« PreviousContinue »
bruifed with fear and terror of the wrath of God;` grieves and forroweth for fin, as a ruining and deftructive evil; and therefore really defires to be freed from it; despairs of falvation by himself; and fèrioufly looks out for relief another way. Acts ii. 17. and xvi. 29, 30. Thus the law is our school mafter to bring us unto Chrift; and the faith of the law, makes way for the faith of the gospel. Not that either this legal faith or legal repentance, is the condition of our welcome to Chrift and the covenant of grace our access to Chrift and the covenant is proclaimed free, without any conditions or qualifi cations required in us, to warrant us finners of mankind to believe on Jefus Chrift, as was shown before. But they are neceffary to move and excite us, to make use of our privilege of free access to Christ and the covenant; infomuch that none will come to Christ, nor embrace the covenant, without them in greater or leffer measure. Even as if a phyfician fhould caufe proclaim, that he will freely cure all the fick of fuch a place, that will employ him: in which cafe it is plain, none will employ him, but fuch as are fenfible of fome malady they labour under; yet that fenfe of a malady is not the condition of their welcome to that physician; nor is it requifite for his curing them, but for their employing him.
Now, in calling you to embrace the covenant, ye are called indirectly, and by confequence, to this faith of the law, namely, to believe that ye are finmers in life, heart and nature; loft and undone, under the curfe; and utterly unable to recover yourfelves. Yet it is not faving faith, nor doth it instate one in the covenant of grace; that is peculiar to another kind of believing: of which in the next place.
The Faith of the Gospel, inftating in the Covenant. Aving faith, which unites to Christ, is the faith
is miniftration of righteoufnefs, 2 Cor. iii. 9. It is in it that the righteoufnefs of faith is revealed unto faith, revealed to be believed on, Rom. i. 17. It is the alone word which gives finners the notice of a Saviour, of the atoning blood, and the new covenant in that blood; and therefore is the only word by which faving faith is begotten in the heart of a loft finner. In the word of the gofpel, the Lord and Saviour Chrift, with all his benefits and covenant, is; and that to be believed on, as appears from Rom. x. 6, 7, 8, 9. So that, the word of the gospel being received by believing, we have Chritt, and his covenant, with all the benefits thereof: faving faith be ing indeed the echo of the quickened foul, to the word of grace that bringeth falvation: a trusting of the word of the gofpel, and the perfon, to wit, the Saviour, and the thing, therein held forth to us, to be believed on for falvation. Mark i. 15. Believe the gospel. Ifa. liii. 1. Who hath believed our report? Gal. iii. 2. The hearing of faith. This is that believing, by which we are united to Chrift, entered into the covenant of grace, and inftated therein unto falvation. The which believing may be explained in four particulars; (1.) The faith of Christ's fuffici ency: (2.) The faith of the gospel offer: (3.) The faith of our right of Chrift: and (4) The faith of particular trust for falvation. So putting the
QUESTION, What is that believing, by which I, a loft finner, under the curfe of the law, may unite with Jefus Chrift, and fo enter into, and be inftated in the covenant of grace, to my eternal falvation ? We answer thereto directly in thefe four particulars, by way of direction in this momentous point, whercon falvation depends.
I. The Faith of Christ's Sufficiency.
In the first place, you are to believe, that there is a fulness of falvation in Chrift for poor finners. This is the conftant report of the golpel concerning him, Eph. iii. 8. That I should preach among the Gentiles the unfearchable riches of Chrift. Heb. vii. 25. He is able to fave them to the uttermoft, that come unto God by him. In the word of the gofpel Chrift is held forth as an able Saviour; able to fave men from their fins, and from the wrath of God. His merit is a fufficient fconte against the tempeft of fiery wrath, which incenfed juftice is ready to caufe to fly forth against tranfgreffors: Ifa. xxxii. 2. A man fball be a covert from the tempeft. His Spirit is fufficient to fanctify the most unholy: 1 Cor. vi. 11. And fuch were fome of you: but ye are washed, but ye are fanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jefus, and by the Spirit of our God. The righteoufnefs he fulfilled as the condition of the covenant, is fo valuable in itfelf, and in the eyes of his Father, that it is fufficient to procure juftification, fanctification, and all other faving benefits to finners, who in themselves deferve death and damnation: fo that they are happy who are in him; they fhall never perish, but have everlafting life, being eternally fecure under the covert of his righteoufnefs, as a fufficient defence. Believeft thou this?
This is the general faith of the gospel, which being without particular application, doth not unite the finner to Chrift, nor enter him into the covenant; and may be found in reprobates and fallen angels, being only an affent in general to the truth of the. doctrine of the gofpel, Matth. xiii. 22, 21. and viii. 29. But by the nature of the thing, it is neceffarily prerequifite to a faith of particular application: for I must first believe a faying to be true in itself, before I can truft to it for my part; I must first believe a thing
a thing to be good in itself, before I can believe that it is good for me.
But where the faith of the gofpel is carried forward to uniting with Chrift, the effect of this general faith is very valuable as well as neceffary. And that is, an high esteem of Christ and his covenant, an ardent defire of union and communion with him, a longing for his righteousness, as a hungry man longs for meat, or a thirsty man for drink. The man fees indeed, that he has no fpecial intereft in Chrift and his righteoufnefs; but he would fain have it : all is faplefs to him without it; his foul within him. cries, Give me Chrift, or elfe I die: and he is con. tent to part with all for him, and to take him for all. This is taught us in the parables of the treasure hid in the field, and of the pearl of great price, the finding out of which moves to fell all, and to buy them, Matth. xiii. 44, 45, 46.
Howbeit this esteem and defire of Chrift is different from that which follows upon the foul's union with Christ, when once faith hath taken poffeffion of him and his benefits, and hath got a view of his intrinsic fupereminent worth and value: the which is mentioned, 1 Pet. ii. 7. Pfalm lxxii. 25. The true fpring of all this efteem and defire, is the principle of felfprefervation, and the view of Chrift as fuited to that end. The merchant man is feeking goodly pearls, for his own enriching: and feeing that the one pearl will answer that defign, he is restless till he have it. The poor finner is hotly purfued with the law's curfe, which is ftill ringing death and damnation in his ears. In the mean time, he gets a distant view of the city of refuge; and therefore he makes forward to it with all speed: but what makes him run, but life, life, precious life, that he may not perish? Verily, he cannot be expected to act upon a more generous principle, before he is united to Christ: John xv. 5. Without me ye can do nothing. But let him
him not fear; he is welcome to Chrift, even coming to him from no higher principle. The truth is, the Lord Jefus, by his Spirit, fets the principle of felfpreservation aftir, being a thing in itself good; and ufeth it as a mean to haften finners unto him. This is evident from the complaint, John v. 20. And ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life. Can one imagine our Lord will reject a finner coming to him for life, when he complains that finners will not come to him for that end?
II. The Faith of the Gospel offer.
In the next place, you must believe, that Jefus Chrift, with his righteoufnefs and all his falvation is by himself offered to finners, and to you in particular. This is the plain voice of the gofpel to all unto whom it comes, Ifa. lv. 1. Ho, every one that thirfteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy and eat, yea, come, buy wine and milk without money, and without price. Rev. xxii. 17. Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. Prov. viii. 4. Unto you, O men, I call, and my voice is to the fons of men. But alas! few believe it: yea, none will believe it to purpose till the Spirit of the Lord make it plain to them, and perfuade them by an inward illumination. Many fecure finners hear the gofpel, and are glad of the offer : but they difcern not Chrift's voice in it. They hear it not, as the word of the Lord Chrift himself to them; but as the word of men: hence it hath no due authority upon their confciences; fo they pafs it over lightly. Thus were his offers of himself entertained, when made by his own mouth, but he not difcerned as the eternal Son of God, and Saviour of the world. So, in the congregation of Nazareth, All bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. But they faid, Is not this Jofeph's for? Luke iv. 22. And