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To enumerate them, would be, in the present case, 'superfluous. A few instances will suffice to settle a canon of criticism, which, like every abstract truth, will admit of application to all the particular cases belonging to the same class.
We design, merely, to make it appear, that faith is described in Scripture as a knowing and obeying the Gospel, and as a receiving Christ, and trusting in him for salvation, and so confirm our definition.
1. Faith is a knowing the Gospel; and its opposite, unbelief, is ignorance of it. John xvii. 6. “For I have given them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have KNOWN surely that I came out from thee, and they have beLIEVED that thou didst send me.” 2 Cor. iv. 4. “ The God of this world hath BLINDED the minds of them which BELIEVE NOT."
2. Faith is a compliance with the Gospel revelation. 1 John iii. 23. “ This is his COMMANDMENT, that we should beLIEVE on the name of his Son Jesus Christ.” Unbelief, too, is disobedience. Rom. x. 16. “ They have not all OBEYED the Gospel : for Esaias saith, Lord, who hath BELIEVED.Our re
3. Faith is a receiving Christ Jesus; and unbelief a rejecting him. John i. 12. “ But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that BELIEVE on his name."
1 Pet. ii. 6-8. “Behold, I lay in Zion à chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that BELIEVETH on him shall not be confounded. Unto you, therefore, which believe, he is precious : but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders DISALLOWED, the same is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word.” Mark xii. 10. “ The stone which the builders REJECTED is become the head of the corner.”
4. Faith is a trusting in Christ with the whole heart, both for righteousness and salvation. But un. belief treats the Redeemer as unworthy of such con. fidence. Rom. x. 10. “ For with the heart, man BELIEVETH UNTO RIGHTEOUSNESS.” 2 Tim. i. 12. “ For I know whom I have. BELIEVED, and am persuaded that HE IS ABLE TO KEEP that which I have committed unto him against that day.” Eph. i. 13. “ In whom ye also TRUSTED. after that ye heard the word of truth, the Gospel of your salva. tion,” Luke xviii. 9. “And he spake this parable unto certain which TRUSTED IN THEMSELVES that they were righteous.” Deut. xxxii. 15. “ And LIGHTLY ESTEEMED the rock of his salvation.'
Many other modes of expressing the doctrine of faith might be specified and supported by Scripture testimony; but these quotations suffice to prove, that faith is an intelligent compliance with the Gospel re, velation, by receiving Christ with all the heart, and trusting in him for righteousness and eternal life*.
From this view of “ the doctrine of faith," and criticism on the word Tipis, by which it is generally expressed, may be drawn many instructive and con. solatory
1. That, which is called faith, is the principle of all that is distinguishing in the Christian character. To be a believer, is to be every thing that is neces
* No definition is, all things considered, better calculated to convey clearly, precisely, and sufficiently comprehensively to the plain man an, idea of the grace of faith, than the one which is given by the Westminster Divines, in the following words : « Faith in Jesus is a saving grace, whereby
we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, as he is of. 7. fered to us in the Gospel.” See also a discussion of this
subject, in his own admirable style of irrefragable argument, by PRESIDENT EDWARDS, in his Observations on Important Doctrines.
VOL. IV.-No. VII. 3C
sary to constitute one an heir of glory. Gal. i. 26. 6 For ye are all the Children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." Rom. viii. 17. “ And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ."
2. The reason, why faith is that principle, and that it cannot be otherwise, is also demonstrable from the premises. That constitution of grace which the Gospel reveals, is the only one which Jehovah hath made. Upon no other constitution will he dispense pardon of sin, or accept any person or act of man whatever. Exclusive of this system of grace, then, men are all as much reserved for damnation as are devils. Acts iv. 12. “ Neither is there salvation in any other : for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved." But faith, is, in fact, that very compliance with the Gospel revelation of this constitution, whereby we are spiritually united to Jesus Christ, as our représentative, the second Adam, and only Head of his spiritual seed.
If faith be not the distinguishing principle of the Christian character, then one of these things must be true; because the contrary involves a manifest absurdity Either, 1. There is another method be sides the system of grace, whereby man can be saved and be a Christian also, or, 2. There is no condemnation to some who are not in Christ Jesus, or, 3. There is some other way besides coming to the Redeemer by faith, whereby a sinner may become united to Christ and be in him. Each of these suppositions, however, is so palpably inconsistent with the Christian religion, as to involve in absurdity any scheme of doctrine of which it forms an essential part.
3. Faith precedes all other gracious exercises, and all the good works of man, and bestows upon
them that character which render them either good or acceptable to God-their evangelical character.
Jehovah hath appointed the system of Grace to be the only medium of intercourse between God and fallen man. He prohibits our approaching him by any other medium. He hath proclaimed from the height of his sanctuary, that all are commanded to approach God, by Jesus Christ; and that none dare to draw near in any other name. He neither requires por accepts any exercise, or act, or work of man, but according to that constitution which the Gospel reveals. Now, as faith is the soul's compliance with this constitution as revealed, it is perfectly absurd to imagine, that any other act or work of man, which is performed without such compliance, can be con. sidered either as a discharge of our moral obligation, or acceptable to God. No repentance, no love, no obedience, nothing done by man previous unto, or destitute of faith, can be either that which God requires or which he graciously accepts. To approach God, in any way, or in any thing, without faith, is an offence against his divine authority. It is to continue in sin. Heb. xi. 6. “ But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”. In one word, he that cometh to God acceptably in any exercise, must come upon the footing of the revelation of grace in the Gospel.
It is faith, moreover, thạt confers upon the other exercises of the mind of man, their evangelical character. Is love to God acceptable, or required as the sum of the law ? It is that love by which faith work. eth. It is that love only which is exercised upon the footing of that revelation of grace unto which faith has yielded an intelligent obedience. Is repentance, is hope, demanded, encouraged, or accepted ? It is
that repentance*, that hope, which is addressed to Je. hovah on the footing of redeeming mercy. Is eter. nal life promised to obedience, is justification or par. don of sin promised to any gracious exercise of the mind of man? It is on account of that faith of which the other exercises or works are the signs and the fruits; n'account of that faith, which, by unit, in the sinner to the Saviour, proves the bond of our spiritual communion with him in the benefits of the everlasting covenantt. . 4. It is easy to see why it is so difficult to give a short and perfect definition of faith ; and according. ly to account for the diversity of opinions among Christians on this important subject.
There is no one word which, without a figurative use of it, can fully represent the exercise of the soul in believing. It is impossible also to find a single ex. pression, that justly represents that whole sufficiency of Christ for salvation which faith contemplates. All metaphorical expressions are liable to be misun. derstood and distorted. Christ Jesus is revealed to us in the Gospel; we know him. He is gloriously excellent ; we love him. He is the offered gift of God; we receive him. In his all-sufficiency, we embrace him. This is faith.
No one word is so adequate to represent this subject correctly, as the word which the Gospel most frequently employs, Iisus, with its derivatives.
* It is not intended here to touch upon the question, are devils under moral obligation to penitence? But it is intended to assert, unequivocally, that devilish repentance, the repentance of profane Esau and of the traitor Judas, or any repentance that excludes faith, or even dispenses with it, is not, cannot be, evangelical repentance-that repentance which God either requires of us or accepts from us.
4 See this subjeci argued with irresistible force by Presi. dent Edwards, in answer o the first objection against the doctrine oi justification by faith alone, in his sermon on Rom. iv. 5.