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the beloved. And herein he 'abounds towards us in all wisdom;' Eph. i. 8. This therefore is that which the gospel proposeth unto us, as the especial object of our faith unto the justification of life.
But we may also in the same manner confirm the several parts of the assertion distinctly.
1. The Lord Jesus Christ, as proposed in the promise of the gospel, is the peculiar object of faith unto justification. There are three sorts of testimonies whereby this is confirmed.
1. Those wherein it is positively asserted; as Acts x. 41. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name, whosoever believeth in him shall receive the remission of sins.' Christ believed in as the means and cause of the remission of sins, is that which all the prophets give witness unto. Acts xvi. 31. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.' It is the answer of the apostles unto the jailer's inquiry; Sirs, what must I do to be saved?' His duty in believing, and the object of it, the Lord Jesus Christ, is what they return thereunto. Acts iv. 12. Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given unto men whereby we must be saved.' That which is proposed unto us as the only way and means of our justification and salvation, and that in opposition unto all other ways, is the object of faith unto our justification; but this is Christ alone, exclusively unto all other things. This is testified unto by Moses and the prophets; the design of the whole Scripture being to direct the faith of the church unto the Lord Christ alone, for life and salvation; Luke xxiv. 25-27.
2. All those wherein justifying faith is affirmed to be our believing in him, or believing on his name, which are multiplied. John i. 12. He gave power to them to become the sons of God, who believed on his name;' chap. iii. 16. 'That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.' Ver. 36. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.' Chap. vi. 29. This is the work of God that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.' Ver. 47. 'He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.' Chap. vi.38. 'He that believeth on me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.' So chap. ix. 35-37. xi. 25. Acts xxvi. 18. That they
may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them that are sanctified, by faith that is in me.' 1 Pet. ii. 6, 7. In all which places, and many other, we are not only directed to place and affix our faith on him, but the effect of justification is ascribed thereunto. So expressly, Acts xiii. 38, 39. which is what we design to prove.
(3.) Those which give us such a description of the acts of faith, as make him the direct and proper object of it. Such are they wherein it is called 'a receiving of him.' John i. 12. To as many as received him.' Col. ii. 6. As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord.' That which we receive by faith is the proper object of it. And it is represented by their looking unto the brazen serpent, when it was lifted up, who were stung by fiery serpents; John iii. 14, 15. xii. 32. Faith is that act of the soul whereby convinced sinners, ready otherwise to perish, do look unto Christ as he was made a propitiation for their sins; and who so do 'shall not perish but have everlasting life.' He is therefore the object of our faith.
2. He is so as he is the ordinance of God unto this end, which consideration is not to be separated from our faith in him. And this also is confirmed by several sorts of testimonies.
1. All those wherein the loveand grace of God are proposed as the only cause of giving Jesus Christ to be the way and means of our recovery and salvation; whence they become, or God in them, the supreme efficient cause of our justification. John iii. 16. God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.' So Rom. v. 8. 1 John iv. 9, 10. Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ;' Rom. iii. 23. Eph. i. 6—8. This the Lord Christ directs our faith unto continually, referring all unto him that sent him, and whose will he came to do; Heb. x. 5.
2. All those wherein God is said to set forth and propose Christ, and to make him be for us, and unto us, what he is so, unto the justification of life. Rom. iii. 25. Whom God hath proposed to be a propitiation.' 1 Cor. i. 30. Who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.' 2 Cor. v. 21. He hath made
him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.' Acts v. 35, &c. Wherefore, in the acting of faith in Christ unto justification, we can no otherwise consider him but as the ordinance of God to that end; he brings nothing unto us, does nothing for us, but what God appointed, designed, and made him to be. And this must diligently be considered, that by our regard by faith unto the blood, the sacrifice, the satisfaction of Christ, we take off nothing from the free grace, favour, and love of God.
3. All those wherein the wisdom of God, in the contrivance of this way of justification and salvation is proposed unto us. Eph. i. 7, 8. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace, wherein he hath abounded towards us in all wisdom and understanding.' See chap. iii. 10, 11. 1 Cor: i. 24.
The whole is comprised in that of the apostle; 'God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; 2 Cor. v. 19. All that is done in our reconciliation unto God, as unto the pardon of our sins, and acceptance with him unto life, was by the presence of God in his grace, wisdom, and power in Christ, designing and effecting of it.
Wherefore, the Lord Christ proposed in the promise of the gospel as the object of our faith unto the justification of life, is considered as the ordinance of God unto that end. Hence the love, the grace, and the wisdom of God, in the sending and giving of him, are comprised in that object; and not only the actings of God in Christ towards us, but all his actings towards the person of Christ himself unto the same end belong thereunto. So as unto his death, God 'set him forth to be a propitiation;' Rom. iii. 24. He'spared him not, but delivered him up for us all ;' Rom. viii. 32. And therein laid all our sins upon him;' Isa. liii. 6. So he was 'raised for our justification;' Rom. iv. 25. And our faith is in God who 'raised him from the dead;' Rom. x. 9. And in his exaltation, Acts v. 31. Which things complete 'the record that God hath given of his Son;' 1 John v. 10–12.
The whole is confirmed by the exercise of faith in prayer, which is the soul's application of itself unto God for the
participation of the benefits of the mediation of Christ. And it is called our' access through him unto the Father;' Eph. ii. 18. our coming through him unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need;' Heb. iv. 15, 16. and through him, as both a high-priest and sacrifice; Heb. x. 19-21. So do we bow our knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ;' Eph. iii. 14. This answereth the experience of all who know what it is to pray. We come therein in the name of Christ, by him, through his mediation, unto God even the Father, to be through his grace, love, and mercy, made partakers of what he hath designed and promised to communicate unto poor sinners by him. And this represents the complete object of our faith.
The due consideration of these things will reconcile and reduce into a perfect harmony, whatever is spoken in the Scripture concerning the object of justifying faith, or what we are said to believe therewith. For whereas this is affirmed of sundry things distinctly, they can none of them be supposed to be the entire adequate object of faith. But consider them all in their relation unto Christ, and they have all of them their proper place therein; namely, the grace of God, which is the cause; the pardon of sin, which is the effect; and the promises of the gospel, which are the means of communicating the Lord Christ and the benefits of his mediation unto us.
The reader may be pleased to take notice that I do in this place not only neglect, but despise the late attempt of some, to wrest all things of this nature spoken of the person and mediation of Christ unto the doctrine of the gospel, exclusively unto them; and that not only as what is noisome and impious in itself, but as that also which hath not yet been endeavoured to be proved, with any appearance of learning, argument, or sobriety.
The nature of justifying faith.
THAT which we shall now inquire into, is the nature of justifying faith; or of faith in that act and exercise of it, whereby we are justified, or whereon justification, according unto God's ordination and promise doth ensue. And the reader is desired to take along with him a supposition of those things which we have already ascribed unto it, as it is sincere faith in general; as also of what is required previously thereunto, as unto its especial nature, work, and duty in our justification. For we do deny that ordinarily, and according unto the method of God's proceeding with us declared in the Scripture, wherein the rule of our duty is prescribed, that any one doth, or can, truly believe with faith unto justification, in whom the work of conviction before described, hath not been wrought. All descriptions or definitions of faith that have not a respect thereunto, are but vain speculations. And hence some do give us such definitions of faith, as it is hard to conceive, that they ever asked of themselves, what they do in their believing on Jesus Christ for life and salvation.
The nature of justifying faith, with respect unto that exercise of it whereby we are justified, consisteth in the heart's approbation of the way of justification and salvation of sinners, by Jesus Christ, proposed in the gospel, as proceeding from the grace, wisdom, and love of God, with its acquiescency therein, as unto its own concernment and condition.
There needs no more for the explanation of this declaration of the nature of faith, than what we have before proved concerning its object; and what may seem wanting thereunto, will be fully supplied in the ensuing confirmation of it. The Lord Christ, and his mediation, as the ordinance of God for the recovery, life, and salvation of sinners, is supposed as the object of this faith. And they are all considered as an effect of the wisdom, grace, authority, and love of God, with all their actings in, and towards, the Lord