the old Covenant of Works. (5.) It is of faith to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed, Romans 4: 16. When all the business is wrought, as it were, to our hand, and nothing more requisite to interesse us, in the noble effects of all, than our consent, and this also is wrought by the Spirit of God conform to the Covenant of Redemption, can a more ensuring way be imagined? Alas! what ground of confidence or of certainty, can the Arminian and Socinian way, followed by the forementioned author, give to a poor soul? When all is made to hang upon the tottering and inconstant will of man, who hath no more from God, but
some common assistances, standing ready to attend him, if he advance so far alone without them; and when he hath gotten them today, may run back, and undo all again tomorrow, and apostatize forever; for this also is part of that Gospel, that this man will teach us, page 135, if we believe Mr. Baxterís preface. Besides that hereby, no man can win to any solid peace, or joy, so long as he lives; for he is but still performing the condition of his justification, and perfecting it by his works; so that till they be at an end, the condition of justification is not performed, and consequently no justification: and it is the main scope of this manís discourse to prove the interest of Gospel-obedience (as he calls it) as a condition, as well as faith, or rather as a part or best part of practical faith, in the matter of justification.
††††††††† 10. Hence we may also see, how erroneous and dangerous that definition of faith as evangelical, Christian and justifying, is, which the mentioned author gives us page 38, to wit, such an hearty assent and consent unto Godís declaration in the Gospel by his Son, concerning Christ himself and his grace and favor towards men by him, and concerning their own duty, as causes a man to expect from God, and to act in a way of duty, according to the tenor of such a declaration, and his own concerns in it. This upon the matter is the very faith of Adam, only Adam heard no word of Christ; and so it is but a law-faith, and no Gospel Faith. And again more plainly by way of explication, he says page 39, nor is it a bare belief, that God will for Christís sake pardon and save, as many as truly repent and amend their lives and become new creatures; unless they so believe all this, as seriously and heartily to repent themselves of their former folly, and to return to their duty in new Evangelical obedience. Not only doth this man take away from justifying and saving faith, all that peculiar closing with Christ, and accepting of him, as redeemer, and all particular and special eye or respect had to his righteousness and mediation; but he makes justification depend on works, as well as on faith, or on works, as the integral parts of practical justifying faith: It is true, saving faith, cannot but bow and incline the man in whom it is, to all holy obedience; but to make these thus to be included in faith, as the condition of justification, is to give us the Socinian justification, and the Socinian faith, for the true orthodox justification and faith: and if this be the Gospel justification, and Gospel faith which (as Mr. Baxter thinks) this look will help us unto, the Socinians are better acquainted with the Gospel, than the orthodox have been, or are. And to evince this (which is all I need to do here) I shall propose a few of their assertions concerning faith, that the reader may judge what harmony is betwixt this author and them. The Ravoc. Catech. cap 9 de fide tells us, that faith is a trust in God, whereby we not only confide in him, but also obey him. This is short yet fully the same with our authorís. Socinus himself dial. de justif. s. 11 what is that to believe in his name? It is to receive him, to believe his words, to confide in him, and finally to obey him. And in not: in dial s 25. he tells us, that the faith by which we are justified, doth contain obedience to the commands, not as an effect, but as its substance and form. yea (says he) it is obedience itself. And again de fide and oper. s 60, he says, I will have nothing else, than to confide
in Christ; and this is done and receives its perfection, and as it were, its form, when obedience is yielded unto all his commands: So that betwixt justifying faith and good works there is no difference. See him further s. 123, 134. Smalcius de divin. Christ cap. 14 s 38. tells us that faith in Jesus Christ is a firm assent unto what he hath said and a confiding truly so called, whereby not only we firmly believe what he hath said concerning us, but we confide in him and adhere to him, (this is much more than our Author says) and heartily embrace his doctrine, as celestial and saving, placing our confidence and hope in him, as such and so great, a King, and as our Priest (sy upon our author, that is less orthodox, than this Socinian) hanging wholly upon him, with a firm hope to obtain these things, which he hath promised to such as obey him, that is, if we amend our lives, according to his prescription, we are confident to receive remission of sins, deliverance fom death and eternal life. But you will say, there is no mention made of good works in this faith. See therefore what he says disp. 6. cont. Frantz de bon. ope. Thes. 53, 55, 63, 68. We do not (says he) consider two parts of faith. Trust in God, and obedience to his commands, but we distinguish them, as if they were two: for albeit really they may be taken for one thing, and are one, they can be some way distinguished óObedience is rather the form of faith, or faith itself, than any part of it. And in this, the Arminian Remonstrants in their Confession chapter 10 s. 1, 2, 3, do homage with the Socinians, telling us, that faith comprehends all the commands of the Gospel, and that the command of faith must no other way be considered, than as by a natural propriety it includes obedience, and is a fruitful mother of good works: and that faith thus considered comprehends a manís whole conversion, prescribed in the Gospel. Socinus is plain Synop. I. s. 8. and tells us, that the way of justification is the same under both covenants, seeing in both on Godís part was required remission of sins: and on manís part, repentance and obedience to his commands, which is truly that very faith, that ever did, and ever will make man acceptable unto God. And then tells us, that we must beware to make sanctification as effect of justification. These things may show, that this part, at least, of this authorís Gospel is more learned out of the Socinian and Arminian schools, than out of the Scriptures: and if we would be guided into this, we may follow other more ancient leaders, than this author, whom else where I suppose, Mr. Baxter call Mr. W. Allen.
†††††††† 11. We would also take notice of this, that when the Scripture says, the just shall live by faith, or we are justified by faith, the meaning must not be, we are justified by hope, or we are justified by love, or we are justified by patience or by any other grace: for though all these graces of the Spirit may be conceived as springing from one and the same root, and seed of God, which is planted in the soul, in the new birth; and though, we may, by our acute wits, so explain each, as to include the rest, more or less: yet as divine revelation of all our faith, in this matter, so Scripture expressions, are the best guide to us, in our expressions and conceptions about this matter. And as the Scripture doth speak of and name these graces, as formally distinct, ascribing to each their distinct, and several operation, end and use; so we never read, that we are said to be
justified by love, or by patience, or by hope, or any other; but always by faith. This certainly must instruct us, that faith here hath a peculiar and singular interest, and must be considered, as looking to Christ, in a different way, from hope and love, which also have Christ for their object; or Christ must be the object of faith, in another manner and under some other consideration, than he is the object of other graces.
††††††††† 12. It is also considerable, that it is simply said, the just man liveth by faith, or we are justified by faith, and not the just man liveth, or we are justified, by a strong faith, or by a faith continuing to the end: though it be true, that a true and lively faith is of that nature, that it will continue to the end, and will grow; yet we may not say, that only a strong faith, or a faith as continuing to the end, is a condition of the Covenant, or of justification; for hence it would follow, that as no man of a weak, yet true and sincere faith, could be said to be justified, so no man could be said to be justified until his faith had endured to the end, which is contrary to Scripture, speaking of believers, while in their infancy, as justified and adopted, as partakers of, or at least, as having a right to the consequence of justification, such as pardon, peace, glorying in tribulation, and comfort, &c. The promise grants justification and adoption to faith, that is of the right kind, and no mention is made of that qualification thereof, He that believeth is passed from death to life, and shall never die &c. John 3: 36; John 3: 16, 18; John 1: 12. If the meaning of such, as make faith, as continuing to the end, the condition of the Covenant and of justification, were this, that faith as continued in to the end is the mean of continuance in the Covenant, and in the state of justification, they should speak truth: for the just live by faith first and last, and as by faith they are brought into that estate, so by faith they are continued therein; Faith makes the first union, faith continues it: but of this we shall have occasion to speak more afterward.
††††††††† 13. This faith is not one single act of the soul, nor seated in one faculty. The various things, spoken of it in Scripture, and the various objects it acts upon, and is exercised about, and the various and different necessities, which believers stand into, with the corresponding uses, which faith serves for, in these necessities, clear it to be no one single act of the soul: I would rather call it the act of the whole soul, than the act of any faculty, whatsomever.